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HISTORICAL RECORD - April 1944




HEADQUARTERS, 720TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (H)

APO 520 U.S. ARMY

 

10 MAY 1944

 

SUBJECT: Historical Records

 

TO: Commanding General, Fifteenth Air Force, Attention: Historian (through channels)

 

1. Unit History of the 720th Bombardment Squadron (H) for the period 1 April to 30 April 1944.

 

a. The present designation of the unit is 720th Squadron, 450th Bombardment Group (H), 47th Wing, 15th Air Force, United States Army.

 

b. Changes in Organization

 

(1) No change in designation of unit.

 

(2) No transfer of units.

 

(3) Capt Grant D. Caywood appointed Squadron S-3 vice 1st Lt Robert W. Edwards per Squadron Order Number 9 dated 7 April 1944.

 

(4) Capt Floyd I. Robinson appointed Flight Leader vice Frank C. Marpe Jr. 1st Lt, per Squadron Order Number 10 dated 11 April 1944.

 

(5) 2nd Lt Paul B. Cantrell appointed Flight Leader vice 1st Lt Dalton W. Smith per Squadron Order Number 11 dated 14 April 1944.

 

c. Strength, Commissioned and Enlisted.

 

(1) Month of April 1944

 

(a) At beginning: 481

(b) Increase: 151

(c) Decrease: 118

(d) At end: 514

 

d. Manduria, Italy, #25, Army Air Base.

 

e. No movement of organization in April.

 

f. Campaigns

(1) Italian

(2) Duration: From 2 January 1944, still in progress.

 

g. Operations

 

(1) Seventeen (17) missions were flown for one hundred thirty-three (133) sorties.

 

(2) Operation were predominantly of a tactical nature; nine (9) missions being against marshalling yards in Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Roumania. In this same category one (1) mission was to the harbor at Orbetello, Italy. One (1) fragmentation mission was flown to destroy dispersed aircraft on Budapest/Vecses Airdrome. Four (4) missions of a strategic nature were flown, these being against ball-bearing and aircraft production in Austria. One (1) mission was flown to Toulon Harbor in France. One (1) mission bombed the center of Sofia. Bulgaria, by Pathfinder methods, as a experiment. Bombs loaded were fragmentation bombs, 40 X 100, 8 to 12 X 500, and 5 X 1000.

 

(3) The mission of 5 April 1044 was important and very successful. Eleven (11) of our planes took off and eleven (11) bombed the marshalling yards and refineries at Ploesti, Roumania. The bomb load was 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. Another important mission was the one against Brasov, Roumania, marshalling yards on 16 April 1944. Ten (10) of our planes bombed the target with excellent results. The bomb load was 10 X 500 general purpose bombs.

 

(4) The Squadron was subjected to enemy fighter action while penetrating to Steyr, Austria, on 2 April. Attacks were from 5 to 7 o'clock. The attacks were generally not aggressive and broke off usually at 300 yards. The enemy seemed to be awaiting stragglers. Six (6) enemy fighters lobbed rockets and then closed to 100 yards firing machine guns, and breaking off to right and left. These attacks were from line-astern formation. Two (2) of our bombers were shot down over the target. Our gunners claimed 4 ME 109's, 1 ME 110, and 1 JU 88 destroyed. In all 30/40 enemy fighters engaged our formation on this mission and the battle lasted just over one hour. The Squadron was again subjected to enemy fighter action on the mission to Budapest on 3 April. These attacks were generally from high at 3 o'clock and in a wide sweep leaving at 5 o'clock. Other attacks came in from low at 6 o'clock, closed to about 100 yds in coordinated attack in pairs-astern; these broke off to right and left. Fourteen (14) enemy aircraft were encountered. Our gunners claimed two enemy aircraft shot down. All our crews retuned safely to base. On 4 April we again experienced fighter reaction during our mission to Bucharest. All this action was in the target area. Moderately aggressive attacks were made form 6 o'clock level principally by ME 109's and FW 190's, singly and in pairs. A few JU 88's and ME 109's stood off, out of range, and fired rockets and explosive shells. Our gunners claimed no enemy aircraft and all our planes returned safely. On 5 April the most sever enemy fighter action was encountered. This was to block our attack on Ploesti. Our Squadron was in the lead unit and took the brunt of the attack. Forty (40) to sixty (60) enemy fighters attacked during penetration and aggressiveness increased as the target was approached. The whole battle lasted about an hour. The first attacks were from 12 o'clock high, and were coordinated in pairs, threes, and fours. These dove through the formation and up under the second attack unit. After this attacks developed from all angles. Many attacks were made from six (6) o'clock in formations of six (6) in line abreast, breaking off at 50 yds. Many rockets were fired from planes which stood off at 10 o'clock. Three of our bombers went down over the target, where they had experienced flak and fighter action simultaneously. Our gunners claimed 3 - 5 - 1. The enemy reacted to our attack on Brasove, Roumania, on 16 April. These attacks were made about five minutes after we left the target. Twenty (20) to thirty (30) enemy aircraft attacked for about twenty-five (25) minutes. These attacks were all singe and from 3 and 9 o'clock, and from 6 o'clock high to low. Some attacks were aggressive but tactics were generally to wait for stragglers. All attacking planes fired 20 MM explosive shells. Two (2) of our bombers are missing. We claimed one enemy aircraft shot down. Flake reaction is not outlined because it is encountered on all missions. However, flak became very effective toward the latter part of the month: we lost on bomber over Ploesti on 24 April, two plane were lost during the mission to Orbetello, Italy on 28 April, and one plane is missing as result of the mission to Toulon, France, on 29 April. All these must be presumed to have been lost to flak.

