B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Bombing the Breisach Bridge
by Ben West, 443rd Bomb Squadron
 

 

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The Weather Clears and the Marauders Head Out

 

Sure enough, with weather clearing, I was scheduled to lead an advanced decoy formation of nine bombers that would go over the target just prior to our main formation coming within flak range. Our decoy formation were carrying anti-personnel frag bombs with a number of the German gun positions as our targets. We timed our bomb drop so that hopefully our frags would be exploding as the main bomber force was coming within range of the guns. We anticipated this would cause the enemy to take at least temporary refuge in their bunkers at this vital time.

We also discharged chaff (tin foil like strips) out our waist gun ports to confuse enemy radar. In every sense of the word we were live expendable decoys in a very crowded shooting gallery!!!

That is the way it was as we entered the gauntlet of flak filled sky--black mushroom shaped smoke bursts that blossomed then disappeared replaced with new encounters that get closer, then shake and penetrate us. As pilots we start the bomb run having lined up on the target area several miles ahead. I commence to follow the directional instrument which the bombardier causes to change as he manipulate his Nordin sight.

Meanwhile I commence to also lose altitude in a staggered and hopefully unpredictable manner prior to reaching the bombing altitude that the Nordin is set for.

Out of the corner of my eye I see what looks like a shot away wheel assembly from a higher plane fall away. Then up ahead I see another B-26 a lead aircraft in another decoy formation up ahead of us take a near by hit from flak. It breaks in two like a toy. It’s front wings and engines section turns itself over on its back before following It’s aft tail section earthward. (I will many years latter read about this plane loss in a outstanding article written by O’Mahony). This was the ship named “My Gal” which had beautiful art work on the fuselage nose.

Meanwhile, we too were having the living hell kicked out of us in a virtual hurricane of flak explosions that hole our aircraft and those of the other ships in our formation.

Thanks to fate and all but “indestructible B-26’s” we were able to complete our bomb run and drop our frags in our assigned areas; absorb all they threw at us; break sharply away and hurriedly escape to fight again on another day. They hadn’t found our vital innards yet.(Continued)


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