MISSION 7 - PADUA AARs

318th BS (LEAD)

GOLD DRAGON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Mission Commander

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Fell out-of-formation from flak damage to oxygen system.  Returned alone with no casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Tucker.

 

Mission Narrative:

Alfred Jackson was manning the Port Waist gun for us during this mission while Elliot Mason was in the hospital.  The take off, form up and flight to Padua was uneventful we saw only one 190 and after a single pass he did not return.

 

Up ahead the FLAK looked thick.  Just when I thought we had made it through the worst of it we took a hit up front here and our oxygen system went out.  We were able to drop out load before I had to descend to 10K.  I passed the lead to Golden Spike
and dropped out of formation.

 

As we were descending we were jumped by a single 190.  Dave Tucker (Flt Engineer, manning the top turret) took care of him with a shot that disintegrated the cockpit canopy and he went spinning out of sight.  After we leveled off at 10K the flight home was a little bumpy from occasional flak but we were not hit again and saw no more enemy fighters.

 

After an uneventful landing and post flight inspection we noticed 15 damage points.

 

- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon


THE RUSSIAN LADY, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial damage to bomb bay, nose, starboard wing; starboard outboard fuel tank holed (self-sealed); one hit to port waist gunner oxygen system.  1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Taylor.

 

Mission Narrative:

The weary-looking crew of The Russian Lady sat down at the debriefing table.  Four missions in five days, noted the intelligence officer, they should be exhausted.  Then he noticed there were only nine men at the table.  Uh oh, he thought, looks like they've
had some trouble.

 

He offered some coffee and cigarettes.  Some accepted, some didn't.  Before he could begin asking, Lt. Andrews began to speak:

 

"The Germans started in on us almost from the minute we got our feet wet," he began. "Our fighters must have been staying high up, or there must have been a lot of Germans, because they kept getting through.  Hawkins hit one about 70 miles out of here, then we got jumped by three 109s a little while later.  They seemed to be really concentrating on the 12 and 1:30 positions, maybe they were trying to take us and the Gold Dragon out at the same time. Hey," he asked suddenly. "Did Smith get back yet?  He dropped out of formation on the way back."

 

The officer shook his head. "I don't know," he replied. "Go on."

 

"Well, once we got over Italy, the clouds started rolling in, and the Germans were still putting up a big fight.  Taylor shot down a 190 that passed by, and then the flak started.  It wasn't as heavy as last time, pretty inaccurate.  I think it might have been flak that got Bouncin' Betty.  Jimmy here saw it go up, no chutes."

 

"It was bad," said Burrows quietly. "No one could have gotten out of there alive."

 

"We were reaching the rally point," continued Andrews. "That's when the fighters caught up with us again.  One got through from 1:30 high.  Killed 'Twitchy' with a shot through the top turret."

 

Andrews took a large swig from his coffee cup.  The others sat quietly, thinking about the loss of their friend.

 

"Tex damaged a 109 just before we left Italy.  After that they left us alone.  Probably chasing down Smith and the Gold Dragon.  I hope they make it back."

 

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


BOUNCIN' BETTY, first flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but was shot down by flak.  No chutes.

 

Mission Narrative:

Bouncin' Betty was destroyed by a flak hit over Padua.  The flak hit detonated the bombs which destroyed the B-17 and killed the entire crew.

 

- Eyewitness accounts from members of the 318th squadron.


GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned alone after falling out-of-formation nearing base (zone 3).  Tail, ball turret, and port cheek guns inoperable, port and starboard ailerons inoperable, radio destroyed, inboard port tank fire but extinguished.  Claims: 2 Fw-190s & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Garbutt (1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Garbutt was later officially confirmed by S-2), 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Turner, 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Desnoyers.

 

Mission Narrative:

A rough flight overall, but the outbound journey went smoothly.  A single Me-109 tried a run from 6 oíclock high but he got a nose full of lead for his trouble, and in the target zone a FW 190 was knocked out of the sky by Sgt. Garbutt when making a vertical dive. That made five claims for Garbutt.  It was nice having such a good shot covering our topside.  Only one hit from flak holed our port wing, but otherwise we were unscathed.  I wish I could say the same for Bounciní Betty.  She burst into flames on the run in to target . . . it must have been their bombs; poor bastards.  Once again we missed the target and Lt. Gilmore was disappointed but with the poor visibility and the flak hit, but thereís no hard feelings.

 

Turning for home we took over the lead from Golden Dragon which dropped to 10,000 ft. after losing her oxygen.  As if on cue we were swarmed by five Me-109s but excellent fighter coverage chased off all but two.  Sgt. Desnoyers took care of one bandit and the other missed his mark.

