MISSION 26 - PISA AARs

399th BS (LEAD)

FRISCO KID II, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with rubber rafts shot out, control cables damaged, lots of holes in a/c, especially in Radio Room area.  4 casualties.  Claims: 2 ME-109 by Sgt. McDonough & 1 FW-190 by Lt. Murray.

 

Mission Narrative:

Very heavy action.  Jerry seemed to line up on us early, with many a/c attacking from the front quarter.  For some reason, they seemed to zero in on the radio compartment--Angelico took two wounds, and was pretty shaken up.  He was lucky--judging by the holes they put in that part of the plane, he could have been killed.  One went right through his seat while he was standing up to man his gun.

 

Enemy attacks continued as we got to target.  McDonough got a couple as they passed out over the tail from head-on attacks, but they continued to put holes in us.  Flak, fortunately, was light, and we hit the target accurately.

 

As we turned for home, we got hit hard.  Lots of 190s--S-2 was right about that.  One dove on us and raked the fuselage from tail to nose.  McDonough got hit, as did Murray and Meyer.  Bill was pretty bad, but Doc says he'll be okay and can fly again--might be a while though.  Joe got one of the 190s with the chin turret.  Jerry also took out the rubber rafts--lucky we were over land the whole time.

 

Enemy a/c continued to follow us home, but by that point the Little Friends in the 1st FG kept them off us, so we took no further damage.  We touched down safely and got our wounded off to the base hospital.

 

Once we got down and checked out the plane, Angelico realized how close he came to getting his ticket pushed.  Before the medics could get him in the meat wagon, he barfed all over the tarmac.  He was pretty pale.  He sure did his duty in the air, though.

 

I also wish to commend the 399th--we carried the war to the enemy today, and did it in fine fashion.  Such men . . .

 

- Captain David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid II, Acting CO, 399th BS


PRINCE OF TUSCANY, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial damage to pilot compartment, the port wing and 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

No enemy AC were observed until we were within 50 miles of Pisa.  We were met in quick succession by 2 flights of FW-190s.   Perhaps the crew was lax after the uneventful flight, but we missed every plane in the first flight.  The German marksmanship was not much better, although the flight leader did score a hit on the pilot compartment.  It was at this time that Ito was wounded by flying glass.  We evened the score on the second wave when Sgt. Snow scored a hit on one of the wingmen.  The German fire was again ineffective.

 

After chasing off the last fighter, we encountered light flak.  We did take a burst off the port wing but the damage turned out to be minimal.

 

The combination of the late fighter attacks and the flak hit did not help with our bomb placement.  Although we dropped our load, the delivery was off and 0% landed on target.

 

Exiting the target area 2 Me 109�s made an approach but our fire and their fire was ineffective.  They headed off after a bomber that had dropped out of formation and our flight did not encounter another plane for the rest of the flight.

 

- 1st Lt. Frank Marion, Pilot, Prince of Tuscany


RAID HOT MAMA, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with chin turret knocked out, damage to the port wing root, superficial damage to the bomb bay section and no casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Fargo & Sgt. Thompson.

 

Mission Narrative:

The outward bound leg of the mission went extremely well . The only time the Krauts broke past our fighter escort, they were driven off by the combined defensive fire from the group.

 

Flak was light over the target but we were hit twice.  The first hit was to the nose compartment and knocked out our chin turret guns.  The second hit was to our port wing root.  Our bomb run was on target despite the flak and Lt. DeMarco reported that 30% of our bombs fell on the marshalling yards.

 

Shortly after leaving the target area four ME-109s attempted to attack us.  Our P-38 escorts stopped one, but the other three came in to attack us from 12 o'clock low and high and one attempted a run from 6 o'clock low.  SSgt. Fargo repeatedly hit the 109 coming in from 12 o'clock high and caused his port wing to come off.  Sgt. Thompson was able to destroy the Jerry coming in from 6 o'clock low.  Sgt. Goyer damaged the other Jerry but he pressed home his attack and scored hits on the bomb bay.  After the first pass he turned tail and headed for home.

 

The remaining trip home was uneventful.

