WW II COMBAT MISSION SUMMARY

for

Lesley B. Hull, 1st Lt., USAAF

 

25 September 1944

to

21 February 1945

 

 

Prepared by

D. F. Plummer,

Bellevue, Washington

April, 2000

© 1998 L.B. Hull and D.F. Plummer

WW II COMBAT MISSION SUMMARY

for Lesley B. Hull, 1st Lt., USAAF

Lesley Barton Hull was born on 16 June, 1921, (near San Francisco, California?).  He entered the US Army Air Corps at Salinas Army Air Field, Salinas, California, on 29 June, 1942.  He began glider pilot training at an Air Corps contract flying school near Antigo, Wisconsin, in September, 1942, and soloed in a Piper Cub aircraft after 8 hours dual instruction.  At the contract school, he accumulated 30 hours flying time, then was transferred to ‘dead-stick’ school at Plano, Texas.  At Plano, he continued his pilot training, accumulating another 30 hours dual/solo time in Aeronca type aircraft.  At the completion of the ‘dead-stick’ school, he was scheduled to move on to glider training school at 29 Palms, California.

At the time Hull completed his training at Plano, the Air Corps glider program was drastically cut back.  However, he then qualified for aviation cadet flight training, and entered pre-flight school at Santa Ana, California, in class 44-B in May, 1943.[1]

Hull began his primary pilot training as an aviation cadet at Blythe, California, flying the Ryan PT-22, an open cockpit aircraft.  He accumulated 30 flying hours in the Ryan aircraft.  He was next sent to Basic flight school at Lenore Army Air Field, California.  At Lenore, he trained in the Vultee BT-13 “Vibrator”, and the Cessna HC-78 twin-engine trainer, in which he accumulated another 30 hours flying time.  He then proceeded to Advanced flying training at Douglas, Arizona, where he accumulated another 30 hours of flight time.  At the completion of Advanced training he received his pilot’s wings and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Air Corps on 8 February, 1944[2].

At the completion of his pilot training, Hull requested an assignment to multi-engine aircraft, and was therefore sent for transition training in B-17 Flying Fortresses at the first-pilot school, located at Hobbs Air Base, New Mexico.  Hull completed his training two months later after accumulating 90 hours in the B-17 aircraft.

After completing B-17 transition training, he picked up his crew in Lincoln, Nebraska and was then transferred to Ardmore, Oklahoma, for combat crew training in June, 1944.  This training was completed in August, 1944, about the time the US 3rd Army was breaking out of the hedgerows of Normandy.  With his new crew, he picked up a brand new B-17 and ferried it to England via Goose Bay, Labrador, and Iceland.  They completed this flight at Vally, Wales, where the aircraft was left for combat modification.

LT. Hull and his crew continued on to their base at Sudbury, Suffolk, England.  When he landed in Wales, Hull was 23 years old, had accumulated about 250 hours of pilot time during pilot training, and had about 200 additional hours in the B-17 aircraft.  At the Sudbury base, he and his crew were assigned to the 832nd Bomb Squadron of the 486th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.  On 25 September 1944 he flew his first combat mission to Ludwigshafen, Germany; however, the mission was diverted to Strasbourg, France (about 100km SSW).  A summary of his 35 missions follows[3].

Except where noted, the original crew that assembled and trained together in the U.S. flew all 35 missions together.  Hull and co-pilot Bill Roberts flew every mission together.  Roberts declined an opportunity to have his own crew at about mission 20; he elected to stay with Hull’s crew, deciding he had a better chance of coming home alive flying with a crew he knew and trusted.  Hull said, “I’ll be forever grateful for that decision. He was a mature 27, a maturity I relied on many times.”

(Preparer's note:  After discharge from the USAAF in  late 1946, Hull entered the University of Denver, graduating in (?) with a degree in (?).  In early 1951 he traveled to Seattle and was employed as a template maker by the Boeing Airplane Co.  (I met Hull when I was also employed as a template maker in June, 1951.)  In early 1952 he was recalled to active duty, and completed transition training to B-29 aircraft at (?AFB).  He was subsequently assigned to the 15th (?) Air Force, and flew B-29 combat missions over Korea beginning in January 1953.  Hull remained in the USAF until his retirement as a Lt. Col. and command pilot in 1970.)

