LETTER FROM JAMES O. AUMAN, S/SGT|
In The Company of Harm Krull, S/Sgt.
466th And 44th Bomb Groups
November 11, 1993
The Robert Taylor, Pilot, George Snowdon, Co-pilot, Heavy Bomber Combat Crew from Casper, Wyoming and Alamagardo, New Mexico, arrived in Attlebridge, England, with the 466th Bomb Group in late February, 1944. We flew about six missions before being transferred to the 44th bomb Group at Shipdham on May 15th.
I did not record the date, but one day in June (4th) our crew's tail gunner, Harm Krull, and I were on our way to pick up our laundry at a farmhouse a few miles away. Riding our bicycles, I think south, on this pleasant, quiet, narrow path, we heard a B-24 bomber lumbering hard for altitude at about 18,000 feet altitude. It was, to us, a very familiar sound. Visibility was 100%.
It soon became evident that there were two other single engine aircraft at the same altitude making high speed pursuit passes at the slower bomber; and, in fact, appeared to be taking risky chances. The entire scene took place right before our line of vision.
Suddenly, we heard the crumbling sound of a mid-air collision and looking up saw the Liberator turn on its back and start a flat spin upside-down. The screaming sound of the runaway engines was perhaps the most chilling part of the horrible scene. The fighter aircraft hit the right wing of the Liberator from behind and sent into a very shallow dive and crashed several miles away. The severed wing of the B-24 floated downward like a piece of paper.
At this point, my companion was creaming, "Get out, get out." The evening was so calm and the visibility was so clean we would have seen anything fall from the bomber. It took forever in its flat, slow descent before it struck a complex of farm buildings and a home less than half-mile from our present position. As I remember, the doomed mass exploded and burst into flames as we moved to within one-fourth mile of the site.
Firefighters and equipment arrived shortly, presumably from the 44th Bomb Group Station. We watched for perhaps a half-hour as the flames were brought under control. At this time, we saw the firemen assemble a row of what I assumed were bodies of the crewmembers.
Just as things were settling down, there was a powerful blast that I assume was a bomb. Branches from the apple tree under which we were standing came tumbling down as we ducked behind a hedgerow stone wall. On our last look of the disaster, we saw what we assumed to be several fireman lying on our side of another stone wall on which they were positioned to hose down the wreckage.
James O. Auman, S/Sgt.
In the company of Harm Krull, S/Sgt.
466th and 44th Bomb Groups
FROM THE FLIGHT LOG OF S/SGT. JAMES O. AUMAN 13031271
February 15, 1944
Ten man B-24 combat crew: Robert H. Taylor, pilot 0-741949; George R. Snowden, copilot 0-687215; Sal Rosenbaum, bombardier, 0-744993; Samson Dietz, navigator; Russel F. Taylor, Engineer 17128525; Charles E. Culverhouse, Engineer 34399629; Albert A. Rapuano, Armorer Gunner 32729517; Harm J. Krull, Armorer Gunner 36704562. Crew formed and trained at Casper, Wyoming and Alamogordo, New Mexico. Transferred overseas via Morrison Air Base, Florida to Trinidad's Waller Field. Flying time - 11 hours. (Beautiful island, sleeping quarters on stilts about 20 feet in the air).
February 16, 1944
From Waller Field, Trinidad to Belem, South America (some concern regarding navigation, but found an airstrip without incident). Loud animal noises in dense jungle just off runway. Evening meal of over-cooked food and over-ripe fruit (bananas, etc.) did not go over very well with crewmembers.
February 17, 1944
Five hour flight to Fort Aleza without incident. Sleeping quarters and showers filled with all colors and sizes of bugs. In fact, every bunk, although enclosed with mosquito netting, had bugs inside. Armored gunner Rapuano bought a small money pet. I hope Taylor doesn't let him take it with us.
February 19, 1944
The night flight to Dakar, Africa, took 11 hours. Crew slept through most of the flight. The monkey got sick (diarrhea) and shit all over Rapuano's neck. He deserved it!
