MISSION 72 - WOLLERSDORF AARs

316th BS (LEAD)

FOUR OF A KIND, Lead flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with cockpit windows shattered, damage to the port wing root, superficial damage to the fuselage (2) and 1 lightly wounded crewman.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Glock.


VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted mission (zone-3) due to battle damage.  Returned to base alone and landed with #2 Engine out and feathered, Port Elevator shot off, Port Cheek gun destroyed, Bomb Release Mechanism destroyed, Starboard elevators roots damaged 30%, plus eight hits of a superficial nature.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Flynn.

 

Mission Narrative:

We were airborne by 0702 hours with a load of 2300 gallons of gasoline, 4000 pounds of M-43, GP-HE bombs, full load of ammunition, and the usual weight of men and equipment. Everything on plane was in operational order. We joined the group formation at 0755 hours.

 

We were just getting into the flight when over Yugoslavia, around Zara (zone-3), a flight of Me-109s attacked. One was chased off by our P-38s and three others, lead by an ace, tore into the "Harlot", peppering our port wing, nose and bomb bay.  The wing hits destroyed the number two-engine and holed our aileron.  They also opened up some large holes in the bomb bay, taking out the release mechanism.  Upon their return attacks, they ripped into our port wing again.

 

With one engine out and a release mechanism I decided to abort the mission.  After jettisoning our bomb load we had two fighters, a FW-190 and a Me-109, lined up for shots. One was chased off and Lt. Flynn blotted the Me-109 from the sky. This was the last of the GAF we saw and returned home hours early.

 

Our gunners shot down 1 enemy aircraft and damaged a further 2 aircraft.

 

- 2nd Lt. Lieutenant Gary Tines, Pilot, Vengeful Harlot, 316th BS/88th Bomb Group (H)


BALTIMORE QUEEN, Lead flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Left formation and returned to base with starboard aileron inoperable and no casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Taylor. 

 

Mission Narrative:

Wollersdorf Airfield, was another place somewhere in Austria.  That’s all we needed to know – long mission lots of fighters. Take off and rendezvous was routine.

 

There were enemy fighters in our area all the way to the target but only one managed to get through with a beam attack just before the IP.  Phil gave him a bloody nose with the top turret guns and we didn’t see him again.  As we went in for our bomb run we took a flak hit under the starboard wing, losing our aileron and flipping us up into a bank causing a sharp left turn as we released our bombs. By the time we were straight and level again it was too late.  We must have sprayed our bombs out in a wide arc.

 

On the way back no other fighters got near us until we were approaching the Yugoslavian coast when three 109s broke through our cover. One paid the price of trying to sneak in low from behind being nailed by the tail turret, the others were in too much of a hurry from the front and all missed.

 

Nice quiet mission.

 

- 1st Lt. Gary Sanderson, Pilot, Baltimore Queen, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


GINGER SNAP, Second flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with damage to the control cables and to the starboard wing root and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Lt. McClain.

 

Mission Narrative:

We sighted German fighters deep inside Yugoslavia, and they stayed with us from that point all the way to the target and back, finally breaking off for good as we passed the Austrian border.  But the Krauts seemed reluctant to press home an attack on our formation - Col. Lamb was constantly on the radio telling us to close it up, and the P-38s were especially active.

 

Flak was encountered over the target, but it was not very accurate.  Lt. McClain again put our bomb load on target.

 

Three 190s hit us head on as we crossed the Austrian frontier on the way home, putting a few holes in our ship but causing no real damage. Lt. McClain exploded one as it banked to come around for a second pass, and the other two broke off and dove away from our formation.

 

The remainder of the flight home was uneventful.

 

- Capt. Harold Snakenburg, Pilot, Ginger Snap, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


BILOXI BEAUTY, Second Flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Did not bomb target.  Aborted mission due to battle damage from enemy fighters over Yugoslavia (zone-3).  Left formation and returned to base with fire damage to the to nose compartment oxygen system, damage from 20mm shell holes to the cockpit and 1 crewman killed.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Bray.

