Mission#74 February 5, 1944 -Target: Romilly sur Seine/Villacoublay. The Loss of Lt. Edgar J. Albert, 351st Fighter Squadron.

Date: Feb 5, 44

Dispatched: 42 Aborts: 3

Mission: Support to 3rd ATF, 180 B-17’s (3rd Div)

Field Order: 235 Target: Romilly sur Seine/Villacoublay

Time Up/Down: 09:49 hrs     13:31 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Duncan

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

Group R/V’d with bombers 10.40 hrs just prior to L/F north of Dieppe, 25000ft. Proceeded with three boxes of 3rd Div bombers who were in good formation to target leaving them 11:25 hrs. Out Le Treport 12:17 hrs, 18,000ft. Six Me109s about to make a head-on attack on the bombers in strong formation target area. Attack dispersed E/A being lost in clouds. Two Fw190s about to attack rear 2nd box of bombers vicinity Sancerre engaged by White and Red flights of the 351st – 1 destroyed. White smoking object, size of small bomb in corkscrew twist seen spiralling downward this area. On way home White flight bounced by three Fw190s out of the Sun at 15,000ft NE of Orleans. Lt. Albert last seen levelling out after taking evasive action this area. No hits observed. One unknown single engine low wing single tail A/C seen flying at 39,000ft at Rouen. This A/C dove and disappeared when one of our pilots reached 34,000ft. One flight out Fecamp 12:28 hrs, 10,000ft. Other P-47s, 51s and Spitfires seen with bombers. Lt Col. Duncan and 1st Lt. Thistlethwaite of Group HQ participated.

350th: Capt Pidduck. T/U09:50 hrs. T/D 13:10hrs. Total flight time 03:20 hrs. L/F in on course 10:38 hrs, 24,000ft. R/V with bombers on course 10:50 hrs, 23,000ft. Good. Spitfires, P-51s. No e/a. Left bombers on course, 11:20 hrs, 28,000ft. Left coast Cayeux on time, 26,000ft. About 10 heavy bursts N of Paris, accurate as to altitude. R/T normal visibility good in target area.

Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt John B. Rose
1st Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan

351st: Lt Col. Duncan. T/U 09:40 hrs. T/D 12:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. Route: In north of Dieppe, over Fontainbleau, out north of Dieppe. North of Dieppe at 10:42 hrs at 25,000ft. Lead box eight minutes after landfall at 10:50 hrs at 26,000ft. First box good, other fair. P-47s and Spitfires low and high. Fontainbleau at 11:15 hrs at 28,000ft. North of Dieppe at 11:57 hrs at 27,000ft. Remarks: Bombers five to ten minutes late, causing us to withdraw sooner than planned. 3 down at Manston, 4 down at Tangmere. One P-47 abort engine cutting out at altitude [presumably Lt Terzian].

Lt Col Glenn E. Duncan (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) YJ-X
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite YJ-N
1st Lt George N. Ahles YJ-A
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert YJ-P 42-75161
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
F/O Joseph E. Wood YJ-W
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-R
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter YJ-H 42-8379
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
1st Lt William R. Burkett (Flt Ldr) YJ-B
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-V 42-7958
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-P
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y

Lt Col. Duncan led White flight to bounce two Fw190’s coming in at 20,000ft. They were chased line astern in a diving left turn as they tried to get down on the deck. Duncan caught one and shot it down. After this action White flight got into difficulties south of Paris as 1st Lt George N. Ahles explained:

I was flying #3 in Roughman White flight. Lt Albert was #4, my wing man. At 11.30 hrs Lt Col. Duncan, the flight leader, had taken the flight down against two Fw190’s near Joigny. On the way down I called Lt. Albert asking him if he were behind me, and I think he said yes. We climbed back to 15000ft, started home, flying line abreast. Lt. Albert was about 300 ft to my right; Lt Col Duncan and Lt Thistlethwaite being on my left. At 11.45 to 11.50 hrs we were bounced by three Me109’s coming out of the Sun and from the clouds, straight down on us near Augerville. I called saying ‘Break right’ three or four times. There was no reply from Lt. Albert. Lt Albert broke to his left in a rolling, diving turn. I turned to the right in order to attack the e/a which was behind him about 1000 yards. I did not notice the e/a fire his guns. The e/a immediately disengaged and headed inland. Lt. Albert began to pull out of his dive and level off at 6000ft. I turned toward the other two e/a which broke to the right and up, and then headed north. We circled the area looking for Lt. Albert, both Lt Col. Duncan and I calling him on the radio. There was no reply.

