Skip to comments.CASSINO, FORMIA FALL, WITH 1500 PRISONERS, THREE NAZI DIVISIONS MAULED IN ATTACK (5/19/44)
Posted on 05/19/2014 4:56:52 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
US planes hit Marcus
Friday, May 19, 1944 www.onwar.com
In Marcus Island... American aircraft the carriers of Task Group 58.2 (Admiral Montgomery) conduct a raid.
In New Guinea... On Insoemar Island, the remnants of the Japanese garrison falls back to the northeast corner of the island.
In Italy... Allied forces of US 5th Army continue to make advances. The US 2nd Corps captures Gasta Itri and Monte Grande. The French Expeditionary Corps nearly reaches Pico and battle for Campodimele. Meanwhile, British armor and infantry overrun the Aquino airfield, in the Liri Valley but German antitank guns repulse an attempt to seize the town.
May 19th, 1944 (FRIDAY)
The USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in England flies Mission 358: 888 bombers and 700 fighters in two forces are dispatched to hit targets in Germany; very heavy cloud cover forces the bombers to use H2X PFF methods; Luftwaffe resistance is heavy and 28 bombers and 19 fighters are lost; U.S. fighters claim 77-0-33 Luftwaffe aircraft:
- 588 B-17s are dispatched to Berlin; 495 hit the primary, 49 hit the port area at Kiel and one hits a target of opportunity; 16 B-17s are lost.
Dick Johnson remembers his second combat mission:
Mission Memory: My first mission on May 15 was a true “Milk Run,” no more dangerous than delivering milk. Today, May 15 is my second mission and the target is to be BERLIN. No milk run today!
I rejoined my pilot, “Bud” Beiser who had flown the May 19 mission with an experienced pilot just as I had done. This is SOP in most groups in order to teach the new guys all the tricks to getting in position in a large group.
Each B-17 from our group (303rd Bomb Group, Hells Angels) was loaded with 2,700 gallons of gasoline and 12, 500 pound bombs. Kiel was to be our secondary target in case Berlin was socked in. Our escort was P-38s and the older P-51s and they kept us pretty clear of German fighters. But with not enough range to go to Berlin they all dropped off just past Hamburg. However, we never saw enemy planes, but the flak was unbelievable. It was like a solid black line that we had to fly through. One of our planes (Lt. E.L. Roth in “Sky Duster”) in the number 3 position received a direct burst just after bombs away at 26,000 ft. We counted five parachutes from the stricken plane.
We were in position number 5 and our plane was forced out of position by about a hundred feet which put us directly behind the lead plane of the group and when he released his bombs we flew directly through his marker smoke which ruined all the plexiglass. Maybe it was a MILK RUN after all since all the plexiglass was like milk. It made it difficult to fly the plane when we had to look mostly out the side window glass. We got a few flak holes but were listed as major damage due to the ruined plexiglass. Only four of nineteen planes of our group escaped damage of some sort.
We had to fly home in formation very carefully as visibility was very limited.
He was forced off his marker because we were flying off our lead and he was flying too close behind his leader.
And since we were off his wing it put us directly behind the Wing leader who was about a thousand feet ahead of us and 500 feet above us.
The lead plane of every wing carried sky markers so that the following formations could see the target area. Many observers have thought that those were rocket trails that the Germans were firing at us and when, after 24 missions as copilot, I went to pilot in command I took new crews on their first mission the same way Beiser and I had done. Nearly always a crew member would shout on the innercom ‘They’re shooting rockets at us’ which I had to correct.
(Dick Johnson, Old Fort Driver)
- 300 B-24s are dispatched to the industrial area at Brunswick; 272 hit the primary and one bombs a target of opportunity; 12 B-24s are lost.
Escort is provided by 155 P-38 Lightnings, 182 P-47 Thunderbolts and 363 P-51 Mustangs of the Eighth Air Force and 264 Ninth Air Force aircraft; the P-38s claim 0-0-2 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 1-0-0 on the ground, the P-47s claim 29-0-16 in the air and 2-0-0 on the ground and the P-51s claim 41-0-5 in the air and 4-0-10 on the ground; 4 P-38s, 4 P-47s and 11 P-51s are lost.
