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

June 1944

Mission #37

2 June 1944

Target: Szolnok Marshalling Yard, Hungary

The month of June began auspiciously with an excellent mission against the Marshalling Yards at Szolnok, Hungary.  Captain Dooley led the Group with Colonel Glantzberg leading the second section.  Good weather, but little flak, no enemy fighters.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #38

4 June 1944

Target: Orelle RR. Bridge and Viaduct, Italy

The target for this mission was a pinpoint target in the Alps Mountains.  A railroad bridge and viaduct at Orelle, Italy.  The Group maintained its poor record against bridges by missing the target because of the failure of the formation leaders to properly identify the target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #39

5 June 1944

Target: Fornovo di Taro R.R. Bridge, Italy

On this mission Lt. Colonel Hawes took his turn at missing a railroad bridge.  The primary target was a railroad bridge at Borgo Val di Tare on the East side of the Apennines.  This target was obscured by built-up cumulus clouds.  After making three unsuccessful attempts to locate the target, the Group flew across to the west side of the Apennines to attack the First Alternate Target, the Fornovo di Taro Railroad Bridge.  Here the weather was CAVU.  The target was missed by a thousand feet.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #40

6 June 1944

Target: Ploesti on ETA, Romania

On this day, while our ground forces were invading the coast of France from England, the bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force struck again at the Germans' source of oil at Ploesti.  Captain Goree led this mission, the only one flown to that target area during the month of June.  He was especially successful in keeping the Group out of much of the flak.  All the targets in the Ploesti area were completely covered by most effective smoke screens.  The city, which was the first alternate target, was bombed on ETA with unobserved results.  Several enemy aircraft were seen and one was destroyed.  All of our planes returned to base, nineteen of them with flak holes.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #41

7 June 1944

Target: Antheor Railroad Viaduct, France

Major Dooley celebrated his promotion by leading the first successful Group mission ever flown by this Group against a railroad viaduct.  The target was at Antheor, France.  A high overcast made it necessary to drop the bomb run to 18,000 feet.  Using 1,000 pounders the bombardiers turned in a score of 49 percent in placing several hits directly on the viaduct.  All planes returned from the mission, but eighteen of them were damaged by flak, and six combat crew members were wounded.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #42

9 June 1944

Target: Munich West Marshalling Yard, Germany

The 9th day of June was a big one for the 461st Group.  During the day Colonel Glantzberg left for a trip to England.  Lt. Colonel Hawes took over the duties of Commanding Officer and led the Wing on its first mission to Munich.  Flight Leader Pilot Strong celebrated his promotion to Captaincy in the lead airplane.

The Primary Target was the Neuaubing Aircraft Factory at Munich.  Because the primary target was obscured by complete cloud coverage, the Group swung to its first alternate target, the West Marshalling Yard.  Although Radar Navigator Operators had been riding in the nose of pathfinder planes on the past several missions, this was the first time that the field order specified the bombing of the target by the pathfinder method.  Radar Navigator Operator Gizelba, Captain Leffler, and Captain Pruitt did a splendid job in hitting the extreme end of the Marshalling Yard.  In accordance with the Fifteenth Air Force policy, this mission was not scored, but the Group was fortunate in getting photo coverage of the bombing despite the undercast.  Our gunners damaged one of three enemy airplanes encountered.  Fourteen bombers were hit by flak.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #43

10 June 1944

Target: Porto Marghera Refinery, Italy

On the 6th of June many of the groups in the Fifteenth Air Force had gone to Ploesti.  On the 10th of June, the Air Force resumed its policy of bombing the enemy sources of oil supply.  Our mission was against the oil refinery of Porto Marghera, Italy.  The 765th Squadron Bombardier, Lt. Murphy, found the target for the other bombardiers who turned in an excellent score of 44 percent on this important target.  Not too much flak was encountered and no enemy aircraft were seen.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #44

11 June 1944

Target: Giurgiu Oil Storage, Romania

Again, this time on its forty-fourth mission, the Group got a score of 44 percent on an oil installation.  This time the Giurgiu Oil Storage in Romania was the target.  Not too much flak was encountered at the target, but the Group tangled with eighteen enemy fighters.  The results of this encounter were six enemy planes destroyed, four probably destroyed, and one damaged.  Two bombers were lost to the combination of flak and fighters, and one man was injured.  The crews lost were those of 1st Lt. Hefling and 1st Lt. Heald.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #45

