On 18 September 1944 USAAF B-17 bombers dropped supplies to Poles besieged at the time of the Warsaw Rising. Thanks to cooperation with the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Frantic #7 archival documents are now at the Warsaw Rising Museum.
“Is freedom worth fighting for? Just ask ghosts of Auschwitz and the Soviet gulags. Ask the pilots of Frantic #7, the people of Poland, the fighters of the Warsaw Rising. Ask the people of Ukraine… And you’ll get a chorus that yells yes.”
With these words Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley underlined the importance of fighting for freedom on 18 September 2022 at the 78th anniversary of USAAF operation Frantic #7.
Today, the Air Force Historical Research Agency handed over copies of archival documents related to this air operation to the Warsaw Rising Museum.
A front page of a file with Frantic #7 documents. (Photo: Air Force Historical Research Agency)
On 18 September 1944 a hundred and ten B-17 Flying Fortress bombers took off eastwards at one of the English airfields to drop supplies to Warsaw Insurgents. The 8th Air Force crews flew over the North Sea and territories of Denmark, Third Reich and occupied Poland.
An American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress over Warsaw on 18 September 1944 (Photo: Air Force Historical Research Agency)
Containers with supplies dropped over Warsaw during Frantic #7 (Photo: Air Force Historical Research Agency)
The flying armada was attacked by German fighters when approaching the skies of fighting Warsaw. One B-17 Flying Fortress, named “I’ll be seeing you”, was downed and ten crew members did not survive. Also, two P-51 Mustang fighters were shot down, both pilots, Joseph Vigna and Robert Peters, killed in action.
American crew members who took part in the operation Frantic #7 (Photo: Air Force Historical Research Agency)
At 16,000 feet a hundred and one B-17s dropped their precious load. The containers were full of weapons, ammo, grenades, food and medical supplies. More than a thousand parachutes opened which led to a surge of hope among the Poles down in Warsaw who were in a desperate need of help at that time of the Warsaw Rising. Unfortunately, only 25% of the containers reached the area where the Polish forces were still engaged in fighting. The rest was taken over by Germans or fell into the Vistula River or fell on the Soviet controlled area in Warsaw.
On 27 April 2023 the Air Force Historical Research Agency handed over to the Warsaw Rising Museum a 2000 page archive related to Frantic #7. The copies of original documents comprise many reports, photographs, logs and materials about the crew members that lost their lives. These documents serve as main resource to analyse Frantic #7, the American air operation over insurgent Warsaw in September 1944. A close analysis shows the decision making process and the challenges that the Allies had to face. What is more, the documents highlight many geopolitical aspects what makes them one of the most important resources to conduct studies over the allied support at the time of the Warsaw Rising.
Today’s event when the archive of Frantic #7 operation was handed over to the Warsaw Rising Museum is a perfect example of the Polish-American brotherhood-in-arms and is another step towards mutual cooperation in studying the past that was already initiated in September 2022 by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Jan Ołdakowski, Director of the Warsaw Rising Museum, in the presence of Gen. Mark A. Milley, when the Liberty Road project was officially launched in the Freedom Park at the Warsaw Rising Museum.
The Red Army took over the city of Leszno on the night of 30/31 January 1945. The German occupation was over. German residents fled in a hurry and left over property and personal belongings in their deserted houses. A few weeks later in one of the apartments a photography treasure trove was found, namely a collection of photographs taken by Alfred Mensebach in September 1944. He was an architect and a member of Sprengkommando, stationed at 13, Płocka Street in Warsaw, a unit within the Technisches Nothilfe, responsible for detonating monuments and houses in Warsaw.
Participants will walk towards the Warsaw Insurgents Cemetery commemorating the inhabitants of the capital who perished during the Warsaw Rising. Their names will be read out during the march.
The Warsaw Rising Museum encourages the inhabitants of Warsaw and all people who are in the Polish capital on August, 1 to take part in a community action „Wolność łączy” – ‘Freedom unites’.