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Elwyn  A.  Meyer

 

Personal Legacy
ELWIN S. MEYER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

July 24, 1989

Dear Will:

In answer to your letter dated 18 July 1989, thanks for the informative letter. I am including information relative to the original crewmembers.

Rueban G. Ricketts (deceased) - Danville, VA - pilot
William H. Sims - Dallas, TX - copilot
Elwyn A. Meyer, Granite City, IL - navigator
Robert E. Brackett - 51 Nicholson Dr., Chatham, NJ 07928 - bombardier
Porter Branfort (deceased) - Clifton, Kansas
Theodore (Zack) L. Sassano - Brooklyn, NY
Arthur A. Stienke (deceased) - Seattle, WA
John B. Williams (deceased) - Tuskegee, AL
Robert A. Tarlton (deceased) - Calowell, OH
Walter D. Campbell - Sknomish, WA

I have Walter D. Campbell as Frank Campbell - Sknomish, WA.

Rueban G. Ricketts flew three missions prior to any of us flying. To my knowledge, all the enlisted crewmembers with the exception of Campbell are deceased. Sassano died in June of this year (1989). Rueban died some time in the 1950s. I have never heard from Campbell.

I would like a copy of the 44th Liberators Over Europe. Find enclosed a check for $20.00. This is the price you quoted.

Best wishes to you and thanks for your information. I did return to Shipdham in the 1970s while on a business trip. The airfield hadn't changed and was being run as a private field. The various squadron sites, 14th Combat Wing Hdqtrs and "O" Club were stripped out or falling into decay.

Standing on the field brought back many memories of friends and comrades

I Look forward to seeing you again in the near future.

Best wishes,

Elwyn A. Meyer

P.S. When you get to St. Louis, give me a call. (618)877-0945.
Missions as Crew (Ricketts -- 68th Squadron)

Mission 1 29th May 1944 to Politz, Germany
Mission 2 30th May 1944 to Roterberg, Germany
Mission 3 2 June 1944 to Berk Sur Mer
Mission 4 3 June 1944 to Merlimont Plage, France
Mission 5 6 June 1944 to St. Laurent Sur Mer, France
Mission 6 6 June 1944 to Caen, France
Mission 7 8 June 1944 to Paris, France
Mission 8 10 June 1944 to Orleans, Buchy, France
Mission 9 15 June 1944 to Tours, France
Mission 10 17 June 1944 to Melvyn, France
Mission 11 18 June 1944 to Luneberg, Germany
Mission 12 20 June 1944 to Politz, Germany -- Bremmerhaven (T.O.)
Mission 13 21 June 1944 Berlin Suburbs (Genshagen), Germany
Mission 14 22 June 1944 St. Cyr, France (2nd mission of day)
Mission 15 24 June 1944 Mission abort
Mission 16 25 June 1944 Doullens, Abbeville, France
Mission 17 29 June 1944 Magdeburg, Germany
Mission 18 7 July 1944 Bernberg, Germany (101 E)
Mission 19 11 July 1944 Munich, Germany (226C)
Mission 20 12 July 1944 Munich, Germany (226C)
Mission 21 16 July 1944 Saarbrucken, Germany (427V)
Mission 22 18 July 1944 Troani, France (427)
Mission 23 19 July 1944 Koblenz, Germany (427)
Mission 24 20 July 1944 Erfurt, Germany (049A)
Mission 25 1 August 1944 Corbie, France (156)
Mission 26 3 August 1944 Mer Surldise, France (805)
Mission 27 4 August 1944 Kiel, Germany (805
Mission 28 5 August 1944 Brunswick, Germany (643)
Mission 29 6 August 1944 Hamburg, Germany (224 - "B" Damage)
Mission 30 8 August 1944 Laderth, France (553)
Mission 31 12 August 1944 to Durincourt, France (553)
Mission 32 13 August 1944 to LaHarve, France (725)

On the 13 August, all tours were reduced to 30 missions.

I have a coy of my Form 5 Flight Records with Frank Davido's signature certifying the above and with a separate diary I kept I was able to verify the targets. The Brunswick (5 August) target occurred when we were too late to join the group, so we joined up with another group and went with them. Bombed a marshaling yard.

We wound up leading 16 bombers on the first raid on 6 June 1944.

