Mission#48 November 29, 1943 – Target: Bremen

Date: Nov 29, 43

Dispatched: 51 Aborts: 8

Mission: Penetration Support to 3rd Div 180 B-17’s.

Field Order: 192 Target: Bremen

Time Up/Down: 12:43 hrs 15:30 hrs Leader: Major Duncan

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

Group set course from home base at 13:08 hrs. Due to the 10/10 clouds along the course points of landfall and R/V were are problematical. At the planned R/V the bombers were seen off to the left and a left turn made. Bombers flying a course about 180 degrees magnetic. R/V was made shortly after 13:59 hrs. Bombers were at 28 to 30,000ft. Bomber formation covered an extremely wide area. Escorted the bombers until 14:20 hrs. At 14:07 hrs one B-17 pulled away from lead box of formation and headed back. Just as Group leader was forced to return due to reaching limit of endurance contrails from E/A flying singly and in twos and threes were seen approaching the bombers from the east. White and Red flight of the lead Squadron turned into the nearest gaggle of Me109s and dispersed them. One pilot fired guns but makes no claim. More P-47s were seen making R/V with the bombers. On the way out meagre heavy flak was encountered, accurate for height, inaccurate for direction. Two large bursts of red smoke was seen to go up in front of one flight reaching a height of 34 to 35,000ft. R/T whine intense, but air to air intercom fairly good. Contact with the bombers (Phone box 1-1) successful. Apparently bombers did not standby as further attempts to contact them were futile. Lt. Thistlethwaite [and Major Duncan] participated.

350th: Major Duncan. T/U 12:43 hrs. T/D 15:30 hrs. Total flight time 2:47 hrs.  Course: L/F to Schiermonnikoog to R/V to Strucklingen to home. Major Duncan led Squadron. R/V was made with the bombers at approximately 14:00 hrs over North Sea. Escort position was taken up on left side of B-17s. Just as Squadron left bombers, 3 Me109s with red squares or stripes on fuselage were sighted at 26,000ft flying almost 90 degrees to course of Squadron which was 28,000ft. Capt Hurst, red flight leader, turned his flight to attack but could not turn sharp enough. One of the 3 Me109s immediately split s’d while the other two continued a climbing turn. Before Capt Hurst’s flight could close to a good range the Me109s split s’d for the deck. No guns were fired. Flak: on course out 2 red bursts of marker flak were observed among bursts of flak of medium intensity. Flak low, inaccurate as to course. Weather: solid overcast over enemy territory.

Major Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn & Gp Ldr)
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt William J. Price
1st Lt John Zolner
Capt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt John Sullivan (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
2nd Lt Chauncey Rowan
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg

Major Duncan reported:

We saw numerous contrails but too far away to go after. As we were about half way out of the continent I saw one lone contrail coming towards us from about eleven o’clock. As I closed head on I saw that it was an Me109. I tried to make a direct head on pass at him but the e/a turned away and down. My only shot was a very short burst at great deflection. The e/a half rolled down into the cloud. He must have thought that we would fall in a trap because he poked his nose back up through the cloud probably hoping to catch one of the P-47’s unawares. As we were waiting for such a tactic and were almost on him he immediately half rolled and we saw no more of him.

351st: Capt Beckham. T/U 12:35 hrs. T/D 15:20 hrs. Total flight time 2:45 hrs. Route: In at Texel Island – to Norden, to Frieseythe – out N of Egmond.

Capt Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr)
F/O Joseph E. Wood
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre
1st Lt David C. Kenney
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert

352nd: Unknown. T/U T/D Total flight time

[**NB the flight plan and mission roster are missing from Squadron records. If anyone has details please get in touch]

Group Aborts/Early Returns:

42-7958 ABT   belly tank punctured YJ-V
42-8478 ABT oil   leak YJ-Y
42-7972 ABT   prop coolant YJ-P
42-22464 ABT   belly tank wouldn’t release ?
42-8471 ABT gas   fumes in cockpit SX-S
42-22466 ERTN   escort SX-E
42-[2]8390 ABT   pilot error SX-I
42-7910 ABT   pilot sick SX-J

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