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29 April 1944 Raid #71 A Film Star at Old Buckenham

Old Buckenham Airfield Control Tower
Old Buckenham Airfield Control Tower  http://www.controltowers.co.uk/O/Old%20_Buckenham.htm
Operations Officers James Stewart on the Control Tower
Operations Officers James Stewart on the Control Tower

The Big “B”-Berlin! On the morning of April 29, 1944, Group Operations Officer, Jimmy Stewart, called out the German capital as the mission target for the day. Cold chills ran down the backs of many of the airmen of the 12 crews the 453rd was sending out. Bravado may have led some to applaud, but, among the group assembled for briefing, a number had “been there, done that” early in March. Doolittle had put his bombers over Berlin for the very first time in the war on March 6-and the Germans took out 69 of his bombers and 11 fighters! It was the greatest single loss of any air-raid of the war. The 453rd sent out 24 planes and lost four.

Among the 12 crews at the briefing on this morning was that of Lt. Richard C. Holman. The 453rd Unit History, page 21, records, “On the March 6 mission Holman had two engines put out by flak over the heart of Berlin. Attempts to tag on to passing formations failed, so Holman dropped to the cloud level, chased by six or seven FW 190s. With only top turret and waist guns in operation, the crew accounted for two and.possibly three of the enemy aircraft. Evading the attackers, the crew ran into flak over Amsterdam. Lt. Holman put the crippled Lib through violent evasive action, finally reaching the Channel. Desperately short of fuel, the crew tossed overboard guns, ammunition boxes, flying equipment, and all other equipment that could be detached. Despite serious damage by flak and 20 mm cannon shells, the ‘two-engined’ bomber brought Lt. Holman and his crew home!” This was one of those great ships that refused to die. Surely, the Holman bunch would have preferred to sit out the April 29 mission!

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The raid on the 29th April was the fifth bombing mission sent against Berlin.. The earlier missions were flown on the  6, 8, 9 and 22nd of March. The total number of bombers dispatched was 2,567—an average of 642 per mission. 69 planes and crews were lost on the first mission—the greatest loss on any single raid during the entire war. Total losses in the four raids were 126.

On April 29, the Eighth dispatched 679 planes. The plan was to make a disruptive raid on the German civilian population by striking several targets within the city. There was trouble from the start. The 3rd Air Division, flying 218 B-17 Fortresses, led the mission. Its formation was faulty and upon penetration of enemy airspace, it was so dispersed that fighter escort had difficulty providing coverage. Because of faulty navigation, one wing of B-17s wandered 40 miles off the briefed course, and lost 17 Fortresses. Other groups of the 3rd Air Division suffered losses as well. Total losses for the 3rd Division were 28 ships and crews. In contrast, the 1st Air Division’s 228 ships had tight formation, good escort by the “Little Friends”, and lost only ten ships.

The 2nd Air Division was assigned a target chosen for the adverse effect it would have on German morale and to impede their war effort by striking a principal artery of transportation. The 233 aircraft of the 2nd Air Division, among which were the planes and crews of the 453rd, were to carry out a raid on the Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof, center of the main-line and underground railway system in Berlin. But, like the 3rd Air Division, their formation and departure were not on time as briefed. They failed the test of being “on time and on target.” They were in trail of the 3rd and 1st Air Divisions, but flying thirty minutes behind schedule. The Jagdverbande, finding the 2nd Air Division last, struck in force. A single Mustang Group was their only protection when they left Celle airspace and it had to leave due to fuel requirements, just after the B-24s completed their bomb run. “Little Friends,” this time P-47 Thunderbolts, reappeared as the bombers were on their return flight, but German fighter ground controllers seized the opportunity and put up over 100 fighters to the Hanover area to intercept them. The B-24 armada gave up 25 ships with 246 airmen MIA.

The 453rd Unit History contains the following account, “After a day of rest, the 453rd dispatched 12 planes for Berlin. The flak was terrific and retorting crews reported savage encounters with the Luftwaffe which was up in force in a vain attempt to protect the very heart of the Reich. Despite enemy action and undercast, results were thought to be good. Lt Col. Sears, Commanding Officer of the 735th Squadron was Air Commander, flying with the lead PFF ship when that ship was seen to be hit and fall out of formation. Lt. Tye of the 734th and his crew were also lost. Lt Davison ditched his ship and he and his crew, with the exception of tail gunner Harold G. Oakes were fished out of the channel by the ever-alert Air-Sea Rescue Squads.” Read more “Always out Front”  The Bradley Story. 

