461st plaque

461st Bombardment Group (H)

April 1944 May 1944 June 1944 July 1944 August 1944 September 1944 October 1944 November 1944 December 1944 January 1945 February 1945 March 1945 April 1945 May 1945

April 1945

Mission No. 206

1 April 1945

Target: Bruck Marshalling Yard, Austria

On the first day of the month a force of twenty-seven planes, led by Major Rider, was dispatched to attack the Marshalling Yard at Bruck, Austria. Getting off to what appeared to be a promising start the formation crossed the Adriatic in fair enough weather. Over Yugoslavia, however, the weather grew worse with cirrus building up to a ten-tenth's layer of clouds extending from 16,000 to above 23,000 feet. A roundabout route, as far east as Lake Balaton in Hungary, in an effort to find a passage through the wall of clouds, proved unsuccessful, and the formation having no other alternative returned to base with its cargo of bombs. No mission credit was allowed.


Mission No. 206

2 April, 1945

Target: Saint Polten Marshalling Yard, Austria

As part of the overall plan of impeding enemy troop movements in the Vienna area, the Group was directed on 2 April, 1945 to attack the Marshalling Yard at Saint Polten, Austria. Under ideal weather conditions and in the absence of both flak and enemy fighters, the Group formation led by Major Baker achieved excellent results. Photographs show that a heavy concentration of bombs fell across the center of the Saint Polten Marshalling Yard, scoring innumerable hits on tracks and rolling stock: another concentration fell on the west choke point, with at least seven direct hits cutting the line to Linz. Air force plotted 79.3 percent of bombs dropped within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point.


Message of Commendation:

Subject: Commendation (teletype)

From: Fifteenth Air Force A311

To: Commanding Officer, 461st Bombardment Group (H)

The following message (Fifteenth AF A311) is forwarded with my congratulations.

"Bomb strike photographs of your attack on Saint Polten Marshalling Yard on April 2 show excellent bombing patterns by squadrons of the Groups and post-raid reconnaissance reveals terrific destruction created. Please convey to the Groups my commendation for a job well done."

Col. Todd


Mission No. 207

3 April, 1945

Dolzano Marshalling Yard, Italy

Canceled


Mission No. 207

4 April, 1945

Bronzolo Marshalling Yard, Italy

Canceled


Mission No. 207

5 April 1945

Brescia Marshalling Yard, Italy

Aerial reconnaissance of the Fifteenth Air Force confirmed intelligence reports that the Germans were attempting to move masses of military equipment and Italian machinery out of Italy by way of the Milan to Verona railway. For this reason Brescia, accommodating upwards of 1,000 railway cars and considered a critical link in the line, was designated the target for the day. A force of twenty-eight planes commanded by Major Rider attacked the target in ideal weather with good results. Air Force scored the mission at 90.9 percent. The bomb pattern was rectangular and well-concentrated over the width and length of the marshalling yard. There was no opposition from either flak or fighters.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 208

6 April 1945

Brescia-Breda Small Arms Works, Italy

The Group returned to Brescia this time to bomb the Breta arms factory reported to be manufacturing shell cases for the Germans. A force of twenty-seven planes, led by Major Thackston, dropped a heavy concentration of bombs directly on the target getting about three-fourths of the factory buildings and installations. The mission was scored at 95.5 percent which turned out to be the highest score to be obtained in April. There was no interference from flak or fighters.


Mission No. 209

7 April 1945

Vipiteno Railroad Bridge, Italy

Unpredictable weather over the Alps prevented the Group formation from reaching its objective, the railroad bridge at Vipiteno, Italy. After fighting strong head winds and ten-tenths cumulus all the way from Fiume to a point just south of Villach, Major Trommershausser, the formation leader, conceded victory to the elements and had the formation return to base. The Group received no credit for this mission.


Mission No. 209

8 April 1945

Gorizia Marshalling Yard, Italy

The field order for this day directed the Group to attack the marshalling yard at Bronzolo in northern Italy. Bad weather still prevailed and after an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate it in the area of Florence, the Group formation leader, Major Trommershausser, selected the marshalling yard at Gorizia as an alternate target. At Gorizia the weather proved no handicap, for the bombing was done visually and with excellent results. Bomb strike photographs revealed that 56.3 percent of the bombs found their mark within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point, though the pattern was somewhat scattered. No flak came up to oppose the formation. The Luftwaffe made a feeble gesture when two ME-109's dared show themselves in the area of Udine and did no more than observe the formation from long range.


