|The World War Two History of Air Crew No. 9388.
8th Army Air Force/486th Bomb Group/832nd Squadron
A War Diary written by Lyman R. Huffman, Jr.
Air Crew No. 9388 was first assembled on Oct. 31, 1944. They were as follows:
|Crew was assembled and trained for over seas duty at Alexandria Air Force Base at Alexandria, La. during the period of Oct. 3 1,1944 through Jan. 22,
On Jan.22, 1945, Crew left Alexandria for Lincoln, Neb. and after spending a week processing and receiving special clothing and equipment (John L. Louis and his Union was having a coal strike and we almost froze) we were on Jan 28, 1945 shipped out to P.O.E. (Camp Kilmer at New Brunswick, N.J.) We were at Camp Kilmer until Feb. 11,1945 when we sailed on the British Mauritania ocean liner (Sister Ship to the Lusitania which was sunk during W.W. One). The Mauritania was a fast ship and sailed unescorted for England. We sailed a zigzag course and it took us a week to reach Liverpool. We disembarked on Feb. I8th. and was taken to the Air Force Replacement Center at Stone England.
On Feb. 21st. they turned us loose to visit Stone. The village was dimmed out after dark and we began to realize that we were in a Country at war.
On Feb. 22nd. we were shipped out of Stone and on Feb. 23rd.arrived at Little Walton Field close to Sudbury, England. We were on the train all day and arrived about 7:00 P.M. The weather was nasty.
On March 3, 1945 we had our first air raid. Designation of raid was "Red.'' We learned that a Red alert was Enemy planes over England. A purple alert was if Enemy planes were in our area. We had a purple alert about 1:00 A.M. but no damage was done that we knew of.
On March 4, 1945 during the night we had another air raid Designated Purple. We could hear the enemy plane trying to locate our field. He must have found something because he strafed our armament shop. No one was injured and no damage to speak of was done Earlier today we went on our first night over England. Instrument check for Robbie.
On March 5, 1945 we could hear V2 bombs hitting near here. Four hit in succession about 2:00 P.M. and a few others later. It shook 6ur barracks.
On Tuesday, March 9, 1945 Robbie and Henry flew their first mission with another crew. That means that if the weather is good our crew will fly their first mission tomorrow. I thought I would be scared but I'm not.
March 10, 1945, our crew new our first mission today and I am tired. We didn't have much flax but No. 3 engine sprung an oil leak and had to be feathered. We came back on three engines. Our target was Dortmund, Germany. We flew ship No. 835 and our flying time was 7 hours and 30 minutes.
March 11, 1945, Sunday, We bombed Hamburg Germany today. This was our 2nd. mission and we had much more flax than yesterday. We had no fighter opposition and had P51 fighters escorting us. I don't know how many bombers were in the air but it had to be hundreds. I could see them as far back on the horizon as I could see. We bombed the oil refineries. We couldn't see the target because of cloud cover so we bombed through the clouds. We saw four German Fighters but they didn't attack. We new ship No. 970 and our flying time was 6 hours and 40 minutes.
We had a Group stand down on Monday and Tuesday but on Wednesday, March 14, 1945 we flew our third mission. Our primary target was an oil refinery at Mienhagen, Germany. Our secondary was a railway junction at Hannover. No. one engine went out near the primary. We couldn't keep up with the formation and couldn't drop our bombs. Losing altitude we went over the target alone and turned for home. Two P5 I fighters, one on each wing escorted us to England. We had to drop our bombs in the channel. We were carrying fourteen 500-pound bombs. We had slot of flax today but no fighter interception. Good weather little friends, God, a good pilot, a good navigator and teamwork brought us home. We flew ship No. 820 and our flying time was 7 hours and 10 minutes.
