Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mission#79 February 13, 1944 – Target: “NoBalls” Albert Area.

Date: Feb 13, 44

Dispatched: 47 Aborts: 2

Mission: Type 16 Support to 1st, 2nd, 3rd ATFs (B17, B24s)

Field Order: 242 Target: “NoBall” targets Albert area

Time Up/Down: 13:54 hrs     16:47 hrs Leader: Capt. Pidduck

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

L/F Gravelines 14:28 hrs, 21,000ft. [At] St. Pol Group vector to Cambrai area. Controller advised E/A disappeared. Vicinity Le Cateau one Fw190 engaged 15,000ft to 5,000ft [and] probably destroyed [damaged]. North of Albert ten + Fw190s at 26,000ft in distance Group 18-21,000ft. Attempt to engage unsuccessful. E/A dove in steep spiral to deck. L/F out Cayeux 16:00 hrs, 18,000ft. The two interceptors flying at 35,000ft bounced an S/E A/C at 33,000ft which turned out to be a tapered wing Spit. Spit continued towards England after being bounced. 1st Lt. Herfurth of Group HQ participated.

[NoBall targets were V Weapon sites and in a Type 16 mission the Group were vectored to possible targets by radar control].

350th: Capt Pidduck. T/U 13:47 hrs. T/D 16:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:03 hrs. L/F in Mardy K 14:28 hrs, 20,000ft. Entered patrol area 24,000ft. P-47 Beavais area 12 Fw190s. Left coast Le Touquet 15:55 hrs, 16,000ft. No flak. Broken cumulus 4/10.

Major Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
Col Henry R. Spicer* (Observer)
1st Lt John H. Winder
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Arthur C. Bergeron
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt John Sullivan
Lt Moraga** (with Spicer?)
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt Herman Herfurth
1st Lt Robert S. Hart YJ-U

*Col. Spicer, then of 66th FW, flew as an observer with the Squadron.

** A bit of a mystery – answers?

1st Lt. John A. Sullivan reported an encounter with the enemy at 15.30 hrs in the vicinity of Beauvais and luckily avoided a tragedy:

I was leading Pipeful Yellow flight as top cover for our Squadron. We had gotten just slightly ahead of the lead flight when bandits were reported coming in at 10 o’clock from us. Seeing them, I pushed everything forward and climbed into the sun. Approximately 12 e/a passed under us, flying a very loose formation. I proceeded to go down on the last flight. All e/a went into a tight left spiral going downward. I saw five a/c flying close together and started after them. When one of them broke off I gave him a short burst but stopped immediately when he got further into a turn as it was a P-47. I spoke to this pilot later and found out that he had started to overshoot the Fw190 he was chasing and had broken off. I made the mistake of thinking he was part of their flight. No hits were made on his plane.

351st: Major Beckham. T/U 13:53 hrs. T/D 16:55 hrs. Total flight time 03:02 hrs. Area support (Type 16). Route: In at Gravelines and over Cambrai area, out at Quend Plage. Two aborts (one flak damage Cat A and one escort). One Fw190 probably destroyed [damaged] by Major Beckham Cambrai area. Gravelines at 14:28 hrs altitude 20,000ft. Quend Plage 16:01 hrs at 20,000ft.

Major Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-A
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter YJ-H
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton YJ-O
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-S
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M 42-75114
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-R 42-75507
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-I
1st Lt William R. Burkett YJ-B
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-Y
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards (Spare) YJ-T
F/O Joseph E. Wood (Spare) YJ-W
1st Lt Robert S. Hart (Spare 350th) YJ-U

Shortly after crossing the coast the aircraft flown by Lt. Stanley in Yellow flight was hit by flak. He returned to Metfield with a damaged aircraft.

In the vicinity of Cambrai at 15.20 hrs Capt Lefebre broke right, into an Fw190 that was firing on a P-47 in the high flight. He fired a short burst forcing the aircraft to break off and corkscrew down. Major Beckham was leading White flight and moved in to damage [claimed as a probable] the 190:

A lone Fw190 with belly tank attached came from our one o’clock position at about 21,000ft. We were at 20,000ft. Roughman Blue flight attacked him first. He turned sharply to the left for about 270 degrees, then dived steeply. After Blue flight broke off their attack I followed him down.

I fired 706 rounds from too great range, observing strikes on the fuselage. He dived under a cloud at about 3000ft. I pulled up over the cloud and tried unsuccessfully to find him for several minutes.

352nd: Capt Hoey. T/U 13:50 hrs. T/D 16:48 hrs. Total flight time 02:58 hrs. Made landfall in over Gravelines at 14:28 hrs, 23,000ft. Proceeded toward Albert and were vectored east by Jensen. Flew near the Cambrai area then south to St. Quentin. 15 plus E/A (109s and 190s) seen near Montdidier area but did not engage. Landfall out made over Pointe Haut-Bane. R/T was poor. Controller was loud at first but later became very weak. England and Continent inland was cloudy. Sky over Channel and enemy coast was clear making horizontal and vertical visibility good. Two planes of our Squadron (Major Bailey and Lt. Jordan) were dispatched to patrol area above our planned route to look out for an E/A that has been seen spotting for the enemy. Our two planes made landfall over Hardelot at 35,000ft at 14:33 hrs. Made landfall out over Gravelines and made several orbits over this area. No E/A were seen by this flight but one Spit VII was seen at 32,000ft. Observed several small boats in the harbor at Boulogne. Flak observed from both St. Omer and Abbeville, no damage seen from it. A large pillar of smoke seen in the Montreuil area. Course: L/F, Albert, L/F out, Home. Target: Watten.

Capt Charles J. Hoey (Sqdn Ldr) SX-U
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson SX-V
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-B
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-F
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-K
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-N
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-G
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff SX-L
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-Z
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-X
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q
2nd Lt William S. Marchant (Spare) SX-H
Major William B. Bailey SX-S
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-R

Group Aborts/ERTNs:

42- 75114 ERTN escort 42-75507 YJ-M Lt. Maguire flying.
42- 75507 ABT loss of power YJ-R Lt. Stanley flying.
42- 75507 BD Cat A YJ-R Lt. Stanley flying.

 

 

  

 

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Mission#78 February 11, 1944 – Target: Frankfurt.

