Category Archives: 350th Fighter Squadron

All posts relating the the 350th Fighter Squadron

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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Filed under 350th Fighter Squadron, Missions

Mission#72 February 3, 1944 – Target: Wilhelmshaven. The loss of Capt. Wilford F. Hurst, Lt. David C. Kenney and Lt. Lloyd A. Thornell.

Date: Feb 3, 44

Dispatched: 47 Aborts: 5

Mission: Penetration support to 2nd ATF, 360 B-17’s (1st Div)

Field Order: 233 Target: Wilhelmshaven

Time Up/Down: 09:47 hrs 13:25 hrs Leader: Major Bailey

Claims Air: 02-02-01Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 03-03

Group made R/V with 3rd Div bombers, 24,000ft, 10:30 hrs. Believed to be about ten miles off enemy coast. Individual boxes in close formation, however, CW [combat wings] considerably spread out. Shortly after R/V two CW were seen to make 180 degree turn and apparently return. Group continued escort with bombers until they made turn at IP. At this time, 12+ Me109s were observed above at 32,000ft in the vicinity of Quakenbruck. The 350th Squadron climbed to attack with the 352nd as cover. When attacked, these E/A split “s” to the deck, two being destroyed. During a simultaneous attack on one of these E/A Capt. Hurst and Capt. Newhart collided resulting in the tail being cut from Capt. Hurst’s plane which went down – no chute observed. Seven Fw190s observed by one flight of the 351st Squadron in this general area, one destroyed. Two flights of the 351st continued escort over target and out Ameland Island. Majority of Group withdrew at 11:20 hrs making L/F out vicinity Ijmuiden 25,000ft, approx. 12:15 hrs. One pilot returning on deck attacked three tankers in Zuider Zee off Kampen. Two small transports damaged, one left burning of Ameland Island. Six U-boats and four M/Vs observed Ijmuiden harbour. Lt. Thornell’s engine cut out at about 900 feet over the Channel. In attempt to ditch A/C appeared to stall and crash. Search by escort for dingy was to no avail. Unable to contact bombers on “C” channel. Pilots complained markings on bombers are indiscernible unless practically on top of them. Lts. Thistlethwaite and Herfurth of Group HQ participated.

Missing:

Capt. Hurst, 350th. Result of a mid-air collision.

Lt.Thornell, 351st. Down in North Sea, believed engine failure.

Lt. Kenney, 351st. Reason unknown.

Claims:

1 Fw190 destroyed Major Beckham.

1 Me109 destroyed Major Beckham.

1 Me109 destroyed Capt. Newhart (awarded a probable).

1 Me109 damaged Capt. Newhart.

1 Me109 damaged Lt. Ireland (awarded a probable).

350th: Capt Newhart. T/U 10:52 hrs. T/D 13:08 hrs. Total flight time 02:16 hrs. Mid air collision, 1 P-47 LH-M Capt. Hurst. Tail clipped off by P-47 of this Squadron. 1 Me109 destroyed (Capt. Newhart), 2 Me109 dam (Lt. Ireland), 1 Me109 dam (Newhart) [see claims above for awards]. 3-4 tankers Lt. Rowan. L/F overcast 10:35, 26-27,000ft. R/V with 3rd Div on course before L/F at 26-27,000ft. Good close P-47, P-38. 12 Me109 Oldenburg 30-31,000ft left bombers before target, 31,000ft. L/F out Den Helder 16-17,000ft Nil flak, R/T good with fighters. 15 tankers some small boats Zuider Zee. Solid overcast.

Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Sqdn Ldr) LH-V 42-8001
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Tom Lorance
Capt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr) LH-M 43-7940
1st Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt John Sullivan
1st Lt Charles O. Durant

Capt. Newhart, flying Pipeful White Lead, reported:

We had reached the IP with the bombers. I saw a gaggle of contrails at about 4 o’clock but they were too far away to even see any planes. I called them in and proceeded to turn left while still watching them. They came closer and someone called over the R/T that they didn’t look very friendly. I called a right turn to meet them head on. They were approximately 31,000ft and we were at 29,500ft. We were still a long way from them and climbing at full throttle. As we got within 2000 yards of them, they dropped their belly tanks. I called that they were 12 Me109’s. They made no effort to attack us or break formation. I made a left turn and came in from 3 o’clock to them and one flight made a very feeble bounce on 2 P-47’s that were under them. I called for them to break, and the e/a zoomed back up. I pulled in behind two 2 e/a that were lower and to the right of the formation and opened with a burst at about 350 to 400 yards at about 30 degrees deflection, and then came around astern and closing to about 200 yards. I saw hits around the cockpit and the e/a nosed over to the right smoking and went down vertically. I watched him for about 8,000ft and he kept going straight down smoking, making no effort to pull out.

Newhart was awarded the 109 as a probable and then sighted another 109 but the tragic circumstances then intervened:

I came in from about 5 o’clock on this Me109 and opened fire at about 3000 yards. I saw hits on the left wing root, and also saw another P47 coming in from my right, which was firing at about 30 degrees deflection, his wing blanking me out and nearly hitting me. I threw everything in the left corner and went down, trying to avoid collision. At the same time the e/a rolled to the left and was right in my sight. I gave a short burst and observed no results (awarded damaged credit) because a P47 came in over my right wing, hitting my number 1 and 2 guns and cowl; my prop cutting his tail off.

The second P-47D-1-RE (a/c LH-M 42-7940 “Colleen”) was piloted by Capt. Wilford Frederick Hurst. The leader of Blue flight was last seen going down in a spiral at about 45 degrees. He was unable to leave his aircraft and was later reported killed in action when his aircraft was found 6 km from Vechta/Oldenburg (MACR 2126 refers). You can read a little more on Capt. Hurst HERE.

Newhart, flying Ben Rimerman’s LH-V, was in very serious trouble – his instruments were completely out (at one point he hung a knife on a string to stay level in clouds) and his engine was vibrating as if it were about to leave the aircraft. Only his skills as a pilot and the very rugged Thunderbolt enabled him to get home.

Flying second element in Newhart’s flight was 1st Lt. Robert Ireland who was also awarded a probable when the 12 109’s were intercepted:

As we met them head on but underneath them, I broke immediately losing sight of Pipeful leader, but the Me109’s continued on course climbing. White and Red flights tried to catch them. As we started closing at about 32000ft, about half of the gaggle split S’d intermittently for the deck, the rest turned sharply left. I got a 60 degree or more deflection shot on one Me109 at 200 yards, and was surprised to see hits about halfway back on the fuselage. The plane snapped and went down smoking in what developed into a vertical dive. I saw him hit the cloud layer which was about 6000ft top, vertically. I then happened to see one other Me109 who must have suddenly realised he was up there all alone, for as I pushed over and shot at him, he was already rolling and heading for the deck. He was taking violent evasive action and I could not see any hits.

Returning early over the Zuider Zee, 1st Lt. Chauncey Rowan saw a line of tankers. Dropping down to 8,000ft he dived out of the sun on them. He got scattered hits on the first two tankers, whilst the third received a concentrated burst and possibly caught fire.

