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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon 33 Missions over Europe ]

33 Missions over Europe



Prelude


In the pages following, is recorded the events of my life; including my thoghts and experiences, beginning after my arrival in England on the sixth day of the month of May, in the year nineteen hundred forty-four. It took 14 days to cross theAtlantic in a British trsnsport ship with pilots, co- pilots, crew members etc. Names and of places and "dates of arriva1" are omitted for obvious reasons. The first camp I visited was situated in the midlands of England, a short distance from the town of "Stone" and the section around known as the "Brick section". I express appreciation to Nicole Marrs, my granddaughter, who researched my personal diary in World War II on a daily basis, and she prepared this document to go on the Internet. I was only one of thousands who made missions over Europe. I chose to put my experiences on the Internet because so many of my relatives were interested, and I was surprised that High School students specially found my diary interesting. I felt good that so may young people were interested in World War II. So I decided to share my diary with others and perhaps parents who lost sons in some of these missions.


May 7, 1944


I arrived in camp at six-thirty p.m. last evening and our living quarters were very

satisfactory. Today, upon awakening, a couple of pursuit planes were buzzing the

barracks. They displayed quite a show, missing the tops of telephone poles by just a few

feet. I attended church service this morning, which was a very beautiful Sunday and

warm throughout the day.


May 8 to May 27, 1944


On May 12,1 was moved to another part of England for Gunnery training which lasted 11

days and moving again I was shipped to my operational base arriving the 27th day of

May.


May 27 to June 4, 1944


During these few days we were preparing for our first combat mission; such as escape lectures and other subjects which I will not mention. On every mission each crewman carried large amounts of German and French money to assist us to escape and survive in case we had to bail out of the plane over France or Germany. We were placed in barracks with ,men who had half of their missions completed, and we listened eagerly each night when they returned, telling of fighter attack planes they had seen and how bad the flak was. Flak was large chunks of metal fragments in bombs hurled in all directions when bombs exploded near the planes. On one mission a piece of flak. larger than my thumb broke through jy belly turret and hit my leg.. On the morning of June 4, my crew was awakened at 5:45 a.m. Briefing was at 7:00 and the takeoff was at 10:37 which gave me 3 hours to install my guns and other necessary work. We were to

bomb defense installations at Bologna, France. We had much difficulty finding our formation and did not find them until we were halfway across the English Channel, which was very dangerous as German fighters always attack a lone ship. After

finding our formation, we went over the target but did not drop the bombs and we made a 360 degree turn and went over the target again and we gave them the works this time.The second time we went over the target, bursts of flak from anti-aircraft guns started bursting all around us. The flak was not too thick. It was termed as moderate and moderately accurate. We did not see an enemy fighter plane during the entire mission, which did not hurt my feelings at all. After returning to the base in England and landing, we found two holes in the plane caused by the flak; one was by the tail and the other in the right wing. They were small holes. 30 missions is all we have to fly, so 29 more like that one and I am through. The required missions increased from time to time. I was required to be on 33 missions.


June 6, 1944


My crew was awakened at 11:30 p.m. last night; I had not even gotten to sleep yet. Briefing was at 1:15 a.m. and we were all anxious to find out where we were going, because we knew it was something very important to be awakened sounusually early. Arriving at the place briefing, the men were quite anxious, and I thought for sure we weregoing on a very long mission into Germany. . The Major, after checking the roll and was positive everyone was present said, "Lock the door." I sure felt funny when he said that; so the intelligence officer quieted everyone down and told us that this was the "Day" the world had been waiting for. We were to open the way for the Invasion of Germanyand were to bomb

infantry divisions. radar installations, and gun installations situated near the town of Caen, France. We took off at 4:28 a.m. and we were to be over the target around 7:00. It was the most beautiful day I have ever spent in the air; the sun rose brilliantly red, coloring all the clouds which we were above as we flew this mission at 15,000 ft. I could not see any

of the action because of layers of clouds that covered the target and most of the English Channel. Although returning, I saw around 40 naval ships off the coast of France. 31,000 men invaded the coast of France today. There was smoke as far as I could see along the coast. Formations bombed the coast continuously. I saw formations of bombers leaving

the target as we were going in to bomb the target. There was no flak today and we saw no fighters. We had so many planes in the sky that thee was no room up there for any German planes. We landed at 9:30 and after interrogation, I went to bed immediately.s is my second mission completed and I have been lucky as I haven't made a long mission yet.


