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 The Tower at Shipdham  8th Air Force over Occupied Europe "Kay Bar" over the target

FEBRUARY 23, 1944

 Bill Mulholland at Shipdham, Eng. Jan, 1944
Ground crew member William J. Mulholland - Jan, 1944

         I'm starting this diary on this date although I've been in England since the First of June, 1943.  I've worked as instrument specialist and mechanic since I've been in this country, (with the exception of ten days spent at Chorley, a replacement center) then last January they sent me to a combat course on the base, (I had applied for it three months previously.)  I attended classes and lectures for approximately three weeks before I was put on operational status.
        Now I had all intentions (and still have) of becoming first engineer on these "Liberators". Operations Officer, Capt. McAtee, wants me to start right out in that position, but I want to wait until I can get a little experience.  I stood by for several mornings as spare assistant engineer (to fire a waist gun). This position is easily filled by any gunner with a little experience.  Because of my height I can't fly ball, tail or nose turret. The only ones I can fill are top turret (engineer), waist or hatch. The hatch is only  present when the ship hasn't a ball.

        On February 9th I took off with a crew of nine other men for Germany. The target was around Munster. The pilot was Lt. Miller, co-pilot Lt. Davis, navigator Lt. Dyer, and bombardier Lt. Ray. The engineer was Sgt. John Coyne, right waist Sgt. Heger, left waist Sgt. Litras (from Astoria, NY), radio operator Sgt. Bolton, Sgt. Rizzo was tail and I was hatch.
         Today, February 23rd, I helped pack Rizzo's clothes. He was taken to the hospital two days ago with a frozen hand. Seems he was caught in his turret while on a mission. The accident happened before the target but they continued with Frank's consent.
         Now getting back to February 9th, this was to be my first mission. Well we were about half way across the Channel at nineteen thousand feet. We were on oxygen and I had just charged my gun, sat on a flak suit and was all set when we received the word to return.  I was greatly disappointed, but I could easily see the reason for the call back. It was so thick up there that we couldn't see the rest of our formation. We landed with our full bomb load.
         My next attempt was soon after, but we didn't get off the ground, for the mission was scrubbed.  We had bad weather for quite a few days, so they detailed me to coal guard (watching the coal pile) for three days.
         My next try was last Monday, February 21st, I was to fly with the lead ship. The ship was a "J" type and because of it being lead, they were to have it manned by an eleven man crew. I know the men on this ship a long time, since I was on a ground crew, and now I sleep in the same barracks with them. (The same applies to the enlisted men on the first ship I tried. They live in the same barracks.)
        We all arrived at the ship and when it was pre-flighted they found it had a crack in one of the superchargers. Now the right waist gunner was to fire the nose turret, in place of the bombardier, while I was to take right waist.  The ground crew started to change the supercharger, thinking maybe we could catch up with the formation before they reached the target.  Well, the Engineering Officer, Capt. Minor, came out and said we were to take another ship. When we arrived at this other ship we found it was a "D" type without a nose turret. This left me on the ground again. I was beginning to believe I'd never make that first mission.
        You know these past three days I've been listed for squadron detail, but I've been going out on my own hoping to get started. After being disappointed this time I returned to the site where I met the first sergeant, he told me to report after chow, thirteen hundred hours for duty. Well all afternoon I was out sweeping the road.
         Tuesday, February 22nd, the CQ (charge of quarters) woke me and asked if I wanted to fly. Naturally I said yes. I got up and dressed, went to the picket post where I met this same CQ, he's a nice little fellow named Repetsky. We've had many a beer together. Anyway, he claimed operations called and said I was too tall. I continued on to breakfast where I had some nice hot coffee and pancakes with sausages. While I was eating, Lt. Middleton came in and asked if I'd like to fly left waist-assistant engineer.
         We started off in his jeep for the drying room.  I changed to flying clothes, I didn't know the target, time for take off, or anything. All I knew was that the pilot's name was Cardinez.
         Well, I arrived at the ship where I met a few of the crew, whom I knew. The radio operator was Sgt. Clarno and the right waist was Sgt. Richardson. We were all set for someplace in Germany and it was near taxi time. I looked around for my helmet but couldn't find it. I couldn't go without a helmet.
         I jumped on a truck and the fellow took me to the drying room where I took out a new helmet. I came out of the drying room and back on the truck, we drove to the perimeter. Couldn't go any further though, for it was crowded with planes lined up for takeoff.  I started across the field in the direction of our dispersal. Just about got there when I noticed my plane pulling out on the taxi strip. I caught a jeep and started after it but a couple of planes had cut in front of us, so we decided to go around the other way, to the foot of the takeoff strip.  We had to give it up for that side of the field was also blocked with planes.  The next ride was on the back of an MP's motorcycle. We cut across the grass field to the point of take off. Now I knew I had my plane cut off and that he couldn't leave without me.

 44 Bomb Group lineup for mission
44 Bomb Group lined up for mission take-off at Shipdham. Photo by waist gunner Bill Jangl, 66 Sq.  Courtesy of Norm Nutt

         
I started up along the wings of the roaring planes, looking for the letter "R" marked on the rudder. While I was walking I came across Lt. Middleton sitting in a jeep. I told him the story, climbed in the jeep with him and we took off past the planes, looking for my ship. We found it waiting in a dispersal.
         Now after all this running around we found the helmet in the ship. Seems someone had carried it in by mistake.
         We took off, climbed to seventeen thousand, got across the channel, then noticed we were in the wrong formation. We saw a few fighters but believed them to be friendly, anyway, someone spotted a formation at eleven o'clock, it was ours, so we got into position. In a few minutes the lead ship started to take us down and before we knew it we were headed back. What a life!  After this return I was made Sergeant. At least I had received something for my efforts.