 

(h) Captain Gordon T Colley, Squadron Commander, led the Wing on the very important mission to the marshalling yards at Ploesti, Roumania. That very successful mission was flown on 5 April 1944. Colonel John S. Mills, Group Commander, rode as co-pilot, with Captain Colley, to direct the mission.

 

(i) Losses in Action.

 

(1) Captain Donald A. Buck and his crew became missing in action during the arid on Steyr, Austria on 2 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew who are also missing in action: 2nd Lt Nicholas G. Gilli, 1st Lt James S. Gover, 2nd Lt Frank B. Kelly, T/Sgt Roy D. Hammond, T/Sgt Archie F. Walker, S/Sgt Ralph C. Wessel, S/Sgt Charles B. McGaughey, S/Sgt John J. Verbitaki, S/Sgt Harold L. Pace.

 

(2) 2nd Lt John S. Fulks Jr and his crew became missing in action during the mission to Steyr, Austria on 2 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew who are also missing in action: 2nd Lt Milton C. Baker, 2nd Lt Bernard E. Ross, 2nd Lt Arthur J. Crowns Jr, S/Sgt William B. Oachman, S/Sgt Edwin D. Booz, Sgt Richard L. Wilson, Sgt Ernest E. Williams, Sgt Michael (NMI) Hazara, S/Sgt Eugene M. Compton.

 

(3) 1st Lt Frank C. Marpe Jr and his crew became missing in action during the mission to Ploesti, Roumania on 5 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: 2nd Lt Richard H. Middleton, 2nd Lt Joseph J. Joyce, 2nd Lt Lawrence B. Guthrie, T/Sgt Joe W. Dunn, T/Sgt Francis A. Matan, S/Sgt Earl E. Boren Jr, S/Sgt Marian D. Anderson, S/Sgt Jay R. Adair, S/Sgt Oscar C. Barnhill.

 

(4) 2nd Lt Donald F. Wagner and his crew became missing in action during the raid to Ploesti, Roumania on 5 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: 2nd Lt Francis L. J. Kitson, 2nd Lt Elvyn G. Hopper, 2nd Lt Richard E. Brannon, T/Sgt Stephen W. Kusmirak, T/Sgt Lloyd K. Kittleson, S/Sgt Robert A. Peterson, S/Sgt Edward L. Clapprood, S/Sgt Lawrence R. Miller, S/Sgt Charles E. Fasolas.

 

(5) 1st Lt Robert W. Edwards and his crew became missing in action during the raid to Ploesti, Roumania on 5 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: F/O Warner T. Ralls, 2nd Lt Harry T. Lamb, 2nd Lt Thomas H. Allen, T/Sgt William Jl. Signs, T/Sgt Joseph T. Baz, Sgt Walter (NMI) Clive, Sgt Harold E. Shilts, S/Sgt Michael (NMI) Dellario, S/Sgt Melvin L. Openshaw, 2nd L Joseph L. Devlin.

