Transcribed from Handwritten Notes of Madison A. Parker by A. G. Parker
Missions in the ETO with the 486th, Bomb Group, 833 Squadron,
April 4, 1945 was my first one. We bombed Kiel Harbor. We were loaded with 6 1000 pound G.P. bombs. We got a good bit of flak on the bomb run. It gave me pretty creepy feeling when the flak started coming up. Black puffs of smoke started popping off to the left of us and kept coming closer. It was rather fascinating at first, but when it got close enough that the fragments started bouncing off the plane like hail you began to realize that it was pretty serious business. They got our range and were doing a nice job of tracking. Those flak puffs kept bursting just back of our tail where we had been. We were lucky though, we only got one hole in the bomb bay doors and one in the left wing. We were up 6 hours and 15 minutes.
April 5, 1945 was the second. We were to bomb Furth, Germany. We were loaded with 4 1000 pound G.P. bombs and 4 500-pound incendiary bombs. The target was small arms and munitions plants. It was raining when we took off and the ceiling was just about zero. We were to climb to 23,000 feet and assemble over France. Boy, it was plenty cold and the contrails were so bad you could hardly see. It was plenty rough up there trying to dodge the other ships. We started having trouble with 2 of our engines soon after taking off. We got to our rally point but the soup was so thick that we couldn't contact them. We decided to take off for the target area hoping to catch up with our formation in time to make the bomb run. We got a glimpse of a formation but our engines were so bad we couldn't catch them and visibility was so bad we lost sight of them. We had managed to climb to 27,000 feet and it was bitter cold. My oxygen mask would freeze up about every 5 minutes. It sure gave me a lot of trouble. I had my heated suit turned up as high as I could get it and still I had a nice coat of frost all over me. My turret door was froze up hard and fast. Boy, I would have been in a heck of a shape if we had had to bail out in a hurry. When I found out that I could not get out, I called up the waist gunner and told him to try to get me out. He got a flak helmet and after breaking the handles off the latches, got the doors open. After that I would run my turret up about every 15 minutes and open the door so it wouldn't freeze up. We were deep in enemy territory, our engines were getting worse, our gas was getting low and we were lost. That is the navigator was not sure where we were at. The only thing that saved our bacon was the weather. It was the cause of our troubles but we could hide from the enemy fighters in it. After what seemed ages, the pilot called up the navigator and asked him if he could give him a course to take us back to England. The good old navigator brought us back home. That boy sure knows his stuff. We landed at our base just about out of gas. We couldn't get any power out of number 2 engine and very little out of number 3. As far as I am concerned, that was a damned tough mission. We were up 7 hours and 20 minutes and most of it was on oxygen.
Mission # 3:
April 10, 1945 was the third. We bombed airfields at Brandenburg, Germany. We had a mixed load of bombs - 150 pound G.P. and 500 pound incendiary. The flak was plenty heavy. It started coming up when we started the bomb run. They had our range and boy they were not shooting for fun. Flak was busting all over us. A ship in front of us got an engine knocked out and he left the formation with it on fire. We moved up and took his position. A big burst of flak busted under us, just below my right window. All I could see was a big sheet of red flame and it tossed our ship around like a matchstick. I thought for a minute that my turret was blown lose from the ship. We got 3 holes in the nose and a few in the wings. I don't see how we got by. I think we lost 3 ships. In spite of the flak, they said we did a good job. When flak starts bursting close to your ship, it sounds like hail on a tin roof. We were up 7 hours and 30 minutes. She was pretty rough. It was the kind that makes air crewmembers get religion. Boy, I was trying to crawl up into my little flak helmet, just anything for a little protection.
April 11, 1945 was number 4. We bombed airfields at Ingolstadt, Germany. We had a 6000-pound load of G.P. bombs. There was very little flak and none of it was close. Boy we sure bombed the hell out of that place. From the best I could see, we really did a neat job. Bombs scattered up and down the runways and several of the hangers got direct hits. We flew over several large cities. One of them was Brussels . It is sure a pretty place. We saw a lot of towns that were completely destroyed and miles of country that was a solid bomb crater and shell holes. It was a pretty long drag. We were up 7 hours and 15 minutes.
