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Frank Di Giovanni
723rd Squadron

Information courtesy of 450th Bomb Group (H) The "Cottontails" of WWII and Turner Publishing Company

War Diary Of Frank DiGiovanni
Bombardier on Leland Henderson Crew
450th Bomb Group
723rd Squadron
(Frank added interesting notes that he still remembers and they are designated by a *)

My First Mission – Group's #1
January 8, 1944
            From our base Manduria, to a German airdrome in Yugoslavia called Mostar. *
A formation of 19 ships with approx. 24 P-38 fighter escorts. When approaching target, we were fired at by 88mm anti-aircraft which was quite accurate and rather heavy, but had no fighter opposition. We got two hits from flak, one in the pilots window and a piece nicked our prop in No2 engine (Billie). **
            The bombs dropped from the ship okay and I only had a little trouble on my optics frosting a little. The Group bombing was to my opinion rather poor, and hits to the right of the target 7500 feet. This EE was partly caused by a cloud over the target. Everyone on the crew came back without a scratch and a new experience.
Flying time was 3 hours 30 minutes.
* Because of our extreme southern location in the heel of Italy our first hour was over the Adriatic Sea.
** I was the painter, so I named the engines after our wives and girl friends. Our pilot, Leland Henderson was the only one married, and had a daughter. Her name was "Judy Lee" so that was our planes name. She was so proud later (older).

January 13, 1944
            Ship was used as lead ship so I didn't go along. The ship was loaded with 100 lbs frag bombs. The ship got shot up with flak and was attacked by three ME109. One was a probable shot down.

My Second Mission – Groups # 7
January 16, 1944
            Loaded with 10, 500lb bombs. From Manduria to the target in North Italy, Osoppo airdrome. The trip up was peaceful until nearing the target when the nose guns were froze. When we neared the target our squadron of six ships moved over to the left of the big formation and made a run over the target. I got a run on a installation and my bombs went without any trouble. When leaving the target dodging flak, we were attacked by ME109's and FW190s. The two waists, ball and tail got a few shots in. Then one gun in the ball cut out and Monty got hit in the right leg.*  Gallagher's guns fired a few rounds and then his ammunition got tangled and both guns kicked out. Fighters came pouring right in for his guns were inoperative and he was wounded in the left foot and flak in the left arm. A 20mm slug hit the armored glass of the turret and knocked Jimmie clear out of his turret. Wenzel's left waist gun went out on him after a few rounds for it froze on him causing him to break the charging handle. He was wounded by a 50 caliber slug that went through his left hip. ** Deinhardt was firing and his belt was shot stopping his feed and was wounded in the left hand.
Our six ship formation were fortunate to see a formation of 17's and got in their formation for protection after Lt. Hollman's ship was shot down.*** His crew bailing out about 10 or 20 miles out from the coast.****
            Coming back we were well shot up. Dickerman and I gave Wenzel and Gallagher a little first aid and Monty and Deinhardt weren't to the flight deck where Chief took care of them. We then had more trouble when we couldn't retract the sperry ball and our rudder controls were shot away. Vaughn and Hahn finally managed to retract the ball and things looked bright.
            Chief managed to bring the ship in without rudders after Vaughn shot off flares. We came in with Hahn holding on to a break in the hydraulic lines to enable us to land. We taxied to the end of the runway where the ambulance was waiting and the doctors took care of our wounded.
            After being on the ground we later learnt that right below the nose turret was a live 20mm slug that never exploded.
Flying time 6 hours 45 minutes.
* His leg was amputated 50 years later.
** Wenzel and I got air sick easy. With a bullet going thru his hip, he got air sick!!
*** His bombardier was my best friend
**** We hoped he would be saved because we shot down a German fighter, both would be rescued.
[At that time we had no identifying markings, we all looked alike. Our 6 planes got into the 449th. They were briefed to turn one way and we, the 450th turned the opposite.]

