MISSION 3 - ATHENS AARs

318th BS (High)

GOLD DRAGON, lead flight, lead aircraft, Group Leader

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with minimal damage and no casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Sgts. Tucker, Mason & Pulley.
 

Mission Narrative:
We had got the news we would be leading from the middle position.  I was a little nervous about that but we will take our turn.  We formed up and proceeded on to the target. We did not see any enemy aircraft until we crossed the shore into Greece.  We were jumped by two 109's.  Elliott Mason got a lucky shot on one and that was all she wrote for that bandit.  The 109 coming at us from 12 o'clock high passed right by and I heard a "Got em" from Allen Pulley.  That is two KIA's on two bandits.   Good shooting guys!! Just before we reached our IP we saw another 109 at out 12 o'clock high position.  As this bandit passed by I heard Allen Pulley say he nicked another bandit as the 109 went out of sight smoking badly.

We then started our bombing run and all hell broke loose.  We saw a total of seven 109's and one 190.  A lot of bullets went flying by and I am sure I was not the only one with a high pucker factor on a couple of those passes but from what I could tell we got by with minimal damage.  Dave Tucker got his first kill when the wing came of one of the 109s.  Allen Pulley and Tom Anthony put some shells into another 109 that made only one pass.  After the bandits left the flak started up.  We took one hit from the flak which put a hole in our Port wing and knock out the tail turret.  That did not leave Allen a happy camper.  We did however hit the target with 40%.

As we turned for home we saw one 190 and one 109 coming for us.  The 190 passed with out either one of us getting a hit.  The 109 caused Allen Duff to use some language I did not think that young man knew when a shell passed through the Radio Room.  We did not see either of those guys again.  The last group of bandits that we saw jumped us just as we left Greece.  Three 109's made their pass Jeff Tucker nicked one and Elliott Mason sent another one home with quite a few holes in its skin.

-1
st Lt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon


OLD CROW EXPRESS, first flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Fell-out-of-formation due to radio room fire.  Returned with damage to oxygen out in radio room, fire in radio room, top turret guns inoperable, bomb controls inoperable, port wing root hit and no casualties.  1 Fw-190 claimed by Sgt. Carter.

 

Mission Narrative:

We did not encounter any enemy resistances until we got over the target.  I guess the Germans got word of us coming cause it seemed they sent everything they had at us.  In the first wave of fighters they knocked out our top turret guns, and the bomb controls.  After another pass they left.  In the second wave they came and they missed we missed and they left.  But the third wave really hurt us.  It was a solo 109 and he came and hit the radio room oxygen supply causing a fire and knocking out oxygen for the radio room.  But Norton was able to put it out.  That fighter came back again and hit the top turret guns again, shredding more the already shredded guns.  He came again for a final time but left us alone after missing.

 

Flak was medium but it was inaccurate.  We managed to drop our sticks on target, even tough Peterson had to use the Mickey Mouse.  After bombs away we had to drop out of formation.  Norton radioed the Golden Dragon that we were dropping out.

 

We encountered numerous waves up until the coast of Greece, but nothing else was hit expect for the port wing root and Carter was able to destroy a 190.  Then they were gone and we were alone again.  We managed to get back to the eagle's nest with little trouble and then landed with out any trouble.  This was one of our best missions.  Nobody got hurt and we made it home in one piece.
 

- 1st Lt. Fred Anderson, Pilot, Old Crow Express


LUCKY LAUREL, first flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with top turret and bomb release inoperable, 10 other minor superficial damage hits and 3 casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Legge.

 

Mission Narrative:
We crossed the water without mishap.  About 150 miles out we damaged a lone FW 190 which made a half-hearted pass and we continued on our way.  A nice tight formation kept all the bandits at arms length until we reached the target.  Suddenly two waves of fighters jumped us.  Our escorts with their new drop tanks came to our aid and we survived the first wave without a scratch.  A single FW 190 made it through the friendly screen.  He managed to wound our radio operator and put the top turret out of action. Lt. Soujah dropped 30 % of the payload on target.

