Mission#61 January 4, 1944 – Target: Munster

Date: Jan 4, 44           

Dispatched: 51 Aborts: 5

Mission: Support to Rear Combat Wing, 120 B-17’s (3rd Div) Field Order: 212

Time Up/Down: 09:03 hrs 12:00 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Duncan

Target: Munster

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

Group crossed the enemy coast south of Ijmuiden, 09:56hrs, 25,000ft. Flew on a course to Elberg 10:04hrs, 27,000ft. R/V with rear unit of bombers approximately at Coevorden, 10:18 hrs, 29,000ft. Other P-47 Groups seen giving support at this time. Top of bombers at 28,000ft. One formation flying well ahead of the second which was made up of two Groups of 18 and 15 a/c. This latter formation apparently bombed target north of that bombed by 1st formation whereupon they turned right to course of 300 degrees rather than following the planned withdrawal route. Group escorted this formation feeling that this course would not R/V bombers with fresh fighter protection. One Group left bombers at 11:00 hrs to west coast of Zuider Zee while others left approximately vicinity of Egmond, 11:05 hrs. On way out the 1st box of B-17s, that went to Munster, could be seen to the south with the planned escort. Two B17s were seen to collide in vicinity of Bentheim, one disintegrating, the other spinning down. Six chutes seen. Before reaching the target two Me109s were seen coming down on White flight of the 351st Squadron. Red leader broke in on them and pressed attack causing them to split “S” for the deck. After target area two Me109s came in from the west of the Group, took right turn away from the bombers into the Sun and immediately turned and made bouncing attack on Yellow flight of 351st Squadron. In the melee, one P-47 received two 20mm hits in the wing. In the same general area, two Me109s were observed circling up below the bombers. Group leader dove on them and dispersed them making no claims. One B-17 straggler in the vicinity of Enchede about to be attacked from the rear by six Fw190s with belly tanks. Four of these aircraft were flying close together line abreast with one a/c flanking each side 1,000ft above. Group leader made attack on floater to the right but made no claim. 78th Group were seen to engage 4 e/a before they could attack the straggler. It is interesting to note that on previous occasions the e/a when attacked from the rear would in most cases split “S” and hit the deck. Today’s tactics seemed to indicate more experienced and aggressive pilots, who when attacked from the rear would get into a tight climbing turn to the left with throttle chopped way back attempting to force our a/c to overshoot thereby gain[ing] the advantage. On all occasions the e/a were noted to be on the ball and could not be caught in a straight position. When in contact, they always remained in a turn. Some good bombing results were seen near the canal east of Munster. Moderate flak seen in target area and at Ijmuiden in and out. R/T with Parker good. Also channel “C.” Lt Col. Duncan, Capt. Rose and Capt. Stafford of Group HQ participated.

350th: Capt. Pidduck. T/U 09:15 hrs. T/D 11:50 hrs. Total flight time 2:37 hrs. Squadron over Ijmuiden at 24,000ft at 09:59 hrs. Proceeded on course and R/V with bombers NW of Rheine at 30,000ft at 10:16 hrs. 2nd Box of bombers appeared to bomb NW of Munster. Heavy flak over target – altitude accurate but with direction off. Bombers turned off target and split. Squadron escorted one bunch NW of Monnikendam 2 B-17s in mid air crash – 2 chutes. Flak at Ijmuiden in and out about 10 bursts on way out – altitude accurate but trailing. Out coast at 11:05 hrs. About 5 e/a Me109 vicinity target.

Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt John B. Rose
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
2nd Lt Chauncey Rowan
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
Capt Bergman (361st FG Training)
1st Lt John Zolner
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt John Sullivan (Flt Ldr)
Lt Latimer (361st FG Training)
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
2nd Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt William J. Price (Spare)
1st Lt Roland N. McKean (Spare)

*Capt Bergman and Lt Latimer from the 361st Fighter Group flew on the mission as part of their familiarisation training before the new Group went fully operational.

351st: Lt Col Duncan. T/U 09:03 hrs. T/D 12:10 hrs. Total flight time 03:07 hrs.  Squadron made landfall Ijmuiden, 09:56 hrs, 26,000ft. Proceeded on course as planned. After crossing Zuider Zee bombers were reported coming in at 10 o’clock. R/V was made according to plan, but due to high cloud cover check points could not be seen. Squadron took up escort position on the right of the bombers, which were flying in very good formation. Bombs seen to drop over target area near the canal east of Munster. Results looked very good. During bomb run no flak was reported, but after bombers had made a 180 degree right turn from target, meager and inaccurate for altitude flak reported. Before reaching target two Me109s were seen by Red flight leader to bounce white flight. Red leader immediately broke in on them, causing them to split S for the deck. Two other Me109s were seen by Yellow#4 after leaving target area, coming in from the west which were seen to make a right turn. The two 109s made this right turn up Sun to position themselves for an attack, which they did after Yellow leader had made a right turn from the target area. Placing them in position with their backs to the Sun. Engagement took place at 28,000ft. One P-47, Yellow#4 [Lt. Milligan], received battle damage as a result of this bounce. Escort was provided to bombers to the southern part of the Zuider Zee, where they left, leaving the enemy coast at Ijmuiden at 11:14 hrs. Two B-17s seen to collide north of the target area, both seen spinning down and six parachutes seen. R/T about same as on previous mission.

