The following is written by my grandfather during his missions as a member of the 303rd BG during World War 2. Writings like these are what we have to connect us with the past and the humanity and tragedy of war for those of us who are fortunate enough to have never experienced it ourselves. Please visit the 303rd BG’s website for more first hand accounts and information:

World War II Memories

by 2nd Lt. Billy L. Runnels

0–2073412, Bombardier (1035)

8th Air Force, 1st Division

303rd Bomb Group (H), 360th Squadron

AAF STA 107, APO 557

Howard C. Lacker Crew


I still remember the firm nudge on my shoulder and soft voice saying “Lieutenant, it is time.” The date February 15, 1945, hour 5:00AM, place 303rd Bomb Group, Molesworth, England. The cool damp barracks atmosphere made crawling out of the sack less than desirable. But, it was time and I responded as did fellow crew members 2nd Lt. Howard C. Lacker (pilot), 2nd Lt. Ralph Johnson (co-pilot), and 2nd Lt. Jim O’Neil (navigator). A similar wake up call was also given to crew members S/SGT. Francis Bratcher (engineer), T/SGT. Lane Foster (radio), SGT. Louis Garbarino (tail gunner), Sgt. Robert Reynolds (ball turret), and S/SGT. Clarence Mooneyham Jr. (waist gunner) in their barracks. This day would test our skills and commitment in the unfriendly skies over Germany. Assigned target, “Military Objectives”, Dresden, Germany.

For me, training and preparation for this moment began on July 8, 1943 when I repeated the Induction Oath for the Army Air Corps at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Following graduation from the Gallatin, Missouri High School on May 7th, I had successfully completed the required academic and physical testing mandates for the Army Air Corps Cadet Program. The training and challenges in the months ahead would instill in this 18-year old boy, instant maturity.

My World War II experience brought forth pride of accomplishment and a deep and enduring sense of sorrow. Members of my original crew (2nd Lt. Howard C. Lacker), excluding Johnson, were lost in a mid-air collision near Leipzig, Germany on April 6, 1945. They were on their 22nd mission, just three short of completing a tour of duty. All continue to be good friends and heroes in the chambers of my mind. They willingly paid the ultimate price for the shallow victory we claim today.

The Crossing

I did not keep a log so the exact dates of our crossing are not recorded in this account. Severe weather over the Atlantic created delays along the way.

Our crew (2nd Lt. Howard C. Lacker) departed Hunter Field, Georgia in a new B-17G for Bangor, Maine on December 24, 1944. We were contacted en route and ordered to land at a base in Trenton, New Jersey due to ice storms over the Atlantic.

This unscheduled stop enabled us to spend both Christmas and New Years Eve in the New York City area. New Years Eve at Times Square was an experience to remember. A policeman stopped the four of us as we approached the crowd and suggested we protect our money as pick pockets were at work. Following the ringing in of the new year, we enjoyed dinner at one of the finer restaurants. A gentle snow was falling as we headed for Grand Central Station. On our way we noticed a man in top hat and tails standing in the middle of a large intersection directing traffic. There were no cars in sight but he was having the time of his life going through the motions.

Then on to Bangor, Maine. I landed the aircraft on arrival and didn’t do a bad job for a Bombardier. A few days later we departed for Goose Bay, Labrador. This was the jumping off point for the crossing. Several days were spent here waiting for the weather to improve and making other preparations. For this young lad from the small town of Gallatin, Missouri the thought of flying the Atlantic Ocean was exciting and our crew was anxious to get at it.

A group of 20 B-17's were dispatched at night for Meeks Field, Iceland. Navigation was questionable. Couldn’t see the stars or the ocean at any time and the metro weather data provided was not accurate. We reached the point where the directional radio signal on the southern tip of Greeland should be audible but we couldn’t pick it up. A few minutes later our navigator, 2n Lt. Jim O’Neil did identify the faint signal and turned south to home in on it. We were a considerable distance north of course. A new course was plotted to Iceland.

Shortly after clearing the Ice Cap, O’Neil informed our pilot we didn’t have sufficient fuel to reach Iceland. Our course was reversed and radio contact made with the control tower at Bluie-West #1 Air Base, Greenland. They advised the field was closed due to high surface winds gusting at 80 mph. Consideration was given to bailing out over the Ice Cap but this option was vetoed by a crew vote. Even with the concerns of the moment I remember the breathtaking view of the Ice Cap through a layer of broken clouds. The only other choice was to attempt a landing at Bluie-West. The Control Tower Operator advised they did not have electric runway lights and the wind was to strong for the pots. Jeeps with headlights on were positioned at each end of the runway .

This is a sea base and one end of the runway came out of the water and dead ended at the base of a mountain. We let down over the Atlantic and flew up the fjord to the base. The turbulence was unbelievable and all on board experienced a degree of motion sickness. A successful landing was made. I dropped out of the nose hatch and the wind blew me a considerable distance from the plane. They picked us up in a truck. Five of the original group of 20 B-17's made emergency landings in Greenland, two sent S.O.S. signals to Meeks Field, Iceland. One made it okay and the other was lost. The remaining thirteen made Iceland okay.

Two days later we departed for Iceland. The down hill take-off at Bluie-West created a bit of anxiety. The mountain end of the 6,500 foot runway had an elevation of 136 feet above sea level. Elevation at the fjord end was 10 feet. The 126 foot drop over the length of the runway created the impression we would end up in the water. However, a routine lift-off was achieved followed by a steep bank down stream to the Atlantic Ocean. Thunderheads were encountered at altitude. We lost our main oxygen supply and let down to 18,000 feet. The portable oxygen bottles were given to the pilot, co-pilot and navigator. The rest of us laid down and took it easy as breathing became a little difficult. O’Neil would look at me and say “Bill, you are turning blue again” and hand me his mask for a few minutes. Meeks Field, Iceland was reached without further incident.

The next day we departed for Valley, Wales Field on the Island of Anglesey. The aircraft was abandoned here and we traveled by surface to our assigned base, 1st Air Division, 303rd Bomb Group, 360th Squadron, Molesworth, England. Our base arrival date was February 1, 1945.

Mission Preparations

For lead crews, the day began with a very early morning wake-up call followed by a special mission briefing. We then joined other crews for breakfast, including two fresh eggs and a general crew briefing. The Operation’s Officer extended a cordial greeting and announced the “Target for Today”. If the target was one of the dreaded ones like Berlin, the audible groans and moans could be heard in the next building. The response always produced smiles on the faces of all present and released mounting tensions. The announced length of trip, flak in the target area and other seemingly unlimited challenges along the way made the assignment less than attractive to say the least. Specialty officers provided complete details from start to finish. When the flak analysis officer spoke you could hear a pin drop. All in the room had become very serious in their demeanor by the end of the briefing.

We then headed for the operations area to dress for the sustained -45 to -50 degree Fahrenheit temperatures at altitude. I started the process with long underwear and heavy wool socks. Regular GI pants and shirt (no identification patches etc.) followed. Next came the electrically heated suit components (flight boot inserts, trousers and jacket). The boot inserts snapped into the trouser legs and the trousers plugged into the jacket to complete the electrical circuit. Heated gloves with silk liners were added on later in flight. The gloves snapped into the sleeves of the jacket. A pigtail lead cord from the trousers plugged into a 24-volt rheostat controlled outlet in the B-17 aircraft. A one-piece gabardine flight suit sealed the body-clothing package. Lined flight boots, leather helmet with goggles, oxygen mask and .45 cal. pistol in shoulder holster became added fixtures. The life preserver vest and parachute harness with walking shoes wired to the back were the last two items. I checked out a chest pack parachute just prior to boarding the truck that would take us to the hardstand. My bombardier’s flak suit and helmet were stored on the aircraft.

