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Thursday, June 8, 1944 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 200:

Briefing ended at 1145 hours, planes began to taxi out at 1240 with first man off at 1245 hours. Twenty-four aircraft scheduled to fly with two boxes of twelve. Each box had a lead flight and a high flight. Bombing to be done in flights of six. Each ship carried eight 500 pound general purpose demolition bombs. They had one-tenth second delay nose fuse and one-hundredth tail fuse. One aircraft carried one ZG1 Type leaflet bomb. Colonel Joe Kelly was the formation leader, his high flight lead was Lieutenant Colonel Charles Lockhart. The second box leader was Lieutenant Dewhurst, high flight to be led by Lieutenant Haber. The target was a highway bridge located in Vernon, France.

Only twenty-three planes took off - ship 131600 AN-U, "THE MAD RUSSIAN" piloted by Lieutenant Hodge lost power with his right engine during run up time - he made no attempt to take off. He had been scheduled to fly in number two position of the second box high flight. Lieutenant Hillman moved up from his number five spot to fill in for Hodge.

The formation crossed the French Coast at Etretat at 1345 hours - no flak encountered, nor along the entire route in. Bombs were released at 1405 hours on the primary target with good results from Colonel Kelly’s flight. Lieutenant Colonel Lockhart’s flight made three circuits of the target before dropping with only fair results, some clouds had drifted over the target area! Second box leader Major Dewhurst rated with poor results. His high flight leader had a clear shot at the target and scored with good results. There was no flak encountered in the target vicinity. Allied aircraft provided area cover for the bombers. No flak experienced on the return flight which ended at 1543 hours.

Hot news from returning flight crews: At Berville-sur-Mer, netting over the river, boat crossing between banks seemed to laying another net! Pontoon bridge across river two miles east of target at Point Audener at 14110 hours. Two long narrow ships, possibly war ships in harbor at Le Havre 1436 hours. Small square boat with mast, possibly a life raft ten miles northwest of Etretat. Submarine surfaced, stationary on a heading of 210 degrees at 1450 hours. There was a small boat along side the submarine at position 50 Degrees 14 Minutes North, 00 Degrees 10 Minutes East.

The following account of bombing was made by Photo Interpretation Officer, R.W. Bushnell, Captain Air Corps: Box I, first six - good: Pattern centered 430 feet southeast from aiming point. The bombs stated bursting just short of the bridge and walking over and beyond with possible hit or straddle on the bridge. Damage to the bridge can’t be determined from strike photos. A few bombs hit among buildings adjoining south bank of river and on a road along the bank. Box I, second six - fair: No photo coverage, both film rolls obscured by clouds. Bombed on third run.

Box II, first six - poor: Bombs fell 2,000 feet northeast of aiming point, mostly on a wooded slope. Hits on road approaches to the bridge and a few houses along the road, no damage to the bridge! Box II, second six - good: Pattern centered 390 feet east of aiming point in a good concentration. First bombs hit on or very near the bridge with balance walking over and up the river. Smoke prevents damage assessment. Center span of bridge hanging down in water. Bridge unserviceable previous to this attack! Intelligence (G-2) reports German aircraft observed with invasion markings the same as ours!

Chester P. Klier
Historian, 386th Bomb Group

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