ECKENS FIELD, DAKAR
We flipped a coin to see who would stay with the aircraft while the others went to eat. (We were parked out in the boondocks). Shortly after the crew departed, a 7-foot black dressed in what must have been some kind of French uniform approached me carrying a rifle with an 18" toothpick shaped bayonet. I was prepared to shoot him and would have until he came to a stop and saluted me. I approached the man with caution. Then, in a very military manner, he said one word, "cigarette."
February 20, 1944
The flight from Ekens Field to Marrakech took six hours and 15 minutes. We viewed through binoculars a caravan of men, goats, and sheep winding its way through a twisting high mountain road. Marrakech reminded me of Bakersfield, California flying north over the mountains. Then suddenly laying outstretched in the bright sun, we saw the green city with bright pastel colored buildings.
THE MARRAKECH DELAYS
It was very apparent that once our pilot, Taylor, found a home (drink, cigarettes, gambling) it would be hard to find him. Consequently, when we missed the takeoff time limits on several occasions through his planned bad timing, the entire crew followed suit. Visits to the city and "the cave" up in the mountains provided a very unusual retreat. It was during this stay of unsupervised service that the crew took advantage of the fair weather and freedom of command to name and paint our aircraft, "The Queen of Hearts."
After 13 days of evading the takeoff to Britain, the tower notified Taylor he was to be one of the first in line to take off as soon as the weather broke. Late in the afternoon on March 3rd, we left Marrakech, Africa, for Wales, England. Flying time - ten hours. The crew remained at Valley, Wales until March 8th. Early that day we flew to Attlebridge. The enlisted men were billeted at the WAFF site and the officers near the hospital. Our aircraft was taken to be modified and painted with identification markings (252-511) soon afterward.
THE SGT. LANCASTER EPISODE
March 8, 1944
Assigned billets in WAFF site - ate lousy chow in unfinished mess hall. Sgt. Lancaster who arrived before his crew, was ordered to fly with another pilot against his will and was lost over Berlin in a mid-air collision. It was the 466th Bomb Group's first mission.
1st Mission - March 27, 1944
Took off from Attlebridge at 10:15. Target was a German cadet airdrome at Biarritz, France. Flak was light, but accurate. We saw no enemy fighters and made two passes at the target to drop our bombs. Major Anastacio flew with us as command pilot. It was his decision to make the 360-degree turn over the target - stupid, and lucky!
2nd Mission - April 8, 1944
Target today was an aircraft factor at Brunswick, Germany. The flak was heavy. Enemy fighters attacked and tail gunner claimed a hit on an FW 190.
3rd Mission - April 11, 1944
Today's target was a JU-88 aircraft factory at Oscherleben, Germany. Minor damage by flak and a 20-mm phosphorous burst to he tail assembly and turret.
4th Mission - April 13, 1944
This was a long flight to southeast Germany. The target was an airdrome near Munich (Oberplaffenhofen?). Flak was accurate on the Coast and at the target area. We saw the Alps. One of our aircraft went to Switzerland. Light flak damage.
5th Mission - April 18 or 19, 1944 (466 C/L Attlebridge
Got up at 2:30 to bomb an airdrome in Germany. We took off at 07:00 and formed and test-fired our guns over the channel. At about 09:40 we crossed the Dutch Coast and were hit badly by flak in the gas tank. Lost one engine and aborted.
6th Mission - April 22, 1944
The target today was the marshalling yards at Hamm, Germany. We took off at 16:00 and were over the target at 1940. E.T.R. (estimated time of return) was about 23:00. We saw all kinds of rockets, but no fighters. The group lost one aircraft.
7th Mission - May 1, 1944
Today, we made a pre-dawn takeoff. I saw three B-24's crash and burn in the dark. The target was a rocket battery near the invasion coast at Pas-de-Calais in France. No fighters and no flak.
8th Mission - May 1, 1944 - Brussels or Liege
This was our second mission today. We took off at 16:00 and hit the target at 19:30 - a marshalling yard in Belgium. Shrapnel over the target came through the command deck through my jacket and into my A-3 bag. Returning in the dark (we were tail end of air force) all hell broke loose on the English Coast ahead of us. British anti-aircraft was peppering away at what appeared to be American formations. Much confusion on radio trying to contact base. Landing pattern over-crowded. Landed out of gas.
