LLOYD G. FRETWELL|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Capt. David H. Klaus and forwarded to Will Lundy)
March 12, 1982
Dear Captain Klaus:
This is in response to your letter of January 28, 1982 requesting information on the 44th Bomb Group during World War II.
According to my records, my first bombing mission was on March 28, 1943 to attack Sub Pens across the English Channel and my last mission was the bombing of a plant at Mannheim on December 30, 1943.
During this period, we made two trips to North Africa. On the first trip we joined the 9th Air Force at Benghazi, Libya, and returned to England on August 27, 1943. On the second trip, we flew to a Tunis base about September 18, 1943 and returned to England October 4, 1943 with a lot fewer planes than when we started. The high losses on our second trip to North Africa occurred on a mission to Weiner-Neustadt, Austria on October 1, 1943. As I remember, we lost over 40% of the 27 planes we sent on that mission. We had bombed the same target on August 13, 1943 and had met little resistance. On the August 13, 1943 mission, we took off from Benghazi and after bombing Wiener-Neustadt we flew to Tunis. It was one of the longest missions of the war at that time. Our plane led this mission after the lead plane developed mechanical troubles about 300 miles out from Benghazi.
The crewmembers listed in your letter for "Baldy and His Brood" on the Kiel and Ploesti missions appear accurate. Stanley Olson was a temporary replacement as copilot on the Ploesti mission as our regular copilot, Lyle S. Davenport, was on the sick list with diarrhea which was running rampant among the crews at that time.
I am sending you copies of pictures and news item that may be of interest to you. If you can use any of the pictures, I will have prints made for you at our local photo shop. Enclosed are the following items: (1) Photo of our combat and ground crew: O. O. Germann, L. D. Fleming, E. O. Hamel, T. A. Flaherty, W. H. Strong, L. S. Davenport, L. G. Fretwell, C. W. Nelson, and V. D. Haas. Sorry, but I cannot identify the ground crew on the first row. (2) Photo of our plane, "Baldy and His Brood." (3) Photo of a ground crew making repairs in the field at Tunis. (4) Photo of six Eighth Air Force Liberators going in for the bombing run over the smoking ship building yards at Kiel, Germany, May 14, 1943. B24s followed the B17s over the target. (5) Same picture of Kiel as in Item #4 as it appeared in the Stars and Stripes paper. (6) Photo taken on Ploesti raid from our plane as we left the target. The camera was pointed down and behind the plane. (7) The Stars and Stripes account of the Ploesti raid. (8) The Stars and Stripes article on the history of the 93rd Group. This may be of interest to you because after the 44th Group became operational, they were usually scheduled on the same missions as the 93rd Group. (9) Newsweek, August 23, 1943 article on the August 13, 1943 raid on Wiener-Neustadt, Austria.
I don't know that I can add to what already has been written on the Kiel and Ploesti missions; however, I would be glad to review the rough draft of that portion of your book.
Please let me know if I can be of further help.
Lloyd G. Fretwell