Summary – Dale F.
Robertson Missions – Navigator of the Tung Hoy 723rd Squadron
1. 30 Flights
made into enemy territory
2. 40 Missions
3. 14 German
Fighters shot down by crew
4. 16 Good hits
5. 9 Poor hits on targets
6. 5 Fish
1000# Demolition bombs dropped
8. 282 500# Demolition bombs dropped
9. 48 100#
Demolition bombs dropped
Fragmentation bombs dropped
11. 100 hours 45
minutes, training flight hours in Alamogordo, New Mexico
12. 67 hours 15
minutes, flight time, Alamogordo to Manduria, Italy
13. 226 hours
flight time from Manduria to missions and return
14. March 30,
1944, Sofia, Bulgaria – our most precarious mission
15. Densest flak areas: Regensburg,
Germany – Vienna, Austria – Ploesti & Bucharest, Rumania – Sofia, Bulgaria
– Bolzano, Italy
** The notes in parenthesis were added by Pat Barbati, pilot
of the Tung Hoy, after reading Dale Robertson's summary of their missions.
Pilots, Gunners, Radiomen,
Bombardiers, Navigators and Ground Crew Personnel from their training schools
et al, assembled in Alamogordo, New Mexico, September 18, 1943 and the 450th
Bombardment Group (Heavy) was formed and in business. My training as Navigator
had been accomplished at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas and San Marcos Air
Force Base, Texas, with a commission of Second Lieutenant, Navigator. Our crew
as assigned at Alamogordo was to the 723rd Squadron.
First Pilot, John Lane, 2nd
Co-pilot, Robert Zink, 2nd
Bombardier, Chris Dalgish, 2nd
Navigator, Dale Robertson, 2nd
Engineer, Top Gun, LeRoy Adams,
Radio, Waist Gun, John Tierney,
Waist Gunner, Jim Keleshain, Sgt.
Nose Gunner, Edward Macafee, Sgt.
Ball (Bottom) Gun, William
Tail Gunner, Vernon D. Hasley, Sgt.
flew 100 hours, 45 minutes of practice time between September 22, 1943, and
November 12, 1943. Of that time, two whole hours were devoted to Navigation. It
was a night flight on October 16th, the assignment was for a
triangular pattern from Alamogordo to Albuquerque, New Mexico to San Antonio,
Texas to El Paso, Texas, and back up toward Albuquerque landing at Alamogordo.
This was all well and good except at flight altitude over Alamogordo, one can
see the city lights of all three points of the designated triangle. It was a
joke for a mission. It appeared that the group and squadron commanders (all
pilots) and pilots thought a Navigator's purpose aboard ship was
ballast. Such opinion was held until the time that radio compasses became
non-usable and expanses of jungle, water and sand became too large to see
(I did not feel that way. I depended on them on every flight
we made together)!!!!!!!!
21, 1943 the 450th left Alamogordo enroute to fly to the European
Theater of War Operations. The crews were to fly individually according to
schedule. The first leg was to Harrington, Kansas, where the B-24s were checked
and serviced and all necessary equipment was replaced and/or issued to crew
members. The weather was clear in New Mexico but turned to bad and stormy in
Kansas. Herington was not a plush base to stay in however, later situations
made it look pretty good. The flight was by pilot navigation via radio compass.
Flight time was 4 hours. Kansas was a dry state so booze was an unknown there.
25th we flew from Kansas to Morrison Field, West Palm Beach,
Florida. Take off weather was cold, snowy and windy. Planes ran off runways
consequently much delay was experienced. Our trip down revealed a bug in a
motor. On landing we took off again with a couple of engineers on board, flew
around awhile and on landing they fixed that which was ailing. Total flight
time 9 hours 15 minutes. All navigation by pilot radio compass. The weather in
West Palm Beach was balmy and warm. The crews were restricted to base. Zink and
I learned of a way to get into town so we did. We came back right through the
front gate. The MP's raised a question or two but we just walked on in. It
would have been a shame if we'd missed the evening.
27th we flew to Borinquen Field, Porto Rico. Flight time was 5 hours
and 30 minutes. It is a beautiful place. The trees, the base, the weather and
the bluest ocean in the world. Zink and I learned the meaning of the term
"Demon Rum" and were glad for the subsequent day's delay before continuing on
our trek. As usual the navigation done was by pilot radio compass.
took us to South America. A 6 hour 45 minute flight landed us at Atkinson
Field, Georgetown British Guiana. The flight was a new experience – mostly over
water, a bit scary but a thrill. The plane preformed fine. Lane navigated by
radio compass. I "follow" navigated as usual and came out well on my
calculations. The weather was great. I remember Georgetown for the new and
different fruits at mess and for one huge smell of the area. Information was
that "iron trees" were issuing the smell.
day, November 30th, found us airborne and enroute to Belem, Brazil.
About two hours out of Georgetown, heading southeasterly, it dawned on Lane
that there was no radio compass beaming out of Belem. The plane was on
automatic pilot and no one in the cockpit had monitored the flight. For the
first time since assembling the 450th, Lane asked me if I knew where
we were. I had been reckoning tentatively because we were flying over terrain
that rivaled "just water" for oneness. The ground below was generally flat and
totally covered by green growth. There were no visible rivers or mountain
features. It was most uninviting for landing. Inattention to business, and
alien land, no recognizable features, and no radio compass, Lane was confused
and excited. I told him we had left all recognizable landmarks so an exact
location determination was questionable. He stewed around. He ordered the
gunners to stations to sight on land features and they couldn't find any. In
time we crossed the Amazon River as calculated and I suggested a new course of
flight to Lane. Belem had a weak radio compass beam so I also suggested that
Lane now try his luck with them. He turned it on, pick up signal right on
course, and he was as happy as a lark. Best of all he got a hint of what the
navigator does and is supposed to do. Flight time 5 hours 45 minutes.
1943, found us enroute to Natal, Brazil, our last leg on the Americas side of the
Atlantic. It took 6 hours 15 minutes across another stretch of pure green
covered earth. There was no radio compass again except for the last hour of
flight. The pilots kept checking with me on this leg to make sure I was still
working. I pulled no "funnies" today. Lane took my suggestions today regarding
course and preformed a lot better. We
lay over in Natal. A few plane bugs were checked and corrected. In our
individual ways the whole crew was sitting out the next leg across the Atlantic
1943 found us flying east with nothing except water showing for 360 degrees
around us. It took 10 hours 30 minutes to cross the Atlantic from Natal, Brazil
to Eknes Field Dakar, Senegal in Africa. On this leg I had them (crew) all the
way and there was no other option. Radio beams were silent except the last 100
miles into Dakar. To assure correctness for calculation to know which side of
the straight line between Natal and Dakar that we were flying, I started us off
on a course two degrees off course to the right side. Concern was that winds
over the Atlantic could push us either left or right (hard to read drift on
water waves) and effect a margin of doubt as to where we were. By starting off
course to the right I was assured that we would remain right. This proved true
because at an estimated 100 miles out of Dakar we took a corrected course. The
weak radio beam said we were right on course and we flew right in straight as a
string. The landing in Dakar was an experience. The runway was flat, metal
slats, bumps, noise, swerving – all were there. The navigator is now a part of
the crew. The natives, their huts, the Vichy French, the funny trees and
shrubs, the wild town made this a memorable stay.
we have been in Dakar for a week so we are ready for the 7 hour 45 minute
flight to Casablanca, Morocco. The course is across the Sahara Desert and over
the Atlas Mountains. After crossing the jungles of South America, the waters of
the Atlantic Ocean and now the desert and mountains of western Africa we each
found his way to talk nicely to the plane's four engines. For certain they were
to be our salvation for our life's longevity.
We landed in Casablanca to find another plane back-up as there was in
Dakar. Poor weather in England and Italy was hampering an even flow of planes
into those areas; hence, places like Casablanca were jammed. After the 7 hour
45 minute flight it appeared that a considerable wait was again in order. It
actually lasted one week. This was in the war zone so guards had to stay on the
plane over night and day. The night watch carried a strict warning "don't get
out of the plane." Adams and Tierney
drew the first night watch and found out what the warning meant. They found a bottle
of booze that had been stashed and in its after glow Tierney got out of the
plane to cool off, stretch and wander a bit. He ran right into a big Senegal
soldier – big knife, red fez, barefoot and all. These guys were the field's
outside guards and were looking for something to stick with those big knives.
Tierney got off lucky although he lost his purloined booze buzz. For the rest
of our visit there, the interior guards stayed on the inside. Casablanca was a
good town for sights and fun. Bill Conklin and I tried to get into the Madina
(pure Arab walled town) part of the city. The MP guards stopped us and said
it's a "No No". Why was asked. "If you
go in, you probably won't come out." Other things immediately became more
leg was from Casablanca to Chateau Dun De Rhumme, Algeria. It was a 6 hour
flight on December 17th. What a place and we were to be stuck there
for two more days. Primitive, cold, cloudy, rainy. We were in tents on the
sands and the rations were broken out for the first time. No heat, no warm
water, poor toilet facilities, dirty. This was the low point of the trip over.
Someone coined the bright idea that a No.10 can filled with sand and then
saturated with gasoline, would be a good source of heat for a tent. In two
tents they blew up and burned everything. Ours didn't explode but everything
came out black, soot covered. This included all humans there in. What a
mess. We appropriated an English lorry
and made a trip to Constantine. The lorry turned out to be lightless, we'd
forgotten this war zone stuff. The trip at night back to our camp is memorable
and one not to be copied.
evening of December 19th, Colonel Mills (450th C.O.)
called a briefing of the crews. We were going into our permanent war base
tomorrow, December 20th, 1943. The individual flights were over,
from here on it was formation flying only. He announced that he wanted a
perfect group formation with all four squadrons. He wanted to show those
already at the base in Manduria, Italy how a formation should fly. The planes
took off, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, slid past Sicily and flew onto the
heel of Italy. Heading into Manduria everything was beautiful. The planes were
in tight; the squadrons were correctly in place. We were the saviors coming to
destroy the enemy. Then it happened. The 98th Group came home from a
mission just as we flew over to salute the field. The 98th came in
as ones, twos, threes. They landed crosswind, downwind & upwind. They shot
flares and flew right through our beautiful formation. We scattered, cussed and
finally landed. "What the hell is the matter with those clowns?" It wasn't too many days until we were to
find out – shot-up planes, crippled and dead crewmen, shortage of fuel. War. We were home. Flight time 5 hours 30
Italy Airbase is in a flat rocky area with a group of board barracks and
buildings commingled with tents for facilities. The base is surrounded by small
rocky farms, vineyards, olive groves, small rocky hills and much barren area.
Forming in the area is very crude. These people are poor. Manduria at first was
not particularly attractive but in later days it came to look wonderful.
23rd and 28th practice formation flights of 2 hours 15
minutes and 3 hours 15 minutes were held. Captain Miller, 723rd
Squadron C.O. was not too happy over these flights and chewed on the pilots. He
personally met with Navigators and Bombardiers to assure each of them of the
team work expected for mission successes. He made each feel that he was
important. Miller was a great person and a good commanding officer.
1. Mostar, Yugoslavia. Target: Airfield
1944 Flight Time: 4 hours Load: 10-500# Demolition
the 450th Bomb Group (H) went to war. A mix up in the lead fowled
the mission. We dropped on an airfield across the river and two miles away from
the designated target. The flak was heavy. We had a good P-38 escort. The
bombed target was hit only fair. Pilot Lane lost control of our plane over the
drop site. Our bombs flew in every direction on release due to the plane's
erratic movements. He issued intercom warning to be ready for bail-out. Plane
control was regained and we flew home behind the group. There was no damage to
our ship Tung Hoy, named by Adams, our artist. Zink stabilized the craft and kept it from
(Not true – Lt Benz, our 2nd Co-pilot named our
2. Perugia, Italy. Target: Airbase Personnel
1944 Flight Time: 5 hours 55 Minutes Load: 120 Frag Bombs
was light. We were jumped by ME-109's but they weren't serious. Visibility at
target was poor so bomb results not too good our guns aren't all working. A
turn off the target by lead crowded our squadron out of group's formation.
Captain Miller was leading our squadron so he went on a sight seeing trip home.
We flew around Italy and home without incident we were without escort. The C.O.
relieved Lane as our pilot and assigned Lt. Tom Miller for a temporary term
(Tom was in operations) until another pilot was permanently assigned.
3. Prato, Italy. Target: Airfield Load:
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 45 minutes
Gernand (In operations, Miller out for today)
is a good pilot. He had crossed the ocean as a passenger on our ship. Colonel
Mills lead the group and the mission was completely screwed up. First the lead
flew too slow and then too fast. Erratic turning whipped the 723rd
squadron clear out of formation. We never did get to the target. The 723rd
came home alone and away from the other squadrons. We saw some JU-88's but they
left us alone. The P-38 escort left us too. We didn't accomplish one damn
thing. We dropped our bombs on the fish in the Tyrrhenian Sea and went sight
seeing via Corsica, Rome, Naples, Mt. Vesuvius. One of these days a bunch of
ME-109's will find us if we don't cut out this solo squadron crap.
1944 2 hours flight time. Scheduled for trip to Toulon, France area. Called
back due to weather.
1944 2 hours 15 minutes. Scheduled for trip to southern France. Called back due
4. Istre LeTube, France. Target: Airfield
1944 Flight Time: 9 hours 15 minutes. Load: 12-500# Demolition
groups of heavys made this trip. The 450th was escorted by P-28's.
the route was over the Isle of Capri, to Corsica and over the sea to France.
About an hour out from target our No. 4 engine stopped completely and we had to
drop out of formation. We took a course back over the route that we had used
up. We were all alone without escort in sight. Enroute home the fish caught our
bombs. Reports of the mission was lots of flak and a good hit. One plane of 720th
squadron lost. The Anzio landing is in progress, the sea is filled with boats.
5. Siena, Italy. Target: Railroad Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours Load: 10-500# Demolition
We took a
circuitous route to target – up the Adriatic Sea, crossed over Italy (westerly)
and down Italy's west side. All guns of our plane worked for a change. Our
escort of P-38's was thick in the sky but no German fighters showed. The target
was generally covered by clouds but they shot up lotsa flak right through it.
We dropped our load on an estimate basis through the clouds hoping to jar
something. This was a better idea than fishing again. One of our planes was
flak hit and the crew bailed out over Manduria and the pilot crashed her in a
Lecce Field. Lecce has a surfaced runway. They walked away from it. Our trip
home from target reversed our target in course. The P-38's hovered all the way.
It appeared that the 450th was bait to get some action for our
6. Udine Campformida, Italy Target: Airfield
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 45 minutes Load: 120 Fragmentation
was up the Adriatic Sea to the target. The mission is really to hit hangers,
planes, barracks and people. This route always carries the unknowns and knowns,
the good and the bad. Over water there are no flak surprises. The English
Air-Sea rescue boats are efficient and Tito-land is to the east should one get
into trouble. But then the German fighters are always on the move. They can be
thick or thin. It's never a sure thing. We had a good P-38 escort both in and
out of target. The flak was heavy at target. The 450th formation was
good and we hit the target with a very effective pattern. The ME-109's attack
off the target was wild for awhile, but our guns held them at bay and the P-38's
kept them off us. Three ME-109's were seen to go down. Our 720th
Squadron C.O. was hit badly by flak and he died at home on January 31st.
This is our best mission; the first one that our Group did what it flew clear
over here to do – bomb the hell out of targets.
We took off for Budapest, Hungary. Over the
Adriatic we were called back due to weather over the target area. No mission
credit. Flight time logged was 3 hours.
7. Pantasieve, Italy. Target: Railroad Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 30 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
demolition because we are after the rail center. There is no escort for this
one. The flak at target was not heavy. One lucky shot exploded just beneath our
plane and the immediate effect was the loss of our generator. Consequently our
warm suits weren't warm. Everyone was cold, cold, cold. The thermometer
said -40F. The explosion also scared
hell out of Campbell in the ball turret. We dropped on a factory (???) at
Avezzano, Italy but hit the hill along side mostly. Chris was mad about
mission. On landing at Manduria a tire blew; we ran off the runway and stopped.
We walked away and left the tire for "AAA" to fix.
8. Toulon, France. Target: Submarine Pens
1944 Flight Time: 5 hours 45 minutes. Load: 6-1000# Demolition
the Italian coast in the Naples area and headed north toward Corsica enroute to
south France. The Tyrrhenian Sea was solidly covered underneath us with clouds
and report was received by Colonel Mills who was leading that the target was
also covered with clouds. I always track the leader's course quite closely so
as to know where we were should need occur that we had to head home. About ¾ of
the way to Corsica the compass started moving and the Group turned 90 degrees
east. A lot of planes in our Group were surprised when flak started coming at
us through the clouds below. They thought we were still over water. Actually we
were just north of Rome. We had no escort. The exploding flak had red smoke,
the only time we ever saw other than black. The Group dropped on an estimated
target (through clouds) at Celano, Italy. I bet those 1000 pounders loosened
all the teeth fillings in the area. We crossed on over Italy to the Adriatic
and south to home base. It's snowy, rainy, cold and wintry in "sunny" Italy.
9. Vitero, Italy. Target: Airfield
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 35 minutes Load: Fragmentation (120)
fragment and incendiary bombs. When they leave the bomb bay they fly around
like a bunch of broom sticks. We are after buildings and people. We have no
escort and we saw no enemy fighters. There was no flak. Our ship's guns are
faulty on testing. I wish to hell they'd get 'em fixed. Winter showed to be all
over Italy. At target lead turned too short at I.P., the 723rd was
on the outside and was pushed completely off the target. The 723rd
held its bombs and later dropped them on an airfield at Bolsena, Italy, with
good coverage. Chris was excited over the pattern. The trip home was a ride in
10. Verona, Italy. Target: Railroad Marshalling Yard
14, 1944 Flight Time: 8 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
me that since Tom Miller was assigned to us as temporary pilot that he (Zink)
has landed after each mission. Good man-Miller. After sitting around for days
waiting for the weather to get better we took off thinking it might be just
another alert or false start. It is cloudy and cold in Manduria. It was
extremely cold at altitude (22,000') -60F. By the time we reached the target
our warm suits barely did their job – the guns were all iced. Planes were
easily seen due to vapor trails. Our escort was P-38's. Some ME-109's prowled
but the P-38's kept them at a distance. BLESS THE P-38'S! Enroute to target 16
of the 40 planes from our Group dropped out and returned home due to faulty
plane functioning. Cold??? The target was partially covered by clouds and the
barrage of flak was very heavy and accurately placed. The lead shoved us off
target but we dropped on the RR station to the right of the marshalling yard.
Chris was happy, claiming our bombs went right into the station. Off the target
our Squadron lost the Ricky crew. None bailed out. This is a nasty game.
11. Pontessieve, Italy. Target: Railroad Marshalling Yard
16, 1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 30 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
route was up the Adriatic, across Italy westerly and back down the Tyrrhenian
to target. Most of the trip was just above a high, heavy cloud layer. It
cleared over target and a good hit resulted. Our guns and turrets still act up.
Lucky for us there were no enemy fighters. We had no escort. There was no flak.
Off target our No. 1 engine acted up and leaked gas. Pilots feathered and we
flew home on three. The flight leader told Miller to get out front of the Group
and lead it home so they could keep an eye on their cripple. We set course and
came in like a homing pigeon.
The 450th headed for Regensburg,
Germany but was called back due to weather at target. We had 1 hour 50 minutes
& 13. Regensburg, Germany Target: ME-109 Factory
22, 1944 Flight Time: 8 hours 30 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
This is our
first trip over the Alps into Germany. The 723rd left Manduria with
9 ships. Of these 6 dropped out claming engine trouble, etal. This left only
three to go over target and only two came back. Tung Hoy was lucky. There were
eight Groups on this mission with lots of escort so the sky was filled with
planes. Lt. Nillson led our squadron and we were on his right. It was very
cold. The 450th missed rendezvous with escort so actually went into
target alone. The flak was terrible – fast, thick and accurate. Over target we
actually flew through a black cloud. Nillson was hit coming off an accurate,
effective bomb run.
target ME-109's, FW-190's and JU-88's (shot rockets) attacked in force. It was
a running fight. We thought we had it made; we crossed the Alps with Nillson
still nursing his plane. Then here they came again for another 30 minute
scrimmage. We were still on Nillson's right when he lost two engines. He fell
out, lost altitude and the fighters got him. The 450th lost 5 planes
and claimed 17 German fighters. Hasley and Campbell were credited with one
each. That night Major Miller, 723rd C.O. held a meeting of the
crews. Nillson was his close friend. Miller ate ass. He told the Squadron that
we were going back up tomorrow. He was going to lead and if a plane had only
three motors left, he expected that plane to stay in formation and go over the
target. NO TURNING BACK. All guns of the formation are needed at Regensburg. He
wasn't angry – he was mad as hell.