9th Mission - May 8, 1944
The target today was a synthetic rubber factory near Leipzig, Germany. Black smoke covered the entire area when we arrived. We hit our assigned target.
Tail gunner Harm Krull was hit through the hip and stomach with a large piece of shrapnel that lodge in his groin. We were attacked had by German fighters before and after dropping our bombs. Lost a P.F.F. aircraft. I got some shots off but no hits. Lost two engines on final approach. (C.L. Rivenhall).
10th Mission - May 15 to 44th
We got credit for an earlier abortion, so now we have ten instead of nine missions.
May 29 in F-788 to 492nd BG - aborted. #770, with 467th BG.
11th Mission - June 3, 1944
Flew from the 44th bomb group today. We went into France to hit a target on the invasion coast. We bombed a P.F.F. and hit the target. I flew the tail turret in Krull's place, an interesting position. No flak, no fighters.
Heard about Captain Ralph Bryant's loss. In my book, he was the best.
June 5, 1944 - A/C 770 Ht - LED 491-489 combined formation. Boulogne, Surmek
12th Mission - June 6, 1944
We had to abort when one engine would not start early. Colonel Stedman transferred to deputy lead.
This afternoon we led the 392nd bomb group and hit a town in HT 770 France near the invasion coast. We flew over the beaches and took in the whole show from 15,000 feet.
13th Mission - June 21, 1944
Target today was Berlin. We sent in over the North Sea, hit our target in the city, then came home the same way. Lots of flak and fighters, but we noticed no damage to our aircraft. Major Elliot flew as command pilot with us. Cannot identify group.
14th Mission - June 29, 1944
Lead of 458th BG. Target was Aaschersleben.
Target for today was a marshalling yard near Brunswick. We took off at 5:30 and hit the target at 9:25. A command pilot from the 458th flew with us. We led the group. Bombing results were excellent. We used A-5. No fighters but flak was intense.
100 men returned to 466 BG!
15th Mission - July 11, 1944
Today, we went to Munich to hit an airfield. The target had an undercast so we hit a secondary target in the city. Bombed P.F.F. We led the group with Major Elliot command pilot. Little Brothers kept German fighters away from our bomber formation, but flak over Munich was bad. I saw bombers shot down and lots of parachutes on our way out. Took off at 8:00 and came back at 16:50.
16th Mission - July 13, 1944
Today the target was a marshalling yard at Saarbroken. We led the Second Division with Colonel Fielding as command pilot (458 group). Took off at 5:30 and landed at 12:30. Bombed P.F.F. results unknown. Light flak and no fighters. Saw lots of balloons in the air over continent. (?)
17th Mission - July 20, 1944
Today's target was an aircraft engine factory at Eisenach, Southern Germany. We took off at 07:00 and landed at 2:30. Major Ellit flew with us. The bomb pattern was good, but we hit the wrong target. Someone thought we bombed a large bakery.
18th Mission - August 4, 1944
Target today was an aircraft assembly plant at Rostouk in Northern Germany. Our bombs fell short and hit officer barracks and a large building. We bombed visual. The flak was meager and there were no fighters. Took off at 10:15 and landed at 17:00. Major Lobrick flew with us as C.P.
19th Mission -
Today we flew deputy lead off General Peck. Led the wing to a target near Brunswick. The hangers at Waggun Field were our primary target. General Peck or the bombardier in his aircraft forgot to open the bomb bay doors so the whole group passed right over the target without cropping their loads. We noticed the error before the I.P., but could not reach the lead aircraft via radio. (They were not monitoring the radio at the time or were keeping a too strict policy of radio silence.)
We hit a secondary target, a sub-depo about 30 miles south. One B-24 went down in flames over the target and another straggler was shot down by three ME 109's. I counted 11 parachutes shortly after the target.
20th Mission - August 9, 1944
Today Rapuano and I flew a volunteer mission with Lt. Godbout on a P.F.F. mission to a ball-bearing factory at Stuttgart. There was an overcast so we hit Saarbruken instead. Flak was very accurate over the city. We lost two ships on our way out. One turned into an orange torch just off our right wing. No chutes. We ran into very accurate flak again near Cologne.
