Mission#89 March 6, 1944 – Target: Berlin. The Loss of 1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland, 350th Fighter Squadron.

Date: Mar 6, 44

Dispatched: 34 Aborts: 3

Mission: Penetration support to 1st ATF, 240 B-17s (3rd Div)

Field Order: 262 Target: Berlin

Time Up/Down: 10:33 hrs     13:43 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Duncan

Claims Air: 03-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-00

L/F in north of Ijmuiden 23,000ft, 11:21 hrs. R/V 3rd Div B-17s vicinity Dummer Lake 11:53 hrs. Bombers 18-24,000ft. Wings in good formation but spread out. Left bombers 12:25hrs, approx vicinity Gifhorn. L/F out north Ijmuiden 14,000ft, 13:00 hrs. As Group approached lead units vicinity Steinhuder Lake, 8-12 Fw190s made head on attacks from above thru the bomber formation. 3 destroyed. Combats from 19,000ft to 1000ft. 3 B-17s seen to go down in this area. About 10 chutes seen. One B-17 coming back 8-10,000ft escorted to enemy coast. Convoy of 16 ships preceded by 9 smaller ships headed 60 degrees along West Frisian Island. Fix given to controller by pilot. Fighter/bomber intercom good.

Lt. Ireland (350th FS) seriously injured at landing (died).

Two FW190s destroyed Col. Duncan.

One Fw190 shared destroyed Capt. Byers and Lt. Terzian (351st FS).

350th: [As the Squadron were converting to P-47D-15s only two pilots, Lts. Ireland and Dawson, flew with the 351st. The Intelligence officer submitted the following] T/U 10:33 hrs. T/D 13:43 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. L/F N or Ijmuiden, 11:20, 24,000ft. R/V 3rd Div at Dummer Lake, 11:53, 25,000ft. Good formation. P-47s, 51, 38. 12-15 Me109, Fw190, Steinhuder Lake, 7000ft. Left bombers NE of Hanover, 12:25, 25,000ft. Left coast N of Ijmuiden 13:00, 14,000ft. No flak.

351st: Major Christian. T/U 10:28 hrs. T/D 13:50 hrs. Total flight time 03:22 hrs. Route: In north of Ijmuiden – over Hanover – out north of Ijmuiden. Penetration support. One P-47 crashed landed near field due to enemy action (Pilot Lt. Ireland from 350th Squadron). Plane CAT E. Pilot wounded extent unknown. One Fw190 destroyed shared by Capt. Byers and Lt. Terzian. [L/F in] North of Ijmuiden at 11:20 hrs at 24,000ft. 3rd Division near Dummer Lake at 11:53 hrs at 25,000ft. B-17s close formation. Combat Wings good though somewhat spread out. B-24s flying loose formation. P-47s, P-38s and P-51s [see]. 12-15 E/A Me109s and Fw190s with Me109s predominating at Steinhuder Lake at 1000ft. [Left bombers] Northeast of Hanover at 12:25 hrs at 25,000ft. [L/F out] North of Ijmuiden at 13:00 hrs at 14-15,000ft. Remarks: Two B-17s seen going down in vicinity between Dummer Lake and Steinhuder Lake. Three white and one brown chutes seen to open. Germans heard on R/T.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-H
2nd Lt William J. Weaver YJ-I
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson (350th) YJ-F
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-N
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-J
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-W
Capt Charles L. Stafford YJ-P
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-R
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
2nd Lt Cletus Peterson YJ-P
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland (350th) YJ-U 42-22771
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
2nd Lt George F. Perpente (Spare) YJ-G
1st Lt John Sullivan (Relay 350th) YJ-S

As the Squadron made R/V Capt. Vic Byers took Red flight to attack a lone Fw190:

We made R/V with the bombers at 1200, slightly past our briefed time. Various and sundry e/a were seen in the first box of our ‘Big Friends’. I spotted two Me109s that had just come down through them, and I peeled off in pursuit. At 20000 ft a flight of four P-47s cut me out, so I pulled in for cover.

While watching them going down, I spotted a single Fw190 very low and evidently going home. After calling my Squadron Leader, I peeled off and positioned my flight for the kill. He was probably flying instruments, because he flew straight and level while we crawled up on his tail. I was about 500 yards behind and dead astern when he went through a small cloud and came out on the other side, still fat, dumb, and happy. I gave him a short burst and hit his left wing and then moved over and fired a 2 or 3 second burst. There were hits all around the cockpit and he started in a gentle dive. I pulled up then to keep from running into him and my wing man pulled into position.