Date: Feb 11, 44

Dispatched: 45 Aborts: 4

Mission: Withdrawal support to 1st ATF, 240 B-17’s (1st Div)

Field Order: 240 Target: Frankfurt

Time Up/Down: 11:19 hrs     14:15 hrs Leader: Lt Col Rimerman

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

L/F in at Knocke 20,000ft, 11:54 hrs. Visual contact with 4th Fighter Group northwest of Brussels, to planned R/V point. Bombers not seen, apparently late. Flew five minutes past R/V point and orbited. Bombers observed 15 to 20 miles S/E. Actual R/V made 12:45 hrs with four combat wings 1st Div B-17s flying in good wing formation 20 to 23,000ft. However, 3rd and 4th CW spread out to the rear. Actual R/V point unknown. Left bombers 13:00 hrs, making L/F out vicinity Ostend 17,000ft, 13:40 hrs. No E/A seen; however, just prior to R/V contrail seen passing over Group going northwest above 35,000ft. No stragglers. Flak observed from general direction of target area. Contact with Upper on “C” channel very good. Jamming of R/T very bad. Lt Col. Rimerman and 1st Lt. Herfurth of Group HQ participated.

350th: Capt. Newhart. T/U 11:18 hrs. T/D 14:20 hrs. Total flight time 03:02 hrs. L/F Knocke 11:55 hrs, 22,000ft. R/V on course 15 mins late, 12:45 hrs, 28,000ft. Fair. Spitfires, P-51, P-38, P-47. No e/a. Left bombers on course 12:58 hrs, 28,000ft. Left coast south of course 13:35 hrs, 26,000ft. Scattered heavy bursts at Lille. Normal R/T. Broken overcast permitted ground to be seen in spots.

Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt William J. Price
1st Lt John Zolner
Capt Charles W. Dinse (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt Roland N. McKean

351st: Lt Col Rimerman. T/U 11:13 hrs. T/D 14:17 hrs. Total flight time 03:04 hrs. Withdrawal support. Route: In at Ijmuiden, over Hardenbergh, out at Egmond. Flushing at 11:51 hrs, altitude 22,000ft. [R/V] Place unknown at 12:43 hrs at 22,000ft. Good close formation within wings but wings split in half and widely separated. 4th Group, 2 P-51s and 2 P-38s. Place unknown at 12:58 hrs altitude 22,000ft. [L/F out] Ostend at 13:33 hrs at 20,000ft. Remarks: 40 plus small boats seen in harbor at Ostend. [One pilot in the Squadron, 1st Lt Francis E Edwards, a spare that day, peeled off and shot up an enemy airdrome before returning home. He didn’t see any aircraft but scored hits on a few buildings before returning home].

Lt Col Ben Rimerman (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) YJ-A
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-R
Col Henry R. Spicer (Observer)* LH-X
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-S
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-L
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-I
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
Major Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr) YJ-X
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
F/O Joseph E. Wood YJ-W
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik (with 350th) YJ-O
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards (Spare) YJ-T
1st Lt William F. Streit (Relay with 352nd) YJ-H

*Col. Spicer then from 66th Wing flew the Squadron.

352nd: Capt Robertson. T/U 11:18 hrs. T/D 14:32 hrs. Total flight time 03:14 hrs. Made landfall in over Nieuve at 11:54 hrs. R/Vd with bombers late at about 12:45 hrs near Bad Kreunach [?] at 27,000 ft. Bombers were split into about six bunches. Four we R/Vd with and three were about 20 miles away. All bunches joined together in one task force later. No bombers seen in trouble. P-47s, 51s and 38s. Left bombers near Diekirch at 12:55 hrs or 13:00 hrs, alt. 24,000ft. Landfall out over a point just south of Ostend at 13:39 hrs. Alt. 20,000ft. Intense flak observed over target area. Slight jamming. 4-5/10ths cumulus, building from 5,000ft to 15,000ft. Course: L/F, Alt, R/V, W/D/L/F, Home. [The mission report was amended to state three aborts Lt. Corrigan – belly tank would not release; Lt. Sperry engine cutting out and Lt. Schillinger 9not listed as flying) escort to Lt. Sperry. The original report listed Lt. Callans aborting – prop out].

Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Sqdn Ldr) SX-S
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-Q
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-G
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-R
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry (Flt Ldr) SX-H
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-Z
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-W
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-J 42-7910
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-X
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-N
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-U
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-F

Group ERTNs/Aborts:

42-7910 ABT prop out SX-J Lt. Corrigan flying.
42-75608 ABT engine running hot SX-?*
42-8480 ABT radio interference LH-Z
42-8378 ABT excessive manifold pressure LH-R

*SX-K by 9/7/44 but this code is not listed as flying on this mission.

 

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A Brief History of SX-L of the 352nd Fighter Squadron.

Following on from my post on the history of SX-I of the 352nd Fighter Squadron a few weeks ago I have now completed the history of SX-L as far as we can ascertain from the information available. It might seem that I’m being a little focused on the 352nd to the exclusion of the other two Squadrons at the moment. I assure you this is not the case and it is just that it is easier for me to work methodically through the Squadrons one at a time. The 352nd is first because, for whatever reason, they have the better records. The 350th Fighter Squadron, particularly with the early Thunderbolts, is a “black hole” of missing data that I’m hoping will fill out much more as I go along and benefit from being tackled last. The plan for the next few weeks is to cover SX-Z, then SX-D and N with a post on Capt. Joe Knoble and then SX-P linked with a post on Lt. Donald Corrigan. In the meantime, if serials, names and codes are your thing, please enjoy SX-L with my thanks to Ash Gant, as always, for our ongoing discussions and head scratching. Corrections and clarifications to anything I write are most welcome.

A/C 42-22458 P-47D-2-RA. This olive drab razorback was assigned to 1st Lt. Leroy W. Ista and named “Stingeree” by him. The artwork was a stinging wasp painted on the fuselage. The aircraft flew with the Squadron from August 1943 until Lt. Ista was lost in the aircraft December 22, 1943 (MACR 1539 refers).

A/C 42-75065 P-47D-10-RE. This olive drab razorback was a replacement for the first SX-L lost with Lt. Ista and first flew with the Squadron on February 11, 1944. It was flown regularly by 1st Lt. Edison G. Stiff until his loss in the aircraft February 22, 1944 (MACR 2672 refers). We have no record of any name given to this aircraft.

