Lou Prucha WWII Service
Pilot's Flight Log
12th Army Group Situation Map
Group, Unit and Historical Extracts for Mission 200
"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives
The big day arrived on the 8th. After an aerial barrage similar to that of St Lo, the Canadian First Army was to step off in an offensive that was soon to reach the Rhine northwest of Dusseldorf. Weather again was very bad, but our planes went in to do an excellent job. A letter of commendation was received on the bombing. The mission marked the first time that we had bombed equipped solely with A-26s. The new A-26C with a glass nose led the flights and boxes. The planes carried 250-lb. fragmentation bombs, dropping 99 1/2 tons on the target. This was the greatest tonnage ever dropped by the Group. The mission also marked the 200th flown by the Group. The 200 mission had been flown in the span of a few days more than 11 months. Col Willetts, with Lt Royalty and Lt Muir as B and N, had the pleasure of leading the formation on its 200th mission. Captain Pair, Lt Corum, B-N, led the second box. While returning to the base, Lt C.H. Stead called the control tower saying that he had only a few minutes fuel left. It was the last word heard from him. His plane was found later in a field near Villers St George, where it had crashed. Lt Stead was killed. His gunner, Sgt C.E. Tranchina, was seriously injured in the crash and died the next day. Their bodies were interred at the American Military Cemetery, Solars Seine et Marne, France. The mission was successful and marked the beginning of a series of attacks all along the front.
"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Mission #200 - 8 February - Nutterden-Crannenberg, Holland. Colonel Willetts and Lt. Royalty, BN and Captain Pair, Lt. Corum, BN led boxes. Captain Hulse and Lt. Conte BN led a flight. The group has now been outfitted with glass nosed A-26s, releasing the popular A-20s, for leading flights. The concept of two BNs riding in the nose of the A-26s started, with one man responsible for the navigation and the other to be the bombardier. Lt. Muir rode with Lt. Royalty as the combination BN team. Clouds obscured the target again. The secondary targets were hit with good results. Lt. Stead reported he was low on gas, but then there was no further communication from him. His plane had crashed, killing him and seriously injuring his gunner, Sgt. C. E. Transhina who died the next day.
The Canadian and British ground forces were scheduled for a big push toward Dusseldorf, and aerial bombardment was called to clear some of the path for them. The Canadian First Army stepped off on an offensive to reach the Rhine River. While weather was bad our bombing helped since we received a letter of commendation for the excellent bombing accomplished.
"Operational History 668th Bomb Squadron (416th Bomb Group (L)) WWII"
Wayne Williams, et.al.
8th of February – this mission # 200 was flown with twelve crews representing our squadron. Price & Hand, Stanley & Blount led our flights. The defended area at Nutterden was the target bombed, this action in accordance with the ground strategy. This time the bombs were dropped on "Gee", and again no photos were taken to establish the success of the mission. The formation returned after a 3:45 flight with a comparatively quiet time of it.
"668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives
On 8 February, a sortie against the defended area at Nuttenden marked the 200th mission for the Group in less than a year of operations.
"History of 670th Bombardment Squadron (L)"
Transcription from USAF Archives
Seven of our crews took part in an attack the 8th of February on the Mutterden. 98 ˝ tons of 260-pound fragmentation bombs were dropped. This was the Group’s 200th mission.
"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns
Group Mission Number 200 on February 8th, 1945
The "Bridge-Bustin", "Road-Blocking", "Town Smashing" 416th Bomb Group set what is probably an all time record on February 8th, 1945 by running its 200th mission in less than a year of Operations. The Group ran its mission on March 3rd, 1944 and reached the 100th mission mark on July 18th, 1944.
The lead for this record mission went to the 671st Bomb Squadron, with Lt. Colonel Willetts and Lt. Royalty leading the first box and Captain Pair and Lt. Corum leading the second.
It was ironical that the A-20 Havoc would never see its 200th mission with this Group, but that was the case. The formation was composed entirely of A-26 Invaders for the first time. A-20Js and Ks had been used for leading flights since the Group converted to the A-26s in October, but new A-26Cs replaced the veteran A-20s on this 200th mission.
The formation was briefed and sent off as a visual mission, but adverse weather was encountered in the target area. Unable to pick out the primary which was the defended village of Nutterden, Colonel Willetts dropped on the German town of Elton with the aid of Gee, while Captain Pair dropped his lead on the same town using ETA, as his Gee box was out. In all, 37 A-26s dropped 739 x 260 frags in the area.
There was no battle damage, but one ship crashed 12 miles from the base because of a fuel shortage. The pilot, Lt. Steed of the 669th Squadron, was killed and his gunner was seriously injured.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): 320+ B-26s, A-20s, and A-26s strike a road junction, marshalling yard, 3 defended areas, and 10 casual targets in Germany. Fighters fly armed reconnaissance, bomb numerous ground targets, and support the US XII Corps which has, on 7 Feb, crossed the Our and Sauer Rivers between Vianden and Echternach, Luxembourg and established bridgeheads. HQ 406th Fighter Group and the 512th Fighter Squadron move from Metz, France to Assche, Belgium with P-47s. The 39th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, Ninth AF, based at St Amand, France with F-5s, sends a flight to operate from Le Culot, Belgium.