S/Sgt. William S. Chaffin (34917702)|
67th Bomb Squadron, 44th Bomb Group
2nd Air Division
U.S. Army Eighth Air Force
October 12, 1944 - Thursday
We boarded the Queen Mary last night around 11 o'clock for our trip across. We had a two-hour train ride from Camp Kilmer, NJ, where we had been for a little over a week awaiting shipment to New York Port of Embarkation from which we departed. The pier next to us was occupied by the Queen Elizabeth, the largest ship in the world.
We had a pretty dull time on board ship. We just have two meals a day, one at 10 o'clock and one at 6 o'clock, and the chow is very poor. We embarked today at 3 o'clock and passed a convoy of about 60 ships returning from overseas.
October 13, 1944 - Friday
This is "Bad Friday," and what a place to be. The sea is just a little rough, but I haven't been sick, as yet, but I felt bad last night. We are out quite a way now and I've never seen so much water before.
Our destination is Scotland. We have 20,000 troops on board including AAF, infantry, nurses, WAC's, paratroops, medics, R.A.A.F., artillery, and many more services. Everything has gone all right so far. I was just thinking about a picture of the Queen Mary I saw in my history book at school. Little did I dream I would be riding it overseas some day.
October 14, 1944 - Saturday
We have been sailing south most of the time. Rumors say we are off the coast of Florida and going east. We will probably cut back north to England. We're going by the southern route. I saw a few flying fish today and some other large fish, which I think were porpoises. I was surprised at the size of the flying fish. They look like humming birds skimming the water. I guess there are larger ones, though.
The sea was real calm and blue today. I received an airmail letter of August 9th, today. It was loaded on board before we left New York.
October 15, 1944 - Sunday
We followed the regular schedule today. There was a protestant service upon deck today and Holy Communion tonight. I wanted to attend both, but the crowd was too big. I attended Communion tonight. The days go fast and uneventful now. I just lay around and read. We have been in pretty warm weather during the whole trip, but we are expecting to hit cool weather soon.
October 15, 1944 - Monday.
Today went along as calm as usual. We saw a school of fish today. They were believed to be porpoises. We did hit cooler weather this afternoon. A rumor is that we are to land in Glasgow, Scotland Wednesday evening. That is just a rumor, of course, and there are plenty passing around now.
October 17, 1944 - Tuesday.
Today was dull and gloomy with a heavy fog. We passed within sight of the Coast of Ireland about 3 o'clock this evening. Today is my 19th birthday. Some place to spend a birthday. We are suppose to arrive in Scotland at dawn tomorrow. It is much cooler now and the water is rough, rolling the ship quite a bit.
November 8, 1944 -- .
We arrived at Stone, England, October 18, 1944. Stone is a small village 100 miles southeast of Liverpool. We landed at Clive, Scotland near Glasgow. We stayed at "Duncan Hall," (Sec. "H") at Stone for three days. We all had to pull detail there. We arrived here at the 44th Bomb Group, October 23, and was assigned to the 66th Bomb Squadron, but after four days were changed to our present 67th. We went to school about two weeks and studied about the same subjects we had in the states (aircraft rec., jam banding, etc.).
We flew our first mission on November 6, 1944. Our target was the German synthetic oil refinery at Sturdkade, Germany. We carried a bomb load of four 2000-pound bombs. They were so big they left no room in the bomb bays. We were up about five hours at 23,000 feet. The flak was pretty heavy over the target, but was extremely low due to a heavy overcast of clouds. Coming back across the Zinder Zee, we received several holes in our ship from a few flak batteries that have been there since the war started. They have had so much experience that they really know how to shoot.
We flew a pretty old ship "Phylis," (H). It had 75 missions and four fighters to its credit. We flew it once before on a practice mission. The bombardier had quite a bit of trouble in the nose turret. We were also late after we landed because he couldn't get his guns out. The flak holes were in the nose. One about a foot behind the nose turret. One of our bombs fell at the right time, but the other three were a little late because the instruments were not set right. The mission was fair, considering it was our first. For some reason, I wasn't scared at all. We saw no fighters and lost no planes. We haven't flown for the past two days because of bad weather.
I made buck sergeant November 1, but we were just notified November 9, 1944. We flew our second mission today with, again, a bomb load of four 2,000 lb. Bombs. Our target was the gun installations at Metz in France. These guns were holding up progress of General Patten's 3rd Army, so we were to knock them out. We had very little flak. What flak we saw was scarecrow flak. This leaves a long, white smoke trail from the ground to where it explodes in a white cloud. We are up to fly again tomorrow.
November 10, 1944.
We flew our third mission today. Our target was an airfield near Frankfurt and was our stiffest mission yet. We carried 40 100-lb. Bombs. Flak was very intense and accurate. A guy named Kirk on a crew that came here with us was sounded and also another guy. One plane had two of its turrets, the hydraulic system, and one wheel shot out. It ran off of the runway when it landed, but no one was hurt and the plane suffered no further damage. We never received one single hole in our ship, but every ship around us received hits. I guess our luck was with us today.
All ships returned okay. We were up about seven hours. I was really tired when I returned.
November 11, 1944.
No flying because of bad weather.
November 12, 1944.
Had guns in, but was scrubbed. The trip was to the Rohr Valley where there are some l8,000 flak guns, so maybe our luck is still with us.
November 13, 1944.
Still no flying for bad weather. It is colder and raining now.
November 20, 1944.
We had very little flak on this trip and still no fighters.
We went on a mission, our fourth, last Thursday, November 16. We were the only squadron of our group to go on this mission. The mission was scrubbed after we had already taken off and formed. We were the first squadron to take off, so we joined another group and continued. We bombed ground troops and installations a short distance northwest of Aachen. The big push by our ground forces started right after we finished bombing and the place was captured soon after.
When we reached our base, it was closed in, and we had to land at an R.A.F. base about 40 minutes from London. This Limey base was awful. The chow was terrible and we had to sleep on biscuits on the floor of the recreation hall. We stayed there until Saturday evening, the 18th. We took off then and arrived back at our base just before it closed in again.
November 25, 1944.
We flew our fifth mission today. Our target was the marshalling yards at Bingen, Germany. There was moderate flak and no fighters. No ships were lost. It was cloudy over the target and we couldn't see any results. We carried a bomb load of 12 500-lb. Bombs (G.P.'s). We flew U, a carpet blinker ship. Latty, our old nose gunner, replaced Rosenberg today and will be with us from now on. Rosie went to Navigator's School. This was Latty's first mission. Rosenberg was the worst member of the crew, so I'm glad we got rid of him.
November 26, 1944.
We flew our sixth mission today. This is our "air medal" mission. We flew U (Sultry Sue). Our target was a railway viaduct at Bielfield, Germany, near Munster. We had a bomb load of eight 1,000-lb. G.P.s. There were no clouds over the target, so I could see the bombs bursting for the first time. It looks as if a lot of lights are blinking on and off all over the place. I couldn't tell whether we hit the target or not. We came very close anyway. (I later found out we missed the target as it was so small).
December 9, 1944.
There has been no flying for some time because of bad weather. We had a 48-hour pass to London the 2nd and 3rd. We flew our seventh mission today. The target was the marshalling yards at Bingen, Germany. This is where the group got fighters several days ago. We carried 44 100-lb. demolition bombs and two 200-lb. Incendiaries. This was our first mission failure.
We started with U, but while taxiing, number 4 engine ran away, so we changed to L and continued. We got over the target and the radio bomb release wouldn't work, so the group brought their bombs back.
We had to feather our engine and were about to loose another coming back, so we dropped our bombs in the Channel. Our engineer worked in the bomb bay and succeeded in starting the engines again. He kept his gloves off too long and frostbit a finger. We also had a bad gas leak on this mission. Everything seems to have gone wrong today. We have to clean our own guns from now on, too!
December 10, 1944.
We flew our eighth mission today. We flew P, a new silver ship and carried a bomb load of three 2,000-lb. General-purpose bombs. Our target was a bridge at Karsruhe in Southern Germany. This is our longest mission so far being 7 ½ hours in the air. There was a very thick overcast up to about 25,000-ft. over the target, so bombing results were not visible. We bombed from 23,000 feet and the temperature was -36 degrees C. The radio release didn't work so we salvoed our bombs. Opinion is that we hit the target. Flak was moderate and inaccurate because of the overcast.
December 20, 1944.
We received the "air medal" today at 4 o'clock. We were scheduled for a mission, but it was scrubbed just as briefing started. There has been a heavy fog all day and it is now 9 o'clock, so I doubt if there will be a mission tomorrow, but this Limey weather is very unpredictable. We returned from our 2nd pass to London the 18th and expect another New Year's.
December 22, 194.
There is a 21-mile restriction on all camps so we don't get our pass until January 8th.
