LT COL WILLIAM BURKE WINSLOW (1917-2003)
8th Army Air Force/USAF-European Theater; B17 Pilot, WW2
MZHS “Hero of Air Power”
LTC William Burke Winslow– MZHS “Hero of Air Power”
Lt Col William Burke Winslow, son of Bill and Gladys Burke Winslow of Benezette, began 25 years of military service in 1935 at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, become an army airplane mechanic, then a crew chief in the US Army Air Corps at Wheeler Field, Hawaii.
After WW2 started, Bill applied for and completed training to become a B17 pilot by November 1944. In December 1944, he and his flight crew joined the “Clay Pigeons”- the 367th Bomb Squadron, 306th Bomb Group (aka the Reich Wreckers) of the 8th Army Air Force in Thurleigh, England from where he flew in 28 combat missions from January 7 until April 7, 1945. During the war, he flew his missions in several different B17s including “The Rose of York” (named for Princess Elizabeth), “Lassie Come Home”, “Larrapin Lou”, and “Paunchy”. His tour of duty in Europe was extended to July 1946 as he volunteered for the “Operation Casey Jones Project”- an aerial photo-mapping project of Europe. Major Bill Winslow finished his tour in Europe in June 1947 after another tour extension having been assigned as a training officer in test pilot status, and as an engineering operations officer.
His military career followed the birth of the US Air Force and the Strategic Air Command, and he continued as a SAC pilot and an air maintenance officer at various air bases (from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska to Hunter AFB, Savannah Georgia) until his retirement at Edwards Air Force Base as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1960. He had the opportunity to meet and/or fly with some air legends during his career. These included meeting Amelia Earhart in March 1937 in Hawaii, flying General Carl “Tooey” Spaatz (the first US Air Force Chief of Staff) and Major General Streit (Medical Commander of Walter Reed Hospital) while stationed at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico.
As a WW2 pilot, he was able to serve his country in a critical time and to live his passion- aviation. His total flight time exceeded 3600 hours in more than 21 different airplanes. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, two campaign medals, a Distinguished Unit Citation, the WW2 Victory Medal, and many other medals and ribbons.
His aviation passion did not end upon his retirement. He lived his last years in Titusville, Florida – close enough to see the space shots from the Kennedy Space Center. He often took friends and relatives to air shows and museums, and he would talk about his flying experiences during what most aviation enthusiasts call “hanger talk”. Everyone enjoyed those special times with the WW2 B17 pilot sharing stories. He experienced a glider flight at 72 years of age, and a 1993 he took a T-6 Texan aerobatic flight-at 76.
Like others honored here, Lt Colonel Bill Winslow epitomizes the “Heroes of Air Power” as envisioned by the Mt Zion Historical Society. Bill Winslow passed away in November, 2003, in Titusville Florida, and was buried with full military honors in Savannah, Georgia.
Benezette’s Legend of Air Power: LTC William Burke Winslow
An excerpt from the book by Robert Winslow Nay
Our World War Two heroes- fathers, uncles, aunts, and others we didn’t know personally- have left an interesting story (many times untold) of how regular Americans came to serve their country during this special time of international crisis. Many, like my father, never talked much about his years over in North Africa, Italy, and France in the US Army, and when I became interested in his military history he had passed away (and his military records were destroyed in a fire). Luckily I had an uncle- William B Winslow-with whom I did have time to talk about his military career- starting as an enlisted soldier in 1935, to his days as a B17 pilot in England, and finishing with his retirement as a Lt Col. His love of aviation extended well beyond his retirement for his entire life, and to those around him. He became my “flight mentor” as I fulfilled a life long dream of learning to fly late in life. After every flight lesson and many times in between we would spend hours talking about my lessons and his experiences. This was an opportunity which I’ll never forget. After he passed away in 2003, his wife shared with me his flight logbooks and this journal. I have been so moved by reading these entries of his life (and subsequently learning more about the Clay Pigeons of the 306th Bomb Group 1942-1945) that I wanted to share this with others- his many loving relatives and to all those with an interest in understanding a period of a man’s life during such a crisis as World War Two. I’ve tried to capture his journal as exactly as he wrote it- fragmented sentences and all. As in his journal I have not deleted his entries involving his leaves and furloughs- I believe they provide an additional perspective into his personal insights and feelings. There are a few words I haven’t been able to decipher. I’ve included a few additional comments such as his flight logbook entries for each combat flight and some information obtained from the 367th Combat Diary. I hope you find this reading enjoyable as well as insightful and interesting. As I trust he wants to share his story also.
His 25 service years began in the US Army/ US Army Air Corps and spanned an important time in US Air Force history. As one of our WW2 heroes he was able to serve his country in a critical time and to live his passion- aviation. And this passion did not end upon his retirement. He lived his last years with his loving family in Titusville FL – close enough to look out from his yard and see the space shots at Kennedy Space Center. He loved to talk about flying, attending air shows, and being my flight mentor with several hours and times in “hanger talk”. The old pilot was able to experience other aviation highlights that included a1989 glider flight and stating that “I flew it 99% in a 25 minute flight—”Super””. Also in 1993 at the Merritt Island Airport he flew a T-6 Texan which included 30 minutes of aerobatics. His statement- “Wow-Super great”. I understand that his “co-pilot”/ flight instructor equally enjoyed the flight with this B17 pilot. In 1997 he and his family (2nd wife Jean and daughter Judy) enjoyed a trip to England/Ireland for a reunion of the 8th US Air Force where Queen Elizabeth (remember the B17 airplane named after her “The Rose of York”) dedicated the American Air Museum in Duxford.