Notice "GJ" radio call of the 506 Sq. on fuselage
Sgt. William J. Mulholland

        Now today, or should I say at four this morning, I took it upon myself to try again. We got up about 4:30 in the morning, ate, and went to briefing. The target was deep in Germany, gas consumption was the main headache.  We intended landing at an RAF field near the coast upon return.
         Take off was 8:30 and I was to fly right waist in the same lead ship as Monday with the same crew. The pilot was Lt. Clements, co-pilot Lt. Kodia, navigator Lt. Baykin, bombardier Lt. Boumbicka (Boogy). The radio operator was Sgt. Shook, engineer Sgt. Jim Bolger, nose turret Sgt. Lefty Tiemier, ball turret Sgt. Rex Hagner, left waist Sgt. Claude (Little Joe) Horner, tail Sgt. Huggins, and I.  
         First thing that happened was that the take off was postponed an hour, then soon after, the mission was scrubbed. Now I'm scheduled to fly with the same crew tomorrow, in the same position. Hope we make it.

         In all my attempts at my first mission I can honestly say I've never felt uneasy. Don't know why, maybe I will when I get over the target.
         There is one thing that bothers me on all my trips into the air, whether on a practice hop or a regular mission, and that is that I get airsick upon coming down from high altitude. I throw off my stomach either in the plane or after getting on the ground, but it's soon over and I'm alright after.

 

 

Sgt. "Lefty" Tienier (3rd from left)

 

 


FEBRUARY 24, 1944    GOTHA      Crew List
        I finally made my first mission. I went with Lt. Clements and crew, I flew right waist. We had twenty-two 100 lb incendiaries. The target was Gotha in Germany. We hit the plant right in the center, flames and smoke poured from the place, believe it was a Messerschmitt parts factory.
         I saw a lot of planes going down, most of them were ME109's. They were blowing up like flies. This was mostly due to our fighter escort, P47 Thunderbolts. I saw only one "Lib" go down. He came out from under us, left to right. He was from another group, his bomb bay doors were open and he was in flames, then he started to come apart, first the right wing. After this he started to spiral and disintegrate.
         My heated gloves and shoes went out on this mission. I kept moving around, but frost bit my big toe tip on the right foot.

 


FEBRUARY 25, 1944    FURTH      Crew List

B-24s flying through flack

         My second mission was with Lt. Johnson's crew. I flew left waist and it was really a very long trip. The target was in Germany, it was called Furth. We did a wonderful job, hit everything as planned.
         There wasn't any fighter opposition but the flak was very heavy. They hit our plane about ten different places. Most of it came from a city about a hundred miles this side of the target. We went over this city going in and they put a nice hole in our left wing, then upon the return they came through again. I was standing in the window, holding on, for I knew the pilot would turn the ship and sure enough he stood it on the right wing tip. They put a hole through our ship right at the command deck and cut the electric system causing our heated suits and interphones to go out.
      [Messerschmitt Bf-110 plant.  Of  239 B-24s  33 were lost.]


FEBRUARY 29, 1944

        This morning we were woken up at 3:50, had breakfast and then went to 5 o'clock briefing. We were to take off at 7:45, climb to 24,000 ft. over the target, which was in Germany.
       Our time for return was 1330 hrs. and we were promised liquors rations at interrogation. We dressed in our flying clothes, then took our bags to the ship.  Later we went for our guns and brought them out to the plane.
        I was to fly right waist with Lt. Clements and crew.  Little Joe and I helped each other get our guns mounted, lined flak suits on the floor to stand on, and were just getting our parachute harnesses adjusted when we heard someone say "Scrubbed".  I jumped out the hatch and inquired, sure enough it was called off.  I needn't mention how disappointed we all were after getting up so early.
        I changed clothes and went to the hospital to see about the tip of my toe, the one I had frost bitten on my first mission. The doctor, Capt. Allison, said it wasn't bad but to watch it. I also had him look at the heel of my left foot. The shoe caused a corn or some such thing to come out. Anyway, they were burning it out with nitric acid for some time but it still hurts when walking.

 44th Bomb Group waiting on the line

 


MARCH 3, 1944  Crew List

       A few days have passed since my last mission, but today we started out to bomb Berlin. We encountered very little flak and when we were about 200 miles from the target we turned back because of intense clouds. We didn't see but two enemy fighters. They were very low, they came out from under our planes from right to left. I happened to be flying left waist. We returned to our base with the full bomb load but we received credit for a mission. Our pilot was Lt. Lucas.
        A few planes from another group got through to Berlin, believe they were Fortresses. This was the first daylight bombing of the city.
                                                          [95 & 100 BGs & 4th Fighter Group made it to Berlin - 5 B-17s lost]


MARCH 6, 1944   BERLIN      Crew List

         Now this was the day of my fourth mission. I was scheduled to fly with Lt. Clements and crew as the eleventh man. We were to fly deputy lead.  I flew right waist and Little Joe flew left, our target was Berlin. This time we made it. We didn't hit our listed target but we did hit yards outside the city.

       Just as we were making our run on the target another formation came sliding over us with their bomb bay doors open making the same run. The group leader of our group claimed he thought the upper formation would drop their bombs through us so he made another run. In fact he made two more runs and still couldn't make a hit.
        Flak was very heavy and there was a number of enemy fighters in the air along with our Lightning escort. I was kneeling at the waist, holding my gun with my left hand and throwing chaff with the right, in order to throw off the flak batteries aim. One burst of flak came very close on the right wing, it seemed to lift the plane in the air.

 
451st BG B-24 over a target in Germany on April 17, 1945

         We continued in formation and after leaving the target area the engineer and navigator decided to figure out the fuel consumption, in the meantime number three engine prop governor went out and the engine was running wild.
         The figures first showed our fuel very low and we were thinking of landing in a neutral country. Second check showed a good tail wind and enough fuel for a landing in southern England at least. We finally landed at our own base and after examining the plane we couldn't find a hole. The next day the assistant crew chief found six holes in the de-icer boot, between number three and four engines.  [First full scale attack on Berlin.  Of 660 bombers, 69 were lost plus 11 fighters.  80 German fighters shot down.  The most costly Eighth Air Force mission of the war.]


MARCH 7, 1944

         This day I wasn't scheduled to fly so I got a pass for 24 hours, Wednesday evening.  Little Joe (Claude Horner), Jimmy Bolger, Carl Shook and myself walked to the nearest station (3 miles) to catch the 4:20 train to town.
         Joe and I were standing on the platform when we heard some other GI's hollering. We looked up and saw a "Lib" from our field turn over and dive straight into the ground, the flames shot up very high. Upon returning we heard that a fighter plane (Thunderbolt) had been playing around and hit the "Lib". Everyone was killed including the fighter pilot, believe there was eight aboard the "Lib" (Wasp Nest).


MARCH 13, 1944
         Last Saturday we were told we'd have to do thirty missions. I suppose we'll be here for the duration, rumors on the invasion are very strong, hope it starts soon.

MARCH 15, 1944     BRUNSWICK     Crew List

          Today we pulled a raid on Brunswick, this was my fifth. We had a good ride and the sky was full of planes. Saw a few enemy planes, they sneaked out of the clouds and knocked down a "Lib" in our formation.  The escort Thunderbolt P47's and Lightning P38's were right after them but some got away. The escorts are numerous these days and very eager.
         We went through quite a lot of flak, not so much at the target as on the return home. The enemy fighter attack usually takes place after a flak barrage (as they did at this time) expecting to find an opening in the formation. 

P-47 Thunderbolt

P-38 Lightning


MARCH 18, 1944    FRIEDRICHSHAFEN       Crew List

         This was one of the worst missions for sometime, one would think they were tipped off. We had the greatest loss since Wiener Neustadt, which took place some time back. The target was Friedrichshafen. I flew with Lt. Grow and crew, co-pilot was Lt. Davis, bombardier Lt. Ray, navigator Lt. Dyer, engineer Sgt. Williams, radio Sgt. Bolton, ball Sgt. Elliott, left waist Sgt. Heger, tail Sgt. Thompson and I flew right waist.
         We just got into enemy territory when the tail gunner reported the colliding of two "Libs" in a formation far to the rear, both went down in flames. It wasn't a good start, anyway we kept on to the target with no opposition.
         On the bomb run I was busy throwing chaff, flak started to come up in every inch of space or so it seemed. We were about to drop our bombs when another formation on our right slid under us, very close, it's a wonder we didn't all crash.
        Our leader turned from the target and made another run, ships were going down all over, and by the time we came out of the target our escort was gone ahead.  Chutes were going down all over, some were trying to make Switzerland but were being blown back into Germany. One "Lib" tried to ditch in Lake Constance on the Swiss side, he circled and seemed to be trying to slide it in, but when he turned he hit an embankment and blew up.
         We were coming out of all this flak (which was very intense) when the ship just outside my waist window was hit. Number four engine started to smoke and number one burst into flame. This ship was from our squadron and flown by Lt. Alberts, the letter was "Pea Bar" (P).
         He slid under our ship from right to left for a short while, then came back and started to lose altitude, gradually, then the left wing blew off and it started to spiral, when it hit the ground it blew up.  I didn't see anyone get out but some say they saw a few when the ship went from my vision. The crew had plenty of time to bail out, or so it seemed, and they were quite a way down before the wing blew off.

       We were out of range of flak by this time, and things were pretty quiet, there were sighs of relief over the interphone.  All of a sudden the pilot and those in the nose started to describe an attack on a formation up ahead (392nd Gp). They saw about fifty FW190's attack the rear of this formation and knock out three ships.
        We waited for our turn, but they only made one pass on the left, the side the sun was on, when about twenty P38's came diving out of the sky. The Lightnings went diving right through them.  The left waist (Heger) was firing like mad and his tracers were all around the FW's. Bomb load-eight tons.

 
Sturmgruppen Bomber Destroying  FW-190's (Keith Ferris)

[The Germans had smoke floats on Lake Constance to obscure the target.
Twelve damaged B-24s landed in Switzerland and a total of 43 bombers went down due mostly to German fighters.]

Another account from a gunner shot down on this mission


MARCH 19, 1944

        Don't know if I mentioned it before, but every time I fly, I have to fight off a gagging effect which makes me very ill. I usually give in to my illness on the return over the channel. Anyway I've been to the flight surgeon several times, but his remedy doesn't help.  The squadron doctor says I should return tomorrow morning and be grounded permanently. 


MARCH 21, 1944    WATTEN    Mission Comments 

         I flew with Lt. Grow and crew today. We had no losses. Our target was Hasdin (near Calais) in France. It wasn't the opposition expected, just a little flak.  The engineer in a ship on our right was scratched across the cheek with flak. He lives in our barracks, name is L. A. Smith.

[In the published records I can't find any proof that the 506 Sq went to Watten/Hasdin on this date.   All references are to the 67 Sq, and the mission does not show up on Bill Mulholland's, Lt. Grow's nor L. A. Smith's record.]


APRIL 1, 1944   Mission Comments
         Planes went to Ludwigshafen, but they missed the target, were even suspected of bombing Switzerland.

 APRIL 4, 1944
        I'm leaving this morning on a four day furlough, it really starts tomorrow.

APRIL 9, 1944

        Just returned from my furlough, had a real nice time in London, met a girl, cousin of my friend, John Carmody.  Her name is Mary Cotter, she was very nice and we had a swell time. We went to eat at a Chinese restaurant, saw the picture "Song of Bernadette" then went to an Irish dance. At the dance we met her girl friend, Betty Carr, she was a very pleasant girl and we all had a lot of laughs.
         Upon my return to camp I found my squadron had lost five ships and crews, their target was Brunswick. I knew almost all these fellows to speak to.


APRIL 11, 1944    BERNBURG        Crew List

        Went to Bernburg, lost another crew in our barracks. I flew with Lt. Clements and crew. We had twenty pound fragmentations aboard.
        We didn't meet up with much opposition, except for a few fighters that made a pass. When we came out of the target, or right over it, I left my right waist gun to take pictures from the hatch.  I was hooked up to the interphone, when I heard the navigator say, "The plane's on fire, watch it!"  

        I thought he meant our plane so I was watching Little Joe, expecting him to pick up his parachute. He kept looking out one window, then the other. I figured it was the tail, but as long as he didn't go for his 'chute it was alright.
        Well, when I returned to my window I noticed the ship, Southern Comfort, was missing. This crew slept in our barracks. I know the pilots name is Lt. Money. The enlisted men were Andy Groff, Herbert Hill, "Roop", Don Young, Kirschner and ...(unfinished). The bombs seemed to get stuck in the rear bomb bay, the ship went on fire, the tail came off and she blew up. Three were reported bailing out.


Southern Comfort II shot down April 11, 1944


APRIL 26, 1944

        Now I'm back from the rest home. It was about five minutes from Limington, a beautiful mansion.   They gave us civilian clothes, and bicycles. We rode all over the country with no interference.  We went horseback riding, fishing, boating, skeet shooting, archery and ball playing.
         The inside of the house was beautiful, like something you'd see in the movies. The estate was five hundred acres and it had three very small lakes on it, woods, and the most beautifully colored trees and flowers I have ever seen.


APRIL 29, 1944
        Our ships went to Berlin and they were shot up quite bad. One of the ships from our squadron went down in the North Sea. The entire crew was saved...they live in our barracks. Only just suffered from shock, they're spending a few days in the hospital.

68th Sq Navigator John W. McClane's description of this mission


APRIL 30, 1944 Sunday
        No mission today, everyone waited for pay time then took off for different towns and villages.

MAY 3, 1944 WIZERNES      Crew List
        Well, I finally made another mission, went to France. The target was near St. Omer. The pilots name was Lt. Scuddy, we carried four 2000 pounders.

MAY 4, 1944 

         We started on a mission today, got over the Channel and we were all called back because of intense clouds, couldn't even see each other. No credit for the mission. I flew with Lt. Dines.  I'm listed as a spare for tomorrow but I believe there's a stand down.


MAY 5, 1944 

        They called us out at 12:20 in the morning, we ate and went to briefing at 1:30. It turned out to be a practice bombing, something new. Guess it's designed to get "Jerry" worried as he knows we're in the air. He puts the entire coast on the alert.
        We spares were waiting in Operations, listening to the German broadcast of music, when we heard "Achtung, Achtung," then some talk and "Heil Hitler." Music followed, sounded like an anthem, then the station went off the air. Think the RAF were over at the time. When the operations officer arrived he sent us back to bed.


MAY 9, 1944 

        The boys went to Brunswick today. I spent the day around camp. All planes returned.


MAY 10, 1944 

        Planes went to France, all returned safely. I went to town, did a little shopping. I really wanted to have a photo taken, but couldn't make it. Places all had queues.


MAY 11, 1944

        The planes went out today, don't know where, some place deep in France.  Fifteen of us combat fellows were picked out to start a base defense training program. They had so many from each squadron.
        We were all moved to a small site near the field, in fact, we have a plane almost in our yard. Every man has to put in ninety days here, either before or after his missions.


MAY 12, 1944 

       Now we started on our first day, didn't really start, but we were woke up at 6:30, made beds after roll call, then off to breakfast. Upon our return we all pitched in and helped clean the site.  I built a bicycle stand, while the other fellows washed the barracks floor and cleaned the grounds.  [The commando group was formed on May 12, in expectation of a counter-invasion.]


MAY 13, 1944

        We were woke at 6 this morning, had roll call, ate breakfast, returned to cut grass and get rid of all the trash. In the afternoon we had some marching, it's really got me disgusted. I had so much of that stuff at Jefferson Barracks.
         I only hope I can get back flying again, that is in combat, you know. I'm still on flying status, and have to put in four hours a month.  The only way or hope I have is that the fellows finishing their missions will be sent to replace us.


Standing: Alfred Truono, Astoria, NY; Bill; unknown; Sykes; Big Tom
Sitting: Underwood, St. Louis; Bill Mulholland
"Commandos" May or June, 1944


MAY 14, 1944 (Mother's Day)

        Got up at 6 again, answered roll call, and went off to breakfast and 7 o'clock Mass.

        We returned for a little drill, (how I hate that) and after dinner we went to watch the shooting of mortars by the "Home Guard." I know their lieutenant, he's a prominent butcher in the village outside this site, name is Mr. Riches. His son works on the base, driving a little truck, he has a sort of crippled leg.  All our traveling is done in trucks, that's how we get from the other sites, and mess halls.
        Today is Mothers Day, my first without a mother or father, can't do anything about it though.  I haven't wrote a letter in so long now. I don't know what's wrong, can't sit still even to write in this book.
        Planes didn't fly today but we lost one yesterday, it was from another squadron. Someplace in Germany.


MAY 15, 1944

        Well, I did a little drilling and some calisthenics, don't care for any of it. The ships were out this morning on a short hop, believe they went to the Calais area in France.


MAY 16 & 17, 1944

        Both these days we had rain, the ships didn't fly and we had very little to do. I drew a carbine, cleaned it and sat around today (Wed). Yesterday I went to operations and asked if I could get back on missions. They said that they'd try, hope it's soon.


MAY 18, 1944

        Planes weren't flying today. We worked cleaning up this new site today. I helped put sand-filled bombs in the ground for rail posts. Some of the other boys made a volley ball court.  In the afternoon I cleaned a pair of trousers, a shirt, and my hat. Later I pressed them along with my blouse. I'm in the day room now writing and drinking cider, just finished taking a shower. I have an awful lot of mail to catch up on, don't know where to start.


MAY 19, 1944

        Was up at 6 this morning, did a little drilling and calisthenics. Then in the afternoon I expect to go into town for a couple of hours to have a few photos taken.


MAY 20, 1944 

        Yesterday I rode on a bicycle to the station, left the cycle there and caught the 2:20 train for town. Returned on the 6:38 and then rode to the local pub. I got back to camp about 11 in the evening.
        This morning I was up at 6 again, did some drilling and ball playing. After dinner we continued with the same program. Believe I'll close this diary until I start flying again, for one day is like the next, with the exception of an occasional visit from "Jerry".

 
Bill Mulholland in the East Anglian countryside


JUNE 6, 1944

       This is invasion day. Our troops landed in northern France this morning. It caused very little excitement here. We're restricted to the post and our commando outfit is on the alert. Fifteen men from our outfit are to walk the woods and grounds in search of paratroopers. The rest of us are to sleep with our clothes on until further notice.



44th Bomb Group B-24 over the invasion fleet in the English Channel

JUNE 7, 1944

        I haven't taken my clothes off, except for a shower, since the invasion started and the order is still on. They had paratroopers at another base last night, we stood by in case they couldn't hold them.  We're used as a Mobile Routing Unit. The planes are guarded all night by other fellows, but we're to corner the "Jerrys" and wipe them out.
        Our planes are going all day, bombing in all weather. Hope I get to fly soon, I'd like to see some of the operations over there.


