JOSEPH G. MEYERS|
World War II
Memories and Biography
25 February 1945
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
8th Air Force
1. Was member of the Flying 8-Balls - copilot on a B-24.
2. Flew eight missions - bailed out over Belgium in February 25, 1945. Ran out of gas, which was caused by flak damage over the target. Cloud cover as between 500 and 1,000 feet. We were very close to an auxiliary landing field in Charlerai, Belgium, but did not have time to locate the field. Took the plane up to 3,000 feet and jumped.
Landed in an open field. Thought I was going to hit a wire fence, pulled the ropes to miss the fence and landed hard. Was rescued from the very beautiful local girls by some GIs from an AA Battalion. On Thanksgiving, I gave them my parachute as a token of my appreciation. A Belgium doctor graciously offered to treat me, but I did not think I was injured.
On the way back, we picked up some other members of the crew and we are met at a local hospital, where we were seen by American physicians. I carried our radioman's parachute into the hospital because he was limping (turned out he had a broken leg). Upon the insistence of the physicians, I had to be x-rayed. Walked to the x-ray room and left on a stretcher and spent the next three months on the flat of my back and six more months recuperation, ending up in Plattsburg, New York.
Members of the crew: Jim Derrick, pilot (deceased); Joe Meyers, copilot; Roger Thomas, navigator; Clarence Brown, engineer (deceased); Harry Brown, radioman; Bob Anthony, nose gunner; Bob Andres, tail gunner; Donald Stroh, turret gunner; Star Horton, waist gunner. I believe we had another specialist on board, but can't recall any name or title.
Injuries as a result of the jump: Clarence Brown, broken leg (who also ended up at Plattsburg); Harry Brown, broken leg; myself, fractured lumbar of the spine and Roger Thomas, who was x-rayed for neck injury.
Stories - How many do you want - about the time:
1. Lord Haw Haw greeted us the day we arrived in Norwich.
2. Our first mission over Magdeburg where we were the lead in squadron and our greeting was a black rectangle at flak suddenly appearing before our eyes.
3. They scrubbed mission when we took off and the weatherman told us there was an open space between the clouds at 8,000 feet. We (entire 8th Air Force) went to 20,000 looking for this opening and were then told the missions were scrubbed and how we had to make our way down out of this mess. We descended by flying a heading back and forth, others made a slow spiral down and some just lowered the nose and let her go. We never saw any planes, but we sure did hear several pass by..
4. Or the scrubbed mission where as we crossed the Channel and entered a cloud bank and (we were leading the second three). Our fearless leader said and clearly repeated, "We will now start a slow turn to the left." Not being stupid, we pulled her straight up and got the hell out of the middle of that mess. (31 January 1945).
5. The time we were second to take off on a mission, when we received a message from the tower advising us not to take off and, to make it clear, he repeated this message, "Attention all ships. Attention all ships, do not take off until we clear the debris from the runway." Are you interested in what the debris was? A full load of 500-lb. bombs. We were watching them roll down the runway. Believe it or not that message cracked us up.
6. The time a B-24 joined on our wing - us experienced experts thought it was someone who had lost its group - turned out to be this plane was being flown by Germans. Somehow they left just before we were on the final bomb run.
7. The two missions we bombed at 8,000 feet. The first really surprised the German Ack Ack gunners, and the second terrified us.
8. The time we bombed Berlin from one end to the other in an effort to end the war - the most stupid mission I was on.
9. The fear in our hearts when we unloaded our bombs above the clouds, which were intended to land somewhere inside enemy territory during the Battle of the Bulge - incidentally, recon planes later informed us we did hit our target.
10. How we were the first, or one of the first, to spot a plane off in the distance, which was really moving and it turned out to be a German jet.
11. How, one night as we were standing in line waiting for the trucks to take us into town., Col. Snavely came down the line. No one saluted him and as he came to me (flight officer - lowest rank in the line) gave me a thorough chewing out and all I could think about was how good a job he was doing.
12. How we, along with the enlisted men stole coal from the pile in order to keep somewhat warm.
Have more stories, but enough for now, unless you're interested.
Joseph G. Meyers