458th Bombardment Group (H)
458TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H)
SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS
May 1 began our third operational month in the UK, and the target assigned us this day was the NOBALL installation at MARQUISE/MIMOYECQUES, FRANCE. Nineteen of our A/C were over the target led by Lt. Col. HOGG and Major HENSON. Although the target was obscured by a heavy undercast, 70×1000 GP’s were dropped on the target. Bomb damage was unobserved. No E/A were encountered on this mission, but fairly accurate flak caused minor battle damage to eleven of our A/C. All A/C returned to the base, and Mission 48, Sortie 32 was chalked up on the Sortie board.
We were again alerted on the afternoon of 1 May, this time to harry the enemy by knocking his train and supply schedule into the category of “UNUSABLE”. The marshalling yards at LIEGE was assigned to the group. Fifteen of our A/C led by Lt. Col. HOGG were over the target, but owing to the fact that the target was obscured by a heavy undercast, no bombs were dropped and all A/C returned to base. Exceptionally accurate flak was encountered over three areas with the result that one of our A/C suffered major battle damage and eleven others minor damage. Thus ended Mission 49, Sortie 33.
Our old friend BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM was the target assigned to us on 4 May 44, Mission 50, Sortie 34. The formation was recalled over enemy territory, as thick, cirrus clouds from 13,000 to 23,000 feet, and dense, persistent contrails hindered assembly and made formation flying impossible.
On Mission 51, Sortie 35, 5 May 44, the target, SOTTEVAST, a NOBALL in the CHERBOURG area, was attacked by our formation of 10 A/C led by Major O’NEILL, Major HENSON, and Capt. WRIGHT. Although the target was obscured by 10/10ths undercast, 151x1000lb GP’s were dropped with unobserved results. Flak was moderate, but accurate and good range finding technique was indicated by the accuracy of the bursts even though our formation was enveloped [by] clouds. Twelve of our A/C suffered minor battle damage. Our A/C 706, 753rd Sq. piloted by 2nd Lt. E. R. THOMPSON, was hit by flak over France, knocking out two of his engines. The A/C was headed back to base, but while over England they ran out of gas. Sighting a field, the decision was made to crash land. The windows were completely obscured on the pilot’s [side] by ice, so the controls were turned over to 2nd Lt. W. F. LANDERS, who was barely able to see out of the co-pilots window. The A/C was crash landed, but as it made its way along the ground, it was stopped by a tree in its path, tearing a huge hole in the bottom of the plane. Number three engine caught fire, thus endangering the trapped crewmen inside. Lt. LANDERS was able to free himself from the co-pilot’s position and with the help of a civilian managed to extract the remaining crewmen from the burning plane. Four members of the crew were killed, Navigator W. A. WEBSTER, Bombardier, W. M. KENDALL, Left Waist Gunner, H. S. MOORE, and Tail Gunner, J. J. CLEARY. Lt. LANDERS was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for his heroic work in saving the lives of his fellow crew members.
Heavy undercast again dogged our efforts on our Mission 52, Sortie 36 [7 May 44] to the city of OSNABRUCK, GERMANY. Twenty-eight of our A/C were over the target, led by Lt. Co. FEILING and Capt. MOORE. Three hundred and eleven 500lb GP’s were dropped with the aid of markers placed by PFF ships. No results were observed as the 10/10ths clouds completely obscured the target. No E/A were encountered, but five of our A/C suffered minor battle damage. An interesting observation on this mission was the fact that the enemy were using a good imitation of our PFF flares by firing smoke bombs at the formation, however, they were not as bright and did not leave as large a smoke trail, and the only one kidding himself was Adolph.
Once again on Sortie 37, on 8 May, were we forced to bomb through the aid of PFF on our target the city of BRUNSWICK. This was the fifth sortie in a row where we were forced to do this type of bombing. Evidently Adolph had been in conference with the gods, asking for some assistance against those awful airmen with the big planes. But those awful airmen had different ideas and dropped 274×500 GP’s on his city. The twenty-five A/C over the target were led by Maj. HENSON, Capt, WRIGHT and Capt. GLENN. Our formation was subjected to attack by approximately 87 of Goering’s vaunted Luftwaffe, who in desperation tried all the tricks in the book to no avail. Two of his boys were not careful enough in approaching our boys with the result that his diminishing ranks were further depleted by two, and two more Iron Crosses were awarded posthumously. The honors of the day going to S/Sgt ALPHONSO GENOVESE, 752nd Sq. and S/Sgt RAYMOND LYTLE, JR. 75rd Sq. [Lost on take-off this date was Lt Kingsley’s crew]
No rest for the weary, so once again on 9 May we were alerted to attack ST. TROND A/F and at the completion of the mission chalked up Sortie 38, Mission 54. Twenty-five of our A/C were over the target, and this was one of the rare days where we can report “No Aborts”. 970x100lb GP’s were dropped [by] the formation led by Lt. Col. HOGG and Major HENSLER, and the results of the bombing [were] excellent. All bombing was done visually, making it the first visual bombing in six sorties. E/A were seen by the formation in the distance, and near the city of FLORENNES, six to seven E/A approached to within a mile of our formation and about 5000-6000 feet above and lobbed several rockets or aerial bombs toward the formation, but these projectiles fell short of their goal. This was one of the very few days that all aircraft returned with no battle damage.
