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Roland Allard

Male 1922 - 1943  (21 years)


What Happened at Stuttgart

An article from the Fall 2003 edition of the 388th Bombardment Group Assn newsletter detailing the story of the fateful day when the group encountered nearly 150 German fighter planes on a bombing raid over Stuttgart.


What Happened At Stuttgart 

 On September 7, 1943, a message from the Commanding General of the 8th Bomber Command was distributed widely at Station 136. It read,
 '"The 388th Bombardment Group suffered heavy losses yesterday. The spirit of the Group in bearing these losses and coming back with fighting hearts is a matter of great gratification to me. I wish that you would give the Group Commander my commendation to the 388th Bombardment Group for their excellent spirit and their confidence in the greatness of the task they are now performing." 

The message was signed, simply, Eaker. The words of General Ira Eaker brought little comfort to a group who on the previous day had lost eleven planes and 109 men. Neither would they offer much in the way of encouragement to the crews that would be flying to Watten this morning. 

The day before - Monday, September 6 - 20 heavy bomber groups dispatched 407 planes - a new record for the 8th AF. Of these, 69 made a diversionary sweep over the North Sea; the remaining 338, lead by the 303rd BG, headed for the VKF ball bearing plant at Stuttgart. The 388th was flying low Group to the 96th BG's lead in the 2nd Task Force. Their slot in the overall formation was known in military parlance as "coffin comer." 

Things began to go wrong shortly after the bombers reached France. Heavy clouds surrounded Stuttgart, causing the bomber stream to break up as groups began seeking targets of opportunity in France and Germany. The pilots of the 388th noted several such targets, but remained with the 96th and eventually dropped on their lead. The results were poor, but that would be the least of our Group's problems. 

  In all, nearly 150 German fighters - the largest opposition encountered to date - were using the clouds to their advantage, and were pouncing on the separating Groups. They first attacked the 388th at 0825 hours near Carnbrai, France; but were dispersed by P-47s. 

The attacks resumed as the Group approached the IP. They would last for hours.

 The fighters first lined up two to three miles in front of the formation, then began coming in level from 11 o'clock to 1 0'clock. Assuming a traffic pattern, they trailed in, mostly from the left, in 20-second intervals. The planes of our lead element flew an especially tight formation, so much so that a waist gunner on Ralph Jarrendt's lead crew remarked that he could have touched the wing tip of the right hand wing ship. It didn't seem to help much.

At 300-400 yards the fighters would begin their barrel rolls through the squadrons, three and four at a time, then peel away. Later, this traffic pattern shifted to the right; with some attacks pressed as close as 50-75 yards. The flak and fighter method was simple and effective: Disable a Fortress, force it out of formation, then destroy it. 

The 563rd, which was flying low squadron, was a sitting duck. 

Aircraft #289, Wolf Pack, flown by Ed Wick (562nd) , had struggled to the target on three engines, only to be hit by flak on the bomb run over Strasbourg. The straggling plane was soon taken out by fighters. Earl Melville (56Oth) and three of his men died as ale #201 Shedowanna?, her nose and no. 4 engine on fire, was seen spinning just beyond Strassbourg. Jim Karnezis' (560th) ale #294 Slightly Dangerous disappeared from view; she ultimately went down some 60 miles southeast of Paris.  NOTE: (this is Allards plane)

Warren Beecham's (56Oth) brand new B-17, alc #478 Impatient Virgin II, was forced to hit the deck. Beecham managed to bring her to safety in Switzerland. 

Myron Bowen (563rd) also tried to get to Switzerland; but with two engines out, alc #942 Sky Shy rapidly lost altitude. The crew decided to abandon ship, and she crashed near Ulm. 

Al Kramer's (563rd) alc #222 Lone Wolf was last seen near Troyes, France, as was Richard Cunningham's (563rd) ale #425 In God We Trust. Both pilots were rescued by members of the French Underground. 

Silver Dollar, ale #378, went down forcing Jim Roe (563rd) and eight of his surviving crew to bail out. A fire in her nose brought down ale #349 near Paris, killing her pilot Ray Wilken (563rd). Roy Mohr's (560th) ale #203 was also shot down near Paris. 

No one could say what had happened to Lew Miller's (563rd) crew after their plane #234 left formation.

 A 20mrn shell exploded in the cockpit of ale #395, killing Pilot Lew Krueger (561st). Co-pilot John Mayfield, seriously wounded, was miraculously able to bring the plane back to base. 

At last, 112 Spitfires rendezvoused with the ragged remnants of the formation south of Bernay, France. 

Of the 338 planes sent by the 8th AF to Stuttgart that day, 45 would be lost. The 388th lost 11 of its 21 planes, including all those the 563rd Squadron had sent up that morning. 

A later breakdown of crews lost on September 6 indicated that four escaped capture, nine were interned in Switzerland, 56 were POW, 27 were KIA, and 12 were MIA. 


Owner/ / Fall 2003 Newsletter
Date01 Sept 2003
Linked toRoland Allard (Military Service)