In England, Kenneth E. Cline flew his 11th mission as the pilot of B-24 #507 on April 14, 1945 The target was German gun emplacements and troops at the entrance to the Gironde Estuary.1 Crews were briefed at 0200 and at 0445, 36 B-24s took off. All guns and ammunition as well as waist gunners were left behind since there was no anticipation of enemy aircraft encounters. Flak was nil. Bombing was done visually with excellent results.2
The 8th Air Force dispatched 1,167 bombers, without escort, to attack pockets of enemy resistance on the Gironde Estuary. French naval units as well as other Allied air forces participated in this attack on German forces which continued to deny the Allies Bordeaux area port facilities. These attacks preceded an assault by a French detachment of the Sixth Army.3
Back from the day’s mission, Ken wrote his wife:
Coming back from our target, we were quite low over France-so we got a look at the terrain. Saw Boudeaux, Orleans, Cherborg, LeHavre, Caen- where Monty made his “great stand.” This part of France is nearly all rolling hills and small farms and vineyards-practically no roads and quite sparsely habitated. It’s a pretty part of the country though, all green and quiet now-wouldn’t mind landing there.
The RAF may also have participated in missions against surrounded German forces which refused to surrender. Frederick French noted in his diary that there were a great number of Lancaster bombers flying from north to south.4
Notes & Commentary
1 “Mission #280, Target: Bordeaux-Pt. De Lusac.” http://www.B24.net (http://b24.net/missions/MM041445.htm : accessed 05 April 1945).
2 392nd Bombardment Group (H) History, April 1945, Headquarters 392nd Bombardment Group (H), 7 May 1945, microfilm B0445, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1873.
3 “Mission 948, 14 April 1945,” Eighth Air Force Operations History (http://www.8thafhs.org/combat1945.htm : accessed 05 April 2015).
4 Frederick French of Wimbledon described the day as very mild, nice sunny morning with a great number of Lancaster bombers from N to S.
War and peace and the price of cat fish, April 14, 1945. (http://myunclefred.blogspot.com/2015/04/14th-april-1945-great-number-of.html : accessed 14 April 1945)
I never knew they would decide to leave the guns and gunners out of the ship when they thought there’d be no opposition. You learn summat new every day.
The contemporary mission reports and other documents prepared at the unit level reveal information either unknown or ignored by the authors of books and articles. There many who “know” things but have never read the primary source documents.
Guns and ammunition left behind? Hhmm. Oh, this is a section of France I’d like to visit! Nice Post.
Guns and ammunition left behind? Yes. It is amazing what one can learn from primary sources material.