Following his retirement, he and his family moved to the San Jose/San Francisco area.  In late 1995, Hull acquired a 'Thunder Gull' ultralight aircraft and renewed his pilot's license.  Early in 1996 he began planning a 'round-the-U.S.' flight in the aircraft.  His plan was to fly over each of the state capitols and photograph them from his aircraft (as proof of his 'visit').  He wanted to "... be the first person in aviation history to fly to all 48 contiguous states on a single continuous cross-country flight in an ultra-light aircraft."

Hull began his trip in late summer, 1996; he had planned to overfly Sacramento, continue on to Carson City, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, etc., continuing over the southern states, north along the Atlantic coast, then head west along the northern states, completing the trip with overflights of Olympia, Washington, Salem, Oregon, and retruning finally over Sacramento and home to Half Moon Bay, California (he kept his aircraft at Paso Robles).  However, he altered his plan and flew north, over much of California, Oregon and Washington, and continued on east.  On  4 October 1996, after photographing Nebraska's capitol, Hull was making a landing approach to a grass field near Auburn, Nebraska, when his aircraft struck an electrical transmission line which he apparently failed to see during final approach.  Hull was probably killed instantly, though attempts were made to revive him.  He was honored with a military ceremony at the Presidio in November 1996.)

WW II COMBAT MISSION SUMMARY

for

Lesley B. Hull, 1st Lt., USAAF
 

Mission
No./Date
Target
(Target Ident.[4])
Bombing
Altitude, ft
Mission/O2
Time,
hrs:mins
Comments
1
25Sep44
Ludwigshafen,
Germany
(target not listed)
26,000
(P.F.F.)
7:20/5:00 Formation bombed Strasbourg  instead of Ludwigshafen (by mistake).  Saw few puffs of flak and one rocket.  Flew #2 of low lead group[5].
2.x
27Sep44
(Southwest
Germany)
  (ca 1:00) Midair collision with another B-17 @ 17,000ft over England during formation form-up;  stayed with a/c  down to 4000ft; crew bailed out successfully.  Plane crashed in English Channel.  LBH landed in farmer's field. Other a/c feathered #3 & #4 and  returned to base: this a/c was flown by Hull on Mission #8 with 2 new engines:  #1,2,&3 engines on this mission (#8) quit, requiring emergency landing on #4 engine at RAF field (see Mission #8, below.)
2
03Oct44
Nürnberg,
Germany
tank factory
25,000
(P.F.F)
8:20/5:00 Saw rockets and flak.  Flew: #2 low/low of high group  for first half of mission, then took #2 low over target.   Target overcast.
3
04Oct44
Munster,
Germany
air field
25,000
(P.F.F.)
 