My Third Mission – Groups # 12
January 21, 1944
Target Prato, N. Italy Mar. Yards Loaded with 10, 500lb bombs.
            Two groups from our group net with the 449th and had an easy trip up. Three other groups of 17's also were flying in the northern direction. We all were escorted with P-38's and had no opposition to the target. The target was covered over by clouds and had to return to our base. It was a fairly calm trip all but the oxygen hose being cut on the lowering of the sperry ball. With a small supply of oxygen the ball was damaged a little in the procedure of raising and lowering of the turret. After breaking the pulley on the hoists we finally managed to pump the turret in position. On the way back the bombs had to be released in the Mediterranean killing only fish.
Flying time 7 hours 10 minutes. 

My Fourth Mission – # 13 Group - Written Jan 1994
January 22, 1944
Target – Marshalling Yards
Arrazzo, Italy

Recalled on a mission north – on way up we saw many ships in the Ocean on the west coast of Italy, south of Rome. When we returned to Manduria we were informed the Allies invaded Anzio.

My Fourth - 5th Mission - # 14 Group
January 23, 1944 Sunday
Target - Rieti, Italy (Rome)
            Two groups from our group went on a mission of our own without any other planes and no escort. We took off okay but were a few miles out and had a gas leak. We cracked our doors and returned to the field. After landing the crew chief said he transferred fuel and it ran over so we took off again to catch the group. The gasoline continued leaking and we had to keep our doors half open all the way to the target. We didn't run into any enemy fighters but had a little flak. We got a few flak holes cutting a few wires and oxygen lines. We made a run on the target and got some good hits on the field. We came back okay and got a little more flak but luckily we did not have any fighter opposition: for if we would have had some bullets hit some of the leaking gasoline we may have had a little trouble.
Flying time 5 hours 15 minutes

My Fifth - 6th Mission - #18 Group
January 29, 1944
Target Siena, N. Italy - Mar. Yards
Loaded with 10 - 500lb bombs
            Two groups in our group went out on their own missions. It was a quiet trip up and was a fairly nice day until we hit the target area and then it was covered over with a thick overcast. We had no secondary target and were briefed to drop on ETA which we did and no results were made. The trip back was also quiet without fighters or flak.
Flying time 6 hours 00 minutes.

My Sixth – 7th Mission - # 20 Group
January 31, 1944
Target – Aviano Air Drome. N. Italy
Loaded with 12 – 500lbs.
            Two groups in our group and two from 449th with 82nd fighter escort. It was a quiet mission over water mostly up to northern Italy. When we hit the coast it was quiet until a few miles from the target and we started to get flak. Heavy and accurate flak. I saw the bombs from the 449th hit and they did a good job. We went over the target but I did not see our bombs hit. We continued getting flak until after passing the target and I saw white flak and knew fighters were coming in. They did but didn't make much of a pass for they were taken care of by the P-38's. The rest of the trip was quiet. We only had one hole up in the nose glass to the right of the bombsight. (Me)
Flying time 6 hours 00 minutes.

My Seventh – 8th Mission  - # 22 Group
February 4, 1944
Target Toulon, France Submarine pens and harbor.
            Two groups in our group plus the wing including 449th, 98th & 376th.  When briefed the weather was said to be fairly good but on our way up we hit a heavy undercast and started to head towards Italy and looking for a target encountered a little flak. After seeing it was impossible to find an opening in the clouds to bomb, we came back home.
Flying time 5 hours 25 minutes.

My Eighth – 9th Mission - # 25 Group
February 14, 1944
Target – Verona Marshalling Yards
            Two groups of 18 ships from our group with couple other groups 376, etc. We took off here a very cold morning and was fairly quiet all the way up but it was very cold. After leaving the ground for a few minutes our nose wheel door flew open and stayed that way causing terrific draft. When we climbed to altitude where it was -450C and then the tail gunner (Uphoff) had trouble with his oxygen. His hands started to get frost bitten and couldn't use his hands. His oxygen froze and cut off his supply. His hands were frost bitten to were he couldn't use his hands at all and had to let himself fall out of the turret to get out.
            With his oxygen line cut out he kept passing out and Hahn advised us to turn back. When we started back I dropped my bombs on or near an industrial center near Lacieza. Then the no. 2 engine cut out and we could only pull 15" on no. 3. That wasn't all, our heated system went out on us for it worked off of 2 and 3 engines. Our oxygen froze open on us and leaked out. If we would have continued over the target we would have lost two engines and oxygen over the target really making it rough but we managed to get home safely.
Flying time 7 hours 20 minutes