Byers’ wing man, 1st Lt. Jack Terzian, then closed in to share the claim:

Capt. Byers pulled up sharply to the left. I throttled way back and moved into position. The e/a made a gentle climbing turn to the left. At about 300 yards and a ring of deflection, I gave him a short burst, observing no hits. Closing in at the same deflection, I gave him a long burst, observing strikes about the cockpit, and then the e/a burst into flames – very pretty!

1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland also chased some e/a down to the deck and was himself badly shot up. Ireland opted to nurse his shattered aircraft home to Metfield and as he came in to land he deployed flaps not realising that they had been damaged in the fight. Only one flap came down causing his aircraft to flip over and crash. Lt Ireland was found away from the wreckage still strapped to his seat but unconscious. Medics took him to the 65th General Hospital, but nothing could be done for him and he died of his injuries the following day having never regained consciousness.

The lost of Lt. Ireland hit his comrades hard and the Group Historian, Capt. Ernest P. MacGregor, wrote in tribute:

He will always be remembered by his comrades for his ability as a pilot, his cheerful outlook on life and his happy hours spent at the piano in the Officer’s Club improvising popular tunes for his friends. In the last regard he was quite entertaining. The piano has been silent since.

[The 65th General Hospital at Botesdale, Suffolk was staffed almost entirely by members of the famous Duke University Hospital. You can read more about it HERE and HERE.

352nd: Lt Col Duncan. T/U 10:26 hrs. T/D 13:56 hrs. Total flight time 03:30 hrs. Penetration support 2nd ATF, 3rd Div. L/F in N of Amsterdam at 11:20 hrs at 23-24,000ft. R/V with 3 Div of bombers N of Dummer Lake at 11:55 hrs or 12:00 hrs at 26,000ft. B-17 formation – fair. B-24s terribly strung out. Observed other P-47S AND p-38s. No P-51s seen. In vicinity of Nienburg many E/A seen, including several Me109s and Fw190s and 1 Me110 was observed. These E/A were making violent attacks on bombers and getting good results. Engagements with E/A took place in this vicinity with Col. Duncan destroying 2 Fw190s. Lts Jordan and Armstrong fired at 109s but are making no claims. 3 Forts in all were seen to go down, 3 chutes from 1, 4 from the second and 6 from the third. Left bombers in vicinity of Celle at about 12:25 hrs. Left coast over Ijmuiden at 12:58 hrs at 22,000 ft. Moderate, heavy flak, accurate, from Clappenburg. “A” – good, heard German on “A” channel believed he was trying to discourage us. “C” fair. 16 plus ship convoy composed of light boats, cargo vessels and believed to be tankers seen on a 60 degree heading 5 miles off the lower tip of Terschelling Island. Majority of ships flying balloons. Visibility was good over route. 6/10 clouds, tops around 6,000ft. Two Fw190s seen with yellow cowlings with bright red stripes under the cowl. 1 Fw190 seen with a green nose. 1 unidentified S/E A/C seen to go down in vicinity of Steinhuder Lake.

Lt Col Glenn E. Duncan (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) SX-U
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-I
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-F
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-G
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-V
1st Lt William F. Streit SX-Z
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-K
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-S
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-X
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-M
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer SX-Q
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr) SX-Y
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-L
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-C
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles SX-D
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-P

Group Aborts/ERTN/Lost

[Unfortunately the aircraft aborts, early returns, lost and damaged reports from Wing to 8th Fighter Command are not available for the period March 5-19, 1944. I have checked through the microfilm reels (B5200-B5202) from the AFHRA at Maxwell and even went through the actual files when I was last there in January. Sadly, there is no trace of the data for this period unless anyone out there knows otherwise].

 

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3 Comments

Filed under 350th Fighter Squadron, Missions

3 responses to “Mission#89 March 6, 1944 – Target: Berlin. The Loss of 1st Lt. Robert N. Ireland, 350th Fighter Squadron.

  1. Charles B Stearns

    Harry Hall Dustin marker shows he died march 16 1944. do you know how he died? His p-47 was destroyed over Germany 6 months later.

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