7:00/5:30 Rockets and quite a bit of flak.  Had about 20 pencil-size holes in wing and cowling.  Several ships lost, and crews with injured men. Flew #2 in high of high group.  Clear & hazy over target.
4
06Oct44
Berlin,
Germany
tank factory
27,000
(Visual)
7:45/4:30 Plenty of flak.  Flew #2 of high squadron.  Had #4 turbo run away 15 minutes before target, so flew on three engines.  Feathered #4 over North Sea and came home on our own from there.  Had two holes, fist size, in tail assembly.  G-box (?) blew up at target[6]Clear over target.
5
09Oct44
Mainz,
Germany
(target not listed)
21,000
(P.F.F.)
7:45/4:30 Most flak seen so far, but received no holes in spite of its accuracy. Flew #2 of high in low squadron.  No trouble except had to abort temporarily on turn-off to target due to lead squadron cutting across top of our squadron.  Climbed after take-off through 8000ft cloud layer and let down for landing through 8000ft cloud layer to within 500ft above field.  Solid overcast over target.
6
19Oct44
Mannheim,
Germany
(target not listed)
29,000
(Visual/
Toggled)
7:20/4:30 All flak was at 26,000ft only a few bursts at 29,000ft.  Flew #3 of low in low squadron.  Terrific contrails over target.  Squadron separated from Group, so bombed without P.F.F. through clouds.  Had vertigo on bomb run.  Instrument let- down at base.  Solid overcast over target.
7
22Oct44
Munster,
Germany
marshalling
yard
28,500
(P.F.F.)
6:30/4:00 Saw rockets, but no flak.  Flew #3 off lead of high squadron; 486th led division over target. Used 2 B-17’s with chaff ahead of formation.  Lost #2 eng. Over target due to run-away prop; both #1 and #2 ran away, but feathered #2 only.  Made actual instrument takeoff.    Overcast all the way.
8
02NOV44
Merseburg,
Germany
(target not listed)
25,500
(P.F.F.)
8:00/3:00 Lost #2 engine 20 minutes before target; salvoed bombs to stay in formation near   Bunswick.  Lost #1 eng.  10 minutes before target, had to turn back at 25,000ft.  Flew return course at 120mph, descending at 200-300ft/min; after 2 hours, reached enemy coast (of Holland) at 8500ft.  Able to maintain 7500ft at 120mph over Channel until 40 miles from England, when #3 eng. spouted oil and ran away feathered/ unfeathered run-away for 10 minutes.  Began losing altitude real fast, so threw out all ammo, flak suits, helmets, excess radio equipment and waist guns.  Managed to level off at 6000ft until #3 ran away again and oil pressure dropped to zero; feathered #3 over beach (England) at 5000ft.  Sighted emergency field just inland; circled for landing, making downwind leg at 1500ft.  Made safe safe landing at Ecceles RAF Air-Sea Rescue Field on #4 eng. only.  All 4 engines had to be replaced.  Saw flak over Hanover to right of course on return; had 2 P-51 escorts for half an hours.  Flew #3 low-  low in lead squadron.  No battle damage.  Weather 7- 8/10 covered.

LBH awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for this mission.

9
04Nov44
Neunkirchen,
Germany
coke plant
26,000
(Micro H[7])
7:00/3:30 Saw 10 (or so) rockets and flak bursts.  Flew #2 of low in high sqdn. till leader of low feathered #2, 25 minutes before target and dropped out; flew remainder of mission as lead of low in high squadron.  No battle damage.  Target overcast.
10
06Nov44
Neumünster,
Germany
Heinkle 111
repair depot
22,000
(P.F.F.)
7:30/3:00 Saw only a few flak bursts and rockets; one enemy fighter.  Flew #3 of low-low in low squadron.  Lost #3 eng. due to run-away prop. just after target.  Dropped out of formation 1.5 hours from England on the way home over North Sea.  Lost #1 engine 1 hour from home at 13,000ft.  Crossed coast at 7000ft and made safe landing at home base on #2 and #4.  No battle damage.  Bomb damage assessment said all 486th Bmb Grp.  bombs landed in 1000ft circle![8]  9/10 coverage at target.
11
09Nov44
Near Saärbrucken,
Germany
(near Lorraine Gap)
one of the fortresses
around Metz[9]

 
23,000
(Micro-H, Visual)
8:00/3:00 Saw tracking flak on 2nd bomb run; target overcast on 1st run, so made 180 to return to I.P., then another 180 for 2nd run.  Target still covered, so made another 180 and brought bombs home.  Flew #2 of low in high sqdn.  7-8/10 coverage at target.
12
16Nov44
Langerweke,
Germany
24,000
(Micro-H)
7:20/3:30 In support of ground troops. Saw 15 bursts of flak close to (may be nose; some rockets.  Flew #3 Düren)  of  high flight in lead sqdn.  Inst. takeoff; landing with 300yds visibility.  7-8/10 coverage at target.
13
21Nov44
Osnabrück,
Germany
marshalling
Yard
26,000
(P.F.F.)
7:00/5:00 Flew #2 of high in low sqdn.  Original target was Merseberg, but weather turned us back to target of last resort.  Mission leader took us on a 360 turn off target, through Ruhr Valley, and through 5 flak areas.  Most flak seen so far, although it was not accurate. Received one hole:  flak came through roof of cockpit between pilot and co-pilot, lodging in hydraulic system, which fouled up our mission all the way.  9/10 coverage at target.
14
25Nov44
Merseberg,
Germany
synthetic
oil plant