 

We didnít see any more Germans for the next seventy miles.  It was looking like a cakewalk, but then it happened.  About 150 miles from base four FW 190s and an Me-109 hit us HARD.  The first run from 12 high killed Lt. Gilmore stationed in the nose and Sgt. Desnoyer stationed in the waist, among other damage.  His buddy from 6 o'clock high seriously wounded my co-pilot, Lt. Johnson, and hammered the inboard tank on my port wing resulting in a fire.

 

After diving and falling out-of-formation the fire went out but we were all alone.  This is the third time for the original members of the crew and they knew what to expect . . . trouble!  Sgt. Garbutt gritted his teeth and was able to down two more bogies (a FW-190 and an ME-109 that was attracted to our solitary bird).  With a combination of evasive action and good marksmanship we were able to get out of the killing zone after taking 10 hits.

 

Alone we were still in harmís way even as we got closer to base.  At 85 miles from home four more FW-190s and an Me-109 surrounded us.  Sgt. Turner on the tail guns hammered the 190 before his guns were put out of action.  Learning from our past experiences we had our single guns use spray fire while the double guns went for accuracy on the same target.  Double teaming as it were, we survived in spite of multiple runs and taking another 17 hits.

 

Running out of gas Jerry headed for home and left us to struggle back to base.  That must have irritated the hell out of them. As it was we lost three more crewman, two of them were members of the original group that shipped out from Walla Walla.  That leaves only five of us.  In seven missions?  Doing the math itís easy to see itís just a matter of time.  The men are beat after three back-to back missions in which weíve lost four men and one plane!  Itís time to get drunk, and the first roundís on me.

 

-1st Lt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Dragon


IRON LADY, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 5%.  Dropped out of formation due to fuel tank fire halfway back to home base.  Returned with the starboard wing inboard tank holed, #3 engine useless, the rudder 67% damaged, pilots' control cables damaged, and superficial hits to the nose compartment and fuselage, and 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

Took-off and formed up with group; tested guns after the group reached the Adriatic.

 

Things were all quiet (zone 2) until about halfway to the target (zone 3).  An Me-109 got past the P-47s up top and came straight down on top of us.  The radio room and top turret both got a burst off and although they both missed it was enough to put the 109 off and its attack was only pressed home half-heartedly.  It only made that one pass and disappeared.

 

After that attack, no enemy activity was seen as the group made its way (zone 4) towards Padua.  It seemed as if the Germans didn't want to come out to play today.

 

As we approached the target zone the flak opened up.  It didn't seem to be too heavy but just as we got to the drop point Bouncin' Betty disappeared right in front of my eyes.  One minute she was there and the next it was just a ball of smoke, fire and debris.  The Ant's Hill also seemed to take a number of hits over the drop zone from flak as well.  Her nose looked a bit too well aired.  With the poor weather over the target our bombardier missed the aim point but he still recons that some (5%) of our load landed there or there abouts.

 

As we left the drop zone our squadron provided us with great box defensive fire and no enemy fighters got near us.

 

As the group withdrew from Padua (zone 4), we got jumped by 2 Me-109s 10:30 level and 12 level.  The boys from 14th intercepted the bandit at 10:30 and Lt. O'Donnell got a hit on the one at 12 level.  We took a few rounds in the nose but nothing serious.  He missed us on his second pass and was pursued by the P-38s.

 

Things got a lot worse the further away from the target we went (zone 3).  We got caught by Fw-190s from all over: 12 high, 6 high, 9 level and one from "Up in the Gods".  Fighters clipped away the one in front of us; the two, from 6 high and one diving down high above us, both missed and disappeared.  That left the 190 from 9 Level which raked us scoring hits along the fuselage, hit the rudder and, more importantly, smashed up some of the glass on my instruments.  On his second pass I heard Phil shout that he'd been hit but then my attention was taken by Sgt Wagner on the S/Board Guns that the inboard fuel tank was leaking fuel.

 

The heat from no. 3 Engine ignited it and I dived for the deck hoping our speed in the dive would put the fire out.  The 190 followed us down and peppered the nose compartment and hit the rudder again. Finally, the Fw190 gave up and broke off.  I think it thought we were out of control heading for Mother Earth.  We leveled off about 4000 feet above the deck and although I had to shut No. 3 engine down and we were leaking fuel still, Iron Lady was still handling pretty good.

 

We were struggling to regain some more height as we neared Ancona (zone 2) when we were hit again by enemy fighters.  They must have seen the smoke trail from No. 3 and homed in on us.  Three Fw-190s and one Me-109.  A pair of P-38's must have seen it as well as they killed a Fw-190 as it attacked from 12 high.  The other three only made half -hearted attempts to get to us and the P-38s escorted us the rest of the way home.

 

-1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady


THE ANT'S HILL, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with minor flak damage to radio room, rudder, port wing aileron, and bomb bay (shredded rafts). moderate damage (no heat) to bombardier compartment. 1 minor frostbite case.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Stubbs.

