9th AF Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

Mission # 209 -- February 21, 1945, Wednesday PM

Lage, Germany

Railroad Bridge



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Summary of Operations

Field Order        : 173-755
OpRep #            : 324a
Nature of Mission  : Bombing
Mission Status     : Attacked
Bombing Altitude   : 8,600 - 9,700 feet
Take-off Time      : 1328
Time Over Target   : 1528
Landing Time       : 1718
Duration (Hrs:Min) : 3:50

Place of Take-Off  : A-69 Laon/Athies, France
A/C Dispatched     : 24 Total -- 24 A-26's
Modified British System Reference: B-717782
Secondary Target   : Selected in accordance with IX Bomb Div Cipher F-576-E (9-2-45)
Summary of Results : Undetermined and PNB - 22 a/c attacked Town of Lage (Casual), 2 attacked Casual (Exact target unknown).

Primary Target Latitude/Longitude: 51.99685,8.77953 (51° 59' 49" N, 8° 46' 46" E)
(Latitude/Longitude based on Google Maps, Visual match to Strike Photo)
(See Latitude/Longitude Coordinates and Target Identifiers for more information.)

Scanned original Mission 209 documents (multipage PDF files)

Mission Folder       Reports Folder       OpRep # 324a       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.

Route Map

Route Map

Loading List

Loading List 1, Box I

Loading List

Loading List 2, Box II

Strike Photo Summary

Strike Photo Summary

Lage RR Bridge, 2014      Lage RR Bridge, 2014

Lage Rail Way bridge today.
(March, 2014, Courtesy of Konrad Soppa)

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

         Date          Report

Serial #
Location Personnel (Status when available)
Feb 21, 1945
No_Report 41-39241
209 669 Laon/A-69 Johnson, Robert K. (WIA)
Brandt, Henry E. (WIA)
Cook, John Allen (DLD)
Merritt, Theron S. (Seriously Injured)
Sheley, Stanley Horace (Seriously Injured)

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 # 209 -- February 21, 1945, Wednesday PM
Lage, Germany -- Railroad Bridge

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  671st                   
  43-22497  5C-E  A-26C
  Lt Col Willetts, D.L.
  Lt Royalty, P.G.
  Lt Basnett, R.J.
  Sgt Rose, J.W.
  2  671st                   
  43-22499  5C-G  A-26C
  Lt Col Meng, W.J.
  Lt Powell, V.H.
  S/Sgt Elliott, F.W.
  Lt Walsh, A.A.
  [Walsh (Infantry)]
  3  671st                   
  41-39208  5C-L  A-26B
  Lt Gary, J.C.
  S/Sgt Cheuvront, R.W.
  4  671st                   
  41-39297  5C-T  A-26B
  Lt Ames, W.H.
  Sgt Maupin, W.W.
  Capt Murphy, T.A.
  [Murphy (Infantry)]
  5  671st                   
  41-39237  5C-D  A-26B
  Lt Milhorn, G.L.
  Sgt Chest, D.
  6  671st                   
  41-39300  5C-K  A-26B
  Capt Sears, A.C.
  M/Sgt Wells, J.J.

Box I -- Flight II
  1  669th                   
  43-22487  2A-J  A-26C
  Lt Miller, E.L.
  Lt Conner, J.K.
  S/Sgt Malloy, J.F.
  2  669th                   
  43-22344  2A-C  A-26B
  Lt Martin, E.C.
  Sgt Draft, L.B.
  3  669th                   
  41-39328  2A-U  A-26B
  Lt Hayter, E.R.
  S/Sgt Basford, F.P.
  4  669th                   
  41-39314  2A-H  A-26B
  Lt DuBose, M.W.
  S/Sgt Walters, J.H.
  5  669th                   
  41-39244  2A-I  A-26B
  Lt Weinert, C.E.
  Sgt Francis, R.D.
  6  669th                   
  41-39241  2A-F  A-26B
  Lt Johnson, R.K.
  Sgt Brandt, H.E.

Box I
  SPARE  671st               
  41-39249  5C-F  A-26B
  Lt Withington, D.L.
  S/Sgt Huss, C.F.

