MISSION 9 - PIRAEUS AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
SILVER SPOON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Mission Commander
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties.
It was too quiet up there. Know what I mean? Not that Im complaining real loud, but not seeing ANY Jerry fighters? We came home with a full complement of ammo, for goodness sake! They seemed to pick on everyone but us. I heard that Captain Tanner in the 316th ditched, my tail-gunner reported that they seemed to be under control on the descent. Any news of them? Other than that, nothing to report. Im going to the tower to catch up on any of my boys still circling, and to hear how Flynn is doing. He took a pasting up there today.
- Capt. Neil Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon
MEMPHIS GAL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned alone out-of-formation on 2 good engines. Aircraft damage: #1 & # 4 engines out, starboard wing flap inoperable, starboard wing root damaged (2 hits), intercom out, bomb doors inoperable, rafts destroyed, control cables damaged (1 hit), O2 fire in the waist, rudder damaged & tail guns inoperable. 4 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Almeda, 1 ME-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Simms, Foxworth & Potter. SSgt. Almeda's claim for 1 ME-109 is later confirmed by S-2.
We really got hammered on this trip. Outbound was quiet enough but things started getting hot at the turn-around point after we had made our bomb run. We lost our first engine but managed to feather it and stay in formation. Wave after wave of Germans hit us injuring 4 of our crew, myself included. They hit Randolph, our tail gunner, pretty badly (looks like he will loose a leg), we had to apply a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
We lost our second engine and had to drop out of formation, the crew fought off each successive wave of Germans and scored 5 kills in the process, damaging a further 7. The oxygen fire in the waist almost put an end to our war but Bert, one of the waist gunners, managed to get it under control and extinguished it.
After a harrowing trip we still had to contend with bad weather at base and a damaged bomber, the landing was a little dicey but we managed to get down safely in the end.
- 1st Lt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
FRISCO KID, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with Pilots' Cockpit windows damaged and other superficial holes in the fuselage. 3 casualties.
Another very quiet mission, and a welcome change from the last time we went to Greece. Our Little Friends did a fine job of protecting us all the way to target, as we saw no enemy a/c until we reached target area.
Once over target, we were attacked by 3 Fw-190s, two of which dove on us from above and behind. TSgt. Angelico and Sgt. McDonough hit the trailing a/c hard (we took it to be a rookie pilot, as he made no attempt to evade our fire). Hits were observed, and the a/c did put some holes in us before breaking off. His companion raked our fuselage, wounding Sgt. McDonough and also Lts. Baty and Swanson up in the nose, but did no other damage other than cracking the cockpit window. A further attack by this same a/c resulted in no hits by either side.
Despite being wounded, and the bad weather obscuring the target, Lt. Swanson made up for missing the target at Turin by hitting the enemy dockyards with 50% accuracy.
Our flight home was uneventful; we were unmolested, and touched down safely at Sterparone. We stand ready for further action, and I await status on our three wounded crewmen.
- Capt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid
GO FOR BROKE, second flight, lead aircraft
Aircraft shot down by enemy fighters 150 miles from target area during inbound phase. Nine chutes seen and 6 crewmembers rescued with 4 others listed as missing.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
One hundred fifty (150) miles away from target we were attacked by four (4) Fw-190s coming in high from 12, 3, 9 and 6. Two were driven off by fighter cover. The one coming in from 12 and 6 hit the plane repeated times. The one coming in from 12 hit the plane at the radio room, port wing, nose, and starboard wing. The one coming in from 6 was able to hit the tail and waist. The hits on the radio room and tail was superficial in nature, but the one on the nose section seriously wounded 2nd Lt. Miyata with a head wound. Hits to the tail and waist areas would have been minor in nature because the oxygen system was hit. The ones that struck the wings hit the fuel cells in both the starboard and port wing. The starboard wing was able to self seal but the hit to the port wing caused a fire in the wing and we were not able to extinguish the fire out.
When the fire started to go out of control I ordered Tech. Sgt. Kimura to send out a mayday signal and report our position. After that was sent I ordered everyone to bail out of the plane. Everyone except 2nd Lt. Miyata were able to get out of the plane and open their chutes. 2nd Lt. Miyata is presumed KIA since no chute was seen, and the plane blew up on impact.
Once in the water I tried to gather everyone so that we would be able to be together to make a rescue easier. I was told by others in my command that 2nd Lt. Nakakihara, SSgt. Mukai, and Sgt Yamashita were not able to get out of there chutes and did not come up to the surface after they landed in the water. I presume that they drowned since we did not see any bodys in the area after pickup by submarine about 8 hours after the raid.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go for Broke
CARDINAL EXPRESS, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with radio inoperable and 2 casualties.