13 June 1944

Target: Porto Marghera Aluminum Plant and Storage Facilities, Italy

This mission led to many complications which several people had difficulties in explaining.  The trouble began when the lead plane in which Lt. Colonel Hawes was flying as co-pilot and Group Leader was forced to turn back from near the head of the Adriatic.  Major Dooley, who had been flying in the Deputy Lead position, took over the lead.  The abortion of the original lead plane must have caught the Deputy Lead Navigator, Lt. Slusing, unprepared to take over the lead.  When the Group finally oriented itself it was inland in the Po Valley instead of inland at the head of the Adriatic.  By this time eleven planes had aborted from the formation and the time for fighter rendezvous had passed.  Because of these circumstances Major Dooley elected to bomb the last resort target at Porto Marghera instead of going on to the highly important primary target, the Neuaubing Aircraft Factory at Munich.

In preparing the briefing for the last resort target, the Group bombardier, Captain Leffler, had selected two aiming points on the same axis of attack which were located in line with each other along the axis of attack.  One of the aiming points was an oil dump; the other was an aluminum plant.  Nineteen planes which bombed this target hit it on an axis of attack different from the one which had been briefed.  As a result they hit only the aluminum plant.

After the crews returned from the mission the explaining began.  The Air Force was incensed because the Group had abandoned the Primary Target.  The Wing was excited because of the large number of abortions.  When the completed mission report showed that the aluminum plant had been hit instead of the oil installations, the Air Force refused to score the mission.

The finale to this mission was the disclosure of the fact by reconnaissance photography that much of the Aluminum plant had been destroyed.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #46

14 June 1944

Target: Szony Oil Storage, Hungary

The Air Force was still slaving away at German oil.  The Group bombardiers were still hot.  With CAVU weather, no enemy fighters, and only slight flak the 461st got 39 percent of its bombs within 1,000 feet of the center of impact on the oil storage installations at Szony, Hungary.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

From: Lee, CO 49th Bomb Wing (H), APO 520

To: Commanding Officer - 451st, 461st, 484th Bomb Groups, APO 520

The following teletype is quoted for your information.  The message from the Commander in Chief Mediterranean Allied Air Force quoted below is forwarded to all units with great pride in the accomplishments of the Fifteenth Air Force.  "The improvement in our bombing accuracy is a splendid tribute to all commanders and organizations for their untiring efforts, willing cooperation, and unselfish devotion to duty.  However, we must never relax in our efforts to improve the training technique and employment of our weapon to insure ever increasing destruction to our enemy.  I have just studied carefully the strike photographs of your valuable targets for the last few days.  The accuracy of your bombing is impressive.  It appears to me that your Air Force has never done two better days work.  It is also quite evident that the Fifteenth Air Force can now be looked upon as a thoroughly trained and efficient heavy bomber organization with no superiors anywhere.

I wish you could express to your Wing and Commanders and their combat crews my great pride in their accomplishment and my recognition of their operational efficiency in their high standards of bombing accuracy.

For your information I have just passed the following message to General Spaatz: "A careful study of the strikes and photographs of the targets of the Fifteenth Air Force for the past few days indicates clearly superior performance on both days.  I do not believe this Air Force has ever done two better days work.  I have not seen more accurate bombing of small points anywhere, anytime.  In particular the oil refineries attacked yesterday were, in my opinion, completely destroyed or rendered entirely unserviceable for a long period.  I have commended the Fifteenth Air Force.  There is good evidence that the Fifteenth Air Force is now a veteran organization with very high standards of bombing accuracy and operational efficiency."


Mission #47

17 June 1944

Target: Oradea Marshalling Yard, Roumania

Canceled


Mission #47

18 June 1944

Target: Giurgiu Oil Storage, Roumania

Canceled


Mission #47

19 June 1944

Target: Avignon Marshalling Yard, France

Canceled


Mission #47

21 June 1944

Target: City of Breslau, Germany

Canceled


Mission #47

22 June 1944

Target: Trieste Oil Storage, Italy

Both the oil targets and the bad weather of the past several days were continued.  The Assistant Group Operations Officer, Major Work, who had just been promoted, was unable to lead the Group to the oil storage installations at Trieste, Italy because of the bad weather.  Turned back from the Primary Target, the Group circled Lake Venezia but were unable to pick up a target either at Mestre or at Porto Marghere.  A few of the bombers jettisoned their loads in the Adriatic, but most of them returned their bombs to base.