Box II -- Flight I
  1  671st                   
  43-22498  5C-R  A-26C
  Capt Pair, H.F.
  Lt Corum, J.L.
  Lt Muir, R.C.
  S/Sgt Fessler, H.S.
  2  670th                   
  43-22507  F6-Q  A-26C
  Lt Brewster, F.S.
  Lt Dennis, L.W.
  S/Sgt Clark, W.O.
  3  671st                   
  43-22356  5C-C  A-26B
  Lt VanNoorden, H.M.
  S/Sgt Thompson, G.
  4  671st                   
  41-39239  5C-N  A-26B
  Lt Henderson, F.W.
  S/Sgt Schrom, R.G.
  5  670th                   
  41-39416  F6-O  A-26B
  Lt Cocke, J.B.
  S/Sgt MacCartney, W.A.
  6  671st                   
  41-39250  5C-A  A-26B
  Lt Eastman, D.M.
  S/Sgt Eaton, A.B.

Box II -- Flight II
  1  669th                   
  43-22492  2A-E  A-26C
  Lt Cornell, R.H.
  Lt Enman, R.E.
  S/Sgt Reid, K.A.
  2  669th                   
  41-39271  2A-R  A-26B
  Lt Willard, J.A.
  Sgt Hinker, C.V.
  3  669th                   
  41-39229  2A-B  A-26B
  Lt Anderson, C.M.
  Sgt Deatherage, J.H.
  [Not Airborne No Sortie]
  4  669th                   
  43-22381  2A-Q  A-26B
  Lt Jordan, C.S.
  S/Sgt Jensen, K.F.
  5  669th                   
  41-39252  2A-D  A-26B
  Lt Renth, E.J.
  Sgt Brinkman, E.R.
  6  669th                   
  43-22354  2A-S  A-26B
  Lt Farley, J.J.
  Sgt Hardesty, E.R.

Group and Unit Histories

Mission # 209 -- February 21, 1945, Wednesday PM
Lage, Germany -- Railroad Bridge

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

That afternoon, the Lage railroad bridge was attacked. Clouds, haze, and smoke from previous bombings obscured the aiming points. Estimating the probable location of the target, 22 aircraft bombed. Photos later showed a concentration of craters east of the bridge. Some craters were seen in the embankment at this point and the track was probably cut. Two planes suffered battle damage. A third plane, piloted by Lt R.E. Johnson, returned on a single engine when flak had knocked it out over the target. He came in to land but found that he was not going to make the field. He began to pull up and go around. Turning into his dead engine, the plane refused to climb. It crashed into the woods in the 670th Squadron area and piled through part of a living site. The men in the area, hearing the plane's approach, ran for safety. Three did not get clear of the plane. Lt Cook was killed instantly in his tent. Lts T.S. Merritt and Sheley were struck by the parts of the plane. Lt Merritt suffered a fracture of the leg. Lt Sheley was more fortunate, breaking a small bone in his foot, from which he recovered in a short time. The fuselage bent double at about the middle of the bomb-bay. Lt Johnson's body was flung out of the cockpit into one of the wheel housings. It required 45 minutes for medical officers to free him from the wreckage. He suffered a broken collar bone and minor facial injuries. He has been evacuated to a hospital in another zone of operations. His gunner, Sgt Brandt, crawled from the wreckage uninjured except for shock. He was treated immediately with no further ill effects from the accident. Col Willetts, Lt Royalty and Lt Basnett as B and N, led the first box; the second, was led by Capt Pair, Lts Muir and Corum as B and N.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 210 - 212

Mission #209 - 21 February - PM - Lage Bridge. Colonel Willetts and Lt. Royalty and Basnett as BN team and Captain Pair with Lts. Muir and Corum as BN team led boxes. Bombing was through clouds and flak barrages. Bombing results were a concentration of craters east of the bridge and on an embankment. The track was probably cut. Two planes suffered severe damage. A third plane piloted by Lt. R. K. Johnson of the 669th squadron had an engine shot out. Feathering it, he returned to base on single engine and attempted to land. He didn't think he would make it on the first run, so pulled up, but turned into his dead engine. He had no pulling power, the plane stalled and headed toward the tents in the 670th squadron area. Some pilots were watching the landings, saw Johnson's plane coming toward them, and ran. They did not get clear enough. The plane struck a wooden building. The three pilots were hit, being Lt. John Cook, Lt. V. S. Merritt and Lt. Sheley. Lt. Cook suffered a fractured skull, hips, and legs, causing him to lose his life. Merritt suffered a fractured leg and Sheley had a foot bone broken. Pilot Johnson was trapped in his wreckage for about an hour, and was dragged out, suffering a broken collar bone and cuts about the face. His gunner, Sgt. Brandt escaped injury. The fuselage bent double at about the middle of the bomb bay, causing Johnson to be thrown back toward the wheel well, jamming him in. The metal around him had to be cut out in order to free him.

