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Old 10th November 2005, 19:18
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Thanks John (nice to hear from you again, neighbour!) and Steve - much appreciated. E-mail on the way, Nikita. Thanks.

Cheers
Brian
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  #102  
Old 10th November 2005, 23:59
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Brian, thanks for the info. What follows represents much of what I have on World War II air-to-ground incidents, including some involving PT boats because I don't remember if all were covered by Paul Kemp. This list includes attacks by British and Commonwealth aircrews. Apologies in advance for any typographic errors that I may have missed.

May 1940
The crew of an RAF Whitley from No. 10 Squadron not only bombed the wrong country, they bombed their own country! Sent to attack an airfield in Holland, but due to a navigational error the Whitley instead bombed the RAF station at Bassingbourn. See http://www.etherington.demon.co.uk/1940/may/27.htm >

January 1941
RAF aircraft strafed General Savory's 11th Indian Brigade in Eritrea, North Africa. The exact number of losses was not mentioned. See p.141, Regan, Geoffrey. Blue on Blue: A History of Friendly Fire (New York, NY: Avon Books, 1995).

February 1941
Six RAF Spitfire pilots flew an air show at Salisbury Plain, a live firing exercise to demonstrate the latest 20mm cannons. A group of trucks was lined up and strafed for a crowd of dignitaries. The last plane to make a firing pass shot up the spectators -- killing five officers including two generals and wounding about 20 others. Photographs taken by the War Office were confiscated and the witnesses were sworn to secrecy. See p.77, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Friendly Fire: Accidents in Battle from Ancient Greece to the Gulf War (London: Leo Cooper, 1994).

November 1941
RAF aircraft bombed the 1st Essex Regiment during Operation CRUSADER, causing about 40 casualties. See p.141, Regan, Geoffrey. Blue on Blue: A History of Friendly Fire (New York, NY: Avon Books, 1995).

June 1942
RAF Wellingtons pummeled Allied troops near Mersa Matruh, North Africa. One of the victims was the 4th County of London Yeomanry, British 7th Armoured Division. Data given on losses was vague, although it was said much damage was caused. The regimental historian thought it was worth mentioning that the officers mess vehicle was destroyed with its priceless whiskey. One soldier earned a medal by saving some of the vehicles from the fires. See p.65, Graham, Andrew. Sharpshooters at War: The 3rd and 4th and 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry, 1939-1945 (London: Sharpshooters Regimental Association, 1964).

The British 3rd Hussars were also hit, apparently in the same raid, but their total losses were not specified. See p.95-96, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Friendly Fire: Accidents in Battle from Ancient Greece to the Gulf War (London: Leo Cooper, 1994).

The aftermath of RAF raids at this time were also seen by the Germans: "...The RAF had bombed their own troops, and with tracer flying in all directions, German units fired on each other. At 0500 hours next morning 28th June, I drove up to the breakout area where we had spent such a disturbed night. There we found a number of lorries filled with the mangled corpses of New Zealanders who had been killed by the British bombs..." Quote by Erwin Rommel. See p.238-239, Liddell-Hart, Basil Henry. The Rommel Papers (New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, Javanovich, 1953).

October 1942
During the second battle of El Alamein, the RAF bombed British troops during a four hour raid. The British 10th Hussars were among the victims and they did not know the proper distress signal to call off their planes. See p.4, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Friendly Fire: Accidents in Battle from Ancient Greece to the Gulf War (London: Leo Cooper, 1994).

October 1942
After a series of mistaken attacks by the RAF Desert Air Force, the commanding officer of 1st South African Division was prompted to say that "...if you've got to bomb my trucks, you might at least hit them! You've missed them every bloody time..." See p.4, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Friendly Fire: Accidents in Battle from Ancient Greece to the Gulf War (London: Leo Cooper, 1994).

March 1944
Two US Navy torpedo boats (PT 121 and PT 353) were destroyed in error by RAAF Kittyhawks of 78 Squadron, along with an RAAF Beaufighter of 30 Squadron. A second Beaufighter crew recognized the vessels as PTs and tried to stop the attack, but not before both boats exploded and sank off the coast of New Britain. Eight American sailors were killed with 12 others wounded. See p.232-233, Bulkley, Robert. At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy (Washington, D.C.: Naval History Division, 1962).

June 1944
RAF fighters bombed and strafed the HQ of 3rd Parachute Brigade, British 6th Airborne Division. Several men were killed or wounded, including Brigadier James Hill, who said that the planes appeared to be Spitfires though it was later discovered that the attacking aircraft were Typhoons. See p.108-109, Shilleto, Carl. Pegasus Bridge & Merville Battery: British 6th Airborne Landings in Normandy 6th June 1944. Battleground Europe series (London: Leo Cooper, 1999).

