July 3, 1944 – Monday
“Escape from Escape”
Mission #21,22 – target – Oil storage at Giurgiu in Romania. Takeoff 0815 Landing 1610 (0755) Total combat hours (103:50)
Load 5000 lbs. Remarks:
1) Enroute to the target- accurate moderate flak was encountered over Bor in Romania
2) A direct hit occurred in the nose. There were three flak holes of varying size (4 in to 6 in) in the nose. One hit 6 inches behind bombardier and tore wires to shreds – damaged amplidyne – rendering nose turret inoperative. Another piece of flak came up 2 or 3 inches behind bombardier, but did not damage anything. The third flak fragment hit under the ammo box. The waist and wings and tail and flight deck were also sprinkled
3) Just before the target time we were attacked by 10 Me-109s. There were 40 fighters attacking our formations. We received a 20 mm hit under the bomb sight and another through the flight deck, which, if it had been an inch or tow to the right, would have killed the top turret gunner – Sgt Jenkins. As it was he was sprayed with plexiglass fragments and other remnants. Sgt. Lange – nose turret gunner claims a probable. Me-109 was seen smoking by Lt. Clark, Johnson and Sgt McLean.
4) New damage to ship was checked just before target time.
A) hydraulic fluid had leaked out,
B)-vacuum system shot out,
C) instruments useless,
D) generator dial smashed
E) #2 engine had to be feathered- shot out by fighters
5) Bomb Bay doors couldn’t be opened due to leak of hydraulic pressure. Bombardier dropped bombs trough doors. Target was completely destroyed
6) Flak over the target was fairly heavy and accurate
7) We were again hit in the nose, wings tail, and waist – but not seriously
8) Fighters were tagging on to us – altogether they pursued the formation for at least two hours
9) Planes (several) bombers and fighters were going down
10) Chutes were opening also
11) One escort engaged the Germans and many dogfights were in progress
12) Five Me-109s attacked us.
13) Over 300 rounds were fired at the attackers altogether
14) Finally the fighters retired
15) We feared that the landing wouldn’t be possible so we got ready for a bailout over Italy
16) More flak encountered on the way home, but no hits
17) Our radio transmitter was knocked out but we finally fixed it so we could radio the tower for instructions
18) We had to crank our wheels down and after several tries, the gear stuck
19) Seven of the crew had to go into the waist because Lt. Johnson feared that he would have to make a three point tail landing. The men in the waist could therefore force the tail to drag by their weight. A nose wheel landing was thought unwise because there was no brake pressure.
20) The waist was cleared of objects which might have been tossed around in a crash landing. Some of those were oxygen bottles, ammunition, and machine guns.
21) All escape hatches and waist windows were opened
22) Everyone braced himself for the landing. Immediately upon landing the waist men dashed for the tail. It was a swell landing, but the tail refused to go down. There was some brake pressure left – but we didn’t stop rolling until we had rolled past the runway about 50 yards.
23) Just before we landed one of the ships crash landed on the runway. After we landed, another one crash landed
24) The planes that did come back in the squadron were all shot up – we had 100 holes in our ship
25) One of our planes crashed soon after leaving the target (Capt. Staveley) – no chutes
26) One plane is unaccounted for (Lt. Sparta) “Ole John Silver” – our Weiner-Neustadt plane
27) This becomes our roughest mission – far outranking Weiner-Neustadt, which comes in second and Vienna third.
28) No casualties ????
29) Entire crew has now become very serious. We can’t quite realize how none of us was injured through all the flak and 20 mm shells. There is no other explanation to our luck except that it was miracle of God.
30) Statistics – total bomb tonnage (68800 lbs) (34.4 tons)
31) Lt. Morgenbesser, Lt. Clark, Sgt. Jenkins, Sgt Graf, Sgt Wheeler, Sgt Schneider all got stinkin from drinkin this evening. Hangovers were suffered by all. Sgt McLean, who was also in the party was grounded at midnight due to excessive inebriation. Sgt. Graf was grounded just before takeoff time due to pink elephants and gremlins. We took off with a new engineer and a cameraman.