A/C 42-75247 P-47D-11-RE. This olive drab razorback was a replacement for the second SX-L lost with Lt. Stiff and first flew with the Squadron on March 6, 1944. It was assigned to 1st Lt. Hildreth R. Owens until he completed his tour on May 9, 1944. We have no record of any name used on the aircraft by Lt. Owens. It was then assigned to 2nd Lt. Lloyd Hunt who flew the aircraft on eight missions during May and June 1944. We have no name recorded for the aircraft at this time either, but it was re-coded to SX-L Bar (the only use of L Bar in the Squadron) between May 27 and sometime after June 13, 1944 because the fourth SX-L operated in the Squadron at the same time. The aircraft did not fly operationally with the Squadron between June 13 and August 16, 1944 when, back as SX-L, it became the assigned aircraft of Lt. Harrison B. Tordoff. He named the aircraft “Anne” and flew it operationally between August and October 1944. There is a picture of this aircraft on p. 209 of Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry. The individual aircraft record card for this aircraft indicates that after it left the Squadron when they converted to Mustangs it went to the 56th Fighter Group as HV-L. It was salvaged due to battle damage there December 19, 1944.

A/C 42-75657 P-47D-15-RE. This olive drab razorback was assigned to the Squadron in May 1944 and was coded SX-L (leaving 42-75247 to be re-coded SX-L Bar for a time). It was flown regularly by Lt. Thomas W. Jones, but we have no record of any name given to the aircraft by him. It was salvaged following a crash landing at an advanced landing strip in Normandy due to battle damage on June 13, 1944. The pilot, Lt. Jones, suffered facial burns in the crash.

A/C 42-26564 P-47D-25-RE. This natural metal finish bubbletop was a replacement for the aircraft crashed by Lt. Jones on June 13, 1944. It was assigned to Lt. Harold O. Miller who flew it on 19 missions between June 18 and July 6, 1944. Miller related on the origins of the name he gave the aircraft: ‘“Sniffles” was a Looney Tunes cartoon originating from Mr. Chuck Jones about a little mouse that always had a “code in da nose”. It shows my age at the time (I was only 19) but I figured a weak little mouse that is given a R-2800 Pratt & Whitney engine and eight .50 caliber machine guns could be somebody too.’ Like its predecessor, the fifth SX-L had a short life with the Squadron. It was salvaged due to battle damage after Lt. Miller was forced to crash land at Advanced Landing Ground B3 (Sainte Croix Sur Mer) on the morning of July 6, 1944. Hal Miller confirmed that at the time B3 was home to 144 (Canadian) Wing led by Johnnie Johnson whom he met after his fiery crash landing. He also confirmed that when Charlie Wurtzler (Squadron Intelligence Officer) heard that he was down and in France he transferred Lt. Miller and his aircraft on temporary duty to the 9th AF so that he was not recorded as MIA. This was done to avoid unnecessary worry to Lt. Miller’s family.

A/C 44-14805 P-51D-10-NA. This aircraft was flown on 68 missions by 21 different pilots between October 2, 1944 and March 14, 1945. It was first assigned to Lt. Harrison B. Tordoff who flew the aircraft on 14 missions between October and November 1944 when he completed his first tour. As a keen ornithologist Tordoff named the aircraft “Upupa Epops!” after the Latin name for the Hoopoe bird. Tordoff liked the pun because the Hoopoe was noted for its ungainly flight characteristics. The two pictures to be found on p.210 of Danny Morris’s Aces and Wingmen II (Usk,1989) seem conclusive as to the name (as do Tordoff’s own letters to me) so we cannot confirm any other variations of the name. When Tordoff completed his tour the primary pilot became Lt. Ralph B. Snyder who flew the aircraft on 24 missions between November 1944 and March 1945. The aircraft was transferred to “C” Flight of the 352nd on March 14, 1945 and re-coded to SX-Z. We do not have any confirmed evidence of names for the aircraft in Snyder’s hands. I have “lists” from many sources going back some 30 years with references to both “Shirley Dean” and “Brad’s Dad,” but have no photographic confirmation. Interestingly, Ralph Snyder became the well known TV presenter Ralph Story after the war and details of his career can be found HERE. A search of the internet also confirms that he had a son named Brad – so maybe Brad is out there and can confirm the aircraft name? The aircraft was completely lost as SX-Z in the fatal crash of Lt. Donald F. Blaicher on July 12, 1945.

A/C 44-72364 P-51D-20-NA. This aircraft was assigned to the Squadron in mid March 1945 and to Capt. Harrison B. Tordoff who began his second tour February 17, 1945. The aircraft flew 24 missions with 11 different pilots, 12 of them piloted by Tordoff. He named the aircraft “Upupa Epops.” Subsequent to its time with the 352nd the aircraft was used by the Royal Swedish Air Force as Fv26061and then, in 1952, went to the Fuerza Aerea Dominicana as FAD 1916 until 1984. It is currently with the Flying Heritage Inc, Seattle, WA in wartime markings and you can see further details HERE.

Details for the crew of SX-L throughout the war are patchy. On Tordoff’s second SX-L they were S/Sgt. Kermit M. Knutson, S/Sgt. William F. Jopke and Cpl. Erwin G. Wolf. It is possible that, like many other “letters” in the Squadron, they were the crew of all the main SX-Ls throughout the war, but we have no evidence to confirm this. Hal Miller’s SX-L had a different crew (the original crew may have continued to crew SX-L Bar) who followed him to his next aircraft SX-S. The above photograph confirms Miller’s crew chief on SX-L was S/Sgt. James M. Cody and armourer Sgt. Raymond J. Pearn.

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Searching for Lieutenant Greene.

Timing is very important in life – it can have both trivial and monumental consequences and a fair amount in between. In 2005 I was experiencing the many joyful experiences associated with the arrival of my first child and negotiating a tricky 180 degree change in my career path. As a consequence, and much to my later regret, I never got around to purchasing a copy of Searching for Lieutenant Greene – The 351st Fighter Squadron and Operation “Market Garden” (Hoogkarspel, 2005) by Frederik Paauwe. Timing produced a trivial personal anecdote for me (relieved temporarily by the kind loan this week of a copy of the book by a good friend), but read this book and you will learn what timing cost a young American pilot called Robert N. Greene on September 17, 1944.

Cover to Searching for Lieutenant Greene - The 351st Fighter Squadron and Operation

Cover to Searching for Lieutenant Greene – The 351st Fighter Squadron and Operation “Market Garden” by Frederik C. Paauwe (Hoogkarspel, 2005).

At this time the 353rd were flying support missions for the famous Operation Market Garden – the daring gamble by the Allies to shorten the war by capturing a series of bridges in Netherlands with airborne troops. The Group were tasked with flak suppression missions to protect the heavily laden transport aircraft delivering troops and supplies to the battle area. So intense was the fighting that the Group were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for their contribution. Doubt not that these were immensely dangerous missions – the Group lost six pilots during this time. According to his biographers, Charlotte and John McClure, Dave Schilling, the famous leader of the 56th Fighter Group at the time, refused to fly any more of these missions after his Group lost 16 pilots. He was relieved of command temporarily by the Commanding General of the 65th Fighter Wing and reinstated only after tempers had calmed down.