June 1944
RAF Lancasters bombed the German artillery battery at Merville, but succeeded only in killing most of the British reconaissance party and devastating the town. They also mistakenly bombed Drop Zone 'V ' of the 6th Airborne Division -- total losses there was not specified. See p. 101-102, Gregory, Barry. British Airborne Troops 1940-45 (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1974). See p.99, Bernage, Georges. Red Devils in Normandy, 6th Airborne Division, 5-6 June 1944 (Bayeux: Editions Heimdal, 2002).

June 1944
LCT's of 77 Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers were about 20 yards from Sword Beach when they were bombed by four RAF aircraft. See p.93, Delaforce, Patrick. Churchill's Secret Weapons: The Story of Hobart's Funnies (London, UK: Robert Hale, 1998).

June 1944
RAF Typhoons bombed, rocketed and strafed the 175th Infantry Regiment, US 29th Division on the Isigny Highway, causing 24 casualties. Officers on the scene were furious but ordered their men to avoid returning fire, hoping that pilots would recognize their mistake, but this gesture apparently had no effect. In the aftermath one company commander told his men that in the future they should open fire on any plane that attacked. See p.169, Balkoski, Joseph. Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy, 2nd Edition (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999).

July 1944
The RAF Bomber Command raid on Caen killed a large number of French civilians, some 5,000 people by one estimate, with untold numbers wounded. See p.213-215, McKee, Alexander. Caen: Anvil of Victory (New York: Dorset Press, 1962).

July 1944
RAF fighters bombed the 4th Dorsets, 43rd Wessex Division during the battle for Hill 112 in the Odon Valley. Several men were wounded and one man was killed. See p.66, Saunders, Tim. Hill 112: Battles for the Odon. Battleground Europe series (London: Leo Cooper, 2001).

July 1944
The 4th Dorsets were assailed by RAF fighters for a second time during the battle for Hill 112. At least two men were seriously wounded as Typhoon rockets exploded around them. See p.118, Saunders, Tim. Hill 112: Battles for the Odon. Battleground Europe series (London: Leo Cooper, 2001).

July 1944
At about 1845 hours on 31st July, RAF Typhoons rocketed the staging area of the Grenadier Guards, British Guards Armoured Division. See p.82, Nicolson, Nigel, and Forbes, Patrick. The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945. Two Volume set (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1949).

July 1944
At 2200 hours on 31st July, RAF Typhoons attacked the Grenadier Guards for the second time. 1st Squadron tanks were near their objective when the Typhoons dropped sixteen bombs on them, followed by eight aircraft firing rockets. Evidently none of the vehicles were hit. See p.82, Nicolson, Nigel, and Forbes, Patrick. The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945. Two Volume set (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1949).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons attacked several half tracks of the British 43rd Wessex Division near Jurques. Two men were wounded. See p.63, Essame, Hubert. The 43rd Wessex Division at War:1944-1945 (London: William Clowes & Sons Ltd., 1952).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons of the 2nd TAF assisted U.S. ground forces in stopping a German armored attack between Sourdeval and Mortain on August 7th. The air support from RAF fighters was welcomed by US troops in some places at the front, but that was not always the case. Lt. Tom Springfield of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion said, " The only time we saw a Typhoon is when they hit us ". As commander of a road block at L’Abbaye Blanche, his tank destroyer platoon was engaged with elements of the 2nd SS Panzer Division. Even after Springfield's men put out recognition markers and fired yellow smoke, several Typhoon rockets exploded near two of his towed 3-inch guns, killing one man and wounding others.
See p.129-137, Featherston, Alwyn. Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944 (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1998). See p.61, Gill, Lonnie. Tank Destroyer Forces WWII (Paducuh, KY: Turner Publishing, 1992).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons attacked the Cannon Company of 120th Infantry Regiment, US 30th Division, near Mortain although losses if any were not mentioned. See p.135, Featherston, Alwyn. Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944 (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1998).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons shot up the Service Company of the 120th Infantry Regiment, US 30th Division, causing several casualties, including Major James Bynum who was killed near Mortain. The officer who replaced him was strafed by another Typhoon a few minutes later and seriously wounded. See p.135, Featherston, Alwyn. Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944 (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1998).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons strafed a squad from ‘F’ Company, US 120th Infantry Regiment, near Hill 314. Two men were killed. See p.111-112, Featherston, Alwyn. Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944 (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1998).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons rocketed two Sherman tanks from ‘C’ Company, US 743rd Tank Battalion near Mortain. Number of crew casualties was unclear but the resulting inferno and smoke subsequently attracted fire from nearby US artillery units. See p.56, Folkestad, William. The View from the Turret: The 743rd Tank Battalion During WWII (Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 2000).

