William R. Davis

by William M. Davis
(Richmond, Va)

PART 1a (1)
(Opening Paragraph) Vienna City of FLAK !!! Oct. 17, 1944.
(Opening Paragraph) Vienna City of FLAK !!! Oct. 17, 1944.

The Air Offensive of Europe was on and at its full intensity. The 15th Air Force from its bases in Italy was carrying the war into the heart of the German Empire; not to the doorstep but completely inside of the fortress and dropping its blockbusters right in the big boss’s lap! As winter began to set in and October rolled around, we could look back on our past achievements with pride. We had plastered Jerry, his oil, his war industries, his aircraft, and his lines of communications from the battle scared targets at Ploesti, Sofia, Athens, Budapest, and Bologna to the far northern bomb line of Blechhammer, Vienna, Steyr, Munich, Regansburg, Frederickshavn. Our results had been excellent; they would match any air Forces in the world; we were accomplishing our purpose - to destroy the German War Machine and the German will to make war wherever they may be! Because of the Red Army’s rapid advance through the Balkans, which used to be our specialty, we had turned our maximum strength against the targets in Germany and Austria. Every day was precious then and still is; if there was the thinnest chance of our getting to the target, we were off. As the weather began to hamper operations and the bleak days of October slid in, oil wherever it might be was our top priority, with war industries, and communications next in the total destruction line. With Ploesti gone ( I had made two hair raising trips there including the last in August ) we turned to the next oil targets: Vienna and Blechammer. The people of these areas soon felt the full weight of the 15th Air Forces’ bombers. (but on one particular day we were hitting a secondary while the others took on the oil.) The land of the Strauss Waltzes, culture and historical landmarks was in for total war and would take a beating that it would never forget – and we didn’t want them to forget. We were going to remind them which side was winning this war, this one Mr. Hitler their wall paper hanger, had started!

Vienna City of FLAK !!! Oct. 17, 1944.
So as a cold windy October day 1944 mustered in, we got one of the roughest targets in Europe and none of us liked a thing about it. Just like Ploesti – back and back again to the same target until they were completely destroyed: The Vienna South Ordinance Works. Not oil that day – but weapons of war! To make it worse still, we were given what we called the ‘death trap’ heading in an easterly direction onto the target and a bomb run 61 miles with no evasive action. But the Air Force had picked this heading for some special reason, probably to insure maximum destruction to the target. Not even was there a sharp rally at the end when bombs were away – straight ahead – up into Czechoslovakia, around Bratislava, and then we could rally right and come home, if there was anyone left to come home! Any crew who has been to Vienna knows that on a an easterly heading into the southeastern part of the city all of the anti-aircraft guns defending the city are brought up to bear on the attacking formation, as 75% of the total guns are concentrated there. Next to Berlin, Vienna is the most heavily defended target in the world, and covers a much smaller area thus giving the guns a better concentration. Also with the unheard of long bomb run it was a known certainty that we would be in flak for at least 17 minutes. This is due to the fact that the attacking planes have to make a straight course right up ‘ flak alley ‘ miles before they reach the city itself. We had been down this same run before and knew why the old timers called it ‘ flak alley ‘ They will shoot at the bombers with deadly accuracy from the time they turn on the initial point until they have rallied well off the target. The intense flak always lasts from 10 to 15 minutes: some bombers just can’t stand the deadly pounding for such a length of time, and many go down on fire, in spins, in pieces, or blow up in mid air before they ever reach their goal. Vienna has been fortunate
(or unfortunate for us) to pick up all the remaining sharp-shooting gunners who fled Ploesti, Bucharest, Pitesti, Szeged, Bor and some from the nearly besieged Budapest. We
Were ‘off to the races’ so to speak; and were sure that the best team of flak gunners in
the war today would be trying to ‘fatten their batting averages’!
The route out was a nightmare in itself as we tried to get to the target. We flew through nearly ten tenths clouds of all types, and how we missed running into thunder-heads is still a mystery. The ‘soup’ was awful; at times the wingtips of the lead plane disappeared I held my breath until it came back into view.
Our plane was pretty mushy on the controls as we passed the 20,000 foot mark, and the air began to thin out. Finally we reached the top and broke into the clear, but all of Europe
(2)
seemed to be under a blanket of clouds; I was sure we would bomb by radar through the undercast. We bounced on pass
Klagenfurt and as the cold got more intense we were coming up on our initial point and almost ready to turn down ‘flak alley’. (Crew at Stations)


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My Trip to San Pancrazio

October 2019


Reunion

DATES: Sep 15-18, 2022

CITY:Wichita, KS

HOTEL: Wichita Marriott

9100 Corporate Hills Dr.

Wichita, KS

316-651-0333

Click here to read about the reunion details.

previous reunions


For Sale

The Other Doolittle Raid


The Broken Wings of Zlatibor


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


Bombardier's Diary


Lost Airmen