‘U.S. bombs, from U.S. airplanes,’ hit Germany

The B-17 Flying Fortress was the U.S. bomber most closely identified with the bombing campaign against Germany.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was the U.S. bomber most closely identified with the bombing campaign against Germany.

One of the many decisions made at the Casablanca Conference was confirmation of the intensified bomber offensive against Germany, now to be undertaken by both RAF Bomber Command and the U.S. Eighth Air Force, based in Britain. This was known as the ‘Casablanca Directive”:

1. Your Primary object will be the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial, and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.

The 8th Air Force had been building up its strength in Britain since early 1942 and had flown its first missions against targets in occupied France.

. B-24s in Consolidated-Vultee Plant, Fort Worth, Texas. Part of the world's largest double aircraft assembly line in Consolidated-Vultee's Fort Worth plant.

The enormous manufacturing capacity of the United States was now gathering strength – a large part of it would be directed against reducing the manufacturing capacity of Germany.
B-24s in Consolidated-Vultee Plant, Fort Worth, Texas. Part of the world’s largest double aircraft assembly line in Consolidated-Vultee’s Fort Worth plant. In foreground are “Liberator” bombers modified for special American uses. To the rear of this front line are C-87 “Liberator Express Transports” in various assembly stages. The second line is composed entirely of B-24 “Liberator” bombers in final assembly stages.

Now operations moved up a stage with the first attack on Germany from Britain:

303rd BG(H) Combat Mission No. 12

27 January 1943

Target: Wilhelmshaven Naval Base, Germany

Crews Dispatched: 11

Length of Mission: 5 1/2 hours

Bomb Load: 4 x 1000 lbs H.E. Demolition bombs

Bombing Altitude: 23,000 ft

Ammo Fired: 14,142 rounds

Enemy Aircraft Claims: 1 Destroyed, 1 Damaged

Germany, for the first time, was bombed with U.S. bombs, from U.S. airplanes, with U.S. crews. Maj. Green and Lt. Von Schmidt conducted the briefing at 0545 hours.

#41-24541, Spook, 358BS-G, piloted by Lt. Oxrider, had a harrowing experience in keeping with the aircraft’s name. A life raft, released by the vibration from the firing of the top turret by T/Sgt. Frederick B. Ziemer, struck the left waist gunner, Sgt. Wilmer G. Raesley. The left waist gun went wild, shooting holes in the side of the aircraft and wounding the tail gunner, S/Sgt. James K. Sadler. Sgt. Sadler received two bullet holes (not serious) in his right buttock and was hospitalized. These events caused Lt. Oxrider to return home when ten miles over the English Channel.

Both waist guns and the ball turret fuse went out on #41-24558, Hunga Dunga, 358BS-F, piloted by Lt. McDonald.

#41-24605, Knockout Dropper, 359BS-R, piloted by Lt. Roller, turned back when the interphone system stopped working.

The eight remaining 303rd BG(H) B-17s and 45 others from the 91st, 305th, and 306th Bomb Groups, bombed the secondary target at Wilhelmshaven. The primary target, a power house at Vegesack, Germany, was obscured by clouds.

The 2BW B-24s failed to bomb when they were unable to locate the target because of cloud cover and poor navigation. Moderate, heavy and inaccurate anti-aircraft fire was observed in the target area while dropping 1,000-lb. bombs from 25,000 feet.

Ten to fifteen ME-109s were observed by the crews and about 30 encounters ensued. There were many claims for aircraft destroyed, and gunners were credited with one destroyed that crashed into the sea and one damaged.

All aircraft returned safely with only a few battle scars. Gunners declared that most of the German pilots were “Greenhorns” and made constant tactical mistakes, many of which would not be made again. Two crewmen suffered from frostbite.

Read the whole of the Mission Report at 303rd BG.

A tired and haggard Captain Harold Stouse in the 427th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group - who piloted B-17F-27-BO 41-24635 'The Eightball' to Wilhelmshaven on 27_]anuary 1943, the lirst time the 8th Air Force bombed a German target 4 fills out his flight report after the mission. USAAF.

A tired and haggard Captain Harold Stouse in the 427th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group – who piloted B-17F 27-BO 41-24635 ‘The Eightball’ to Wilhelmshaven on 27 January 1943, the first time the 8th Air Force bombed a German target fills out his flight report after the mission. USAAF.

Read about more Captain Harold Stouse and much, much more about his Bomber Group at 303rd BG.

Unedited footage of the men right after the raid:

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Editor February 20, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Thanks Doug. I really appreciate people contributing ‘technical’ knowledge, often well beyond my area of expertise, as I usually rely on the original captions. And it is amazing how much detail on WWII some people know.

Doug February 19, 2018 at 4:14 am

Those “special American use” aircraft in the foreground are actually PB4Y-1 Liberators. These were the unmodified B-24’s used by the US Navy for long range maritime patrol.

These were replaced by the PB4Y-2 Privateer. That was the modified version with the single tail, longer fuselage, no ball turret, and more guns.

Really have enjoyed the series everyday. You’ve done excellent overall, and produced a lot of lesser known information. Thank you for your hard work.

James Hall January 27, 2018 at 9:02 pm

I recommend “Fire and Fury” about the history and the reality of the bombiing of Germany in WWII. Really throws a lot of doubt about the part played by US and UK leadership.

Jason Pilalas July 28, 2017 at 12:34 am

Very interesting film clips in a number of ways. The opening clip shows Gregory Peck in Twelve O’Clock High (1949), from the book of the same name by 8th AAF veterans, still used in U.S. management training to illustrate leadership under high stress. The fictional bomb group in the film is the 918th, simply the 306th times three. The opening scene is memorable and widely acknowledged as one of the best in Hollywood history. The colonel in the first of the newsreels is Curtis Lemay, later famous and much-criticized by some as the head of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the early years of the Cold War. His straight-ahead, no-nonsense style cannot be totally obscured. It was SAC and RAF Bomber Command which kept the USSR in check until ICBMs arrived to seal the balance of mutually-assured destruction and thus preserve an uneasy peace.

David Strong July 24, 2017 at 8:31 pm

The raid was actually led by the 306th Bomb Group (The Reich Wreckers), which is why they are frequently known as “First Over Germany”.

Douglas W. Gross April 26, 2017 at 8:57 am

Great film will have to show it to my neighbor, who flew 32 missions over Germany as a tail-gunner with the 493rd bomb group. His name is Jack Rude he just turned 94 years old on the 16th of April 2017. He is my HERO ! I served in the Air Force myself as a medic at Cannon AFB Clovis NM.

Michael Foley May 21, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Wonderful film at the end. It’s unusual to see raw footage like this. It really gives a better sense of the airmen as actual young men. It makes their courage even more awe-inspiring when you see their mannerisms and realize how young they were. Thanks for finding this.

Leave a Comment

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: