Friday, January 10, 2020

"What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" - Part 3-B

This is the continuation of my father's WW2 flight diary.  For Part 3-A, see link.

As in the first post, the information in [ ] are my insertions.  The information in quotation marks (" ") are from the Mighty Eighth Air Force Calendar web site.

Mission 11:  February 20, 1945.  Target: Nurnburg, Gr.  A 9-hour mission against marshalling yards.  We lost the group in clouds and flew with six different groups till back to the lines [presumably the front lines between Allied and German armies].  The we took off alone for home.  A "milk run" but sorta long.  We flew ship #807 with 20 - 250's [250 pound general purpose bombs].
[Note:  "Mission 836.  1,264 bombers and 726 fighters are dispatched to hit the main station and marshalling yard at Nurnburg, Germany; the target is bombed visually and using H2X radar."]

Mission 12:  February 23, 1945.  Target: Ansbach, Gr.  A 9-hour visual mission against marshalling yards.   A beautiful job of bombing from 14,000 feet.  No flak whatever.  A cook's tour of central Germany.  Went in over Belgium and came out through southern Germany, saw Alps and Switzerland.  We flew ship #917 with 12 500's.
[Note:  "Mission 843-1.  As a follow-up to the yesterday's attacks on transportation facilities as part of Operation CLARION, 1,274 bombers and 705 fighters are dispatched to hit marshalling yards in Germany.  ... B17s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at ...Ansbach (109) ... ."]

Mission 13:  February 25, 1945.  Target: Munich, Gr.  A 9-hour and 30-minute visual mission against marshalling yards.  Flak was extra heavy, barrage and tracking, but we got thru without a hole.  Good bombing, column of smoke visual for over hour after we left target.  25,000' [presumably altitude of bomb release].  We flew ship #807 with 6 RDX 500's and 6 M-17 incendiaries.
[Note:  "Mission 847-1 or -2.  1,197 bombers and 755 fighters are dispatched to hit tank factories, airfields associated with jet aircraft, oil depots and tail target visually.  1-- B-17s are sent to hit ... the station and marshalling yard (73) and oil storage tanks and marshalling yard (174) at Munich ... 2-- B-17s are dispatched to hit the marshalling yard at Munich (315) ... ."]  [I'm not sure which of these sub-missions my father was on.]

Mission 14:  March 3, 1945.  Target: Edmison, Gr.  A 7-hour and 30 minute P.F.F. [Pathfinder Force led] mission against oil refinery and depot.  No flak near us.  Passed Hamburg.  Missed target, one bomb hit railroad, others messed up Ludwig's potato patch.  Good weather but prop-wash was terrific.
Saw my first Jerry jetfighter.  An Me-262 with two dozen P-51's on it's tail.  Two of them made a head-on pass at our low squadron.
We flew ship #807 with 12 - 500's.
[Note:  "Mission 861.  1,102 bombers and 743 fighters are dispatched to bomb oil refineries, oil plant works, motor transport factory, tank plant, and rail bridge in NC [north central] and E[ast] Germany."]  [I cannot identify the town of Edmison so I do not know exactly which sub-mission was involved.  There were many targets struck during the overall mission.]

Mission 15:  March 4, 1945.  Target: Nurnburg, Gr.  We flew 7 hours and 30 minutes before division was re-called.  Just over bomb-line.  Bad weather.  Flew ship #868 with 6 - 500's and 6 - M-17 incendiaries.  Formed over France.  [This is first instance of him remarking about formation occurring over France.]
[Note:  "Mission 863.  1,028 bombers and 522 fighters are dispatched to bomb targets in SW Germany; bad weather causes 300+ aborts."]

Mission 16:  March 5, 1945.  Target: Chemnitz, Gr.  A 9-hour P.F.F. mission against synthetic oil depot and marshalling yard.  Formed over France.  Saw a few bursts of flak but none over target.  Weather bad.  We left group on way home and come back with #3 ship.  Rumored that jets were around but I didn't see them.  We flew ship #807 with 10 - 500# R.D.X.'s.
[Note:  "Mission 865.  429 bombers and 689 fighters are dispatched to hit oil targets in Germany; the primary target for the B-17s is the synthetic oil plant at Ruhland but weather forces them to hit the secondary target; all bombing is with H2X radar; ... 233 of 303 B-17s hit the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Chemnitz."  Note:  This diversion may explain the lack of flak over the target.]

