Mission#35 October 14, 1943 – Target Schweinfurt

Date: Oct 14, 43

Dispatched: 50 Aborts: 6

Mission: Penetration support to 1st TF 180 B-17’s Field Order: 156

Time Up/Down: 11:52 hrs 15:11 hrs Leader: Major Duncan

Target: Schweinfurt

Claims Air: 11-01-04 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 02-06

R/V with the 1st TF in mid Channel at 13:02 hrs after advised on C channel that bombers were ten minutes late. Bombers considerably strung out but boxes intact. Proceeded on course escorting to Duren where bombers were left at 13:36 hrs. Came out north of Ostend 13:57 hrs at 28,000ft. When Group approached Walcheren and Schoen Island 20 + enemy aircraft flying at 32,000ft approached our fighters from 11 o’clock. Tactics of e/a seemed to disregard the bombers entirely and concentrate on our fighters. Major Bailey leading the 352nd Squadron flying on the left of the bombers turned to engage and circled to position himself rear of e/a. Half the e/a peeled off and dove for deck while others engaged resulting in four destroyed and three damaged. While 352nd engaging e/a Major Duncan took section of the 351st back to help and then covered the rear box of bombers. 350th Squadron covered the first two boxes. In the vicinity of Duren 30 Fw190s approached bombers from 11 o’clock at 23,000ft and when about head on to the bombers the e/a formation split, 15 diving to the left of bombers and underneath, while the remaining 15 continued across front of the bombers to position themselves up Sun. Major Rimerman manoeuvred his Squadron to the e/a below the bombers. Three FW190s were attacking a straggling B-17 which was seen to go down in a spin. Three chutes were seen. Two Fw190s were destroyed and one probably destroyed. Also in the vicinity of Duren, 18+ e/a attacked from 10 o’clock at 34,000ft diving to the left side of the bombers. They apparently did not see Capt. Beckham’s section covering the left side of the bombers which was able to make a diving turn to the right and to position his section behind them. Three Fw190s were destroyed. Several e/a evaded by half rolling and diving and after recovering from dive would zoom up in position to repeat the attack. On way out two Me109s were seen approaching rear of the bombers from 30,000ft in vicinity of S-ffard. Turned to engage them but they immediately dove to the deck. Three B-17s were bounced by two other Me109s and were driven off before they closed to firing range. Two large red flares with trailing black smoke seen near Aachen. Radio jamming was so intense that it interfered with the intercom. One P-47 damaged slightly by flak at 30,000ft. One P-47 landed at Bradwell Bay badly damaged, reason unknown, pilot safe. 2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry 350th missing and 2nd Lt Robert C. Peters of 350th killed when trying to land in southern England.

350th    1 Fw190 destroyed by Major Rimerman

1 Fw190 destroyed by Lt. Newman

1 Fw190 destroyed by Lt. Walsh

351st    2 Fw190s destroyed by Capt. Beckham

1 Me109 destroyed by Capt. Kinkade

1 Fw190 destroyed by Lt. Maguire

1 Me109 damaged by Lt. Perpente

352nd    1 Me109 destroyed by Major Bailey

1 Me109 destroyed by Lt. Newman

1 Me109 destroyed by Lt. Juntilla

1 Me109 destroyed by Lt. Streit

1 Me109 damaged by Lt. Newman

1 Me109 damaged by Lt. Juntilla

1 Me109 damaged by Lt. Keywan

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 11:55 hrs. T/D 14:30 hrs. Total flight time 2:35 hrs. Three returned two with belly tank trouble and one as escort. Lt. Fry failed to return and Lt. Peters crashed on return from the mission and was killed. Bombers were ten minutes late. In vicinity of Duren Major Rimerman and wing man, Lt. Lowe went down after a swarm of yellow nosed Fw190s attacking rear of box of bombers. Major Rimerman pressed the attack from close range on one Fw190 which started belching black smoke and went out of control. Major Rimerman saw numerous strikes on wings and fuselage. Lt. Newman gave top cover to Major Rimerman’s attack by attacking 2 Fw190s that were going after Major Rimerman. Capt. Newhart, red flight leader, saw 3 Fw190s get a straggling B17. He saw three chutes open from the B17. Capt. Newhart led flight against the Fw190s chasing one down to 18,000ft. The Fw190 started smoking. Lt. Walsh, flying Capt. Newhart’s wing, found himself down to about 12,000ft after Capt. Newhart’s dive. He attacked an Fw190 to his right about 9,000ft. No strikes were seen but from the action of the plane which went into a flat glide, Lt. Walsh thinks that he got the pilot. Lt. Walsh claims an Fw190 probably destroyed. Capt. Newhart’s flight came back separated individually. Capt. Pidduck saw another B17 explode in formation, causes undetermined. Capt. Newhart observed an additional 3 chutes coming down as he zoomed out of his attack, but he couldn’t tell where they came from. The Fw190s pressed their head on attacks. Capt. Newhart’s ship was damaged by a 20mm shell from the Fw190 and a burst of flak at 30,000ft on the way out. Lt. Walsh’s ship was hit by flak while he was on the deck.

