This post is the second in a series about the World War II experience of my maternal grandfather, Lt. Harold Wesley “Jerry” Patrick. He served as a B-17 navigator with the 8th Air Force 457th Bombardment Group, 749th Squadron, which was based at Glatton Air Force Base in England. To read other posts in the series, select “WWII” from the “People, Places, and Things” drop-down menu on the right-hand side of your screen.
After Jerry died in 2009, my aunt gave me his brief case. It was filled with his military service records, metals, and a few souvenirs he had kept from the war. One of his keepsakes was the July 12, 1944 issue of The Stars and Stripes shown above, which included a front-page article about his first mission of the war.*
Under the headline, “1,100 Bombers Batter Munich; Toulon Raided,” the article started:
“More than 1,100 American heavy bombers — one of the largest forces ever to strike a single German target — flew from Britain yesterday to batter objectives in the Munich area of southern Germany… Escorted by up to 750 Eighth Air Force P47s, P38s and P51s, the British-based Fortresses [B-17s] and Liberators [B-24s] did not encouter a single German fighter on their 1,000-mile round-trip through heavy cloud. Flak, however, was intense and 20 heavies and two pursuits failed to return.”
The day this article was printed, Jerry returned to Munich on his second sortie. He flew with the same crew as on his first mission, with one exception: Sgt. Bernard F. Sitek was replaced on this day by Sgt. Kenneth E. McGriff as the Ball Turret Gunner.**
According to the 8th Air Force Historical Society Chronology for the day, their plane joined 1,270 others bombers and more than 800 fighters on this mission. The 457th’s mission board for this sortie listed the Allach factory and Munich as targets.
Visibility was poor on July 12. “Unable to visually attack units in and around Munich,” Eric Hammel wrote in his 1997 book Air War Europa: America’s War Against Germany in Europe and North Africa: Chronology, 1942-1945 (p. 338), the bombers used “radar to conduct an area attack on the city of Munich.” *** The Chronology linked above states that 88% of the heavies were able to drop bombs on Munich, while another “16 [planes] hit Enstingen and 10 hit targets of opportunity.”
The Chronology also listed American losses on this mission. Two men were killed and seven were wounded. Another 216 were listed as missing in action. Nearly 300 bombers were “damaged” on the mission, with four “damaged beyond repair” and “24… lost” completely.
Additional sources and notes
* The Stars and Stripes, London Edition, Vol. 4, No. 215, p. 1.
** “Combat Crew Loading List,” 12 July 1944, p. 2. 749th Bombardment Squadron, Office of the Operations Officer, Station 130, APO 557. Also, 457th Bomb Group Loading Lists, available online here.
*** As his plane’s navigator, Jerry would have been actively involved in this radar work. I have just started researching the Standard Operating Procedure — or SOP — for B-17 navigators and am currently looking for a copy of the Eighth Air Force Navigator’s Handbook. When I have more information about Jerry’s day-to-day work as a navigator, I will update information here.
The sources for information in this and future posts will be linked within the text. I also will compile and post a complete bibliography for this project in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any questions about anything discussed here, please let me know.