In addition to the below notes, Don made a more detailed account of this mission. Click here to read it.
April 1 - Last night one of the ships that went to Cairo returned bringing some liquor and consequently there were a few drunk persons. And a few headaches today. Still after a tent today. Nearly had one. Had several offers for the site we have chosen. It is an area enclosed with a stonewall. Has shade trees within the enclosure. After lunch had word that our cancelled mission to Messina was going out and I am going along. It will be dangerous and there will be a place for me if things do not go according to schedule. Not too much use if they do. Anyway can help fly up there and back and help if needed. Were briefed around 1:00 pm and took off around 3:00 pm. The field was very dusty. Was a pretty nice day. Took along canned fruit juices – tomato juice and grapefruit juice - in case we got hungry and thirsty after we took off. Ryan acted as pilot and I co-pilot and we flew to Malta. It was a lovely day, scattered overcast.
Hannah is a good navigator and we had very little trouble in locating Malta. We ran into some clouds before we reached the island. Saw some high white gray cliffs rising out of the sea and we were approaching Malta. It was a pretty sight. Rocky island - terraced and fenced off by stone fences. Populated all over. Dotted by villages. At this time of the year everything was green and it was good to see Malta is covered with British aircraft (anti aircraft) and after identifying ourselves we landed. You could see the runway below see anti-aircraft batteries and ships dispersed all over. The island is comprised of a lime stone formation which is easy to cut but after exposed to the air hardens. Practically all the buildings are of this stone. We found the two other ships already landed when we came in - Gluck and his crew and DuFour and his crew. The plan was to rendezvous over Stromboli and come over Messina in formation. If we couldn't rendezvous we would each pick another target. Messina being ours. The British were most courteous and helpful. Were given tea (light lunch) had dinner (excellent) were briefed very fully on our target and the routes and weather. Shown to our quarters and caught a few hours sleep before setting out. Were briefed in a reinforced tall concrete building built out of the solid rock.
April 2 - Up and left Malta at 1:00 am. Had a bit of difficulty in starting the motors but got away OK. Flew at about 200 ft above the water on instruments - skirted the outside of Sicily. Came to Stromboli - could barely discern it thru the fog. But it is throwing off fire (dormant volcano) circled there for a short while. Cou1d not rendezvous with the other ship and headed for Sicily. As luck would have it as we approached the coast the weather improved and we came at Messina drawing al1 the power we could. The success of our undertaking depended on surprise and speed as we approached the target it was just at dawn. We took them by surprise even ran thru an air convoy of air transports and fighter escort with not much opposition and to the ferry building. Just barely skimming the housetops and the water. Pulled up just enough to clear the building dropped our bombs. Dropped down to the water again and gave the ship all the extra power it would take, just skimming the water. We were not pursued and there were clouds above us. When we thought we were safe we throttled back a bit and headed for Africa. Hit the coast east of Benghazi. Saw a convoy of ships. Soon were home. Landed at 11:00 am. Were fed and briefed. Missed my regular scheduled mission, which was going to Palermo by going on this special. Rested, cleaned up a bit, had supper - wrote in diary.