Major   Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt   Alan W. Lowe
1st Lt   Robert L. Newman
2nd Lt   Joseph F. Furness
Capt   Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Chauncey Rowan
Capt   Robert E. Fortier
2nd Lt   Charles O. Durant
Capt   Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr) LH-Q 42-8393
2nd Lt   Francis T. Walsh LH-? 42-8003
1st Lt   Wayne K. Blickenstaff
2nd Lt   Dwight A. Fry LH-Y 42-8513
1st Lt   Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt   John L. Devane
2nd Lt   John Zolner
1st Lt   Tom Lorance
2nd Lt   William J. Price
2nd Lt   Robert C. Peters LH-T 42-7908

It was not initially clear what had happened to Lt. Fry as Lt. Blickenstaff:

Lt Fry was flying my wing. Our flight started down to attack two Fw190’s. As we began our attack I glanced back to see if my wing man was in position, and we continued the bounce. A few minutes later I was aware of e/a on my tail and it was then that I noticed my wing man was missing. I was in radio contact with Fry but he made no mention of being attacked.

In the confused situation, 2nd Lt Dwight A Fry protected Blickenstaff’s tail but was himself attacked. Fry’s Thunderbolt was peppered by machine gun fire from the attacking aircraft and he watched as his instrument panel disintegrated. He was shot and shrapnel found its way into his stomach through his leather flying jacket and Mae West. As his plane shuddered under the attack, he was forced to bail out at 800ft with his chute finally opening at 50ft. He was picked up by members of the underground and eventually returned to the Group in March 1944. You can read his escape and evasion report HERE.

After escaping from occupied Europe Fry was able to file a delayed combat report in March 1944 claiming an Fw190 destroyed:

Just after Capt Newhart made a steep diving turn to the right, I saw two Fw190’s come in on Lt Blickenstaff’s tail. I immediately called Blickenstaff and told him to take evasive action, but when he took none, I thought my radio was out. I came down on the two 190’s from about 5 o’clock and high. Just as I was in range, one broke right and one broke left. I followed the one that turned right and opened fire at approximately 500 yards, losing to about 75 yards where the right wing and tail of the 190 blew off. The pilot bailed out, and I tried to rejoin my flight but the 190 that had turned left had lined up on my tail and I took evasive action, but was chased down to deck level.

The loss of Fry was not the only tragedy for the 350th that day. As the Squadron returned from the mission, low on fuel, Lt Robert C. Peters crashed his Thunderbolt LH-T (a/c 42-7908) at Brentwood in Essex and was killed.  There are sources on the internet that indicate the crash occurred at Herongate, Essex but I am currently unable to confirm this. There are also claims that the aircraft may have been damaged in combat and that this contributed to the crash. Sadly, as this was a mission loss there is no accident report and I have been unable to get a copy of the individual deceased personnel file for Lt. Peters to ascertain any of the circumstances. Anyone with further information is warmly invited to contribute.

Information on this photo of tragic devestation indicates it is the wreck of Thunderbolt 42-7908 on October 14, 1943. This would make it the crash of Lt. Peters.

351st: Major Duncan. T/U 11:52 hrs. T/D 14:52 hrs. Total flight time 3:00 hrs. Route: R/V with bombers at Haamstede, escorted to Duren, out north of Walcheren Islands.

Major   Glenn E. Duncan (Gp & Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt   Herbert K. Field
1st Lt   Francis N. King
2nd Lt   Benedict E. Kraft
Capt   Walter C. Beckham
1st Lt   William J. Maguire
1st Lt   George N. Ahles
2nd Lt   Hassell D. Stump
Capt   Orville A. Kinkade
F/O   Cletus Peterson
1st Lt   Harry F. Hunter
2nd Lt   George F. Perpente
Capt   Frederick H. Lefebre
2nd Lt   Harry D. Milligan
1st Lt   David C. Kenney
2nd Lt   Irving Toppel
2nd Lt   Edgar J. Albert

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 11:57 hrs. T/D 14:16 hrs. Total flight time 2:19 hrs. Penetration support to bombers. Squadron made rendezvous with bombers at 12:59. Directly after landfall, 20 enemy aircraft seen coming in from the northeast at an altitude of approximately 32,000ft. They made no attempt towards attacking the bombers but made for the fighters. The Squadron broke up into flights and elements and in dog fights that ensued Major Bailey destroyed one Me109, Lt. Juntilla destroyed one and damaged one Me109, Lt. Streit destroyed one Me109, Lt. Newman destroyed and damaged one Me109, Lt. Keywan damaged one Me109. Lts. Geurtz, Morrision and Schillinger came back with damaged ships. Lt. Geurtz landed with one wheel down and locked.