The 450th received a Presidential Citation for this double mission.
& 15. Steyr, Austria Target: Ball Bearing Factory
23, 1944 Flight Time: 7 hours 15 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
Hello Lt. Pat Barbati
on you are ours – "Tung Hoy" (name given to our plane). Hasley isn't flying
today due to frost bite from yesterday's raid. I didn't note the name of his
substitute. Barbati starts with us under a bad luck hazard. The plane took a
beating yesterday and on take off he lost the supercharger of #2 engine. We
therefore lagged behind our Group until I began to wonder. We certainly didn't
want to go over this target alone and Major Miller's wrath still rang in our
ears. Pat and Zink poured it on and we finally caught the Group over northern
Yugoslavia and pulled into our position in the Squadron. The flak was even
worse than yesterday; it was the heaviest we'd see. The German fighters were
wild men. They attacked before, over and after target. This is the first time
they attacked right through the flak cloud. The war had gotten serious. The 450th
hit on target was a good one. Major Miller with the Whitney crew took a direct
flak hit and they exploded. Not nice to watch. This was our worst
raid to date. The 450th lost 7 bombers (723rd lost 2 in
air and one on the ground). The ground loss was an explosion at landing. Off
target the MEA-109's were vigorous. The 450th claimed 37 shot down
by gunners. Finally on the return trip the P-38 escort arrived and engaged the
German fighters. One crippled B-24 fell out of the 450th top
squadron formation and was heading right down into Tung Hoy. Pat couldn't see
it but Zink shoved the controls forward. The crippled swished right over the
top of our heads. The cripple finally limped home. GOOD PILOTS. WELCOME PAT.
(I was co-pilot to Whitney for the previous 11 missions.
This was my first with my own crew! This was one lucky day for me!! But for the
grace of God, I would have been a goner!!)
16. Certaldo, Italy Target: Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 45 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
We fly a
new plane today; old Tung Hoy is still getting repairs from the February 23rd
shoot out at Steyr, Austria. We have a new co-pilot today; Zink was promoted to
1st Pilot of his own crew. Our new guy is Lt. Ralph Benz. The pilots
and gunners are finding many bugs in this plane. The guns and turrets aren't
good. The bomb rack has a broken rod. Lucky for us the mission is a milk run.
No fighters, no flak, no escort. The Group slammed the target well. We couldn't
drop because of the rod. Chris was peed. On our way home he toggled into the
big fish pond. This beats hell out of going to Regensburg and Steyr.
-16, 1944 THE WHOLE CREW WENT TO REST CAMP AT SANTO CESARIO, ITALY.
& 18. Schwechat, Austria Target: Aircraft Parts Factory
1944 Flight time: 7 hours 45 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
Today Pat Barbati promoted to 1st
Lt. Tung Hoy is back on line. Several Groups are going to the Vienna
area. We have good P-38 escort. Completely undercast for the whole trip. No enemy fighters, no flak. We can't see the
target. Other Groups turn back. The 450th goes on to Vienna. We
dropped through the clouds on estimated target. Effects on what are unknown.
This was a long oxygen trip and very cold. A bomber in another Squadron crashed
on landing. Bad. I am surprised we received double mission credit for this
trip; maybe one is for Pat's promotion.
19. Lavariana, Italy Target: New Airfield
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 15 minutes Load: Fragmentation Bombs
after planes, buildings and people. We have no escort. No enemy fighters show.
Our pattern on target was perfect. They threw up a lot of flak but we escaped
with little or no damage. Enroute we flew just south of Venice over Porto Tolle
(at mouth of Po River). Several vessels were in port and they threw up some
flak. It wasn't even close. On landing at home one bomber crashed. It was
reported that the crew walked away.
We were scheduled to fly to Dresden, Germany.
That is away to hell up there and we were briefed that we'd probably have to
bail out over Yugoslavia on the way home. Maps were issued for our survival
kits to show areas controlled by Tito. We were to head for those areas. Major
Davis of the 721st Squadron was scheduled in his turn to lead the
Group. Mills pulled rank to take his place. Best thing anyone could figure was
that the "Big Generals" had a party, got to betting. Probably Twining said that
the 450th could get to Dresden and back; and the bet was on. We got
up over the Adriatic and they called us back. "Gee Whiz." Flight time 1 hour and 45 minutes.
20. Steyr, Austria Target: Plane Parts Factory
1944 Flight Time: 5 hours 15 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
Here we go
again. But before we crossed the Alps the weatherman called us back. The whole
area under us was socked in solid with clouds. The formation was all fowled up
so it's just as well that we didn't get Germany/Austria. The first Boo-Boo was
missing rendezvous with escort. The lead flew us into a high cloud bank. Talk
about fear. We couldn't see a plane – up, down, left, right ahead or behind.