Only encountered one plane on the way out, who was driven off by a P-38 from the 14th.
Happy to report no flak over target, excited to report that 60% of the payload struck less than 1,000 from the target despite the poor weather. We were immediately jumped by a wave of four 109s as we turned for home. The first time through, our co-pilot was slightly injured and our radio was knocked out. The second time by, our tail section took the brunt of the fire, killing our gunner back there, Brody Clark. Luckily we received no additional damage from the lone 109 who made a third pass at us. The Express did take several superficial hits during this wave of attacks.
We did not encounter any enemy planes for the remainder of the mission. We made another outstanding landing, considering our injured co-pilot and less than chamber of commerce weather at Sterparone Field.
-1st Lt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express
DARKWATCH, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with rudder damaged, rubber rafts shredded, port wing root damaged, navigational equipment inoperable and superficial damage to pilot compartment, radio compartment, and waist (although the ground crew tells me if our bombs hadn't already been dropped, that superficial damage could have blown us to bits). No casualties. Claims: 2 FW-190s by SSgt. Poulous, 1 FW-190 by Sgt. McGuire and 1 FW-190 by 2nd Lt. Baxter.
We felt heavy getting off the runway not because of our bomb load, but because of the new Captainıs bars on my shoulder. Didnıt ask for the promotion and didnıt want it, but the guys were excited, and they all gathered around to touch them ("for luck," someone said).
Very quiet all the way in to the target zone (except for when we saw Go For Broke get shot down). We were hit by three FW-190s over the target, but the crew wasnıt taking any prisoners McGuire destroyed one, and our new guy, Baxter, killed another, while Poulous and Moore damaged two others. Krystek put his bombs on target, and we turned for home.
The formation afforded us excellent protection leaving the target area, and aside from one terrifying pass by a FW-190 that dove out of nowhere (and was gone before we could shoot him), you might not have known that a war was on.
I had almost forgot that the Darkwatch is known as the "Purple Heart Express" around the base when we got jumped by four Focke Wolfes; a P-38 picked off one, and Poulous destroyed another (HQ refuses to confirm his kills, but thatıs five by my count). And then all hell broke loose as we were shot from every angle on three straight passes by those bastards. Baxter lost his nav equipment, our rafts got shredded, we were hit in the wing and the rudder, and a couple times in the nose and the pilot compartment (which wasnıt much fun). There was a lot of smoke and yelling and hot shell casings on the floor and then the FWs were gone.
I keyed the intercom to get our casualty report, and had to ask for everyone to check in again when the first set of reports revealed not one of they guys had been hit. Not one. Not a single scratch on anyone a first for the Darkwatch.
Felt so good we could have flown home the rest of the way on our own power.
Landed without incident. The guys all had to touch the lucky Captainıs bars again, and I let them do it. Weıll keep doing it, as long as no one gets dead. And it beats heck out of that tradition they had of not changing their underwear because they thought it had something to do with our not being hit by flak.
- Capt. Paul O'Connor, Pilot, DARKWATCH
318th BS (Middle)
GOLDEN SPIKE, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with no damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Garbutt & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Archibald.
Another good mission for the crew, we even managed to hit the target for a change.
Attached to the 317th in the middle squadron we didn't see a German for the first half of the trip to Piraeus. Later one wave was driven off by the rest of the bomb group. About 100 miles from the target the formation started getting a little loose (random events table #4) and we drew our first two fighters over the IP. Everyone missed their mark and as we made the final approach I transferred control to our new bombardier, Lt. Thompson. Without any flak to contend with he was able to break the Golden Spike's recent slump (we've been off target for the last five missions). Somehow he caught of glimpse of the docks through the cloud cover and dropped a nice payload on the Jerries below.
Two more waves of bandits attacked before we made it home, but thanks to our experienced gunners two were shoot down and another was damaged. Once again not a single hit. I love milk runs!
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
OLD CROW EXPRESS, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with tail wheel damaged, starboard aileron inoperable and control cables damaged. 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSGt. O'Reilly.
This mission was really a milk run, now that I think about it. We made it to the target, sustained minimal damage and made it back to base. We met no A/C until just before the target. Then it was four 109s; two hit nothing but air and one was claimed by SSgt. OReilly our top gunner and another damaged by Sgt. Hamlet our Ball Turret.
Once over the target 2nd Lt. Peterson reported that he could not see the target because of the poor weather conditions. I told him to drop them anyways so we could get out with the rest of the formation. Surprisingly there was no flak going in or out of there.
