“Mission for Today” Details What It Took to Put a Bombing Mission on the Target
The film Target For Today was shot during the preparation for, execution of, and post-mission evaluation of the VIII Air Force Bomber Command Mission 113- the 9 October 1943 strikes on Marienburg, Anklam, Gdynia, and Danzig in German-occupied Poland. The mission covered as many as 1,400 miles round trip. Twenty VIII Air Force stations supported the mission, putting 430 heavy bombers in the air. In the film the mission planning is extensively depicted, along with preparation for man and machine at several of the stations where the crews flying the mission were based. Enjoy the film, uploaded to YouTube by Periscope Film.
115 B-17s from the 91st Bomb Group (BG) Ragged Irregulars at Bassingbourn, the 303rd BG Hell’s Angels at Molesworth, the 351st BG at Polebrook, the 379th BG The Grand Slam Group at Kimbolton, the 381st BG at Ridgewell, and the 384th BG at Grafton Underwood were sent to attack the Arado factory at Anklam. 100 more B-17s from the 94th BG at Bury St. Edmunds, the 95th BG at Alconbury, the 100th BG Bloody 100th at Thorpe Abbotts, the 385th BG Van’s Valiants at Great Ashfield, and the 390th BG Wittan’s Wallopers at Framlingham were dispatched to bomb the Focke-Wulf plant at Marienburg.
Both Big Bombers in Action
The shipyards at Gdynia received the most attention from VIII Bomber Command that day. 164 B-17s from the 92nd BG Fame’s Favored Few at Alconbury, the 96th BG at Snetterton Heath, the 305th BG Can Do at Grafton Underwood, 306th BG Reich Wreckers at Thurleigh, and the 388th BG at Knettishall made runs on the target. Joining them were B-24s from the 44th BG Flying Eightballs at Shipdham and the 392nd BG at Wendling. Attacking the U Boat pens at Danzig were B-24s from the 93rd BG Traveling Circus at Hardwick and the 389th BG Sky Scorpions at Hethel.
Results and Hap’s Take
American losses were 28 bombers lost with 123 crew killed in action, 35 wounded in action, 131 taken as prisoners of war, and 29 interred in Sweden. The gunners aboard the bombers claimed 122 Luftwaffe fighters shot down, 32 probables, and 57 damaged. The Fw-190 assembly plant at Marienburg was particularly heavily hit. VIII Bomber Command sent 98 bombers to bomb the place again exactly six months later. General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold called Mission 113 “The greatest strike ever.” If you watched the film you now know from where much of the footage used in other bomber movies came.