Personal Flight Log of - 1st Lt. Robert Lee Aston, Navigator
Completed missions listed below. (a few missions, below, were flown by Aston with other crews.)
Summary by former 1st. Lt. Robert Lee Aston, 67th Bomb Squadron Assistant Navigator, from old flight log notes in July 1997.
No. Date Air time (TFT) Mission to Target
1. (Sat.) 26 August 1944 4:55 hrs. Salzbergen, Germany oil refinery
Navigator's Notes: target near Rhine; entered Dutch coast at Vleiland; encountered a few bursts of flak; direct hit on target gave off a large ball of fire.
2. (Tues.) 5 September 1944 8:30 hrs. Karlsruhe RR marshalling yards
Navigator's Notes: near Strasbourg, France; bombed at 25,000'; circled Starsbourg- no flak from there; ran into flak barrage at target and surrounding towns, and this time, from Strasbourg; 7-1/2 hrs. on oxygen
Scrubbed - Wed., Sept. 6, 1944 Brunswick, G. Automobile factory
3. (Sat.) 9 September 1944 7:00 hrs. (Mainz), Worms,G (M-supply depot)
Navigator's Notes: Met a lot of flak; On bomb run at primary target, on bomb run our squadron got cut off by another squadron and couldn't drop bombs; 67th Squadron (9 ships) made right turn to miss Frankfort flak; turned South and down Rhine River to Darmstadt and bombed Worms; made right turn and up other side of Rhine River, paralleling the left side of River, going North to Mainz and turned left after 7 miles ; flak intense from Weisbaden, Frankfort, Darmstadt, Worms and Mainz, again; (50°00'N, 07° 52' E); flak from Liege, Belgium; 2 holes in our ship.
4. (Sun) 10 Sept.1944 7:50 hrs. Ulm, G. Ordinance depot
Navigator's Notes: bombed target by PFF; flak from Strasbourg & Speyer; no flak at target; two holes in our ship
5. (Mon.) 11 September 1944 6:45 hrs. Hannover, G. Ordinance plant
Navigator's Notes: bombed by P.R.F.; rough mission ; waist gunner John Pondfield wounded in leg, but not broken; aircraft's hydraulic system shot out within reach of my leg by flak from Koblenz. We dropped our bombs (eight 1,000 lb) through the bomb bay doors after withdrawing linkage. One door fell away, but other hung on an flapped all the way back to Shipdham. Flak intense from Hannover; more hits on ship. Shrapnel hole next to my G-box and landed in my navigator's table. Tail gunner Norman Sutherland's electrical system shot out. Our ship, S-bar, was literally peppered with holes.
(Thurs.) 14 Sept.1944 mission scrubbed after 2 hr. standby -ground fog; target just south of Rostcok on Baltic Sea
6. (Fri.) 22 Sept.1944 7:20 hrs. Kassell, G. Plant manufacturing RR engines & 88's/flak guns
Navigator's Notes : bombed target by P.F.F. flak to target was heavy and close bursts at Koblenz; no hits on our ship
7. (Tues.) 26 Sept.1944 5:3- hrs. Hamm, G. Marshalling yards
Navigator's Notes: rail yards 3.5 miles long & 10,000 cars I day; flak from Vlieland Island, Hamm & Muenster; not hits on our ship
8. (Thr.) 28 September 1944 6:20 hrs. Kassel (#2) Marshalling yards and factory
Navigator's Notes: Heavy barrage of flak before we went in, but no flak as we went over target
9. (Sat.) 30 Sept.1944 5:50 hrs. Hamm (#2) Marshalling yards
Navigator's Notes: bombed P.F.F. ; flak only after we passed over target; a few bursts from Munster; went in by way of Ostend, Antwerp & same way out.
10. (Mon.) 2 October 1944 5:30 hrs Hamm Marshalling yards
11. (Thurs) 5 October 1944 6:30 HRS. Lippstadt Airdrome
Navigator's Notes : milk run
12. (Sat.) 7 Oct.1944 Kassel (#3) Tank factory
Navigator's Notes : flak from Osnabruck & target Kassel
13. (Sun) 15 Oct 1944 Cologne (Koln) Ford Motor Works
Navigator's Notes: This mission flown with Lt. Herring and his crew on their last mission; bombed by P. F. F.; milk run for high, high right ; bombardier Jerry (68th) Sid it was "rough".
