MISSION 39 - UDINE AARs
318th BS (Lead)
THOR, Lead flight, Lead aircraft (Group Commander)
Bombed target, 99%. Returned with windows shattered, damage to the control cables and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. LoMelle and 1 ME-110 by SSgt. Pulley.
We saw three group of enemy fighters before we got to the target. Our starboard waist gunner (Nick LoMelle) splashed one 190 and another hit our pilots' compartment window and really cause an increased pucker factor.
We were RIGHT ON with our bombing run when Paul hit the target for 99%.
We saw two groups of enemy fighters as we departed the target and our tail gunner (Allan Pulley) got his when a 110 was sent spinning out of sight without a starboard wing. The lone 109 approaching from the 12 high position got a hit on our control cables. Luckily that was all the action we saw on this run.
- Major Joe Smith, Pilot, Thor
LONGHORN LADY, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard wing inboard fuel tank damaged (self-sealed), intercom, starboard cheek gun and tail wheel inoperable, several fuselage hits, and 2 casualties.
No fighter until over the target area when we were jumped by a total of four 190s. During the attack Sgt. Taylor received a light wound to the head, the tail wheel was damaged, the starboard Wing inboard fuel tank was hit (self-sealed, the intercom was knocked out and we took several fuselage hits. Two of the 190s were damaged and after a few more passes the other two 190s left.
Flak was light over the target and we only suffered superficial damage. The bomb run was off target with 0% of the bombs in the target area.
On our way out of the target area we were jumped by 3 more 190s. One missed on his attack and moved on while the other two wounded Lt. Beaton (light wound to right hand) and knocked out the starboard cheek gun. We didn't see any enemy fighters the rest of the way back to the base.
The landing was uneventful.
- Capt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
THE BAWLMER EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with superficial damage to bomb bay and pilots' compartment and no casualties.
This was a very easy mission for The Bawlmer Express. We encountered no enemy fighters until we met a lone ME-109 over the target area. We missed him and he missed us, and fled.
The light flak completely missed us. This allowed our bombardier to place 30% of our payload on the airfield at Udine.
Leaving the target area, we were jumped by two FW-190s. One was chased away by our escort, while the other scored superficial hits on our bomb bay and pilot compartment. After that, it was clear flying all the way back to our own field. They should all be this easy!
- 1st Lt. Mark Beyer, Pilot, The Bawlmer Express
GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 75%. Returned with aileron control inoperable, superficial damage to the bomb bay and radio room areas and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Garbutt & 1 ME-109 by Lt. Nagel.
We saw our first Germans about 100 miles from the target. Two were chased off by escorts and our replacement bombardier, Lt. Herman Nagel, downed a third ME-109 with the big twins. The last bandit missed and we continued.
Over Udine a single Me110 came at us from below. Mick in the ball turret damaged him but that guy was determined. He shot us up from tail-to-tip. Thankfully his cannons didn't hit anything too important except for the bombs! Obviously they didn't explode. After that Nagel nailed the target and three quarters of the bomb load hit the airfield. It was beautiful!
Turning for home a trio of FW-190s charged from the front. Our ace engineer blew the hell out of one bandit and the other two missed us. Fifty miles later another group of FW-190s made it into the formation. Escorts chased off one and Lt. Nagel damaged a second, but the third guy did some superficial damage to the radio room compartment. His second pass was uneventful and soon we were home.
No casualties and a 75% drop, that's what I call a smooth mission. Lt. Nagel was a real asset on this flight.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
APPLE TREE, second flight, right wingman
- 1st Lt. Pete Shevlin, Pilot, Apple Tree
BOULDER DASH, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with superficial damage to starboard flap, nose, and port wing and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Taylor.
After two days of scrubbed missions, everyone seemed eager to get back to pounding the Germans! We didn't see a single Kraut until we were over Udine when we got bounced by four 109s coming from four sides! Tex sent one running home trailing smoke from his engine, and Sgt. Taylor did some nifty shooting to catch a Kraut that made a pass from front to back -- I guess it pays to have a couple of guys with experience on the crew.
Flak was inconsequential and Lt. Hughes got his bombs on the target.
On the way back home we ran into a few more Germans, and took some minor hits, but no one was hurt except the Germans -- Sgt. Richardson and Sgt. Bridges both damaged a couple of 109s. After that, we settled in real tight with the formation and didn't have any problems the rest of the way home.