 

- 1st Lt. Arthur DiFilippo, Pilot, Raid Hot Mama


RATS REVENGE, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with punctured starboard inboard fuel tank from flak, Navigator's equipment destroyed, and superficial damage to tail. No casualties.
 

Mission Narrative:

Our escorts did an out standing job keeping the Krauts off our backs on the outbound leg.  Not one fighter made it all the way to us.

 

While flak was light as expected, we took 4 direct hits.  The first left minor damage in the tail section.  The second punched a hole in our starboard inboard fuel tank (we would continue to hemorrhage fuel for the rest of the trip).  The third and forth hits were to the nose section, destroying the navigation equipment and rattling Lt. Clark.  Our bomb run was OFF, and Lt. Clark regretfully reports that he missed the target zone entirely.

 

As soon as we turned for home, we were hit by four 190s.  The P-38s managed to peel one of them off us, but that left three others.  They came at us from above, at our 6, and at our 9.  Sgt. Bauer managed to drive the one coming in from our 9 off by putting a few rounds on target.  Sgt. Pender put a few rounds through the port wing of the one coming in from our 6.  Nobody could get a shot off at the 190 coming in from above.  Fortunately he missed us entirely.

 

Despite the on-going fuel leak, landing was relatively uneventful.

 

- Capt. Oswald, Pilot, Rats Revenge


MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, second flight, right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with numerous superficial holes to the nose and a minor fuel leak to the port outer fuel tank.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Rance.

 

Mission Narrative:

This mission started with the nasty surprise.  A group of ME-109s appeared from the clouds and attacked from 12 o'clock.  Luckily, we received only a bit of superficial damage.  2nd Lt. Bailey claims damaging one ME-109 but everything happened so fast he wasn't even sure.

 

When we approached Pisa, more 109s appeared again but they were unable to stop us.  After flying through the light flak, we missed our bomb run.  After the group made its turn westward for the rally point, the ME-109s continued their attack but when one of them closed in for the second pass SSgt. Rance blew it from the sky.

 

After leaving the target vicinity the attacks stopped and we landed without further problems.  From the outside, the holes in the nose section looked more serious than they really were, almost a dozen of them.  The mechanics found also a minor leak in port outboard fuel tank.

 

-1st Lt. Paul M. Day, Pilot, Midnight Express


SANTA'S HENCHMEN, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with damage to the Pilot's Compartment oxygen system and 1 fire extinguisher destroyed.

 

Mission Narrative:

The first 109s attacked over the target. Two 109s in a frontal attack slipped through the fighter cover.  Lieutenant Archer seriously damaged both of them.

 

A lone 109 from the same unit dove away from the 38s after the RP. Lieutenant Archer and Sergeant Hammond fired but missed.  The fighter fired and hit us but didn't do much damage. A fire extinguisher and the oxygen in the pilot compartment were hit.

 

Thirty miles north of Terni the 38s had a fierce fight with approximately twenty 109s.  A staffel managed to sneak away from the 1st and headed for us.  Their speed was high and they were in a dive so they only had time for a short inaccurate burst.  They disappeared with two Lightnings chasing them.

 

We didn't see any 190s, or any unknown units.

 

- 1st Lt. Leo Hoffman, Pilot, Santa's Henchmen


MISSY MOUSE, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 75%.  Returned with repairable damage and no casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Virgil.

 

Mission Narrative:

This was a very good start to our tour of duty.  We only encountered three enemy aircraft on the entire mission.  One was shot down by SSgt. Virgil in the top turret and one was damaged, probably destroyed by Sgt. Victoria in the tail.  The other was driven off by our Lightening escort.  Lt. Frederico did a fine job on the bomb run, getting 75% of our eggs in the target area.  I know they won't all be like this but we live in hope.

 

- 1st Lt. Jerry Elston, Pilot, Missy Mouse


318th BS (High)

THOR, Lead flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with #2 engine and ball turret guns inoperable.  No casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We thought this might be just another day in the saddle but things got rough when we were hit by a group of 109s right out of the chute.   With all the bullets flying I felt we were a little lucky no one was hurt but also there was a little luck for the Germans as we could not seem to hit a thing and they did knockout our ball turret guns.

 

As I was just about to hand the aircraft over to Jerry we were hit by a burst of flak and lost our number two engine.  This was just enough to cause us to miss the target.

