A Brief History of SX-C and SX-F of the 352nd Fighter Squadron

SX-C

The following is posted with grateful thanks to Lt Col. McCollom’s daughter, Patty McCollom Bauchman.

A/C 42-8531 P-47D-5-RE. This olive drab Thunderbolt appears to have come into the Squadron in early September 1943. Lt Col. Loren “Mac” McCollom took it as his personal aircraft and named it “Butch II” for his wife. As commander of the 61st FS, 56th Fighter Group, McCollom called his P-47 “Butch.” His daughter Patty explains that “Butch” was her father’s humorous nickname for her mother – a very diminutive, feminine and educated woman who you could never imagine calling “Butch.” When he left the 56th to join the 353rd, McCollom’s old P-47 would likely have remained on the 56th books and the natural thing to do would be to call the new 353rd aircraft “Butch II.” It seems that “Butch II” was disappointingly unreliable in the air. McCollom’s diary for the time recorded that “she’s a little rough I’m afraid” on September 7, 1943 and then “Butch II is still a little rough and not as fast as Butch” on the following day. McCollom’s frustration was evident in his diary entry for October 20 writing “[I] had to come back because she overheated. I’m going to have to give Butch II up. She’s just not dependable.” To add to these problems, Glenn Duncan had lost a wingtip from the aircraft in combat on September 23, 1943 so you can imagine that McCollom was probably not sorry to lose the aircraft.

It seems the McCollom used HV-M for his first mission with the 353rd and claimed an Me109 destroyed (353rd FG Archive).

It seems the McCollom used HV-M for his first mission with the 353rd and claimed an Me109 destroyed – click for larger view (353rd FG Archive).

Lt Col. Loren McCollom's SX-C "Butch II" (A/C 42-8531) after receiving battle damage to the wingtip September 23, 1943 (353rd FG Archive).

Lt Col. Loren McCollom’s SX-C “Butch II” (A/C 42-8531) after receiving battle damage to the wingtip September 23, 1943 (353rd FG Archive).

After McCollom, the aircraft then became the assigned aircraft of Lt. Gordon L. Willits, but there are few records indicating that he ever flew it operationally. It did receive further battle damage while being flown by Major Bill Bailey on December 1, 1943. By the time records do become more comprehensive in January, 1944 it seems a variety of 352nd Squadron pilots flew it, but with no regular pilot it perhaps had a poor reputation in the Squadron. It last flew operationally with the Squadron on March 6, 1944 in the hands of Lt. Clifford F. Armstrong and probably left the Group soon after this date. There are no details about the ground crew for SX-C.

The aircraft shows up twice in subsequent accident reports after leaving the Group. The first is an accident at the hands of Reavy H. Giles while landing at RAF Woodchurch on April 23, 1944. The second was taxiing accident by Ansel J. Wheeler of the 373rd Fighter Group at Le Culot (A-89) on December 10, 1944.

Just as a final note on SX-C – the coding was only used once in the Squadron during the entire war. Inevitably this fact has brought some speculation that it was not used again as a tribute to Lt. Col. McCollom who was brought down by flak on the mission of November 25, 1943 to become a POW. This now seems unlikely to me as McCollom, it would appear, had given up the aircraft at some point in late October. Roger Freeman in his 56th Fighter Group (Oxford, 2000), p.21 also describes British Air Ministry recommendations not to use “C” in aircraft codes. This seems a much more plausible reason for the lack of “C” in the Group though I have no further information on this at this stage.

SX-F

A recent query from the 8th Fighter Command research community has prodded me out of inaction on the aircraft histories part of this blog. So here is a summary of the tragic history of SX-F aircraft with the 352nd resulting from that query.

A/C 42-7904 P-47D-1-RE. This olive drab Thunderbolt was an early aircraft with the Squadron. It was the assigned aircraft of Lt. Clifford F. Armstrong who named it “8 Gun Melody” Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry has an early picture of this aircraft (p.57) and a close-up of the artwork on (p.88). The aircraft continued in Armstrong’s hands, but was lost along with 1st Lt. Victor L. Vogel on January 11, 1944.

A well-known photo of Lt. Cliff Armstrong about to climb into his aircraft  SX-F "8 Gun Melody" (a/c P-47D-1-RE 42-7904). Lt. Vogel was lost flying this aircraft January 11, 1944.

A well-known photo of Lt. Cliff Armstrong about to climb into his aircraft SX-F “8 Gun Melody” (a/c P-47D-1-RE 42-7904). Lt. Vogel was lost flying this aircraft January 11, 1944.

A/C 42-75622 P-47D-15-RE. This olive drab Thunderbolt was a replacement for Lt. Clifford F. Armstrong’s first aircraft. He named his second aircraft “Hun Buster” and flew it regularly until he completed his tour extension at the end of June 1944. There are two photographs of this aircraft in Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry (p. 208). The aircraft was then flown by a variety of Squadron pilots until assigned to F/O John J. Swanezy. He named the aircraft “Betty” and flew it throughout July and into August, 1944. Swanezy was killed in action while flying this aircraft on August 18, 1944. There is a nice colour photo of this aircraft available from the Jeff Ethel collection HERE though I have seen other versions of this photo but cannot establish who actually has the copyright. Although it does not appear that the Squadron flew another SX-F before converting to Mustangs, the records for September are missing so it can only be assumed that no further SX-F coded Thunderbolts existed.

A/C 44-14694 P-51D-10-NA. This Mustang was long-serving as one of the original aircraft assigned to the Squadron. The original pilot, Lt. Herbert F. Niklaus, flew it on 19 missions before completing his tour at the end of January, 1945. The aircraft was then taken over Lt. Albert P. Lang who named the aircraft “Eleanor” and flew it on 25 missions between January, 1945 and the end of the war. Tragically, 1st Lt. Edward A. Knickelbein lost his life in this aircraft after a mid-air collision and crash on July 3, 1945 near Stowmarket, Suffolk. There is a full account and pictures of the accident in Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry (p.624-625).

P-51D-10-NA (44-14694) SX-F. This aircraft was assigned to Lt. Niklaus and then to Lt. Albert P. Lang who was most likely responsible for the name "Eleanor" (M Martorella/353rd FG Archive).

P-51D-10-NA (44-14694) SX-F. This aircraft was assigned to Lt. Niklaus and then to Lt. Albert P. Lang who was most likely responsible for the name “Eleanor” (M Martorella/353rd FG Archive).

There are no SX-F bars recorded as flying with the Squadron.

As a final note on the crew for SX-F that flew as part of “B” Flight. The crew chief on the Thunderbolts was S/Sgt Joseph F. Brandon, Assistant Crew Chief was S/Sgt Raymond A. Wierzgacz and the armourer was Cpl. Earl A. Dunn. The crew for the Mustang period is unconfirmed and may have either changed entirely or in part. There is some evidence to suggest that Pvt. Joe Lopez may have been armourer at this time.

 

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1st Lt. John W. Bishop, 351st Fighter Squadron

Scott Bishop has been in touch with some further  information and pictures from his stepfather’s wartime album. 1st Lt. John W. Bishop from Austin, Texas flew a tour with the 351st Fighter Squadron from June to October 1944. He completed 270 combat hours and was awarded the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and the DFC. Lt Bishop was the pilot of P-47 Thunderbolt YJ-E “Patrica Baby” lost along with Lt. Greene on September 17, 1944.  Some of the photos from Lt. Bishop’s album are posted here with thanks to Scott Bishop for sharing this fascinating further information. Rather than cropping the photos, I have left the original captions as they were written by John Bishop. Some of the details are also quite difficult to see so just click on the images for a larger view.