Thank you Lt Col William B Winslow for your service to America and aviation. And thank you for keeping this journal to share with us your experiences, feelings, and insights during your time as a WW2 B17 Distinguished Flying Cross pilot.
The WW2 Combat Missions of William B Winslow(born 1917, Benezette, Pa)
The Clay Pigeons Squadron: December 1944 to May 1945–Crew 20 (2nd Lt William B Winslow (pilot); 2nd LT Shirley J Ross(Co-Pilot); F/O Leonard (Leo) P Ianzito (Navigator); 2nd LT Melvin Brecher (Bombardier); S/Sgt Roscoe V Bradley; Cpl Edgar G Remmeiss (gunner); Cpl Alvin C Miller (gunner); Cpl Robert R Templeton ; Pvt Smedley B Rile (gunner). : 306 Bomb Group(H) 367 Bomb Squadron Clay Pigeons by Orders 23 Dec 1944 assigned the 8th US Army Air Force, and arrived together Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England – the home of the 306th Bombardment Group from early September 1942 and continuing until long after the end of hostilities in Europe as the 306th group was charged with the aerial mapping of Europe and North Africa.
Wednesday 3 Dec to Tuesday 20th 1944: This will cover the week of our voyage to England. No individual day deserves any particular noting- but can be better told as a whole. The first night out we ran into some rough seas and it continued for most of the trip. For a ship the size of the USS Wakefield it was surprising the amount it was tossed about. At one time we exceeded a 40 degree roll. We had quite a time in the mess hall that time- chair, men, equipment; just anything loose would go scrambling from one place to another. We were very fortunate in having good meals. At night we’d play cards anywhere from 2:30 to 6:00 AM- then try to sleep during the day. The USS Wakefield was the old “Manhattan Liner”. She was bomb hit at (blank), then was badly burned at NYC. The trip was alone and un-escorted up until the last day when we picked up a couple of C————-. Arrived at Liverpool on Wednesday 20 Dec 1944. It was a dark rainy and foggy day. We slept on the boat that night- unloaded early the next day, getting on an English train.
Thursday 21 Dec 1944: Got a little ahead of myself there. I got quite a kick out of the English cars and railroads- but they have their purpose and reasons. I’d like to have one of those little English cars for a private pet. The R.R. “good cars” were quite odd at first, not more than 1/3 the size of our American cars. The first sight of the country side was really impressive. It seemed that every inch of the soil was toiled – for good reason too. The English houses were seemed to be built in rows upon rows- with many smoke stacked. We arrived at Stone- then on a bus out to the Stone Replacement Pool where we got a bunk and chow. The place wasn’t too bad- a little crowded.
Tuesday 26th Dec 1944: School in the morning and afternoon. Got my ration card and two weeks of them today. The foggy situation hasn’t improved much this morning it was frozen to the trees and fences. Made it rather pretty too. The ground school today was on engineering- it wasn’t too hot- a review it was. The latrines here would be okay in the summer time- but heah God the open air isn’t exactly the kind of a refreshing jolt one enjoys in the winter. The boys here are making a little backroom in the barracks in order to keep warm- darn but we are under heated here- never do get warm. Having a hellava time with my electric shaver= the English use 220 volts and a automobile type bayonet type of bult and sockets, so it is necessary to use a set-down transformer- as yet I have to get along by just touching the open wires to the two prongs of the shaver.
Wednesday 27th Dec 1944: Morning and afternoon school- was very interesting today- a lot of good stuff. Another frosty day- it really makes a very picturesque scene- tried to capture some of it in a picture with the 35mm. Took a roll to the PX for development and get them in a month maybe- 6s, 4d. After another good supper, stayed to see a picture shown at the club- was :Saratoga Trunk: and a really grand job too- gosh alive what a gal that Bergman is- No kidding- guess this is what the boys are fighting for. Leo and Mel both bought bicycles tonight- nice jobs, but a rather nice price too-L8 each. Got to get one myself one of these days. Sitting here tonight for some of the first real comfort since arriving here- the reason – well the boys did some more work on our own little club room in the rear of the shack. Got a little 18″ high stove which does a nice job for its size. Suppose it will cost each of us a little over a L, but never think it will ever be regretted- it’s resulting comfort couldn’t be bought for gold. The boys are gong to bed early tonight for a mission tomorrow morning. Will be a week and some before we are to go out. Still no mail today, Honey- oh I know it’s not your fault- you have one in for each day. I’ll be getting a couple of dozen at once. I suppose- but I am getting anxious to hear from you. For some unknown and unexplainable reason I seem to be a complete flop on letter writing here- where as I thought I used to be able to do a fair job when I had the urge. It’s odd the queer way one feels over here- he likes to think that he’s a dead cinch to get thru and back, but yet some how, deep down inside the practical and averaging part is not so sure. More than once you think quite a lot about it.
Friday 29 Dec 1944: Boys went out again this morning, and one of the boys of the barracks had some trouble over the target Got my first taste of the fellows’ reactions to such a thing. It seems that Martin got a flak hit in the leg- plane badly shot up. Anyway the plane got back to the English coast and landed okay. Then tonight one of the fellows sort of sent “flak happy” and blew over Ross over a trifle. School wasn’t too hot today and the meals today were below par. Not much else for tonight.
Sat 6 Jan 1945: Quite a cadet field this is- every Sat a standby inspection- full dress by the sparkling barracks, shining shoes and all that old crap. Just as though that kind of stuff is going to win this war any sooner. Oh but that is only the beginning of this stuff. A mad drive is on the make the post a model West Point on saluting- wither do that of all of the post will be restricted along with work details. I’ve been the army a long time- and do see the value of military courtesy but I’ll be damned if I see it in a theater of war, just as though we were still at a training base in the States. Hell- our job is to bomb Jerry- and anything to better that job is well and good but these prior big assed generals and colonels over here make my tail ache by their desire to be recognized as : Big Brass Wheels: Hell Man – it is an order now to twang to a right brace and salute the Packard and the Col’s car, regardless of the passengers, the priceless property of the “The Chosen Few:. To hear them talk, you’d think this is a rec camp. If the war over- but it seems that no one has ever told the Hun and he shoots our tail off every chance he gets. Some of the boys here fly 35 tough missions and go home 2nd LT but a Col leads a milk run and gets the Silver Star- Glory to them. After nearly 20 months in grade of 2nd LT it seems that perhaps I “may” get 1st by order of the W. D. of an automatic promotion after 18 months in grade. I’ll believe that only after it happens too.
Sunday 7 Jan 1945: (((1st combat mission-B17 V715 (plane named Lassie Come Home) Thurleigh-Euskirchen marshalling yards- Thurleigh – 7:00 hours – a good one))) Went to bed early last night, intent on a long late, slept on Sunday morning for there is no combat meeting on Sunday mornings- so there I lay- peaceful and comfortable when at 4:25 AM I was rudely and forcefully awakened. For what-a mission of course. After doing a lot of new and different things we got off at 8:30 just breaking dawn. Climbing straight ahead then a left turn to the Mt Farm breaker- joining the formation there at 15,000 feet. After hitting all the various points we left the coast at 20,000 on a line and climbing for the French coast. Getting colder as we go but I really sweat even though my electric suit is turned on low as possible. Before the enemy line flak suits go on. All the way from England it was ten- tenths cloud cover- it really was beautiful- vapor trails- fighters. Over the target and off seeing no fighters or flak. It all seemed so unreal that one could sense the ever present danger never less. It is tiring as the devil to fly formation so long. Sure glad to get back on the ground, eat,etc- tired too. The target was a railroad at Euskirchen Germany about 15-2 miles south of Köln. In the air for seven hours. On loading list for tomorrow— I love you Dotty- so very much.
Monday 8 Jan 1945: (((2nd combat-B17 V715 Thurleigh-Speyer marshalling yards-Thurleigh-7:15 hrs- flak))) Sure enough at 3:45 I was rolled out. Today I go out with Capt. Cogswell as flying spare. We filled in #2, low element of lead squadron. Off at 8:20 after a previous start at 7:45 but a frost scraper shorted our salvo switch on take off- so we had to quit after 80 mph – no damage- so we took off again- into formation at 15,000 feet over Mt Farm. Lots of clouds but got a good look at France. Then got a peek at Germany before target covered with snow. Say – I saw flak much too close for comfort- we turned over Mannheim after bombs away- that’s where the flak came from. The primary was Wissenbourg. Gee H out so on to Landau- missed it on Mickey so continued to Speyer let go there on Mickey. Coming back at 25,000 feet doing some low buzzing on the cloud tops, very pretty driving down between the rows of vapor trails- Friendly fighters make a grand picture up there. Ran into a snow storm near home base – really bad- on ground at 15:35 for 7:15 hours. Plenty tired tonight but six good letters helped a lot tonight. Going to bed early.
Wednesday 10 Jan 1945: (((3rd combat-B17 V715-Thurleigh-Koln airfield-Thurleigh- 7:00 hrs- flak))) Up at 3:20 – not enough sleep to suit me, then to stand around at the hut for better than 2 hours. Bad snow storm all night and just before T.O.- everything slippery as the devil- stumbled off at 9:00 with 38 #100 pound bombs and 2600 gallons and colder than ever. Truly very pretty on the way to target- planes look like speed boats on a blue bay- as they go along with vapor trails. Flew with, as co-pilot, Hatch- he’s okay. Were to get an airfield 10 miles west of Köln, but a screw up lead took us directly over Köln- where the flak was slightly terrific- one shop hit and on fire as it went down. We were lagging again a little so missed most of the worst part. Lost formation in a let down thru clouds so came back alone in the soup most of the way at 4,000 feet , snow storms – the inside of the cockpit was like a refrigerator with all of the frost, -55 degrees centigrade up there. Snow all over England and Europe. No fighters visible- either kind. About froze when I accidentally kicked off my heater cord. Wow. Up for nearly 7 hours over target at 26,400 feet. Well that’s #3 Too tired again tonight to shower or do much so got to get to bed early-Oh oh just found out that I fly tomorrow with my crew.
