Lou Prucha WWII Service
Pilot's Flight Log
12th Army Group Situation Map
Group, Unit and Historical Extracts for Mission 210
"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives
For weeks, Intelligence and Operations knew of plans for a series of attacks up and down the Western Front, aimed at disrupting the German communications network in one great blow. It was to be a maximum effort on the part of the Ninth Air Force, the Eighth Air Force, and the Royal Air Force. For the Ninth, it would be one of its most spectacular, but dangerous attacks. The 22nd, Washington's birthday, was the day for its execution. Three flights were to attack bridges at Miltenberg; two flights, railroad sidings and bridges at Hochost; one flight, the bridge at Munster; and the seventh flight, the Simmern marshalling yard. The bombing attacks on the first two targets and the last were to be made at about 10,000 feet. Peeling off by elements of two planes, the planes were to dive to the deck and strafe targets only of military importance. We had flown four experimental missions, bombing and strafing before. This, however, was the first time that we had made such an attack on a Group scale. The Munster bridge was attacked in the usual manner, bombing from a medium altitude. All of the bombing attacks were successful, except the attack on Munster. Haze prevented clear recognition of the target so a section of railroad track and a bridge about 43 miles south of the primary target, near Mechesheim, was attacked with excellent results. There were smiles on the faces of those who had strafed. Most of the planes carried wing guns which gave them 14 forward firing machine guns in addition to the four guns in the two turrets. The speed of the planes was the keynote of their success. The speed over the targets ranged from 400 to 500 miles per hour. A total of 63,605 rounds of ammunition were expended in addition to 55 tons of bombs that were dropped. The strafing claims included; 1 tank train destroyed and left burning, one horsedrawn vehicle destroyed, four heavy M/T destroyed, one railroad station damaged, six locomotives damaged, 15 buildings damaged, one light M/T damaged, five barges damaged, 15 goods wagons damaged plus several at Simmern, 15 buildings (barracks) damaged, oil tanks at Simmern damaged.
Box I, attacking Miltenberg, was led by Major Price, Lt Forma and F/O Harvest as B and N. Two flights of Box II, attacking Hochst, were led by Capt Evans, Lt McCartney and F/O Blount as B and N. Flight C of Box II, attacking Munster, was led by Lt Grunig, Lt Morris, B-N. The attack on Simmern, counted as a separate mission, was led by Lt Rooney, Lt Kirk, B-N. Photos showed approximately 11 craters visible in the railroad crossing, cutting at least seven damaged lines and destroying or damaging six wagons.
The formation encountered some weak but accurate flak coming out over the bomb line. There was light flak fired at the strafing planes. Three planes received minor battle damage and returned safely.
"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Pages 212 - 213
Mission #210 - and #211 - 22 February - Miltenberg - Hochost - Munster - Bombing Strafing Mission. A massive offensive was planned for this day to have the 8th Air Force and 9th Air Force help the ground forces in their advances in Germany by disrupting their communications network. The 9th Air Force was assigned the job of bombing out three bridges and railroad sidings. Bombing was to be done at 10,000 feet and then the formations were to break up into two ship elements and go down to strafing altitudes to wipe out the bridges and railroad sidings. This was, indeed, going to be a thrilling and knowingly dangerous missions and was met with much enthusiasm. Major Price with Lt. Forma and F/O Harvest as BN team leading Box I with three flights to attack the Miltenberg target. Captain Evans and Lt. McCartney and F/O Blount as BNs, were to take out the Hochost target with two flights and Lt. Brunig and Lt. Morris BN to attack Munster with one flight.
Another target was assigned to Lt. Rooney and Lt. Kirk, as BN to wipe out the Simmern Bridge with the seventh flight and this was to count as mission #211.
The bombing attacks on Miltenberg and Hochost were successful. The Munster attack was hindered by haze preventing proper sighting of the target. This flight flew south about 43 miles and picked up a bridge at Mochesheim and knocked it out of commission.
The strafing crews succeeded with tremendous results, including one tank train destroyed and left burning, one horse drawn vehicle destroyed, four heavy motor transports destroyed, one railroad station damaged, 15 buildings damaged severely, one light motor transport left burning, five barges damaged, 16 goods wagons damaged. At Simmern, 15 barracks damaged and oil tanks damaged. Photos showed 11 craters on railroad crossings, cutting at least seven damaged lines and destroying six wagons.
A total of 63,605 rounds of ammunition were spent and 55 tons of bombs dropped. With each A-26 spitting 50 caliber bullets out of 16 guns, must have been quite a sight to experience. There is no way to describe the elation of the crews participating in this exciting adventure.
"668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives
On 22 February, the Squadron participated in the first really successful low-level strafing mission by our aircraft. One flight led by Major Price and Lieutenant Forma attacked bridges at Miltenburg; another led by Captain Evans and Lieutenant McCartney flew against the sidings and bridges at Hochost. This mission was flown as part of a coordinated attack upon Nazi rail and road centers designed to paralyze all German transport in the Rhine valley. The ships released their bombs from medium altitude, and then went down on the deck to strafe any target of military value in the vicinity. When the scores were added up, the Group had the following claims to its credit: one tank train destroyed and left burning; one horsedrawn vehichle destroyed; one R.R. station damaged; fifteen buildings damaged; five locomotives, five barges and fifteen goods wagons damaged.
Ninth Air Force: In Operation CLARION, 450+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s of the 9th Bombardment Division bomb SW German targets including 46 rail bridges, 12 marshalling yards, 11 stations, plus junctions, roundhouses, a viaduct, a crossing, a workshop; this marks the first low-level operations by B-26s since May 43; 1,000+ fighters of the IX, XIX, and XXIX Tactical Air Commands escort the bombers, attack several assigned ground targets, fly armed reconnaissance, and cooperate with the US VIII, XII, and XX Corps along the Prum River and in the Saar-Mosel Triangle.