June 8, 1944


We were awakened at 2:30 a.m. this morning and after eating breakfast, we reported to our ship while our officers attended briefing. We were to bomb an airfield at Modeless, France. We took off at 5:30 and going over the Channel I saw many naval ships. We were over the target at 8:09 a.m. and we really gave them the works. I saw the bombs hit

and it sure raised a smoke. I could see the flash of flame caused by the explosion of each bomb. We were over enemy territory around 2 hours which is the longest length of time we have been over enemy territory as of yet. Thus I completed my third mission and have not seen an enemy fighter yet. There were a very few bursts of flak and very inaccurate. I ooked closely to see some ground action when we were over the French coast but I could not see any of the battle. We are really bombing that place; I never saw so many planes in the sky at one time.


June 11, 1944


We were aroused from our peaceful slumber at 1:00 a.m. this morning. Briefing was 2:00 a.m. and we took off at 4:30. We were to destroy an airfield and surrounding ammunition dumps located west of Paris. As the sun rose this Sunday morning it was truly a beautiful sight. The sun rose in a blinding brilliance as it beautified the surrounding fluffy clouds in

the colors of red changing to a reddish orange and to complete the scene, deep blue skies were in the background with roaming white clouds. On reaching the French coast, the weather was fine, but a layer of clouds rolled in covering the target. We went over the target but did not bomb as vision was restricted and as the lead ship did not bomb with

Pathfinder equipment; we returned to our base with our bombs. We ran into a little flak as we left the French coast but it was meager and very inaccurate in relationship to our squadron. The English Channel was full of navy boats especially around the coast of England. No enemy planes were sighted. I have completed my fourth mission with no

trouble as of yet.


June 12, 1944


We were awakened at 12:30 a.m. and briefing was at 2:00 a.m. We were to hit the airfield near Camber, France. We took off at 6:30 a.m. Flak was the thickest and most accurate than any raid I have been on. I heard the flak burst and it sounded like a dull thud. Those boys sure know how to shoot those anti-aircraft guns. The runways of the airfield were utterly destroyed. Our squadron was to bomb dispersed areas but we did not drop our bombs. This was the second raid in a row that our squadron has failed to drop bombs. One of our crew members saw one of our planes go down in a ball of flame. It had a direct hit witha bomb. No enemy fighters were sighted and a good thing too because my turret motor would not work. I had to crank myself out of the turret and get out and I remained in the radio room the rest of the mission. I disengaged my clutches and moved the turret with my feet just in case fighters appeared |so that the turret would be moving and appear to be in fighting condition. We landed at l :20 and thus my fifth mission is completed.


June 14, 1944


We were awakened at 12:30 a.m. last night and briefing was at 2:00 a.m. We were to hit an airfield 25 miles south of Paris. We took off at 4:30 a.m. It was very clear as we hit the French coast and we could see the town of Caen, France, where stiff fighting was in progress. We could see smoke coming from the town which was the front line. We were

over enemy territory around two hours. We went over our target the first and didn't drop our bombs and made a circle and went over it again and we blew it up this time. I could see the buildings aflame but we encountered no flak over the target. We did get a little flak as we left the French coast. I saw another squadron drop their bombs and they must

have hit an oil refinery because there was a terrific explosion and I could see flames rising into the air hundreds of feet. We saw no fighters today as I completed my sixth mission.


June 15, 1944


We were awakened at 12:30 a.m. again and attended briefing at 2:00 a.m.We were to raid Nantes, France. We were to bomb a huge railroad bridge and also communications. We were expecting very heavy flak as it was reported that they had 26 anti-aircraft guns there. We took off at 4:45 a.m. and arrived at the target around 8:30 a.m. We were the second wave of bombers over the target and we were flying third position in the lead element. I watched the first wave of B-17"s drop their bombs and the damage they incurred was terrific. It was a beautifully situated town by a nice river and around the river the area was demolished. The first wave did not get any flak but I knew by the time we got over the target that the gunners there would start throwing it up at us.And don't think that they didn't. Flak was popping all around us; above, below, and on both sides of us. As I was watching our bombs drop and the damage being inflicted on

the railroad bridges, a flak came bursting through my turret and hit me in the left thigh of my left leg and hit the edge of my left hand and a piece of Plexiglas just nipped my eyebrow. I knew that I was not injured badly but I got out of the turret and let the radio operator put patches on my leg and hand. It happened too quickly to scare me, and 1 considered it all in a day's work. The flak made a hole a little larger than a half dollar in my turret. I consider myself lucky that I wasn't hurt worse. I was taken to the hospital immediately on landing and taken to another hospital for X-rays of my hand, leg, and head. There was no flak embedded in any of the parts hit. I spent a day and a half in the

hospital and I am now ready for flying again. I have thus completed my seventh mission and am still in good condition.


