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HISTORICAL RECORD - March 1944




HEADQUARTERS, 720TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (H)
APO 520                                         U.S. ARMY

12 April 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 March to 31 March 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 transfer of units.
                                                                (2) No changes in designation of unit.

                                                c.       Strength, commissioned and enlisted

                                                                (1) Month of March 1944.

                                                                                (a)        At beginning: 441

                                                                                (b)       Increase:               75

                                                                                (c)       Decrease:             35

                                                                                (d)       At end:                 481

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

                                                e.       No movement of organization in January.

                                                f.       Campaigns

                                                                (1)        Italian

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

                                                g.       Operations

                                                                (1)        During the month ten (10) missions were flown for seventy-seven (77) sorties.

                                                                (2)        Two fragmentation missions were flown to bomb dispersed aircraft on airdromes located in Italy. Five missions were flown against marshalling yards in Italy and at Sofia, Bulgaria. One mission was flown against harbor and submarine installations at Toulon, France. Two missions were forced to drop on estimated time of arrival, because of weather: these missions bombed Vienna and Graz. The last eight (8) missions carried five-hundred pound general purpose bombs.

                                                                (3)        Commendationswere received from Colonel Rush, Commanding Officer of the 47th wing, for the coordination and timing of the raid on 11 March. This raid was to demolish submarine repair facilities at Toulon, France. The bomb load was 10 X 500 general purpose bombs. Six of our planes were over target. Results of the bombing were good. On 30 March, nine of our planes dropped bombs on Sofia, Bulgaria. The purpose of the raid was to hit the marshalling yards and industrial area, and to persuade the Bulgarians to leave this war. The bomb load was 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. Results of the raid were excellent.

                                                                (4)        The unit was subjected to action by nineteen (19) enemy fighters during the raid on Toulon, France, on 11 mar. The attacks were from all around the clock, Mostly high. They were not aggresive and seemed to attack without coordination; breaking away after firing a few bursts at six to eight hundred yards. One of our planes was damaged and landed at Corsica for an engine change. One FW190 was destroyed over the target. Seventeen (17) enemy aircraft attacked our group formation on 19 March during the raid on Graz, Austria. The attacks were mostly single from five to seven o'clock, high and low. One coordinated attack by six enemy aircraft, was made by th eenemy. This attack was in pairs abreast dividing and breaking off to right and left. The squadron lost no planes to these tactics. One ME 109 was destroyed and one probably destroyed. Sixteen (16) enemy aircraft engaged teh group as we drove in on Rimuni, Italy, on 24 March. The enemy attacked in groups of foour or five from fivr to seven o'clock, low. Our wing ships were attacked by elements of three abreast, level, from three and nine o'clock, and broke off to rear; and from front through three and nine o'clock. One ME 110 seemed to act as fire control ship. JU 88's came from three and nine o'clock to fire rockets. One of our aircraft was shot down by the enemy. Our gunners destroyed four (4) ME 109 aircraft. On 29 March, 1st Lt. Ernest F, John was forced to turn back fifteen minutes short of the target at Bolzano, Italy. His plane was attacked by eight (8) ME 109 and two (2) FW 190's. The battle lasted about twenty five minutes with the enemy attacking from all angles and breaking off in all directions with attacks predominantly from five to seven o'clock, level to high. Three ME 109's were destroyed in this battle. Lt. John brought his badly shot-up aircraft back to base with all the crew uninjured. Flak is not mentioned in this account of enemy action because it is encountered on nearly all missions.

                                                h.       Captain Gordon T. Colley, Squadron Commander, led the group in the raid on Submarine facilities at Toulon, France, 11 mar. This was carried out with good results, and the coordination and timing was commended by Colonel Rush, Commanding Officer of the 47th Wing. Colonel John S. Mills, 450th Group Commander, led the 47th Wing on the raid which covered the marshalling yards at Mestve, Italy on 28 March. First Lieutenants Robert Brown and Rolland R. Carr, Squadron Navigator and Bombardier, respectively, worked with Colonel Mills on this very successful mission. Captain Gordon T. Colley , Squadron Commander, again led the 450th Group, on 29 mar. This mission bombed the marchalling yards at Bolzario, Italy, with good results.