 

(6) 1st Lt Ernest F. John and his crew became missing in action during the raid to Varese, Italy on 25 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: 2nd Lt Harold A. Felder, 2nd Lt Lawrence J. Smith, 2nd Lt Harold E. Gladstone, T/Sgt Robert E. Beshore, T/Sgt Donald (NMI) Van Deuson, S/Sgt Joseph (NMI) Bernstein, S/Sgt Harold L. Francis, S/Sgt Norman J. Kirkland, S/Sgt Raymond H. Strautman.

 

(7) 2nd Lt Harry L. Foster Jr and his crew became missing in action during the raid to Orbetello, Italy on 28 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: 2nd Lt Edward (NMI) Rafferty, 2nd Lt Robert H. Rieback, 2nd Lt Francis D. Bauder, S/Sgt Jimmie C. Finch, T/Sgt Donald E. Wilson, Sgt Robert P. Neary, Sgt James R. Martin, Sgt Eugene E. Avery Jr, Sgt John (NMI) Waschak.

 

(8) 1st Lt Paul F. C. Radue, 2nd Lt James W. Clark, 2nd Lt James W. Clark, 2nd t David W. Magnuson, 2nd Lt Wayne L. Murry, S/Sgt Theron F. Bittle, S/Sgt Kenneth L. Zellers, Sgt Clifford V. Prizekurat, Sgt David J. Evans, Sgt Anthony L. Lukowski, Sgt Nicholas M. DePaul.

 

(9) 2nd Lt Leonard S. Houston Jr, and his crew became missing in action during the raid to Toulon, France on 29 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: 2nd Lt Wesley (NMI) Urguheart, 2nd Lt Morris (NMI) Sipaer, 2nd Lt William L. Chatherm, S/Sgt Howard A. Dowsi, S/Sgt Donald A. Durant, Sgt Albert (NMI) Lattimer, Sgt William L. Haley, Sgt George K.l Monroe, Sgt Benjamin H. Roderique.

 

(10) 2nd Lt Oscar J. Anderson and his crew became missing in action during the raid to Toulon, France on 29 April 1944. Following is a list of his crew: 2nd Lt William A. Clancy, 2nd Lt Preston M. McKart, 2nd Lt Frank L. Wetzel, Sgt Edmond A. Fretz Jr, Sgt Fred G. Beck, Sgt Rocco J. Scavetta, Cpl Leon (NMI) Rosenband, Sgt Stratton W. Beesley, Cpl William K. Gernheuser.

 

j. Awards

 

(1) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the Order of the Purple Heart for wounds received in aerial action during the month of April: 2nd Lt Donald (NMI) DeKraker, 1st Lt Edmund A. Ley, S/Sgt Howard R. Barkley, S/Sgt Norman J. Kirkland, S/Sgt Richard L. Heinlen, Sgt Clinton G. Pons, Sgt Marvin R. Freeman, Sgt Theodore H. Monis.

 

(2) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the Air Medal for five (5) Combat Missions: 2nd Lt Earle Q. Hagen, 2nd Lt John L. Jeff, 2nd Lt Vincent H. Olney, 2nd Lt Jack R. Perkins, 2nd Lt Edward (NMI) Rafferty, 2nd Lt Lewis F. Shackleford, 2nd Lt Marshall N. Samms, F/O Edward E. Carlson, S/Sgt Harold L. Francis, S/Sgt Richard S. Hackney, S/Sgt Armand J. L. Heureut, Sgt Lawrence L. Allen, Sgt Eugene E. Avery Jr, Sgt Charles B. Black, Sgt Jack H, Browne, Sgt Neil F, Coulter, Sgt James P,. Cox, Sgt John A. Dicammillo, Sgt George F. Dobbs, Sgt William C. Dudley, Sgt Horace J. Holland, Cpl Carl R. Faierberg, 2nd Lt Francis L. J. Kitson, and Lt Joseph J. Cravec, 2nd Lt Donald F. Wagner.