27,000
(P.F.F)
9:00/6:00
Flew #2 of lead flight of lead sqdn.  Took southern route via Frankfurt.  Intense flak over the target, and at rally point:  accurate!! Received one hole in belly by rear door.  Squadron had 15 aborts and rotten formation all the way!!  Bombs had to be salvoed.  10/10 coverage at target.
15
23Dec44
Hamburg,
Germany
marshalling yards
27,000
(Visual)
6:30/4:30 Flew #3 of low low in low sqdn. until dense contrails broke up low sqdn.  Flew on our own and tacked on to (could be high sqdn. just before bombs Homburg) away.  Quite a bit of flak on the way in and over the target.  No holes or trouble with plane.  Had actual instrument takeoff and let-down at base thru 5000ft overcast.  (Target weather not given.)
16
28Dec44
Koblenz,
Germany
marshalling yards
26,000
(P.F.F.)
7:00/4:00 Flew lead of low low in high sqdn.  Dense contrails; no flak, but some rockets.  Leader of high sqdn aborted in England, and deputy lead flubbed us all over the sky. No holes or damage.  Almost collided with high flight of lead sqdn at rally point and had to leave position.  Overcast all the way.
17
29Dec44
Aschaffenburg,
Germany
marshalling yards
(Alt. not given) 7:00/4:00 Flew #2 of high flight in lead sqdn. till we went over battle lines and I was hit in left ankle by flak.  Changed seats with co-pilot and stayed with formation for 25 minutes till #4 engine quit from flak damage.  Left formation to drop bombs in order to keep up.  Aimed for marshaling yards; missed and hit an autobahn - no bomb- sight.  Bomb bay doors stuck open, so engineer had to crank them shut.  We turned back to intercept bomber streams on way home.  At 20,000ft we crossed some flak over Frankfurt and got shot at all the way to Belgium.  Arrived at base and battle damage was:  2 new wing tips; #4 oil line shot out; new ball turret panel and sight; new left wing panel; new right landing light; and new left horizontal stabilizer; also, numerous holes to be patched.  Visual all over Germany.  

LBH was only crew member wounded during all 35 missions! He was awarded the Purple Heart.

