April 19th, 1944 (WEDNESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: USAAF tactics summary for Operation No. 308.
“Me-109’s and FW-190’s participated in the only interception of the day, An estimated force of 50 fighters, protected by an additional 50 flying as top cover, made attacks which persisted for only about eight minutes on one Combat Wing. One mass attack was made head-on as the enemy aircraft dived through the formation in large Groups without taking any evasive action. After this one pass at the entire Combat Wing, the fighters directed their efforts at stragglers and the trailing elements. In these instances, the enemy aircraft attack in Groups of three astern, coming in level from the six o’clock position and closing to about 600 yards before breaking away.”
FRANCE: Railway links and river crossings throughout northern and western France - vital for Germany’s defence against an Allied invasion - are being attacked with unprecedented fury by RAF and USAAF bombers. In 36 hours some 7,000 tons of bombs have been dropped. Pilots are ordered to pick their targets with care to ensure that French casualties are kept to a minimum.
Last night, RAF Lancasters and Halifaxes struck at rail links outside Paris and at Rouen, dropping 4,000 tons of bombs. It was the biggest load carried in a single raid. In order to conceal the intended invasion area, for every ton of bombs dropped behind the invasion zone the Allies are dropping two tons elsewhere in France.
Aircraft losses are falling; 14 bombers were lost last night and five in the earlier raids. The Germans are believed to be restricting their use of fighters because of dwindling supplies of aviation fuel caused by Allied bombing of oil refineries.
The Eighth Air Force flies Part 2 of Mission 308 27 B-24s bomb V-weapon sites at Watten; 1 B-24 is lost; escort is provided by 47 Ninth Air Force P-47s without loss. (Jack McKillop)
GERMANY: The Eighth Air Force Mission 308.
During Part 1 of this mission: 772 bombers and 697 fighters are dispatched in 3 forces; they claim 17-1-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; 5 bombers and 2 fighters are lost.
- 271 B-17s hit the Kassel area, Eschwege Airfield, Limburg and a target of opportunity; 5 B-17s are lost.
- 243 B-17s hit Lippstadt and Werl Airfields and a target of opportunity without loss.
- 230 B-24s bomb Paderborn and Gutersloh Airfields, Soest, Koblenz, Buren and targets of opportunity without loss.
Escort for the three forces above is provided by 127 P-38s, 439 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolts and 131 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; they claim 16-1-2 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 P-51s are lost.
The Ninth Air Force dispatches 350+ B-26 Marauders and A-20s to bomb marshalling yards, city areas, and targets of opportunity at Gunzburg, Ulm, Neu Ulm, Donauworth, and Schelklingen; fighters fly over 1,200 sorties against a variety of targets in north-western Europe. (Jack McKillop)
ITALY: Twelfth Air Force B-26s hit the Cecina railroad bridge and Ancona marshalling yard while B-25s hit a marshalling yard at Piombino; P-47s hit railroad tracks, a marshalling yard, junction, and railway cars between Pontedera and Empoli and between Figline Valdarno and San Giovanni Valdarno. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.S.R.: The Red Army battles for Sevastopol.
Action along the Soviet front subsides as spring mud and floods make movement impossible. The exception is the Crimea, where Tolbukhin’s 4th Ukrainian Army is closing on Sevastopol. (Jack McKillop)
CHINA: Japanese troops strike south along the Peking to Hankow railway, in Honan province.
The Japanese offensive gathers momentum as the 12th Army pushes down the Peking-Hankow Railroad toward four B-29 bases of the U. S. 14th Air Force. The Japanese easily defeat Chiang Kai-shek’s poorly led, equipped and trained army. (Jack McKillop)
BURMA: Air Commando Combat Mission NO.45 4:05 Flight Time Hailiakandi, Assam to Mawlu, Burma Bombed Japanese troops (Chuck Baisden)
Air Commando (2nd mission) Combat Mission N0.46 2:55 Flight Time Same as mission 45.
Notes: Am now taking atabrine tablets and skin is turning a bit yellow but no fever, chills or backaches. We are getting a ration of beer and I’ve got a case under my cot. Officers coming around to swap their booze for beer.
Our S/Sgt crew chief got himself all warped out of shape on a bottle of Bombay gin. Came into Col. Alison’s office with Gin bottle in one hand and a machete in the other. Demanded a promotion which of course he did not get. I was never sure of the exact outcome of this incident as he continued to do the maintenance work on our plane but in a rather subdued and quiet manner. (Chuck Baisden)
The Tenth Air Force dispatches 6 B-25s and 8 P-51 Mustangs to attack troops and stores northwest of Banmauk; 10 P-38s hit the airfield near Meiktila; and 5 P-51s attack troop positions near Mawlu and a bridge at Shweli.
Four Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack the village of Takaw causing several fires and sink a ferry- boat in the area. (Jack McKillop)
EAST INDIES: Sumatra: Admiral Sommerville’s British Eastern Fleet including the carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), British carrier HMS Illustrious and three US destroyers attacks Japanese ships and positions at Sebang, as part of Operation Cockpit to divert attention from the start of landings at Hollandia, in New Guinea. This is the first joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean. (Jack McKillop)
NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-24s hit Urarom and Manokwari while B-25s, A-20s, and fighter aircraft strike a wide variety of targets around Hollandia, Aitape, Bogia, Uligan, Bunabun, Madang and Cape Croisilles. (Jack McKillop)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Thirteenth Air Force fighters hit the Numa Numa area on Bougainville Island. (Jack McKillop)
FRENCH INDOCHINA: Three Fourteenth Air Force B-25s damage a bridge at Thanh Moi and score hits on railroad and buildings south of the bridge. (Jack McKillop)
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: 38 Thirteenth Air Force fighter-bombers hit supply areas on Matupi Island. (Jack McKillop)
CAROLINE ISLANDS: Seventh Air Force B-24s, staging through Eniwetok Atoll, bomb Truk Atoll while B-25s from the Gilbert Islands strike Ponape Island.
21 Thirteenth Air Force B-24s bomb the airfield at Satawan Atoll, hitting the target area with about 50 tons of high explosives while B-24s bomb Woleai Atoll.
During the night of 19/20 April, RAAF Catalinas mine the waters in and around Woleai Atoll. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: Washington: President Roosevelt has given the go-ahead to make Lend-Lease contracts for a further year. The House of Representatives approved the move by a huge majority today. But behind the scenes intensive talks are going on about what to do about international payments now that the war is ending. Lend-Lease has provided the munitions, industrial materials and food for Britain to fight; now some Americans feel that the country is strong enough to start paying its way again.
In baseball, New York Giants manager and right fielder Mel Ott hits the first National League home run of the season, the 464th of his career, helping the Giants defeat the Boston Braves, 2-1. Ott will finish the season with a .288 batting average and 26 home runs.
Ott retires from the playing field after the 1946 season with a career .304 batting average and 511 home runs. During the 1948 season, he is replaced as manager halfway through the season by Leo Durocher. (Jack McKillop)