My 10th Mission - # 27 Group
February 17, 1944  "ANZIO"
Target Marina Italy
            The target was mostly cross roads and a railroad junction to help out the ground forces at the beachhead below Rome. We had a quiet trip up all but some low clouds. We managed to make the target and it was perfectly clear. After hitting the coast we got a lot of flak which lasted a little while. We made a good run on the target and dropped some fairly good bombs. We started back and got the same flak twice. The waist gunners got a little scare for a piece of flak came in one window and off the window out the other side. The tail gunner got a piece of flak in the turret door but no one injured. The way back was rather quiet except for a few clouds about fifty mile from home where the group split up and came in individually.
            After we came out of the flak our no. 2 engine was throwing oil & gas so the pilot feathered it but made a good landing on 3 engines.
Flying time 5 hours 20 minutes

My 11th Mission - # 33 Group
March 11, 1944
Target Sub-Pens at Toulon, France
            All four groups of the wing were up and rendezvous with P-38's at Capri. The trip up was quiet and was so until after crossing the coast of France. We turned over to the target short of the I.P. to miss a little flak and got just a little before the target. Over the target enemy fighters appeared but were not too aggressive. One ship was hit by flak and started to burn and fighters finished him off. It started down, a few bailed out and then exploded. The tail gunner and the left waist fired a few bursts to keep fighters out and they didn't make a pass at us. The trip back was quiet and all we had was a broken aerial and a flak hole in no. 4 engine.
Flying time 8 hours 25 minutes

My 12th & 13th Mission - # 34 Group
March 17, 1944
Target Schwaechat, Austria near Vienna
            The trip up was quiet crossing the Adriatic and then over Yugoslavia we got a little flak that didn't amount to anything. We came near the target area and it was overcast for miles. We flew around that area and finally dropped our bombs thru the overcast on no particular target. We started back after I let my bombs go thru the left bomb bay doors. The trip back was quiet until we got another little bit of flak at the same place going over. Just a few bursts. The rest of the way was quiet and got home safely.
Flying time 7 hours 35 minutes
[Interest – The plane has safety devices that bombs would not release if everything was ok]

My 14th Mission - # 38 Group
March 28, 1944
Target – Mestre, Italy Marsh Yards near Vienna
            We had a close one when waiting to taxi out, a ship blew a tire and headed straight for us but hit a dirt pile and stopped.
            The trip up to the target was quiet with a little flak to one side and approached the target and did a good job. We had a couple fighters make a pass at us but not in range of our fifties. Leaving the target was quiet and just got a little flak but not near us. The remainder of the trip was quiet & got back safely. Other Groups were hit by flak and P-38's took care of enemy fighters. Had little trouble with the tail guns but didn't have to use any guns.
Flying time 7 hours 00 minutes

My 15th Mission - # 39 Group
March 29, 1944
Target – Bolzano, N. Italy Marsh Yards
            The trip up was quiet with the wing flying and two Groups of P-38 escorts. Some of the Group were getting flak and one went down while we were in the bomb run. Enemy fighters were up but P-38's fought them off and our Group wasn't attacked by any fighters. We hit the target to the left and came back with no trouble to us but other attack units were getting flak. We came back OK and it was rather smooth except the Ball Gunner had trouble getting in the ball turret.
Flying time 7 hours 35 minutes
Total so far 83 hours 20 minutes

My 16th Mission - # 40 Group
March 30, 1944
Target – Sofia, Bulgaria Marsh Yards
            The trip up was quiet but got a burst of flak at a couple different places. We got to the target and it was smoking at the time. We dropped our bombs on the target. I watched the bombs go and saw one hit that must have hit an ammunition dump for smoke went up 10,000 ft. We rallied right and was sitting over to the left of the target and saw other groups plastering the town & yards. On our way back we got a couple bursts from enemy held territory and got back safely.
Flying time   hours  minutes