On Mission 55 on 10 May to bomb DIEPHOLZ A/F in GERMANY, but the formation was recalled before reaching enemy territory.
The EPINAL M/Y and RAILWAY STATION in FRANCE was our assigned target for 11 May, Mission 57, Sortie 39. Twenty-nine of our A/C led by Major LA ROCHE and Capt. CHAMBERLAIN dropped 131×1000 GP’s on [the] Primary and 5×1000 on a Target of Opportunity with good results. No E/A were encountered and four of our A/C suffered minor battle damage from flak. Our A/C 738, 754th Sq. piloted by S. GOLDSMITH feathered the #1 engine after dropping his bombs at the target and headed for SWITZERLAND with excellent fighter escort. Later reports show his crew to be interned in SWITZERLAND.
On 12 May, Sortie 40, we participated in a large scale operation against German synthetic oil refineries The target [lower center of photo] assigned the group was the BOHLEN REFINERY in GERMANY. We put 25 A/C over the target led by Major O’NEILL and Capt. OLLUM. The first squadron missed the assigned MPI, [Mean Point of Impact] but did record hits on buildings 1400 yards SW of MPI. The second squadron, however, scored directly on the MPI. SAV’s show direct hits on MPI and in the area of the boiler houses, generator hall, and on the RR tracks. The 810×100 GP’s dropped, and the damage wrought, certainly assisted immeasurably in decreasing the output of this vital substitute so much needed by the German forces. It is rumored that upon hearing the results of the combined efforts of the Air Forces this day, Adolph hastily gathered his experts together to ascertain whether it was not possible to build invisible refineries and factories, as those damn “Yanks” seemed to be able to find the proverbial needle in the haystack, and he was damn sick and tired of getting that needle in the place where it hurt most. Although other groups met stiff enemy opposition, our formation did not sight any, and the only damage suffered was flak holes in two A/C.
We paid our second visit to TUTOW A/F in GERMANY on 13 May and chalked up our 41st Sortie. Twenty-two of our A/C were over the target led by Lt. Col. HOGG and Capt. FREEMAN. 5/10 to 7/10 cumulus clouds prevailed on the target and hindered visual bombing to some extent, however the results were good. This day we dropped 100×500 GP’s. Some enemy aircraft attacking another group swerved and came through our formation but inflicted no damage. Several bursts were made by one of our A/C but no claim was made. Our first section did not attack due to the clouds prevailing, but it cleared sufficiently enough to allow the second section to drop. It is worth note that the formation did not encounter any flak and no battle damage [was] suffered.
A repeat call to BRUNSWICK [left] was made on 19 May, adding another Sortie making it 42. Twenty-one of our A/C led by Capt. OLLUM and Capt. WRIGHT, dropped 200-M17’s on this important industrial city with fair results. Although heavy fighter opposition was observed in the distance and some aircraft from other groups [were seen] going down as a result, the only attack made on this formation was by a lone ME109 which was promptly shown the excellent marksmanship of S/Sgt F. T. KINKER of the 753rd Squadron who added another cluster to his Air Medal for a confirmed destroyed. Don’t these German pilots ever learn? AA was heavy over the target which resulted in seven of our A/C returning with minor battle damage.
On 20 May, our formation of 24 A/C led by Major LA ROCHE and Major HENSON paid a visit to REIMS A/F in FRANCE and dropped a total of 240×500 GP’s on the target with excellent results. SAV’s showed excellent concentrations on hangars at south end of field and on hangars on NW end of field. No E/A were encountered and the flak directed at the formation was meager and resulted in only two of our A/C suffering minor damage. All A/C returned safely and Sortie 43 was chalked up on our records.
A repeat visit to SIRACOURT, a NOBALL installation in the PAS DE CALAIS area was our objective on 21 May, Sortie 44. Twenty of our A/C were over the target led by Major O’NEILL and Major HENSLER, flying GH ships. The target was attacked through heavy undercast on GH equipment and although it was hit, the results were unobserved due to heavy cloud coverage. No E/A were encountered, neither was there any flak directed at our formation. 140×1000 GP’s were dropped in our quest to silence the installations in this area.
