MISSION 5 - POLA AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
BEWITCHED, first flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with no damage and no casualties. Was not attacked by any fighters.
I'm starting to wonder if the Germans have gone home. What fighters we saw were either driven off or missed wildly and skedaddled. The flak was way off and my bombardier fluffed the run completely. I think the only casualty was his hearing as I gave him a rocket and the rest of the crew ribbed him to hell. We nailed the landing and had a 5 minute debrief. The only shame was when we found out that Flynn had lost 3 gunners and Williams was badly hit. Looks like he's going home. Damn, he was the only one keeping Forrest's crew going. They don't seem to have faith in Forrest at all.
I'm gonna have to ask the colonel to transfer him where he can't do any more damage or get some experienced guy to co for him so the crew won't decide to frag him one night. That's just too much paperwork.
- Capt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, Bewitched
DARKWATCH, first flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with flak damage: superficial hits to tail plane, starboard wing flap, and port wing & 2 casualties.
Got hit by flak this time, a new experience for the Darkwatch. Tough luck for Sgt. Glass -- this was his first mission with the crew, filling in for Tieger (who's back at base hospital putting the moves on nurses). Glass took some of that flak personally, but he lived to tell the tale, and he'll be back home and out of this mess when he gets out of the hospital. And now that we've finally been hit by flak, the crew can wash their "lucky" underwear.
Exchanged some desultory fire with FWs on the way in, and got jumped by four
Me-109s on the way home, but they were content to make a single pass and
head back for base. Which was fine with us.
- 1st Lt. Paul O¹Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch
FRISCO KID, first flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with ball turret guns out, 2 port wing root hits, damage to the navigator oxygen system. Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Swanson.
Fairly easy run. Formation attacked about halfway to target, but Little Friends in 14th FG protected us all the way to target.
Over the target, three 109s stacked up on the nose and made a run at us. Lt. Swanson flamed one, but one of the others knew his business -- he came at us three times all told, putting lots of holes in us but fortunately hitting nothing vital. We also took numerous flak hits, but again, mostly minor damage, and were able to bomb target with 40% accuracy.
The flight home was uneventful -- no enemy a/c attacked us. A/c and crew ready for further action.
- 1st Lt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid
SILVER SPOON, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Return with radio out and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. McDonald.
We got to the target without too much difficulty, although we lost our radio to a 109's shells. We put most of our bombs on target, but then suffered the loss of my co-pilot to a nasty-looking shoulder wound; almost severed his left arm. The crew appear unduly upset, and are at the hospital now. (The man was an idiot, good riddance I say).
-1st Lt. Milton B Forrest III, Pilot, Silver Spoon
GO FOR BROKE, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the #1 Engine damaged beyond repair because of runaway engine, superficial damage to the tail and radio room and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Mukai.
Took off from
Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About 60 miles from target we were attacked by four (4) FW-190's coming in from 12 LOW, 1:30 LEVEL, 3 LOW, and 9 HIGH. The top turret manned by Sgt. Greg Mukai and the port waist manned by Sgt. Yano was able to damage one FW-190 coming in from 9:00 High. The other three missed the plane and were driven off by machine gun fire.
About 20 miles away from target, several bogies were spotted coming into the bomber formation. Fighter escort, were able to drive away the bogies before they were able to get near the bomber formation. Another wave consisting of Four (4) ME-109's coming in from 12 LOW, 12 LEVEL, 12 HIGH, and 10:30 LEVEL were able to reach our formation. One coming in from 12 LEVEL was driven off by fighter cover. The one coming in from 12 HIGH was shot down by the top turret manned by Sgt. Greg Mukai. The one coming in from 12 LOW was damaged by Sgt. Hideo Hayashi when it passed by the plane. The one's that came in 10:30 LEVEL missed the plane and was driven off.
Once we reached over the target we encountered flak. Two shells were able to hit plane at the tail and port wing. Sgt. Hayashi suffered major internal injuries from the shell hitting the tail of the plane. The shell hitting the port wing, hit the #1 Engine causing it to runaway. Between the Co-Pilot and myself we were able to feather the prop before the plane went out of control.
Over the target, because of the intensity of the flak, and damage caused by the shell bursts. 2nd Lt. Osa was not able to acquire the target and all of the bombs missed the dockyards.