June 19,1944


We were awakened at 3:00 a.m. this morning and attended briefing at 4:30 a.m. We were to destroy pilot-less plane installations near the town of Lens, France. There was a very thick layer of clouds around 10,000 feet over the target and as the target required precision bombing, we did not drop our bombs. This was my first mission after getting hurt. It was just a 4 hour mission and was my eighth mission. No flak ad no fighters were encountered. My crew made one mission without me and that was yesterday the 18th. They bombed Hamburg, Germany and came back with the tail gunner badly wounded with a broken leg and the waist gunner was wounded in the hands by flak. Our ship had holes all over it. Our crew is getting a reputation around here for getting hurt.  


June 20,1944


We were awakened at 12:30 a.m. and attended briefing at 1:30 a.m. It was a tough one this time. We were to bomb the oil refineries and also food storage buildings at Hamburg, Germany again. We took off at 4:50 and were over the target around 9:30. This section of Germany was really hit today. The bombs sure hit the target today. The

damage was horrible. Smoke arose from the bombing for miles around. I sure would have hated to have been down there. The flak seemed thick enough to get out and walk. We were at 25,000 ft and those German gunners put that flak right up there where it counts. All you could see was puffs of smoke, and some of the other formations had it worse than our

formation. The plan of German gunners was to put as many bombs as possible right over the city, and we had to fly through them. It was scary to fly through all those bomb explosions. If I ever get through 33 missions I'll sure consider myself a lucky man. . This is rough sport over here. We thought for sure we would see fighters today but the Luftwaffe didn't didn"t come up. We had an escort of American fighter planes, and they sure made me feel good to see them patrolling our formation. We went deep into Germany today; the town was in northwest Germany. This was my ninth mission and was the hardest one yet. I had 26 to go yet. We had fourteen holes in our ship caused by flak today. You can draw your own conclusion as to the ability of those German anti-aircraft gunners.


 


June 21, 1944


We were awakened again at 12:30 p.m. and attended briefing at 1:30 a.m. We drew the prize this morning; we were to bombraid Berlin, Germany, the capitol of the Reich. It was misting rain and I thought they might scrub the mission; but we took off at 4:50 a.m. and headed deep into Germany. We were over German territory all together around 4 hours. It

was the biggest air armada ever to hit Berlin. It took us about five hours to reach Berlin. We were over the target around 9:30, and there were bombers coming from every direction, all hitting Berlin almost at the same time. It was some sight. Smoke was so intense that you couldn't see the city. Those people will never forget today's raid. Flak was not as bad as I expected. Some of the formations really hit heavy flak. The German air force didn't come up to battle us against Berlin. That surprised me. We had an escort of American fighters. We were flying at 27,000 ft today and it was around 35 below zero. On our way to Berlin, I saw the town of Hamburg, which we bombed yesterday and the area was still smoking from the oil refineries we hit there. The German people paid a heavy price for Hitler' mistake. We were in the air 9 hours and 50 minutes from takeoff to landing and that is a day's work. We took 2780 gallons of gas, and we used all of it. We had 1 hour of fuel left when we returned to England. I would have hated to bail out over Germany.. These raids are beginning to get harder as we go along. The raid today was to destroy German morale, hit war product plants, and as a sort of retaliation against the pilot-less airplanes the Germans are using to bomb England. . This was my tenth raid and I have 25 to go.


June 22, 1944


We finally got a good night's sleep last night but we were called for a raid about 4:00 this afternoon. We were to bomb big railroad yards in Ghent, Belgium. We took off around 4:30 and were over the target about 7:00 and bombed the rail yards and came back without any trouble at all. It was a perfect raid. There was no flak at all and no fighters. I

saw the bombs fall and it caused quite a smoke down there. This was my eleventh raid and I hope we have more raids like this one today. We used another airplane today; another crew flew our own plane this morning and it really got shot up.We are using another plane while they are patching ours up.