 

(3) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the first Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to their Air Medal: 2nd Lt Richard E. Brannon, 2nd Lt Arlie L. Brown, 2nd Lt Richard F. Hackel, 2nd Lt Ralph G. Hodgson Jr, 2nd Lt Elvyn G. Hopper, 2nd Lt Francis L. J. Kitson, 2nd Lt Donald F. Wagner, S/Sgt O. C. Barnhill, S/Sgt Robert J. Bohannon, S/Sgt Kenneth M. Chambers, S/Sgt Edward L. Clapprood, S/Sgt Eugene M. Compton, S/Sgt Charles E. Fasolas, S/Sgt Lloyd K. Kittelson, S/Sgt Stephen W. Kusmirak, S/Sgt Maurice W. Morre, S/Sgt Robert L. Morgan, S/Sgt Robert A. Peterson, S/Sgt Alfred P. Russo, Sgt Aubrey H. Geiger Jr, S/Sgt Edward L. Clapprood, S/Sgt Lloyd K. Kittelson, S/Sgt Jay R. Adair.

 

(4) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to their Air Medal: Capt Donald A. Buck, 1st Lt John C. Giraudo, 1st Lt Robert W. Edwards, 1st Lt Frank C. Marpe, 1st Lt Reaford C. McCraw, 2nd Lt Thomas H. Allen, 2nd LKt Richard E. Brnnon, 2nd Lt Nicholas G. Cilli, 2nd Lt Ernest D. Connors, 2nd Lt John S. Fulks Jr, 2nd Lt Lawrence B. Guthrie, 2nd Lt Richard F. Hackel, 2nd Lt Ralph G. Hodgson Jr, 2nd Lt Elvyn G. Hopper, 2nd Lt Francis L. J. Kittson, 2nd Lt Ralph G. Hodgson Jr, 2nd Lt Joseph J. Joyce, 2nd Lt Harry L. Lamb, 2nd Lt Elvyn G Hopper, F/O Warner T. Ralls, T/Sgt Charles F. Barr, T/Sgt Joseph T. Baz, T/Sgt William C. Brown, T/Sgt Joe W. Dunn, T/Sgt Charles R. Flannagan, T/Sgt Russel C. Privateer, T/Sgt William J. Signs, S/Sgt Jay R. Adair, S/Sgt Marion D. Anderson, S/Sgt Johnb F. Barnacle, S/Sgt O. C. Barnhill, S/Sgt Robert J. Bohannon, S/Sgt Michael (NMI) Dellario, S/Sgt Charles E. Fasolas, S/Sgt Frank (NMI) Gentile, S/Sgt Cyril G. Heineman, S/Sgt Lloyd K. Kittelson, S/Sgt Stephen W. Kusmirak, S/Sgt Richard E. McCorkle, S/Sgt Lawrence R. Miller, S/Sgt Maurice W. Moore, S/Sgt Robert L. Morgan, Sgt John J. O'Hara, S/Sgt Melvin L. Openshaw, S/Sgt Harold L. Pace, S/Sgt Ralph C. Wessel.

 

(5) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for their Air Medal: 1st Lt James S. Gover, 1st Lt Frank C. Marpe, 2nd Lt Thomas H., Allen, 2nd Lt Lawrence B. Guthrie, 2nd Lt Joseph J. Joyce, F/O Warner T. Ralls, T/Sgt Joe W. Dunn, T/Sgt Roy D. Hammond, T/Sgt Francis A. Matan, T/Sgt William J. Signs, T/Sgt Archie J. Walker, S/Sgt Jay R. Adair, S/Sgt Marion D. Anderson, S/Sgt O., C. Barnhill, S/Sgt Earl E. Borem Jr, S/Sgt Michael (NMI) Dellario, S/Sgt Lawrence R. Miller, S/Sgt Melvin L. Openshaw.

 

(6) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the fourth Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for their Air Medal: 1st Lt Ernest F. John, 1st Lt Edmund A. Ley, 2nd Lt Paul B. Cantrell, 2nd Lt Charles E. Cunningham Jr, 2nd Lt Lewis D. Hannah, 2nd Lt John E. Malarkey Jr, 2nd Lt Lawrence H. Miles, 2nd Lt Harry T. Stebbings Jr, 2nd Lt Albert W. Teed Jr, T/Sgt Walter O. Cannon, T/Sgt Jack C. Schoonover, T/Sgt John L. Ward, T/Sgt James A. Wood, S/Sgt Howard R. Barkely, S/.Sgt Arlie L. Griffin, S/Sgt Stanley L. Kristal, S/Sgt Victor J. Monkus, S/Sgt Elwyn D. Roberts, S/Sgt Harley O. Tedford, Sgt Joseph J. Hefferman, Sgt Leo M. Larivee.