JUNE 14, 1944    AIRFIELD IN FRANCE (CHATEAUDUN)    Crew List

        I went to briefing this morning to try and get to fly. Well I did fly, as an observer. We carried 500 lb bombs and bombed an airfield in France, not too far ahead of our invasion lines. Another group bombed the same target just ahead of us. I watched our bombs hit, and they fell short of the target, that is, with the exception of a few that landed right in the center of the previous groups bombing. We bombed at 20,000 ft.
        The Channel was full of boats. All looked the same type, cargo mostly. Some were coming while others were going. Just about at Cherbourg there were barges all lined up along the shore. We were woke at 1 in the morning, took off at 4, and returned about 10:15.

Navigator John W. McClane describes this mission


JUNE 27, 1944    CREIL       Crew List

        I went on a mission today, we took off at 3:15 and returned about 9. The target was a railroad yard and tunnel at the far end, located in France. I believe it was called Creil, results were good.
        We hit a lot of flak, lost one ship over the target. The pilots name was Scuddy. I flew with them the 3rd of May. The fellow sleeping over the top of me was flying in another ship. They were hit in the bomb bay, knocked out the hydraulic system and caused a gas leak. This fellow put his chute on and bailed out right after bombs away. His name was Tuffy Strange and he flew with Lt. Stone. The plane landed safely on the field.
        I believe five ships landed at other fields in England. One crashed at another field, killing one fellow named Sgt. Romeo, and injuring two others. Our ship had one hole in the stabilizer.


JUNE 29, 1944

         Planes returned from a target in Germany, believe we lost two in our squadron. One pilot's name was Lt. Westcott ["My Everlovin' Gal" shot down over Magdeburg] and the other was Lt. Landahl. One ran into the other after being hit.


JULY 13, 1944    SAARBRUCKEN     Crew List

        I flew today with a lead crew as right waist gunner. We hit a target called Saarbrucken, just inside the German border from Holland. We were shot at from several guns but no hits.
        My previous days were spent mostly on guard duty except for a 24 hour pass , which I spent in town.


JULY 14, 1944

        No mission today, just a practice hop. Oh yes! Capt. Clements crew returned from the States last Monday, that is, all except Capt. Clements and Jimmy Bolger, the engineer.


AUGUST 8, 1944   LA PERTH      Crew List

        Since my last mission I have been doing guard duty, never on the schedule. Jimmy and the Captain have returned but haven't pulled a mission as yet.
        I was on a mission to France today. The name of the target was La Perth. We dropped our bombs and returned with very little flak and no enemy fighters.


AUGUST 12, 1944    JOUVAINCOURT      Crew List

        Another target in France, an airfield near Jouvaincourt. We were hit with flak and lost one ship. Everyone bailed out and the ship kept flying back with us. It was very low but in level flight, probably on automatic pilot, fire in the engine went out. We turned north over France while the empty ship went straight. (We were told that RAF or American fighter planes had to go up and shoot this plane down to prevent its crashing in England.)


 AUGUST 13, 1944    LE HAVRE-ROUEN    

Crew List

        This mission seemed easy. We were to bomb roads between Le Havre and Rouen to cut off the Germans' escape. After bombs away we ran into some really accurate flak. One ship caught fire and six chutes came out almost immediately. I watched it go down, then three more chutes came out. Just about this time the wing came off and she blew up with a trail of smoke going to the ground.
        All three of the past missions were flown by pilot Lt. T. L. Smith. We had different crew members every day. This one was his last mission, finished up.

Navigator John W. McClane of the 68th Sq describes the same event 

 


AUGUST 24, 1944    LANGENHAGEN      Crew List

        This mission was in Germany, quite long, Langenhagen (near Hannover). We got shot up pretty bad by flak.  The ailerons were shot out, number one engine, and the left tire, along with plenty of holes through the ship. We came down on the runway for an emergency landing. When we hit we rocked and swayed, then swung around out onto the grass to a stop.
        The other waist gunner and I lay prone on the floor, under the waist guns. When the ship landed, the two waist guns broke loose and smashed into each other above our heads. When the ship stopped, I got up and slid out the escape hatch, which was about two feet off the ground.


AUGUST 25, 1944    SCHWERIN     Crew List

        This mission was also long, all around Germany near Sweden. The target was buildings on an airfield and we really plastered them. Not only did the pictures prove this but I had a look out the window, what a mess. The name of the nearest town was Schwerin. We saw very little flak. These two missions were flown by pilot Lt. Durett.


   
   Photo: Hamm Marshalling Yards - 44BG "Trolley Mission" booklet

SEPTEMBER 26, 1944 Tuesday    HAMM  Crew List

        All this time I haven't flown, pulled planes guard up until about the 10th, but then guard duty was abolished.  Today I flew on a mission to Hamm with a new crew. The pilot's name was Winsott. In fact, I think I'll be on this crew steady, or until the regular member returns from the hospital. A truck hit him and broke his leg.
         We were to hit the narrow end of large marshalling yards. Our load was six 500 lb bombs. I was watching the ground while throwing "chaff" and saw the bomb hits of the first group. They missed. We made another run on the target as this first group almost dropped their load through us. They came right over us on our first approach of the target. Our second run wasn't so hot. We just caught the outside rails. The flak wasn't so bad, and all returned safely.

Navigator John W. McClane of the 68th Sq describes this mission 

SEPTEMBER 28, 1944    KASSEL [Henschel plant]     Crew List

        We went to Kassel today. The boys were there yesterday. They missed the target, but we hit it today right smack in the center. Flak was heavy but not too close. When you can't hear it it's not close. The pilot was Lt. Lowe. We carried five 100 lb incendiaries. The target was a tank production plant.

[The day before, Sep. 27, 1944, 25 B-24s, out of 37, of the 445th BG were shot down by an 
estimated 90 German fighters.  236 men missing.  They missed the target, Kassel, by 20 miles.]

