9th AF Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Mission # 139 -- September 6, 1944, Wednesday PM

Brest, France

Strong Points



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Summary of Operations

Field Order        : 205-533
OpRep #            : 156a
Nature of Mission  : Bombing
Mission Status     : Attacked
Bombing Altitude   : 2,600 - 4,000 feet
Take-off Time      : 1524
Time Over Target   : 1800
Landing Time       : 2039
Duration (Hrs:Min) : 5:15

Place of Take-Off  : AAF-170 Wethersfield RAF Station, England
A/C Dispatched     : 37 Total -- 29 A-20G's, 8 A-20J's
Illustration       : 4805W/56
Illustration Ref   : 078041
Secondary Target   : No Alternate Targets Authorized
Summary of Results : Three flights did not attack due to weather, two flights scored Fair, one Good.

Primary Target Latitude/Longitude: 48.37936,-4.53738 (48° 22' 46" N, 4° 32' 15" W)
(Latitude/Longitude based on The "Coordinates Translator", (LZ1) vV914986)
(See Latitude/Longitude Coordinates and Target Identifiers for more information.)

Loading List 1

Loading List 1, Box I

Loading List 2

Loading List 2, Box II

(NARA photo)

On orders from General Eisenhower himself, the bombing of Brest began on September 1, 1944.

Over a six day period, the 416th conducted six consecutive missions against this target,

effectively neutralizing an enemy stronghold and contributing to the surrender of the city.

Missing Air Crew Reports, Aircraft Accident Reports, and other incidents

         Date          Report

Serial #
Location Personnel (Status when available)
Sep 6, 1944
No_Report   43-9221
139 671 Cherbourg Penninsula Merchant, William A. (Not Injured)
Harp, Clifford J. (WIA)
Brown, Kenneth P. (WIA)

To view more information regarding an Incident/Report, click on the Report hyperlink.
( = Entries having actual Reports available for review.   = Entries having additional Images or Photos.)
To view an individual's Memorial page, click on the "Name" hyperlink.

Mission Loading Lists Transcription

Mission # 139 -- September 6, 1944, Wednesday PM
Brest, France -- Strong Points

Included are Box, Flight and Position; Bomb Squadron; Aircraft Serial Number, Fuselage Code and Model; and Crew Members
transcribed from individual mission Loading List documents by Chris and Mary Adams and Carl Sgamboti.
Some information, such as Squadron, Serial Number, etc. has been expanded from other documents.

Box I -- Flight I
  1  671st                   
  43-22065  5C-E  A-20J
  Maj Willetts, D.L.
  Lt Royalty, P.G.
  S/Sgt Swank, O.E.
  S/Sgt Lempka, H.A.
  2  671st                   
  43-9219  5C-D  A-20G
  Lt Ames, W.H.
  Sgt Fessler, H.S.
  Sgt Brown, R.J.
  3  671st                   
  43-10214  5C-C  A-20G
  Lt Lackovich, J.J.
  Sgt Barry, R.M.
  Sgt Connery, T.
  4  671st                   
  43-9393  5C-K  A-20G
  Lt Perkins, R.D.
  S/Sgt Sherry, V.N.
  S/Sgt Linneman, R.H.
  5  671st                   
  43-9363  5C-L  A-20G
  Lt Gary, J.C.
  Sgt Cheuvront, R.W.
  Sgt Schoen, A.E.
  6  671st                   
  43-9493  5C-V  A-20G
  Lt Henderson, F.W.
  S/Sgt Ashton, L.A.
  S/Sgt Coulombe, P.E.

Box I -- Flight II
  1  669th                   
  43-10135  2A-T  A-20J
  Capt Huff, M.J.
  Lt Kupits, J.
  Sgt Clark, R.A.
  Lt Hoppe, F.M.
  2  669th                   
  43-9202  2A-B  A-20G
  Lt Tripp, W.F.
  S/Sgt Scott, J.O.
  S/Sgt Mallory, D.F.
  3  669th                   
  43-21767  2A-N  A-20G
  Lt Robertson, R.B.
  S/Sgt Cheney, M.W.
  Sgt Reiter, G.E.
  4  669th                   
  43-10190  2A-I  A-20G
  Lt Allen, J.F., Jr.
  Sgt Getgen, L.R.
  S/Sgt Veazey, C.W.
  5  669th                   
  43-9900  2A-Q  A-20G
  Lt Miller, E.L.
  Cpl Malloy, J.F.
  Sgt Pemberton, J.M.
  6  669th                   
  43-9692  2A-M  A-20G
  Lt Smith, J.F.
  S/Sgt Vafiadis, C.
  S/Sgt Hoffman, R.C.

