In England, Verne attended Sunday services at Westminster Abbey, and later in the day when back at Station 153, he noted this in his diary . . . .
Finally attended church at Westminster. The preacher gave a nice sermon. Enjoyed my first time in church for 10 years. Returned camp to find Jerries had been over strafing.
During the early morning hours of March 4, 1945, 200 German intruder aircraft were active over East Anglia in an attack which the Luftwaffe called Operation Gisela:
. . . . . some 200 Junkers JU 88 night fighters1 of the Luftwaffe Nachtjagdeschwader Gruppen (Night Fighter Destroyer Group) . . . deployed to intercept allied bombers returning to base at their most vulnerable point, just before landing. The marauding aircraft crossed the North Sea at points stretching between the Thames Estuary and up the east coast to the North Yorkshire moors. The fact that these intruders were able to cross the North Sea coast without being picked up by English radar operators would seem to have been the result of a degree of complacency that had set in amongst Bomber Command, as the Luftwaffe appeared to be subdued.
The attack . . . lasted just two-and-a-half hours . . . 13 Halifaxes, 9 Lancasters, one Fortress and a Mosquito were shot down.2
Verne’s brother-in-law, 1st Lt. Kenneth E. Cline, returned to the air on March 4th. Pforzheim was the target of the 392nd Bombardment Group (H). 1st Lt. Cline flew the mission as the co-pilot of B-24J #42-51238, Little Joe. There was no flak and enemy aircraft were unobserved. The target was obscured and bombing was by H2X.3
The mission aircraft began departing Station 118, Wendling, at 0550 after crew briefing between 0245 and 0400. Bad weather in the assembly area over the North Sea scattered the 2nd Air Division’s mission aircraft which then attempted to assemble east of Paris. Eventually, squadrons of the 392nd Bombardment Group (H) bombed Pforzheim, an industrial center between Stuttgart and Karlsruhe. Several mission aircraft mistakenly bombed Switzerland.4
Notes & Commentary
1 For a discussion of the JU 88 see: William Green. Warplanes of the Third Reich, “Junkers JU 88.” New York: Galahad Books, 1990. pp 448 – 482
2 “Night of the Intruders – Unternehmen Gisela.“ 49 Squadron Association. (http://www.49squadron.co.uk/assets/pdf/night_of_the_intruder.pdf : accessed 26 January 2015)
3 “History of the 577th Bombardment Squadron (H), Month of March 1945”. 392th Bombardment Group (H) History, March 1945, Headquarters 392th Bombardment Group (H), [N.D.], microfilm B0445, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1818.
4 “Mission #251, Target: Pforzheim.” WWW.B24.NET (http://b24.net/missions/MM030445.htm : accessed 26 January 2015).
Reminds me of Operation Bodenplatte on January 1st 1945
Night of the intruders. Operation 611. A fascinating read about Luftwaffe aircraft following and attacking returning aircraft.
My Dad, Charles Busalacchi was also a B 25 tail gunner in the 42 BG, 75 squadron. He was wounded and his plane shot down on March 4, 1945 off of Mindanao. Fortunately, he was picked up by a PBY and lived to fly again. Thank you for posting.
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On 04 March 1944, 24 B-25s from the 42nd Bombardment Group attacked San Roque Airfield on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. A week later, the San Roque Airfield was captured by the U.S. Army. See Pacific Wrecks: https://pacificwrecks.com/airfields/philippines/san_roque/.
For this mission, six aircraft each were scheduled from the 69th, 75th, 100th, and 390th Bombardment Squadrons. Each aircraft carried twelve 100 lb. napalm incendiary bombs. The target was a supply area and air defense gun positions one mile west of the runway.
The mission aircraft were off from Morotai by 0636 and over the target at San Roque three hours later. The attack on the target was at minimum altitude with approximately 50% of the napalm bombs fell within the target area. Hits were observed on automatic gun defense position, on a machine gun position, and on a large, thatched-roof building. In addition to the napalm bombs, an estimated 46, 500 rounds of .50 cal. ammunition were expended during the attack.
During the attack, three B-25s were shot down and four slightly damaged.
Two planes from the 75th Squadron made water landings after having been hit by AA fire over the target. One with both engines on fire landed on a reef near Little Santa Cruz Island in water five feet deep. After all personnel had left, another plane from the 75th strafed it in an attempt to prevent it from falling into enemy hands with negative results. The island and a tower on it were also strafed. The other plane, with the left engine and bomb bay on fire, landed about two mils SW of the first. All personnel left the plane, but the radio operator, Corporal Joseph L. Schneiderhan, 33606870, although seen to leave the plane was not seen again and is missing in action.
One plane from he 390th Squadron made a water landing 10 miles SW of Caldera Point after having been hit by AA over the target.
Two planes from the 390th flew cover until crew members of the ditched planes had been rescued by the Rescue Cat. 17 men were rescued.
Standard Mission Report, Mission No. 42-1135, 04 March 1945, Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), Office of the Intelligence Officer, 04 March 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1258-1260.
Thank you for posting this! I wrote about the rescue of these crews in a book and was just thinking about the one man who didn’t make it. Through some sleuthing on the DPAA site I figured it was CPL J.L. Schneiderhan and a little more searching led me to this and his full name. I had never seen a full account of the B-25s’ mission that day since I was focused on the rescue. Thank you again for helping me put a name to this lost soul.
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Thank you for this information. I believe my Dad, Charles J. Busalacchi was on the second plane…”the other plane” of the 75th to ditch. Dad told me the story of the incident, specifically explaining how after ditching, he exited one waist window and the radio operator went out the other, never to be seen again. He speculated the radioman might have gotten tangled in the wreckage or maybe was attacked by sharks. Dad was slightly wounded. I still have the telegram from the War Department informing my Mother of the incident. Interesting to know the Army liberated the airfield a week later.