Turning for home it looked to be our best mission yet. Again our tight, formation flying kept us safe until we entered "the pocket" -- about 150 miles out the fighter cover was lousy and that’s were the bandits were waiting.  Four FW 190s came at us from around the clock.  My tail gunner, Stan Legge claimed his fourth bad guy, but two of the remaining three planes hit us.  On his first pass the pilot from 12 o’clock high wounded both my bombardier (SW) and navigator (LW) while his friend managed some superficial hits from 9 o’clock level.  The fellow from 12 o’clock high made a second run from the same position.  His guns raked our fuselage from tip to tail.  It was then that Lt. Soujah was seriously wounded a second time. He was dead before we landed.  Without the big guns from the top turret we were an easy target.

As quick as it started it was over and we continued home.  We were SO close to a safe run.  It would have been a nice Christmas present, but once again we lost a man.  That’s two men in the last two missions.  I doubt any of us will make it to 50.

-1
st Lt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Lucky Laurel


GENERAL COMEDIAN, second flight, lead aircraft, Deputy Group Leader

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Aircraft lost as a result of enemy fighters on return leg over Ionian Sea.

 

Mission Narrative:
Don’t you love a milk run?  We was coasting along with the sun in our eyes headed east.  Luckily the enemy was sleeping.

 

We got in over the target with nary an enemy plane near us.  A couple flew at one of the other squadrons but not made it our way. We popped over the target and hit the hardest flak we’ve ever ran into.  The artillery blew up an oxygen bottle and punched a hole in the rudder making it a little interesting for the guys up front.  We popped the target and turned around.

 

That is when things got tough.  Four FWs jumped us on the way out putting a new design in the skin of our ship.  They hit all over the wings and blew an aileron.  After those guys either ran out of bullets or gas three more of their buddies followed our light smoke trail.  The whacked the other aileron which would make landing a bit tough later.  They also nicked a wire somewhere cutting off the pilot heat.  The wimps decided to drop down.  Right into the arms of those 3 Messerschmidts.  They are the guys that started the fire in the Port Wing.  It blazed like all get out and Tommy told us to jump.  We never saw George, the co-pilot come down.  Kim, our resident Chinaman said he saw something hanging from the plane banging against the underside.  I pray that it was not George.
 

-  Sgt. Roy Sherer, Gunner, General Comedian


JINX's REVENGE, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Shot down by flak over target.  Ten chutes seen.

 

Mission Narrative:

Jinx's Revenge was assigned the #5 slot in the lead squadron for this mission.  Jinx's Revenge was not observed to be under any attacks until approximately 15 miles from the target, where several FW-190's were seen to attack from the front.  It appears that no damage was done and a combination of fighter cover and defensive fire from Jinx's Revenge drove off these fighters.

 

While Jinx's Revenge was on her bomb run, flak was seen to burst close to the starboard wing.  Shortly after this #4 Engine on the starboard wing was seen to begin smoking and the engine looked like it was running away.  The pilots must have been unable to feather the propeller because as Jinx's Revenge dropped from formation ten chutes were report leaving the stricken ship.  It is unclear at the present time of the fate of the crew, it is presumed that they are all POW's.


THE RUSSIAN LADY, third flight, lead

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 75%.  Returned with no casualties and minor damage to the rudder and tail wheel. Claims: one Fw-190 by SSgt. Meyers.

 

Mission Narrative:

It went pretty well for our first mission; we didn't see hide nor hair of the Jerries until we approached the Greek Coast, when a
pair of 190's came in.  One was driven off by our escort, the other missed and took off.  Our guys didn't do a very good job shooting at that one, but they did get a little better.  We noticed that the high squadron was starting to catch some heat up there, things were looking pretty active above us.

We didn't run into any trouble until we were making our approach to the target.  Four 190's came at us from all over the place -- one of the crazy Krauts came diving at us from right overhead, but one of our little friends scared him off before he could do any damage.  We caught some hits from a 190 that hit us from 6:00 High -- he put some dents in the rudder and damaged the tail wheel.  He started to swing around for another pass, but one of our little friends sent him in another direction.  Staff Sergeant Meyers downed a 190 that was coming in from 3:00 high.  Boy, did he let out a whoop when that thing burst into flame!  I thought he got hit himself at first!

Flak over the target seemed a little heavier than we were led to believe, but it was inaccurate.

