Heavy casualties in Ploesti raid
1st August 1943: USAAF B-24s fly into an array of defences and fighter aircraft to attack the critical Romanian oil refinery
The strategic bombing campaign aimed to throttle both German industry and her armed forces of their petroleum. Rumania supplied around one-third of the oil used by Germany - so her oilfields were an obvious target.
The USAAF had made one modest attempt to attack the main production site at Ploesti, in May 1942. That attack, designed to make use of thirteen aircraft that had originally been destined for Burma, had caused little damage. It did, however, put the Germans on notice that Ploesti was on the target list for further visits. Very soon, given its strategic importance, the air defences around the site were dramatically improved, with dozens of 88mm guns and a range of smaller calibre weapons, many of them concealed in buildings.
As we were going into the furnace, I said a quick prayer. During those moments I didn't think that I could possibly come out alive, and I knew Pete couldn't.
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