The well-known picture of YJ-E

The well-known picture of YJ-E “Patrica Baby” (a/c 42-75815) which Lt. Robert N. Greene flew on September 17, 1944. It was actually the assigned aircraft of Lt. John W. Bishop. Left to right in the photo are Sgt. Carl Trabin, Sgt. Bill Woods, S/Sgt. Rufus Blocker and Cpl. Earl Haley.

Robert “Bobby” Greene was a replacement pilot who had only just joined the 351st Fighter Squadron. He was flying his third mission on the day he was lost when his own bomb blast set fire to his aircraft forcing him to bail out too low for his parachute to open. He was so new that his Squadron Commander did not even remember him years later when questioned about him (similarly he has left practically no trace in Group records or photographs). Yet Mr. Paauwe has, in 124 pages, done an immense service in assembling what is available in the official record and supplementing this with his tireless efforts to seek out information on the young pilot from Norfolk, Virginia. Though not of the wartime generation himself, Mr Paauwe’s connection to the story comes from being local to the area of the tragic events of 1944. The “searching” of the title is apt for the book describes his quest to find the truth behind the event and who Bobby Greene was.

Throughout Mr. Paauwe sticks closely to the available documentary evidence and uses this to good effect to tell the story of the fateful mission. This task alone required trips to the United States to visit the archives, localities known to Bobby Greene and to the 2001 P-47 Thunderbolt Pilot’s Association Reunion to meet his comrades. What is pleasing is that he sticks pretty close to the known facts and never lets speculation get the upper hand. The main conjecture he allows himself is the possibility of a German flak gun might have been responsible for the loss, but he makes it quite clear this is only a possibility based on some circumstantial evidence.

What is even more remarkable, however, is that Mr. Paauwe’s quest did not stop at telling the story of the mission. He traced the sister of Lt. Greene and has, with her help, provided a much fuller picture of who this young pilot was through his letters home. Whilst he does not have much information on his stateside training he makes good use of the experiences of fellow students in Class 43K to bring to life what Lt. Greene must have encountered before reaching Raydon. The truly commendable part of the book is that he does not portray Lt. Greene to be somebody beyond the evidence or as fitting some wider agenda. We learn that he was a fairly religious person, but that he was also “Scared as hell” at the thought of entering combat for the first time. He was also, in the words of a fellow pilot, “un-coachable” regarding target discipline and this may well have contributed to his untimely death. One gets the strong impression of a young man (he was four days away from his twenty-first birthday at the time of his death) who tragically did not have the time to gain the skills and knowledge that perhaps would have saved him.

The Greene family experienced their full share of wartime tragedy – Bobby’s brother Frank was also killed in the Pacific and they did not have Bobby’s fate confirmed until September 1945. The details of the father’s letters to his son attempting to get news after his death detailed in this book are heartrending. It would be hard to see the positive side to this story, but the memorial service at the crash location on September 17, 2001 and the unveiling of a memorial plaque (that you can see HERE) are a fitting and worthy commemoration. That these came about largely because of the efforts Mr. Paauwe is another reason for the 353rd community to thank him for all his tireless efforts to see that the sacrifice of this pilot was and is remembered.

The original book was limited to 100 copies and the second revised edition of 2005 has been out of print for some time. So if you are lucky enough to have a copy of this very fine book, dig it out and read it again or if you find one buy it and read it and if you find two send one to me as I sadly have to give this copy back…

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Capt. Leroy B. Highfield, 351st Fighter Squadron 1922-2014

Terry Bigger has emailed with the sad news that we have lost another veteran. His father-in-law, Leroy B. Highfield, passed away last week aged 91.

Capt. Highfield joined the 351st Fighter Squadron July 19, 1944 and flew with them through to the end of the war. He claimed a Ju88 and Me110 destroyed and a He111 damaged in the strafing mission of April 16, 1945.

These are never pleasant messages to write but I’m sure you join me in offering condolences to Leroy’s family. My thoughts are with Terry, Heather and the rest of Leroy’s family at this time…

 

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Mission#77 February 10, 1944 – Target: Brunswick. Lt. Emory, Lt Armstrong and Lt. Jordan Claims.

Date: Feb 10, 44

Dispatched: 40 Abort: 8

Mission: Withdrawal support to 1st ATF 180 B-17’s (3rd Div)

Field Order: 239 Target: Brunswick

Time Up/Down: 11:04 hrs     14:05 hrs Leader: Major Bailey

Claims Air: 02-01-01Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-01

Due to take off in snow storm Group was delayed approx 14 minutes. L/F south of Den Helder 25,000ft, 12:03 hrs. R/V 2 boxes approx one hundred 3rd Div B-17s vicinity of Quackenbruck 28,000ft, 12:35 hrs. Bomber formation good. Left bombers middle Zuider Zee, L/F out Egmond 25,000ft, 13:13 hrs. On way in two T/E A/C seen vicinity Zwolle 20,000ft. Dove and disappeared in cloud when flight investigated. Near Quackenbruck one Me110 seen below bomber formation, bounced and destroyed by Wakeford Yellow flight 15,000ft. This E/A believed to be a stooge because immediately thereafter 20+ S/E E/A bounced 352nd out of the Sun. In resulting mix up from 25,000ft to 10,000ft, one Me109 destroyed and others dispersed. Vicinity Hardenberg one Fw190 dove thru 2nd bomber box. Engaged by Roughman Yellow Leader and destroyed, pilot bailing out at 12,000ft. Capt. John B. Rose and 1st Lt. Thistlethwaite of Group HQ participated.

350th: Capt Newhart. T/U 11:10 hrs. T/D 14:00 hrs. Total flight time 02:50 hrs. L/F in on course 12:10 hrs, 28,000ft. R/V with 2nd Box N of Furstanau, 12:40 hrs, 31,000ft. Good close. P-47 No e/a. Left bombers W Zuider Zee 13:00 hrs, 29,000ft. Left coast 10 miles north of Egmond 13:13, 29,000ft No flak, R/T good. Boats in Zuider Zee, small.

Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt William J. Price
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt John Zolner
1st Lt John H. Winder
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt John Zolner

351st: Lt. Emory (after Beckham and then Byers had to abort). T/U 11:10 hrs. T/D 14:00 hrs. Total flight time 02:50 hrs. Route: In at Ijmuiden, over Hardenberg, out at Egmond. Ijmuiden at 12:10 hrs at 29,000ft. [R/V] at Lingen area at 12:43 hrs at 29,000ft. Good close formation. P-47s. One Fw190 destroyed [by Lt. Emory] near Hardenberg. At coast at 13:16 hrs at 25,000ft. Egmond at 16:16 hrs at 25,000ft. 5 to 7 e/a operating singly, apparently trying to ease up to fighters before making attacks on bombers and fighters. 3 aborts (two engine trouble, one frost and ice on canopy.

1st Lt William R. Burkett (Flt Ldr) YJ-B
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik YJ-L
1st Lt William T. Thistlethwaite YJ-O
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
2nd Lt John G. Treitz (Flt Ldr) YJ-I
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-Z
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-E
F/O Joseph E. Wood YJ-W
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G 42-75688
Major Walter C. Beckham YJ-X 42-75226
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman YJ-A
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-S 42-75647
1st Lt William J. Maguire (Relay) YJ-M
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley (Relay) YJ-R

Lt. Emory reported destroying an Fw190:

I had been turning inside of the Fw190, and as he pulled back up into position, I closed rapidly from dead astern. I held my fire until about 300 yards away from him. He started a sharp left turn, so I gave him a long burst, but saw no strikes. I then dropped the lead, and put the bead on his engine and fired a three or four section burst, which struck behind the cockpit, making many flashes, and smoke poured out the back half of the fuselage.

As I overshot him, he rolled on his back and dove down. As soon as I turned around, I dove after him, following him down to 12,000ft. He levelled off on top of the clouds, and I saw something leave the aircraft. I thought it was the canopy, but it may have been the pilot himself, as I saw a chute open below and off to my right soon afterwards. The aircraft pulled up in an easy climb, rolled on its back and went straight down through the cloud deck which was about 6,000ft.

1st Lt. Herbert K. “Shorty” Field, flying number three to Emory, also fired at the aircraft but recorded no strikes.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 11:04 hrs. T/D 14:10 hrs. Total flight time 03:06 hrs. Made landfall in near Den Helder at 12:03 hrs flying at 27,000ft. R/Vd with three combat wings of B-17s at Quackenbruck at 12:35 hrs, 28,000ft. They were unescorted when we met them. Bomber formations were good; two combat wings followed by one combat wing. Very few stragglers. Observed other 47s, 51s and 38s. 25 plus E/A observed in the vicinity of Lingen. We engaged and destroyed one Me109 and one Me110. These engagements were at approx 12:40-12:45 hrs. Left bombers on the east coast of Zuider Zee at 12:50 hrs when another group of P-47s R/Vd with them. Left enemy coast at 13:17 hrs north of Egmond at 25,000ft. Channels very poor – much jamming. England and North Sea overcast. Breaks encountered at Zuider Zee becoming 3-4/10ths with tops around 15-18,000ft east of Zuider Zee. 4 aborts Capt. Juntilla reason unknown down at Wattisham, Lt. Corrigan belly tank would not release, Lt. Sperry engine cutting out, Lt. Schillinger escort to Lt. Sperry. 1 Me109 destroyed by Lt. Armstrong and 1 Me110 destroyed by Lt. Jordan. Rounds fired: Jordan 832, Gonnam 49, Geurtz 320, Armstrong 924. 8 down at Metfield 14:10 hrs. 1 down at Ludham [Lt. Fogarty].

Major William B. Bailey (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) SX-H
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-A 42-75707
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-F
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr) SX-O 42-22470
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-J 42-7910
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan (Flt Ldr) SX-X 42-75140
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-C
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan SX-N
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam (Flt Ldr) SX-U
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-W
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-Z

1st Lt. Jesse W. Gonnam saw an Me110 to the right of the bombers during rendezvous and led Yellow flight down to attack:

I called to go down, but my receiver was out, and I didn’t know White section had started down. We bounced and I closed and fired but didn’t hit the e/a. Because my radio was out I didn’t hear my No 4 call a break when a 109 bounced the flight. My No 3 chased this ship away and I pulled up and to the right. At this time six 109s attacked the bombers and I climbed to intercept them but they broke away too quick.

Gonnam’s wing man 1st Lt. William J. Jordan followed in the attack and was awarded the Me110 as a probable:

We had just made R/V with the bombers and had made a 180 degree turn to escort them. A Me110 was called in below us at about 20,000ft and Lt. Gonnam and I peeled off diving down on him. The e/a saw us and went into a steep dive. I was directly behind Lt. Gonnam and a little below him. He got behind the e/a and fired for a while, then pulled up. I didn’t see any strikes on the e/a from the bursts that Lt. Gonnam fired. I closed in on the e/a and fired one long burst getting many strikes on both of the engines and on the cockpit canopy. Heavy black smoke began pouring from both engines and trailed back covering my aircraft. I continued firing and the e/a went into the clouds at about 15 to 16000ft, after which I pulled up and broke off the engagement. During the engagement with the 110 I opened fire at about 250 yards and closed to 80 or 100 yards.

Second element lead in Yellow flight was 1st Lt. Robert P. Geurtz, who saw an Me109 coming in:

My leader started down on an Me110. I followed with my wing man Lt. Zolner [350th FS]. I noticed a Me109 on the tail of a 47 just below me. I pulled down and behind him and fired a short burst. The P47 and 109 then rolled and went straight down. I did not get any good shots, so I broke off at about 11000ft. I climbed back up to about 27,000ft with my radio out and I continued home with my wing man.

Yellow flight had been bounced by a further 15 Fw190s and Me109s. Luckily White flight were able to give cover. 1st Lt. Clifford Armstrong, flying Wakeford White 2, claimed an Me109 destroyed:

I spotted an Me110 below us and called Wakeford leader. We started to make a pass at the 110 but another flight cut us off and so we pulled up to be top cover. About this time I heard someone call that there was an e/a on his tail. I glanced to my left and a P47 [Lt. Fogarty], followed closely by an Me109, went by. I didn’t have time to call Wakeford leader and I immediately did a half roll and went down after the 109. I followed down approximately a 45 degree dive. I fired several short bursts out of range, probably about 800 yards, hoping to get the 109 off the 47’s tail. At about 15,000ft the P47 broke to the left and the 109 continued in the dive. I followed the 109 down, gradually closing to approx 250 yards, at 350 to 400mph. I got several hits on the e/a on the left side of the fuselage; at this time I was down to 2000ft. The e/a started to smoke and [he] did sort of a half roll to the left and crashed into a field in the vicinity of Lingen. I went back up to 4000ft in a layer of clouds and flew instruments most of the time until landfall out. There were several breaks in the clouds and I could see pretty well were I was.