Lieutenant Vachon did a great job on the bomb run, planting most of the bombs right in the middle of that airfield.  Wonder where the Jerries were going to land those planes that were buzzing around?  After seeing Jinx's Revenge go down, I don't really care, hope those guys are OK.

The rest of the trip was pretty quiet for us.  We saw a couple of more Jerries hanging around the squadron while still over Greece, but the rest of the boys took care of them, and they didn't press too hard.  The toughest part of the rest of the flight was landing the plane without a tail wheel -- and having to listen to 'Twitchy' tell us over and over again how he blew that 190 out of the sky!

-1st Lt. Frank Andrews, Pilot, The Russian Lady


BOUNCIN' BETTY, third flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with minor superficial damage to nose, tail sections, starboard wing, and 1 casualty.  Claims: Two Me-109s by 2nd Lt. Persons and Sgt. Sgt. Munroe.
 

Mission Narrative:

Zone 5 - We were jumped by 3 109's with no damage.

 

Zone 6 - We were attacked by two 190's.  We took superficial hits to the nose, tail and the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Patrick Click, was wounded in the left foot.

 

Luckily we didn't receive any flak hits over the target allowing us to get 60% of the bomb on target.

 

Zone 6 -  We were jumped by four 109's a superficial hit to the starboard wing and nose.  Sgt. Munroe did manage to score a kill on one of the 109's as did 2nd Lt. Persons.

 
Zone 5 - We were attacked by four more 190's.  We did not receive any damage during that attack.  The landing was uneventful.

-1st Lt. Eric Wright, Pilot, Bouncin' Betty


399th BS (Lead) - On temporary duty flying with the 318th BS

 

PRINCESS LILIKOI, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the right wing root damaged, a few holes in both wings and in the pilot compartment; no casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Thomas.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was over the Greek Coast that we first saw enemy fighters coming through the formation attacking our squadron.  There is not much to say about today’s attackers.  If they have a secret weapon, they didn’t use it today, and we saw no unusual tactics.  Well, we have not been here long, so nothing unusual of what we have seen so far.  There were not many fighters coming through the fighter cover nor the formation.  Many thanks to the fighter squadrons and to the fellas in the 318th.  Good job.

We flew steadily through the FLAK, but I still didn’t manage to put our load on target. In fact, I missed it completely.  I’ll do better next time.

-2nd Lt. Nathaniel R. Duncan, Bombardier, Princess Lilikoi


HEART OF TEXAS, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial damage to the nose compartment and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Well, sir, with the exception of the equipment SNAFU, I can only hope the rest of our missions go this smooth.  We had sufficient fighter coverage when needed, kept a tight formation over the target and had great supporting fire from the other B-17's.  No direct enemy contact prior to the bomb run and flak over the target was not a problem for us either.  If the release mechanism hadn't fouled up and let go 10 miles short, we would have surely hit the target.  Now, I don't know what we hit, but from all the secondary explosions reported by Sgt. Toney, Sgt. Kussel and other trailing 17's, we certainly hit something, maybe an ammo or fuel dump.  Dumb luck I know but I still wish we had been on target.  Maybe S-2 can give some insight as to what else might have been
nearby.

The bandits showed up right after we unloaded, two 109's.  The first 109 came at us head-on 12 o'clock level, but caused only superficial damage to the nose. He was driven off with effective defensive fire from Lt. Brutvan and Sgt Ramos.  The second 109 came in from 1:30 high and was definitely hit by Lt. Slayton, forcing him to turn and run before he got lined up on us.  Sgt. Kussel reported a second wave was pushed off by some P-38s from the 14th Fighter Group.  The rest of the flight home was uneventful.

I'll notify you what the chief finds once he give the release trigger the once over.

- 1st Lt. D. Kuehn, Pilot, Heart of Texas


316th BS (High)

FULL HOUSE, Lead flight, lead plane

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted zone 5 outbound due to wind milling engine.  Returned alone with #3 & #4 engines out, tail gunner heater out, ball guns damaged, rudder damaged, 7 other superficial hits & 2 casualties.  Claims: 2 Me-109s by Sgt. Montgomery, 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Roebuck, 1 Me-109 by TSgt. Moore, 1 Fw-190 each by Sgts. Ward & Williams.

