Hadden Crew – Assigned 755th Squadron – September 15, 1944
|Rank||Name||Serial #||Crew Pos||Date||Status||Comments|
|1Lt||Robert C Hadden||0771009||Pilot||Apr-45||CT||Trsf 70th RD - Tour complete|
|2Lt||Joseph E Szalanski||0720964||Co-pilot||09-Apr-45||POW||Flak over Lechfeld, GER - Abramowitz Crew|
|1Lt||William M Sias||02056481||Navigator||08-Apr-45||CT||Air Crew Leave|
|1Lt||Henry G Wells||0773026||Bombardier||May-45||CT||Trsf 70th RD - Tour complete|
|T/Sgt||Daniel L McCaskill||39699188||Radio Operator||05-Apr-45||AWD||Citation: Air Medal -5th Award|
|T/Sgt||Joseph F LaCount||35757172||Flight Engineer||05-Apr-45||AWD||Citation: Air Medal - 5th Award|
|S/Sgt||William D Baker||14200912||Aerial Gunner||05-Apr-45||AWD||Citation: Air Medal - 5th Award|
|S/Sgt||Robert F Camilleri||12239676||Aerial Gunner||05-Apr-45||AWD||Citation: Air Medal - 5th Award|
|Sgt||Randel Mason||38390708||Aerial Gunner||May-45||UNK||2AD Roster - 755th Bomb Sq|
|S/Sgt||Charles P Nizzola||36850436||Armorer-Gunner||05-Apr-45||AWD||Citation: Air Medal - 5th Award|
2Lt Robert Hadden and crew arrived at Horsham on September 21, 1944. They were just in time to participate in the group’s Truckin’ Missions, ferrying gasoline to Patton’s Army in France. Hadden is listed as flying on two of these runs, but some of the crew flew additional missions. The crew’s first combat mission was on October 5, 1944 an airfield near Paderborn, Germany. Later in the month, on October 23rd, the crew was transferred to the 753rd Bomb Squadron, as all lead crews were being transferred into the 755th. On November 20th, gunner Sgt Randel Mason was reclassified as a Radio Operator. It is not known with which crews he subsequently flew, although one load list for the group’s last mission of the war on April 25, 1945 shows him on the crew of Captain Robert W. Shaw in the 755BS.
Hadden and most of the crew flew a total of 13 missions in the final months of 1944. During January and February 1945 they added to their total. On February 10th, bombardier 2Lt Henry Wells was transferred to the 755th Squadron to be a pilotage navigator. At this stage of the war, the need for navigators outweighed the need for trained bombardiers. Most of the bombardiers from wing (non-lead) crews were given navigation training and used as pilotage navigators on lead ships.
On February 25th most of the crew went to a Rest Home for a much needed leave. They were back flying missions on March 10th, and most of the crew completed their tour the first week of April. Co-pilot 2Lt Joseph Szalanski still had two to go, and it was on April 9, 1945 that he was assigned to fly with 2Lt Leonard Abramowitz and crew. Over the target their ship named Final Approach received a direct flak hit over the target which set the No. 2 engine on fire. Eight men were able to bail out, but nose gunner, Sgt Allen Rupp did not exit the plane.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|25-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR08-1||--||42-7642||N||44BG||T5||M'DARLING||1ST FLIGHT|
|25-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR08-2||--||42-7642||N||44BG||T6||M'DARLING||2ND FLIGHT|
|05-Oct-44||PADERBORN||128||1||42-51206||S||7V||1||THE PIED PIPER|
|12-Oct-44||OSNABRUCK||132||3||42-95179||X||7V||47||HERE I GO AGAIN|
|26-Oct-44||MINDEN||138||5||44-40283||I+||J4||11||LASSIE COME HOME|
|09-Nov-44||METZ AREA||145||ANA||44-40134||R||J4||30||UNKNOWN 039||NO MISSION CREDIT|
|25-Nov-44||BINGEN||149||ABT||41-28980||V||J4||--||UNKNOWN 009||ABORT - #2 ENG|
|26-Nov-44||BIELEFELD||150||7||42-110141||U||J4||27||BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN|