351st: Major Beckham. T/U 09:47 hrs. T/D 13:25 hrs. Total flight time 03:38 hrs. Penetration support. Route: In at Egmond, over south of Oldenburg, out at Den Helder. Lost Lt. Thornell and Lt. Kenney. 1 Fw190 and Me109 destroyed by Major Beckham. 1 transport ship damaged and last seen on fire by Lt. Albert. 1 transport ship damaged by Lt. Thistlethwaite. Egmond at 10:35 hrs at 25,000ft. 3rd Air Division A B C on course at landfall time at 24 to 25,000ft. Close bomber formation. P-38s and P-47s seen. 11 E/A engaged south of Oldenburg at 15 to 31,000ft. Coast north of target at 11:22 hrs, 25,000ft. Den Helder deck to 25,000ft. 40 to 50 small vessels in Emden Harbor. Solid overcast. Damaged boats were heading east, just north of Ameland Island.

Major Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-X
2nd Lt Irving Toppel YJ-N
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite YJ-E
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert YJ-U
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
F/O Joseph E. Wood YJ-W
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell (MIA) YJ-Q 42-75135
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-M
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
1st Lt David C. Kenney (Flt Ldr) YJ-D 42-75191
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T 42-75161
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump (Flt Ldr) YJ-P
1st Lt George N. Ahles YJ-A
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter YJ-P
1st Lt William R. Burkett YJ-H
2nd Lt Jack Terzian (Relay) YJ-G
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field (Relay) YJ-F

Leading the Squadron, Beckham was able to add to his mounting victories by claiming his 15th and 16th victims:

I was leading Roughman White flight, flying with about 10 of the 350th Squadron planes. Twelve plus Me109’s, at least a thousand feet above us, came from our three o’clock as we were flying northward. Even with their altitude advantage they made no effort to attack us, but tried only to escape. We turned into them, swinging on around in about a 270 degree turn to the right and gave chase.

In this case the P47 definitely out climbed (29,000ft to 32,000ft) the 109, out-turned and out-dived it. As we climbed and closed the 109’s to the rear began half rolling by one’s and two’s. P47’s gave chase. I waited until the lead planes dived and followed one down in an almost vertical dive. I cut the throttle to avoid compressibility, but stayed about the same distance from the 109. Opened throttle and closed, fired and got hits and pieces. Got more strikes after this and don’t believe the pilot was able to get out. I pulled out and saw the 109 continue straight down into the cloud layer at 7,000ft at a speed in excess of 400mph.

Used my high speed to zoom back up. At this altitude between two cloud layers, seven Fw190’s passed in front of me at right angles to my line of flight. They were in good formation; a flight of 3 leading, a flight of 4 behind slightly, and to the right. I turned right, closed easily, and fired from astern on the one on the extreme right. Got strikes and pieces including the canopy. Flame from the engine extended along the left side of the fuselage, and the plane spun.

The two flights of three each flew serenely along as I nosed down into the clouds and set course for home at about 6,500ft. Their lack of awareness of this episode leads me to believe that with more ammunition I might have moved up and destroyed several others.

My guns had not stopped firing, but I had fired a burst or so after the tracer appeared that indicate there are only 50 rounds in each of the four guns.

My electric sight being insecurely fastened and moving around made good shooting difficult and ammunition expenditure wasteful. I found it necessary to move the stick back and forth slightly as I fired; thus throwing away a lot of bullets. The gun sight trouble is now corrected.

Whilst in the vicinity of Oldenburg, the Squadron suffered its first tragedy of the day. 1st Lt. David C. Kenney (flying a/c P47D-10-RE 42-75191YJ-D) was listed as missing in action when he failed to return (MACR 2127 refers). Although the circumstances of his loss are unclear, it appears that he may have been shot down, as 2nd Lt. Don M. Hurlburt reported:

I was flying Yellow two on Lt Kenney’s wing at 28,000ft (approx 11.15 hrs). I called to Lt. Kenney that about four Me109’s were approaching from three o’clock. He acknowledged, stating he had seen them and turned toward them. They were at four o’clock when he tightened up his turn and headed down. He was then below my nose, and I was unable to see him. I never saw him after that. I cut my throttle after heading down, pulled back around and went into a turn with the 109’s which were above me. I tightened up my turn and aileron rolled down and lost the 109’s. I then joined up with another P47.

As the Squadron withdrew there were further opportunities. 1st Lt. William T. Thistlethwaite returning over the Frisian Islands with his wing man Lt. Edgar J. Albert spotted five medium sized ships. Under intense return fire they were able to attack the ships and observed several fires.

Also returning home was Roughman Red flight who suffered a second tragedy for the Squadron as they came in over the cold North Sea. 1st Lt. Gordon B. Compton, the flight leader, reported the loss of 1st Lt. Lloyd A. Thornell (a/c P-47D-10-RE 42-75135 YJ-Q):

My flight, Roughman Red, was made up of Lt. J. E. Wood, on my left wing and Lt. L. A. Thornell on my right wing. After letting down from 12,000ft through an almost solid overcast we levelled off at about 1000ft and flew for several minutes. It was then that Lt. Thornell called me and said his engine was cutting out. I called back two or three times but could not get an answer. I had started a turn to the right, Lt. Wood had turned inside me, and we watched him pull up a little and then lose altitude until he struck the water. Lt. Wood went down and I went up and gave a Mayday on “B” Channel. Reception was very good.

We circled about twenty minutes, during which time neither of us saw anything to lead us to believe that Lt. Thornell had gotten out of his plane. There had been no complaint from Lt. Thornell previous to this time, and Lt. Wood and I had between 90 and 100 gallons of gas when we landed [MACR 2125].

2nd Lt. Joseph Wood also reported:

The first we knew he was in trouble was when he called Lt. Compton, the flight leader, and said his engine had cut out and that he did not have any fuel pressure. We were at about 1000ft then Lt. Compton and I immediately made a turn and watched Lt. Thornell. He began to slow up and lose altitude fast. At about 25 feet above the water I saw his plane apparently stall, the right wing dropping. The plane straightened up, but at this time he hit the water, nose first, and sank out of sight immediately. We circled for some time, but nothing could be observed.

The area of the North Sea where Lt. Thornell was last seen.

The area of the North Sea where Lt. Thornell was last seen.

Lt. Thornell from Pitsford, New York is commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery. Further information can be found HERE.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 09:48 hrs. T/D 13:01 hrs. Total flight time 03:13 hrs. Target support to 2nd ATF (1st Div) B-17s. Course: Landfall, Folder, R/V, Target, W/D, Home. Target Wilhelmshaven. Landfall believed north of course at approx 10:32 hrs at 23,000ft, the vicinity [of] unknown. Bombers were flying good formation within combat wings but the wings were scattered too much for good coverage. Other P-47s, P-38s, and P-51s observed. 4 Me109s were observed in the vicinity of Quakenbruck or Clopenburg. We turned to attack but were unable to engage. Left bomber near Cloppenburg at approx 11:10 hrs. Scattered inaccurate flak from both Wilhelmshaven and Emden. Intense, heavy accurate (black) flak observed from Ijmuiden. “A” channel good, “C” channel congested. 6 small ships believed to be submarines and four larger boats believed to be merchant vessels were observed in the harbor at Ijmuiden by an E/R. 10/10 overcast covered both England and continent with base at 1,500ft and tops at 25,000ft. 1 P-47 abort (Lt. Poindexter – Engine throwing oil on windshield). 12 down at Metfield 13:01 hrs, 1 down at Halesworth, 1 down at Manston.