Going out is where we meet some resistances, four Fw-190s. Three managed to score some hits and two managed to come around for three passes. But during that wave nothing really major was hit only the starboard aileron, tail wheel got damaged, control cables got hit, and both waist gunners received light wounds and both should be okay.
Then we met no other Germans on the way home. The landing was a little rough but I managed to put her down safe. All in all this was a good mission compared to last where we barely made it back.
-1st Lt. Fred Anderson, Pilot, Old Crow Express
THE ANT'S HILL, third flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 97%. Returned without damage or casualties.
The old saying of 'third time's the charm' was absolutely appropriate for the crew of The Ant's Hill on this mission. Although we observed some enemy fighters attacking other formations of our planes in the distance, our ship was untouched by the enemy on both the outbound and inbound legs of this mission.
There was zero flak interference over Piraeus as well. This allowed our bombardier, 2nd Lt. Bernard Stubbs, to concentrate exclusively on the task of placing our bomb load on target, which he did with amazing accuracy. We watched through breaks in the clouds as one after another bomb strike was followed by secondary explosions.
As we turned for home, we saw the glow of multiple fires through the cloud cover, possibly the result of our hitting one or more of the vessels moored along the waterfront.
The trip back was as uneventful for us as the outbound one. We were not approached by a single enemy aircraft, and landed safely back at base with the rest of the formation.
- 1st Lt. Anthony Hilliard, Pilot, The Ant's Hill
399th BS (HIGH)
PRINCESS LILIKOI, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with damaged control cables, right elevator inoperable, port cheek gun and the ball turret guns destroyed. 1 casualty.
It was not until approximately 50 miles west of Piraeus that we were jumped by a single 190 in a vertical dive. Sgt Marlow hit him but this fighter still fired a short burst and disappeared below us. This JG was with us over the target and attacked again. One 190 came at us and our gunners missed. He was an extremely good pilot. He hit us and came around twice. He didn't hit us on any of these successive attacks though.
We were now at the aiming point. No flak and not many fighters so this should have been easy. Poor visibility, but still, I can't believe how I could miss during these circumstances! No flak, a walk in the park, and what happens? I miss the target completely!! Blame it on the weather; I'll do better next mission.
One more wave of 190s attacked on the way to the Rally Point. One of them was the same pilot who had attacked us earlier, that Ace, that expert ace. He fired, but didn't cause any serious damage. He came around again with a wing man. They both fired but missed this time. Sgt Marlow hit the Ace and we saw him go down smoking. He disappeared out of sight and we don't know what happened to him. I hope that he was killed because we don't want him around, and we don't want to meet him again, ever! That's for sure.
It was quiet for a short while after we left the target but as we approached the coast a bunch of 190s wanted to say farewell to us. They were coming from every direction but only two came through the fighter cover. Of course they decided that our ship was a good target. One of them hit us and I am sure that he wanted to attack us a second time but we didn't see him again. Probably driven off or shot down by the fighters.
As we left the Greek coast there were a few more 190s coming to say goodbye. The 31st was there and went after those Germans like hungry cats who hadn't seen a delicious rat in years and the Spitfires took care of those Krauts.
We were extremely lucky this time. The bandits who fired and hit us just made large holes in Princess Lilikoi, causing no serious damage. How much longer will Lady Luck be with us?
We returned safely though and I'm very happy about that.
- 1st Lt. Nathaniel R. Duncan, Bombardier, Princess Lilikoi
RAW DEAL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Aircraft wrecked on landing, 3 killed in crash, 6 others wounded. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Hurley.
Good fighter cover and careful attention by other members of the flight meant that Raw Deal did not encounter enemy resistance until we were well over the Corinthian Gulf. One Me109 slipped through the escorting fighters and made a dash at us head on. He managed to damage our intercom system and hit both Morris and Lovering in the nose compartment, wounding each slightly, before heading off with a pair of the boys from the 82nd hot on his tail. Turning inbound on the target over the site of the ancient battle of Salamis, a flight of 4 Focke-Wulfes made their way in at us. Two were driven off by our superb fighter cover, one was severely damaged by Sgt. Tompkins. The remaining fighter made a brief pass before moving on.
The rain squalls and heavy clouds obscured most of the target. There was no flak to speak of, the bomb run was on target and estimated at 30%.
South of Athens, we were intercepted by 3 Fw-190s, with no fighter cover in sight. Sgt. Hurley destroyed one incoming, the second scored several hits, none of which appeared significant, the third missed outright. The fighter scoring hits turned on us to take another pass, but was unable to improve his aim. This was the last good news the Raw Deal would have.