                                                i.       Losses in Action

                                                                (1)        1st Lt. Reaford C. McCraw and his crew became missing in action during the raid over Schwechat, Austria, on 17 March 1944. Following is the list of his crewmembers: 1st Lt Edward B. Krinkle, 2nd Lt William R. Taylor, 2nd Lt Ernest D, Connors, S/Sgt William H. Britton, T/Sgt Charles R. Flanagan, S/Sgt Truett O. Dickerson, S/Sgt Richard E. McCorkle, S/Sgt John F. Barcacle, S/Sgt Kenneth M. Chambers.

                                                                (2)        2nd Lt. Ralph G. Hodgson Jr and his crew became missing in action during the raid over Steyr, Austria on 24 March 1944. Following is the list of his crew members: 2nd Lt Merrill W. McKinley, 2nd Lt Richard F. Hackel, 2nd Lt Samuel R. Sprott Jtr., S/Sgt Maurice W. Moore, S/Sgt Robert L. Bohannon, S/sgt Robert L. Morgan, S/Sgt Alfred P. Russo, S/Sgt Cyril G. Heineman, Sgt (NMI) Heyman.

                                                j.       Awards      

                                                                (1)   Having flown 5 missions the following officers and enlisted men have been awarded the Air Medal: Capt Clark J. Wicks, 1st Lt Robert L. Brown, 1st Lt Rolland R. Carr, 1st Lt Robert W. Edwards, 1st Lt John C. Giraudo, 1st Lt Monroe (NMI) Sachs, 2nd Lt Thomas H. Allen, 2nd Lt Jorden M. J. Augustenborg, 2nd Lt Lenus A. Bahti, 2nd Lt Donald R. Bechtel, 2nd Lt Edward W. Bell, 2nd Lt John A. Boerema, 2nd Lt Jerome P. Bowes III, 2nd Lt Glen E, Boyle, 2nd Lt Richard E. Brannon, 2nd Lt Arlie L. Brown, 2nd Lt Joseph W. Brown, 2nd Lt Paul B. Cantrell, 2nd Lt Ernest D. Connors, 2nd Lt William R. Cranston, 2nd Lt Richard S. Cummings, 2nd Lt Charles E. Cunningham Jr., 2nd Lt Donald (NMI) DeKraker, 2nd Lt Hartley C. Dewey, 2nd Lt Robert L. Farmer, 2nd Lt Gerald M. French, 2nd Lt John S. Fulks Jr., 2nd Lt Harold E. Gladstone, 2nd Lt Laurence B. Guthrie, 2nd Lt Richard F. Hackel, 2nd Lt Lewis D. Hannah, 2nd Lt Thomas F. Hart, 2nd Lt Ralph G. Hodgson Jr., 2nd Lt Sidney W. Hodgson, 2nd Lt Elvyn G. Hopper, 2nd Lt Ernest F. John, 2nd Lt Joseph J. Joyce, 2nd Lt Harry L. Lamb, 2nd Lt Edmund A. Ley, 2nd Lt John E. Malarkey Jr., 2nd Lt Frank C. Marpe Jr., 2nd Lt Reaford C. McCraw, 2nd Lt Laurence H Miles, 2nd Lt Frank W Molina, 2nd Lt Arthur D Park, 2nd Lt Edward J Pommerville, 2nd Lt Franklin A Sherrill, 2nd Lt Dalton W Smith, 2nd Lt Lawrence J. Smith, 2nd Lt Harry T