June 24, 1944


We were awakened around 4:30 this morning and attended briefing at 5:30. We were to bomb Bremen, Germany, the second largest port in Germany. It was a seven hour raid and we were expecting heavy flak. The flak was moderately heavy over the target and weccame back over the target going home, and fl flak was accurate on the return trip. This was my second trip deep ito Germany, and we feared the danger of having to bail out deep in German territory. was my second trip deep into Germany, and my twelfth mission. I am thankful that I am still in gppd condition on my twelfth raid.


June 25, 1944


After a good night's sleep, there was an alert for a mission about 1:00 after dinner. Being Sunday, I attended church service this morning. Our crew was not scheduled for this mission but one crew was short a ball turret gunner so I flew this mission with them. We were to bomb a railroad bridge southeast of Paris. We took off around 4:00 p.m. this afternoon and at 8:00 the rest of the squadron dropped their bombs but ourbombs failed to dorp from our plane. . We were carrying 2 blockbuster, 2,000 pound bombs. So we started bacl home with the bombs and ran low on gas. We had just enugh has to reach the coast of Enland but we had to land at another base about 30 miles from the English coast. It was a British airfield and a B-25 base. Flak went through our de-icer boot and punctured a hydraulic line to the cowl flaps. The hydraulic fluid leaked out so, the mechanics on the base were going to fix it in the morning. We were to stay at the base all night. There were men from Holland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada on the base. Those Dutchman sure have a strange language and they did a lot of chattering as they looked our plane over. It was about midnight when they took us to the mess hall and we had a fried egg seemingly on a piece of bread fried in grease, with bacon and mashed otatoes and as usual a spot of tea. The tea was delicious, the best I have ever drank. We were taken then to our barracks where I slept soundly until awakened at 7:30 in the morning. We went to breakfast and we had bacon, mashed potatoes, tea, oatmeal with hot milk, bread, butter, and jam. The weather was very bad and was too bad to takeoff. So we ran around the airfield looking around and taking it easy. The weather remained bad and

we had to spend another night at the base. We were treated very well the short time we were there. The RAF boys were looking our ship over all the time we were there and answering questions about it. The morning came bright and sunny so about 9:00 we took off for our home base.


June 29, 1944


We were awakened at 1:00 and attended briefing at 2:30. We were to bomb Leipzig, Germany which was really deep in Germany. We took off at 5:10 a.m. and headed forGermany. Just before we reached the coast of Holland, we ran into some hazy clouds and we got separated from the rest of the wing. So there we were over Germany with a formation of 12 planes, and hadwe lost the rest of the wing. So instead of going too deep intoGermany with a small number of planes, we bombed a target about 50 miles in Germany by the name of Quakenbruck. There was no flak or fighters. It was a six-hour trip and my fourteenth mission.


July 9,1944 j


Having not flown for more than a week because of bad weather and just returning from a visit to visitto London on a few days off, we were awakened at 12:30 this morning and were to bomb Tours, France but due to unforeseen ircumstances we didn't make the mission. All the ships were lined up to take off and we were the| second or third ship to take off. The pilot gave the engines the throttle and down the run way we went attaining a speed of between 90 and 100 miles per hour when suddenly I heard the pilot retard the throttles and I knewthen that we were going to try to stop and crash, We had two two-thousand pound bombs with us called blockbusters. We ran the length of the runway and should have begin to rise in the air, but we kept right on going on the ground. I thought we would never get out of this alive. The pilot pulled the plane up just enough to miss a big ditch which we went over and started rolling in a field and ground that was very rough. I was sure sweating; those bombs out. If we had not missied that ditch we would have crashed. If those bombs had exploded , it would have awaken everyone for miles around, and you wouldn't be reading this report. We all were lucky to get out alive from this experience. I thought the plane would never stop rolling I was in the radio room taking it easy but as soon as the plane stopped, I got out out and ran up a hill as fast as I could, but as soon as the plane stopped I got out of it and ran up a hill as fast as I could. One waist gunner jumped out of the plane before it stopped. If circumstances had been otherwise than they were, we could all have gotten killed. We had enough speed just to clear the ditch and not enough speed to reach a hedge of trees farther ahead. It sure wis a terrible bumping across that field with those bombs wih us.it was a close call but we came out all right with no one getting injured. It just wasn't our time to go I guess.


