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VIII Bomber Command 53

1 May 1943

Official description

Not yet known


The U-boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are the primary target. 78 B-17s are despatched: 91BG (20); 303BG (19); 305BG (21); 306BG (18). Poor weather frustrates the bombing effort and only 29 of the 78 despatched are effective on the target. The ordnance used is the 2,000 lb. general purpose bomb, the heaviest that could be carried in the B-17 bomb rack. 7 B-17s are MIA and 1 B-17 from 306th BG is Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR). This aircraft is B-17F 42-29649 aboard which is Ball Turret Gunner, Sgt Maynard "Snuffy" H. Smith who is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions this day. The citation may be viewed at: The bomber gunners claim 18-6-8 against enemy aircraft.

The main B-17 force is supported by 24 B-24s: 44BG (18) and 93BG (6) despatched to fly a diversion along the Brittany coast. No losses or claims.

Mission details




Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator


Diversion for St. Nazaire mission.


  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 24
Number of aircraft Effective 24




Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress


Bad weather over target. Groups trying 2000lb "Block Busters". Sgt. Maynard S. "Snuffy" Smith 423BS/306th Bomb Group (Waist Gunner on B-17 42-29649) is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for this action. This is the 2nd CMOH awarded to a member of the 8th Air Force but the first AF enlisted man in history to win the award.


  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 57.00
Number of aircraft Sent 78
Number of aircraft Effective 29
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 7
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 20
Number of people Killed In Action 57
Number of people Wounded in Action 17
Number of people Missing In Action 3
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 15
Number of people Returned To Duty 7



  • William Benecki

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Aerial Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    18 November 1942 in 'Fury' B-17 #41-2499 bombs could not be released so were jettisoned in an open field. On return, 10 miles SW of Exeter, A/C collided with #41-24553 which was able to land safely; however Fury landed at RAF Turweston and was salvaged.

  • Carroll Briscoe

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    He reported to group on 15 Jan 1943. He was the 35th Officer to complete 25 missions. Reported on 05 Feb 1945 with the 2AF weather scouts. Retired as a Colonel from the USAF in 1972. ...

  • Claude Campbell

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. 30 x combat missions. ETD Awards: DSC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME, UN and Korean medals. Post war: Remained in USAF, serving in Korean conflict.

  • William Fahrenhold

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Flight Engineer; Top Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    William Fahrenhold was Engineer/Top Turret gunner on B-17 #42-29649 on 1 May 1943. The assigned target were the U-boat yards at St. Nazaire, France and a navigational error on return took the 306th Bomb Group over heavily defended Brest. The Fortress...

  • Robert McCallum

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot; Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    On May 1, 1943, in B-17F #42-29649 while serving as Co-Pilot the aircraft was assigned to bomb the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire. A navigational error on return took the group over heavily defended Brest and the aircraft was attacked by fighters and...

  • Arthur Poston

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Bombardier | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA) 19 May 1943 in B-17 #41-24483 'Spirit of Alcohol'. He went to Bassingbourn from MacDill Field about November/December 1942. He was on his 17th mission. The pilot (Lt. Baxley) told his parents in a letter that they were...

  • William Rathgeber

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down 19 May 1943 in B-17 #41-24483 'Spirit of Alcohol'. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Fred Sherman

    Military | Colonel | Pilot & Co-Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    He was the 32nd officer to complete a 25 mission tour. Joined group in 15 January 1943. He flew 13 missions as C. Dale Briscoe's Co-pilot and then received his own crew in May 1943. He flew the JERAVAD "Un Petite Peu." His last mission was on 28...

  • Maynard Smith

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Manned guns, extinguished fires, and treated wounded crewmates on first mission in B-17 42-29649. He also helped to throw out cans of ammunition that weighed almost as much as he did so the bomber could make an emergency landing. On the day was to be...


  • 41-24610 Joe Btfsplk II

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 427BS/303BG [GN-T] Bangor 5/10/42; Molesworth 25/10/42. ...

  • 42-29649

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 42-29649 was delivered at Denver 29-Jan-43; Great Falls 31-Jan-43; Salina 13-Feb-43; Assigned to 423BS/306BG [RD- ] at Thurleigh 24-Mar-43; On 1-May-43 the aircraft was despatched on a mission to bomb the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. On...

  • 42-5077 Delta Rebel No. 2

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 15/9/42; Bangor 11/10/42; Assigned 323BS/91BG [OR-T] Bassingbourn 15/10/42; Missing in Action 33m Gelsenkirchen 12/8/43 with Bob Thompson (Thomson per POW records), Co-pilot: Serge Klinkow (Klimkow per POW records), Navigator: George...

  • 42-5177 'FAST WOMAN' aka 'FAST WORKER Mk II'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 6/10/42; New Castle 19/10/42; Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-U] Molesworth 1/2/43; battle damaged Bremen 28/11/43 with Harry Bolsover, Co-pilot: Chas Rice, Navigator: Byron Clark, Bombardier: Chas McLain, Flight engineer/top turret gunner:...

  • 42-5221 'SHADES OF STRICNINE' aka SON

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 14/10/42; Salina 31/1/43; Morrison 4/3/43; Assigned 427BS/303BG [GN-Z] Molesworth 8/4/43; 25m Missing in Action Anklam 9/10/43 with Bernard Clifford, Co-pilot: Chas Jahn, Navigator: Chas Stata, Bombardier: Bob Bruce, Flight engineer/top...

  • 42-5382 "The Witche's Tit"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 26/11/42; Berry 31/12/42; Morrison 6/2/43; Assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-E] Molesworth 25/2/43; 15 x missions; Missing in Action Wangerooge Is, Holl. 25/6/43 with Dave Mack, Co-pilot: Ragnar Barhuag, Navigator: Roland Smith, Bombardier:...

  • 42-5390 The Avenger

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 30/11/42; Salina 20/1/43; Assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-L] Molesworth 26/3/43; Missing in Action Wangerooge Is 25/6/43 with Joe Palmer, Co-pilot: Bob Sheldon, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Elmer Duffy, Radio Operator: Edmund Gullage,...

  • 42-5392 Stric Nine, City of Albuquerque

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 29/11/42; Salina 25/1/43. ...

  • 42-5430 Pappy, Good Snuf

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 8/12/42 ...

  • 42-5826 JERAVAD "Une Petite Peu"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 2/3/43; Walla Walla 29/3/43; Lowry 10/4/43; Presque Is 24/4/43; Assigned 369BS/306BG [WW-W] Thurleigh 7/5/43; Missing in Action Kiel 29/7/43 with Keith Conley, Co-pilot: Vince DeVos, Bombardier: Bob Sanford, Radio Operator: Frank...


Date Contributor Update
31 December 2014 18:33:12 Lee8thbuff Changes to description

Lee Cunningham 31-Dec-2014. Description based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman. Maynard information from "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey and Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:17 AAM AAM ingest

Lee Cunningham, 8th Air Force missions research database / Stan Bishop's 'Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces', the Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces and the work of Roger Freeman including the 'Mighty Eighth War Diary'.