Stebbings, 2nd Lt Gordon S Taylor, 2nd Lt William R Taylor, 2nd Lt Albert W Teed Jr, 2nd Lt Dannah D Varvil, 2nd Lt Stanley A White, 2nd Lt Ronald R Whitehead, 2nd Lt Eugene A Williams, 2nd Lt James G Wright, F/O James D Cumming, F/O Warner T Ralls, T/Sgt Scott M Aylesworth, T/Sgt Charles F Barr, T/Sgt William C Brown, T/Sgt Robert B Culver Jr, T/Sgt Vernon L Johnson, T/Sgt Dominique (NMI) Juneau, T/Sgt Anthony (NMI) Kulchitsky, T/Sgt John (NMI) Manak, T/Sgt Hugh A Neely, T/Sgt Russel C Privateer, T/Sgt Paul (NMI) Swearingen, T/Sgt Donald Van Deuesen, S/Sgt Jay R Adair, S/Sgt Marion D Anderson, S/Sgt Howard R Barkley, S/Sgt Joseph T Baz, S/Sgt Earl E Borem Jr, S/Sgt William H Britton, S/Sgt Walter O Cannon, S/Sgt Julio (NMI) Castro, S/Sgt Kenneth M Chambers, S/Sgt Edward L Clapprood, S/Sgt Eugene M Compton, S/Sgt Michael (NMI) Dellario, S/Sgt Joe W Dunn, S/Sgt Charles E Fasolas, S/Sgt Charles C Felchner, S/Sgt William J Fili, S/Sgt Charles R Flanagan, S/Sgt James G Foster, S/Sgt Clairon J Frymire, S/Sgt Frank (NMI) Gentile, S/Sgt John E Goodman, S/Sgt Arlie L Griffin, S/Sgt Edwin F Grzywa, S/Sgt William J Haight, S/Sgt Ryan D Harper, S/Sgt Russell J Hecht, S/Sgt Cyril G Heineman, S/Sgt Stanley J Johnson, S/Sgt Norman J Kirkland, S/Sgt Lloyd K Kittelson, S/Sgt Clifford W Knappenberger, S/Sgt Charles P Kourvelas, S/Sgt Stanley L Kristal, S/Sgt Stephen W Kusmirak, S/Sgt Leo H LaFountain, S/Sgt John (NMI) Mason Jr, S/Sgt Francis A Matan, S/Sgt Richard E McCorkle, S/Sgt William W McDonald, S/Sgt Laurence R Miller, S/Sgt Carl A Moon Jr, S/Sgt Victor J Monkus, S/Sgt Robert L Morgan, S/Sgt Thomas (NMI) Netherton, S/Sgt Melvin L Openshaw, S/Sgt Robert A Peterson, S/Sgt Jack C Schoonover, S/Sgt William S Signs, S/Sgt John (NMI) Starkovich, S/Sgt Raymond H Strautman, S/Sgt James E Strickland, S/Sgt Harley O Tedford, S/Sgt Albert L Thompson, S/Sgt Howard J Ver Duin, S/Sgt Harold J Violette, S/Sgt John L Ward, S/Sgt Solomon (NMI) Wasserman, S/Sgt James A Wood, S/Sgt John F Barnacle, Sgt Oscar C Barnhill, Sgt Joseph (NMI) Bernstein, Sgt Robert E Beshore, Sgt Robert J Bohannon, Sgt William R Campbell, Sgt Randolph F Haney, Sgt Joseph J Hefferman, Sgt Ralph (NMI) Heyman, Sgt Chester S Kraska, Sgt Leo M Larivee, Sgt Joseph A Mandanyohl, Sgt Jack W Means, Sgt Maurice W Moore, Sgt George W Morrison Jr, Sgt John J O'Hara, Sgt Alfred P Russo, Sgt Francis M Smith, Sgt John M Sternburg, Sgt Paul G Young, Cpl Everett O Moody, Cpl John J Stranahan, Pvt Kenneth C Finnigan and Pvt William J Richards.

