One of the pivotal moments in the air war over Europe is being commemorated at the 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association’s Red Feather Club in Horham at 10am on Tuesday March 4th.
The ceremony will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the day the 95th became the first USAAF group to bomb Berlin in daylight during WW2.
All are welcome at a ceremony which should be attended by serving USAF personnel as well as heritage association members.
The ceremony will be at 10am on Tuesday March 4th at the Red Feather Club.
“Every American combat crew in the Eighth Air Force had been waiting, expecting, and dreading the day they would be sent out to accomplish the raid that the commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, the be-medalled Hermann Goering, said couldn’t be flown: a daylight attack by American heavy bombers on Berlin, the capital city of Hitler’s 1,000-year Reich,” said Lt Glenn Infield a pilot with the 334th Bomb Squadron. That day finally came on March 4th 1944.
Several previous attempts to bomb Berlin in daylight had been recalled – one just the day before. This mission too seemed doomed from the start but three things came together to ensure that aircraft from the 95th and some elements of the 100th bombed Berlin that day.
The first was the addition of a Pathfinder B-17 equipped with radar to help see through the clouds to the target below.
The second was the choice of Lt Col H Griffin ‘Grif’ Mumford, the commanding officer of the 412th squadron, as mission leader.
The third was the determined fighter cover offered by P-51 Mustangs of the 4th and 357th Fighter Groups.
Deep into enemy territory the recall order was received, due to the bad weather, and most of the assembled bomb groups peeled off for other targets. Lt Colonel Mumford decided to continue the planned mission to Berlin as the recall message did not contain the correct code and the enemy were sending up fake recall signals. With Pathfinder technology, he also knew they could take advantage of the bad weather and strike a blow to German morale.
As Lt. Alvin Brown said:
“The bomb drop was achieved against all odds! Enemy fighters attacking, flak everywhere, lousy weather. In spite of all the negative factors Berlin had received the first bombs dropped by American planes in daylight… We had proved that Germany’s most prized and protected target – Berlin – was no longer safe from Eighth Air Force daylight attacks.”
Lt Brown, pilot of the lead plane – alongside the Pathfinder, from the 482nd Bomb Group – was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the 95th’s exploits made it into Life magazine, although the involvement of the Pathfinders was kept secret. For his decisive part in the mission, Lt Col Grif Mumford was awarded the Silver Star.
The 95th was the only Eighth Air Force Bomb Group to receive the Distinguished Unit Citation, also called the Presidential Unit Citation, three times.
It’s third award was for Proceeding to Berlin and successfully bombing the German capital despite snowstorms, dense clouds, and severe enemy attack, while many others, because of weather conditions, either abandoned the operation or struck other targets, on March 4th 1944.
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