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|Tuesday, August 31, 1943 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 10:
Local flying began at 0900 hours, mainly formation practice. No gunnery activity because the Douglas A-20 tow target ship was out of commission. Word was received that there would be an afternoon combat mission.
Captain Hankey called the briefing to order at 1345 hours. Third Bomb Wing Field Order number 62 directed a seventy-two ship raid on Feret D Hesdin supply dump in France. The 323rd Bomb Group will lead with thirty-six aircraft loaded with four 1,000 pound bombs. Our Group will follow with thirty-six ships. The first eighteen led by Major Ramsey will each carry three 1,000 pound bombs. The second eighteen led by Major Lockhart will each carry six 500 pound bombs. All bombs have one-tenth second delay nose and tail fuses. Each aircraft will carry 960 gallons of fuel. The 552nd will put up six aircraft plus two extra. The 553rd and 554th will each supply twelve aircraft, and the 555th will put up six plus two extra. Auxiliary airdromes for emergency landing are located at Gravesend, West Malling and Manston.
The route is from base to Tonbridge Wells where we rendezvous with the 323rd Group at 12,000 feet, time will be 1710 hours. They will lead us to Ashford to Dungeness where the Spitfire escort will join up. Enemy landfall at Berck-sur-Mer and on to the target. We will bomb from 10,000 feet with an axis of attack from west to east. Aiming point see 1 : 50,000 scale folio map number 72 (St. Pol), grid coordinates 954144 and 958140. The route back begins with a left turn off target to Le Touquet at an altitude of 9,000 feet, cross the channel to Dungeness at 6,000 feet and on back to base.
Flak information concerning coastal batteries indicates slight to moderate firing from heavy type guns in our prescribed enemy land fall area. Our exit at Le Touquet should not be hazardous, however do not stray off course to north. Those of you who flew on August 17th mission to Brayus Sud may recall the fifty to one hundred bursts our Group reported coming from south of Boulogne, and slightly north of Le Touquet. It appears to be predictor controlled barrage concentrations from that area of coastline.
At take off time you will have six miles visibility, a seven mile wind from 300 degrees, and 3,500 foot cloud base over Boxted. On the route out you can expect anywhere from five to seven-tenths cumulus with a base of 2,500 feet and tops to 6,000 feet. Over the channel it will remain about the same with a cloud base falling to 1,200 feet in places; occasional breaks may appear. Visibility should be six miles or better. The target will be partly cloudy, no medium or high clouds. There will be three to five-tenths cumulus with with a base of 2,500 feet, and tops to 6,000 feet. The wind is from 315 degrees at 40 m.p.h. The temperature at your altitude will be 05 Degrees Centigrade. The return route should remain pretty much as it shows for your route out.
386th communications on VHF Channel C; bomber call sign is WINDBAG, fighter call sign is BAUXITE, and Ground Sector call sign is LIMEDROP. Bomber to bomber R/T 6440 KC as is air to ground R/T. First box bomber leader R/T call sign, HAILSTONE, second box leader R/T call sign is CUTLEY. Air-Sea-Rescue facilities on VHF Channel D. You have a listing for Splasher Beacons in operation for today. Every aircraft will monitor VHF Channel C throughout mission. VHF transmissions must be held to a minimum. The briefing ended at 1606 hours, and crews climbed into trucks which took them out to their planes.
Flight crews were loading on chutes, Mae Wests, maps and checking their aircraft over in general at 1511 hours. Engine start up time rolled around at 1541; the formation leader began to taxi out at 1546 working his way around to the active end of runway 29. A brief engine run up to recheck his magnetos; then a green light and he was on his take off roll, Major Ramsey lifted off, "4 F" 131771 RU-R at 1600 hours. Forty B-26s had taken off and formed into assigned flights as they circled the field, then finally headed out!
Their rendezvous at 1710 with the 323rd Group over Tonbridge Wells came off without a hitch. Both boxes flew to Ashford with the 323rd in the lead, and on to the next point at Dungeness where they linked up with the Spitfire escort. Soon the formation was well out over the English Channel, and all gunners busied themselves with the routine of test firing their guns, some 2267 rounds were fired by our Group as the bombers droned on. None of our ships had any problems so the extra planes made a 180 degree turn and headed back to base. Lieutenant Higgins flying, "MARGIE" 134970 RG-L and Lieutenant Brandstrom with, "SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS" 134941 RG-D from the 552nd Squadron. Two planes from the 555th Squadron were flown by Lieutenant Tamlyn in, "NEMO" 134944 YA-M, and Lieutenant R.D. Wilson flying in his ship, "STAR DUST" 134937 YA-N. Meanwhile beneath the main force stretched a carpet of white fluff that seemed to expand in all directions!
Enemy landfall was made at 1735 hours but to no avail, the formation swung into a 180 degree turn - the powers to be, decided it was useless to continue on over enemy territory completely covered with heavy overcast. Thirty-nine of our Groups aircraft jettisoned their bombs into the channel; there were sixty 1,000 pound bombs and one hundred-fourteen 500 pounders. The fortieth ship could not salvo and returned to base with six 500 pound bombs.
Major Ramsey landed at 1828 hours; not much to report at interrogation. Lieutenant Aberson flying his ship, "HELLS-A-POPPIN" 131614 YA-X reported his left engine fuel pressure gage needle was fluctuating so much he could not read it! The crews all thought the Spitfires did a good job of escorting out and back. Major Lockhart was of the opinion that the first box flew too slow!
Wednesday, September 1, 1943:
Nothing further to report, all quiet on this side of the channel!
Chester P. Klier