Mission preparation was now complete. The time and effort it took paid dividends during the flight. When approaching the English Channel on the return, the warmer temperatures sure felt good. The pressure was off and the mission cycle had been successfully completed one more time. The White Cliffs of Dover never looked better!

Continental Express Flights

A skeleton crew of pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer plus 15 to 20 ground support personnel toured the continent to view battle damage etc. Many in this group had been in England for a long period of time. The “Continental Express Program” was created to give them a first hand look at the results of their outstanding efforts. I participated as a crew member on two of the series, May 9th (the day following VE-Day) and May 12, 1945.

May 9, 1945……

During the flight briefing the Base Commander instructed us to stay in formation at 10,000 feet for the entire trip. When passing over the small Islands of Heligoland in the North Sea, we received enemy flak that broke up the formation but no aircraft received damage. Either the Germans did not know the war was over or they wanted to flex their muscle one more time. In any event the flak was a big surprise. Our Base Commander was piloting the lead B-17G and he was the first to break the formation 10,000 feet order that he had issued. Down he went and the rest followed in single file. A very low level pass down a main street in Brussels was made by all. We were near the end of the line so the people on the streets knew what was happening by the time we got there and they were having a good time. I still remember seeing the smiles of those waving from second floor windows. After the Brussels pass, each aircraft went their own way. We headed for the Rhine River area. A rather large boat loaded with household goods was spotted crossing from west to east. As we passed over the boat all three people jumpted in the river. We continued down the Rhine to the Ramagen Bridge. The near river surface altitude at which we were flying made necessary pulling up a bit to clear the bridge structure. Flight time this day was 9 hours 50 minutes.

May 12, 1945……

Four pilots in the group thought it would be fun to play “follow the leader” on the trip. Our aircraft was last in line. Needless to say the trip was to be conducted at low level. We took 0ff and headed directly for the Rhine River intercepting it north of Cologn. From there we would head south past Bonn on the way to Frankfurt. The hills framing the Rhine are quite high in this area and we were very low. I have always been thankful that no aircraft were coming up the river at the same time. I am not sure there would have been passing room. On our way back from Frankfurt, we joined 25 to 30 other aircraft of all sizes and shapes in circling the 984 foot Eiffel Tower. All were in a pattern below the top. Flight time this day was 8 hours 55 minutes.

While we broke all known safety rules on the two flights, the ground personnel on board got a few thrills and a birds eye view of the bombing damage. Too many chances were taken but it was great fun at the time and a memorable way to end operations over enemy territory.

Homeward Bound

Shortly after VE-Day, May 8, 1945, the 303rd Bomb Group learned they would be going back to the States at an early date. A number of us who were not approaching completion of a 25-mission tour were redeployed. On May 22nd I was sent to the 3rd Air Division, 385th Bomb Group, 548th Squadron,at Great Ashfield, England.

This assignment proved to be a lucky one for me. At an early morning hour, June 19th I was on the flight line preparing for a training flight when paged and ordered to report to Squadron Headquarters immediately. I did so and was informed I had one hour to pack and make ready for a flight home. Personal belongings (radio etc.) that I couldn’t take with me were given to a wonderful old couple that lived in a thatched roof house near the base. This kind gentlemen would dress in his badly worn tuxedo and volunteer his time as maitre d” at the Officers Club each evening during the dinner hour. His charming wife provided laundry service for a number of us. These two brought a new and refreshing dimension to our lives when it was needed. They were dearly loved and appreciated by all.

Departure Operations Order #168, dated June 19, 1945 made me the bombardier on Major Ruel G. Weikert’s Crew. This crew was the first of eighteen to depart for the States The order also included the good news phrase “proceed via the best available air route to Bradley Field , Windsor Locks, Connecticut, thence to Camp Miles Standish , Boston POE (point of embarkation). B-17G #43–38560 had been parked on an isolated hard stand for loading.

