Partial text of Jesse M. Burton's diary due to restrictions in the design of the database. Full text will be included in an Updated Version of the Military Heritage Database (V4.0) scheduled for release 05/26/2002.|
FLIGHT DIARY OF THE E.T.O.
Left Biggs Field on Nov. 10, 1943. Arrived at Grand Island, Nebraska on Nov. 12, 1943. No flying at this base. Process and issuance of clothing and equipment for overseas. All B-17',s at this base.
Left Grand Island on Nov. 19, 1943 and arrived at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey on Nov. 20, 1943. For the first time in my army career, I was stationed at a base near my home. Was able to visit my home about six nights. Brought Del home with me on one occasion.
December 6, 1943 -- 1630 hours aboard Queen Mary
I am writing from my stateroom aboard the Queen Mary. It was recently converted to a troop ship. We left Camp Kilmer on December 3 and boarded "The Queen" that same day. However we didn#d,t the U.S. until the following day, December 4 at 1128. We just had a slight glimpse of the Statue of Liberty through the early morning fog of the New York Harbor. At the sight of her I felt a bit sad at the thought that I won't see her for some time, or perhaps never. This ship is tremendous. The first day I spent most of it trying to find my way back to my stateroom from the mess hall. As for the food it isn't the best. We only have two meals a day. What makes this trip thrilling is the fact that we are unescorted. We are not part of a convoy. In fact we haven't seen a ship in sight since we left New York. They tell us that this trip is quite safe. No submarine, nor for that matter no enemy warship can match the speed of the Queen. She can cruise at 35 miles per hour and even up to speeds of 50 MPH. She is rumored to be carrying about 15,000 troops.
December 10, 1943 -- Somewhere in England
On December 8 we arrived at a small busy bay on the coast of Scotland at about 0600. We stayed on board for one day and were finally ferried over to a little town in Scotland called Grenock, just a few miles north of Glasgow. We are presently anchored in the bay named Firth of Clyde. On December 9 we boarded a train in Grenock and traveled some 12 hours to a replacement center called Stone. We stayed here for several days pulling stupid details and doing absolutely nothing.
December 26, 1943
On December 22 at 1000 we left Stone and traveled for 4 hours by train and arrived at a small community called Cheddington. This is a replacement pool where we engage in ten days of schooling and training. Living conditions are bad. We live in Nissen huts surrounded by a sea of mud. The food is awful. We are definitely in the E.T.O.
FLYING IN ENGLAND
January 29, 1944 -- Cheddington
Our first flight in England. Briefing at 1300. Take off at 1330. It wasn't much of a flight. Full crew plus Instructor Pilot and another Pilot being checked out. All we did was shoot ten landings and takeoffs. Although we spent about four hours in the plane, actual flying time was two hours. After three months of being grounded, it felt great to be flying again. Lt. Church made his first landing and it was a good one. The IP Captain took over the ship and we flew formation with a group of B-17's for a few minutes. England looks pretty from the air. No radio communications. Just got an x623. Time: 2 hours
January 31, 1944 -- Cheddington
Took off in formation at 1320. Was supposed to fly cross country in four ship formation. Weather clouded up after take-off. Ceiling down to 400 ft. Landed immediately. Time: 40 min .
February 3, 1944 -- Cheddington
Took off in formation at 0910. Weather very rough. Got miserably sick. So did Lt. Rising. Even Burton and Hunter began to feel bad before we landed. Had a radio Instructor along to check me out in radio procedure. When I got sick, I went into the waist and lay there for the rest of the trip. Landed at 1150. Time: 2 hrs 40 min .
February 4, 1944 -- Cheddington
We must put in more than 6 ½ hours of training flight time today. We will then have completed our flight training at Cheddington. Lt. Mercer, Church and Kessler returned from Luton too late for the morning flight. We took off with an officer crew replacement at 0950. We buzzed Dunstable hoping to see those pretty WAAF girls that Hunter and I met. Could not get radio QDM as we were in the air for a short time. Landed at 1130.
Took off again at 1330 with our regular crew intact. Flew in three ship formation. Flew lead position to Norwich, The Wash and return. It was a beautiful trip. Flew above the cloud formation at 10,000 ft. Looking down on the top layer of clouds made me think of a nice soft, feathery bed. It was a brilliant sunny day only above the clouds. The temperature was about 20 degrees below, and we sure did feel it. Being in lead ship we had to do all the navigation. Checked with Lt. Kessler and got seven QDM's. No trouble with radio. Radio Instructor was supposed to come along, but when he found out how cold it was at high altitude, he decided to check me out on the ground before take-off, and went back to the barracks. This is the last of our training flights. We should move on to an operational base in couple of days. Landed at 1730. Total training time in the ETO 12 hrs.
February 7, 1944
Left Cheddington and arrived same day at our operational base. The 44th Bomb Group---67th Bomb Squadron located at Shipdham. This is it!! Operational missions should begin after we complete more training, in about two weeks.
February 14, 1944 -- 44th BG Shipdham
From now on all our flights will begin at our operational base here at the BG, Shipdham. Took off at 1200 with minimum crew including I.P. Lt. Mercer, Church and Kessler, and Rand and myself. Took off in squadron formation of six ships. Flew mostly at 21,000 ft. First time I used heated suit It worked fine. Rendezvous with the rest of the group and flew in one big formation. While over the Wash (coast), British attack fired some bursts at us. Didn't know this till we landed, but they missed us by quite a bit, perhaps on purpose. I could not use my radio. Somebody forgot to give me our ship's call signs. Nobody seems to want to tell us anything. Hope it's different for regular mission briefings. Landed at 1600. Time: 4 hrs.
