Mission 18: Bremen, Germany
December 20, 1943




Battered Bremen Is
Hammered Again

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Heavies Strike Hard
As 'Hamburging' of
Key Port Continues

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25 Bombers Lost; Raid Follows Twin Blow
On Innsbruck, Augsburg, Deep in
Reich, by Italy-Based Planes

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    American heavy bombers attacked Bremen, Germany's principal seaport, in daylight yesterday, less than 24 hours after Fortresses and Liberators based in Italy had bombed Augsburg and Innsbruck in the deepest penetration yet of the Greater Reich from bases to the south.
    The raid on Bremen was the fourth announced by the USAAF in 37 days, and German radio reported an additional raid on the key port five days ago, when stories from neutral sources began to speculate on whether Bremen was being "Hamburged" in the manner in which that city was destroyed last summer.
    The raid Sunday on Innsbruck and Augsburg, coupled with yesterday's blow against the Reich from the northwest, pounded home the meaning of Gen. Henry H. Arnold who, after the Teheran conference, promised a 360-degree circle of bombs and fire on targets within Germany.
    The bombers flew through a concentrated barrage of flak to carry out their fourth announced attack on Bremen since Nov. 13. In addition, German radio said five days ago that Bremen had been hit by U.S. bombers, but the USAAF announced only that targets in northwestern Germany were attacked that day.
    Eighth Fighter Command escorts battled German interceptors over the Reich itself, and two new American fighter aces came out of the dogfights.
    Marauders also were out yesterday, attacking military installations in northern France without loss.
    Bremen, which has been pounded five times within 37 days by the USAAF, became the Reich's most important port after Hamburg was blasted out of existence by the combined attacks of RAF and U.S. heavy bombers last summer.
    The big dock and shipbuilding areas are its most important targets, but the Focke-Wulf repair factory, large textile works, grain mills and lumber yards also are prime military objectives.
    The largest shipyards are those of the Deutsche Schiffwerke and the Deschimag Werke. Bremen's population has been swollen, by its war-time importance, to something more than 350,000, but how many of these have been driven from the city by the heavy pounding is not known. Swedish news reports repeatedly have told of civilian workers fleeing the ravaged city.
    Of the seven attacks on Bremen which Eighth Bomber Command has announced since last April, two officially were described as aimed at the big Focke-Wulf works, and the others at port and industrial facilities.
    Bombers went to Bremen once in April, once in June, once in October, three times in November -- 13th, 16th, 29th -- and once in December.
    In addition, German radio reported another attack on Bremen on Dec. 13. USAAF headquarters announced that day that bombers attacked targets in northwestern Germany, but did not specify any single objectives.
    "It looks as though we did a tremendous amount of damage," said Col. Maurice A. Preston, of Dulare, Cal., a B17 combat wing commander, who led one of yesterday's Fortress formations.
    "It is certainly one of the best operations we have ever had. I saw our bombs dropping right in the target area. There were plenty of German fighters around but our fighters kept them away from the formation."
    "I followed our bombs all the way down until they struck," said Sgt. Walter R. Cyr, of Tacoma, Wash., a ball turret gunner on the Fort Miami Clipper. "There were a lot of fires burning in Bremen sending up big clouds of smoke."

Heavy Flak Encountered

    M/Sgt. A. W. Gibbons, of Jamaica Plains, Mass., a navigator formerly with the RAF, said, "It was the heaviest concentration of flak I have ever seen."
    It was the sixth day this month of operations for Eighth Bomber Command. Other attacks were on Dec. 1, 5, 11, 13 and 16, but only two targets of the first five were announced -- Solingen and Emden; two of the others were described as "on northwestern Germany" and one on military installations in France.
    The two new American fighter aces to emerge from yesterday's air battle were Lt. Col. Glenn E. Duncan, of Houston, Tex., commanding one of the escort groups, and Lt. Joe Powers Jr., of Tulsa, Okla. Each got one enemy aircraft to bring his total to the requisite five.




Berlin Cries for Revenge
as Fires Rage

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1,500 Tons of Bombs
Cascaded Onto City
In 6th Big RAF Raid

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Reich Admits Heavy Damage
to Bremen In USAAF Blow

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    RAF Bomber Command's sixth heavy attack on Berlin in four weeks -- a 1,500-ton cascade of high explosive and incendiaries dumped at the rate of a ton a second -- left huge fires raging in the world's most bombed capital last night and evoked a fresh wave of reprisal threats from frenzied Nazi broadcasters.
    The new hammering of Berlin -- the British bombers' first large-scale operation since the Leipzig raid of Dec. 3 -- broke a lull of nearly two weeks in the night air offensive from Britain. It cost the RAF 30 bombers, compared with 41 lost on the previous Berlin raid Dec. 2.
    The attack, purposely staged early Thursday night to avoid moonlight, was launched as American Fortresses and Liberators returned to darkening English bases to land by the light of flares and landing lights after their sixth major mission of the month -- a long penetration through intense flak to attack some of the enemy's most heavily guarded targets in northwest Germany.

Bremen Hit, Germans Say

    Eighth Air Force, in a communique announcing the loss of 11 bombers and one fighter for the destruction of 18 enemy interceptors, withheld the name of the bombers' objective, but yesterday's German communique said one of the targets was Bremen, the much-pounded shipbuilding center 50 miles up the Weser from the North Sea. The Germans conceded that "heavy damage" was done to the port.
    Returning crews said only a few Nazi fighters challenged the great formations of B17s and B24s, with their escorts of Thunderbolts and Lightnings. The communique disclosed that the fighter escort downed two of the Germans shot down -- bomber gunners got the others.
    The bombers' late return posed knotty problems for ground staffs. At one base planes were stacked up in the air for an hour and a half before the last of the group was landed safely. One by one the bombers dropped slowly out of the half-darkness to roll along the runways with their landing lights on as a warning to other ships to stay away.