December 24, 1944. (Christmas Eve)
Today was clear, so we flew our ninth mission. Today's mission was the greatest effort ever attempted by the 9th or any other Air Force. Everything with wings was put up today. This was a maximum effort to hit marshalling yards of supplies for Nazi troops to cripple the Nazi offensive against General Patton's 3rd Army, which has been gaining headway for about a week. There were about 3,000 aircraft (bombers) fighters in the sky against Germany escorted by fighters. The 44th Bomb Group put up 61 aircraft (67th Bomb Squadron - 16 aircraft). We carried a bomb load of 42 100-lb. General-purpose bombs and bombed the yards at Whitlich, Germany. The day was very clear and the target could easily be seen and was bombed visually.
We really did hit the target today. It was very vital that we did, and I sure hope it releases the pressure on our 3rd Army, so that they might regain the offensive. We passed several targets other groups had bombed. They all were covered with smoke. I think this mission was really a blow to he Germans. France and Germany were white with snow, which made the targets stand out very plain, thus aiding us very much.
Flak was moderate, but accurate, nevertheless, there were no losses to our group. We flew K, a ship with the field's record of 67, now 68, missions without an abortion.
December 25, 1944 (Christmas Day)
We got up at 4 o'clock this morning to fly a mission, but it was scrubbed after we had our guns in and everything ready to go. We were briefed for the field being closed in, so we were to land in Europe. Our target was to have been a marshalling yard at Belba, north of Frankfurt. We were to have made the deepest penetration into Germany today, so maybe it was lucky for us it was called off. This is my first Christmas away from home and I hope it is my last away from home. It is one I won't easily forget either.
December 28, 1944.
We flew our tenth mission today. We flew "Sultry Sue" (U). Our target was a railroad bridge and viaduct intersection at Kaiserlautern, Germany, near Cologne. Our bomb load was six 1,000-pound general-purpose bombs and we bombed from 21,500 feet. Flak was moderate, but very accurate. We received a hit in the head of number two engine, which busted the head and caused a bad oil leak. The engine had to be completely overhauled when we returned.
The 44th Bomb Group lost two ships today. One came in with a feathered engine and crashed, killing the entire crew. Another received a direct flak hit and blew up over the target. We couldn't see this ship, though, as it was flying in the 68th squadron. Another ship in our squadron received a hit, wounding the navigator, so they landed at Brussels, Belgium to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Another ship also came in with a feathered engine. A spent case hit the nose turret of our ship and knocked a hole in the Plexiglas, otherwise, we received no damage. We bombed by G. H. and hit the target right in the center. We are expecting to be G.H. lead crew in a little while. We already have a new bombardier, Lt. Blair. We were to fly the 27th, but the mission was scrubbed.
December 30, 1944.
We flew our 11th mission today. It was cloudy and we expected the mission to be called off, but it wasn't. We flew S, and carried a bomb load of six 1,000-lb. General-purpose bombs. The target was a railway intersection at Altenaha near Cableng, Germany. There was a tick overcast, so results were not observed. This was our first milk run (first mission we didn't have a single burst of flak).
December 31, 1944.
We flew our 12th mission today and earned our first oak leaf cluster. We flew P and carried a bomb load of six 1,000-lb. G.P.s. Our target was a railway bridge at Newvieid, Germany. There was an overcast over the target and only several bursts of flak.
February 6, 1945.
We have completed our lead crew training and flew our 13th mission today. We bombed the marshalling yards at Magdeburg, Germany. We had a load of six 500-lb. G.P.s. There was a heavy overcast over the target. Flak was moderate, but very accurate. I saw a B-24 in the group behind us blow up and go down in flames behind us. Last week we lost four ships on a Berlin mission. We also lost a ship that crashed on the takeoff because the wing iced up. One guy was injured badly and later died. (Scott 68th).
February 7, 1955.
Another ship blew up on the dispersal area last night. A member of the ground crew was refilling the put put while it was running and a spark started a fire and exploded a 500-lb. Bomb in the bomb bay of the plane. A piece of shrapnel from the bomb killed a guard nearby. This was the only casualty. The only thing left that looked like an airplane was two broken up engines and there was a five-foot hole in the concrete where the plan was standing. We had a rocket shell hit so close last night that it shook the whole barracks.
February 15, 1945.
We flew our 14th mission today. The target was an oil refinery near Magdeburg. We carried a bomb load of eight 500-lb. G.P.s. and ten 40-lb. Incendiaries. I flew as nose gunner with a Lt. Struthers screw, because my crew was flying its first lead mission and was carrying a lot of extra guys (3). The flak was moderate and accurate. We bombed through an overcast. The timing was messed up on this mission and another group above us had "bombs away" right over us at the same time we did. I was really scared when I looked up and saw all those bombs coming down through our formation. We peeled off and got out from under them. Luck was with us for not a single ship was hit.