July 12, 1944 |


We were awakened at 5:30 a.m. this morning and we were to bomb Munich, Germany which is just about as far as you can go in a B-17. The gas load was 2780 gallons. We took off at 9:30 a.m. and landed at 6:45 p.m. (Nine hours and fifty minutes in the air; it was sure a tiresome trip. We hit flak as we hit the Dutch coast and the flak was pretty thick over Munich which is southeast and deep in Germany. We used oxygen 6 hours today,and we had American fighters escorting us most of the way. We were flying overGermany five hours; I imagine those Germans wonder how we do it. There were planes all over the sky. When we go over Germany, we go in numbers; there were over a thousand planes over the Reich today. This was my fifteenth raid and I have 18 to go.


July 13, 1944


We were awakened at 2:00 a.m. this morning and was I surprised to learn that we were going to raid Munich, Germany again; the same target we hit yesterday and it was also raided day before yesterday. We were the first formation over the target and flak was pretty thick. We took off at 6:00 a.m. this morning and landed at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.

We were on oxygen around 6 hours again and I am really tired after two trips to Munich in two days. We saw no fighters and got only one flak hole in our ship. I was in my turret 6 hours and the same amount yesterday. Our Bombay doors wouldn't open as we approached the target and flew right through the flak without dropping. I am always uneasy till the bombs are away because of the danger of flak hitting the fuse, causing the bomb to explode. We finally got rid of the bombs and headed home, completing mission number 16 with seventeen to go yet.


July 16, 1944 ;


We were awakened at 12:30 a.m. this morning and attended briefing at 2:00 a.m. We were going to bomb Munich, Germany again for the fourth time. We took off at 5:00 a.m.and were over Munich at 9:45 and the weather was miserable and very dangerous. "Con" trails caused by the props caused such a tremendous smoke that it made flight dangerous, flying formation and unable to see planes flying on your wing tips. We had to fly at 28,000 ft to get above the smoke and it is dangerous flying that high as you can live without oxygen at 28,000 ft but a very few minutes. We got rid of our bombs and started home. The flak today was thick and the (Germans were a little low on their range. We

went home without an escort for an hour and a half and I thought for sure German  fighters would come up after us. If they would have come up after us, they would have had a picnic as the formations were spread out and there were many stragglers. But American fighters finally showed up and I suite felt relieved. Coming home we got off course and went over Brussels, Belgium and we caught some real flak there. We were in the air 10 hours and 10 minutes;  e landed at 2:40 p.m. We almost ran out of gas, we had 20 or 30 minutes of gas left when we landed. One plane "ditched" in the Channel. This was the roughest mission I have been on yet. It was my seventeenth mission and I have

sixteen to go.


July 17, 1944


We were awakened at 12:30 and attended briefing at 3:00. We were to bomb a railroad junction at Doullens, France. We took off at 7:00 a.m. We hit the junction and destroyed it thoroughly as I saw each bomb explode. l\ was an easy raid and we were back at the base at 12:45 p.m., a six hour mission. We Had some lose flak at Abbeyville, just as we

were leaving the enemy coast. It was my eighteenth mission with fifteen to go.


July 18, 1944


Again, we were awakened at 12:30 a.m. and It took as long as the Munich raid.. We Destrpoyed the Ecperimentation Factores in Peenemunde, Germany which is about as long as the Munich raid. m. We were over the target at 10:00 a.m.

We were in the air nine hours and fifty minutes. We crossed the Danish Peninsula. We were not far from where the Russians were fighting. .attended briefing at 2:00. We were to bomb ng as the Munich raid. We took off at 5:00



 


