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

February 1945

Mission No. 167

1 February 1945

Target: Graz Marshalling Yard, Austria

The primary target for the first mission in February was the Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery in Austria.  The formation led by Lt. Colonel Lawhon, abandoned the primary target because of bad weather and bombed the second alternate target, the marshalling yard at Graz, Austria, by pathfinder with unobserved results.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 168

2 February 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 168

3 February 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 168

4 February 1945

Target: Regensburg Winter Harbor Oil Storage, Germany

Canceled

Map of mission #168


Mission No. 168

5 February 1945

Target: Straubing, Germany

Colonel Lawhon also led the second mission of the month.  The primary target was the Regensburg Winter Harbor Oil Storage, Germany.  Over the Alps the formation picked up a solid undercast and flew through four-tenths cirrus approaching the target area.  The bombs were dropped by the pathfinder method.  The fact that no flak was encountered where the bombs were dropped and also that there was plenty of flak beyond where the bombs were dropped raised the question as to what happened.  Back on the ground, it was figured out from the navigators' logs that the formation had been approximately twenty miles east of course, had mistaken a town south of the Danube as the initial point, and actually bombed the briefed initial point, Straubing, Germany, instead of Regensburg which lay straight ahead on course.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 169

6 February 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

Canceled


Mission No. 169

7 February 1945

Target: Vienna Florisdorf Oil Refinery, Austria

Mission No. 169 was part of a double header mission to the Florisdorf Oil Refinery at Vienna. Rider was the Group leader.  Photographs show that two of the three boxes dropped approximately two miles north of the target on the East edge of the Strebersdorf Ordnance Depot.  The third box down the Danube within range of all the heavy flak of East Vienna and bombed the Zwolfaxing airdrome.  No one can explain how all the planes ran down flak alley without a single one being hit.  In the assembly area the plane flown by 2nd Lt. Frank M. Brown stalled out and went into a spin.  In pulling out of the spin with his heavy load, Lt. Brown lost one of the horizontal stabilizers. Despite this he returned the plane to base and landed safely.  Four of his crew members parachuted safely to the ground after the stabilizer had been lost.

Mission bombing photo

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Map of mission #169


Mission No. 170

7 February 1945

Target: Vienna Florisdorf Oil Refinery, Austria

The second half of the double header of 7 February was led by Captain Trommershausser. Photographs show only limited coverage of the strikes which fell two and one half miles southwest of the target in Vienna freight yards.  This formation was hit hard by flak which holed six of the sixteen planes over the target and slightly wounded three men.


Mission No. 171

8 February 1945

Target: Vienna Central Repair Shops, Austria Zagreb

Major Phillips led Mission No. 171 on 8 February 1945.  The target was the Central Repair Shops in Vienna.  The Group was one of twenty in the Air Force hitting this target by pathfinder. Bomb strike photos show that the target area was completely cloud covered.  Nine of the twenty-three planes over the target were hit by flak.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 172

9 February 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

After Plan Able and Plan Baker had been canceled, Plan Charlie was finally flown on 9 February.  The target was the Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria.  It was attacked by instrument bombing by a three-plane element of pathfinder equipped planes. Again there was a complete cloud coverage of the target.  There was plenty of flak over the target but none of the planes were hit.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 173

10 February 1945

Target: Vienna Florisdorf Oil Refinery, Austria, and Verona Marshalling Yard, Italy

Canceled


Mission No. 173

11 February 1945

Target: Munich Main Marshalling Yard, Germany

Canceled


Mission No. 173

12 February 1945

Target: Munich Main Marshalling Yard, Germany

Canceled


Commendation

From: Commanding General, 49th Bomb Wing

To: Commanding Officer 461st Bomb Group--

"The highly successful execution of the mission of 8 February under conditions which required a change of plans after the force was airborne is a tribute to capable and versatile leadership.  Please express to your leaders and their navigators my pride and appreciation for their accomplishment."

"It is with the greatest of pleasure that I pass Gen. Twining's message on to you with my personal congratulations, such a demonstration is indicative of high morale and excellent leadership."