Memoir by Ed Picardo: 44th Bomb Group Gunner on the Sept. 27, 1944 Kassel Mission


SEPTEMBER 30, 1944 Saturday    HAMM      Crew List

        I flew with Lt. Lowe, again our target was Hamm marshalling yards. MPI  was a little closer to town, and according to reports our results were good. Cloud cover was nine tenths, we bombed PFF, load was twelve 500 pounders. Flak was a little closer and quite heavy. We had one hole in the de-icer boot.
         Bandits have been reported in the air these past few days although we never encountered any. Thursday one group lost twenty eight out of thirty two. Our escort was very good. I did see one ship blow up, must have been a fighter, it was just like lighting a match and letting it fall to the ground.
         The reason I thought the ship was a fighter was because no bomber was flying at that level, which was about ten thousand. There were seven or eight P47s down there and this ship blew up right in front them. Whether they were chasing a "Jerry" and got him, or whether it was one of them, I don't know.


 OCTOBER 4, 1944

        I haven't been scheduled since Saturday, just hanging around taking care of different things.  The Germans are sending rocket bombs this way lately. Three hit Norwich, our closest city, this evening.  One landed on a golf course and another in a park. Don't know where the third one landed but we heard it out here. One morning (4:30am) last week we got the warning and we could here it coming overhead. Everyone was quiet until we heard the explosion, then there was a regular chatter, and guessing as to how close it was.


A 486th BG bombardier gives his impressions of the V-1 and V-2 campaigns


More about the V-1 Buzzbomb 


OCTOBER 5, 1944 
        Two more bombs landed this morning in Norwich. The ships are out on a mission, don't know what the target is.

OCTOBER 6, 1944    HAMBURG      Crew List

        I flew with Capt. Clements' crew. Today we went to Hamburg, saw some flak but it wasn't so close. We flew Deputy Lead with four 500lb bombs and six smoke bombs. They float down by parachute and the rest of the ships drop their bombs on them. Just over the target we smelled something burning. I asked Little Joe if he smelled it, when the navigator yelled, "Get a fire extinguisher and put the fire out!" All this conversation was over the interphone.
         I went out into the bomb bay to see if it was there. All I saw was a parachute wrapped around the controls, with a string out under the fuselage. I suppose the bomb was on the other end. Anyway, Jimmy (Bolger), the engineer, tried to close the bomb doors but the one side was caught by the cord from the chute to the bomb. I got a knife and went out again and cut the bomb loose. This unwound the chute bringing it inside. We intend to cut it up and make scarves for flying.  The fire was a short up under the navigator desk, just a lot of smoke, that's all.


OCTOBER 7, 1944

        The boys went back to Kassel today. They must have been expecting them as we lost eleven ships in the group, three from our squadron. Those that returned said the flak was very thick and accurate. The Germans must have found every gun they could scrape up and rolled it into that town.
        Well, I'm up to fly tomorrow. The pilot's name is Gossett, he flies lead.

Two survivors of this mission meet in Florida


OCTOBER 8, 1944
        They put the regular fellow up on the crew, so that left me out. Anyway the mission was SNAFU.

OCTOBER 18, 1944 Wednesday

        Haven't flown once since the Ninth. Went to Norwich last Wednesday and then spent this weekend in London, returning Monday night. Had a very quiet time, went pubing in the evenings. Sunday night I took a girl from the Red Cross Club to her home in the suburbs. I only spoke with her fifteen minutes at her station for I had to catch the last train back (to Marble Arch, London).
         After going to sleep, I was disturbed by the air raid siren but kept dozing off until I finally fell to sleeping sound. In the morning I found my so called dreams, of bombs shaking the building, were true. Or rather, weren't true, for they were actually shaking the beds.
        Received second cluster to Air Medal.


OCTOBER 21, 1944

        Still no flying for me, in fact, there was little flying for anyone due to bad weather.  Five of us fellows cooked a swell dinner today. We had steaks (from the mess), onions, bread and butter, dill pickles, beer and cigars.


NOVEMBER 10, 1944 Friday    HANAU    Crew List

        Last weekend I was in London staying at a girl's house, and had a very nice time, her people were swell. Sunday afternoon I was having tea with this girl and her mother, everything was quiet when all of a sudden there was a terrible explosion. The house shook like paper, both the girl and her mother grabbed me. I didn't know what happened but found out it was a rocket bomb [V-2] that had landed a few blocks away. The sound was like a cloud burst, but much louder, with a rolling noise after the explosion.

Mockup of V-1 on launcher at Peenemunde
More about the German V-2 campaign

        I went on a mission today. We bombed an airfield in Germany, near Hanau. I flew with Lt. Kimball, we led the 491st Bomb Group, had a command pilot aboard. I flew right waist. We hit flak over a town before and after the target. I don't know how bad our formation was hit as we returned to our field alone, but our group had two fellows wounded, one in the face and one in the butt.


NOVEMBER 21, 1944 Tuesday    ESCHWEILER    Crew List

        Well, I went on a mission last Thursday, Nov. 16, and returned to my base only yesterday afternoon.  We bombed the German lines at Eschweiler, only two and a half miles from our own lines. We went in at eighteen thousand and as we passed our lines they threw up friendly flak below us to show us their position.
         I flew with Capt. Kimbel, we led the entire division. When we came back over England the sky was closed in and we couldn't land. Our field radioed for us to go south of London. Well, we finally saw an opening which was located 40 miles south of the city called Odiham (pronounced, Odeam). This field was an RAF base for Mosquitoes, anyway, we got down with the formation and had to stay their until it cleared. The only two planes on this field from our group were ours and the Deputy Lead. Well, another fellow and I decided to go to town Saturday afternoon, and when we returned we couldn't find our crew members. We didn't worry much until Sunday, then we found out our ship and the Deputy Lead had taken off Saturday afternoon. We waited around until Monday morning and took off with the other group (without chutes), landing at North Pickenham. We returned to our base by command car. No trouble when we returned, the Major saw us today and he said if we hadn't returned by today he was going after us.


NOVEMBER 24, 1944 Friday  [Snafu] 

        Been scheduled three days now, yesterday we were all ready to run up the engines when the "Tannoy" opened up with "Snafu".
        We had a swell turkey supper last night, all the trimmings including an orchestra in the mess hall. We also had a barrel of mild beer in the barracks.
        Today I got up at 11 am, washed and went to chow, then did a little work on my bicycle. Now I'm back in the barracks, straightening things up. Expect to go to Norwich this evening to see a fellow that had lived in Shipdham.