 

Mission Narrative:

It started out fine, clear day and good flying.  Once we crossed the Yugo border though a pack of 109s jumped us, I don't know where the fighters were but we didn't get any help this time, must have been busy.  SSgt. Bray nailed one of them with the top gun and it blew up right over us, an almighty thump let me tell you.  A couple of the others missed and blew right past us, but this one bastard put a couple of shells into the front of the Beauty, next thing I know Parks was slumped over dead and they were screaming about a fire up front.  The Bombardier got the fire put out but the oxygen was out for the whole nose, we had to drop out of formation and so far from the target, I made the decision to abort the mission.  We turned around and didn't see a fighter on the way home.  Poor Parks, guess I better write something to his wife.

 

- 1st Lt. Jimmy Carlson, Pilot, Biloxi Beauty, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


ASH CAN, Second flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with Number two engine and the radio inoperable, flak damage to both wing roots (2 port & 1 starboard), and numerous superficial damage to compartments (92 damage points), and 1 light casualty.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Logsdon; claim later confirmed by S-2.

 

Mission Narrative:

After the Milk-Run this turned into an eye opener. Toughest mission since my New Guinea days.  Ran into 4 Fw-190s as we hit coast but fighters drove off 3 while fourth tore up radio room wounding operator, damaging gear and killed the radio. The 190 turned around for 2nd pass at 9 high that would have stitched us bow to stern if a P-38 hadn't dove on him and blew him up.

 

Arriving over target a wave of fighters was driven off by box fire.  A 2nd wave of 5 Fw-190s then fell on us though escorts drove off one. A 12 high plane blasted our #2 engine dead while a 10:30 high, a 6 high and vertical diver all missed us.  Logsdon killed an FW as it flew over us and prop easily feathered.  A 3rd wave of 4 Bf-109s came in but 2 driven off by P-38s and the 2 left both missed.

 

Flak was moderate but a near hit below damaged wing roots on both sides.  Our bombs ended up in a plowed field unfortunately.  Turn around saw 2 waves of fighters but none got through defensive fire around us.

 

As we neared the coast a group of fighters was seen but was driven off by our boxes fire again.  Landed without incident.

 

- 1st Lt. Steve Cable, Pilot, ASH CAN, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


399th BS (MIDDLE)

LUCY QUIPMENT, Third flight, Lead Aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with structural damage to the port tail plane (2 hits), to the rudder (1 hit); superficial damage to: Flight Deck (2), Nose (1), Tail (1), Bomb Bay (1), Starboard Wing (1) and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

This was a good mission, our escorts did a good job and we did not see many enemy fighters. Only a couple made it past our escorts and MSgt Fargo shot up one of the FWs that attacked us.  We managed to drop about 30% of our bomb load on the target.

 

Our trip home went well and I am glad to say a couple of my original crew has finished their 50 mission tour.  I have decided to stay with the squadron for another tour.

 

- Major Art DeFilippo, CO, 399th Bomb Squadron


EL TORO, Third Flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%. Returned superficial damage to the nose and radio room compartments and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Wyatt.

 

Mission Narrative:

We were first attacked by the Luftwaffe as we flew into Yugoslavia.  Our fighter escort chased away two of the four attacking aircraft and the remaining two failed to inflict any damage on the EL TORO.  We flew into Austria unmolested, until we neared our target zone.  There were were attacked by two Me-110s: one was chased away by our fighter escorts and one was shot down by accurate defensive gunfire from Sgt. Wyatt.  The EL TORO was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire, seriously wounding radio operator TSgt. Gradienko and putting a few holes in our aircraft.  We came in on target and hit the airfield with an estimated 30% of our bombs.

 

The flight home found us approached by eight enemy fighters, but five of them were driven off by our fighter escort.  One Fw190 put some cannon shells into us, killing bombardier 2nd Lt. Roveretti and adding some holes to the EL TORO.  In all, enemy aircraft and anti-aircraft put a number of holes in EL TORO, none of which were a threat to the integrity of our aircraft.  EL TORO will be ready for our next mission.

 

- 1st Lt. Del Madrid, Pilot, El Toro, 399th Bomb Squadron


GRIN 'N BARE IT, Third flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with structural damage to the port tail plane wing root and the rudder, damage to the starboard wing inboard fuel tank (self-sealed) and 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 each by 2nd Lt. Kearns and SGT. Landberg.