 

Mission Narrative:

Everything was fine until the group hit the Greek coastline.  The enemy's first attack killed SSgt. Kelly, the flight engineer, and seriously wounded Sgt. Sherman, the port waist gunner, in the head.  The attack also damaged the tail gunner's heater and knocked out the #3 engine.  We were unable to feather it and we would be unable to keep up with the formation.  The decision was easy and we aborted and handed the squadron lead over to the deputy squadron leader.

 

Our fighter cover stayed with us only for 15 minutes after leaving the formation then we were alone the rest of the way home.  The enemy followed us all the way back until about 75 miles from base.  During this time, we dropped to lower altitude and took evasive action until the #4 engine began to run away.  Luckily, we were able to feather this one or we might have been goners.  During the battle homeward, we shot down 6 enemy fighters and damaged two others, while taking a lot of damage, but nothing serious.

 

- Captain, Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House


ROCK 'EM & SOCK 'EM, Lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted zone 4 after suffering a fuel tank leak and losing the bombardier and navigator.  Returned alone with 3 casualties and minor damage minor damage to fuel tank port wing, bomb sight destroyed, tail plane damage and intercom out
 

Mission Narrative:

We just saw Joker Leader Full House get hit and five minutes later a diving FW190 came down and raked us from one wing tip to the other and the whole ship, knocked out the intercom and shredded the port wing fuel tank inboard, I saw from the fuel loss that we didn't have enough to reach the target and return.  About this time my new co-pilot reported the status of the ship and I found that both the new navigator and bombardier had been killed by gunshot wounds to the body they appeared asleep he said.  At this point I aborted the mission and returned to base.  Luckily not encountering anymore enemy fighters. The ball gunner was slightly wounded in the shoulder his ball turret having slowed the bullet before it struck him. He whined anyhow so give him his purple
heart already why don't you.

Its going to be hard to find some men who will replace the nose crew in my plane , every man who goes in there comes out dead before their second mission, it's a jinx I think.
 

- 1st Lt. Frank Coleridge, Pilot, 42-11809


SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 50%.  Returned with superficial damage to tail gunner's compartment, starboard wing & flap, radio room, waist. Tail oxygen system nicked, port tail plane root hit, minor Flak damage to both tail planes, vertical fin, tail compartment.  Two casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by SSgt. Turner and Sgt. Blankenship.
 

Mission Narrative:

"Doc, I tell ya, that penguin butted jerk in intel that said to expect 'light opposition' doesn't know squat!

 

Things were going pretty well for the Doll until all hell broke loose in Zone 5 outbound nearing the Greek coast.  Fw-190's all over the sky!  Slashing attacks from all around the clock and Vertical dives.  The P-47's got most of the bad guys coming after us, but one tried to test PeeWee Wheeler's tail guns, he was last seen peeling off trailing heavy black smoke from his cowling where PeeWee had tattooed his nose.

 

Well, we made it through OK but the rest of the 316th wasn't so lucky.  Those buzzards tore into Full House and Rock 'em & Sock 'em.  Captain Tanner banked right, and slid under us as he fell out of formation.  Hank told me later that he saw their Navigator, Joe Roebuck looking back at us from his window.  He said that Joe's looked flat out scared, so he popped him a highball to wish him luck.

 

No sooner had 'Griff' Griffin slid into the lead with Lucky Penny, then I hear over the Command channel that Rock'em & Sock'em was aborting.  Great! We start out 6 + 1 and now were down to 4.

 

Old Yard Dog left us pretty shot up about an hour or so out.  Griff called for us to tighten up and believe me I shoved that port wing right into his hip pocket!  One lucky buzzard punched a few holes in our starboard flap but that's all we got.  We didn't draw any more attention from the Krauts until just before the target.  Again all hell broke loose.  More slashing attacks from all over.  I tell ya' those Heinie's just wouldn't quit!  They shot up the starboard wing, hit the tail plane, and nicked PeeWee's oxygen system.  Billy Boy, yeah that's Sgt. Blankenship in the ball, pasted one coming in from 3 level, and George Turner flattened one with the top turret when he made a second pass from 12 level.  I tell ya', that joker was looking right at me when George blew the cockpit clean outta the plane!