Again over the Gulf of Corinth, we were met by a flight of 3 Fw-190s, again, not a little friend in sight. In the broken clouds, 2 missed and disappeared quickly, one coming at us from 12 oclock low fired a burst of 20mm cannon that hit and killed Sgt George Hurley. This was not immediately noted by the crew, as our intercom was out. The German made two more passes scoring hits on both wings. Once there was a respite in the action 2nd Lt. Cook made a pass through the plane checking status of the crew and weapons and discovered Sgt. Hurley slumped over his guns. It is unclear if Sgt. Hurley was killed immediately or was able to fight on. Sgt. Avory radioed Capt Kingsley in Princess Lilikoi and reported that we would be out of radio contact for the rest of the flight. Sgt. Avory would man the top turret until Raw Deal arrived over Italy.
Clearing the last of the Greek islands and finally approaching the open Ionian sea, we met 3 more FWs. This time one was taken care of by escort, the second missed and the third raked our belly. Coming around again he sprayed us with a good amount of fire in the cockpit and then headed off after a damaged fighter. I believe this German administered the fatal blow for Raw Deal, either damaging the controls or adversely affecting my instruments. There was another brief encounter over the open sea, but nothing significant is believed to have happened.
The landing approach was fine, though the weather was poor. The pre landing check off gave neither Lt. Cook or myself any reason to doubt that the landing would be anything other than normal. However, as soon as the Raw Deal put weight on the wheels, they buckled as if not fully engaged in a locked down position. (According to eyewitnesses). The plane bounced first on the port wing, then on the starboard, which snapped in two places. Raw Deal spun a bit and abruptly came to a halt, with the spilt aviation fuel promptly catching fire. Morris, Chimes, and Tompkins were killed in the failed landing. The surviving crew members were all able to evacuate under their own power, except Sgt. McVey who suffered a compound fracture to his left leg and was helped off the plane by Sgt. Irons.
The accident is pending investigation.
-1st Lt. Henry Mershon, Pilot, Raw Deal
SKY RAT, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with just a few superficial holes in the waist and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Strickland.
Take off, and form up, were without incident. We saw a few inbound fighters over the ocean, but they only made half hearted passes at us, and were driven off easily by our escorts. Once we entered Greece they seemed a little more determined. A few 109s came at us from our 12, they punched a few superficial holes in the waist, but missed us on the next pass.
As we entered Piraeus, a 190 came at us from 12 high, but the port gunner on the Lilioki fired a few tracer rounds across his canopy and he decided to peel off. Our bomb run was miserably off target.
Once we turned for home we were hit by a group of 109s Sgt Strickland downed one, and the rest missed us.
- 1st Lt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat
HEART OF TEXAS, second flight, lead aircraft
- 1st Lt. David Kuehn, Pilot, Heart of Texas
FATEFUL AMY, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard wing root damaged (1 hit), top turret guns out, autopilot out (hit after bomb run), starboard waist gun broken, radio room heat out and 2 casualties.
Once again, we came under heavy attack over the target zone, two waves of 190s going in and two on the way out. Reese was killed with a round which blew his left arm off. Flight Engineer Rhodes did his best to keep Reese alive (Rhodes' guns were rendered inoperable), but was unable to staunch the bleeding. Sgt. Reese died while we were still in the air. Once again our bomb run missed the target, just unlucky I guess. Reese was only 22, he leaves a grieving mother, father and two sisters. Murphy was hit but only lightly grazed on his right calf.
From the personal diary of 2nd Lieutenant Barney Lewis.
MOONSHINE A-BREWIN', second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Return without damage or casualties.
An almost uneventful mission. Saw almost no fighters until after we passed over the Greek coast. A number of German aircraft made passes against our formation, but none singled us out. Bombardier was able to strike target despite weather. Just before re-crossing the Greek coast inbound home, a single Me109 dove through the formation firing at us, but it did no damage. I believe a good, tight formation (despite my inexperience) kept most attackers away from us. Sergeant Garcia and Sergeant Kramer flew their first mission on our crew today.
-1st Lt. Casey Morgan, Pilot, Moonshine-A-Brewin'
42-11843, third flight, lead aircraft
Runway abort. Did not participate in the mission.
318th BS (High)
LONGHORN LADY, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with loss of #2 engine, port wing landing gear brakes out, control cables damaged and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Littleton.
We ran into a couple 190s out over the Ionian Sea (zone 4) with 2nd Lt. Bixler damaging one of the 190s that drove him off.
There was no flak over the target allowing us to get 40% of the bombs on target.
After leaving the target area (zone 6) Sgt. Gary Littleton was able to destroy a 109, but another 109 was able to get hits to the port wing landing gear (knocking out the brakes), damaged the control cables and wounded Sgt. Jeremy Witten (light wound to upper left arm).
