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Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description

On D-day for Operation STARKEY (a rehearsal for the invasion of France), the Eighth Air Force dispatches a record number of 330 heavy bombers against various targets in France:

1. 87 B-17s are dispatched to the industrial area at Paris; 20 hit the primary target at 0903 hours and 48 hit the secondary target, the Beaumont Suroise Airfield; they claim 16-2-9 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 B-17s are lost and 21 damaged; casualties are 3 WIA and 21 MIA.

2. 63 B-17s are dispatched to Beauvais/Tille Airfield; 59 hit the target at 0816-0819 hours; 6 B-17s are damaged.

3. 37 B-17s are dispatched to Lille/Nord Airfield; all hit the target at 0830-0833 hours; 10 B-17s are damaged; casualties are 2 WIA.

4. 56 B-17s are dispatched to Lille/Vendeville Airfield; 52 hit the target at 0830-0840 hours; 7 B-17s are damaged.

5. 56 B-17s are dispatched to Vitry-en-Artois Airfield; 51 hit the target at 0837-0840; no losses or casualties.

6. 38 B-24s are dispatched to St Omer/Ft Rouge and St Omer/Longuenesse Airfield; 28 hit the target; 3 B-24s are damaged; casualties are 1 WIA.

7. 40 B-24s are dispatched to Abbeville/Drucat Airfield; 35 hit the target; no losses or casualties. All missions except 7 above are escorted by 215 P-47s. They claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 P-47s are lost; casualties are 1 MIA.

Operation STARKEY is a disappointment as the Luftwaffe refuses to commit fighter defenses on a large scale, thus preventing possible destruction of many of their aircraft, which Allied air forces hoped to accomplish.

VIII Air Support Command Mission 55: 217 B-26s are dispatched to the coastal defenses around Boulogne, France; 202 hit the targets at 0745-0915 hours; 3 B-26s are lost, 2 are damaged beyond repair and 24 damaged; casualties are 11 KIA, 8 WIA and 19 MIA.

Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,

Mission Reports

303BG Mission Report - Target: Vitry-En-Artois Airdrome at Dovai, France. Crews Dispatched: 18 (358BS - 4, 359th - 5, 360th - 5, 427th - 4). Length of Mission: 4 hours, 25 minutes. Bomb Load: 24 x 120 lb Fragmentation cluster bombs. Bombing Altitude: 22,650 ft. Ammo Fired: 1,684 rounds.

Ground haze and fog were closing in on the base, so the 303rd BG(H) aircraft took off five minutes early. There were no abortives and no losses.

All Group aircraft bombed the target with 26 tons of A2 M1A1 120 lb. fragmentation cluster bombs from 22,500 feet. Bombing results were excellent. Meager and fairly accurate flak was encountered, but no enemy aircraft were seen. All aircraft returned safely to Molesworth with no casualties.

The VIII Bomber Command dispatched a record 377 heavy bombers; 330 of these planes bombed eight French airfields being used by German fighters. Fighter support for the VIII BC bombers was given by 215 P-47s. In addition, 217 B-26s of the 3rd Bomb Wing were dispatched to bomb the coastal defenses at Boulogne, France. The B-26 operation was "D-Day" for operation STARKEY (a rehearsal for the invasion of France). STARKEY was a disappointment as the German refused to commit their fighter defenses on a large scale. This prevented the 8th Air Force from possibly destroying many German aircraft, which the Allied Air Forces had hoped to accomplish.

A second mission was scheduled to be flown on 9 September, but was scrubbed before any aircraft took off. This was the first time that the VIII Bomber Command ordered two missions on the same day.

