Fortunes of War

As you will recall from an earlier 371FG Blog posting, in late October, 1944, the 405th Fighter Squadron distinguished itself in the air drop of supplies through rotten weather in support of the surrounded “Lost Battalion” of the US 36th Infantry Division in the Vosges Mountains.  The supplies were critical to the Lost Battalion’s ability to hold out until relieved by elements of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

What you may not know is that another one of Frisky’s squadrons also had the opportunity to conduct this unique kind of combat support mission.  In January, 1945, as German Operation Nordwind continued in the Alsace region, threatening Strasbourg, the 404th Fighter Squadron was called upon to help a ground unit of the Franco-American 6th Army Group that was in distress.

On January 10, 1945, as German infantry and armor pressed to within ten miles of Strasbourg, Captain Harry P. Wagner led a couple of shows to deliver food, medicine and ammunition to elements of the French Army II Corps that were surrounded in the Franco-German border town of Obenheim, south of Strasbourg.  The Kismet Thunderbolts successfully dropped 14 parachute bags and 18 wing tanks to the beleaguered French troops.  A message of thanks came soon afterwards.

Alas, given the strength of the German attack, and the scanty reserves the French Army had in the area, on January 11 the 1,000 French soldiers in Obenheim (reportedly elements of the French Foreign Legion) surrendered to the enemy, and there was no further opportunity to supply a stand against the German offensive in that town.  Frisky had delivered as requested, and would have done so again, but despite best efforts the fortunes of war don’t always turn in one’s favor.

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