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

March 1945

Mission No. 186

1 March 1945

Target: Moosebierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

The first mission of the month was a double header with the oil refinery at Moosebierbaum, Austria as the target.  The Red Force, led by Colonel Lawhon, got through the bad weather over the Alps and reached the target.  In the Lake Balaton area the impassible weather made it necessary for Colonel Lawhon to abandon the briefed route.  Instead of attempting to take his formation under the weather, he did a 360 to gain altitude and swung far to the right and east of the Russian bomb line in an effort to find a deck low enough to get over.  The formation was lost by the time it got up above the weather.  The radar navigator, Lt. Loverin, finally picked up Vienna, which he used in orienting himself at the initial point.

By this time the formation was an hour late.  The combination of bad weather and another formation immediately ahead of Colonel Lawhon's Red Force made it impossible to drop the bombs on the first run.  Despite the flak, the formation made another run on the target and Captain Churchill, finding a hole with only three-tenths cloud coverage, bombed the target visually.  The Red Force was one of four out of forty-two formations in the Air Force scheduled to attack the target which bombed visually.

Photographs show that a concentrated pattern of bombs fell at the north edge of the refinery.  Several direct hits were scored on the distillation plant, the compressor house, the cracking unit, and the hydraulic acid plant.  Other bombs fell on the railroad siding and still others in the building area at the west edge of the refinery.  The mission was scored at 33 percent.

The Blue Force, led by Major Mixson, was unable to find a passage under, above, or around the weather in the Lake Balaton area and returned its bombs to base.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 187

2 March 1945

Target: North Marshalling Yard, Austria

Major Poole led Mission No. 187 in attacking the North Marshalling Yard, Austria, on 2 March.  Because of cloud coverage at the target, the formation was compelled to bomb by instruments.  Photographs of bombing show the target obscured by smoke some bombs outside the target area.  Twelve of twenty-five planes over the target were hit by flak none were lost.

Mission poop sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 188

3 March 1945

Target: Komarom Marshalling Yard, Hungary

Canceled


Mission No. 188

4 March 1945

Target: Graz Main Marshalling Yard, Austria

The mission of 4 March against Graz Main Marshalling Yard, Austria, found Major Rider leading a large formation.  The bombs fell across the target area with twenty-five strikes on cars in the yard and other rail installations.  An overhead pass was hit, while still other bombs fell on the tracks between the main marshalling yard and the freight yards.  The mission was scored at 26.7 percent.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 189

5 March 1945

Target: Linz Benzol Plant, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 189

6 March 1945

Target: Vienna Schwechat Oil Refinery, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 189

7 March 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 189

8 March 1945

Target: Hegyeshalom Marshalling Yard, Hungary

Both a Red and a Blue Force were dispatched on 8 March to attack the marshalling yard at Hegyeshalom, Hungary.  The Red Force, led by Major Mixson, dropped 42.6 percent of its bombs within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point which included the roundhouse.  The score of the Blue Force led by Captain Thackston, was 29 percent.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 190

9 March 1945

Target: Graz Marshalling Yard, Austria

The primary target for Mission No. 190 on 9 March was the marshalling yard at Bruck, Austria.  Because of bad weather over the primary target, which was to have been a visual target, the Red Force was compelled to select an alternate pathfinder target.  Captain MacDougall, leading the formation selected the Graz Marshalling Yard.  The bombing was done by instruments with unobserved results.

Major Poole, leading the Blue Force, also abandoned the primary target and attacked the marshalling yard at Graz with unobserved results.  One flight of the Blue Force became separated from the formation in the bad weather in the Klagenfurt area.  Being unable to find the Blue Force, this box joined the 451st Group for a run on marshalling yard at Graz but did not drop its bombs.

Mission poop sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 191

10 March 1945

Target: Almasfuzito Oil Refinery, Hungary

Canceled


Mission No. 191

11 March 1945

Target: Muhldorf Marshalling Yard Germany

Canceled


Mission No. 191

12 March 1945

Target: Vienna Florisdorf Oil Refinery, Austria

On 12 March Captain Trommershausser led a large formation attacking the Florisdorf Oil Refinery at Vienna, Austria.  A ten-tenths cloud coverage over the target necessitated pathfinder bombing with unobserved results.  On this mission the Group had the unique experience of bombing a Vienna target without suffering any damage from flak.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 192

13 March 1945

Target: Regensburg Main Marshalling Yard, Germany

On 13 March Major Mixson led a four box formation in attacking the marshalling yard at Regensburg, Germany.  Again the bombing was done by the pathfinder method and again the results were unobserved.  There was no flak at Regensburg.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 193

14 March 1945

Target: Wiener Neustadt Marshalling Yard, Austria

Mission No. 193 on 14 March was a planned visual mission against the marshalling yard at Bruck, Austria.  Bad weather still prevailed. Lt. Colonel Hardy, leading a six box formation, was compelled to find an alternate target which could be bombed by instruments.  The target selected was the marshalling yard at Wiener Neustadt, Austria.  The bombs were dropped through a solid undercast with unobserved results.  This proved to be another target at which there was no flak.

