DIARY OF WORLD WAR II
Plane name was Glory Bee
Don Maule and his B24 bomber crew arrived in the air base near Shipdham, England in 1944. He decided to keep a diary of nothing except the bombing missions. He made no effort to put in anything else, although he did seem to consider breakfast quite important for awhile. But he only wanted to have a way of keeping track of the missions. He wrote the diary for as long as the missions lasted. He ended it abruptly and never wrote anymore again. And as he said, "He never looked at this diary for literally 40 years."
The first time he encountered this diary again was on June 5, 1984 when he was in the Maid's Head Hotel in Norwich, England sitting around in a very comfortable atmosphere, comfortable chairs and around the table with his daughter, son-in-law, wife and the ball turret gunner that became the guy who woke them up in the morning to go out -- Bill Moretti.
I will be writing from Don's writing and some of this will be hesitant and inarticulate, but I think the message will be clear.
1st Mission, June 6, 1944 (second mission of the day)
D-Day. We got up at 0200 and went to eat breakfast. After that we went to briefing and were told this was D-Day and we were to go to the French Coast and bomb. We left at 6:30 and as we left the English Coast, the water was full of boats going to France with our boys. When we got there, it was cloudy so we didn't drop any bombs because we didn't want to hit any of our own fellas. We got back at 11:45. We flew at 15,000 feet. We had 12 500-lb. bombs. No enemy fighters or flak.
2nd Mission, June 7, 1944
We got up at 7:00. We bombed a small town in northern France. Liscut railroad center to keep the enemy from sending troops and supplies from Paris to the Coast. We left at 10:45. It was kind of cloudy, but we could see the target. Lots of boats again today. I saw one firing at the French Coast. We bombed at 20,000 feet. Temperature was -28c. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. We got back to the field at 5:00. We didn't see any enemy fighters or any anti-aircraft fire. We are scheduled again tomorrow. Kerr got frostbite on his neck.
3rd Mission, June 12, 1944
Sunday. We got up at midnight, hardly any sleep. We went to the briefing room and everything was all mixed up as the officers had had a big dance and were all drunk. We finally found out that we were supposed to bomb a large railroad bridge in Northern France by the town Montfort. We took off at 4:30. We dropped our bombs through the clouds so we couldn't see if they hit anything. No enemy fighters or anti-aircraft fire. We flew at 20,000 feet. Carried eight 100-lb. bombs. Temperature -19c. We got back to the field at 10:45. Dago got sick.
4th Mission, June 14, 1944
We got up at 12:30. We went to briefing and found out that we were supposed to bomb an airfield near Chatallault. We took off at 4:30. It was a pretty clear morning for a change and we got a good look at London. We got a good look at the target and all the bombs hit right in the center. It must have been several hundred planes. We saw a little anti-aircraft fire but it was not very close to us. No enemy planes. We carried 52 100-lb. bombs and flew at 23,000 feet. Temperature was -30c. We got back to the field at 10:45.
5th Mission, June 18, 1944
We got up at 1:30. We went to briefing and found out that we were supposed to bomb an air field near Louenburg, southeast of Hamburg, Germany. We took off at 5:15 and had to come back because of a gas leak. They fixed it right away and we took off again. It was partly cloudy but we didn't drop our bombs although we made about three runs on different targets. I don't know what was wrong. We brought the bombs back. Saw lots of flak, some pretty close to he fighters. We flew at 24,000 feet. Temperature -34c. We got back at 12:45. We carried 240 201b-fragment bombs. We started yesterday but was called back just before we took off.
6th Mission, June 20, 1944
We got up at 1:00. We went to briefing and were told to go way into Germany and bomb a synthetic oil refinery at Politz. We took off at 4:45 and in the North Sea fighters hit us and knocked four or five B24's down behind us. The water was all ablaze with them. I didn't fire any. One ship started to make a pass at us, but Wood in the tail, chased him away. We had lots of flak most of the way and there was about 75 big guns over the target and you could hear the flak break all around us awfully close. We left the target flaming and smoking. Fifty percent of German oil was supposed to come from there. We sure hit it. We flew 22,000 feet. Temperature -20c. Got back at 1:45. A long trip. I got a little frostbite on my right ear the last time. We carried 40 100-lb. bombs. We now get the air medal, they say.
7th Mission, June 22, 1944
We started to Berlin yesterday, but number 1 quit about three hours out and we came back. We were told to go to Newcourt, about 20 miles north of Paris. Supposed to be a big supply depot. We hit it on the edge. We took off at 8:30 and back about 1:30. Saw some flak but no fighters. Were about 60 guns over the target. They told us there were about 400 over Berlin.
