9th AF Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Mission # 177 -- December 25, 1944, Monday PM

Hillesheim, Germany

Railroad Junction



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Summary of Operations

Field Order        : 104-683
OpRep #            : 266a
Nature of Mission  : Bombing
Mission Status     : Attacked
Bombing Altitude   : 11,500 feet
Take-off Time      : 1410
Time Over Target   : 1538 - 1549
Landing Time       : 1714
Duration (Hrs:Min) : 3:04

Place of Take-Off  : A-55 Melun/Villaroche, France
A/C Dispatched     : 31 Total -- 8 A-20's, 23 A-26's
Modified British System Reference: L-242885
Secondary Target   : No Alternate Targets Authorized
Summary of Results : Two flights - No Attack (leader did not bomb), three flights bombed Towns of Pelm, Feusdorf and Geroistein instead of Primary targer.

Primary Target Latitude/Longitude: 50.29140,6.67272 (50° 17' 29" N, 6° 40' 22" E)
(Latitude/Longitude based on The "Coordinates Translator", (NGZ) wL242885)
(See Latitude/Longitude Coordinates and Target Identifiers for more information.)

Scanned original Mission 177 documents (multipage PDF files)

Mission Folder       Reports Folder       OpRep # 266a       Fuel Use

If nothing happens on Click, check to see if the PDF file was automatically saved to your computer. Depending on Internet speed, the display or download may be slow.
These Public Domain, Declassified Mission documents were graciously provided to the 416th BG Archive by the dedicated staff of the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA).
An on-line index of records held by AFHRA up to 2001 is available at Air Force History Index.org.
Most of these PDF files are unaltered originals provided by the AFHRA, a few have been re-organized.
Pages may be out of sequence; files may contain scanned blank pages and/or pages scanned upside-down; some pages may be included in more than one file.
The "Mission Folder" usually contains the majority of documents for a Mission, including Field Orders, Status Reports, Pilot Interrogations, Photos (if available), etc.

Loading List 1

Loading List 1, Box I

Loading List 2

Loading List 2, Box II
(Note Changes to Boxes and Flights)

Missing Air Crew Reports, Aircraft Accident Reports, and other incidents

         Date          Report

Serial #
Location Personnel (Status when available)
Dec 25, 1944
177 668 Losheim, Germany Svenson, Robert Rose (MIA, KIA)
Fild, Philip G. (MIA, KIA)
Dec 25, 1944
177 668 Losheim, Germany Prentiss, Richard Burr (MIA, KIA)
Bursiel, Francis Harold (MIA, KIA)
Brown, Daniel Miller (MIA, KIA)
Wylie, Alvin Orr (MIA, KIA)

To view more information regarding an Incident/Report, click on the Report hyperlink.
( = Entries having actual Reports available for review.   = Entries having additional Images or Photos.)
To view an individual's Memorial page, click on the "Name" hyperlink.

Mission Loading Lists Transcription

Mission # 177 -- December 25, 1944, Monday PM
Hillesheim, Germany -- Railroad Junction

Included are Box, Flight and Position; Bomb Squadron; Aircraft Serial Number, Fuselage Code and Model; and Crew Members
transcribed from individual mission Loading List documents by Chris and Mary Adams and Carl Sgamboti.
Some information, such as Squadron, Serial Number, etc. has been expanded from other documents.

Box I -- Flight I
  1  668th                   
  43-9444  5H-J  A-20J
  Maj Price, R.F.
  Lt Hand, A.R.
  S/Sgt Fetko, C.
  S/Sgt Heitell, S.L.
  2  668th                   
  43-22317  5H-O  A-26B
  Lt Svenson, R.R.
  S/Sgt Fild, P.G.
  3  668th                   
  41-39219  5H-E  A-26B
  Lt Hale, W.L.
  S/Sgt Geyer, J.F.
  4  670th                   
  41-39227  F6-F  A-26B
  Lt Wright, J.W.
  Sgt VanGalder, D.W.
  5  670th                   
  41-39235  F6-M  A-26B
  Lt Blevins, J.W.
  S/Sgt Pfenning, G.H.
  6  670th                   
  41-39222  F6-S  A-26B
  Lt Parkhurst, G.J.
  Sgt Newman, F.