Pat gave all engines the gun and pulled us up and out on top of the clouds. It
seemed to take forever and we kept hoping we wouldn't hit anyone. Wonder is
that the whole group didn't pile up. Planes scattered in all directions and we
saw them popping up in wide array. Two 721st planes did ram and were
lost. We were over north Yugoslavia. We took a course to the middle of the
Adriatic, dropped our bombs on the fish and went home alone. The 722nd
Squadron had regrouped once out of Yugoslavia and on their own flew over north
Italy, unescorted, to find a target. They found one – German Fighters - shot down three
B-24's. So much for these sight-seeing tours and unescorted
Squadron flights. "Tung Hoy" had been
reported missing. War is an odd
21 & 22. Bolzano, Italy Target: Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 7 hours 15 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
is the main rail line between Germany & Italy, near the Brenner Pass and at
a high elevation. There is a P-38 escort into target. We take a route to Capri,
thence north up Tyrrhenian Sea and inland. We count for Bomb Groups in the
area. The 450th is the second wave over target. Flak was heavy and
accurate. Several burs are right in front of us. We found the I.P. but Chris is
having trouble on bombsight. The flak is bouncing the plane around. The first
wave hit the target and we dropped right on top of the smoke and fire already
there. Pictures showed the yard was destroyed. No enemy fighters got to us.
BLESSED ARE THE P-38, THE PRETTIEST AIRCRAFT EVER MADE. We came home full of
holes but with no serious damage. Pictures showed a water line rupture with
water spurting high into the air. Macafee was right on again today. I've
checked him several times. How he knows altitude without instruments is a
mystery. Always at about 10,000' off comes his oxygen mask and he lights a
cigarette. The smell drifts clear back to Hasley. It's the crew's signal to go
23. Sofia, Bulgaria Target: Airfield and Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 5 hours 25 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
This is a
Multi-Group, 15th Air Force participation. The escort is P-38 in and
off the target with P-51 over. The route in gave no trouble, the I.P. was
sighted and the bomb run clearly showed the target. The 450th hit
the target well. Flak was very intense, accurate and long lasting. We fly #3 in
the 723rd today and our No. 6 plane was hit. It lost control and
crashed. Our plane sustained three or four bursts (close, just below, in front)
as we dropped. Our No. 2 engine was knocked out and all superchargers were
damaged. Only one engine was operating close to satisfactory. The bomb sight
and panel were badly hit. And Chris was hit in the left shoulder. His flight
suit and heat suit showed a hole at his side. I thought he had taken one in the
gut but it turned out to be a near miss. We had lost our hydraulics, radio,
intercom and electric power. The bomb bay was damaged, wouldn't close, and
three bombs were hung up. Hydraulic fluid was everywhere. It is a red color so
my first thought was that everyone was bleeding. A fire broke out in the
cockpit. Adams and Macafee were flak hit but in such a way as not to break
It was a busy time on the old Tung Hoy. Barbati fought the engines to keep enough
speed so that we wouldn't stall out. Benz helped Barbati and found time to put
out their fire. Macafee said his guns still worked manually so he stayed in the
nose. Hasley got out of the tail turret and manually cranked up Campbell out of
the ball. Adams, Campbell and Hasley manually toggled out the three hung bombs
and cranked the bomb bay doors shut. A slick mess in the hydraulic fluids. I
patched up Chris and shot him full of morphine. It was a relief when it was
evident that he wasn't gut shot. I checked my chart for a course home and in
the process discovered that a big hunk of flak had entered the plane from
below, had hit right between Chris's spread legs as he had kneeled over the
bomb site and had knocked a big hole in my table where I normally worked. I
must have been standing on the ammo boxes and looking out the top window at the
time and before all the excitement started. It is to be noted that on all bomb
runs thereafter, I sat on my war helmet instead of wearing it on my head. The
up to the pilots to give a course for Italy and crawled back down to the nose
and to keep tab on Chris. Of course, through all this we had lost power and had
dropped out of the formation. Pat and Benz had their hands full to keep us
afloat. We lagged way back and way below the 450th
formation. The FW-190's (3) jumped us. Our turrets were out but the gunners
kept shooting manually. Hasley back in the tail shot down a bandit, but we all
thought that our time had come. Communications in the plane was difficult and
with hydraulic fluid everywhere, travel about the plane was a slick mess. Chris
was resting, the gunners were fighting, the pilots were struggling. The job of
messenger became mine. Barbati said, "Tell everyone to chute-up because with
much more of this FW-190 stuff, we'll jump."
A trip to the back, a trip to the front, a check on Chris and back to
was out of sight but the FW-190's weren't. Then the old Tom Mix melodrama
occurred. Cartwright of our Squadron had called the escort and asked them to
go back and check on us. Out of the blue came six P-38's and ran the
bandits away. Talk about feelings of relief and gratitude – we had them all.
Pat and Benz kept nursing the engines, I found us on the maps and we set course
for Manduria. Crossing the Adriatic caused a little sweat in concern that one
more motor would konk out. The Italian soil was a happy sight.