Flying Wakeford White three it was 1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty’s lucky day:

We were making an orbit to the left while two of our aircraft went to attack an Me110, I called in six bogies at 5 o’clock to the bombers, and received a message from some other flight of another Squadron saying that they were in position. Shortly after I turned my back to the bogies I was bounced by them. I broke left and took evasive action as I dived. In the dive, I had my left aileron partially shot away by a 20mm shell. I recovered from the dive at approx 4000ft and started climbing back up. I levelled out at about 12,000ft. Shortly after this an Me109 came at me head on. I had very little control of the ship so I kicked the nose around and came at him with guns firing. No strikes were seen, the e/a continued on and I made no attempt to turn and follow him. I joined up with Lt. Gonnam who escorted me home and landed at the first airdrome I saw in England. [Lt. Fogarty landed at Ludham without flaps or ailerons and at a speed of 180mph].

Group ERTNs/Aborts/Damaged:

42-74618 DNTO radio out LH-K
42-75647 DNTO engine overheating YJ-S Lt. Stump flying.
42-75140 ABT belly tank wouldn’t release SX-X Lt. Corrigan flying.
42-75707 ABT engine cut out SX-A Lt. Sperry flying.
42-7910 ERTN escort 42-75707 SX-J Lt. Schillinger flying.
42-8575 ABT engine cut out
42-8661 ERTN escort 42-8608
42-8608 ABT pulling too much mercury LH-D
42-8378 ABT excessive vibration LH-R
42-75226 ABT couldn’t draw gas from BT YJ-X Major Beckham flying.
42-75688 ERTN frost and ice in cockpit YJ-G Lt. Perpente flying.
42-22470 BD Cat AC SX-O Lt. Fogarty flying.

 *The two unknown aircraft may well be 350th. Hopefully I can confirm later.

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Mission#76 February 8, 1944 – Target: Frankfurt. Major Beckham’s 17th and 18th Victories. Four for the 352nd and one for the 350th Fighter Squadron

Date: Feb 8, 44

Dispatched: 38 Aborts: 2

Mission: General withdrawal support to 240 B-17’s (1st & 3rd Div)

Field Order: 237 Target: Frankfurt

Time Up/Down: 11:01 hrs     14:19 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Rimerman

Claims Air: 07-00-00Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

L/F over Blackenburg 11:40 hrs, 23,000ft. R/V two CWs as planned at 12:10 hrs. Bombers in good formation. Other two CWs far to the rear. Escorted bombers until 12:40 hrs, where two Groups of P-47s were seen coming in L/F Gravelines 13:18 hrs, 16,000ft. All other types of friendly fighters seen. Shortly after R/V two Me190s [109s?] attacking bombers. Destroyed, pilot bailed out. In the vicinity Arlon two Fw190s encountered, one destroyed. In the vicinity of St. Hubert 30 Fw190s flying in flights of 5, approaching from 3 o’clock on the bombers, were engaged by the 352nd. 4 destroyed, others disappeared. Major Beckham destroyed his second E/A in this area. Fw190 had belly tanks well fared to the fuselage giving overall appearance similar to P-47s. 2 B-17s seen going down west of Arlon, six chutes seen. One e/a seen shot down by bombers. E/A appeared to be aggressive and after split S ing would zoom up and position themselves to the rear of the fighters. Vicinity of Cambrai, 8 T/E E/A seen on airfield. The E/A strafed by Major Beckham who observed to his dismay that they were made of light fabric. Lt Col. Rimerman, 1st Lt. Herfurth and 1st Lt. Thistlethwaite of Group HQ participated.

Claims:

1 Fw190 destroyed Capt. Dinse 350th

1 Me109 destroyed Major Beckham 351st

1 Fw190 destroyed Major Beckham 351st

1 Fw190 destroyed Capt. Robertson 352nd

1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Armstrong 352nd

1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Callans 352nd

1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Corrigan 352nd

350th: Lt Col Rimerman. T/U 11:01 hrs. T/D 13:50 hrs. Total flight time 02:49 hrs. L/F in Knocke, 11:40 hrs, 24,000ft. R/V 12:11 hrs, 26,500ft. Loose. P-38, P-47. Fw190, Me109 after R/V 15-16,000ft. Left bombers Nouzonville, 12:40 hrs, 20,000ft. Left coast Gravelines, 13:17 hrs, 15,000ft. No flak. R/T good. Barges at Calais.

Lt Col Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
Col Henry R. Spicer (Observer*)
1st Lt William J. Price
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
Capt Charles W. Dinse (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt Roland N. McKean (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller

*Col. Henry R. Spicer, then Executive Officer of the 66th Fighter Wing, flew Col Rimerman’s wing to observe and gain experience.

At 12.15 hrs, just after R/V, in the vicinity of Luxembourg Capt. Charles W. Dinse claimed an Fw190 destroyed:

I was leading Red flight in the lead Squadron when I spotted one lone Fw190 coming in on the lead flight from about 3 o’clock at the same altitude (about 25,000ft). My number 3 and 4 men (Blickenstaff and Hart) had to return early so I only had two ships.

I let the e/a continue into the flight ahead until he just about positioned himself to shoot – his action put him right in front of me about 250 to 300 yards. He made his mistake by coming in from down Sun, blocking me out of his vision. As soon as he put himself in a good position for me to shoot I opened up. Immediately after I opened fire I observed strikes on his right wing. He broke to the right and started a roll and then headed down continuing his roll. I believe that he made two or more rolls going down. I followed him through his rolls, rolling with him and firing all of the way. Just as we were about through the second roll I observed many strikes in the cockpit after which the e/a apparently went down out of control and went hell bent for the good earth. I last saw him as he disappeared under a cloud (about 2000ft), still gyrating, and going down.

351st: Major Beckham. T/U 11:03 hrs. T/D 14:13 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. Route: In at Knocke and out at Gravelines. Knocke at 11:42 hrs at 23,000ft. Unit and place unknown at 12:10 hrs at 26,000ft. Good close formation. P-38s, P-51 and P-47S. Me109 destroyed 4 minutes after R/V. Fw190 destroyed. Gravelines at 13:25 hrs. One B-17 attacked by one Me109 south of Liege. Tail section shot off. Four parachutes seen to open. Me109 destroyed by same B-17. Eight dummy E/A seen on airfield. One destroyed by Major Beckham. Two aborts – one belly tank and one engine trouble.