February 19, 1944
Just a training flight. Turned into a rat race. Short flight. Time: 1 hr 30 min.
February 20, 1944
Took off at 0945 in the squadron monitor ship, "The Zebra," to take pictures of the group forming for a mission to Germany. Couldn't find our group, but did see a lot of B-24's all over the sky. It turned out to be one of the biggest raids of the war. Landed at 1145. Time: 2 hrs.
February 21, 1944
First Operational Mission. No Mission Credit. Gotha, Germany My first mission. Take off at 1018. After 15 months of intensive training, this momentous day finally arrived. I flew this mission with another crew. Lt. Stam~s and his crew were missing a radio operator. He had been injured on a previous mission. Our target was Gotha, well into Germany. Five minutes before the enemy coast our #2 engine began to vibrate excessively. It had to be feathered and we dropped out of formation and returned to base. Our bomb load 52 X 100 lbs., was jettisoned into the North Sea. Only six bombs dropped. The bombardier had to climb into the bomb bay and "kick" out the rest. Altitude while in formation, 20,000 ft. Landed at 1424. Time: 4 hrs--6 min . No credit for this mission.
February 22, 1944 -- Mission #1 - Gotha, Germany
Back again to Gotha. Take-off 0901. Flying with Lt. Stamus and crew. The entire mission was screwed up. We never reached our target. Fighters attacked us as soon as we hit the enemy coast. Our element of three ships flew into a heavy cloudbank. Then we came into the clear, both of our wing ships were gone. We later found out they were hit by eight FW 190's and went down. Interphone in plane was out. Could not tune up on MF Command Radio, which was also out. We turned around and headed back with enemy fighters all over the sky. Luckily, none of them directly attacked us. Bomb load of 12 X 500 was salvoed into the English Channel. Four ships of the 44th BG were shot down. Landed at 1424. Time: 5 hrs - 23 min .
February 24, 1944 -- Mission #2 Gotha, Germany.
Take-off at 0829. Target again in Gotha, airplane factory. Still not flying with my own crew. I am still flying as a replacement radio operator. Enemy fighters all the way into and out of the target. Fought off at least 40 fighters. Attacking planes were Me-109 and FW-190. Our formation was tight and few enemy fighters could break through. Bombing results were excellent. One half hour after bombs away, we picked up our escort of P-47's. What a lovely sight they were to see. Brought us back safely to our badly damage to our plane. Bomb load 52 x 100 incendiaries. Bombing altitude 20,500 ft. No radio work required. My inexperience in combat flying ahead of me; believing that all missions will be as rough and as dangerous as my first two flights. I have been assured by members of the crew that my first two missions were unusually rough and that things should be getting easier. I hope. The 44th BG lost two more B-24's. Landed at 1424. Time: 5 hrs - 23 min.
February 25, 1944 -- Mission #3 - Furth Germany.
Take-off at 0927. Target -- ME 109 fighter plane assembly plant. Flew as replacement with Lt. Jefferson and crew. My crew still not ready to fly. Very successful bomb run. Target well hit. No fighters but plenty of flak. A piece of shrapnel came through the bomb bay and knocked a hole through the flight deck door. The worst flak and most accurate was over Karlsrue, GerT many. Six of our ships made emergency landings on fields in southern England. One crash landed because of flak damage. Most of them landed because of lack of fuel. Clear weather over Germany, but poor visibility over England. Bombing altitude 18,000 ft. Bomb load 12 X 300. Landed 1809 Time: 8 hrs 42 min.
February 29, 1944 -- Practice Mission
Practice mission with minimum crew, Lts. Mercer and Church, Buttons and myself. A Lt. Thom came along. Take-off at 1515. No higher than 3,000 ft. Flew locally around the area. Very cold. Liaison transmitter went out. Changed fuses, O.K. Landed at 1630. Time 1 hr 15 min.
March 1, 1944 -- Practice Mission.
Flew two practice missions today with minimum crew, Lts. Mercer, Church and Kessler, plus Buttons and myself. Take-off at 1030 and landed at 1230. Went to eat and took off again at 1410. Used radio to get QDM. First day we used "Q" signals for radio communications. Formation practice flying under 5,000 ft. Landed 1615. Time 4 hrs 5 min.
March 2, 1944 -- Mission #4 Frankfurt, Germany
Take-off at 0917. Flew with Lt. Perry and crew. Bomb load 40 X 100. Visibility clear over England, but 10/10 clouds over Europe and the target. Had to remove all 40 bomb fuse pins. Nearly froze my fingers on my right hand. Had to handle camera for picture taking over target. Flak was heavy, but no enemy fighters visible. Our fighter escort was exceptional. We flew into Germany at an average speed of 250 MPH. On our return trip our average speed was 112 MPH. Excessively fierce westerly wind. On our return trip we seemed to be standing still over the heart of Germany. Sweated out fuel came into a sweet landing. We dropped our bombs by PFF. Most of the group could not drop their bombs and returned with bomb bays still loaded. Landed at 1600. Time: 6 hrs 43 min.
March 6, 1944 -- No Mission Credit Berlin, Germany
Take-off at 0805 with Lt. Perry and crew. Bomb load 12 X 500. Just when we got into formation and we were ready to leave the English coast, our tail gunner had an acute appendix attack. Due to the high altitude he was in terrible pain. Lt. Perry. decided to abort and return to base. Just before landing I fired two yellow flares which brought the ambulance to our plane just as we rolled to a stop at the head of the runway. While in flight I received a long Bomber Command message in code, changing our return route. This was one mission I wasn't too sorry that we missed. The target was Berlin for the first time. Landed at 1135. Time 3 hrs 30 min.