My 17th & 18th Missions - # 42 Group
April 3, 1944
Target Budapest, Hungary Marsh Yards
            We had a fairly quiet trip up but got a few bursts in enemy held country. We had trouble for awhile for the pass finder got all out of wak and we flubbed dubbed around and finally got over the target 55 minutes late. There were two fires at the time and we got our bombs out over the target. I saw a bomb hit an oil refinery for flames blew up around 10,000 feet and then a mass of black smoke. They threw up plenty of flak. Then fighters started coming in. John D. gun was out before but started firing when we were being attacked. They came in at all angles and had one come in at 11 o'clock and Portugese gave him a couple hundred rounds. They quit coming in and then our tail guns cut out. After leaving the target our generators burned out and we had no electrical power. We thought we had to ditch for our fuel was low and couldn't transfer out of the Tokio tanks. We got down to about 10,000' and could start the Putt Putt and got our fuel transferred. Coming in for our landing the ship in front of us blew a tire and we almost crashed into it. We got back okay. Never a dull moment.
Flying time 7 hours 00 minutes
[I consider this my worst mission. Why? Easter Sunday at 9:00A.M. We probably killed many people]

My 19th & 20th Missions - # 43 Group
April 4, 1944
Target – Bucharest, Rumania  Marsh Yards
            We had a quiet trip up getting a little flak at a couple small places in Yugoslavia but didn't amount to much. We got to the target okay but never did see our escorts. We got a few fighters over the target and the top turret gunner, Bratton, got a FW190. He shot it's tail off. We didn't get much opposition after leaving the target but got a little more flak over Yugoslavia again. The tin-foil proved itself over the target. We got back okay and everyone was satisfied.
Flying time 7 hrs 15 minutes

My 21st & 22nd Missions - # 44 Group
April 5, 1944
Target – Ploesti, Rumania Oil Fields
            We just about repeated the mission as yesterday on the way up getting a little flak at Yugoslavia. We were supposed to have fighter escort but didn't see any. We got close to the IP and were jumped by ME109's, FW190's and JU88's. We had quite a fight. We got shell casings throu the nose turret tearing it all apart, the top turret and one casing went throu the Co-Pilot's window and hit Taylor in the lip. We fought fighters for 40 minutes and Bratton got a ME109. Liberio hit a ME109 and Bratton & Wall claimed he got it but Liberio wouldn't put in the claim for he didn't see it go down. On our way back we met P-38's and they passed us by & went to the target. We saw them come back and they went on. The trip was fairly quiet on the way back. Portugese got cold & the guns went out. He quit and I got the right gun working and rode the nose turret back.
Flying time 6 hours 40 minutes

My 23rd & 24th Missions - # 47
April 13, 1944
Target – Budapest, Hungary Vecses A/D
            We had a quiet trip up to the target and didn't encounter any flak. We were a little early and met our escort about half hour early and followed us to the target. The lead ship fell out & returned over Yugoslavia so the deputy lead took over. Kaulfuss was lead bombardier with Miller & Baker as pilots. Waterman navigated & did a good job. We weren't over the target first and was to the right of the aiming point. We got our bombs on the right side of the field and came home without any trouble. Got back safe with everyone okay. We sweated out No. 1 engine but used it okay all the way.
Flying time 6 hours 40 minutes

My 25th & 26th Missions - # 48 Group
April 15, 1944
Target – Rumania (Bucharest)
            We had a fairly good trip up to the target and moved from five to two position when no. 1 man fell out. We got to the target okay after having a scare from the P-38 until we recognized them. They gave us good escort over the target. The weather was good up to the target but over the target was a solid overcast I dropped my bombs thru the clouds. On the way back we saw a couple Groups hit Nis and returned home safely.
Flying time 7 hours 10 minutes 