February 22, 1945.
We reached our halfway mark today flying our 15th mission. The mission was on the marshalling yards at Gottingen, Germany. This is the best mission we've been on and one I'll remember. Full results of today's mission are not in yet, but reports say 6,000 aircraft were over the Riche today. We saw smoking targets at towns all along the way in and out. Every type aircraft participated in today's effort. This marshalling yard was packed full of supplies for the front lines and we bombed them from an altitude of 8,000 ft. Our bombs hit right in the center of the yards and started a fire, which flamed up to about 500 feet in the air. The bombing was perfect. There was only two bombs outside of 1,000 feet of the MPI. Groups bombed targets of this type all over Germany today from low altitudes in a knock out blow to Germany's supply lines.
February 26, 1945.
We flew our 16th mission today. The target was "supposedly" a marshalling yard in the north side of Berlin. Our intervalometer was set at 140 feet. There was a heavy overcast, in layers, therefore flak was inaccurate. We were the last group over the target, so that's another reason why we didn't get any great amount of flak. We had moderate to intense flak of about ten to 15 bursts in each barrage, but it was way behind us. We have been back only three hours and I just heard the news report about the raid. It seems funny to make the news and come back and hear about what you've just done.
March 1, 1945.
We flew our 17th mission today. The target was the marshalling yards at Ingolstadt. A city north/northeast of Munich. This was our longest mission to date, being nine hours and ten minutes long. We were after a repair shop there and there were about 50 repaired locomotives in the yards when we arrived. This was another milk run, there being no flak. Our bomb load was six 500-lb. G.P.s and four M17 incendiaries. Bombing results were reported good.
March 2, 1945.
We flew our 18th mission today on a tank factory at Magdeburg, Germany. If bombing had been visual, we would have hit an oil refinery, previously bombed, north of the city, but there was an overcast, so we bombed our secondary target by P.F.F. We flew B and met our stiffest opposition to date. The flak was very intense and accurate. We received a hit, which knocked out the hydraulic system of my tail turret. If the hole had been one foot more to the right, the flak would have hit the armor plate in front of my left leg. The fluid from the turret shot all over the place and ruined my parachute. There was flak bursts all over the place and so I could see red fire in the bursts and hear the explosions as the shots burst. It's okay, though, just as long as no one is hurt and we get back okay.
March 3, 1945.
I was not on the mission today, but just wanted to make a report about it. The target was the same oil refinery north of Magdeburg that we were to bomb visual yesterday and couldn't. Today, bombing was visual and the target was completely destroyed. Our instrument bombings caused only a 30% cut in production. At the IP (Beginning of the bomb run), they were attacked by ME210's, Nazi jet fighters. One guy in my barracks said he saw a squadron of the group in front of ours get practically wiped out by the jets in one sweep. Our group was attacked also, but the P-51 escort drove them off. The jets would turn on their power and leave the P-51s standing still and a P-51 can do better than 400 mph. The only way they could destroy them was for several P-51s to gang up on one and trap him. This seems to be a lucky group. No ships were lost today.
The boys say fire and smoke rose in columns several thousand feet high and this target is finished. Another site they saw was a P-51 go down in a dogfight with a jet. They also saw a B-24 get caught in prop and hit another B-24, which, in turn, crashed into two more B-24s. They saw four chutes out of four ships. That means 32 out of 36 men went down unless they bailed out nearer the ground.
We also had a little excitement here at the base last night. A German plane, thought to be a JU88, strafed our field and the road to Norwich. A truck driver on the way back from Norwich (was carrying girls back from a dance on our base) was strafed and killed. There was no damage done to our base. We were scared some and heard several bombs burst near the field. We could see tracers from his guns bounce off the runways. This was about 2 o'clock in the morning. The Nazi planes(there were 200 reported in scattered attacks in England last night) came in at the same time the R.A.F. was returning from its night mission and so were undetected because they were thought to be English planes also. The Nazi planes attacked British planes when they started to land at their bases and caught them by surprise.
The R.A.F. lost nine planes.
March 10, 1945.
We flew our 19th mission today on a railway viaduct at Bielefield. This was a milk run. We had been after this target several times with no success. It was only believed to be damaged today.
March 11, 1945.
The R.A.F. knocked out completely the viaduct at Bielefield in their first mission using, for the first time, their new 22,000-lb. Bomb.
March 12, 1945.