 

(7) The following Officers and Enlisted Men have received the fifth Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for their Air Medal: T/Sgt Walter O., Cannon, S/Sgt Howard R. Barkley, S/Sgt Harley O. Teford, S/Sgt Howard J. Verduin, Sgt Joseph (NMI) Bernstein.

 

(8) The following Enlisted Men have received the sixth Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for their Air Medal: T/Sgt Scott M. Aylesworth, S/Sgt Norman J. Kirkland.

 

(9) The following Enlisted Men have received their first Silver Oak Leaf Cluster for their Air Medal: T/Sgt Francis A. Matan, S/Sgt Jay R. Adair.

 

2. Enclosed is the War Diary of this unit from the period 1 April to 30 April 1944.

 

For the Commanding Officer:

WALTER T. MALCOLM

1st Lt, Air Corps

Ass't Saqudron S-2

 

1 Incl. War Diary



720TH WAR DIARY FOR APRIL 1944

 

1 April

 

The day started off in excellent fashion for "April Fools Day". The day started off bright and warm, with not a cloud in the sky. A mission was briefed for the marshalling yards at Treviso, Italy. This plan was "scrubbed" before take off because of expected poor weather, and the day was still bright. Approximately an hour later, it started to rain very hard and became overcast. The weatherman's new-found accuracy fooled one and all. Inspection of the tent area displeased our Commanding Officer very much and he wasn't fooling. Later in the day another inspection discovered a "new and brighter face" on that area. Our Squadron Commander was not fooling about a threatened restriction. In the evening, the 723rd Squadron put on a very good show for officers, in the "Cottontail Club".

 

2 April

 

The mission for today was to the Daimler-Puch Engineering works at Steyr, Austria. The bomb load was 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. Eight of our planes were over and bombed the target, two of our aircraft were shot down over the target, and we had one early return. Capt. Buck and his crew, and 2nd Lt. Fulks' aircraft, went down at the target. The target was obscured by smoke and observation of results was not possible. Lt. Cantrell brought back a badly damaged plane and three members of the crew wounded. The air battle lasted about one hour approaching to and withdrawing from, the target. Two replacement crews came in today. This was a busy Palm Sunday and many of our personnel were at church. Those on operations can attend church on Tuesday or Thursday. The area is drying up and the "homes "and tents are becoming much more comfortable.

 

3 April

 

The mission was briefed for marshalling yards at Budapest, Hungary. Seven of our planes took off and seven got over the target to drop their 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. All our planes returned safely from this very successful mission. Our gunners claimed one FW 190 and a JU 88 destroyed from our position inn the low left of the second attack unit. A movie featuring "Hedy Lamarr" drew good audiences in the afternoon and evening. Just incidentally, the movie was entitled "Heavenly Body". It was a very nice day and many men were out with baseballs and there was talk of organizing softball teams. Two replacement crews joined the squadron today. Lt. George Ready again conducted classes in gunnery and tactics. Intelligence also held indoctrination courses for new man.

 

4 April

 

Seven planes participated in a successful mission on the marshalling yards at Bucharest, Rumania. The bomb load was 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. Flak was lighter than anticipated and enemy fighters observed did not press any attacks on our squadron. All planes returned safely. Indoctrination was held for newly-arrived crews. This comprised intelligence procedure and escape, medical advice, and operations. Gunners were instructed by Lt. Ready, gunnery officer. Sixty men attended a news presentation and display of bomb strike photographs at S-2. The very nice weather has our men out in the sun and a volley ball game was in progress. New crews are making their tents comfortable.

 

5 April

 

Capt. Gordon T. Colley, Squadron Commander, led the wing on the mission to Ploesti, Rumania. Eleven of our planes took the 12 X 500 general purpose bomb load on this successful mission. Col. Mills, Group Commander, rode as co-pilot with Capt. Colley. All our planes were over the target. Our gunners claimed eight enemy aircraft destroyed and three probably destroyed. Major Huber became our Squadron Executive Officer and Major North weren't to the 722nd Squadron. In a matinee and evening performance the group saw "No Time for Love." The nice weather is enabling us to "clean things up" with white paint and white wash.

 

6 April

 

No mission was scheduled for today. Our planes were badly shot up and all on yesterdays mission needed repair. The program for the day was maximum maintenance and training. The group was out fro a ceremony in which "Silver Stars", "Distinguished Flying Crosses", and the "Order of the Purple Heart" were presented to combat personnel. The weather was beautiful and the presentations were very impressive. This was especially so because the squadron was badly "Shaken" by losses on yesterdays mission. The Squadron barber shop was moved into a very well appointed shop.