|30-Nov-44||HOMBURG M/Y||151||8||42-51200||B||J4||7||STINKY||W. SIAS JOURNAL|
|06-Dec-44||BIELEFELD||153||9||44-40281||Q||J4||18||A DOG'S LIFE|
|31-Dec-44||KOBLENZ||162||13||44-40281||Q||J4||25||A DOG'S LIFE|
|01-Jan-45||KOBLENZ||163||14||44-40281||Q||J4||26||A DOG'S LIFE|
|10-Jan-45||SCHONBERG||168||15||44-40281||Q||J4||28||A DOG'S LIFE|
|29-Jan-45||MUNSTER||175||17||44-40281||Q||J4||30||A DOG'S LIFE|
|03-Feb-45||MAGDEBURG||177||18||44-40281||Q||J4||32||A DOG'S LIFE|
|09-Feb-45||MAGDEBURG||179||19||44-40281||Q||J4||33||A DOG'S LIFE|
|11-Feb-45||DULMEN||180||20||44-40281||Q||J4||34||A DOG'S LIFE|
|17-Feb-45||ASCHAFFENBURG M/Y||REC||--||44-40277||P||J4||--||MISS USED||RECALL - WEATHER|
|10-Mar-45||ARNSBURG||201||ABT||44-40277||P||J4||--||MISS USED||ABORT - #1 ENG|
|12-Mar-45||FRIEDBURG||202||26||42-110163||M||J4||70||TIME'S A WASTIN|
|17-Mar-45||HANNOVER||205||NTO||42-100366||H||Z5||--||MIZPAH||NO SPARE AVAIL|
1Lt William Sias Journal
The following Journal of the crew’s navigator comes from Joe LaCount, son of flight engineer Joseph LaCount. I believe William Sias may have sent copies of this to all of his crew members at some point post-war. The notes in italicized [WDB] are comments from tail gunner William D Baker.
PERSONAL JOURNAL OF 1LT. WILLIAM M. SIAS
B-24 BOMBER CREW NAVIGATOR CREW 21
753RD SQUADRON 458TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP(H)
96TH WING, SECOND DIVISION, EIGHTH AIR FORCE
Arrived in Goric. Scotland August 25. 1944 after an eight day trip on the Ilse de France from N. Y. City. Proceeded directly to Stone, England. Left Stone via railroad to Warrington, England on August 31, 1944. Remained there until September 1, 1944 when we proceeded to Cluntoe, Ireland via plane to receive final training before combat. Departed for the 458th Bomb Group, 755 Bomb Squadron stationed three miles north of Norwich, England on September 14, 1944 on a boat. After boat and train trip, arrived here on September 15.
Received five more days of training on group tactics, then placed on an operational status.
FLIGHTS – 1944
Sep 23. Cargo mission to St. Dizier, France. 1st Lt. French, pilot.
Sep 24. Stood by but bad weather caused grounding.
Sep 25. Cargo mission to Lille, France. Pilot R. C. Hadden.
Sep 26. Two cargo missions to Lille, France. Pilots French and Hadden.
Sep 27. Cargo mission to Lille via long route. Pilot 1st Lt. McGough.
Sep 28. Cargo mission to Lille via long route. Pilot McGough.
Oct 5. 1st Mission Destination Padderborn, Germany. Target, airfield. Load, twelve 500-pound general purpose bombs. Mission very successful. No planes lost. Time 06:15 hours. Plane 206 S. (Pictured at right)
Oct 6. 2nd Mission Destination Stade, Germany. Target, airfield. Load, twelve 500-pound G.P. bombs. Mission not too successful. No planes lost. Picked up five flack holes. Was bombardier/navigator. Pilot, J. French, his 24th mission. Time 06:30 hours.
Oct 7. 3rd Mission Aborted at a point in Holland 18 miles from German territory. Destination Magdeburg. Load six 1000-pound G.P. bombs: 2700 gallons of gas. Target, Oil refinery. One ship lost. Time 04:25 hours. Plane 316 N. (Note: Received delayed approval for this flight as a credible mission.)
Oct 8. Mission scrubbed as we were getting ready for takeoff. Destination and load same as day before. Flew practice mission in the Afternoon .
Oct 9. Mission turned down.
Oct 11. Mission turned down.
Oct 12. 4th Mission. Destination secondary town of Osnabruck. Germany. Target. marshalling yards. Load 52 100- pound G. P. bombs. Mission not very successful. Two planes lost over target. One ditched on return others pretty well shot up. Was B/N. Time, 05:25 hours. Plane 179 X.