18
07Jan45
Hamm,
Germany
marshalling yards
23,000
(P.F.F.)
7:30/3:00 Flew #3 of low low in lead sqdn.  Had to pull out of formation to avoid mid-air collision with high of low sqdn. 3 times.  Only few bursts of flak; no damage or trouble with plane.  Flew with Channing in tail; Hunter on another crew.
19
08Jan45
Frankfurt,
Germany
marshalling yards
24,000
(P.F.F.)
9:00/5:00 Assembled over southern England in dense contrails in the dark.  Led the division and flew through clouds all the way to target.  Flew #3 of high flight in low sqdn till following groups came over Had 3 flak holes.  Bomb bay doors had to be cranked open by Hotler (?) but couldn’t be opened in time so salvoed after target.  Left doors open till lower altitude thawed valve so they could be closed electrically.  Landed in snow. Had Hunter for navigator.
20
10Jan45
Karlsruhe,,
Germany
(no target given)
ca 20,000
(Visual)
?/4:00 Leader aborted at I.P. and lead sqdn. salvoed bombs and headed home.  We brought bombs back.  Flew #2 of high in lead sqdn. Went to 26,000ft; no flak due to turning back - no damage or trouble with plane.  Took off in snow and landed in heavy snow storm.  Got vertigo over France and went into partial spin; pulled out at 2000ft and came home alone.  Hardy navigated; Chown(?) in tail. Night takeoff.
21
13Jan45
Mainz,,
Germany
Rhine R. bridge
25,000
(Visual)
9:00/5.5 Large bridge on Rhine River. Flew #3 of high flight in high sqdn.  Good mission; no trouble.  Avoided flak at Ludwigshafen and caught about moderate flak at target. Had to circle (?) at 5000ft for 1.5hrs. before landing due to low visibility at base.  Landed OK after instrument let down and 3 passes at field.  Night takeoff.
22
14Jan45
Hallendorf(?),
Germany
steel works
26,000
(Visual)
(?)/4:00 Bombed Göring steel works  after primary run on (?) at Magdeburg.  Long easy run as far as just inside Germany, then, at 24,000ft., we were hit by fighters near Kiel.  Flew #2 of high flight in sqdn.  Bombed from 26,000ft.  Got heavy flak over target.  Fighters attacked for about 25 minutes.  Official claim of 1 Me-109 shot down by ball gunner, Sgt. Lowe; 1 probable by engineer Hatler from top turret.  Me-109 shot down by ball gunner came in at 3 o’clock on pursuit curve and flew up about 5 o’clock low (?); 2 Me-109's following pulled away.  Cranked bomb doors open and had to leave them open for 25 minutes.  Flak damage was a splintered co-pilot windshield and large hole in vertical stabilizer.  No injuries. 
23
18Jan45
Kaiserlautern,
Germany
marshalling
yards
24,000
(P.F.F.)
8:30/4:30 Marshalling yards from 24,000ft.  No flak and no trouble except that 3 of 12 bombs failed to fall, so we brought them back.  Flew lead of high flight in lead squadron:  486th led the 8th Air Force to target!  Flew formation thru clouds till it was so thick we had to peel off individually.  Let down thru 7000ft of clouds; broke out at 2000ft and landed in thunderstorm with 40mph wind: rough!  Good mission except for weather on return.
24
20Jan45
Heilbronn,
Germany
marshalling yards
27,000
(P.F.F)
8:00/5:00 Marshalling yards from 27,000ft.  Flew lead of high flight; low 486th sqdn. of 385th Bomb Group.  Flew in clouds all the way in from the coast and lost wing men on climb.  Stayed at 25,000ft all the way back thru clouds till reaching Channel.  No flak; no damage or trouble.
25
Mannheim,BR> Germany
tank factory
26,000 8:00/5:00 Meager, inaccurate flak over target: no damage or  trouble.  Lost group in clouds - climbed alone to 24,000ft above overcast; joined up with 95th Group and flew low-low of lead sqdn for bombs-away; came back alone. 
26
28Jan45
Hohenbudberg,
Germany
marshalling yards
25,000
(P.F.F.)
6:00/3:00 Flak from IP to target - accurate and heavy.  Had several large holes in tail surfaces.  No trouble.  Flew #3 of high in low sqdn.  Lead of high flight aborted, so flew #3 of lead of low.  Took off in snow storm – landed just before another (storm) hit the field.  Assembled at 21,000ft above lousy weather.  Fair mission, all in all.
27
01Feb45
Wessel,
Germany
rail bridge
26,000 6:00/3:00 No flak.  Flew #3 of high flight in low sqdn.  Col. Overing (?) led mission; took on Rhine  off at 11:00AM, back at 5:00PM.  Lead sqdn cut low off at target, so we had to go to secondary.  No trouble. Good easy mission.
28
03Feb45
Berlin,
Germany
center commercial district
25,000 8:45/5:00 Flew lead of high flight in lead sqdn.  Meager flak over target was all the flak seen on whole mission.  No fighters or trouble; no battle damage. Had radar spot-jam operator aboard.  Bombed from 25,000ft.
29
06Feb45
Chemnitz,
Germany
marshalling yards
26,000 10:00/6:00 Flew lead of high in high sqdn.; put in 10:00 flying time.  Climbed to 20,000ft then had to let down to 9000ft to assemble.  Caught flak at enemy corridor on route in, and at IP Leipzig; low flak at target.  No trouble or damage.  Penetrated front over battle lines and sqdn. split up.  Let down over Belguim and flew at 100ft all the way across Belguim (legal buzz).  Flew in zero-zero to field and landed in last third of Runway 250 on third pass.  Ship behind landed in mud and next one made a wheels-up landing. Our ship (was the) only one in high sqdn. to return to base; 9 in Group came back.
30
09Feb45
Weimar,
Germany
marshalling yards
26,000 8:00/5:00 No flak, but some fighters in area.  Engineer fired a few shots at P-47 that looked like a FW190.  Flew lead of high flight in high sqdn.  No trouble.  Steve dropped bombs early on another wing ship (?), but two bombs hung up, so those went on target. Came back OK and had visual peel-off at base.
31
14Feb45
Chemnitz,
Germany
main part of town (?)
26,000
(P.F.F.)
9:00/5:30 Bombed in clouds.  Lead high flight of high sqdn.  Rough lead of squadron (?), and flew thru 5 areas of thick cirrostratus.  No flak over target; flak north of Frankfurt put 3 holes in ship; also flak at battle line on way out. Visual peel-off at base. Rough mission, but no trouble.
32
15Feb45
Rheine,
Germany
marshalling yards
24,000
(P.F.F.)
6:00/3:00 Flew lead of high in high sqdn.  Whole group almost formed on us at 21,000ft over Buncher (?).  Easy mission.  Flak all behind and below us. Landed visual; peel-off in haze.
33
17Feb45
Frankfurt,
Germany
marshalling yards
25,000
(P.F.F.)
7:00/4:00 Started to Leipzig, but  mission was changed half along to Frankfurt.  Went thru weather all the way to and from (the target).  Almost had high sqdn. drop bombs on low sqdn.  Had no battle damage from moderate/accurate target flak, but had hit on #3 prop from tracer bullet being test fired from (another?) bomber.  Saw bomber blow up over the target after we left.  One ‘chute came out.  Helander(?) finished up on this mission; new radio man from now on. No trouble.
34
19Feb45
Rheine,
Germany
marshalling yards
24,000
(P.F.F.)
6:00/4:00 Flew lead of high flight in  high sqdn.  Meager flak low and behind formation.  0900 briefing, and 1200 takeoff, back at 1730.  No trouble or damage.  Hatler finished his missions.  Climbed on course thru clouds at target.  Made three passes to land in fog. Had bad prop wash on approach.
35
21Feb45
Nuremburg,
Germany
marshalling yards
25,000 8:00/5:00 (Bombed) in group formation Flew #3 of high flight in low sqdn.  Flak over Frankfurt on way in, and moderate, inaccurate (Nürnberg?) flak at target.  Peeled off firing flares all the way around for final landing at base.  No trouble; good mission.