 

After the bombing run we were able to limp home on three engines without incident.

 

- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Thor


GOLDEN SPIKE, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with superficial damage on the starboard wing and no casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by Lt. Thompson & Sgt. Archibald.

 

Mission Narrative:

Another easy mission.  A single ME-109 made a vertical dive about 100 miles from base.  He hit the starboard wing but was chased off by our escorts before he could make a second pass.

 

Over the target a group of ME-109s jumped us from several directions.  We managed to down two planes and the remaining bandits missed us clean.  After some light flak we dropped a third on target and headed for home.

 

At the rally point we saw the first FW-190s we've seen in a few missions.  We were warned they might have returned and indeed that was the case.  Our little friends chased off one and we damaged two more.  Once again our accurate fire seemed to disrupt their attacks.  A lone ME-109 made a half-hearted attack a few minutes later and then it was clear sailing all the way to base.

 

- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike


EAT AT JOE'S, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned without damage or casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Wow, this was a real milk run for us today.  Great flying weather, great support from the 1st Fighter Group again today, and we finally got some bombs on the target.  Take off and form up were good.  We didn't see any sign of the enemy until we reached the target zone.  There we saw both ME-109s and FW-190s buzzing around the formation, but only a pair of 190s got through the fighters and came at us. Lieutenant Gross in the nose put some lead in one that came in from 12 high.  We saw him trailing smoke as he passed by, and he didn't come back for more.

 

Flak was highly inaccurate today, didn't trouble us a bit as we made our bomb run.  I was worried that Lt. Gross would have trouble making the run, since he had been firing at Germans, but Sergeant Burleson reported a good hit on the target zone, and we all heaved a sigh of relief -- at least I did -- since we hadn't successfully hit a target on our previous missions.

 

Heading to the rally point we saw more 190s coming around, but again our little friends did the job in engaging the enemy and keeping them off our backs.  We saw some tracers flying from the birds around us but didn't get anything to shoot at ourselves the rest of the way home.

 

-2nd Lt. Joe Delany, Pilot, Eat at Joe's


LONGHORN LADY, second flight, lead Aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with port wing flap inoperable, rubber rafts destroyed, starboard wing brakes out, the Norden Bomb Sight was damaged and several superficial fuselage hits.  3 casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by Lt. Bixler & 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Littleton (FW-190 later confirmed by S-2).
 

Mission Narrative:

We ran into two 109s and Lt. Bixler destroyed one and the other missed on his attack.  Then we were attacked by two 190s, the first missed and moved on while the other was destroyed by Sgt. Littleton.

 

Even with light flak over the target, Lt. Bixler was unable to get any of our bombs on target; we did not receive any flak hits.

 

On the way out of the target area we were attacked by four 190s.  Two of the 190s missed and moved on, while one of the other 190s got a couple of superficial fuselage hits, then missed on his next pass.  The other 190 killed Sgt. Judson (starboard Waist), wounded Sgt. Littleton (light wound to upper right arm), hit the port wing flap and destroyed the rubber rafts.  On his next pass he wounded Lt. Bixler (serious wound to his right knee) and caused superficial damage to the starboard wing and other minor fuselage damage.  On his third pass he knocked out the brakes (starboard wing side), damaged the Norden Bomb sight, and put more superficial damage on the port wing.  We later ran into 2 more 109s but they missed.

 

The landing was uneventful.  After talking with the Doc, he seems to think Lt. Bixler should be able to fly again and he didn't think Sgt. Littleton would be out of action too long.

 

- Capt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady


316th BS (High)

LUCKY PENNY, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with minor damage to the starboard wing flap & aileron.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Watkins (later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

No activity until we got to middle of the flight (zone 3) then we were attacked by 4 FW-190s; 3 were chased away by large numbers of friendly fighters and Allison (Engineer) again managed to score a hit on the last guy who missed and flew off.

 

Over the target one lone 109 attacked at the 1:30 position but missed and flew off as the flak opened up.  Flak was light and no damage, just a few bumps.  We put bombs on target (60%) and swung for home.

 

As we were turning we were attacked by a lone FW-190.  Watkins (S. Waist) hit him and he flew off trailing smoke.

