340th Bomb Group
May 12-13, 1944 German Air Raid on Alesan Airbase
486th BS 487th BS 488th BS 489th BS
Photos from Charles Cook’s Photo Collection
Unless otherwise noted
Edited by his son Doug Cook. Comments and corrections welcome.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
My father rarely if ever talked about the war, his experiences in Corsica, or combat missions. He had been in Corsica one month before this devastating raid took place at Alesan. He obviously witnessed it and took photos of the aftermath.
Last update Oct 18, 2014
Translation and text below courtesy Daniel Setzer
On the night of May 12, 1944 and the morning of May 13, 1944 the Luftwaffe dealt a devastating 1 -2 punch to the air bases at Borgo-Poretta and Alesani. Hitting the first one at about 10:00 PM then coming back a few hours later to hit the second target. The Allies were totally surprised and suffered heavy losses in men, material and airplanes. The raid destroyed 65 planes, killed 24 soldiers, wounded 115, and blew up the gasoline stores. The attacks took place only about three weeks before the Normandy invasion. Once the Allies established themselves on the beachhead, fighter planes could be stationed on the continent and they quickly pushed the Luftwaffe out of the skies. Many German squadrons were shifted to the Eastern Front were they could be more effective. The Borgo-Poretta and Alesani raids were probably the last major, unqualified success of the Luftwaffe during the war.
Alesan Air Base in the aftermath of the German Raid May, 13, 1944
Note: 487th Planes 7N and 7P survived
Photo courtesy of Herman Voss custodian of John Sterrett-Tail Gunner 486th BS
The following pictures are apparently not from the German Air Raid on Alesani, but attest to their presence before Corsica was liberated in 1943. Some of the wreckage may have been from the liberation battles. Corsica historian Dominic Taddei assisted in the interpretation. “Among the attached photos sent in your email, there is one with a German grave and a cross, name Joseph Bonzeleth I read with difficulty the date, is it 10 3 1944 or 10 5 1944? In March the 340th BG was not at Alesani yet. The Engineer battalions started their work to build the airfield in March only and the 340th BG arrived at Alesani in April 1944. I know that some German planes had been shot down during the raid, but such crosses were put by the German army so these soldiers had been killed before May 1944. The problem is that the last Germans had left Corsica October 4 1943. If this soldier died in March 1944, I suppose that he had been buried by some German prisoners kept by the French administration to replace the Corsican men who joined the French army.”
Note that there are Nazi and British planes in this wreckage.
Joseph Bonzeleth Web Reference assumed to be one in the same.