March 8, 1944 -- Mission #5 Berlin, Germany
Take-off at 0930. Changed ships at the last moment before taking off. Used a plane from the 66th Squadron. Bomb load 52 X 100. Had to remove bomb pins without the aid of pliers. Wore my fingers to the bone. Target, ball bearing plant on the outskirts of Berlin. An all out effort with a great many planes hitting all parts of Berlin and its suburbs. Beautiful looking city from the air. Very few enemy fighters visible. Flak was mediocre. Our fighter support was excellent. Bomb results very good. Sweated out low fuel supply over North Sea. Landed as #2 engine started to sputter. Landed at 1755. Time: 8 hrs 25 min.
March 23, 1944 -- Mission #6 Bramsche, Germany
Take-off at 0648. Bomb load 52X100 oil bombs. Target, air field north of Osnabruck, on the French German Border. Bombing by P.F.F. My first mission with our full crew, with the exception of Del Hunter. He is still in the hospital with his trick knee. Teausant took his place at the waist guns. No enemy fighters. Our fighter escort of P-47's were perfect. Altitude 21,000 ft. Bomb run lasted over 15 minutes. Froze my hands waiting for bombs away so I could close the bomb bay doors. 10/10 clouds over target. Bombs away at 1029. Bad reception for radio communications. Could not receive 7th BC. Got bomb strike message by tunning to TD6 along with weather report. Came back to England and found clear visibility, Landed 1258 Time: 6 hrs 10 mm.
March 24, 1944 -- Mission #7 - St. Dizier, France.
Take-off at 0618. Bomb load 12 X 500. Del Hunter still absent. Target, an airfield in St. Dizier, for training new pilots. Visual bombing. Results excellent. Our fighter support of P-38's were superb. No enemy fighters to be seen. Very little flak. A real easy milk run. Could not get 7BV, but did receive bomb strike message from lead ship. Contacted TD6 for weather report. Left formation on return flight. We let down through overcast on our own and was first ship to land. When we took off in the early dawn. We saw the most beautiful sunrise above the overcast. Landed at 1258. Time: 6 hrs 40 mm.
March 26, 1944 -- Mission #8 Petit-Bois-Tillencourt, France.
Take-off 1200. We had an earlier briefing for another target, but it was scrubbed, due to bad weather over target. It was to have been a deep penetration into Germany. Instead we were briefed again at 1100. Target was "no ball" off the coast France. A secret installation in the woods, south of Abbeville. Bomb load 12 X 500 at 20,000 ft. It was another long bomb run, too long. Flak was heavy and accurate. We received two hits, one through the astral dome and one through our passing lights on the left wing. Bombing results good. Flew off Cap't Aldridges left wing, leading the second section. Fighter support fair. No enemy fighters. Visibility perfect. Good formation flying by both Lt. Mercer and Lt. Church. Received bomb strike message, but no weather report. Landed at 1500. Time: 5 hrs.
March 27, 1944 -- Mission #9 Mont de Marsan, France.
Take-off at 0930 after a two hour delay. We had our full crew. Target an enemy training air field 65 miles south of Bordeaux. Bomb load 12 X 500 Left the English coast at Beachy Head. Cut across the Brest Peninsula and flew over the Bay of Biscay until we reached the Pyrenees Mountains, then turned east into target. Could see Spain as clear as day and the Pyrenees Mountains looked like a picture postcard, with its snow capped topping. Very little flak until we hit target. Then all hell broke loose. Flak hits all over the ship, but miraculously no one was hit. Buttons had a close call when a piece of flak came through his top turret, hit his intercom earphone, and then buried itself in part of the gun turret. Other ships in our formation were hit even worse. Lt. Hess and crew must have been shot up badly for they left our formation and were last seen heading for Spain. Bombing results were excellent. Our old ship really surprised us. It was her 32nd mission and she performed beautifully. We hope we are still flying her on her 50th mission. Have now flown four missions in five days and it is beginning to take its toll. I never thought I could ever feel this tired. I am even too tired to be frightened anymore. However, flying with our crew intact has helped our moral support immensely Del Hunter is back and will be with us from now on, I hope. Landed 1907. Time: 10 hrs 3? min
March 30, 1944 -- Practice mission
This was a bombing practice mission. Flew our ship "A." Skeleton crew including Lts. Mercer, Church, Rising, Kessler and Land, Hunter and myself. Bombed practice targets in the "wash," (North Sea), from 12,000 ft. We almost froze. It was very cold. Rumors are spreading that they make us a lead crew. This means that it will take a long time for us to complete our tour. We will called upon to fly about once a week. Clouds 5/10. Got a WX report and sent one QDM back to base. Landed at 1240. Time 2 hrs 20 mm.
April 7, 1944 -- Practice Mission.
Take-off at 1308 in our old but newly christened the ship "Lil Cookie." Everyone seems to like the name. It is in honor of Lt. Mercer's new baby daughter. Practice mission, formation flying. only. Two sections, 12 ships each.. Flew to Nottingham, then south to Luton and back to base. radio reception bad. Landed at 1700. Time: 3 hrs 52 min.
April 11, 1944 -- Mission #10 Bernberg, Germany.
I just returned from a three day pass. I was allowed to go to London, along with Jackson and Silverberg to spend the Jewish Passover Holidays in London. We were invited by a Jewish family to celebrate the Passover feast in their home. It was a delightful and beautiful experience. When I returned, I found that the group had lost about twenty ships on the two missions just flown. On April 5th, Lt. Thom and crew were shot down. Our barracks are practically empty, except Lt. Griffith's crew and our crew.
