I am beginning to think that this new method is too powerful...
I have flown 11 bridge busting mission to test a new method. Here are my results so far:
Poor - March 29: Namur, RRB, 4x 1000: 30%, Poor (Box 1 20%, Box 2 10%)
This was the first mission with this new method.
Superior - April 2: Athies-Mons, RRB, 6x 500: Superior (Box 1 Good, 75%, Box 2 Superior)
DNB - April 4: Liege/Val Benoit, RRB, 2x 2000: DNB, weather. Secondary: Hasselt, MY.
Weather prevented bombing of the primary target. After this mission, all missions would have good or better conditions over the target in order to test this method with out any interruptions.
Superior - April 9: Rouen, HWB, 8x 300: Superior (Box 1 Excellent, 90%, Box 2 Superiror)
Destroyed - April 15: Athies-Mons, RRB, 8x 500: Destroyed Box 1 Superiror, Box 2 Poor, 0%) I was in Box 2. This bridge was destroyed on this date because of the superior result from April 2. A small bridge must recieve a total of two superior results to be destroyed.
Poor - April 18: Le Manoir, RRB, 8x 300: Poor, 10% (Box 1 0%, Box 2 10%)
Superior - April 20: Courseille-sur-Seine, HWB, (no record of the bomb load): Superiror (Box 1 0%, Box 2 Superiror)
Superiror - April 27: Louvieres, RRB, 6x 500: Superior (Box 1 Superiror, Box 2 Poor 25%)
Destroyed - April 29: Namur, RRB, 6x 500: Destroyed (Box 1 Superiror, Box 2 2x Excellent = 1 Superiror) I think it was the first time on this mission that I rolled To Hit not only for my flight but also for the other two flights in my box. I was in Box 2.
Destroyed - April 30: Le Manoir, RRB, 6x 600: Destroyed (Box 1 Superior, Box 2 Lead was Superior, High was Excellent, Low was Good) I think I was in the low flight. This bridge was destroyed by the Superiror result from Box 1 and Superior from Lead Flight Box 2.
Destroyed - May 11: Mantes-Gassicourt, 6x 500: Destroyed (Box 1 Off, Off, Superiror, Box 2 Superiror) Destroyed by Low Flight Box and the result from Box 2.
This method has seen a couple of changes during these 11 missions, and I have not sent all updates to the A-20 group which is also flying bridge busting missions to test this method. Those first guidelines still work though to test it, but I will soon send the updated version. I will fly one or two missions today and then I'll send it.
My next mission is Louvieres again. We hit this target on April 27. Another superior result will destroy it.
On May 27, 1944 three groups bombed Maison La Fitte RRB, 322nd, 386th, and the 391st. I don't know what the result was, but I suspect that the bridge was only lightly damaged, because it was bombed again the following day by at least four groups. It was bombed again in June (24th) by the 406th (A-20) and the 387th.
Here's what the 391st reported: The bridge Maison Laffitte, carrying rail lines directly into Paris from the northeast, was the target assigned to the group for the evening of May 27 by Wing Field Order 73-322. Thirty-seven aircraft were dispatched at 1907 hours on a course to Beachy Head, to Etretat, to the initial Point for the bombing run at 48 degrees North 01 degrees 36 minutes East to the target which was reached at 2046 hours. Twenty-three of the B-26’s dropped forty-five 2000 pound General Purpose bombs on the bridge, six failing to identify the target until too late, five others releasing on a point mistaken for the primary target, two failing to attack due to mechanical troubles, and one hit by flak on the bomb run.
Of the six flights, only one received a “Good” rating from the first phase interpretation of the strike photos, which said “In a scattered pattern, bombs fell on and near the M.P.I., with hits on the centre of the bridge and on the buildings at the northeast bank of the river.” Intense accurate heavy flak fire was encountered shortly after opening bomb bay doors, and it continued from seven to ten minutes. Number three ship of the high flight, first box, was hit in the right engine over the target, the engine catching fire. The prop was feathered by the pilot, and the plane, while losing altitude gradually, was returning on single engine, when light flak fire from the vicinity of Louvieres caught it and it crashed soon after. Three chutes were seen. In the meantime number five ship of low flight, first box, was hit over the target and was seen to crash in the vicinity of Averned, but six chutes were seen indicating that the entire crew escaped. Twenty-five of the remaining ships suffered flak and battle damage, and four crewmembers were wounded.
Planes returned to base via Etretat and Beachy Head and landed at base 2230 hours.
Destroying bridges in B-26: The Marauder Strikes! might be too easy... Perhaps I should change 250 feet to 10+ or 11+? It should be even more of a challenge to hit bridges in Italy...
For more info about this mission (27th) check out this page, it's in French, but you can find some info in English and also several photos: http://www.b26.com/page/sartrouville/maisons-laffitte-railroad-bridge-bombardements-1944.htm
For additional info, see a few of the 386th bridge missions described here: http://www.b26.com/historian/chester_klier.htm (if you would like to have a complete 386th mission list, please let me know and I'll send it to you.)
