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Monday, August 2, 1943 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 3:

Captain Hankey called the briefing to order at 0500 hours, and informed twenty-two flight crews assembled of their target for today! The 323rd Bomb Group will conduct Ramrod 1, target Z139 the airdrome at Merville, France. Our Group will conduct Ramrod 2 which is target Z256, an airdrome located at St. Omer, France. This is Third Bomb Wing Field Order 22, and 386th Group F.O. 7. Bombs not dropped on the target will be jettisoned into the English Channel.

We will start engines at 0730, taxi out at 0735 with a scheduled first man off at 0745 hours. Let’s synchronize our watches and take a time hack in fifteen seconds, - coming up 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, hit! The route out is as follows; base to North Foreland where we will rendezvous with eight squadrons from 11 Group RAF flying Spitfires, that time will be 0845 at 12,000 feet. Make enemy landfall two miles west of Mardick at 0855 hours still holding 12,000 feet. Begin let down and bomb at 11,000 feet, make a right turn off target and head for enemy coast at Hardelot, crossing over at 10,000 feet. Take up a heading to the English Coast at Dungeness, reducing altitude to 6,000 feet and on to base. The 323rd will fly the same route except they will extend the landfall leg to Steenworde and bomb the airdrome at Merville some fifty minutes ahead of us.

Now for the flak information: Mardick is just five miles west of Dunkerque, and the outer defenses of which extend almost to the prescribed route. Any deviation from course on entry over French Coast should favor the west toward Gravelines. There is light type flak around Gravelines, but no comparative danger to the six heavy gun sites at Dunkerque. The target area has fourteen light anti-aircraft gun positions and two heavy positions of six guns each. Lieutenant Freese gave an update from Airfield Activity Report number 139. A light flak position 3,000 yards east northeast of the target has been converted to a six gun heavy position. Obstruction tripods have been noted as parked on the perimeter track.

Route back; one and one half miles south of Hardelot there is a heavy four gun and two light gun positions, you will pass within range of this site on your way out. South of this location are only light gun positions, six identified locations are within range on the coast at Le Toquet. Beware of defenses to the north extending down from Boulogne!

There could be heavy enemy fighter opposition, as many as 100 single engine fighters can be expected, five of which are known to be based on the target. A substantial part of the enemy planes will be engaged against an allied fighter sweep over the target preceding our raid. Another Group will be attacking a target in the immediate vicinity shortly before our attack.

Diversion airdromes are Manston and Gravesend. Communications: VHF bomber to fighter on Channel C. Bomber call sign, MALLARD. Fighter call sign, AILESS, and Ground Sector call sign, PETRO. Splasher Beacons in use: 3A, 4B, 5C, 6D, 7E, 8F, 9G, and 11H during time of operations. All other communications normal.

Weather forecast is looking good, at take off time three-tenths cumulus at 2,000 feet and visibility unlimited. The route out will be four to six-tenths cumulus with a base of 2,500 feet with tops to 3,200 feet to channel. Over channel becoming clear, then it will be six to eight-tenths stratocumulus ( in rolls ) from coast to ten miles inland, then clear to target with visibility unlimited. The target will have one-tenth thin stratocumulus. The return route should be about the same except for six to nine-tenths building up over the channel, visibility will remain excellent. At our field cloud cover can be expected to be seven to eight-tenths cumulus and stratocumulus with a base of 2,000 feet. Briefing ended at 0655 hours.

"TEXAS TARANTULA" 118284 RU-M rose into the air at 0748 hours, its pilot and formation leader Captain Thomas White at the controls. His co-pilot for this mission was Group Operations Officer Captain Hankey. The formation took shape rather rapidly as each pilot jockeyed his ship into its predetermined position, finally building into three flights of seven planes each. Lieutenant G.E. Hoffman pilot of, "BOMB BOOGIE" 131587 AN-W had an excess of 100 r.p.m. on the left engine causing him to believe he had a run-away propeller, so he aborted the take off!

The Marauders were flying on a heading of 151 degrees which would lead them to their fighter escort rendezvous over North Foreland at 12,000 feet. The aerial armada on a course of 125 degrees was out over the channel where approximately midway all gunners commenced test firing their guns, expending nearly 750 rounds of ammunition. A plane named, "STAR DUST" 134937 YA-N flown by Lieutenant Wentz was found to have an armament problem. Both tail guns and the flexible nose gun were inoperative so the crew aborted, jettisoning their bombs into the channel on way back to England. They noted a thirty ship convoy at 0841 hours two miles out and heading north; three other ships with balloons were observed going south a bit later.

The formation crossed the enemy coast over Mardick at 0855 amid heavy type intense black flak, about ten bursts at a time. It was accurate for height but off to the left. Light type flak was encountered along the route of 170 degrees, it was both inaccurate and was negligible in amount. The run to the target at 10,900 feet drew a considerable amount of fairly accurate flak. A flak hit on, "HELL’S FURY" 131625 YA-R, number four position of the low flight piloted by Lieutenant Raymond Sanford. The burst broke the windshield, flying glass caused lacerations on the face of co-pilot Lieutenant W.E. Ruple. This ship also had hits in the belly and left side of nose - Bombardier Lieutenant C.A. Jackson received facial cuts and abrasions from glass fragments. Pilot Sandford was painfully wounded with lacerations on right knee and lower left leg as flak fragments peppered the left side of cockpit area. He continued to flying his airplane. Both engine nacelles were hit and flattened his right main tire in the process. The radio compartment had many flak holes.

Staff Sergeant Ivan Breaux tail gunner on Lieutenant Giles crew was startled when a piece of flak cracked his bullet proof glass in three places! The shrapnel had slammed into the tail cone just aft of the armor plate on, "MISS MARY" 131650 AN-O. His plane also had received thirty flak holes, the hydraulic system was damaged and the brakes were knocked out.

