April 17, 1945

Tuesday

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:

Front:  K.E. Cline; A.W. Garrett; M.L. Greenblatt & E.A. Mercer. Rear: D.A. Miller; C.E. Cobb; W.E. Leahy; E.L. Lehr; R. Grulet; & W.H. Larmee.

Front: K.E. Cline; A.W. Garrett; M.L. Greenblatt & E.A. Mercer.
Rear: D.A. Miller; C.E. Cobb; W.E. Leahy; E.L. Lehr; R. Grulet; & W.H. Larmee.

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

1 “Mission #283, Target: Beroun.” http://www.B24.net (http://b24.net/missions/MM041745.htm : accessed 05 April 1945).

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).

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7 Responses to April 17, 1945

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Such a detailed picture of the crew!

    Like

  2. suchled says:

    At last the end is in sight

    Like

    • a gray says:

      The strategic bombing mission is slowly grinding to a close for the crews of the 8th Air Force B-17s and B-24s and the crews of the Lancasters and other heavy bombers of the RAF. There are fewer and fewer strategic targets. For the tactical air units, though, the war rages on as it does for the forces on the ground and at sea. The Soviets are attacking toward Berlin while U.S., British and other allied forces are attacking from the west. Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps have been overrun by Allies, but large numbers of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) still remain in German hands. Canadian forces struggle to liberate the Netherlands. Fighting continues in Italy and in other areas still under German control. At sea, German submarine U-190 sinks the HMCS Esquimalt, a mine sweeper, near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over half of it crew of 71 are killed.

      In the Far East, furious fighting continues on Okinawa which was invaded on April 1. Fighting continues in the Philippines, Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea, Burma and China. Plans are underway for the invasion of Japan. The heavy bombers crews of the USAAF and the RAF know it is likely they will be transferred to the Far East when the war in Europe ends.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. jfwknifton says:

    Another really interesting post, thank you. And a beautiful b/w photograph of the original combat crew, it’s really pin sharp and well composed.

    Like

  4. On that date I was two and a half, and we had just moved into Stanton Road in Raynes Park where we were to live for the next 16 years. It was about half a mile from Frederick French’s home.

    Like

  5. Mustang.Koji says:

    I have been struggling to post comments via my Android WordPress app but it keeps going to a screen that goes nowhere..

    As mentioned in other posts in your good uncle’s story, nearly all the younger generations now do not even know they had 1,000+ bomber raids – not including fighter cover. They do not realize, likely, that in the European skies of 1942 and exacerbated by the equipment of the time, there were so many planes over target that mid-air collisions occurred. Just the time it took for all the bombers to fly over target was incredible. I recall the RAF on their own put up 1,000 plane raids.

    Your uncle and good family gave it their all under the unimaginable of situations, with human endurance tested beyond belief. I tip my hat to them all.

    Like

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