In April the Eighth lost 512 aircraft-fighters and bombers. Of that number, 361 were heavy bombers carrying nearly 3600 airmen MIA.  By comparison the Allied forces on D Day lost around the same number of fatalities.

   

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“We were at the IP and on the bomb run at about 24,000 to 25,000 feet altitude. I was in the nose turret and released the bomb load from that position. The German defenders were throwing a lot of flak at us-a carpet of black flak burst all around us! I only recall holding on and praying for a fast ride away from that place. Courage, or lack of it, didn’t matter then—it was just ‘make it or not make it’ Recollections of Herbert A. Bradley, Jr.

Old Buckenham is a working airfield which holds a range of heritage events. http://www.oldbuck.com/en/home/

http://oldbuckenham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/moving-remembrace-at-old-buckenham.html

27 April 1650 – Battle of Carbisdale

Village of Clurain. The Royalists were in the field to the left of the village, and fled up the hill in the top-left of this photo
Village of Clurain. The Royalists were in the field to the left of the village, and fled up the hill in the top-left of this photo

The Battle of Carbisdale (also known as Invercarron) took place close to the Village of Culrain on 27 April 1650 and was part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It was fought by the Royalist leader James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, against the Scottish Government of the time, dominated by Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll and a grouping of radical Covenanters, known as the Kirk Party. The battlefield has been inventoried and protected by Historic Scotland under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy of 2009.

John Graham 1st Marquess of Motrose. (1612-1650)
James Graham 1st Marquess of Motrose. (1612-1650)

For visits to places associated with the Civil War in Scotland, the Marquis of Montrose and other battles in Scotland contact British Battlefields.

 

 

26 April 1646 – Surrender of Woodstock Palace

Woodstock_Palace
Woodstock Palace – Blenheim Palace was build close to the site of Woodstock Palace

On 4 April Colonel Henry Ireton was given orders by Fairfax to join those forces assembling for the ‘straitening’ of Oxford.  On 10 April the House of Commons referred to the Committee to “take some course for the stricter Blocking up of Oxon, and guarding the Passes between Oxon and the Cities of London and Westminster”,   the Committee was directed to draw up a general summons to ask the King’s garrisons to surrender under a penalty for refusal.  On 15 April the sound of cannon firing against Woodstock Manor House could be heard in Oxford, and at about 6 p.m. Rainsborough’s troops attacked but were beaten back, losing 100 men, their scaling ladders were taken and many others wounded. On 26 April the Manor House was surrendered, its Governor and his soldiers, without their weapons,  returned to Oxford in the evening.

17th Century Oxford - Wencenslas Hollar
17th Century Oxford – Wencenslas Hollar

25 April 1643 – Surrender of Reading

  reading_siege

On 25th April 1643 the Royalist attempt to relieve their garrison besieged in Reading  failed with an element of farce.

n late October 1642, King Charles returned to Oxford from the indecisive Battle of Edgehill (23 October). On 4 November, he entered Reading from Oxford and later that month retired leaving a Royalist garrison, of 2,000 foot soldiers and a cavalry regiment, under Sir Arthur Aston.

The town and townspeople suffered many privations due to the demands of the garrison for money and lodging.

On 13 April 1643, the Earl of Essex at the head of a Parliamentary army of 16,000 men left Windsor and laid siege to Reading using cannon.  Despite attempts by the King and Prince Rupert to lift the siege, the Royalist garrison  surrendered on 26 and 27 April 1643.

The relief force arrived after the Royalist garrison had lost heart and agreed a truce.  Messengers sent to warn the defenders of the relief were captured.  Attempts by the relief force, unaware fo the truce, were to break through were met by apparent indifference by the besieged who made no attempt to break out . More here http://www.berkshirehistory.com/articles/reading_siege.html

http://sbcox.history-redlands.tripod.com/siege-of-reading.html

www.readingmuseum.org.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id.