Box I -- Flight II
  1  669th                   
  43-22024  2A-E  A-20J
  Capt DeMun, E.E.
  Lt McQuade, R.J.
  S/Sgt Donnelly, W.W.
  Sgt Kruger, C.J.
  2  671st                   
  41-39209  5C-M  A-26B
  Lt Street, M.S.
  S/Sgt Sharp, R.P.
  3  669th                   
  43-22300  2A-P  A-26B
  Lt DuBose, M.W.
  S/Sgt Walters, J.H.
  4  669th                   
  41-39232  2A-A  A-26B
  Lt Butler, G.S.
  S/Sgt McGaughy, W.S.
  [Landed about 60 __ [?] from Paris at A-70]
  5  669th                   
  41-39252  2A-D  A-26B
  Lt Hackley, R.H.
  Cpl Koons, H.A.
  6  669th                   
  41-39241  2A-F  A-26B
  Lt Smith, D.E.
  Cpl DeStefano, R.

Box I -- Flight III
  1  669th                   
  44-178  2A-L  A-20K
  Lt Cornell, R.H.
  Lt Enman, R.E.
  S/Sgt Carter, A.
  Sgt Reid, K.A.
  2  669th                   
  41-39244  2A-I  A-26B
  Lt Tripp, W.F.
  S/Sgt Burland, A.J.
  3  671st                   
  41-39250  5C-A  A-26B
  Lt Sorrels, D.W.
  S/Sgt Triber, H.I.
  4  669th                   
  43-22301  2A-O  A-26B
  Lt Willard, J.A.
  Cpl Hinker, C.V.

Box II -- Flight I
  1  668th                   
  43-21717  5H-P  A-20J
  Capt Prentiss, R.B.
  Lt Bursiel, F.H.
  S/Sgt Brown, D.M.
  Sgt Wylie, A.O.
  2  670th                   
  44-073  F6-J  A-20K
  Lt Roberts, W.H.
  Sgt Windisch, R.P.
  3  670th                   
  44-076  F6-Q  A-20K
  Lt Buchanan, R.C.
  Sgt Bentzler, D.H.
  [Nosed Up on Runway]
  4  668th                   
  41-39269  5H-K  A-26B
  Lt Annin, W.W.
  Sgt Hicks, C.M.
  [Not Airborne Could Not Take Off in Time to Catch Formation]

Box II -- Flight II
  1  670th                   
  44-614  F6-A  A-20K
  Capt Harrold, F.J.
  Lt Brewer, W.E.
  S/Sgt Blackford, D.S.
  Cpl Kamischke, R.J.
  2  670th                   
  43-22296  F6-D  A-26B
  Lt Murphy, T.A.
  S/Sgt Ricketson, J.J.
  3  670th                   
  43-22337  F6-O  A-26B
  Lt Warren, J.R.
  S/Sgt Stroup, C.C.
  4  670th                   
  41-39212  F6-K  A-26B
  Lt Singletary, R.B.
  Lt Rosenquist, A.E.
  S/Sgt Wiggins, H.G.
  5  670th                   
  41-39217  F6-I  A-26B
  Lt Sewell, J.C.
  Sgt Harmon, C.D.
  6  670th                   
  41-39223  F6-B  A-26B
  F/O Green, J.A.
  Cpl Rorbakken, R.R.

Box II -- Flight III
  1  671st                   
  44-185  5C-G  A-20K
  Lt Brown, C.J.
  Lt Kerns, J.E.
  S/Sgt Sunderland, H.E.
  S/Sgt Mahoney, R.J.
  2  671st                   
  41-39210  5C-J  A-26B
  Lt Fero, D.A.
  S/Sgt Rojas, A.A.
  3  671st                   
  41-39284  5C-C  A-26B
  Lt VanNoorden, H.M.
  S/Sgt Thompson, G.
  4  671st                   
  41-39208  5C-L  A-26B
  Lt Gary, J.C.
  S/Sgt Cheuvront, R.W.
  5  671st                   
  41-39265  5C-V  A-26B
  Lt Wallman, M.
  Cpl Hardin, M.F.
  [Returned Early Could Not Join Formation Late Take Off]
  6  671st                   
  41-39211  5C-K  A-26B
  Lt Jokinen, W.R.
  Cpl McNellis, D.E.

