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MISSION #71    9 JULY 1944    (D-DAY plus 33) (GROUP MISSION # 226)

A. TARGET: ORLEANS-CHATTELIERS HIGHWAY BRIDGE, FRANCE. A secondary target. This bridge was hit because our primary target (a gasoline refinery) was covered by an overcast. Aiming Point: Center of the bridge.


C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  36 a/c from the 386th. Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb Load: 4 - 1000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier of the 36 planes.

E. RESULTS:  My Pattern: Bulls-eye. I started the bomb run with a clear view of the target. I ended up bombing through a solid cloud cover. Two sets of photographs, one set from our plane's camera and another set from Photo Recon. confirmed the hit.

F. LOSSES:  Several planes were damaged as we passed near Caen on the way back to base.

G. REMARKS:  This was my last mission as a member of the 553rd. Bomb Squadron. I had served as Squadron Bombing Officer since the Group was formed back in Tampa, Florida. I have been promoted to Group Bombardier of the 386th. Bomb Group (M) B-26 effective 10 JULY 1944.

MISSION #72     31 JULY 1944    (D-DAY plus 55) (GROUP MISSION # 241)

A. TARGET:  RAILWAY BRIDGE AT TOURS, FRANCE. This bridge has been hit previously. At the time of our attack there appeared to be two spans missing from the center. Traffic across this bridge supports the Seventh Army. The purpose of this raid is to destroy any pontoons or other repairs being attempted. Aiming Point: Center of the bridge.

B. EXPECTED OPPOSITION:  Heavy flak at the target.

C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  36 a/c from the 386th. Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb Load: 4 - 1000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier of the 36 planes. 3

E. RESULTS:  My Pattern: I blew this one. Being out of action for about three weeks must have rusted my brain. I made a good run at the target but neglected to engage the trigger on my bomb-sight. I knew I was in trouble when my electrical contacts crossed with no release. I quickly hit the salvo lever. It was too late. My pattern landed just beyond the target. Others: Three out of the other 5 Flights hit the target with excellent results.

F. LOSSES:  None. Several planes were damaged by flak.

MISSION #73    6 AUGUST 1944    (D-DAY plus 2 mo.) (GROUP MISSION # 245)

A. TARGET:  FOREST D'ANDAINE FUEL & AMMUNITION SUPPLIES, FRANCE. French Underground sources report that stacks of gas cans and boxes of ammunition are stored at various places along secondary roads in this forest. Without such supplies the Seventh Army cannot hold their ground much longer. Aiming Points: Various points along the road.

B. EXPECTED OPPOSITION:  None if we are lucky.

C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK: Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb load: 18- 260 lbs. Fragmentation bombs per a/c.

D. MY JOB: Lead Bombardier for the second box of 18 planes. (strike photo #39)

E. RESULTS: My Pattern: Call it Excellent. We hit the area just about as briefed. Nothing spectacular happened. We just hoped this mission made things a little easier for our guys on the ground. Others: The same.

F. LOSSES: Two planes were shot down out of the Lead Formation. They must have gotten lost and wandered over LeHavre. Our Navigator wasn't too sure just where we were. I took over the navigation for our formation. I remembered one landmark that enabled us to thread our way between hot spots all the way to the Channel without being shot at. One of the planes we lost crash-landed at the beach-head with only minor injuries to the. crew.

MISSION #74     10 AUGUST 1944    (D-DAY + 2 mo. 4 days) (GROUP MISSION #251)

A. TARGET:  A RAILROAD BRIDGE AT PONTOISE, FRANCE. Aiming Point: Center of the bridge.

B. EXPECTED OPPOSITION:  None with good navigation.

C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  36 a/c from the 386th. Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb Load: 4 - 1000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier for the 36 planes. # 40.

E. RESULTS:  This mission was aborted just east of Rouen, France. Our fighter escort failed to show up.

F. LOSSES:  None.

MISSION #75    12 AUGUST 1944   (D-DAY + 2 mo. & 6 days) (GROUP MISSION #253)

A. TARGET:  A ROAD JUNCTION AT FLERS, FRANCE. Our objective is to mine this junction. This is just another transportation link behind the lines of the Seventh Army. Our use of delay-action fuses will cause random explosions for the next 24 hours. Aiming Point: Center of the road junction.

