March 4th, 1944 (SATURDAY)
FRANCE: 219 B-24's are dispatched to hit French airfields; 62 hit Bergerac Airfield, 60 hit the Chateau-Bernard Airfied at Cognac; 41 hit Landes de Bussac Airfield and 1 hits La Roche Airfield. The group participating were the 44th, 93d, 389th, 392d, 445th, 446th 448th, 453d and 458th Bombardment Groups (Heavy). Fighter support consisted of 34 P-38's, 185 P-47's and 88 P-51's. (Jack McKillop)
GERMANY: The 8th AF headed to
The first American bombers and fighters appear over Berlin. The raid had been cancelled because of weather. One group proceeded to the target with fighter escort. Göring later said, "When I saw the American fighters over Berlin I knew the jig was up." (Hal Turrell)
Bombers are escorted by P-38J Lightnings, but many of the 249 B-17s dispatched hit other targets in Bonn, Dusseldorf, Cologne and Frankfurt because of bas weather and poor visibility over much of the continent.
Today's 1200-mile round trip was made under heavy flak, but there was no sign of Luftwaffe interceptors. Even so, out of 502 bombers and 720 fighters, 39 were lost.
A recall message was received and most of the bombers turned back. The lead aircraft for the 95th BG, "I'll Be Around", was piloted that day by Alvin Brown, with squadron leader(?) Grif Mumford on board as a command pilot. The radio operator of the aircraft received the message, but told Mumford:
(1) the message had the wrong salutation codes at the beginning, and
(2) the signal was too strong and clear to have originated in England
and was therefore a fake message sent by the Germans. Mumford elected to continue the mission, and the 95th BG, accompanied by elements of the 100th BG (if memory serves, 29 B-17s in all) proceeded on to Berlin. They were met by P-51s of the 357th FG. (Dennis Sparks)
U-1051 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
POLAND: Krakow: Governor Hans Frank reminds a Nazi meeting: "The Jews are a race which must be wiped out. Whenever we catch one, he will be exterminated."
BARENTS SEA: U-472 sunk SE of Bear Island, Norway, in position 73.05N, 26.40E, by gunfire and rockets from destroyer HMS Onslaught and 816 Sqn Swordfish aircraft from escort carrier HMS Chaser. 23 dead and 30 survivors.
U-703 attacked Convoy RA-57 near Kola Inlet with a spread of FAT torpedoes and sank SS Empire Tourist. At 1545 hours, U-703 fired a Gnat and heard a detonation after 3 minutes 10 seconds, which was observed by destroyer HMS Milne. This destroyer then attacked the U-boat with depth charges for several hours. The master, 41 crewmembers, 23 gunners, two signalmen and one naval personnel from the Empire Tourist were picked up by minesweeper HMS Gleaner and landed at Aultbea, Loch Ewe. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: The Red Army pushes German forces back across the river Bug, except for a pocket at Uman.
ITALY: Anzio: There is a lull in the fighting giving the Germans time to rally their forces for defence.
BURMA: "Merril's Marauders" go into action for the first time, erecting a roadblock at Walawbaum, in Hukawng Valley, as part of a move to take Myitkyina and re-open the Burma Road.
Air Commando Combat Mission N0. 17 3:05 flight time Hailakandi, Assam to Lonkin, Burma Photo mission of landing strip. The following is from my memory of the occasion, written in my journal at a later date. The photos taken showed the field covered with logs. At that time it was thought the logs were placed there by the Japanese to prevent landings. The results caused much concern with the brass. There was some talk that the mission had been compromised. The force going was diverted to another field. Later it was determined that the Burmese had placed them there to dry out.
Note. General Wingate had not wanted any flying over this particular area prior to the night glider assault landings, but on a hunch Colonel Cochran sent us as a lone B-25 to fly over and photograph the field and our flight did pay off. It would have been a disaster had the flight gone as planned. (Chuck Baisden)
JAPAN: All students are mobilised.
ADMIRALTY ISLANDS: US forces arrive to reinforce the Los Negros beach-head.
U.S.A.: "Besame Mucho (Kiss Me Much)" by Jimmy Dorsey And His Orchestra with vocals by Bob Eberly and Kitty Kallen reaches Number 1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in the U.S. This song, which debuted on the charts on 15 January 1944, was charted for 23 weeks, was Number 1 for 7 weeks and was ranked Number 4 for the year 1944. (Jack McKillop)
Destroyer USS Leutze commissioned.
Submarine USS Sterlet commissioned.
Destroyer escorts USS Doyle C Barnes and Jobb launched.
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