Lou Prucha WWII Service   

416th Mission #166  --  Wednesday, December 6, 1944
Erkelenz, Germany
(Defended Area)

Pilot's Flight Log

12th Army Group Situation Map

Lou flew Box 2, Flight 2, Position 6;
piloting 668 Bomb Sq. A-26B-20-DL Invader, Serial # 41-39269, Fuselage code 5H-K.

This was Lou's first combat mission. Lou moved to the #3 postion in his flight after takeoff because one of the aircraft in the flight had throttle problems and did not get airborne. Unfortunately, Lou returned from the mission with all 6 bombs because his flight leader (Lt. Stanley) did not drop. The results of the mission bombing were unobserved due to cloud cover.

The reasons for missions against defended towns and villages is described in the 671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History:

"General Vandenberg, Commanding General of the Ninth Air Force, recently disclosed the reason for so many missions against small defended towns and villages to the rear of the actual battle line. Speaking to crews at a briefing, General Anderson, Ninth Bomb Division head, voiced the views of both Vandenberg and himself in commanding the 416th for the job it has done, and told them yet of the job they had to do.

The numerous towns that the 416th went to the past month were not actually front line strong points, but many were highly important areas in which the front line Germans would retreat for rest after a long period of actual battle. To knock out these positions would leave the battle weary Nazis without a place to recuperate and many of the bombing attacks would catch thousands of Germans in these towns. General Anderson said that this was a very strong factor in the advance of the allied troops. Destruction of these towns would also remove a possible carrier to our troops when they reached these positions."

See also the 416th Bomb Group Mission # 166 page.  View the target area in Google Maps.

Click to display the official 416th Bomb Group Mission Folder, Mission Report and Operational Report
scanned to PDF files by the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA).
(Note: Depending on Internet speed, these PDF files may take some time to download and display.)

The Stars and Stripes Newspaper
Article on the new A-26 Invader.

Group, Unit and Historical Extracts for Mission 166

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1944"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

The following day, the 6th, the defended village of Erkelenz was attacked with 500-pound bombs. A 9/10th cloud cover forced the formation to bomb on a PPF plane. The results were unobserved. The formation encountered some meager flak at the bombline and at the target. The box leaders were Lt. Col. Meng, Lt. Powell, B-N, and Capt. Hulse, Lt. Conte, B-N.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 174 - 175

Mission #166 - 6 December - Erkelenz, Germany. Pathfinder B-26s had to lead the boxes due to cloud cover, which is becoming an everyday occurrence, but bombs were dropped anyway with unobserved results. Flights were led by Captain Hulse and Lt. Conte, BN, - Lts. Brown and Kerns, BN, - Lts. Buskirk and Hanna, BN and Lt. Stanley with F/O Blount, BN. Bombing was at 13,000 feet - no flak or fighters bothered the group. Captain Cole of the 671st squadron wound up his 65th mission by flying a window dropping ship. S/Sgt. Horace Wellin, also of the 671st flew his 65th mission today.

Sometimes its difficult to understand everything that goes on. New pilots were being transferred to our group and some pilots were leaving the 416th to go to the 410th group.

The STARS AND STRIPES carried an item in their 8 December issue about the newest addition to our group, the A-26, and repeating Lt. McGlohn's description as it being "a dream ship."

"Operational History 668th Bomb Squadron (416th Bomb Group (L)) WWII"
Wayne Williams, et.al.

Today’s mission is very near identical to yesterday’s mission. This was Group Mission #166, with six crews from this squadron. Leading our flight in an A-20K was Lt. Stanley, with F/O Blount as Bombardier, and Gunners Collier and Brzezinski manning the .50 cals. Flying in formation with them were; Lt’s Meredith, Kenny, Annin, Prucha. The Group "wheels" were along too, with Capt. Shaefer, Col. Aylesworth, and Capt. Fontaine in A-26B # 218.

Erkelenz, Germany, another defended village was the picture seen through the bombsight. Again this was a PFF mission, and bombing was don thru the clouds. The bombing was done by boxes from 13,000, and 154 x 500 lb. GP’s hurtled thru the clouds to fall on the target. There was little flak, and no fighter action present, and the formation returned to the base for the day.

I learned today that we are losing two bombardiers from this squadron. Both 2nd Lt. J.F. Hardy, and 2nd Lt. B.C. Morris are transferring to the 410th Bomb Gp. Rumor has it that they will go on special duty with this mixed bomb group.

"History of 670th Bombardment Squadron (L)"
Transcription from USAF Archives

Again on the sixth pathfinder was used in the bombing attack on Erkelenz, another defended village. Only meager flak opposition was encountered. Although the results of the five hundred pound bombs were unobserved, photoreconnaissance the following day showed that superior results were obtained. Half the buildings in the north of the town were damaged or destroyed and all ten-railroad lines in the town were damaged.

"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns

With the 416th Invaders again taking advantage of Pathfinders, another highly important defended town was plastered with bombs mid-day on December 6th, 1944. The A-26s hit Erkelents, a town of 6,000-population 20miles northwest of Duren. It is five miles inside the German defense line and is in the path of the U.S. 9th and British 21st Armies. There was no photo coverage or visual observation of results due to cloud cover, but lead crews reported bomb releases perfectly timed with the Pathfinders.

This mission was the means for another veteran 671st pilot to finish up his tour with 65 missions. Lt.Ronald D.Perkins, who joined the Squadron in Lake Charles, had been on some of the rougher of the Groups missions, but classed his finale as a milk run.

There were no losses, casualties or battle damage.

"USAAF Chronology of WWII, month by month"

TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): In Germany, 154 A-20s and B-26s bomb the defended areas of Munstereifel, Erkelenz, Nideggen, and Daun; fighters escort the bombers, fly armed reconnaissance and night patrol, attack bridges, gun positions, and other targets, and provide air cover for the US V, VII, and XII Corps in the areas of Sarreguemines, France and Bergstein, and Lucherberg, and along the Saar River, Germany.

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Last Updated: 08-Sep-2013