Take-off at 0705. Target was a plane assembly plant in Dernberg. Bomb Load 240 X 23 lb. fragmentation bombs. As we crossed over Denmark and passed the Zuider Zee, our landing gear kept creeping down. Then #1 and #4 turbos went out. We were forced to abort and turn back. A P-47 picked us up and escorted us all the way back to England. We would have been a sitting duck for any enemy fighters. It was a lovely sight to see that little P-47 sitting off our wing and watching us carefully, Got a QDM back to base, However Lt. Kessler brought us back by D.R. Saw plenty of flak but did not sustain any hits. Landed 1105, Time: 4 hrs
April 12, 1944 -- Mission #12 Zwickau, Germany
Take-off at 1000 after a 2 hour delay. The delay was due to uncertainty of operations on whether to bomb Schweinfurt or Zwickau, because of bad weather over many parts of the continent. We started out to bomb Zwickau. Just before take-off we were diverted to alternate target, which was Schwein furt. Just before we reached the French coast I picked up a message from 7BV to bomb original target, Zwickau. About 30 minutes from target, just as we reached Kassel, I intercepted a message directed to our lead ship to abandon mission and return to base. While making our turn, "J" ship piloted by Lt. Mueller collided with our rudder. It wasn't too serious but it gave us quite a scare. After the collision, we hit the prop wash of the planes in front of us. Both our pilot and copilot had to fight the controls to keep the ship flying steady. With it all we did make it back to base. Despite the damaged rudder, Lt. Mercer made a perfect landing. On the way back we jettisoned our bombs into the channel. One rack of bombs hung up and had to be salvoed. After landing, we returned to our barracks and were pleasantly surprised to learn that all our officers in the crew had been promoted to First Lieutenants. On this mission, Del Hunter flew in the nose as bombardier and Teausant took his place at the waist. We also carried a photographer who worked the cameras from the waist. Landed at 1507 Time: 5 hrs 7 min.
April 13, 1944 -- No Mission Credit.
Take-off at 1030. Target was an airplane assembly plant in a small town near Friedrickshaven, deep in the southern part of Germany, near the Swiss border. As we crossed the French coast our four superchargers went out. Had to drop out of our formation and abort our mission. Our ship L'il Cookie has been acting up lately. Got a QDM back to base, which checked with our navigator's heading. Landed with all our bombs, 12 X 500 at 1330 Time 3 hrs 30 min.
April 18, 1944 -- No Mission Credit
Take-off at 1000. Target, airplane plant 35 miles south of Berlin. Once again we had engine trouble with L'il Cookie. We could not stay in formation at high altitude. The engines would start to vibrate as soon as we reached 13,000 ft. Once again we had to abort. This is the worst kind of flying. Just the excitement and the work of preparing for the mission is half the trip. To keep aborting day after day is most frustrating. Landed with our full bomb load of 50 X 100. Poor Hunter and Zuby had to defuse all those bombs. Lt. Mercer made a beautiful landing at 1200. Time 2 hrs.
April 18, 1944 -- Test Flight
Took off again, on the same day, at 1900 to test flight L'il Cookie. This time we took with us a member of the ground crew and our engineering officer. We had to prove that our abortions were due to malfunctions in the engines. The ground crew kept insisting that the engines worked perfectly when they were revved up on the ground. Sure enough at 13,000 ft., the 4 engines began to vibrate. Buttons kept shouting to apply more power until the engines shake loose and fall off. This frightened our engineer, who then admitted that there was something drastically wrong with the ship, and pleaded to land as quickly as possible. There was no doubt that L'il Cookie was old and tired and was ready for retirement. Landed at 2100. Contracted a bad headache with chills and fever and couldn't wait to get into bed. Time: 2 hrs.
On April 8, I was shocked to learn that Joe Cracolisi, radio man from the 68th Squadron went down with his crew on their first mission. Joe is a neighbor of mine from back home. Since he arrived at this base we have been seeing each other as much as possible. The night before his first mission, we had a few beers in the Combat Men's Club. Joe had many questions to ask me about combat flying. After all, I was a veteran with 11 credited missions. Where else could he get a more accurate description of our dangerous occupation. Naturally I tried to minimize the dangers of combat and to relieve some of his fears. As soon as I heard that Joe and his crew had not returned, I went over to S-2 to get as much information as possible. I knew that I would soon be getting a letter from his wife, as soon as the War Department notifies her of his disappearance. S-2 told me that Joe's ship piloted by Lt. Barry was seen to drop out of formation under heavy enemy fighter attack. Six chutes were seen to come out of the plane, before she disappeared from view. I am hoping that Joe was lucky and is now a P.W. somewhere in Germany. I will check again with S-2 for the latest information. (He became POW with 7 others).
April 19, 1944 -- Mission #12 Gutersloh, Germany
Take-off at 0700. Target, airfield in northern Germany. Bomb load 12 X 500. We finally convinced operations that L'il Cookie was not fit to fly. We were just issued a brand new plane, a "H" Model. Her designated letter in the squadron is "C." This was her first mission and it turned out to be an easy one. Bombing results good. The mission itself was very easy. No enemy fighters and very little flak. Visibility perfect. When bombs were away, three of them hung up. Lt. Kessler had to salvo them. Picked up all CP messages. All in all, it was a milk run. I hope the rest are like that. No losses in group, as all ships returned safely. Landed 1307 Time: 6 hrs. 7 min.
April 20, 1944 -- No Mission Credit.
Another abortion and this in our new ship "C." A no ball target mission on the coast of France. An easy milk run and we couldn't make it. Take-off at 1600. About ten minutes before we hit the target, flames came shooting out of #2 engine. Pieces of metal came flying off the cowling. After feathering #2, we could not stay in formation at that altitude and we reluctantly turned back. Got a few QDM's and weather reports. Landed 1940. Time 3 hrs 40 mm.