My 27th & 28th Missions - # 49 Group
April 16, 1944
Target – Brasov, Rumania Marsh. Yards
            We started out on course okay until we got about an hour out. The pilot was having trouble with the superchargers and couldn't get much manifold pressure. We where sweating out a return and on top of that had weather. The clouds were thick enough to cut with a knife. We finally got over the soup and when we got out ther was the target clear as a bell. One wing was hitting the Airdrome near our target and we came right over the yards and did a good job. We left the target and got jumped by ME109's. They really came in close. So close that when they pealed off below me I saw the black German crosses. They came in with their 20mm blazing and explode looking like flak. They made quite a few direct passes at us and Deinhardt claims he got two. One sure & one probable. We had a long fight and they finally left after a 15 minute fight. We had planes scattered all over the sky coming back but got back okay. I saw one B-24 go down over the target after all the men bailed out.
Flying time 6 hours 45 minutes

My 29th Mission - # 51 Group
April 20, 1944
Target – Treviso, Italy  Marsh. Yards
            The whole Air Force was out and had good formations. We picked up fighter escort early. First P-38's and then P-51's. The weather was fairly good all the way up until we hit land and then got  a solid overcast over the target. We turned and came back and got a little flak. I brought my bombs back, some salvoed their load in the water.
Flying time 7 hours 00 minutes

My 30th Mission - # 54 Group
April 25, 1944
Target – Ferrara, Italy – Marsh. Yards
            The mission up was quite an experience. The briefing was for good weather not much flak if any and probably no fighters. Soon as we hit land from the Adriatic we were jumped by enemy fighters. The formation was all split up due to the poor weather and the fighters shot down a couple of our stragglers. About ten minutes later the escort appeared and we weren't encountered by any more fighters. The weather was very bad as we went on and a few groups returned. We went to the target area with planes scattered all over the sky. We went over the target area but couldn't see it for it was covered solid. After leaving the target we got flak thru the clouds and then hit more bad weather. Our ship got separated from everyone so we were all alone. All we could do was head for the Mediterranean side and come down alone sweating every mile. Everyone came in practically alone. The group lost seven ships. You can't buck weather, I really sweat more then when sweating flak & fighters. You can fight fighters back.
Flying time 8 hours 10 minutes

My 31st Mission - # 56 Group
April 29, 1944
Target – Toulan, France Sub pens
            The trip up was quiet with good weather. We met our escot and went into the target. The target had smoke pots going & covered in well. We made our run and could see it fairly well. The flak was terrific, lots of it,, high low & at our altitude. We got a couple hits. A couple fighters made a few passes but didn't stay long. Flak came up thick & fast and shot down the lead plane with Maj. Orris, and Assist Operations Officer, Sqdn Bomb, Sqdn Nav of the 722nd Sqdn. The same squadron lost another ship. Two losses for the group for the day.
Flying time 8 hours 15 minutes

My 32nd Mission - # 57 Group
April 30, 1944
Target – Alessandria, Italy  Marsh. Yards
            The trip up was good & weather was good. We went up the Adriatic and headed inland when we got a little flak on the coast north of Anconia. We went all the way inland after we met our escort without any opposition. We had a good bomb run but the course wasn't killed in lead & we hit to the left. We came back not encountering any flak over the target and got a little at a couple of small places. We had quite a time with a P-38 coming in close waving at the gunners & crew members. He was directly below me.
Flying time 7 hours 30 minutes

My 33rd & 34th Mission - # 58 Group
May 4, 1944
Target – Ploesti, Rumania  South Marsh. Yards
            We got a late start and everything started smoothly. We headed for the target, picked up our escort on time and continued up. We sweat out No. 3 engine for oil pressure dropped down. We went all way up to the target with good weather and right at the target began a layer of clouds broken to about 5/10 lb. We lost our escort before I.P. and picked some up over the target. The target was well covered with smoke pots but we did a good job of bombing. I observed two sticks of bombs hit and saw an oil tank go into flames. We got a few fighter attacks and Hall and Devlin got a probable apiece. We got heavy flak for about fifteen straight minutes. The fighters stayed with us until a while after target but left later. We picked up more escort around Yugo border & took us home. We didn't lose anyone but 449th lost a couple. I saw nine chutes open from one or more ships that may have returned to their base.
Flying time 7 hours 00 minutes