Major Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-X
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
1st Lt George N. Ahles YJ-A
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite YJ-R
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-W
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-L 42-75676
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-H
1st Lt William R. Burkett YJ-B
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik YJ-M
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-H
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-I
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
2nd Lt William S. Marchant (Relay) YJ-N
The publicity machine of the Eighth Air Force made much of the "Ace Race" between Beckham and Bud Mahurin of the 56th Fighter Group. Here they meet in London February 6 after Beckham drew level with 16 victories on February 3, 1944.

The publicity machine of the Eighth Air Force made much of the “Ace Race” between Beckham and Bud Mahurin of the 56th Fighter Group. Here they meet in London February 6 after Beckham drew level with 16 victories on February 3, 1944.

Beckham claimed his 17th and 18th victory to become the leading ace in the ETO (he had tied with Bud Mahurin of the 56th on February 3, 1944) by shooting down a 109 and a 190:

As we rendezvoused with the leading two wings of bombers at 12.10 hrs, I saw two Me109’s flying parallel with us, about 1000 to 1500 feet above. We used full power climbing up and catching them. Went from about 26,000 to 29,000 feet in the climb. Fired several bursts. The Me109’s flipped over and dove almost straight down, using definite evasive manoeuvres on the way. I stayed about the same distance behind with throttle nearly closed and was unable to get any good shots going down. I pulled out with difficulty. A pilot was seen to bail out of one of the 109s by the other three members of my flight. Col. Rimerman and several others saw one of them crash into the ground.

We regained 25,000 feet of altitude and rejoined the bombers. Twenty plus Fw190’s were observed at three o’clock to the bombers. I chased two of them beneath a cloud in a left turn, picking the one on the inside of the turn. The one on the right pulled up and dived down in what I thought to be an attempt to get on my tail. Because of this, I fired a long burst at about two rings deflection and excessive range in an attempt to finish the job quickly and get into the clouds.

Was agreeably surprised to see strikes, continued firing as I closed. The Fw190 rolled onto his back at about a thousand feet altitude and dove. As I pulled up and to the right I saw him crash into the ground, making a large mass of flames. Went into a cloud right away. Don’t know if the other Fw190 tried to attack me or not.

On the way home, in the clouds, I saw through a break an airfield with eight or ten plus planes parked. I was able to line up three or four of these in a dive down Sun from about six thousand feet at about 400mph indicated. Encountered no return fire although a flak tower was just northeast of the field.

Was disappointed to see as I passed over the planes that they were dummies. They were models of He111s, Me110s and at least one Me109. Believe it almost impossible that we will ever see such tempting targets sitting close together, un-camouflaged, that are not Nazi tricks. Recommend that we confine our attacks on planes on the ground to those more definitely identifiable as the real McCoy.

Encountered no ground fire on the one hour five minute trip home, until reaching the enemy coast. I flew in clouds at four to six thousand feet. Light and heavy AA fire as I crossed out west of Calais was all behind me and mostly to the right.

 

352nd: Capt Robertson. T/U 11:02 hrs. T/D 14:05 hrs. Total flight time 03:03 hrs. Made landfall on course over Knocke at 11:42 hrs, 25,000ft. R/Vd with two combat wings of B-17s at approx intended R/V point at 12:10 hrs at 30,000ft. Bombers were in two combat wings and others were reported far behind these. Two Fortresses seen going down west of Arlon; one chute observed from the first B-17 and five from the second. Other fighters seen were P-38s and P-51s. One group of 47s seen coming in as we withdrew. Our Squadron observed three Me109s and thirty plus Fw190s in the St. Hubert area. E/A were flying at 20,000-28,000ft. These E/A were colored a light gray with red stripes around the fuselage. Some of these E/A had a brilliant red colored “V” laying on its side just ahead of the cross on the fuselage, the apex of the “V” pointing towards the engine. E/A were using belly tanks that were faired into the fuselage making them look like the 47. Our planes out turned and out climbed E/A but the E/A seemed to stay with them in a dive. Believed we left bombers near Revin at approx 12:40 hrs at an altitude of 23,000ft. Left coast over Mardyck at 13:18 hrs at 20,000ft. 8/10ths low cloud, base 5,000ft prevailed over the combat area. 1 Fw190 destroyed Capt. Robertson, 1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Corrigan, 1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Callans and 1 Fw190 destroyed Lt. Amstrong. Rounds Fired: Juntilla 115, Corrigan 1256, Robertson 880, Armstrong 1748, Streit 740, Owens 104, Stiff 91 and Callans 480. 1 P-47 Cat A.

Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Sqdn Ldr) SX-R
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan SX-Q
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-F
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty SX-A
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam (Flt Ldr) SX-X
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-V 42-75445
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-N
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-Z
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-K
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-R?
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff SX-W
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-J

 

Wakeford Red flight, led by 1st Lt. Jesse W. Gonnam, called in the bandits and requested cover while his flight attacked:

After R/V with the bombers, Roughman leader attacked two 109s and the group gave top cover. After this engagement I went on up to the right rear of the bombers. Wakeford Squadron was above and behind me and after sighting 5 e/a I called for help and a few seconds later started down to bounce. We pulled in behind the e/a and I pulled to the right to identify them. They proved to be 190’s but were hard to identify because of a faired belly tank, giving the appearance of a P47. I called the flight saying that they were 190s and to attack. I slid in behind the nearest plane and at about 125 yards pulled the trigger but my guns wouldn’t fire. My no 2 man, Lt. Callans, fired on the 190 on my right and hit him with a good burst, causing a large cloud of black smoke to come from it. This e/a may have blown up because as I pulled up and passed over him my aircraft was forced upward as if something had exploded under it. Five 190s were behind us and I pulled into them head on. They were light grey with red outlined crosses. They pulled in behind me and I used full power with boost to out-climb and out turn them. They were bounced by other flights from the Squadron. I climbed to 30,000ft and came out alone to the coast where I joined some of the Squadron and came home.

Although Lt. Gonnam was unable to make a claim he was able to confirm that of his wing man, 1st Lt Glen G. Callans:

About 10 minutes after R/V Red flight turned left and was approaching the bombers. Red leader called in five bogies approaching the bombers from the right side at bomber level. The bogies were identified as Fw190s and our flight started a bounce. I was on the leader’s wing and immediately said ‘I’ll take the one on the extreme right’. I pulled in to about 200 yards and about 10 degrees deflection and fired a short burst. After I fired the burst the 190 belched a large cloud of black smoke. He pulled up sharply and I fired two more bursts. At the top of his zoom he rolled over and started down. I followed firing two more bursts, closing rapidly to about 150 yards. The e/a used no evasive action going down. At this time I felt a shudder and looked back. Another Fw190 was firing at me at close range. I then made an aileron roll to the left and broke off the attack. I didn’t see the e/a I was striking after this. I continued down and pulled out below the clouds, the base of which was 5,000ft. I remained at this altitude and returned home.