 

Just as we started the bomb run, flak started to burst around our rear.  The tail end got chewed up a little, and it got bumpy, but ole PJ dropped 50% of the load right into the middle of the airfield.  Billy Boy said that the strike looked good and that the runways were pretty beaten up."

 

After pouring another drink from the Doc's bottle of Scotch, Lt. J.P. McConnell slumped back into the chair. "It was rallying off the target that they got us.  Me-109s slashing at us from all around.  We didn't hit any but most of them missed too.  One lucky Kraut makes a pass from 9 high and just chewed the waist and radio room up.  Yeah, that's where Woody & Fred got hit.  We didn't have anymore trouble after that all the way home."

 

Lighting another cigarette, McConnell takes a long drag, letting the smoke out with a sigh. "God I hope they'll be alright.  I mean, what can you do? Woody's gonna end up with a plate in his head, and Freddy's baseball days are over.  Hell, he'll be lucky to walk again, right?" Letting out another long sigh he slowly rises to his feet.  "I gotta go check on my boys.  Thanks for the drink Doc."

 

-1st Lt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll


LUCKY PENNY, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with ball turret inoperable, radio out, port wing damage & various holes in all areas of plane but especially pilot compartment; 1 casualty.  Claims: Two Fw-190s by SSgt. Gant, 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Hamilton & 1 Me-109 by Sgt, Edmond.

 

Mission Narrative:

Okay guys, make sure we stay in tight . . . As the Lucky Penny takes of and forms up, all gunners make their gun checks and Adams and I prepare for the long flight.

All is going well until we cross over the coast and begin flight over zone 3, after that it was fighter swarms from then on.  Zone 3 sees a lone 190 coming in at 10:30 high.  Ranges are called out but a Spitfire flashes down and drives this guy off. However, this was only the beginning of a long day.

Zone 4 - Brings on 4 109's coming in at 12, 9, 6 and one vertical diver.  Fighters must have been busy elsewhere so we were on our own.  Edmond pops a 109 from the tail position and the 12 and vertical planes miss and fly off.  The 9 low takes aim right at the ball gunner, scoring hit on waist and wing.  All seems okay, and then Jenkins calls out that he can't move the ball turret.  He's stuck and the guns are now jammed and out of action.  The 109 tries to come around again but misses and flies off.

Zone 5 - We approach the Greek coast and are swarmed by fighters again, and if that's not enough we see and hear that Full House is hit and heading for home so the squadron gets turned over to us.  Suddenly the 109's that were swarming us are gone but we are all a little shaken at this point.

Zone 6 - We are hit by two waves of enemy fighters.  A lone 190 at 10:30 high takes some damage but keeps coming putting hits into the pilot compartment.  No human damage but makes a mess of a few gauges.  A second plane not chases away by fighters comes in at 9 and receives damage by the top turret and port cheek guns, misses and flies off.

The target zone is already engulfed in smoke from bomb damage and massive flak.  We are first hit by 2 waves of fighters - first the 12, 9, 6, vertical dive attack, but this time we have fighters there that drive off 2 and our port waist guy puts damage into one while the two Germans both miss.  Then the flak kicks in with two hits.  The port wing takes some peppering but no major damage but the nose takes a hit just as Hodges tries to line up on target.  Ed Hamilton, the navigator, reports seeing daylight all throughout the compartment but Hodges manages to put bombs on target with a 60% damage assessment.  On the return leg of the target zone, the same attack configuration attacks us again.  This time, 2 planes are driven off, Gant scores a kill with the top turret but the vertical dive scores two hits one on the already damaged port wing, the other in the radio room ripping the radio to shreds.  Radio is now out so we are on our own.  This guy now makes a 2nd pass and the port cheek gun causing him to turn away trailing smoke.

Zone 6 - We are being chewed to pieces bit by bit.  We are attacked by 2 190's.  One is driven off but the second guy makes a run at 10:30 high.  Port cheek again damages him but he presses the attack hitting the pilot compartment again.  I look over at Adams and he is rigid and very pale.  I can't get to him as the 190 is making another pass so Hamilton comes up and applies pressure to his right shoulder area; the thing will just not stop bleeding.  The 190 again dives at us and is dealt a deadly defensive fire from the top turret as he shoots down another 190.
 