 

Mid-trip back, the same squadron of 4 FW-190 fighters (Petrie said the markings were the same) attacked in the same formation as before (points around the clock).  This time, Petrie killed one, while Engineer, Navigator and the Bombardier all managed to damage the others as there was little or no friendly fighters in this area.  The Germans all were attacking and hitting the starboard wing but damage seemed light.

 

The final leg of flight was quiet as we end our 24th mission with same plane and over half the same crew.

 

- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny


SATIN DOLL, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned without damage or casualties. 

 

Mission Narrative:

Another relatively easy mission for the crew of Satin Doll.  We didn't draw any attention from E/A on the run in.  Flak over the target area was light and inaccurate.  PJ managed to miss The Leaning Tower and put 30% of the load into the marshalling yards.

 

Rallying off the target, three ME-109s came at us.  George put a few rounds into the one at 12 high causing him to break off his attack.  The others from 3 and 1:30 level got tangled up with a pair of Lightnings, ending their interest in us.

 

About 80 miles from the target, two more 109s started towards us and met up with the escort.

 

The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed without incident.  Pops Hardison sure was happy to see that his boys didn't have anything to repair for a change.

 

- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll


DARLA'S BITE II, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but did not bomb due to jammed bomb bay doors.  Returned with jammed bomb bay doors possibly as a result of friendly fire and no casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Weber.

 

Mission Narrative:

Third trip in the last four trips that our results were much less than desirable.  After take off we had issues forming up and spent the whole trip trying to slot into our formation (loose Formation on take of roll).  Thank God this didn't affect us on the way in to the IP.

 

Our luck ran out as we approached the target.  Three Focke-Wulfs dropped on us, with two enemy fighters being chased off by the 1st FG's P-38s.  The one that came through paid the price.  SSgt. Weber put his extra time off to good use, at the gunnery range, and shoots down his first enemy aircraft.  Both Sgts. Albers and Andrews witnessed the 190 going down smoking excessively.  This is where thing got bizarre -- as a second wave came in, our own formation chased off the enemy but we took a hit.  Even in a loose formation situation, we still took a hit from our own guys.  This is the second time in ten days.  We didn't know to what extent till Lt. Thorne tried to open the bomb bay doors.  They didn't open.  SSgt. Weber tried to manually open them to no avail.  Sgt. Albers informed us there was a large chunk of aluminum jammed against the doors that prevented them from opening.  Flak was light and ineffective, we took no hits.

 

After the bomb run we attempted to form up with the rest of the squadron with no luck.  On the trip out enemy fighters coming through the formation from the front were driven off by the other B-17s.  On a second wave, we were jumped from a lone Focke-Wulf 190 that dropped on us in a vertical dive.  Avoiding all our little friends, we relied on our own guns to protect us.  Once again SSgt. Weber damaged this fighters severely (FBOA-2) causing him to miss and convinced him to go home.

 

Again, around 300 miles from home the formation was attacked from the front, and once again the B-17s up front drove off the enemy.  The rest of the trip went off without incident.  There were no problems with our landing.

 

We saw a total of 4 enemy aircraft, with one claim, SSgt. Weber 1-FW190 Destroyed.  It seems that the Focke-Wulfs are back, but I believe they are being flown by the Italians.  They were very ineffective and unorganized.

 

- 2nd Lt. Beckett, Pilot, Darla's Bite II, of the 316th BS/88th BG (H)


317th BS (Low)

DARKWATCH, lead flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 94%.  Returned alone out-of-formation with oxygen system inoperable, superficial damage to the waist section and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Poulous.

 

Mission Narrative:

Well, I can confirm that intel about the FW-190s.  Poulous damaged one over the target area.  But it was the Messerschmidts that gave us trouble.  One shot up the waist and Sadat bought it right away (we found his rabbit’s foot in his hand, for all the good it did him), and Berger got wounded.  The same bastard came back around from 6:00 high and blasted away at our pilot compartment (and there went Ulm’s lucky charm).  I thought we’d gotten off easy but later learned they’d knocked out our oxygen system.

 

Abernathy kept his eye on the ball, though – he dropped his eggs right in the pickle barrel (94% on target, bless him).  Poulous saved our bacon again by downing a FW that roared out of nowhere in a vertical dive (and where is his damn medal, anyway?).