1st Lt. John W. Bishop (0-663448) of Austin Texas and the 351st Fighter Squadron in June 1944 (S Bishop).

1st Lt. John W. Bishop (0-663448) of Austin Texas and the 351st Fighter Squadron in July 1944 (S Bishop).

Lt. Bishop during basic training (S Bishop)

Lt. Bishop during basic training (S Bishop)

Lt. Bishop with "his old P-47." Note that this is clearly not YJ-E "Patrica Baby" and may well be another aircraft as he was not consistently flying YJ-E until the end of July, 1944 (S Bishop)

Lt. Bishop with “his old P-47.” Note that this is clearly not YJ-E “Patrica Baby” and may well be another aircraft as he was not consistently flying YJ-E until the end of July, 1944 (S Bishop)

Lt. Bishop outside his barrack hut at Raydon. The "Weg" may roughly translate as road or way in Dutch and German - thus "Immelmann Road/Way" as the huts title after the famous combat manoeuvre - though this is entirely speculation on my part. Maybe someone can be more precise as to its meaning? (S Bishop)

Lt. Bishop outside his barrack hut at Raydon. The “Weg” may roughly translate as road or way in Dutch and German – thus “Immelmann Road/Way” after the famous combat manoeuvre – though this is entirely speculation on my part. Maybe someone can be more precise as to its meaning? (S Bishop)

Lt. Bishop's mission and award record - click for larger view (353rd FG Archive)

Lt. Bishop’s mission and award record – click for larger view (353rd FG Archive)

A page from a map belonging to Lt. Bishop showing the location of Raydon (S Bishop)

A page from a map belonging to Lt. Bishop showing the location of Raydon (S Bishop)

 Around the Base at Raydon

The "Thunderbolt Theatre" at Raydon (S Bishop)

The “Thunderbolt Theatre” at Raydon (S Bishop)

Left to right are Bishop, Stump, Milligan [looks like Maguire], Compton and Fuchs [Intelligence Officer] (S Bishop)

Left to right are Bishop, Stump, Milligan [looks like Maguire], Compton and Fuchs [Intelligence Officer] (S Bishop)

Left to right are Rosen, Murray, Stump (with Capt. bars), Murphy, Knicklebein, unknown and Milligan (S Bishop)

Left to right are Rosen, Murray, Stump (with Capt. bars), Murphy, Knicklebein, unknown and Milligan (S Bishop)

Inside the barrack hut at Raydon (S Bishop)

Inside the barrack hut at Raydon (S Bishop)

"Big Friends" returning home over Raydon (S Bishop)

“Big Friends” returning home over Raydon (S Bishop)

Colchester High Street - not much has changed since the 1940s (S Bishop)

Colchester High Street – not much has changed since the 1940s (S Bishop)

Transition to Mustangs

Lt. George S. Montgomery from Opelika, Alabama flew with the 351st between August, 1944 and April 1945. The aircraft is unidentified, but may well be his (S Bishop)

Lt. George S. Montgomery from Opelika, Alabama flew with the 351st between August, 1944 and April 1945. The aircraft is unidentified, but may well be his (S Bishop)

Thunderbolt and Mustangs at Raydon (S Bishop)

Thunderbolt and Mustangs at Raydon (S Bishop)

Being checked out on the P-51. Lt. Bishop's first Mustang mission was on October 3, 1944. From the flight of four Mustangs taking part Capt. Daniel became a POW when his aircraft engine failed. His element lead aborted as escort to the struggling aircraft - hence Bishop's note about two lost. (S Bishop)

Being checked out on the P-51. Lt. Bishop’s first Mustang mission was on October 3, 1944. From the flight of four Mustangs taking part Capt. Daniel became a POW when his aircraft engine failed. His element lead aborted as escort to the struggling aircraft – hence Bishop’s note about two lost. (S Bishop)

Lt. Walter E. Murphy of Albany, IN and the 351st Fighter Squadron (S Bishop)

Lt. Walter E. Murphy of Albany, IN and the 351st Fighter Squadron (S Bishop)

"Donna J" (serial and code currently unknown) is thought to be the aircraft of Lt. Billy J. Murray who appears to be seated in the cockpit (S Bishop)

“Donna J” (serial and code need checking) is thought to be the aircraft of Lt. Billy J. Murray who appears to be seated in the cockpit (S Bishop)

A Typical Mission

The 351st Ready Room at Raydon (S Bishop)

The 351st Ready Room at Raydon (S Bishop)

Heading to the planes from the briefing hut at Raydon (S Bishop)

Heading to the planes from the briefing hut at Raydon (S Bishop)

Heading to the aircraft (S Bishop)

Heading to the aircraft (S Bishop)

Take-off (S Bishop)

Take-off (S Bishop)

Take-off (S Bishop)

Take-off (S Bishop)

Lining up - in the front in Fred Lefebre's "Willit Run?" (S Bishop)

Lining up – in the front in Fred Lefebre’s “Willit Run?” (S Bishop)

Mustangs of the 351st FS take-off (S Bishop)

Mustangs of the 351st FS take-off (S Bishop)

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Mission#90 March 8, 1944 – Target: Berlin. The Loss of 1st Lt. John Zolner, 350th Fighter Squadron

Date: Mar 8, 44

Dispatched: 47 Aborts: 5

Mission: Penetration support to 3rd ATF, 180 B-24s

Field Order: 263 Target: Berlin

Time Up/Down: 11:22 hrs     14:40 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Rimerman

Claims Air: 05-01-02 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-03

Landfall Ijmuiden 12:13 hrs, 21-27,000ft, with 2nd Div B-24s from  L/F to point approx 20 miles north of Brunswick where P-38s R/V’d and Group left bombers at 13:30 hrs. L/F out Ijmuiden 14:25 hrs altitudes from deck up to 20,000ft. Bomber formation very poor in units larger than Groups. NE of Dummer Lake 6+ Fw190s were attacked by the 352nd FS resulting in 3 destroyed and 2 damaged, engagements ranging from 28,000ft down to the deck. SE of Dummer Lake, Red Flight of the 350th FS engaged and destroyed long nosed Fw190. Vicinity of Hanover 1 Fw190 driven down to deck by White flight 350th FS and damaged. In this engagement Lt. Zolner’s A/C received a hit in main fuel tank by ground flak resulting in the loss of fuel. Lt. Zolner proceeded out on deck until out of fuel and forced to bail out approx. 10 miles west of Almelo, Holland. He was seen to land in a road. One pilot returning on deck strafed gun position on beach complete with personnel vicinity of Ijmuiden. One pilot returning early observed single B-17G with only star marking about 40 miles east of Orfordness flying 165 degrees. Pilot turned and followed B-17 which made L/F vicinity Ostend and continued inland. Flak encountered in several places along the route but not unusual. One B-24 with one engine on fire was escorted from vicinity Dummer Lake to middle of North Sea. Channel “A” good but Channel “C” marred by whistle. Lt. Garey, wingman for Lt Zolner (MIA), arrived home late from advanced airfield. He claims Lt. Zolner destroyed an Fw190 in the Hanover area when E/A was positioning itself for an attack on White Flight at 4,000ft. Coming out on deck, Lt. Garey strafed a locomotive in Germany. Lt Col. Rimerman of Group HQ participated.