Group and Unit Histories

Mission # 177 -- December 25, 1944, Monday PM
Hillesheim, Germany -- Railroad Junction

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1944"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

The afternoon mission was again a costly one. The target was a railroad junction at Hillesheim. None of the flights were able to identify the target through the haze that covered it. Instead, a casual target was selected by three of the five flights. One flight scored excellent results on the town of Pelm, south of the primary. A second flight scored good results on the town of Fousdork; the third, excellent results on Gereisten where a group of buildings adjoining the railroad tracks were destroyed. A malfunction in the release mechanism prevented one of the flights from bombing. The other flight, the lead flight in the formation, did not bomb when the formation leader was shot down. The formation was subjected to intense accurate heavy flak from a point just over the bombline to the target and back to that first point. The formation leader's plane was hit by flak between the I.P. and the target. It lost the left wing and went spinning to the earth, crashing near the town of Resheim. One chute was seen. The crew consisted of Captain R.B. Prentiss, Lt F.H. Bursiel, Staff Sergeant D.M. Brown, and Sergeant A.O. Wylie. The number two plane in Captain Prentiss' flight was shot down shortly after. One engine was smoking as the plane fell earthward and exploded near Losheim. No chutes were seen. The pilot of this plane, An A-26 Invader, was Lt R.R. Svenson; his gunner, Staff Sergeant P.G. Fild. Both crews are listed as MIA. Fourteen other planes received category "A" damage and three, category "AC" damage. Captain Prentiss, Lt Bursiel, B-N, led the first box; Captain Harrold, Lt Brewer, B-N, led the second box.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 182 - 183

Mission #177 - 25 December - PM - Hillshelm. Captain Prentiss and Lt. Burseil, BN led Box I with Major Price and Lt. Hand, BN leading Box II. Price was scheduled to lead this formation, but had a problem taking off. Prentiss took the lead. Other flight leaders were Lts. Brown and Kerns, BN, Lt. Svenson was flying deputy to Box I leader. Reaching the target, heavy accurate flak hit Prentiss' ship as well as his right wing man and his deputy. All planes went down with no chutes seen opening. They crashed with none escaping. Flak damaged almost all the planes. The gunner in Prentiss' ship S/Sgt Brown was on his last mission and was slated to return to the states. Major Price and Lt. Buchunan had to land away from base. Our fighter escorts held Luftwaffe planes from attacking our formation. Christmas 1944 was not a good day for the group. We lost four ships and crews and 39 aircraft were severely damaged. Like Captain Miracle, Lt. Zubon a West Point Grad. flew his 65th mission the morning of Christmas.

Early in the morning of 27 December, at 0100 an air raid alert sounded. Everybody who could hear, or awaken, jumped in the fox holes. After thirty minutes with no action, all retuned to their sacks. About five minutes later, machine gun fire and cannon shots were heard, and everybody jumped back into the foxholes, in their underwear, covering themselves up as a strafing job by German fighters, raked the field for about ten minutes. No casualties or damage was reported. It was determined that someone had lit a flare near one runway, luring the planes toward our field, and the strafing began.

Plans were drawn up in the event of an emergency evacuation. The group stands on strict alert, with doubling of the guards. Also, foxholes were manicured and cleaned out, just in case. All personnel were confined to base for a two week period.

"668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

Christmas 1944 proved, ironically enough, the most disastrous day in the Squadron's history. Through cloudless skies, our aircraft participated in two highly successful missions against supply points behind the Ardennes salient. Intense accurate hostile ground fire was encountered on both sorties. The following personnel failed to return and are missing in action Capt. Richard V. Miracle, Capt. Richard B. Prentiss, 1st Lt. Jack J. Burg, 1st Lt. Francis H. Bursiel, 1st Lt. Robert R. Svenson, S/Sgt. Daniel M. Brown, S/Sgt. Arthur F. Galloway, S/Sgt. Phillip G. Fild, S/Sgt. John R. Simmonds and Sgt. Alvin C. Wylie.

Captains Miracle and Prentiss were original combat pilots of the Squadron. Captain Miracle, West Point graduate of the class of '42, was an able and respected officer on the threshold of a promising military career. Captain Prentiss, veteran of many hours of antisubmarine patrol in the Caribbean, and was a Flight Commander whose professional skill and wide experience will be sorely missed. Lieutenants Burg and Bursiel had both outstanding records as bombardiers, and they, as well as Lt. Svenson, were nearing the completion of their operational tours. S/Sgt. Fild was on the last mission of his combat tour.

"669th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

Christmas Day arrived, but there was no "Peace on Earth" for the enemy. Two missions were flown by the Group.

