44th Bomb Group Mission Number 10

Date City Country Target
1/27/1943 Lemmer Holland Target of Opportunity

Unofficial Mission Summary 

The target today was to have been the Submarine Building Yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany - our first mission into Germany, to impede the Nazi Submarine effort on Allied shipping.

The 67th put up seven aircraft along with 13 more by the other two squadrons. The weather conditions were extremely bad with clouds to very high altitudes. The formation traveled up over the North Sea and with no navigational aids became lost, never getting over Germany. Finally there was a break in the clouds allowing the navigators to get a "fix" and determining that they-were over Holland and too late to continue to the Primary behind the B-17's.

The Command Pilot, Col. Johnson, decided to release the bombs on Lemmer, near the Zuider Zee (Ijsselmeer), on the Lead Bombardier, and bombs landed quite scattered on the town and in fields and marshes and bay. It appeared to be the only possible Target of Opportunity.

Immediately after bombing, the formation was attacked by both ME 109's and FW 190's. There were about 35 enemy planes, several of whom hit the 68th plane #819. 2nd Lt. Reginald D. Grant was killed by an explosion of a 20 mm. shell which also seriously wounded Lt. Leroy Perlowin, navigator. About five minutes later a FW 190 broke off an attack on aircraft #800 and crashed out of control into the left wing of aircraft #690. Ship #690 went into a flat spin, out of formation. One crew member was observed to leave the ship through a waist window and his parachute opened. Almost immediately this ship started to disintegrate, the tail turret spun off, then rudder and stabilizer section and a large piece of the aft end of the fuselage.

As the ship fell, both wings were seen to fall off. Ship #776, also from the 68th Squadron, was attacked by 3 FW 190's, attacking from ahead and above. The #3 engine broke into flames and the plane dropped out of formation. Shortly afterwards three men were seen to bail out, the plane exploded and came apart in mid-air.

At 1155 hours. aircraft #800 (68th's) was attacked by a FW 190 from above at one o'clock, which went into a sitter position just off the right wing tip of #800 and was followed by machine gun fire from the right waist gunner. As a result of this action the enemy aircraft crashed into the left wing tip of A/C #690. (As stated above) At about this time a FW 190 made a 12 o'clock attack from above on A/C #819, inflicting considerable damage to the nose and fuselage. This damage caused aircraft #819 to lose altitude from the rest of the formation at a point about five miles off the coast of Holland.

At about this time four attacks followed by FW 190's from 1 o'clock above on aircraft #816 as it was flying alone about 300 yards behind the leading element of the squadron. There were only 8 rounds of ammunition remaining in the right nose gun, and the bottom nose gun was inoperative. The navigator called to the pilot and told him the seriousness of the situation. After realizing that his own aircraft was in difficulty, as well as aircraft #819, Lt. Diehl, pilot of #816, decided to leave the rest of the formation and go to the assistance of #819 which apparently was in grave danger. Although A/C #819 was about 5000 feet below the formation and off to the left, Lt. Diehl jeopardized his aircraft in order to give protection to Capt. O'Brien's aircraft #819, which would have been a complete loss including the lives of the remaining crew members aboard.

Captain O'Brien's aircraft had no protection from the nose or the tail guns, for both sections had been put but of commission by enemy action, and his aircraft was in grave danger of attacks from twin-engine bombers, which were hovering above, waiting for a possible attack on any straggler.

Aircraft #816 took over lead position and both aircraft lost altitude to 8000 feet. Both planes returned to the home base as a result of excellent navigation on the part of Lt. Kelly who aided the pilots of these two lonely aircraft all the way across the North Sea.
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