On the turnaround from Pola, one (1) FW-190 came in from 12 HIGH. It missed the plane and was driven away. Another wave was spotted trying to reach our formation but was driven off by fighter cover.
About 100 miles away from base, one (1) FW-190 came at us from 12 High. Fighter cover drove it away before they could fire on our bomber.
Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.
-1st Lt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go for Broke
MEMPHIS GAL, second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with medium damage from flak and 2 casualties.
Great puffs of greasy black smoke burst around the formation, the aircraft shook and rattled its way to the target, each man murmuring a silent prayer as the unseen enemy tried to kill them. Flynn's eyes were set on the horizon as if willing the aircraft forward. "Steady old girl . . . steady . . ." murmured Flynn as another shell burst close by.
"Co-pilot to engineer, manifold pressure in number three is a little high.
"Eeer roger, co-pilot, is she in the red yet?"
"Engineer to ball do you see anything unusual in number 3?"
"Nah, nothing, Roberto! I will keep a eye on it though."
"Bombardier to pilot request control."
"Pilot to bombardier, she's all yours." Lt. Simms was almost one with his bomb sight, it was almost a blessing to have a job to do while the flak burst all round. "Bomb doors open . . . Bombardier to engineer, did you pull the pins?"
"Roger! Bombs are hot." Suddenly there was a loud crack then the sound of metal striking metal, the pilot and co-pilot fought to keep the bomber from yawing dangerously out of control.
"DAMM! PILOT! GIVE ME 5 DEG PORT QUICK! STEADY . . . STEADY . . . BOMBS AWAY! Bomb doors closed"
"Navigator to pilot, turn coming up, heading 270."
"Roger, heading 270. Crew report in please. Waist report in! Pilot to radio, go and see if the intercom is cut in the waist."
"RADIO TO PILOT! THEY ARE BOTH DEAD! Poor bastards never stood a chance, there must be at least 30 holes in the skin back here!"
Flynn closed his eyes and swore, he exchanged glances with Donald Tonkin, they both nodded and grimly set about the task of getting their wounded ship home
-1st Lt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
316th BS (Low)
FULL HOUSE, Lead flight, lead plane
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with 9 superficial hits to fuselage (3), p. wing (2) and one each to s. wing, tail, radio room & pilot's compartment, and a holed port wing inboard fuel tank; no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Miller.
Enemy fighters hit us as we approached the target. Despite the good escort coverage, 3 Fw-190s got through and were responsible for all the damage received this mission. All we managed to do was heavily damage one of the attackers. The most serious of the damage was to the port wing inboard fuel tank, that after spewing out some fuel, sealed itself.
Flak was medium in intensity but was not a factor and Lt. Sears reported a good strike.
The enemy made one more attack out over the Adriatic as the group made its withdrawal from the target area. SSgt. Miller claimed one of the pair of Me-109s that attacked us.
No further enemy actions were experience and landing back at base was routine.
- Captain, Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House
ROCK 'EM & SOCK 'EM, Lead flight, left wingman
Blew out port landing gear tire during taxiing out. Runway abort; did not participate in mission.
SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with flak damage to the port elevator, port wing root wing and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Blankenship.
Mission #5 is in the book. Satin Doll came through with relatively minor damage, compared to some of the to other a/c in the 316th.
We encountered our first E/A in Zone 3 outbound. A wave of four Me-109s came at us from the front. The P-38s took out the ones a 12 & 10:30 level. PJ got a few hits on the one at 12 high and he broke away trailing heavy smoke. Billy Boy Blankenship blew the nose off of the one trying to scratch our belly from 12 low, bringing his total destroyed e/a claim to 4.
All hell broke loose as we entered the target area (zone 4). Again, 4 Me-109s swarmed us with a frontal attack. PJ winged the one at 10:30 high, and his partner from 1:30 high was shook up by the combined fire from the top turret, starboard waist, and starboard cheek guns. You'd think with all that lead flying, one of them would've scored a hit. The P-38s again covered our butts, taking out the two coming straight in from 12 high & level. Just before the target, a wave of 4 Fw-190s slashed their way into the formation, zeroing in on the Doll. All but the one in a vertical dive were dispatched by the little friends, and he was so shook that he missed us and just kept going for the deck.
We took a hit in the port wing root and had the port elevator shot up by flak over the target area. Despite this, Bombardier PJ Morris put 20% of the load on target.