14. (Tues.) 17 October 1944 Cologne (Koln) Chemical works @ Leverkusen
Navigator's Notes: bombed by P.F.F. ; flak heavy to intense; a lot from Koblenz; ship near us blew up in midair.
15. (Thurs.) 19 Oct 1944 6:35 hrs. Mainz ?
Navigator's Note: bad weather all the way ; shrapnel struck our ship in astrodome, puncturing hole through it just as I had puled my head down; also hit in nose turret and shattered protective glass plate in front of bombardier riding gun turrent. Plastic piece embedded in my forehead and glass specks embedded in Kurt Silverthorne's forehead and around eyes. I pulled piece out of my forehead and had some bleeding, but stopped it quickly with handkerchief pressed to spot then, held by my flying helmet as I had to pick specks of glass out of Kurt's forehead and around his eyes - very difficult picking small pieces out with cold temperatures without gloves, but he was OK for rest of trip. Close call for both of us.
16. (Mon.) 30 Oct 1944 6:15 hrs. Hamburg/Harburg/ Oil storage & oil
Navigator's Notes: Weather was terrible over England for assembly.. We finally had to give up finding our formation but determined to go on the mission route alone. We never sighted our Group but found stray, unassembled B-24s at the IP area. We put out a message to assemble on us and and about 10 B-24s followed us for the bomb run and dropped on our release. We knew we were over Hamburg and just dropped on the city hoping to hit something vital. On the way out lost 3 aircraft while we navigated between flak concentrations to the North Sea. Along the coast we picked up a few other stragglers from various groups with them forming up on us as lead ship. Spagnola was leading about 10-12 lost B-24's. Aston gave Spagnola the bearing for England and we came straight in to Great Yarmouth.
17. (Wed.) 1 Nov 1944 5:00 hrs. Gelsenkirchen Oil refinery
Navigator's Notes: Flak from Amsterdam, Zwolle, 01st, and Happy Valley (The Ruhr Valley) flak was heavy in Ruhr, and I saw several bursts about 6 feet under our wing, but no damage to us. In Holland, the 88's tracked us for about 4 minutes.
18. (Thr.) 2 Nov 1944 6:15 hrs. Dortmund Oil refinery
Navigator's Notes: Reported 2 German naval destroyers in Zuider Zee
19. (Sat.) 4 Nov 1944 6:00 hrs. Gelsenkirchen Oil refinery
Navigator's Notes: Flak from Olst getting worse and too accurate; flak lasted 12-14 minutes; saw climbing flak bursts; flak from Zwolle on way out; reported 2 freighters on Zuider Zee.
20. (Sun) 5 Nov 1944 8:00 hrs. Karlsruhe
Navigator's Notes: Flew V-bar; carried four 2,000 pounders. The primary target for this day was front line support of America 3rd Army by bombing German fortifications in front line area near Venry (Metz), France. Group passed up primary target, which was clear Shamrock Grey announced "Sunshine" - P.F.F. and the group flew on to bomb Karlsruhe ????
21. (Mon.) 6 Nov 1944 5:45 hrs. Sterkiade Oil refinery
22. (Thr.) 9 Nov 1944 7:00 hrs. Venry/Metz, France Front line support of 3d Army
Navigator's Notes: This mission was to make up for Sunday's failure to drop on primary target to blast Germans at front line in support of US 3d Army.
23. (Thr) 16 Nov 1944 6:30 hrs. Aachen Frontline support ground forces
Navigator's Notes : Weather was terrible and only 8 ships took off before the mission was scrubbed. 7 of the eight ships were from the 67th Squadron. Since we couldn't return to field, we decided to fly the mission. On return to England, our base was still closed, so we flew to Hartford Bridge, an RAF base 20 nautical miles SW of London and landed. Stayed there for 3 days till Shipdham opened up for our return.
