43. September 12, 1944
TARGET: Allach BMW Engine Works, Munich, Germany.
I was not scheduled for this mission. I was sent to Bari,
Italy for interview by 47th Wing personnel who offered a promotion
to Captain if I would fly five more missions (this would make mission total
55). My squadron was short of crews due to combat losses.
Five members of my crew volunteered to fly this mission with a "made up crew" with Lt. Click in command. They were to lead the group on this raid.
While I was at Bari I was told they had gone sown in the Adriatic Sea. I immediately turned down the offer to extend and returned to base. I learned that the aircraft they were in had developed a severe tail flutter, cause unknown, and became uncontrollable. The crew bailed out and was down at sea until rescued by a Catalina Flying boat. Four crew members were never found, two of which were my navigator and my nose gunner. Three survived.
The Catalina crashed on take off and all aboard got into life rafts and were then rescued by a landing craft infantry (LCI) boat and returned. All were given Purple Hearts and returned to the States. They were credited with 49 missions.
I flew the rest of my missions with my remaining crew (co-pilot and tail gunner) and other available men. I finished my last mission as Pilot in Command of my squadron commander's crew.