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Ramp Rat Crew
720th Squadron



Ramp Rat Crew

Front Row - Left to Right
James "GI" Miller - Bombardier
Harry "Pappy" Rothman - Pilot
Jack J. Shuman - Navigator
Robert Evans Jr. - Co-Pilot

Back Row - Left to Right
Ray "Whitey" Wolfe - Tail Turret
George C. Anson Jr. - Radio Operator
Jack P. Thompson - Waist Gunner
Frank H. Dudley - Engineer
Albert "Tibby" Thibodeau - Ball Turret
S/Sgt. Jean E. Wells - Nose Turret

Information provided by Daryl Hasley, 723rd Squadron & George Anson

"RAMP RAT RETURNS"

 

Flak does strike twice in the same place. T/Sgt George Anson, radio operator, received leg wounds for the second time when his Liberator, "Ramp Rat", barely returned to its base after being riddled over Ferrara. "Well fellows, it looks like another rough one today," mused T/Sgt Anson. "Ferrara is a rough target. Hope the flak is off this time." He remembered the last Ferrara mission and bit his lip nervously. He looked out the waist window. The ground below took on a queer patchwork of fields and small pin points.

One engine began losing oil pressure and slowly its life blood leaked out of the breather pipe, splattering the waist and tail of the airplane. Fearing he might lose his place in the formation, the pilot pushed the remaining engines to their maximum power. It was too late to trun back so he stayed as the formation approached the target and readied itself for the bomb run. Enemy flak guns began firing at the Liberators bent on bombing the railway through which the Nazi's supplied their Italian armies.

The bombardier synchronized his bomb sight and pressed the toggle switch which started the explosives hurtling earthward. The crew of the "Ramp Rat" was relieved for their work had been done. The entire sky was filled with flak which floated past the Liberators and then disappeared. T/Sgt Ray Wolfe, engineer, looked out the window and watched the sputtering engine, he could see oil coming from the breather pipe. The blades of the engine gradually lost their speed. "Cut her off!" he yelled to the pilot.

Just then a burst of flak crashed through the flight deck and hit him in the back. Stunned by the blow, T/Sgt Wolfe felt his back expecting the worst. He gave a sigh of relief when he found that the flak had spent itself against his parachute harness after it had passed through his flak suit. Looking around the aircraft he noticed T/Sgt Anson prostrated on the flight deck and his leg bleeding badly. With the help of S/Sgt Albert Thibodeau, ball turret gunner, he administered first aid to him.

"Ramp Rat", with one engine feathered, lost its place in the formation while the anxious gunners scanned the skies for hostile aircraft. Realizing a badly wounded man is in no condition to bail out; the pilot knew he had to bring the plane in. Since the hydraulic lines and some cable had been shot up, there was only one thing to do. He ordered the men who were not needed to bring the ship plane down to bail out; it was no use risking all their lives. T/Sgt Anson, in great pain from his badly wounded leg, was administered morphine. Gauze and empty tubes laid on the flight deck. However, the worst wasn't over for the landing g gear had been pierced by shrapnel. Red flares shot out of the plane gracefully plummeting to the ground. The crippled "Ramp Rat" circled the field and approached the landing strip. It settled along the runway and came to a stop. The waiting ambulances raced toward the riddled plane. Stretcher bearers carried the wounded sergeant out of the plane into the waiting ambulance. "Say," the surprised medic stammered, "Don't tell me I'm seeing things! You're the same guy who was hit in the leg once before, aren't you?" "Yeah," replied the wounded radio operator, "It was over the same target and you know something else? This was my 13th mission."

 

Material supplied by Sam Stein, published in Sortie Magazine Vol. V No. 3, 1989





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