Our tail gunner (Ed Lukanic) took a piece of shrapnel in the heel and leg and was removed for first aid. A part of the same burst hit my right ankle. Lost lots of blood could not walk. Major Thompson (C.P.) gave me first aid (morphine, tourniquet, etc.)
Boyhood chum, Wally Bickmire, met aircraft with the ambulance crew at Attlebridge. After x-rays and examination at base hospital, I was taken to the 231-station hospital for an operation to remove shrapnel.
Shrapnel was removed at the 65th General Hospital located near Botesoale, England.
Our lucky 466th Bomb Group Crew #607 was put together at Casper, Wyoming, about the same time the Air Arm was created in New Mexico in September, 1944. The ten of us came from all over the United States - New York, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, etc. We all had completed our flying training, engineering, radio, navigation, and armorer schooling weeks before.
For the next three grueling months our crew flew almost daily on missions that took up to eleven hours, in the coldest state of the union, at the windiest time of the year. Luckily, there was a very relaxing gambling joint in Casper called the "Crystal Bar" where we found a home after hours. The introduction to public gambling, bar room card playing, and cheap booze went a long way in keeping up our morale.
We realized from the start that we were lucky to have a pilot like Robert H. Taylor who had a natural calm about himself and a cool, loose way in handling a heavy airplane. Our co-pilot, George R. Snowdon, was gifted with a firm belief in how the crew should perform their duties. Like a father, he reminded us over and over what our instructions were and when orders were to be executed.
We picked up a new navigator, Sol Rosenbaum, when we transferred to Alamogardo, New Mexico, where we joined the 466th Bomb Group, and also our new commanding officer, Colonel Arthur J. Pierce, who was newly appointed.
Under the watchful eyes of Captain Ralph S. Bryant, one of the Army's finest, we flew high altitude close formation practice missions for the next six weeks.
We took delivery of our bomber in mid-February 1944 and with orders to report to Station #120 at Attlebridge, England, we finally were by ourselves and on our way. We flew cross-country to West Palm Beach and doglegged over Birmingham, Alabama, the home of Charles Culverhouse, waist gunner. It took us eleven hours the next day to reach Waller Field in Trinidad.
The next day we flew to Belem, then Fort Aleza, and South America. For reasons I don't recall, we flew next to an airstrip near Dakar, Africa, during the night landing in early morning - eleven hours over water all the way.
The next stop was Marrakech where we spent two weeks waiting for the weather to clear in the North. It was also at Marrakech that we painted a slim, lightly clad lady and the name "Queen of Hearts" on our bomber that was in keeping with our crew number and group theme.
We touched down at Valley Wales, ten hours out of Africa on a rainy afternoon early in March. The next day we joined our group, the 2nd Air Division, and the 8th Air Force.
Our good luck was evident on our first mission when we flew lead over a target at Biarritz, France. We made two passes over the target before dropping our bombs. The German anti-aircraft gunners had a good chance of shooting down the whole group.
On our second mission, we were lucky again when Albert F. Rapuano got in some good shots and spoiled the aim of an FW-190 pilot when we were attacked near Brunswick. Al also left his parachute back home on the hard stand that day.
A phosphorous shell coming from a fighter's cannon burst and splashed our tail assembly on our third mission burning holes through metal like acid.
Our tail gunner, Harm J. Krull, ran out of luck over Leipzig in May when he was hit with a large piece of shrapnel that lodged in his groin. The Luftwaffe chased us all that day, but we were lucky and made it home with two engines running on the final approach.
Returning home after dark on our eighth batteries opened up on our tail-end flight. William E. Ward, who quickly, at our Pilot's with someone and stopped the would-be disaster.
D-Day, June 6, we flew at 15,000 feet to a target near the French Coast. Visibility was good and we took in the whole show.
On mission number 13, we flew over the North Sea to a point north of Berlin. We hit a target in the city and returned the same way.
The target on our 17th mission was an aircraft assembly plant at Eisenach. The bomb pattern was good, but we hit the wrong town. Russell F. Taylor (Top Turret) claimed later that we hit a large bread factory.
