Mission#57 December 23, 1943 – Target: Gilze-Rijen Airfield Thunder Bombing

Date: Dec 23, 43

Dispatched: 44 Aborts: 0 Mission: Thunder Bombing Field Order: 37(wg)

Time Up/Down: 09:04 hrs 11:06 hrs Leader: Lt Col Duncan

Target: Gilze Rijen

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

Group made L/F between Schouwen and Walcheren Islands at 09:50 hrs at 25,000ft with 56th Group acting as top cover. 350th and 352nd Squadrons carried bombs, 351st acted as close escort. Course flown to Gravesend where right turn was made. Due to cloud, Group flew beyond airfield. Turn was made to the right and both Squadrons made their bomb run on planned courses, 350 Squadron from SW to NE, 352 Squadron from SE to NW starting their dive from about 14,000ft to 15,000ft. 350th releasing bombs from 5-6,000ft, 352nd releasing about 8,000ft. Inasmuch as cloud covered part of the airfield 352nd had to dive thru cloud on their planned bomb run. Angle of dive 45 to 50 degrees, some flights up to 80 degrees. Group pulling up to about 12,000ft and then climbing up to 15,000ft on way out and came out enemy coast as planned at 10:23 hrs. 26 x 500GP fused 1/25 sec nose, 1/100 sec tail and one cluster of 30 x 20 fragmentation bombs were used. 5 bombs brought back to base (one because of mechanical failure, 4 due to failure to see target because of cloud). Bomb results seemed to be well concentrated on airfield; majority of bombs in dispersal areas with 5 bursts on airfield proper, 3 bursts in field south of airfield, 2 bursts on road to the NW and one north western part of canal. Included in these hits was one direct hit on building believed to be station HQ, where large smoke ring came up after bursts. Two direct hits on buildings in SE dispersal, two columns of black smoke seen to come up, 3 hits on runways, and one hit on rail road track to the northwest. No flak encountered until last 2 flights of second bomb squadron attacked, when 12 bursts seen at 6-8,000ft to the right. 20-30 bursts seen behind Group coming up to approx. 25,000ft. No e/a seen. Parker control poor probably due to jamming. Lt Col. Duncan, Capt. Stafford, Lt. Thistlethwaite and Lt. Herfurth of Group participated.

350th: Lt Col Duncan. T/U 09:05 hrs. T/D 10:55 hrs. Total flight time 1:50 hrs. R/V with fighter escort off continental coast in vicinity of Dutch Islands. Proceeded to target on course and entered bomb run from south to north. Hits seen in all dispersal areas. One large building seen destroyed in NW dispersal. No e/a encountered. Fighter support excellent. Weather: Channel overcast – very few breaks – some for continental coast. Clear area on route to target and over target. Contrails above 25,000ft. Air to air. Visibility excellent. Air to ground excellent over target. Bombs: 15 500lb NF 1/25 TF 1/100. 1-5 Cluster, 6 Frag each. Entered dive about 16,000ft, pulled out 7,000 ft.

Lt Col Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt John L. Devane
1st Lt William W. Odom
1st Lt John Zolner
Capt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt William J. Price
2nd Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Charles O. Durant

351st: Capt Pidduck. T/U 09:00 hrs. T/D 11:15 hrs.  Total flight time 2:15 hrs. Route: In Schouwen Islands, S of Dordrecht, target out between Walcheren and Schouwen Islands. Squadron made landfall at Schouwen Island, altitude 27,000ft at 09:53 hours. Continued on course flying as close top cover, slightly arrears, to the 350th and 352nd bombing squadrons. Made a left orbit south of Dordrecht and flew SE passing over the target. Squadron then made a right turn and swept in from the south over the target. Squadron then made a right turn and swept in from the south over the target area, making left turn and taking up position to rear of bombing Squadrons. Left coast between Walcheren and Schouwen Islands at 10:27 hrs, 17,000ft. One hit was seen on south end of runway running from northwest to southeast. Several hits were seen in open field south of runway running from northeast to southwest. 3 hits were seen in dispersal area w of the field. 3 more hits seen in dispersal area E of field. No flak seen going in or out of the coast and only a few bursts seen over the target area.

Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite (Gp HQ)
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
1st Lt William J. Maguire
Capt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
Capt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 09:05 hrs. T/D 10:50 hrs. Total flight time 1:45 hrs. Squadron took off 20 minutes later than planned as planes in our Squadron and the 351st [sic], the other Squadron which was carrying the bombs were not completely serviced. Made landfall as scheduled at 09:54 hrs, on course and proceeded as planned until about 5 miles before the I/P when a shallow right turn was made which brought us out SW of the target. The field was then called in by Lt. Burlingame, and out Squadron turned to the right and flights went into their dive in directions varying from NE to SE. Dives were started at altitude of 14,000ft and planes pulled out at altitudes from 5,000ft to 8,000ft. Sighting of the field and selecting targets was made particularly difficult by a middle layer of clouds extending from 9,000ft to 11,000ft. The following bomb results were observed: 3 hits in#7 area, 4 hits in #5 area, 1 in the S end of the NS runway, 1 in the N end of the NS runway, 1 in the railroad tracks just N of the field, 1 in the canal just outside the village NW of airdrome.  5 A/C failed to bomb for the following reasons: Blue flight – inability to find target, Yellow#3 – failure of bomb release. All five bombs were brought back to base. Moderate, medium and heavy flak accurate for altitude over the target area. Made landfall out at 10:23 hrs. Air to air transmission good. Boyhood control exceptionally poor due to jamming.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Herman Herfurth (Gp HQ)
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty
2nd Lt William S. Marchant
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson

No Group Aborts/Early Returns/Damaged/Lost

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