August 1944
Two Shermans from 'A' Company, US 743rd Tank Battalion were set ablaze by friendly planes near Mortain. It was not specified whether this was caused by RAF Typhoons or USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts. One tank crewman was killed. See p.56, Folkestad, William. The View from the Turret: The 743rd Tank Battalion During WWII (Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 2000).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons strafed ‘B’ Company, US 120th Infantry Regiment on Hill 285, killing the driver of a weapons carrier. US troops reported that Typhoon pilots had trouble telling the difference between live German tanks and dead ones. British planes constantly attacked vehicles that had been knocked out by US guns earlier in the day. See p.135-136, Featherston, Alwyn. Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944 (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1998).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons shot up units of the British Columbia Regiment and the Algonquin Regiment, 4th Canadian Armoured Division, near Quesnay Wood during Operation TOTALIZE. Later that day, the same units were mistakenly fired upon by tanks and artillery of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. See p.80-83, Cassidy, George. Warpath: The Story of the Algonquin Regiment, 1939-1945 (Toronto: Algonquin Regt. Veterans' Association, 1948).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons fired rockets at Shermans of ‘A’ Company, US 743rd Tank Battalion, causing damage to one tank. See p.58, Folkestad, William. The View from the Turret: The 743rd Tank Battalion During WWII (Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 2000).

August 1944
RAF Typhoons attacked ‘B’ Company of the 4th Wiltshires, British 43rd Wessex Division near La Villette. Losses if any not specified. See p.80, Essame, Hubert. The 43rd Wessex Division at War:1944-1945 (London: William Clowes & Sons Ltd., 1952).

August 1944
RAF heavy bombers hit Allied troops in error during Operation TRACTABLE causing about 490 casualties including 112 dead. The bombings also wiped out 265 Allied vehicles, 30 field guns and two tanks. In retaliation, British anti-aircraft guns opened fire on the RAF bombers. See p.122, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Air War Normandy (London: Leo Cooper, 1994).

August 1944
Between August 14-18, the South Alberta Regiment of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division was attacked six times by RAF fighters and other units had similar experiences. A number of vehicles were set ablaze and in some cases the yellow smoke used for signalling friendly planes was ignored by RAF pilots. Out of frustration, an officer of the South Albertas wanted his Crusader AA tanks to shoot at the Spitfires attacking his HQ. See p.122-138, Graves, Donald. South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War (Toronto: Robin Brass Studio, 1998).

August 1944
The 51st Highland Division was jumped by RAF fighters near the River Vie: "...and then the usual trouble began. The Camerons actually had to stop advancing because Spitfires had knocked out every wireless vehicle in their establishment..."

See p.166, Salmond, James Bell. The History of the 51st Highland Division, 1939-1945 (Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1953).

August 1944
"...The 5th Camerons had to abandon their attack...because the Spitfires had knocked out every wireless vehicle they possessed and they were unable to communicate with brigade, their companies, or the gunners. Against such an emergency we had each been provided with a triangle of yellow silk, the idea being that the forward troops should lay them out and draw attention to themselves. The triangles, however, were by no means foolproof, because the man who was being shot up was usually much too busy taking cover to have time to display one; whereas all the troops a mile behind him, fearing that they would be the next victims, immediately rushed to display theirs. The pilot then took the triangles to be the front line and then continued to harry those in front -- if he saw triangles at all... which...was doubtful..."
Capt Alastair Borthwick
5th Bn, Seaforth Highlanders
British 51st Highland Division

See p.89, Windrow, Martin. The Soldier‘s Story: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2001).

August 1944
RAF fighters shot up elements of British 7th Armoured Division and caused about 20 casualties, including the intelligence officer of 8th Hussars who was severely wounded. The colonel riding along was badly shaken when their jeep crashed. See p.224, Verney, Gerald Lloyd. The Desert Rats: The History of the 7th Armoured Division 1938 to 1945 (London: Hutchinson, 1954).

August 1944
RAF fighters attacked the Norfolk Yeomanry anti-tank regiment of British 7th Armoured Division. Three guns [probably M-10 Tank Destroyers] were knocked out and other vehicles were set on fire. See p.224, Verney, Gerald Lloyd. The Desert Rats: The History of the 7th Armoured Division 1938 to 1945 (London: Hutchinson, 1954).

August 1944
RAF fighters attacked troops of the Queen's Royal Regiment, British 7th Armoured Division, near Lisieux: "...The battalion's few casualties were caused mostly by our own Spitfires, which twice strafed the main Livarot road..." See p.378, Foster, R.C.G. History of the Queen's Royal Regiment, vol.VIII, 1924-1948 (Aldershot: Gale & Polden Ltd., 1953).