Box I -- Flight III
  1  669th                   
  43-21469  2A-J  A-20J
  Lt Greene, W.J.
  Lt Nichols, J.R.
  S/Sgt Ochaba, J.A.
  S/Sgt Colbert, W.F.
  2  669th                   
  43-9743  2A-W  A-20G
  Lt Renth, E.J.
  S/Sgt LaNave, O.D.
  Cpl Moskowitz, L.
  3  669th                   
  43-9376  2A-O  A-20G
  Lt Hayter, E.R.
  S/Sgt Melchoir, F.E.
  S/Sgt Holloway, R.G.
  4  669th                   
  43-10155  2A-V  A-20G
  Lt Connor, J.S.
  S/Sgt VanDuyne, J.E.
  S/Sgt Rodgers, H.C.
  5  669th                   
  43-9929  2A-C  A-20G
  Lt Clark, H.B.
  S/Sgt Sabadosh, J.W.
  S/Sgt Floyd, C.F.
  6  670th                   
  43-9892  F6-L  A-20G
  Lt DuBose, M.W.
  Cpl Griffin, D.L.
  Cpl Walters, J.H.

Box I
  SPARE  670th               
  43-9380  F6-N  A-20G
  F/O Turner, E.O.
  Sgt Sienkiewicz, J.
  Sgt Belcas, J.O.
  [Returned Early No Sortie]

Box II -- Flight I
  1  671st                   
  43-21711  5C-S  A-20J
  Capt Marzolf, L.A.
  Lt Beck, J.T.
  S/Sgt Wellin, H.E.
  S/Sgt Kutzer, L.G.
  2  671st                   
  43-10165  5C-H  A-20G
  Lt Withington, D.L.
  Sgt McElhattan, L.D.
  S/Sgt Huss, C.F.
  3  671st                   
  43-9951  5C-P  A-20G
  Lt Miller, J.H.
  S/Sgt Marion, H.A.
  S/Sgt Galender, J.
  4  671st                   
  43-9221  5C-F  A-20G
  Lt Merchant, W.A.
  S/Sgt Harp, C.J.
  S/Sgt Brown, K.P.
  5  671st                   
  43-9711  5C-M  A-20G
  Lt Remiszewski, A.
  Sgt Miguez, J.H.
  Cpl DiOrio, F.
  6  671st                   
  43-9937  5C-B  A-20G
  Lt Herman, A.E.
  S/Sgt Garrett, A.D.
  S/Sgt Young, J.O.

Box II -- Flight II
  1  670th                   
  43-9452  F6-Q  A-20J
  Lt Harrold, F.J.
  Lt Brewer, W.E.
  S/Sgt Griffin, E.L.
  S/Sgt Maziasz, C.W.
  2  670th                   
  43-9689  F6-I  A-20G
  Lt Singletary, R.B.
  Sgt Cianciosi, A.A.
  Sgt Wiggins, H.G.
  3  670th                   
  43-21810  F6-P  A-20G
  Lt Grunig, D.B.
  Sgt Dias, M.E.
  Sgt Nowosielski, H.J.
  4  670th                   
  43-9207  F6-B  A-20G
  Lt Nordstrom, A.W.
  S/Sgt Gossett, J.D.
  S/Sgt Miller, R.L.
  5  670th                   
  43-9224  F6-E  A-20G
  Lt Sewell, J.C.
  Sgt Hummer, J.A.
  Lt Castle, W.D.
  6  670th                   
  43-10211  F6-O  A-20G
  Lt Sparling, J.R.
  Sgt Majewski, S.J.
  Sgt Leahigh, L.L.