Major William B. Bailey (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) SX-S
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan SX-E
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam SX-F
1st Lt William J. Jordan SX-T
1st Lt James N. Poindexter (Flt Ldr) SX-H
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-J
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-B
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-Z
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-A
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-Y
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson SX-D
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-V
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr) SX-O
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-R
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame (DNTO) SX-M 42-75875
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens (DNTO) SX-W 42-22751
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer (Spare) SX-Q

Group Losses/ERTN/Aborts/Damaged:

42-75875 DNTO engine trouble SX-M Lt. Burlingame flying.
42-22751 DNTO engine trouble SX-W Lt. Owens flying*
42-75161 ABT radio out YJ-P Lt. Stump flying.**
42-75135 Engine trouble YJ-Q Lt. Thornell flying.
42-75191 MIA YJ-D Lt. Kenney flying.
42-7940 Mid-air collision LH-M Lt. Hurst flying.
42-8001 Mid-air collision Cat B LH-V Capt. Newhart flying.

*Now confirmed as SX-W and not SX-X as per Squadron records.

**For some reason the other 351st aborts and that of Lt. Poindexter were not reported to 8th Fighter Command.

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Filed under 350th Fighter Squadron, 351st Fighter Squadron, Missions

Harold “Harry” C. Brown, 350th Fighter Squadron June 6, 1924 – October 26, 2013

It is with great sadness that I report that my friend and former 350th pilot Harold C. Brown passed away October 26, 2013 aged 89. I first met Harry when he returned to Raydon in 1990 and enjoyed many subsequent reunions in the United States with him and his wife Lois. Harry was one of the real characters of the Group and Squadron and will be missed.

Lt. Harold C. Brown (0-695032) receives an award from Lt. Col Rimerman at Raydon July 1944. Note Harry's non-standard footwear. He was about to head down to London for a night out.

Lt. Harold C. Brown (0-695032) receives an award from Lt. Col Rimerman at Raydon July 1944. Note Harry’s non-standard footwear. He was about to head down to London for a night out.

In one of his last letters to me (he was still writing until quite recently) Harry told how Charles Lindberg had visited his hometown when Harry was five years old. Lindberg shook his hand and gave Harry the aviation bug for life.

After his eighteenth birthday in June 1942 Harry enlisted in the Army Air Force to become a pilot and attended basic training at San Antonio, Texas and then primary at St. Louis, Missouri, basic  at Garden City, Kansas and advanced at Eagle Pass, Texas. Harry earned his wings and headed to fighter school Tampa, Florida – despite being, at 6 feet, above regulation height for a fighter pilot.

At fighter school he met three friends who would all be posted to the 350th (these were Martin D. Coffey, John J. Phelan and Edwin H. Peters). Coffey was three years older than Harry and was a multi-millionaire’s son with a $750 per month “fun” allowance. The two became firm friends with Coffey acting like an older brother to Harry.

Harry trained on the P-51 Mustang, but when he and his three friends reached England in April 1944 they were posted to the 353rd operating Thunderbolts. Undaunted, Harry began training on May 4 and flew his first operational mission on May 21. D-Day was fast approaching and Harry and his friends had been sent as replacements for the crucial battles ahead. D-Day itself was his twentieth birthday and in another letter to me Harry related how in the early morning briefing Col. Duncan  singled him out and said “Brown, I hear you have a party planned for the officers club – well not tonight.” Duncan then proceeded to detail the operations for the day.

The losses suffered by the 350th at this time were tragically high. Coffey was killed on June 10 and Phelan two days later on the June 12 “disaster.” Harry barely made it back that day while Peters was forced to bail out over the Channel and lost a leg in the process. These losses, and particularly that of Coffey, left deep and painful scars on Harry that remained with him. Harry flew his sixty-seventh and last mission of the war September 3, 1944.

This brief post is to the memory of Harry Brown. My thoughts are with Lois and family at this time…

Harry Brown June 6, 1924 - October 26, 2013

Harry Brown June 6, 1924 – October 26, 2013

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Mission#50 December 1, 1943 – Target: Solingen. Crash – Lt. Joseph Rosenberg, 350th Fighter Squadron.

Date: Dec 1, 43

Dispatched: 48 Aborts: 6

Mission: Target support to 1st BD 120 B-17’s & 2nd BD B-24’s.

Field Order: 194 Time Up/Down: 10:28 hrs     13:42 hrs

Leader: Major Rimerman Target: Solingen

Claims Air: 03-01-02 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-07

Group was advised after leaving the English coast that bombers were 16 minutes late. Group continued on reduced power setting hoping to lose time and save gas. L/F made at just north of Overflake Island, 25,000ft, 11:22 hrs. P-47 group seen ahead. Flew course south of Eindhoven, Maeseyck, south of Cologne, Hamm, Munchen-Gladbach out Flushing, 22,000ft, approx 13:03 hrs. At point believed to be south of Cologne bombers seen ahead flying in a northerly course. R/V made approximately in the vicinity of Hamm, 12:00 hrs, bombers at 25-27,000ft. 352nd on the right, 350th on the top and the 351st on the left. At this time the Group leader received a call from lead bombers that they were being attacked, so Group leader went under the bombers and along formation to the front. No attacks observed on this division at that time. Group then made turn and came back through the middle of formation and went thru what was believed to be the target because heavy flak was intense and accurate for altitude. At 12:15 hrs Group observed P-47[s] coming in, contact was attempted but unsuccessful at that time. At 12:15 hrs over the target received a call from B-24S that e/a were making attacks from the rear. Group leader tried to contact Hadfield but unsuccessful, so Group leader took White flight and went back just in time to see 20+ Me110s, Me210s astern and above firing rockets from 800-1000 yards. 10+ Fw190s apparently top cover attacked this flight. One Me210 destroyed (shared with B-24) as flight took evasive action. 3 Fw190s about to make an attack on the bombers in target area at 12:05 hrs broken up and in resulting engagements two Fw190s were destroyed by Capt. Beckham. Near Maastricht one B-17 straggler being attacked by 3 e/a was picked up by one flight and escorted out. Stayed with bombers until 12:35 hrs leaving them approximately 15 miles west of Munchen Gladbach. First two boxes of bombers were in good formation, remainder was strung back so far that only one flight of P-47s able to be with each formation. Some bombs were dropped at 12:05 hrs, no results observed. Radio interference not as severe as usual, however, a mid-Channel intense sound similar to that of a saw mill which lasted for five minutes. Enemy tactics: In target area 350th Yellow flight turned into 10+ Me210s who had two or three flights of single engine a/c as top cover. This flight had to evade engagements when outnumbered. 18+ single engine e/a patrolling Dutch coast 15,000ft on route out apparently attempting to entice our fights to engage or to attack stragglers. 12 barges seen in Westerschelde near Antwerp. 10 Ship convoy reported off the coast of Dunkirk by relay pilot. Lt. Thistlethwaite, Capt. Rose, Major Rimerman of Group HQ participated.