Rallying off the target a lone Me-109 made a pass from 3 low, but he to was struck by the Lightnings. We didn't draw any attention from any e/a the rest of the way home. Despite the elevator damage, the landing was a real grease job.
-1st Lt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
LUCKY PENNY, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with rafts destroyed, intercom out, prop. feathering instruments shot up, rudder hit, control cables hit and 2 casualties.
On the way out (Zone 3), our ball gunner told us that this would be his lucky day and he felt that he couldn't miss hitting the enemy.
(Random events special "ace for a day" award). No targets presented themselves however.
All continued to be fine until we arrived over target. In the target zone we were attacked by 2 190s; one coming in at 12 Low and the other coming in at 1:30 Low. Our top turret gunner damaged (-2) the 190 coming from the 12:00 position; however the German fighter gave back damage with hits in Pilot compartment that knocked out our Intercom system. Johnson & I decided to keep going, sending runner messages to all positions letting them know about the damage. The navigator also managed to heavily damaged (-2) the 1:30 fighter while the German missed.
Flak was medium with 1 hit in port wing and two hits in the waist but all damage was superficial.
Bombs were on target, and as we turned around there were 3 more 109s waiting for us at 12 level, 12 High, 1:30 level. The 12 level missed. The 12 High fighter gave us 2 hits: one to the waist (superficial) and one in the tail section. That hit gave a minor wound to the tail gunner ("Only a scratch" was the word later on . . .). This fighter came back around for two more passes. On the first pass, he hit the Bomb Bay and shredded our Rafts; on the 3rd and final pass he hit the radio room but for only superficial damage. The 1:30 fighter was heavily damaged (-2) by navigator manning the s. cheek gun but he managed to get two hits on us. The first hit went again to the pilot compartment, this time hitting our prop feathering controls. The 2nd hit was more devastating: the hit was in the top turret smashing into the right hand and arm of our Engineer. Even without an intercom, Johnson heard the screaming and rushed to the turret area in time to put a tourniquet to prevent more blood loss.
As we move away from Pola (into zone 3) we are targeted by 2 waves of fighters. To our good fortune, that first wave turned out to be two flight of P-38s and they were very good. (Random event - "aggressive little friends"). The 2nd wave was 4 more 109's -- this time at 12 High, 3 High, 9 High and 9 Level but our "little friends" drove off the 12 & 9 High fighters. The 3 High 109 missed but not before our S. Waist gunner was able to damage it (again, another -2 dmg). The Port Waist gunner also heavily damaged (-2 dmg) the one coming in at 9 level. However, the fighter managed to get a hit on the tail rudder before he disappeared.
Now limping homeward (into zone 2), we thought we were out of the woods but we were attacked by four 190 fighters; 12 Level, 1:30 level, 3 Low & 9 High. Little friends were able to drive off the 12 and 9 attackers; our gunners missed as did the Germans. We were finally able to land. Upon landing our Engineer was taken to infirmary. Doc says that he will loose the hand and perhaps the lower part of his arm, but that without our medical attention he would have died.
We need to start gunnery practice first thing tomorrow . . . we did not hit to
kill a single blasted plane.
-1st Lt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
TENNESSEE BELLE, second flight, left wingman
Aircraft exploded prior to reaching target (zone 3) as a result of enemy fighter attack; no chutes.
Other 316th squadron planes reported seeing the Tennessee Belle under heavy fighter attack still 30 minutes from the target. An Fw-190 from 9 o'clock high hit the bomb bay which resulted in the bombs detonating. The Belle exploded in a tremendous fireball and no chutes were seen. The explosion more than likely killed everyone on board.
OLD YARD DOG, third flight, lead aircraft (Tail-End Charlie)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with intercom out, numerous superficial damage to the bomb bay, tail and starboard wing; 2 casualties.
Takeoff and form-up was uneventful. We were worried as we had the 'Purple Heart' corner, tail-end Charlie of this whole group's mission. God, I hate that slot . . .