September 1944
By this time the British Guards Armoured Division feared RAF fighters more than German fighters:

"...Intoxicated with excitement though they were, the citizens of Beauvais were sufficiently level-headed to notice that the Grenadiers kept glancing up towards the sky. This puzzled them, and one elderly Frenchman tackled an officer on the subject. ‘Why’ he asked, ‘are you so worried about being attacked from the air when you have air superiority?’ The reason was simple. Bitter experience had taught the Battalions that friendly planes, especially in forward areas and during swift advances, were often to be feared more than those of the enemy... the troops had learnt that a Typhoon attack was far more nerve-wracking than anything the Luftwaffe could produce..."

See p.104, Nicolson, Nigel, and Forbes, Patrick. The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945. Two Volume set (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1949).

September 1944
"...The afternoon had passed quietly near Arras, disturbed only by two British fighters, which machine-gunned the area and set a Welsh Guards lorry on fire. 'Vive la RAF' had been chalked on several vehicles by overjoyed civilians: After this incident the divisional commander's ADC, Capt. the Hon. A. D. Tyron, walked over to his scout car and added the words 'except two Spitfires'..."

See p.107, Nicolson, Nigel, and Forbes, Patrick. The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945. Two Volume set (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1949).

September 1944
RAF Typhoons shot up a column of Irish Guards, Guards Armoured Division, while enroute to Tourneau. Your correspondent forgot to record the source of this incident, but it came from an Irish Guards unit history and I recall going through more than one title pertaining to this regiment.

September 1944
RAF Typhoons destroyed two Sherman tanks of the Governor General's Foot Guards, 4th Canadian Armoured Division, in the vicinity of Maldegum:

"...While so deployed the tanks were suddenly attacked, in mistake, by several Typhoon aircraft. Lt. Middleton-Hope's tank was badly hit, killing the gunner Gdsm. Hughes, and the tank was set on fire. Almost immediately Sgt. Jenning's tank was similarly knocked out by Typhoon rockets. Meanwhile the Typhoons continued to press home their attack with machine guns and rockets, and, while trying to extricate the gunner, Lt. Middleton-Hope was blown off the tank. In this tragic encounter Gdsm. G.E. Baker, Barter, and Cheal were seriously wounded..."

See p.144, The Regimental History of the Governor General's Foot Guards (Ottawa: 1948). Author unknown, possibly A. R. Jessup, or written by committee.

Another description of the same incident was found:

"...Unfortunately the Typhoons’ targets were two Foot Guards tanks working their way up on a highway about 400 yards to our right...the Guards lost two men killed and two Shermans 'rocketed out of this world'..."

See p.204, Graves, Donald. South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War (Toronto: Robin Brass Studio, 1998).

January 1945
RAF fighters strafed the assault gun platoon (105mm Sherman tanks) of US 743rd Tank Battalion, near Sart-Lez-St.-Vith. See p.88, Folkestad, William. The View from the Turret: The 743rd Tank Battalion During WWII (Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 2000).

* * *

p.s. There is some interesting commentary about aircraft rocket attacks quoted on p.116 of Ian Gooderson's Air Power at the Battlefront, and I think it is worth mentioning here:

"...Interrogation of German prisoners has shown without question that German tank crews are extremely frightened of attacks by RP... Crews are very aware that if an RP does hit a tank, their chance of survival is small. It is admitted that the chances of a direct hit are slight; nevertheless, this would hardly be appreciated by a crew whose first thought would be of the disastrous results if a hit were obtained..."

According to the footnotes, those remarks were extracted from an RAF tactical bulletin, dated October 1944. However, based the number of crew losses from Allied tanks known to be hit by Typhoon rockets, the assumption that an RP hit was almost always fatal to a tank crew member might be an exaggeration. More to follow.

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 11th November 2005 at 00:45.
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  #103  
Old 11th November 2005, 00:08
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Six Nifty .50s
Re: Friendly fire WWII

This list covers attacks by American aircraft on ground and surface targets:

July 1943
During one week of operations in Sicily, Combat Command 'A' of the 2nd Armored Division lost 14 vehicles and 75 casualties to USAAF air attacks. General Maurice Rose ordered his command not to fire on friendly aircraft but a P-38 Lightning was shot down in self-defense. The pilot bailed out safely and evidently the Air Force made some adjustments because the misdirected air strikes stopped for the duration of the campaign. See p.175-176, Houston, Donald Eugene. Hell On Wheels: The 2d Armored Division (Novato, CA:Presidio, 1977).

July 1943
The U.S. Navy torpedo boat PT 166 was strafed and destroyed in error by USAAF B-25 bombers off the island of New Georgia. Two other PTs were hit and one Mitchell was shot down by the return fire, splashing into the sea about five miles away. The crew of PT 166 and three survivors from the B-25 were picked up by PT 164 and PT 168. See p.119-120, Bulkley, Robert. At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy (Washington, D.C.: Naval History Division, 1962).

January 1944
USAAF P-40 Warhawks accidentally strafed an RAF airfield near Trigno, Italy. Amount of damage and casualties if any were unspecified. See p.111, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Friendly Fire: Accidents in Battle from Ancient Greece to the Gulf War (London: Leo Cooper, 1994).