Callans escaped with his Thunderbolt’s tail badly shot up by 20mm canon. The second element of the flight, led by 1st Lt William F. Streit was close behind:

There were five 190s flying below and at 4 o’clock to the bombers. Lt. Gonnam, my flight leader, called them in and asked for cover while we went down on them. On the way down I tried to fix my gunsight as it was very dim; in trying to fix it, it went out. We came in directly behind the e/a’s. I took the third one on the left as my flight leader and his wingman were on my right. I closed to about 350 yards and began firing. The e/a must have noticed me after my second burst because he split S’d and down he went. I moved over behind the next one and began firing on him. He rolled over and went down. We noticed a couple of bursts of white smoke in front of us which meant that there were a couple of e/a behind us. We did a big chandelle and got away from them. After levelling off I noticed a 190 on a P47s tail which we immediately moved in on and fired a burst on him and down he went in a split S. We didn’t follow him down as there were so many a/c in the vicinity and our flight was broken up.

Covering the fight were White and Blue flights. Leading White flight was Capt Raynor E. Robertson who was awarded an Fw190 destroyed:

Red flight sighted and attacked a flight of five Me109s. I was covering them when 15 or 20 more 190s came down on them. I bounced them with White and Blue flights. At that time I attacked one 190 that was on the tail of another P-47. I took one burst from 475 yards that struck the e/a on the bottom of the fuselage. On my second burst many strikes were observed on the canopy. On my third burst I saw many more strikes from wing tip to wing tip. At this time I had closed to around 375 or 350 yards.

The last I saw of the e/a he was spinning down at about 3000ft out of control. I believe it was impossible for him to pull out, so I made for home.

Flying the number three position in White flight was 1st Lt Clifford F. Armstrong, who was also able to destroy and Fw190:

We were just making R/V with the bombers at about 30,000ft when seven or eight 190s came in from about five o’clock to us. I called the flight and White 4 and myself immediately broke to the right. At that point I became separated from the rest of the flight. I was stooging around by myself at about 28000ft and at about five o’clock to the bombers when I saw two e/a make a pass through the bomber formation from the down Sun side. They made a wide left turn behind the formation and I dove behind them out of the Sun. I used water boost and gradually gained on them. I fired a very short burst from about 400 yards. I didn’t get any strikes at that time. I don’t think they saw me until I fired because when I fired the leader immediately broke to the right and down and the number 4 that I was after followed shortly taking violent evasive action. We started down in a steep dive from about 20000ft. I had closed up to about 300 yards and was firing a long burst. I observed strikes around the cockpit and the e/a immediately did a violent snap roll and continued down. I fired another long burst and got more strikes around the cockpit. I believe I hit the pilot as the e/a did not take any further evasive action and I last saw him disappear into a cloud at about 5 to 6000ft, going straight down. Judging from both the altitude and the attitude of the e/a when he disappeared into the clouds. I do not believe the pilot could have pulled out even if he had remained uninjured.

Armstrong’s wing man, 1st Lt Edison G. Stiff, saw seven Fw190s pass over head but they started down when he tried to climb up to them. Before following them down he saw another in the Sun, which turned into him. He fired from 800 yards and it snap rolled to the deck.

Wakeford Blue flight also gave cover to Red flight. Leading was Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla:

These 5 Me109s were being engaged by Red flight when 20 plus 190s bounced them from 4 o’clock to the bombers. I attacked this large gaggle of 190s and began to go around with one in my sights when I noticed one on my tail, firing at me. I broke into him and found I was alone among about 5 190s. I dove to about 10,000ft and joined Lt. Gonnam (Red Leader) with the 190 still following me. Both Lt. Gonnam and I used evasive action to keep them from us. Then a flight of P47s came down, forcing the 190s to go to the deck. Red leader and I then climbed to 28,000ft and proceeded home.

Juntilla’s wing man was 1st Lt. Donald J. Corrigan who was able to destroy an Fw190:

We were called on to help Red flight and we dove down. As we got there I picked out a Fw190 and fired. We went into a very steep dive and I followed as there were plenty of P47s in the area. I fired six or eight bursts from 12,000ft down to 5,000ft where he pulled out under the clouds. I only saw 2 or 3 strikes on the way down. I had trouble keeping my sights on him as dirt from the cockpit floor got in my eyes, and my ears were blocked causing much pain.

When he levelled out at about 3,000ft I started to go by him so I chopped the throttle and began to walk the rudders. He was to my right, almost abreast of me. He pulled into a tight left turn and dove slightly. I saw a piece come off which looked like a wing tip or a piece of the tail. About the same time he started a slow roll going down about 45 degrees. He made about three rolls and at this time we were right on the deck. His wing caught on the top of a tree which cart wheeled him along the ground into a hillside and he crashed. The plane was completely demolished but I did not see it burn. I then climbed up to 15,000ft to rejoin.

About 20 miles further on I spotted a slate grey 190 on top the clouds going in the same direction. I dove down on him and lined up behind him at about 500 yards. He wagged his wings so I held my fire. He made a slight turn to the left and I made sure of its identity and then made ready to fire. About this time he saw his mistake and rolled and split S’d. I fired a long burst as he rolled. I did not follow as my ammunition and gas were getting low.

Group ERTNS/Abort/Damaged:

42-75676 ABT excessive vibration YJ-L Capt. Byers flying.
42-75457 ABT broken glass elbow YJ-B* Lt. Burkett
42-75271 ERTN landing gear stuck SX-G** Unknown
42-75875 ERTN manifold pressure SX-M*** Unknown
42-75445 BD Cat A SX-V Lt. Callans flying.

*This aircraft later became YJ-A and was lost with Lt. Farley May 28, 1944. It cannot be YJ-A as no abort was recorded for that aircraft for this mission and aircraft 42-75850 carried that code until March 4, 1944.I have now confirmed the YJ-B as the other abort for the mission.

** The Control Tower Log at Metfield records SX-G buzzing the field at 11:10 hrs and landing safely at 11:23 hrs. It is not listed as flying the mission.

*** SX-M is not listed on the mission schedule for the day.

 

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