Everything went well until we began nearing the coastline and the target. At least four Fw-190s and a couple of 109s broke thru the fighter ring and came at us. A P-38 did pick up one and they dove out of sight below. A 190 came screaming down thru the formation from above that we couldn't do a dang thing about. The rest came in from 3 and 6 high. Both the engineer and tail gunner reporting getting a piece of them but it didn't matter much. We took hits in the bomb bay, and all over the starboard wing. We can't see how the wing held together but they didn't hit anything major. That was when Brewer caught a piece of metal in the chest that barely made it thru his flak armor. He said it felt like a hot poker in his ribs but it was better than blowing his whole chest out. Flak vests are worth the extra weight in our minds.
Once we neared the target we saw Tennessee Belle exploded right in front of us. Nothing they could have done as they were being attacked by droves of the enemy. We did not see any chutes. I guess since they were concentrating on her, they passed us up. We got even tighter onto Bouncing Betty and Lucky Penny after that.
Flak was heavy density, heavy caliber, and accurate. We got hit by at least one big shell and a couple others at least. The intercom control system was blown completely off the wall in the radio compartment by a hit and we took damage all in the tail. We slewed all over the sky for a minute and almost hit Bouncing Betty. Our bombardier dropped our bombs when the others did but I doubt we hit more than fish in the ocean (Off target/0% hits). This is probably when we lost Sgt. Dimanche in the tail. As the intercom was out we couldn't do rounds and we were busy fighting so we couldn't spare anyone to take a look. Once we did get clear, Turpin stuck his head in and reported Jeffery was dead. I checked when we landed and he was basically blown in half by the flak hits in the tail. It probably was over quick for him anyway.
Once we got past the target we stayed so tight onto Bouncing Betty that we were scraping paint. Wright told us to back off but we just stayed in tight as we could. I will buy him a beer later to settle the issue. (Random event rolled where our formation was extra tight).
Landing was uneventful even though we expected it to be rough as we had so much tail damage. But it went well enough. I am glad we are not going on mission 6 right now. I need to write that letter home . . .
- 1st Lt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
318th BS - Assigned with the 316th BS (LOW)
BOUNCIN' BETTY, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with rafts shredded, the port waist gunner heater out, 2 holes in the fuselage, and 1 case of frostbite.
We didn't run into any fighters all the way to the target. We also didn't receive any flak hits over the target allowing us to get 60%
of the bombs on target.
On the return flight home we weren't quite so lucky.
Leaving the target area, we were jumped by three 109s they didn't get any hits
on us, but we were unable to hit them. In zone 3 we were attacked by three
more 109s. Sgt. Kelsey was able to damage one of the 109s who broke off
his attack, but the other two 109's did get hits on our bird. We took 2
superficial hits, rubber raft was damaged and the port waist gunners (Sgt. Yost)
suit heater was knocked out. When we landed he did go to medical with a
slight case of frostbite; he would be cleared to fly by the base doctor after
staying a day in the base hospital.
-1st Lt. Eric Wright, Pilot, Bouncin' Betty
399th BS (High)
FELL TO EARTH, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%.
Returned with 21 hits, all repairable damage; elevator controls knocked out,
rafts shredded, the #4 engine, the starboard wing aileron and the radio room
oxygen supply system were damaged. 1 Casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by
Fell to Earth was assigned the #1 slot, leading the first element in the high squadron, for this mission. Take-off and assembly were both uneventful.
We first encountered enemy resistance not long after leaving the Italian coast. A single FW-190 singled us out for some attention. He caught us on the hop, our defensive fire was ineffective and he hit our nose with a burst of cannon fire. No serious damage was done and he came round for another go but this time our fighter escort was on hand to drive him away.
We did not encounter any more enemy resistance before the target was reached. Flak in the target area was accurate and we received several hits. One shell splinter serious wounded Sgt. Penrod in the upper head. 2nd Lt. Segavio reported to me that our bombs were off target and that none of them had fallen within 1000' of the aim point.
After we turned for home we were attacked by three FW-190s. My gunners put up a barrage of fire and this time they were reward with seeing one of the FW-190's going down in flames. SSgt. Smithson in the top turret called for someone to confirm it and Sgt. Barringer in the tail reported that he had damaged another one but, not before they had given us a good going over. They knocked out our elevator controls, the #4 engine, the starboard wing aileron, the rubber rafts in the bomb bay, and Tech. Sgt. Gurule had his oxygen supply damaged. Seeing one for their comrades shot down and another one badly damaged was enough for the remaining enemy fighter and he headed for home. We were not troubled for the rest of the mission and landed safely at ZZZ base.