April 21, 1944 -- No Mission Credit.
Another abortive mission and this time in L'il Cookie. She is back again and still flying. Our entire group was recalled. Our #2 and #3 engines were vibrating again. Most likely we would have aborted anyway. Target was to have been Zwickau, Germany. Icing conditions and bad weather were the cause of the recall. I received the recall over W/T and also got QDM and weather reports. We had a little scare when the "Gee Box" started to smoke. It seemed to come from the bomb bays, which were loaded with fragmentation bombs. Called Buttons who ripped of his oxygen mask and helmet. In the meanwhile I grabbed a fire extinguisher. It accidentally went off and I could not stop the flow of fluid. By the time Buttons located the trouble and returned to the flight deck, I was still trying to shut the darn thing off. I finally gave up in disgust and dropped the extinguisher in the bomb bays where it expired. The navigator's "Gee Box," was shorted, causing the smoke. No serious damage. Landed with bombs intact at 1707. Time: 3 hrs. 25 min.
April 27, 1944 -- Mission #13 Chalons Sur Marne, France
We came back from our four-day pass yesterday, the 26th. We thought we would be given an extra pay for recuperation, especially when our group had already flown an early morning mission. Quite unexpectedly operation called another briefing at 1330. We were scheduled in our new ship "C," which we have just named "Glory Bee." I did not hear about the briefing. Major Felber, our squadron commander came and picked me up in a jeep and brought me directly to our plane. When we arrived at the dispersal area, the engines were already warming up and the crew was preparing for taxiing. Target was the rail marshalling yards at Chalons Sur Marne, France. Lt. Rising is still in the hospital so we had a substitute bombardier. Very little flak into target, but plenty on the way out. We were lucky--no hits in our new ship. Glad this one is over. This was my 15th mission. Really, I am not superstitious, but I am still glad it's behind me. Bomb results very good. Bomb load 12 X 500. Landed at dusk 2100. Time: 5 hrs 35 min.
April 29, 1944 -- Mission #14 Berlin, Germany
Take-off at 0720. Ship--Glory Bee. Target, underground railway in the heart of Berlin. About 40 or 50 FW 190's and ME 109's attacked us persistently, from the time we hit Berlin to the time we left enemy territory. Flak was extremely heavy over the target and spasmodic along the way. Our fighter support was fair. We had an escort to the target, but our fighters had to drop out because of fuel consumption. We then had to make the return trip unescorted. Many of our stragglers were picked off by enemy fighters. That day 5-2 announced that the 8th Air Force lost 62 bombers. Our crew saw five bombers go down. Our #1 prop ran away right over Berlin. We had to feather the engine. Sweated out gas consumption on the way back. We feared that we might possibly have to ditch in the North Sea. I sent an SOS for air sea rescue, but could not get an acknowledgement. There were so many SOS calls being made that the British air sea rescue squads could not possibly handle them all. Finally received an acknowledgement MF Section. We did make the English coast and dropped in for a landing at the first field we saw. It was the 93rd Bomb Group at Hardwick. We landed with #2 and #3 tanks practically bone dry at 1525 We refueled and took off again at 1652. I had cancelled our SOS call with Hardwick Flight Control. Every one of our gunners got in quite a few shots at enemy fighters. No hits were registered and no claims were made. Bomb results very poor. We missed target by 7 miles and we hit a newly built up area of Berlin. Landed at base at 1730. Time: 8 hrs 6 min.
April 30, 1944 -- Practice Mission.
Take-off at 1330 in Glory Bee. Minimum crew on board. Just flew around our field in #3 spot of our section. Landed at 1530. Time: 2 hrs.
May 4, 1944 -- No Mission Credit.
Take-off at 0650 in Glory Dee. Target was Brunswick, Germany. Bad weather including heavy contrails. Could not find our own group. Everyone seemed lost. Planes flying around looking for their formation. We finally turned back and landed at 0945. Recall of group and aborting of mission was made at 0955. Time: -- 2 hrs 55 min.
May 5, 1944 -- Practice Mission.
Take-off at 0405 in Glory Bee. This was called a pre-invasion tactical practice mission. We were awakened at 0030 for briefing. Many of us hadn't gone to bed yet. It was a beautiful night with a full moon shinning brightly. Mission was practice forming in the night. It didn't work out too well. Everybody kept flying around in the dark looking for their groups and blinking their recognition lights. The group didn't actually form until daylight. That was when everyone could see each other. We had a near collision with another plane. Lt. Mercer dove our ship just in time to avoid a mishap. We flew all over England, across the channel and within sight of the French coast. Some English attack batteries fired a few rounds at us. I grabbed a few hours sleep as there was no radio work required. Landed at 0930. Time: 5 hrs 25 mm.
May 6, 1944 -- Practice Mission.
Take-off at 1400 in Glory Bee. Practice formation flying for the entire group. Simulated air attacks by P-47's. I flew in the Martin Turret for about an hour, tracking those attacking P-47's. Tuned to two MF stations. Got weather report from TD6. Landed at 1715. Time: 3 hrs 15 mm.
May 7, 1944 -- Mission #15 Osnabruck, Germany
Take off at 0630 in Glory Bee. Altitude 24,000 ft. It was extremely cold, Take-off at 0650 in Glory Bee. Altitude 24,000 registering about 40 degrees below Bombed PFF due to heavy overcast. Bomb load 52 X 100 oil bombs. No enemy fighters. Plenty of flak, but very inaccurate. No hits on our ship. Radio receiver very erratic. Kept cutting out. Checked everything and could not find the source of trouble. After we landed, I noticed a bundle of chaff wrapped around our antennae near the right vertical fin. That was the cause of all my radio troubles. On this mission we were throwing out chaff to prevent the enemy antiaircraft batteries from getting an accurate fix on our altitude and speed. Had a very poor spot in formation. Both our Pilot and Co-Pilot had to work real hard to keep us in formation. Landed at 1215. Time: 5 hrs 45 min.
