U.S. Flying Fortresses were refueled and loaded with bombs at American air bases in Russia yesterday for return missions to their Mediterranean bases to complete the first U.S. shuttle-bombing operation using bases in Russia.
Eastern Germany Vulnerable
Disclosure of the establishment of American air bases on Russian territory recaptured by the Red Army indicated that no part of Hitlerdom is now out of range for fighter-escorted heavy bombers.
The new bases will add immeasurably to the range of the Forts and Liberators. Instead of the bombers being limited to operations at 50 per cent of their total range -- flying out to 50 per cent of their range, bombing there, and then flying back to British or Mediterranean bases -- the planes now can fly out and bomb targets at 75 per cent or more of their total range from Britain or Italy, and continue on to the bases in Russia.
Work on the new bases was started in February, 1944, as a result of the Moscow conference last October. The Russians gave high priority to the American supplies arriving for the bases and on occasion Russian privates worked under American corporals to speed them to completion.
Their existence was one of the best-kept secrets of the war until it was officially announced that Fortresses from the Mediterranean landed there for the first time Friday after bombing objectives in Rumania.
A communique issued by Eastern Command, U.S. Strategic Air Forces, revealed not only that the USAAF has set up its own command in Russia to handle future shuttle missions but that the bombers went to Rumania to attack "targets selected by our Russian ally."
"The operations mark the first large-scale physical collaboration of the air forces of Britain, Russia and the U.S.," commented Maj. Gen. John R. Deane, head of the U.S. military mission in Russia. "History was made. This is shuttle-bombing -- bombing that makes vulnerable all of Germany's eastern industrial facilities."
The RAF had pioneered shuttle-bombing. On the night of June 20-21 last year Lancasters took off from Britain, bombed Friedrichshafen in southern Germany and flew across the Mediterranean to Allied bases in North Africa.
Last fall U.S. bombers from Britain attacked Regensburg, in Germany, and went on to land in North Africa.
Maj. Gen. Fred L. Anderson, deputy commander of USSTAF, and Brig. Gen. Curtis, his chief of staff, have been in Russia in connection with the new bases.
The Forts which landed in Russia were escorted by U.S. and Soviet fighters, and the operation was carried out without a hitch.
There was one slight hitch, however, at an entertainment in an open-air theater for the U.S. and Russian air crews. A girl who came out and did a shimmy was greeted with enthusiastic whistling by the Yanks, but whistling is a sign of disapproval in Russian theaters.
However, Maj. Gen. Alexander Perminov, who had been given the Legion of Merit by Ambassador Averell Harriman, on behalf of President Roosevelt, for his work on the bases, realized the situation, jumped up on the stage and explained.
The girl reappeared, did her shimmy with still greater vigor -- and aroused louder whistling than ever.
Shuttle Raid Panicking
Reich, Stockholm Says
STOCKHOLM, June 4 (UP) -- The arrival of Allied shuttle bombers in Russia caused a panic in many parts of east Germany and southeast Europe, according to the Stockholm newspaper Aftontidningen. The people of Koenigsberg, Breslau and Budapest were fleeing in all directions.
Nazi efforts to calm the people, by assuring them that the German High Command was preparing to counter the shuttle-bombing, have proved futile. People bombed out in west Germany who fled to east Germany are terrifying the populace with accounts of their experiences.