461st plaque

461st Bombardment Group (H)

April 1944 May 1944 June 1944 July 1944 August 1944 September 1944 October 1944 November 1944 December 1944 January 1945 February 1945 March 1945 April 1945 May 1945

November 1944

Mission #123

1 November 1944

Target: Graz Marshalling Yards, Austria

The primary target for the first mission in November was the South Ordnance Depot at Vienna, Austria.  The thick layers of clouds which had been encountered over Italy and over the Adriatic practically dissipated over Yugoslavia.  Atmospheric conditions were such over the alps, however, that extreme haze and vapor trails reduced visibility to one mile.  Under these conditions the third alternate, the Marshalling Yard at Graz, Austria, was selected for the attack.  Bombing was done by the pathfinder method.  On the bomb run the "Mickey Set" was hit by flak and rendered practically useless.  The photographs, which are not very clear because of haze and clouds reveal that the target was not hit.  Seven of the airplanes of the Group became separated from the formation and bombed the Marshalling Yard at Liebing, Austria, with unobserved results.  Returning crews brought with them a healthy respect for the flak at Graz which had holed nine of the airplanes over the target.


Mission #124

3 November 1944

Target: Herman Goering Benzol Plant, Linz, Austria

Canceled


Mission #124

3 November 1944

Target: Klagenfurt Aircraft Factory, Austria

A "double header" mission was planned for 3 November, but because of the weather the large force was stood down.  Mission No. 124, flown that day, was the first of the individual airplane missions to be flown by this Group.  Beginning at 1122 hours four planes took off at one minute intervals to bomb the aircraft factory at Klagenfurt, Austria.  The airplane commanders on each of the planes were Lt. Colonel Hawes, Major Goree, Captain Mixson, and Captain Roberts.  The weather at the target was ten-tenths undercast as briefed.  Each plane dropped its bombs by the pathfinder method and returned safely to base.  The planes ran into clear icing conditions on this mission.  Had the plane in which Captain Mixson was riding as co-pilot been flown by a pilot and co-pilot not accustomed to flying in icing conditions, it probably would have spun in over the Adriatic.  As it was, Captain Mixson's full year of experiences while on anti-submarine patrol stood him in good stead.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #125

4 November 1944

Target: Augsburg Marshalling Yard, Germany

On 4 November Major Word led a large formation through spotty weather to attack a marshalling yard at Augsburg, Germany.  The weather on take-off and over Yugoslavia was bad, but over the Alps it was CAVU.  As the formation approached the target area, unfortunately, it was discovered that the target was completely obscured by a ten-tenths cloud coverage.  Bombs were dropped by pathfinder method with unobserved results.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #126

5 November 1944

Target: Florisdorf Oil Refinery, Vienna, Austria

Another "double header" was flown on 5 November.  One formation, led by Major Donovan, attacked the Florisdorf Oil Refinery at Vienna, Austria.  Again the bombing was done by the pathfinder method and again the results were unobserved.  Of the twenty-five single engine enemy fighters which made one pass at the formation between Lake Balaton and the target, one was destroyed, one probably destroyed, and four damaged.  Damage due to flak over the target was extremely light for the Vienna area.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #127

5 November 1944

Target: Ali Pasin Most Marshalling Yard near Sarajevo,Yugoslavia

The second half of the "double header" of 5 November provided Lt. Colonel Hardy with his first opportunity to lead a Group formation on a combat mission.  The target was the Ali Pasin Most Marshalling Yard near Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  Clearing weather over the Adriatic gave the crew members hopes of being able to see their target when they arrived in Yugoslavia.  They felt confident of being able to do this when they reached landfall across the Adriatic.  As they approached the target, however, a large cloud formation appeared over the target.  Lt. Colonel Hardy did a 360 degree turn and led his small formation around the edges of the cloud cover but was unable to find an opening through which to attack the target.