- 1st Lt. Timothy Fell, Pilot, Fell to Earth
RAW DEAL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with damage to the rudder & port tail plane root, minor damage to port flaps, bomb bay, starboard wing. 1 casualty. Claims: one Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Lovering.
Well, now I see what all the talk about flak is for. This mission was completely different than those first 2. (Have I only been up 3 times now? C-----, I have a long way to go). We had great fighter coverage for a change. Anytime anything got close the P-38’s or other bombers chased them off.
HOWEVER, when we lined up for the bomb run when the world exploded. The plane was jumping all over as Lt. Henry fought the controls. 2 big bursts tore us up. I could not see anything from down here but the plane was pretty ripped up when we got back. Worst of it was Chris P., the waist gunner, caught a piece of shrapnel across his forehead. Bloody as all -----, and knocked him out. There was a lot of hollering and shouting as we tried to figure out what happened. Lt. H kept us on target and 2nd Lt. Shelley came through (after the fiasco at Rimini last week) and delivered the payload. I thought we clobbered it, but I hear they officially called it 40% on target.
Things started to settle down a bit, but a couple of Me 109’s jumped us as we cleared the target area. Our escort took care of one and 2nd Lt. Lovering poured fire into the other’s engine. He claimed a kill and if it is the same one as I saw, the pilot bailed out. We saw some fighters but for the most part it was a quiet back over the Adriatic with our little friends chasing them off (well there were a couple of 109’s who took a quick pass). They patched up Chris on the way home (well at least stopped most the bleeding), and Lt. Mershon made a smooth landing.
I am not looking forward to our next flak experience! Here’s to wrapping this thing up in ’44! Right on up the boot to stick it to Adolph!
From Sgt. T. Chimes’ Diary, December 29
HEART OF TEXAS, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with damage to the tail section, bomb bay doors, starboard elevator, starboard tail plane root and #2 engine & no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Stevenson.
The outbound leg was relatively quiet with good support from 14th Fighter Group. We were met with a well coordinated enemy action at target site comprised of Fw-190s and Me-109s.
Medium flak over target resulted in superficial damage to tail. The bomb run was on target and estimated to be about 40%.
On the inbound leg, saw one Fw-190 immediately after bomb run and experienced heavy action with several Me-109s that score hits about 100 miles out from base. Sgt Stevenson confirmed kill 1 Me-109. No casualties and a/c should be ready to fly for next mission.
-1st Lt. David Kuehn, Pilot, Heart of Texas
PRINCESS LILIKOI, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 92%. Returned with flak hits to the wing roots and mechanical failures to ball turret, oil tank leakage in the #1 engine that caused a fire, and oxygen system failure, #2 engine prop ran away. No casualties.
This was another quiet mission for us. It wasn't until the target zone that fighters appeared from everywhere, but the guys in the 14th FG took care of most of them.
We were hit by Flak on the bomb run, but Lt. Duncan kept us on a steady course and managed to place at least 90% on target.
Our biggest concern today was not the Germans, but our own ship. First of all the ball turret malfunctioned over the Adriatic on the way to Pola and Sgt. Thomas was stuck in it the whole trip. Attempts too repair the mechanism and to free him were unsuccessful.
Then right after we had reached the R. Pt, #2 began leaking oil and a fire started. I extinguished it, but we leaked and I had to turn it off while we were approaching Foggia. Not long after the fire, the #1 prop ran away. Perhaps it was due to the flak damage? Anyway, I shut #1 off and the prop was feathered.
When we reached the Italian coast line the whole oxygen system failed. We were descending with the rest of the group so I could stay in formation. However, after I shut off #2, it was safe to leave formation as we were so close to the base.
- 1st Lt. Frank Kingsley, Pilot, Princess Lilikoi
FATEFUL AMY, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with damaged cockpit control cables, and both the top and ball turret guns out.
After a relatively quiet first two zones, despite taking a hit on the control cables, Fateful Amy came under heavy fighter attack over the target zone. Four Fw-190's consisting of two aces avoided the fighter cover. The two aces coming in from head-on hit the B-17 repeatedly (6 times in all), one of the hits taking out the Top Turret, with no injury to the replacement engineer who actually managed to hit one of the fighters beforehand.
