44th Bomb Group Mission Number 1

Date City Country Target
5/29/1943 St. Nazaire / La Pallice France U-boat Pens

Unofficial Mission Summary 

(ODR) Check list for Briefing

1 - Primary Target
St. Nazaire - France
Location - Southeastern coast of France
Importance - Submarine pens. The target being the tide lock-gate to the tidal basin. Its destruction will drain the lock and prevent use of submarines repair now in use on Atlantic route and our supply line.

2 - Secondary Target
Nantes - France (Chateau Bougon)
Location - 50 miles East of St. Nazaire on the Loire River. The target is the Aeroplane Assembly Works of the S.N.C.A. de l'Quest situated at Chateau Bougon 3 miles S.W. of Nantes on the North side of the Pornic road and 1/2 mile East of the Chateau Bougon Aerodrome. Well equipped with American machine tools. Repair of Heinkel 111 bombers.

Excerpts from Intelligence Reports: Headquarters, VIII Bomber Command A.P.O. 634
Bomber Command Narrative of Operations Day
Operation - 29 May, 1943. Mission No.61

THE FIRST MISSION OF THE 379TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP - WORLD WAR II - 1st WING

Target I: St. Nazaire Secondary Nantes - U-Boat Installations
Target II: La Pallice - U-Boat Installations
Target III: Rennes - Naval Storage Depot
Diversionary attacks made by R.A.F.

The main attack was directed at St. Nazaire where 147 B-17's of the 1st Wing successfully bombed the submarine installations in the Bassin de St. Nazaire and the Bassin de Penhouet. 34 B-24s from the 2nd Wing bombed U-Boat installations at La Pallice with good results. 72 B-17s of the 4th Wing were dispatched to bomb the Naval Storage Depot at Rennes, and 57 bombed with poor results, most bombs falling in residential areas. Fighter support was furnished to 1st and 4th Wings by Spitfires and P-47 Squadrons. 14 A/C are missing from the three operations while claims amount to 25 - 5 - 15.

Diversionary attacks were made on Caen A/D and Cherbourg-Maupertus A/D by R.A.F. bombers and fighters.

REASONS FOR FAILURE TO BOMB: 21 a/c failed to bomb, 20 because of mechanical and equipment failures and 1 because of personnel failure. 1 of the 8 YB40s taking part in the mission returned early because of mechanical failure.

ENCOUNTERS: Enemy Aircraft opposition was light. Groups reported that 20-40 e/a mostly FW190s with a few ME109s and 1 or 2 ME110s and JU88s began attacks just before the I.P. and continued over the target and out to French Coast. Attacks were pressed home vigorously. E/a were observed following the formation and in the main attacking cripples. Two crews reported one aerial bomb was dropped 1000 yds. beyond formation. Varied markings of the e/a included yellow, red, and white noses, fuselages of green-gray, blue, mottled camouflage, solid brown, white belly and tan top; black and silver ME109s; and black and yellow striped FW190s. Some FW190s had white markings similar to those of P-47s.

CASUALITIES: - Personnnel: 10 crew members were wounded and 71 are missing. 9 crew members from lost a/c of 305th Group were picked up by air sea Recure E. of Start Point.
- Equipment: 8 B-17s were lost, 6 due to flak, 1 to e/a, and 1 for
reasons unknown.
- Estimated Battle Damage: 58 B-17s - "A".

FIGHTER SUPPORT: 10 Spitfire and 3 P-47 Squadrons furnished withdrawal cover from the vicinity of Guingamp to the English coast. Diversionary attacks were made on Caen A/D by 11 Venturas supported by Spitfires and on Cherbourg-Maupertus A/D by 1 Squadron of Typhoon bombers escorted by Typhoons.

ROUTE: Portland Bill to 49 Degrees 20 N, 03 Degree 00W; to Redon; to target; to 10 miles E. of Belle Isle; to Guingamp; to 49 Degrees 00 N, 03 degrees 20 W; to Portland Bill; to bases.

WEATHER: At take-off there was 3/10-5/10 cirrus at estimated height of 25,000-26,000 ft., with 2/10-4/10 cumulus having 4,000 ft. base and 6,000 ft. tops. Visibility was 405 miles in haze. From bases to English coast there was 4/10-7/10 variable cirrus at estimated 25,000-27,000 ft., with 3/10 altocumulus and altostratus at estimated 10,000-15,000 ft. Medium cloud decreased to nil across the Channel with high cloud remaining the same and no low cloud. Visibility of 6-10 miles in SW England improved to 15-20 miles over the Channel and France. At the target there was 6/10 cirrus at estimated 27,000 ft., no low or medium cloud, and a downward visibility of 20 miles. Conditions on the route back to the English coast were the same as on the route in to target, with bases on return having 5/10 cirus, 4/10-6/10 altocumulus and altostratus, and no low cloud. Visibility was 6 miles. Persistent contrails were observed at 24,000 ft. from 100 miles W. of bases to English coast on route out. Winds were satisfactory. Temperature over target at 25,000 ft., was -24 degrees C.

OBSERVATIONS: An apparent Army Camp was seen at edge of woods near Ploormel, France, with an estimated 100 one-storey buildings of round reef construction. Two large truck convoys of about 100 vehicles were seen handed SE between Ploormel and Redon. A concentration of vehicles, barracks and new roads was reported NW of Redon at 47 Decrees 51N - 02 Degrees 13 W. Military construction was reported at Renac, France, and other construction 1 mile N. of St. Nazaire. A large factory with many new buildings was seen at 48 Degrees 03N., 01 Degrees 45 W. An apprently new A/D reported 10 miles E. of Lorient had two crossed uncamouflaged runways. An A/D was also seen near Collineo and Augan. A B-17 was seen through binoculars on A/D at 47 Degrees 47 N, 02 Degrees 52 W., just NW of field. SW of Rennes at 47 Degrees 57 N, 02 Degrees 22 W, also seen through binoculars, were about 200 barracks buildings and 8 Nissen hits. A large reservoir was observed at 48 Degrees 26 N, 02 Degrees 51 W. Considerable construction was noted in shipyards south of Basin at St. Nazare. A 4-gun (Flak) battery was seen at Escoublae and two 4-gun batteries seen on NW side of Guernsey Island. The harbor at Paimbol contained at least 1 large M/V and 6 to 8 smaller vessels. Two large M/V seen in Lorient harbor. Eight M/V were reported at Etel, France, which at 23,000 ft., appeared to be transports. One report stated that e/a attacked with air-to-air bombs (no results stated), and one crew reported seeing 6 red balloons rising toward the formation and exploding with a red flash at about their altitude. Smoke screen at target was ineffective, and boats appeared to be putting up smoke screen south of target. Two rows of smoke pots were seen around south side of Morbihan Bay. Smoke screen at Lorient were reported as ineffective, except for one group which reported them as effective.


10/10 Clouds - Entire 379th Bomb Group either returned with bombs or jettisoned bombs.

2nd Wing Target: La Pallice
3rd Wing Target: Naval Stores Depot at Rennes
 
 
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