Box II -- Flight III
  1  668th                   
  43-21719  5H-V  A-20J
  Lt Bartmus, G.F.
  Lt Hardy, J.F.
  S/Sgt Orr, J.R.
  S/Sgt Flacks, F.L.
  2  668th                   
  43-21480  5H-B  A-20G
  Lt Meredith, R.G.
  S/Sgt Hill, A.A.
  S/Sgt MacDonald, R.W.
  3  668th                   
  43-9194  5H-C  A-20G
  Lt Peede, L.G.
  Sgt Brown, D.M.
  S/Sgt Daugherty, L.M.
  4  668th                   
  43-9907  5H-O  A-20G
  Lt Ebenstein, G.
  S/Sgt Adair, F.L.
  S/Sgt Love, C.F.
  5  668th                   
  43-21760  5H-Z  A-20G
  Lt Kenny, J.P.
  Sgt Metzler, L.V.
  Sgt Sittarich, J.J.
  6  668th                   
  43-21819  5H-K  A-20G
  Lt Kreh, E.B.
  S/Sgt Shelton, E.
  S/Sgt Schenck, D.R.

Box II
  SPARE  668th               
  43-21717  5H-P  A-20J
  Lt Col Aylesworth, T.R.
  Maj Thomas, W.P.
  Sgt Shafer, E.L.
  Sgt Euga, P.G.

Group and Unit Histories

Mission # 139 -- September 6, 1944, Wednesday PM
Brest, France -- Strong Points

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1944"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

In order to make all possible use of the good weather, another 36 ship formation took off for Brest that afternoon. The planes climbed to 12,000 feet. Clouds formed over the Channel and forced the formation down. When it reached the target area, it was down to 6,000 feet. Breaking off into flights, the attack started in a blinding rain. Some of the flights made as many as six bomb runs. Only three flights dropped, however, with fair to good results on the edge of the fortifications, roads, and buildings. On the return trip, when he was nearing the Cherbourg Penninsula, the right engine of Lt Wm. A. Merchant's airplane burst into flames. His two gunners, Staff Sergeants C.J. Harp and K.P. Brown, bailed out into the water and were later rescued. Lt Merchant crash-landed his plane on the Penninsula. Two tires blew on landing. Neither he nor his crew where injured.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 141 - 143

Mission #139 - 6 September - PM - Brest Stronghold. The planes hadn't had time to cool off when they were refueled, rearmed and ready to go again within three hours of getting back to base. Weather closed in again, but the boys got down below the heavy cloud layer and bombed at about 2000 feet. Only three flights were able to drop their bombs. Captain Huff and Lt. Kupits, BN, leading a flight made six bomb runs on the target but gave up when they could not see the aiming point. Lts. Greene and Nichols, BN scored a "good" on their run, this being their first bombing mission as a team. Good for them! Major Willetts and Lt. Royalty, BN led the group in. Captain Marzolf and Lt. Beck, BN, - Lts. Bartmus and Hardy, BN led flights.

The STARS AND STRIPES daily newspaper of the armed forces, printed that an A-20 was missing after the afternoon mission at Brest. It developed that Lt. Merchant had taken a hit from the small arms fire and light flak at that low altitude. In about 1000 sorties our group made over Brest, this was the first downed aircraft.

This is a good story in itself. Lt. W. A. Merchant was flying in No. 3 slot in a flight when his right engine flamed out and a cylinder broke away. Merchant salvoed his bombs which landed in a farm area, pulling away from the formation. He gave the bail-out order to his gunners, S/Sgts. C. J. Harp and K. P. Brown. These gunners had flown 48 missions with Merchant. They were in plane No. 221 which had 86 white bombs painted on it, a real veteran of combat! The two gunners jumped and floated down, landing on a small peninsula. Merchant had feathered his disabled engine and headed toward Brest. The two gunners found each other and were picked up by some Artillery Soldiers. Sgt. Harp had sprained his ankle, having landed without his flying boots, losing them during his descent, causing him to hit the ground in bare feet. He received medical treatment and were put up in a chateau until the morning.

The next morning, they were taken to XII Army headquarters by jeep and then to Morlaix, a small town northeast of Brest. They saw an A-20 parked in the mud off a runway - it was their plane! A mechanic told them the pilot was okay and had walked away. His whereabouts were not known. The gunners hopped a ride on a C-47 and were returned to England.

