This map shows the location of the 340th Bomb Group base at Alesani, Corsica and the town of
Borovnica, Yugoslavia. In the B-25s it was a four hour round-trip flight to Borovnica and back.
This is the crew of B-25J 9V "Miss Rebel" probably taken just after the mission to bomb the railroad viaduct at Borovnica, Yugoslavia on December 28, 1944.
Standing from left to right are top-turret gunner, Staff Sgt. William A. Devine;
tail gunner, Staff Sgt. Lyle D. Ives; copilot, 2nd Lt. W.E. Steele; bombardier, Theodore G. Constantine;
and pilot, 2nd Lt. Edward B. Heilig. Kneeling is my father, radio-gunner, Technical Sgt. Quentin C. Kaiser.
12 planes from the 489th Bomb Squadron and 12 planes from
the 486th squadron teamed up to make 340th Bomb Group Mission #665. There was no fighter escort on this mission.
The twentyfour planes dropped a total of ninetyfive 1000-pound bombs on the eastern edge of the Borovnica railroad viaduct.
The photographic interpretation
report summarizes the success of the mission determined by analysis of the target photos.
My father's plane, B-25J 9V "Miss Rebel," was in the 5th position of the first box of six planes from the 489th squadron.
The #5 and #6 planes were generally equipped with cameras to get pictures of the target. On this mission,
my father used a hand-held K-20 camera to photograph the target. His mission photo
was taken just as the bombs exploded around the viaduct and the blasts seem to
coincide precisely with where they are indicated on the official 340th Bomb Group box score photo. Here's
another mission photo my father took which shows how cloudy it was over the target on December 28th
and probably explains why another group mission that day returned to base without dropping their bombs.
When Peter Bezek from Slovenia discovered the information about my father's 51st mission on this site he wrote to me and
told me the following interesting history of the bridge and sent me the pictures below.
"Here is a short history of Borovnica and the viaduct:
Borovnica is a small village or town, 25 km south from Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia. In years 1850 to 1857 a
561 meters long and 38 meters high railway viaduct was built on relation Ljubljana - Trieste ( Italy ).
- see GM21.jpg and Z61.jpg.
10th of April 1941 - four days after German attack on Yugoslavia - an ex Yugoslav army blew the viaduct up in
226 meters long (somwhere in the middle as you can see in picture GM7.jpg.)
In WW2 was Slovenia separated betwen German and Italian ocupators. Borovnica was under Italians and they
build a steel constuction over the ruined part of viaduct (see GM6.jpg.)
There were several bomb attacks on viaduct in 26th and 27th September 1944. From my information they were
RAF attacks from Foggia - Italy. They use Wellington aircraft. I am still working on it so I can't tell you
much more. Viaduct was damaged but not ruined." My records indicate that B-17s and possibly
other heavy bombers from the the US 15th Air Force bombed the bridge on the 26th, 27th and 29th of September 1944.
"In 27th and 28th of December were another bomb attacks on viaduct. These were attacks from your father took
pictures. According to your father's log he
was there in December 28th. From some people in Borovnica I've found out
that there was two attacks - 27th and 28th December. Do you know something about that?"
The photographic interpretation report clearly states there were separate missions
on the 27th and 28th of December, 1944. The 340th Bombardment Group
mission list shows two different missions to bomb Borovnica on December 27, 1944 in addition to the
one my father flew on December 28, 1944.
"After this attacks viaduct was ruined. After the WW2 a new railway was built around the Borovnica valley. The ruins of
the viaduct was destroyed to the ground and only one statue left till today (see bor_048.jpg
For viaduct defense enemy had several flak positions on hill Planina - left side and hill Trebelnik - right side all about 500 m higher
as viaduct. Viaduct was important because over him was the main railway from harbour Trieste to Ljubljana and further to Germany."
Peter Bezek also sent me the chronological history and pictures of the Borovnica viaduct below. I have inserted excerpts from the USAAF combat chronology
where relevant or commented where appropriate using red text.
Short chronicle of Borovnica RR viaduct - WW2
06.4.1941----- Germany attacked Yugoslavia.
10.4.1941----- Thursday, 10. April - At 7 pm Yugoslav army blew up Borovnica RR viaduct. Big explosion destroyed 7 of 25 colums in the middle of viaduct approx 200 m long. People were evacuated before the explosion. Another column crashed down 20 days later - see picture. Rail traffic was stopped until 24. June when Italians finished steel construction.
13.4.1941----- Italian army arrived in Borovnica.