In addition to the flight crew, ten other passengers, several from the 385th Bomb Group Headquarters Staff would accompany us on the flight. Our total compliment was twenty. The Base Commander made an appearance to wish us a safe journey etc. Following his ceremonial visit, engines were started and we were on our way. The first leg of the trip was a 2-hour flight to Valley, Wales on the Island of Anglesey. June 22nd we completed a 6-hour flight to Meeks Field, Iceland. June 24th we flew to Bluie-West #1, Greenland in 4-hours, refueled and continued on to Bradley Field, Connecticut. This leg took 10-hours. Our navigator became ill while in Greenland so I navigated the final leg hitting the coastline within 8 miles of the targeted spot. This was accomplished using sun shots which are not to reliable.

When crossing the USA Border the flight engineer fired a number of flares, that he had confiscated before departing England. On landing at Bradley Field a Red Cross Hostess Truck pulled up beside our aircraft and parked. After kissing the ground I consumed two cartons of something we couldn’t enjoy while out of the country, milk. We continued by train to Camp Miles Standish, Boston. So many people along the way were waving and holding up “ welcome home” signs. Following arrival indoctrination we proceeded by troop train to Camp Atterbury, Indianapolis, Indiana. Major Weikert was in charge of the troop train and I was second in command.

The first question we were asked when reporting in was “how many did you lose along the way?”. As I recall our answer was eight. Homecoming was now complete. I do not have adequate words to express the wonderful feeling of being back on American Soil.

The Finale

The last week of July, 1945 I reported to Camp Atterbury, Indianapolis, Indiana following a 30-day rest and recuperation (R&R) leave. A group of 75 to 100 European Theater of Operations (ETO) Vets were dispatched by rail to the Re-Classification Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our route took us via Chicago, Illinois where we changed to the Santa Fe Railroad. The trip to Chicago had been miserable due to the heat and no air conditioning. The Santa Fe gave our group the only air conditioned coach on the train. We departed Chicago early in the evening and settled in for the over night journey. About midnight the train made a stop in Iowa City, Iowa. I opened my eyes to see a covey of beautiful girls boarding at our coach entrance. Every seat in the coach was occupied by members of our group but within 15 minutes there was a girl between two soldiers in each seat. Needless to say, this dull and boring trip had become a pleasant one.

The day following our arrival at the Sioux Falls Air Base, we were processed through a series of interviews and service record reviews to determine if our new assignment would be state side or in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The determining factor was 110 hours of combat time. I had 110 hours 40 minutes so it would be state side duty for me.

While still at the Sioux Falls Base VJ-DAY, August 14, 1945, was celebrated. It was harvest time for the local farmers and they needed help. A number of us volunteered. We were picked up early in the morning, fed four times during the day and brought back in the evening.I did this two days and enjoyed every minute. They were very appreciative.

A group of twenty pilots, navigators and bombardiers were transported by a C-47 aircraft to Fairmont AAFLD, Geneva, Nebraska. This was a B-29 base and we were sent there as instructors. Shortly after landing, The Base Commander came to the flight line to greet us. He inquired about who we were and where we come from. He had not been informed about our arrival and said he had no living quarters available at the time. Consequently, he suggested we all go home for a week so we did.

On return a week later we were assigned quarters in a wing of the Base Hospital. That’s all that was available. A few days following our return, the entire fleet of B-29's, their crews and support personnel were sent to Japan to assume occupational duties. The only aircraft remaining on the base was the Commander’s B-25 and an old beat up B-17F. One month I flew to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with the Commander in the B-25 to earn my flight pay. The following month I joined several others in the B-17. The pilot shot fifteen landings and all were bad. I learned he was a B-24 pilot. This was the last time I flew during the war. I figured the risk wasn’t worth the $75.00 flight pay.