350th: Capt Pidduck. T/U 10:20 hrs. T/D 13:10 hrs. Total flight time 2:50 hrs. Squadron entered coast north of Westhhofd on time at 28,000ft. R/V with bombers in vicinity of Steekheid. Bombers about 16 minutes late 10:24 hrs. Escorted bombers till 12:12 hrs. Sighted about 15 e/a vicinity of Koln flying parallel course in opposite direction of bombers. About 40 e/a, Me109 & 210 seen converging on lone B-24. Ship blew up and one chute seen. Lt. Ireland and wingman broke up attack concentrating on 4 190s – claiming one probable by Lt. Ireland. Heavy accurate flak as to altitude near Koln. 352nd Group called in that they were coming in just as we were leaving the bombers. Weather: Low cumulus over Channel – some cirrus. Persistent contrails from 24,000ft up. Cirrus at 24,000ft over continent very thin. Visibility – horizontal unlimited, vertical good.

Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt John B. Rose
1st Lt William J. Price
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
Capt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William Tanner
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt John Sullivan (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
2nd Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr) LH-U 42-74647
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg LH-Y 42-8697
1st Lt John L. Devane
1st Lt John Zolner LH-X 42-8634
Major Ben Rimerman

Blue and Yellow flight encountered 30 + Me109’s at 30000ft in the vicinity of the target. They were escorting Me210s and 110s equipped with rockets. 1st Lt. Wayne K. Blickenstaff was awarded an Me109 damaged:

Lt Zolner (my no 4) called a break. I decided the only thing to do was take one crack and get out, as we were passed our withdrawal time. I got on the tail of a Me109 and was closing when he started a turn to the right. The turn tightened up and I was almost stalling, giving him a couple of rings deflection and a short burst in which I saw strikes on his right wing. He rolled over and went down and I pulled up.

Later as I was coming out at about 8000ft between 8/10 cloud cover above and solid overcast below I saw an Me110 going down from about 10,000ft. As I was watching it, the left wing fell off and then the whole thing fell apart in small pieces’

1st Lt. Charles O. Durant, flying Pipeful Blue 2 was awarded an Me110 damaged after assessment of his gun camera film:

Blue and yellow flights were turning into 15 Me210’s flying in a ‘V’ formation escorted by Me109’s. During the turn, I looked around for Blue three and four, and couldn’t see them. During this time I lost Blue one in the Sun, so I found myself alone. I saw a Me110 at about two o’clock low, so I went in for an attack. I took a short burst from about 250 yards, but saw I was closing too fast. I started a slight turn to the right to cut down my closing speed to come in for another attack. I saw tracers low and out from my right wing. I pulled up and tightened my turn. About half a turn, a lone P-47 came down and the enemy fighter broke away.

1st Lt Robert N. Ireland leading the second element of Blue flight was able to claim an Fw190 probably destroyed:

About 20 + Me210’s were coming in from 4 o’clock to attack the bombers at their altitude. They were escorted by Me109’s and Fw190’s. We turned right into the formation of Me210’s. Before we completed our turn they had swept passed us and we were below their fighter cover. I lost sight of the number two man of our flight in the Sun when the enemy fighters came diving in head on at us. After breaking through them, turning tightly to the left I saw a B24 being attacked by Me210’s and Fw190’s. I dove into the attacking planes with my wing man, Lt Mueller, behind me and positioned myself astern with a flight of Fw190’s. We followed them around through violent evasive action in which these Fw190’s left the Fw190 I was chasing. The Fw190 I was attacking carried a belly tank. I fired several good bursts at varying ranges and deflection during the evasive action and finally closed to 150 yards and got in another good burst. I pushed over to keep him in my sights and a large piece flew off and smoke came out. We zoomed back up a few thousand feet and set course for home.

Back at Metfield 2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg crashed Thunderbolt LH-Y (a/c 42-8697) as he landed. Rosenberg ran out of gas, according to Bill Price, and forgot to switch to another tank causing his engine to cut out. Rosenberg suffered injuries to his nose from the impact and unfortunately two work horses in the field at the time were killed [I have been unable to locate any crash report or investigation of any kind for the incident].

351st: Capt Beckham. T/U 10:28 hrs. T/D 14:05 hrs. Total flight time 3:45 hrs. Squadron took off Metfield. Made landfall over Schouwen Island, 11:25 hrs, 26,000ft. Proceeded slightly south of course, making R/V with bombers at 12:16 hrs, leaving coast near Ostende at 12:55 hrs. Flight led by Lt. Byers picked up a B-17 straggler (right inboard engine feathered) near Maestricht, before R/V with bombers and escorted it out. 3 e/a seen to be making attacks on this bomber before Lt. Byers arrived. Capt. Beckham and his wingman broke up an attack on the bombers by 3 Fw190s, claiming 2 Fw190s destroyed by Capt. Beckham. Engagement occurred just after R/V with bombers. R/T at 11:[??] hrs and 16,000ft, a loud “sawmill” buzzing on channel A, disrupting transmission.

Capt Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr)
F/O Cletus Peterson

YJ-H

42-8379

2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr)
F/O Joseph E. Wood
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
2nd Lt Jack Terzian

Capt. Beckham in the lead flight claimed a two Fw190’s destroyed:

On rendezvousing with the bombers at 12:00 hrs about 5 minutes before they bombed I observed three Fw190’s below at about 20,000ft approaching a lone bomber. F/O Peterson, my number 2 and I dived down attacking them from the rear. We were able to catch one of them before they made any attacks, starting firing at fairly long range, probably 600 yards. Continued firing as we closed seeing constant flashes from strikes. The 190 was on fire as I passed.

The other two apparently were unaware of our attack for they were attacking the lone Fort from his right side and circling around to come in again from the same side. They had each made one attack and one of them was circling around for another one. I was able to close on one of the 190’s from directly out of the Sun. I held fire until I was about 200 yards away and dead astern, then fired and continued firing until I overshot, observing flashes all up and down the plane most of the time. As I passed I could see he was burning so badly that flame extended from the rear of the engine all the way back to the tail on the left hand side.

I was using a load of all incendiary ammunition. Although I did not notice pieces coming off as is customary with AP, both planes catching fire so easily seems to indicate that incendiary is fully as potent, if not more so, than the previous combination.

This action took place at about 18,000ft. I could not locate the third Fw190 so started regaining altitude noting that the bombers were dropping their bombs at this time 12.05 hrs. About a minute later when Peterson and I were at 27,000ft and starting to withdraw, three Me109’s came in from our left and slightly above. We went into a Luftberry [sic] circle with them.

After a few seconds, during which we were about holding our own, several other Me109’s showed up. Two of the first three 109’s were near enough to F/O Peterson to fire. There were no other 47’s in the immediate vicinity so I thought we should terminate the engagement. I called Peterson, instructing him to go straight down for the cloud deck and weave on his way. He received the message OK, acknowledging the call. We both entered the cloud layer and flew home in it.