 

2). The following officers and enlisted men have been awarded Oak Leaf Clusters for Air Medal: Capt Gordon T Colley, Capt Clark J Wicks, 1st Lt Robert L Brown, 1st Lt Rolland R Carr, 1st Lt Robert W Edwards, 1st Lt John C Giraudo, 2nd Lt Thomas H Allen, 2nd Lt Jorgen M J Augustenborg, 2nd Lt Walter p Cannon, 2nd Lt Paul B Cantrell, 2nd Lt Ernest D Conners, 2nd Lt Charles E Cunningham Jr, 2nd Lt John s Fulks Jr, 2nd Lt Harold E Gladstone, 2nd Lt Robert L Farmer, 2nd Lt Laurence B Guthrie, 2nd Lt Ernest F John, 2nd Lt Harry L Lamb, 2nd Lt Edmund A Ley, 2nd Lt John E Malarkey, 2nd Lt Frank C Marpe, 2nd Lt Reaford C McCraw, 2nd Lt Frank W Molina, 2nd Lt Arthur D Park, 2nd Lt Edward J Pomerville, 2nd Lt Franklin a Sherrill, 2nd Lt Dalton W Smith, 2nd Lt Lawrence J Smith, 2nd Lt Harry T Stebbing, 2nd Lt William R Taylor, 2nd Lt Albert W Tweed Jr, 2nd Lt Winston C Watson, 2nd Lt Stanley A White, F/O Warner T Ralls, T/Sgt Scott M Aylesworth, T/Sgt Charles F Barr, T/Sgt William C Brown, T/Sgt Vernon L Johnson, T/Sgt Dominique (NMI) Juneau, T/Sgt John (NMI) Manak, T/Sgt Hugh A Neely, T/Sgt Russel C Privateer, T/Sgt Donald (NMI) Van Deusen, S/Sgt Jay R Adair/ S/Sgt Marion D Anderson, S/Sgt Howard R Barkley, S/Sgt Joseph T Baz, S/Sgt Earl E Borem Jr , S/Sgt William H Britton, S/Sgt Walter O Cannon, S/Sgt Michael (NMI) Dellario, S/Sgt Joe W Dunn, S/Sgt Charles R Flanagan, S/Sgt Clairon J Frymire, S/Sgt Frank (NMI) Gentile, S/Sgt Arlie L Griffin, S/Sgt Edwin F Grzywa, S/Sgt William J Haight, S/Sgt Ryan D Harper, S/Sgt Cyril G Heineman, S/Sgt Norman J Kirkland, S/Sgt Clifford W Knappenberger,
S/Sgt Walter J Castro, S/Sgt Stanley L Kristal, S/Sgt John (NMI) Mason Jr, S/Sgt Francis A Matan, S/Sgt Richard E McCorkle, S/Sgt William McDonald, S/Sgt Lawrence R Miller, S/Sgt Carl A Moen Jr, S/Sgt Thomas (NMI) Netherton, S/Sgt Melvin L Openshaw, S/Sgt Jack C Schoonover, S/Sgt William s Signs, S/Sgt Raymond H Srautman, S/Sgt James E Stricfkland,
S/Sgt Harley O Tedford, S/Sgt Harold J Violette, S/Sgt James A Wood, Sgt John F Barnacle, Sgt Joseph (NMI) Bernstein, Sgt Robert E Beshore, Sgt Jospeh J Hefferman, Sgt Joseph A Mandanyohl, Sgt George W Morrison, Sgt John J O'Hara, T/Sgt Donald Van Deusen and S/Sgt Raymond H Strautman.



                                                2.      Enclosed is the war diary of this unit from the period 1 March to 31 March 1944.

                                                       For the commanding officer

WALTER T. MALCOLM

1st Lt., Air Corps

Ass't Squadron S-2



1 Incl.

        War Diary.

720TH SQUADRON WAR DIARY FOR MARCH 1944

 

1 and 2 March

 

This month started slowly from an operational viewpoint. No missions were flown on 1 or 2 mar. On 1 March, M/Sgt Frederick W Skinner became acting 1st Sergeant. He replaced Sgt
Doanld Kulencamp. The latter had been called before a board of officers and was reduced to Sergeant, without prejudice, and sent on detached service. The moving picture "Thank Your Lucky Stars" was shown in Oria. 2nd Lt George T Ready left on 2 March for Chemical Warfare Service School at Orta Nova, Italy. That evening Brig Gen G W Atkinson, Commander of the 47th Wing, was in S-2 in preparation of the mission for 3 mar.

 

3 March

 

The mission first planned for today was Budapest/Tokol Airdrome in Hungary. This was not carried to the briefing stage because of adverse weather conditions. The mission operated was a 'double-cluster" fragmentation one against Viterbo, Italy, satellite #2 Airdrome. Eight of our planes got over the target as against one early return. The target was obscured by a solid undercast and could not be "found" for bombing. All planes jettisoned in Taranto Bay. 2nd Lt Egan, of the 723rd Squadron and formerly of the 720th perished in a crash during take off. The aircraft of the 723rd exploded during take off and the crew perished. 2nd Lt Isbell was the pilot. In the evening USO Camp Shows put on vaudeville show in Oria. The matinee and evening performances were well attended but the show was just fair and was short. The public address system was "out" and this helped spoil the show.