March 15,1945, Mission No. 4. We bombed Oranienburg, Germany (just outside of Berlin) we carried two 2000 pounders and two 1000 pound bombs. All of us had a very close call. Mottola, our lower ball gunner was slightly wounded in the arm but his turret had several holes in it and a piece of flak tore through his flying boot just missing his ankle. The optic head on the upper turret gun sight was torn completely off just inches from my face. I don't know how r escaped injury unless the flax came through just as I was thrown to the floor of my turret as the plane lurched upward as a result of a direct hit in our left wing by an 88 mil, shell. We were on the bomb run and were hit just after we dropped our bombs. The bomb bay doors hadn't had time to close and were frozen open. Flak struck where Pike stood but didn't penetrate the flak curtain he was standing on. We had over 400 holes in the airplane. Flak hit window in front of Willems penetrating it and passing about two inches from Robbie and missed me by about a foot. We had a huge hole in our left wing where the supercharger had been. The shell hit just behind No. 2 engine. The supercharger was hanging by the exhaust connection. Flak had penetrated the gasoline tanks on both sides of the supercharger location. Robbie went back and used the lower turret to check the damage. We were still flying and he couldn't see just how bad we were damaged. We had lost power in the No. 2 engine, because of losing the supercharger but we regained power when we reached lower altitude so the decision was to fly home. When we landed we had no brakes but we also had a Bat tire that helped slow us and Robbie was able to ground loop the plane. Except for Mottola no one was injured and we brought our plane home. They told us later that we had the record of bringing back the most shot up plane that had ever been brought back. They also told us that we should have hailed out and let the plane crash. It was truly a miracle that we made it back. The plane, No. 998 was put in the scrap yard for parts that might be used. It would never fly again. Our flying time was 6 hours and 50 minutes. The regular crew had named this plane "Miss Irish."
Following our fourth mission we received a 48-hour pass and most everyone is taking the time to rest. Believe me, we are tired.
March 18, 1945. We bombed Berlin today. This was our 5th. Mission and we carried fourteen 100 lb, bombs and four 500 Ib. cluster incinerator bombs. Mission required 8hrs. 30 minutes. Bombing altitude was 25,000 feet and we were over the target at 11:34 A.M. We had no fighter interception and Flak was moderate. We flew aircraft No. 973.
March 19, 1945. Mission No. 6, Primary Target, Ruhland. Secondary Target, Zwickau, Germany. We bombed the secondary target when we found the primary was obscured by clouds. We dropped twenty 250 Ib bombs. We had no fighter interception and not much flax in our area. The mission was ten hours long and we were low on fuel when we landed. No one on our crew was hurt. We flew aircraft No. 820
March 20, 1945. Group stand down today.
March 21,1945. Mission No. 3. Primary Target was Marx Airfield at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Take off was at 0600. Mission was 5 hours 10 minutes long and we landed at 1150 hours. We dropped thirty-eight 100 Ib bombs. We had no fighter interception and light flax. A very short and easy mission today. Bombing Altitude was 25000 ft. We flew aircraft No. 931.
March 22, 1945. Mission No.8. Primary Target was Barracks near Mullheim, Germany just across the Ruhr River. Our artillery shelled anti-aircraft positions. One of our B 17s.was giving the anti-aircraft positions and flak was moderate. We dropped six 500 Ib. incendiary and six 500 Ib. general-purpose bombs. Flying time was 5 hours and 30 minutes. Fighters were seen in the area but we were not attacked. I am sure our tight formations discouraged them. Bombing altitude was 25,000 ft. We Flew Aircraft No. 931.
March 23, 1945. Mission No. 9. Primary Target, Marshalling Yards at Holzwicke, Germany, near Parchim. We dropped six 1000 Ib. general-purpose bombs from an altitude of 23,000 ft. I stood in the bomb bay today and watched the bombs fall and hit the target and it was all fire and smoke. Flax again was moderate and fairly accurate. Flying time was 7 hours 5 minutes. We flew aircraft No. 931.
March 24,1945. Mission 10. We had our hands in today's operations. Our bombs smeared the target at the Uarel Airfield in Germany. B17's were everywhere we looked today. I am sure that it will go down in history. Our flying time was 6 hours fourteen minutes. The target was visual today. We dropped fourteen 500 Ib. general-purpose bombs from 25,510 feet. Flying time of mission was 6 hours. We had moderate flak and no fighters. We flew aircraft No. 931 again. We still haven't had a ship assigned to us but No. 931 is beginning to feel like home.
March 25, 1945. We had a new experience today. After taking off at 0600 on mission we were called back because of bad weather. We landed with a full bomb load for the first time. March 26,1945. No mission was scheduled today due to weather.