We flew our 20th mission today on a marshalling yards at Wetzlar, Germany. The target was hit visual and I saw the bombs burst. Results were good and flak was meager and inaccurate. We carried 44 100-lb. general-purpose bombs.
March 14, 1945.
We flew No. 21 today on the marshalling yards at Gutersloh, Germany. The target was bombed visual with 44 100-lb. G.P.s and two M-17 incendiaries. The target was hit in the center and the yards destroyed. I, again, saw the bombs burst and numerous fires burning. Flak was meager and inaccurate. We led a squadron of the 491st Bomb Group and had the highest percentage of hits for the mission (80%).
March 15, 1945.
We flew No. 22 today on the Nazi General Headquarters at Zossen, a small town 28 miles south of Berlin. There was no flak. We carried a bomb load of five 1,000-lb. General-purpose bombs. As the Russians are threatening Berlin, the Germans moved their headquarters to this place.
March 17, 1945.
We flew No. 23 today on the marshalling yards at Munster. We carried 44 100-lb. G.P.s and two M17 incendiaries. Bombing was visual and results were very good. I could, again, see the bombs burst. Flak was meager and inaccurate.
March 18, 1945.
We flew No. 24 today on a factory, which manufactures U-2 robot bombs and anti-aircraft shells. The factory was located six miles northwest of the center of Berlin. Bombing was visual, but there were scattered clouds. We carried 52 M-27 incendiaries (a new firebomb practically impossible to extinguish, not the newer jelly gas bomb). We are believed to hit the target and achieved good results. Today's mission was a record blow against Berlin. Over 1,300 aircraft hit Berlin today. Flak was moderate, but very accurate. Several ships were shot up bad, but none were lost. The 8th Air Force lost 12 bombers and two fighters today.
March 21, 1945.
We flew No. 25 today on an airfield at Achmer. Bombing was visual and results were excellent. I could see the bombs walk right down the runways. There was no flak.
March 22, 1945.
We flew No. 26 today on an oilfield at Hall (Swedish Hall), Germany. Bombing was visual with 44 100-lb. G.P.s. Results were excellent and there was no flak.
March 30, 1945.
We flew No. 27 today on the shipyards at Wilhelmshoven, Germany. The target was bombed visually and good results were noted. Flak was moderate, but inaccurate.
April 4, 1945.
We flew No. 28 today on an airfield near Hamburg, Germany. The mission today was a failure. There was an overcast and the radar equipment was out of order. We brought our bombs back.
April 5, 1945.
We flew No. 29 today on the marshalling yards at Plauen, a town near the Czech border. We bombed the town itself by radar as the yards were to be hit visual only. Results were reported good.
April 11, 1945.
We flew No. 30, our last, today on the marshalling yards at Neumarkt. We bombed visually and achieved excellent results. We carried a bomb load of 12 500-lb. G.P.s and led the whole group in this attack. There was no flak or enemy opposition.
"Allis Kaput" (all is finished in German).
April 23, 1945.
Just learned we are to leave this base May 2.
Left base May 2nd and went to Bamber Bridge, England, near Liverpool. Left England May 13, 1945 from Liverpool, England on the HMS Franconia. We reached New York City the night of the 24th of May and disembarked the morning of the 25th of May. We spent the 25th at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and left the next noon for Ft. McPherson at Atlanta, Georgia, from which we received our 30-day furlough May 29, 1945.
WILLIAM S. CHAFFIN
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
412 3rd Avenue
Columbia TN 38401
Dear Mr. Lundy:
You may use any information in my diary you wish to. I went back and read most of it over again and there isn't anything in it I would not want you to use. I was only 19 when I wrote it and it contains one error in referring to Patton's First Army. I believe he commanded the Third Army.
I had a brother, 2 ½ years older than I, who was an engineer and crew chief on a B-17 with the 1st Air Division. His plane went down on his fifth mission. They were going into the European continent on a mission. As they passed over the Coast in Holland at the Zieder Zee, his plane was damaged by ack ack. They tried to make it back across the Channel to England, but went down three miles off shore. The tail gunner and one waist gunner were picked up. The others went down with the plane. We heard from the survivors. They said, as they were very low over the water preparing to ditch, the right inboard engine ran away. The propeller came off and went through the outside of the plane into the cockpit area possibly killing the pilot and others in the vicinity.
My brother flew the top turret, which is near that area, so it's possible he died in that incident.
No one knows, who hasn't experienced it, how much of a loss in a war affects those families for the rest of their lives. He was my only brother and it still grieves us greatly even after 39 years.
We can't dwell on sadness today. We must remember some great times too. Let me know when you finish your book.
William S. Chaffin