Instead of the four or five on that mission to Politz (evidently he meant instead of losing four or five planes on that mission to Politz), they lost about 25 right behind us. We flew at 23,000 today. Temp. -20c. Carried 12 500-lb. bombs.
9th Mission, June 25, 1944
We got up at 6:00. Went to briefing and were told to go and bomb a power plant by Abbyville, France. We took off at 9:15 and landed at 2:08. It was a pretty, clear day and about everything we could see in France was all bombed to pieces. We flew at 25,000 feet. Carried 52 100-lb. bombs. Temp -29c. We couldn't see the target for sure, but the bombs all hit pretty close in one spot. I saw two airfields bombed today along the course we flew and they were both blown up.
9th Mission, June 27, 1944
We almost got it today. Artie got three fingers cut off his right hand by flak. The same piece also cut out all of the instrument wires, hydraulic lines and Artie's oxygen supply. We got hit at 23,000 ft. We got about 20 holes, all from flak. It sure was close. One piece went out through the left tire and cut (frayed) the aileron wire. We crash-landed with three engines, no brakes, and the left tire out. And aileron on the left out. Everybody said it was the best landing like that they ever saw. They took Artie right to the hospital. We didn't take off till 3:15 in the afternoon. Got back about 8:45. Carried 12 500-lb. bombs. Temp. -30c. Target, railroad tunnel 15 miles northwest of Paris. Missed it.
10th Mission, July 4, 1944
It's been a week since we flew. Artie is not hurt too bad, but some of the airplane is in his right leg. We got up at 1:00. They told us to go into Northern France and bomb an airfield. It has been raining for a week and I didn't think we would fly this morning. We were ready at about 3:00 to take off at 4 and they set takeoff up till 6. We went out at 24,000 feet. Almost had to come back on account of a supercharge on number 4. It was cloudy and we didn't see anything except a little flak. We carried 52 100-lb. bombs. Temp -32c.
11th Mission, July 6, 1944
Just a month since our first mission. We got up about 1:30. We went to briefing and told to go to Kiel, Germany. It is a great ship building center in northern Germany on the Coast of the Baltic Sea. We took off at 6 and got back at 12:45. We flew at 24,000. Temp. -28c. We carried six 500-lb. bombs and six 250-incendiary bombs. They put up a smoke screen over the target and it was a little cloudy so we couldn't see where we hit. Flak was awful heavy over the target. I didn't think we would get through. We just got a few holes and there were no enemy fighters.
12th Mission, July 7, 1944
We got up at 1:00. I was awfully tired. We were told to go to Bernberg, Germany and hit an aircraft engine factory. We hit it and got hit by all kinds of fighters. Lost lots of planes. It's a good thing we had a good fighter escort or I might not be writing this now. You could look most any direction around the target and see parachutes, about a dozen at a time. We didn't get hit at all. I saw almost six or eight other planes bomb close together. We hit it. All looked like good hits. I could see well so it was a clear day. We took off at 5. Back at 2:30. We carried 52 100-lb. incendiary bombs and flew at 22,000. Temperature -28c. They had a smoke screen over the target, not and thick. This might be mission 13 as I hear we got credit once for a mission when we turned around.
13th Mission, July 12, 1944
We got up at 5:30. We were told to go to Munich, Germany. The whole 8th Air Force went yesterday and again today. It should be damaged some. It was cloudy all the way and we saw no fighters. Quite a bit of flak. We didn't' get hit. We took off at 9 o'clock and didn't get back until about 6. Awful long trip. We flew at 23,000 ft. Carried six 500-lb. bombs and four 500-lb. incendiary. Temp. -27c. Any place you looked today you could see lots of 17s and 24s and fighter escort was supposed to be around 192 big guns in the target area. We led today and the flak wasn't very close at first. But it came close to the ones behind us. We were out of gas when we landed. (This is the one where he said they were so exhausted they just didn't really care. The pilots in particular. He said when they landed, they put a stick in there, and they couldn't even wet the stick.)
14th Mission, July 16, 1944
We got up at 1:30. We were told to go to Saarbruken, Germany to bomb the railroad yards. We took off at 5 and got back at 12:30. We flew at 22,800 ft. Temp. -23c. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. It was cloudy all the way so we couldn't see what we hit. No enemy fighters and not very much flak. Only heard two or three break. We hit prop wash on takeoff and almost cracked up. (That was when they made them take off too quickly and too close to each other and they ran into the prop wash of the one ahead and Maule says that's very dangerous).
