In England as the pilot of B-24 #507, Kenneth E. Cline flew his last combat mission. The target was marshaling yards at Beroun. At 0730 crews were briefed for the mission and 30 B-24s began taking off at 1020. No enemy aircraft were seen and flak was negligible.1
The crew of B-24 #507 consisted of the following:
1st Lt. Kenneth E. Cline, pilot
2nd Lt. Armistead W. Garrett, copilot
2nd Lt. Milton L. Greenblatt, navigator
Sgt. Earl L. Lehr, nose gunner / bombardier
Sgt. William E. Leahy, radio operator
Sgt. J. S. Stout, engineer
Sgt. C. E. Cobb, top turret / right waist gunner
Sgt. Rollin M. Grulet, ball turret / left waist gunner
Sgt. Wayne H. Larmee, tail gunner
Many of those flying on #507 were members of the original combat crew that had trained together in the States:
The strike on the marshaling yard at Beroun was part of 8th Air Force Mission 957 which dispatched 1,054 bombers and 816 P-47 and P-51 fighters to hit rail targets in eastern Germany and western Czechoslovakia. During the mission, 50 German fighters were encountered, mostly jets. The Army Air Force claimed a total of 300 enemy aircraft destroyed and 119 damaged on the ground and in the air, including four jets.2 During this day’s mission, the 8th Air Force lost 8 bombers and 17 fighters.3
On April 17, the 392nd Bombardment Group (H) was informed that strategic targets no longer existed and that henceforth their mission will be to support the ground forces. This is the first time the Group has been stood down from strategic targets.4
For civilians in Britain, the war was winding down. Outside of London, Frederick French at 66 Chestnut Road, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, writes in his diary: Put mattresses on beds and will undress and go to bed properly to-night; first time since the flying bombs started last June.5
Notes & Commentary
2 “Mission 957, 17 April 1945,” Eighth Air Force Operations History (http://www.8thafhs.org/combat1945.htm : accessed 05 April 2015).
3 The loss of these 8 bombers and 17 fighters resulted in the loss of nearly 100 U.S. airmen. How many survived and were later repatriated is unknown.
4 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 1874.
5 “17th April 1945: first time undressed for bed since last June “, War and peace and the price of cat-fish. (http://myunclefred.blogspot.com/2015/04/17th-april-1945-first-time-undressed.html : accessed 17 April 2015).