LEE


Mission No. 173

13 February 1945

Target: Vienna Central Repair Shops, Austria, and Maribor Marshalling Yard, Yugoslavia

Mission No. 173 finally turned out to be another double header mission, each with a different target.  A TWX which was received from the Air Force through channels, however, directed that in the future double header missions should be counted as one mission.

The target of the Red Force was the Central Repair Shops at Vienna, Austria. Major Poole led the formation on this mission.  The weather was CAVU in the target area but smoke obscured the target which was completely missed by visual bombing.  Under ideal defense conditions the Vienna flak lived up to its vaunted reputation.  Fifteen of the seventeen planes over the target were hit, one man was wounded, and one plane was lost.  The lost plane was piloted by 2nd Lt. Francis X. Fink. It lost altitude rapidly coming off the target and when last seen was being covered by the P-51 escort.

Captain Veiluva led the Blue Force in attacking the marshalling yard at Maribor, Yugoslavia. Here, too, the weather was CAVU and here, too, the bombing was done visually.  The mission was scored at 28.3 percent.  Eight of the eighteen planes over the target were hit by flak and two men were wounded.

Upon returning to the base, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelliher, 765th Squadron, entered the left hand traffic pattern with his No. 2 engine feathered.  While circling the field he lost No. 1 engine and with the left wing down slipped into a crash landing in which his navigator, 2nd Lt. Donald Williams, was fatally injured.

Mission bombing photo

Blue Force

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Mission No. 174

14 February 1945

Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria

Another double header mission, this time with the Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery as the target for both Forces.  Despite the scattered clouds and the partially effective smoke pots, the Red Force, led by Major Phillips, bombed visually.  The aiming point was hit but only 7.1 percent of the bombs were plotted within 1,000 feet of the briefed aiming point.  Only two planes were hit by the moderate flak.  The Blue Force was led by the new Operations Officer of the 765th Squadron, Captain Thackston.  This formation bombed by pathfinder.  This formation escaped flak damage over the target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 175

15 February 1945

Target: Vienna Penzinger Marshalling Yard, Austria

Again, a double header mission, Vienna, and ten-tenths cloud coverage.  Again pathfinder bombing and unobserved results.  Again good protection against the flak by the cloud coverage.

Major Poole, who started out leading the Red Force, was forced to abort.  The lead was taken over by the Deputy, Captain Cooper.  Only one plane in this formation was hit by flak, but a man on that plane was wounded.

Major Mixson was the leader of the Blue Force.  No flak damage was sustained, but oxygen failure cost the life of Corporal John O. Moore.

Mission bombing photo

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Map of mission #175


Mission No. 176

16 February 1945

Target: Rosenheim West Marshalling Yard, Germany

On 16 February the Group finally came through with a superior bombing mission when Major Baker led a large formation against the Rosenheim West Marshalling Yard in Germany.  A concentrated pattern of bombs fell across the east half of the small marshalling yard with many hits on freight cars, through tracks, and the choke point.  With CAVU weather and no flak the formation returned to base without having sustained any damage.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 177

17 February 1945

Target: Trieste Shipyards, Italy

The primary target for Mission No. 177 was the Schwechat Oil Refinery near Vienna.  Because of an ordered delay in take-off due to weather over the Alps, the formation finally got off at 1110 hours.  Due to the delay, the target of last resort, the shipyards at Trieste, Italy, became the primary target.  The formation was led by Captain Roberts.  A great deal of damage was done to the target but the pattern was scattered with the result that the mission was scored at 24.1 percent.  A large war vessel which was in the harbor at the time was hit.  This ship was later identified as the Italian battleship Cavour and attacked by the Royal Air Force.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 178

18 February 1945

Target: St. Valentin Tank Works, Austria (No Credit)

On 18 February the Group took off to attack the Tank Works at St. Valentin, Austria.  Over the Adriatic the formation ran into a solid bank of clouds with bases at 8,000 and tops at 30,000 feet.  Turned back by these clouds, the planes returned their bombs to base.  No mission credit was allowed.