Back out over the Ionian Sea (zone 4) a 109 was able to get a hit on the # 2 engine (runaway) but we were able to feather the prop. The landing was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
IRON LADY, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with tail wheel, rudder, starboard wing root damaged and various other superficial hits. 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Foster.
We didn't encounter any enemy aircraft until entered Greek airspace (zone 5) when 3 Me-109s got through our fighter cover. One of them swung in from 12 high ,was missed by our gunners, and riddled the wings and our radio room. There appeared to be very little damage to the wings although our new Radio Operator, Sgt. Masters, was killed on the first pass. The guys are getting worried that the 'Lady' will get a bad reputation in the group as he is the third Radio OP. we've lost in four missions.
Anyway, the second fighter from 1:30 level missed on his pass and never re-appeared, whilst the one from 3 level was missed by our gunners as well and he put hits on the fuselage and hit the starboard wing root. The first fighter came back for a pass from 9 o'clock high but this time the S/board waist gunner hit him (fca-1) and Hank Foster in the Top Turret raked him as he came past (FCA-2). That fighter still managed to get a couple of hits on us though, hitting the rudder and the fuselage before breaking off its attack. The other fighter came in from 3 level and beat us up in the tail.
It came round for a third attack but by then our fighters appeared and it missed and dove for the deck pursued by the P-38s.
When I got everybody checking in it became apparent that something was wrong in the tail section. Sgt. Roberts (starboard waist) was sent to check on Ricky Malone (Tail Gunner) and he reported that he was in a bad way with his stomach all shot up. I told him to strap him up as best he could and get back to his post. He also reported that landing was going to be a bit bumpy again as the tail wheel was missing .
We then got a clear run to the target and Lt. O'Donnell managed to get a break in the poor weather and ,according to Steve Endleman in the Ball Turret , managed to put about 30% of our eggs in the right basket. Just as we cleared the target and reformed for the trip home a Fw190 appeared from nowhere and squirted us in the nose. Pete Smith (Navigator) got grazed in the head and when it came in for a second pass we missed him and he missed us and he broke off.
We didn't see any more enemy aircraft until we had just cleared the Greek coast. Three Me-109s tried to sneak in on us but this time our fighter escort were more vigilant and saw them off with no further damage to our aircraft. We didn't see anything else on the way home.
I got us down okay but it was bumpier than Sgt. Malone might have appreciated. The docs did a great job on him so at least he'll make it home.
-1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady
316th BS (Low)
FULL HOUSE, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Fell out-of-formation in zone 3 due to fuel leak received in zone 7. Ditched, 10 crewmembers rescued the next day by Air-Sea rescue.
The Full House was seen leaving formation with very little damage about 100 miles from Foggia. Captain Tanner radioed for the second flight leader to assume squadron lead. A distress call was broadcasted. Awaiting word on fate of crew.
- From 316th Bomb Squadron Debriefing reports.
OLD YARD DOG, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with outboard fuel leak, ball turret guns out, pilot compartment's oxygen system out, numerous superficial hits on wing, waist, and tail section. No casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by 2nd Lt. Wise, TSgt. Turpin, Sgt. Riddell & Durden.
Everything went well enough thru the crappy weather on form-up. We did run into trouble with four 190s over the water but P-47s of the 325th FG drove them off. Full House turned another one away from us as well.
As we neared the target it got busy for everyone. I counted at least eight 190s make numerous passes as us. We took hits in the port wing and fuel leaked from our outboard tanks. We were hit in waist and tail as well but those seemed superficial compared to the fuel leaks. But once it calmed down the ball gunner reported that his guns were out. So it we took bad hits there as well. Our tail gunner claims a 190 shot down just before the bomb drop. The radio operator got a bastard vertical diving thru the formation from above. The engineer can verify this shoot down.
The bombardier reported he couldn't see a thing down below but we salvo'ed with the group anyway. I hope we hit something important and not just water.
As we turned for home 4 more 190s dove in again.
These guys looked like the rest of them and probably from the same group.
They had yellow leading edges with black and grey mottled camo schemes. I
did see one flash by with a deer head drawing on his cowling. Anyway that
was when the oxygen on the flight deck went out. Both the copilot and
myself had to use bottles the
rest of the way home. Lt. Wise got a 190 soon there after on his second pass. I can confirm he was on flames as he trailed away from us.
We were beginning to worry about the fuel leakage now. I had SSgt. Post work out the specifics and calculations about what we had left. I was very concerned when he came back and reported we just 'might' make the base. He said it could go either way. He and the radio operator transferred what they could to the other tanks but he wasn't too sure we could make it all the way home. We nursed the Old Yard Dog along with the leanest mixture we could to get every ounce of avgas from the tanks.