The bombers released their bombs, some ships carried eight 300 pound bombs, others had eighteen 100 pounders of the general purpose type. All had one-tenth second delay nose fuses and one-fortieth second delay tail fuses. Crews saw a concentration of strikes in dispersal areas in northwest corner of the target, on hard standings just north of an east-west road through the field, and some hits on the western part. They also observed strikes in southern fringe of Clairmarais Forest, two fires were started there. The formation was poor, flights telescoped over the target, very unusual for this Group! Other hits were observed on dispersal points on the northwest side. Bombing results were rated only fair. The formation executed a prescribed right turn off the target, the flak continued. it was evidently being fired by predictor control. The bombers resumed evasive action on a general direction of 257 degrees leading them to the exit point on the enemy coast.

Lieutenant La Framboise saw seven enemy aircraft head for the formation about 2,000 feet above, they circled then peeled off and up as the Spits turned on them from higher altitude. The escort work was beautiful! Hardelot on the coast was coming into view and so was more flak at 0912 hours. It was heavy type but less accurate and less intense. Colonel Anderson from Third Wing was flying as observer in a ship named "DINAH MIGHT" 131576 AN-Z piloted by Lieutenant Dewhurst, they were in Tail End Charlie position, number seven in the high flight. The Colonel noted an orange flak burst just as the black flak quit coming up. One flak battery was seen on each side of Boulogne and a heavy battery at Camiers.

The formation took a dog-leg right to a course of 306 degrees to Dungeness on the south coast of England crossing at 6,000 feet, then a heading of 358 degrees back to base. The first man landed at 1000 hours. Lieutenant Sanford brought, "HELL’S FURY" in for an excellent landing in spite of his personal injuries, and the fact that his right main tire was flat from battle damage. Lieutenant Giles landed "MISS MARY" without benefit of wheel brakes. The last plane touched down at 1022 hours. Lieutenant Gianatsis taxied ship 131607 AN-R into its parking place minus the antenna which had been shot away by flak. Lieutenant Robert Spencer found out he had a three-quarter inch diameter hole through the blower section of his right side engine of, "HONEY CHILE" 131636 RU-B.


Raymond Pape Sanford, First Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For gallantry in action, while serving as pilot of a B-26 Airplane on a combat mission over enemy occupied territory, 2 August 1943. En route to the target, Lieutenant Sanford was painfully wounded when the airplane sustained a direct flak hit. With complete disregard for his wounds, Lieutenant Sandford courageously maintained his position in the formation and continued on to successfully bomb the target. Though his airplane was severely damaged, he made an excellent landing returning to home base. The courage, skill and devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Sanford on this occasion reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of The United States.

The 386th had fourteen of twenty planes battle damaged. They dropped sixty-four 300 pound bombs and one hundred thirty-seven 100 pounders on the target. Eight 300 pound bombs and forty-three 100 pound bombs were jettisoned into the channel for various reasons.

The 323rd Bomb Group had sent out thirty-six aircraft, thirteen received battle damage. They dropped two hundred thirty-seven 300 pound bombs on their target while they jettisoned eleven into the channel, they brought sixteen 300 pound bombs back to base. One aircraft returned early because its aerial engineer had a severe nose bleed. Another ship turned back before rendezvous due to a badly running left engine. Their formation was fired upon by a flak ship five miles off the French Coast at 0825 hours.

Colonel Maitland and Captain Hankey attended a meeting at Third Bomb Wing at 1430 hours. Six of our 386th Group ships were airborne at 1730 hours for an Air-Sea-Rescue operation in the following areas, 54 Degrees 30 Minutes North, 03 Degrees 30 Minutes East, and 54 Degrees 55 Minutes North, 02 Degrees 40 Minutes East. Several PT Boats were seen and two Lockheed B-34’s were circling a smoke flare. A thirty foot long sailboat flying a Danish Flag was noted in the south easterly corner of this area, was reported to MF/DF Station J. Our aircraft landed at 2002 hours. Major Lockhart and the following Lieutenants: Danforth, Lambert, Green, Mullen, and Caldwell participated in the rescue effort.

Tuesday, August 3, 1943:
Flying began at 0730 hours but was limited because of inclement weather. No bombing missions, but some gunnery missions were flown. Lieutenant J.F. Boyd from the 553rd Squadron flying aircraft number 942 made an emergency landing without damage when his right engine began smoking badly, there was no fire. All flying activity ended at 2000 hours.

Wednesday, August 4, 1943:
Flying did not commence until 1230 hours due to heavy ground fog and low ceiling. Some local formation flying only. All flying ended at 2000 hours.

Thursday, August 5, 1943:
No flying from 0700 to 1300 hours because of inclement weather. The 552nd, 553rd, and 554th Squadrons were put on standby for a mission with seven aircraft each, then it was scrubbed at 1500 hours. Ceilings lifted 1800 to 2000 and local flying was flown until 2200 hours. A standby was issued for an early morning mission call.

Friday, August 6, 1943:
No flying, inclement weather. Mission scheduled for rendezvous at 0800 delayed until 0945, delayed until 1045, delayed until 1300, and delayed again until 1500, finally called off because of weather situation at 1530 hours.

Saturday, August 7, 1943:
Mission warning order came in at 1045 in code by Major Levin, Third Bomb Wing then scrubbed mission alert at 1145 hours because of poor weather. Local formation flying began at 1730 hours. Low ceilings throughout the day, never above 2,000 feet. All flying ended at 2130 hours.

Sunday, August 8, 1943:
No early morning flying because of inclement weather conditions. Local flying began in early afternoon for only two hours due to low ceilings. No bombing or gunnery activity for that reason.

Chester P. Klier
Historian, 386th Bomb Group

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