Claims:

1 Fw190 destroyed Capt. Robertson, 352nd FS

1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Dustin, 352nd FS

1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Knoble, 352nd FS

1 Fw190 (long nose) destroyed Lt. Hart, 350th FS

1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Zolner, 350th FS

1 Fw190 damaged (shared) Lt Col. Rimerman and Lt. Stearns, 350th FS [later awarded to Rimerman as a probable].

1 Fw190 damaged Capt. Robertson, 352nd FS

1 Fw190 damaged Lt. Knoble, 352nd FS

1 Gun position, complete with personnel, strafed by Lt. Willits, 352nd FS

1 Loco damaged (in Germany) Lt. Garey, 350th FS

350th: Lt Col. Rimerman. T/U 11:16 hrs. T/D 14:40 hrs. Total flight time 03:24 hrs. L/F N Ijmuiden 12:11 hrs, 23,000ft. R/V B-24 before landfall 12:05 hrs, 23,000ft. Good. P-47, P-51. Fw190 – few Dummer Lake, Hanover, 13:28 hrs, 20,000ft. Left coast N Ijmuiden 14:08 hrs, 24,000ft. Meager, heavy accurate linger. Heavy, heavy accurate Hanover. R/T normal. Strato cumulus 4-5,000ft; Germany clear, coast 10/10.

Lt Col Ben Rimerman (Gp Ldr)
1st Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt John Sullivan
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt John Zolner (Flt Ldr) LH-U* 42-8557
2nd Lt Abel H. Garey
1st Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
Capt Charles W. Dinse (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Arthur C. Bergeron
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt William J. Price
1st Lt Charles O. Durant (351st)
2nd Lt Richard L. Bedford (351st Relay)

*[The code is assumed, however, Blick’s combat diary and his letters to me indicate Zolner was flying his aircraft that day. Zolner took his place when Blick was grounded due to a head cold].

The first victory of the day was for 1st Lt. Robert S Hart, flying Red Four in Lt Zolner’s flight, when he saw a lone Fw190 make a pass at his flight:

We had made R/V with the bombers and had worked our way up to the lead unit of B-24’s and crossed over to the left side of them. We were about half way between Dummer Lake and Steinhuder Lake at 24000 ft when a lone Fw190 made a pass at Lt Price, my element leader, and myself. He broke under us and we chased him but Lt Price could not drop his wing tank so we pulled back up.

While climbing back up abreast, the 190 tried to get on Lt Price’s tail. I called him to break and turned into the e/a myself. The 190 went straight for the deck but I easily closed on him and gave a short burst at about 300 yards. I noticed strikes and then closed to about 50 yards when he pulled up. Pieces flew off, the wheels dropped and he was going straight down in smoke when I broke off at about 6000 ft.

As it became time for the Squadron to leave the bombers, an Fw190 cam head-on to White flight. Although 1st Lt. Richard A Stearns was able to fire and observe strikes, Col Rimerman hit it first and was awarded the aircraft as a probable:

A Fw190 came along head on. We turned and passed each other going in opposite directions. He immediately dove and we followed from about 18000 ft to 6 or 8000 where I started to fire from about 4 or 500 yards. The Fw went on to the deck leading us over a couple of airfields and military installations in the Northern suburbs of Hanover. The Fw was taking violent evasive action and really wheeling and dealing in and around these buildings. I got a few strikes in the fuselage and wing roots before I ran out of ammunition.

The lead element of Red flight was in action again over Hanover. This time, separated from their second element, 1st Lt. John Zolner led an attack on an Fw190 trying to bounce Lt Col Rimerman and Lt Stearns as they attacked their aircraft. Zolner’s wing man, 2nd Lt. Abel H. Garey saw Zolner destroy the 190:

Lt. Zolner dove down on the E/A’s tail and gave him a long burst. I had to roll to the side to keep from running into pieces from the e/a. The e/a fell down to the right in a slide slipping position apparently out of control. I tried to see him hit the ground, but couldn’t, because we went on down to help Lt Col. Rimerman and Lt. Stearns who were running an e/a into his own field.

We came over the field and ran into heavy flak, both medium and light. Tracers were also used. I was jolted all over and when I pulled out, was over Jerry’s field. I zoomed up and the flak became so heavy so I dove to keep from getting hit. Each time I zoomed up, I found myself in the flak, so I dove for the deck informing Lt. Zolner I was no longer with him. Lt. Zolner then called Lt Col. Rimerman and told him that his gas tank was hit and he was going to bail out.

After breaking off combat, I came home on the deck. I tried to zoom up but the flak forced me back down. About 14.00 hrs I ran into a train and strafed the engine thoroughly.

1st Lt. Richard Stearns saw what happened to Lt Zolner:

I saw Lt. Zolner flying the Colonel’s right wing. He was streaming gas in a steady spray, so he called the Group leader and told him he had been hit and was bailing out.

Lt Col. Rimerman advised him to stay with the ship until he got out of Germany. We provided escort for him as far as Hellendoers, where at an altitude of about 7000 ft he slowly rolled the ship over and bailed out. He did not make a delayed jump.

Lt Col. Rimerman and I circled the spot until he landed in the trees along the highway from Almelo to Zwolle. We saw a small closed car stop at the spot, and two people were seen to get out. A man on a bicycle was also seen to approach the scene from the west. At this time Lt Col Rimerman and I headed for home.

1st Lt. John Zolner (0-793578) from Ravena, New York lost March 8, 1944 when flak hit his fuel tank. Lt. Zolner evaded capture and returned to the Group via Switzerland September 18, 1944 (353rd FG Archive).

1st Lt. John Zolner (0-793578) from Ravena, New York lost March 8, 1944 when flak hit his fuel tank. Lt. Zolner evaded capture and returned to the Group via Switzerland September 18, 1944 (353rd FG Archive).

[Rimerman’s instruction to remain with the aircraft until out of Germany proved wise counsel to Zolner. In the car was a Dutch Doctor who started the process of getting the downed pilot to Switzerland and back to the Group, then stationed at Raydon, by September 18, 1944].

351st: Major Christian. T/U 11:17 hrs. T/D 14:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:33 hrs. Penetration support. Ijmuiden at 13:13 hrs, altitude at 24,000ft. 2nd Division at landfall point 12:18 hrs, altitude 25,000ft. Close formation within Groups, although wings were strung out. P-38s, P-51s and other P-47s [seen]. East of Celle at 13:30 hrs, altitude 20,000ft. Remarks: From landfall on in numerous bombers seen aborting.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-S
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-W
2nd Lt Cletus Peterson YJ-P
1st Lt Herman Herfurth (Flt Ldr) YJ-A
2nd Lt Robert C. Strobell YJ-F
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman (Flt Ldr) YJ-N
2nd Lt William J. Weaver YJ-H
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-R
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-J
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-P
2nd Lt Richard L. Bedford (350th Relay) YJ-L
2nd Lt Rupert M. Tumlin (Relay) YJ-V
1st Lt Charles O. Durant (350th) YJ-I