In the morning a road junction in the center of the town of Munstereifel was attacked. Only one flight was able to pick up the target, but they scored superior results, cutting the roads and blocking others when the surrounding buildings were destroyed by the bombs. Captain Stebbins, Lieutenant Calloway, B-N, leading a flight, bombed the town of Krimm with superior results, severely damaging a marshalling yard and cutting a highway. Lieutenant Blomgren, Lieutenant G.G. Johnson, B-N, bombed the town of Kronenburgerhutte when they could not locate the primary target. They severly damaged the main highway and nearby buildings. On the bomb run Lieutenant K.W. Kehoe's plane was hit by flak. Although the plane was burning, he continued on to the target and dropped his bombs with his flight. The plane broke away from the formation and went down burning; it crashed just before it reached the bomb-line. No chutes were seen. Lieutenant Kehoe and his gunner, Corporal R.F. Graham, are listed as MIA. The flak ranged from moderate accurate to intense accurate on the bomb run and over the target. Almost half of the formation suffered battle damage. The plane flown by Lieutenant W.J. Greene, on his 65th mission, was hit by flak in the right engine on the bomb run. He stayed with the formation, dropping his bombs on the target. By superior flying, despite injuries to his face from broken glass from a shattered windshield, he brought the plane back to a friendly base where he crash-landed it. His observer, Lieutenant J.L. Britt, was also wounded in the face by glass. Both Lieutenant Greene and Lieutenant Britt were awarded the PURPLE HEART.

In the afternoon of the same day, our planes took off to bomb another well-defended target, a railroad junction at Hillesheim, Germany. The formation encountered intense accurate heavy flak from the moment it crossed the bomb line until it came out. Again half of the planes in the formation suffered battle damage. Lieutenant McQuade, Captain DeMun's B-N, was unable to identify the primary target and chose a road junction in the town of Pelm. The bombs scored excellent results. Lieutenant Cornell's B-N, Lieutenant Enman, also chose another target, the town of Feusdorf, which he bombed with telling results. Although two planes were lost, neither was from our Squadron.

"670th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

Christmas Day of 1944 was different from others we had spent. There was the Christmas tree in the mess hall brightly decorated. There was the fine turkey dinner which Staff Sergeant Payton's men prepared so well. There was candy and fruit cake from home. There was even the radio blaring out with "White Christmas" and "Silent Night". But it was not like other Christmases we had spent. Thoughts were thousands of miles from Army Air Force Station A-55 that day. Two missions on Christmas Day kept everyone busy. The first was an attack on the Munsteriefel communications center and the town itself. Only one flight was able to pick up the target and achieved superior results. Another flight picked up another target and bombed it. This was the town of Krimm with its important marshalling yard and highway, which were severely damaged. A third flight hit the town of Kronenburgerhutte. Moderate to intense, heavy accurate flak followed the formation from the bomb-line to the target area and knocked down one of the planes of the 668th Squadron. The formation suffered heavy flak damage on this mission. The afternoon mission was an attack on the defended village of Hillsheim in which six of our crews took part. Although the primary target could not be picked up, heavy damage was scored on three secondary targets. They were the towns of Pelm, Fousdork, and Gereisten in Germany. Again the formation was subjected to intense accurate heavy flak from the bomb-line to the target and returning to the bomb-line.

"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns

Afternoon Mission

Due to the heavy damage on the morning attack, only 31 aircraft were dispatched in the afternoon. The planes were airborne at 1400. Major Price was supposed to lead the formation, but his plane failed on take-off and Captain Prentiss took over the lead of the second box. This time the target was the defended village of Hillsheim. Intense accurate heavy flak was encountered from Waimes to the target and back to Waimes enroute out. Captain Prentiss and his wingman, Lt. Svenson, were both shot down on the bomb run amid an intense barrage of accurate flak. Crews reported two chutes to have opened.

The bombardiers were unable to pick out the primary due to the weather and the confusion that resulted when the first two aircraft were shot down. Three flights hit targets near to the primary. Lt.Brown and Lt. Kerns led the 671st flight and bombed a railroad in a nearby town.

Again luck was with the 671st Bomb Squadron and all their ships returned, but not without battle damage.

This was the final mission for S/Sgt.Robert J. Mahoney who chalked up No. 51 with Lt. Brown. Mahoney, who joined the Squadron as a replacement flew the majority of his missions Lt.R.H.Smith who finished his tour last month.

[December 25, 1944], HQ Twelfth Army Group situation map

Map showing Western Allies and Axis troop position details in Western Europe
as of approximately 1200 hours, December 25, 1944
World War II Military Situation Maps Collection
Library of Congress

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