"RAMP RAT RETURNS"
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.
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.
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.
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