The Accidental World War 2 Bombing of Boise City, Oklahoma
Very few people know what happened to Boise City, Oklahoma, in the state's panhandle, in 1943.
Back in early July the Army Air Forces Pilots at the Dalhart Army Air Base were preparing four B-17 bombers for a practice mission. The training mission was to begin in the wee hours of the night. And on July 5, 1943, at 12:30am the inhabitants of Boise City soon awoke to a sequence of six pops and crashes that sounded similar to the fireworks they had lit the day before to celebrate the 4th of July.
The citizens of Boise City had no idea their town was actually being bombarded. The 4 B-17 bombers flew from the Dalhart base to release dummy bombs in an army range near Conlen, Texas about 20 miles northeast of Dalhart. The aerial target was a small area, lit by four lights in each corner. One of the bombers veered off course and identified the lights of Cimarron County Courthouse square as the bombing range.
The B-17 Bombers then proceeded to make six passes over Boise City. On each run, the B-17 Bombers would release one bomb. Luckily, the dummy bombs were comprised of 97 pounds of sand and three pounds of gunpowder. The first bomb landed in an alley adjacent to an apartment where dozens were sleeping. It left a crater about four feet deep.
The B-17’s then made another pass over the unlucky town. The second bomb barely missed a church. The third bomb struck the ground in front of the Style Shoppe building. The fourth landed only yards from a boardinghouse and almost hit a parked fuel transport truck. The fifth exploded only feet away from a residential home. A final bomb hit close to the railroad tracks near the edge of town.
The “air raid” lasted for about 30 minutes and the actual property damage to Boise City amounted to less than $25 and not a single person was injured during this unforeseen “attack.” As for the pilots who accidentally bombed their own fellow men, they went on to become some of the war's most decorated pilots after they led an 800-plane daylight raid on Berlin.
More than once
The crazy part about this story is it happen multiple times Include the erroneous dropping of five dummy bombs on the town of Dickens, Nebraska, in December 1943 and on Tarnov, Nebraska, on August 16th 1943. No injuries were reported in either incident. But the last incident was not so lucky and had some deadly results. On August 11, 1944, near Defuniak Springs, Florida. A bomb-drop door malfunctioning during a training run and rained 20-pound fragmentation bombs on a farm, killing four and seriously injuring five others. The house no longer stands, and the place where it stood has been declared a Florida Heritage Site.
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