- 2nd Lt. James Dash, Pilot, Boulder Dash
317th BS (Lead)
BEDAMNED, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port elevator inoperable and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by 1st Lt. Spratt, SSgt. Simons, & Sgt. Fields.
I donít know if anyone else saw a friendly fighter but we had them flying formation with us. The only enemy planes we saw were the ones we killed. Our little friends were angels on our wings. The only time we got hit was by flak over the target. They got our port elevator and sent a hatful of scrap into the waist. The gunners got hit pretty damned hard but our starboard guy got a reprieve. Must have been that 190 he smeared. The port wasnít so lucky and he got it right in the back. He couldnít have felt a thing.
That thud put our bombardier off and he completely missed the target. We saw Forrest going down but it was only to 10 000í due to a suit heater going out. He must be trying to win people and influence friends again.
Our flight back was clear as a bell and we got home in good time. A pity about the waist gunner. No wonder those guys call it the "Purple Patch".
- Capt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, BeDamned
SILVER SPOON, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Dropped out of formation after bombing target and returned alone on 3 engines after #2 engine seized up from oil leak (zone 3 on return leg), navigatorís heater & starboard flaps inoperable, rubber rafts destroyed and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 FW-190s by Capt. Blackmore, 1 FW-190 apiece by SSgt. Fielding & Sgts Compton.
Nothing 'til the target area, when all hell broke loose. Bandits from all angles, knocking out the heat in the navigatorís area and hitting the flap. Flak wasnít too bad, and we got close enough to the target to do some damage.
Turning for home we lost a lot of oil on number two from a Kraut off our beam. Dropping down to 10 000, we legged it home without incident.
- Capt. Milton B. Forrest, Pilot, Silver Spoon
316th BS (High)
FULL HOUSE II, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with radio inoperable, superficial damage to the starboard wing, to the nose & pilots' compartments, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Lt. Sears and MSgt. Miller and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Montgomery.
As soon as the group entered enemy air space (zone 3) we were attacked by a pair of ME-109s but they were both shot down by Lt. Sears and MSgt. Miller before they could get into their firing range.
Things were quiet until we crossed the northern Italian coastline southwest of the town of Monfalcone (zone 4). Two waves of ME-109s attacked without causing any damage while Sgt. Montgomery shot down one and the two others were heavily damaged.
Just before the IP, a vertical diving ME-109 attacked and missed. No sooner had that one disappeared, the boys prepared for the second wave that never came due to the defensive fire from the other aircraft in the squadron. A final wave of two aircraft attacked; the FW-190 was shot down by MSgt. Miller but a single ME-110 knocked out the radio, caused minor damage to the the starboard wing and fuselage, and wounded both Lts. Sears and Lowenthal. Lt. Sears was able to continue with his duties and heavily damaged the ME-110 before it do more damage but Lt. Lowenthal was seriously wounded in the chest.
Flak was light and sporadic and Lt. Sears despite being bothered by his wound, managed to hit the airfield.
Leaving Udine behind, a trio of ME-109s attacked and hit the cockpit but that didn't seem to do any damage. The boys managed to damage all three of our attackers.
Just before reentering the Adriatic (zone 4), a pair of FW-190s attacked without success while Lt. Sears shot down one of them.
No further enemy action was experienced during the remainder of the journey home.
We took our position to land with the other planes with seriously wounded men and touched down smoothly. We taxied and met an ambulance. The medics took Lt. Lowenthal away, then we proceeding to our hardstand. The docs manage to save Lowenthal's life but his time with the group has come to an end and he'll be going home next month.
- Major Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House II
LUCKY NICKEL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with tail guns, radio and #2 engine inoperable, 1 casualty. Claims: 2 ME-109s by MSgt. Allison, 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Watkins, 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Edmond & 1 ME-109 by 1st Lt. Johnson (filling in for port waist gunner).
Not much action until target (just an ME-109 or two). One of the waist gunners got a hit and tail gunner got a kill.
Flak was light but we still got peppered, knocked out the radio but inter-communication was still fine (think it hit the antenna).
Coming home, enemy fighters started to swarm, waist gunner got hit in upper thigh but a few of our guys got some hits. The co-pilot had gone back to help gunner and found he was okay but enemy fighters swarmed this side of the plane in the next zone so he took to the guns and managed to bag a enemy fighter.
German gunnery was pretty good and the engine was hit just out side of base, starting to leak oil so we shut it down to avoid fire. Fighters also managed to knock out the tail guns, luckily we were almost home but gunner was ripping mad. Good thing the radio was out because the cursing would have perhaps offended some of the listeners back home.