Oct 19. 5th Mission Destination, supply depot at Mainz. Target requested destroyed by ground forces. Load twelve 250-pound G.P. and six 500-pound incendiary bombs. Mission not too successful as our squadron dropped 12 minutes early. No planes lost several badly shot up. Flak heavy to our right. Time.05:50 hours. Plane 431. (Lost two engines on take off in originally assigned ship. Reached 27.000 feet due to high clouds. Temperature minus 43 degrees C.) [WDB note: Plane number 431 was lost 30 Oct 44 on a mission to Harburg.]
Oct 25. Flew practice mission around England and over the North Sea. Time 04:05 hours.
Oct 26. 6th Mission. Destination Minden, Germany. Target, canal and viaduct to disrupt greatly increased water traffic by Nazis. Load, three 2000-pound G.P. bombs. No flack over target but some bursts from Osnabruck on return. It was at our altitude with nice tracking, but 250 yards to the right. There was 10/10s coverage entire route. Bombing
results should have been excellent as the entire Second Division bombed similar targets in this area. No planes lost. Time. 05:25 hours. Plane #285 H.
Oct 27 & 28. Alerted but missions scrubbed .
Oct 29. Alerted for night practice mission but mission scrubbed due to weather conditions. However, our being alerted for this practice mission kept us from flying the mission to Hamburg on Oct 30. We consider ourselves very fortunate. [WDB note: Plane #431, which we flew on our 4th mission 19 Oct. was lost making the group’s mission we missed on the 30th.]
Oct. 31. Mission to Hamburg (Harburg ?) scrubbed as we were at briefing.
Oct 31. Our crew removed from operational status to check out on night flying. Flew our first mission at night. Pilot made four landings. We then flew a short cross country. Used GEE and radio facilities.
[WDB note: Two planes lost in October. On the 14th Jimmy Carlisle’s crew [Lt Klusmeyer, pilot] was shot down at Cologne in plane #864 and on the 30th the crew flying plane #431 [Lt Curland crew] was shot down at Harburg. We flew #432 on 19th of October.]
Nov 1. Night cross country combined with practice bombing. After reaching bombing range couldn’t bomb due to 10/10s undercast. So flew the cross country. Put in 3-1\2 hours form 1time on first night and 3-1\2 again tonight.
Nov 9. Not Credited. Target pillboxes four miles S.E. of Metz. France. Load, three 2000-pound G. P. bombs and 2300 gallons of gas. Target requested by ground forces as German installations are holding up Patton’s Third Army. This mission was the poorest yet flown for our group. Our forming was terrible, we never got on course during the entire mission. We dropped about five minutes early at a point 10 miles N.W. of Metz on our own troops. Today we had a bad day as our plane (#134) had no GEE box, no Free Air Temperature Gauge, lnterphone out in nose turret, not enough time to finish necessary preparation. Before departure, lost packet of French money on takeoff, one burst of flack hit us knocking out supercharger on No. 3 engine and a piece came in by my foot tearing corner off ammunition box and only missing my foot by an inch. Flew with our whole crew. On return ran into bad storm two minutes from our field so had to go back to a field by lpswitch. Ship was in such bad shape that we couldn’t take off again. So. rode back in another plane. Rumor has it that we won’t get credit for this mission. Time. 06:30 hours. Plane I 134.
Nov 10. Practice mission over England practicing bombing for ground support. Time. 02:30 hours.
Nov 11. Alerted for night bullseye but mission was scrubbed at briefing.
Nov 12. Flew practice mission over England. Time. 02:30 hours.
Nov 16. 7th Mission. Destination N. E. of Aachen. Target, German troops. Load, twenty 260-pound fragmentation bombs and 2500 gallons of gas. Target bombing to precede large scale offensive by our ground forces. Very successful mission. Flak seen from Cologne. Low visibility at field on return forced entire wing on diversion to R.A.F. fields near Leeds. Spent 2-1/2 days there due to weather. Time, 06:20 hours. Plane #555 A. Note: No credit for Metz mission Nov 9., but credit has been given for the aborted mission Oct 7 to Magdeburg.
Nov 20. Alerted for night bullseye, but mission was scrubbed at briefing.
Nov 21. Flew night bullseye. No GEE Box as it went out just after takeoff. Flew entire mission by “D. R.” with what few night aids could be seen. Time 03:25 hours. Plane #133 K. [WDB note: On 24 Nov plane # 133 crashed on takeoff killing the entire crew. There is a plaque in Norwich dedicated to this crew and their pilot for handling this plane during the crash in a manner which avoided any loss of civilian lives or property.]