Mission poop sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 194

15 March 1945

Target: Wiener Neustadt Marshalling Yard, Austria

The marshalling yard at Wiener Neustadt, Austria, was again hit by pathfinder bombing as an alternate target.  The briefed target had been the Schwechat Oil refinery at Vienna, but it could not be bombed visually.  This time Major Poole took thirty-six planes over Wiener Neustadt without experiencing any flak.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 195

16 March 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

On 16 March the Group wrote "finite" on the oil refinery at Moosbierbaum, Austria.  With ideal weather and only slight interference from non-effective smoke screens, the thirty-four planes in the formation hit the northeast portion of the refinery.  The photographs show that a very concentrated pattern of bombs fell on that section of the refinery.  Direct hits were scored on the distillation unit, the liquid air plant, buried oil storage cylinders, and oil storage tanks.  The score for the mission was 69.3 percent, the highest score made by the Group during the month of March.  Twenty-five of the thirty-four planes over the target were hit by flak and three men were injured.  Captain Trommershausser was the formation leader.

Mission poop sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Message of Commendation

To: All Concerned

"My congratulations to the 461st Bombardment Group for the excellent bombing of 16 March 1945.  Please pass to all participating my personal commendation."


Mission No. 196

17 March 1945

Target: Bratislava Rangier, Marshalling Yard, Czechoslovakia

Canceled


Mission No. 196

18 March 1945

Target: Linz Main Marshalling Yard, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 196

19 March 1945

Target: Muhldorf Marshalling Yard, Germany

One hundred pound general purpose bombs were used by the Group in attacking the marshalling yard at Muhldorf, Germany, on 19 March.  A great deal of damage was done to the target, but the bomb pattern was scattered over a comparatively large area.  Of the thirty-five planes led over the target by Captain Thackston, only one was hit by flak.  Unfortunately, however, a man was injured in the damaged airplane.  Colonel Lawhon, flying in the tail end position of the formation, finished his tour of combat duty with this mission.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 197

20 March 1945

Target: Wels Main Marshalling Yard, Austria

Lt. Colonel Hardy led a six box formation in attacking the Wels Main Marshalling Yard, Austria, on 20 March.  Again 100 pound general purpose bombs were used.  Despite an eight-tenths cloud coverage at the target, the bombing was done visually.  As had repeatedly been the case during the month when the Group was attacking marshalling yards of secondary - importance, there was no flak at this target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 198

21 March 1945

Target: Graz Marshalling Yard, Austria

For Mission No. 198 on 21 March the marshalling yard at Graz turned out to be the alternate target selected for pathfinder bombing.  The primary target had been the Bruck Marshalling Yard, Austria, but Major Poole, the formation leader, abandoned it because of poor visibility.  One thousand pound general purpose bombs were used on this mission.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 199

22 March 1945

Target: Vienna Florisdorf Oil Refinery and Marshalling Yard, Austria

The primary target for Mission No. 199 on 22 March was the Kagran Oil Refinery, which is situated due east from Vienna.  Because this was believed to be the only active enemy oil refinery within bombing range of the Fifteenth Air Force, this target was rated as a first priority target.  Bad weather and poor visibility in the whole Vienna area, however, made it impossible to attack this target visually.  Since it could not be picked up by the mickey operator, Captain Trommershausser, leading the formation, was compelled to select another target for pathfinder bombing.  The Florisdorf Marshalling Yard and Oil Refinery was selected.  The lead "mickey operator", Lt. Levin, sighted on the marshalling yard, but most of the bombs carried across into the oil refinery which was believed to already have been destroyed.  The intense, accurate, and heavy flak in the target area holed twenty of the twenty-seven planes on the bomb run and wounded one man.

Mission bombing photo

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Message of Commendation

To: All Concerned

"The Commanding General is gratified to be able to pass the following message from General Arnold to General Spaatz relayed through General Cannon: "Noted in your message dated 24 March outlining results achieved during the period 16 to 22 March.  Results are source of great satisfaction to all. Such smashing aerial attacks coordinated with relentless ground pressure can only result in complete victory.  Please pass for me to all echelons of the Fifteenth Air Force my personal commendation."


