458th Bombardment Group (H)

Mission Narrative

July 1944





July came, but so did poor weather, and July will go down as the poorest month as far as weather is concerned since our arrival in the UK.  Although 23 missions were briefed we flew 17 and all due to the wrath of “Jupiter Pluvious”.  However, the majority of the missions were of the deep penetration type.  It will be a month long remembered as on the 20th we had completed 95 sorties, this, together with our 5 AZON missions completed our 100th sortie in the short space of 5 operational months.  Our record for the previous months had been outstanding.  The Group led the Division for April, May and June in bombing accuracy, but dropped to third place in July.  However, we feel confident that we will regain our standing for the month of August.

Our first mission of the month was on the 1st where the formation took off to bomb a NOBALL target.  The weather did not permit bombing so the formation was recalled.

On 2 July we were alerted and assigned as a target the NOBALL installation at COUBRONNE, FRANCE.  Twenty of our A/C were over the target led by Major HENSLER and Capt. HINCKLEY.  Although the target was obscured by 10/10ths clouds, the formation dropped 478×250 GP’s through the aid of GH equipment.  No E/A were encountered and the flak was meager and inaccurate.  Sortie 83 was chalked up on the sortie board.

On the 3rd and 4th we were stood down, but took up the battle again on the 5th by attacking the COULET A/F in BELGIUM.  Although 12 of our A/C were dispatched, only 9 were over the target led by Major HENSON.  Although the Continent was covered by 10/10ths clouds, we did get a break over the target when the clouds shifted and we were able to drop visually a load of 340×100 GP’s with good results.  No E/A were encountered, and the only flak seen was over the target.  Sortie 84 goes on the ever increasing record.

A deep penetration was ordered for the 6th, the target being the KRUPP WORKS at KIEL, GERMANY. Twenty-eight of our A/C were dispatched under the leadership of Major JAMISON [left] and Capt. OLLUM, with 21 actually dropping.  Due to cloud coverage and smoke screen, PFF equipment was employed and the results of the 252×500 GP’s dropped was unobserved.  One would expect to meet the vaunted Luftwaffe on such a penetration but no, nary a one was seen.  The only protection offered the target was intense AA which was generally fair to accurate.  Chalk up Sortie 85 boy!

Another deep penetration on the 7th, this time the BERGINS SYNTHETIC OIL PLANT at LUTZKENDORF, GERMANY.  Another all-out effort to smash the Hun’s oil industries.  Twenty-three of our A/C led by Major WILLIAMSON and Capt. FREEMAN were over the target dropping 223×500 GP’s visually.  Smoke obscured the MPI and prevented most crews from making accurate observations.  The lead crew reported they believed the majority of the bombs hit in the target area close to the MPI.  SAV’s show bursts in oil storage area north of MPI.  In the majority of SAV’s, bursts were obscured by smoke from burning oil.  25 to 50 T/E enemy A/C flew beneath the formation about 15 miles east of BAD FRANKENHAUSEN but did not attack the formation, probably due to presence of fighter support.  Our A/C 362A, 754th Squadron [Lt. Lincoln A. Larson] did not return.  He was last heard calling LINCOLN RED leader over the RUHR VALLEY, saying he was losing altitude and expected to abandon ship.  (See MIA section for names, etc.)

An all-important RR BRIDGE at ANIZY, FRANCE was our assigned target for the 8th.  Twenty-two of our A/C were dispatched with 21 receiving Sortie credit, but the formation was recalled while over the target due to 10/10ths clouds.  However, a Group Sortie was awarded our efforts and Sortie 87 was added to the board.

We had a respite for three days and it was not until the 11th that we heard the old familiar word “Alerted”.  Another deep penetration, this time the M/Y at MUNICH.  Our formation of 24 A/C was dispatched under the leadership of Major O’NEILL and Capt. CHAMBERLAIN with 17 of the A/C attacking dropping 680×100 GP’s through the aid of PFF equipment.  Although the bombing results were unobserved, the teletype reaching us from the Division Commander made us glow all over.  Quote: “Desire returning crews be informed that today’s bombing of MUNICH apparently caused great damage in the built-up area of this important industrial target.  Intercepts of German news broadcasts state that the bombardment of the city was intense for a period of over one-half hour.  This information is corroborated by intercepts of German “Y” Service.”  Unquote.  Two of our A/C failed to return; A/C #300, 755th Sq. [Lt Samuel T. Gibson]  No information on this A/C whatsoever.  A/C #341, 753rd Sq. [Lt John J. Jones] was seen leaving the formation in the vicinity of NEUZEN, NETHERLANDS with one engine feathered and another sputtering.  It went below undercast.  At the same time a radio message was picked up, presumably from same A/C asking for position. (See MIA section)

Mixed load of H.E. and Incendiaries dropped in the attack on Munich, Germany.

A repeat visit to MUNICH fell our lot on the 12th, our MPI being the M/Y.  Twenty-five of our A/C were over the target led by Major LAROCHE and Capt. BOOTH, dropping 126×500 GP’s and 84 M-17 incendiaries with unobserved results, as bombing was done by the aid of PFF equipment owing to the 10/10ths [cloud] over target.  Our A/C’s 365B [Lt Charles W. Quirk] and 096U [Lt Herbert C. Hopkins] failed to return.  #365 was last observed 10 minutes after bombs away apparently not in trouble, flying with the 466th Group.  466th reports one unidentified B24 – undamaged, heading for Switzerland.  Near Metz a B-24 presumed to be 096U called over VHF that it was heading for Switzerland due to gas consumption.  It was escorted and had #3 engine feathered. (See MIA section for names etc.)