Mission No. 178

19 February 1945

Target: Vienna South Station Area, Austria

With Mission No. 178 the Group missed another opportunity to register a satisfactory visual bombing score at Vienna.  The target was the South Station.  North of Judenburg, engine failure forced the formation leader, Major Poole, to leave the formation.  After the bomb load had been dropped on a target of opportunity at Wolfsburg, Austria, the plane staggered back to base on two engines.  Captain Thackston, who had been flying the Deputy lead position, took over the formation lead.  Bad weather split up the formation and only fourteen planes bombed the primary target for a discouraging score of 3 percent.  Three of the planes over Vienna were holed by flak and two men were injured.  Nine airplanes which had lost the formation made a visual run on the dry docks at Fiume, Italy, but completely overshot the target.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 179

20 February 1945

Target: Fiume Shipyards, Italy

Thick Cirrus at the head of the Adriatic with tops over 23,000 feet compelled the Group leader, Major Mixson, to abandon the Bolzano Marshalling Yard, Italy, as a primary target on 20 February 1945.  The second alternate target, the shipyards at Fiume, Italy, was bombed visually for a score of 37.3 percent.  The main concentration of bombs fell in the built-up area near the docks with hits on the docks, warehouses, and harbor jetty.  This mission resulted in three cases of frostbite, an unusual experience for the flying personnel of this Group.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 180

21 February 1945

Target: Vienna South Station Area, Vienna

Another target in the concentrated Southeast section of Vienna was missed by the pathfinder methods on 21 February.  The target was the South Station Area, but the bombs fell beyond the target near the banks of the Danube River. Intense haze interfered with correct target identification.

The formation got off to a bad bomb run when they overshot the initial point at Michelbach and ran into the Moosbierbaum flak area.  The second section did not believe the first section had corrected far enough to the right on the bomb run and left the formation.  The first section turned out to be correct on course but wrong on rate.  The second section over-corrected and bombed the Wiener Neudorf Aircraft Engine Factory near Modling, Austria.

Seven of the planes in the first section were hard hit by flak and three of them failed to return to base.  The three planes lost were flown by the Group leader, Major Robert K. Baker, 1st Lt. Dewey E. McMillen, and 2nd Lt. Josiah R. Hooper.  All three of these planes headed for safe territory east of the Russian bomb line.  One wounded man aboard another plane was returned to base.

Major Baker became the second Squadron Commander in the history of the Group to become missing in action.

The deputy lead position in the formation was flown by Major Poole.  This was his fourth consecutive mission to Vienna.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 181

22 February 1945

Target: Kempton Marshalling Yard, Germany

Colonel Lawhon took off in the lead of a thirty-plane four box formation to attack the marshalling yard at Ingolstadt, Germany, on 22 February.  Due to impassible weather he was compelled to abandon the primary target and search for a target of opportunity to be bombed visually.  The target selected was the marshalling yard at Kempton, Germany.  The choke point of the target was well hit but the mission was not scored by the Air Force because the target was a non-briefed one.  Six airplanes were damaged on this mission and three men were wounded.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE
Office of the Commanding General
A.P.O. 520

Subject: Commendation 23 February 1945

 

To: All Groups, Fifteenth Air Force

1. The Commander in Chief, Mediterranean Allied Forces, has sent the following cable to this headquarters dated 22 February 1945:

"Today's effort of the Fifteenth Air Force in launching more than eleven hundred aircraft on the tenth successive day of operations is unmistakable evidence of a superior organization in action.  It demonstrates the excellence of command and staff and all echelons.  Particularly does it reflect the superior maintenance in all organizations, to include the service Command and the Service Groups, as well as the maintenance crews of all combat groups.

I wish you would convey as widely as possible throughout your organization my personal admiration and commendation for the remarkable performance cited above.  I feel throughout succeeding years your continuous operations during the past ten days will set an historical factual record.  It will live long as a model and an example to be pointed out with pride."

2. I am happy to pass General Eaker's message to all units of this command and to add my own sincere congratulations and commendations.