 

Mission Narrative:

Enemy fighter resistance was ineffectual on both outbound and in bound legs of the mission.  Bombardier 2nd Lt. Bernard Stubbs destroyed one Me-109 in Zone 4 on the way to Padua.

 

Even with poor weather over the target, the medium intensity flak managed to inflict 8 hits upon The Ant's Hill.  Most of these caused only superficial damage, but one knocked out the heat in the bombardier's compartment immediately before we commenced our bomb run.  Despite the cold and poor weather, Lt. Stubbs managed to place 30% of our bomb load on target.

 

For the entire trip home, Lt. Stubbs chose to keep silent about the damage to his compartment and to endure the bitter cold, rather than cause our plane to leave the safety of the formation.  Lt. Stubbs consequentially developed a mild case of frostbite.  If he is unable to fly the next mission, I respectfully request that 2nd. Lt. John Morris be assigned as his temporary replacement.

 

I would also like to add my personal thanks, and that of my crew, to the pilots and crews of Iron Lady, Golden Spike, Old Crow Express, and Cardinal Express for their heavy and accurate suppression fire, which twice drove off enemy fighters who approached The Ant's Hill while  we were over the target area.  We hope we can return the favors on future missions.

 

-1st Lt. Anthony Hilliard, Pilot, The Ant's Hill


OLD CROW EXPRESS, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Early abort zone 3 outbound due to fuel tank leak as a result of enemy fighter attack.  Returned early with no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We met no E/A as the group moved up the coast (zone 2) but once out over the middle of the Adriatic (zone 3) we got attacked by four Fw-190s.  We managed to damage 1 while two others missed our ship completely.  But the last one hit the port wing and the tail.  There was very little-to-no damage to the tail but the port wing the inboard fuel tank was holed.  The fuel levels started to drop rapidly fast so I decided to abort since we weren't going to make it.

 

After failing out-of-formation we were attacked by two 109s at 6 and 12 (zone 3).  None of them hit us and we missed them.  After that action, it was quiet (zone 2) as we raced for home.  Our landing was normal, so now we just have to wait for the other boys to get back.

 

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


317th Aircraft Assigned to fly with the 318th BS formation (Middle)

CARDINAL EXPRESS, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with tail wheel out and superficial flak damage to the port wing.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Booth.

 

Mission Narrative:

Thanks to our middle position, we only encountered 2 enemy planes on the way out, a 109 which was knocked out of the sky by our top turret.

 

We took a flak hit on the port wing while closing in on Padua.  Luckily it caused little or no damage.  Landeau kept his cool and delivered the goods. We are estimating 40% hit within 1,000 feet of our aiming point.

 

Thanks to some timely help from our little friends and attention to other B-17s, we only ran into 1 enemy plane on the way back in. He did a number on our tail wheel but Cassel and I put the Express down with the greatest of ease.  We are starting to like the way this bird handles. Hopefully through the grace of God, we can keep her in 1 piece.

 

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


GO FOR BROKE, third flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial hits to the radio room, starboard & port wings, and random hits on other places on the plane. No casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Miyata.

 

Mission Narrative:

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

 

About one hundred (100) miles away from target we were attacked by three (3) FW-190s coming in from 12 high, 3 level, and 3 high.  Fighter cover drove off the two that were coming in from 3 o'clock.  The third one missed the plane and was driven off by fire from the surrounding bombers.

 

Fifty (50) miles from target we spotted bogies coming in from 1:30 high but before they were able to reach our box, fighter escort drove them off.

 

Over target we again spotted bogies coming to the formation.  This time coming in from 10:30 low.  Again, this group was repelled before they were able to reach the formation and do any harm.

 

Over target we encountered some flack which hit the plane in two places.  One on the starboard wing, the other in the radio room.  Neither hit was enough to cause any serious damage.  Because of the flak, and the poor weather, we were not clearly see the target and we were not able to put any of our bombs on target.

 

On leaving target, we were jumped by four (4) Fw-190s coming in from 12 & 1:30 level, 3 low and 9 high.  Three bogies were driven off by a combination of fighter cover and fire from the formation.  The one that came in from 12 o'clock missed the plane and did not return.

 

About sixty (60) miles away from the target we were again attacked by fighters.  This time three (3) Me-109s attacke from 12 high, 1:30 & 3 o'clock level.  The one coming in from 3 level was slightly damaged by Sgt. Sasaki inside the ball turret.  Along with the one coming in from 12 high they were not able to hit the plane and were chased away by fighter cover.  The one that came in from 1:30 level was able to hit the plane in four (4) places, one each to the wings and the other two hitting the fuselage in non-critical areas.  The two that hit the wings were superficial in nature and didnít effect the flying of the plane.