 

4 March

 

The mission for today was abortive. The group was briefed and took off to bomb Breslau, Germany. The bomb load was 8 X 500 General purpose bombs for this new headquarters of the Reich. Col Mills was leading and came back about an hour after takeoff. In the afternoon the group practiced new tactics in formation flying, 1st Lt William P Correia, ordnance officer, took over as Squadron Transportation Officer. Squadron officers were paid for the month of February and again complained about the five dollar assessment for the group officers club. The 451st Group moved the 724th Squadron onto this base for operations. This was occasioned because their runway is unserviceable because of steady rains.

 

5 March

 

Capt Floyd I Robinson joined the squadron as a pilot today. A squadron "news bulletin" board was established at the orderly room. Intelligence keeps current war news posted there for all personnel.

 

6 March

 

A mission was briefed for the Lavariano, Italy airdrome. The objective was to destroy installations on that field with a 10 X 500 G.P. load. The mission was not flown due to adverse weather. We had ten planes scheduled. Enlisted men were paid for February. The evening show was "Thousands Cheer". The 725th Squadron moved in today to operate from this base.

 

7 March

 

The planes were scheduled for the mission against the marshalling yards at Certaldo, Italy. Nine planes dropped 90 X 500 G.P.'s on the yards and town of Castelfiorento, Italy. The skies were broken to solid undercast and observations were difficult. Col Rush, Commanding Officer of the 47th Wing, inspected the squadron area with Col Mills and Lt Col Price.

 

8 March

 

Adverse weather again held us up. A raid against the yards at Arezzo, Italy, was briefed but did not take off. In the afternoon a practice mission was flown to work on new formation tactics. The old Post Exchange system, by sections, was abolished. The squadron opened a P EX room to be open two hours a day, three days per week, to enable all personnel to get their rations in off time. The movie shown in Oria by Special Services was "Top Man". A one day old restriction for disorderly and unclean barracks was partially lifted, for combat men. Word was received today that Lt Sachs, Lt Sherril, Lt Pomerville and three enlisted men of Lt Giraudo's crew (missing in action) are safe in Partisan occupied Yugoslavia. The first replacement crew came in today. 2nd Lt Jack Ryne, communications officer, received word of his promotion to 1st Lieutenant today.

 

9 and 10 March

 

No missions were flown. The "big noise" on these days was the opening of the "Cottontail Club" on the 9th. Many officers who attended still and a singing effect in their heads on the 10th. The "Cottontail Club" is the group officers club. The rooms are fine and all attending were satisfied that their assessments were well spent. A squadron insignia, as drown by 2nd Lt Donald Bechtel, was accepted on 9 mar.

 

11 March

 

Commendations from Col. Rush were received for the coordination and timing of the raid on U-boat repair facilities at Toulon, France. This raid was made on 11 March and the group was led by our Squadron Commander, Capt Gordon T Colley. The bomb load was 10 X 500 G.P.'s and coverage of the target was good. Six planes dropped bombs on the target, and four planes brought back bombs in early returns. 1st Lt Reaford McCraw took off forty minutes late due to a flat tire and turned back twenty minutes short of the target when he could not sight the formation. Two planes were forced back by gas leaks. 2nd Lt Wagner was missing for several days but contacted this base and reported that he was awaiting an engine change in Corsica. T/Sgt William W McDonald, of 1st Lt Ley's crew, claimed an FW 190 over Toulon.

 

12, 13, 14 and 15 March

 

There were no missions on these four days. The weather continued wet with low overcast and haze. The group practiced formation tactics on 12 mar. The second replacement crew arrived on that date. Officers of this vicinity were very grateful for an Officers' Post Exchange opened in Manduria recently. With a fine stock this store is very popular. A "swap crew" arrived on 13 March from England. Lt. Dewey and his crew are scheduled to leave for England on 16 mar. The lapse in operations was filled in by training. 1st Lt Chronister, Group P.I. officer, has inaugurated target study meetings each morning there is no mission flown. This is especially designed for bombardiers. Navigators were shown a training film at S-2 on 14 mar. On this latter date, many persons were driven to cover by a British ack-ack practice in the evening. Lt Ready returned from detached service at Chemical Warfare School. The movies shown during these days were "Presenting Lily Mars" and "Princess O'Rourke". Matinee and evening shows drew full houses.