Luck ran out on my 20th mission when I flew with Lieutenant Godbout to Stuttgart on August 9. We experienced intense flak over the target, which on our way back accounted for two of our aircraft being shot down and left me with a shattered ankle.
Crew #607 went on to finish their 30 missions. Another crew crash-landed the "Queen of Hearts" in a plowed field, and our lucky Pilot Taylor was promoted to Captain.
Submitted by: James 0. Auman 352 Church Street St. Mary's, PA 15857
JAMES O. AUMAN
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
July 21, 1995
Dear Will & Irene:
Your letter of June 25, 1995 stirs many memories of the weeks I spent on the Robert Taylor Crew with the 44th bomb Group at Shipdham. You may recall we came with the so-called "Eight Balls" a few weeks before D-Day when new tactics were being explored for lead crews regarding the use of radar and Mickey Operations.
At that time we had over the required amount of flying training at both Casper, Wyoming and Alamagardo, New Mexico plus about eight of our first combat missions.
Will, your request for posthumous awards for Sgt. Monroe A. Atchley and Private Ted R. Bunalski is of the deepest concern to me. As you know from our previous correspondence, our tailgunner, Harm Krull, and I were not only the first ones on the site of the disaster, we were the only ones, until emergency crews arrived.
On the evening in question (it was about dusk), my friend, Harm, and I were riding bikes in what may have been southeast of the A.A.F. Station 115 at Shipdham. The sky was clear and the sun was setting behind us. We were several miles form the air field and enjoying the quiet, still air of the countryside compared to the extremely loud roaring of engines being run-up at the field.
As we coated along, we became aware of a heavy bomber lumbering for altitude at what must have been 20,000 feet. The intense strain on the four engines was very familiar to me and I knew the aircraft was loaded heavily.
Shortly after identifying the bomber as a Liberator, I saw two fighter-type airplanes appear from the south or west, at least one of which had a pointed nose and may have been an English Spitfire. As we kept riding and watching, we saw the fighters making passes at the bomber from above and behind. After what must have been several passes, when I was not looking, I heard a crunch-like collision and saw the bomber with a large section of its right wing severed. The bomber then turned on its back and went into a slow spin earthward. The fighter went into a shallow high-speed dive and went out of my line of sight and must have crashed miles away.
As the B-24 came down, the engines screamed in what must have been a wide-open position (that sound is still with me).
I also remember how long it took for the crippled Liberator to hit the ground. My buddy, Krull, was screaming, "GET OUT...GET OUT," but no one ever made it.
There were no flames or smoke until the airplane hit upside down on a building that may have been the farmer's living quarters. The impact was more like a crunch followed by a muffled explosion.
We rode ton within about six hundred feet of the farmyard and took a position along the roadside. The entire building and airplane were now a solid ball of flames. Firefighters arrived on the scene in very short order, however, the situation was hopeless.
It was still daylight when we saw the rescue squad pulling what we assumed were bodies from the wreckage. There seemed to be several smoldering hulks lined up in the farmyard about 50 feet from the wreckage. The squad was using long poles to fetch out the bodies.
Another four or five firefighters took a position on a thick, stone wall about five feet tall with their backs toward us. The firemen did not have enough hoses or water pressure to do any good in putting out the flames.
Suddenly, there was an explosion and we heard shrapnel ripping through the branches of the trees overhead. When we looked back at the fire, we saw two, three, or four firemen lying on their backs on our side of the wall.
Will, I did not write this account of the collision as a story form. Rather, I told the facts as I remember. I am sure my buddy, Krull, would have many corrections. We did not report he incident to anyone. We were on alert and the next day, June 5th, we were transferred back to the 466th Bomb Group at Attlebridge.
We had a very close call on D-Day when we ran out of gasoline on our return form Normandy. Sgt. Harm Krull was badly wounded over Lipzeig on our tenth mission and the above story was all but forgotten for fifty years.
I would very much appreciate the complete story about those young Second Air Division casualties of June 4, 1944. For what reason, I don't know because it still hurts to think about it.