On its second sweep the same 190, coming in from 9 level, took out the Ball Turret before peeling off, again without injury to the gunner. Despite the handicap of having two twin guns disabled on the outward leg, Lt. Wilson put his faith in the fighter cover for the second wave and continued with the Run. The fighter cover proved highly efficient, chasing away two of the four 109's and the remaining missed their target and broke off.
Not at all bothered by the flak, the bombardier, Lt. Smith released all bombs with remarkable success (50%) landing within the specified target area. Turning for home, Lt. Smith even managed to force an attacking 109 to break off with his accurate firing.
The homeward leg was uneventful and Fateful Amy landed safely with no crew injuries nor casualties.
Mission Summary: This mission was made hazardous by the loss of two major gun positions during the first wave of fighters over the target area; had this happened earlier in the mission an abort may have been prudent. However, due to the ever present fighter coverage it seemed reasonable to continue. I would like to comment on Lt. Smith's exceptional accuracy under difficult circumstances and his eagle eye which served him well in driving off an enemy fighter on the return trip.
- 1st Lt. Bill Wilson, Co-Pilot, Fateful Amy
SKY RAT, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard landing gear brakes out from flak hit and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by Sgts. Bauer and Crew.
For our first mission it was amazingly quiet all the way to Pola; we saw several other crews with their hands full, but none of them seemed to notice us. As we settled in on our bomb run we took a flak hit to the starboard wing. The way Sgt. Crew (starboard waist) was screaming about it in the intercom I thought for sure we were about to lose the wing. But the flak missed all the systems (or so I thought). I think the hit rattled Lt. Makowski (bombardier) a bit because his bombs couldn't have been more off target . . . most of them landed in the water, but one of them looked like it took out a civilian fishing boat in the harbor.
Once we turned for home we were jumped by several 190s. Sgt. Crew opened up on one coming in from 3 High, and cut the wing off the fighter. Sgt. Pender in the tail managed to put several rounds on target and his 190 veered off for parts unknown. The other 190s missed us and looked for an easier target. In Zone 3 we were jumped by another group of 190s. This time Sgt. Bauer (port waist) managed to down a fighter, and the remaining also missed us.
The rest of the trip
back to base was uneventful. During the landing I got a hell of a
surprise; there were no brakes! We ended up running off the end of the
runway and into the field before we finally stopped on the soggy ground.
The Crew Chief says she'll ready to go by tomorrow if need be.
- 1st Lt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat
318th BS (High)
THE RUSSIAN LADY, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard landing gear inoperable; ball turret guns inoperable; rubber rafts hit; superficial damage to port and starboard wing, bomb bay doors, tail, radio room. 1 Casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lts. Hawkins, Vachon & Sgt. Seaton; 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Hawkins.
"I don't know how many more 'easy' missions we can take," Lt. Fratelli joked grimly. "Things were quiet until we got within about 100 miles of the target. The first couple of Jerry's got scattered by fire from the rest of the formation. Things got hot in the target zone. The P-38's took care of a pair of 109's in one wave. Flak over Pola was medium but on target. It was flak that took out our starboard landing gear and also knocked out Sgt. Richardson's guns in the ball turret. The flak caused us to miss the target."
"On the way back home we got jumped by a couple of waves of fighters right away -- two 190's got through the fighters, 10:30 high and 3 Level. One of them gave Lt. Andrews his second purple heart. They attempted a second pass, with both coming from 10:30 Level -- I wonder if it's a new tactic to overwhelm a single gun position -- anyway, Lt. Hawkins bagged one of them. The other one put some hits on us, shredded the rubber rafts, put a couple of shells in the radio room, nothing else serious. He came back again for another shot from 12 Level; Sgt. Taylor says he hit him on his way past."
"Next we got hit with a wave of four 109's -- 12 low, level and high, and a 6 low. See, here they are coming in again from one area. We got tough on them this time, Lt. Vachon took one out, I think he was still steamed about missing the target, and took it out on the Kraut, and Lt. Hawkins took out the one from 1:30. The high bandit pumped a few shells into us, nothing serious, and then came back from 9 Level. He'll never do that again, Sgt. Seaton dropped him for his trouble."
"We had another wave of four 109's attack us again out over the Adriatic, same attack pattern as the last one. Our shooting was not so good this time. Fortunately for us, neither was theirs."
