<< back >>
|Tuesday, December 21, 1943-386th Bomb Group Mission Number 60:
Mission briefing was called to order at 0815 hours. IX Bomber Command Field Order 161 directs the 386th Bomb Group to attack a V-1 target located at Cocove, France. Code number LS A-70. This operation will be in conjunction with the 322nd Bomb Group, the 386th will lead. Zero Hour is 11:00. Each Group will supply eighteen aircraft. Captain Curran will be the formation leader. High flight lead is Captain La Framboise, and low flight leader is Lieutenant Nagel.
Route out: Base to North Foreland to Dungeness to four miles north of Le Touquet, France. Then to Desures to target at Cocove. Return route: Target make turn left to Gravelines to North Foreland to Base. Axis of attack: Generally southwest to northeast. Aiming point: Center of target. Bomb load: 6 x 500 pound demolition type bombs per aircraft. Fusing will be one-tenth nose and one-fortieth tail. Ammunition, maximum combat, and 962 gallons of fuel. Timing and altitudes: Rendezvous with 322nd Group
on line at North Foreland to Dungeness at 1102 hours. Link up with fighter escort at 1115 hours. Altitudes: Rendezvous at 12,000 feet, bomb at 12,000, exit enemy coast at 11,000, and return over channel at 6,000 feet.
Flak defenses: Ault and Le Touquet have light type flak rated as slight and inaccurate. Hardelot, St Omer, Eperleques Forest, and Bourbourgville all have heavy type flak rated from slight to moderate. In the I.P. area at Desvres you can expect heavy type flak which is known to be moderate in amount, but somewhat inaccurate.
Weather conditions: Take off time three to four tenths altocumulus at 9,000 feet. Expect two to three tenths cumulus and stratocumulus at 2,000 and tops to 3,000 feet. Visibility is one and a half miles. The route out will have two to three tenths stratocumulus clouds topping out at 3,000 feet. Decreasing to one to two- tenths over southern England and over channel. Visibility increasing to six miles. Cumulus and stratocumulus building up over French Coast and becoming eight to ten tenths four miles inland. Base 4,000 feet with tops to 12,000 feet. Visibility about six miles. There is a chance the target might be overcast. The return route will be similar to route out.
A ten second count down was made to synchronize all watches at 0915 hours. Briefing ended, and the flight crews left the room to board trucks; which would carry them out to their assigned aircraft. Personal gear was loaded on the planes as crewmembers checked out their individual flight stations. Engine start up time rolled around at 0950 hours, five minutes later, a brief engine checkout was conducted. Then the planes began to taxi out to the active runway. Captain Curran, the formation leader was into the air at 1005 hours followed closely by his remaining flock. High flight leader Captain La Framboise led his high flight into the wild blue; after which Lieutenant Nagel flying a plane by the name of "TOUCH O TEXAS" II 131844 AN-F; followed suite with his low flight planes.
Four of the eighteen ships were carrying strike photo cameras. Lieutenant Callahan was number six in the lead flight with his plane, "LETHAL LADY" 131646 RU-C. A high flight ship in number three position called, "THE MAD RUSSIAN" 131600 AN-U was flown by one Lieutenant Klimovich. There were two planes in the low flight also fitted with cameras. Lieutenant Lovall number three position, the pilot of, "BOMB BUGGIE" 131587 AN-W. Lieutenant Mayfield flying, "THE BAD PENNY" 131628 RU-L was in number five position.
The formation droned over the Great Dunmow area in a lazy circle gaining the prescribed altitude. Finally at 1047 hours they departed on a heading of 125 degrees for their first navigation checkpoint at North Foreland. That was their rendezvous point with the 322nd B-26 Group at 1103 hours. Then it was 213 degrees true taken for Dungeness, and then it was rendezvous with the RAF Fighter Escort, which took place at 1118 hours. When approximately mid channel the usual procedure of test firing of bomber guns was begun. A total of 4050 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was expended in the process.
The formation made a course change to 127 degrees true would carry the air armada to Hardelot where enemy landfall was accomplished at 1125 hours. Heavy type flak greeted them, but was deemed slight and inaccurate. Cumulus and stratocumulus had built up at the enemy coast, which was noted to extend some four miles inland with a base of 4,000 feet with tops at 12,000 feet. The weather briefer was correct with his forecast thus far!
The target area was reached by way of Desvres on a circuitous route to the target located at Cocove. The group made two unsuccessful runs on their assigned target. Heavy type flak was considered to be moderate in amount and somewhat inaccurate. The lead bombardier simply could not acquire a good bombsight view of the target. Persistent cloud cover was to be the victor this time! The B-26ís made a prescribed left turn away from the target area, and headed for the enemy coast location at Gravelines. Time was 1133 hours.
The formation let down in altitude as they made their way across the channel making English landfall at North Foreland. Altitude was 6,000 feet, time 1143 hours. They continued on to base where arrival was made at 1201 hours. The bombers landed safely with all of their bomb loads intact! Soon afterward flight crews were delivered to the interrogation room to report the mission results. Most of the discussion concerned the weather situation encountered in the target area. To most it seemed a mystery as to why they were sent out in the first place? IX Bomber Command was well aware that the weather forecast was ten-tenths cloud coverage in the general target area!
Chester P. Klier
Historian, 386th Bomb Group