Nov 25. Abortion while forming on southern coast of England. Destination, town S.W. of Mainz. Target, heavy concentration of German Panzer Divisions with their equipment and supplies. Load, ten 500-pound bombs and two 500-pound incendiaries. Time. 03:10 hours. Plane #980.
Nov 26. 8th Mission. Destination, Bielefeld. Germany. Target, viaduct. Load, eight 1,000 G.P. bombs and 2300 gallons of gas. No flack over target, but course led by several flak areas, namely Osnabruck. Munster and Rheine. Osnabruck sent up the heaviest concentration of flak I’ve yet seen, but our course kept us to the left. Munster sent up some flak and rocket smoke bombs. And Rheine put about 24 guns in action, but our course was again to the left. Our group just missed target, but the 466th Group wiped it out. Time, 06:00. Plane #141 U. “Lady Luck”.
Nov 30. 9th Mission. Destination, Homburg. Target, marshalling yards. Load, forty-four 100-pound G.P. and two 500-pound incendiary bombs. Target covered 10/10’s so bombed GH. Route flown all over the sky. Flak over target very accurate. Fighter blown up over target. Time, 07:00 hours. Plane #200 B.
[WDB note: The 458th only lost one plane ( #133) in November 44. This was their best month ever, loss-wise.]
Dec 2. Flew two hours trying to drop five 100-pound practice bombs.
Dec 6. 10th Mission. After being alerted for seven days straight we finally flew another mission. Destination, Bielefeld. Target, marshaling yards. Load, eight 1,000-pound G.P. bombs. Mission appeared to be very successful. Hit by flak at point of landfall. Lost most of the hydraulic fluid and picked up hole by waist gunner. Flak light, but accurate. Time, 07:00 hours. Plane #281 “A Dog’s Life”.
Dec 7. Flew practice mission over England. Time. 02:00 hours. Plane #141 U.
Dec 11. 11th Mission. Destination, Hanau. Target, marshalling yard. 10/10’s coverage, bombed PFF. Load, six 1,000-pound G.P. bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Flack light. Lost one plane, McGough who was flying his 35th mission. Ran into very bad weather after dropping bombs and formation just managed to hold together. Today was Eighth Air Force’s biggest day: 2,000 bombers and 1,000 fighters. Time, 08:00 hours. Plane #553.
Dec 12. 12th Mission. Destination, Hanau. Target, marshalling yards. Results excellent. Saw yesterday’s results which were good. Visual bombing. Flak light, but very accurate. We would have gotten direct hit if we had not taken our own evasive action. Bandits reported but we didn’t see any. Time, 07:30 hours. Plane #555A.
Dec 27. 13th Mission. Destination, Neunkirchen. Target, marshalling yard. Load, twenty 250-pound G.P. and two 500-pound incendiary bombs. Visual bombing but results only fair due to flak hitting lead plane just prior to bombs away. Flak light but accurate. Our plane picked up ten holes. Bandits again reported in the area. This mission a rough one for us as we hit prop wash on takeoff and just missed cracking into houses in Norwich. Also, none of the bombs released. We kicked out the front bay bombs, but returned with the back bay full. The landing was bad due to bombs and poor visibility. This caused us to burn out the brakes and go off the runway. Time, 06:30 hours. Plane #640 “O”. (Bugs Bunny Pictured left, closest to camera)
Dec 28. Flew night cross country and shot four landings. McCormick the pilot. Time 03:20. Plane #555. [WDB note: This was the 3rd and last time to use #555.]