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

February 21st was another day when an unfortunate accident incapicated [incapacitated] more members of the squadron. After successfully attacking the Lage railroad bridge in Germany, the aircraft piloted by Lt. R.K. Johnson, was hit by anti-aircraft artillery fire. It was necessary for Lt. Johnson to feather the left propeller of the airplane and proceed back to the base on a single engine. While attempting to land, another aircraft flew in front of the disabled plane. The pilot tried to go around for another landing attempt, but the aircraft swerved to the left and crashed in a wooded section of the 670th Bombardment Squadron's area. The crashing airplane destroyed one officer's billet and damaged two others. Lt. Cook, of the 670th died as a result of injuries sustained, while Lt. Merritt and Lt. Sheley, of the same organization, sustained a broken leg and a broken foot respectively. The gunner of the aircraft, Sgt. Brandt, escaped with minor injuries. Lt. Johnson was pinned beneath the wreakage [wreckage] for approximately one hour. (Fortunately there was no fire.) When he was finally extricated, it was found that he had suffered a broken collar bone and injuries to his face. (All the injured personnel are well on the road to recovery at the time of this writing.) Lt. Miller and Lt. Connor led the 2nd flight of the first box on this mission, while Lt. Cornell and Lt. Enman flew in the lead position of the second flight of the second box.

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

In the morning of 21 February the communications center at Gelder was attacked with satisfactory results. Six of our crews were on the loading list.

Only one of our crews participated in the afternoon mission which was an attack on the Lage Bielsfeld railway bridge. One aircraft piloted by Lt R.K. Johnson of the 669th Squadron had an engine shot out over the target and came back to the base on a single engine. He was coming in for a landing too high and turned into his dead engine. He couldn't control the plane and stalled, crashing into our squadron officer's area. Some of the officers saw the plane coming but couldn't warn anyone before it crashed into one of the wooden buildings. Lt John Cook, Lt Merritt and Lt Sheley were hit. Lt Cook died of a fractured skull, hips and legs before he could be taken from the scene of the accident. Lt Merritt and Lt Sheley were seriously injured and rushed to the hospital. The pilot was trapped in the plane for almost an hour before the wreckage could be cut away to get him out. He had a broken collar bone and was cut about the face. The gunner escaped uninjured. It took three days to remove the mangled aircraft from our area.

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

February 21st, 1945

In the deepest penetration into Germany made by the Ninth Bombard¡ment Division, the 416th Bomb Group bombed the railroad bridge at Lage in Northern Germany on February 21st . With Colonel Willetts and Capt. Pair leading both boxes the formation made the haul through scattered clouds and amidst flak barrages at several points enroute. Results of the bombing were undetermined due to a camera malfunction and a sharp turn off the target, but good results were expected.

All the ships returned to A-69, but a weird tragedy took place before all the ships had landed. Lt.Johnston of the 669th Squadron brought his plane home on a single engine. He started to land, but pulled up, apparently thinking he was going to overshoot the runway. Upon pulling up he lost power and made the turn into the dead engine. The ship could not hold its altitude and crashed in the 670th area. Several pilots from the 670th were standing by a shack watching the planes land and were just a few feet from where the plane crashed. The pilot was dragged out with a broken collarbone and other injuries. The gunner was able to crawl out of the mass of wreckage by himself, but was hurt in several places. All of the personnel standing by the shack were injured...three severely. Lt.Cooke was the most seriously injured and died the next day. All the others including the pilot lived but will require a long period of hospitalization.

[February 21, 1945], HQ Twelfth Army Group situation map

Map showing Western Allies and Axis troop position details in Western Europe
as of approximately 1200 hours, February 21, 1945
World War II Military Situation Maps Collection
Library of Congress

See the Luftangriffe auf Lage im Frühjahr 1945 page for information on the book
written by Konrad Soppa on the airstrikes on Lage, Germany.

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