 

Mission Narrative:

There were no enemy encounters until we reached Graz when a wave of 190s attacked but was driven off by the formation.  A 110 unit attacked at the target, but the Little Friends took care of them.

 

Flak hit us on the bomb run and again as we left the target.  SGT. O’Neal in the tail was killed by the first burst.

 

A wave of five 190s attacked after inbound flak.  One was driven off, two were shot down, one missed and one hit us and wanted to attack again, but the P-51s drove him off before he had a chance to fire a second time.

 

- 1st Lt. Ignatious Ellsworth, Pilot, Grin 'N Bare It, 399th Bomb Squadron


317th BS (HIGH)

TULE LAKE SAMURAI III, Lead flight, Lead aircraft 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with the #1 engine inoperable, navigation equipment in the nose inoperable, superficial damage to the port and starboard wings, fuselage, and tail and 1 light wounded crewman.  Claims: 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Hiromi.

 

Mission Narrative:

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

 

About five (5) miles from checkpoint three we encountered three (3) ME-109s coming in from 12 level, 3 high, and one in a VERTICAL DIVE.  The one coming in from 3 high was chased off by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group.  The other two both missed the plane and didn't return.

 

About ten (10) miles from checkpoint five we encountered three (3) ME-110s coming in but all three were chased away by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group before they were able to attack the bomb group.

 

Just before we reached the target the bomb group tightened it's formation to defend itself with two groups attacking each other. The first wave consisted of two (2) FW-190s coming in from starboard but both were driven off by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group. The second wave consisted of FW-190 coming in from 10:30 high and an ME-110 doing a VERTICAL CLIMB.  The FW-190 was chased of by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group.  The ME-110 was destroyed before it was able to attack the bomber by Sgt. Hiromi in the ball turret.

 

Over target we encountered medium flak and was hit five (5) times: once each in the pilots compartment, tail, starboard wing and twice in the port wing.  The hit to the pilots' compartment slightly wounded the pilot, Capt. Shimizu.  The hit to the tail and starboard wing while the hit to the port wing hit the #1 engine causing it to fail.  We were successful in feathering the prop just before we hit target.

 

Even with all the damage to the plane 1st Lt. Hiromeni was able to line up the plane on target and hit 60% on the target.

 

On the turn around we encountered two (2) waves. The first wave consisted of a FW-190 coming in from 12 high and two ME-109s coming in from 1:30 and 3 level.  All three were chased away by fighters from the 32nd Fighter group before they were able to attack the formation.  The second wave consisted of four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12 high, 10:30 high, 1:30 high, and 12 level.  The one coming in from 12 and 1:30 high were chased away by fighters from the 32nd Fighter Group. The other two missed the plane and didn't return to the bomb formation.

 

At checkpoint five we encountered one wave of fighters consisting of four (4) FW-190s coming in from 12 level, 1:30 level, 3 low and 9 high. Three were chased away by fighters from the 32nd fighter group, while the last one coming in from 12 level was able to hit the bomber three (3) times: once in the nose, starboard wing and the fuselage.  The damage to the fuselage and starboard wing was superficial in nature. The hit to the nose damaged the navigation equipment making it inoperable.  The plane chased away by fighters from 32nd fighter group before it was able to attack the bomb group.

 

Landed at Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.

 

- Capt. Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II


CONQUEST, Lead Flight, Left Wingman 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Runway abort. Did not participate in mission.


SALLY WRAITH, Lead flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Runway abort. Did not participate in mission.


TALLEST CROW, Second Flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with #2 engine feathered, the radio shot up, cockpit heating system inoperable, ball turret, tail and starboard waist MGs damaged and superficial damage to the wings and tail section.  No casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

I'm glad we hit the target.  It seemed like we couldn't hit anything else.  Our plane took substantial damage, but somehow, no one was even hurt.  We will have to replace the #2 engine, as well as the radio, again.  We lost heat in the cockpit, but not until the very end, when we saw no more enemies afterward, so dropping altitude didn't doom us.  Multiple hits to the wings and tail area, as well as the loss of the ball turret guns, tail guns and starboard waist gun . . . all in one mission.  All of it is fixable, but it will take a lot of hard work, and fast, to be ready in time for the next mission . . . I'm sure we can get it done, though.