Sunday 14 Jan 1945 (((4th combat- B17- Y-840 (named Combined Operations); Thurleigh- Köln bridge- Thurleigh- 7:00 hrs- hit by flak- tail gunner Sgt Alvin Miller and – waist gunner-Sgt Newell Russell seriously injured )))) Yeah – this morning we got up- 4:30- a visual raid on Köln. Wow my first 1st pilot raid- had a damn good boy “Hill” for a co-pilot- his #24- my #4- T.O. and assembly went well over channel at 10,000 feet. Had 3 of my gunners with me- their first- Rile, Remmeiss and Miller – then had a waist gunner on his #35 – another radio operator and a togeller. Wasn’t nearly so cold today- only – 40 degrees C –and for once our old glycol heater worked quite well. Got a little flak over the line then all well till on bomb run- about 4 minutes before bombs away all hell broke loose directly over Köln. They tracked the devil out of us- six in a row just below our tail – would lift tail several feet each time; first a bunch of flak went thru the tail, armor plate- struck tail gunner Miller just above the left eye- plus scattered specks about forehead- then the waist gunner was hit in the arm pit a ragged gash flak stayed there. Two of the oxygen systems were hit and pressure to zero- so all the men had to use right side of bottom. We made a beautiful turn off the target all the formation was great- I flew #3 off the lead- it was a grand lead by2 feet, Hess. The 367th flew 11 shops of the lead squadron and did well. We hit the west approach of the bridge. Just off the target we found #4 engine hit and throwing oil but not too badly, the elevator trim tabs cables were cut with the nose trimmed up- so it was very tiring to fly it home. The wounded were dressed and taken car of okay. Very little vapor trails today We broke off early and landed early- wounded to the hospital- many large flak holes in wing, fuselage and tail- one in nose. Oh yes #2 ____ shot out. A little rough- tired.
Monday 15 Jan 1945: (((5th combat- B17 Y840; Thurleigh-Freiburg marshalling yards- Thurleigh; 8:10 hrs- milk run))) Another raid- this is the next day- was just too tired last night – so hit the sack early. Ross went along today as co-pilot for his first mission- a very nice one to break in on. We traveled quite a ways for the one- but the good part of it was that it was mostly over friendly territory, down to within 20 miles of Switzerland, to strike at a railroad town of Freiberg- the secondary because the primary was 10/10 and too close to bomb instrument. Very, very little flak and only over the lines about 35-40 minutes. The Alps were very visible in the distance- rugged. I was plenty tired after better than 8 hours in the saddle. Ross did okay except – damn it- he still can’t stay awake- hope he can get over that r it will end up bad for him. My nose still hurts from the mask.
Wednesday 17 Jan 1945: (((6th combat- B17 Y840; Thurleigh- Bielefeld marshalling yards- Thurleigh; 7:40 hrs- good deal, crossed Holland))) Gee tired again tonight- after 7:40 hours in the saddle- nice mission today- up late- flying #5 of the low squadron- over North Sea across Holland into upper Germany down to Bielefeld. Had a honey of a tail wind in se we got there in a hurray but Lord what a long drag coming back out. I didn’t see any flak- guess there were some a few miles off over Holland. Grand fighter support. Better wash then to bed after #6 in today- flew as a complete crew today except had Parrish as co-pilot.
Saturday 20 Jan1945: (((7th combat- B17 Y840; #111(Thurleigh)- Rheine marshalling yards- West Raynham; 5:15hrs- #3 &4 feathered; out of gas; forced landing; returned to base #111(Thurleigh) next day))) Up and at them for my #7 at 3:00- Thought for a minute that we’d have to return because one oxygen system liked it better empty and #3 fuel pressure was 25 pounds- but we could go in and did . Opened our Tokyo valve ½ hour before target but #3 and #4 in right wing did not operate so we began to sweat it out over the North Sea. Just as we hit the English coast #3 ran dry – and 5 minutes later #4 went dry–so there we were with #3 and 4 feathered. Oh yes – fuel transfer pump would not transfer fuel across. Unable to remain with formation… I asked to go into #111 alone but was informed that is was not clear for landing due to snow storm. Well we had about 180-200 gallons of gas for # 1 and 2 and using fast. We take up a heading for Woodbridge but ran into bad weather in 10 minutes so back we came. From the north side of the wash, Nav(igator) gave me a (buncher sp??) to follow in though I had no desire to cross the wash on 2 engines, not much else to do. At the (buncher sp??) found a field under construction- tried Darky- VHF for a heading to a near field- no room so circling this new field we found West Raynham- a mosquito base- and set down- oh Lord_ was I ever happy to see it with 15 minutes of gas left. I was about ready for a belly landing. They treated us grand- bad weather – so remained over night. 5:15 hours- 3 hours (about) on 2 engines.