B. EXPECTED OPPOSITION:  Heavy flak. This is Panzar territory.

C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  36 a/c from the 386th. Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb Load: 4 - 1000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier for the 36 planes. # 41. I was also a sort of host to C.B.S. News correspondent Edward R. Murrow. Apparently, Mr. Murrow is a good friend of Col. Joe Kelly, our Group C.O. He wanted to go along on a combat mission. We were Lead Crew. He went with us. We talked quite a lot going over and coming back He wanted to see the bombs land on the target. I promised to delay the closing of the bomb bay doors long enough for him to see all he wanted to. As my bombs cleared their racks we were getting bounced around pretty good by flak bursts. One shell fragment tore a hole in the Plexiglas right in front of me. I forgot about Mr. Murrow. I closed the bomb bay doors and cleared Major Dewhurst to turn the formation. Out over the Channel, Mr. Murrow came back up in the nose with me. I told him I was sorry I closed the doors in his face so soon. His reply, " I'm not sorry at all. I'm glad you did. A shell burst right below us just as the bombs fell out. I lurched backward and I didn't see anything else. I didn't want to see anything else". Mr. Murrow talked about this experience the next day in his broadcast from London. (August 13, 1944) Since I was mentioned I was very pleased to receive a copy of it from C.B.S.

E. RESULTS:  My Pattern: We blocked one important junction. The bulk of the pattern landed on the eastern side of the target area.  Others: 3 out of the remaining 5 Flights reported blocking road junctions.

F. LOSSES:  None. Slight damage to several planes.

MISSION #75 CONTINUED 12 AUGUST, 1992.  Forty eight years ago to-day I was Group Lead Bombardier on my 75th. combat mission. I was host to a fine gentleman, War Correspondent Edward R. Murrow (C.B.S). Our target was as near to nothing as can be imagined. It was where two small country roads intersected. Here was a chance to show why the 386th was rated the best outfit in the Ninth Bomber Command to the most famous reporter in England ----- and we get "nothing" for a target. Not only that, but when we hit "nothing" on the ground we get pictures of almost nothing because most of our bomb load is delay action and very few are set to explode on contact. The only thing that could impress Mr. Murrow about the importance of our mission was that we expected very heavy flak --- and that is just what we got. In his broadcast from London the next day (8-13-44) he pointed out that he was seeing a lot more flak than was absolutely necessary for his news report. At the time I was unaware that Flers was located just 20 miles WSW of the Falaise-Argentan gap of 15 miles separating Canadian forces coming from the north and American Third Army spearheads approaching from the south. What was left of the German Seventh Army, approximately 100,000 men with full combat gear was already in motion to the east to try to get out before the trap closed. In order to stay as far from the Allied artillery as possible this entire mass of men and machines would, undoubtedly, try to escape thru the center of the gap. I feel sure that shortly after dark on this fateful day there was a steady stream of heavily armed remnants of the Battle of Normandy passing thru, or very close to my "nothing" target of Flers. My Group dropped 144 1000# bombs". set to explode at various intervals, mostly during the following night. I have no idea how many other Bomb Groups made similar deposits in this escape bottleneck. After the trap closed on August 20, 1944 the official count of enemy dead in the gap was 10,000. About 40,000 Germans escaped to the east with only what they could carry on their backs. Much of that was left on the west bank of the Seine River. Many had to swim the river to escape.. 50,000 were taken prisoner. The Battle of Normandy was over. Previously I was not aware of the importance of this mission. Instead of "My 16 Best Missions", I now have 17. Ref: Eisenhower's Lieutenants page 208.

MISSION #76    14 AUGUST 1944    (D-DAY + 2 mo. 8 days) (GROUP MISSION # 255)

A. TARGET:  RAILROAD BRIDGE AT ESTERNAY, EAST OF PARIS. A major feeder line from Germany into Paris. Very tough fighting is taking place just west of Paris. Rommel needs all the supplies he can get through Esternay. We are just as determined to stop those supplies from getting through. Aiming Point: Center of the bridge.


C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  36 a/c from the 386th. Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb Load: 2 - 2000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier for the 36 planes. #42

E. RESULTS:  My Pattern: Although my bombs laude in a tight pattern with the center only 100 ft from the aiming point, only one bomb hit the bridge where it joined the river bank. Good bombing was not enough here. I had to be almost perfect because the target is so small. I was bombing out of a new, longer wing B-26 piloted by Col. Joe Kelly. It was a pretty silver -four-leaf clover painted on the side. However, it was unstable on the bomb run. That was the first and last time that plane flew in the lead position as far as I know. Lt. Bill Smith and I rated all planes by comparing them with 606-Rat Poison. Not many came close.