James O. Auman
P.S. Freeman's "Mighty Eighth War Diary," p. 258, 4 June 1944. Memo states "During assembly, 492nd BG B-24 crashed near Garveston." Time is wrong - was 7:30 p.m. See page 22, attached, which confirms this incident - all except the time of day.
The following is taken from
Spring 1996 Eight Ball Tails
"The 44th Bombardment Group (H) is cited for distinguished and exceptionally outstanding performance of duty in aerial operations against the enemy form 9 November 1942 to 4 August 1944. During this period of two hundred (200) operational missions, this group dropped over 9,400 tons of incendiaries and high explosives on 75 targets in Germany, 11 targets in Italy, four targets in Sicily, and 110 targets in enemy-occupied Europe, which resulted in the successful destruction of vital enemy installations. Overcoming fierce and heavy fighter opposition on many occasions to reach their assigned target, the 44th Bombardment Group claimed over 325 enemy aircraft destroyed. The untiring devotion to duty, excellent teamwork, and skill exhibited by every member of the 44th Bombardment Group (H), both air and ground, in rendering such outstanding services reflect great credit upon themselves, their organization, and the United States Army Air Forces. (By Command of Major General Kepner)
In the Spring 1996 Eight-Ball Tail column was an article sent to me by Jim Auman (66 Squadron) about a 492nd BG/856 Sq. B-24 crash southeast of Shipdham 4 June 1944. Since then, I have received at least three different versions of the incident. Jim Auman's letter of 30 January 1996 insists what he witnessed that late afternoon is as clear in his mind today as it was then. The two fighter aircraft making passes at the Liberator stood out against the unclouded sky. There was no overcast and no other four-engine aircraft anywhere in the area. The following statements about a near collision interrogation forms were copied at the archives by Tony Mastradone (67 Sq.); Group Leader Johnson: 1722 hours 17,000 feet.
Sachtleben spun in. F. Haag said he made a steep bank to avoid collision with Lt. Anderson who saw Schatleben stall out and fall off on a left wing and fell straight through the overcast; Capt. H. Burgess saw two B-24s, one silver and one O.D., on a collision course at 1730 hours 16,500 feet. Both in a tight turn to avoid collision. The silver aircraft went into a one and one-half turn spin leveling out on its back similar to a pursuit dive and going down in this attitude; R. W. Munson said O.D. ship with vertical stripe (?L) on tail turned in front of Sachtleben who tried to avoid collision by turning sharp and spun in from 15,500 feet; Ted J. Morgenthaler (68 Sq. Ord.) diary states, "Sunday, 4 June 1944. Coming back from evening chow, I saw our own formations in area when one of the B-24s from North Pickenham came through the clouds in an airtight spin position. The part of a wing broke off and she turned over and went the rest of the way down upside down."
Allen Sirrell from Swaffham Norfolk has been researching the 492nd B.G. and reports on this accident as follows: "The aircraft spun in over the cloud layer." "I watched the whole thing unfold in front of me," said another pilot from the 492nd. We popped out of the overcast at probably 15,000 feet and formed up at 16-18,000 feet. I was in chase of the lead aircraft who was in a left-hand turn. There was an aircraft ahead of me on the inside turn and approaching the leader too fast. He went under the leader, moved to the outside of the turn, and then pulled up too sharply. I knew the moment he did that, full of bombs, he was headed for trouble. He flipped over to the right and went straight down, disappearing in the undercast. I learned later that the pilot's name was 2nd Lt. Raymond J. Sachtleben." Amidst all this difference of opinion, one thing is for certain. B-24 42-95160 piloted by Raymond Sachtleben did crash near Garveston, Norfolk on 4 June 44 at approximately 1730 hours killing all ten men aboard. Also killed were two firemen, Sgt. Monroe A. Ashley and Pvt. Ted R. Bunalski from the 2033rd Engineers Fire Fighting Platoon attempting to extinguish the flames.
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy from Allan G. Blue)
30 October 1995
It is good to be in touch with you directly. You may be aware from others that I tried several times to make contact with you at Hilton Head, but our paths never seemed to cross. I believe at that time we were both feeding information to Ian Mc regarding the crash in Scotland.
It certainly sounds as if the Sachtleben crash was the one your men were attending. I have never before heard or seen an account of this affair, and so Auman's tale is new (and certainly interesting) to me.