Dec 31. 14th Mission. Destination, Coblenz. Target, railroad bridge across the Rhine River. Load, four 2.000-pound G.P. bombs. Bombed GH. Flack light but accurate. Wind was 125mph in target area. Results were poor. Time, 06:30 hours. Plane #281 Q. (WDB note: Lost four planes in December. #097 on 12/12/44 at Hanover; #709 on 12/14/44; #812 on 12/24/44 at Prum; and #554 on 12/26/44)
FLIGHTS – 1945
Jan 1. 15th Mission. Destination, Coblenz. Target, railroad bridge over Rhine. Load, four 2.000-pound G.P. bombs. Visual all the way. Reached point in Germany about 40 miles west of Trier and had to turn around due tremendous wind causing gas shortage. Wind figured at 150 mph. Time, 0700 hours. Plane #281 Q. [WDB note: This looks to me like one of our missions that has really stayed in my memory. Yet Bill S does not mention the key ingredients here or in connection with any other of our missions. Here’s the key events I have in mind. At takeoff the weather was terrible, visibility was lousy. We kept going. There was no way of really forming and I could not see how it was possible to avoid a collision. We kept on flying, gaining altitude as we went. The electrical system we used for our heated suits went out and, even though we had on at least three layer of clothing, we were soon miserably cold. The head wind we had was so strong our ground speed was under 40 mph. I was flying tail at the time, so it was easy enough for me to get out and move around some, which I started doing. I thought I had gotten about as cold as a human could feel. I hadn’t. It became kind of a challenge to me as just stand up to the discomfort. Finally, we got word to abort and started home. As I remember it we had gotten up to about 27,000 feet and had encountered temps of about 59 below zero centigrade which some later figured around -78 degrees F. Also, when we finally got back Henry W. was carried to the dispensary for treatment. Does anyone else remember these things? Bill S. doesn’t.]
Jan 5. Flew up to Langford Lodge, Ireland to take six other crews up to bring back new airplanes. Distance, 600 miles. Pilot, Capt. Robson. Time, 04:10 hours.
Jan 10. 16th Mission. Destination, road bridge five miles west of St. Vith. Load, six 1,000-pound G.P. bombs. Results should have been good, but this was another rough mission due to weather. We had to climb to 22,500 feet to get out of overcast. Dense and persistent contrails made assembly almost impossible. Finally got somewhat formed and got on course late. Our VHF was out, bomb bay doors froze shut. Radio man risked his life on catwalk trying to get doors open by hand. Bombs wouldn’t release by any mechanical means. So radio operator kicked two out. Number 3 engine failed and couldn’t be feathered, so we had to leave formation at target to try for emergency field. Engine finally feathered so we came back home. Time, 07:00. Plane #281 Q.
Jan 14. 17th Mission. Destination, six miles south of Brunswick (“Little B”) Germany. Target, Herman Goering oil refinery. Visual entire route. Bombing results excellent. Heaviest concentration of flak yet encountered (69 guns within range at once.) Fighter support excellent. E/A forming for attacks after our group had gotten past. One plane lost landing at field. Time. 07:45. Plane #980 V. [WDB note: plane lost was I 44-40283 . One mile from field. All killed.] [Lt Diehl Crew – Two crew members actually survived this crash-des]
Jan 20. Mission scrubbed at station time.
Jan 24. Mission to Munster (97 guns) scrubbed at station time.
Jan 26. Mission to Munster again scrubbed after briefing.
Jan 27. Mission to Mission to Kiel. Germany scrubbed after briefing. This mission was directed against the increasing German submarine menace. Kiel has 128 guns.
Jan 29. 18th Mission. Destination, Munster. Target, marshalling yards. Load, six 1,000-pound G.P. bombs. 10/10 entire route. No flak at target. Bombed H2X. Results unobserved. High points were our takeoff and landing. On first takeoff we got a good start then found our airspeed meter didn’t work, so we couldn’t go on. When landing we hit prop-wash just as we were touching the ground. This was almost the end as our left wing dipped and almost scraped the ground. Pilot gave full power and we took off again. Much too dose for comfort. Time, 05:15 hours. Plane #281 Q.
[WDB note: six planes lost during Jan 45: One at DiJon, France, 16 Jan; one hit in gas tank at Harburg, went to Sweden, 17 Jan; one 21 Jan at Rheims, and the other three in various mishaps not classified enemy action.]
Feb 2. Mission to Berlin scrubbed after briefing.
Feb 3. 19th Mission. Destination, Magdeburg. Germany. Target, oil,refinery. Load., ten 500-pound G.P. bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Secondary target was Berlin. Our section of the group didn’t get a chance to drop at target so bombed Wernemunde, Germany. Saw a lot of flak all the way into target and at target just prior to our arrival. Seems like they had guns every place we headed. Time, 07:00 hours. Plane #281 Q.
Feb 9. 20th Mission. Destination, Magdeburg. Target, oil refinery. Load ten 500-pound G.P.bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Results unobserved. Lots of accurate flak at target. The wing behind us bringing up the rear of the 2nd Division hit twice by 150 ME-109s. Much too close again. Was B/N [bombardier/navigator] today as Wells is now P.N. [pilotage navigator] on lead crew. Time, 06:45. Plane 281 Q.