None from the same group. We did hit the primary target - a road junction, I believe, at 5:50 a.m. in the morning, 70 minutes before troops hit the beach.


ELWYN A. MEYER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

Elwyn A. Meyer
3501 Sun Circle
Idaho Falls, ID 83404

January 1, 1996

Dear Will:

In the Volume 1, Issue No. 4, the article on "Corky" - the B24H, is accurate about Rueban Ricketts' crew flying three missions on the 8th, 10th, and 17th of June 1944.

Webb Todds 68th squadron history is in error. There was a mission by the 68th on the 10th of June. The mission was to Orleans, Bricy, France. I verified the dates with my Form 5 Flight Records.

On the 7th of July, Rueban Rickets' crew took the plane to Bernburg, Germany, not Darenburg. This was the day of the "Big Shoot." We could not get fighter cover because our fighters were engaged with German fighters. We were attacked by twin engine BF-110 coming out of the sun just as we prepared to turn on the IP. The navigator's window was shot out. The three lead aircraft were hit. They, in turn, hit each other going down in a massive spin all locked to each other. Some chutes were observed coming out. How many, I don't know.

Rickett's crew became the lead 68th aircraft. Bombs were dropped by the navigator, ME. Some bombs hit the target - an aircraft plant. But most took out the main road through town.

Rickett's crew flew "Corky" to Saarbrucken on the 16th of July. The mission on the 12th of July was to Munich-a mission to Munich was also made on the 11th of June.

All the above dates are from my Form 5 Flight Records and diary. Rueban Ricketts was an excellent pilot. His service record would show he was an A&E aircraft mechanic before going to flight school. He was a rated B-17 pilot who was taken out of phase training as a B17 copilot and sent to B-24 transition training. He picked up all his crew except a navigator at Wendover Army Air Base in Utah.

I, as navigator, joined the crew in phase training at Gowen Field Army Air Base at Boise, Idaho - in January 1944.

Any time we had aircraft mechanical problems, Rueban could diagnose the problem and save the ground crews many hours of hunting.

I think he was one of the best and safest B-24 pilots in the Air Force.

On the 12th of July, we were scheduled for a raid on Saarbrucken, but had to abort because of a blown engine. The weather was so bad we had to get to an auxiliary field to land.

We were sent to Molesworth - a B-17 group. When Rueban landed, he had a full load of bombs and 2,300 gallons of fuel. He greased that B-24 in so smoothly, you couldn't feel it touch down. When I complimented him on the landing, his reply was, "This is a B-17 field and I don't want them thinking I'm driving a truck." He was proud of the B-24. So were we all. The 17 gets glamorized but the B-24 was the real workhorse in all theaters.

Best wishes,

Elwyn A. Meyer

P.S. Excuse the grammar and shaky handwriting. Still get shaky when I look at old records and data.


December 6, 2001
Elwyn A. Meyer
1073 Pine Knoll Drive
Estes Park, CO 80517-7578

Doullen's France Mission
25 June 1944

We started our bomb run on the target but didn't drop. Supposedly, the bombardier hadn't lined up properly. Since there was no real opposition, only one flak burst at the plant was noted. The squadron made a 360-degree turn and turned so as to come in on the same bomb track.

When the bombs were dropped, I told the pilot we had dropped short - sure enough you could see the bombs hitting the hospital. One bomb dropped into the power plants front yard. No damage done.

I was horrified that a lead bombardier could not hit a target from 10,000 feet altitude. Also, when we had no opposition and the first run showed we were running over a hospital didn't the command pilot order an alternate approach to the target to spare possible damage to the hospital.

At this time, fighting was heavy in the Caan area and so many casualties, both German and Allied were probably being given treatment. I also wondered why we would try to take out a single power plant since we would be taking the area shortly and would need the power as well as the civilian population. Was a separate target briefing given the lead crews after the general briefing was over?

The question remains open why was such an act done? For what reason? Target photos were probably available to lead crews before takeoff, so no one was not informed as to what was required. If the bombing was not intentional, the bomb run could have been changed before takeoff.

Sincerely yours,

Elwyn A. Meyer
Member of Rueban Rickett's Crew

P.S. Do you have an address for the following officers: Olaf W. Olsen, navigator 0702173. Wilber C. Benjamin, navigator. Would appreciate them if you do.