GERMANY: Stalag Luft III: In one of the worst atrocities of the war involving PoWs, the Gestapo has shot 50 Allied airmen who were recaptured after escaping from a prison camp near Sagan, in Silesia, in March. The killings were without doubt carried out on Hitler’s orders. Told of the escape of 79 PoWs, the Fuhrer screamed abuse at Himmler - the head of the Gestapo - and made him personally responsible for their recapture.
Only three of the PoWs - two Norwegians and a Dutchman - have reached England; they got to Stettin, on the river Oder, and got on a ship to Sweden. Others got as far as Saarbrucken, near the French border, before being retaken. All were handed over to the Gestapo instead of the to the Luftwaffe as required by the Geneva Convention. The killings took place at Gorlitz prison, near Dresden.
Twenty men were sent back to Stalag Luft III, where they told fellow PoWs of the killings. The Germans have warned the PoWs that all areas within several miles of camps are now “death zones”; anybody entering these areas without authority will be shot on sight.
One man still in the camp is the Canadian pilot Wally Moody, the mining engineer who applied his skills to design the escape tunnel; the alarm was sounded before his turn came to use the tunnel.
U-2328 laid down.
BALTIC SEA: On this day U-1014 rammed U-1015 west of Pillau, sinking her with the loss of 36 men (14 survived).
ITALY: US troops occupy Gaeta and Monte Grande.
The USAAF’s Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches 500+ B-17s and B-24s to hit communications targets, ports, and oil storage in northeastern, central and western Italy; B-17s hit oil storage facilities at Porto Marghera and railroad bridges at Casarea, Latisana and Rimini; B-24s hit port areas at La Spezia and Leghorn; fighters fly 250+ sorties in support. These operations are notable for the absence of enemy fighter opposition.
At the Turchino Pass outside Genoa the SS shoot 59 Italian captives from the Marassi Prison in Genoa in revenge for an attack on a movie theatre for German troops four days earlier that killed five German soldiers and injured 15. One of those present is senior Nazi official SS Major Friedrich Engel. He claims the German navy ordered the shootings.
The prisoners were bound in pairs and forced to walk onto a plant laid over the open grave, where they were shot. The victims then fell into the pit, on top of he freshly killed bodies. (Lisa Arns AP)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: U-960 sunk in the Mediterranean NW of Algiers, in position 37.20N, 01.35E, by destroyers USS Niblack and Ludlow and RAF 36 and 500 Sqn Wellingtons. 31 dead and 20 survivors.
At 1755, the Fort Missanabie in Convoy HA-43, was torpedoed and sunk by U-453 south of Taranto. The master, ten crewmembers and one gunner were lost. 35 crewmembers and 13 gunners were picked up by the Norwegian merchantman Spero and Italian corvette Urania and landed at Augusta, Sicily. The Fort Missanabie was the last success of U-boats in the Mediterranean.
BURMA: Pte. Clifford Elwood, of High Street, Nantyfyllon, Bridgend, Glamorganshire, and Bugler Robert Hunt, of King Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, both stretcher-bearers, were returning to their lines on the Arakan front with a casualty when they heard a rustling in the bushes and the click of a rifle-bolt.
Out into their path stepped a 6ft. Japanese with his rifle at the ready. He looked straight at the two men and the third man they carried on the stretcher, and then without a word or gesture dropped the muzzle of his rifle and stepped back into the jungle.
London Evening Mail
PACIFIC OCEAN: Rear Admiral Alfred E. Montgomery’s Task Group 58.6, consisting of the aircraft carriers USS Essex (CV-9), with Carrier Air Group Fifteen (CVG-15), and USS Wasp (CV-18), with CVG-14, attack Marcus Island in the North Pacific. The new light aircraft carrier USS Jacinto (CVL-30), with Light Carrier Air Group 51 (CVLG-51), is detached to the north to screen for the rest of the force. Two of the purposes of the raid are to test new target-briefing procedures and also determine the effect of high-velocity attack rockets (HVARs) on ground targets.
The Japanese establish a line of submarines in the South Pacific (Operation “NA”) to intercept USN aircraft carriers however, the USN has deduced the purpose and location of these subs based on radio traffic analysis. On 18 May 1944, the destroyer escort USS England (DE-635, Lt. Commander Walton B. Pendleton) got underway with two other destroyers and during the next eight days, she sinks five of the submarines, starting with HIJMS I-16 (Lt. Commander Yoshitaka Takeuchi) today. (Jack McKillop and Dave Shirlaw)
CANADA: HMC MTB 746 commissioned.
Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-172 was commissioned. She was assigned to the Southwest Pacific area and sunk two miles off Mugil Point on Cape Croisilles, New Guinea.
U.S.A.: The Undersecretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal, becomes the Secretary of the Navy.
Submarine USS Spot launched.
Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-161 was withdrawn from Coast Guard manning on 19 May 1944 and turned over to the Army, the Los Angeles office having cognizance. Later arriving at San Francisco, she was turned over to the USSR under Lend-Lease.
Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-175 was commissioned. She was assigned to and operated in the Southwest Pacific area.
He went to Cuba after his release in 1960. Eventually he went to the USSR.
The stage is now set for active combat by both my father and father in law, who up until now have been busy in preparation. With the landings at Wadke, the 6th Infantry Division is preparing to embark from Milne Bay, New Guinea and come ashore in the Wadke area. My father, commanding F Company, 63d Infantry Regiment will soon see his first combat action. My father in law is currently in England as the pilot of a lead crew in the 493d Bomb Group preparing to become operational. Both units will first see action on 6 June, but I doubt that the New York Times will take note of either given the events of the day.
“Dutch Say Quislings Fear Underground”
Yeah, I bet they do. One of the first things that happened when Allied troops landed in occupied territory was massive purges of “collaborators” plus anybody you had a grudge against, if you could get away with it.
Interesting item on p. 16, “60 Missionaries Die in Prison Ship Raid.” Most were clergy of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) order, including several Dutch brothers (biological, not religious).
I’ll have to look them up later to see if there’s more information, sounds like a heck of a story, including an escape from the Japanese in New Guinea.
You are unlikely to see mention of specific Bombardment Groups in the stories, but there will be daily articles about 8th Air Force operations on the day following the missions. I presume you are familiar with the mission list on the 493rd BG website, but here it is just in case.
The southwest Pacific will be neglected for a few days after D-Day, but I always look for articles about that theater because my father was in New Guinea.
Yes, quite right. Where groups are mentioned, they have always been public relations releases focused on personal interest stories or some significant milestone; almost never connected to operational missions.
I do have the mission lists as well as each mission that he flew. He misses the group’s first mission on D-Day, but flies two days later. The 493d was the last bomb group to become operational in the 8th AF, flying B-24s before switching to B-17’s.
The Pacific War seems to be dominated by the Hanson Baldwin crowd, helping Nimitz and the Marines make their case for post war reorganization of the Defense Department on terms favorable to the Navy. Coupled with Macarthur’s penchant for only those news stories that mention him by name, the Army story in the Pacific will remain pretty thin, I suspect.
I noticed that detail. Did the crews switch to B-17's or did they transfer to different B-24 groups?
the Army story in the Pacific will remain pretty thin, I suspect.
We will probably encounter this bias right through to VE day. The climax of my father's war service comes in the Philippines next December. It just happens to coincide with some kind of brouhaha in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. Guess which story gets the lion's share of the coverage.
The crews transitioned to B-17s. At the time this occurred, my father in law was the group training officer. The group was taken off missions and a transition team flew into Debach. He was given an orientation on start up procedures, took off and flew several orbits around the field in the pattern, then landed. Transition over. He then trained a transition team from each squadron and they trained each of the crews. One week later, they were back on combat missions in their brand new B-17G’s. This occurred in all of the B-24 equipped groups of the 3d Bomb Division.
“massive purges of collaborators plus anybody you had a grudge against, if you could get away with it.”
Coming to a town near you soon!
Good point. It seems to be human nature.
Hmm? Anyone know anything about that secret bomber the B-29 that is mentioned on p6?
I don’t think the B 29 is that secret. Even though it has not yet seen combat, the Japanese know it exists. They also know it can reach the home islands from Saipan. That’s why the IJN is going to come out and fight. It’s use it or lose it time.
What is probably secret are the manufacturing and performance specs.
The real secret Hap is not talking about is the Convair B 36 that is currently in the design phase.
Look familiar? It's the kind of ship Mister Roberts was stuck on until he got his transfer.
Oh, how interesting.