Friday 26 Jan 1945: Wow it was cold but much better down here and up at 27,000 feet at -65 degrees C. Went into Bedford in afternoon for a shower and hair cut but the barber shop was closed so a shower had I.
Sunday 28 Jan 1945: ((( 8th combat B17 Y840 , #111- Köln marshalling yards- #111; 6:20 minutes; some flak damage OK))) Up at 4:30, Boy my cold is a honey. After a slow start we were off at about 8:3- flying 840-Y as #3 of high element of lead squadron. Back to the Köln area again- wow. Over target okay our bombs were dropped about I minute late; so perhaps we plowed some field. Flak was quite heavy- a group in front of us really got its ass shot off. Really a short haul only up 6:20 hours. Ross saw his first flak.. Remmesiss past out at 25,000- but got back okay. Barely got off on 300 runway this morning. Really tired tonight- to bed early.
Monday 29 Jan 1945: (((9th combat B17 O-515 (named Larripun’ Lou), #111- Koblenz marshalling yards- #111, 8:00 hrs))) Up at 4:10 a quick breakfast and briefing at 4:30 flying O-515- #3 in low element in low squadron. Off okay on 060 at 7:45- assembled at 10,000 across the North Sea over Holland into North Germany then south to Koblenz to hit marshalling yards by mickey, then right on across the lines. God damn they were in a hurray about 165 mph all the way- not a burst of flak was seen- was expecting fighters today, but none – thanks. Was #9 to peel off but screwed up and had to go around. The fog was tough. Having a helleva time with Ross- he’s just not a pilot or co-pilot either. Tired too after 8 hours in saddle and #9 under the left. Cold not very much better. Not so cold today- little vapor trials.
Tuesday 30 Jan 1945: Woke up several times early this morning – each time fully expecting a raid call- but the snow fell most of the night- so it was too bad for any flying this morning- even so much so that they didn’t even call us for a combat meeting- so slept till 10:00- Believe my cold is some better. Nothing doing in the afternoon either except to go thru gas chamber, so went in town at 3:00 for a haircut and shampoo at Red Cross, gee it was good. No mail today, darn it. Warmed up quite a lot – so it’s plenty slushy. Kind of teed off at the army tonight in general- for the first time I’m getting tired of being a 2nd LT. Guess I’m tired of seeing all these 1st, Capt, and majors with less service all around. Going to write letters now- so long Honey.
Thursday 1 Feb 1945: (((10th combat B17 F547(named Rose of York, Princess Elizabeth); #111-Mannheim railroad yards- #111, 8:35 hrs—up to 29,000 ft.in order to get over the front while crossing the Channel))) Up for a raid as a flying spare – off at 8:10 – was necessary to go up to 29,000 feet to get over the cold front on the continent. Germany was 10/10 covered. We had a P.f.f. run on Mannheim- very little flak but it was a long assed haul getting back – on the ground at 5:45- plenty tired. The weather at the base was quite hazy. Flew #547F (Rose of York) in #2 on the lead of the high off Capt. Cogswell. Ross did better today with his “anti-sleep” pills. Got letters from my Honey and one from Ed Ewen. Well’ that’s #10.
Sat 3 Feb 1945: Was stood down on the raid today- and well it was too- Big B it was. And as the boys returned we learned how rough it really was. And first time I experienced the effect of a buddy that went down. Lt Clark- riding as co-pilot to Luckket received a direct hit over Berlin just a few seconds before bombs away- last seen spinning down on fire. Also Daley flying Rose of York and Carbine are missing but are thought to be down in France or South England (This crew was lost). Our squadron definite lost two ships and one probably (Daley) Don’t know how many the group lost. It was rough tonight as the boys came in to gather up clothing of the three boys and the atmosphere in the barracks tonight in a trifle thick to say the least. It really makes one think. Clark was a grand boy just too damn good to go down even for the terrific pounding Berlin took- some 2200 tons of bombs must have rained hell there. It was crystal clear and bombing good- a lot of dead “huns” paid their price of being Nazi- damn their lousy hides. We sure sweat out Brecker tonight for a half hour- but he came in okay. I flew for an hour today- auto pilot practice for lead work. Received three grand letters today. Am on the schedule for tomorrow’s raid- so had better get to bed and hope all goes well. Goodnight my angel Darling “Hot news”- just got work that one plane that was thought lost landed in France- it was Lissner and crew- now sweating out Daly.
Sunday 4 Feb 1945: ((( Special comment in log book- on 3 Feb 45 Rose of York – F547 down in channel returning home from combat mission flown by friends Daly and Carbine- I flew T412 on search mission 4 Feb #111- Holland coast- #111, 3:20 hrs))) Was quite pleased that there was no raid today. Got up though for breakfast- two good fried eggs. Next I went down to the officers gym where the mobile PX was and bought a field combat jacket, a Blouse, a pair of shoes, wool socks, and ties- cost me a little over $50.00 bucks. Just as I returned I had to report to operations. Am slated to fly on a search mission for Daly and Carbine. We sent out six ships- I was in the lead for experience had Mickaloff along- also Christenson and Allen along. We searched from English coast to Holland coast- with no results. Up in 412T for 3:30 hours. Certainly hope that they are down somewhere and are not out there in the North Sea.