Anyway, another good (safe) mission and one more under our belts.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel
THREE TIMES A LADY, lead flight, left wingman
- 1st Lt. Joe Cross, Pilot, Three Times a Lady
SATIN DOLL, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with bombing controls destroyed by 20mm shell, port brake line cut by shell fragment, damage to the bombardiers oxygen system regulator and to the tail plane, #2 engine oil tank damaged by 20mm shell, #2 engine extinguisher discharged, superficial damage to port wing skin, waist, tail, nose compartments from 13 & 20mm shells and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 ME-109s by MSgt. G. F. Turner, 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Capt. Morris, and 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Blankenship (Capt. Morris' ME-109 claim was later confirmed by S-2)
Leading the second element of the high squadron, things went well for the Satin Doll until just before the target. Nearing the Airfield at Udine, we were welcomed by three FW-190s. A lone P-38 tagged the one at 3 high, leaving us to deal with his pals. PJ drilled his at 12 high right off, sending him down flaming, while Turner popped a couple of rounds into the Kraut at 130 high. Despite George's attention, he pressed his attack, punching some holes in the tail plane. He swung around for another pass at 12 level, and flew into a wall of flame from George and PJ. Everybody missed and the Kraut flew off trailing light smoke. Right on his heels came a gaggle of three ME-109s. Turner punched the 109's ticket that was boring in on our nose from 12 high. Wally nicked the one at 130 level, causing him to shoot wide and break off. The at 3 level put a few rounds into the waist and tail, nothing serious, and swung around for another pass at 12 level. George was ready for him and plastered him with the top turret guns. NO sooner had they cleared off then another pair of 109s came rushing in. The one at 9 level was blown in half by Billy Boy with the ball turret, while Wally and Hal spooked off the one at 130 high.
Flak over the target was light and inaccurate, I guess the Kraut gunners didn't want to hit any of their own A/C still swarming all around the field. PJ got 30% of the load into the target area. PeeWee called in from the tail saying that he saw a hanger go up in a huge ball of flame shortly after we felt the Doll lighten up.
Rallying off the target, we met with another hot reception. Four ME-109s came roaring in at us from dead ahead. Billy Boy missed the one at 12 low and he scored hits on PJ's oxygen regulator and left foot. The one at 12 level tagged PJ's bombing controls, rendering them a pile of mangled junk, and punched a hole in the #2 engine oil tank starting a fire. Hank quickly shut her down, got the prop feathered, and hit the extinguisher, killing the fire. PeeWee got a few rounds into his 109, causing him to miss and peel off trailing smoke. The one at 12 high took a wide shot and broke off toward the low squadron. The Kraut that hit PJ swung around to 10:30 level and put some more holes into the port wing. His Kamerade that took out #2 engine tried to make a run on PJ from 12 level. Despite the painful wound to his foot, PJ managed to get him sighted and put a long burst into his cockpit and fuel tank, completely blasting him from our path. The adrenaline must have been pumping hard, as PJ managed to get some solid hits on the other remaining Jerry swinging around to 12 level also. Blankenship called in that the saw him heading down in a steep dive trailing flames and black smoke. No sooner had these Krauts cleared off, then another gang of four 109s came charging at us. We filled the sky with lead, but hit nothing. Fortunately, the Huns weren't any better than us, as they too missed, and flew off.
The rest of the trip home was quiet. Wally patched up PJ's foot and as we neared the field George fired off the red flares to let the Docs know that we had come home with wounded aboard. Although it was a little hairy with the port gear brake out, we still made a reasonable landing and turned the ship over to Pops Hardison and his crew to patch up for the next one.
Escort practically non-existent.
Flak light and inaccurate.
Enemy attacks well coordinated and aggressive near target area.
E/A pressed attacks and made multiple subsequent attacks when possible.
ME-109s in target area seen with Italian flags painted on fuselage sides, and Fasces on wings.
FW-190s in target area seen with black and white cowlings.
Possible Citation for Capt. Morris for remaining at his post despite being wounded, shooting down one and severely damaging, possibly destroying another enemy A/C.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
RAINMAKER, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with light damage (31 Peckham points).
Flight out was uneventful until reaching the coast (zone 4) when we were jumped by 4 ME-109s who by there number of hits on us were probably cadets in training because no of them hit any thing vital and were quickly run off by our Little Friends.
Over the Target our little friends did an excellent job of keeping Jerry off our backs allowing our bombardier to place 50% of the eggs in the pickle barrel.