/s/ Nathan F. Twining, Major General, USA


Mission No. 182

23 February 1945

Target: Knittelfeld Marshalling Yard, Austria

On 23 February impassable weather over Germany prevented the Group, led by Captain Roberts, from reaching its primary target, the marshalling yard at Amstetten, Germany.  The absence of flak at the first alternate target, the marshalling yard at Knittelfel, Austria, made it possible for the Group to make three bomb runs over a four-tenths cloud covered target.  On the third run the bombs were dropped for a score of 49 percent.  The roundhouse and the through tracks were well covered.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 183

24 February 1945

Target: Bolzano Marshalling Yard, Italy - (No Credit)

On 24 February a twenty-eight plane formation took off to bomb the marshalling yard at Bolzano, Italy.  Bad weather over the whole area north and west of Zara prevented the Group from finding any target which could be bombed visually.  After five hours and 45 minutes of flying time, the planes returned their bombs to the base and no mission credit was allowed.


Mission No. 183

25 February 1945

Target Linz South Main Marshalling Yard, Austria

Captain MacDougall led Mission No. 183 against the South Main Marshalling Yard at Linz, Austria.  Smoke from effective smoke screens and from previous bombing necessitated pathfinder bombing despite CAVU weather.  The results were unobserved.

Poop Sheet

Mission bombing photo

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Commendation

To: All Concerned

The Commanding General is gratified to pass the following message of commendation received from General H. H. Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces, to all units of this command.

I HAVE NOTED WITH FEELINGS OF PRIDE AND SATISFACTION THE LARGE SCALE EFFORTS OF THE VETERAN FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE DURING THE PAST ELEVEN DAYS.  OPERATIONS OF THIS CHARACTER, IN TAKING ADVANTAGE OF FAVORABLE WEATHER CONDITIONS TO DEAL THE BATTERED GERMANS CONTINUED DECISIVE BLOWS ARE IN THE BEST TRADITIONS OF THE ARMY AIR FORCES AND REFLECT GREAT CREDIT ON COMMANDERS AND PERSONNEL IN ALL ECHELONS.  OF PARTICULAR NOTE IS THE EXCELLENCE OF THE MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION WHICH SUSTAINS YOUR HIGH RATE OF AIRCRAFT OPERATIONAL.  PLEASE CONVEY MY COMMENDATION TO ALL COMMAND, STAFF, OPERATING AND SERVICE PERSONNEL

BY COMMAND OF MAJOR GENERAL TWINING

J.N. IVINS

Colonel, AGD

Adjutant General


Mission No. 184

26 February 1945

Target: Trisanna Railroad Bridge, Italy

Canceled


Mission No. 184

27 February 1945

Target: Augsburg Marshalling Yard, Germany

The target for 27 February was the seldom assigned marshalling yard at Augsburg, Germany.  The formation, led by Major Phillips, dropped 1000 pound bombs by the pathfinder method with poor results.  The flak was extremely intense, accurate, and heavy.  Thirteen of the twenty-six planes over the target were holed.

Mission bombing photo

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Mission No. 185

28 February 1945

Target: Ora Marshalling Yard, Italy

The busy month of February ended with another double header mission.  The target for both Forces was the marshalling yard at Ora, Italy.  Major Roberts, still flushing from his promotion, completed his tour of combat duty by leading the Red Force on this mission.  The bombs were dropped visually on this "hot" target for a score of 15.6 percent.  Nine of the sixteen planes over the target were hit by flak and one man was wounded. Captain Trommershausser led the Blue Force which turned in a score of 28.1 percent. Fortunately the flak was not accurate on this Force and only three planes were holed.

Mission bombing photo

Blue Force

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Mission bombing photo

Red Force

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Commendation

FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE
Office of the Commanding General
A.P.O. 520

Subject: Commendation

28 February 1945

To: All Groups, Fifteenth Air Force

1. Lieutenant General Joseph T. McNarney, CG MTOUSA, has cabled this headquarters as follows:

"Pass please to all concerned my admiration and congratulations for the large scale and outstanding operations of the Fifteenth Air Force for the past fifteen consecutive days.  This succession of decisive blows is a fine tribute to your excellent combat and maintenance personnel. Keep up the good work."

2. In addition to General McNarney's message, similar commendations from CG AAF/MTO and CG AAF have been previously passed to all units.  The work of all personnel which made these sustained operations possible is a source of much gratification to me.

N. F. TWINING
Major General, USA Commanding