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 11:18hrs. T/D 14:40 hrs. Total flight time 03:22 hrs. Landfall in at 12:15 hrs over Egmond at 24-25,000ft. R/V with 2nd Air Div B-24s over middle of Zuider Zee at 12:20 hrs, 25,000ft. Bombers were early and in terrible formation; strung out and mixed B-24s and B-17s. Observed other 47s, 38s and 51s. 3 Fw190s bounced by our Squadron and during the attack several other 190s were encountered. This engagement resulted in 3 190s being destroyed and 2 190s damaged. These E/A were not attacking the bombers at this time. This engagement took place in the immediate vicinity of Dummer Lake at approx. 13:15 hrs at altitudes of 28,000ft to 0 ft. Left bombers at the time of engagement and did not rejoin them. Left enemy coast at 14:00 hrs. Flak encountered at several places along route but no unusual flak. Some flak did seem to originate from positions in open territory. Previous bombing results observed from Lembrach A/D at Dummer Lake. One town believed to be Loxten, Germany had been bombed sometime today and smoke was still coming from it. “A” Channel good. “C” Channel fair but could not contact Goldsmith3. Wakeford White#2 heard call “American Fighters – what is your position?” White#2 asked “Who are you, what is your call sign?” This was repeated by White#2 but the former did not answer. Route covered by 3/10 clouds, tops at 4,000ft. Horizontal visibility and vertical visibility good. Note: One Fort bellied in and burned just north of Lingen. One B-24 with one engine (right inboard) smoking was escorted from Dummer Lake to the middle of the North Sea. This A/C had the letter D within a white circle and the last three numbers were 497 and the letter N next to the star. Lt. Willits, returning home on the deck, damaged one gun position with personnel on beach between Ijmuiden and Egmond. Lt. Sperry, returning early, observed a B-17 by itself in mid-channel at 12,000ft heading toward the Belgium coast. This B-17 was flying a 160[?] degree course and passed in over Knocke at 12:10 hrs. This B-17 had star but no square or triangle. 1 Me109 had bellied in at Steinfeld A/D north of Dummer Lake. 3 P-47s [aborted] Lt. Sperry – wing tank connection broken. Lt. Callans – radio out. Lt. Kipfer – belly tank pressure tube broken. Claims 03-00-02 1 Fw190 destroyed Capt Robertson, 1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Dustin, 1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Knoble, 1 Fw190 damaged Capt Robertson, 1 Fw190 damaged Lt. Knoble, 1 gun position with personnel damaged Lt. Willits. Rounds fired: Robertson 1112, Dustin 598, Knoble 1963 and Willits 561. 1 P-47 Category AC, 1 P-47 Category A.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr) SX-U
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-F
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-G
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-K
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr) SX-O
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison (DNTO) SX-R
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-M
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr) SX-S
2nd Lt Joeseph L. Knoble SX-P
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-N
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-V
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-A
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-X
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-Z
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-I
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-Y

Northeast of Dummer Lake at about 13:15 hrs the Squadron encountered six + Fw190s. In the ensuing action, ranging from 28,000 ft to the deck, Blue and Yellow flight accounted for three destroyed and two damaged. Capt. Raynor Robertson led Blue flight down to 500 ft and was credited with one destroyed and one damaged:

Three Fw190s came in at 6 o’clock about 5000 ft above us. We turned into them climbing. We made two orbits to the right and by that time we were about 1000 feet below them. They then dove for the deck and we followed them down. I closed in to about 400 yards and took several short bursts. I saw strikes all over the e/a each time I fired. The e/a pulled up to about 500 feet and the pilot bailed out. At this time my wing man, Lt. Knoble shot one Fw190 off my tail. I saw the e/a that he had destroyed crash into the ground.

At that time there were four more Fw190s circling Steinfield airfield to land and I got on the tail of one and got one short burst, then my guns ceased to fire. I saw a few strikes on the fuselage of the e/a. Then my wing man, Lt. Knoble, closed in and took a short burst on another Fw190.

2nd Lt. Joseph L Knoble was also credited with an Fw190 destroyed and one damaged as Blue Flight caught the enemy coming in to land:

I stayed with Capt. Robertson, my leader, and the Captain got on a 190s tail and let him have it. He got many hits on the e/a and I saw the pilot bail out. I called this in to the Capt. and he called to hit the deck.

Nearing the ground we spotted an airfield with two 190s circling it. The Captain said ‘Lets get them!’ And moved on to the number one, I stayed to cover him.

I saw the Capt. get strikes on the e/a and damage it. At this time the number two Fw190 moved in on the Captain’s tail and I closed in on it to about 2 or 300 yards, 30 degrees deflection and fired. I observed many strikes on the left wing root and then the canopy flew off and the pilot bailed out.

Another 190 appeared on my tail so I turned around into him and was able to out-turn him in a very short turn. I got several strikes on this e/a but then the airfield began shooting flak at me. My ammunition was gone so I hit the deck and came home.

Yellow Flight, led by Capt. Forkin, spotted the same group of Fw190s near the bombers and joined the attack. Yellow Four, 1st Lt. Harry Dustin was able to destroy one of the Fw190s:

Lt. Willits broke down on the three Fw190s. We chased one around and he went up in a turn to the left. The Fw190 then broke right into Lt. Willits, and I fired while going straight up. He snapped to the left and headed for the deck. I followed him down still shooting, observing many pieces falling off. I broke off to the left in a climbing turn and saw a parachute below me. Looking further back I saw a plane going down trailing heavy black smoke. Heavy flak was around us, so we hit the deck and came home.

1st Lt. Gordon L. Willits, Yellow Three, was experiencing problems with his aircraft’s supercharger and was unable to catch the 190s:

I was unable to get as high as the rest of the flight due to supercharger trouble so stayed below the flight .Three grey Fw190s came toward the bombers from three o’clock and started to circle above us. When they saw that we were climbing toward them they broke towards the deck with my wing man, Lt. Dustin, myself and another (Blue) flight in pursuit. The 190s kept turning which made it easier to catch them. One of the e/a broke away from the others and headed west; the remaining two were chased north by Blue flight. The single e/a, on seeing us, turned and I got a short burst at him head on. I had a little altitude advantage and tried to get on his tail but he kept turning underneath me. My wing man got him at this point and the last I saw he was going straight down with several large pieces coming off which looked like parts of the tail. My wing man yelled that he was following him down so I covered him. He yelled that the pilot of the 190 bailed out but I did not see him. I looked back and saw a puff of smoke and several large burning pieces of an e/a that Lt. Knoble had shot down.

The flak was pretty bad so I called to hit the deck which we did. Another P-47 joined us and we came out line abreast on the deck. I passed over a gun position on the Dutch coast and several machine guns and some German soldiers in it. I turned around and took several bursts at it and observed many hits.

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352nd Fighter Squadron Mustang Update

Mike Martorella has been in touch with some interesting additional photos he found in his father’s album. You will recall from my previous post that Lt. Michael J. Martorella flew with the 352nd FS at Raydon between November 1944 and the end of the war. So here are the photos and further information with many thanks to Mike for sharing this new material

 

A fascinating transitional photo showing P-51D-10-NA (44-14495) in the hands of Lt. Martorella (on wing) before he renamed it "Jeannie". Note the original "Dallas Doll" artwork has been replaced by the less stylised name on the nose. Note also that the artwork appears to  be the same as on the later "Jeannie" (M Martorella).

A fascinating transitional photo showing P-51D-10-NA (44-14495) in the hands of Lt. Martorella (on wing) before he renamed it “Jeannie”. Note the original “Dallas Doll” artwork has been replaced by the less stylised name on the nose. Note also that the picture appears to be the same as on the later “Jeannie” (M Martorella).

The famous picture of the fifth SX-I (a/c 44-14495) named for Miss Christine Crisp of Dallas, Texas by Lt. Frank H. Bouldin.

The famous picture of the fifth SX-I (a/c 44-14495) named for Miss Christine Crisp of Dallas, Texas by Lt. Frank H. Bouldin.

S/Sgt. Clarence E. Frye at the controls of "Jeannie" as Lt. Michael J. Martorella renamed "Dallas Doll." The photo is almost the exact same spot at Raydon as the photo above. (M Martorella)

S/Sgt. Clarence E. Frye at the controls of “Jeannie” as Lt. Michael J. Martorella renamed “Dallas Doll.” The photo is almost the exact same spot at Raydon as the photo above. (M Martorella)

A great photo of Lt. Douglas A. Makikuhna's P-51D-10-NA (a/c 44-14642) "Miss Ethel" SX-A (M Martorella).