We sweated it out until the group broke up into landing patterns. I reported to the squadron commander of our situation and also contacted the control tower. I had everyone throw everything that wasn't tied down overboard and we setup on the path the tower told us to take. I couldn't see the ground until we were right on the deck. We were not aligned correctly and we had to do a hard right turn with power to get straight. At that moment #1 and #2 engines coughed and died for the lack of fuel. We were at bingo and went in with only two engines under power. We somehow got on the ground and before we had begun braking hard to stop, #3 and #4 spun down also out of gas. We just rolled straight as we could as long as we could. We ended up in the mud at the very end of runway 17, none the worse for wear. The ground guys are already winching her out. I can tell you that we kissed the ground when we got out.
- 1st Lt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
LUCKY PENNY, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with minor wing damage but suffered a blown starboard tire and a bent #4 engine propeller on landing. No casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Allison.
Entering the Ionian Sea (zone 3) was where we saw our first action - four 190s surrounded our plane but 3 of the 4 were driven off by Spitfires. The 4th was shot down by the Top turret guns.
Out over the middle of the Ionian sea (zone 4), again those fighters; this time P47's, drove off all enemy fighters.
Passing the Greek coastline (zone 5), 3 109s dove at us and once again, friendly fighters managed to chase two away. The third came at us at 12:00 high and was promptly dispatched by our "ace" gunner manning the Top Turret.
Following the flight path along the Gulf of Corinth (zone 6), enemy fighters were driven off by other B-17s and then we moved on to the target area.
Enemy fighters in target area (zone 7) were swarming, but noticed no flak. Two enemy tried to tag us, one was driven off but the other came at us. Fire from both ball and starboard waist guns were too much, throwing off his aim and he dove away. Target area was heavy overcast, but our bombardier thinks we were pretty close to target.
As we started to turn for home, fighters seemed to swarm our flight. We had two 190s coming at us from the front and other planes near us were observed to also receive fighter attention. Joker Leader called to issue a tight formation so Felix and I moved in closer to the other planes - but as the weather was still lousy it was tricky flying.
The journey leaving Greece (zone 6 & 5) were pretty clear of enemy but one or two planes in our formation seemed to have wing/engine hits as fuel was seen to be spilling from at least one of the planes ahead of us.
While still out over the middle of the Ionian sea (zone 4) was our last enemy encounter as a 190 roared in a vertical dive. We could not get guns to bear and he stitched our starboard wing. At first, we thought we were hit but it appears only non-vital parts were affected. The enemy tried to come around but was driven off by friendly fighter cover.
At the western edge of the Ionian Sea (zone 3), we lost sight of Joker leader. We were trying to stay on station but fuel forced us to continue on.
As we came over the airfield, one of the tires blew and we skidded on the wet runway, bending a prop on the starboard #4 engine. BUT we were down and safe. We have not seen or heard anymore from Capt. Tanner's plane or crew.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
SATIN DOLL, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage of casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Turner and 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Blankenship.
We first encountered E/A entering the Ionian sea (zone 3 inbound). Four Fw-190s attacked from around the clock and one in a vertical dive. The Spitfires chewed 'em up before any of our gunners had a chance to get a round off. The one boring in from directly above fired a quick burst at us, missed, and peeled off.
In Zone 4, the P-47s nailed the two Me-109s that tried to get to us.
Three more Me-109s made passes on us as the group near the Greek coastline (zone 5). The P-38s got two of them just before SSgt. George Turner pasted the one at 12 high with his top turret guns.
The formation tightened up as the group moved along the Gulf of Corinth (zone 6), and the rest of the squadron kept the Krauts busy.
We encountered no E/A nearing the target area, which gave Lt. PJ Morris plenty of time to work out his sight settings. In spite of the crappy weather, PJ found a hole and put 30% of the load into the dockyards.
Rallying off the target, we were jumped by three FW-190s. A P-38 took out one of them, while SSgt Turner and Sgt. William Blankenship scored one apiece, bringing their records to five each. Turner's the Engineer, and Blankenship's the ball gunner.
We didn't draw any attention from the Krauts the rest of the way home. Daves in Flak Trap called in that he was dropping down to 10,000 in Zone 4, then Tanner handed the lead off to us just before we hit the Gulf of Taranto (zone 3) saying that he had to ditch. Blankenship said that it looked like he made a good ditching. That's about it, we landed okay and there's no damage to the ship. Any word on Tanner yet?"
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
ROCK 'EM & SOCK 'EM, second flight, left wingman
Runway abort. Did not participate in the mission.