24. (Sun.) 26 Nov 1944 6:20 hrs. Bielefeld A viaduct
Navigator's Notes : missed the target; no flak at target; flak from Osnabruck and on way back and along Rhine - no damage
25. (Tue.) 5 Dec 1944 5:30 hrs. Munster Marshalling yards
26. (Mon.) 11 Dec 1944 7:30 hrs. Karlsruhe Rhine River bridge
Navigator's Notes: Bridge 4 miles west northwest of Karlsruhe on Rhine river. Weather very rough. We lost our group and returned from France alone. We let down to 2,000 feet near coast. Weather and visibility very bad. We flew low across the channel; came to Beachy Head and picked up location on Thames estuary and on in to Shipdham.
27. (Tue) 12 Dec 1944 6:45 hrs. Aschaffenburg Marshalling yard
Navigator's Notes: something went wrong ??? dropped bombs 13 nautical miles north of target on Gelnhausen
28. (Mon.) Jan. 1945 7:30 hrs. Koblenz Railroad bridge across the Moselle River
Navigator's Notes: bridge in heart of city successfully destroyed by 67th Squadron bombs only; I saw our bombs hit the bridge while other squadron's bombs hit in the city; accurate flak around our ship, but no holes or damage to us.
29. (Tue) 2 Jan 1945 7:00 hrs. Koblenz Railroad bridge across Moselle River
Navigator's Notes: same target as yesterday. Hitting approaches to bridge in city. No flak on our squadron
30. (Fri.) 5 Jan 1945 7:00 hrs. Pirmasens Railroad yards
Navigator's Notes: group was to assemble over splasher #12, southwest of London; we never found the group, so we flew to target the IP alone and finally fell in with the (448th ?) 449th Bomb Group. Hit at target area in #2 engine so Lt. Spagnola cut it off and feathered prop. just after "bombs away." We left the 449th (448th ?) at Saarbrucken ; we tried falling in with a returning B-17 group for protection against fighters, but we had a mickey operator with us which seemed to keep drawing flak along the way back which the B-17's didn't like. Lt. Spagnola told the mickey operator to shut it off. So we left the B-17 group and flew on to Ostend on North Sea coast by ourselves; circled it 3 or 4 times and almost over Dunkerque while Lt. Aston calculated bearing to England. We got flak from German pockets while circling as we were a "sitting duck" at 2,000 ft. Heavy and high cloud bank in front of us across the channel; didn't want to waste fuel trying to climb over it on 3 engines, so we flew the deck across the channel we came right in on course at Great Yarmouth
31. (Tue.) 14 Jan 1945 6:15 hrs. Hemmingstedt Gasoline distillation plant (#10 priority)
Navigator's Notes: Target on Jutland/Danish peninsula - target was visual and we hit it.
32. (Wed.) 17 Jan 1945 6:45 hrs. Hamburg-Harburg Oil refineries; synthetic oil plant in dock area
Navigator's Notes : target was visual; flak from Cuxhaven and intense from target area; saw tow
B-24's go down in flames, one from 491st B.G. and one from the 93 B.G. Saw no parachutes; shrapnel hit pilot's window; flak lasted 8 minutes at target; chaff was thrown out for 1 hour and 16 minutes. (Heard Col. Snavely shot down yesterday.)
33. (Sun.) 21 Jan 1945 6:15 hrs. Heilbrunn/Pforzheim Marshalling yards
Navigator' 5 Notes: Over target, lead ship couldn't release bombs, so Capt. Holmer, 67th , took over lead and we dropped our bombs on the railroad yards at Pforzheim as an alternative -good hit.
34. (Sun.) 28 Jan 1945 6:30 hrs. Dortmund/Rurh Valley Benzol plant
Navigator's Notes: Encountered flak at Dutch coast off Tessel Island; flak again east of
Almalo and at target ; saw one ship go down before "bombs away" and one just after with one
parachute from latter; two ships collided after R.P. with five parachutes counted from collision.
35. (Tue.) 6 Feb 1945 7:30 hrs. Magdeburg
Navigator's Notes: Flak at Dutch coast at IJmuiden, near Amsterdam- bursts were directly in front of our nose and put seven holes in our engines, wings and nose turret. Bombardier got cuts on eye lids from shattered glass-shrapnel came through the astrodome and made two holes. Flak at target was heavy and in form of a box barge waiting for us to go through it. No serious damage to ship.