Mission No. 210

9 April 1945

Troop Concentrations Northeast of Lugo, Italy

April 9th was D-Day on the Italian front. In preparation for this day along towards the latter part of March, the Group Command staff were called to a conference at 49th Wing Headquarters, where they were told that a spring offensive on the Italian front was in the offing. Plans were drawn up and every phase of Operation Buckland, as it was called, was discussed.

Upon their return from the conference, the Group command staff began to make intensive preparations. In the days following, flight navigators and bombardiers held frequent meetings behind closed doors with Colonel Rogers, Major Rider, Major Murphy, Captain Toth, and Lt. Goodfriend. A number of navigators and bombardiers were flown to northern Italy to the scene of future operations, where they studied the surrounding terrain.

Operation Buckland was designed to extend over several days and presented many difficulties. There could be no mistakes because thousands of lives depended on the outcome of the operation. The area to be bombed -- troop concentrations and gun emplacements in the vicinity of Lugo and most of the Santorno River -- was devoid of prominent landmarks, thereby putting a high priority on skillful and accurate navigation. Bombing was to be over a wide area and therefore had to be perfect. Moreover, the job called for precision timing because the entire Air Force had to pass over the target within the space of an hour and a half.

The Group formation of forty-one planes comprising two forces -- the Red Force led by Colonel Rogers, and the Blue Force led by Major Rider -- took to the air at 1200 hours. In the target area the Red Force encountered no difficulty: ground markers were clearly visible, radio navigational aids worked perfectly, the target was identified and bombed as planned. The Blue Force following closely on the Red Force, however, ran into unexpected interference on the bomb run. Another formation came underneath them at bombs release point and Major Rider, choosing the only possible alternative, ordered the bombardiers to refrain from bombing. By then the hour was very near to being 1520, the time when all bombing was to cease, and it was considered too dangerous to attempt a second run on the target. As a result of this the Blue Force did not bomb but returned its bombs to the base.

Contrary to expectations, enemy resistance at the target was surprisingly slight. Anti-aircraft fire was encountered but was described as slight, inaccurate, heavy, and generally ineffective. The Luftwaffe was conspicuously absent. Consequently not a single plane was damaged.

Strike photographs of the bombing by Red Force show that the aiming point was well covered though the pattern did not extend as far as was intended.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 211

10 April 1945

Troop Concentrations Northeast of Lugo, Italy

Operation Buckland, in support of the Eighth Army, was continued on 10 April. The Group sent a double force, led by Colonel Rogers and Major Rider, against troop concentrations and gun emplacements in the vicinity of Lugo, Italy. The whole operation was executed as planned. A total of eighty tons of fragmentation bombs was dropped on the target with excellent results. Photographs show that the assigned target area was well saturated and that the heavier concentrations fell directly on the aiming points. Enemy anti-aircraft fire was described as slight and inaccurate. Three FW-190s were seen scavenging in the target area.


Fifteenth Air Force

Office of the Commanding General

A.F.C. 520

201.22

12 April 1945

Subject: Commendation

To: Commanding Officer, 461st Bombardment Group (H).

1. The following cables have been sent from the Commanding General, Eighth Army and the Commanding General, Fifteenth Army Group, respectively, To the Commander-in-Chief, MAAP, who has passed same to this headquarters with his congratulations and appreciation.

"Much appreciated is the wholehearted support of the Fifteenth Air Force on 9 and 10 April. The carpet bombing in front of our assaulting divisions, I am convinced, has been one of the decisive factors in our rapid advance to the Santorno River. The degree of success attained shows how enthusiastically all personnel tackled those close support missions. I fully realize the special and intensive training that this task demanded of all bombing crews."

"I want you to know how fully I appreciate the splendid and effective air support which the air forces have already given us in the current attack. The excellent cooperation we have received from all air force personnel starting with the early planning phase has been a source of special gratification. I am confident of your all-out support in the future. Our air-ground team is now a great success."