Mission #128

6 November 1944

Target: Power Sub Stations, Bolzano, Italy

Another "double header" mission on 6 November.  Captain Mixson led the smaller formation against the power sub stations at Bolzano, Italy.  Despite the haze the extremely intense, heavy flak, the score of this mission was 49 percent.  Eight of the thirteen planes over the target were hit by flak which killed two individuals and wounded a third.  The dead, Sergeant Don R. Trail and Second Lieutenant Doc W. Roberts, were in two different airplanes.


Mission #129

6 November 1944

Target: South Ordnance Depot, Vienna, Austria

The larger of the two formations which flew a mission on 6 November had as its primary target, the Vosendorf Oil Refinery at Vienna, Austria.  Bombing through a solid undercast the mickey operators selected the South Ordnance depot as the target for the attack.  Five enemy airplanes were seen in the Lake Balaton area but there were no encounters.  Flak at the target was extremely rough for a cloudy day.  The formation was led by Major Goree who completed his tour of duty on this mission.  Of the four officers who were the Squadron Commanders on 2 April 1944 when the Group flew its first combat mission Major Goree was the only one to complete a tour of duty with this Group.  He was also the first squadron commander in the Group ever to complete a tour of duty. (Lt. Colonel Knapp, Lt. Colonel Applegate, and Major Dooley were all transferred to the 451st Group before completing their tour of duty.)

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #130

7 November 1944

Target: Ali Pasin Most Marshalling Yard near Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

The target for Mission 130 of 7 November was the Ali Pasin Most Marshalling Yard near Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  This target was of high priority at the time it was attacked because of the use the Germans were making of it in their withdrawal from Greece.  Because of the military importance of the target and because of the fact the target was bombed visually, it was a great disappointment to the Group to almost completely miss it.  The intense, accurate, and heavy flak defending this target hit sixteen of the twenty-four planes in the formation and wounded one man.

Mission bombing photo

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Damage Assessment Report

HEADQUARTERS FORTY NINTH BOMB WING

APO 520

16 November 1944

SUBJECT: Attack on Sarajevo of 7 November 1944

To:

S-2, 451st Bomb Group

S-2, 461st Bomb Group

S-2, 484th Bomb Group

"For your information: Following is a report received from ground sources on results of the attack on Sarajevo of 7 November:

"Sarajevo arms repair work shops, gas works, engine house, railway works shop destroyed or severely damaged.  At Ali Pasin Most Railway repair shop, six locomotives destroyed and station installations heavily damaged.  On road between Derventa and Doboj, three locomotives and one armored train destroyed.  Casualties at Sarajevo high with the First Ustachi Regimented wiped out."


Mission #131

10 November 1944

Target: Herman Goering Benzol Plant, Linz, Austria

Canceled


Mission #131

11 November 1944

Target: Sillien Highway Bridge, Austria

Another "double header" was assigned for 11 November but only one of the formations got off.  This one was led by Major Word, who was pressing to complete his tour of duty.  The primary target was the Benzol plant at Linz, Austria. Bad weather made it impossible to reach the target.  Major Word swung the formation around and began looking for a target of opportunity to bomb visually.  The only target which could be found was a highway bridge at Sillien, Austria, which was bombed through an eight-tenths undercast with unobserved results.


Mission #132

11 November 1944

Target: Isarco/Albes Railroad Bridge, Italy

Canceled


Mission #132

12 November 1944

Target: Herman Goering Benzol Plant, Linz, Austria

Canceled


Mission #132

13 November 1944

Target: Osterriechische Automobifabrics, Vienna, Austria

Canceled


Mission #132

14 November 1944

Target: Southeast Goods Depot, Vienna, Austria

Canceled


Mission #132

15 November 1944

Target: Innsbruck Main Marshalling Yard, Austria

Mission No. 132 on 15 November was flown by four individual airplanes against the main Marshalling Yard at Innsbruck, Austria.  The loss of the plane flown by Lieutenant Beatty on this mission was both the first plane lost to combat during the month and also the first plane ever to be lost by the Group on this type of mission.  Nothing was heard or seen of this plane after it took off, but it is believed to have iced up.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #133