Mission #48

23 June 1944

Target: Giurgiu Oil Storage, Roumania

This was the second mission of the month to the oil storage area at Giurgiu, Roumania.  On the first mission the Group had used 250 pound general purpose bombs.  This time, with the intention of reaching underground installations, the Group used 1,000 pound general purpose bombs.  The flak at the target, which was extremely intense and accurate, damaged twenty-nine of our planes but none were lost.  Two men were injured.  Fifteen enemy aircraft were seen, but there were no encounters. Lt. Colonel Hawes, Lt. Veiluva, Captain Leffler, Captain Pruitt, and Lt. Rhodes led the Group on the most successful mission it ever had.  Sixty-eight percent of the big bombs were dropped within 1,000 feet of the center of impact.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #49

25 June 1944

Target: Avignon East Marshalling Yard, France

As a diversion from the oil installation targets, the Group was assigned on this mission to attack the East Marshalling Yard at Avignon, France.  Good weather, no fighters, no flak. Major Burke, who led the formation, dropped a little from his previous dizzy heights of successful missions with a score of 26 percent of the bombs on target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #50

26 June 1944

Target: Korneuburg Refineries, Austria

For its fiftieth mission the Group was back again to an oil target.  The target, a concentrated one, was a refinery in the open country near the small town of Korneuburg in Austria.  Lt. Colonel Knapp led the formation.  The pilot of the lead plane was a new one in the number one position of "A" Flight of the first attack unit, Lt. Alkire.  The target was obscured by smoke from the explosions of the other two Groups in the Wing.  Some bombs hit in the smoke, but most of them were scattered outside the target area.

The plane piloted by Lt. Zive left the formation at the initial point and disappeared.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

From: Lee, CO 49th Bomb Wing (H)

To: Commanding Officer - 451st, 461st, 484th Bomb Groups, APO 520

The following message received from General Spaatz will be brought to the attention of all members of your command: "I wish to congratulate you, your commanders, the combat crews, ground personnel of the Fifteenth Air Force for your splendid performance in yesterday's attack against the Vienna oil installations.  You have dealt the enemy another hard blow.  The aggressive and persistent attacks being made by the Fifteenth Air Force against the enemy's most critical targets are most gratifying."


Mission #51

28 June 1944

Target: City of Bucharest on Pathfinder, Roumania

With the intentions of cutting the railroad lines connecting Bucharest and Ploesti, the Air Force again assigned the Chitila Marshalling Yard at Bucharest to the Group as a target.  As has been the case on many of the missions which Colonel Glantzberg had led, poor weather hindered the success of the mission.  A great deal of bad weather was experienced en route to the target area.  The weather cleared at the target, but there was an intense haze.  Instead of bombing the Marshalling Yards visually, the Group bombed the City of Bucharest by pathfinder.  Although there was a great deal of flak in the target area, the Group escaped without much damage.  One man was injured, and three airplanes were damaged.  Twenty-four enemy aircraft were seen and several were encountered.  One of those was destroyed and two were listed as probables.  Colonel Glantzberg, just back from England, led the formation.  Bucharest traditions prevailed: bad weather, plenty of heavy and accurate flak, and not especially good bombing.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission #52

30 June 1944

Target: Blechhammer South Synthetic Oil Plant, Germany

On the last day of the month the Group was still hammering away at enemy oil installations.  This time the target was one of the two synthetic rubber and oil plants at Blechhammer, Germany.  In this target area there are two large establishments known as Blechhammer South and Blechhammer North.  These plants, which are located in open country approximately two miles apart, are rectangular in shape.  They are approximately 3,000 by 5,000 feet in size.  They have a combined output capacity of 500,000 tons a year.

Our target was the South Plant.  Colonel Glantzberg, leading the Group ran into his usual bad weather.  Added to an almost complete undercast were the defenses of the target which consisted of intense heavy flak and effective smoke screens.  The bombing was done visually with unobserved results.