13 May 1944, Alesan Field, Corsica

John F. Koplitz, Pilot, RCAF, RAF and AAF

New The 340th Second Anniversary. New


William Fray Livesey, Fighter Pilot

Charles R. Franklin, USN.

History of the 57th. Bomb Wing

Flak Guns in the Brenner Pass

Nose Art From the 57th. Bomb Wing.

History of the 340th. Bombardment Group

The Air World

Captain Benjamin Marino, M.D.

More Pictures from Dr. Marino

S/Sgt. Jack Washleski, Tail Gunner

S/Sgt. Brendon J. Murphy, ROM Gunner
























The base of the 340th. Bombardment Group AAF, Alesan Airfield, Corsica, was attacked under a waning moon in the early hours of 13 May, 1944, by the German Air Force. Extensive damage to planes and other equipment and many personnel casualties resulted. The operation gave every indication of being thoroughly planned and carried out accordingly. The gun control room of the anti-aircraft units defending the airfield reported the first enemy plane was plotted at 0335 hours. Aircraft spotters identified the craft as Beaufighter (presumably captured by the enemy for pathfinder use.)

Some few minutes after this craft was plotted, it dropped flares on the airfield and almost immediately other enemy planes attacked, dropping more flares, which thoroughly illuminated the area, and loosing demolition and anti-personnel bombs, including delayed action as well as butterfly bombs. As the attack progressed the enemy resorted to strafing, dropping down to within a few feet of the ground. The enemy planes were identified as JU-88's, FW-190's and possibly ME-109's, DO-217's, and HE-111's. Some of the fighters strafed ack-ack positions on the beach bordering the airfield and on the ridges north and west of the field. The attacking force was estimated at from twenty to thirty planes.The specific targets attacked were the airfield proper, the gasoline dump, and the ground radio station trailer due west of the center of the field and the adjacent highway, the operations intelligence building close by, and the 489th. squadron area about three quarters of a mile north of the field. A pattern of fragmentation bombs intended for the Headquarters tent area a mile and three quarters north of the field, fell a few hundred yards off shore into the sea.

The attack lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, which was from the time that the first enemy aircraft was plotted to the time that the last one departed. Attacking the airfield the planes seemed to come over first at about three thousand feet, but when the field was well lighted by flares dropped by the pathfinders and by burning aircraft, and when the anti-aircraft barrage was found to be ineffective, they dove down as low as fifty feet on strafing runs. Two courses were flown in the attack. Although some of the planes seemed to come in from different directions after circling off the target. These courses were approximately northwest-southeast and southeast-northwest.Most of the 340th Engineering personnel. Armament men, and ordnance men had their tents on the airfield proper, and although many had slit trenches to use, casualties were exceedingly high from the bombing, from the strafing, and from our own planes blowing up, many of them with a full bomb load. Some men did not wake up in  time; others who did regarded the air alert as just another nuisance raids similar to those to which we had been subjected to for so long - many of them were killed in bed. Some took shelter in slit trenches, ditches or under vehicles. Others were to terrified to run a few feet to shelter once the devastating anit personnel bombs began to explode all around them. Still others were even injured or killed in their slit trenches as a result of the thick carpeting of the area with these bombs. personnel detailed to the airfield crash truck started to put out fires before the last attacking planes left.

The attack was preceded by a raid on the Poretta Airfield about fifteen miles north of Alesan Field at 1000 hours, During which twenty-five Spitfires were knocked out and a number of men killed. other casualties in the raid on the 340th. Group included dead and wounded in the 324th. Service Squadron, which had been doing third echelon maintenance for us, and also dead and wounded in the anti-aircraft organization protecting the area.

From report of flashing lights in the hills south of the village of Cervione and west of the airfield, both on the night of the attack and in the weeks previous, it appears that enemy agents aided or attempted to aid the attackers. It is known that German paratroopers had been landed on the island in considerable number earlier in the year.

Anti-aircraft artillery personnel defending the field claim to have shot down two of the aircraft in the attack. Allied Beaufighters report destroying two other planes.

Regularly each night for weeks before this heavy attack which was reminiscent of an earlier and more competent era in the G.A.F. history, air raid alerts were the accepted nightly routine. An hour or two after midnight the sirens broke the deep silence of the Corsica night with their screaming warning. Most of the men in complete darkness groped for helmets, gas masks, and guns, and then, scantily clad, stumbled out of their tents and into slit trenches. This was a nightly occurrence with Jerry overhead taking pictures. It was evident that a day of reckoning would come.