16 November 1944

Target: West Marshalling Yards, Munich, Germany

Mission No. 133 which was led by Lt. Colonel Lawhon on 16 November with the West Marshalling Yard at Munich as the primary target served to demonstrate again that an almost unlimited number of variables and one seemingly unimportant little mistake can completely ruin a mission for a whole formation.  After the planes were on their bomb run the nose turret navigator in the lead plane, while moving around in his heavy flying clothes, accidentally hit a switch with his shoulder and released the bombs.  All the other bombardiers in the formation toggled their bombs, as briefed, on the lead plane.  Knowing that all the bombs in the formation were away, Lt. Colonel Lawhon pulled the formation off the bomb run to avoid unnecessarily going over the heavy flak at Munich.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #134

17 November 1944

Target: Florisdorf Oil Refinery, Vienna, Austria

Another "double header" on 17 November Major Word became the second Squadron Commander in the Group to complete a tour of duty by leading the smaller of the two formations of the day in attacking the Florisdorf Oil Refinery at Vienna.  The ten-tenths undercast necessitated instrument bombing with unobserved results and probably also reduced the accuracy of the enemy flak over the target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #135

17 November 1944

Target: Blechhammer South Synthetic Oil Refinery, Germany

The other half of the "double header" of November 17th saw the larger of the two formations of the day led by Lt. Colonel Lawhon.  The solid undercast which had been experienced earlier in the day by the formation over Vienna also prevailed over the South Synthetic Oil Refinery at Blechhammer, Germany.  More pathfinder bombing with unobserved results.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #136

18 November 1944

Target: Villafranca Airdromes, Italy

Good weather and good bombing marked the 136th mission of the Group which was a frag job against the Villafranca Airdrome in Italy.  A large formation of forty planes was led by Major Rider.  Three well concentrated patterns hit at least twelve enemy airplanes on the ground and started several small fires in revetments.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #137

19 November 1944

Target: Vosendorf Oil Refinery, Vienna, Austria

On 19 November Captain Roberts, the 766th Operations Officer, led the Group formation in attacking the Vosendorf Oil Refinery at Vienna, Austria.  This was the first time a formation of the 461st Group had ever been led by a squadron operations officer.  Despite the nine-tenth undercast which necessitated pathfinder bombing the flak was extremely accurate.  Eight of the twenty-six planes over the target were hard hit by flak, one was lost, one man was killed, and another was wounded.  The plane that was lost was flown by 2nd Lt. Arthur E. Farham Jr.  The man fatally wounded was Staff Sergeant Charles V. Rentschler.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

From: Lee, CO 49th Bomb Wg.

To: Commanding Officer, 461st Bombardment Group.

The following teletype is quoted for your information.  With pride I pass to you and your officers and men the following cable from General Arnold:

"Fifteenth Air Force operations from 16 through 19 November, 1944 have been noted with appreciative interest.  Worthy of commendation is the sustained effort on successive days.  Convey to all members of your command participating my heartiest appreciation for a job well done.  The ground maintenance crews in particular should be most emphatically informed that their untiring efforts are most deeply appreciated not only by air crews but by all members of higher echelons, especially myself.  The AAF is indeed proud of the men on her ground crews who made possible each new air success."


Mission #138

20 November 1944

Target: Blechhammer South Synthetic Oil Refinery, Germany

On 20 November Lt. Colonel Lawhon, flying more than his share of the missions through bad weather due to the absence of Colonel Hawes and Major Donovan, led the Group and the wing in attacking the South Synthetic Oil Refinery at Blechhammer, Germany.  This was the fifth mission to be flown by this Group against Blechhammer target.  It proved to be the first time the combat crews had ever seen the target.  Weather over the target was CAVU.  The smoke screens, which had always completely obscured this target on all previous missions by this Group, were ineffective.  It may have been the enemy was slow in getting the screen started, but observations reveal that a strong surface wind was blowing the smoke away from the target.  The radio monitor picked up enemy fighters in the area but none were seen.