NOVEMBER 28, 1944    BINGEN    Crew List

        Last Saturday, 11/25, I went on a mission to Bingen, in Germany near Frankfurt. The target was a marshalling yard which was supposed to be packed with supplies for the German front.
        I flew with Capt. Kimbel as a right waist gunner, we led the 44th Bomb Group. Don't know if we hit the target, for there was a cloud cover right over the target, but from what I could see from the hatch door it looked like they landed on the spot. When I returned from said mission I received a pass from Sunday afternoon until Monday night. Today was a stand down but I attended a class this afternoon.
        Oh yes! Capt. Kimbel's finished his missions, now I'm up to fly with Capt. Gossett. It will be his last, suppose we'll fly about Thursday.
        We had quite a time landing Saturday as the fog and cloud cover was thick over the field. We landed on our third attempt and we came down with a bang.


JANUARY 5, 1945   Aborted

        Haven't flown a mission since Nov. 28. Last Sunday, Dec. 31, 1944, I was up to fly with Lt. Confer. We started down the runway with six 1000 lb. bombs. Half way down our number one engine went aflame. We stopped before the end of the runway and taxied to our dispersal. After running up the engine and finding nothing wrong, we took off. We just formed when our number one went queer, the pilot feathered it. We dropped our bombs in the North Sea and returned to the field.
        Last week a plane returned on three engines with a load of bombs. He made one pass at the field, then turned into the dead engine. The plane crashed and blew up, killing everyone. This is the second time this has happened.


FEBRUARY 8, 1945

        Well it's been quite a while since I've flown. I've been up six times including today, they were either scrubbed on the ground or in the air. Today we got over the North Sea when we were recalled. We couldn't see one another it was so thick. Everyone was to flash a light from the tail but I'll be darned if we could see one until it started to get light.  It was dark when we took off and continued that way until after 8 am.
        I'm flying with Lt. Ryan. He's a lead crew and has four to go, I have six. He only flies about once a month. We were Deputy Group Lead today.
        I don't know the complete crew. The right waist is SSgt. Andrew T. Clarke, he's an old acquaintance, hails from Georgia. Tail gunner is on his last mission, also a friend, hails from Astoria, L.I., and his name is SSgt. Alfonso Truono. The engineer is SSgt. Parko from Texas. Bombardier is from Flushing, L.I., I know him some months now, name is Lt. Barry.
        In the past month there have been about three "Libs" that have blown up, two from different groups. They crashed on separate days, one not far from our mess hall. The one on the field caught fire and when we were going to the mess hall, about 5:30 in the morning, we watched the flames. I was sitting eating when one of the bombs went off, thought the place was going to turn over. One guard who had been standing in a shack was killed, he was hit by fragments.


FEBRUARY 12, 1945   Recall

        This is the second day I have been up since my last writing. Today we had two targets - A Plan & B Plan. "A" was the Hermann Goering steel works and "B" was the German Headquarters since moving from Berlin.
        We got as far as Belgium and had to return, couldn't see your hand in front of you outside the plane. How, with all the planes in the air, we didn't hit into one another, is a miracle. We were leading the squadron and besides not being able to see, our "Mickey" went haywire. The pilot was Ryan.  After returning I went on a pass to London for two days.

[H2X "Mickey" was the RADAR for bombing through clouds.  Reportedly it was
dubbed "Mickey" because it was considered a "Mickey Mouse" invention.]


FEBRUARY 26, 1945 

        Ryan is grounded, looks like he'll not fly for some time. Believe it's a bad case of sinus.  I've been listed with Lt. Burns (he's a lead pilot) for the past week. Believe we'll fly the mission after next, as we're hold out for the next one.


FEBRUARY 27, 1945    HALLE    Crew List

        I flew today with Lt. Rockman, we carried ten 500 lb bombs. Our target was Halle, located southeast of Berlin. It took us over eight hours. One good thing about it was that we formed at seven thousand and hit the Continent at twelve, so that eliminated wearing our oxygen masks for a couple of hours.

           We saw no opposition near us, but there was flak to our right when we were coming up on the bomb run. Our group had to go through the flak and one of the ships was hit. They never had a chance, the ship went in flames and broke in pieces almost immediately. You could see the flaming parts floating around before disappearing beneath the clouds. When you see something like that you have to forget it and say to yourself, "Their number was just up," otherwise you'd be imagining everything about yourself, how you'd be burnt alive or blown to pieces.

 

 


MARCH 4, 1945    ASCHAFFENBURG    Crew List

        I flew with Lt. Burns today. We started out for a marshalling yard in Aschaffenburg, Germany. We just about got into enemy territory when the leader of the group decided the weather was too bad to continue to the target. We changed course and were looking for a target of opportunity, but when the leader opened his bomb bay doors we were over Switzerland. Our navigator was sore at the lead, but we had to follow and keep our squadron in formation, as we were squadron lead. They led us over Switzerland twice and we really expected this neutral country to send up their fighters. When the group lead finally dropped his bombs we were off to the left and didn't see the drop, only thing I saw from the left waist was his smoke bomb trails. Burns was very angry. Anyway, we still had our bombs so we decided to look for another target while still in formation. Cloud cover was eight to ten tenths with an occasional opening. The bombardier spotted some village and let go. I believe he missed it though, I hope he did, for I can't see hitting people like that, with no military objective, although they do it with their rocket bombs over here. Two wrongs never make a right.


MARCH 5, 1945  Monday    HARBURG    Crew List

        We never expected to fly today but we did. They had us up for hold out lead but they got us out. We went to Harburg, about four miles from Hamburg, in fact the bomb run was right through the center of Hamburg. We saw very little flak and no fighters, although we received a call of bandits being in the air. The cloud cover was eight to ten tenths and the MPI was a marshalling yard. Don't know the results. Burns was the pilot (eng. was John Kennedy, Streetor, Ill.).
        Forgot to mention a little trouble encountered over the target. The radio operator, Mike Whalen, came stumbling out of the room over the bomb bay. He went to the hatch and started to get the oxygen hose hooked up. I ran back and connected it but he started to turn color. I then disconnected it, thinking I'd take his mask off and put the hose in his mouth. He wouldn't let go of the hose so I put it back to his mask, turned the emergency handle for pure oxygen and started to squeeze his mask, it was frozen. The ice broke up and I could see his color return.