Nazis See Yuletide Offensive

    The RAF's return to Berlin suggested to some Berliners, according to the Stockholm Aftontidningen, that the Allied bombers were launching a Christmas air offensive. The capital's sixth heavy attack -- the others were on Nov. 18, 22, 23, 26 and Dec. 2 -- though carried out by a large force of Lancasters, was not on the scale of November's largest raid, in which 2,300 long tons of bombs were dropped.
    One Stockholm report said Berlin's defenders were taken by surprise, believing that the weather and the danger of icing made a raid unlikely. Pilots said they flew over thick cloud practically all the way.
    The center of the city was badly battered, according to reports which filtered through to the Swedish capital despite a German Propaganda Ministry ban forbidding foreign newsmen to describe the attack. Water, gas and electric facilities were knocked out at least temporarily, transport was paralyzed, with streets blocked by ruins, and Berlin radio claimed that several theaters were among "cultural monuments" hit.
    German ministerial quarters were hit, Swiss radio said, and Swedish reports asserted damage was concentrated in central, western and south-eastern parts of the city.
    Enemy propaganda rose to new heights. "Inhuman warfare!" one commentator screamed. "It is only the beginning of something more horrible and more terrible," he said, hinting of the existence of a secret weapon so horrible that up to now the Germans had hesitated to use it.
    "The attack on Berlin gave birth to energetic resolve to take revenge" he said. "The enemy will suffer the consequences."
    The Berlin correspondent of the Spanish newspaper Evening Madrid reported that the conviction was growing in Germany that the Nazi high command was getting ready to launch a powerful force of new-type planes against Britain. He pointed out no new types have been announced for many months, except the Luftwaffe's six-motored transport.
    Thursday's raid by USAAF bombers, striking into northwest Germany, attacked in such force they apparently confused the Luftwaffe fighter defenses. Crews told how the protecting fighters were able to circle the target for nearly an hour, taking wave after wave of bombers safely in and out of the target area.
    Maj. George G. Shackley, of Green Wood Lake, N.J., who led a large formation of Fortresses, said, "The flak was really intense. It was plenty thick and we had to buck it all the way in to the target. But, just the same, we had a good bombing run. The formations were in there very tight and everybody let them fly at once."
    Fighters knocked down two enemy aircraft, one of them a Ju88 which went down in flames as three Thunderbolts, their combined 24 guns blazing, "ganged" it. The pilots were Lt. Louis H. Norley, Conrad, Mont.; Capt. John S. Gentile, Piqua, Ohio, and Lt. Vermont Garrison, Mt. Victory, Kan.
    An Me109 was brought down by Lt. Charles F. Gunn, Spokane, Wis.
    The Liberator crews reported the flak as bad as they had ever seen it.




Nazi Threats Arouse
Fliers' Wrath

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    American bomber crews yesterday answered German threats of reprisals against captured Allied airmen with a vow to "drop twice again as many bombs" on Nazi military targets for every captive flier molested by the Germans.
    The latest Nazi threats against captives said that civilian residents of the city of Hamburg would be called as witnesses at special trials at which the airmen will be charged with "deliberately dropping their bombs on residential quarters of German cities."
    First German threats to try airmen came immediately after the Russian trials of Germans who mass-murdered civilians in the Kharkov area.
    Yesterday, a survey of American airmen at bomber bases in Britain brought a reaction only of renewed determination to press home the bombing attacks on Nazi military targets until the war is won.
    Some fliers said that if any of their friends who have been shot down and taken prisoner were harmed they "simply would be determined to plant those bombs in there, even if we have to ride down with them."
    2/Lt. John C. "Red" Morgan, Flying Fortress co-pilot who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for pushing his bomber through to the target even after the pilot had been mortally wounded and the plane badly shot up, summed up the general feeling in a radio broadcast to the States Sunday night.
    "I think the Germans have made one of their biggest mistakes. We've been pretty determined about getting through to our targets -- and we've never turned back. But now that they've threatened to punish our buddies, nothing is going to stop us from pounding them until they surrender unconditionally. The fighting qualities of American airmen and the perfection of our mechanical equipment are the marvel of the world. But now all our pilots, bombardiers, navigators, gunners, crew chiefs and ground crews will be doing not just a 100 per cent job but a 150 per cent job. The Nazis thought they'd scare us. But they have simply made us madder than ever -- and nothing in the world can beat an American when he's riled."
    A staff sergeant ball turret gunner from Wisconsin, veteran of 18 missions, summed up the average reaction:
    "I don't give a damn. I've got a job to do, and I figured it would be tough anyway, so a little more won't hurt."
    Most of the airmen felt similarly. Their jobs in this theater probably entail the highest percentage of risk of any combat task in the world -- another risk, or threat of one, isn't going to make much difference.
    A Fortress pilot from Indiana, with only one mission to go, said: "Personally I don't give a damn, but it does make me sort of mad in general. They won't scare us, though."
    A technical sergeant radio operator, almost at the end of his operational tour, said: "My morale is not affected. I'll just fight the harder. So will all the guys."



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