 

The plane then returned from the same direction and again was able to hit our plane, this time once in the port wing, and again in the fuselage.  These hits also were superficial in nature and didnít do any serious damage to the plane.

 

This enemy plane again came back, this time from 12 level but this time missed the plane and was seen being chased by fighter escort.

 

About one hundred twenty (120) miles from base, we were attacked again by three (3) Me-109s attacking from the same directions as last time (12 high and 1:30 and 3 level). This time the one coming in from 3 level was driven away by fighter escort while the other one coming in from 12 high was shot down my 2nd Lt. Miyata from inside the nose of the plane.  The third one coming in from 1:30 level was damaged by 2nd LT. Muraki and was driven away.

 

Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.

 

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


316th BS (High)

LUCKY PENNY, lead flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with no damage or casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Hamilton, 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Allison and Sgt. Jenkins.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was like a fairy tale mission, some easy stuff, some really scary stuff and then a happy ending -- We were leading plane in the high group and so a little nervous.

 

Going into the Adriatic (Zone 3) we got jumped by a 109 on Vertical Dive.  Both gunners missed but the 109 got rattled and missed, flying off.  After that, the sky (Zone 4) was empty of fighters.

 

During the approach on the target (Zone 5) we saw no fighters near us (but rolled another random event -- Midair Accident - ) . . .

Flak was pretty intense and I think a few of our guys tried to weave and avoid the worst of it . . . well, I'm not sure who did what, but suddenly there was a plane's tail coming almost into our windshield . . . we narrowly missed a mid air collision.

 

However, despite all the quick moves, we still managed to put some bombs on target and then turned for home.  Edmond (tail gunner) noticed at least one plane explode over the target, but could not see who or why it happened.  As we swung around a lone 190 came at us at 10:30 high but Hamilton (nav.) found the range and blew him to bits.

 

Zone 4 back was quite just like the inbound trip but flying into Zone 3, we were again attacked by two 109's from 1:30 & 9 o'clock
positions.  All guns that could reach blazed away and ball & top turret gunners both found the range making a kill apiece.

 

As we landed at base we all felt this was the smoothest, yet scariest ride yet . . . Lt. Johnson was heard to mumble under his breath something about being too "tight fisted" with that rabbit's foot as I chose again not to use it on the random events situation in case we needed it in the future . . .
 

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


OLD YARD DOG, first flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with no damage or casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Mission was basically uneventful.  Only one enemy fighter made a firing pass at us and he missed but we damaged him in turn.  Friendly fighters kept everything off out backs otherwise.

 

Flak was medium caliber, medium density, and in-accurate.  Even though the target was obscured, the bombardier got us thru the overcast and we hit the target pretty good we think.  I am sure the Recce boys will let us know otherwise.

 

Our trip back was a duplicate of our trip out.  We will take lots more missions like this.
 

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


ROCK 'EM & SOCK 'EM, first flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with superficial damage to the #2 engine casing and 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Campbell (later officially confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

A clear mission all the way to Padua, where the tail gunner, Sgt. Campbell, ripped to pieces an Me-110 creeping up behind us, confirmed kill.  Got hit by the heavy flak around Padua and Sgt. Kernan, the ball gunner, was hit in the hand by a piece of light flak and received superficial damage to the number 2 engine casing.  Winged an Me-109 coming out of the bomb run, which was good incidentally.  Then clear sailing home to base with not a fighter to be seen.  A good mission, even for Kernan now that he has his purple heart to write his brother about.

 

-2nd Lt. Frank Coleridge, Pilot, Rock 'em & Sock 'em


SATIN DOLL, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with superficial damage to waist section, port & stbd wings, tail gunner's oxygen system regulator damaged.  No casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We had a fairly easy run.  'Grif' was flying Sqdn lead, and we were leading the second element with Daves' Flak Trap on our right wing, and Whitaker's Special Delivery on our left.

 

We first ran into the Jerries over the middle of the Adriatic (Zone 3) where 3 Fw-190s made a quick pass from 12 above, fired off a few rounds, and kept on going for the lower squadrons.  Hal Jackson called in that a P-47 flamed the Kraut he had a bead on at 3 high.

 

Nearing the coast (in Zone 4), an Me-109 in a vertical dive missed us with a short burst and continued on toward the rest of the
formation.  We didn't draw any attention from E/A nearing the target.

 

We saw some, but the rest of the formation was chewing them up before they could get to us.  The flak was ineffective, most of it burst below us, causing some problems for the boys in the lower squadrons.  P.J. Morris was able to find the target through a break in the cloud layer, putting 40% of the eggs in the basket.

