Went as 1st Pilot on small raid on Naples. Left here; to Gambut; then to Naples. Had 8 of our ships and 26 of 98th Group.
On way up, flew at water level, then climbed to 24,000 ft. and over target. Most of the way, we flew over solid “undercast”. Had been briefed to expect more than 300 batteries of Ak-Ak and much pursuit, but clouds foiled their defence apparently, for had no interception and little effective Ak-Ak. On way up, Mayfield (co-pilot) did a yeoman's job of keeping engines going. Finally went over target with about 2 1/2 engines. The raid was a tremendous success - over- shadowed anything we've yet carried out. Bombs hit battleships, cruisers, docks, warehouses, railroad yards, started huge fires - raised merry hell with them. It was frigid cold, 30 deg. below zero (cent). On returning, we had a rugged time - our gauges said plenty of gas (7 hrs) to get back to base. Got near L.G. 224 lost No. 3 engine - transferred gas and started it; turned on S.O.S. fired colors of day, flicked landing lights to no avail; went to Cairo, same result; lost No. 4 and feathered it; looked for search-lights only to find the spotted barrage balloons; lost No.1, had climbed to 6,000 ft; , not see anything resembling field. Ordered crew out; Mayfield and Huth left at 4,500 ft; fol. to 2,500 ft and decided saw runway; decided to gamble all and put wheels down, slipped in both directions; No. 2 had caught fire and Sputtered out when blew fire out, so I cut my last engine, No.3; made a perfect landing. Greatest worry on way down was the absolute quiet and was very lonesome in plane by myself; was most eerie feeling. Organized search for crew, no luck. Got 3 hours sleep and found 3 had gotten in by breakfast; 2 more showed up and got word another was O.K. Was still worried sick over last man so went on own search mission and thought we saw him still in chute on ground; came home to find report from British to same end - completely dejected. At interrogation, last man showed up hale and hearty as ever - turned tragedy to glorious experience.
Don't advise flying these 4 engine ships as one place gliders - can be done, but good old “J.C" has to be willing. To Tel Aviv for a 2 day rest.
Richard wrote additional details in a letter he sent home on Dec 9, 1942. He wrote:
Well, I have a bit of a tale to tell this time – ‘tis possible that you might have heard a little bit thru the papers but in case you haven’t.
Went on a big mission up to Naples the other day – it was one hellaciously fine trip. We had ? an endless stream of fighters would intercept us to and from the target, and then if we got there, we found we’d encountered some really rough anti-aircraft fire – but the weather, etc. cooperated and we flew there over and under all kinds of weather (overcasts) to wind up after a beautiful piece of navigation, right over the harbor. We completely surprised all the “Ities” and plastered the hell out of them – ‘twas a sadistic but most pleasant thought to deliver the consternation we must have caused. I had a crew on this trip – several new men who had never been on a mission before, and of course being of the lower ranks, I flew an airplane that was shall we say, a definite veteran – of course all our planes are in pretty fair shape, but I believe I could have gotten odds on our getting over the target without having to turn back. We finally struggled over with about 2 1/2 engines working. Lt. G. E. Mayfield of Los Cruces was my co-pilot and he did a yeoman’s task of keeping the engines turning over while I tried to stay in formation and came off with no interception or trouble at all. On returning to base, we ran shy of partial (as the British insist on putting it “being out of gas”. We lost one engine, transferred gas from another engine and got it started ? it again. And then couldn’t find a field to land in – was pitch black we were all ? because force landings aren’t made at night and we couldn’t seem to let anyone to turn lights on. Finally we got down to two engines and I had to do something so I asked the crew to jump – planning on following most expediently. Mayfield stayed till I insisted he get out, I decided to go a bit lower and see what the lights that I saw in the distance – all of us thought it was a camp and not a field, and I wanted one last chance. Mayfield left when our next to last engine caught fire ( not too dangerous, but instinctively a ? fire and by giving it more throttle but then it too ? said “no gas, we go” – with one engine left and about2000’ of altitude – I decided the lights had to be a runway and I didn’t know the approved solution of landing a B-24 solo. Decided I’d best “crash land” but assumed a feminine viewpoint and changed my mind thought I’d best gamble what little I had left, after having put all on the correction – I could get the crate down and that it was rather late to be backing out. I hated to spend a 1/2 million bucks on one crash and a million - two other thoughts that insisted on dating in and then my thick skull – anyway after an endless period of time I found myself on the ground after a perfect landing (best I’ve ever done in this thing) with the doubtful prestige of being one of the very few, if not the first and only fool, to ever solos a B-24 Oh yes – I had to cut my last engine off on the way down and make a “dead stick” landing. It did add to the ? on landing and found ….