May 13, 1943

Ramrod 71 -  Operation n° 55 of the 8th USAAF

By Jean-Pierre Ducellier

169 B17 " Flying Fortress" of the 8th  USAAF are planned for this operation.
The target : Deposit and repair shops,   Potez aircrafts  Méaulte
But two other targets - Fort Rouge  and Longuenesse airfiels  near St Omer will serve as a diversion for the main attack :  Méaulte.

The main objective: Méaulte.

97 B17 provided:

            B17 24 / 306th BG
            B17 25 / BG 91st
            B17 21 / 303rd BG
            B17 27 / 305th BG

5 Flight training  of 18 to 20 bombers provided.

In order: 306th BG - 91st BG - BG 303rd - 305th BG - composite group consisting of
Lead Squadron 305th BG + High Squadron 306th BG + Low Squadron 91st BG.
To report a diversionary tactic over the Channel also done by this main force before entering France.
Under escort of 13 Spitfire Mk IX Squadrons RAF (147 fighters).

The planned route:
Base ... Beachy Head - 50 ° 15'N / 01 ° 10'E - 50 ° 10'N / 00 ° 20'E - Beachy Head - Dungeness -Berck (RV escorted) - Initial Point (Junction of the  railway with the road south of Flesselles) - Méaulte - turn left - Berck - Hastings ... base.

The course of the raid :
Loss of a B17 accidentally. Accidental gun burst in the rear wing causing the fall of the bomber in the English Channel.
Entry above Cayeux, about twenty kilometers south of the planned point under 4:11 p.m. / 4:12 p.m..
Appointment with the Spitfires just before this place.
Initial point: South of Flesselles: 4:23 p.m..
Méaulte: Bombing 4:28 p.m. to 4:30 p.m..

The 88 B17 involves will drop :

            863-500 GP pounds  bombs
            16- 300 GP pounds  bombs

From an altitude ranging from 6 450 to 7 620 meters.
Excellent concentration of bombs on the target and in the surrounding .
Way back  flying over the Doullens region  4:38 p.m. to 4:40 p.m..
Berck-sur-Mer: 4:50 p.m..
Hastings: 5:06 p.m..
Base: 5:.45 p.m

The raid did not yet performed without difficulties.
4:20 p.m. : In the southwest of the Abbeville area, the B17 F "Fortress" # 42-29642 91st BG was the victim of Lt Hoppe Grupe II JG26.
7 crew members were killed and three were captured.
4:25 p.m. : Arrival around the Initial Point (south of Flesselles), the B17 F "Fortress"
# 42-5406 of the 91st
will be damaged and will make an evasive action towards the North.

A man parachuting around Naours (hosted in this village), another wounded paratrooper was taken prisoner near  Vicogne.

This damaged B17 is now heading to the Orville région... However, Major Priller of the Stab JG26 based in Lille / Vendeville will pursue and attack this four-engined southeast  the region of Doullens ... Virage 360° above Sarton ... last burst of machine guns from German fighter and this B17 of the 91st BG will explode in the air and will spread on the village of Amplier. Tail on the football field with a gunner remained at his post, another airman fell next printing his silhouette in the ground ...
The engines and wings go crashing to the edge of the Authie, a few hundred meters further west.
7 killed  and 3 prisoners. At one point, one airmen was found dead in the territory of Huleux.

4:35 p.m. / 4:40 p.m.:  A third B 17 of the 305th BG, attacked during his return by other German fighters (doubless from the JG2) will crash near the  Calimont farm on the territory of Lucheux.

This is the B17 # 42-29647 - 305th BG.
Officially 5 kills and 5 prisoners.
Sgt Vertefeuille, injured fell on the edge of the  Watron wood and will be helped by Lucienne Houllier from  Lucheux before being captured.
Sgt Brandt will be hidden by Jules Viez, roadman at Lucheux and after being hidden in ditches of the Watron wood will be transferred to Brévillers and then Frévent.
In addition to these 3 B17 shot down by German fighters, 11 others have been damaged B17 (9 slightly and 2 seriously).
In summary, the attacks of the German fighters quickly began southwest of Abbeville to the west of Amiens to take over the Méaulte region and intensified during the return of the American four-engined between Méaulte - Doullens - Auxi.

In total, US gunners aboard B17 "Fortress" will claim the following scores:
    7 enemy aircraft destroyed (3 FW 190 + 109 4 Me)
    3 probably destroyed enemy aircraft (2 + 1 FW 190 Me 109)
    1 enemy aircraft damaged (1 Me 109)
A report, a few shots of heavy DCA during the ride but little intense.

The fighter escort
Composed of Spitfire Mk IX of the British RAF.
3 close escorts and 3 escorts  at high altitude.