I was assigned Base Physical Training Officer (MOS #5521) directing classes in calesthenics and supervising maintenance of physical records for officers and enlisted men. I served in this capacity until shipped out. A meeting at the Base Theater was called to review the new point policy for discharge. It raised the point requirement from 21 to 27. All I needed for the old policy of 21 points was to be in grade one year and that date was September 30. 1945. I left the theater a bit dejected. A Captain friend summoned me to his side of the street. He said, “Bill, do you want out?”. I said yes but the new point policy would prevent that. He said, “go pack your gear and meet me in my office”. He cut orders on the spot sending me to Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana and I was off the base within the hour. I don’t know how he accomplished this fete but I have always been grateful and considered him a true friend. I was discharged at Baer Field on October 19, 1945, bringing closure to a 27 month tour of duty during World War II. The war adventure spawned memories that will remain for the balance of my life.

Personal Memories

There are many memories I could post but the following have special meaning and remain vivid in my mind at this senior time in life.

Hard Stand Sounds/Aromas……

On mission mornings my memory holds the muted sound of the auxiliary power units (APU) from around the field greeting us on arrival at the aircraft. Bombs had been loaded during the night and the 50 cal. gun barrels placed in a neat row on the ground. The sleeping B-17G was motionless. On opening the nose hatch and pitching in my parachute, bombardier case, two gun barrels, then swinging up into the aircraft a few groans from my added weight were forthcoming. On a damp, cool, misty morning, the odor inside was like that of a museum being opened to morning fresh air. Other groans, soft voices and a slight movement of the airframe became prominent as crewmembers completed their pre-flight duties. “Walking Through the Props” was the next crew assignment. This produced a low growl bearing noise with each revolution of the propellers. With the crew back on board the awaited “Start Engines” command was received. The first sign of bomber life gushed forth in a belch of black smoke from the exhaust of #3 engine. The sleeping giant was alive and from that moment on became a bee-hive of activity that continued until we returned to the hard stand and shut down the engines.

Returning Aircraft……

There is one story that must be told for it exemplifies the spirit of commitment of all involved. When we were not assigned to fly the mission for the day, our thoughts and prayers supported those who did. Although we had not attended the briefing, we soon knew the target identity, number of aircraft dispatched and the estimated time of their return. An hour before this time, the migration of base ground and flight personnel to the flight line began. The anxiety of those assembled was intense and a quiet mood prevailed. The words “there they are” came out of the croud and all eyes strained to make the sighting. The return count had begun. Aircraft with wounded on board fired “red” flares and were given landing clearance. Damaged aircraft were also given special consideration. If they could safely remain in the air until all others landed, they were instructed to do so. If not, they were given landing clearance. I recall seeing one B-17G make a wheels-up landing on the grass between the runways. Another landed on one wheel and disappeared off the end of the runway, down a hill. Both crews got out okay. A pilot that I had previously crewed with made an emergency landing on the grass and all survived. Over 200 flak holes were visible, some in the wing large enough for a man to crawl through. It was the crew’s last mission of their tour of duty. The count of returning aircraft continued until all in sight had landed. This was not always a time of celebration as some had lost good friends, others a special B-17 they maintained. However, this important time together did bring closure to the day and set the stage for the one to follow.

Free Time……

Free time was the release valve for combat related anxieties. I took full advantage of this special time to play soft ball, attend parties at the Officer’s Club, play baritone in the base band, pinochle on days when the mission was scrubbed due to weather, make week-end trips to London and Cambridge, attend a carnival in Bedford, fired on the skeet range and wrote lots of V-Mail letters to family and friends back home. This time of relaxation was a life saver!