 

- Capt. Trey Azagthoth, Pilot, Tallest Crow


TAILS A'DRAGGIN', Second flight, Left Wingman 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with ailerons controls and ball turret inoperable, structural damage to the starboard wing root and the rudder, and 1 KIA crewmember.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSGT. Erik Falkenhayn and 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Nick Mason.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and form up went smooth as silk.  After our first mission with the 88th being so easy we had our guard down on this one.  We were feeling pretty good by the time we reached the target.  Enemy A/C were few in number and those that did show up our fighters easily took care off.  Things got hot fast as we approached the target.  Multiple fighters in 3 distinct waves got through to us. The sky seemed to be full of 190s and the ship was filled with the dull thud of .50 machine gun fire.  Mason, in the tail called out, “I took a piece out of one ‘em but he won’t quit.” “Port Waist gun jammed,” came Beatty over the intercom.  The enemy fighters poured into us and sparks flew off the instrument panel.  “Check the damage, Gene,” I called out as I was trying to figure out why the controls felt off. “Aileron control out” was the report. Well that explained that funny feeling in the yoke.

 

We did not get a break between waves, the Germans just kept coming. Suddenly, Falkenhayn let out a yell as he flamed a 109.  Mason kept a steady fire with the tail guns and took out a 110.  Maybe things were looking up I thought out loud.  Then we took multiple cannon and bullet hits.  I called out for the crew to report in.  Somerville in the ball turret was cursing a blue streak.  The ball turret had taken severe damage, not only were the guns out but the gunner was trapped inside.  When Goltz failed to report I had Mannock check him out.  The report came back – killed instantly by a shell hit to the head.

 

The flak came up thick and we took some holes.  Sparks reported a nasty hole in the rudder that he did not like the looks of at all.  Despite all the commotion we remained on target and the bomb run looked okay.

 

We made our turn and headed for home.  As quickly as the enemy appeared they disappeared.  We saw no fighters until we were over the Adriatic.  One ME-109 got passed our fighters but he missed us and was not seen again.  Despite the damage to our ailerons the landing went fine – with Somerville trapped in the ball turret we were all on edge.

 

- 1st Lt. Harry Flashman, Pilot, Tails A'draggin', 318th Bomb Squadron


SPECIAL K, Second flight, Right Wingman 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with superficial damage to the wings and bomb bay area and 1 lightly wounded crewman.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSGT. Greenawalt.

 

Mission Narrative:

We didn't see any enemy fighters until just as we crossed into Austria (zone-5).  But our escort quickly chased them away before the could close on us.

 

As we approached the target we saw many more fighters and our top turret gunner took out a 109.  We took some superficial hits and the starboard waist gunner was lightly wounded before the escorts came in to save the day and drive all the enemy fighters away. Even though we were hit by flak - lightly wounding our port waist gunner - we managed to deliver our bombs on target.

 

Leaving the target area, we didn't see any more fighters get close to our plane - the escorts were doing their jobs!

 

As we entered Yugoslavia we were jumped once more by enemy fighters - but again our escorts saved the day.  That was the last time we saw the enemy on this mission.

 

- 1st Lt. Alison Seth, Pilot, Special K, 317th Bomb Squadron


399th BS (HIGH)

THUNDERMUG, Third flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with #3 engine out (oil fire-extinguished), structural damage to the port wing root, control cables damaged, and 1 lightly wounded crewman.  Claims: 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Holly.

 

Mission Narrative:

Almost a milk run - until the target area.  The flak was accurate, we got bracketed by a 4 gun salvo.  Stein got pinked in the foot, the control cables almost got severed, the main spar took a hit on the port side and the #3 oil tank caught fire.  We were able to extinguish the fire and shut down the motor.  Bombed on target.  The escorts did a good job today - Jerry was only able to get through once - Sgt. Holly got him - a 110 that tried to come up through the contrails.  The gunners all reported large secondary explosions in the target area. Landed okay.

 

- Capt. Jerry Logan, Pilot, Thundermug, 399th Bomb Squadron


MAWIMAZO, Third flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Runway abort. Did not participate in mission.