A great photo of Lt. Douglas A. Makikuhna’s P-51D-10-NA (a/c 44-14642) “Miss Ethel” SX-A (M Martorella).

P-51D-10-NA (44-14694) SX-F. This aircraft was assigned to Lt. Niklaus and then to Lt. Albert P. Lang who was most likely responsible for the name "Eleanor" (M Martorella).

P-51D-10-NA (44-14694) SX-F. This aircraft was assigned to Lt. Niklaus and then to Lt. Albert P. Lang who was most likely responsible for the name “Eleanor” (M Martorella).

A final photo that is actually 350th FS aircraft at some point in 1945 (M Martorella).

A final photo that is actually 350th FS aircraft at some point in 1945 (M Martorella).

 

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Mission#89 March 6, 1944 – Target: Berlin. The Loss of 1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland, 350th Fighter Squadron.

Date: Mar 6, 44

Dispatched: 34 Aborts: 3

Mission: Penetration support to 1st ATF, 240 B-17s (3rd Div)

Field Order: 262 Target: Berlin

Time Up/Down: 10:33 hrs     13:43 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Duncan

Claims Air: 03-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-00

L/F in north of Ijmuiden 23,000ft, 11:21 hrs. R/V 3rd Div B-17s vicinity Dummer Lake 11:53 hrs. Bombers 18-24,000ft. Wings in good formation but spread out. Left bombers 12:25hrs, approx vicinity Gifhorn. L/F out north Ijmuiden 14,000ft, 13:00 hrs. As Group approached lead units vicinity Steinhuder Lake, 8-12 Fw190s made head on attacks from above thru the bomber formation. 3 destroyed. Combats from 19,000ft to 1000ft. 3 B-17s seen to go down in this area. About 10 chutes seen. One B-17 coming back 8-10,000ft escorted to enemy coast. Convoy of 16 ships preceded by 9 smaller ships headed 60 degrees along West Frisian Island. Fix given to controller by pilot. Fighter/bomber intercom good.

Lt. Ireland (350th FS) seriously injured at landing (died).

Two FW190s destroyed Col. Duncan.

One Fw190 shared destroyed Capt. Byers and Lt. Terzian (351st FS).

350th: [As the Squadron were converting to P-47D-15s only two pilots, Lts. Ireland and Dawson, flew with the 351st. The Intelligence officer submitted the following] T/U 10:33 hrs. T/D 13:43 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. L/F N or Ijmuiden, 11:20, 24,000ft. R/V 3rd Div at Dummer Lake, 11:53, 25,000ft. Good formation. P-47s, 51, 38. 12-15 Me109, Fw190, Steinhuder Lake, 7000ft. Left bombers NE of Hanover, 12:25, 25,000ft. Left coast N of Ijmuiden 13:00, 14,000ft. No flak.

351st: Major Christian. T/U 10:28 hrs. T/D 13:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:22 hrs. Route: In north of Ijmuiden – over Hanover – out north of Ijmuiden. Penetration support. One P-47 crashed landed near field due to enemy action (Pilot Lt. Ireland from 350th Squadron). Plane CAT E. Pilot wounded extent unknown. One Fw190 destroyed shared by Capt. Byers and Lt. Terzian. [L/F in] North of Ijmuiden at 11:20 hrs at 24,000ft. 3rd Division near Dummer Lake at 11:53 hrs at 25,000ft. B-17s close formation. Combat Wings good though somewhat spread out. B-24s flying loose formation. P-47s, P-38s and P-51s [see]. 12-15 E/A Me109s and Fw190s with Me109s predominating at Steinhuder Lake at 1000ft. [Left bombers] Northeast of Hanover at 12:25 hrs at 25,000ft. [L/F out] North of Ijmuiden at 13:00 hrs at 14-15,000ft. Remarks: Two B-17s seen going down in vicinity between Dummer Lake and Steinhuder Lake. Three white and one brown chutes seen to open. Germans heard on R/T.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-H
2nd Lt William J. Weaver YJ-I
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson (350th) YJ-F
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-N
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-J
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-W
Capt Charles L. Stafford YJ-P
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-R
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
2nd Lt Cletus Peterson YJ-P
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland (350th) YJ-U 42-22771
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
2nd Lt George F. Perpente (Spare) YJ-G
1st Lt John Sullivan (Relay 350th) YJ-S

As the Squadron made R/V Capt. Vic Byers took Red flight to attack a lone Fw190:

We made R/V with the bombers at 1200, slightly past our briefed time. Various and sundry e/a were seen in the first box of our ‘Big Friends’. I spotted two Me109s that had just come down through them, and I peeled off in pursuit. At 20000 ft a flight of four P-47s cut me out, so I pulled in for cover.

While watching them going down, I spotted a single Fw190 very low and evidently going home. After calling my Squadron Leader, I peeled off and positioned my flight for the kill. He was probably flying instruments, because he flew straight and level while we crawled up on his tail. I was about 500 yards behind and dead astern when he went through a small cloud and came out on the other side, still fat, dumb, and happy. I gave him a short burst and hit his left wing and then moved over and fired a 2 or 3 second burst. There were hits all around the cockpit and he started in a gentle dive. I pulled up then to keep from running into him and my wing man pulled into position.

Byers’ wing man, 1st Lt. Jack Terzian, then closed in to share the claim:

Capt. Byers pulled up sharply to the left. I throttled way back and moved into position. The e/a made a gentle climbing turn to the left. At about 300 yards and a ring of deflection, I gave him a short burst, observing no hits. Closing in at the same deflection, I gave him a long burst, observing strikes about the cockpit, and then the e/a burst into flames – very pretty!

1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland also chased some e/a down to the deck and was himself badly shot up. Ireland opted to nurse his shattered aircraft home to Metfield and as he came in to land he deployed flaps not realising that they had been damaged in the fight. Only one flap came down causing his aircraft to flip over and crash. Lt Ireland was found away from the wreckage still strapped to his seat but unconscious. Medics took him to the 65th General Hospital, but nothing could be done for him and he died of his injuries the following day having never regained consciousness.

 

1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland from Los Angeles, CA (0-793507 "Pipeful 32") died March 7 following a crash landing at Metfield returning from the mission the previous day (353rd FG Archive).

1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland from Los Angeles, CA (0-793507 “Pipeful 32″) died March 7 following a crash landing at Metfield returning from the mission the previous day (353rd FG Archive).

Lt. Ireland's Mission and Award Record - click image for larger view (353rd FG Archive).

Lt. Ireland’s Mission and Award Record – click image for larger view (353rd FG Archive).

The lost of Lt. Ireland hit his comrades hard and the Group Historian, Capt. Ernest P. MacGregor, wrote in tribute:

He will always be remembered by his comrades for his ability as a pilot, his cheerful outlook on life and his happy hours spent at the piano in the Officer’s Club improvising popular tunes for his friends. In the last regard he was quite entertaining. The piano has been silent since.

[The 65th General Hospital at Botesdale, Suffolk was staffed almost entirely by members of the famous Duke University Hospital. You can read more about it HERE and HERE.

