9th AF Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Mission # 211 -- February 22, 1945, Thursday PM

Simmern, Germany

Railroad Bridge



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Summary of Operations

Field Order        : Operations CLARION
OpRep #            : 325a
Nature of Mission  : Bombing and Strafing
Mission Status     : Attacked
Bombing Altitude   : 12,000 feet
Take-off Time      : 1311
Time Over Target   : 1511
Landing Time       : 1631
Duration (Hrs:Min) : 3:20

Place of Take-Off  : A-69 Laon/Athies, France
A/C Dispatched     : 5 Total -- 5 A-26's
Modified British System Reference: L-844530
Summary of Results : Bombing & Strafing mission - Undetermined. No photographs.

Primary Target Latitude/Longitude: 49.97665,7.51956 (49° 58' 36" N, 7° 31' 10" E)
(Latitude/Longitude based on The "Coordinates Translator", (NGZ) wL844530)
(See Latitude/Longitude Coordinates and Target Identifiers for more information.)


Route Map

Loading List 1

Loading List 1, Box I

mission 211

Mission Photo

Mission Loading Lists Transcription

Mission # 211 -- February 22, 1945, Thursday PM
Simmern, Germany -- Railroad Bridge

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  668th                   
  43-22505  5H-Y  A-26C
  Lt Rooney, R.J.
  Lt Kirk, R.L.
  Capt Nielson
  S/Sgt Caudell, S.R.
  2  670th                   
  43-22307  F6-N  A-26B
  Lt Musgrove, W.
  S/Sgt Seighman, H.O.
  3  670th                   
  43-22315  F6-L  A-26B
  Capt Gruetzemacher, R.O.
  Lt Ford, R.
  S/Sgt Ricketson, J.J.
  4  670th                   
  43-22334  F6-G  A-26B
  Lt Downing, W.E.
  Sgt Neal, D.E.
  5  670th                   
  41-39416  F6-O  A-26B
  Lt Turman, A.R.
  Sgt Carney, T.D.
  6  668th                   
  43-22378  5H-O  A-26B
  Lt Wallace, J.F.
  Sgt Plant, R.
  [Not Airborne Fire in Cockpit]

Group and Unit Histories

Mission # 211 -- February 22, 1945, Thursday PM
Simmern, Germany -- Railroad Bridge

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

For weeks, Intelligence and Operations knew of plans for a series of attacks up and down the Western Front, aimed at disrupting the German communications network in one great blow. It was to be a maximum effort on the part of the Ninth Air Force, the Eighth Air Force, and the Royal Air Force. For the Ninth, it would be one of its most spectacular, but dangerous attacks. The 22nd, Washington's birthday, was the day for its execution. Three flights were to attack bridges at Miltenberg; two flights, railroad sidings and bridges at Hochost; one flight, the bridge at Munster; and the seventh flight, the Simmern marshalling yard. The bombing attacks on the first two targets and the last were to be made at about 10,000 feet. Peeling off by elements of two planes, the planes were to dive to the deck and strafe targets only of military importance. We had flown four experimental missions, bombing and strafing before. This, however, was the first time that we had made such an attack on a Group scale. The Munster bridge was attacked in the usual manner, bombing from a medium altitude. All of the bombing attacks were successful, except the attack on Munster. Haze prevented clear recognition of the target so a section of railroad track and a bridge about 43 miles south of the primary target, near Mechesheim, was attacked with excellent results. There were smiles on the faces of those who had strafed. Most of the planes carried wing guns which gave them 14 forward firing machine guns in addition to the four guns in the two turrets. The speed of the planes was the keynote of their success. The speed over the targets ranged from 400 to 500 miles per hour. A total of 63,605 rounds of ammunition were expended in addition to 55 tons of bombs that were dropped. The strafing claims included; 1 tank train destroyed and left burning, one horsedrawn vehicle destroyed, four heavy M/T destroyed, one railroad station damaged, six locomotives damaged, 15 buildings damaged, one light M/T damaged, five barges damaged, 15 goods wagons damaged plus several at Simmern, 15 buildings (barracks) damaged, oil tanks at Simmern damaged.