 

It was then that I noticed our oxygen was out and I had to take the Darkwatch down to 10,000 feet, and out-of-formation.  We took some light flak fire but nothing hit us, and we didn’t see any bandits the rest of the way home.  It might have been a nice, close-up tour of the Italian countryside but for our casualties.

 

Berger will recover from his injuries, but he’s headed home.  Compared to his mate in the waist, he got off light.

 

And so Sadat is gone. Just Ulm and I from the original crew, now.

 

- Capt. Paul O'Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch


CARDINAL EXPRESS, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with a damaged rudder, minor superficial damage and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Booth & Sgt. Gathers (Sgt. Gathers' ME-109 was later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

This mission was the first time we ran into enemy fighters just after taking off.  It was sort or eerie getting attacked so soon.  We think as many as four 109s swarmed around us during this initial attack.  Our port waist gunner quickly shot down one of the two planes coming from that side.  The other filled the back of the ship with lead, hitting both the port waist gunner and the tail gunner.  They both told us all they would be okay so the mission proceeded.

 

The rest of the way out was quiet.  Our bombardier did an excellent job; we estimate 30% of the bombs hit right on target.

 

We ran into more planes on the way back.  Our top turret took down another 109 and we were able to damage a 190, who missed us and broke off his attack.  We saw quite a few planes on the way back.  We got hit pretty good by a 190 coming on a dive towards us.  All of the damage was light.

 

We landed safely.  It looks like our two wounded airmen are going to be okay.  They did a great job considering they were wounded early on and manned their guns the whole mission.  After landing, the inspection revealed the Express again only suffered minor damage, except for a torn up rudder in the rear.  This plane seems to have the ability to take a lick and keep on ticking (knock on wood of course).

 

-1st Lt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express


DIVINE WIND, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with the ball turret guns ammo feed belt damaged and superficial damage to port wing, rudder, fuselage, radio room and nose compartment.  3 Casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Shintani (later confirmed by S-2).
 

Mission Narrative:

Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.

 

About (20) miles from target we were attacked in three waves.  The first wave consisting of four (4) FW-190s.  Two were driven off by fighters of the 1st Fighter Group leaving one coming in from 9 low that was was killed from fire from the ball turret manned by Sgt. Shintani.  The one coming in from a vertical dive missed the plane and was driven off by the bomber squadron.

 

A second wave consisting of again of four (4) FW-190s.  One coming was driven off by the 1st Fighter Group and the other three missed the plane and were driven off by fighters from 1st Fighter Group.

 

The final wave consisted of One (1) ME-109 coming in from 3 low.  This fighter was able to hit the plane three times.  Two hit the fuselage on the starboard side and were superficial in nature.  Another hit was to the ball turret and damaged the ammo feed for the machine gun which made it inoperable.  The plane tried to return but was driven off by 1st Fighter Group.

 

Over the target we were hit four (4) times by Flak.  Once each in the, nose, and port wing and twice in the radio room.  The hit to the port wing was superficial in nature.  The hits to the radio room superficially injured TSgt. Kimura in the foot.  The hit to the Nose superficially injured both 2nd Lt. Nakahiro (shoulder) and 1st Lt . Mukai (arm).

 

Even with the hits to the plane 2nd Lt. Nakahiro was able to line up the plane on target and hit 20% of the target.

 

On the turn back, bogies were spotted coming in from 9 level but they were repelled by the bomber formation defensive fire and were not able to attack.

 

About five (5) miles from the previous attack we were again jumped by FW-190s.  Two were driven off by fighters of the 1st Fighter Group.  One came in from 12 level but it missed and did not return.  Another one from 3 low was able to hit the plane three (3) times, once each in the starboard fuselage, tail and port wing.  The hits to the fuselage and port wing were superficial in nature. The one to tail hit the rudder and caused superficial damage.  When the FW-190 passed the plane Sgt. Sakaue was able to hit the fighter and badly damage it.  The plane returned to attack from 1:30 level, missed hitting us and was driven off by machine gun fire from the formation.