This A/C 42-95160 took off at 1539 (it was a late mission) and is listed as crashing at 1730. Its salvage is listed on page 74. (All page numbers are from the 1987 edition). Because the A/C did not drop on a target, its bomb load is not listed on the documentation I have. However, nearly all of the planes on this mission were loaded with frags.
The entire paragraph about the loss on a practice mission refers to Bowman's crash landing. This loss, 44-40139 (30 May 1944) is listed on page 73. There were no casualties.
It would seem that the only discrepancy remaining is the time. It is encouraging that the 30-minutes after the hour figure is consistent. Could the difference in the hour figure have resulted from the then-common usage of both Daylight Saving Time and Double-Daylight Saving Time?
If it would serve any purpose, I can send you the complete crew list for the Sachtleben aircraft.
I would be happy to verify the above in connection with your claim submission.
Best of luck.
Allan G. Blue
Report from H. R. Burgess
1730 at 16,500 - approximately 60 miles south of Kings Lynn, some two B-24s on this level appeared to be on collision course - one silver, one O.D. - both seemed to be in tight turn to avoid collision. Silver A/C went into a one or 1 ½ turn spin leveling out on back similar to pursuit dive - when last seen this A/C was going through (clouds) in this attitude. Nor further observation could be made.
Markings could not be ascertained.
O.D. ship recovered and continued on course.
(More information can be found in Allan G. Blue's history account)
JAMES O. AUMAN
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Andy Rooney (60 Minutes) and forwarded to Will Lundy)
352 Church Street, St. Marys, PA 15857
20 December 2002
Mr. Andy Rooney, % 60 Minutes
524 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Rooney:
On page 88 of you're My War publication, you say you were told by Commander Ira Eaker that 8th Air Force crews were soon to be taking off and landing in the dark out of English bases.
In the event you never heard the full story, I may be able to help you. Early in 1944, I read a notice on the bulletin board at the 466th Bomb Group's airfield near Attlebridge. It stated that any flying crewmember who would like to double his flight pay should come to the theater the next day. Three of my buddies and I attended the gathering that was the most secret I ever attended.
We were told by some ranking officers that if we were willing to take advantage of the offer, we were to understand we were going to fly missions in the dark and our airplanes would not carry bombs or machine guns. We were told we would be flying over continental Europe, land in out-of-the-way places (not airfields), unload cargo, pick up people, and return to England. At this point, those not interested were told to leave - a large number left.
Next, we were told we were to wear civilian clothing and not wear our dog tags. At this point, I got up and walked out, my friends with me. There were still quite a few crewmembers remaining. Not until about ten years ago did I read in some detail about the operation. If you would like to hear more of the story, you can call any time (814)834-3155.
James O. Auman
8th Air Force - 1941-1944
Parts of Andy Rooney's article:
Everyone was sorry to see the 8th Air Force commander, Ira Eaker, leave. I guess he got fired. I was particularly sorry because he was always decent to me, often giving me half an hour of his time. Out of one of those interviews, I got a story that caused more trouble than any I've done before or since. He told me, casually, that we'd soon be taking off and landing from English bases in the dark. Well, one of the things you learn is that you always pick something out of the middle of an interview and use that for the lead of your story. It's amazing to me how often ten newspapermen will pick up on the same statement, casually made, and play that.
Like a good newsman with an eye toward something sensational, I quoted General Eaker as saying the 8th Air Force would be operating at night before long.
When we ran the story the next morning, every American news agency here called and wanted more dope from me. Eaker wouldn't give them any time and they wanted to know where I got my information. I told them about my interview, still innocent of what turned out to be a blunder I made, and it was played big in stories home. The headlines read: U.S. to bomb at night!
Eaker never did call to bawl me out although I don't know why. He meant to say, or said, and I misinterpreted him, that our bombers would take off in the dark but just in the time to be able to reach enemy targets in daylight. Or that they would bomb late in the afternoon and return in the dark. The whole thing wouldn't have caused so much trouble if there wasn't a big political thing between us and the British about night bombing. It was a great beat for me - while it lasted.