Major McCoy (right), Kassel Mission Commanding Officer.
We were approaching the I.P. in a south easterly direction, where we were supposed to make a slight left turn in an east-southeasterly direction toward Kassel, but for some reason the lead ship turned almost directly east, a mistake which would take us past the target city of Kassel, too far to the north. The only explanation was that the radar man had made a grievous error.
Practically every navigator in our group picked up on this mistake almost instantly, but it was too late for the lead ship to correct to the right, as he would have run into the stream of bombers coming up from the rear. In hindsight we can say that the correct thing to do would have been to make a 360 turn to the left and come in on the rear of the second division, but Major McCoy decided to continue on east and bomb the city of Gottin-gen, about 50 miles away. As a result we lost our fighter escort, and flew alone to our own destruction.
Some of the pilots contacted the lead ship to report the error, but the only signal they received was “Keep in tight-Keep it together” .
We carried on east, and finally dropped our bombs at Gottingen. We then made a turn to the south, and in the vicinity of Eisenach, we made a right turn to proceed west. By this time we were probably a hundred miles behind the rest of the division.
Just as we made the turn, we were attacked from the rear by between 100 and 150 German fighters. They attacked us line abreast in three waves. Most of these fighters were specially adapted FW-190s equipped with extra armor, and both 20 and 30mm cannons. They were accompanied by a smaller number of ME-109s.
The battle probably lasted only a few min utes, but it was a horrendous attack, as the FW-190 assault fighters passed through the bomber formations with 20 and 30mm cannons blazing, and the 50 cal. machine guns of the B-24s responding. The skies were full of bright flashes from the exploding shells.
When the smoke of this great battle had cleared, 25 of our bombers had crashed into German soil. Two of our planes crash-landed in occupied France. One had crashed near Brussels, Belgium. Two made it across the Channel to make forced landings at the emergency strip at Mansion. One crashed near the base in Norfolk. Only four were able to land at Tibenham.
Of the 238 men aboard the 25 bombers which went down in Germany, 115 were KIA or subsequently died of injuries. One was killed in the plane which crashed in Norfolk and one was killed in the crash in Belgium, for a total of 117. Another American killed that day was Lt. Leo Lamb of the 361st FG, who belatedly came to our rescue.
During the battle the German Air Force lost 29 planes, with 18 German pilots KIA. And it is true that five American airmen were murdered that day near the village of Nentershausen. [Note: seven more were murdered in other areas.] The killers were apprehended after the war and brought to justice at a war crimes trial.
One would have thought that with a battle of this magnitude, more would have been writ-ten about it. [As of 1996,] aside from a paragraph in Roger Freeman’s book The Mighty Eighth that stated this was the greatest single loss of any group in the Eighth Air Force, it received no other publicity. This is understandable, since this had been a failed raid, and a big defeat for our side. It is possible that everyone was trying to forget it But it was certainly not forgotten by those who survived it, nor by anyone who happened to be at Tibenham that day, nor by the next of kin of those who perished.
In 1986, Lt. Col. John Woolnough, a former B-24 pilot, founder of the 8th Air Force Historical Society and editor of the Eighth Air Force News, devoted two entire issues of that publication to the Kassel mission, and Bill Dewey, a pilot who survived the raid, subsequently organized the establishment of the non-profit, tax exempt group known as The Kassel Mission Memorial Association (KMMA). KMMA has produced a book entitled The Kassel Mission Reports, based on the material previously printed in the 8th AF News, and established a historic memorial monument, dedicated on August 1,1990, on a plot of ground donated by the government of the state of Hesse on the precise spot where the lead ship of Capt. Chilton crashed at Bad Hersfeld.*
Shadow World – Trailer.
Shadow World – “Politicians Are Like Prostitutes” – Clip.
From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair, Shadow World reveals the shocking realities of the global arms trade, the only business that counts its profits in billions and its losses in human lives. Based on The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade , the acclaimed book by Andrew Feinstein, the film explores how governments, their militaries and intelligence agencies, defense contractors, arms dealers and agents are inextricably intertwined with the international trade in weapons, and how that trade fosters corruption, determines economic and foreign policies, undermines democracies and creates human suffering. MORE.
Through the insights of whistleblowers, investigators, prosecutors, journalists, military and industry insiders, Shadow World unravels a number of the world’s largest and most corrupt arms deals. It illustrates how the global arms trade operates in a parallel legal universe, in which the national security elite who drive it are seldom prosecuted for their often-illegal actions. Ultimately the film reveals the real costs of war, the way the arms trade drives it, and how a defense industry that is supposed to enhance security instead gives us the exact opposite: a more dangerous world.
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