Return trip was uneventful with a perfect landing at our home field. I wish all missions were going to be as easy as this one for the Rainmaker.
- 1st Lt. Juan Roebuck, Pilot, Rainmaker
LUCKY SEVEN, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties.
What an easy ride. We assembled as briefed and without issue. Heading for the target we encountered no enemy resistant. Over the target there was a group of three ME-109s setting up for a run but the new kids in Lieutenant Roebuck's crew diverted their run and kept them off us.
Our bomb run went well with our best results yet. Lieutenant Grams laid 40% of the eggs on the airfield. Coming off the target we were sighted in by those 109's from earlier, yet again our squadron mates kept us safe. There was a second wave, a lone FW 190, approaching from 10:30 high. He came in a bit slow for a FW and our boys peppered him good. Lt. Radfordson, SSgt. Rhodes & Sgt. Lis all combined their fire to get a probable on this enemy fighter. The 190's shot was knocked of target due to our crew's effort, convincing him to move off and head home as observed by Sgt Burroughs.
A single FW-109 made a pass from 6 o'clock high about 50 miles after the last attack. Thankfully a solitary P-38 shredded his tail and the FW-109 was last seen tumbling towards the ground. Sgt. Fidone confirmed this kill for our little friend. This was the last enemy activity we saw on this mission. Too bad they all can't be this way.
- 1st Lt. Jamie Jameson, Pilot, Lucky Seven
OLD YARD DOG, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with ball turret guns destroyed, damage to the starboard wing root (2), superficial damage (8) and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Riddell 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Post
After two scrapped missions, we really didn't want to fly the third. You know what they say, third time is the charm . . . yeah, bad luck charm! Anyway, we took off and took the very last position in the high package. A couple of birds from the 317th pulled up on our wing. Glad they were there. We did have a clear view of everything else though so maybe we could help the formation to keep tight and report on stragglers.
Everything was good and clear until we made about halfway to the target. A couple of 109s swept in but our P-38s kept them from doing any harm. Once we crossed the coastline another gaggle of 109s that had been shadowing us took their turn. Again the P-38s kept them off us. The only one to come close was a 109 with a cherry red nose cone and SSgt. Post (engineer) promptly shot him down. He just burst into flames and fell in pieces.
Once we crossed the IP, it went nasty quickly. I haven't seen that many Germans in the air in some time! I counted at least ten 109s, two 110s and at least two 190s making passes at us. Our P-38s must have just bugged out because they were no where in sight. We began to take hits from large cannon shells with each pass. It was dang ugly. My starboard wing took at least 2 serious wing root hits that left huge holes near the engineer's legs and down thru the wing struts. A piece of shrapnel took my radio operator Sgt. Turpin in the head and from what I heard at that time Sgt. Post thought he was dead. Blood was everywhere regardless. I remember shortly after that Sgt. Riddell in the waist called out a kill of a 190 that lingered too long in his sights. Next thing I remember was seeing Sgt. Palmer from the ball turret working with Turpin. He reported that his guns were damaged and inoperable so he might as well check on Turp and man his radio gun if nothing else. I turned the plane over to Lt. Wiggins for the run and a plane made another pass at us and I heard him grunt and fall down. He stood back at his sight and promptly dropped our bombs on target 40%. Later I learned he had taken a wound in the left calf at that time. He did a good job staying at his post for the bomb drop. And no, I don't remember any flak if there was any.
As we turned for home, I called out to everyone with me to close in tight. I didn't want to encounter that many Germans after the bomb drop as we turned for home. I know I formed up so hard on Rainmaker and Lucky Seven ahead of me, I had my navigator hang out the window and pass coffee to their tail gunners! (Random event rolled tight formation).
As we got out over the water again we got a shout of a 190 plunging straight down from up high then thru the formation. Post pulled the triggers but he was there and gone so fast I am sure he didn't even care about us at all. I didn't think 190s could get that high! He came from way high up! They got superchargers or something on those new model 190s?
About that time some P-47s came along and took care of a couple of 109s that were shadowing the formation looking from stragglers. And about that time we found Turpin stirring with a nasty scalp wound but he probably would make it (Used a lucky rabbits foot to re-roll wound from SW to LW when he was hit over the target area).
Landing was uneventful. Now you know what I mean about third times the charm . . . yeah, right . . .
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
317th BS (High)
MEMPHIS GAL, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with very little damage and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Barry.
No hits for once, and no holes or blood. Our kinda mission. Hope Captain Flynn appreciates us bringing his crate home in one piece.
