May 8, 1944

Monday

Took off at 8:40 a.m. Target was Buka coast guns. We flew through heavy, squalling weather over the west coast of Bougainville. We went around the north and came in on the target from the east.1 No interruption, except for three bursts of flak. Plastered hell out of the target.2 Emplacements embedded in a bare strip 700 ft by 300 ft. 75% of our bombs walked through this area, knocking out two coast gun emplacements and two or three light antiaircraft automatic batteries.3 Good deal.

We came back home in good spirits, reporting our results and imbibing our 2 oz. shot of whiskey.

Took a long nap in the afternoon, stayed home from the show and wrote letters.

Notes & Commentary

1 From the description of their flight path, the B-25s flew out to sea off the west coasts of Bougainville Island and Buka Island and then turned north. Rounding Buka Island on the north, they approached the coastal defense guns’ emplacement from the east. These gun batteries may have been dual purpose: antiaircraft and coastal defense.

2 According to 42nd Bombardment Group (M) reports …

May 8 – Twelve Mitchells were dispatched to attach the coast guns at Hahela Mission . . . Sixty percent of the load of 224 centuries, instantaneous, dropped at Hahela blanketed the immediate vicinity of the gun positions. Interpretation of strike photos revealed that 16 direct hits were scored on the emplacements proper. Photos taken after the strike showed that all three of the coast guns had been destroyed in addition to thee automatic anti aircraft weapons which had been placed in the same area.

The attack was launched at midmorning from medium altitude.
Periodic Activities Summary, 1 May 1944 – 31 May 1944, Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 1 June 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 1618.

3 Light antiaircraft automatic batteries would include 13-mm, 25-mm and 40-mm weapons. War Department. Handbook on Japanese Military Forces. Technical Manual TM-E 30-480. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1944. digital image (https://ia801900.us.archive.org/1/items/TME30-480/TME30-480.pdf : downloaded 03 May 2014) pp 229-234.

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