FLAK TRAP, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with the radio room compartment heat out, top turret guns inoperable, the port elevator inoperable, and the navigator's equipment destroyed. Five casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Sears.
Flak Trap's fourth mission turned out to be very unlucky for my crew. No enemy action was encountered until the group was over Greece (zone 6 out). Four Me-109s attacked and Engineer Matt Sears shot one down at three o'clock level, the other three missed on their attack runs.
An Me-109 attacked us just as we started our bomb run (zone 7 out) but his shooting was inaccurate and he missed our ship. No Flak was seen on the bomb run or over the target. Bombardier Bob Martin was able to place 30% of our bombs on target even with the poor weather conditions.
During the withdrawal from the target (zone 7 back) we were attacked by three Fw-190s. Our starboard waist gunner was killed instantly. Our navigator was seriously wounded and our port waist gunner was lightly wounded.
Over the Levkas Island (zone 5 back) we were attacked by three FW-190s again. One missed us but the other two must have been aces as their fire was devastating. Radio room compartment heat was put out as well as the top turret guns. The port elevator was inoperable as well as the navigator's equipment. Our navigator was seriously wounded again which killed him due to massive blood loss. Bombardier Bob Martin suffered a light wound and our radio operator took a serious wound. Our port waist gunner was killed instantly also.
Entering the Ionian Sea (zone 4 back) I dropped down to 10,000 feet to keep the radio operator as comfortable as possible since he was wounded and had no heat in his compartment. This drew the attention of three FW-190s and one ME-109. Our fighter cover ran two of them off and luckily the other two were bad shots. No further enemy action was encountered.
We made a rough landing back at base. The medic told me that our radio operator would be going home due to his wounds. Our navigator and both of our waist gunners were removed from the plane in body bags. After three missions we had only one man on board that suffered a light wound. On this mission our navigator and both waist gunners were killed, our radio operator was wounded so badly that he is being sent home and our bombardier was lightly wounded in his left forearm. As I watched my crew exit the plane and remove their flight gear I could see it written on their faces. They now had their first taste of war. Judging by their expressions I knew that they were having trouble digesting it.
- 1st Lt. Joe Daves, Pilot, Flak Trap
SPECIAL DELIVERY, third flight, left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with Tail Turret inoperable; Tail Oxygen System damaged, (1 hit); Rudder damaged (1 hit); starboard Tail-plane Root damaged (2 hits); numerous superficial damage to the fuselage, to the Nose, Waist, Pilot's Compartment areas & to starboard Wing, port wing, flap & #4 engine: (135 Peckham points). Two casualties. Claims: Two ME-109s by SSgt. Powell and 1 ME-109 shared by Sgt. Thomas and SSgt. Powell. One of SSgt. Powell's claims is later confirmed by S-2.
The Krauts started nosing around when we were about 125 miles out from base. Capt. Andrews and the crew from the Russian Lady helped us out by driving them off.
The next wave came about 175 miles out from base. Four FW-190s and a ME-109 jumped us. Excellent fighter coverage drove off three planes. SSgt. Powell knocked down the ME-109. Our ball turret gunner, Sgt. Larry Thomas, hit the 190 coming at us from 3 o'clock low. The 190 started to smoke, but still hit us hard. We took seven hits, the most serious of which were the ones that killed our tail gunner, Sgt. Ryan, and rendered his gun inoperable. At that point we had a serious decision to make. We are now flying Tail-end Charlie without a tail gunner. I made sure that SSgt. Powell understood that he would be responsible for our 6, and we continued on.
We didn't see any more enemy fighters until we got over the target. However, once again the Russian Lady covered us. Our temporary replacement at the bombardier's position, 2nd Lt. Martin Kuporatz, put an estimated 20% of our load on the target.
As we turned for home, we got hit again. The first wave seemed more interested in the Russian Lady than us. A second wave passed over us without firing for whatever reason. The third wave consisted of five ME-109s. Three of the 109s missed. One of them was severely damaged by SSgt. Powell. However, we got hit from 12 and 6 o'clock low. The most serious damage occurred to the rudder and starboard tail-plane root. When both came back a second time, our port waist gunner, Kowalski, caused one of them to miss. But the one coming at us from 6 o'clock high, hit the nose. Our temporary bombardier won't be flying for anyone anymore. He took a hit to the head. He'll recover, but the war is over for him.