352nd: Lt Col Duncan. T/U 10:26 hrs. T/D 13:56 hrs. Total flight time 03:30 hrs. Penetration support 2nd ATF, 3rd Div. L/F in N of Amsterdam at 11:20 hrs at 23-24,000ft. R/V with 3 Div of bombers N of Dummer Lake at 11:55 hrs or 12:00 hrs at 26,000ft. B-17 formation – fair. B-24s terribly strung out. Observed other P-47S AND p-38s. No P-51s seen. In vicinity of Nienburg many E/A seen, including several Me109s and Fw190s and 1 Me110 was observed. These E/A were making violent attacks on bombers and getting good results. Engagements with E/A took place in this vicinity with Col. Duncan destroying 2 Fw190s. Lts Jordan and Armstrong fired at 109s but are making no claims. 3 Forts in all were seen to go down, 3 chutes from 1, 4 from the second and 6 from the third. Left bombers in vicinity of Celle at about 12:25 hrs. Left coast over Ijmuiden at 12:58 hrs at 22,000 ft. Moderate, heavy flak, accurate, from Clappenburg. “A” – good, heard German on “A” channel believed he was trying to discourage us. “C” fair. 16 plus ship convoy composed of light boats, cargo vessels and believed to be tankers seen on a 60 degree heading 5 miles off the lower tip of Terschelling Island. Majority of ships flying balloons. Visibility was good over route. 6/10 clouds, tops around 6,000ft. Two Fw190s seen with yellow cowlings with bright red stripes under the cowl. 1 Fw190 seen with a green nose. 1 unidentified S/E A/C seen to go down in vicinity of Steinhuder Lake.

Lt Col Glenn E. Duncan (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) SX-U
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-I
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-F
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-G
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-V
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-Z
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-K
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-S
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-X
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-M
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr) SX-Y
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-L
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-C
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-D
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-P

Group Aborts/ERTN/Lost

[Unfortunately the aircraft aborts, early returns, lost and damaged reports from Wing to 8th Fighter Command are not available for the period March 5-19, 1944. I have checked through the microfilm reels (B5200-B5202) from the AFHRA at Maxwell and even went through the actual files when I was last there in January. Sadly, there is no trace of the data for this period unless anyone out there knows otherwise].

 

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Filed under 350th Fighter Squadron, Missions

Mission#88 March 4, 1944 – Target: Berlin. The Loss of Lt. William R. Burkett, 351st Fighter Squadron.

Date: Mar 4, 44

Dispatched: 36           Aborts: 2

Mission: Withdrawal support to 1st & 2nd ATF, 660 B-17s

Field Order: 260        Target: Berlin

Time Up/Down: 13:03 hrs     16:18 hrs

Leader: Lt Col: Rimerman (A) Major Pidduck (B)

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-00

“A” Group

L/F Flushing 22,000ft, 14:45 hrs. Flew to planned R/V point. No bombers seen. Contrails to north turned out to be P-47s and P-51s. Bombers reported by Denver 1-6 to be below overcast. Investigation made but no bombers see. No e/a seen. Accurate flak believed Hamm and Rotterdam. L/F out Hook of Holland, 27,000ft, 15:34 hrs. Lt. Burkett last seen approx. Vicinity Liege. Lt Col. Ben Rimerman and Capt. Charles J. Hoey of Group HQ participating.

351st: Lt Col Rimerman. T/U 12:57 hrs. T/D 16:05 hrs. Total flight time 03:08 hrs. Route: In at Walcheren Island, out at Rotterdam. Withdrawal support. [L/F in] Walcheren Island at 13:34 hrs, 24,000ft. P-47S and P-38s [seen]. Rotterdam at 15:53hrs at 26,000ft. [Flak] Heavy and intense over Ruhr. One NYR Lt. William R. Burkett. Lt. Burkett was last seen in the Liege area where he turned back to give escort to Lt. Weaver, who had called on R/T saying that his oxygen was almost out. Later a call was heard on R/T saying ‘I almost hit compressibility and am at 4,000ft, I might have to bail out, maybe I can straighten it up.’

 

Lt Col Ben Rimerman (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) YJ-H
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-I
1st Lt Francis N. King YJ-P
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik YJ-M
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-J
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-W
2nd Lt William J. Weaver (Flt Ldr) YJ-N
1st Lt William R. Burkett YJ-A 42-75850
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards (Not dis) YJ-F 42-75570
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley (Not dis) YJ-R 42-75507
Capt Vic L. Byers (Not dis) YJ-V 42-75563

In the vicinity of Liege 2nd Lt. William J. Weaver’s aircraft developed a fault with his oxygen supply forcing him to descend through the overcast to a breathable altitude:

I was flying on the left wing of Lt. Burkett in number three position when my oxygen regulator became inoperative. I called Lt. Burkett and told him I had to go home and had to go down to a level where I did not need oxygen. He called back saying he was coming with me. I made a left turn out of formation and he did likewise. He called me to make a right turn and get on his wing, which I did.

We flew in close formation skimming over the tops of the clouds at 24,000ft. Twice he called me while flying like this, asking if I was all right. Both times I replied saying I was all right so far but had to get down right away as I had full emergency oxygen on and still was getting very little oxygen. We then started to descend through the clouds together, flying a course of around 300 degrees, which was roughly the course home.

We descended about 4,000ft together in close formation. Then Lt. Burkett started a turn to the right with me on the inside of the turn. The turn began getting steeper and steeper until my airplane was shuttering almost to the stalling point. I called to Lt. Burkett to make a left turn and I received no answer. I called him a second time to make a left turn, and gain I received no answer.

Suddenly my plane did a high speed stall from the sharp angle of bank and I made a stall recovery. Just as I made the recovery Lt. Burkett faded away from me in the clouds. This was somewhere in the Liege area.

I then pulled up into a steep climb and my airspeed fell off sharply. I immediately put the nose down and went into a steep dive with both wing tanks on. The airspeed hit 600 mph and with the altimeter reading 8,000ft I tried the controls which were frozen solid. I then gave two rolls of trim tab and pulled back on the stick with both hands. I broke out of the clouds at about 3000ft, and at the same time the plane pulled out of the dive, pulling right back up into the clouds.

When I last saw Lt Burkett he was in a steep right bank with his left wing tank on and his right one off [MACR No 2793 refers].

Bill Weaver returned alone on instruments and landed at Duxford. 1st Lt. William R. Burkett flying YJ-A (a/c 42-75850) evidently did not escape from the dive and remained with his aircraft. Lt. Burkett from Jefferson, Iowa is buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium. More information can be found HERE.

1st Lt. William R. Burkett (0-728570) of Jefferson, Iowa lost March 4, 1944 (353rd FG Archive).

1st Lt. William R. Burkett (0-728570) of Jefferson, Iowa lost March 4, 1944 (353rd FG Archive).

Lt. Burkett's Mission and Awards Record (353rd FG Archive).

Lt. Burkett’s Mission and Awards Record – click for larger view (353rd FG Archive).

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 13:01 hrs. T/D 16:08 hrs. Total flight time 03:07 hrs. Withdrawal support to 1st and 3rd Div of B-17s. Made L/F in on course at 24,000ft at 13:44 hrs. Did not R/V with bombers. Observed P-38s coming out, they called us and said “No Big Friends -Mercury”. Controller said B Fs still in there. We observed flak to our left and turned to investigate and found other P-47s and P-51s over Ruhr. We went NE and then W. Left coast over Watwijk ann Zee at 15:33 hrs at 28,000ft. No flak directed at our Squadron. Active cumulus with hi cirrus layer at 26-28,000ft over entire route. Few thin spots. One Group of B-17s seen returning home as we made L/F in. Denver 1-6 talked to us and said they were with Big Friends at 16,000ft and everyone was happy. We never did see them.

Major William B. Bailey (A Group) SX-U
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q 42-75544
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry DNTO SX-G
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-I
1st Lt James N. Poindexter (Flt Ldr) SX-H
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-S 42-75691
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-K
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-V
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-Z
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-W
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-M

“B” Group

350th: Major Pidduck. T/U 14:02 hrs. T/D 16:25 hrs. Total flight time 02:23 hrs. L/F on course 14:50, 24,000ft. No R/V with bombers. P-47s. Left coast at Ostend 15:50, 26,000ft. Flak Koln Heavy intense accurate. R/T normal. 8/10-10/10 alto cumulus 6/10-8/10 stratus over continent. Swept area from Dutch islands to Koln to Brussels to Ostend along the bomber route.