LAURALEE II, Third flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with minor superficial damage in the wings and fuselage and 1 casualty (KIA).  Claims: 1 Fw-190 shared by 1st Lt. Pipes and SSgt. Ross; claim is later confirmed by S-2.

 

Mission Narrative:

Another nice quiet mission, thanks to our Little Friends.  It didn't look good at first, when three 109s came head-on at us when we crossed the coast.  We shot up one good, but their leader came in for a couple passes, hitting us but not doing much damage. After that, the Lightnings kept them off us all the way into target and over target.

 

Flak was bad though, and it nicked Andy and Bob back in the waist--Bob pretty bad.  Then the Mustangs took over, and they covered us most of the way home.  A couple 190s dove at us over Yugoslavia--Jason and Ross nailed one, and the other missed us. So that was it.  Bob didn't make it though.

 

- 2nd Lt. Shaun Hill, Pilot, Lauralee II, 399th Bomb Squadron


318th BS (LOW)

ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

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

 

Mission Narrative:

This was relatively easy with the good fighter cover we had.  Only saw one bandit and he made one pass and went home.  We were lucky with our new bombardier. He hit the target for 30%.

 

- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron


IRON MAIDEN, Lead flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Shot down by enemy fighter over southern Austria (zone-5). No survivors.

 

Mission Narrative:

Iron Maiden was just entering Austria when a FW-190 raked it with shells, apparently causing the bombs to detonate, killing all aboard. No chutes were seen.

 

- 318th Bomb Squadron Debriefing reports.


AUSTIN NIGHTS, Second flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial damage to the #4 engine and radio room and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Thanks to great fighter coverage we only had four fighters attack our bomber.  Three of the fighters missed and a 109 did superficial hits to the # 4 engine and radio room.  We did not receive any flak hits over the target.  Even with the light damage, our bomb run was off target with 0% in the target area.

 

The landing back at base was uneventful.

 

- 1st Lt. Gary Hertel, Pilot, Austin Nights, 318th Bomb Squadron


JOLLIE ROGER, Second Flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with the bomb release mechanism damaged, the starboard cheek MG frozen and damaged, superficial damage to both wings, to the nose and waist compartments (67 damage points) and 1 light casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-110 each by Sgts. Havens and Fitzgerald.

 

Mission Narrative:

Encountered quite a few Gerry planes on the way to the target but only a few were able to penetrate the fighter screen. We managed to chase them away with lots of tracers taking no damage ourselves.

 

Extra excitement was added when, for some unknown reason, both the starboard cheek and top turret guns froze up [occurred in zone-4]. SSgt. Holmes managed to get his top turret guns working again by the time we reached the Target [zone-6]. We were never able to get the starboard cheek working again, in fact I think we broke it.

 

Over the target we were bracketed by a couple of Flak explosions.  Fortunately damage to the plane was light, but both the Sgt. Havens and Lt. Finch were hit. Sgt. Havens was only nicked and able to continue his duties in the tail.  Lt. Finch was hit pretty bad, when we were able to check on him he was out cold and appeared to be seriously wounded.  It is a good thing we are not leading the Group as we were without a Navigator the rest of the mission.

 

Though we took only light damage due to Flak it was enough to through our Bomb Run completely off.  Not sure if the bombs even landed in Austria much less the target.

 

The ride home was pretty quite.  Somehow some Jerry 110s got through the fighter screen.  Two of them did not get through us as the Tail and Ball got one.  We did take some more minor damage but not enough to affect us.

 

As we were leaving Yugoslavia we were informed that we would be taking over the 'Tail End Charlie' position. Loaded Dice had to drop out of formation.  I hope they make it home.  Fortunately, this did not affect us that much.  We were attacked a few times but nothing major happened to us, we did wing a couple of Jerries though.  We were able to finish the mission relatively unscathed.

 

Upon inspection of the plane after return to base we did find that our Bomb Release had been knocked out.  Sure am glad this happened after we dumped our bombs and not before.

 

When the Doc took a look at Lt. Finch he found nothing wrong other than a bad bruise.  He was real lucky he was wearing his flak jacket.  When Lt. Finch finally came to he was acting like he had a hangover.  He should be ready to go for the next mission. [Lt. Finch used his Lucky Charm].