March 1944
USAAF bombers accidentally hit Allied troops during a raid on Cassino, causing about 300 casualties. See p.251, Gooderson, Ian. Air Power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe 1943-45 (London, Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1998).

April 1944
The U.S. Navy torpedo boats PT 346 and PT 347 were destroyed in error by U.S. Navy fighters off New Britain. See p.233-234, Bulkley, Robert. At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy (Washington, D.C.: Naval History Division, 1962).

June 1944
A Sherman tank of 'A' Squadron, 4th/7th Royal Dragoons was moving inland when it drove into a hidden depression and rolled on its side. The crew was standing near the overturned tank when they were seen and strafed in error by a USAAF Thunderbolt. Yellow smoke was released and the P-47 pilot stopped the attack. See p.70-71, Dunphie, Christopher & Garry Johnson. Gold Beach: Inland from King June 1944 (London: Leo Cooper, 1999).

June 1944
Members of the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, were strafed by USAAF P-47 fighters near the causeway above Carentan. Fortunately no one was hit. See p.139, Bando, Mark. The 101st Airborne at Normandy (Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1994).

June 1944
USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts accidentally bombed paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division who were guarding the water crossings over the Douvre near Brevands. One man was killed and three wounded. Two wooden bridges were destroyed in error by the Thunderbolts, possibly due to the lack of radio communications with the planes. See p.148, Rapport, Leonard and Arthur Norwood. Rendezvous with Destiny:History of the 101st Airborne Division (Fort Campbell, KY: The 101st Airborne Association, 1948).

July 1944
During Operation GOODWOOD, a stray bomb dropped by a USAAF B-26 Marauder hit 'B' Squadron of the 23rd Hussars, British 11th Armoured Division. Two men were killed and one wounded. See p.69-70, Regimental Committee. The Story of the 23rd Hussars, 1940-46 (Aldershot: 1946).

July 1944
USAAF bombers hit US troops in error during an abortive airstrike near St. Lo, causing about 155 casualties. See p.138, Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals (New York: William Morrow, 1993).

July 1944
USAAF bombers remounted their raid from the previous day. This time Operation COBRA was not cancelled, but US positions were again plastered by bombs causing about 600 casualties including Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, the commander of Army Ground Forces who was killed. Another 200 men were battle fatigue cases and at least one US tank was knocked out, an 'A' Company Sherman of 70th Tank Battalion. See p.139, Blumenson, Martin. The Battle of the Generals (New York: William Morrow, 1993). See p.75, Hall, Chester. History of the 70th Tank Battalion, 1940-46 (1946).

July 1944
USAAF P-47s bombed elements of the US 2nd Armored Division near Canisy. Identification panels and yellow smoke were used to signal the planes, although the Germans were reported to be using orange smoke for the same purpose. Losses if any were unspecified. See p.216, Houston, Donald Eugene. Hell On Wheels: The 2d Armored Division (Novato, CA:Presidio, 1977).

July 1944
USAAF P-47s attacked the US 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion near Periers. Losses if any were unspecified. See p.20, Battalion Committee. The 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion (1945).

August 1944
USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts strafed elements of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry of British 11th Armoured Division, near Vassy. Yellow recognition smoke was released to signal the planes, but this was either ignored or not seen. Losses if any were not specified. See p.84, Delaforce, Patrick. The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division (Stroud, UK: Alan Sutton, 1993).

August 1944
USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts bombed, rocketed and strafed various elements of the British 11th Armoured Division. At least one man was killed, some vehicles of the 8th Rifle Brigade medical unit were hit and a half-track was destroyed. See p.88-89, Delaforce, Patrick. The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division (Stroud, UK: Alan Sutton, 1993). See p.100, Regimental Committee. The Story of the 23rd Hussars, 1940-46 (Aldershot: 1946).

August 1944
USAAF heavy bombers hit Allied troops in error during Operation TOTALIZE. 83 vehicles and seven field guns were knocked out, although there seems to be a discrepancy in the casualties reported. Roughly 375-460 depending on whose figures you believe. See p.121, Bickers, Richard Townshend. Air War Normandy (London: Leo Cooper, 1994). See p.251, Gooderson, Ian. Air Power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe 1943-45 (London, Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1998).

August 1944
USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts shot up elements of the Grenadier Guards of British Guards Armoured Division near the Vire-Estry Road. Three men were killed and one wounded. See p.99, Nicolson, Nigel, and Patrick Forbes. The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945, Two Volume set (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1949).