May 8, 1944 -- Mission #16 Brunswick, Germany
Take-off at 0610 in Glory Bee. Target center of Brunswick. Just as we started our bomb run, we were hit by about 35 enemy fighters. Buttons got an ME 109. Some of us saw this enemy plane explode. Cox, our replacement gunner got another one. Other ships in our formation saw these two ME 109's going down. No losses in our group. Flak moderate, but inaccurate. Mostly 10/10 clouds. Altitude 23,000 ft, with temperatures of 40 degrees below. Received CP and bomb strike message from lead ship, plus weather report. Landed at 1250. Time: 6 hrs 20 mm.
May 9, 1944 -- Mission #17 St. Trond/Brusthem, Belgium
Take-off at 0537 in Glory Bee. Target, airfield in St. Trond (C616), Belgium. For awhile we could not find the target. I had the bomb bay doors open three times before we were sure of the target. Finally we let them go. Bomb load 50X100 GP. Bomb results were pretty good, considering we were having difficulty finding the target. No enemy fighters and very little flak. Almost a milk run. On the way to the target, we saw a B-24 ditching in the channel. I immediately tried to contact air-sea sea rescue MF section. Couldn't get through because everyone was reporting the same emergency. We did see our fighters circling the downed plane so they must have been picked up. Visibility clear. Landed at 1137. Time 6 hrs.
May 10, 1944 -- No Mission Credit
Take-off at 0358 in Glory Bee. Was to have bombed an airfield in Diepolz, Germany. As we were leaving the English coast, our II 1 engine blew a cylinder. I was asleep then. When I awoke, we had already left the formation. This was my fourth flight in as many days. I am tired, sleepy and not feeling well. I refuse to go on sick call for fear that I may be hospitalized. That would let the rest of the crew get far ahead of me in number of missions. I don't want to finish up my 25 missions with a strange crew. We returned to base on three engines. when the cylinder blew, it tore off the cowling, which covers the engine. Salvoed our bombs in the Channel. After we landed we found out that the mission had been aborted and the entire group had been recalled. Landed at 0835. Time 2 hrs 32 mm.
May 11, 1944 -- Mission #18 Mulhouse, France.
Take-off at 0920. We flew a spare ship called Limpin Ole Sadie T. Was to have bombed marshalling yards at Mulhouse, in the southern part of France. Couldn't find the target even after two runs. Finally bombed an L.P.T., alternate target, which was an airfield. Bomb results, poor. F.W.-190's attacked us before we reached the target. Lt. Wahler and crew of the 506th were shot down by enemy fighters. As this was a long mission and we were using a strange ship, ~ Lt. Mercer didn't take any chances with fuel consumption. We therefore landed at a Spitfire base in southern England, named Tangemere, for refueling. Lt. Wahler and crew followed us and landed with us at the same base. It seems Lt. Mercer and Lt. Wahler have become close friends. Landed at 1830. We refueled and then were fed a delicious dinner of fish and chips. This sumptuous meal was fed to us by some pretty English WAAF girls. We caused a sensation at this fighter base. A lot of the personnel had never seen an American B-24 up close. We enlisted men were treated like officers, which in fact we were, that is to the R.A.F. A sergeant in the R.A.F. is considered an officer. Took off again at 2030 with Lt. Wahler following close behind. We took along one of the R.A.F. enlisted men. He was going home on leave and lived in the city of Norwich, which was near our base. We flew all the way back to Shipdham, never more than 200 ft. altitude, and sometimes as much as inches above the trees. For the swell treatment we received at Tangmere, Lt. Mercer buzzed the airfield in the conventional manner, our thanks. The first time we buzzed the landing strip, then the second time we buzzed the control tower. During our visit at this base, we saw some beautiful formations of Spitfires taking off for the Calais area and returning. Buzzed all the way back to Shipdham, scaring people, horses, cows, and sheep. Landed at 2130. Time: 10 hrs. 40 min.
May 13, 1944 -- Mission #19 Tutow, Germany
Take-off at 1037 in Limpin Ole Sadie again. Only nine man crew. "Short Round," Wayne Goodger, hurt his ankle the night before. Target, airfield in Tutow, Germany, north of Berlin. Good bomb results after two runs on target. Ran into a large group of enemy fighters just before we reached our target. Our P-47's and P-51's were absolutely amazing. They knocked the "hell" out of those German fighters and kept them away from us. They certainly saved a lot of us Big Friends. Saw some exciting dogfights with fighters all over the skies. During bomb run, bomb bay safety rope came loose and wrapped around one of the-bomb fins. I had to get out on the catwalk, without oxygen, and with bomb bay doors open, and unwind the rope. I needed both my hands to hold on to the catwalk supports, so I fastened the safety rope to my chute- harness and walked back to the flight deck. As soon as I reached the flight deck, bombs were released on the target. It sure was scary looking down from the flight deck and seeing nothing but vast open skies. Saw some beautiful scenery. Flew over Denmark and came close to Sweden. Long time spent over water. Landed at 1812. Time: 7 hrs 35 min.