July 19, 1944


Arising at 12:30 p.m. again, we were briefed at 2:00 a.m. and were to bomb airplane actories in Oldenburg, Germany. We took off at 5:00 a.m. with 500 lb bombs but had trouble finding our squadron. We finally got in a 12 ship formation but as we used up much fuel finding the formation, we decided to bomb a target of opportunity. We circled round France for about 2 hours and went into Germany long enough to bomb a small town by the name of Daun, Germany. We tried to bomb a large railroad yard by the town but we overshot the railroad yards and all tlie bombs landed closrer to the the small town. . A heavy wind caused us to miss the railroad section. Everyone in the plane was very unhappy by this mistake. We feared we may have killed people and children in a town of no military significanc I felt badly about it, but it was accdidental.  When we returnd to the base, I looked up that town called Daun, Germany. Strange as it may sound I never knew exactly what happened to tha townn until 20 years later. When I  returned to Amercia I became a Minister and preached in Texas for 20 yearrs, I was preaching in a small Texas town, ad one of the members had a son who was a Captain in the air force who had been assigned to go to Germany. I told him story about Daun, Germany  and asked him to tell his son the story and tell him if at all possible to visit this little town and tell them we never intended for those bombs to fall in the town and endanger property or life. We never intended to hurt anyone. To my great delight, that captain went to Germany and made a special visit to that town and informed them what happened on July 19, 1944 and expressed sorrow if any lives were lost. They informed him that they saw our plane coming, and everyone took cover and the bombs did not land in the city but well outside the city. And not one person was killed.  From my belly turret I saw every one of those 500 pound bombs explode, and they informed the captain that the large holes created by those bombs were still vivible outside the city. I have never forgotten that day in 1944 and I was relieved thankfully we did not kill any people. I am the only crew member that knews what happened that day, except the top turret gunner who was my close friend. I carefully watched those bombs explode that day, and I thought they exploded right in that little town. We ran into a slight amount of flak and it was a 7 hour and 25 minute mission. This was my twentieth mission and I have. This was the most unforgettable of all my 33 missions. amd I will never forget it.


July, 21, 1944


After a day's rest, we were awakened at 2 00 a.m. this morning and we were to go deep into Germany again; we were going to bomb a ball bearing near Schweinfurt. As the weather was bad and another formation destroyed our would-be tarrget, we bombed another town nearby but the bombs missed the target and landed in a field. It was a eight and a half


hour mission and we had a little excitement today. It has been known to happen that Germans have repaired American B-17 bombers which have went down in Germany andsometimes they would fly those captured bombers right in formations with us and have been known to shoot our planes down. Just as we were about to omb  our target today, a strange B-17 was discovered flying in and out of our formation. We were warned to keep an eye on him.The B-17 flew out in front of our formation and came driving through our formation head on. He then came slipping up on our tail and flew there a short while. I didn't know quite what to do. I turned my gun selector switches "on" and watched him like a hawk. I kept my guns on him for around four minutes and if one of his guns had of fired, I would have blown him out of the sky. He then moved up out of my vision towards the nose of our plane , flying on our left wing. I heard the navigator say, "Let him have it" and heard the bombardiers' turret rattle off at the plane. We fired a second time and the plane made a very sharp turn and really got away from us. Our gunners said the plane shot at us as it left. I think the ball turret in that plane was mangled. We ae not positive it was Germans in the bomber but he had no business pulling such a foolish trick on us. We were over Germany for around four hours today also including Belgium. We ran into a little flak coming home but it was meager. This was my twenty-first raid and I have

twelve to go. These last seven raids have been tough.


Augustr 1, 1944I


After a few days offf, we were awakened at 2:00 a.m. this morning and attended briefing at 4:00 a.m. We were going to bomb near St. Lo, France and we were going to bomb German troops, supplies, etc. We were going to the main front and help our American ground forces at the Normandy front. We were bombing froml 2,000 feet, a dangerusly low low altitude. We were going to drop the bombs just 1500 yds from the American line. Our ground forces used smoke pots to show where the American line ended and we sure bombed the area beyond that smoke screen. Our forces were to make the attack just as soon as we finished bombing. Wave after wave of bombers bombed the German position. We had excellent fighter escort and the mission lasted about five hours. This was my twenty-second raid with eleven to go.


