Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission Number 27, 77 bombers are dispatched to the submarine base at Lorient, France; 40 aircraft attack with the loss of three B-17s to German fighters. The submarine base shows the cumulative effect of repeated bombardment.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
303BG Mission Report - Target: Cement-topped Submarine Pens, Lorient, France. Crews Dispatched: 16 (358BS - 3, 359th - 5, 360th - 4, 427th - 4). Length of Mission: 5 hours, 35 minutes. Bomb Load: 2 x 2000 lb H.E. M34 bombs. Bombing Altitude: 22,500 ft. Ammo Fired: 8,525 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 4 Destroyed, 1 Probable. Abelated "White Christmas" day turned out to be "Mission 14 Day" (eighth credited mission). The ground was covered by snow, but it did not stop the mission. Briefing took place at 0700 by Capt. Gabbert and Lt. Von Schmidt. The first plane was piloted by Lt. Col. Robinson. He took off at 0948 followed by fifteen others. He returned to base at 1301 after experiencing turret failure. There were five other aborts, leaving eleven ships led by Maj. Callaway to go over the target at 22,500 feet. Ten aircraft dropped their 2,000 lb. H.E. M-43 bombs. The bomb release did not work on one aircraft. Anti-aircraft fire was slight, but forty enemy aircraft attacked the formation. It was reported that the enemy aircraft on this mission were not as menacing as enemy aircraft on other missions, although each of the other three Groups on the mission–the 91st, 305th, and 306th BGs–lost a B-17. A very successful mission was reported. Because of camera failure, only one photo was brought back and it did not show a true picture of the results. Crews claimed four enemy aircraft destroyed and one probable. The oxygen mask of T/Sgt. Stevens on Lt. Schulstad's crew, froze up and while attempting to break ice in the breathing bag, the bag was pulled loose from the face piece. The spare mask was used and while attempting to keep it free of ice, the breathing bag was again pulled loose from the face piece. As both masks were enclosed in protective bags, the gunner was not aware that they had been pulled loose. Realizing that both masks were inoperative, the gunner reported same to the pilot and started forward for aid, becoming unconscious from lack of oxygen upon reaching the waist gunners' positions. The pilot left the Group formation at approximately four miles off the English coast and returned to base at a lower altitude. Lt. Stouse's ship was the first to return from the mission, and the rest followed in close order. More info on this mission at the 303BG website
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report TARGET
Uboat base at Lorient, France
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
18 A/C took off, 8 aborts: turret trouble (3), oxygen failure (1), radio out (1), electric suit failure (2), gunner ill (1).
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Well-placed hits on sub pens.
From Coast to mid_channel: moderate cumulus. From French coast to target gradually decreasing clouds.
moderate to heavy crossing French coast
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
Waist gunner had frozen hands because suit was out. Crewmember passed out because oxygen went out. A/C descended to lower altitude and revived him, but then could not catch up with formation
1 A/C took off late and did not join formation. Failed to return.
Pilot report an object from plane in front flew back and broke command set aerial.
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Bombing mission against enemy Submarine Pens and Docks at Lorient in occupied France. Major Paul D. Brown, Commanding Officer, was in the leading ship. Other pilots were Captains Dwyer and Yuravich and Lieutenants Birdsong, Giauque, Anderson and Ellis. All ships returned to the Base but some were badly damaged. In ship #525 Captain Yuravich and Lt. Shaw, pilot and copilot respectively, were severely injured. S/Sgt. Shumard, tail gunner, also seriously injured. Lt. Fisher, Bombardier in ship piloted by Captain Clancy, was severely injured in the leg. Captain Bright was observer in ship #523. Due to the skill and judgment of Lt. Shaw, copilot, and T/Sgt. King, Aerial Engineer, the ship was kept in formation and landed safely at the home Base. S/Sgt. Howard was also slightly injured.
Considerable activity by the enemy was encountered and 323rd Squadron was officially credited with fourteen (14) enemy planes destroyed, as follows: Lt.s. Miller and Ott, T/Sgts. Remmell and Marrer, S/Sgts. Kusowski, Shumard, Perri, Cowherd and McCauley, one (1) each FW-190. Lt. Dunham, T/Sgts. Demars and Jones, S/Sgts. Farrar and Mahan, one (1) each ME-109. This mission was fairly successful.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Target for today was Lorient, France. An effort was to be made to knock out the submarine pens. 1st Wing sent four groups - 91st, 303rd, 305th, and 306th. The latter turned back. The 91st dispatched 19 ships of which 17 attacked the target with 2 x 2000 G.P. bombs. The 322nd sent three ships - #481, Capt. Campbell, #453, Lt. Hardin, 482, Lt. Bader. All of squadron returned safely without casualties. The group lost Lt. Bloodgood and his crew, shot down by FW190s near Brest. The group lost one of its best officers when Maj. Edw. Pl Myers, commander of 401st Squadron, flying in #077 with Capt. Oscar O'Neil was hit by 20 mm shell and died from loss of blood. Capt. Joseph Jurovich of 323rd Squadron flying #523 was very badly wounded and his ship was brought back by Lt. Shaw, his co-pilot, and, himself, had been hit and his left arm broken. The group bagged 20 E/A destroyed and 3 probables. Of these the squadron got one destroyed and one probable: #482-S/Sgt. Thos. J. Hansbury-T.G. one FW190 probable - #481-2nd Lt. James R. Bullock-Nav., one ME109 destroyed. The bombing results were good.