March 27, 1945. Mission for today was scrubbed because of weather.
March 28, 1945 Mission No. 11. We bombed Hanover Germany, which was our secondary target. We flew aircraft No, 931 again today. The mission was 7 hours fifteen minutes long. We dropped twelve 500 lb general-purpose bombs from 25,000 feet. No fighter interception and flax was moderate.
March 29,1945. Mission today was scrubbed because of weather.
March 30, 1945 Mission No. 12. Target today was oil storage at Hamburg Germany. Bomb load was forty-two 100 Ib. incendiaries. Bombing altitude was 25,000 ft. and flying time was 7 hours and 30 minutes. Flax was medium. We were intercepted by a Me-262 on bomb run but it didn't fire on anyone. It was flying in the opposite direction at about our altitude and seemed to jump over our formation and kept going. LT Veal's crew (our Buddy Crew) who trained with us at Alexandria and assigned to the832nd. Sqd. At the same time we were hit directly behind No. 4 engine and peeled off and went into a dive before exploding about 5,000 ft below us. We saw no parachutes. We flew aircraft No. 931.
March 31,1945 We were given a 48 hour pass today. Most every one on our crew is staying in to rest.
April 3, 1945. Mission No. 13. Target, Unusual as it is the "Admiral Sheer" heavy cruiser at the dock area at Kiel, Germany. Bomb load was six 1,000 Ib, bombs dropped from 25000 ft, Flak was moderate. We flew aircraft no. 931.
April 6, 1945. Sqd. stand down. We had ground School and swung compass.
April 7,1945. Mission No. 16, Target today was Airfield at Parchim, Germany. Bomb load was thirty-eight 100 Ib. anti-personal bombs. Bombing altitude was 15,000 ft. and flight time was 8 hours and 55 minutes. We went over flax area as we were leaving target. We were under fire for about one minute and lost two ships. One crew hailed out. The other ship exploded like Lt. Veal's and crew had no chance. Sixty-three German fighters was shot down today by our escorting fighters .We were flying Aircraft No, 931.
April 8, 1945. Mission No. 17, Hof, Germany, Marshalling Yards. Bomb load, twelve 500 lb bombs. Bombing altitude, 15,000 ft. No fighter interception but flak was HEAVY and ACCURATE. We received 12 holes in plane. Upholstery in pilot's cockpit and engineers station was torn all to pieces when an oxygen bottle was hit and exploded. Robbie, Willems and I were COVERED with asbestos insulation and strips of the upholstery. We all looked comical and we all had a good laugh when we had time to look at each other. We had cotton in our eyes, mouth and face. We thought for a moment that we were going down. We lost three ships from our group and one from another that was flying with us. Five chutes came out of one plane, one was afire. Flight time was 8 hours and 55 minutes. We were flying Aircraft 931. I guess they will have to make some repairs before she can by again.
April 10,1945, Mission No. 18, Brest Airfield near Brandenburg Germany. Bomb Load, four 1,000 Ib. and four 500 Ib. bombs. Bombing altitude was 22,000 ft. We were hit badly on the I.P. The hydraulic line below the Co-Pilots feet was cut in two, spewing hydraulic fluid and fire all over Willems who wasn't wearing his goggles. The instant that I saw the fire and Willems leaving his seat I heard Robbie give the order to bail out. I reached down and picked up my parachute just as Willems went by me knocking my parachute out of my hands. I picked it up again and followed Willems to the nose escape hatch. When I got there Willems had opened the escape hatch door and was squatting over it .I yelled at him to get out so the rest of us could and he moved over. I noticed that the fire was no longer on him and when he moved over I also noticed that the fire was no longer in the cabin. I returned to the flight deck and Robbie was still at the controls. I shouted, "Do you still want us to bail out?" He shook his head no and I got on the interphone. Mottola had, while waiting for the other gunners to leave the ship, hooked up on the interphone and heard me yell, Robbie says NOT to bail out. Fortunately, Mottola was able to stop them and no one left the plane. We went over the target on two engines far below our group and dropped our bombs with the other bombs as they fell around us. It was a miracle that we weren't hit. After getting rid of the bombs we were still losing altitude and Robbie told us to throw out anything that we could find to lighten the plane. He ordered us to keep the upper guns and ammunition but to throw out the remainder along with their ammunition and to jettison the lower ball turret. That was difficult but Reynolds, our Armorer/Gunner supervised its removal and it was done. We threw out anything that would come loose. After reaching friendly territory we got No. 2 engine started again. When we got home we had no air speed indicator, no brakes and only three engines. Robbie made a beautiful landing. Willems and Raber had rigged a parachute to the tail wheel strut and pushed it out the tail escape hatch just as we touched down. This helped us slow the plane so that Robbie could ground loop it safely to a stop. We lost almost all of our equipment. Kirby Vann, our radio operator was seriously injured by flak and had to be taken to the hospital. The crewmembers had been administering first aid to Kirby in between their other activities. Willems eyebrows were all singed off. Otherwise he was O.K. We �flew Aircraft No. 311 today and our flight time was 8 hours and 15 minutes. It was a long flight and it's good to be back home.
