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.
Heavy Flak Encountered
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."
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.