Mission 15: Emden, Germany
December 11, 1943




8th Hits Emden,
Destroys 138 Fighters

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Third Biggest Score
Is Rolled Up in Blow
At Vital U-Boat Base

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17 Bombers, Three Escorts
Lost; N. J. Pilot New Ace

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    American heavy bombers struck their seventh blow of the war at the German port of Emden over the weekend, and, at a cost of 17 bombers and three fighters, blazed the way to their third biggest victory over Luftwaffe interceptors.
    One hundred and thirty- eight German planes were claimed as destroyed by the fleet of Fortresses and Liberators and their P47 and P38 escorts. The bombers' gunners claimed 117 enemy aircraft, with 20 probables and 12 damaged; fighter camera-guns showed 21 kills.
    Bomb hits were registered on the big submarine construction yards, port facilities and other targets in the city area along the eastern edge of the Ems Estuary, which is Germany's most western port. Emden, although comparatively small in pre-war days, has grown in importance since the extermination of Hamburg and the heavy pounding of Bremen and Wilhelmshaven.
    In long duels with formations of virtually every type of Nazi fighter plane, the U.S. airmen rang up their highest score over a single target, and a mark exceeded only by the two-target battles of Schweinfurt-Regensburg, on Aug. 17, and Vegesack-Bremen, on October 8.

Third Raid of Month

    The U.S. attack on Emden came after two straight nights of Mosquito penetrations of western Germany. It was the third raid this month for Eighth Bomber Command, which opened December with missions to northwestern Germany on the first and attacked military installations in France last Sunday.
    A force of some 20 or 30 German bombers -- mostly Dornier 217s -- was over England Friday night. Four were destroyed, three by one Canadian Mosquito pilot, after bombs had caused casualties and damage.
    The Forts and Liberators which went to Emden Saturday found spotty and intense flak over the target area, which includes the vast Nordseewerke submarine yards, where reconnaissance photos had shown eight subs were being built and two more were in process of fitting out. Port facilities, too, have been over-taxed with the influx of raw materials from Scandinavia, and the Dortmund-Ems canal system, beginning there, has shown intense activity.

Rocket Attacks Persistent

    Rocket-firing Me110s and 210s pressed persistent attacks against the bomber armada and the Lightnings and Thunderbolts providing cover. Two Eighth Fighter Command pilots scored triple victories. Capt. Robert A. Lamb, of Ridgewood, N.J., who thus became an ace, and Lt. Paul A. Conger, of Piedmont, Cal. Three other fighter pilots scored doubles.
    Capt. Lamb, who got one "kill" without firing a shot and raised his total to five, told of the fighting:
    "We were flying high when we rendezvoused with the bombers. I saw a group of Me110's flying formation at the right of the bombers, and dove on three of them at the right rear. I singled out an Me110 on the left and started firing at 400 yards, closing to 50 yards. I saw strikes on the plane and pieces fly off. Suddenly the two men bailed out and I broke off, almost running into a Ju88 which came up from behind. I went under him and pulled up in front. He fired rockets, but they missed. Then I zoomed up in back of the bombers and saw six Me110s. I came in from behind these as they made a left turn, so I closed on the third plane to the left and started firing. There were strikes on the fuselage and heavy strikes on the right wing, which collapsed. One of the men, probably the pilot, bailed out. I headed for the next plane and registered a 'kill' without even firing at it, because both the pilot and gunner bailed out immediately."
    Pilots destroying two enemy planes were: 1/Lt. Robill W. Roberts, New Boston, Tex.; 1/Lt. Joe H. Powers, Tulsa, Okla., and Lt. Donovan F. Smith, Miles, Mich.
    While snow was reported in the Straits of Dover during the time the bombers were out, combat crews said they flew above the weather, beyond a thick overcast which hid the North Sea, and came into good visibility as they moved into the target zone.
    Over the weekend, too, the British Air Ministry announced that last month's percentage of losses, despite four major attacks on Berlin, was as low as any month in 1943 since February. In August the percentage -- the exact figure was not revealed -- was equally low. While no official percentage ever has been released for British air losses, it has been assumed that they ranged in the neighborhood of five per cent, or a little less -- roughly similar to the USAAF's daytime loss record.




8th Heavies Renew
Attacks on Germany;
B26s Hit Amsterdam

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Dutch Airfield Raided
By Mediums; Emden
Reported in Ruins

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    American heavy bombers, striking their fourth blow of the month, hammered their way into northwest Germany for the second time within 48 hours yesterday, while B-26 Marauders battered the important Schipol airfield at Amsterdam.
    The renewed USAAF attacks, making up for time lost because of bad weather earlier in the month, kept the sirens screaming over western Germany where, only a few hours before, elusive RAF Mosquitoes, for the third successive night, carried out new lightning attacks.
    Eighth Air Force had not disclosed at a late hour last night whether Fortresses or Liberators, or both, carried out the new assault on Germany. The targets also had not been revealed, but it was announced that the heavies were accompanied by fighter support.

