Irwin Foster

Irwin Foster, pilot, was a member of Alexander Munsell's crew.  He wrote the following about the Nov. 15, 1942 mission:

Report on attack of formation and subsequent events of Airplane #37 on mission #75, Nov. 15, 1942.

 

Our position was number 3 of the first element. Everything was normal with the airplane, and the flight was normal up to the time of the attack by five or so enemy fighters. This occurred about 1605, just south of Benghazi. No radio contact could be established with other planes of our formation. The first attack from the front shot out our #1 engine. Controls were damaged, preventing us from feathering that engine. Just previous to the attack, the RPM setting of #3 engine was 1700 RPM. Due to failure on the governor mechanism or gun fire damage, we were unable to increase the RPM of #3 engine. Fuses were checked. 

At this time, we began to lose our position in the formation and fell back to number 4 position of the #3 or rear element. We set in 45 inches of mercury and 2500 RPM on #2 and 4 engines and 35 inches of mercury on #3 engine. This enabled us to hang on to the formation, gradually losing distance, with interval back from the rear element, slowly widening.

During the attacks, which lasted about 30 minutes, a 20 MM shell striking the plane from the side and front of the tail turret, pierced the turret, and exploded inside. This shell injured the tail gunner Sgt. Anthony Filippi, in the right shoulder and neck. This shell al so put the tail turret out of commission. This occurred about halfway through the fight. One gun in the upper turret jammed after approximately 15 minutes of the attack. A 30 caliber shell from a frontal attack pierced the windshield causing glass to cut copilot Lt. Foster about the fact and scalp. The flexible nose and fixed guns failed to fire at any time. The final attack by the fighters hit our #2 engine which caught on fire. The engine was feathered. At this time, fighters broke off combat. Later, we counted five 20MM shell holes and better than fifty 30 caliber holes. We estimated about 20 attacks from the fighters.

Lt. Ebert and Sgt. Wyatt brought Sgt. Filippi to the flight deck, dressed his wounds, gave him 1/8 grain of morphine, three tablets of sulphanilimide, and made him comfortable.

During the attacks, the left rudder received a 20MM shell and the ailerons were damaged. Another 20 MM shell pierced the left wing, just outboard from the #2 engine, cutting the gasoline and control lines. During the attacks, violent evasive action was taken on each pass of the fighters. The final attack left us with #4 engine and 1700 RPM's on #3 engine. Both 1&2 engines were gone. The plane was losing altitude. With maximum power on #4 engine, what power could be gotten from #3 engine and the controls damaged, it was impossible to hold a heading. 80th pilot and copilot applied full right rudder, and the plane still turned to the left. Power was then reduced on #4 engine, #2 engine was unfeathered, but it caught fire immediately and would only run in spurts. #2 engine was then feathered permanently.

The fight was carried out at 10,000 feet. By this time, we were at 6,500 feet. The power on #4 engine was reduced to the point where a heading could be flown. We headed north, north-east gradually losing altitude. At 3,000 feet, we decided to crash-land. No member of the crew wished to parachute, so we all rode it down. Pilot, copilot, radio operator, tail-gunner, and navigator-bombardier were on the flight deck. IFF was turned to emergency (broad) signal. T/SGT Meek, radio operator, sent S.O.S. signals on CW up to the time of landing. The armorer was in the back end. Approximately 100 feet from the ground, we had the engineer cut off the gasoline valves and then went to the back of the plane al so. Wheels were up and full flaps. Immediately on touching the ground, all switches were cut. The plane skidded along nicely for about 100 yards, then the left wing went down, and the plane stopped abruptly. No one was injured on the landing.

Sgt. Filippi was removed from the plane, his wounds redressed and made comfortable. The bomb-sight, IFF, secret papers, and maps were immediately destroyed. The landing was made at 1730. About 1800, a B-24 came overhead, we shot our very pistol which he saw. A note signed Lt. Stewart from the 98th B.G. was dropped from their plane along with some food. The note informed us they had our position and would send rescuers. We made ourselves comfortable and spent the night.

The next morning (Nov.16) at 1015 a fleet of RAF Hudsons came over, we shot the very pistol, and two of them landed as did also a Hurricane. We were taken in two Hudsons, and they took off at 1030. While in the air, the RAF radioed in we were picked up and other data. By 1115, we were at one of their advanced airdromes, where Sgt. Filippi was attended by an RAF medical officer. From the advanced base we landed at Mersa Matruh, from there to a field just outside of Alexandria. From there we were flown back to our base, Abu Seuir, landing at 1805.

As pilot of the airplane, I very highly recommend all members of the crew for superb moral and meritorious conduct. I also wish to express on behalf of the entire crew our deep gratitude to the RAF for most kind and considerate attention. They did more than we could have expected from any one.

376 ARCHIVES

At the 2017 reunion, the board approved the donation of our archives to the Briscoe Center for American History, located on the University of Texas - Austin campus.

Also, the board approved a $5,000 donation to add to Ed Clendenin's $20,000 donation in the memory of his father. Together, these funds begin an endowment for the preservation of the 376 archives.

Donate directly to the 376 Endowment

To read about other endowment donation options, click here.

2018 REUNION

DATES :  TBD

CITY : Dayton, Ohio

HOTEL: TBD

2018 reunion details


previous reunions

For Sale

The Other Doolittle Raid


The Liberandos


Three Crawford Brothers


Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior


376th Bomb Group Mission History


The Last Liberator


Full Circle


Shadows of Wings


Ten Men, A "Flying Boxcar," and A War


I Survived Ploesti


A Measure of Life


Shot Down In Yugoslavia


Stories of My Life


Attack


Born in Battle