02/15/45 Dresden — Military Objectives 8:40

02/16/45 Langendreer — Synthetic Oil Plant 7:40

02/19/45 Gelsenkirchen — Coking Plant 6:00

02/20/45 Nurnberg — Marshilling Yard 2:40 Abort — Engine

02/21/45 Nurnberg — Marshalling Yard/Tank 8:40

02/26/45 Berlin — Marshalling Yard 8:45 ”Rail Smash”

02/27/45 Leipzig — Ball Bearing Plant 8:45

02/28/45 Hagen — Marshalling Yard 7:45

03/01/45 Bruchsal — Marshilling Yard 8:50

03/04/45 Ulm — Ordnance Depot 8:45

03/10/45 Schwerte — Marshalling Yard 7:25

03/14/45 Minden — Railroad Bridges 6:50 2nd Deputy

03/15/45 Zossen — High Command Headquarters 8:25 2nd Deputy

04/05/45 Bayreuth — Ordnance Depot 11:30 1st Deputy

Total Combat Hours 110:40

NOTE: It was important that each crew maintain an efficient and effective posture while there. Training flights (Bombing, Navigation, Formation Flight, Proficiency Checks — both personal and crew) were scheduled between missions. We did not appreciate these but they did keep us sharp. I completed 20 such flights and in so doing logged 50 hours 10 minutes of training flight time.

Mission Notes

2/15/45 #315 Dresden — Military Objectives 42–97860* 8:40 Altitude: 25,600ft Bombs: 16 250lb H.E. Support: 141 P-51s Flak: Meager and inaccurate Crew: Bombardier

Comment: An experienced pilot accompanied us on the first mission. The ground fog was thick and instrument tale-off procedures were being followed. We had taken position in the taxi line with engines running when I heard a muffled explosion. Later we were informed that the lead aircraft of the 358th Squadron failed to achieve air speed for take-off and had crashed. The crew got out with minor injuries before the aircraft load exploded. The mission was completed as planned. The weather was equally as bad on our return. A bonfire was burning at the landing end of the runway to keep the ceiling high enough to land. We saw the bonfire on our first approach but lost it in the turn and had to go back on top and try again. We were very low on fuel. The aircraft we were flying had GEE-BOX equipment so I set it up for the end of the runway and we broke out of the fog dead center and made a routine landing. Another new crew on the mission didn’t fair so well. All jumped but the pilot and engineer and a landing was made at a fighter base. The pilot collapsed the landing gear to avoid hitting workers on the field. Both pilot and flight engineer got out okay.