Feb 11. 21st Mission. Destination, Dulmen, Germany. Target, German air force oil depot. Load, six 1,000-pound G.P. bombs. This was our nicest mission in a long time. Saw lots of flak from the Ruhr, but none closer than 1/4 mile. Bombed by Micro-H. Results would have been close. Only difficulty was poor visibility on landing. Time, 05:00 hours. Plane #118 S.
Feb 13. Mission scrubbed after briefing. Addendum: We are now aware of the fact that we are very fortunate in being alive. Our plane #281 Q flew a practice mission this afternoon and cracked up on takeoff killing the entire crew flying it [Lt Shannon crew]. It lost an engine and despite the fact it had no bomb load could not climb; thus crashed into a house. We would have flown this plane on the mission today if it hadn’t been scrubbed. The lord certainly was taking care of us. When things like this happen, it is very hard on the nerves and morale. [WDB note: Not only had we been briefed but we were in the plane ready to go when the mission was scrubbed. Also, six of our missions were in this plane, the last was our 20th on 9 Feb.]
Feb 14. 22nd Mission. Destination, Magdeburg. Target, Oil refinery. Load, four 1,000-pound G.P. and two 500-pound incendiary bombs. Bombed town as target was cloud covered. We were told at briefing today that Magdeburg is almost a demolished city, so today’s raid probably completed the job. It is a shame the oil refinery couldn’t have been hit and saved the town. Flak moderate but route weather was terrible. Had to climb to 26,000 feet to get over clouds and then still didn’t make it over the top. Time, 07:00 hours. Plane #118 S.
Feb 15. 23rd Mission. Destination, Magdeburg. Target, oil refinery. Bombed H2X Load, twelve 500-pound G.P. bombs. Flak lighter than on yesterday’s mission. but they still shoot it. Had a runaway prop on return but Hadden got it under control. Nice mission but too long. Time, 06:45 hours. Plane #277. [WDB note: Our first time in “Miss Used”. We flew 10 of our last 13 missions in it plus an abortion and a recall.]
Feb 17. Mission to primary target at Magdeburg or secondary at Misburg recalled shortly after starting on course. Formation had to jettison bombs as weather was too bad to chance landing with them. Time, 04:00 hours. Plane #277 P.
Feb 18. Mission to air field in southern Germany scrubbed after briefing.
Feb 19. 24th Mission. Destination, Meschede. Target, jet plane engine plant. Load, six 500-pound G.P.and six 500-pound incendiary bombs. Bombed GH. Nice mission with only moderately accurate flak at enemy lines. Due to poor visibility used instrument let-down procedure but had to circle 1-1/2 hours before landing. Time, 6:40 hours. Plane #277 P.
Feb 21. Flew low altitude gunnery mission over water. Time, 02:00 hours.
Feb 22. 25th Mission. Destination, [Hildesheim], Germany. Target, marshalling yard. Load, twelve 500-pound G.P. bombs. Today was glory day for the air force. All air forces flew low altitude missions against rail transportation bombing from 10,000 feet. Our squadron missed the target. But, we saw the results on five different targets and all were excellent. Our group lost at least one plane with one missing. We were very fortunate and only got one hole. Lots of ships had battle damage. Nose gunner saw German jet plane. Time, 07:00 hours. Plane # 277 P. [WDB Note: If this is the mission I think it is, I was flying the nose. We had already reached the IP and I had turned off all my turret switches and was concentrating on the lead plane. Suddenly I detected in my peripheral vision there was a plane to my right that seemed strange. I glanced around and clearly saw it was a German jet fighter. In one movement I hit my turret switches, sounded an alert on the intercom and started to swing my turret around to him. Before I completed the turn he dipped his right wing, kicked hard right, blew out a couple of smoke rings and moving out of range fast I got off a couple of short bursts in his direction, but knew it was probably futile. Then the suspense really began for me. The tail gunner in the lead plane started blasting away. He was shooting almost straight down. Suddenly, here came a stream of empty shell casings from his turret heading right toward us. They went just ever the cockpit of our plane and cut gouges in the dome of our top turret. Brother! Then I leaned over as far as I could to see what he was shooting at and saw three fighter planes several thousand feet below us. And it seemed obvious to me they were our own P-51s . In the debriefing following our mission this is what I reported. I never got any feedback, but I guess this was another snafu that was ignored.]