Major Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt John Sullivan
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
F/O William W. Hargus
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard L. Bedford
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
Capt Robert E. Fortier
1st Lt Charles O. Durant

352nd: Capt Robertson. T/U 13:59 hrs. T/D 16:19 hrs. Total flight time 02:20 hrs. Withdrawal support to 1st and 3rd Div of B-17s. Landfall at Schouwen Islands 14:45 hrs at 24,000ft. No R/V made. L/F out at Knocke 15:55 hrs at 27,000ft. Heavy, intense, accurate flak at Cologne and Munchen. Point of deepest penetration S of Cologne. Proceeded on course but never saw the bombers at briefed R/V.

Capt Raynor E. Robertson (B Group) SX-R
2nd Lt Joseph L. Knoble SX-O
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson SX-Y
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-F

Group Aborts/ERTNS/MIAs

42-  75691 ABT supercharger out SX-S Lt. Schillinger flying.
42-  75544 ABT oil leak SX-Q Lt. Kipfer flying.
42-  75850 MIA YJ-A Lt. Burkett flying.
42-    8608 ERTN oil leak LH-D
42-  75157 ERTN belly tank not draw LH-Y
42-    7903 ERTN belly tank not draw LH-?
42-  75507 ERTN oil leak push rods YJ-R Lt. Stanley flying.
42-  75563 ERTN pilot illness YJ-V Capt. Byers flying.
42-  75570 ERTN gas fumes in oxygen YJ-F Lt. Edwards flying.

 

 

 

 

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Mission#87 March 3, 1944 – Target: Berlin.

Date: Mar 3, 44

Dispatched: 45 Aborts:7

Mission: Penetration Support to 1st ATF, 300 B-17s (1st Div)

Field Order: 259 Target: Berlin (aborted)

Time Up/Down: 09:40 hrs     12:45 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Rimerman

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

Group saw bombers to north when passing West Frisian Islands. R/V north of Helgoland 10:50 hrs. Bomber formation good at 26,000ft. Left bombers 11:15 hrs, vicinity NW of Elmshorn when lead formations [of] bombers made a 180 degree turn, and Goldsmith 1-2 had informed Group leader they were returning. L/F out over West Frisian Islands 11:55 hrs, 20,000ft. Moderate to meagre inaccurate flak all along northern route. No e/a seen. Large white explosion 24,000ft approx. Vicinity Borkum Islands when Group coming out. Seven freighters seen mouth of Elbe River. 8 freighters slightly out to sea at mouth of Ems River. Small but well developed A/D on Helgoland. Radio reception excellent to Norderney Islands. Lt Col. Rimerman, Capt. Charles L. Stafford and Capt John B. Rose of Group HQ participated.

350th: Major Pidduck. T/U 09:40 hrs. T/D 12:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. L/F in on course 10:20 hrs, 22,000ft. R/V with bombers 1st Div over course 10:50 hrs, 29,000ft. Formation good, many stragglers. P-47s. No combat. Left bombers 11:11 hrs, 29,000ft. Left coast Terschelling 12:00 hrs, 24,000ft. R/T normal. Overcast heavy cumulus, 4/10 increasing to solid overcast at R/V.

Major Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt John B. Rose
1st Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Arthur C. Bergeron
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt William J. Price (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard L. Bedford
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt John H. Winder

351st: Major Christian. T/U 09:39 hrs. T/D 12:48 hrs. Total flight time 03:09 hrs. Route: In north of Terschelling Island, over Itzehoe, out north of Terschelling Island. Penetration support [L/F in] North of Terschelling Island at 10:30 hrs at 27,000ft. Unit unknown south of Helgoland at 10:50 hrs at 27,000ft. [Bombers] fairly good formation. One group of P-47s [seen]. [Left bombers] North of Itzehoe at 11:15 hrs at 27,000ft. [L/F out] North of Terschelling Island at 12:24 hrs at 14,000ft. Seven freighters seen at mouth of Elbe River, also 8 more freighters seen at mouth of Ems River, slightly out at sea.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-H
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-I
1st Lt Francis N. King YJ-P
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik YJ-M
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley (Flt Ldr) YJ-R 42-75507
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-J
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt William J. Weaver YJ-N
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-W
F/O Cletus Peterson (Flt Ldr) YJ-P
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
Capt Charles L. Stafford YJ-A 42-75850
2nd Lt Robert C. Strobell (Relay) YJ-U
1st Lt William R. Burkett (Not dis) YJ-B 42-75457
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Not dis) YJ-E 42-75815

352nd: Lt Col Rimerman. T/U 09:33 hrs. T/D 12:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:17 hrs. Penetration support to 1st ATF, 1st Div. R/V with 1st Div of bombers at about 10:50 hrs in vicinity of Helgoland at 26,000ft. Bomber formation was good with few abortions. 1st 2 CWs aborted so we turned and came with them. Observed other P-47s. Left bombers at about 11:15 hrs somewhere along the Frisian Islands about Ameland. Moderate, heavy flak from Cuxhaven inaccurate. Meager flak from all along Frisian Islands. 80-100 bursts of heavy flak from Helgoland, accurate for altitude but behind. It was directed toward a Fort flying at about 22,000ft. [Weather] Clear at base, increasing to 9 to 10/10 covered at R/V point. Top of Hi-cirrus around 27,000ft. 1 B-17 believed to be E[nemy] flown seen flying opposite course of B-17s then turned and headed on course with them. This B-17 had standard American markings with a white square with a “C”. Its waist doors were seen open. Small but well-developed A/D seen on Helgoland.

Lt Col Ben Rimerman (Grp & Sqdn Ldr) SX-U
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-A
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-M
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-V
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-H
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-Q
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-G
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-F
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr) SX-S
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-W
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-Y 42-22465
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-O
Major William B. Bailey SX-B
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-R

Group Aborts/ERTNs:

42-8390 DNTO wing tanks SX-I
42-74647 ABT BT wouldn’t draw LH-U
42-8373 ABT radio out LH-Y
42-76321 ABT oil leak LH-S
42-74618 ERTN escort LH-?
42-75507 ABT oil leak YJ-R Lt. Stanley flying.
42-75850 ABT left wing tank YJ-A Capt. Stafford flying.
42-22465 ABT oil leak SX-Y Lt. Streit flying.
42-75457 ERTN rough engine YJ-B Lt. Burkett flying
42-75815 ERTN broken glass elbow YJ-E Lt. Emory flying.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Last Hurrah for the 353rd Fighter Group

Important Announcement

Colchester

In 2015 it will be 70 years since the end of World War II and exactly 20 years since the memorial at Raydon was dedicated to the memory of the of the 353rd Fighter Group and to their comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. In the years since the war the village of Raydon has often welcomed returning veterans. Wartime events, both good and bad were remembered and  firm, lasting friendships were made. Our last official visit from the 353rd was in 1999 and now, sadly but inevitably, most of the veterans have left us. Their memory is still fondly held and we therefore warmly invite families of veterans to join with us in a very special event to give the men of the 353rd a “Last Hurrah” in 2015.

