Mission#25 and #26 September 23, 1943 – The Loss of Lt. George S. Dietz, 352nd Fighter Squadron

Date: Sept 23, 43

Dispatched: 34 Aborts: 2

Mission: General support to 1st TF, 120 B-17’s Field Order: 140

Time Up/Down: 06:58 hrs 09:30 hrs Leader: Major Duncan

Target: Nantes

Claims Air: 04-00-01 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-00

Group took off from Ford and made landfall at Grand Camp at 07:38 hrs, 23,000ft. They flew along their course over St Lo to Fougenes where the bombers were spotted ahead. Belly tanks were dropped at Marseille Robert and R/V with the bombers was made at Retiers at 07:50hrs. The Group then made a complete orbit and escorted the bombers to St Mars, then to target. Left bombers at 08:30 hrs southeast of Belle Isle when informed on C Channel that bombers were to proceed out to sea around the Brest Peninsula. Group flew along the French coast over Kerlin out at Loujean at 08:56 hrs at 26,000ft. In the vicinity of Chateaubriand a Me109 passed under the bombers but made no attack at 19,000ft. At Nantes 4 FWs approached under the bombers from the southeast at 19,000ft. Major Duncan took white flight of the 352nd FS, made an orbit to the left and came up to the rear of the e/a. During resulting engagement Maj. Duncan destroyed the leading Fw190, Lt Streit destroyed one Fw190 and damaged a Me109, and Capt. Beckham destroyed an Fw190 at Nantes. Lt Poindexter destroyed an Fw190 at Nantes. No bombers seen shot down or straggling. Two convoys, fairly large, seen going southeast of Groix Island. Radio reception was good except in target area where reception was poor. Dense smoke from bombing over Nantes du Haxe made observation difficult. Airdrome at Kerlin covered with smoke. Lt. Dietz of the 352nd FS missing. Capt Stafford of Group HQ participated.

350th: Lt Col McCollom. T/U 06:57 hrs. T/D 10:00 hrs. Total flight time 3:03 hrs. Mission flown from advance base [note extra time on flight]

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
2nd Lt William J. Price
2nd Lt Robert C. Peters
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse
2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry
1st Lt William W. Odom
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean

351st: Major Christian. T/U 06:48 hrs. T/D 09:24 hrs. Total flight time 2:36 hrs. Route: From advanced base with belly tanks. Squadron went west to Port Enbessen. R/V with bombers south of Rennes. Escorted to Nantes out at west of St Malo. Capt Beckham claimed an Fw190 destroyed.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
1st Lt Francis N. King
Capt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley

Returning to Metfield via Ford after the mission Major Christian met with a slight accident. Whilst taxiing at Metfield a contractor truck appeared on the strip and a collision occurred which damaged the right wing and aileron of Major Christian’s P-47 YJ-S (a/c 42-2477).

352nd: Major Duncan. T/U 06:48 hrs. T/D 09:10 hrs. Total flight time 2:22 hrs. General support of bombers. Course: Port en B, St Aignon sur R, Nantes, south of St Nazaire, Dodman Point er Grandchamp. Lt. Dietz did not return from this mission. Lt. Poindexter destroyed one Me109 and Lt. Streit destroyed one Fw190 and damaged one Me109. Flight plan as per Squadron records.

White#2 1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
Red#3 1st Lt James N. Poindexter
White#4 2nd Lt George S. Dietz W40
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong
Blue#1 Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff
White#3 1st Lt William F. Streit
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles
Red#4 2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)

Near Nantes four bandits were seen to be queuing up for an attack on a box of B-17’s. Major Duncan led white to their defence. As Duncan and 1st Lt Gordon Burlingame, his number 2, pressed the attack, 1st Lt William Streit, number 3 in the flight covered them. He had already fired on a 109 that came in from ahead and was awarded a damaged when he got strikes on the wing. He was then able to shoot an Fw190 off Burlingame’s tail. Streit reported that his own wing man, 2nd Lt. George S. Dietz flying in SX-X (a/c 42-7995), was not so lucky:

We escorted the bombers in quite a ways, Lt Dietz held good position. I spotted a couple [of] 109’s coming in on my left; one half rolled and went down and the other came in front of us. I took a burst at him and clipped him once. Lt Dietz was still with me when we pulled up on a Fw190 that was on Lt Burlingame’s tail…I shot that one down and then followed Major Duncan and Lt Burlingame. I noticed then Dietz was still with me, this was the last I saw of him. The next thing I saw was an Fw190 coming in on me. I managed to shake him and returned with my flight.

There is an internet source that claims Dietz was shot down by a Feldwebel Ernst Henning from JG2/1, but I am unable to confirm this information at this time. Dietz went down with his aircraft near Carentoir, France and is buried in the Brittany American War Cemetery. Any further information would be appreciated.

2nd Lt. George S. Dietz (0-792815) was originally from Danville, Pennsylvania and was another early replacement joing the 352nd Squadron on September 4, 1943. He flew his first mission on September 15 and his fifth and final on September 23, 1943. (353rd FG Archive)

Date: Sept 23, 43

Dispatched: 29 Aborts: 1

Mission: Withdrawal support to 1st TF, 100 B-17’s Field Order: 142

Time Up/Down: 17:12 hrs 19:45 hrs Leader: Lt Col. McCollom

Target: Nantes

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

Group took off from Ford and arrived 20 miles north of Bayeux too early. Made turns right and left. Made landfall at St Aubin at 18:01 hrs, 26,000ft. Sighted bombers 20 miles north north east of Nantes at 18:25 hrs. Bombers were in five small boxes, considerably spread out which made escort difficult. Friendly fighters were with them. Made R/V at Chateaubriand area at 18:30 hrs. On the way to the coast one box of heavy accurate flak was experienced by the bombers over this target. One B17 was seen to go down in flames and another make off in a south east direction losing height and emitting white smoke. Came out at 20 miles north 18:50 hrs returning to Ford. No e/a seen. Maj. Duncan of Group HQ participated.

350th: Lt Col McCollom. T/U 17:01 hrs. T/D 19:49 hrs. Total flight time 2:48 hrs. Mission flown from advance base [Ford] where formation was made up.

Col Loren McCollom (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt John B. Rose
Major Glenn E. Duncan
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt John L. Devane
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse
2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
2nd Lt William J. Price
2nd Lt Robert C. Peters
Capt Robert E. Fortier

351st: Capt Beckham. T/U 17:01 hrs. T/D 19:37 hrs. Total flight time 2:36 hrs. Route in at St Aubin to Nantes, R/V with bombers at Chateaubriand, out Cap Frehl.

Capt Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
1st Lt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 17:00 hrs. T/D 19:30 hrs. Total flight time 2:30 hrs. General support of bombers. Course: Crepon, Laval, Rennes, Pleneuf, St Albans Head. Flight plan as per Squadron records.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan
1st Lt Leroy W. Ista
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