25 April 1464 Battle of Hedgeley Moor

Hedgely Moor 25 April 1464Today, 25 April 2014 is the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464, was a battle of the Wars of the Roses. It was fought at Hedgeley Moor, north of the village of Glanton in Northumberland, between a Yorkist army led by John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu and a Lancastrian army led by the Duke of Somerset. The Lancastrians tried to intercepot a Yoprkist force escorting a Scots delegation.  The ambush failed and the  battle ended in a Yorkist victory.  The site is  marked by a stone allegedly marking the point where a member of the Percy family made a leap on horseback to escape pursuit.

More here;

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If you would like to visit the site of the Battle of Hedgley Moor or other sites of the Wars of the Roses in the North East, such as the battle of Hexham 1464 and the sieges of Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles  Contact British Battlefields or are interested in promoting the military heritage of these battles please contact   info@british battlefields.com

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24 April 1944 Two B24 aircraft from the 392 BG did not return to RAF Wendling

 

Control Tower Wendling 1944
Control Tower Wendling 1944

 

On 24 April 1944 RAF Wendling, near East Derham, Norfolk  was the home to the 392 Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 8th US Air Force.    It had been opened in 1942.

Wendling Airfield 30 March 1946
Wendling Airfield 30 March 1946

On that day twenty five  B 24 Bomber aircraft took off on Mission  # 71 Target: Leipheim in Germany.  Two aircraft did not return.

#44-40105 (NO NICKNAME) “B-Bar” flying its  first mission: Pilot  2Lt Carl F Ellinger.  

Eye-witness reports from returning crewmen of other planes (Lts. Ambrose, Kamenitsa, and Weinheimer) stated that the Ellinger ship (received a direct hit from AA guns at position 50-50 N; 03-20E at 1558 hours on route back from the target and this flak had struck the aircraft just behind the wing section with the plane starting down and disintegrating before striking the ground and, no chutes were seen.

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B24s of the 392nd Bombardment Group

The tail gunner, Sgt Hasenfratz later recalled that after flak hit his aircraft, the front section exploded into flames and the tail section spun out of control toward the ground. He and two other crewmembers were in the tail section as it plunged 18,000 feet to the ground. Hasenfratz was the sole survivor.

04362 AIRCRAFT: #41-28688 (NO NICKNAME) “Q-Bar” 18th Mission: Pilot : 2Lt Travis W Griffin

Returning crew members (Lts. Sabourin, Filkel, and Weinheimer) gave the following eye-witness account of this aircrew loss: At approximately 1330 hours, the Griffin plane left the formation before reaching the target with 2 engines out, reported to be due to mechanical failure. The plane was under control but losing altitude gradually and was headed in the general direction of Switzerland escorted by 3 x P-47’s. German Report #KU1603, 25 April 1944, Airbase Command A7NII, Freiburg, reported the crash of this Liberator at 1347 hours, (12) kilometers southwest of Freudenstadt near Schappach, Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with 8 crew members being captured in same vicinity and 2 others found dead.392bg-b24-2

Later after repatriation from POW status, Sgt. Kelly was interrogated by the Intelligence Section at Selfridge Field, Michigan (a l/Lt. Roeder) and the crewmember gave this account of their mission mishap: That due to mechanical failures of three engines, #2, #1 and #3 in that order, their plane was unable to hold bomber formation position or altitude which resulted in all members abandoning ship over Freiburg, Germany. All crewmen successfully bailed out including the two deceased members. Sgt. Bryant’s chute was observed as open, but Sgt Gallup was not seen after he left the aircraft. This report was the only one available from any crewmember made after war’s end. The German on-scene report noted that the captured members were sent on to Dulag-Luft, Oberursel on 26 April 1944 for interrogation processing. (Note: No indication further was given on the possibility of the engine failures being caused possibly by enemy actions, or perhaps, contributing fuel management problems)  For more information on the mission check this page on b24.net

_MG_0334wendling

Wendling is now a Turkey farm, but the buildings and traces of the 392nd Bombardment Group remain.  More information on the http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/

A RATING SYSTEM FOR BRITISH BATTLEFIELDS AND MILITARY HERITAGE SITES

Hastings _2006
Hastings 1066 Battlefield. English Heritage property, good walking routes inside and outside the battlefield. Good access by public transport and car.

