Mission Details for Brandenburg (#254)



Number: 254
Date: 4/20/1945 12:00:00 AM
Commander: Lt. Col. E. de Jonckheere
Crews Briefed: 30
Details: Railroad marshalling yards

Flying Control

Runway: 23
Engines: 0630 Thumbnail image for /Images/Takeoff/Plan23.jpg
Taxi: 0640
Take Off: 0650
E.T.R.: 1503
Notes: The briefing for this, the final mission flown by the 401st Bomb Group in World War II, was held at 0245 hours. By 0720 all aircraft were airborne. At 1100 hours one aircraft was reported to have landed safely on the Continent. By 1511, all but one operational aircraft had returned.
The final entry in the Flying Control Log for the day: "Stand down!!"


Aircraft: 30
Lost Over Continent: 1
Lost Other: 0
Summary: The 401st put up three squadrons comprising the 94th Combat Wing "B" Group on this mission to Brandenberg, near Berlin. The weather was clear, and bombing patterns were believed to have covered the aiming points, but smoke and ground haze made it difficult to assess the damage.
There was considerable flak over the target area, and B-17 No. 43-39125 ("Der Grossarschvogel"), piloted by Lt. Aubrey J. Bradley, Jr., was hit in the right wing, causing a fire in the No. 4 engine. The aircraft then pulled out of the formation and salvoed its bombs, but the wing quickly burned off and the aircraft rolled into a spin. Five of the crew were killed in the crash. The pilot, Lt. Bradley, parachuted to safety but was nearly beaten to death by German civilians. The waist gunner, S.Sgt. F. C. Nachtigal, on the other hand, escaped with the help of his German guard, who had been ordered to shoot him. Sgt. Willis T. Vaughan, the ball turret gunner, was thrown from the aircraft when it blew up and parachuted safely. However, he was injured in the blast and, after landing, was roughed up by civilians before being saved by German Air Force personnel.
While a number of other missions were briefed, all were scrubbed, and this turned out to be the last mission flown by the 401st. Ironically, one more fatality occurred, this one on V-E Day, May 8, 1945. The fatality occurred when Sgt. G. Kinney was hit by a propeller of a B-17 taxying on the perimeter track at Deenethorpe while riding his bicycle in the same direction.
God bless all of our 401st comrades who gave their lives for their country.

Mission Assignments

Squadron Participants