B-24 Liberators pass through the target area at treetop-height during the raid on oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania, August 1, 1943.
US Army Air Force
In August 1943, the US launched an audacious raid on one of Nazi Germany’s most valuable resources.
Nearly 200 B-24 bombers carried out a low-level attack on oil refineries in Ploiești, Romania.
79 years later, the US military is still looking for airmen who didn’t make it home from “Black Sunday.”
On August 1, 1943, US Army Air Force B-24 Liberators took off from bases in Libya for an audacious raid on one of the Nazi military’s most valuable resources.
Operation Tidal Wave was meant to destroy Nazi-controlled oil fields and refineries at Ploiești, north of Bucharest, Romania. The campaign was unprecedented in scale, with 1,725 airmen taking off in 177 bombers.
The attack on Ploiești, a sweeping, low-level bombing raid, took a heavy toll on the US airmen involved: 225 of them were killed, earning the day the grim nickname Black Sunday.
US airmen killed in the 1943 raid on Ploiești and identified by the Ploiești Unknowns Project.
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
Many of those fallen airmen were not immediately recovered or identified.
Three-quarters of a century later, the US Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has been using archival research and modern forensics — including DNA analysis from exhumed skeletal remains — to account for airmen still missing from the 1943 mission.
The “Ploiești Unknowns Project,” which began in 2017, has so far identified remains of 19 Tidal Wave airmen and notified their descendants.
In the last three months alone, the Pentagon has announced the identification of five Ploiești airmen: Sgt. Elvin L. Phillips, 23; 1st Lt. Louis V. Girard, 20; Lt. Col. Addison E Baker, 36; 2nd Lt. David M. Lewis, 20; and Staff Sgt. William O. Wood, 25.
The Columbia Aquila refinery in Ploesti, Romania, most likely in 1943.
US Office of War Information
Operation Tidal Wave was the Allies’ first large-scale, low-altitude raid against a well-defended Axis target, and the stakes were high.
The oil fields and refineries spread across the 18-square-mile complex produced one-third of the Reich’s oil, which powered everything from cars and tanks to planes and warships.
Allied leaders who had agreed on the next phase of the war at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 believed that obliterating “Hitler’s gas station” would be critical to slowing the movement of Axis …read more
Source:: Business Insider