Swinging northward off the briefed course to avoid a clouded area and maneuvering the Wing formation in a superior manner in a desperate effort not to permit an opportunity to really hit a Blechhammer plant fail him at the last moment, Lt. Colonel Lawhon ran into a great deal of flak but brought the Group formation straight across the target.  Many of the bombs in the first attack unit of the Group fell northwest of the target, but those of the second attack unit really struck home.  The bombs fell in the center of the target scoring many direct hits and, near misses on vital installations.  The boiler house received hits and near misses as did the sulphur removal plant and the gas generating plant.  Other installations receiving hits, the north rejecter house, the coal gas plant, and the cooling towers.  The Marshalling Yard on the east edge of the refinery was also hit.

The mission was highly successful but costly.  Twenty-three of the twenty six planes over the target were hit by flak.  On the return route both 2nd Lt. Robert A. Crinkley and 2nd Lt. Arthur L. Hughes bailed their crews out over Yugoslavia.  2nd Lt. Charles F. Krahn and four other members of his eleven man crew were lost when he ran out of fuel and was compelled to ditch the plane but a short distance off the Italian coast in the Adriatic.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #139

21 November 1944

Target: Troop Concentrations West of Novi Pazar, Yugoslavia

Poor visibility and flak at unexpected places interfered with a two flight frag formation led by Captain Mixson against German troop concentrations in Yugoslavia on 21 November 1944.  Photographs show that the bombs fell across the railroad tracks and the highway three miles southeast of Cacak.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

From: Lee, CO 49th Bomb Wg.

To: Commanding Officer, 461st Bombardment Group.

The following message received from General Spaats forwarded from General Twining is passed on to you for your information:

"Highly gratified at the excellent progress you are making in bombing under adverse weather conditions by day and by night."


Mission #140

22 November 1944

Target: West Marshalling Yard, Munich, Germany

In attacking the West Marshalling Yard at Munich on 22 November, Major Rider, leading the formation, proved himself a real formation leader.  On the way over the Alps, en route to the target the Group, flying behind the 451st, which was being led by Colonel Knapp, ran into a deck of cirrus with bases at 20,000 and tops at 28,000 feet.  As they approached the target the cloudiness increased. Far short of the target the pilots were compelled to fly formation on instruments.  Over the target the cirrus was ten-tenths, but Major Rider kept the whole formation together and brought it back over the Alps through weather as bad as that over the target.  The bombing, of course, was done by instruments with unobserved results.  One plane in the formation rammed its nose turret into the tail turret of the plane ahead.  No one was hurt but both turrets were destroyed.  Leaks in the fuel lines, which were caused by flak, compelled 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Welton to bail his crew out south of the bomb line in Italy.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #141

23 November 1944

Target: Troop Concentrations at Novi, Pazar, Prijepolje, and Visegrad, Yugoslavia

Canceled


Mission #141

24 November 1944

Target: West Marshalling Yard, Munich, Germany

Canceled


Mission #141

25 November 1944

Target: West Marshalling Yard, Munich, Germany

For the last mission of the month, which was flown on 25 November, the Group went back again to the west Marshalling Yard at Munich, Germany.  This, however, was a night mission, the first one ever to be flown by the Group.  The three individual planes on the mission were piloted by Lt. Barnes, Lt. Hess, and Lt. Miller.  Two of the planes, feeling that the nine-tenths cloud coverage in the target area warranted them sufficient protection against possible enemy fighters and searchlights, bombed the Marshalling Yard by the pathfinder method.  The third plane, flown by Lt. Barnes, developed oxygen leaks which necessitated the bombing of Haiming, Austria, as a target of opportunity.


Mission #142

27 November 1944

Target: Brux Synthetic Oil Refinery, Czechoslovakia

Canceled


Mission #142

30 November 1944

Target: Main Marshalling Yard, Innsbruck, Austria

Canceled