Just before reaching the coast I came out into one of the little open spaces that had been giving me trouble and saw 18 or 20 Fw190’s about six or seven thousand feet above flying eastward. Several of their wings turned up sideways, so I used full power nosing down from the 8,000ft of altitude that I had, going under another lower cloud layer. Arrived at the coast (I believe south east of Knocke) out of this dive and emptied the remaining ammunition at scattered coastal installations.

F/O ‘Pete’ Peterson had a narrow escape. The attackers managed to strike his wing with a 20mm shell knocking out his airspeed indicator and wing brace. He landed at another field which probably explains why Wing records initially indicated him as MIA.

352nd  : Major Rimerman. T/U 10:28 hrs. T/D 13:32 hrs. Total flight time 3:04 hrs. Squadron was flying lead position in group with Major Rimerman leading. Made landfall south of Noordwall at 25,000ft at 11:22 hrs. Continued on course at a reduced power setting as we knew the bombers were to be late. A 47 Group was observed going in ahead of us. It is believed that they did not R/V with bombers. We were south of the target area when we saw the bombers off to the north at 11:55 hrs and we made R/V with the bombers at 12:00 hrs, they were flying at 27,000ft.  We received a call from the bombers that they were being attacked from the rear, the first section of squadron diving underneath of the bombers and the second section flying over the top. No e/a  were observed making attacks. We turned to go back and go over the bombers but heavy flak came between us which was moderate and accurate on the bombers. We observed a P-47 group coming in at 12:15 hrs, believed to be the 352nd Group but we could not contact them. We jitterbugged at 12:15 hrs and at 12:20 Kenton 2 gave us a call that 190s were attacking us. We went back and arrived in time to see 20 plus Me109s plus 110s making a beautiful coordinated attack on the rear box of the 2nd Task Force bombers. 10 plus twin engine E/A firing rockets closed in from astern on the rear box of 24s and white flight dove down to break the attack but before they could come within shooting range five Me190s attacked white flight. White flight turned into the Me109s and when E/A didn’t press the attack white#3, Lt. Newman, closed in on an Me210 which was still attacking the B-24S and got hits which he believed destroyed the 210. At about 12:25 hrs five Me109s were observed attacking a lone B-17 flying westward at about 18,000ft. 2 planes from red flight dove after the E/A which broke away before we could get within shooting range. Left enemy coast at 12:55 hrs in the vicinity of Flushing. 12 barges were seen in the Honte of Westerschelde close to the city of Antwerp. A 10 ship convoy was reported of the coast of Dunkirk by our relay pilot. High cirrus cloud at 30,000ft, middle and low clouds were such that it provided a 9/10 cloud coverage over the target area with tops at about 18,000ft. R/T reception fair, controller was weak. Addition: On the way out 1 P-47 with indiscernible printing where the squadron letters should be was seen flying near the Group of other P-47s marked HV. This plane had other conventional markings

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn and Gp Ldr)
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin (landed at Raydon)
Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr) SX-? 42-8531
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens

Over Solingen the Squadron encountered several twin engine aircraft. 1st Lt. Robert A Newman, flying White 3, was able to line up on one close to the bombers:

Our flight went down to attack a bunch of 110’s and 210’s that were attacking the last box of B-24’s. We got within 800 to 1000 yards of them, and then were bounced by about 6 109’s that were cover for the twin engine e/a. We broke into them and then up. The 109’s didn’t press the attack and kept going down, so I took another look at the Libs. There was a lone Me210 going at the rear box, so I called the leader and told him I was going down to have a  try at the 210. The e/a got within range of the Libs before I could fire, and started to fire his rockets. The tail guns of the Libs were firing at him and I saw them get a piece of his right wing. I had closed to about 400 yards by the time the 210 broke off his attack on the Libs – he broke down in a left turn and I followed him down and under the bombers. I fired 3 good bursts and observed strikes on the right wing root and fuselage of the e/a. He then half rolled and headed straight down – then exploded. The e/a was definitely destroyed, and owing to the fact that both the B24 and I contributed to its destruction I believe we should share the claim.

Group Aborts/Early Returns/Damaged:

42-8398 ABT   belly tank wouldn’t draw LH-?
42-8380 ABT   engine cut out YJ-A
42-22459 ERTN   escort YJ-I
42-22462 ABT   radio connectors SX-P
42-8664 ABT   engine cut out SX-?
42-8390 ABT   radio dynamotor burned out SX-I
42-8379 BD [20mm   strike in wing] YJ-H F/O Peterson flying a/c.
42-74647 BD Cat   AC LH-U Lt. Blickenstaff
42-8380 BD Cat   AC YJ-A
42-8531 BD Cat   AC [flak] SX-? Major Bailey flying a/c (formally SX-C).
42-74659 BD Cat   AC ? Possibly Lt. Devane
42-8697 Crash   landing LH-Y Lt.   Rosenberg.
42-8634 BD Cat   A LH-X Lt.   Zolner.

 

 

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Mission#44 November 13, 1943 – Target: Bremen – Lt John H. Winder’s Purple Heart.

Date: Nov 13, 43

Dispatched: 39 Aborts: 7

Mission: Withdrawal support to 3rd Div 180 B-17’s. Field Order: 180

Time Up/Down: 10:51 hrs 14:03 hrs Leader: Major Duncan

Target: Bremen

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

Made landfall at Egmond 8 minutes early at 25,000ft at 11:55 bombers were seen to the right believed to be in the vicinity of Neuhaus escorted by P-38’s. Before takeoff, Wing advised our R/V same place but 43 minutes later than briefed which would make our R/V time 12:09 hrs to meet the 3rd Air Division rather than the 1st. Major Duncan proceeded on course arriving at R/V at 12:08 hrs where turn was made. No bombers seen. Smoke pots seen in the target area. At 12:07 hrs, one pilot received call bombers 26 minutes from target and being attacked flying course 254 degrees. Came out attempting to catch bombers. One complete turn was made at approximately Neuhaus, another approximately Dalfsen where contrails seen to the rear were believed to have been made by the bombers. Left enemy coast at Ijmuiden at 13:15 hrs at 25,000ft. One pilot returning early with two others engaged 2 Fw190s in the vicinity of Meppen who had rockets and belly tanks. These e/a were about to attack B17s from 5-7 o’clock below. Attack dispersed. 1 e/a damaged. The same pilot saw 20+ Me109s seen at 22,000ft flying parallel and below course of the bombers with P-38 escort seen above bombers 10 miles south of Emmen. This pilot attacked by flight of these Me109s who evaded by hitting the deck shooting a locomotive on the way out believed to be at Coevoiden. Radio whine was extremely intense, interfered with reception. Was able to contact bombers on C channel. Intense flak seen in distance in target area also in Haarlem area. Only Major Duncan of the Group HQ participated in the mission. 2nd Lt. John H. Winder of the 350th made an emergency landing at Hardwick because of a shoulder wound.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 10:54 hrs. T/D 14:05 hrs. Total flight time 03:11 hrs. No R/V made with bombers. One force of bombers sighted covered by P-38s. Others failed to show up. When Red flight leader aborted, Lt. Dinse, Red three, took over. Red two, Lt. Hart, dropped behind leaving Lt. Dinse and Lt. Winder Red four as the only element in Red flight. Dinse and Winder dropped behind to give Hart protection but couldn’t see Hart. By that time it was too late to catch up with the rest of the Squadron so Dinse started back with Winder as wing man. Dinse sighted B17s at 24,000ft and P38 escort at 28,000ft. Also sighted 20 plus Me109s at about 22,500ft flying parallel course of bombers. 2 Fw190s below and to rear at 22,000ft were positioning themselves for an attack on B17s. Dinse bounced these with wing man damaging second FW10 seeing strikes on wings. Action took place vicinity of Meppen at 12:00 hrs. Dinse closed to 50 yards. The e/a had rockets and belly tank. When Dinse pulled up he was 3000ft above Lt Winder and saw that Winder had 5 Me109s on his tail. Gave Winder this information on R/T causing him to break. Dinse dived through the formation of Me109s breaking them up. After hitting the deck Dinse fired on a lone locomotive observing strikes. Vicinity of Coevorden. Extensive battle damage sustained by Dinse’s ship. Lt. Winder reported down at Hardwick suffering from wounds. Plane is to be inspected to determine extent of damage. Weather 8/10 cloud over enemy territory. No sea or ground activities observed.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
2nd Lt Chauncey Rowan
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse LH-O 42-74669
2nd Lt John H. Winder (wounded) LH-N 42-22475
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt John Sullivan
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John Zolner
1st William W. Odom
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness

1st Lt. Charles W. Dinse’s combat report:

Red 2 couldn’t keep up so I took my wing man back to give him protection. We couldn’t find Red 2 and by this time it was too late to catch up with the Squadron, so we turned back for home. I saw some B17’s at approximately 27,500ft, with P-38 escort above. I saw 20 + Me109’s at about 25000ft, flying parallel to the course of the bombers, and 2 Fw190’s were below us and to the rear of the bombers at about 24000ft, positioning themselves for an attack on the bombers. I bounced these with my wing man, pressing my attack on the second Fw190 to about 50 yards. I saw strikes on the right wing. The e/a had rocket guns and a belly tank. When I pulled up I was 3,000ft above my wing man, and saw that he had 5 Me109’s on his tail. I told him to break over the R/T, which he did, and then I dived through the Me109’s breaking up their formation. I was flying in cloud to evade the attack of Me109’s. After getting in a large cumulus cloud, I split ‘S’d for the deck. On the route out I fired two long bursts at a lone locomotive, observing strikes in the vicinity of the locomotive.

Dinse was flying Bill Tanner’s “Prudence” which was badly shot up in the action an occurance that annoyed its owner immensely.

Dinse’s wing man, 2nd Lt. John H. “Jack” Winder, was in even more trouble:

I noticed 20 plus e/a at 10 o’clock to us or 3,000ft above and about 5 to 6000 yards away. I reported these facts and as we started our attack we observed 3 Fw190’s heading for the bombers. We shifted our bounce to the Fw190’s and on the way down an Me109 got on my leaders tail. I turned into him and fired a short burst- e/a broke to the deck; no strikes seen. A Me109 flew directly across my line of flight and I turned to get on his tail losing sight of my element leader. I was bounced by several e/a receiving shell fragments in my left shoulder. I broke for the deck but was unable to lose the e/a until I leveled out at 4,000ft and ducked into a cloud. The e/a followed me for approximately 30 minutes until I finally lost them in a large cloud. When I finally broke through I was nearing the coast, north of the Zuider Zee. Between clouds I observed 2 Me109’s preparing to deliver an attack so I waited until they were almost within range and then turned into them. I fired a short burst from head on and they broke off the attack. I continued home without further incident.

Winder’s aircraft was severely damaged in the attack and he had to nurse it back to land at Hardwick. The damage proved so bad that the aircraft was sent for salvage. Lt. Winder was awarded the Purple Heart for the shoulder wound he received in the action.

After he had recovered from his wounds and return to his Squadron, Lt Winder was awarded the Purple Heart by Col. Murray C. Woodbury of the 66th Fighter Wing in January 1944. Lt Winder went on to fly two tours of duty with the 350th FS.

After he had recovered from his wounds and returned to his Squadron, Lt Winder was awarded the Purple Heart by Col. Murray C. Woodbury of the 66th Fighter Wing in January 1944. Lt Winder went on to fly two tours of duty with the 350th FS.

351st: Major Christian. T/U 10:50 hrs. T/D 14:15 hrs.Total flight time 03:25 hrs. Route: In at Egmond to Bremen without making R/V. Out at Harlem.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre
1st Lt George N. Ahles
Capt Walter C. Beckham
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt William J. Maguire
1st Lt David C. Kenney
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
F/O Cletus Peterson
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert
2nd Lt Irving Toppel

352nd: Major Duncan. T/U 10:51 hrs. T/D 13:56 hrs. Total flight time 03:05 hrs. Squadron made landfall at 11:41 hrs, eight minutes early. Sighted bombers 15 miles south in vicinity of Emmen. Reached target at 12:06 hrs. Made landfall out at 13:15 hrs. Did not escort the group of bombers seen because they were not positively identified as being Third Bomb Division.

Major Glenn E. Duncan (Gp & Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens
Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt. James N. Poindexter
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty
2nd Lt William S. Marchant
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William J. Jordan
1st Lt William F. Streit
2nd Lt Russell E. Moriarty

Group Aborts/ERTNS/Battle damaged:

42-8393 ABT   radio went dead LH-Q Capt.   Newhart
42-8687 ABT   radio out SX-R
42-[2]8390 ABT   pilot illness SX-I?
42-8376 ERTN   escort SX-Q
42-22475 BD Cat   B LH-N Lt.   Winder
42-74669 BD Cat   B LH-O Lt.   Dinse

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Mission#38 October 22, 1943 – Target: Cambrai – The Loss of Lts. Walter B. Stone and Alan W. Lowe, 350th Fighter Squadron

Date: Oct 22, 43

Dispatched: 51 Aborts: 5

Mission: Supplementary top cover to B-26s  Field Order: 165

Time Up/Down: 15:19 hrs 16:59 hrs Leader: Lt Col. McCollom

Target: Cambrai

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

Group made landfall in vicinity of Dunkirk at 15:55 hrs at 22,000ft. After flying thru solid wall of Cirrus clouds up to 30,000ft Group leader turned back, possibly crossing out enemy coast in the Boulogne area. One pilot went to 36,000ft before breaking out of the overcast. Weather: thin alto stratus base 16,000ft encountered opposite Manston. Dense cirrus merging into altostratus, no appreciable breaks, top of cirrus 36,000ft. Visibility excellent below cloud, less than 100 yeards in cloud. Intervals of extreme turbulence encountered up to 25,000ft. Lts. Lowe and Stone 350th MIA. Capt. Rose and Lt. Herfurth Gp HQ participated. Lt. Herfurth returned due to oxygen trouble.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 15:30 hrs. T/D 17:00 hrs. Total flight time 1:30 hrs. Squadron enterred enemy coast at Dunkirk, swept inland for five minutes, made right orbit and left coast. Group recalled by controller because of weather. Lt. Lowe, flying number 2 position in white flight was seen to spin out of left turn made by flight after turn was begun. Left turn made by flight after [a] right turn was begun. Left turn made to avoid aircraft on right. Capt. Newhart was last person to see Lt. Lowe as he spun out of turn. Lt. Stone, number 4 man of white flight, had to leave formation when left turn was made and flight went on instruments. He was last heard over the radio to call reporting that he had lost his flight. Major Rimerman ordered him to go out on his own. Lt. Stone failed to return from mission. Lt. Zolner’s ship sustained slight flak damage in wing and fuselage.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Alan W. Lowe MIA LH-D 42-8683
Capt John B. Rose
2nd Lt Walter B. Stone MIA LH-L* 42-7989
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Tom Lorance
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner LH-Z 42-8480

*The source for this aircraft lettering is that Lt. Price was listed in the control Tower Log as flying LH-L on September 5, 1943. This can be cross referenced with the list contained in the accident report for that day. I’m not 100% convinced the CT log is accurate in this instance however.