April 14, 1945 was the number 5. We bombed gun batteries at St. Palais. That is down in southern France. The Germans had about 100,000 men down there and they had the entrance to the Harbor at Bordeaux. We had a bomb load of small frags. Boy oh boy, we really plastered that place. When we got over the target, it looked like it was raining bombs. We didn't see any fighters or get any flak. We flew over Paris on the way down so we didn't see the city. We passed over LaHarve and it was really tore up. It has so many bomb craters that it looked like it had the smallpox. That was a pretty nice mission, but as far as I'm concerned none of them are milk runs. I always sweat out that bomb run when you start the bomb run. You have to fly level and straight no matter how thick the flak is. Brother, it gives you a creepy feeling to see a wall of flak in front of you and you know you have to fly through it. You just sit there and hope to hell you don't get knocked off. We were up 7 hours and 10 minutes.
April 16, 1945. Well today was number 6. It was my 12 wedding anniversary and also air medal day for my crew. We bombed St. Palais again with frags. We bombed at 15,000 feet and I got a good look at the target. We hit a bunch of barracks and started some nice fires, looks like we just about wiped the jerries out down there. Captain Lewis was with us. He is our group gunnery officer. He is from Dallas, Texas and went through gunnery school with me. He also went on our 4th mission with us. The French Navy had several battleships offshore and they were shelling the coast. I guess we did a pretty good job for the jerries throwed in the towel the next day. Captain Lewis and the boys decided to give me a treat when we got back. We get a big shot of whiskey after each mission, so they all gave me their whiskey. After tossing down those 10 shots of whiskey on an empty stomach, I got pretty high. We were up 6 hours and 30 minutes.
April 17, 1945. Today was our 7th mission and one I won't ever forget. In fact I thought for awhile it was going to be the last. We bombed railroad yards at Dresden, Germany. Our air leader really screwed up. Just before we hit the bomb run we were supposed to make a left turn to miss a flak area, but he turned to the right and lead us right through it. I never saw so much flak in my life. They had 370 flak guns and those guys knew how to use them. They threw everything at us except the kitchen stove and maybe a part of it. We did a 360-degree turn over the worse of it and overshot the target. Flak was bursting all over us. The old ship was bouncing around like a balloon in a windstorm. Flak was bouncing off my turret like buckshot. I was spinning it for all it was worth trying to keep from getting a direct hit. I heard the navigator say over the inter-phone that he was hit. The pilot asked him how bad he was hurt, and he said he didn't know. They had 5 hits up in the nose of the ship and he was showered with Plexiglas . He wasn't hurt though but scared about half to death, but so was everybody else. A piece of flax broke the skin on his leg and another piece lodged in his flak suit. Then a piece cut through the side of the ship and fell down in front of the waist gunner. The tail gunner called up and told him to save him a piece of it. Someone broke in on the inter-phone and told him not to worry that he would probably get a chunk of it where he didn't want it. Sure enough a big chunk came through about the tail wheel. It busted the pulleys on the control cables and went out through the ship just about 6 inches from his rear end. A piece through the window just above the pilot's head. It knocked a big dent in his flak helmet and cut a nice hole in the side of the ship as it went on through. A piece hit the window by the co-pilot's face. It knocked a pretty good size hole in it, but didn't come through. If it hadn't been bulletproof glass well we would have needed another co-pilot. We were flying a new ship and boy it was shot to hell. As I said before, we overshot the target so we had to do it all over again. Boy oh boy, I sure hated to make that run again but we did just the same. Every ship in the group got the hell shot out of it. Three of them went down over the target. One ship was on fire, 5 men bailed out of it but the last man out opened his chute as soon as he left the ship. The ship exploded and his chute caught on fire. Poor devil, what a way to die. I don't know if anybody got out of the other ships or not. We got the job done though. I could see those 1000 pounders bursting. I think we must have hit a bunch of ammunition trains. There was a bunch of big explosions and large fires. They said we knocked out their roundhouses and destroyed the rail center. One ship landed with his brakes shot out. It rolled to a stop with the props up against a building beside the runway. Another one had his brakes shot out and they tied a chute inside the ship and opened it out through the hatch in the tail when they landed. They made a nice brake out of it. We were up 8 hours and 40 minutes. Trips like that one is what makes a guy flak happy. They also make a guy go to church when he gets a chance. The guys were all having a little prayer meeting of their own, I think. I just hope we never have another one that rough.
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