Flying in the White two position was 1st Lt. William T. Thistlethwaite:

At about 12.45 hrs we were slightly south west of Paris and north east of Orleans, flying line abreast, with Lt. Albert on the extreme right and me on the extreme left. We were observing two bogies ahead of us when three Me109’s bounced us from the right rear. Lt. Ahles called break right, and all did but Lt. Albert broke left and down, at the same time noticing what I’m sure was acceleration smoke. I watched him going down. Col. Duncan called him on the R/T several times but received no answer. It is my belief that Lt. Albert did not suffer any damage from the bounce. We proceeded to the coast.

It was not clear what exactly had happened to Lt. Albert, but the Red Cross reported him buried by the Germans a few days later. Lt. Albert was not flying his usual aircraft YJ-U named “Doris” for the wife he had married just before leaving the United States. His Squadron friend George Perpente wrote to tell her the bad news. Lt. Albert is buried in the Brittany American Cemetery and you can read more details HERE. The Missing Air Crew Report number for further reference is 2128. Lt. Albert’s niece, Denise Viesta, has also been in touch and kindly sent the following newspaper clippings from the time.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 09:49hrs. T/D 13:10 hrs. Total flight time 03:21 hrs. Course: C Griz Nez, Cayeau, R/V, withdraw, Boulogne, Home. Landfall in at Dieppe at 10:40 hrs, 5 miles W of Cayeau at 24,000ft. Bombers were flying an in-trail position good and close. Other fighters observed were Spitfires, P-47s and P-51s. 6 Me109s observed about 10 miles S of target area 24,000ft. No combat resulted. Left bombers over the target area at 11:25 hrs at 28,000ft. Left enemy coast at 12:17 hrs at 28,000ft over Le Treport. Moderate heavy flak, accurate for height but to the right was encountered in vicinity of Melun. Meager, inaccurate flak was directed at the bombers from Rouen. No bombers seen in trouble over entire route. R/T reception poor, jamming was consistent. 4/10 scattered cumulus, middle cloud. Contrails from 24,000ft. 1 early return Rouen (Lt. Stiff – smoke in cockpit, lack of oxygen). 9 down Metfield 13:10 hrs, 2 down Leiston, 1 down Hawkinge, 1 down East Church, 1 down Framlingham.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr) SX-H
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan SX-N
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty SX-O
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-E
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam (Flt Ldr) SX-F
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-R
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-X
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-T
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-G
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff SX-W 42-22751
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-V
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-Q
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz (Spare) SX-D
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger (Spare) SX-J

Group Aborts/ERTNs:

42-7958 ABT oil leak YJ-V Lt. Terzian flying.
42-74647 ABT radio reception LH-U
42-22751 ABT cockpit smoke SX-W* Lt. Stiff flying.
42-8373 ERTN radio reception LH-Y? Not confirmed as code.
42-8379 ERTN cockpit gas fumes YJ-H Lt. Hunter flying.
42-75161 MIA YJ-P** Lt. Albert flying.

*I can confirm that a/c 42-22751 is SX-W and not SX-X as listed in Squadron records for February3, 1944.

**YJ-P was usually Lt. King’s aircraft. He last flew on January 11, 1944 when YJ-P was still P47D-2-RE 42-7972 “Gator Bait.” He may not have taken possession of YJ-P P-47D-10-RE 42-75161at this point as four different pilots had flown it, but not King before it was lost with Lt. Albert.

 

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