 

7 April

 

We were able to get only five planes off for the mission to Mestre, Italy, marshalling yards. Two of these were forced to turn back because of mechanical failures. The target was very well hit and we had taken a bomb load of 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. The target area was very well hit. The aiming point was obscured by smoke. For this reason bomb hits could not be observed on that point. "Cabin in the Sky" was the afternoon and evening movie. Maintenance was keeping our sections busy after the damage at Ploesti. Gas chamber exercises were held for all personnel. Two members of 1st Lt John C. Giraudo's crew returned to this unit.

 

8 April

 

A mission was briefed for the aircraft assembly plant at Weiner Neustadt, Austria. Seven planes took off but returned in two hours and a half due to weather conditions. Our squadron put on a good entertainment at the "Cottontail Club." The music, skits, and impersonations were well carried out. Capt. Floyd I. Robinson made this a success by his untiring efforts.

 

9 April

 

There was no mission scheduled for this Easter Sunday. The weather was very nice and church was well-attended. The large choir made the service very impressive. To make it a real nice day, we had a very fine chicken dinner at the Squadron Mess. Nine members of 1st Lt Reaford McCraw's crew have returned to base. They reported that Lt. McCraw has been buried in Yugoslavia.

 

10 April

 

No mission for today. The group enjoyed an afternoon and evening performance of the "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" in Oria. The squadron tent area is being wired by the Communications Section, so that all personnel will have electric lights in their quarters. The "S. S. Henry Baldwin" is in at Brindisi and naval personnel from that transport were visiting squadron enlisted personnel at this camp. This is the ship which transported squadron ground personnel to this base.

 

11 April

 

A mission was briefed for the marshalling yard at Treviso, Italy. None of our planes got off as the mission was scrubbed before take off. Nine of our planes were scheduled for this mission. From the wing came the Commanding General, Col. Rush, to conduct a "surprise" inspection of the squadron area. Formation flying was practiced in the afternoon by some "new" crews. Squadron men engaged in a close-order drill exercise. It was a fine day and group softball practice was started. In the evening, S-2 conducted a well-attended news and bomb-strike presentations. This weekly function is drawing more attendance each week. Today, attendance was surprisingly good because an Orientation film and pictures of the "Sammy Angott-Bob Montgomery lightweight championship match" were shown in Oria. Capt. Floyd I. Robinson became Flight Commander in place of 1st Frank W. Marpe, missing-in-action.

 

12 April

 

Nine planes participated in the attack on the aircraft plant at Weiner-Neustadt, Aurstria. One of our planes was forced to turn back from the initial point because the formation could not be reached. This plane had lost a supercharger. Escort was excellent and no trouble was had with enemy fighters. The formation was last of course and experienced trouble with flak at Mostar, Yugoslavia. The bomb load was 40 X 100#. U.S.O. Camp shows staged a good show in Oria afternoon and evening. A scheduled movie was not shown because of defective sound apparatus. Lt. Cantrell's crew returned form rest camp at Santo Cesario, Italy, and Lt. John's crew left for the same camp. Two replacement crews came in today.

 

13 April

 

In carrying on the counter aircraft production offensive, eight of our planes got off and over in a fragmentation mission. The target was the Budapest/Vecses airdrome. The escort was excellent and our planes encountered no fighter opposition. All our planes and personnel returned safely from this mission. All sections are "contributing" help in an effort to speed up the opening of the day room for Squadron enlisted personnel. Lt. Ready was again instructing replacement gunners in gunnery and enemy tactics.

 

14 April

 

The mission scheduled for today was scrubbed before briefing. Lt. Ready was carrying on his instruction of replacement gunners. The new "indefinite" plan for rotation of combat crews is not popular. The Squadron Flight Surgeon explained this plan to combat officers, today. A matinee and evening performance of the novel, "Buffalo Bill," was well liked. Two replacement crews joined the squadron today.

 

15 April

 

Our squadron was leading the group in the days mission; to bomb the marshalling yard at Bucharest, Rumania. The bomb load was 10 X 500 general purpose bombs. The target was under solid overcast and bombs were dropped by pathfinder methods. The alternate target was bombed. That being the industrial center of Bucharest. Escort was fine and no enemy fighters were encountered. Ten of our planes were over the target, but one could not get bombs away and later jettisoned in the Adriatic. Flak was slight over the target, portraying an apparent effectiveness of radar windows.