Programme

Friday Aug 21          

AM Reception in Colchester Town Hall

PM Free time in the historic town of Colchester

PM Welcome dinner with speaker Dr. Graham Cross “The History of the 353rd FG in WWII”

Saturday Aug 22      

AM Service to Rededicate the Raydon Memorial

PM “Air Gathering” at Raydon Airfield with historic aircraft, vehicles and displays

Sunday Aug 23        

AM/PM Visit to Raydon Church (TBC) and guests of Raydon Village

PM Optional visit to Metfield Airfield (the home of the 353rd until April 1944)

Monday Aug 24        

AM Visit to the Cambridge American Military Cemetery at Madingley

PM Optional visit to either Imperial War Museum Duxford or Cambridge

PM Farewell Dinner at Colchester for families and local people.

The tour party will be based in a hotel in central Colchester – further details will be supplied to those interested in attending. You are, of course, free to attend as much or as little as you chose and make your own plans at any time.

Reunion coordinator for the weekend will be Graham Cross who acted in that capacity for the Group in their 1990, 92, 95 and 99 UK Reunions. Many highly experienced people are involved here in the UK  to make the weekend a success.

Some families of veterans have already expressed an interest in attending so can I ask now that anyone that wants to come please let me know via my email slybird353 with @hotmail.co.uk added to it

Can I also stress that at this stage this is a private event for the families of veterans and that the reunion tour is organised for them to join with local people to remember their loved ones service. Further details of any public events during the weekend will be released at a later date.

This really is the “Last Hurrah” for the 353rd Fighter Group – living memory of those wartime years is rapidly passing from the scene. This is a chance to say a final thank you to all those who served and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Raydon next August.

Reunion at Memorial

 

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Update on the third “Lonesome Polecat”

Summer is proving a busy time for me, but I will continue the blog as and when I get time. The forthcoming schedule is a post on Joe Knoble of the 352nd with a history of SX-D and N. Then I’m putting together a post on another 352nd pilot, Don Corrigan, with a history of SX-P. Along the way I’ll also keep posting the mission summaries so hopefully plenty to take a look at coming soon. Keep an eye out also for an exciting announcement on a UK reunion for the families of 353rd veterans in 2015.

Mark Richie, Vice President of the 4th FG Association, kindly got in touch with a wonderful colour picture of George Ahles’ third “Lonesome Polecat” (a/c YJ-A 42-8619). It seems that the 4th FG used the aircraft as a OTU/Hack aircraft at some point. I post the photo here with thanks to Mark for sharing the image and for filling in another piece of the aircraft’s service record.

 

Lt. George N. Ahles' third "Lonesome Polecat" (YJ-A a/c 42-8619) as QP-O "Man Made Monster" with the 4th Fighter Group. This fine colour photo comes from a sequence recording the return of 4th FG aircraft from Operation Frantic (mission to Russia) July 5, 1944 so it looks as if the aircraft was with them from at least this date. We have a record indicating "Man Made Monster" was a 351st FS name, but have no indication of who was responsible for it. Records indicate the aircraft kept the name when it later flew with the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron (credit/copyright CWO E.B. Richie, 4th Fighter Group with thanks to Mark Richie, Vice President, Association 4th FG WWII)

Lt. George N. Ahles’ third “Lonesome Polecat” (YJ-A a/c 42-8619) as QP-O “Man Made Monster” with the 4th Fighter Group. We have a record indicating “Man Made Monster” was a 351st FS name, but have no indication of who was responsible for it. Records also indicate the aircraft kept the name when it later flew with the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron (credit/copyright CWO E.B. Richie, 4th Fighter Group with thanks to Mark Richie, Vice President, Association 4th FG WWII)

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Mission#86 March 2, 1944 – Target: Frankfurt.

Date: Mar 2, 44

Dispatched: 42           Abort: 2

Mission: Withdrawal Support to 1st ATF, 360 B-17s (1st Div)

Field Order: 257 Target: Frankfurt

Time Up/Down: 11:43 hrs     14:56 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Duncan

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00     Lost/Damaged: 00-00

L/F in Flushing 12:22 hrs, 22,500ft. R/V three CW’s of bombers NW of Koblenz, 12:53 hrs. Bombers unmolested and in good formation – 18/22,000 ft. Left bombers 13:30 hrs, 10 miles south of Liege. Out Cape Griz Nez, Gravelines and Knocke 14:30 hrs, 16/20,000ft. Three chutes seen from the bombers approx R/V point. Bomber continued on under control and watched until we left bombers. No e/a, no flak. Fighter bomber and fighter/fighter intercom very good. Lt Col. Duncan and Capt. Charles J. Hoey of Group HQ participated.

350th: Major Pidduck. T/U 11:42 hrs. T/D 15:00 hrs. Total flight time 03:18 hrs. L/F in on course at 12:20 hrs, 25,000ft. R/V with 1st Div at 12:50 hrs, 28,000ft. Good formation. Left bombers Leige at 13:30 hrs, 25,000ft. Left coast Gravelines 14:30 hrs, 18,000ft. Solid over R/V decreasing to nil at cont coast.

Major Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Abel H. Garey
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Arthur C. Bergeron
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt William J. Price (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard L. Bedford
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood

351st: Lt Col Duncan. T/U 11:35 hrs. T/D 15:10 hrs. Total flight time 03:35 hrs. Route: In at Flushing, over Charleroi, out at Mardyck. Flushing at 12:21 hrs, 24,000ft. [R/V] place unknown because of overcast at 12:51 hrs at 21,000ft. Good, close formation. Four boxes of about 60 bombers in each box. [Left bombers] approximately Charleroi-Gosselies area 13:30 hrs. [L/F out] Mardyck at 14:28 hrs, 19,000 ft. Remarks: Bombers late. After R/V with bombers proceeded inland along bombers route for four or five minutes. Made a 180 degree turn, caught up with bombers and escorted them to limit of endurance.

Lt Col. Glenn E. Duncan (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) YJ-H
1st Lt George N. Ahles YJ-A 42-75850
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T 42-75842
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
1st Lt Francis N. King YJ-M
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-I
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-N
2nd Lt William J. Weaver YJ-R
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-J
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik (Relay) YJ-P
2nd Lt Jack Terzian* YJ-W 42-75670
1st Lt William R. Burkett* YJ-B

*[Not counted as dispatched for mission due to mechanical trouble].

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 11:42 hrs. T/D 14:52 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. L/F made at Zeebruge at 12:22 hrs at 22,000ft. R/V with 3 CW’s of 1st Div of B-17s at 12:54 hrs at 20,000 ft, area unknown due to cloud coverage 10/10. Bomber formation was good, could only find 3 CW’s of 1st Div. P-38′s and P-47′s seen. Left bombers believed to be in the vicinity of Namur 13:25 hrs, 20,000ft. Left enemy coast at Knocke 14:18hrs at 15,000ft. Flak nil. Results of bombing nil. R/T good. Large ships observed in the harbor S of Flushing believed to be an M/V. 2/10 cloud over channel building up to 10/10 overcast on the Continent. Solid overcast over R/V area. Four (4) white parachutes observed just as R/V was made. Might have come from a B-17 which seemed to be in trouble, but chutes were not seen coming from it. A straggling B-17 investigated in the vicinity of Namur but didn’t seem to be in any apparent trouble.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr) SX-B
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-F
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty SX-O
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-H
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-S
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-M
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-R
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-A
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-G
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-U
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-V
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-W
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-Z

Group Abort/ERTN:

42-75842 ABT belly tank YJ-T Lt. Edwards flying.
42-75850 ABT illness (ear trouble) YJ-A Lt. Ahles flying.
42-75670 ERTN belly tank YJ-W Lt. Terzian flying.
42-8661 ERTN tach out LH-? Unknown
42-8480 ERTN turbo out LH-Z Unknown

 

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