 

About one hundred (100) miles from base we were again attacked by fighters.  This time one (1) FW-190 came in from 10:30 high and the starboard waist gunner (Sgt. Hanano) was able to heavily damage the plane which caused it to veer off and not return.

 

Reached Sterparone Field and landed without any problems.

 

- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind


SILVER SPOON, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Runway abort.  Did not take off and form with group.


AC # 42-11843, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with port cheek gun inoperable and superficial damage to the port aileron.  No casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

A very easy mission.  We encountered no enemy aircraft outbound to the target.

 

The bomb run was marred by a flak hit at the last moment before "Bombs Away" just under the port wing that holed the aileron.  This near miss caused Lt. Porter to hit the toggle switch too early and the bombs to fell short of the target area.  If there is any good news to come out of this, the bombs fell on the other side of the town from where the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa was located.

 

Leaving the target, we were attacked by the enemy fighters when three FW-190s made a head-on attack that knocked out one of the cheek guns, while Lt. Porter (bombardier) & Sgt. Hall (tail gunner) both claimed 1 FW-190 each as damaged.

 

No further enemy aircraft were seen for the rest of the flight home.

 

- 1st Lt. Tim Lawson, Pilot, AC# 42-11843


ISLE OF R'LYEH, second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with Pilots' compartment heating system, intercom, radio inoperable, pilots' compartment oxygen system damaged, port wing outboard fuel tank holed, 11 superficial holes throughout aircraft and 2 casualties.  Claims: 5 ME-109s by Sgt. Densmore, 1 ME-109 & 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Lewis, 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Atwood, 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Menezes.

 

Mission Narrative:

We drew Tail-End Charlie duty and the crew was pretty down in the dumps over it.  I did my best to cheer up the boys and let them know they we were chosen because of the CO's great confidence in us and that we can't let the old man down.

 

Take off was uneventful and we formed up at the rear of the formation without incident.  I reminded the men to pay attention and keep a sharp eye out for enemy fighters.  Jerry did not disappoint.

 

Northeast of Rome (zone 2) enemy aircraft began hammering the formations and never let up for the entire mission. We were initially attacked by a loan 109 that had slipped by our little friends to attack us from the rear.  Sgt. Densmore shot him down before he was able to engage us. It was the beginning of quite a day for him.

 

Successions of FW-190s began attacking us from all angles, while ME-109s kept engaging us from behind.  Our escorting fighters seemed to make little difference, as most of the Germans seemed to make it through them and come at us.  The boys kept their cool and called out the bogies as they saw them and laid down accurate fire.  German fighters were damaged and destroyed but several managed to score repeated hits on us and came around for successive attacks.  My co-pilot, Lt Hanson, was grazed in the leg during a pass from one of the 190s.  There were also lots of hits throughout the aircraft, many resulting in only superficial damage.  We did, however, have out intercom system knocked out along with a hit to our port wing's outboard fuel tank, which thankfully self-sealed.  Sgt. Densmore managed to shoot down two other 109s, our engineer, SSgt. Lewis reported destroying a 109 and a 190, and Lt. Menezes knocked out a 190.

 

Over the target we encountered clear skies and very little flak.  Our bombardier reported an accurate bomb run on the target.  At least we missed the Leaning Tower.

 

German fighter waves were even more persistent on our return flight.  Continuous waves of 190s and 109s pressed from all angles. My co-pilot took another hit when a round from a 109 took off his left pinky and most of his ring finger.  We also sustained a hit to the heater on the pilot compartment.  I decided to remain in formation and risk frostbite rather than put the rest of the aircraft at risk by dropping out.

 

Lt. Menezes took a serious chest wound from a 190 and was unable to continue his duties at his post.

 

Other damage to the plane included slight damage to the pilot's oxygen line, our radio being knocked out, and many other superficial hits.  Sgt. Atwood shot down a FW-190 and Sgt. Densmore completed his day by shooting down two more ME-109s.

 

Our landing at the base went smoothly.  Myself and Lt. Hanson both suffered from frostbite.  Danny's was quite severe and the rest of that wounded hand had to be amputated.  Derek's chest wound was not fatal but he won't be able to fly again and will be rotated home with Danny.

 

- 1st Lt. T. Clay, Pilot, Isle of R'lyeh


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