After a day of rest, we were again alerted, this time to hit the A/F at BOURGES, FRANCE, an important assembly plant, air park and operational base. So on 23 May, Sortie 45, our formation of 29 A/C led by Capt. WOODWARD and Capt. WEBER were over the target dropping 637×250 GP’s with fair results, The Luftwaffe was evidently busy elsewhere or were beginning to have a healthy respect for our boys, as not one E/A was encountered. A B-17 collided with our A/C 172 piloted by 1st Lt. K. C. BARTON, during assembly and our A/C crashed as a result killing six members of the crew. [This last is incorrect, as all ten of Lt. Barton’s crew were killed]
The A/F at MELUN, FRANCE, a much developed A/F which the Germans had been improving on since June 1940, was to be our target on 24 May, Sortie 46. The group had 21 aircraft over the target under the leadership of Capt. OLLUM [Operations Officer 755BS, right] and Capt. WOODWARD and dropped 520 M47 IB’s and 132×500 GP’s with excellent results. SAV’s showed an excellent pattern well centered on the MPI. Another day for the group where no E/A were encountered and when all A/C returned to the base without battle damage.
A concentrated effort on the M/Y at MULHOUSE, GERMANY was our objective on 25 May to chalk up Sortie 47 on our ever increasing sortie record board. Major LA ROCHE and Major HENSON led our 23 A/C over the target dropping 230×500 GP’s as our contribution for the day. Bombing results were excellent as SAV’s showed good concentration on the MPI, coaling plant and marshalling yards. Once again the Luftwaffe chose to remain on the ground and no AA was encountered.
A new target to us was our assignment on 27 May, Sortie 48, NEUNKIRCHEN M/Y GERMANY. This target had never been attacked before and was regarded as a high priority on our all-out effort to disrupt the supply line of the enemy. Under the leadership of Capt’s. CHAMBERLAIN and FREEMAN, 24 A/C bombed the Primary, dropping 208×500 GP’s with the first section showing poor results falling short of the MPI, but the second section’s bombing was excellent.
No E/A, nor flak encountered. Our A/C 159, 755th Sq. and A/C 183, 755th Sq. collided at 0942 approximately eight miles north of Cromer. A/C 159 [Lt Howard Lobo crew] went into a spin and one man was reported attempting to get out waist window as A/C went into undercast. At the time of collision, A/C 183 managed to pull out and two crew members bailed out and pilot [Lester] MARTIN managed to get the plane back to base with the remaining crew unhurt. A/C 946, piloted by 1st Lt. J. E. NEDROW was seen to lose his #4 engine just before reaching the target. He was observed to turn toward the direction of SWITZERLAND escorted by [an] estimated four friendly fighters and later reports show crew interned in SWITZERLAND.
An attack on the synthetic oil refineries was planned as our 49th Sortie on May 28, the ZEITZ, REFINERY in central GERMANY being our assigned target. Twenty-six of our aircraft were dispatched under the leadership of Major LA ROCHE and Capt. WOODWARD and 26 attacked (another “No Abort” day for the group) the Primary with good results. SAV’s showed both sections hit on and around the MPI. Although other groups in the VIII AF encountered heavy opposition, our group was again fighter free, and the only flak seen was from a distance. Bombs dropped – 1038×100 GP’s.
On 29 May we visited our old friend TUTOW A/F for the third time, chalking up the half-hundred mark on the sortie board. Twenty-five A/C were over the target led by Major LA ROCHE and Capt. OLLUM, dropping 270x500lb GP’s with fair results, with hits on landing field and east and southeast of the hangar in the MPI. No enemy A/C arose to meet the formation and the flak was light with but one of our A/C returning with minor battle damage.
A new target, ZWISCHENAHN A/F in GERMANY was our assigned target on 30 May, Sortie 51. A mixed bomb load of GP’s and IB’s were carried by the 24 A/C over the target led by Capt. FREEMAN and Capt. HINCKLEY. The bombing results were good with both sections hitting the assigned MPI’s, and many fires caused by the incendiaries carried. Once again, no E/A (monotonous, eh?)
Our mission for the last day of the month was directed at the locomotive depot and M/Y at BERTRIX, BELGIUM. However, due to weather conditions, the formation was recalled after reaching enemy territory. Full sortie credits were allowed [to] all units who had crossed the coast of enemy occupied territory and we ended the month with Sortie 52.
|Targets actually attacked||18|
|Bombs dropped||997 tons GP's 1076 M-47 Clusters|
|A/C over targets||429|
|A/C MIA due to enemy action||2|
|A/C lost to other reasons||4|
|Combat claims||3 Dest. 1 Damaged|
|Killed In Action not due to enemy action||22|
|Killed In Action due to enemy action||None|
|Missing In Action||10|