75th Anniversary of first All American Combat Bombing Mission in Europe … 17-Aug-42

Discussion in 'Heavy & Very Heavy Bombers' started by RickFlack, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. RickFlack

    RickFlack New Member

    For those who may be interested in honoring the 75th anniversary of the very first All American heavy bomber combat mission conducted over German occupied territory in Europe on August 17, 1942, please read on.

    This historic mission was executed using twelve Boeing B‑17E Heavy Bomber Flying Fortresses from the VIII Bomber Command’s 97th Bomb Group made up of four Bomb Squadrons (340th, 341st, 342nd and the 414th). These twelve Flying Fortresses were from the following Bomb Squadrons: one (1) from the 340th and five (5) from the 342nd, which were all in the first flight group, and six (6) from the 414th all in the second flight group. In addition, three (3) bombers from the 340th and three (3) bombers from the 341st flew diversionary missions.

    Of historic note, General Ira C. Eaker, the commander of the VIII Bomber Command, flew as an observer in the led aircraft in the second flight group of six B‑17’s piloted by Captain Rudolph “Rudy” Emil Flack, the Mission Commander. Captain Flack was also the Base Commander from where the twelve Flying Fortresses departed, which was the Grafton-Underwood RAF airfield located 4 miles northeast of Kettering, Northamptonshire, England. Captain Flack was also the 414th Bomb Squadron Commander. The B‑17E Flying Fortress piloted by Captain Flack was the “Yankee Doodle” (41-9023). For an insight into Colonel Rudy Flack’s life story and his stellar military career, I have attached the books 2-page Preface to this email.

    As a result of my being in the process of completing this book about my father’s life (Rudy Flack) primarily focused on his military flying career, I am able to provide never before seen photographs, military documents and a detailed accounting of this historic August 17, 1942 mission as well as many others. If you are interested in downloading a PDF draft copy of this book, please let me know and I will email you a Microsoft OneDrive invitation with a download link. My email address is RFlackAttack@hotmail.com
     

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  2. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

  3. RickFlack

    RickFlack New Member

    In fact, there were other Americans who participated in bombing missions against German occupied territory in Europe prior to the August 17, 1942 mission; some who flew with the British RAF forces as early as May 1942. Note, for the 1942 Polesti mission some of the initial 13 B-24’s took off just prior to midnight on June 11th and twelve of the B-24’s reached their general target area on June 12th.

    The next documented mission prior to August 17, 1942 is described in: The Hour Has Come - The 97th Bomb Group in World War II (Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas, Library of Congress Number 93 060460, Published 1993), This is England, Chapter V, page 28, column 2, first complete paragraph and read as follows:

    While the staff and ground crews awaited airplanes a bombardier from the 97th received his baptism of fire. It occurred on 4 July at the same time that the arrival of the first B-17E was being entered in the diary of the Eighth Bomber Command. The American air commanders, anxious to get Americans into the European air war, selected the 15th Bombardment Squadron (Separate) which had arrived in May to lead the attack. The crews had received additional training from the RAF. The Americans borrowed six Douglass A-20 bombers (Bostons) from the RAF and prepared to join six others in a low level sweep against four airdromes in Holland. Two of the airplanes manned by Americans failed to return shot down by what the RAF flight leader termed the "worse flak barrage in my experience." One of them carried Second Lieutenant Boyd S. Grant, 97th Bombardment Group.”

    My best guess is that since the August 17, 1942 mission was the result of the first planned large scale effort by the US Military (Operation BOLERO) to establish a major presence of men and material in England, that the US Army Air Force considered this to be their “first” mission of their long term commitment to defeat Germany. The same analogy can be applied to the North African Campaign as a result of Operation TOURCH that included the establishment of the Twelfth Air Force. Unfortunately, the details of the missions prior to August 17th, in which Americans piloted aircraft to bomb German occupied territory in Europe, was not well known on a large scale, much less communicated to the press for immediate publication. Many of these details did not surface until these stories were told later by those who participated in these missions. These early missions were just as important, even though on a much smaller scale, as Americans made the ultimate sacrifice, which we should never forget.
     
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  4. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

    Rick an article of B-17 '' Little Bill '' with Major Rudy Flack. Your father ??

    Jaap
     

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  5. RickFlack

    RickFlack New Member

    Yes, this article is referring to my father, Major Flack, who appears in the photo that shows the B-17F "Little Bill". Major Flack is the one standing on the left talking with his Crew Chief who is in the cockpit checking out the aircraft prior to the 22-Jan-43 mission (97th BG Mission #47). To the right of Major Flack are two Ground Crewmen. Major Rudy Flack (414th Bomb Squadron Commander) was selected by upper command to serve as the Mission Commander, Flight Leader and Pilot of "Little Bill" for this historic mission. Historic because Major Flack flew the first female photographer and reporter, Margaret‑Bourke White, to fly on a combat mission. If anyone is interested is reading the "complete" story about this 22-Jan-43 mission, which contains many photos, newspaper articles and so on (all of which are footnoted) , please send me an email request to RFlackAttack.com.
     
  6. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

  7. RickFlack

    RickFlack New Member

    In addition to Margaret-Bourke White's March 1, 1943 Life Magazine articles, refer to the attached newspaper article printed in the “Evening Outlook, Santa Monica, California” on Wednesday, August 4, 1943. This article includes quotes from Margaret-Bourke White about Major Rudy Flack after she returned to the US mainland and visited with Rudy's mother at the Flack family home in Brentwood, CA.
     

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