15th Mission, July 18, 1944
We got up at 1. Told to go just east of Caen, France and bomb enemy troops and supplies. We carried 240 201b-fragment bombs. We took off at 4:45 a.m. and back at 10:40. We flew at 16,000 ft. and the temp was -6c. We sure tore up the ground for quite a ways. It was all clear and we could see guns firing on the ground. We saw no enemy fighters and not much flak. What flak we had was very close. I could reach out my window and almost touch it. We bombed just 3,000 yards ahead of our troops on the ground.
16th Mission, July 19, 1944
We got up at 12. Told to go close to Frankfort, Germany and bomb a place where they make the pilotless planes. Buzz bombs. They were all mixed up in what they were doing and we didn't take off until 5:30. We got back about 11:30 but didn't bomb what we started for as it was all covered with clouds. We hit railroad yards at Koblenz, Germany. It was clear and we did a good job. We flew at 22,500. Tem was -24c. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. No enemy fighters. Quite a bit of flak, but we didn't get any holes.
17th Mission, July 20, 1944
We got up at 4. Told to go to Erfurt, Germany where they make ME 109s and a new plane, something like the mosquito. We took off at 7:30 and got back at 2:10. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. Temp -24c. It was fairly clear but quite a haze close to the ground so we couldn't see how good we hit. We flew at 21,500. No enemy fighters and the flak was not very bad. The sky was full of B17s and B24s. Three missions in three days.
18th Mission, July 24, 1944
We got up at 2:30 and went to briefing and were told to go over by St. Lo in France and bomb enemy troops, etc. We just got out to the plane and they told us to go back to bed for awhile. We finally got up again and took off at 9:30. We flew at 17,000 ft. Temp -6c. It was as cloudy all the way so we didn't drop our bombs because we were supposed to drop them just 1,500 yards in front of our troops. We got back at 2:15. We carried 52 100-lb. bombs.
19th Mission, July 25, 1944
We got up at 3:00 and went to briefing. We are supposed to go back to the same place we went yesterday. The clouds were all above us today and we went in at 13,000 feet and under the clouds. We took the same bombs that we had yesterday. Took off at 6:30 and got back at 12:00. Today we dropped them and we sure tore up the ground something terrible.
20th Mission, July 29, 1944
We got up at 2:30. We were briefed to go to Bremen, Germany and to hit a large oil refinery and storage depot. We took off about 6 and got back about 1:30. We carried 12 250-lb. bombs and four 400-lb. incendiaries. We flew at almost 25,000 ft. Temp. -20c. It was cloudy over the target and we couldn't see where the bombs hit. No enemy fighters but lots of flak, the most I've ever seen. Supposed to be around 200 guns there. We had a K20 camera and I took quite a few pictures. We had been briefed four times in the last three days and every one scrubbed.
21st Mission, July 31, 1944
We got up at 5 and were briefed to go to Ludwigshofer, Germany where they have synthetic oil and rubber factories and make parts for airplane engines. We took off at 9:10 and got back at 3:30. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. We flew at 23,700 feet. Temp. -23c. It was cloudy all over so we couldn't tell what we hit. Flak was plenty thick. I saw one 24 go down in flames behind us and nine chutes came out. We had heard enemy fighters but soon were behind us. Last night about an hour before we got up, a buzz bomb went over and landed pretty close. Shook our hut pretty bad and scared us (that was one that Billy had heard).
22nd Mission, August 1, 1944
We got up at 6 and were told to go to Rowen, France and bomb a big railroad bridge just a few miles from there. They had been waiting four hours to call us, waiting for the weather to clear up over the target. We were to take off at 10 but they held us up two hours longer. We finally took off at 12:15. We got back about 5:45 but didn't hit the target. It was all cloudy. We tried to hit a railroad junction in the country, but missed it. We carried eight 1,000-lb. bombs. One didn't get out and it fell out over England and took a bomb bay door with it. We saw no enemy fighters and not very much flak. Temp. -22c.