Campbell and Hasley lowered the wheels manually. We have no flaps, and we
couldn't tell if the tires were flat. Barbati said he'd make one pass over the
field and anyone who wanted to jump could do it then; he was going to land
afterward. All elected to ride it out. Adams shot some flares to alert the
medics and fire trucks. Adams got up into the cockpit with the pilots to land
and the rest of us got into the tail compartment. We were hoping a shift of our
weight at landing would drag the tail on the ground. The plane hit the runway
at full speed (no flaps) and our weight didn't put the tail down. In
desperation Barbati gave a final and mighty shove on the brakes and enough
fluid was there to catch and he and Benz got us stopped, about 50 feet from the
end of the runway. We got out, loaded Chris on the meat wagon, kissed old Tung
Hoy on its broken nose and thankfully walked away. Thanks to a damned good crew
and six P-38's and Lt. Cartwright we had made it. Tung Hoy will be weeks in
(We had dropped to 3,000 feet - Cartwright slowed his flight
so that we could catch up – we regained some altitude to about 7 or 8,000 feet,
enough to clear the mountains of Yugoslavia)
24 & 25. Bucharest, Rumania Target: Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 7 hours 45 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
We fly a
new plane today with a new bombardier, a Captain Jefferson. Ol' Tung Hoy and
Chris are in the hospital after that Sofia, Bulgaria fiasco. We had a delay in
take off due to ground fog. There is a good P-38 escort into target. We crossed
the Danube River and followed a railroad track to I.P. and on into the target.
Visibility was good. Before the I.P. it was discovered that our new Bombardier
had forgotten to remove the pins from our bombs so Tierney crawled into the
bomb bay and did it for him. At I.P. we discovered that several 15th
Groups were in the area. Smoke was thick from hits on targets. Flak was very
heavy but not effective. Today bundles of shredded tinfoil (called window) was
thrown out of B-24's from I.P. to target. It causes the radar firing flak bombs
to explode early hence they never reach up to the Bombers. This is a first and
a delight to see its effectiveness. We lost no ships and our escort kept the
enemy fighters busy. The target was efficiently hit. On trip home a B-17
cuddled up to our formation. Stories of Germans flying U.S. planes immediately
created concern. The P-38 shoved the B-17 out by itself. We didn't learn the
particulars of its outcome. I've often wondered if that B-17 pilot realized
just how many guns were trained on him.
Footnote: Pat received "Distinguished Flying Cross"!!!!
26 & 27. Ploesti, Rumania Target: Oil Refinery
1944 Flight Time: 7 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
Jefferson is our Bombardier. On take off the Israel's ship of our Squadron blew
up, no survivors. It was eerie to take off right over the top of a burning
plane. Our escort to target did not show up. The course to I.P. was down a
railroad track full of cars loaded with "88" rifles. We were under flak attack
for about 30 minutes. We dumped "window". It was effective but not totally so.
Much flak got through the window and reached our formation height. The FW-190's and ME-109's attacked in a very
persistent and vicious manner. The running fight in, over and out of target
lasted for about 40 minutes. Today's fight was a very tiring, scary, and
seemingly non-ending experience. The FW-190's flew after us right into the
flak. Damn good formation flying by the pilots saved lots of lives as did
lost the lead ship and crew. Three ships from the other Squadrons were seen to
go down. Our ships guns were somewhat faulty but the boys made 'em work and
fought. Tierney, Macafee and Keleshian were each credited with a fighter kill.
This now totals eleven for our crew. We took a hit in No. 3 engine and Pat
feathered it. No complications set in on the trip home. This was Campbell's
last mission. He has orders back to the U.S. of A. to be an instructor for
28. Sofia, Bulgaria Target: Airfield
1944 Flight Time: 5 hours 45 minutes Load: 48-100# Demolition
back to the bombsight. He's jittery because Sofia wasn't too nice last time we
ere there. We have a new waist gunner, Sgt. Barch. Hasley is in the ball,
Keleshain is in the tail. At least five groups are on this mission to Sofia. We
have a P-51 escort. From I.P. to target "window" was dropped with good results.
The flak burst below us. Thank you "window" because they really pitched a bunch
of stuff up our way. We didn't get one flak hole in the ship. The target was
hit with a good pattern. There was no trouble with enemy fighters, saw some but
P-51's can shoot any German out of the sky and do just that. No planes from our
Group was lost.
1944. Flight Time: 2 hours.
scheduled for a trip to north Italy but he weatherman called us back.
29. Treviso, Italy Target: Railroad Yard
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours 15 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
The air was
filled with B-24's going to north Italy. There is no escort for the 450th.
We saw no fighters. The target area was covered by clouds and we never did see
it. There was a lot of flak thrown up through the clouds – not effectively. We
dropped on Adriatic fish. This was a nice airplane ride.
1944. Flight Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
to deliver some eggs in Vienna, Austria, but cancelled due to weather.