  • A/C# 42–97860 used on 106 missions.
  • 2/16/45 #316 Langendreer — Synthetic Oil Plant 42–97860 7:40 Altitude: 28,300ft Bombs: 16 250lb H.E. Support: 38 P-51s Flak: Intense Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: We experienced fifteen minutes of intense flak in the target area. At one point a burst under the nose of our aircraft rolled me off the bombardier seat. An inspection of the aircraft following return to the base revealed the damage to be minimal. There were only four or five holes the size of a softball in the wing area. This is the only mission I heard the flak explosion so it was close.
  • 2/19/45 #317 Gelsenkirchen — Coking Plant 43–38842* 6:00 Altitude: 26,700ft Bombs: 12 500lb RDX Support: 91 P-51s Flak: Moderate and inaccurate Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • *A/C# 43–38842 used on 57 missions.
  • 2/20/45 #318 Nurnberg — Marshalling Yard 42–97281* 2:40 Altitude: 26,500ft Bombs:12 500lb H.E. Support: 152 P-51s
  • Comments: #3 engine failed en-route and had to be feathered. Could no longer keep up with climbing formation so jettisoned bombs live, turned for home base. Shortly following our turn, a German V-2 Rocket headed England came up through the clouds about two blocks off our right wing tip. Sure was something to see at close range. Followed it’s flight for a period of time.
  • *A/C# 42–97281(Quennie) used on 67 missions.
  • 2/21/45 #319 Nurnberg — Marshalling Yard 44–6523* 8:40 Altitude: 23,900ft Bombs: 12 500lb H.E. Support: 184 P-51s Flak: Moderate and very accurate Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • * A/C# 44–6523 used on 80 missions.
  • 2/26/45 #324 Berlin — Marshalling Yard 44–6516* 8:45 Altitude: 24,500ft Bombs: leaflets Support: None Flak: Intense and inaccurate Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: We were late arriving at the designated fighter support rendezvous. They went home and we continued to Berlin. Lack of P-51 support made for a long tedious day. This mission was named “Operation Rail Smash”.
  • * A/C# 44–6516(My Darling) used on 87 missions.
  • 2/27/45 #325 Leipzig — Ball Bearing Plant 44–6517* 8:45 Altitude: 26,800ft Bombs: 12 500lb H.E. Support: 218 P-51s Flak: Moderate and inaccurate Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • * A/C# 44–6517 used on 86 missions.
  • 2/28/45 #326 Hagen — Marshalling Yard 42–97546* 7:45 Altitude: 25,000ft Bombs: 12 500lb H.E. Support: 106 P-51s Flak: None Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • * A/C# 42–97546(Idaliza) used on 113 missions.
  • 3/1/45 #327 Brauchsal — Marshalling Yard 42–97860 8:50 Altitude: 21,000ft Bombs: 12 500lb H.E. Support: 92 P-51s Flak: None Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • 3/4/45 #330 Ulm — Ordnance Depot 44–8647* 8:45 Altitude:23,000ft Bombs: 12 500lb H.E. Support: 156 P-51s Flak: None Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • * A/C# 44–8647 lost on 44th mission.
  • 3/10/45 #333 Schwerte — Marshalling Yard 43–38672* 7:25 Altitude: 25,550ft Bombs: 24 100lb H.E. Support: 91 P-51s Flak: Moderate and inaccurate Crew: Bombardier
  • Comments: Mission accomplished as planned.
  • * A/C# 43–38672 used on 60 missions.
  • 3/14/45 #336 Minden — Railroad Bridge 42–102544* 6:50 Altitude: 22,400ft Bombs: 6 1,000lb Support: 182 P-51s Flak: None Crew: 2nd Deputy Bombardier
  • Comments: General Montgomery had fired his famous smoke screen and thick black smoke had drifted into the target area. Visibility was greatly reduced. Later reconnaissance photos cinfirmed the bridge still standing.
  • * A/C# 42–102544 (Sack Time) lost on 110th mission.
  • 3/15/45 #337 Zossen — Command Headquarters 42–102544 8:25 Altitude: 24,500ft Bombs: 12 500lb H.E. Support: 82 P-51s Flak: None Crew: 2nd Deputy Bombardier
  • Comments: Our target was changed from Berlin to Zossen when we were lined up for take off. The underground reported Hitler was at the High Command Headquarters reviewing troops. Witnessed a B-24 exploding shortly after his drop on Berlin. Bandits had been reported in the area.
  • 4/5/45 #352 Bayreuth — Ordnance Depot 44–8647 11:30 Altitude: 18,000ft Bombs: 12 500lb G.P. Support: 182 P-51s Flak: None Crew: 1st Deputy Bombardier
  • Comments: This was a very long mission. We took the northern route to create the impression we were headed for Berlin. Turned south over the continent and headed for Bayreuth. On reaching the I.P(initial point) started the bomb run. Ten seconds before “Bombs Away” I took one last look in the bombsight and saw a squadron of B-24s under us in the drop zone. The drop was aborted and we returned to the bomber stream to make another run. This time the drop was successful. The go around added time at altitude and additional use of our oxygen supply which was depleted on the way back. Consequently, we dropped down to near tree to level and flew the remaining three hundred miles over enemy territory at this altitude to avoid radar detection. Our crew made it back to home base but a number of aircraft had to land on the continent to refuel. My day started at 4:00AM with a lead crew briefing and ended with the cleaning of my gun barrels at 11:00PM. What a physical endurance test!
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