- Obituary for Lewis F Kirby
- East Naples man recalls B-17 flights over Nazi Germany
- BBC - WW2 People's War - A Childhood in Nazi-Occupied Italy
- The Forgotten Fifteenth
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Obituary for Lewis F Kirby
There is a small piazza in the town of Ameglia and under the tower of the castle, ablaze with the rays of the setting sun, a handful of kids is kicking a ball, their favorite weekend pastime. And as usual, off-duty German soldiers based in the nearby Villa Angelo stroll by in dribs and drabs, and play a ball game with the kids. Athletic vigorvs clever dynamism.
The Italian children win the match. The young Nazis, as if making up for the loss, start explaining, through gestures, that they had defeated fifteen Italian-American soldiers that morning. The kids understand that they weren't talking about a soccer match. One boy runs to the parish priest and tells him what he heard.
The priest reaches out to the American [how about explaining: the American unit based there, or something]and gives them the bits and pieces of information. Throughout , the Eighth actually operated 20 percent more often than did the Fifteenth. The Fifteenth also faced geographical realities few Americans had ever encountered. His fledgling force comprised three B and two B bomb groups plus three P Lightning groups.
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Temporarily attached were a number of medium bombers. War correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote so eloquently of the war in the Mediterranean Theater that a B Superfortress was named in tribute to him.
We estimated we put it out of action for at least two months. Doolittle recalled that some German fighters attacked the Allied bombers before, during, and after their bombing runs, even flying though their own flak. He lost six Bs and five Bs that day. Though Weiner Neustadt Messerschmitt production was cut roughly 75 percent, the Germans proved exceedingly resilient, and soon the rate began rising again. A restrike policy became mandatory, as proved by postraid regeneration at Ploesti, Regensburg, Schweinfurt, and other hard targets.
East Naples man recalls B-17 flights over Nazi Germany
By the end of March , 20 bases in the Foggia aviation complex had become operational, affording adequate facilities for the growing air force. In January , mere months after it started operations, the Fifteenth underwent a sudden command change. Dwight D.
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The famous airman had barely had time to "shake the stick" before he left for England, turning the command over to Maj. Nathan F. Twining, future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air strategists had long argued the merits of "morale bombing," which had failed against Britain and thus far had little effect in Germany.
BBC - WW2 People's War - A Childhood in Nazi-Occupied Italy
Nonetheless, early in the combined chiefs directed the Fifteenth to bomb city centers in Bucharest and Sofia, hoping to separate those capitals from the Axis camp. Some resented the missions, considered "terror bombings" by many, including many airmen. One B group member noted, "It would seem that orders are orders. The latter effort, officially designated Operation Argument, was better known as "Big Week. Bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force, during the period Feb.
Because most of the targets lay at the edge of P coverage, the "heavies" mostly had to shoot their way in and out. And so they did, along the way striking aircraft plants at Regensburg on Feb. Bs and Bs inflicted significant damage on Messerschmitt factories, but the Luftwaffe itself exacted a grim price.
Nearly 40 bombers were shot down, as were four fighters. B flight engineer Loyd Lewis recalled the Feb. Lewis, flying with Lt.
The Forgotten Fifteenth
They were diving down into the clouds and out of sight. I remember getting on the intercom and announcing the enemy planes. This was the last I remembered. I was hit He regained consciousness a couple of days later in an Austrian hospital, where he learned his bomber had been attacked by Mes and FW fighters firing cannon shells. The bomber pilot was stunned by a shell burst, and the aircraft went into a dive.
The copilot managed to right the bomber and help the crew bail out. L-r: Lt. Carl Spaatz, Lt. George Patton, Lt. Jimmy Doolittle, Maj. Hoyt Vandenberg, and Brig. Otto Weyland. As a major general, Doolittle was the first commander of Fifteenth Air Force.
Spaatz took on the enormous task of coordinating vast air fleets—including Fifteenth Air Force—from London. On the way, however, was some help: P Mustangs. The Eighth already had Ps by the time of Big Week. The Fifteenth needed them too. Spitfire groups transferred to the Fifteenth and converted to Mustangs. At the same time, the th exchanged its Ps for Mustangs, and by early July, the nd had also done so.
The Spitfire outfits—the 31st and 52nd—managed an orderly transition while the th "Checkertails" parked their Ps on May 24 and flew their first Mustang mission three days later. The US strategic air commander was Lt. Carl A. Spaatz in London.
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He oversaw the efforts of the Eighth and Fifteenth, maintaining cordial relations with Lt. Ira C. Eaker, commander of Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. Spaatz had a huge task, requiring co-ordination of vast air fleets at opposite ends of the European continent. By and large, it worked. The run-up to D-Day in mid placed strategic air forces under the direct control of Eisenhower. At that time, strategists differed in supporting either "the transportation plan" or "the oil plan" as the best way to defeat Germany.
As commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Eisenhower naturally leaned toward the transport plan. Wrecking German communications in northwestern Europe would directly support Operation Overlord, whereas focusing on oil would pay benefits over a longer term. In August —three months before the Fifteenth was established—a low-level B mission against Ploesti had produced spectacular losses for marginal results, proof that many industrial targets required persistent bombing.
However, because Romanian oil lay within reach only of Italy-based bombers, Mediterranean commanders chafed under the transport plan. Eaker and Twining began attacking the Ploesti complex in April , near the end of the transport phase. They were directed to strike the rail yards, presumably preventing oil from being shipped elsewhere. With a wink and a nod from Spaatz, however, bomber leaders began moving aim points closer to the 10 refineries circling the city. It was a rare case of de facto insubordination, but it began paying dividends.
Meanwhile, two Fifteenth airmen received the Medal of Honor for missions against Ploesti petroleum targets. On June 23, , 2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley was a 97th Bomb Group bombardier on a B that was hammered by flak and chased by fighters. When the pilot ordered the crew to bail, Kingsley unhesitatingly gave his parachute harness to a badly wounded gunner.
The Fortress, with Kingsley aboard, crashed in Bulgaria, where local residents established a memorial to their neighbors killed in the crash—and to the selfless Kingsley. First Lt. Donald D.