Mission 17:  March 8, 1945.  Target: Langendrier [sic, actually Langendreer], Gr.  An 8-hour and 35-minute PFF mission against synthetic oil plant.  Flak light.  Lost our hydraulic pressure and landed at Woodbridge [Note:  RAF Woodbridge is in Suffolk, England; constructed in 1943 to assist damaged aircraft to land on their returms from raids over Germany.].  Came back here [to Deopham Green] the same night.  We flew ship #807 with 14 - 500's.
[Note:  This may be the mission that my father had to manually hand-crank the landing gear into its down position, similar to what was depicted in the movie "Memphis Belle."  He told this story a couple of times.]
[Note:  Mission 872.  1,353 bombers and 326 fighters are dispatched to hit benzol plants, an oil plant and rail targets in Germany using PFF; NO AIRCRAFT ARE LOST AND THERE ARE NO CASUALTIES! [Capitalized in original document.]  ...  B-17s are dispatched to hit the Robert Muser (99) and Bruchstrasse (63) benzol plants at Langendreer ... bombing is with H2X radar."

Mission 18:  March 15, 1945.  Target: Oranienburg (Berlin area).  An 8-hour and 15-minute mission against marshalling yard in town 15 miles from Berlin.  Flak heavy, but inaccurate.  I flew tail today [I think this means he was in the tail gunner position.]  We flew ship #807 with 12 - 500's.
[Note:  Mission 889.  1,353 bombers and 833 fighters are dispatched to hit German Army HQ [at Zossen, which later became the headquarters of the Group of Soviet Forces, Germany] and a marshalling yard at Oranienburg.  ...  612 of 675 B-17s attack the marshalling yard at Oranienburg visually."]

Mission 19:  March 17, 1945.  Target: Plaun [sic - Plauen], Gr.  An 8-hour mission against marshalling yards.  P.F.F. from 27,800 feet.  Briefed for Ruhland.  Flew over but didn't bomb.  Ship #807 with 12 - 500's.
[Note:  Mission 892.  1,328 bombers and 820 P-51s are dispatched to hit oil, industrial, and rail targets in Germany; clouds extend from 1,000 to 15,000 feet (305 to 4,572 m) and over targets there is 9/10 and 10/10 cloud cover [Note: Totally overcast.] necessitating PFF methods for bombing. ... 527 B-17s are sent to hit the oil refinery at Ruhland (214) ... targets of opportunity are the Vomag munitions factory at Plauen (125) ... ."

Vomag Munitions Factory, Plauen, Germany, before the war
Mission 20:  March 19, 1945.  Target: Ruhland, Gr.  A 9-hour and 45-minute P.F.F. mission against synthetic oil plant.  I flew with LT. Tennant's crew.  Three ME 262's jumped us just before "bombs away."  made one pass at our formation but did no damage.  Other jets hit rest of group and knocked down eight.  Flew ship #356.
[Note:  Mission 896.  1,273 bombers and 675 fighters are dispatched to hit airfields and industrial targets in Germany visually and with H2X radar; clouds force 2 [both B-17] of the 3 forces to hit secondaries; 100+ Luftwaffe fighters including 36 Me 262s in formation (largest number of jets seen as a unit) are encountered."  I'm not sure in which of the two B-17 forces my father was a member.  Neither description list Ruhland as the target.]

And on March 20, 1945, my father indicates that he "went to Walhampton House in Lymington for flak-leave."  [Note:  From the Imperial War Museum's American Air Museum in Britain web site, the Walhampton House was "one of sixteen country houses or 'flak-homes' which housed airmen for Rest and Recuperation away from the stress of flying missions ... for a week away from the horrors of war.  Each serviceman was entitled to at least one rest period during their 25-30 mission tour.  ...  It was set up to accommodate 50 enlisted men and was allocated to the 3rd Bomb Division."  More details are at the link, above.]

Walhampton House as it stands in 2020, a boarding preparatory school.
Today's view over the Solent to the Isle of Wight
And as this ends another ten missions and my father is resting at Walhampton, this is a good place for us to take a break.  Part 3-C, the final missions and return to the States is forthcoming.

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