Feb 23. 26th Mission. Destination, Gera, Germany. Target, marshalling yard. Load, ten 500-pound G.P. bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Results unobserved. Today’s mission was to be a repeat of yesterday. With all air forces again attacking at low altitude. The plan was abandoned just prior to letdown point in Germany. We bombed by H2X selecting targets in same area as originally planned. Flak was very light and inaccurate. The mission was nice over Germany but long and planes all got low on gas. We landed about 7th and only registered 90 gallons. Weather was terrible on return and our group lost two more planes in a mid-air collision right over the field. Clouds were 10/10 from 500 to 15,000 feet. Time, 07:10 hours. Plane #277 P. [WDB note: The group lost five planes during February ’45. On the 13th “our” plane I #281 “A Dog’s Life” crashed on take off; on the 22nd two planes were lost around Bebra, Germany; and on the 23rd two planes were lost in a mid-air collision over the field after returning from the mission to Gera, Germany.]
Mar 10. Aborted from mission to Arburg/Arnsburg. Sounded like a good mission. Lost No.1 engine during assembly. Time, 01:30 hours. Plane #277 P.
Mar 12. 27th Mission. Destination, Friedburg, Germany. Target, Railroad marshalling yard. Load, forty-four 100-pound G.P.and two 500-pound incendiary bombs. Very nice mission. No flak and nice weather, 10/10 entire route, so bombed GH. Time, 06:00 hours. Plane #163 M.
Mar 16. Mission scrubbed at takeoff time. A long but good one possibly.
Mar 17. We were all set to fly mission to Hannover but our scheduled plane was inoperative and group had no spares.
Mar 18. 28th Mission. Destination, Berlin. Germany. Target, armament factory. Load, fifty-two 100-pound liquid incendiaries and 2700 gallons of gas. Mission was very successful as target was visual. Entire 8th Air Force bombed Berlin today with the 2nd Division following all of the Forts in. We led the 2nd Division. Berlin was smoking a great deal and was well hit today. Flak was intense and very accurate. Four ships blew up right around us. We only picked up six holes but almost got two direct hits. This was by far our roughest mission and I hope I never fly another even close to this rough. Time, 07:30. Plane #539 B. [Journal had date of Mar 19, but Berlin mission was Mar 18-des]
Mar 21. 29th Mission. Destination, Hesepe, Germany. Target, jet plane airfield. Load, fifty-two 100-pound G.P. bombs. This mission was probably our best being short, easy and very successful. Visual entire route. We were able to see other group results and all were very good. Time, 05:00 hours. Plane #277 P.
Mar 23. 30th Mission. Destination, Osnabruck. Target, marshalling yard. Load, fourteen 500-pound G.P. bombs. RDX. visual entire route. Results very good. Flak at target We picked up several holes. Very excellent tracking. Time, 05:10 hours. Plane #277 P. ·
Mar 25. 31st Mission. Destination, Hitzamer. Target, oil storage depot. Load, twenty 300-pound G.P. bombs. Results very good. Was attacked by ME 262 on bomb run. Gunners took some shots but missed. Had rough time prior to departure due to R.A.F. forming in same vicinity. Also had to do 360 degree turns off the coast of Holland to gain altitude. Visual entire route beyond Zuider Zee. Saw R.A.F. bombing Hannover. There was a solid cloud of smoke rising up 17,000 feet. Osnabruck was the same way. Time, 07:10 hours. Plane #277 P. [WDB note: See my Feb 22/25th mission note. Maybe this was the mission we had the close encounter with the German jet. About the English bombing of Hannover, we had a birds eye view of how they operated. When ready to bomb they sat up a pattern outside the range of the target’s guns. Then they would peel off and go in single file. You could see the German’s flak tracking each one in and then shifting back to pick up each one as they came in. I did not see any of the British planes brought down.]
Mar 31. 32nd Mission. Destination, Little-B (Brunswick). Target, marshaling yard (secondary target). 10/10 cloud cover entire route. Flak light but fairly accurate at target when we bombed, but later became heavier. ME 262 again in formation but no damage done. We almost had a mid-air collision during forming which made me very nervous the rest of the mission. We all are really sweating these missions out. The whole crew is plenty shaky. Time, 06:10. Plane #277 P.