 

16 March

 

Budapest/Tokol Airdrome was scheduled as a mission for today, but this was not briefed due to adverse weather. There was a meeting on tactics for pilots and co-pilots in the afternoon at S-2. 1st Lt Edmund Ley went on "tour" today; he was on detached service to England. Accompanying were his co-pilot, 2nd Lt Winston Watson, 2nd Lt John Malarkey, navigator, and the crew's aerial engineer and radio operator. First choir practice for Easter service was held today with seventy fine voices. Major North and an orchestra are practicing with the choir twice a week.

 

17 March

 

The mission for today was not successful due to a solidly undercast sky. Ten of our crews participated in this scheduled attack on an aircraft assembly plant at Schwechat, Austria. One of our aircraft was operated by the 721st Squadron. Seven of our planes dropped 70 X 500 G.P.'s on targets of opportunity and the alternate target: the industrial heart of Vienna. These latter released bombs on ETA. One plane jettisoned bombs in the Adriatic in an early return caused by a supercharger being out: another early return was caused by and oil leak and brought back ten bombs. This plane crashed, upon landing, without injury to personnel aboard. Lt Reaford McCraw and his crew turned back short of Zagreb but never reached this base. It was reported the next day that the aircraft had ditched in the Adriatic. The movie shown in Oria, afternoon and evening, featured Betty Grable in "Coney Island".

 

18 March

 

Dispensed aircraft at Lavariano, Italy airdrome was the target for today. This target was well covered by fragmentation bombs. The squadron had eight (8) planes over the target, and one early return caused by supercharger trouble. The latter jettisoned bombs in the Adriatic. In the evening, group officer personnel were entertained in the "Cottontail Club", with a fine show. The 721st Squadron put on a novel briefing with vivid characterizations. Lt. Anderson "stole the show" as Col. Mills. American Red Cross girls put on a "truth or consequences contest" which started the show off on high pitch. Capt Hunt, group dental officer, was a fine hula dancer "as a consequence". He had neglected to learn that "Woodrow wilson's first name was Thomas".

 

19 March

 

The group was briefed and took off to bomb the Wazlagerwerk Ball Bearing Works at Steyr, Austria. The target was obscured by solid cloud cover and the formation bombed an alternate, Graz. With seven planes the 720th dropped 83 X 500 General Purpose bombs. One plane brought back twelve bombs in an early return. The target was well hit. S/Sgt Howard J Verduin and S/Sgt Raymond H Strauttman each claimed an enemy ME 109 shot down. There was a very large turnout for church today. Services are also held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to minister to men who are not able to attend on Sunday. Two replacement crews joined the squadron today. Choir practice was held for the musical program for Easter Sunday sunrise service. Major North plays the organ and the seventy-five voice choir is led by Chaplain Stevens.

 

20 and 21 March

 

No missions were operated on these two days. Crews were briefed on the first date for Plodiv, Bulgaria but that mission was "scrubbed", about thirty minutes after briefing due to adverse weather. Two replacement crews joined the squadron on 20 mar. On both dates, new combat personnel were in S-2 for instruction in first-aid, escape, and interrogation procedure. Lt. Ready, Squadron gunnery Officer, instructed gunners on both dates. Practice formation flights were held on the two days. Special Services sponsored two good shows: "I Dood It" was a moving picture, and "Stage Door Latrine" a stage presentation. The latter was portrayed by enlisted personnel of the 47th Wing.

 

22 March

 

Today the weather was cold and wet. There was no mission flown. New crews were at S-2 for lectures on procedure in intelligence in this command. All squadron enlisted personnel were addressed by Capt Alfred W Wagner, Squadron Medical Officer, and Capt Colley, Squadron Commander, on sex morale. Today a large load of lumber was secured for use on the mess hall for enlisted personnel. Work on this project is proceeding nicely and soon the mess will move from the present, temporary establishment. The movie shown in Oria was "The Song of Bernadette".

 

23 March

 

The ball bearing plant at Steyr, Austria was briefed again. Our aircraft took off on this mission but returned within the hour because they could not make rendezvous in the low and solid overcast. 1st Lt. Dalton V Smith retuned from the hospital but will not be able to take over his duties as Flight Commander for a few days.