In October of 1986 I received a CRUSADER NEWSLETTER that had a picture of RAT POISON taken in August of 1945. This fantastic airplane had completed 176 combat missions. Smitty and I both wanted this plane for all of our lead missions. I doubt if an bomber ever led so many other planes into combat as did 606. Others: Two flights in my box hit the target right on the nose. One other scored a near miss. Excellent.

F. LOSSES:  None.

MISSION #77    30 AUGUST 1944    (D-DAY + 2mo, 24 days)(GROUP MISSION # 264)

A. TARGET:  A HOLD-OUT GARRISON OF GERMAN TROOPS ON ISLE DE CEZEMBRA NEAR ST. MALO, FRANCE. This fortified island has been holding out and preventing the use of the harbor of St Malo by the Allies. Aiming Point: Center of the small island. We are prepared to bomb by Pathfinder unless the weather clears somewhat.


C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  36 a/c from the 386th. Bombing by boxes of 18 planes each. Bomb Load: 4 - 1000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier of the 36 planes. I can ignore Pathfinder if I judge the weather to be suitable for visual bombing. # 43.

E. RESULTS:  Everyone bombed on Pathfinder. About 50% of the bombs landed on the island. The garrison surrendered immediately following the raid.

F. LOSSES:  None.

MISSION # 78    6 SEPTEMBER 1944    (D-DAY+ 3 mo.) (GROUP MISSION # 269)

A. TARGET:  COAST GUNS ON A PENINSULA 8 mi. SOUTH OF BREST, FRANCE. This area is currently under attack by American forces. Aiming Point: Center of the battery.


C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK:  14 Douglas A-26 Invaders. Bombing by flights of 7 planes each. Bomb Load: 10 - 250 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY JOB:  Lead Bombardier of the 14 plane formation. # 44

The A-26 is a new medium bomber similar to B-26. This is the first combat mission for this new plane-ever--anywhere. This plane is faster & carries a heavier bomb load than the B-26. Several officers of the 386th. were given the task of preparing this hot number for combat. I was one. Capt. Wm. E. Smith was another. Both of us wanted to lead this first mission. Several times we were briefed to go. I out-ranked Smitty but once I was in London when a mission was called. Lucky for me it was scrubbed because of weather. Finally, to-day, 6 September 1944, we made it. I was in the Lead Plane. Smitty led the second flight of seven planes. On that first mission, out of fourteen very fortunate.   First Pilots we had Generals on down to just one Captain. The Lead Crew of that first combat mission was: Lt. Col. Harry G. Hanky - Pilot. Major Albert E. Hill - Bombardier and Lt. B. A. Carrell - Navigator.

E. RESULTS: My Pattern: Hit in the target area with fair to good results. The weather forced us down to 3000 ft. on the bomb run, but we managed to climb back to almost 4000 ft. for the bomb release. We were in a slight turn as the bombs went out. We were also in the lower part of a rain cloud. We were supposed to bomb at 11,500 ft. Smitty's Pattern: The second flight was right behind us all the way. His pattern landed a short distance to the left of mine. Visibility and pictures were both pretty hazy but is believed that part of Smitty's pattern landed on the gun battery.

NOTE: This mission was declared to be a success by the BIG BRASS. The A-26s were considered to be superior to the older B-26s in just about' every way. They are faster, more maneuverable with better all-around handling. As a bombing platform I still prefer #606. Reportedly, the A-26 can hold its altitude with a bomb load on just one engine. I was never anxious to try that.

F. LOSSES: None.

MISSION # 79  14 SEPTEMBER 1944(D-DAY+2mo.&8 days) (GROUP MISSION #279)


This target is not far from the gun battery that we think we silenced just 8 days ago. The American Army is still attacking. We are still trying to help out. This is an alternate target. The primary target (also coast guns) was hidden from view by clouds. Aiming Point: The northwest side of the target area.


C. WEIGHT OF OUR ATTACK: 36 a/c from the 386th.

Bombing by flights of 6 planes each. Bomb Load: 4 - 1000 lb. G.P. per a/c.

D. MY LAST JOB: Lead Bombardier of the 36 planes. (select here)

E. RESULTS: My Pattern: Landed right where it was briefed. The ground looked so cratered that it is hard to believe we hit anything worthwhile. Perhaps the camoflage was just great --- and so was our mission.

Others: Two additional flights followed my lead and hit the same alternate target, again, hopefully with good results. The second box of 18 planes returned to base with bomb loads on board.

F. LOSSES: None.


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