Tuesday 6 Feb 1945: ((( 11th combat; B17 T412; #111- Gissen- Woodbridge; 9:15 hrs; P.f.f. on town, sweat gas & channel SNAFU- landed at Woodbridge and returned to base next day))) No. 11 oh what a day up at 3:45- briefing at 4:15- T.O. at 7:15- dark as hell and assembly was a mess in the dark and snow storm- lucky to get out of it alive. Then over the enemy Dutch coast at 13,000 – wow – flak sent back a few of our planes. Then to the target area – bombing instruments went out- so we toured Germany with Bomb bay doors open- What a F.U. Just hope we hit “Gissen:” instead of fields. Damn near ran out of gas over channel ( 10 minutes of gas let)- just made the English coast to set down on Woodbridge, there we remained over night and I slept in plane- just as a guard.
Friday 9 Feb 1945: (((#12 combat- B17 T412; #111- Merseburg oil refinery- #111; not bad))) Mission#12 today ( T 412 #6 of low – low) to get an oil refinery near Merseberg- flak not too bad. Flew off of Patten (element lead) Man he gave a tough job. Getting low on gas after a long standoff and tired as hell tonight.
Sat 10 Feb 1945: (((#13 combat; B17 T412, #111-Dulmen oil storage- Subury – #111, 8:45 hrs; Rile injured, land for gas, nearly out))). Squadron Deputy. Up at 2:30 then screwed around until a 9:00 o’clock take off. Another F.U. deal in Germany near Munston- finally dropped on Dulmen- then I had to leave formation for home, ___ of France because low on gas. Lenny took us through the flak without seeing even one burst- good job. Over English coast Rile ( ball gunner) got an arm caught in ball- had one helleva time getting him out and with only 15 minutes of gas left, didn’t dare land with him like that and gun down, but the boys freed him, so we landed at Sudbury for medical aid and because of 5 minutes of gas left. Rile put in hospital not seriously injured. I saw Ed Ewen for about 10 minutes before taking off for base. All in all a rough day.
Monday 19 Feb 1945: (((#14 combat B17 622, #111- Munster railroad yards- #111, 7:30 hrs, secondary, lo lead))) Lo-lead. Out for mission #143. Up at a decent hour of 6:00 AM T.O. at 11:00 am for a short mission. I’m a low lead squadron with Cogswell in N S-662(Virgin) We hit secondary at Munster- little flak – back at 6:30 tired but okay 10/10 covered today.
Tuesday 20 Feb 1945: (((#15 combat B17 M443, #111- Nurnberg railroad yards- #111, 8:00 hrs; hi lead-bad weather))) Hi Lead Up at 3:30; Briefed a for a run on Nuremberg- R.R. yards- flying with Cogswell ads hi lead in M443. Bad weather broke us away from group- so made the run alone- hit target. Had to get to 28,500 to get over clouds. Some flak damage – hit not serious. My tail and nose sure sore- off at 8:30 land at 4:30.
Wed 21 Feb 1945: (((#16 combat B17 K197 (named Paunchy), #111- Nurnberg- town, railroad yards- #111, 8:50 hrs; dep lead))) Out for #16- up at 2:15 off at 7:05 for Nuremberg- also briefed for Berlin- flying as group deputy off of McGee- Turner flew with me- finished him up- flak at Frankfurt- none over target- base at 3:50PM- tired after 3 in a row.
Thursday 22 Feb 1945: The group went out on its #300 mission- all the brass flew- they hit small rail center form 12,000 feet, no flak. I flew a bomb practice run on range but the C1 autopilot screwed up so we came back early- up for 1:40 in K197. Tonight I went to the USO show – pretty good. No mail today –darn it. Supposed to go on ____ tomorrow but sure as the devil they will fly me. Spent the afternoon working on my bike.
Friday 23 Feb 1945: (((#17 combat B17 T412; #111- Plauen railroad yards- #111, 10:00 hrs- 13,000 ft; dep lead))) Up at 2:30 for mission #17 after 2 ½ hours sleep. A big tour of Germany at 13,000 feet to strike a R.R. yards at Plauen. We had no flak at target- saw some at the Merseling area to our right. Up for 10 hours in T412 as deputy- gas left for 1 ½ hours. Came home in soup from French coast at 200 feet. Lord- tired is no word for it.
Wed 28 Feb 1945: ((( #18 combat; B17 K197, #111- Hagen railroad yards- #111; 8:00 hrs- low lead no flak, Pff))) Out on combat #18 today- flew with Hess as lead of low squadron- a nice milk run- no flak- 10/10 cloud coverage- 8:00 hours in K197 Up at 5:30 back at 8:00 tired– hit R.R. yards at Hagen- Pff
Thursday 1 March 1945: (((#19 combat, B17 K197, #111- Neckansulm railroad yards- #111, 8:35 hrs C.A.; hi lead, little flak, visual run))) Up again at 6:30 for combat #19, as lead of high squadron. Another nice trip down near Switzerland- Alps were pretty. Very little flak at front lines- flew K197 for 8:35 off at 10:15- plenty tired tonight but to fly again tomorrow- wow Hit R.R. yards at Neckarsulm- the hi lead had a visual run Smythe (bombardier) put them in there.