My 35th & 36th Mission - # 59 Group
May 6th 1944
Target Braso, Rumania  Marsh. Yards
            We had a very quiet trip up and everything was going along smoothly. We had no trouble up and had fairly good escort but not as good as the previous day. We hit the IP, made our turn and where heading to the right of target but made a violent left turn and made a beautiful run on the target. I saw bombs hit and where doing a good job. Bombs were hitting after and before we got to the target. We got flak but it wasn't too accurate. We left the target and had no fighter opposition and could see the target flaming & smoking as we rallied right. It was also being hit along with the A/D near by. It was rather a milk run for awhile. About an hour away from target we smelt gas fumes and I kept cracking the doors. Then Wentzel called and said we had a fire in the bomb bays. I opened the doors just in case it was serious & we may have to jump & to keep the boys free from fumes. Hall & Bratton got the fire extinguisher on the Hydraulic pump motor which was smoking and put it out. After that the trip was quite and a good mission. Never a dull moment with crew 77 - 9.
Flying time 7 hours 00 minutes

My 37th Mission - # 60 Group
May 12, 1944
Target San Stefano  Harbor Installations
            The trip up was a moral purpose tour over the lines and we helped in the new drive. We had no trouble going up & had no fighters. Made our run on the target and got some accurate flak by a few guns. One ship in the low left in lead attack got a direct hit by flak. His wing ship tried to get out of his way and collided with a ship in lead box. The Group lost three ships but we came back okay.
Flying time 5 hours 45 minutes

My 38th Mission - # # 63 Group
May 17th 1944
Target  San Stefano  Harbor Inst.
            The trip up was a straight hop up and had no trouble on the way up and we had P-51 cover. We got to the target a little early, made our run catching those few but accurate guns but, got out without any loses to ourselves. We had different runs with the first attack unit hitting one aiming point and the three boxes in the second attack all had their own aiming points synchronizing for course & rate. The trip back was quiet and was a good short mission. Chief nearly got hit by flak going through his legs touching J.A.D.
Flying time 5 hours 45 minutes

My 39th Mission - # 64 Group
May 18th 1944
Target  Ploesti, Romania  Oil Refinery
            We started up to the target and was quite a way up and we got a solid overcast. We kept going and then caught flak up through the clouds. One hit very close to our ship making a thud but got no holes. "Fearless Red" Gideon had us flub dubbin around until he finally saw P-47's returning and he made up his mind to come back. We brought our bombs back and got credit for one instead of two for being shot at.
Flying tie 5 hours 00 minutes

My 40th Mission - # 67 Group
May 23rd 1944
Target Anzio Beachhead Troup concentration
            We had a quiet trip up and met a few of our escort before the I.P.  On our way up we met a lot of the Group returning. We made our run into the target with practically an overcast over the target. We went over the target but no bombs dropped. We got some pretty accurate flak. We made a 3600 turn and hit the I.P. and made another run on the target. This time the target was visible until right before bombs away and a cloud came over the target. We dropped our bombs but I didn't see any hit the ground. After we left the target we got some close flak. Three bursts would break off our right wing and kept following us right along behind the lead box. We must have gotten about ten groups of three and then it started hitting out our rear as leaving the gun range. The rest of the trip was quiet. Pat Barbati lost No. 3 engine just before IP but went over the target the first time a little lower than the Group but left after the first pass.
Flying time 5 hours 00 minutes

My 41st Mission - # 69 Group
May 25, 1944
Target – Porto Margneua, Italy
            The trip up was quiet and everything went along fine. We got to the target and had no trouble. We made our run and just got a little flak but didn't amount to much. We left the target okay and came home without any loses. It was a good mission to finish on. JP Orley finished and was the first officer.
Flying time 5 hrs 30 minutes

My 42nd Mission - # 70 Group
May 26, 1944
Target – Nice Repair & Locomotive Shops
            It was a long hop up and we didn't have much trouble. We went over land for a little and made our turn on to the target where we picked up our fighter cover. We got a little flak but didn't amount to much. The target area was being well hit before we got there and we layed our eggs on our Aiming Point. We came off the target and came home. The fighters left us after a few minutes. A few ships landed & refueled at Corsica and then came on home. It was a good mission.
Flying time 7 hrs 30 minutes