Mission No. 200

23 March 1945

Vienna Kagran Oil Refinery, Austria

Mission No. 200 was flown on 23 March 1945 with Captain Trommershausser again leading the formation.  Again the target was the high priority Kagran Oil Refinery near Vienna.  Despite good visibility the mission was scored only at 19.6 percent.  Failure to knock out this target was a bitter disappointment to the Group because it had been hoped by all that Mission No. 200 would be one of outstanding success.  Part of the poor bombing might be attributed to the fact that the lead bombardier, Lt. Rosulek, was wounded just before bombs away.

Thirteen of the thirty planes over the target were hit by flak, Lt. Rosulek was wounded and one plane was lost.  The lost plane, which was flown by 2nd Lt. William R. Baird, had lost a propeller and had an engine on fire when last seen coming off the target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 201

24 March 1945

Target: Ceske Budejovice Marshalling Yard, Czechoslovakia

On 24 March the Group bombed again in Czechoslovakia on the first mission in a long time to this country.  The target was the marshalling yard at Ceske Budejovice.  Captain Thackston led the formation against this undefended target.  The patterns around the two aiming points were scattered but both of them carried completely across the marshalling yard.  The two roundhouses and workshops were caught in the patterns as well as the passenger station and the freight yards.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 202

25 March 1945

Target: Wels Airdrome, Austria

The formation leader of the month of March, Captain Trommershausser, turned in his second superior mission of the month in dropping frags on the Airdrome at Wels, Austria.  A splendid pattern fell across the airdrome area, continued into the hangers at the southeast edge of the airdrome, destroyed and damaged several enemy airplanes, and started explosions along the service apron.

Even the success of the mission, however, failed to completely erase the disappointment which attended it.  The briefed primary target had been the Kbely Airdrome at Prague, Czechoslovakia, one of the hottest nests of the enemy's jet propelled ME-262 airplanes.  Captain Trommershausser had led twenty-nine airplanes to the Kbely Airdrome, which is located at 50" 08' north latitude and 14" 33' east longitude, only to have to abandon the target because of mechanical failures.  On the bomb run the interphone system on the lead plane went out.  Without this the bombardier and the pilot were unable to coordinate the bomb run.  The target was located so far from the base that Captain Trommershausser did not dare expend the gasoline required to make a 360° circle for another run to the target.  As the formation turned away from the target, the crew members saw many enemy airplanes parked on the airfield.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 203

26 March 1945

Target: Straszhof Marshalling Yard, Austria

Using 100 pound general purpose bombs, Major Poole led the mission of 26 March which brought excellent results in the bombing of the marshalling yard at Straszhof, Austria.  The bombs smothered the west choke point of the yards and started large fires.  Flak at the target was described as slight, inaccurate, and heavy but two planes failed to return to the base and two others were hit.  En route to the target the plane flown by 2nd Lt. Lloyd R. Heinze was last seen at good altitude with an engine on fire near Pecs, Hungary.  The plane flown by 2nd Lt. Raymond E. Spehalsky left the formation after being hit by flak.  Pilots in the bomber formation were later told over the intercommunications system by escort fighter pilots that they had seen eight chutes open from the plane before it crashed.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 204

27 March 1945

Target: Vienna Southeast Communications, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 204

28 March 1945

Target: Ybbs Marshalling Yard, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 204

29 March 1945

Target: Vienna North Station, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 204

30 March 1945

Target: Graz Marshalling Yard, Austria

Mission No. 204 on the 30th of the month was a four plane "lone wolf' mission with the Vienna North Marshalling Yard as the primary target.  Finding that the weather over the Alps was much better than had been briefed, Lt. Miller, who had taken over the lead, decided to abandon the primary target and to hit the marshalling yard at Graz as an alternate target.  Using visual means the small formation dropped its bombs with excellent results.  Three of the four planes were hit by flak but all returned to base.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 205

31 March 1945

Target: Linz Benzol Plant, Austria

The target for the last day of the month was the benzol plant at Linz, Austria.  This was a planned pathfinder mission.  The planes dropped their 1000 pound general purpose bombs with unobserved results.  Four planes were damaged by flak and three combat crew were wounded.  The plane flown by 2nd Lt. Cleone C. Conner, Jr. left the formation at the head of the Adriatic a short distance from landfall while en route to the target, but failed to return to the base.

Mission bombing photo

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