MISSION NO. 123
17 SEPTEMBER, 1944
This historic mission flown by the Group was the tactical bombing
of the Siegfried line prior to the Allied Airborne landings in Nijmegen,
Holland. German tanks and guns had to be knocked out to make it possible
for Allied armies to break the "Line", in an attempt to outflank the Nazi
forces in the Lowlands.
Four twelve-aircraft boxes were dispatched with Major Hozier as
Air Commander and Lt. Douglas C. Grantham as pilot. The 457th comprised the
94th B Combat Wing. The Group flew second in the Division line. After assembling,
the Group flew the briefed route over England.
Prior to arriving at the first control point, a Division delay of
thirty minutes was ordered and the formation made a 180 degree turn in the
direction of the Base to lose time. The Group then returned to course and
followed in trail of the 94th ACombat Wing.
The Belgian Coast was crossed and at a point near Brussels, the
formation headed northeast to the IF, but swung right of course.
In the area of Weert, Holland, as the formation turned on the IP,
the lead aircraft of the lead box took a direct hit by flak in the right
wing, which set the plane on fire in the two right engines and in the bomb
bay. The plane salvoed its bombs, left the formation, dropping and rising
again, then peeled off to the left of the formation. All crew members parachuted
from the burning craft.
Bombs were dropped on the target from 18,000 feet. Only meager,
inaccurate flak was thrown up from Nijmegen and no enemy aircraft opposed
the bombers. The pattern of the Group's bombs covered the whole of an area
12,000 feet long and 4,000 feet wide, along the edge of the Reichswald on
the Dutch-German frontier near Nijmegen, with very good results.
Lt. Walter Strosser landed the plane he was piloting in Belgium
with two engines out and another damaged. The Group lost one plane and crew,
and had five planes with major and eleven with minor damage.