2. I am particularly gratified to pass these well-earned commendations to all units of the command and to add my own praise for an outstanding demonstration of successful coordinated effort between air and ground forces.

/a/ N. F. Twining

Major General, USA

Commanding

SECRET


Mission No. 212

11 April 1945

Bronsolo Marshalling Yard, Italy

The attack on the Bronsolo Marshalling Yard, south of Bolsano, was designed to cripple further the enemy's escape routes and to deny him the opportunity of withdrawal into the Alps. Major Thackston led the Group formation of twenty-seven planes on this mission. Against moderate flak the Group achieved excellent results -- 54.7 percent of the bombs dropped were plotted within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point. A concentrated pattern of bombs fell on the south choke point and north half of the marshalling yard, cutting through lines and destroying an unestimated number of railroad cars.

The plane piloted by 2nd. Lt. Robert Caran was hit by flak at the target and did not return. When this aircraft was last seen, five crew members had bailed out.


Mission No. 213

12 April 1945

St. Veit Railroad Bridge, Austria

In pursuance of the Air Force policy of interdicting all enemy escape routes, the Group was directed to bomb a small railroad bridge at St. Veit in Austria. Major Poole led the Group formation of twenty-eight planes to the target and to a superior mission. Despite a three-tenths undercast, which interfered with visibility at the target, the bombing was exceptionally good. Seventy percent of the 1000 pound RDX bombs dropped were plotted within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point. The south approach to the bridge was particularly well hit.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 214

13 April 1945

Plattling Marshalling Yard, Germany

Canceled


Mission No. 214

14 April 1945

Malcontenta Ammunition Factory, Italy

The operations order for this day called for a normal effort against the Malcontenta Ammunition Factory, located seven miles due west of Venice. Major Thackston led the Group formation of four boxes. Owing to a nine-tenths undercast in the target area, only one box was able to identify the target and drop its bombs. The other three boxes after making several passes at the target abandoned it and returned bombs to base. The mission was scored at 67.4 percent. Anti-aircraft fire at the target was slight and inaccurate.

Poop Sheet


Mission No. 215

15 April 1945

German Troop Concentrations in Bologna Area, Italy

The second phase of Operation Buckland, this time in support of the Fifth Army, began on 15 April and aimed at disorganization of the enemy's day, the Red Force, led by Colonel Rogers, had for its objective enemy troop concentrations and gun emplacements located approximately a fourth of a mile north of the junction of Reno and Sette Rivers. En route to the target the plane piloted by 2nd Lt. Frank M. Brown, Jr., lost two of its engines and the crew were forced to bail out in the area of Florence. The rest of the force of thirty-eight planes got through to the target without incident. Using 250 pound general purpose bombs, the Group unloaded its cargo of eighty tons directly on the target leveling the installations. There was no opposition at the target in the way of flak or enemy fighters.

Poop Sheet


Mission No. 215

15 April 1945

Nervessa Railroad Bridge Diversion, Italy

Blue Force, which was led by Major Baker, bombed the Nervessa Railroad Bridge in Northern Italy. Unfavorable weather at the target prevented one box of six planes from bombing. The other twelve planes, however, did bomb with satisfactory results for a score of 36.1 percent. The pattern was none too good; the major concentration of bombs fell 800 feet short of the aiming point. Two planes were damaged at the target, though the flak was described as slight, inaccurate, and heavy.


Mission No. 216

16 April 1945

Troop Concentrations in Bolgna Area, Italy

The following day the Group again sent a large force to Bologna in support of the Fifth Army. Enemy troop concentrations were the objective, Major Trommershausser, who led the formation, upon finding the target effectively screened by eight-tenths cumulus at 10,000 feet, ordered the formation to return to base with all its bombs. The Group did not take credit for a mission, through the Air Force allowed sortie credit.


Mission No. 216

17 April 1945

Troop Concentrations in Bolgna Area, Italy

This last mission to Bologna in support of the Fifth Army brought Operation Buckland to a close. Major Trommershausser led the formation of forty-two planes against German troop concentrations. Only thirty-five planes in this force were able to bomb. One box of six planes found the target obscured by smoke and had to abandon it after three unsuccessful attempts. Photos show that the bombing was good and the pattern well concentrated. No enemy resistance from either flak or fighters was encountered.