My 43rd Mission - # 71 Group
May 27, 1944
Target Marseille, France  Marsh Yards
            It was a very long hop up but all the way up over water. We made land fall and went inland about fifty miles and hit the target. We got quite a bit of flak over the target but didn't get hit. It was a good mission and a few of the fellows finished. We got back okay after a long trip.
Flying time 8 hours 45 minutes
[Lt Buksa (Buckley) was lead bombardier and I was second. Prior to the IP and starting the bomb run, Buksa's bombsight was failing and I had to take over the lead. We had a good run. Later we were informed we had 95% hits; and that was why I got the DFC.]

My 44th & 45th Mission - # 73 Group
May 30, 1944
Target  Ebieichsdorf, Aust  Parts Factory
            It was a rather quiet trip up and we met our escort okay. We were briefed with just a little flak near the target but possibly none over the target. When we got there we seemed to get flak from Vienna and Weiner Naustadt and it was terrific. It seemed to be raining on the ship and we got about ten holes. The escort was good so we had no fighter opposition. We made the trip back okay and got home safe.
Flying time 7 hours 00 minutes

My 46th & 47th Missions - # 74 Group
May 31, 1944
Target – Ploiesti, Romania  Oil Refinery America Rumano
            We started up in good style and led the Wing. We had no trouble on the way up and
met our fighter escort okay. P-38 brought us up quite a way and left about the IP where we had
P-51 top cover over the target. We made our run on the target but it had the best cover by smoke ever over a target. I was deputy lead and dropped where the target should have been. First attack dropped by "Mickey" on the city but didn't do so good. Flak was coming up like it was raining flak puffs. We got our share of flak holes. After leaving the target we got jumped by ME109's and gave us a 21 minute fight. They shot down three ships and my gunners got themselves three. Hall, Bratton, and Devlin got one apiece. The P-51's stayed over the target to cover the other groups & we got jumped. We got back okay with just a few holes in the ship.
Flying time 6 hours 45 minutes

My 48th & 49th Missions - # 75 Group
June 2, 1944
Target Simeria Rumania March Yds.
            It was a quiet trip up and we had to go about a hundred miles north of the target and then came back to hit the target. We had P-38 cover and they met us as briefed. We came down and made our run on the target. It was a little hard seeing the target at first due to haze. The first attack made their run and they fell short. We made our run (2nd attack) and got a few in the yards. We got no flak over the target. I looked back to watch the other Groups hit and saw one puff of flak smoke only at about 10,000 feet. We got back okay and didn't pick up any flak on the route up or back.
Flying time  hours  minutes

My 50th Mission - # 76 Group
June 4, 1944
Target – Genoa, Italy  March Yds.
            This was my last and it seemed like we'd never get to the target. When we made landfall the coast was clear but hazy and just a few miles inland was a solid overcast. We went inland to the IP and was a solid overcast. We couldn't see the target for haze and clouds. The mickey man took us into the coast and the overcast brake off. We were west of the target so went up the coast for our bomb run. We didn't get any flak until right over the target. I saw one burst low and then we got three close burst and me sweating. Our bombs went and hit on the target. Flak then burst above us and we got over water after a few minutes. The trip back was quiet for we had good P-38 cover.
Flying time  hours  minutes
[Thanks to the Squadron C.O. I was in the #4 aircraft, considered the safest spot because it was my last mission. The "Chief" finished his 50th and I flew as a replacement in a different crew]

Leland H. Henderson – Pilot/Chief
Robert Jeff Thomas – Co-Pilot
John Albert Dickerman – Navigator
Frank DiGiovanni – Bombardier
James Vaughn – Engineer/Top Turret
James Gallagher – Tail Turret
Stanley Montgomery – Ball Turret
Robert Hahn – Nose Turret
Clarence Wentzel – Radio/Waist Gunner
James Deinhardt – Waist Gunner

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