August 1944
Elements of US 3rd Armored Division were attacked near Ranes."...One of the unfortunate incidents of war occurred when a P-47, attempting to attack German forces one field ahead of American tanks, accidentally dropped a bomb short. Several GI's were wounded seriously and one killed outright. Another bomb fell within fifty yards of General Hickey's command post, also injuring a number of soldiers. Faulty release mechanisms on the airplanes were believed to be the chief reason for these occurences..." See p.79, Divisional Committee. Spearhead in the West, 1941-45: The Third Armored Division (Frankfurt am Main-Schwanheim: F.J. Henrich, 1945).

August 1944
USAAF P-38 Lightnings attacked the Seaforths and the Camerons of 51st Highland Division on several occasions near the River Vie. See p.166, Salmond, James Bell. The History of the 51st Highland Division, 1939-1945 (Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1953).

August 1944
Units of Combat Command 'A' US 3rd Armored Division were driven out of Fromentel by USAAF P-38 Lightnings, which had been dropping bombs too close for comfort. When CCA returned to the village, they were again bombed by P-38s and the men began to duck for foxholes whenever they saw the twin-boom fighters approaching. See p.80, Divisional Committee. Spearhead in the West, 1941-45: The Third Armored Division (Frankfurt am Main-Schwanheim: F.J. Henrich, 1945).

August 1944
USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts dive-bombed and strafed the British Columbia Regiment of 4th Canadian Armoured Division, fatally injuring Major Jack Worthington and Trooper A. Hallmark. See Chapter VI, Regimental Committee. The Story of the British Columbia Regiment 1939-1945. Undated with no author, publisher or page numbers listed. Probably printed in Vancouver in the 1940s.

September 1944
USAAF P-47s strafed a group of Americans from the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Lt. Col. Robert Cole (Medal of Honor for action in Normandy) ran out into a field to signal the attacking planes and was killed by a German sniper. See p.35, Bando, Mark. The 101st Airborne, From Holland to Hitler's Eagles Nest (Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1994).

September 1944
USAAF P-38 Lightnings attacked the US 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion near Brest. Losses if any were unspecified. See p.22, Battalion Committee. The 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion (1945).

September 1944
USAAF P-47 strafed elements of the US 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion near Bathlemont. No one was hit and the pilot broke off his attack after passing over the column. See p.12, Oliver, Bertrand. History of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion: March 1941 to November 1945 (East Lansing, MI: 602nd Tank Destroyer Association, 1990).

December 1944
USAAF bombers accidentally dropped short on the Ardennes town of Malmédy, which was apparently hit more than once. Up to 300 civilians and an unknown number of Americans were killed. See p.13-14, Pallud, Jean-Paul. Ardennes 1944: Peiper and Skorzeny (London: Osprey Publishing, 1987).

December 1944
"...there were a few occasions when American planes had attacked (the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion) and it was never determined exactly whether they were being flown by American pilots..." See p.69, McGrann, Roy. The 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion: April 10, 1942 to December 7, 1945 (Elizabeth, PA, 1946).

December 1944
USAAF P-47s bombed and strafed elements of the US 101st Airborne Division as they attacked German units in Marvie. As he jumped into a foxhole, Colonel Bud Harper saw that some colored recognition panels had been on display but these were either ignored or undetected by the pilots. See p.526, Rapport, Leonard and Arthur Norwood. Rendezvous with Destiny:History of the 101st Airborne Division (Fort Campbell, KY: The 101st Airborne Association, 1948).

December 1944
USAAF P-47s bombed and strafed elements of the US 740th Tank Battalion and 119th Infantry Regiment of US 30th Division. One tank from the 740th was knocked out and three men were slightly wounded. See p.70 and p.240-243, Rubel, George Kenneth. Daredevil Tankers: The Story of the 740th Tank Battalion, US Army (1945).

January 1945
USAAF P-47s strafed a group of Americans from the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Lt. Col. John Stopka was killed in the attack. Ironically, Stopka had replaced Lt. Col. Robert Cole, who was killed by a sniper following a friendly fire accident with P-47s. See p.121, Bando, Mark. The 101st Airborne, From Holland to Hitler's Eagles Nest (Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1994).

March 1945
USAAF P-51s of the 359th Fighter Group attacked a German train which, in this case, was carrying some 220 Allied PoWs on their way to Stalag IIB. In one of life’s little ironies, a downed pilot of the 359th was aboard this train. He asked some of the prisoners to wave hankerchiefs out the windows of the boxcars to signal the fighters, which may have been noticed because the strafing passes stopped. See p.134, Smith, Jack. Mustangs & Unicorns: A History of the 359th Fighter Group (Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1997).

April 1945
USAAF bombers accidentally hit Allied troops during Operation BUCKLAND, causing about 160 casualties. See p.251, Gooderson, Ian. Air Power at the Battlefront: Allied Close Air Support in Europe 1943-45 (London, Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1998).