Commendations

"I send my most hearty congratulations to your entire command for your record effort of 15 April in support of our ground forces. To your ground personnel particularly great credit is due for the near miracle of maintenance which allowed 1,233 heavy bombers and 629 fighters to be dispatched on that day. Operational and Intelligence staffs who conceived, planned and directed the execution have every reason to be proud. And to the combat leaders and crews for a splendid day's work I extend my appreciation and commendation."

/a/ General Cannon

"I want you to know how deeply I appreciate the thoroughly effective support which the Air Forces under your command have already given to the 15th Army Group in the current attack. Your excellent cooperation began with the planning phases of our operation and has continued in a manner which is most gratifying to all personnel in the 5th and 8th Armies which you are supporting."

/a/ General Clark

Order of the Day Number 2. "The advances of our ground forces have brought to a close the strategic air war waged by the United States Strategic Air Forces and the Royal Air Forces Bomber Command. It has been won with a decisiveness becoming increasingly evident as our armies overrun Germany. From now onward our strategic air forces must operate with our tactical air forces in close cooperation with our armies. All units of the United States Strategic Air Forces are commended for their part in winning the strategic air war and are enjoined to continue with undiminished effort and precision the final tactical phase of air action to secure the ultimate objective -- complete defeat of Germany."

/a/ General Spatz


Mission No. 217

19 April 1945

Avisio Viaduct and Railroad Diversion, Italy

The Avisio Viaduct, located approximately six miles north of Verona, is one of the vital links in the Bronner railway line. It was frequently visited by Groups of the Fifteenth Air Force and made inoperative on several occasions. Notwithstanding this, the enemy by the ingenious use of pre-fabricated spans was able to remedy the damage and continued to funnel traffic through the Bronner Pass at night. To make interdiction of all railway lines feeding into the Bronner absolute and complete, the Air Force assigned several Groups to destroy the Avision Viaduct. The 461st Group participated in this operation.

The field order called for a maximum effort of thirty-six aircraft; the Group supplied thirty-nine aircraft. Major Thackston led the Group formation. Haze partly obscured the target but good bombing results were obtained. The pattern fell across the Viaduct and continued to a point one thousand feet west of the aiming point. Air Force scored the mission at 40.3 percent.

Flak was moderate at the target but not very accurate for not a single plane sustained damage. The Luftwaffe was out in force. Both FW-190s and ME-109s were seen in comparatively large numbers in the vicinity of Lake Garda. Enemy fighters, however, did not engage the Group formation.

Poop Sheet


Mission No. 218

20 April 1945

Lusia Road Bridge, Italy

Major Phillips led the successful mission of 20 April against the Lusia Bridge in northern Italy. This bridge, one of the few left standing, spanned the Adigo River and was being used by the retreating Germans.

One thousand pound RDX bombs were dropped to obtain excellent results. Flak at target, described as slight, inaccurate, and heavy, damaged one plane; save that it interfered little with the accuracy of the bombing, for the mission was scored at 91.9 percent. Direct hits were observed on abutments and approaches of the bridge, as well as the span itself. One lone JU-262, pursued by two P-51s, was seen in the area of Bologna.

Mission bombing photo

Mission bombing photo

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 219

21 April 1945

Attnang/Puchiem Marshalling Yard, Austria

The briefed target for this mission was to be the marshalling yard at Brennere, Italy. En route, in the vicinity of Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, the formation encountered impassable weather and was forced to abandon the primary target in favor of alternate target No. 2, the marshalling yard at Attnang, Austria. Major Poole led the formation. Bombing through a three-tenths undercast, which necessitated as many as five passes at the target by some boxes, the Group nevertheless obtained good results. Air Force scored the mission at 61.1 percent. The pattern began just short of the marshalling yard and carried well into it. Neither flak nor fighters were encountered.

