The 305th Bomb Group on Black Thursday


While looking for information on Donald Paul Breeden and his crew, I read some books about this ‘Back Thursday’ and the way in which the 305th Bomb Group was hurt on this raid - Mission 115 - into the well defended German heartland.

Scheme from book Ron Putz completed by Oswald Ortmanns.

I did read a book about the Mighty Eight and the books with personal stories like by John Comer and Steve Snyder. While looking into the story of Grandpa Dassen his bomber boots I’ve read on the internet about the evaders like Stan Alukonis and Steve Krawczynski. Also from Mr. Roberts’ and Mr. Linrud’s stories I got a good idea of their adventures and feelings.
Mr. Caidin is mild in his book while Mr. Kuhl in his is very outspoken on the leadership of the 305th Bomb Group on that Black Thursday: Major Normand had to little experience on flying B-17‘s, as on leading and was not recommended for more leading by his former CO. But on the 14th he was the leader.
Who ever is right, it does not change the big losses of men and machines from this group in which the 364 Bomb Squadron of Donald Paul Breeden and his fellow crew members was the one who was hit hardest.

Other things went wrong as well. It is said that he Germans were alerted by the message from Gen. Anderson that was sent ‘in the clear‘ instead as ‘secret’ on 13th of October just before midnight. But in the days before the 14th October the Germans saw the reconnaissance flights and heard the radio scatter prior to the start of the USAAF armada on the 14th. So some 300 German planes from all over occupied Europe were ready and on alert along the route to Schweinfurt.

Due to gathering problems because of the bad weather over England the US fighter escort had to return earlier than planned. It is also said that they started to early so lost gas on waiting for the combat boxes of B-17’s.

From the report of the 305th BG to 40th Combat Wing:

The escorting P-47’s left at 13.33 hours. Map reference 5102N-0555E is between Genk and Opglabbeek in Belgium. Crash time of the A/C 42-3436 was around 13.45 hours; 12 minutes later.

Flying in the low group and fast still trying to get near their leader way after their ‘little friends’ had to turn home. Flying into a corridor of German airfields with about 300 fighters ready to attack and several cities surrounded with FLAK the 305th Bomb Group lost many planes - the second one crashed near Eygelshoven.

Of the 305th Bomb Group only 3 B-17’s reached Schweinfurt. And only 2 made it back home to Chelveston. The B-17 of Dienhart/42-30831 of the 364th squadron crash landed in Switzerland.
The 364th squadron was totally destroyed that day - within 13 minutes and before it even could cross the Rhine.

From the book by Mr. Kuhl I got most of this information on the losses
of the 305th Bomb Group:

13.40 hours - Murdock 364th/#42 -29952 in Limmel (NL)
                    Read more on Murdock’s ‘Sizzle’

13.45 hours - McDarby 364th/#42-3436 in Eygelshoven (NL) and Finkenrath (G)

13.45 hours - Eakle 364th/#42-30807 in Eisden (B)
13.45 hours - Willis 366th/#42-3549 in Horn (NL)

13.49 hours - Dienhart 364th/#42-30831 turns south

13.50 hours - Holt 364th/#42-29988 in Immendorf (G)

13.50 hours - Fisher 366th/#42-3195 in Waldenrath (G)

13.52 hours - Lang 366th/#4237750 in Puffendorf (G)

13.53 hours - Kenyon 364th/#42-30242 crashed 4 miles W of Duren (G)

14.02 hours - Skerry 366th/#42-30814 in Adendorf near Bonn (G)

14.29 hours - Maxwell 365th/#42-30804 exploded mid air - crashed near Glashofen (G), near Marktheidenfeldt, 15 miles NW of Würzburg (G)
    14.32 hours - start bomb run over Schweinfurt by Kane/Normand - Bullock - Kincaid - Farrel

14.39 hours - Kincaid 365th/#42-3550 crashed near Werneck, 7 miles SW of Schweinfurt (G) before bombing

    14.40 hours - bombs away by Kane/Normand - Bullock - Farrel

14.41 hours - Bullock 365th/#42-37740 NE of Schweinfurt (G)

15.40 hours - Dienhart 364th/#42-30831 crash-landed wheels up at Reinach Aesch (CH)
More on this ‘lucky’ B-17 of the 305BG.

Returned safe in Chelveston after bombing

18.07 hours - Kane/Normand 365th/#42-3412
18.09 hours - Farrell 366th/#42-30678

From the mission report #115

291 B17’s started that day - 18 of 305 BG

37 aborted their flight - 3 of 305 BG

32 were lost en route - 11 of 305 BG

229 reached/bombarded Schweinfurt - 3 of 305 BG

28 were lost on return - 0 of 305 BG

201 came back home - 2 of 305 BG

138 B17’s were damaged

7 were damaged beyond repair - scrap ready

305th A/C 42-30375 with Joseph H. Chely as pilot
was one of the aircraft that aborted the mission.

60 B17‘s were shot down

639 crew members were lost that day

Count on October 14 1943: 5 KIA, 40 WIA, 594 MIA


Back to the story I started to find out why and how Donald Paul Breeden could get missing.