Mission#31 October 4, 1943 – Escort from Frankfurt

Date: Oct 4, 43

Dispatched: 44 Aborts: 1

Mission: Withdrawal support to 1st & 2nd TF 360 B-17’s Field Order: 150/13

Time Up/Down: 10:20 hrs 13:01 hrs Leader: Major Duncan

Target: Frankfurt

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

Group made landfall at North Bevenland at 11:04 hrs, 21,000ft. Sighted bombers at 11:32 hrs to the left of R/V point so left turn made at Gemund and R/V made at 11:34hrs, 29,000ft. The 353rd Gp taking the lead boxes and the 56th Gp taking the rear boxes. Bombers were at 26,000ft. Escorted bombers along W/D routes where they met Spitfires at 12:05 hrs as planned, continuing to Sas Van Ghent where Gp left bombers at 12:18 hrs crossing out at enemy coast at Nieuwe Sluis at 24,000ft at 12:23 hrs. Gp advised on channel that bombers were being attacked by four Me109s from underneath and to the rear at 11:52 hrs in the vicinity of Tongres. This attack was dispersed, one Me109 being damaged by Major Duncan. In the vicinity of Malines two e/a were making rear attacks on a straggling bomber. Capt. Beckham immediately broke going down for an attack, but saw another P47 attacking the same a/c observing strikes but who overshot e/a. Capt. Beckham positioned himself to the rear of the e/a and destroyed it. Pilot slumped over in the cockpit and a large number 4 seen on the fuselage. One straggler loosing altitude very fast about 10 miles S of Maastricht. One B17 seen emitting smoke in the middle of bomber formation but not losing altitude. One unidentified fighter a/c  seen going over the rear box of bombers in the vicinity of Maastricht emitting black smoke. Smoke screen seen over Aachen. One e/a seen trying to streak in behind bombers S of Aachen but when turn was made he dove and disappeared into the clouds. Bomber boxes were spread out a bit too much for coverage. Three barrage balloons observed at 26,000ft SE of Duren just as our Group was making R/V with the bombers. Contact on ‘C’ Channel was excellent. Heavy flak accurate for altitude at Walcheren, Aachen and Hasselt. Radio interference was worst yet experienced. Visibility was excellent. Only Major Duncan from Gp HQ participated.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 10:12 hrs. T/D 12:57 hrs. Total flight time 2;45 hrs. All returned safely. Escorted bombers doing withdrawal route to Sas Van Gent where Spitfires met bombers. Heavy accurate flak at Walcheren, Aachen and Hasselt. Small balloon barrage SE of Duren at 26,000ft. Weather was cloudy over England to 30 miles off shore.

Major   Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt   Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt   Robert L. Newman
2nd Lt   Charles O. Durant
Capt   Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt   Alan W. Lowe
1st Lt   John Sullivan
2nd Lt   Roland N. McKean
1st Lt   Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   William F. Tanner
2nd Lt   William J. Price
2nd Lt   Robert C. Peters
Capt   Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt   John L. Devane
2nd Lt   John Zolner
2nd Lt   Dwight A. Fry
2nd Lt   Robert S. Hart
1st Lt   Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt   Walter L. Angelo

351st: Major Duncan. T/U 10:20 hrs. T/D 13:08 hrs. Total flight time 2:48 hrs. Route: In north of Walchern Islands to Germund, Eupen, St Nicholas and out South Walcheren Islands.

Major   Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn & GP Ldr)
1st Lt   Gordon B. Compton
1st Lt   William R. Burkett
2nd Lt   Richard D. Stanley
Capt   Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr) YJ-U 42-74736*
1st Lt   David C. Kenney
Capt   Jack R. Walsh
1st Lt   Vic L. Byers
Capt   Frederick H. Lefebre
2nd Lt   John G. Treitz
1st Lt   William J. Maguire
2nd Lt   Hassell D. Stump
2nd Lt   Edgar J. Albert
2nd Lt   Irving Toppel
F/O   Joseph E. Wood
2nd Lt   Jack Terzian

An early-ish shot (note Capt. bars) of Capt. Walter C. Beckham of De Funiak Springs, Florida. Beckham claimed an Me109 destroyed October 4, 1943 bringing his total score at that point to 02-01-01. Beckham is leaning on the tail his aircraft P-47D-5-RE YJ-X “Little Demon” (a/c 42-8476).

*P-47D-6-RE 42-74736 YJ-U “Doris” was actually the aircraft assigned to 2nd Lt. Edgar J. Albert. Squadron records indicate the aircraft received battle damage on this mission, but do not indicate who the pilot was. Capt. Beckham’s combat report describes damage to the underside of his aircraft caused by debris from the Me109 he shot down. I have a very poor quality print (too poor to post) that seems to indicate the damage to YJ-U was to the undercarriage area. I have therefore assumed that Beckham was flying YJ-U on this mission, but do not have absolute confirmation this was the case.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 10:23 hrs. T/D 13:01 hrs Total flight time 2:38 hrs. Withdrawal support. Course: Germund, Eupen and St Nicholas. With Major Bailey leading the Squadron made landfall over Haamstede on time. Intense heavy flak encountered in area between Woensdrecht and Maastricht. Made orbit over Germund and picked up bombers which were about three minutes late. One B-17 with one motor burning seen straggling behind formation over Eupen. Left coast at Moarderhooft.

Major   William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt   Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt   Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt   Clifford F. Armstrong Early return no credit
1st Lt   Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Donald J. Corrigan
1st Lt   Edward M. Fogarty
2nd Lt   Wilton W. Johnson
Capt   Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Edison G. Stiff
1st Lt   Charles W. Kipfer
2nd Lt   Maurice Morrison

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