- 2nd Lt. Bill Cample, Pilot, Memphis Gal
DIVINE WIND, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with superficial damage to the nose and pilots' compartments and no casualties. Claims: 2 ME-109s by Sgt. Sakaue and 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Shimizu (One of Sgt. Sakaue's claims was later confirmed by S-2).
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About two hundred (200) miles from target we were attacked by four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12 level and 12, 10:30, and 1:30 high. One was driven off by fighters of the 82nd Fighter Group. The fighter from 12 high missed the plane and was driven off by machine gun fire from the formation. The one that came in from 10:30 high was hit by the navigator (1st Lt. Fujimoto) and doesnít return. The one that came in from 1:30 high was able to hit the plane twice, once in the top turret and once in the nose but both hits were superficial in nature. The plane returned at 12 level, missed the plane and was destroyed by the tail gunner (SSgt. Sakaue).
About fifty (50) miles from target we were attacked by two (2) wave of fighters. The first wave consisted of one (1) FW-190 in a VERTICAL DIVE that missed the bomber and didnít return. The second wave consisted of one (1) ME-109 at 6 high that was also destroyed by SSgt. Sakaue manning the tail gun.
Over target we encountered light flak and didnít hit the plane. This enabled 2nd Lt. Nakahiro to line up the bomber on the target and get 20% of the bomb load on the airfield.
On the turnaround we again encountered two (2) wave of fighters. The first wave consisted of four (4) FW-190s coming in from 12 high, 9 level, 6 high, and a VERTICAL DIVE. The one coming in from 12 high was hit by the bombardier (2nd Lt. Nakahiro) and didnít return. The one coming in from 6 high was destroyed by the top turret manned by SSgt Shimizu. The other ones missed the plane and were driven off by a combination of machine gun fire from the formation and fighters from the 325 FG.
About one hundred (100) miles from base we were attacked by one (1) FW-190 coming in from 12 high but this plane was driven off by fighters of the 325 FG before it was able to attack the plane.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without any problems.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
399th BS (LOW)
RAID HOT MAMA, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 90%. Returned with tail turret inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 2 ME-110s by Sgt. Goyer & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Fargo.
This was a busy mission; we saw a fair number of enemy fighters. Most of the Jerries were kept busy by the other our escorts and the other bombers in the squadron.
Prior to reaching the target area Germany resistance became fierce and a pack of FW-190s hit the Louisiana Pirate hard. My crew reported that the ship's right wing burning and they counter six or seven chutes, before the Pirate exploded. Just prior to our bomb run three waves of Jerry fighters attacked us and Santa's Henchmen. Sgt. Goyer managed to kill two ME-110s sneaking in from below and SSgt. Fargo damaged an ME-109.
The fighters broke off as we entered the flak box above the target. The flak was light and we took one hit in the tail which knocked out our tail guns.
As we left the target another group of fighters pounce on us, the crew filled the sky with tracers and SSgt. Fargo connected with an ME-109 and its tail assembly came off. Sgt. Blanchard scored a couple of hits on another 109 and threw off his aim. Later after the fighters left, Sgt. Thompson report that Santa's Henchmen fell out of formation.
We were attacked once more but the enemy aircraft did not press their attacks. I think it was just a matter of luck we did not go down with the other two aircraft.
- Capt. Art DiFilippo, Pilot, Raid Hot Mama
GOODBYE GIRL II, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with numerous superficial hits to the wing, fuselage and no casualties. Claims: 3 ME-109s by MSgt. Tracey and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Fishback (One of MSgt. Tracy's claim was later confirmed by S-2).
The outbound leg of the mission was fairly quiet until we got about halfway to the target. Then we were hit by a group of 109s. Sgt. Fishback downed the one coming in from our 6, and Sgt. Tracey downed one coming in from our 12 but the other three peppered us on their way past us. As they turned for a second pass, Lt. Paxson put a few rounds through the leaders wing, causing him to veer off and the others to miss on their second pass.
A second wave of 190s dove in and peppered our wings, but failed to do any real damage. They missed on subsequent passes and left. As we entered Udine we were hit by more 109s. Sgt. Tracey downed his second plane of the day, and Lt. Paxson put a few more rounds through a second plane.
Flak was light and ineffective, and Lt. Paxson is pleased to report that 50% of our load hit the target.
As we turned for home a lone 109 came in at us, but he was driven of by fire from the rest of the 399th. Halfway back to base we were hit by more 109s. After Sgt. Paxson downed his third fighter of the day the others made half-hearted passes and left.