 

Rallying off target, we were jumped by two Fw-190s, an Me-109, and an Me-110.  The single engine a/c concentrated on frontal attacks.  An FW and the ME were dispatched by the escort.  The other Wulf missed and broke off when he saw his buddie's fate.  The 110 out a few holes in our wings and fuselage, a fragment nicked tail gunner PeeWee Wheeler's oxygen regulator but he reported it still functioning.  While setting up for another pass, the Kraut was shot up by P-38 and veered off, trailing smoke from his starboard engine.

 

We didn't encounter any more E/A on the trip home until we got closer to home (Zone 2).  Two Me-109s made fast, inaccurate passes and kept on going.  After that, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home.

 

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


SPECIAL DELIVERY, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial damage to the nose compartment, #4 engine, and 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Powell (later officially confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

The first hundred or so miles were quiet.  At about 125 miles out, some fighters started to poke around, but this being our first mission, I think boys in Satin Doll and Flak Trap were watching out for us.  Their fire drove the krauts off.

 

As we got to within 100 miles of the target, things started to heat up.  Due to poor fighter coverage, two Fw-190s broke through on us.  SSgt. Powell knocked out the one at 10:30 high.  The one coming in at 3 level missed us.  I think he was as green as we were.

 

As soon as we got over the target, it was like we had just poked a stick in a beehive.  Before the bombing run, two waves of three Fw-190s hit us.  Boy, you can sure tell a difference between those fighter pilots with the 1st and 14th compared to the 325th.  Our little friends drove off two krauts in the first wave.  SSgt. Powell hit the remaining one and he didn't come around for a second time.

 

The fighters drove off two out of the second wave also.  Unfortunately, there was one left coming at us at 1:30 high.  SSgt. Powell, 2nd Lt. Jorgenson, and Sgt. Cohen all picked up on him, but none of them could get him.  That's when Jorgenson got hit.  He caught a big chunk of metal in his abdomen.  I don't think Ill ever forget the screams.

 

On the run in, we didn't catch any flak at all.  But our bombardier, Pappas, must have been too rattled by what had just happened to Jorgenson, because he wasn't even close to the target.  He had called out, "Bombs Away!" long before any of the other planes even started to drop their loads.

 

On the way out, three Me-109s jumped us.  The fighters drove off one.  We couldn't hit the others, but they couldn't hit us either.

 

About 75 miles off the target, three more Fw-190s came after us.  The fighters drove off two and Pappas somewhat redeemed himself by hitting the third pretty hard, causing it to miss us.

 

About the time the 82nd took over escort duty, two more Fw-190s arrived.  The boys in the 82nd must have been daydreaming, because the Krauts had no problems getting through.  Powell tore into the one at 10:30 high pretty good, although it didn't go down.  Neither Cohen nor Chavez, the ball gunner, could get the one at 3 o'clock, but we only suffered some minimal damage to Engine #4.  When he came around for a second pass, Powell forced him to break off his attack, but only after he had caused some superficial damage to the nose.

 

The rest of the flight and our landing was quiet.  After I shut down the engines, I went to check on Pappas.  He was just sitting there, staring at his gloves, which were covered with Jorgenson's blood.  He had tried to help Eric, but couldn't do enough to stop the bleeding.  And then, when I looked at the bombsight, and saw Jorgenson's blood all over the adjustment knobs, left there from Pappas bloody gloves, I began to understand what Pappas had gone through during the bombing run.  I couldn't blame him for not being able to hit the target.

 

-1st Lt. Andrew Whitaker, Pilot, Special Delivery


FLAK TRAP, second flight, right wingman 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with no damage or casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Martin.

 

Mission Narrative:

Flak Trapís second mission ended up being another milk run just like the first one.  No enemy action was encountered until we were on the bomb run.  Three Me-109ís attacked us.  Our bombardier Bob Martin shot one down at twelve oíclock high, fighter cover ran one off and the other missed us on its attack.

 

Flak was moderate over the target but we were not hit by any.  Bombardier Bob Martin wasnít able to place any of our bombs within the marshalling yards at Padua due to what he described as a wind drift miscalculation on his part.

 

One FW-190 attacked us as we made for the rally point but our fighter cover drove it away.  No further enemy action was encountered after we left the target area.

 

We landed back at base and our crew chief was grateful to see that we had not suffered any type of damage on our plane, not even a scratch.

 

- 1st Lt. Joe Daves, Pilot, Flak Trap


317th BS (High)

BEWITCHED, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted during taxiing to runway.  Formation position taken by group spare, Caballero


CABALLERO,  third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Took off as group spare aircraft and replaced aborted Bewitched. Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with 2 superficial fuselage holes and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We were assigned as the group spare aircraft, not expecting to actually participate in the mission but that all changed when Bewitched failed to take-off.  We took up positions as the last flight in the high squadron.