Merchant's story went thusly:

With the engine feathered, the fire died out. I was at about 1400 feet altitude, losing about 50 feet a minute and going 150 MPH, looking for a place to land. I spotted this little field, and approached it at 90 degrees, put down on the runway, hit the air bottle about 1/3 down, and both tires blew out. We kept going straight. When we stopped, I threw the hatch and jumped out, running away thinking it might blow. I managed to meet an American Red Cross girl who invited me to her mobile unit, where she fixed me a fried egg sandwich at 0130. The next morning I got to Gael and in an L4-B, but there was no transportation to get me out of there.

He got back to the French coast and hitched a ride on a C-47 to London.

"668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

The month of September began with a series of concentrated attacks upon Brest, heavily garrisonned Nazi stronghold at the tip of the Brittanny peninsula. Heavy overcast spelled failure for several missions, but we finally succeeded in hitting the target in a number of close support attacks which aided materially in the eventual capture of this vital port.

"669th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

On the morning of the 6th, Brest was again attacked. Capt. Morton, Lt. Moore, B-N, scored one of the five excellents, that were earned by the Group. That afternoon the weather closed in as the formation again approached a target at Brest. Only three flights were able to bomb although they dropped down to as low as 4,500 feet. Capt. Huff, leading a flight, made six bomb runs but was unable to drop because of the poor visibility. Lt. Greene, Lt. Nichols, B-N, scored a "good" in their first mission as a flight leader.

"670th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

The month of September opened with a series of concentrated attacks on the Port of Brest, France, by light and medium bombers, in which this Group and Squadron played a important part. With the Nazis tenaciously holding on to the Port of Brest, General Eisenhower called for an all out effort. Six missions were flown by our squadron in the first six days of the month. Twelve crews participated on a mission on Sept 1st, 20 crews on two missions on Sept 3rd, six crews on Sept 5th, and 18 crews on Sept 6th on two missions.

Lt Byrne was transferred on Sept 2nd. English money was converted to francs on this day and work started on embarkation rosters in preparation for a move to France. On this date, two officers received notice of their promotions, Lt Gruetzemacher to Captain, and 2d Lt Tollett to First Lieutenant.

The A-20's of our Group were part of a formation of 300 different types of planes that attacked Brest at 06:10, 6th Sept. Three assaults were made on the Port, when Marauders and Havocs dropped more that 500 tons of bombs in order to force a passage way for US troops beseiging the city. Also on this date, a TWX was received delaying our transfer to France, causing a great deal of disappointment to every member of the squadron.

Four "Buzz Bomb" alerts turned the night of September 5th into a sleepless one. One Robot was shot down which was visible from our field, and the explosion of another shook the huts of our area.

"671tst Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

As the Allies drove on into France their supply lines became more extended. Finally to alleviate this situation General Eisenhower ordered the Air Forces to attack Brest until it was captured. It first it appeared that the flight to Brest was beyond our range so arrangements were made for the Group to attack the target and land at St. Mawgin to refuel. Although extended almost to the limit, some of the planes were able to make it back to the base without refueling. However Brest was often protected by a heavy layer of clouds making it necessary for the Group to return several times before dropping their bombs. This was much to the liking of the men in the Squadron for Brest proved to be a "Cake Run" on most occasions. When flights to Brest were getting monotonous boys of the 671st did their part to add a bit of color and excitement to the affair. While over the target one of the engines of Lt. Merchant's plane caught fire. "Feather" immediately ordered his gunners to bail out while he nursed the plane along on one engine till he reached a landing strip at Morlaix. The gunners S Sgt C. J. Harp and S Sgt K. P. Brown returned the next day on a C-47 but for some reason Feather was not to be found, although his airplane was known to have landed safely. Three days later Feather ended the search and killed his MIA report in the personnel basket when he phoned the Operations Officer from Southern England asking for transportation back to the base.

[September 6, 1944], HQ Twelfth Army Group situation map

Map showing Western Allies and Axis troop position details in Western Europe
as of approximately 1200 hours, September 6, 1944
World War II Military Situation Maps Collection
Library of Congress

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