[1] Ed. note:  at this time, American and British forces were defeating the Italian and German forces in northwestern Africa, and preparing for the invasion of Sicily.

[2] At about this same time, General George S. Patton had recently arrived in England, and had been designated as the future commander of the United States 3rd Army.  On 4 February 1944, Patton was the subject of a unique biographical sketch prepared by German intelligence services.

[3]  Information in the following summary is based on Hull’s hand-written notes, which he made following each mission.  For security reasons, regulations in effect at the time discouraged crew members from making such diaries.

[4]  There were several methods of identifying the target, depending on weather at target, aircraft optical capability, _______, and several other factors.  For this summary, the terms in parenthesis immediately under the bombing altitude have the following meaning:

P.F.F. - Path Finder Force:  probably one or more lead aircraft which marked the bomb-drop position with a smoke 'bomb'/marker.

Visual - ____________________

[5] See attached chart for graphical portrait of aircraft formation.

[6]  'G-box' was a special ray-gun device that had been invented by Herman von Reepo.  It was intended to be used as a terror weapon, since it could seek out moving Mercedes automobiles and disintegrate their left rear tires.  It was believed that this would significantly shorten the war.  On occasion, however, the G-box would malfunction and destroy nearby friendly aircraft, necessitating its destruction by the air crew.  We were directed to record in our mission logs that the G-box "blew up" so that the Germans would not know how to decipher our footnotes. (NB! awaiting feedback from LBH on this; this is just a place holder.)

[7] This term referred to the use of chaff as a jamming medium against German radar.

[8] Ed. note:  such precision seems highly unlikely, given the target weather conditions.

[9] The assault on Fortress Metz was one of Patton's 3rd Army's notable failures.

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