About 100 miles out from the target, we were hit by two more waves. The first wave was made up of four FW-190s and an ME-109. Powell claimed his second kill for the mission, taking out the ME-109 trying to sneak up on us from behind. Our starboard waist gunner, Cohen, damaged a Fw-190 enough to cause it to miss. One other FW-190 hit us, but didn't really do any damage. Then two more 109s hit us. One came screaming straight down at us from above while the other came at us from our 6. The first 109 missed, while Powell hit the second 109 very hard, but it still got a lick in. Fortunately, it caused minimal damage, although the starboard tail plane root did take its second hit.
You have probably noticed that I have not mentioned anything about fighter protection over the target or on the way back. That is because it was non-existent. This isn't the first time that the 82nd has let us down. If I see one of those fighter jocks anytime soon, I will probably punch the guy right in the mouth.
At about 175 miles from base another wave hit us. Fighter coverage was much better, and none of the planes got through to us.
One last wave took a run at us when we were about 125 miles away from home. Two of the planes were driven off by our fighter coverage. Powell and Thomas converged on the third, turning it into a fireball.
We had a clean landing. Kuporatz was rushed to the hospital. As I said earlier, the war is over for him. Now I need to go have a talk with Pappas. He is the only unassigned bombardier left in the squadron with any previous flights under his belt. I've got to make sure he's got his head on straight for this next run.
-1st Lt. Andrew Whitaker, Pilot, Special Delivery
318th BS (LOW)
RUSSIAN LADY, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Soon after bomb run, the co-pilot was killed and the pilot was seriously wounded and incapacitated. The Flight Engineer took command of the plane and flew the plane back to Italy. Over the base, four able men bailed out. The Flight Engineer attempted to land plane with 3 seriously wounded men on board but he crashed killing all aboard. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Taylor.
Things were going fine until we got over Greece. We got bounced by a pair of 190s; 'George' damaged one from up front, the other didn't make it through the fighter screen. When we got closer, we had a couple of 109s coming in. One came in from my side, 9 Level, and I missed him. He put a couple of nicks on the plane, and came back for more. I think Lt. Hawkins hit the other one. One of them came back from 12 High and put a hit in the nose that killed Lt. Vachon and injured Lt. Hawkins. Captain Andrews decided that, since we were about 65 miles away from Piraeus, that we would go in anyway, and he sent me up front. Lieutenant Hawkins had a bad wound in the chest; he was alive, and I did what I could for him, stopped the immediate bleeding and gave him some morphine. I checked on him whenever I had the chance. He was alive, but unconscious, when I left the plane.
Over the target we
had four 109s come at us. They must know something, because we had three
stacked up at 12 high, level and low. I somehow got some hits
on the one from level, Sergeant Taylor said he saw one of them trailing smoke, and neither 'Tex' or 'Chef' thought they hit theirs.
I couldn't see anything over the target, I just dropped the bombs when we saw Captain Tanner drop his. I hope I hit something.
On the way out, we got hit with the heavy stuff: Four Fw-190s came at us from high -- 12, 3, 6, and 9 high. One of them, I think it was from 9, walked hits along the fuselage. He hit Hawkins' equipment, not that Hawkins was using it anymore, killed Lt. Fratelli and seriously injured Captain Andrews and Sgt. Lynch. I heard Captain Andrews calling for Hoogesteger to get into the cockpit, and I knew we were in trouble. Taylor reported that his tail guns were out, and Spanky -- Sgt Lynch -- was complaining about a hit in the right hip. The guy from six high came in without anyone to shoot at him and shot up the #1 engine, I don't know if Frank or Hoogesteger feathered the prop, but one of them got it done. Three of those Germans came back, but none of them hit us again.
Hoogesteger did a great job keeping everyone calm. He had 'Tex' leave the ball turret and check on Lynch, and then had him man the top turret, since the Germans seemed to be staying high. We had another 109 come at us in a vertical dive, but he missed.
I don't know if the other planes in formation knew we were in trouble or not, maybe someone tried to radio us and couldn't get us, maybe they saw too many guns that weren't firing, but it seemed that on the way home they looked out for us. Defensive fire from the formation seemed to get better on the way home, and we didn't take anymore hits. We did see one of the planes, I think it was Full House, peel away over the Ionian Sea. I kept checking on Lt. Hawkins on the way home, and checked Captain Andrews. He came in and out of consciousness, and tried to help out Hoogesteger, but couldn't really do much.
As we got over Italy, Hoogesteger ordered us to bail out, that he would try to land the plane. We didn't want to do it, we wanted to stay, but he ultimately prevailed. 'Tex' tried to radio the tower. We got the order from base for us all to jump. All four of us -- me, Richardson, Burrows, and Taylor -- got out of the plane safely. I didn't see where the other guys landed, and I didn't see the plane come down, but I know what happened.
- Sgt. Albert Seaton, Waist Gunner, Russian Lady
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