April 1945
USAAF aircraft knocked out an M5 Light Tank of the British 17th/21st Lancers, near Gallo, Italy. Two men were killed. Two other armoured regiments in the area were also attacked by the same group of aircraft. A few days later, the crew of a Sherman Firefly from the 17th/21st Lancers misidentified and opened fire on a US tank near Pilastrello, Italy. Fortunately the 17-pounder gun missed the target and by coincidence that proved to be the last shot expended by the regiment during World War II.

See p.222-223, ffrench Blake, Robert Lifford Valentine. A History of the 17th/21st Lancers:1922-1959 (London: MacMillan, 1962).

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 12th November 2005 at 21:19.
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Old 11th November 2005, 10:50
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Wow! Thanks a million Six Nifty - I wouldn't have found this information on my own! That's why I turned to the experts on this website (thanks Ruy) in the hope that such material would surface. I do appreciate the time and effort you and others have taken to help me - hopefully, OUR reward will be a comprehensive account of aerial friendly-fire incidents relating to WWII, to enable future historians and writers to understand the complexities and tragedies, not to mention the futility, of war.

I am sure there are more incidents to be uncovered.

Cheers
Brian
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  #105  
Old 11th November 2005, 20:29
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Six Nifty .50s
Re: Friendly fire WWII

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian
Wow! Thanks a million Six Nifty - I wouldn't have found this information on my own! That's why I turned to the experts on this website (thanks Ruy) in the hope that such material would surface. I do appreciate the time and effort you and others have taken to help me - hopefully, OUR reward will be a comprehensive account of aerial friendly-fire incidents relating to WWII, to enable future historians and writers to understand the complexities and tragedies, not to mention the futility, of war.

I am sure there are more incidents to be uncovered.

Cheers
Brian

I don't know if you explored this yet, but I'll add some material regarding aircraft paint schemes that were specifically applied to discourage friendly fire accidents:

"...Ironically, it was at this time [August 28th, 1940] that the Luftwaffe's Jagdgeschwader were being issued with bright yellow paint and instructions to paint their cowlings, rudders and wingtips. The pilots were not told why, and speculated that they were special markings for the invasion. In fact it was an aid to aircraft recognition, to make sure that mistakes such as those that had cost Fighter Command two aircraft did not happen to them. Given the numbers of aircraft now in the sky, avoiding friendly fire now took precedence over camouflage. British pilots who saw the new colour-schemes quickly decided that they marked out elite units, which flattered not only their opponents but them too, as surely more honourable to be shot down by an elite pilot than by an ordinary one. It was convenient that all the enemy fighters belonged to elite units. Henceforth yellow-nose bastards' began to rival the more traditional 'snappers' as a sobriquet for Bf 109s..." See p.274, Bungay, Stephen. The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain (London: Aurum Press, 2000. 2005).

There were further efforts at preventing misidentification of Luftwaffe planes by German pilots. Major Erich Rudorffer was quoted :

"...We tried out the airscrew hubs of the Bf 109E in all possible colours as early as the first attacks on England. In JG 2 "Richtofen" ... we flew for a long period with the so-called Burbelschnauze (curlicue nose), that is, the airscrew hubs of our Bf 109G aircraft had white spirals. The purpose of all this was to afford identification of an aircraft approaching from astern as "one of ours" or an enemy..." See p.127, Nowarra, Heinz. The Messerschmitt 109: A Famous German Fighter (Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, 1966).

* * *

Heinz Nowarra summarized the RAF response to identification problems with the Typhoon and the Mustang that entered service a couple years later:

"...The R.A.F. knowing the shortcomings of the Spitfire Vs and Hurricane IIs had great hopes pinned on the Typhoon. Potentially, with its 2,000 h.p. Sabre engine, it would match the Fw 190 but it had a series of teething troubles affecting both the engine and airframe. Not only this, but its appearance was not unlike that of an Fw 190 as No. 56, the first Typhoon squadron, knew to their cost. Two of their aircraft were shot down by Spitfires on June 1st, 1942. During the Dieppe operations, Spitfires had shot down another Typhoon in mistake for an Fw 190, and when a formation caught a flight of Fw 190s at a disadvantage and descended out of the sun on to them, the Typhoons broke their tails off in pulling out of their dive ... A No. 609 Squadron Typhoon was hit by anti-aircraft fire on the last day of October. By that time two measures had been tried. First the whole nose of the Typhoon was painted white, but this could be confused with yellow noses of certain Fw 190s. Then it was decided to paint yellow bands around the wings in precisely the same way as the Mustangs, but pilots on sweeps reported that this compromised camouflage from above, when it was identification from below that was the most in question. As a result the black one-foot wide strips under the white fuselage centre-section at two-foot intervals, peculiar to Typhoons and later Tempests, were introduced from November 19th, 1942. Occasioned by bitter experience, mainly at Dieppe, these were often referred to as 'Dieppe markings'. At first the spinner was painted duck egg blue forward of the blades, but from January 21st, 1943, it was painted white in its entirety as a production expedient..." See p.159, Nowarra, Heinz. The Focke-Wulf 190: A Famous German Fighter (Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, 1965).

