The Bombing of Tarnov, Nebraska
The Daily Telegram newspaper (Columbus, Nebraska). August 16, 1943.
Story by Jerry Penry
Between 4:00 - 4:30 a.m on August 19, 1943, at least two bombers mistakenly thought that the small Nebraska town of Tarnov was their intended target. Although the military kept quiet about the incident, it is probable that the planes were B-17's from the Sioux City Army Air Field who had assumed that the town was the Stanton Bombing Range which was located approximately twenty-five miles to the northeast. Another possibility was the bombing range southwest of Tarnov near Silver Creek.
Eyewitnesses claimed that two planes circled the town at least fifteen times while dropping the bombs as if they never realized their mistake once it had begun. The bombs were of the practice type, otherwise the town would have been obliterated. The southern part of town received the hits with three falling within the business district. One bomb came through the porch roof of a local house. Upon entering the house, the bomb angled into the pantry and went through the floor lodging itself in the dirt below. Six people were in the house including two small children age 5 and 9 who were sleeping in their bedroom just one wall away from the strike, but were unharmed.
The Platte County sheriff was immediately notified who in turn called members of the local Civil Defense team. The area of town where the bombs landed was evacuated until military officials arrived at the scene and took over the investigation. By noon, six bombs had been found. Besides the one that had struck the house, another bomb narrowly missed another house, one struck a sidewalk, one struck a street, and two fell east of the school. One near the school also struck the ground just outside a dance hall that had just hours previously had many people gathered both inside and outside. Two days later a young boy discovered a seventh bomb in a potato patch.
The practice bombs were sand-filled with a small explosive charge, but apparently none detonated. After removing the charge and emptying the sand, the sheriff placed them on display at his office in Columbus. Two days later the military promptly came and removed them from his office and took them to the base at Sioux City.
Perhaps for investigation purposes and also disciplinary measures, the military placed a white sheet in the location where each bomb was found and then photographed the site from the air.
The red square south of Humphrey is the location of Tarnov. The bombing ranges near Silver Creek and Stanton are identified with the words "Danger Area".
The other small Nebraska town to be bombed DURING WWII was Dickens which is described by clicking on the link below.
BOMBING OF DICKENS