One of the first things that British Battlefields would like to do is to provide visitors with the information to plan a visit to a battlefield or other military heritage site. We would like to establish a standardised rating system for battlefields that make it easy for the visitor to plan a visit. This isn’t about the significance of the battles themselves, but what is there to see and do there. This information isn’t widely recorded and we would like the help from those who know the area to help to build up this information and keep it up to date.

Battlefields

Very few British Battlefields have an interpretation centre or are marked with information boards or a walking or driving trail. Unlike the exhibits in a museum, the exhibits are scattered over many acres, usually of private property.

edgehill_monument
This view over the registered battlefield of Edeghill shows mrolling countryside, if a little more enclosed than in the C17th. The viewpoint is next to the Castle inn, which until a burglary, held a collection of weapons, pictures and artifacts.

A visitor needs to know what is there to see. Is the battlefield landscape unchanged? Or is it only possible to see the historic landscape, from a single viewpoint with blinkers to hide modern development? Or is there just an information panel on an urban development which once was open country?

This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission
This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission

How easy is it to drive around the battlefield? Martin Marix Evans told me that the design of the viewing points at Naseby was inspired by the desire to avoid the difficulties experienced by his aged parent walking to the existing monument. It would be useful to know whether someone limited mobility could make a visit to a viewing and interpretation point close to a car park. Is there car parking on site or close by?

Barnet Battlefield 1471 - Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.
Barnet Battlefield 1471 – Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.

Is it easy to visit the battlefield by public transport? How far away is the nearest public transport stop?

How easy is it to walk around the battlefield? Is easy walking over foot paths? Or will the visitor expect to want through muddy tracks or over rough ground.

What interpretation exists? Is there a visitor, information panels or a leaflet? Or does the visitor need to read up before the visit or hire a guide to make sense of the ground?

What other facilities exist? Are there any lavatories nearby? Is there somewhere to buy a drink – or shelter from inclement weather?

Museums

turnham3
This information boar at Turnham Green is part of a walking trail around the London borough of Acton and Houndslow. At this point it is possible to look across what was common land one army’s battle-line to the other. Easy access by public transport. Less easy to park in the working week!

The same is also true of much of the other military heritage. Britain has dozens of Regimental museums partially funded by the MOD. There are also corners of municipal museums as well as private and local museums and heritage sites. Their opening hours vary as do the charges. It also helps to know if there are exhibits relating to specific campaigns units and personalities. They vary in their ease of access and their accessibility by car and public transport.

It helps to know who owns the site. Is this somewhere where an English Heritage or CADW membership helps? How expensive is it? Does a visitor need to make a prior appointment?

EXAMPLE RATING

We think it would be a good idea if people interested in military heritage could have a guide to the gems which exist in the countryside and in our many military heritage sites. British Battlefields is recording the information about tourist access for each battlefield. There is a draft scheme on the  page called “rating system,” This uses the tourist attraction map symbols from the 1:25,000 OS maps.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Rating battlefields is quite a large task, and we would like to enlist the help of people with local knowledge.

  • Tell us what you think about the rating system.
  • Send in your rating of your local battlefield or museum.

23 APRIL 2014 – ST GEORGES DAY MILLENIAL: FOR GOD, IRELAND AND KING BRIAN BORU!

'Battle of Clontarf', oil on canvas painting by Hugh Frazer, 1826
‘Battle of Clontarf’, oil on canvas painting by Hugh Frazer, 1826

Here is a thought. The most important battle to take place on St Georges Day in the British Isles is a great part of irish history, and own which might have shaped the fate of England too..

Today, 23 April 2014 is the millennium of the battle of Clontarf a key battle that shaped Irish history, and may have had implications for the British Isles.

23 April 2014 is the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf north of Dublin between the Irish forces forces of Brian Boru, high king of Ireland, and a Viking-Irish alliance comprising the forces of Sigtrygg Silkbeard, king of Dublin, Máel Mórda mac Murchada, king of Leinster, and a Viking contingent led by Sigurd of Orkney, and Brodir of Mann. It lasted from sunrise to sunset, and ended in a rout of the Viking and Leinster forces. Brian was killed in the course of the battle, as were his son Murchad, and his grandson Toirdelbach. After the battle, the Vikings of Dublin were reduced to a secondary power. Brian’s family was temporarily eclipsed, and there was no undisputed high king of Ireland until the late 12th century.  There is a lot more on the battle of Clontarf on wikipedia  and the official Clontarf web site.