 

No enemy aircraft were sighted until the group reached the position (zone 4) where it would make its 60 degree left turn towards Padua.  A pair of Me-109s attacked head-on and luckily they missed.  Sgt. Bristoe heavily damaged it as it flew pass.  He thinks he got it but it disappeared too fast and he can only claim it as a probable.

 

Approaching the target, more Me-109s appeared, three of them.  Lt. Madison and Sgt. Santo both claim a single e/a apiece as damaged.  Luckily for the Caballero again, the e/a missed.  Flak was intense but inaccurate but I wish I could say that for the leading squadron where we later heard that flak got one of them and was shot down.  Poor cloud cover resulted in a poor bomb run; Lt. Madison thinks he missed completely but couldn't tell for certain after the bombs disappeared into the clouds.

 

Leaving Padua heading back out to sea (zone 4), another pair of Me-109s attacked from head-on.  The gunners missed but this time the enemy fighter put a few holes into the fuselage but nothing vital was hit.  Before the enemy aircraft could press their attacks, the P-38 escorts drove the rest of them off.

 

No further action occurred after this point and the Caballero landed without incident.

 

-2nd Lt. Michael Cawley, Pilot, Caballero


MEMPHIS GAL, third flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with the radio out, raft shredded, ball turret inoperable, rudder damage, no casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Almeda and 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Potter.

 

Mission Narrative:

"Padua! I don't want to be killed over a place called Padua!!" muttered Donald darkly as we went through our pre-flight checks.  "Rudder! Check! I mean, Ralf, dying over Rome or Berlin now that's more like it!  Flaps check!  Padua!"

 

I grinned at Donald, you never knew if the man was joking or not.  "Fuel mixture set to rich . . ."

 

We finally got airborne and slotted into our assigned place with some difficulty as Montague the C.O. only knew one speed!  Flat out!  The rich boy Forrest also finally caught up and took position on our right Donald gave them the thumbs up.

 

We weren't up for long when the Germans came to visit, a pair of 190s got through the fighter cover and attacked us.  Roberto our engineer managed to get one but the other opened up on us and scored a few hits, luckily no one or anything vital was hit.

 

We weren't bothered again until we got over the target.  Flak again proved to be quite accurate, our rafts were shredded, our radio was destroyed, a large chunk was taken out of our rudder and the ball turret was made inoperable.  Although we were thrown about quite a bit we still managed to put some of our bombs on target.

 

Relieved we turned for home and were left unmolested apart from an Me-110 who tried to get us from behind, Randolf got him as he closed in scoring good hits.  The German was last seen inverted and on fire.

 

Unfortunately two aircraft in our group were destroyed: Bouncin' Betty and the new guys, The Cicero Boys; no chutes were seen!  The base will be a somber place for a few days with so many good men taken in just one mission!

 

-1st Lt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal


SILVER SPOON, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Fell out-of-formation after dropping bombs.  Returned alone with #2 engine wind milling, the starboard elevator inoperable and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Lowe & Sgt. MacDonald (MacDonald's claim was later officially confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

It seemed like a milk run for most of the way there, our little friends doing their job to perfection.  Hell, we were almost at the target before we saw the first Jerry.

 

Flak didnít do anything to us, and Lt. Blackmore up front put most of our bombs near the barrel.

 

The trip back was a nightmare, though, I donít mind telling you!  We were hit from all angles!  Finally, four 109s took us on, and although we got two of them they knocked out our # 2 engine, put some splinters in Jim Blackmoreís calf and almost disemboweled our new co-pilot, Pete Ross.  Blood and guts everywhere!  Lt. Forrest did his job perfectly, I must admit and was as cool as a cucumber.

 

The engine couldnít be feathered and we dropped out of formation.  Luckily our little buddies kept a watch over us, 'cuz the Jerries kept at us.  We took a few more hits but managed to get home in one piece.  Except for Lt. Ross, though.  Heís going home, the poor bastard!  Only two missions, and he spews his guts all over the flight deck!

 

Now whereís Lt. Forrest?
 

-2nd Lt. Charles Yablowski, Navigator, Silver Spoon


399th BS (LOW)

FELL TO EARTH, Lead flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with repairable damage to the wings and fuselage caused by flak and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Fell to Earth was lead plane in the low squadron for this mission.  For us at the front of the squadron it was quite an easy trip but I could see that some of the other boys did not have it so easy.  We did not get much attention from enemy fighters to or from the target.  I think they had singled out some of the other B-17's in my squadron to attack.

 

The flak on the other hand did give us a couple of scares but nothing to much to worry about, just a few superficial holes in the wings and fuselage.  We got our eggs on target despite the weather and the flak, a good job by 2nd Lt. Savage.

 

After bombs away we returned to base without too many problems and landed safely.  I'm sure there won't be too many more missions like this one . . .