30 & 31. Schwechat, Austria Target: Aircraft Factory
1944 Flight Time: 8 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
The day was
clear all the way up and back. The Alps are beautiful and are magnificent to
see but they look horrible for one needing to land or bailout. Saw Blades. The
escort was excellent by P-47's, P-38's and P-51's all the way up, over and back
from target. We count five Groups attacking. The flak was very, very heavy. The
escort fought lotsa enemy fighters off us. Enemy fighters made passes at us but
not effectively. Escort wouldn't let 'em. Target was hit well with a good bomb
pattern. We flew home in good formation. We did pick up a few flak holes at
target. "Window" was used effectively. Manufacturing of German airplanes was
slowed down today.
32 & 33. Ploesti, Rumania Target: Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 7 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
Air Force Groups are all in the Ploesti-Bucharest area today. Hundreds of
B-24's fill the air. Escort is active – P-51's over targets, with P-38's in,
off and home. Our bombs hit the oil tanks at the yards causing big explosions
and fires. Smoke from fires rose to our altitude 25,000 feet in just a few
minutes. Flak was heavy and long running. It was widespread around the target
area. There were many enemy fighters. The gunners fought off those that reached
our Group. The P-51's generally routed the German fighters though. To see a
P-51 climb and fight is really a show to see. Today "window" against flak was
not effective – the Germans have figured it out. The 723rd lost a
new crew; this was only their second mission trip. The hit plane nearly crashed
into us in mid-air – scary. Barbati had to pull out of formation to keep the
cripple from ramming us. We were lucky that the fighters either didn't see us
or were busy and left us alone. Lucky. We were out of formation almost an hour.
Pat finally caught up and we sailed on home. Our plane had about 40 flak holes
for the ground crew's interest. I'm still sitting on my steel helmet over the
34. Varmo (Udine) Italy Target: MC-200 Factory
1944 Flight Time: 5 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
bad weather at take off and it carried to north Italy. We never reached target.
History repeats itself. The lead flew the Group into a tall dense cloud bank
again. We were at 21,000 feet over Ancona, Italy. Barbati was reading leads
mind on this one. As lead was about to enter the clouds, Pat pulled up and out
of formation but we still had moments of apprehension and blind flying. Our
four motors at full thrust took us up timely and fast. We popped out on
top and couldn't see a plane. The
episode cost one pane – stalled and crashed; two others stalled but recovered
and flew home. The formation was scattered. We flew home down the Adriatic
Coast. We dropped on the active Harbor at Ortona near Pescura. We probably
didn't do too much damage except cause excitement. There was no escort. Mt. Vesuvius blew today. SOME
35. Orbetello, Italy Target: Supplies above Beach Head
1944 Flight Time: 6 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
is German fighter bait today. With heavy P-38 escort we flew right into areas
known to base German fighters. The route was up the Adriatic, thence across
Italy to the Tyrrhenian Sea thence down to target thence retrace back to home.
It was a good run. A good day but lead screwed up on the bomb run and threw our
plane wide of target. Our bombs lit in waters of the Harbor. Chris was upset.
Flak was light compared to recent target experiences. It was accurate, however,
and two planes of the 722nd Squadron were lost. One carried the new
C.O. of 722nd. No German fighters rose to fight.
36. Alessandria, Italy Target: Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 7 hours 30 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
It is a
cold, cloudy day at take off but it cleared over north Italy. Our escort is
P-38's; they met and ran off all German fighters. The bomb run was a good one
and the target was well hit and badly damaged. There was no flak. Several 15th
Air Force Groups worked the area and many targets smoked. A crippled P-38 (on
one motor) flew under, over and inside our Squadron formation all the way home.
A usual practice of crippled fighters is to seek shelter in the bomber Groups.
WE INVITE LOTS OF THESE KINDS OF MISSIONS.
May 2 and
4, 1944. Flight Times of 3 hours 15 minutes and 3 hours and 45 minutes.
made to reach Ploesti, Rumania. Both recalls due to weather.
37 & 38. Ploesti, Rumania Target: Oil Refinery
May 5, 1944
Flight Time: 6 hours 45 minutes Load: 12-500# Demolition
by 15th Air Force Groups was heavy in the area on many targets. The
450th lead the attack on the target. Our bomb run was as good as you
can fly one. Our bombs hit in a good pattern. The Germans still make refineries
to be tough targets to hit. They smoke 'em over. We had heavy escort of P-38's,
P-47's and P-51's. The flak was very heavy. Many
FW-190's were trying, but the 450th gunners held
them at bay and the escort drove them away. No planes of the 450th
were lost. The 450th received
its second Presidential Citation for the raid. Compared to previous
visits to Ploesti, this was a milk run. Thanks
39 & 40. Brasov, Rumania Target: Marshalling Yard
1944 Flight Time: 7 hours Load: 12-500# Demolition
is first over target again. There is a good P-38 escort. The flak was heavy.
The run was good and target was well covered by a good bomb pattern. We lost no
planes. FW-190's were active but the P-38's handled them. Our gunners fought
well. This was my last mission. Enroute severe abdominal pains hit me full
blast. I've never experienced such pain before or since. On landing, the flight
surgeon checked me out and ordered a plane to fly me to the Hospital in Bari,
Italy. Kidney stones were diagnosed. After days of trying to get them to pass,
the Doctors cut them out. I was removed from flying status and shipped to
Naples to await a boat ride home.
(Pat Barbati flew 11 more missions after Dale was sent home.
His last was over Ploesti on
June 6, 1944 "D-Day")!!!!!!!