August 3, 1944


We were awakened at 1:10 a.m. this morning, we were going to penetrate deep into Germany again. We were going to bomb synthetic oil works at Merseburg, Germany. We took off at 5:00 a.m. and were over the target at 9:43. The flak was intense around us and we were hit pretty badly. No.l engine was hit and we had to cut it off and feather the props. After getting through the flak, not more than 5 minutes passed until I heard the

bombardier say, "German Fighters" and I immediately turned on my gun selector switches and started looking for a fighter. I didn't have to look very long; Messerschmitt 109 fighters were attacking our ship at the tail and I could see the flame spitting from his guns in his wings. I put everything I had at him, holding my trigger down as long as I saw himbut I had to leave him and fire at another Messerschmitt 109 attacking from the other side of the tail. One of the German planes was close enough for me to see the Geermas pilot's face. When we got safely through the flak, the enemy planes left..In ithis encounterer, one plane was smoking badly and I think the engineer and myself got him. What a show that was, I was spitting lead for a full y three minutes and that's a long time when enemy fighters are firing at you. A twenty millimeter shell came bursting through the

waist knocking the waist gunner down, hitting him in the left elbow joint. Another twenty millimeter hit the navigator in the left shoulder and the radio operator was hit in the knee by flak. When those Germans saw one of our engines were not working, they all jumped ur plane. I guess there were six or seven attacking us. I sure thought our number was up but we fought them off pretty well. We had to come home on three engines and our plane was completely shot to pieces. There were large gaping holes in the left wing and the tail stabilizer. There were over 250 holes in our plane so you can imagine what it looked like. Our squadran received much damage in this battle. The summer of 1944 was the most exciting time of my life. I thanked God for His prvidence that allowed me to live though itI could see the German swastika painted on so you can imagine how close they were to  didn't have time get scared; I was too busy shootinng at German plances.  busy to get scared. ; I was shooting at German planes everywhere. I'll never forget this day as long as I live. I had enough excitement in those few minutes to last me the rest of my life. I guess  Three of our crew members were injured on this mission. Our waist gunner told me as he got off the plane, "I will never ride in an airplane again." hope I never see another german fighter plane again..That is the closest I have ever been to death. It was a wonder we ever escaped with our lives.


August 4, 1944.


Awakened at 4:00 a.m. this morning, we attended "briefing" at 5:30 and we were going to bomb an airfield five miles north of Munich, Germany. We took off at 8:45 and were over the target at 1:00. I thought we would run into German fighters but I didn't see the Luftwaffe today. We flew in a brand new ship today as our ship is undergoing repairs from the last mission. The flak was moderate over the target. One boy in our squadron

got killed today; he was hit by flak behind the ear and lost too much blood. It was rs today, and with the new turret I had It was tiresome trip; I was in my turret around six hours today. With a new turret I could have gien German fighters a hard time.


August 5, 1944


We were aroused at 6:30 a.m. this morning and attended "briefing" at 8:00. We were to

bomb synthetic oil refineries near Strasbourg, Germany but the refineries were in France,

almost on the border of France and Germany. We took off at 11:00 a.m. and was over the

target at 3:35 p.m. and such a flame I have never saw as we created there in there in those

oil refineries. Smoke rose thousands of feet in the air. Some of the formations were

attacked by enemy fighters and one bomber was shot down by the fighters. We saw one

ship get a direct hit with a burst of flak and one half of the plane was enveloped with fire

and went into a spin and hit the ground going up in flames with an explosion. I sure hate

to see things like that happen but it cannot be avoided. We saw a couple of planes crash

on landing at a couple of the bases as we were returning to our base. There were quite a

few planes that went down today. This was my twenty-sixth mission and I have seven to


August 5, 1944


Called from our sleep at 4:30, we attended briefomgbriefing after hain fired eggs fo breakfast and discoered we were going to bomb.an air field a few miles from Hanover, Germany. breakfast, and discovered that we were goir g to bomb an airfield a few miles from Hanover, Germany, , a very rough target. Our pilot did not fly and we had our copilot as pilot today. There were no enemy fighters present to my knowledge, but the flak was

very intense. It was popping all around us. We were over German territory around an hour and a half. We sure are battering the Reich these days. This was my twenty-seventh mission with six remaining. I am getting raiher anxious to finish; I sure hope I can make it through six more.


August 6, 1944


Awoken at 2:30 a.m. this morning, we attended "briefing" at 4:00 a.m. and we were to bomb aircraft factories at Brandenburg, Germany, a few miles from Berlin. In fact, we circled Berlin for almost an hour before we got to our target. Some of the formations ere attacked by enemy fighters but none attacked us. Some of the crew saw dog fights etween our fighters and enemy fighters. We got some flak as we hit the German coast and also at the target there was flak but we made a sharp left turn after bombing and missed most of the flak. It was clear weather over Germany today and the boys didhorrible damage to the t rget. On the way home, we passed by Hamburg where oil refineries had been bombed and the black smoke thousands of feet in the air covered

miles and miles. We could not even see any of the city. It was a nine and a half hour trip. The crew that we came to this base with wsnt down in Germany today. They had just one ngine running as w were leaving the Geriman coast; but they headed back for Germany because they could not have gotten very far on one engine. They are probably prisoners of war by now. I watched them turn and head for Germany until they went out

of sight. This was my twenty-eighth mission with five to go.