Poop Sheet


Mission No. 220

23 April 1945

Badia Road Bridge, Italy

The Group formation, led by Major Trommershausser, gave a good account of itself in bombing the road bridge at Badia, Italy. In good weather but in face of heavy anti-aircraft fire which damaged nine planes, the formation unloaded its cargo of 1,000 pound general purpose bombs directly on the bridge. At least twelve direct hits, or near misses, were scored on the span of the bridge. Of the bombs dropped, 85.8 percent were counted within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

"The results of the bombing of the Badia Road Bridge on 23 April 1945 are a source of great pride and satisfaction to me. The accuracy and precision displayed on this mission are indicative of the standards desired by every commander engaged in the final defeat of the enemy. My commendation to you for a job well done."


Mission No. 221

24 April 1945

Rovereto Marshalling Yard and Gun Emplacements, Italy

Major Baker was in command of a force of thirty-seven planes which bombed the Rovereto Marshalling Yard in northern Italy on 24 April 1945. The bomb load consisted of 500 pound RDX's; three aircraft, however, carried fragmentation bombs for the purpose of bombing gun emplacements at Rovereto. Results were good. The marshalling yard was effectively hit, but it was not possible to determine whether any of the gun emplacements were hit. One aircraft was damaged by the slight flak at the target.

Poop Sheet


Commendation

"I congratulate you and your personnel on the fine results obtained in the attack against the Rovereto Marshalling Yard on 24 April 1945. The determination and devotion to duty displayed on this attack are to be commended."

Brig. General Lee


Mission No. 222

25 April 1945

Linz Main Marshalling Yard, Austria

With the offensive in Italy progressing successfully, the Air Force suddenly turned to bombing in support of the Russian armies on the Southeastern front. The mission on 25 April 1945 was to Linz, Austria, with the Main Marshalling Yard as the primary target. Major Phillips led the mission with Lt. Colonel Gregory leading the second attack unit. In view of the extremely heavy anti-aircraft fire encountered, which damaged eleven of the twenty-six planes over target, the bombing was exceptionally good. Of the bombs dropped, 55 percent were plotted within 1,000 feet of the briefed aimed point.

The plane piloted by 2nd Lt. Lawrence R. Toothman was lost to flak over the target. The plane piloted by 1st Lt. Richard F. Reiland had a brief encounter with a FW-190 which opened fire at 600 yards. When the alert gunners fired back the Fock Wulf turned away and headed north to Germany.

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

"The successful bombing of yesterday, 26 April 1945, by all Groups of this command was a fine display of leadership and aggressiveness. Your action in reaching targets through adverse weather that turned back many other units is deserving of commendation."

Brig. General Lee


Mission No. 223

26 April 1945

Lienz Marshalling Yard, Austria

The primary target for this mission was the Cortina Ammunition Stores in Italy. Bad weather in northern Italy made identification of this small target impossible, and Colonel Rogers, leading the formation, decided on one of the alternate targets, the marshalling yard at Lienz, Austria. Because of the nine-tenths cloud coverage at Lienz, the formation had to let down to 12,000 feet in order to bomb visually. Bombing was done by boxes, some boxes making as many as three passes at the target. Two boxes dropped their bombs directly on the marshalling yard; the others were either short or over but on the whole results were very good. Air Force scored the mission at 64.6 percent. There was no interference from flak or fighters.

Poop Sheet


Commendation

"Attacks against the enemy's vital communications center at Lienz yesterday show excellent results by the Forty-Ninth Wing. Bombing of the 451 and 461 Groups was particularly outstanding."

Brig. General Lee


Missing in Action

Rank

Name

Home Town

Date

Target

2nd. Lt.

Robert Caran

Cleveland, OH

11/4/45

Bronsolo

1st. Lt.

Donald J. Rhodes

Berkeley, Mich.

11/4/45

Bronsolo

2nd Lt.

Billy May

Montezuma, Ga.

11/4/45

Bronsolo

1st Lt.

Robert E. Hearn

Millington, Tenn.

11/4/45

Bronsolo

Sgt.

Martin F. Comer

Birmingham, Ala.

11/4/45

Bronsolo

Sgt.

Alfred J. Cashman

Racine, Wis.

11/4/45

Bronsolo

Sgt.

Francis A. Schaules

Detroit, Mich.

11/4/45

Bronsolo

Sgt.

Albert H. Lewis

St. Louis, Mo.

11/4/45

Bronsolo