We're stationed in England, (Norwich). Our base is called Deopham Green. We're here to bomb and annihilate Hitler and Germany. The weather here in England is cold, damp, and foggy, almost every day. These are [some of] the missions our crew lived through.
Mission #1: January 15, 1945Target: Augsburg, GermanyIt was a jet fighter plane. Heavy flak and this being my first mission, it was overwhelming, exciting but also very scary, not knowing what's going to happen! My top turret guns were loaded and ready. That is after I checked them on the ground before take-off. Our squadron of twelve bombers was being cleared for take-off. Our meeting for this mission was previewed with all the crew and all the planes on this mission. Maps were described, and the destination was briefed, and the 8th Air Force brass chose the target. Chaplain said a few words and wished us the best. We flew over the Swiss Alps and headed for our target. We had a lot of flak and quite a few holes in our plane. None of us were injured. It took us nine hours. Oxygen masks were worn for about four to five hours. They go on at 10,000 feet. At 24,000 they are worn, and the face is really a bit sore. But without them, we would never make it. We made our first mission with damage to the plane, but nobody got hurt. Our pilot and co-pilot did a wonderful job.
Mission #2: February 3, 1945Target: City of Berlin
We flew our B-17F "Lady Satan" which was our newly assigned plane. She had been on 84 combat missions. We saw no enemy fighters, but enemy flak was heavy and accurate. We almost lost our ball turret gunner, Morrie Kuhns, whose oxygen mask had frozen. Harold Chartrand and I cranked him up and revived him. He complained about cold feet, so we put him in a British heated "suit" which looked like blue Long John underwear, but after 15-20 minutes, Morrie complained over the intercom that smoke was coming off the British heated suit and it was hot - it had a short circuit in it. So we pulled off the "blue underwear" and pitched it out of the side door near the back of the plane. Unfortunately the suit hung up on the horizontal part of the tail - smoldering, but without flames. Soon, someone in another plane broke radio silence with "Lady Satan's on fire." What next? But our pilot, Bill Robinson, was able to "slip slide" it off.We were on oxygen for five (5) of our eight (8) hours 50 minutes in the air.
The bomb group celebrated its 200th Combat Mission on February 14 - shutting down for two days with parties on the base.
Mission #7: February 22, 1945Target: Marshalling Yards/Targets of Opportunity This was supposed to have been at any ME (Maximum Effort by all the planes of the 8th Air Force). Bad weather forced us to break up the formations and drop bombs on targets of opportunity. We dropped on Ulm. Others in our group went to Frieburg. We flew plane #802 and were in the air 9 hours 10 minutes.
We took a flak burst in the cockpit and the wing tanks. Probably because we got in later than other planes, our damage was not reported, so the official report said, "No air craft reported any battle damage. No one was hurt, but the gas gauges were shot out, so Bill Robinson decided to play it safe, and we homed in on an emergency landing field near Lille, France, which had been a German fighter base during the occupation of France. The Melville Emergency Field had been badly bombed and strafed, but we got our gasoline and took off across the Channel for Deopham Green.We were challenged by P-51s and Spitfires, as we were returning late and without the proper radio ID codes for that hour, but Bill convinced them we were on the same side, and continued back to the base after a long day.
Mission #11: March 10, 1945Target: Frankfort Marshalling YardsWe flew plane #879, Satan's Sister, and were in the air 7 hours 30 minutes. Heavy flak was encountered and "Satan's Sister" is no longer a virgin. She had the dubious honor of the 452nds most shot up plane today. A 5-inch piece of flak hit the fuselage near Bill Robinson's head. One shell went through our left wing tank, but did not explode, but the left wing did have 16 holes. Totally we received 43 holes in our plane. Anyhow, no one was hurt, but "Satan's Sister" had to have a replacement left wing (an old olive drab color). 21 of our planes received damage including 3 with major damage.
Mission #24: April 11, 1945Target: bridge near Munich at DonaworthIt seems the 8th Air Force has become a tactical Air Force, rather than strategic, by working with the infantry advance led by General George Patton. We were in the air 7 hours 50 minutes, flying plane #989. Hey, no flak, nor fighters!
Mission #25: April 14, 1945Target: Royan, near Bordeaux, France - Tank TrapsWe were assigned a brand new plane (#326) and flew 8 hours this day. We carried fragmentation bombs - 12 pounds each, wired in clusters of 25 or 50. Ten or twelve hung up or were on the catwalk in the bomb bay. Our radio operator hauled these errant frag bombs into the radio room and indicated he would train them out of the camera well in the radio room. We checked with navigator Bob Davis for any "restricted areas" on his maps. So, apparently, no anticipated problems, we trained the bombs out one by one as we approached the Bay of Biscay, north of the city of Bordeaux. We dropped the last bomb and followed it down directly on one of the "concrete islands." Our bombardier said over the intercom, "Direct hit," and we slammed the camera well door down to emphasize the announcement. Wham, wham, wham, wham, and a battery of four 88s filled the sky around us with flak. We were only at 10,000 feet of altitude, expecting no trouble that day, but we soon were on our right side, sliding down to about 3