1st Fighter Cover
Composed of 20 Spitfire Mk IX from Squadrons 315 and 316 (Polish Squadrons RAF).
This is the escort of the head of the training  American bombers.
Cayeux entry at 16.10 with B17.
Both Squadrons will be heavily engaged in the region Abbeville to the objective and up to 30 kilometers west of the target during the return.
Attack in particular by 2 groups of 20 Me 109 each, by a group of 20 FW 190 and by other small groups of 2, 3 or 4 enemy aircraft.
France at 4:45 pm

During the fights:

The claimed victories

    1 FW 190 will be claimed destroyed by the P / O Gora of 316 Squadron
    1 Me 109 destroyed by W / Cdr Kolaczkowski
    2 FW 190 damaged

The loss

    1 Spitfire Squadron # 410 of BS 315: P / O Kuryllowicz

"P / O Kuryllowicz Reported cooling disorder and was last seen going down"

We found the serial BS 410 of this British fighter in the marsh of Occoches when extracted held this Sunday, December 11, 2005 by Pierre Ben is his small team.
It is noted that this very day, another Spitfire Mk IX was shot in the Doullens area simultaneously (Sqd / Ldr Boulton of Sqd 416 - RCAF). This wreck has never been found.
The testimony of  P / O Kuryllowicz who currently lives in Canada fits perfectly with what the residents of Occoches said at that time (especially the testimony of John Brewer who went to join him in the woods between Bouloies Occoches and Neuvillette, where it had fallen. The people of Occoches noting that at that time it was said that this was a Polish airman.
So there's no doubt that it is this Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 315 that crashed in the marsh of Occoches.
A report that Hptm Naumann of Staffel 6 Grupe II of JG 26 claims this May 13, 1943 the destruction of a Spitfire, 20 km northwest of Albert at 16.35. It may of course be that plane but this can not be certified.

2nd Fighter Cover
11 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 331 and 12 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 332 of the RAF (Norwegian Squadrons).
Similar path but escort of the central training bombers.

Claimed victories

331 Squadron : 1 FW 190 probably destroyed
1 FW 190 damaged
332 Squadron : 1 FW 190 down
1 FW 190 damaged
1 Me 109 damaged

The loss

Spitfire Mk IX LZ # 948 of 332 Squadron: 2nd Lt B. Raeder.
This pilot  jumped east of Bray and managed to escape the German research.
Lt Leuschel of 8 Staffel Gruppe II of JG 26 claimed the destruction of a Spitfire west of Bray at 4:32 pm.

3rd Fighter Cover
10 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 403 whose W / Cdr Johnson + 12 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 416.
Escort rear formation of American four-engine.
Same course and same battles especially in the Doullens area.

Claimed victories
2 Fw 190 and Me 109 destroyed 1
1 FW  190 and 2 Me 109 damaged

The loss
3 Spitfire Mk IX of the RCAF
1 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 403 # BS 104 lost: F / Sgt W. G. Uttley.
Crash near Pys.
2 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 416:
Spitfire # BS 430. S / Ldr F.H Boulton ". Perhaps affected by the DCA, he parachuted Prisoner and seriously injured, he will be repatriated in October 1943 in England."
Spitfire Mk IX # BR 626. Sgt FW McKim: fell in the English Channel, 30 miles west of Le Touquet. Not recovered.
"It is Believed this section of S / Ldr Boulton and Mc Sgt Kim Were bounced about Doullens at approx. 4:40 p.m.".
Major Priller of the Stab JG 26 claimed a victory over a Spitfire Mk IX
8 km northwest of Etaples.

High protection
1st High Cove

23 Spitfire Mk IX Squadrons 122 and 453 flying at 9000 meters above sea level, above the B17,from  Berck to Méaulte Doullens, Berck.
Claimed victories
1 FW  190 and 1 Me 109 damaged.

2nd High Cover
13 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 611 + 10 Spitfire Mk IX Squadron 341 (including Maj Mouchotte).
Cover bombers at 8100 meters above sea level along the route.

Withdrawal Cover
36 Spitfire Mk IX Squadrons VB 485 + 501 + 222 of the RAF.
Coverage of B17 during their return between Berck and Hastings.
In total the RAF fighters will claim:
6 enemy aircrafts destroyed (4  FW 190 + 2 Me 109)
1 FW 190 probably destroyed
10 German fighters damaged (6 FW 190 +  4 Me 109)

Among these German fighters shot, it seems  that the one wich fell at Le Petit-Occoches (Town of Outrebois) was a Me 109 G6 - 12 of JG 2 (# 15239) piloted by Lt. Christoph Ruscher who was killed in this crash.

The cumulative claims of American and British airmen will include (probable duplications):
17 aircraft destroyed 11 FW 190 + 6 Me 109
4  probably shot 3  FW 190 and 1 Me 109
20 aircrafts damaged  13 FW 190 + 7 Me 109

Meanwhile, 72 B17 of the 94th BG, 95th BG and 351st  BG will conduct a diversionary from Orford Ness to the Netherlands coast before returning to North Foreland and get in France over Le Touquet to bomb airfields of Fort Rouge and Longuenesse in the St Omer area.

This force being protected by 3 P47 groups of the 8th US Air Force.

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