More info on this mission at the 303BG website

source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
351BG Mission Report - 19 aircraft were sent on this mission. source: 351st Bomb Group web page http://www.351st.org/ken.harbour
384BG Mission Report - 384th BG Mission Number 23. The 384th Bombardment Group (H) contributed 16 aircraft to today's mission, an attack on important airfields located about 60 miles southeast of Calais, France. After making a 360° turn near the IP to clear another group, a visual bomb run was accomplished, with good results. Primary Target: Airfield - Lille-Vendeville & Vitry-en-Artois, France. Target Attacked : Primary (Visual)

18 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 16. Aborted - 2.
42-3216 Lecates, Robert L - Low squadron lead
42-3441 Ogilvie, Donald Potter - High squadron lead.
42-5051 Ingles, John Thomas - Aborted due to a blown spark plug.
42-5849 Goulder, Edmund Samuel - Aborted due to #2 engine failure.
42-30033 Kelly, James H - Group deputy.

source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
386th Bomb Group Mission Reportsource: 386th Bomb Group http://www.b26.com/historian/chester_klier
386th Bomb Group Mission Reportsource: 386th Bomb Group http://www.b26.com/historian/chester_klier
386th Bomb Group Mission Reportsource: 386th Bomb Group http://www.b26.com/historian/chester_klier
388BG Mission Report - For this mission, 21 a/c took-off by 0549 hours with the 388th as lead Group of the 403rd Combat Wing, of the 1st Air Task Force. Formations were effected and the Wing proceeded on course as briefed.

4 of our a/c returned early; Lt. Wisehart at 0658 hours from 13,000 feet with a run away prop; Lt. Beeby at 0805 hours, was unable to catch the formation having taken off late; Lt. Parker at 0800 when he failed to catch-up with the formation over the Coast, and Lt. Felese over the field as the copilot had no oxygen mask.

The briefed route was followed to the IP when our lead bombardier (Lt. Bartuska) was hit by flak and unable to complete the bomb run on the Primary target. There was cloud cover over the secondary target which was the Beaumont/Sur Olao Airfield with bombing results being poor.

Flak was encountered at four points: the French Coast, Rouen, Paris, and Elitot on the way out. Most of the flak near Paris was intense and accurate at 42,000 feet.

Wounded in action: Lts. Bartuska and Haroian.

source: 388th Bomb Group web page http://www.388bg.info
392nd Bomb Group Mission Reportsource: 392nd Bomb Group web page http://www.b24.net/missions/
44BG Mission Report - Today it was back to the Abbeville/Drucat Airdrome in France. The 44th put up 19 aircraft, 17 of them bombed. A fog and a low layer of stratus clouds hampered take-off and the assemblying of the groups. This is a typical condition which can occur in the winter over the English Islands. On the bomb run inaccurate but heavy flak was encountered. The 44th aircraft did not hit the target with much success, but the 392nd BG who accompanied us to this target, had good bombing results. No enemy aircraft attacked and all returned safely to base.source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg

Non-Combat Accident Reports

Aircraft: B-17F (#42-3265).
Organization: 337FS / 96BG of Snetterton Heath, Norfolk.
Pilot: Stoneburner, William N.
Notes: crash landing.
Location: Snetterton Heath, Norfolk England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: B-26B (#41-31697).
Organization: 559BS / 387BG of Chipping Ongar, Essex.
Pilot: McClendon, Elwood R.
Notes: killed in a take off accident.
Location: Chipping Ongar, Essex England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: Miles Mastr (#W9071).
Organization: 378SerS / 79SerG of Metfield, Suffolk.
Pilot: Stevens, Jack D.
Notes: crash landing.
Location: Hitcham, Suffolk England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/

Mission Stats (Targets, Aircraft, Casualties, etc.)

Mission "8th AF Air Service Command mission 55"
Boulogne coastal defenses
September 09, 1943

Primary source for mission statistics: Mighty Eighth War Diary by Roger A. Freeman
Bomb TonnageEnemy
(on gnd)
217202334.70-0-00-0-03-2-2411-8-19387 crashes take-off
387BG aircraft crash-lands on return
Mission Targets

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Coastal Batteries202 A/Cphotos (1)
Aircraft Groups

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OTHER (IX AF, HQ, etc)
322nd Bombardment Group (Medium)
323rd Bombardment Group (Medium)
386th Bombardment Group (Medium)
387th Bombardment Group (Medium)
Aircraft Losses

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OTHER (IX AF, HQ, etc)
322BG (1 a/c)
386BG (1 a/c)
387BG (1 a/c)