Mission#1 August 9, 1943 – 353rd Fighter Group

Today, on the sixty-ninth anniversary of the first operational mission for all three squadrons of the Group, I am embarking on an extended experiment. One of my aims behind this blog is to provide a readily accessible source of chronological information on the 353rd’s activities. To this end, I plan to sequentially post details on all the missions they flew during World War II and also note any other significant events. The 353rd were operational for some twenty-one months and in that time flew 450 missions. So you can see this is going to be quite some task and should take me roughly the same amount of time.

I do not at this stage know if my plan will work out. I have a busy few months coming up and I imagine that keeping up with their operational schedule will be pretty difficult at times (especially as the pace of operations increases around D-Day) – so be patient if I am a little sluggish posting. I’m also concerned that it might hinder me writing other differently themed posts so do not be surprised if I veer off course for a bit of variety at times. The other worry is that keeping up with operations will mean 450 email notifications to those following the blog. I welcome feedback, so if this does become too tiresome let me know and I’ll come up with a plan B.

The basic format will be along the lines set out below. I will include the number of aircraft on the mission, the mission purpose, the field order number, time up and time down, mission leader, target, claims (destroyed, probable and damaged) in the air and on the ground and finally any losses or damage suffered by the Group. I will then detail specific Squadron information and flight plans. One thing I’m not planning on doing is including combat reports/accounts – my eyesight is too precious and my typing skill too poor to make it practical. Hopefully, it will not be all dry statistics and as I come across photos or points of interest I will include them. My overall idea is to learn something more about the history of the 353rd and in doing so create a research resource for everyone. I welcome contributions from you either directly or via the comments function at the bottom of the posts – your piece of information might just be the one needed to make all the others make sense. The level of success of this experiment depends on you out there as much as me.

So without further ado, here is the 353rd’s first mission flown August 9, 1943 as separate Squadrons with the 4th, 56th and 78th Fighter Groups…

Date: Aug 9, 1943

Dispatched: 48  Abort: 5  Mission: Sweep         Field Order: 28/95

Time Up/Down: __ hrs __ hrs    Leader: No overall   Target: Various

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00

Lost/Damaged: 00-00

350th: 16 a/c from Halesworth, swept Holland as a Squadron with 56th FG. Col Zemke led. Flight plan unknown (can anyone help?).

351st: 16 a/c from Debden, swept Le Touquet/Dunkirk as a Squadron with 4th FG. Major Christian led Squadron. T/U 15.55 hrs T/D 17.35 hrs. Total flight time 1:40 hrs.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
1st Lt George N. Ahles
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
1st Lt William R. Burkett
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite

352nd: 16 a/c from Duxford, swept Abbeville as a Squadron with 78th FG. Major Duncan led Squadron. T/U 16.40 hrs T/D 18.20 hrs. Total flight time 1:40 hrs.

Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
1st Lt Charles V. Kipfer
Major Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin
1st Lt William F. Streit

Group Aborts/Early Returns:

42-22462 ERTN oxygen leak SX-P
42-8390 ERTN oxygen leak SX-?
42-7904 ERTN oxygen leak SX-F
42-7910 ERTN turbo light malfunction SX-J
42-22458 ERTN oxygen leak SX-L


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