Friday 2 March 1945: (((#20 combat B17 W671; #111- Bohlen oil refinery- #111. 8:35 hrs; group deputy, lots of flak, visual))) Yea gods; up at 2:00AM for combat #20. All set of oil refineries at Bohlen, near Mersburg. Had to change ships as K197 ran off on soft shoulder- so took (E) W671 and made a last take time to meet formation at English coast. Flew as group deputy. Flak heavy as hell for 10 minutes before bombs away though we received no flak damage – it was some sweat run at 85 knots ground speed. Gas situation was bad for boys. Only 4 of group lead formation returned to base in formation. Gee- what a beating those Wright R1820’s can take- often using 38-42 and 2300-2400rpm for anywhere from two to four or five hours. Bombed today from 27,500 feet- a good visual run with very good results. Oh God, but I’m tired tonight.
Wed 7 March 1945: (((#21 combat B17 K197, #111- Siegen railroad yards- #111. 7:45 hrs C.A.; lo lead, Pff, some flak))) Two months ago today I flew my first combat mission- today was #21. Off at 7:00 in K197 as lo leader (Baker) Vielle flew with me = checking out as lead. Were to hit Dortmund- but G.H. out- so we as low alone dropped on secondary by Pff on Siegen- then left area and came out in bomber stream 30 minutes ahead of the lead and high. Got a little flak over the Ruhr- the only place. After an S.O.P. let down over Mount Farm, got home early all okay. Saw one plane chew tail off another and lose prop. They got home okay.
Sat 10 March 1945: (((#22 combat, B17 G478, #111- Dortmund railroads yards- #111; 7:52 hrs (0:30 C.A.); “A” Group lead, Pff, light flak))) Flying as Able group deputy today in a G.H. ship. Airborne at 9:00- leader’s bomb sight out- so we had to take over at I.P. but couldn’t hit primary vis._ or G.H.( G.H. out) so had to make Pff run on secondary on Dortmund for R.R. yards. We think we had a good run- gave lead back after bomb run. All of my crew along. #22 for me 8 more to go. A little flak over target.
Wed 14 March 1945: (((#23 combat B17 Y203 (named Pff); #111- Hildesheim – #111, 7:15 hrs C.A.; hi lead, visual on factory, no flak))) (((Special note- red flare inside on take off, max stop, Remmeiss saved the day with fire extinguisher Got up at 6:45AM for a mission not bad. Out for #23 combat- struck at a jet plane casting factory at Hildesheim at 12,000 feet visual. All squadron made very good hits on target. I flew as hi squadron leader – got along pretty good. Had a very eventful attempted T.O. about half way down runway the flare gun dropped out- fired inside of cockpit and started quite a fire and smoke so thick I couldn’t see the runway. Stopping the T.O., Rommeiss, the engineer put the fire out very well and quick with the CO2- sort of ticklish with a hot load of bombs. Changed ships and met formation at Beckley Head. Flew N Y203 for 7:15 hours.
Wed 21 March 1945: (((#24 combat B17 A652, #111- Rheine airfield- #111, 6:35 hrs; “A” group lead, no flak, visual))) After finally getting to sleep at 12:00 they got us up at 2:00AM- a little early and a little sleepy. Flying (B) A652 as “A” combat wing deputy lead off of Maj. Keesling to a jet air field at Rhine with a bomb load of 38 clusters of 6-20 lbs frogs (sp?). It was a good visual target with good hits. We got no flak- back at 13:25 for a 6:35 hour mission. It was the kind we all like.
Friday 23 March 1945: Slept from 6:30 till 9:00 then got ready to go on a pass. Arrived in London at 3:00- Ianzito, Ross and I got a room at Reindeer Red Cross Club. To see show in evening “Music for Millions” M O’brien very good Bed early left foot hurting.
Sat 24 March 1945: Up at 7:30 writing letters in morning to see a grand show in afternoon “Here Comes the Waves” Bing Crosby and Betty Hutton. A nice theater- I had one of the cheaper seats ( 6 Bob) on the first floor, they are better than the 9 and 11 shilling seats in the balcony. Sat along by a husky Scot soldier with his skirt, bare knees hanging out. After a pretty good supper, I watch the Red Cross dance and spent the evening talking with one of the R. C. girl workers. Bed early.
Wed 28 March 1945: (((#25 combat B17 M443, #111- Berlin mfg plant- #111, 8:25 hrs (2:00 AI); “C” lead with operations officer Capt Bradley Butterfield, Pff @ 26,500, 12-500#))) Yes here it is – a Big B- a trip to Berlin Had assembly over a bunker over France- had clouds made it a little rough. I flew with Butterfield as a group lead. It was 10/10 so we hit it but Pff. There was plenty of flak there but we sort of sneaked in and out with not too much trouble. Bad weather on way home called for a breakup- so each one came back to base alone on the deck. That was #25 combat.