"From that point on it was smooth sailing the way home. I flew the plane
without incident to the airfield. We had some anxious moments on landing
without the starboard landing gear, but Lt. Andrews did a nice job bringing her
- 2nd Lt. Vincent Fratelli, co-pilot, The Russian Lady
GOLD DRAGON, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with minor damage, mostly in the tail section and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Pulley.
The take off and flight to Pola was uneventful we saw no enemy fighters. After I turned the plane over to Jerry Minter for the final phase of the bomb run we were hit by Flak. The majority of the damage was to the Tail structures.
We were able to complete the bomb run and drop our bomb on target (60%). After we headed back out to sea, we were jumped by two 109s. One came straight at us (12 Level) and passed without a hit but Allen Pulley sent him home smoking from his tail gunner position. The other 109 came from 12 High. Jerry Minter was manning the nose gun and got a good hit on him as he approach causing a lot of smoke from his engine.
After that wave passed we saw two 190s. The 190 that approached us from 12 high missed us on his pass but Allen Pulley sent him spinning out of sight without a stbd wing. The second 190 approached from 1:30 level and Jerry managed another good hit on him as we saw pieces flying off as he passed underneath.
That was all the excitement we had. After an uneventful landing and post flight inspection we noticed about 55 damage points.
1st Lt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon
LUCKY LAUREL, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. After bombing run, fell out-of-formation over target area due to lost of 2 engines. Starboard wing outboard fuel tank leak resulted in aircraft running out of gas and ditching 35 miles east of Pascara. Crew rescued by Royal Navy, 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Garbutt, 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Desnoyers, 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Legge.
It was with a lot of bravado following our easy run to Rimini that the crew volunteered for the extra mission. If only we knew what lay in store for us...
After forming up with the 399th in the high position we headed to the dock yards at Pola. I was confident as I looked at the familiar flanks of The Russian Lady and Gold Dragon. My tail gunner, Stan Legge, couldn't wait to get into action. He was hoping to get his fifth kill and win the cash pot collected by the crew. He didn't have to wait long. Seventy miles out a wave of three Me-109s made a run at us, but it was the Sgt. Desnoyers who claimed first blood shooting a fighter clean out of the sky. We took some superficial hits and continued. Forty miles more and two Fw-190s made their run. With one fighter chased away by our escorts Stan plugged the remaining Kraut. The crew squawked over the intercom, but privately we were all happy to have an ace gunner protecting out tail. Things were going great and the crew was in high spirits.
As we entered the target zone we were swarmed by three more waves. Friendly fighters and close formation helped but a Fw-190 knocked out our #4 engine. With three engines left we lined up on target. Lt. Gilmore, the new bombardier was hoping to improve on his poor drop last mission, but as we lined up we took multiple hits from flak . . . the first time we've experienced such accurate fire. After a whirl of explosions and frantic action to keep the plane straight and level we had lost #3 engine and were leaking fuel. Needless to say Lt. Gilmore missed the mark as we began our descent to 10,000 feet. We managed to gain some measure of control, but we were alone, out-of-formation, and moving at half speed. I told Stan to look sharp on the tail guns. There was no response. Shattered Plexiglas told the tale of a flak hit that had killed Stan immediately. I ordered Desnoyers to take over the twin guns and do his best.
Jerry didn't waste anytime. For the next several minutes we were swarmed by ten planes in three successive waves, each making several passes. As per normal at the rendezvous, our fighter cover was minimal. Sensing a kill the Germans were doing everything in their power to down us. We were burning up ammunition at a frightful pace desperate to make it over the water . . . away from enemy ground forces, and hopefully closer to some escort protection. Don on the top turret and Dick on the waist guns kept the bogies at bay, but we took multiple hits. Shot up and limping slowly homeward, Brian and I calculated we were losing fuel too quickly. I've never prayed so hard in all my life . . . and God heard me. As we got out over the water the Germans were gone . . . absolutely gone! It was like waking from a bad dream, except of course our fuel tanks were running empty and we're still several miles from base.
On the final descent Andy MacArthy started the mayday call. A P-38 from the 82nd flew shotgun while we ditched. It was a nice landing, but COLD, and we quickly climbed into the rafts. A British corvette picked us up and the Brits shared their grog. I've never liked rum before, but I'm a convert now. We'll miss Stan but all things considered we're lucky, in fact blessed, to be here.
-1st Lt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Lucky Laurel
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