Zone 5 - Another Vertical dive with damage to the waist radio room again but receives some damage from the top turret.  As the Hun swings around he now comes from below and lands hits in the Bomb Bay area.  (When we looked later, the area hit was right where the bombs were) but since bombs were gone he just holed the plane some more meanwhile the German is again hit and
flies off trailing smoke.

Zone 4 - Sees one more attempt to bring us down by a lone 190 makes to passes but does little damage beyond putting more holes in the wing and nose.

We finally land and our co-pilot Adams is rushed to infirmary.  Later that evening the doctor says he'll pull through but the bullet severed muscle in the right shoulder and he had due to blood loss and muscle damage will have to lose his right arm at the shoulder. We are not feeling so Lucky tonight . . . another mission filled with wave after wave of fighter attacks.
 

-1st Lt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny


OLD YARD DOG, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted due to jammed bomb bay doors.  Returned alone with Norden smashed, damaged control cables in the tail, damaged aileron controls in the cockpit, heat in the waist and ball gunner stations out, and the bomb bay doors disabled and 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

Everything went well for our takeoff and form-up for this mission.  About an hour out over the water, five 190s came from up high and tore into us.  I did see several Spits picking up a bunch of them, but enough got thru to hurt us.  Sgt. Durden sent one down smoking and on fire that tried to come in from 6 High.  Sgt. Durden was probably killed soon after that as another load of cannon shells smashed through the Old Yard Dog.  We lost control cables in the tail, aileron controls in the cockpit, heat in the waist and ball gunner stations, our Norden was smashed, and the bomb bay doors were disabled.  Luckily the bombs were not hit.  My co-pilot and I elected to abort when our engineer reported we couldn't open the bomb days doors even if we wanted to and the bombardier reported picking up the shattered pieces of the bombsight.  We reported to Joker Leader of our situation and turned for home. We went down hard for the deck and no other enemies engaged us and friendly Spits watched over us.  Once we got home the landing was uneventful even though we had control and aileron damage.
 

-1st Lt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog


CABALLERO, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted due Zone 4 to knocked out bomb control and lose of heating system to nose compartment.  Returned alone with 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

Fighter attack over the Adriatic knocked out bomb controls and compartment heat to the nose.  Pilot aborted. (in Zone 4)
Two crew men slightly wounded & Ten crewmen badly shaken.  B-17 is repairable.  (OOC - Kept rolling bloody sixes for the Germans!)
 

-1st Lt. Scott P. Mitchell, Pilot, Caballero


399th BS (High) - On temporary duty flying with the 316th BS

RAW DEAL, third flight, lead

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target: 30%.  Landed with main landing gear out on one wing; no casualties.  Superficial damage to nose, pilot compartment, radio room, tail & starboard wing.  Claims: One Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Shelley; one Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Lovering.

 

Mission Narrative:

We saw no enemy fighters until we were approaching Greece, when we were attacked by a flight of 4 Me 109s, all from the front; our escorts were nowhere to be found.  A total of two hits by one fighter caused superficial damage to the pilot compartment and nose.  No further hits when he circled around for another attack.

About 20 minutes from the target, more attacks by another full flight, this time FW 190s; again no help from the escorts.  Nose gunner scored a kill on a 190 coming from 12:00 high.  A 190 attacking from 6:00 high caused damage to the wings and tail, including destroying the landing gear before coming around to attack from 3:00 level where the Top Turret gunner caused enough damage to where the 190 took off trailing smoke.   The second wave of fighters was driven off by other B-17s in the group.

 

Nearing the target, more fighters.  This time attacked by 2 Me 109s, one of which was driven off by our own P-38s and we suffered no damage.  At this point the formation tightened up for the rest of the mission.

 

Encountered light flak over the target, none of which hit and the target was successfully hit.

 

Outbound, we were jumped by two more Me 109s.  Again, no help from our escorts and we received superficial damage to radio room and starboard wing.  When the fighter attacked again from 1:30 level, the Starboard Cheek Gunner scored a kill.

It was smooth flying and we relaxed somewhat, until we were again attacked by 3 Focke-Wulfs about 100 miles from base.  One was driven off by good coverage from the Spitfires and P-38s.  The 190 attacking from 12:00 high was heavily damaged by both the Top Turret and Nose Gunner and was no further problem.