Box I, attacking Miltenberg, was led by Major Price, Lt Forma and F/O Harvest as B and N. Two flights of Box II, attacking Hochst, were led by Capt Evans, Lt McCartney and F/O Blount as B and N. Flight C of Box II, attacking Munster, was led by Lt Grunig, Lt Morris, B-N. The attack on Simmern, counted as a separate mission, was led by Lt Rooney, Lt Kirk, B-N. Photos showed approximately 11 craters visible in the railroad crossing, cutting at least seven damaged lines and destroying or damaging six wagons.

The formation encountered some weak but accurate flak coming out over the bomb line. There was light flak fired at the strafing planes. Three planes received minor battle damage and returned safely.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 212 - 213

Mission #210 - and #211 - 22 February - Miltenberg - Hochost - Munster - Bombing Strafing Mission. A massive offensive was planned for this day to have the 8th Air Force and 9th Air Force help the ground forces in their advances in Germany by disrupting their communications network. The 9th Air Force was assigned the job of bombing out three bridges and railroad sidings. Bombing was to be done at 10,000 feet and then the formations were to break up into two ship elements and go down to strafing altitudes to wipe out the bridges and railroad sidings. This was, indeed, going to be a thrilling and knowingly dangerous missions and was met with much enthusiasm. Major Price with Lt. Forma and F/O Harvest as BN team leading Box I with three flights to attack the Miltenberg target. Captain Evans and Lt. McCartney and F/O Blount as BNs, were to take out the Hochost target with two flights and Lt. Brunig and Lt. Morris BN to attack Munster with one flight.

Another target was assigned to Lt. Rooney and Lt. Kirk, as BN to wipe out the Simmern Bridge with the seventh flight and this was to count as mission #211.

The bombing attacks on Miltenberg and Hochost were successful. The Munster attack was hindered by haze preventing proper sighting of the target. This flight flew south about 43 miles and picked up a bridge at Mochesheim and knocked it out of commission.

The strafing crews succeeded with tremendous results, including one tank train destroyed and left burning, one horse drawn vehicle destroyed, four heavy motor transports destroyed, one railroad station damaged, 15 buildings damaged severely, one light motor transport left burning, five barges damaged, 16 goods wagons damaged. At Simmern, 15 barracks damaged and oil tanks damaged. Photos showed 11 craters on railroad crossings, cutting at least seven damaged lines and destroying six wagons.

A total of 63,605 rounds of ammunition were spent and 55 tons of bombs dropped. With each A-26 spitting 50 caliber bullets out of 16 guns, must have been quite a sight to experience. There is no way to describe the elation of the crews participating in this exciting adventure.

"Operational History 668th Bomb Squadron (416th Bomb Group (L)) WWII"
Wayne Williams, et.al.

22nd of February – today was the day where we fully italicized the striking power of the A-26 aircraft. Early in the afternoon, our Group took off to bomb and strafe targets in Germany. The strafing was something new, and eagerly anticipated by our crews. This was the first time where the eighteen guns were used on an operational mission. Eleven crews from our squadron took part in the foray, and are talking of it yet. The team of Price & Forma, with F/O Harvest and Gunner Fetko, led the whole show in the A-1-1 position. Flying formation behind them were; Annin & Rivard, Andersen & Babbage & Schafer, Cannon & Brzezinski, Phillips & Miller, and Laseter & Gentry. Leading the second box was Evans & McCartney, with F/O Blount and Gunner Edenburn. Comprising their flight were; Buchanan & Calabrese, Montrose & Gandy, Prucha & Wilson, and Russell & Geyer.

A specific target was assigned to each unit, and the procedure was to bomb and then strafe the area. The target assigned to Major Price’s flight were the bridges at Miltenburg. Haze obscured the assigned target, so the secondary target was hit. The results of the bombing remained unknown. Claims made on the strafe job will be stated later. The planes in this flight were undamaged, except for some small arms fire, which was trivial.

The sidings and bridges at Hochost was the target for Capt. Evans and his flight. They ran into the same difficulty as Major Price’s flight, as a result their assigned target was not bombed. The bombed the secondary and then strafed. They too were fortunate in sustaining little damage to their aircraft. The same procedure described here, carried forth for the rest of the elements in the Group.