It was a tragic day for the Squadron losing two recent replacement pilots. About 10 miles east of St. Omer, Capt. John B. Rose’s wing man, 2nd Lt Walter Buster Stone got into difficulties as Capt Rose reported:

On a true course of 183 degrees we entered a cirrus overcast at 15:43 at about 16,000 feet. At this time Lt. Stone was still on my wing after we had entered the overcast. I lost sight of Lt. Stone because of concentrating on flying the flight leaders wing.

The Squadron climbed to an altitude of about 27,000 feet when a 180 degree port turn was made, the Group Commander having ordered the Group to return home. I believe that Lt. Stone, who had been lagging most of the way, lost contact with the flight shortly before the turn was made.

Capt. Rose also had a lucky escape when his aircraft spun and he returned home alone. Lt. Stone was killed when his aircraft crashed and he is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Ardennes American Military Cemetery. You can search for further details HERE.

About ten years ago I received a letter from France informing me that the crash site had been located in Tournehem Forest to the west of St. Omer and that engine and other parts of the aircraft recovered. I’m not totally convinced it was Lt. Stone’s aircraft as the letter mentioned black and yellow cowling sections being found which would not, given the date of the crash, have been in use at that time. A mystery that perhaps someone out there can shed some light on?

In Red flight that day, Capt Dewey Newhart’s wing man, 1st Lt Alan Ward Lowe, was also killed:

I was leading Red flight when the mission was recalled by the controller. My Squadron Commander made a turn to the left and a slight descend to return to base. After completing about 20 degrees of the turn, Lt. Lowe pulled up to the right and out of the formation in a vertical left bank, snapping to the right, and going down. He disappeared under the nose of my aircraft, and this was the last I saw of him. This happened between 26,000 and 27,000ft.

Lt. Lowe was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. You can see further details by searching at the American Battle Monuments Commission HERE.

351st   : Lt Col McCollom. T/U 15:19 hrs. T/D 16:55 hrs. Total flight time 1:36 hrs. Route: In at Dunkerque, orbited and returned to base bad weather.

Lt Col Loren G. McCollom (Sqdn & Gp Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
F/O Joseph E. Wood
Major Shannon Christian
1st Lt William J. Maguire
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
Capt Orville A. Kinkade
F/O Cletus Peterson
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 15:04 hrs. T/D 16:51 hrs. Total flight time 1:47 hrs. Major Bailey led the Squadron, making landfall at Gravelines at 15:55 hrs. There was a complete overcast at the coast, but the Squadron continued on course trying to climb out of it. The Group leader recalled and Squadron returned to station.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Russell Moriarty
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan ERTN
2nd Lt Glenn C. Callans
2nd Lt William S. Marchant
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin
2nd Lt Clifford Armstrong
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
1st Lt Leroy W. Ista

Group Aborts/Early Returns/Battle Damage:

42-74618 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t release LH-?
42-8634 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t release LH-X
42-7910 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t draw fuel SX-J
42-22465 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t draw fuel SX-Y
42-8664 ERTN   oxygen system failure SX-? Lt.   Herfurth
42-8480 BD Cat   AC LH-Z Lt.   Zolner
42-8683 MIA LH-D Lt.   Lowe
42-7989 MIA LH-L Lt.   Stone

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Happy Birthday Ray Hall – 350th Fighter Squadron Crew Chief

This is just a post to wish my dear friend Ray Hall a very happy birthday – 90 years young on September 21, 2012.

Ray was a crew chief with the 350th FS thoughout the war and crewed for Dwight Fry in LH-Y “Eager Beaver” and later Roland Lanoue in LH-H “Fran.” He was also assistant crew chief for Dewey Newhart in LH-Q “Mud N Mules.” One of the guys who kept the pilots flying and “sweated out” their return.

Here’s to you Ray and I wish you and Judie a wonderful day.

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The Loss of Capt. Irvin E. Venell and 1st Lt. Harold W. Long – 350th Fighter Squadron – September 5, 1943.

Weather was problematic for all aircraft operation in Europe during World War II, but particularly in England because of the abundance of moist, cloud-laden, air that often reduced visibility to near zero. Things have not changed in England, but modern day pilots are now equipped with a raft of instrumentation and training to make flying in poor weather a routine occurrence – though this is not to suggest that it is no longer an impressive skill.

This was not true seventy years ago – good instrument flyers were a rarity and it was something that only came with experience. Most American pilots had been trained back home at bases located specifically to take advantage of the abundance of good weather and were given little in the way of instruction on flying solely on instruments. Fred Lefebre once told me they were taught only to use the needle and ball instrument and the airspeed indicator for flying in poor weather and not to rely on the artificial horizon. I am not a pilot myself, so there are many out there who could appreciate, better than I could, the full significance and meaning of this statement by a Squadron Commander. What it does illustrate is that instrument flying skills were rudimentary even with senior Group pilots. In those days of scant training, instrument flying ability often reduced as you went down the ranks and junior pilots commonly relied on their flight leader to guide them through the murky blankness. This state of affairs brought about simply by lack of knowledge and rushed wartime training could, and often did, lead to tragic losses.

One such day was September 5, 1943 when the 350th Squadron’s “B” flight set off on a training exercise to visit to the famous Battle of Britain airfield at Biggin Hill and learn how the RAF flew fighter operations. Twenty-nine enlisted men were to travel on ahead by truck, while seven pilots would fly their aircraft down to the RAF station. The weather at Metfield was good and so at 14.45 hrs the pilots took off and formed up into two flights as follows:

Capt. Stanley R. Pidduck  (a/c 42-8373)

1st Lt. Harold W. Long (a/c 42-8475 LH-X)

1st Lt. Wilford F. Hurst (42-7940 LH-M)

1st Lt. Melvin P. Dawson (a/c/ 42-22475 LH-N)

Capt. Irvin E. Venell (a/c 42-7956 LH-K)

2nd Lt. William J. Price (a/c 42-7989)

1st Lt. John L. Devane (a/c 42-8392)

The weather remained cooperative until the formation reached the Thames Estuary where cloud forced them down below 1,000ft. I should point out that altitude indicators were notoriously inaccurate at this time – a factor that further contributed to the uncertainty when pilots were flying on instruments. Capt. Pidduck made the decision to continue on to their destination and, when about two miles from reaching Biggin Hill, noticed some low clouds ahead:

Knowing the field was dead ahead, I let down under the clouds and flew at an altitude of about 2 or 300 feet above the ground level for a minute or two when I saw the field under my left wing. Immediately upon passing the field the clouds closed in completely. Knowing I could not stay below the clouds and find the field I decided to ascend to the clear area immediately above the low fog and return to Gravesend. I climbed to 3,000 ft found no clearing at all, so leveled [sic] out. During the start of the climb I noticed Lt Long, who was flying my wing, disappear in the fog.