Lt Col Glenn E. Duncan (Gp Ldr) LH-X
Major Kruzel* YJ-S
Capt Charles L. Stafford YJ-H
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
Lt Feller* YJ-D 42-8375
1st Lt George N. Ahles YJ-A 42-8380
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-K 42-8674
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman (Flt Ldr) YJ-N
Capt Dayton C. Casto* YJ-P
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter YJ-H
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-R
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell YJ-G
1st Lt William R. Burkett YJ-Z
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y 42-8478
1st Lt William J. Maguire (Flt Ldr) YJ-M
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert YJ-U
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-I
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt (Relay) YJ-E
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik (Relay) YJ-W

*The Squadron had three pilots from the 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Group, flying with them on the day’s mission. They were Major Kruzel, Lt Feller and Capt Dayton C Casto Jr.

Before reaching the target, two Me109’s were seen to get on White flight’s tail. Red flight leader immediately broke into them, causing the aircraft to split S for the deck. Capt. Dayton C. Casto Jr, from the 361st Group, was flying Capt Vernon Leatherman’s wing as Red 2:

At 27,000ft the Me109’s were circling, just to the right and below the bombers. Roughman White flight (led by Duncan) bounced them. The 109’s pulled into a steep left climbing turn. White flight overran them and the 109’s got on White four’s tail (Lt Field). My leader broke down onto the tail of the lead 109 and I pulled in on the tail of the second. I started firing from about 150 yards, while in a steep turn. The Me109 apparently saw me, for he did a violent flip to the right. When I attempted to follow through I spun out. I did not see any strikes on him. I attempted to pull out of the spin and spun in the opposite direction. I lost sight of the 109.

I recovered at 22,000ft and started climbing back up to the first box of bombers, which was heading out. I tacked onto Roughman Green flight and came home.

Lt Col. Duncan appears to have damaged one of the 109’s in this engagement, though he made no claim.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 09:08 hrs. T/D 11:45 hrs. Total flight time 2:37 hrs. Target support to second box, First Task Force, B-17s. Course: Landfall, Elburg, R/V Nordhorn, Target (Munster) Sendenhorst, Grosbeck, Home. Squadron up at Metfield. Set course at 10,000ft. Clouds covered coast and it is believed we crossed on course, on time. Proceeded a little north of planned route and R/V with second box of bombers (approx 33) on time. The bombers were flying a “V” stepped down formation. Shortly after R/V 2 B-17s were seen to collide and one chute observed to open. The ships spun down and one was on fire. It is believed that our box of bombers did not bomb and turned north of the target to head home. They flew a course of 300-310 degrees. After the turn near Altenberge one P-47 was seen chasing a 109. We stayed with the bombers until approx landfall out. Believed we made landfall out north of Ijmuiden. Landed at base at 11:45 hrs. One burst of white marker flak at 33,000ft south of Bursteinfurt. Two bursts from Enschede. Two from Amsterdam. Other flak from Borghorst, bursts were 8,000ft below us. Sky was 7/10ths to overcast over entire route, tops 24-27,000ft building up. Plenty of holes. Visibility aloft excellent. Light non-persistent contrails up to 33,000ft. R/T “A” channel – fair to good, “C” – good.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr) SX-B
Capt Smith* (361st FG) SX-F
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam SX-U
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-X
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-A
Lt. Duncan* (361st FG) SX-Y
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-I
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel SX-G
1st Lt James N. Poindexter (Flt Ldr) SX-S
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-C
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-E
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson SX-D
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Spare) SX-W 42-8664
1st Lt William J. Jordan (Spare) SX-T
1st Lt William F. Streit (Spare) SX-O

*Capt. Smith and Lt. Duncan from the 361st Fighter Group flew with the Squadron for familiarisation.

Group Aborts/ERTN/Damaged:

42-8375 ABT   engine cutting out YJ-D Lt.   Feller flying
42-8380 ABT   engine cut out YJ-A Lt.   Ahles flying
42-8674 ABT   rough engine YJ-K Lt   Stump flying
42-8664 ABT oil   leak SX-W Capt.Forkin
42-8478 BD Cat   AC YJ-Y Lt.   Milligan flying

Lt. Johnson in SX-D also returned early in the 352nd with radio and pitot tube problems. He was not awarded a mission credit and so is not included in the figures. In the 351st Capt. Lefebre returned early (possibly as escort to his flight) and was awarded a single credit for the mission.

**Any further information on the 361st Fighter Group pilots (full name, Squadron etc) welcome

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