25.2.1944----- At 10.45am 30 aircraft dropped some bombs - no damage or victims. (This information is from School chronicle and I didn't check it yet.) There is no MTO or ETO combat chronology mentioning Borovnica on 25.2.44.
25.8.1944----- Three aircraft groups - 21 aircraft attacked viaduct. They destroyed flak battery and a lot of houses. Military and civilan victims. (This information is from the book "Slovenian railways during WW2 - 1941-1943." The next one is from School chronicle and I think there is the same attack, but this date is wrong.) There is no MTO or ETO combat chronology for Borovnica on 25.8.44.
26.8.1944----- Very strong attack at 10.00am. About 35 aircraft dropped over 80 bombs. 14 civilans and 9 military victims. More then 20 houses destroyed. No damage on viaduct. SATURDAY, 26 AUGUST 1944 STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Fifteenth Air Force): 470+ bombers escorted by P-38s and P-51s attack targets in Italy and Rumania; B-17s hit viaducts and bridges at Venzone, Avisio, and Latisana, Italy; in Rumania, B-24s hit a train ferry and terminal at Giurgiu, Otopeni Airfield, barracks and troops in the Baneasa area and a viaduct at Borovnica.
27.8.1944----- Another attack at 10.45 - 30 airplanes dropped about 50 bombs. No victims, small damage on viaduct but traffic didn't stop. Damage on houses and other buildings. SUNDAY, 27 AUGUST 1944 STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Fifteenth Air Force): 530+ fighter-escorted bombers attack targets in Germany and Italy; the B-17s hit an oil refinery in Blechhammer, Germany; the B-24s also hit an oil refinery in Blechhammer and in Italy, a railroad bridge at Ferrara, and viaducts at Avisio, Venzone, and Borovnica.
29.8.1944----- Another attack. No victims, small damage on viaduct but traffic didn't stop. Damage on houses and other buildings. TUESDAY, 29 AUGUST 1944 STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Fifteenth Air Force): 550 bombers strike targets in Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia; in Italy, communications targets in the Po Valley and railway bridges at Ferrara, Salzano and Ferrara; in Czechoslovakia, oil refineries and communications targets in the Silesian Plain, including the Bohumin area, steel works and marshalling yard, Moravska-Ostrava marshalling yard, oil refineries and industrial area including, tank works, and marshalling yards; in the Hungarian Plain, marshalling yards at Szolnok and Szeged, and a railway bridge at Szeged; and in Yugoslavia, a railway bridge at Borovnica; P-38s bomb Latisana Bridge, Italy.
26.9.1944----- Night attack at 21.35. Over 300 bombs were dropped on Borovnica. A great dammage on houses and buildings. Viaduct was hit at western side. (This was RAF attack - South African Air Force 205th group from Foggia Italy.)
27.12.1944----- Strong attack at 11.00 am - Steel constuction of viaduct was destroyed at western side.
28.12.1944----- Last attack in 1944 - bombs demaged eastern part of viaduct - no traffic across viaduct ever. (This was from my informations last attack of bombers on Borovnica RR viaduct.) THURSDAY, 28 DECEMBER 1944 TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Twelfth Air Force): In Italy, medium bombers attack troop concentration at Aulla, a dump at Mirabello Monferrato, 3 rail lines from Austria and Yugoslavia into NE Italy by hitting bridges at Chiusaforteand Bodrez, Yugoslavia, and the viaduct at Borovnica.
02.1.1945 - 12.4.1945----- Several attacks of jet fighters (mostly spitfires.)
05.5.1945----- At 7.30pm German army blew up the rest of steel construction of the viaduct.
13.2.1950----- New authorities ordered to destroy the rest of viaduct. Only one column still stands in Borovnica.
The 340th Bombardment Group box score for my father's 51st mission on December 28, 1944. Peter Bezek has indicated with white arrows
the regions corresponding to the white arrows below on his ground photos of the bridge. Note the beautiful long shadows of the
38 meter high viaduct cast by the low winter sun.
On this photograph, Peter Bezek indicates where the bombs hit on December 28th, 1944 with white arrows.
A 1930s picture with more white arrows from Peter Bezek showing the areas hit on my dad's mission of Dec. 28, 1944.
The left photo shows Peter Bezek's white arrows indicating where the bombs hit and the right photo
shows some of the damage on the ground. Photos from Peter Bezek.
This picture from Peter Bezek shows local workers under the viaduct at Borovnica. These men may have been from the German Organization TODT which
employed over 20,000 laborers to repair the roads and bridges that were repeatedly bombed by the 12th Air Force.
Here's a little animated gif I made depicting the mission.