May 15, 1944 -- Mission #20 Siracourt, France
Take-off at 0600 in Glory Bee. Bomb load 8x1000. Bombed by PFF as visibility 10/10 clouds over target. Bombed military installations at Siracourt, France. Strictly an easy milk run. No flak, no fighters and only 34 minutes in enemy territory. This helps make up for all those early abortions. Had a Pilot, Lt. Knowles flying with us on his first mission, as co-pilot. Got CP bomb strike and weather report messages. Bombed from 23,000 ft. We then climbed to 25,000 ft. This is about the highest I have ever been in a B-24. Very cold. Landed at 1112. Time: 5 hrs 12 mm.
May 19, 1944 -- Mission #21 - Brunswick, Germany
Take-off at 0850 in Glory Bee. Bomb load 6 x 1000. Targets, marshalling yards in Brunswick, Germany. Was to have bombed by PFF, but clouds dispersed and allowed for visual bombing. Ran into the worst enemy fighter attack we have ever encountered. We counted between 150 and 200 enemy fighters swarming all over the skies. A few minutes earlier a small group of enemy fighters lured our escort away. Minutes later we were hit by this large formation of fighters. About 10 B-24's were seen to go down. We were exceptionally lucky, for none of the attacks were aimed directly at us. Target was well saturated with bomb hits. No loses in our group. Lt. Rising, our bombardier, had his nose turret hit by flak, but no injuries. Landed at 1610
Time: 7 hrs 20 mm.
May 24, 1944 -- Mission #22 Mulen A/D, France
Take-off at 0500 in Glory Bee. Target, airfield outside of Mulen, France, about 22 miles S.E. of Paris. Bomb Load 24 X 300 G.P. Flew our first lead position of our section, off Cap't Thames' wing. Lt. Mercer flew some swell formation. Bomb results good. Slight haze over the target. Quite a lot of accurate flak. No enemy fighters. Landed at 1130. Time: 6 hrs 30 min.
May 27, 1944 -- Mission #23 Saarbrucken, Germany
Take-off at 0825 in Glory Bee. We had to land immediately after take off. Lt. Kessler's flight bag had dropped out of the nose, as we taxied on the runway. He did not notice that his bag was missing until we were airborne. Took off again and caught up with our formation with no £055 of time. Target, marshalling yards in Saarbrucken on the border of Eastern France and Germany. Plenty of flak and quite accurate. We were lucky and escaped with no damage except for a nick on our aileron. With one of the best fighter escort we have ever seen, there was no enemy planes in sight through the entire mission. At our briefing earlier that day, we were told that our fighter escort would number over 1000 planes. The skies were covered with P-47's, P-51's and P-38's. They covered us like a blanket. Had a busy day with the radio, with 5 CP messages, plus a bomb strike and weather report. Landed at 1540. Time: 7 hrs 15 mm.
May 28, 1944 -- Mission #24 - Zeitz, Germany
Take-off at 1025 in Glory Bee. Target an oil refinery in Zeitz, Germany. This target was bombed at the request of the Russians. Bomb results excellent. Smoke from the bombed out refinery reached to about 20,000 ft. Our fighter escort was excellent and therefore no enemy fighter attacks. On the return trip from, we passed through the German fighter belt, without seeing any. This is the area where most of the German fighter squadrons are based. Lt. Church was not with us on this mission. We broke in another new pilot, who flew with us as a co-pilot. We had a very lovely view of France and Germany, from the air. Twenty minutes into enemy territory, Rand's top turret and both guns went out. We were quite worried, for this gave us only six guns for protection. We were lucky there were no enemy fighter attacks. On the way back we lost #4 engine. Landed on three engines. Lt. Mercer did it again by landing as if nothing was wrong. Got one QDM. Landed at 1740. Time: 7 hrs 15 min.
May 29, 1944 -- Mission #25 Politz, Germany
Technically this should have been my final mission, after which I should have been sent back to the states. When we originally started flying combat a tour was considered complete after 22 missions. Then I had completed five missions, they raised it to 25. Then I got to my 18th mission, they raised it again, but this time to 30 missions. I expect any day to hear an announcement that the tours have been increased to 35 missions. Take-off at 0803 in Limpin Ole Sadie T. Glory Bee is in for an overhaul. Target, oil field at Politz, Germany. Bomb load 10 X 500. Bomb results fair. Weather clear. Bombing altitude 20,000 ft. We were attacked by a very large group of enemy fighters, numbering about 200. Saw every type of known fighter plane that Germany has. ME-109, FW-190, JU-88 ME-210 and ME-410. Our fighter support was very poor. Enemy fighters were able to attack then reform and attack again. Finally a few P-47's came to our aid. JU-88's were coming in low from 6 o'clock. They seem to know that we have removed our ball turrets. Our group lost one plane and a radio operator was wounded, along with an engineer who was killed, in another ship. This was my "DFC" mission. Deserved this medal that was presented to me a few days later. It was some rough mission. Our flight carried over a lot of water. There were many ditchings in the North Sea. Heard many S.O.S. signals over V.H.F. Landed at 1610. Time" 8 hrs 7 min.
May 3, 1944 -- Mission #26 Rotenburg, Germany
Take-off at 0757 in Wasps Nest, N (820 N). Target, airplane repair depot in Rotenbei Germany. We started out in Glory Bee, but as we started to taxi, #2 engine sprang an oil leak and we had to switch over to standby plane. Bomb load 12 X 500. Visibility perfect. Bomb results were excellent. General Johnson our C.O. commended us on our precision bombing. He showed us photographs of the bomb pattern. It looked like all our bombs were right on target. Fighter escort very good and stayed with us all the way. P-5i's escorted us into the target with P-38's-taking us back on the long stretch over water. The entire crew was together again. Landed at 1325. Time: 5 hrs. 22 mm.