The 391st has more info: http://www.391stbombgroup.com/391stbga_001.htm
Louvieres RRB was also hit by the 386th on May 27, the morning mission: http://www.b26.com/marauderman/ah/louviers_rail_road_bridge_seine_river_france.htm
"Here is something you might find interesting. It’s a photo that my aunt recently forwarded to me. It was taken on July 8, 1944, 25 miles west of Paris. You can see 6 German soldiers with a US POW they just arrested. A US bomber was shot down by the Nazis and one of the serviceman jumped off the aircraft and landed with his parachute not far from where my grand parents were living. You can see a civilian facing the soldiers and making a military salute to cheer up the American and tease the Germans. It’s my grand-father…I would like to find out the name of this POW and maybe get in touch with him or his family and forward them this photo." -Philippe Mourand
Hi Philippe ,
Thanks for sending the new picture of the photograph. As you say, this new picture shows a person standing with a bicycle on the left of the picture. Unfortunately, the shadow of that person is partially obscured by the boy standing in front and to the left of the camera. However, the shadow does not extend to the right of the boy, so I would estimate that height/shadow ratio of the person with the bicycle is between 0.4375 to 0.35. These ratios give the angle of the sun (altitude) as between 23.62 to 19.29 degrees.
Using Sun Position Calculator - PVCDROM for these altitudes on June 24th at location 48.97272 degrees North (48d 58m 21s), Longitude 1.84593 East (1d 50m 45s) gives a time between 17:31 GMT (azimuth 279 degrees) to 17:59 GMT (azimuth 284 degrees). This is still in accord with the bearing (azimuth) of 285 degrees for the sun that was previously estimated from the other shadows. I would therefore say that the best estimate for the time that the photograph was taken was around 18:00 GMT or 20:00 local time (GMT+2).
Also, during WW2 summer months, the UK was on "double summer time" or GMT plus 2 hours. So France and the UK would have had the same local time.
According to the book "Rivenhall - The History of an Essex Airfield - B.A. Stait - 1984" ISBN 0-9509438-0-0, there were 6 aircraft lost by the 397th Bomb Group on 24th June 1944:
42-96120 9F-R "Mama Liz"
42-96161 U2-M "Patty Kay"
The book (which I believe was compiled using information from members of the 397th BG) says that 2 of these managed to land in friendly territory, but were not able to be repaired.
There are four MACR for B-26 aircraft for 24th June 1944
A/C Serial # Date MACR Group Squadron A/C Type
42-96120 6/24/1944 6197 397 B-26
42-96121 6/24/1944 6199 397 B-26
42-96127 6/24/1944 6200 397 B-26
42-96177 6/24/1944 6218 397 B-26
On this page (for aircraft 42-96120 9F-R "Mama Liz or Holy Moses") shows that 1 crewman escaped and 5 crewmen were taken prisoner. It also states that the aircraft crashed at Flexanville (16 miles south-west of Maisons-Laffitte, 6 miles south of south-west of Elisabethville). It is said on Moses Gatewood's page that Captain Moses Gatewood was the pilot of the "Mama Liz" that day and states that "HE WAS SHOT DOWN ON JUNE 24, 1944 OVER WEST SUBURBS OF PARIS". However, Capt. Gatewood's statement in the pages that follow gives me the impression that they baled out some time after their bombs were dropped, and that his aircraft was severely damaged near the target (which is in the western suburbs of Paris). The book "Rivenhall - The History of an Essex Airfield" states that "Capt. Moses Gatewood managed to keep the aircraft (possibly "Mama Liz") under control until all the crew were able to bale out near Rouen. Capt. Gatewood managed to evade capture and returned to England on 20th August 1944." So, which location for the baling out is correct - Rouen or Flexanville ? Perhaps one of these 5 crewmen from Gatewood's crew could be the airman in your photograph unless they baled out near Rouen, which is approximately 70 miles north west of Elisabethville. The page on B26.COM has a photograph of Capt. Gatewood and his crew, but it's not possible to identify if one of these is the aircrewman in your photograph.
On this page (for aircraft 42-96121 9F-?) shows that 2 crewmen escaped and 5 crewmen were taken prisoner. It also states that the 2 crewmen who escaped were taken to Arnouville/Goussonville (these are 4 miles south-west of Elisabethville). If the airmen taken prisoner baled out at the same time as those that escaped, it suggests to me that they could have landed close to Elisabethville and thus are the strongest candidates for the airman in your photograph.
On this page (for aircraft 42-96127) shows that all 6 crewmen died.
On this page (for aircraft 42-96177) shows that 2 crewmen escaped and 4 crewmen were taken prisoner, although one of the captured crewmen later escaped. It also states that the crash site as Pont-L'Eveque (not far from Rouen !). The pilot evaded capture (he was probably one of the last to bale out or he crash landed). So, it's possible that one of the 4 crewmen taken prisoner baled out near Elisabethville, but unlikely as the escapees were found near Pont-L'Eveque. Is it possible that there's been some kind of mix-up of the crash sites for 42-96120 and 42-96177 (see above) ?
So, if your photograph was taken on the 24th June 1944, then I believe that the strongest candidates for the airman in the photograph are those from 42-96121. However, this is only logic applied to the information available and some guesswork based on probability. I expect that only the surviving records in France will be able to prove the identity of the unknown airman in the photograph.
Also see Maisons-Laffitte railroad bridge bombardements 1944 By Claude Faix