 

- 1st Lt. Timothy Fell, Pilot, Fell to Earth


HEART OF TEXAS, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Returned with flak damage to starboard wing root, port tail plane root, rudder and port wing flap. No casualties.  Claims: 2 Fw-190 by SSgt. Smith (1 Fw-190 was later officially confirmed by S-2), 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Ramos (later officially confirmed by S-2), and 1 Me-109 (shared kill) between SSgt. Smith and Sgt. Toney.

 

Mission Narrative:

Mission overall went well.  Plenty of enemy aircraft outbound and inbound, even with a "tight formation" and good fighter coverage I'm sure we still engaged 8 or 9 bandits.  Due to outstanding defensive fire in which we downed at least 4 of them, the bad guys never really got a chance to lineup on us.

 

Even with poor weather over the target and some of the worse flak I've seen so far, we still had a good bomb run with about 60% of the load hitting within 1000 yards.  I'll be glad when Sgt. Stevenson is released from the infirmary and can rejoin the crew.

 

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


RAW DEAL, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with port flap inoperable, tail plane root damage (1).  Superficial damage to radio room, tail, pilot compartment, port wing, #1 engine, bomb bay, waist, tail, and generally shot up.  3 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 each by SSgt. Hurley & Sgt. Chimes.

 

Mission Narrative:

The mission to the Padua marshalling yards will not be soon forgotten by the crew of Raw Deal.  About half way to our destination, we were jumped by 3 Me109s, all off which scored hits, including wounding Lt. Shelley (bombardier) in the left hand.  Our own gunnery was inefficient.  Coming around again, we received more damage throughout the plane, and most significantly Sgt. Scarabelli was mortally injured.  The Me-109s headed off after apparently expending most of their ammunition riddling the plane with bullets.  There was some damage to the plane, but most was cosmetic and superficial.

 

No sooner had the first group of fighters broken contact, another appeared in the 6 high position.  SSgt Hurley at this time found the range and he hurried off spewing smoke.  The lone fighter was replaced by 4 more Me109s.  During these attacks, Sgt. Watts was incapacitated by a serious wound.

 

Approaching the target we were met by approximately 7 Me109s in two successive waves.  Sgts. Hurley and Chimes claimed their kills on the run into the target.  Again, we received several hits, all superficial, and finally we saw the appearance of our little friends (albeit too late for Scarabelli, Watts and Shelley).

 

No damage was caused by flak, but our bombs were reported as off target.

 

Exiting the target area we were attacked ineffectively by 3 waves of fighters.  (This time Sgt. Hurleyís excellent shooting was aided by help from our escorts).  We continued to battle Luftwaffe fighters all the way home (our escorts were no where to be seen).  Out of a total of 25 or more fighters encountered during the mission, a handful were driven off by escort.  A combination of Raw Dealís own defensive fire (and that was weakened by the early loss of both waist gunners early on, and ineffective attacks by the fighters enabled the surviving crew of Raw Deal to arrive at Sterparone without further incident.

 

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


PRINCESS LILIKOI, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with damage to the right wing root and left tail plane root, the left wing flap damaged by flak, and damage to the radio room oxygen system; 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSGT. Marlow; 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Hutton.
 

Mission Narrative:

Well, there is not much to say.  It was another quiet mission thanks to the fighter support and the crews in the 399th.  We got hit by flak in the tail on the bomb run and missed the target completely.  Sergeant Hutton shot down a 190 right before he was hit himself in the abdomen.  Sgts. Metcalf and Beaubien aided him and helped him in to the waist, and Sgt. Beaubien took over the tail guns.

 

- 2nd Lt. Clyde Wright, Navigator, Princess Lilikoi


FATEFUL AMY, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0 %.  Returned with bomb release mechanism and bomb bay doors damaged, port Aileron inoperable, various superficial damage & 2 casualties.  Claims: 2 Me-109s by 2nd Lt. Coates.

 

Mission Narrative:

A mission which left all surviving members with a bitter after taste.  A fairly quiet outward journey saw some excellent shooting by all crew members, driving a number of enemy fighters off.

 

Unfortunately, the bomb release mechanism was hit by a diving 190, which made it impossible to achieve any sort of accuracy.

 

We thought our luck was in, a bomb bay hit, missing the load, and some good shooting by the crew.

 

Better and worse were to come.  Nearing base, we were jumped by two waves of Me-109s, with about four planes in each. Navigator Coates immediately downed one of them and the rest missed and broke off.

 

The second wave came in, and from the same position Coates accurate shooting sent another Me-109 plummeting to earth.

 

Of the attackers, only one managed to hit the plane, but what a costly hit it proved to be.  Coming in level at twelve o'clock, he fired off a single burst.  At first we thought he had missed, but as I called off, no reply came from either nose positions.  The Kraut came round again and this time put the port aileron out before breaking off.