 

24 March

 

This morning started with cold and snow but soon became bright. The target briefed was the Wazlergrwerk Ball Bearing plant at Steyr, Austria. Our planes got off on schedule with the 10 X 500 G.P. bomb load. The weather and visibility were poor and the second attack unit turned back before Major Snaith leading in a 720th plane, turned to an alternate target. Our squadron was in the first attack unit. In a battle with enemy fighters 2nd Lt. Hodgson, pilot, and his crew were shot down into the sea near Pola, Italy. In that air battle, S/Sgt's Kirkland, Mason,
Beshore and Openshaw each claimed an ME 109 shot down into the sea. Eight of our planes went on to Rimini, Italy, and in clear weather bombed the marshalling yards there. We had one early return and that plane jettisoned bombs in the Adriatic. In the evening, Squadron S-2 gave an orientation and news summary at Group S-2. A fine turnout resulted despite competition with a USO Camp Show unit and movie in Oria. Reports indicate that both "shows" were well liked. Mail was heavy "going out" as many men sent a "group Easter greeting" on V-Mail to their homes.

 

25 March

 

A mission was briefed for the marshalling yards at Genoa, Italy. This was called off before takeoff because of poor weather conditions. The "event of the day" was an area inspection by Col. Mills. Major Donald G North, Squadron Executive Officer, reported that the barracks and area were in excellent condition. In the evening group officers were entertained in the officers' club by 722nd officers. The show was an excellent one and the audience showed appreciation with loud laughter. That was a good evening.

 

26 March

 

A mission was briefed for the ball bearing works at Steyr, Austria. The weather prevented takeoff on that mission. The area and offices were quiet in the morning when church was well attended. 2nd Lt George T Ready instructed replacement gunners in enemy tactics, at S-2, in the afternoon. The weather was cold with steady rain and a solid overcast.

 

27 March

 

Weather on this day was cold with skies overcast. Program was maximum maintenance. No mission was briefed and passes were issued to combat personnel. The matinee and evening performance of "Madame Curie" was well attended.

 

28 March

 

Our planes took off in snow flurries under an almost solidly undercast sky. Col John S Mills was leading the 47th Wing and our group over the target. With Col Mills was 1st Lt Robert Brown, Squadron Navigator, and Roland R Carr, Squadron Bombardier. This "team" worked well again and the Mestre, Italy Marshalling Yard was well covered. Eight of our planes dropped 80 X 500 general purpose bombs on the target. No flak or enemy fighters were encountered by the squadron. It was reported today that 1st Lt Reaford McCraw was killed in action, on 17 mar. The remainder of his crew are reported safe. An enjoyable movie program featured "Prelude to War" and "World Series Shots". This was well attended.

 

29 March

 

Capt Gordon T Colley, Squadron Commander, led the group on the mission against the marshalling yards at Bolzano, Italy. Seven of our planes were over the target. The bomb load was 10 X 500 general purpose bombs. One of those seven planes could not get their bombs away and retuned them to base. The target was well covered. 1st Lt Ernest F John was forced to turn back fifteen minutes short of the target and was jumped by eight ME 109's and two FW 190's. This battle lasted for about twenty-five minutes with attacks from all directions. Gunners on the crew claimed three enemy aircraft destroyed and two probably destroyed. Lt John got his plane into cloud cover and brought all his crew, safely, back to base. The aircraft was badly shot up by the aggressive attacks of the enemy. In the evening, the theater was full for a good picture for our crews: "A Guy Named Joe".

 

30 March

 

Nine of our planes were over, and dropped on, the primary target. The target was the marshalling yard and industrial area of Sofia, Bulgaria. The bomb load was 12 X 500 general purpose bombs. Results of the bombing were excellent. Instruction for replacement gunners was held at S-2 and 2nd Lt George Ready started his schedule of training. This program is to include enemy tactics, maintenance, and firing. In the afternoon, a squadron formation was held and Air Medals awarded to combat personnel.

 

31 March

 

On 31 March, there was no mission. The weather was wet and low overcast, clearing in the afternoon. Squadron officers and enlisted men were paid for the month of mar. The Red Cross "pepped up" a fine noon meal with doughnuts for dessert. In the evening the group was entertained with a stage show and movie in Oria. The movie presented was "The Fallen Sparrow". The star of the show, "John Garfield" and other Hollywood stars were on the stage.

 

Walter T Malcolm

1st Lt, Air Corps,

Asst., S-2







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