A photograph full of atmosphere of the months preceding the invasion in Europe. RAF Spitfires (visible in the distance) escorting a formation of 9th Air Force Martin B-26 Marauders in a mission over France, 9 September 1943. That day the Allies put up a maximum effort in Operation Starkey – a rehearsal for the invasion of France and an attempt to draw a Luftwaffe into a full-scale air battle – with faked commando raid on Boulogne acting as a bait. Unfortunately, Starkey turned to a disappointment as the Luftwaffe refused to commit fighter defences, thus preventing possible destruction of many of their aircraft which Allied air forces hoped to accomplish.
The Marauders visible on the photo are part of the force of 217 US bombers dispatched to bomb the coastal defenses around Boulogne.
[US National Archives]