Sat 31 March 1945: (((#26 combat B17 U076; #111- Halle railroad yards- #111, 8:35hrs C.A.; lo lead, Pff,))) Yea Lords up at 12:30 AM what a time got into the air at 5:30 and assembly in the dark. Wow it was rough. I lead the lo squadron things went along okay. We were to hit an oil plant near Merseberg but 10/10made us go for the secondary- Halle marshalling yards in Pff . Wasn’t bad in and out before flak got lined up it was there behind us. Because the lead had to make a 360 degree we came back alone. Bad weather over English coast made us break up so on to base alone. 8:35 flying time in U076 #26 combat Darn was I tired- hit sack hard and early nothing like it Got paid $210.00.
Tuesday 3 April 1945: ((( #27 combat B17 U076; #111- Kiel -#111, 8:40 hrs C.A.; sub pens, Pff, bad weather, little flak))) Yeah Gods what a day – didn’t think I’d fly last night- so went to bed at 11:00 but at 12:30AM they got us up- fiddled around and waiting at plane when at 5:30 they delayed it until 12:30 T.O.. So back to the rack for a couple of hours sleep. Off at 12:45 in U-076 as hi leader of “A” force (Col Sutton). Kingsley flew with me again. Along trip over the North Sea to strike at Kiel. Hit it 26,000 feet Pff Deputy took over on I.P. because our Mickey went out. Little flak over target. Plenty of weather on return. Land at 9:30 back to barracks at 10:30 Wow what a day.
7 April 1945 Sat: ((( #28 combat B17 M443, #111- Wesendorf jet airfield- #111; 9:20 hrs C.A.; no flak, lead- 3 bomb runs at 15,000 ft))) Up again at 1:30 chow at 2:00 we were standing by to start engines at 5:30- twas very foggy- so in came a delay- so back to the tent we went to sleep. After more delays and a lot of needed sleep we did get out off at 10:30. I rode with Kingsley his final checkout. As “C” high leader squadron in 442U. The weather over and back wasn’t too bad. We hit an air field (jet) – We were tail end Charlie on the bomb stream. Oh boy, what fun that turned out to be. Bombardier unable to drop first trip over target- so we ( Hi- Sqd) went for a 360. This time he screwed up again- so around we went again. When our group lead and to going out , also all other bombers, there we were all alone -just 11 B17s not a P51 in sight but 4 German jet fighters circling over head just looking us over. Well the third time it was the charm and we made beautiful strikes on hangars and buildings of the field and pictures to prove it. After quite a haul we caught up with our group. Bandits in the area all over. The bombardier and I weren’t very popular men about then or later but that was our job to hit it that we did- 16,000 feet 1000 pounders and fire bombs up for 9:2- minutes. ((This was my last combat mission))
8 May 1945 Tuesday: VE Day (official) At last the lousy Hun had enough- and had to give up- and no wonder- after the close up f____ hard sights I saw today. Up at 5:30 flew in F591 with Capt Bowley down to Cheddington with a 6 ship formation where we picked up about 10 ground personnel for each plane. Got off at 10:00 for a tour of a part of the past battle zones. From England to the French Port of LeHarve. The dock area was well messed up- sunken boats all over- docks hit by bombs- followed Seine River down to Rouen and on to Paris. The notable thing on the trip was that every bridge on the Seine had been cut (to prevent German supplies on D-day). At about 500 feet we flew twice over and around the City of Paris. It really was quite a thrill. Very little damage could be seen. Just on marshalling yards and certain factories. I am unable to relate all of the points of interest seen- there were just too many. It was a long peaceful flight from there to Aachen, Germany over peaceful green country side that appeared never to have seen the war. As we crossed into Belgium it was easily noted because o the change of the many flags there were flying today. Just as we crossed into Aachen and Germany over the Siegfried tank barrier- war damage and markings became very apparent. Around Aachen were hundreds of fox holes, trenched, shell holes, bomb craters and tank and vehicle tracks- scene of the great battle for the city. Aachen, Duren to Köln- Dortmund- down the Ruhr Valley and back to Aachen. It is just impossible for me to ever write a suitable description of the damage we saw. The city of Duren with not one single 4 walls standing- in fact hard to find even one wall here or there. It was unbelievable that once a city stood there. Köln was gutted. Dortmund leveled and the Ruhr Valley can hardly ever be again. “A great monument to “Least they forget”. They know this time that they had a war- and they know they lost it. It’s hard to believe that anybody can still live in such places. Into Belgium again- to Brussels then Lille – very nice cities showing little damage. Down the French coast to see the _____________ V1 sites received- then home again Points of interest- flocks of people in streets celebrating VE day- flags- airfield potted, airplanes down in fields. Anti aircraft gun emplacements, cathedral at Köln, bridges there, factories, green houses west of Brussels- auto bahn roads. Tired; at home base after 8:30 hours of flying. The troops were celebrating in evening.
Lest We Forget– Benezette’s own “Legend of Air Power”