April 14, 1945. Mission No. 19, Primary Target today was Gun installations at Calais, France in the Royan Area. Bomb load was thirty-eight 100 lb. cluster anti-personnel bombs. We had no fighters and no flak. We new a brand new B17 today, Aircraft No. 488. Today was its first mission and I hope it will be assigned to our crew. I feel like we deserve it. Flight time today was 7 hours 50 minutes.
April 15,1945. Mission No. 20, Primary Target, Gun installations near Bordeaux, France. In the Royan Area. Bomb Load consisted of six 600 Ib gasoline jelly bombs. No one could smoke on this mission. We had no fighters and no flak. Flight time today was 7 hours and 40 minutes. We flew Aircraft No. 488 again. We learned that this ship has been assigned to us and the crew has agreed to name her "THE LADY."
April 16, 3945, Mission No. 21, Primary Target, Gun installations again at Bordeaux France. Bomb load; twelve 500 Ib, G.P. bombs. We saw no fighters and had no flax. Quite a change from a few days ago. Of course we were flying Aircraft No. 488, THE LADY. Our flight time was 7 hours and 25 minutes.
April 17 and 18,1945, Group Stand Down. April 19,1945. Mission No. 22, Primary Target, Pirna Marshalling Yards near Dresden, Germany. Bomb load was twelve 500 Ib, bombs the target was visual and we dropped from 22,000 ft. No Flax and no fighters. We flew Aircraft No. 488 and our flight time was 8 hours and 55 minutes.
April 20, 1945, Mission No23. Primary Target was Wustermark Marshalling Yards, Germany. Bomb Load was ten 500 Ib. G.P. bombs. Target was visual and hit soundly. We had no flak and no fighters. Flight time was 7 hours and 20 minutes. We flew Aircraft No. 488. She is still new and no holes yet.
April 21,1945, Mission No. 24, Primary Target was Jet fighters parked in trees next to super highway near Munster Germany. Our Secondary Target was the small town of Ingolstadt. We were instructed that in the event that if the primary was not visual, we were to bomb the secondary. We were told that our military target was a phone booth in the middle of the square. We didn't think that was funny. The Primary wasn't visual and we dropped on the secondary. We dropped thirty-eight 100 Ib. anti-personnel bombs. Bombing altitude was 20,000 ft. We had no flak and no fighters. The most difficult part of this mission was getting there. The weather was terrible. Clouds were 35,000 ft. high. The weather was bad from take off and it took a lot of time and near misses before we were assembled joined our formation and headed for the target. At times we had to fly 35,000 ft. to avoid thunderstorms and when we crossed over the Alps it looked like you could step out on them. This was a long tough mission. Robbie and Willems had their hands full. Lt. Col. Dick Uhle was selected to lead this mission and I don't think it helped his popularity at all. Flight time was 10 hours anti 15 minutes.
Bombing operations ceased after the Ingolstadt mission and we started flying navigation missions. We had to clean the plane and we felt sure that we were preparing to fly our plane hack to the States. We were correct and on July 6,1945 we loaded our Ground crew and all of their luggage on "THE LADY" and flew home.
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