There is the same media focus on “new claims” about the battle that exists in England over Hastings.  In the case of this report in the Irish Independent this case it is whether the accounts a of the battle were taken from the Iliad.

Would a Viking victory in 1014 have made a difference to the future political shape of the British Isles.  Might a powerful Dublin have been an actor in the struggle for England in 1066?   Could the most important event to affect English history to take place on St George’s Day have taken place in Dublin?

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www.britishbattlefields.com

INTRODUCING BRITISH BATTLEFIELDS

British Battlefields is a destination marketing organisation, commercial business with the aim of promoting and develop tourism to Britain’s Battlefields and military heritage.   Britain is not as well known as France, Belgium, South Africa or the USA for its battlefield heritage tourism.  But it should be.   We have many of the requirements to support more battlefield tourism, but these are not joined up in a way that potential customers can buy them.  By bringing together destinations and services British Battlefields aims to make it easier for potential visitors to visit Britain’s military heritage.

Battlefield heritage tourism should be important to Britain.  Tourism is our second largest export industry and a major source of employment.  People visit Britain because of its heritage.   Battlefields and military heritage is an under used resource.  There are over five hundred battles sieges and skirmishes in England alone and hundreds more museums and preserved military heritage.  British universities produce military historians and battlefield archaeologists in unrivalled numbers and quality.  Volunteers from the Battlefields Trust and local battlefield societies run informative and entertaining walks.  Throughout the year there are re-enactments and historic pageants across the country.  But you would not know this if you read the tourist brochures about the country.

The main reason why battlefield heritage is largely invisible is because there is no funding.  In the UK, funding for tourism is from the destinations, which favour those which already receive lots of tourists.

small but perfectly fortmed
Few British battlefields are as well presented as Flodden battlefield, which has information panels around a walking trail as well as “The world’s smallest visitor centre”

Much of Britain’s military heritage lacks much of what a visitor might expect from a destination.  Many of Britain’s battlefields offer little for the visitor beyond a view of the landscape, unintelligible without expert interpretation.  Few offer the basic facilities expected of any tourist destination. The travel trade isn’t really geared towards British military heritage either.  The tour operators who specialise in battlefield travel and the guides they employ, tend to focus on the well established travel business to the battlefields of the world wars in Europe.

There are some glimpses of what might be possible.  The millions of annual of visitors to the Imperial war Museums sites at Kennington, Duxford and HMS Belfast show that there is an appetite for military heritage.  The success of the Bosworth Visitor Centre in Leicestershire shows that people do want to visit old battlefields and has brought significant benefits to the local economy.  The rediscovery of Richard III’s grave has led to new battlefield tours offered by tour operators.  The development of modern battlefields tourism in France and Belgium shows it is possible to stimulate demand and make a difference.

British Battlefields offers services which will address some of the problems and make it easier for visitors and the travel trade to know what is available and to provide the services that lead to enjoyable and informative visits to our heritage.

British Battlefields will offer a voice and raise awareness of what is available. We will promote destinations and services via our website, and targeted communications to the media.  We will attend trade shows and provide an opportunity to showcase destinations and services.

Naseby_Misty Day
There may not be a visitor centre at Naseby, but a re-enactor brings the story to life and something to see when it is impossible to see the countryside!

We will help to design and promote products to tour operators and the public.  Few battlefields can offer the interpretation provided by the Bosworth Visitor Centre. But we can bring together guides and re-enactors who can provide an exciting visitor experience. Similarly we can bring together guides, subject matter experts and museums or heritage centres that can provide a day or longer on a theme.

 British Battlefields will offer opportunities for people who support battlefield heritage as a hobby to generate revenue for themselves and their causes.

 We will facilitate the development of the skills needed to operate to a professional standard.  We will provide training courses and access to other professional services.

 If you are interested in making a difference please support British Battlefields by joining as a member.