Gayle L. Smith
Group Operations Officer
|Briefing began at 2 a.m.; take-off at 4:24 a.m.; time over target at 6:13 a.m.
Timing was of the essence as was accuracy on the target. Airborne troops would be
behind the coastal defenses; ground troops would be coming on shore. The unusually
bad weather forced aircraft to visually bomb at or below 5000 feet--a major departure from
our normal 12,000 feet.
Another mission in the afternoon concentrated on bridges, out of the invasion area, destruction of roads, bridges, railroads, fuel dumps were post D-Day targets-an effort to deny German reinforcements to the area. Our last mission at 162 was July 19, 1944 (railroad bridge at Tours).
We moved to Stoney Cross on July 21, 1944-flying our first mission on July 23, 1944 (Railroad Bridge Senguigny). This move provided us the range to cover targets south and west of the invasion area. The airfields, roads, railroads, and railroad yards were continuing targets.
While at Stoney Cross we flew three missions, dropping surrender leaflets in the Brest Peninsula area. Advancing ground forces had cut off the area and German troops were isolated.
Our last mission from Stoney Cross was on August 17, 1944-the Beaumont Railroad Bridge. Two additional missions were planned for August 18, 1944, and August 20, 1944-both were scrubbed.
This shows our route from Chipping Ongar to Stony Cross in July of '44; to A-15 Cherbourg in Aug. 1944; to Chateaudun in September 1944; to A-71 in November, 1944; to Beek, Holland in late April, 1945; and back to France (Amiens area) in late May, 1945.
Our first stop at A-15 Cherbourg saw us continuing to target fuel supplies, transportation facilities, strong points. Our first mission at A-15 was on August 26, 1944 (St. Gobain fuel dump). The last on September 16, 1944 Metz strong point that had to be aborted.
Our stay at A-15 experience was flying missions from a pierced steel plank runway.
An oddity that occurred while at A-15 was the acquisition of a P-47. The P-47 had the same engine and propeller that we had on the B-26. Shortly after arriving at A-15, a P-47 landed. The pilot told us the engine was missing as he flew across the channel. He walked away and never returned. We didn't try very hard to find the name of the pilot, or the organization to which he belonged.