The following claims were made by the Group; 1 tank train destroyed and left burning; 1 horsedrawn vehicle destroyed; 3 heavy M/T destroyed, 1 R/R station damaged, 5 locomotives damaged, 15 buildings damaged, 1 light M/T damaged, 5 barges damaged, and 15 goods wagons damaged. This illustrates very well the damage that can be done by these planes on a strafing mission. It is a fearsome sight to see formations of planes spitting lead at over 300 mph.

There was no flak over the targets, and only two aircraft were damaged by enemy fire. Neither of these had serious damage. The mission lasted over four hours, and was one that would last in the memory of all for quite awhile. This may be a preview to more missions of the same type. We consider ourselves fortunate in getting away with so little damage. This was Group Mission # 210. # 211 was flown today also.

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

The mission flown on the 22nd of February was unusual for aircraft of this squadron. Instead of flying the entire mission at medium altitude, the combat crews were briefed to descend and strafe certain targets on the return trip. Therefore, after attacking the Miltenberg Bridges, the airplanes descended and strafed the Simmern railroad yards, with good results.

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

Two missions were run on the 22nd of February. The morning mission was an attack on the Munster Bridge with undetermined results. Six of our crews took part. The afternoon mission was an attack on the Simmern marshalling yards, Bridge and Round house. Excellent results were achieved.

The first leaves given to ground personnel since we arrived overseas were started on the 22nd when Lt Easterwood, T/Sgt Robinson, Sgt Goff and Cpl Wurzburg left for seven days in England. Also on this day, S/Sgt's Burger and Blackford left for the Zone of Interior after having completed their tours of combat missions.

"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns

Marauder, Invader and Havoc fleets of the Ninth Bombardment Division swept over Germany’s vast railroad and communication systems on the afternoon of February 22nd, bombing and strafing bridges and other rail targets in a 200 mile arc running from the Hannover area, northeast of the Ruhr, to the Saar valley. Combined with the Eight Air Force, the R.A.F. and the tactical air forces on the continent, this was one of the most spectacular displays of air power to date. In most cases the planes bombed from their regular altitudes and then dropped down to the deck to strafe. Almost every section of Germany was hit by one of the air forces during the afternoon and night of Operations.

The 416th did its share of disrupting the German rail system by taking four targets – bridges in the Miltenberg area, sidings and bridges at Hochost, the Munster Rail Bridge and the Simmern marshalling yard. After bombs away all ships dropped down to deck level and strafed targets at random.

The three flights of the first box found a haze over the bridge network in the Miltenberg area and the bombardiers were unable to pick up the primary. The bombs hit on roads and factory buildings close by. Two flights of the second box dropped on Hochost. Flight B received an excellent, while the first flight missed the target due to a smoke covering. The bombardier of Flight C mistook a bridge S.E. of Mochesheim for the Munster Bridge, but scored direct hits on the railroad embankment and cut the tracks at several points. The seventh flight hit the Simmern M/Y.. Although photos were not taken, visual observation showed the bombs to have hit close to the large bridge at the marshalling yard. Flak at all these targets was meager.

After the bombing attacks the flights peeled off and strafed in the vicinity of the targets, later re-assembling at the rally point. However, a number of the ships returned on their own. Strafing at speeds up to 425 M.P.H. all crews reported shooting up some type target from horse drawn vehicles, rail stations, buildings, motor conveys and trains.

Captain Hixon, flying his first mission since December 15th, 1944. Captain Sutton chalked up the two outstanding strafe jobs of the day. Capt. Hixon and his gunner, Sgt.Schmidt picked out a German motor convey. In his own words: "We roared down a road and I saw two German trucks standing in the center. The drivers were running for a ditch where I saw a number of people taking cover. Both trucks were burning as we pulled away." Sgt. Schmidt in the turret also managed to pour some lead into a chain of railroad cars. Captain Sutton and is gunner, S/Sgt. Gilliam, strafed a long tank train and set it on fire as nose, wing and turret guns poured a stream of ammunition the length of the train.

The Group did not lose a man or a plane in the day’s operation; and a good time was had by all!

[February 22, 1945], HQ Twelfth Army Group situation map

Map showing Western Allies and Axis troop position details in Western Europe
as of approximately 1200 hours, February 22, 1945
World War II Military Situation Maps Collection
Library of Congress

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