23rd Mission, August 3, 1944
We were called to briefing at noon and they seemed eager for us to take off. We took off 30 minutes after briefing. It usually is about two hours. We were supposed to go to a supply depot 15 miles north of Paris. We got about 45 minutes from the target and at 24,000 ft. ran into clouds so thick we could see nothing. They were as high as 30,000 feet. We turned around and came back. Landed at 6:15. Temp -24c. We carried eight 1,000-lb. bombs and brought them back. We saw just a little flak and no enemy fighters, but some of the boys saw some. We are not sure this will count as a mission. (While this was being read out loud at the Norwich, England hotel, an ex-bombardier from another crew was listening in and he was quite surprised when he heart that this crew returned with their bombs intact. He said his crew always dumped them when they didn't use them.)
(While this was being read out loud at the Norwich, England hotel, an ex-bombardier from another crew was listening in and he was quite surprised when he heart that this crew returned with their bombs intact. He said his crew always dumped them when they didn't use them.)
24th Mission, August 4, 1944
We got up at 5:15. They told us at briefing to go to Kiel, Germany and bomb a sub factory. Take off was delayed until 10 on account of the weather. It finally got partly clear and we took off a little after ten. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. Flew about 23,000. Temp -22c. It was clear most all the way and we could see pretty plain where the bombs hit. Looked like a good job. Flak was pretty heavy. Some was red when it burst. WE got our right rudder stabilizer pretty well shot up. Last time we went through it was the left rudder that got it. We got back about 5. No enemy fighters.
25th Mission, August 12, 1944
We got up at 2 and were told at briefing to bomb an airfield east of Paris. We took off at 5:15 and got back at 12:20. Temp. -20c. We flew at 21,500 ft. and carried 42 100-lb. bombs. It was as clear as I ever saw it. And we did a perfect job of bombing the landing strip. There must have been several thousand holes in sit. No flak over the target, but we got some fairly close on the way back. No enemy fighters.
26th Mission, August 13, 1944
We got up at 5:30 and were told at briefing to go to France and bomb road junctions, etc. so as to mess up the German army's retreat. We dropped on three places, about 1/3 of the load each time. Just before bombs away the first time, Milleken's crew, who was with us since January in Tucson went down in flames. Nine chutes went out. They had ten men. It was his 32nd and the crew's 30th mission. Flak was awful close. It knocked Sharpy down once, but didn't hurt him. Knocked out his oxygen. We also got several other holes. One big one and number 3 prop went out and we went in below LeHarve. We carried 52 100-lb. bombs. Temp -16c. We flew at 18,000 feet. Took off at 9:00 and got back at 2:25.
27th Mission, August 15, 1944
We got up at 4:15 and were told at briefing to go to Wetlonshefen and bomb an air field where they train with jet propelled planes. Take off time was delayed one hour after we got to the ship. We took off at 8:40 and back at 1:45. We flew at 22,900 ft. Temp -20c. We carried 52 100-lb. incendiary bombs. It was pretty clear, but a cloud floated over the target as we dropped and we couldn't see our results. But we hit no enemy fighters and flak was not very heavy. We made two runs on the target as a bunch of planes passed in front of us just before we were going to drop.
28th Mission, August 16, 1944
We got up at 2:30. They told us at briefing to go to Gothen, Germany and bomb automobile parts factories. We took off at 6:40 and got back at 1:40. It was pretty clear except for some clouds at places around 30,000 ft. We had a good view of the target but missed the biggest part of it. I think the fellows behind us did a better job. We flew at 22,000 ft. Temp. -24c. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. Flak was awful heavy at the target. We got several holes. The left alein shot to pieces. Fighters did not hit us but did the boys behind us.
29th Mission, August 25, 1944
We got up at 3:30. Briefing we were told to go to Schwerin, Germany and bomb a factor that makes FW190s. We took off at 7:00 and got back at 2:45. The weather over the target was clear and we hit it. Flames and smoke were way up in the sky after we had passed over. We dropped from 20,000 ft. Temp. -17c. We carried 12 500-lb. bombs. No flak at the target. I can't figure it out. We had some on the way in and out. Not very close. No enemy fighters.
30th Mission, August 27, 1944
Got up at 5:30. The last mission and it was Berlin. They put take off back to 11:00. We all sweated while we were on the ground. WE finally took off and started out. We got up by Kiel and the clouds were about 30,000 feet high and we got called back. All the way back, we wondered if we would get credit for it. We saw flak in a few places, but not very close. We carried 12 500-lb. incendiary bombs. We went up at about 23,000 ft. and temp was 23c. We got back at 4:30. We didn't see any enemy fighters. We have turned back three times.
(This is the end of the diary. They were credited with this mission, but they didn't know for awhile. All of a sudden they were called and told, "Okay boys, we're through with you. Go on home.")