[WDB note: No recorded losses this month for the group. But there is a record to the effect that on the 14th a B-24 of the 753rd caught fire on the ground and bombs on board exploded and that six other A/C nearby were damaged, but later repaired. Remember why this happened and who was responsible? The person responsible was a guy with quite a few missions named Pettyjohn from Georgia. He was a waist gunner. It was still dark when the crew got in their plane. In the process of setting up his gun he accidentally closed the cover on his ammunition belt. When he squeeze the trigger to check the solenoid his gun stared firing into the adjacent plane. This set the plane on fire (As I remember it every fourth round was an incendiary). This led to him being “busted”, receiving some type of fine, and being restricted to the base for six months. Another thing about Pettyjohn. Do you remember when we left the base to return to the States we rode in the back of a truck from the base to the train station. The driver was Pettyjohn and he came very close to wrecking us. We probably had a mission that was safer than that trip with Pettyjohn.]
Apr 2. Destination. Tirstorod in N.E. part of Denmark. Target, airfield. Load, forty 150-pound G.P. bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Under no circumstances were we to bomb unless target could be clearly seen. This led to a recall after we got all the way to the coast. Time, 05:45. Plane #277 P.
Apr 4. 33rd Mission. Destination, Perleberg, Germany. Target, airfield. Load, thirty-four 150-pound G.P. bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. We could only drop visually today and entire route was 10/10 breaking to 8/10 over our target. Only lead squadron dropped, but did a very excellent job. Other three squadrons brought bombs back. Flak at target was moderate but very accurate. One squadron from our group was attacked by three ME 262s. Time, 07:10 hours. Plane #277 P.
Apr 5. 34th Mission. Destination, Leuna, Germany. Target, the center of the city. Load, thirty-four 150-pound G.P. bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Bombed H2X as 10/10 entire route. Tried to assemble at Liege, Belgium but bad weather made it impossible. Our radio compass didn’t work which made it extra bad. We finally gave up trying to assemble and went to fighter rendezvous and met a squadron from another group which we joined. Later we caught up with our group. Ran into same bad weather, only worse on return. Our one squadron went down on the deck to get back. It was hard on the nerves but gave us a chance to see close up what battered Germany looked like. The destruction is beyond the imagination. Every town whether large or small was at least 50% destroyed. And all looked deserted and desolate. We saw thousands of fox holes and trench systems and got a good view of the Signified Line. Saw Coblenz with its three huge bridges destroyed. All in all it was very interesting but just too hard on my nerves. We made our deepest penetration on today’s mission going into Czechoslovakia on one of the legs. Time.08:00 hours. Plane #980 V.
B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40277 J4 P MISS USED
Apr 7. 35th Mission. Destination, Krummel, Germany. Target, ordnance factory. Load, twelve 500-pound G.P. bombs. Results good. Very nice mission to finish up on as we had no close flak or fighters. The two major scares – were an almost collision with the lead plane and the landing. We hit prop wash on landing and just about had “it” again. We saw the results of our bombs and they hit something powerful as a column of smoke was rising fast and was up to 12,000 feet in a few minutes. The crew was sure nervous as neither the pilot or nose gunner got any sleep and I didn’t do too much better. I hope this was my last ride in any combat airplane. Time, 07:00 hours. Plane #277 P.
Total Tonnage Dropped: 209,000 pounds
Total Combat Time: 266:25 hours.
Apr 9. Today Joe Szalanski, our co-pilot., went down. He was flying his thirty-fourth mission as co-pilot for Abramowitz whose crew was flying their thirty-fifth. Their plane received two direct hits under the left wing by No.2 engine just prior to bombs away. They released their bombs and peeled off from formation. Chutes began to appear immediately with a total of six seen in rapid succession. The plane straightened out going into a fairly steep dive under control. At about 10,000 feet it blew up at which time another chute appeared. Target was airfield at Lechfeld, Germany which is in the Munich area.
[WDB note: We knew within a few days that Joe S. had survived. Don’t ask me how we knew, but we always found out such things some way. Right after Jimmy Carlisle’s crew was shot down 14 Oct 44 we heard that he had survived. Incidentally as of 28 Feb 45 the 458th had 202 sorties/missions to its credit and still had seven of the planes in operation that were originally brought over to the ETO. One of these planes which had never had an abortion and was leading with 97 missions was #42-52457, “Final Approach” which Joe S was flying April 9.]
[WDB note: the group’s last mission, number 230, was flown April 25, 1945. Destination, Bad Reichenhall. Target, railroad. Results excellent.]
[WDB note: The group lost two planes in April 45. Joe’s in the Munich area and one on the 14th around Spixworth, England.]
[Actually, there was a third, also on April 14th-des]