 

As the squadron neared the field, we discovered one of the landing gear wouldn't lower.  We radioed our situation to the tower and was informed that since our situation wasn't critical, we were to circled the base until all the other 17s were down.  Finally, I made my approach and touched down without a problem.

 

-1st Lt. Henry Mershon, Pilot, Raw Deal


317th BS (Low)

BEWITCHED, Lead flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with very little damage and 1 casualty.
 

Mission Narrative:

What a doddle.  We saw 6 fighters the whole way there and back.  We missed them and they missed us.  All others were driven off by little pals.

 

We took flak over the target and the only hit worth talking about was the dime-sized piece of shrapnel that hit Gimp in the head; killed him instantly.  Watson went back to man the guns and that's all she wrote.

Landed safely at base and then confirmed all the radio messages I'd heard.  Man, were we getting shredded.  Looks like a squadron rebuild and refit after this one. Hope they give us some time to get used to each other.
 

- 1st Lt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, Bewitched


FRISCO KID, first flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 95%.  Returned with bomb sight out, bomb bay doors inoperable, 1 wing root hit (Starboard), 1 oxygen hit (radio room).  Otherwise superficial hits all over aircraft; 5 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Swanson & Sgt. McDonough; 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Baty.  2nd Lt. Swanson's claim is later officially confirmed.

 

Mission Narrative:

Formed up with rest of squadron and group and set out east over the Adriatic.  Out over the Adriatic, saw a large formation of Bf-109s rising to do battle, which were engaged by Spitfires of 31st FG.  None attacked our a/c.

The 109s continued to attack as we headed towards the Greek coast.  Only superficial damage to our a/c, and we got two of the Jerries -- LT Swanson got one attacking from the front, and Sgt. McDonough flamed one as it passed out over the tail.  Attacked again as we hit Greek coast, this time by Fw-190s.  Shots exchanged, no damage to either side.

Flak medium over target, enemy opposition light.  We hit the target hard, with 95% of bombs.  After we turned around, hit hard by two waves of 190s.  Sgt. Moore killed, Lt. Danby seriously wounded, and hits all over our a/c.  Lt. Baty claimed one Jerry destroyed, and Sgt. McDonough observed hits on another one as it passed behind us.

Little Friends protected us most of the way home.  Two 109s attacked us over the Adriatic, but scored only minor hits.  Aircraft shot up, many casualties, but ready for action.  Light enemy opposition my ass!
 

- 1st Lt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid


DARKWATCH, first flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with compartment heat out in radio room, slight damage to rudder, superficial damage to nose and pilot areas; 1 casualty.  No claims.

 

Mission Narrative:

Enjoyed good fighter coverage throughout the mission, and supporting fire from other B-17s was excellent, particularly when entering the target zone, where the formation was especially tight and trim.  Tech Sgt. Johnson bought it from a ME-109 pass while we were inbound to the target -- his whole compartment was torn up from a couple directions, and I doubt he knew what hit him.

Once again, flak was no factor.  Lt. Krystek missed the target -- not sure if it was rookie jitters, or if he needs to pay more attention in briefings.  Despite the sloppy bombing run, I give both the new guys a thumbs-up; Poulos and Krystek both damaged attacking fighters this trip.

Quiet trip home, easy landing.

-1st Lt.  Paul O'Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch


LITTLE MISSY, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 5% but was soon shot down by enemy fighters.  Five chutes seen.


GOOD TIME GAL, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 5%.  Took BIP in waist section approaching target, fell out-of-formation but managed to return to base severely damaged and with 6 casualties.  Aircraft beyond economical repair, classified as Category E.  Claims: 1 Me-109 each by 2nd Lt. Blackmore and Sgts. Ferrelli and MacDonald.  One Fw-190 each by Sgts Ferrelli and Sgt MacDonald

 

Mission Narrative:

All seemed to be okay until we hit the enemy coast, when Lt Montague notified us that we were to assume the tail-end Charlie slot. Sgt MacDonald in the tail turret reported Go For Broke as having dropped out of formation, thus necessitating this move.  We duly did this, and were almost immediately attacked by repeated waves of enemy fighters.  An Me 109's shells hit our number two engine, and the rapid loss of oil from the engine suggested that we would have to shut it down on the return leg.  We were raked from stem to stern by both a 190 and a 109, losing our port aileron and several of the crew, myself included, suffering wounds of varying severity.