December 6, 2001

Dear Will:

Will, this is my memory of the bombing mission to Doullens, France by the 68th squadron of the 44th Bomb Group on 25 June 1944. You may not like what I am going to write, but it is accurate. This is also the reason I requested photos of this mission. Naturally, they were lost in a fire. I know somewhere in Air Force Files there are copies.

The mission began like all missions, a briefing for all crews, target data, routes in and out.

The briefed altitude was 10,000 feet. The target was a power plant that serviced the Doullens area. No opposition was expected.

Travel to the target area was uneventful and the group split as planned each squadron going to its own target.

Our bomb run was to follow a railroad track to the targeted power plant. [V-1 Site]

When we came into the target area, it was noted a large German evacuation hospital was adjacent to the railroad tracks. It appeared the train on the siding might be unloading wounded.

The hospital and train were well marked with large red crosses indicating their non-combat status. I asked the lead bombardier when we returned to base how he could have missed his target twice. His answer was, "accidents happen." Since he got one bomb adjacent to the power plant, I assume we could claim that was our target.

I do not believe this. I believe we intended to hit the hospital as our prime target from the first run-but couldn't get the one bomb into the power house yard.

Over the years, this event has always caused me to have hard feelings and shame for being made a part of an act without my knowledge - this violated the Geneva Convention.

I am enclosing a sketch of the bomb run as I remember it. IF you have access to the mission briefing charts, you will see they agree. Naturally, there would be no pictures available to show our prowess.

Maybe we should access the German War diaries for this date and see what damage we did.

Maybe others who were on this mission have felt the same misgivings I have had. How do we handle this?


*************************************************

ELWYN A. MEYER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

Dear Will:

In the volume 1, issue 4, the article on "Corky" is accurate about Rueban Rickett's crew flying three missions on the 8th, 10th, and 17th of June 1944.

Webb Todd's 68th squadron history is in error (omission). There was a mission by the 68th on the 10th of June. The mission was to Orleans Buchy, France. I verified the dates with my Form 5 flight records.

On the 7th of July, Rueban Rickett's crew took the plane to Bernburg, Germany, not Darenburg. This was the day of the "Big Shoot." We could not get fighter cover because all our fighters were engaged with the German fighters. We were attacked by JU-88S coming out of the sun just as we prepared to turn on the IP. The navigator's window was shot out. The three lead aircraft (of our section) were hit. They, in turn, hit each other, going down in a massive spin, apparently locked to each other. Some chutes were observed coming out but how many, I don't know.

Rickett's crew became the lead 68th aircraft at that time. Bombs were dropped by the navigator - me! Some bombs hit the target and aircraft plant. But most of them took out the main road through town.

Rickett's crew flew "Corky" to Saarbrucken on the 16th of July and the mission on the 12th of July was to Munich. A previous mission to Munich was also made on the 11th of June, I believe.

All of the above dates are from my Form 5 flight records and diary.

Rueban Ricketts was an excellent pilot. His service record would show he was an A&E aircraft mechanic before going to flight school. He was "A" rated B-17 pilot who was taken out of phase training as a B-17 copilot and sent to B-24 transition training. He picked up all his crew except the navigator at Wendover Army Air Base in Utah.

I, as navigator, joined the crew in phase training at Gowen Field Army Air Base at Boise, Idaho in January 1944.

Any time that we had aircraft mechanical problems, Rueban could diagnose the problem and save the ground crews many hours of hunting. I think that he was one of the best and safest B-24 pilots in the Air Force.

On 12th of July 1944, we were scheduled for a raid on Saarbrucken, but had to abort because of a blown engine. The weather was so bad we had to get to an auxiliary field to land. We were directed to Molesworth, A B-17 Group. When Rueban landed, we had a full load of bombs and 2,300 gallons of fuel. He "greased" that B-24 in so smoothly you couldn't feel it touch down. When I complimented him on the landing, his reply was, "This is a B-17 field and I don't want them thinking I'm driving a truck!" He was proud of the B-24 - so were we all. The B-17 gets glamorized, but the B-24 was the real workhorse in all theatres.

Best wishes,

Elwyn A. Meyer
 
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