 

I had already assumed the worst and this was confirmed upon landing.  Bombardier Smith's head had been blown off and the same round hit Navigator Coates in the upper arm, the force of the blow appeared to have thrown him backwards and knocked him out. He bled to death there and then.

 

After finally getting a couple of kills to our name, we are all deeply saddened by the deaths of our colleagues.  Coates leaves a wife and two daughters, while Smith was single and leaves no next of kin.

 

Taken from the flight record of 2nd Lt. Barney Lewis, Co- Pilot, Fateful Amy


SKY RAT, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with starboard brakes out, flaps inoperable, damaged starboard wing root, superficial damage to #3 engine, multiple holes in the pilots' compartment, both wings & 6 casualties.  Claims: 2 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Makowski (1 Me-109 was later officially confirmed by S-2); 1 Me-109 & 1 Fw-190 each by SSgt. Strickland & Sgt. Crew; 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Pender; 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Bauer (later officially confirmed by S-2); 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Abshire.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and form up went without incident.  Once the formation moved into the Adriatic (zone 2) we were immediately jumped by four 190s.  Fighter cover drove one of them off and Sgt. Pender tore a wing off of the one diving in from 6 high, but the one coming in on a vertical dive scored 3 solid hits that wounded Sgt. Hurst in the radio room, Lt. Makowski in the nose, and nicked engine #3 causing it to smoke a little.  He came back around from our 12 and raked us again, hitting us in the waist, filling it full of holes and hitting Sgt. Crew.  He came back around for a third pass, but Sgt. Crew managed to fill his port wing with lead, and he decided to look for an easier target.

 

The smoke from engine#3 must have made us look like an easy target because in zone three we were hit by a wave of four 109s. Most of them missed us, but one of them shot up the nose and hit Lt. Sides.  He came back around for another pass and this time shot holes in our starboard wing (taking out our landing brakes).  He came back for a third pass, but thankfully missed us.  As soon as he was gone a group of 190s hit us.  Makowski shredded one of them coming in from 12 low, and Sgt. Strickland put a few rounds on one inbound from 12 high.  The third ventilated the pilots' compartment but didn't hit either of us.  He came back around for another pass and Sgt. Crew put several rounds in his engine and he fell from the sky.

 

Things didn't get any easier as we neared Padua (zone 4) . . . We were hit by a group of 109s.  Sgt Crew killed his second fighter of the day.  The others targeted our wings, disabling ours port flaps and ripping countless holes in our starboard wing.  They came back around for a second pass, but missed.

 

As we entered Padua we were hit by yet another wave of 109s.  Sgt. Abshire hit one of them from the ball turret, and it peeled off.  Lt. Makowski blew another to bits.  The remaining 109s again targeted our wings; knocking out our starboard flaps and hitting the wing roots several times.

 

The flak was thicker than I had hoped, but it missed us completely.  Unfortunately Bouncin' Betty was not as lucky.  Sgt. Pender reported that she had been by a massive flak burst and had gone down in pieces, no `chutes could be seen.  Makowski got a break in the cloud cover and was able to put 40% of our load on target, and we made the turn for home.

 

On the way out of Padua we were hit by a small group of 110s.  Lt. Sides and Sgt. Abshire each hit one, and the third missed us
completely.

 

Reentering the Adriatic, (zone 4) we finally got a small breather.  The little buzzards left us alone.

 

The break was short lived though as we traveled off the coast of Italy (zone 3), we were hit by a group of 109s.  Sgt. Bauer (port waist) downed one quickly, and Sgt. Abshire (ball gunner) convinced another to look elsewhere for an easy mark.  The third missed us.

 

Almost home (zone 2), a group of 190s came at us from the front.  One was driven off by our escorts.  Sgt. Abshire hit his 4th fighter of the day and he left, and Sgt. Strickland downed his second fighter of the day.  The last one put a few rounds in our wing and came back around for another shot.  He came in from 12 level. "I'm out of ammo up here," called Makowski, "I can't take him out!"  The 190 raked us from nose to tail, killing Lt. Beller (Co-Pilot), and injuring Sgt. Pender (tail gunner).

 

The landing was rougher than I like, but with no brakes and no flaps; you take what you can get.  In all we faced 32 enemy fighters; we destroyed or damaged 18 of them.

 

- 1st Lt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat


THE CICERO BOYS, third flight, lead aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but was shot down by enemy fighters.  No chutes were seen.

 

Mission Narrative:

The Cicero Boys were seen to violently explode between the IP and target.  She was under heavy fighter attack and appeared to have been destroyed by an Me-109 attacking from 6 oíclock high.  Either the tail guns were not operable or the tail gunner was incapacitated because no firing was seen from him.  No chutes were seen and it is believed that all the crew were KIA instantly.

 

Ė Interrogation Report derived by information from 399th BS and 1st FG crews.


Return to Sterparone Field