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|Tuesday, June 6, 1944 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 196:
The briefing was called to order at 1530 hours. The purpose of this mission is to come to the aid of British landing forces in the Houlgate, France area. British General Dempsey is the commander of the British invasion effort with the 2nd Army. Three beaches are identified as Gold on the west end, Juno in the center, and Sword on the east end. Gold Beach and Sword Beach are all British Forces. The Juno force is made up of Canadian units. The Sword Beach landing operation is experiencing opposition from a determined German coastal gun battery located at Houlgate, France.
The commander of the Sword Beach operation has requested bomber assistance to deal with the harassing shore gun battery. The German gun installation is causing havoc among the vessels attempting to land troops on the beach! The target at Houlgate is located approximately five miles east of Merville, France. You may recall that was a former target for us. The Group bombed there on September 15, 1943 - there was a German fighter plane reaction during our raid there.
Colonel Kelly will lead the entire formation with eighteen planes. His high flight leader is Captain Haber. Low flight will be led by Captain Lien. The second box of eighteen will be headed by Lt. Colonel Lockhart, his high flight lead will be taken by Captain Lubojasky. Lieutenant Casey will lead the low flight. The low flight planes in both boxes will carry 20 x 100 pound fragmentation bombs. All other ships in the formation will haul 8 x 500 pound general purpose demolition bombs. They are fused one-tenth second delay nose and one-fortieth second delay in the tail. Intervolometer setting is fifty feet. There is one leaflet bomb type IZCI in each box of eighteen ships. There will be no fighter rendezvous, 8th Air Force Fighter Command will provide area cover with P-47 Aircraft during the entire mission. Our Group leader will call PARADE upon leaving the target and give weather report in the clear.
Captain A. W. Anderson, Group Weather Officer prepared the following forecast. The weather at take off time, 1645 hours: One-tenth stratocumulus with a base of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Visibility five miles. Route out: One-tenth stratocumulus base 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet. Lifting over channel to 5,500 feet and breaking to scattered amounts at mid channel. Visibility five to six miles improving to ten to fifteen miles over France. The target: Clear, visibility twelve miles. Return: Similar to route out except scattered showers over England. Base: Time 1915 hours four to five-tenths stratocumulus at 3,500 feet. One-tenth altocumulus and altostratus at 5,000 to 6,000 feet. Visibility six miles.
You are not to fly near or over any ships on you route going out or on return. Mission routing takes this into consideration, you must keep that in mind! Route out from base to Little Hampton to 49 Degrees 30 Minutes North -- 00 Degrees 08 Minutes West to target. Turn right off target and stay below cloud deck to 49 Degrees 30 Minutes North 00 Degrees 08 Minutes West, and pick up a direct heading to Brighton and back to base. A time check was made and briefing ended at 1605 hours. Crews were transported to their assigned aircraft by awaiting trucks. Engine starting time arrived at 1640 hours.
Colonel Kelly began to taxi out to the active runway at 1650 hours, five minutes later he was airborne with his plane number 296275 AN-T. The other seventeen planes in the his first box followed in close order. Soon Lt. Colonel Lockhart cleared the runway with his plane, "WINNIE" 131617 RG-A, he was quickly joined by remainder of the second box. The formation lead navigator was Captain R.O. Slein who advised his pilot of the course to Little Hampton. From there the thirty-six ship formation made its way out over the channel, shortly thereafter a successful test firing of guns as the Group sped on its way to the navigational intersection over the channel, from there it was a run to the target a short way inland at Houlgate. Gun flashes could be seen from two shore guns firing at the sea borne force from a location of 600 yards west-northwest of the Groups aiming point.
The formation leader was holding a steady airspeed of 185 mph, altitude 6,500 feet on a heading of 165 degrees. Lead Bombardier Lieutenant J.C. Dunn put in a last second correction, and it was "bombs away" at 1807 hours. The second box of eighteen was on a bomb run heading of 170 degrees and released from an altitude of 6,000 feet at 1808 hours. Good hits scored by both boxes in the target area. Captain Lubojaskys high flight in the second box came away with excellent bombing results. The bomb pattern entered near the desired M.P.I. covering two casements, the number six gun emplacement and other underground shelters.
The Group dropped 184 x 500 pound demolition bombs, and 232 x 100 pound ZG-1 fragmentation bombs. Two fragmentation bombs were jettisoned into the channel. Lieutenant James Kerr flying ship, "THE BAD PENNY 2nd" 131832 RU-U carried 18 frag bombs in addition to a IZC-1 Leaflet bomb. His position was number six in the low flight in the first box. Back in the second box flying in number five position low flight, was Lieutenant Stewart Marquis, Jr. with ship number 296096 AN-V. His plane was loaded with 16 fragmentation bombs and one leaflet bomb. Colonel Kelly stated the time over target was eight minutes off due to the hurried calling for this mission. No flak was observed. The course was flown without deviation as prescribed in Field Order 88-348. The Group returned to base thus ending their fourth mission of the day at 1915 hours.
Aerial reconnaissance reported the following along the back side of the invasion coast. Considerable railroad activity observed in the marshalling yard located at Mazidon. Ten balloons rising 140 feet above the water at 49 Degrees 55 Minutes North - 00 Degrees 10 Minutes West. The coastal battery located at Beneville fired a volley out to sea as two P-47s strafed the position. Enemy ground forces: Twelve to fifteen armored vehicles headed west, halted on highway at Crevecour. Sixty trucks moving towards coast at location U 0654. Fifteen tanks parked along crossroads near Poussy. Twenty-five to thirty tanks moving north at U 1245. Ten tanks moving west at U 2949. Ten to fifteen tanks at Cagcy. A column of enemy troops moving west along road south of Argentan. Thirty to forty barracks observed south of Falais. Large numbers of French civilians observed walking or traveling on bicycles south of Falais.
Chester P. Klier