August 7, 1944


We were aroused at 2:30 and were "briefed" at 4:30. Due to a bad fog we did not take off

until 9:30, and we were going to bomb oil storage tanks at Bordeaux, France, which is

very deep into southern France. It was a seven hour mission and we saw no enemy

fighters but we ran into flak as we hit the enemy coast and we also had some very close

flak as we left the French coast. I heard one burst of flak explode and I thought we had

been hit.. We sure hit those storage tanks at Bordeaux. I watched the bombs exlode and saw a

terrific explosion below with flames leaping hundreds of feet in the air and black smoke

rising around 15,000 feet in the air. We sure struck oil today. This was my twenty-ninth

raid and I have but four to go.


August 12, 1944


After a four day  pass and a few days rest we were aroused at 2:30 a.m. and just got to briefing to find out we we were to bomb an airfield west of Paris a few miles. Takeoff as at 6:30, and we bombed the target at 11:00 with good results. We ran into flak just befoe we hit the bomb run and got five holes in our plane. It was a good raid today and my thirtieth, leaving me three to go


.August 13, 1944


Awokened  at 5:30 this morning, we were "briefed" at 6:30 and were to bomb the German

escape routes on the front lines. Our target was southwest of Rouen, France. The flak was

really bad today and I saw two B-17s blow up. flame. I saw two parachutes open on the first plane and I saw two men bail out of the second one. That flak was sure close to us. The tail gunner had around two holes by him

which went through his armor plating and hit his flak suit. He got two pieces of flak for a

keep-sake. I never saw as much flak as we  had today. It looked like Berlin. We were

lucky to get through it. The Germans won't have many roads or railroads to retreat now

if we hit our targets today and I think we hit thsm. This was my thirty-first mission and I

have two more to go.


August 24, 1944


 We went to a briefing at 3:00, and were going to bomb Merseburg, Germany, the place we were hit with fighters a short while back. It was a horrible mission today; the flak was indescribable. It was so thick that it looked like clouds. We actually made two runs over the ftek area. We went over Leipzig by being off course and the second run we hit Merseburg arid it was almost suicide going through that stuff. A German jet-propelled fighter attacked us< him. They are very fast, around 500 miles an hbur, and it is seldom anyone get a dopportunity to shoot at them. I guess I shot about two hundred rounds of ammunition at him. As we were going over the target, our pilot was hit by flak in his arm and lost quite mount of blood and the ship sort of nosed do\Vn as he was hit but the co-pilot took over and everything was ok. Two central cables weife broken by flak but he maneuvered the



 


August 29 


 We managed to get through the flak but got separated from our formation when the pilot was hit. We were fprtunate there were no fighters around at the time. The crew saw over eight bombers go down today. I saw eight men bail out over Germany as their plane was on fire. We finally got back to the field so we started in for a

landing and with one wing tipped over. He started to pull up and not land but had lost hisairspeed and we crashed on the runway  with a terrific smash with fire breaking out around No 2 engine. We were all in the radio room and no one was hurt and we got out of that thing double quick. Some fellow's knee nit me in the mouth but just loosened my teeth a little. Crash crews put the fire out immediately and the rest of us got away from it.

Everyone got out of it. It was another close call. This, my thirty-second raid was to me the worst of them all. I have one to go.


August 30, 1944


Being stood down until 10:00 a.m. this morning, I ate breakfast and went to "operations" and I was to fly as the waist gunner on a crew knd we were to bomb Riel, Germany, the most dangerous place in Germany to bomb and I was expecting a lot of flak. We took offat 12:30 and were to bomb at about 4:20. The flak was light and I sure was relieved when we dropped our bombs. This was my last mission and I was a little nervous. I flew as a

waist gunner and I  was unacquainted with the position. I had a flak suit and helmet on and it was sure heavy as I wasn't used to wearihg one. We encountered no enemy fighters today and this was my thirty-third and last missjion today. I've had all the flying I care for.


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