Major   William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt   Harry H. Dustin Early Return SX-F 42-7904*
1st Lt   William F. Streit
2nd Lt   Maurice Morrison SX-R 42-8687
1st Lt   Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Joseph Schillinger SX-E 42-22466
1st Lt   Robert A. Newman
2nd Lt   Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt   Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt   Richard V. Keywan
1st Lt   James N. Poindexter
1st Lt   Jesse W. Gonnam (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt   Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt   Robert P. Geurtz SX-M 42-22482
1st Lt   Charles W. Kipfer

*Assumed that Dustin was flying this aircraft as he is the only pilot listed in Squadron records as an early return.

The days fighting had resulted in a high score for the Squadron, but the wingmen had taken a beating from an aggressive enemy. Lt Morrison and Schillinger came back with aircraft damaged by enemy fire. Lt. Geurtz’s (Yellow#4) aircraft was also badly damaged during combat and had to make a skilful one wheeled landing at Metfield.

First the well-known picture of Geurtz’s one-wheeled landing in Gordon Burlingame’s SX-M “Stinky Poo” (a/c 4222482) October 14, 1943.

The commendation Geurtz received from his Squadron commander following the landing (click for larger view). (353rd FG Archive)

A picture of the propellor tip from "Stinky Poo" Bob Geurtz  kept in his "Den" as a souvenir of the landing. Bob passed away May 21, 2006 aged 84. (with thanks to P Geurtz)

A picture of the propellor tip from “Stinky Poo” Bob Geurtz kept in his “Den” as a souvenir of the landing. Bob passed away May 21, 2006 aged 84. (with thanks to P Geurtz)

Group Aborts/Early Returns/Damaged:

42-8664 ERTN   flight instruments out
42-74671 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t release YJ-T
42-22460 ERTN   returned with Leader
42-7904 ERTN   malfunction of belly tank SX-F
42-8661 ERTN   belly tank release handle
41-6528 BD Cat   AC YJ-W
42-8687 BD Cat   A SX-R
42-22482 BD Cat   B SX-M
42-22466 BD Cat   A SX-E
42-8003 BD Cat   A LH-?
42-8393 BD Cat   A LH-Q
42-7908 CR   Burtonwood Cat E LH-T
42-8513 MIA LH-Y

As a clue to the identity of the other aircraft the Control Tower log lists SX-W back at 12:41; LH-M and LH-F back at 13:00; YJ-U back at 13:20; LH-I back at 13:27. YJ-T landed at 13:35 and SX-E at 13:46.


Filed under Missions

6 responses to “Mission#35 October 14, 1943 – Target Schweinfurt

  1. Phillip Geurtz

    Thank you for posting this. As Lt. Geurtz’s oldest grandchild, reading about the 1 wheeled landing gives me pride in my grandfather. I’m glad you were able to post the newspaper clipping and commendation as I hadn’t seen these before. I remember the propeller tip whenever I did visit my grandparents as a child. If I find out which of my uncles or aunts has it, I will ask them to take a better picture for your archives.

    • Thanks for your response Phillip and glad you liked the post. I met your grandfather at one of the Group reunions an enjoyed corresponding with him. His other story about the other landing incident he had April 22, 1944 was really quite something too. Thanks for the offer of a better picture of the propellor tip – your grandfather took a polaroid and sent it too me, but as you can see it’s a little out of focus.

      • Phillip Geurtz

        Wow that’s odd, My birthday is April 22, albeit 32 years later. I can’t seem to find any missions from 1944 though.

      • Phillip Geurtz

        And thank you for the stories. I was around my grandpa frequently until I was about 10. My dad was in the Army for 20 years, so as I grew older, we moved further and further away and I never got a chance to hear any of his old stories, at least while I was old enough to appreciate them.

      • Phillip

        Sadly I’m only up to November 19, 1943 in the mission posting so far, so it will be a while before I get to April 22, 1944. In the meantime here’s your grandfathers account for that day:

        At 17.30 hrs the two Squadron spares for the mission, 1st Lt Robert P Geurtz and his wing man Lt Kipfer started their take off roll. As Geurtz reached critical take-off speed the tire of SX-I (a/c 42-8390) blew:

        I was taking off in number one spare position. As I got the tail up and about sixty to seventy miles an hour, when my left tire blew, causing me to be drawn off the left side of the runway on to the soft ground, shortly the right tire blew. I tried to get in the air but had no elevator control. I decided to turn off the switches and gas, the ship continued going and finally nosed over

        With two blown tires and the extra weight of two full 108 gallon tanks on the wings, their was little Geurtz could do:

        I must have used too much brake. The plane started to nose over very slowly and nearly stayed standing on its nose, and then very, very slowly nosed on over.
        A piece of glass from the broken canopy pushed into and down the right back side of my head. I think it took 70 stitches but it was just a 3 inch flap of skin hanging down. I was stunned when my head hit and soon I saw the blood running down to the ground.
        I could not get out until they lifted the tail up. Of course both wing tanks had ruptured and I was concerned about fire .

        Happily the crash crew arrived speedily to the scene and released Geurtz after a tense five minutes to prepare the lift, though I recall he said it was a ‘tense’ few minutes with all the fuel around!

  2. Do you have any further information on the P-47 that landed at Bradwell Bay that day? A B-17 also landed at Bradwell Bay during the same mission. Thanks.

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