We were grounded by bad weather until the 16th when we made a repeat visit to the M/Y at SAARBRUCKEN.  Twenty-four of our A/C were over the target led by Capts. OLLUM and GLENN to drop 287×500 GP’s on the target with the aid of PFF equipment with unobserved results.  We think that this month will go down in the history [of the Group] as the largest number of bombings through the aid of PFF.  Weather or not, we have shown the Hun that 10/10ths clouds offer no obstacle to us when we pay him a visit.  No E/A were encountered, and the [flak] barrage at SAARBRUCKEN was successfully avoided by a turn after bombs away, so none of our A/C suffered battle damage.

Three NOBALL targets were to feel our might on 17 July, chalking up Sortie 92.  Twenty-six of our A/C were over the targets in three sections led by Major JAMISON, Capt. OLLUM and one section flying as a composite squadron of the 466th.  All three targets were hit with good results as 142×500 GP’s and 336×250 GP’s hit in the target areas.  No E/A encountered, neither was any flak directed at the formation.

On 18 July we were out on force in a tactical mission in support of the ground forces just west of TROARN, FRANCE.  Our effort coincided with other large scale operations of the same type by Tactical Air Forces, dive bomber units and the RAF.  Twenty-four of our A/C were dispatched under the leadership of Col. ISBELL and Capt. FREEMAN.  Our first section did not drop, but the second section blanketed the area with 480×100 frags.  Seventeen of our A/C suffered minor battle damage from flak, but no E/A were encountered.  Sortie 93 was chalked up for our efforts this day.

A deep penetration was our lot on 19 July, Sortie 94, when we were dispatched to bomb the MESSERSCHMIDT FACTORY at KEMPTEN, GERMANY.  Of the 24 A/C dispatched led by Col. ISBELL and Capt. HINCKLEY, 18 bombed STRASBOURG with unobserved results, and another bombed the M/Y at PRUM, hitting the tracks and train in the yard.  Intense and accurate flak was encountered over STUTTGART, inflicting minor battle damage to six of our A/C.

The A/C ENGINE FACTORY at EISENACH, GERMANY was our assigned target on 20 July, Sortie 95.  Cloud coverage prevented our attacking the primary, but our formation led by Lt Col. HOGG, Major HENSON and Capt. WRIGHT hit 5 Targets of Opportunity with from fair to good results.  Thirty-three A/C dropped 312×500 GP’s and 312 M-47’s on the targets.  Our A/C #117 [Lt James L. Monahan] of the 752nd Sq. was last seen to drop out of formation over BELGIUM with #2 engine smoking due to unknown causes.  (See MIA section for names, etc.)

Today, 20 July 44, the group [reached] its century mark, with 95 Sorties and 5 AZON Sorties. (See citation appended)

100th Mission cake. 
(Photos: Chris Albert)

The DORNIER A/C WORKS at MUNICH was the assigned target for 21 July, Sortie 96.  23 of our A/C were over the primary led by Capts. CLAGGETT and GRIFFITH and dropped 130×500 GP’s and 100 M-17’s with the following results: FIRST SQUADRON – Attacked the primary, center of impact 1000 feet to the west of MPI, however, pattern spread out to include hits on MPI, workshop, main store, office buildings adjacent to main work shop, RR
yards leading into work shop, carriage repair shop and north end of wagon repair shop.  Other bombs dropped on residential area to NW and south of MPI.  SECOND SQUADRON – Main impact fell in residential area and fields about 1000 yards NW of MPI.

Our mission of 24 July was another ticklish, pin-point, precision job in supporting the ground troops in the ST. LO AREA.  35 of our A/C were over the target area but it was deemed inadvisable to drop the bombs as the weather was poor and our troops were directly beneath us.  It was a disappointment to all, but we made up for it on 25 July when 36 of our A/C, led by Major LAROCHE, Capt. BROOKS and Capt. CHAMBERLAIN succeeded in accomplishing the task assigned on the 24th.  The formation dropped 1867×100 frags in the assigned area, and it would be foolish to try and put on paper the devastating effect this bombing had on the German troops.  Never in the history of modern warfare has the forces of air and ground been so closely connected.  The Group did an excellent job today and everyone from the KP’s to the combat men feel a great satisfaction for their part played.

We had earned a much needed rest, but everyone was chaffing at the weather and the fact that we were non-operational until the 31st when we were dispatched to attack a CHEMICAL PLANT at LUDWIGSHAFEN.  32 A/C led by Capt. CHAMBERLAIN, Capt. OLLUM and Lt. Col. SCHWARTZ dropped 744×250 GP’s with the following results: Three squadrons totaling 32 A/C attacked LUDWIGSHAFEN by PFF.  Of these, one squadron totaling 10 A/C dropped 20 miles short due to confusing rocket for PFF flares.  Results [were] unobserved.  Our A/C #116 [Lt Rudolf A. Neumann], of the 754th Sq. was seen to receive a direct flak hit in the nose over LUDWIGSHAFEN.  A/C pulled out of formation, lay on its side, jettisoned its bombs and fell away in a spin.  Two crew report tail assembly ripped off before A/C disappeared into solid undercast.  Reports of ‘chutes varied from none to
six, most crews reporting two ‘chutes seen.  (See MIA section for names, etc.)

Number of Missions Flown17
Bombs Dropped853.75 Tons
Number of Missions Briefed23
Stand Downs8
No. of A/C Lost7
June 1944 – July 1944 – August 1944