MARCH 8, 1945    BETZDORF    Crew List

        I'm on Lt. Burns' crew regular now, until I finish. I don't know everyone's names, especially the officers. The radio man is Mike Whalen, engineer, John Kennedy, right waist is Andy C. Clarke, left is myself, tail is Sims. The nose differs, today it was Wally Truslow. That's all the enlisted men. The co-pilot is Lt. Petersen, navigator Lt. Rigger, bombardier Lt. Lawson, and I couldn't tell you the "Mickey" navigator's name.
        Our target was marshalling yards in Betzdorf, don't know the results as we had a cloud cover. There wasn't any enemy opposition.


MARCH 9, 1945

        We didn't fly today and were told we wouldn't fly tomorrow. The entire crew of enlisted men are going to the local pub.


 Damage from RAF "Ten-Ton Tessies"

MARCH 10, 1945    BIELEFELD    Crew List

          What a day. We weren't up to fly and they called us out. We were all to the local pub last night and it took the barracks members some time to get us out. After getting on oxygen I felt all right, it really surprised me. The target was a viaduct in Germany, the town was called Bielefeld. We still had cloud cover with no opposition. We were on the bomb run flying the lead for the high right squadron, eight miles from the MPI, when the low left squadron crossed underneath us throwing off our run. Anyway we dropped on the lead squadron's smoke trails.

 

Photo: Bielefeld Viaduct  - 44BG "Trolley Mission" Booklet.


MARCH 11, 1945   Sunday

        Well, I have one more to go, so this morning I got up for briefing and was going to volunteer to fly with Capt. Clements. We got our electric suits and went to briefing. The target was the submarine base at Kiel. Anyway, they took Clements off as lead and replaced him with Capt. Will. We went back to the sack, the ships all returned safely, some were shot up.


MARCH 12, 1945

        Last night we were up to fly today, but just before we retired we were scratched off.  Capt. Mack led the group and when they were over field a smoke bomb went off in the bomb bay. The acid from the bomb burnt the tail gunner, guess he was pulling pins, anyway, they made him bail out. He landed somewhere close by, we don't know the particulars, or how badly he's hurt.


MARCH 14, 1945    GUTERSLOH    Crew List

        Now this was my last mission for the completion of my tour.  I flew with Lt. Burns and crew, we bombed marshalling yards in Germany, believe the name of the town was Gutersloh. The target was visible and we hit the station smack in the center, others hit the suburbs. The town was small so there didn't seem to be much left of it. Our altitude was eighteen thousand and the bomb load forty four 100 pounders. We saw little flak and it was inaccurate. In all my flying I have never seen so many towns afire and bridges blown up. One city near the Rhine River was getting shelled, we could see the explosions every so often. Another town, very small, was practically wiped out by the bombs from medium bombers.
        The fellow that was burnt by acid from the smoke bomb is in the hospital, seems he got some in his eye. This fellow's name is Logan and he sleeps in my barracks.

 



68th Bomb Squadron, 44th Bomb Group,  dropping supplies to Operation Market Garden troops

MARCH 27, 1945  Monday

        Last Saturday we had a low level mission. They dropped supplies to the paratroopers behind the German lines. Our base was restricted from noon Friday 'til afternoon Saturday. The squadron lost two ships, pilots' names were Lt. Chandler and Lt. Wallace. The fellow sleeps next to me fell out of the ship and was killed. His name was A. C. Diaz, from Florida.

The two ships lost on March 24, 1944 were
Southern Comfort IV and Kay Bar]


APRIL 13, 1945  Friday

        About a week ago Wednesday or Thursday, a ship piloted by Lt. Brown failed to return. The regular bombardier was replaced by Lt. James J. Barry. This Lt. comes from Flushing, N.Y. and was quite a good friend of mine. Many a time we discussed the different places of amusement in Flushing. I flew with him once, the pilot being Lt. Ryan.
        Lt. Kyes' co-pilot claims he received Brown's call to the lead. He couldn't get in touch with him so this co-pilot relayed the message.
        The weather was very bad, clouds and sleet. They were returning from the target and were just around the battle lines when Lt. Brown said he had one engine out due to mechanical failure and couldn't keep up with the formation. He was given orders to drop below the clouds and look for an emergency landing field. The other ships saw him pull out and descend, they haven't heard from them since.
        Most of the officers in the squadron believe they're still somewhere on the Continent and just haven't gotten around to calling the field.


 
Melvin Petersen & Bill Mulholland

MAY 20, 1945 

        Everyone except the radio operator, who was killed, got out of the last plane I wrote about. Lt. Barry left for Flushing, N.Y., which is his home town.  We're all leaving for the States. Believe I'll fly back next Thursday or Friday.

 


RELATED LINKS

8th Air Force Installations in England

8th & 9th Air Forces in East Anglia

44th Bomb Group Web Page

44th Bomb Group - Unit History

AAF Bases in England as they are now

B-24 Best Web

B-24 Veterans' Group

B-24 Complete History

Bulletin Board - B-24 Historic Wings

Bulletin Board - 8th Air Force

Combat Diary - Victor Darilek, 389 BG

Combat Diary - John W. McLane's "A Navigator's Viewpoint" 68 Sq, 44th BG

Combat Diary - Clyde Whitt, 392 BG

Combat Diary - Odell Dobson, 392nd BG

Combat Diary - Don Maule, 44th BG

George Insley's Experiences Flying with the 44th BG

Norm Nutt's Account of flying with 44th BG

Second Air Division Assoc. Memorial to 44th BG

Shipdham, Norfolk, UK - Map

World War 2 in Europe History Resources

The Air War in Europe

USAF Museum Photo Archives

USAAF Insignia


Text William J. Mulholland
Page Brian Wickham

The masthead background is a silk escape map used by airmen in Europe.  This map is a section of "SHEET E".