Emden 'Doesn't Exist'

    Even as the big four-engine ships were returning, the neutral listening post of Stockholm was claiming that the great submarine building port of Emden "no longer exists" as a result of last Saturday's USAAF raid and those that preceded it.
    The newspaper Aftontidningen said that 538 bodies had been recovered, of some 1,000 killed and 3,000 injured. It added that 12,000 of the city's 30,000 population had been rendered homeless and were fleeing toward Holland.
    The flak-rimmed Amsterdam-Schipol airdrome, on the eastern edge of the Hook of Holland, is nearly a 300-mile round trip for the Marauders. The airfield, one of the major Luftwaffe posts on the Dutch coast, ordinarily would have provided base for much of the fighter opposition sent aloft at the Kiel and Bremen raiders. It was last attacked by the Marauders on Nov. 3.

One Engine From Amsterdam

    One of the flak-scarred Marauders came back from Amsterdam on one engine, the longest trip yet for a battle-damaged B26 in this theater. It was the Rock Hill Special, piloted by 1/Lt. Thomas J. (Lucky) Steenson, 23, of Staatsburg, N.Y. Flak smashed the port engine just as the bombs dropped, and after feathering the propeller, Steenson flew the ship back to England on one engine, despite steady sniping by flak emplacements until clear of enemy territory.
    With his ship, Howard Hurricane, bearing more than 300 flak holes and one wing sieved, Capt. Gerald Howard, of Stevensville, Mich., came back to base full of praise for the Marauder: "I wouldn't be in another bomber after today's raid. The B26 proved that it can take it and dish it out."
    1/Lt. Jerome Mudge, of Minneapolis, Minn., picked a rough mission to finish his tour of operations in the ETO. His plane lost an engine to flak on the way in but bombed on the three engines and was forced to leave formation near the coast on the way home. Half a dozen fighter attacks were beaten off by Mudge's gunners, who, however, entered no claims.
    "We were too busy to get confirmations," Mudge said.




Live Bomb Caught on B17 Wing
Gives Crew Panicky Trip Home

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    A U.S. FORTRESS BASE, Dec. 12 -- One bomb dropped from a Flying Fortress in yesterday's USAAF raid on Emden never got to the ground. It came all the way back to England swaying dangerously on the wing of a second Fort, whose perspiring crew pinched themselves occasionally today, just checking to see if they really were alive.
    2/Lt. Edward D. Martin, 28, of Greensboro, N. C., pilot of the second Fort, explained the stowaway bomb:
    "We were directly over the target. All the ships had their bomb bay doors open, their bombs dropping down. A ship flying above and ahead of us had a bomb-release malfunction, and one of its bombs released late and landed on our wing just to the rear of the No. 1 engine.
    "The ship lurched down on the wing. I thought the controls were hit. I then saw this bomb, live fuse and all, out there on my wing. It had broken open and a jelly-like substance was oozing from the casing. Why it didn't go off on impact with the wing or ignite from the heat of the engine we'll never know. Someone must have been praying for us."
    During the time the Fort was over the target, and for part of the way back home, enemy fighters zoomed and whizzed around. A single bullet from any of them could have set fire to the bomb -- an incendiary. But none hit, and the ship, being handled "very tenderly" by Lt. Martin, continued on its way.
    Over the North Sea, the generator on the No. 1 engine burned out. Smoke curled up and around the bomb.
    "All of us were really sweating that out, for we were sure it was the bomb," said Martin.
    With the crash wagon, ambulance,fire truck and assorted ordnance and armament workers lining the runway, Lt. Martin set down the Fort (a borrowed machine, his own Patricia being in the hangar for repairs to previous raid damage) "ever so gently" and then headed for chow.
    Crews quickly made the bomb harmless and wheeled the Fort away.
    Other members of Martin's crew were: 2/Lt. David A. Nichols, co-pilot, of Portland, Ore. ; 2/Lt. John R. Sampson, bombardier, of Lowell, Ariz ; 2/Lt. Kasimir A. Martzyk, navigator, of Chicago ; T/Sgt. Joseph Napolitan, radio operator, of Brooklyn, N.Y. ; T/Sgt. Norris Friedlander, top turret gunner, of Greensburg, Pa ; S/Sgt. Carl R. Coney, ball turret gunner, of Three Rivers, Mich. ; T/Sgt. John R. Palmer, right waist gunner, of Akron, Ohio ; S/Sgt. Alvin H. Miller, left waist gunner, of Cleveland ; and S/Sgt. Rudy L. Davis, tail gunner, of Louisville, Ky.



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