Bomber Autobahn

Chapter 7

BOMBER AUTOBAHN

The US Eighth Air Force and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command coordinate strategic operations against three German cities December 15, 1944. The RAF portion of the missions is recalled due to bad weather. The Lancaster bombers jettison unused bombs over the English Channel presumably around the same time the aircraft carrying Miller would have been crossing the same general area. Did the Lancasters accidentally kill Miller? Chapter 7 unequivocally answers this question.

Navigator Fred Shaw Logbook – 149 Squadron – Lancaster NF973

THE UPTOWN HALL

To the beat of his original theme, “My Guy’s Come Back”, Sgt. Mel Powell leads the “Swing Sextet” of the American Band of the AEF with one of their AEFP “Uptown Hall” programs, recorded December 7, 1944 at Co-Partners Hall in Bedford and first broadcast February 7, 1945.

PREVIEW

“The No. 3 Group daylight mission scheduled for Friday, December 15 was part of a coordinated series of attacks with Eighth Air Force on Reich transportation infrastructure, mostly railway marshaling yards. The targets were located at Hannover, Kassel, and Seigen, Germany. No. 3 Group Orders Form B. 724, dated December 14, regarding operations for December 15, specified that the target was the railway marshaling yards at Seigen, Germany, GZ.2973, or O49H and O47V on illustration 48/2 (Target Guides).

“No. 3 Group would take a southerly route outbound over the Channel. Three simultaneous and coordinated Eighth Air Force operations would fly routes that spread north outbound over the North Sea to allow the separation of missions and the integrity of formations. The Lancasters would proceed via Routes K and L, east of London, inside and west of the Diver defense zone. The flight plan took the aircraft outbound over the Channel to Amiens, France, and thence east to Seigen and returned over Belgium and the North Sea. The operation would depart (Z) at 10:00A and arrive overhead Seigen (H) at 14:00A.

“The morning of December 15, poor weather at several bomber aerodromes and the escort fighter aerodromes delayed operations … the Lancaster takeoffs were delayed by an hour from 10:00A to 11:00A, and the target time was pushed back from 14:00A to 15:00A. Operations had originally timed the departures to coincide with the Eighth Air Force departures at 10:00A. The 149 Squadron (Methwold) was in the lead formation or forward echelon of the bomber stream. The weather varied by aerodrome, with observations at 10:00A varying from “cloudy, visibility 2,500–3,000 yards (Mepal),” “frosty, dry, visibility 7-8 miles (Tuddenham)” to “poor visibility with low cloud (Mildenhall).” No. 3 Group departed after the one-hour delay, in conditions at Methwold described as “cloudy, visibility poor, wind slight.” S/Ldr. J. H. Laughlin led 149 Squadron aloft at 11:25A. F/O Victor Gregory piloting NF973 was fourth to depart Methwold at 11:37A …

RAF No. 3 Group – Operational Orders – December 15, 1944