Lt. Hurst was flying second element in Capt. Pidduck’s flight:

We came in sight of Biggin Hill and Capt Pidduck dipped his wings for echelon formation to the right. I started to cross over into echelon and Lt Long broke away and up into the cloud. Right at this time we ran into a solid cloud and I became separated from the entire flight. I was in cloud and started a gentle turn right and away from the formation. I broke out of the cloud and was able to see the field to my left. I turned toward the field riding in tree tops and just below the cloud. I came across the field and put my wheels down in level flight and made a flat approach to the south runway. As soon as I taxied to the line, the ground crew told me a ship had crashed just off the edge of the field.

The crash was Lt. Long flying LH-X (a/c 42-8475). Investigators believed he had gone onto instruments in the low cloud but had lost control of his aircraft.  When he attempted to bail out he was to low and his parachute failed to open.

The crash scene of LH-X (a/c 42-42-8475). Lt. Long bailed out too low and was killed.

The day, however, quickly became a double blow for the Squadron. The second flight, led by Capt.Venell, lost sight of the lead flight and attempted to catch up with a tight turn. As the flight approached Biggin Hill, Capt. Venell flying LH-K (a/c 42-7956) came in over the trees and banked sharp to port (perhaps making the ‘catch up’ turn) and in doing so caught his left wing tip on  a bungalow and crashed his Thunderbolt in Jail House Lane, Biggin Hill. Venell was killed instantly and flames quickly engulfed the aircraft and surrounding area – though luckily nobody on the ground was injured. The rest of the Venell’s flight continued on to find some clear air and landed at RAF Weathersfield where they were informed of the crash.

The crash site of LH-K (a/c 42-7956) in Jail Lane, Biggin Hill. Venell was not long married and Bill Price wrote to his widow giving an account of the tragic accident.

This accident illustrates that even senior flight commanders could be caught out by the changeable weather in England and that insufficient training could be deadly. The loss of two original and well-liked members hit the Squadron hard and some 50 years later Bill Price wrote a painful and honest account of the accident in his book Close Calls – Two Tours with the 353rd Fighter Group (p.34). In it he recounted how he and Devane had been flying either side of Venell with Price on the left and low position as they made the turn. He glanced over and saw a tree at the bottom of his left wing and so slid under Venell to put the flight in right echelon formation. Price, thinking the more senior members of the flight knew what they were doing, did not realize the extreme danger and call the alarm. Regrettably, the loss of Venell and Long would not be the last tragedy of this type suffered by the Group during its time in England.

Postscript September 14, 2012

At quick search of the internet reveals that Venell’s wife Edna Marie did find a way to rebuild her life after her sad loss – even if she never forgot her first husband. Marie Avers obituary is located HERE.

 

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350th Fighter Squadron Wartime Colour Film

Many years ago Roger Freeman gave me a VHS tape (remember those) of some colour film taken at Raydon during the war by Don Kammer, a 350th Squadron P-51 pilot. Roger was instrumental in getting the film preserved at the East Anglian Film (EAFA) Archive at the University of East Anglia along with Kammer’s complete flight suit which is still on display at Duxford. Sadly I lent the VHS tape to someone and never got it back – a lesson learnt! I wasn’t too bothered as I knew EAFA had a copy and they have recently put it online. It’s a great piece of film and gives you a good idea of what Raydon looked like when operational. It can be viewed on the below link and I thought it would be useful if I include some viewing notes.

Click this link to see the film: Raydon Film

Viewing Notes:

0.10-0.18 Three unknown 350th pilots (I’m working on this, but ideas welcome).

0.32-1.36 This is John Balason, an original pilot with the 350th, who was kicked out of the Squadron by Ben Rimerman when he found him asleep in the Link Trainer at Baltimore after a heavy night out. Balason flew a tour of duty in the Aleutians and then (as a friend of Wayne ‘Blick’ Blickenstaff) came back to the Squadron October 29, 1944. The film must have been taken at some point in 1945 (because of the eight rows of chequers on the aircraft nose), but before February 22, 1945 when his aircraft ‘Miss Betsy D’ (a/c LH-J P-51D10-NA 44-14793) was hit by flak and he became a POW.

1.37 Interestingly this shows LH-U which is a code with a long association with Blickenstaff. The end serial number seems to be 353 which does not fit with what I currently have so I’ll have to wait until I reach that point in the chronology to confirm.

1.46-1.49 Balason’s aircraft again.

2.13 Note the nice shot of the ‘RA’ identifying Raydon.

2.21 Balason’s aircraft again.

2.26-3.38 This is Don Kammer – the pilot responsible for taking the film. I can’t say whether this is his aircraft ‘Baltimore Belle (a/c LH-F P51D-20-NA 44-72096) as there is no name painted on it and no serial visible. There was another LH-F in the Squadron until Bill Tanner bailed out of it on March 27, 1945, so rather than attempt to be conclusive here I’ll leave it for future discussion.

3.53 This is the ‘Thunderbolt Theatre’ on the main airfield mess site (another picture of the complex is on the ‘other units’  page banner).

3.58-4.06 This is Ed Rosentretter, 350th Intelligence officer. Rosentretter was known as a bit of a whizz at table tennis and often played in the fierce competitions held in the Squadron ready room.

5.21 This seems to be an earlier roll of film as the Mustangs taking off have three rows of chequers. Where the Mustangs come into view is roughly where the airfield memorial is now.

6.26 The famous ‘cart shed’ in Little Wenham (now demolished). Famous both for being sketched by John Constable and for ‘Killer’ Spriggs of the 350th driving a jeep under it!

6.56 I assume this is the RAF Air Sea Rescue station at Great Yarmouth as pilots would often visit for familiarisation trips.

9.15 Ed Rosentretter.

9.48 Don Kammer.

Further Film

A 350th Squadron war weary P-51c1-NT (a/c LH-M 42-103302) makes an ever so brief appearance in the following film taken at the 447th Bomb Group base at Rattlesden. It is available to view on the Internet Archive website.

Enjoy the show!

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Additions to 350th Fighter Squadron page

I’ve just finished putting all the 350th ground personnel photos/details on – phew! I’ve got similar photos for the other two squadrons, but sadly not as much name data. I’ll post those up when I’ve got over this lot. It does give a good indication of the support organisation needed to make the flying bit happen in a Squadron. One Squadron had around 250 men in addition to the pilots, but also relied on the service Squadrons on base and the wider support network to keep things going…

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