May 31, 1944 -- Mission #27 Brussels, Belgium
Take-off at 0815 in another plane named "8 Ball," Q. Target, another marshalling yard at Brussels, Belgium. Arrived at enemy coast on schedule, but ran into heavy thick clouds, which were as high as 25,000 ft. Mission was aborted when we were about ten minutes from target. Evidently we weren't permitted to drop bombs by PFF into the heart of Brussels for fear of missing target and killing many Belgium people. Our ship "8 Ball" was a brand new ship. It had no camouflage paint. It was an all bright and shiny aluminum plane. No longer is there a need for camouflaged planes. At least that's what headquarters tells us. We can now increase our cruising speed by 10 to 15 MPH. Bomb load 8 X 1000. Flew lead ship in our element. Landed at 1217. Time: 4 hrs 2 mm. Total hrs 410 hrs 35 mm
June 2, 1944 -- Mission #28 Berk-sur-Mer, France
Take-off at 0815 in glory Bee. Target was invasion beach directly across the channel and right on the beach of France. Targets were coastal guns, pill boxes and defense personnel. Bombed via PFF. We flew lead crew again of the low section. After the group assembled and before leaving for the coast of France, we did a complete tour of England. I don't know what the reason was, but for a mission requiring such a short flying distance, we spent over 5 hours in the air. Landed at 1330. Time: 5 hrs, 15 mm.
June 3, 1944 -- Mission #29 Merlimont Plage, France
Take-off at 0815 in Glory Bee. Target same vicinity as yesterday, coastal gun emplacements on the channel shore of France. We definitely must be getting ready for an invasion of the continent. If the invasion starts, I have completed my 30 missions, will they make me fly some more? Bomb load 12 X 500. Was to have bombed by PFF, but target area cleared long enough for us to bomb visually. Bomb results, fair. Little Flak off in the distance. Flew #3 spot of the first squadron. We were the only group in the 14th Combat Wing to be flying a mission. Landed at 1415. Time: 5 hrs.
June 6, 1944 -- Mission #30 St. Laurent, France
Wouldn't you know it!!! My last mission and it turns out to be the great day the entire world has been waiting for, "D-DAY INVASION." At 0630 H-hour, the first invasion forces landed off the coast of Normandy, near the peninsula of Le Havre, by a small town named Caen. Briefing was at the night before the invasion, June 5th. I was pleasantly enjoying the movie, "The Song of Bernadette," when the movie went off and the lights in the theatre were turned on. Colonel Hodges came up on the stage and announced that all combat crews were to report for briefing and all ground crews to report to their planes. At our briefing, the Colonel read a message from General Doolittle. "This is it," he said, and went on to make a very impressive speech. Even though we didn't know what was in store for us, we couldn't help but cheer as we left the briefing room. Take-off at 0307 in Glory Bee. The group assembled in the dark and it was quite rough. We finally did manage to assemble just before dawn. Bombing altitude at 16,000 ft. Bombed in six ship formations, each led by a PFF ship. 10/10 clouds. It was too bad that we could not see anything beneath us. Bomb load was 250 fragmentation bombs, which had us sweating all the way into the target. Couldn't wait to get rid of them. Dropped our bombs at 0617. On the way back we ran into some rough weather. Almost got sick, and my last mission too. After we landed we were supplied with sandwiches and coffee and our plane was refueled and ready for another mission. Quite surprisingly, I was taken off the plane and a new radio operator was substituted in my place. This was my 30th mission and I was finished. Most of the fellows in the crew had a couple of more missions to fly. Landed at 0910. Time: 6 hrs 3 min. Total Time: 427 hrs 3 min.
June 19, 1944 -- Ferry Mission
Took a trip by car with a skeleton crew, including Lt. Weatherwax and Lt. Metz to a B-17 base, south of Cambridge, named Nuttingsford. There we had to pick up the Wasps Nest N, which had made an emergency landing about two weeks ago. Took off at 1800 and landed at Shipdham at 1845. All compasses including the radio compass were not operating. For a few minutes we were lost. Tried to get a QDM from TD6, but no one had informed me that there was a recent frequency change from 3935 KC to 3990 KC. Time: 45 min .
July 11, 1944
This is the day that Lt. Mercer and the entire crew were off combat status. Although most of us had finished our June 6th or after, we were still considered operational. Lt. Mercer has flown 34 missions.
July 13, 1944
Went on furlough with Buttons. We went to Glasgow, Scotland. We intended to stay at the Ped Cross Center for about a week. It was like an old age home. We stayed a few hours, then checked out, grabbed the next train and headed for London. Returned to base on 7-21.
July 24, 1944
Put on detached service with the 1287th M.P. Squadron, here at Shipdham. Both Buttons and I were moved over to the Commando Site. It seemed strange not to be living in our old Quonset Hut, where we were constantly being awakened for early morning briefings. Nothing much required here at the M.P. Squadron. We go on hikes in the morning and play games in the afternoon. Once in a while we pull guard duty. Expect to go home in a short while.
July 31, 1944
Was summoned by Major Felber, our Squadron C.O. to appear before him at Headquarters. I rushed over and was informed that because of the shortage of radio operators, I would have to fly five more missions. They needed experienced radio operators to fly with the green inexperienced crews that were just coming over from the states. I flatly refused. I would have flown more missions, but with my old crew, and not with a bunch of green recruits. He threatened me with a court-martial, but I still refused. As a consequence, I was made to pull guard duty practically every night. My guard tour consisted of guarding the planes on the airfield.
September 13, 1944
Finally got my shipping orders. Boarded the H.M.S. Aquitania and left for the return trip home. After nine months and nineteen days, and after thirty missions in the E.T.O., I was heading back to the good old U.S.A.