 

16 April

 

Ten of our planes took off and ten bombed the marshalling yards at Brasov, Rumania. The bomb load was 10 X 500 general purpose bombs. The weather was clear and the target was well hit. The escort left in the vicinity of the target and our formation was immediately jumped by enemy fighters. The attacks were from four to eight o'clock, level to high, and were aggressive. Our gunners claimed two ME 109s destroyed, one probably destroyed, and one damaged. In the evening a B-24 aircraft burned and exploded, on the line. The gasoline and bomb explosion was terrific. All squadron personnel were safe, except for slight injuries and shock. Technical Sergeant Julian C. Clark, of Ordnance, and Pfc. Marquis Cedeno, of Armament Section, probably saved another plane which caught fire after the explosion. This latter plane was about one hundred and fifty feet away from the explosion and these men extinguished a blaze on top of the wing. The explosion put the finale on a fine show which group Headquarters was staging in the "Cottontail Club."

 

17 April

 

Several of our planes were not able to get off due to damage from the explosion of yesterday. Seven of our planes dropped on the center of Sofia, Bulgaria. It was bombed by pathfinder methods. We had one early return. Escort of P-51s was good and only two passes were made on our formation. These were not aggressive. In the afternoon and evening, the group enjoyed a movie in Oria starring Rosalind Russel and Brian Aherne.

 

18 April

 

There was no mission today. The day opened with clouds and showers, and the winds blew sand to remind us of New Mexico. No one became homesick about this remembrance unless, perhaps, he just happened to live in the "great southwest". The news summary and bomb strike photo presentation again drew a good crowd from the squadron. S-2 was again in competition with a movie shown in Oria. Work has progressed nicely on the new mess-hall, and the dayroom, for enlisted men. An opening has tentatively been set, this coming Saturday evening, for the day room. Work has been started on a boxing ring being constructed in the squadron area. It is planned to have boxing shows started in about a week.

 

19 April

 

There was no mission today. The sun was shining brightly and it was an excellent day for maximum maintenance and training. In the afternoon and evening, a movie was shown entitled "Johnny Come Lately" starring James Cagney. A practice flight was held in the afternoon for formation and bombing.

 

20 April

 

Nine of our planes took off and got over the target at Treviso, Italy, marshalling yards. The target was "blotted-out" by 10/10 cloud cover and all bombs ere brought back. The load was 10 X 500 general purpose bombs. Many of the squadron enlisted personnel were busily engaged at the new dayroom: getting it ready to open this coming Saturday evening. The evening meal for enlisted men was "pepped-up" with a Coca Cola for each man. This was provided out of the weekly Post Exchange ration.

 

21 April

 

The mission for Ploesti, Rumania, marshalling yards took off in the morning. Because of weather the group and our nine planes were back in about two hours. In the afternoon a sprinkle of rain helped make the base more comfortable. There was a Italian talent stage show and a movie entitled, "Dangerous Blondes", in Oria. The show was on matinee and evening. The kitchen was busy baking for the dayroom opening. Armament beat Ordnance in softball, 23 to 5. This was the first game and was a bit rugged.

 

22 April

 

There was no mission today. After an all night rain the base was muddy again after several weeks. The opening of the enlisted mens' day room was a grand success. No "females" appeared, as had been rumored about, but a great time was had by all present. In fact, it was a fine affair in which the presence of any lady would have been detrimental. It was "a man's night". All personnel who had contributed to the appointment of this room were justly proud of their achievements. The room contains a fine looking bar, a reading and writing room, card tables and a dice table. The room is very nicely decorated and, with more work to be done, will be better than any dayroom our men have had up to this tome. Engineering beat Armament 5 to 4 in softball. Armament afterwards said their team was weakened because a pitcher and outfielder were absent.