 

- 1st Lt. Jeff Dodge, Pilot, Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron


LOADED DICE, Second flight, Left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Left formation over Yugoslavia (zone-3) and returned alone.  Landed with cockpit heating system inoperable, fire damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, minor damage to the Bombardier's oxygen system, to the control cables, to the starboard wing, to the tail plane and with 2 casualties and 1 case of frostbite.  Claims: 1 Me-109 shared by Sgts. Lapointe and Bohannon; claim later confirmed by S-2.
 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and rendezvous with group went smoothly.  Our plane drew "Tail End Charlie" duty this mission.  Sgt. Lapointe's briefing with the enlisted men stressed keeping a strong watch for any enemy fighters coming from the rear as we could expect increased enemy activity from this area. The briefing indicated that fighter cover would be out in force today and we picked up quite a bit of cover at the rendezvous point.

 

Flying over Yugoslavia the crew reported frequent bandit contacts, but the fighters were on their toes today and not one enemy fighter made a direct pass on us.  As we crossed over into Austria the chatter on the intercom was nothing but bandit contacts.  No less than three waves of enemy fighters made their runs on us.  The P-38s flying cover chased a few off but at this point the enemy fighters held a numerical advantage.  One pass of 109s from 12 o'clock knocked out our cockpit heat and I found out later killed Sgt. Cronin and seriously wounded Sgt. Murphy in the waist compartment.

 

Flak from the target area punched some holes in the wing, knocked out our radio and cut Sgt. Withrow's oxygen supply in the tail.  He had to put out a small fire caused by the bursting oxygen line.  When the waist gunners didn't report in, Lt. Richie sent Sgt. Bohannon back to check and that's when we found out about the casualties.  To stay in formation Lt. Richie ordered Sgt. Withrow to move up and take over manning the waist guns.  It was a risk Lt. Richie was prepared to take.  Giving up the tail gun position to stay in formation this deep inside enemy space.

 

The squadron turned on the IP and made our run in.  Lt. Greiner called bombs away and we veered off to the rally point.  Sgt. Placencia estimates a 30% coverage on the target.

 

As we rallied the enemy set up for more attacks, but the tail gunners of our squadron mates covered our six as best they could.  I don't know how they knew we were lacking in firepower in that area because our ship to ship radio was out.  Perhaps the lack of tracers from our gun told them all they needed to know.  A second wave began to make a run on us, but as they did Sgt. Lapointe reported a squadron of Mustangs appeared on their six in pursuit and persuaded the majority of the enemy aircraft to roll and dive for the deck.  However, A solitary 109 maintained his attack angle from six o'clock high, but flipped over and spun wildly downwards on fire.  Both Sgt. Lapointe and
Sgt Bohannon are claiming a kill on this enemy aircraft as they both feel they really poured some lead into him.

 

It was really starting to get cold in the cockpit as we crossed over the Austria/Yugoslavia border.  Lt. Richie was beginning to shiver and had me take the yoke while he monitored the gauges.  The crew reported no more enemy contact as we flew over Yugoslavia.  Our fighter cover was still with us so just before we left Yugoslavia, Lt. Richie ordered Sgt. Withrow back to the tail gun and ordered me take us down to 10,000 feet.  He was really shivering at this point and said he couldn't feel his feet.  We dropped out of formation but were able to stay within sight of the group.  Some flak bursts appeared low and to the right of us before we crossed over to the Adriatic.  Fortunately, we saw no more enemy fighters as we headed home.

 

Lt. Richie and I brought the plane down and landed without incident. The medics are taking Sgt. Murphy and Lt. Richie off to the hospital.
They are telling Sgt Murphy he has a million dollar wound and won't need his 50 missions to go home, just some long recoup time in a hospital. They asked me how long was Lt. Richie was without heat and I told them at least four hours.  They also asked me about my condition, but I told them aside from needing a few cups of hot coffee with some whiskey I felt okay.  The medics think Lt. Richie is going to lose some toes due to the length of time he was exposed to the cold.  Another million dollar wound.

 

- 2nd Lt. Randy Martinson, Co-Pilot, Loaded Dice, 318th Bomb Squadron


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