* * *

After the USAAF deployed P-47 Thunderbolts to the U.K., they were also mistaken for Focke Wulfs. Some initial reactions were found in the diary of LeRoy Gover, who flew Spitfires with 66 & 133 Squadrons, RAF before he transferred to the 4th Fighter Group, USAAF:

February 21st 1943
"...My P-47 is being painted white on the nose and tail today, so those bastards won't shoot at us. About four of us have been shot at now by Spits, Typhoons and ground defenses because they think we look like FW-190s. I hope it works, because we have enough trouble with the Jerries having to worry about our own guys..."

March 9th, 1943
"...We were fired on by our own coast guns on way home. I guess the white stripes don't work very well...".

See p.155-159, Caine, Philip. Spitfires, Thunderbolts, and Warm Beer: An American Fighter Pilot over Europe (Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1995).

* * *

Although it may have been helpful to some extent, the white paint added to USAAF and RAF fighters to aid identification was a subtle change and certainly did not prevent mistakes. Colonel Hubert Zemke described the unfortunate results of the first bomber support mission carried out by his 56th Fighter Group, in May 1943:

"...On 4th May when Fortresses were sent to bomb a factory at Antwerp, the 56th was briefed to meet them as they left the target. My radio again failed, just before the Group reached the Dutch coast. Incensed, I handed over to McCollom and turned for home. This was my second forced turnback for equipment failure and I was concerned that some of the men might view this as the excuse of the faint-hearted. As I turned back for Horsham St. Faith to vent my wrath on the radio mechanics, I thought I saw a parachute far below. Only later did I connect this with what happened on this mission. The bombers were seen shortly after crossing the enemy coast and the group turned to cover them. Near Walcheren Island some FW 190s were reported making passes at the leading bombers as McCollom led his flight down to attack. Mac lined up behind one fighter and opened fire. As pieces flew off his victim and it spun down it was clearly seen to be a Spitfire! Back at Horsham St. Faith I listened to the debriefing and the confused and contradictory nature of individual pilots' reports. It was clear that some people were not only mistaking FW 190s for Spitfires but P-47s for FW 190s. Reports of Spitfires with 'solid yellow tails' could also be discounted. Excitement, speed of closure, sun glare and restricted vision through the cockpit canopy all contributed to mistaken observations; a situation confronting all fighter pilots but in this case exacerbated by inexperience. The RAF and 'Ajax' were, understandably, far from pleased with the 56th's performance, although our errant group could rightly plead that it had not been briefed for Spitfires in that area. For me this was particularly galling for as group commander I was ultimately responsible and had to meet General Hunter's summons to explain. For all our endeavors there was no hiding the fact that the 56th's bad score to date; two 'friendly' aircraft shot down and two P-47s lost, was certainly not a creditable showing..."

See p.76, Freeman, Roger. Zemke's Wolf Pack: The Story of Hub Zemke and the 56th Fighter Group in the skies over Europe (New York: Crown Publishers, 1989).

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 12th November 2005 at 17:56.
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  #106  
Old 12th November 2005, 07:06
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Phew! My continued thanks, Six Nifty - I think you should be writing this book, not me! My research/writing has not reached this stage, so I am doubly grateful for your efforts. I have an insatiable appetite, so keep it coming!

Cheers
Brian
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  #107  
Old 12th November 2005, 14:26
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Franek Grabowski
Re: Friendly fire WWII

Brian
I will not tell you that my friend took part in the 4 May 1943 scrap and had a long recognition dog fight with a Thunderbolt. I certainly will not mention, that he took part in escort of Typhoons whipping out a British destroyer. Oh, and a photo of Dubielecki standing by wing of his Spitfire shot up by Thunderbolts on the above date does not exist.
Feel better now?
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  #108  
Old 12th November 2005, 14:37
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Hi Franek

Don't tease me! Tell me more!

Cheers
Brian
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  #109  
Old 12th November 2005, 17:14
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Turbofahrer Turbofahrer is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

There is also something called Battle of Barking creek.

The first Spitfire air kill over England.

6.Sep 1939 - Two 74.Sqn Spitfires shot down two 56.Sqn Hurricanes


http://www.removablemedia.com/northweald/battleof1.htm
or
http://www.airsceneuk.org.uk/wattisham/56sq/56sq.htm

/Jan
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Old 12th November 2005, 21:55
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Franek Grabowski
Re: Friendly fire WWII

Brian
You seem obviously dissapointed with so many entries, you have not found. I just do not want to make you more sad than you are.
I have just been speaking with a pilot who had an engagement with Yaks over Austro-Italian border. Lost two of them in a clouded valley.
Cheers
PS There is a turn for 1942.
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