 

23 April

 

Nine of our planes took off and nine were over the Schwechat, Austria, aircraft factory. The bomb load was 10 X 500 bombs. The target was interesting; it being the production center for German jet-propelled aircraft. No fighters were encountered. Flak was not very effective; however, 1st Lt Edmund Ley was wounded by flak over the target. He was hospitalized upon return to base. The first boxing show was held this evening. The fine ring has been constructed under the supervision of 2nd Lt. James Cumming, Squadron Athletic Officer. Group Special Services "took over" last night. It is planned to have a boxing show each Sunday evening. The best bout of the seven, last night, was between a British ack-ack lad and a colored M/P. Both these boys could fight and they made an excellent battle. The British lad won a close decision. The assistant engineer of 2nd Lt. Jeff's crew was killed when their plane crashed about eight miles short of base, due to gasoline shortage.

 

24 April

 

Eight of our planes took off for Ploesti, Rumania, marshalling yard. The target was obscured by smoke and the 10 X 500 general purpose bomb load went into the city. 2nd Lt. Varvil went down over the target. Four chutes were seen from this plane. The plane had lost an engine with another smoking and the men should have had time to get out. We had two early returns and six were over the target. Escort was good over the target and very accurate flak was the only enemy action. One plane "washed out" in landing, but all the crew were uninjured. "Action in the North Atlantic" was the movie in Oria.

 

25 April

 

Nine of our planes took off to bomb the Macchi Aircraft Factory at Varese, Italy. The bomb load was 1 X 500 general purpose. The formation flew through clouds and the whole plan became disorganized. What looked like a "milk run" turned into a tough mission. Our planes apparently were over the target, which was successfully bombed; this target being, Ferrara, Italy, marshalling yards. This was a target of opportunity picked when the primary and three alternate targets were all weathered in. Two of our planes were shot down. This being 1st Lt. Ernest John and crew and 2nd Lt. Leonard L. Houston and his crew. Our gunners claimed two ME 109s destroyed. The enemy jumped our formation when it became loosened up in clouds and hit stragglers. Marlene Dietrich and her show never did show as had been expected. Someone said she was in the hospital. Someone else said they didn't blame her. Intelligence again put on a news presentation in the War Room and attendance was fine, as usual.

 

26 April

 

Mission was briefed at 0515 and "scrubbed" about forty-five minutes later. The weather was threatening rain and was cold with solid overcast. Armament beat Engineering in softball today. Some money changed hands and the losers are keeping the score a secret. The movie was "Riding High" afternoon and evening.

 

27 April

 

The scheduled mission was called off before briefing time. A "new deal" was inaugurated in the squadron P Ex today. It is to be run "according to Hoyle" from now on. Our new ring is providing some exercise and entertainment.

 

28 April

 

Eight of our planes were scheduled to bomb the harbor at Orbetello, Italy. All these planes were over the target with 10 X 500 general purpose bombs, and dropped bombs with indifferent success. Two of our planes and crews did not return. These crews are comparatively new in our operations. They were the crews of 2nd Lt. Radue and 2nd Lt. Foster. Our heavy casualties of the past week have affected squadron morale. The softball game scheduled between Armament and Engineering was postponed because those sections could not spare the time now. The movie shown in Oria, by Special Services, was "The Lady Takes A Chance". This program was partially spoiled by the fact that our men were forced to sit through two training films. It was especially trying when combat men had to see pictures of planes crashing and burning. Special Services should continue to entertain and not resort to training for "relaxation". Overshoes have arrived. We can probably use them next winter somewhere. The "mud" is now flying around in the wind.

 

29 April

 

Seven of our planes took off to bomb the submarine pens and repair facilities at Toulon, France. The bomb load was 5 X 1000. Two of our planes returned early and 2nd Lt. Anderson and his crew are missing in action. This plane was lost due to flak. The target was covered by a smoke screen and observation was impossible. "Engineering" turned the tables on "Armament" and won their second softball game. The "Cooks" got a team of "All Stars" (from all parts of the field) together and beat "Curly" Clarke's Ordnance team. This was a "heartbreaker" for Ordnance and they were gunning for the cooks in more ways than one. Some people hope their aim is excellent. Three replacement crews came in today. These men come and go so fast we don't become acquainted. The question now is why they bother to unpack. Inspection of the area and sections was very good.

 

30 April

 

There was a fine mission for today. Flak was very light and there was no fighter opposition. Six of our planes dropped 48 X 500 general purpose bombs on the marshalling yard at Alessandria, Italy. We had one early return. Our bad luck had ceased and all our planes returned. It was a cold evening and the scheduled boxing show was cancelled due to the cold weather. The squadron was paid today.

WALTER T. MALCOLM,

1st Lt., Air Corps,

Asst. S-2.







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