Landing was safe and uneventful.
-1st Lt. Herman Gordon, Pilot, Goodbye Girl II
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, lead flight, left aircraft
- 1st Lt. Paul M. Day, Pilot, Midnight Express
LOUISIANA PIRATE, second flight, lead aircraft
Shot down by enemy a/c in target zone 4 miles SW
of Udine, before bomb run from fuel tank fire to inboard starboard fuel tank. 7
chutes seen. Claims: 1 ME-109 and 1 FW-190 shot down, 1 FW-190 damaged.
'As the group began its run to the IP [Initial Point], it came under heavy attack from Luftwaffe fighters, gathered for the defense of the area. One of the bombers to fall under this onslaught was Louisiana Pirate, a veteran of eight missions with the 399th Bomb Squadron. Hit by a gaggle of FW-190s, Louisiana Pirate was seen to catch fire near her starboard wing root. She held steady . . . seven parachutes blossomed below her, then she plunged downward, on fire . . .'
- From the War Diary of the 88th Bombardment Group (H), March 18, 1944
SANTA'S HENCHMEN, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Shot down by enemy fighter 20 miles south of Udine (zone 5) during return. 7 survivors, 3 KIA, 4 POWs & 3 MIAs. Claims: 1 ME-110 destroyed and 4 FW-190s damaged.
Santa's Henchmen, B-17G #42-14197, was last seen falling out of formation soon after the bomb run but the crew seemed to be in control of the aircraft. Aircraft did not return from the mission and was later declared missing in action. Later reports from the International Red Cross reports the following men were killed: 2nd Lieutenant Valentine Powers, Sergeant Bert Jacobson and Sergeant Peter Svenson. It also reports the following men were taken prisoner: 2nd Lieutenant Homer O'Hara, Staff Sergeant Casper Hammond, Tech. Sergeant, 4th grade, Toby Lawson and Sergeant Jeffrey Steiner. Three men are reported as still Missing-in Action: 1st Lieutenant Leo Hoffman, 2nd Lieutenant Alan Hartwell and Sergeant Bruce Beaubien.
- Missing Aircraft Report #48, 399th BS, 88th BG (H)
CAROLINA LADY, second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with damage to the starboard tail plane root and no casualties. Claims: 3 ME-109s by Sgt. Karwoski.
Before we boarded the Lady we had a last minute briefing under the wing . . . we were not happy at being Tail-End Charlie, but Sgt. Karwoski, our tail gunner, was dead calm. If he felt any extra burden, it didn't show.
We took off and headed up the Adriatic. The Krauts were all over the formation almost as soon as we got over the water, but they didn't drive any attacks home until about 40 miles from the target. Then we came under intense front and rear attacks all the way to the target, which lasted for about 50 minutes after we bombed. Just before the bomb run Sgt. Karwoski nailed a ME-109 that flipped over on its back. The pilot bailed out. Just then Sgt. Barnes in the top turret yelled on the intercom that the Louisiana Pirate was on fire and going down . . . we saw 6 or 7 chutes. Santa's Henchmen took over the lead in our element.
We made a good bomb run on the target-right down the runway and into some buildings.
After the turn for home Jerry really laid into us with more head-on and rear coordinated attacks. Sgt. Karwoski got another ME-109 diving on us from the rear and damaged 2 more with passing shots. Sgt. Barnes damaged still another. Right around this time Santa's Henchmen got it real hard and slid out of formation. We slid in behind the lead aircraft to form a diamond and waited for the next attacks. We really felt we were going to get it.
We didn't have to wait long. Another gaggle of 109s hit us from the front and rear - Sgt. Karwoski shot down one, TSgt. Wright in the radio compartment damaged another. Up in the nose, both Lts. Stein and Orwig each hit a 109 as the came in from 12 and 1:30 - pieces came off both and they dove away without doing any damage. The last attack was the only one that caused any damage - a single 109 dove in from 12 high and hit the starboard tail-plane root. Sgt. Barnes got a piece of him when he came around for another pass, and Sgt. Karwoski damaged an ME-109 that went home smoking. TSgt. Wright in the radio room also drove off a fighter diving on us from the rear. TSgt. Wright only had 25 rds left when we landed.
As unbelievable as it sounds, we got through the mission with only minor damage, no casualties and 3 enemy planes shot down. We were the only survivors of our element in the squadron.
- 1st Lt. Mark Choate, Pilot, Carolina Lady
Return to Sterparone Field