An oxygen check immediately after one of these attacks brought no response from the top turret.  I ordered the radio operator to investigate, and he reported that Sgt Masterson had suffered a severe head wound.  My bombardier was also wounded, but refused medical attention, stating that he'd do so once we'd turned from the target.

 

Flak was heavier than expected, and we were thrown violently around the sky as we released our bomb load.  The aircraft plummeted earthwards, narrowly missing Darkwatch and Little Missy in the process.  Lt. Williams and I regained control at 9500 feet, and did a damage assessment.  We had apparently suffered a direct hit in the waist, killing the crewmen in that compartment instantly.  Furthermore, we were losing power on the number two engine and our rubber rafts had been destroyed.

 

At less than 10,000 ft we were sitting ducks for flak gunners, and took numerous hits until we were over the ocean.  Fighters continued to attack us, but their aim was mercifully off for the most part.  Landing was particularly rough as the plane was not responsive, and the crew chief informs me that she will be scrapped.  That is all.

-1st Lt. Milton Forrest III, Pilot, Good Time Gal


GO FOR BROKE, second flight, left wingman, Tail-End Charlie

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted while over Ionian Sea from lost of #2 engine and pilot compartment heat.  Returned with heat out for pilot's cabin & ball turret, engine #2 (runaway engine), engine #3 (oil tank hit), radio damaged, and superficial damage to the nose, bomb bay area, the port wing, tail, waist areas, and two casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Osa (claim was later officially confirmed).

 

Mission Narrative:

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

About 200 miles from target we were attacked by four (4) ME-109's (12 Level, 12 H, 1:30 Level, 6 H).  The ME-109 at 12H was driven off by Spitfire fighter cover.  One (1) ME-109 was also damaged by 2nd Lt. Muraki and was driven off.  The other two (2) ME-109s were able to hit the plane.  The one that came in at 6H was able to do a walking hit across the plane.  This resulted in Sgt. Yano being seriously injured in the chest and Sgt. Sasaki getting a glancing wound on his arm.  Damage also sustained in the ball turret, where the heating unit was knocked out, the radio room, where the radio was hit, in the pilot compartment, where the oxygen system to the pilot was hit, and in the bomb area; fortunately the bombs were not hit. The enemy plane was also able to hit the
starboard #3 engine hitting the oil tank but the tank was able to self seal and no serious damage to the engine was evident.  The plane coming in at 1:30 level was also able to hit the plane and Sgt. Sasaki was again injured, this time in the leg.

The planes returned and came in at 6 L and 12 H. 2nd Lt. Osa was able to destroy the ME-109 coming in at 12.  The plane that came in at 6 L was able to hit the plane on the port side.  This resulted in the #2 engine running away.  I was able to feather the prop so that we didn't have to bail out of the plane.  The plane returned at 6 H and again was able to hit the plane again.  This time it hit the tail for superficial damage and the pilot's compartment where it knocked out the oxygen system to the Co-Pilot.

At this time I felt that the plane sustained major damage and with two men injured, we should abort the mission . . . Informed flight leader about our condition and started to lower altitude.  After the bombs were jettisoned, we turned around, went to a lower altitude, and headed back to base.

Upon going to lower altitude, we were again met by four (4) fighters, this time FW-190's coming in at 12 H, 1:30 H and 3 H and ME-109 at 12 Low. Two of the FW-190's were driven off by Spitfires providing coverage.  The plane coming in at 12 Low was able to hit the nose area but only did superficial damage.  Two planes came back, this time the FW-190 came in at 12 Low and the ME-109 came in at 3 Low.  These two planes were driven off by Spitfires providing coverage.

About sixty (60) miles away from base we were once again attacked by enemy aircraft.  This time two (2) came in FW-190 at 10:30 H and ME-109 at12 Low.  The FW-190 was driven off by Spitfires providing coverage.  The ME-109 missed the plane and came back around to attack at 1:30 Low.  This fighter was driven off by Spitfires and did not attack.

Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.

-1st Lt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go for Broke


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