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Legacy Of:

Michael  A.  Powers

 

Personal Legacy
TECH. SGT. MICHAEL A. POWERS
S/N # 32761313
67th Bomb Squadron; 44th Bomb Group
A.P.O. #558
(May 1944)
Shipdham, England

Flown as radio operator and gunner on the B-24 Liberator
On Robert Knowles' Crew

"FEARLESS FOSDICK"

#1 - Avord, France - May 23, 1944

Target: A Heinkel IIIK airdrome. (Bomb load: 500 lb. General purpose. ) Altitude: 18,000 ft. Escort: 9th A. A. F. P-47's and P-51's. Takeoff: 04:30

The trip to Avord was to prove quite uneventful as the flak encountered enroute was of a light and scattered nature although over the target, and in particular immediately after bombs away the enemy fire increased and could be termed as accurate. My observations termed the hits on the target as excellent; photographs confirmed it.

The most important part was the trip since being our first, also was chalked up as our baptism of fire which is quite something to "sweat out," due to the conflicting opinions of the stories of veterans as to how a rookie would react to the black bursts from the ground. We landed: 12:30.

#2 Mulen, France - May 24, 1944

Target: An airdrome dispersal (bomb load 24 250-lb. Bombs). Altitude 21,000 feet. Escort: 9th A.A.F. P-47s. Takeoff 05:00.

This mission brought to mind Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities," as on our way to the target, we had flown over both London and Paris. Although I gazed long, all I could see of London was a maze of red buildings over which hung a network of barrage balloons. Paris, lying just off our course was a grey mass of what I fancied to be churches and public buildings; the city had a very distinct outline. We encountered flak past Paris and on the way to the target at intervals of about 45 minutes. We had only fair hits as most of our bombs did the farmer's plowing. As Bob Knowles (our pilot) expressed it: "It was hell to go out and get shot at, then screw of the deal."

#3 Belfort, France, May 25th, 1944.

Target: Marshalling Yards. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 21,000 ft.. Escort: 9th's P-51s and 38s; 8th's P-47s, R.A.F. P51. Takeoff 05:20.

Operations had us up for three straight, this being just ten miles from Switzerland, a fact that always brings a smile as it's good to land there when shot up. Our bomb strike was excellent and it vindicated our miss at Mulen the day before. Flak was accurate past the target, with Tower's plane (on which I had a good buddy in Katz), had two engines out and went over the target alone, dropped their bombs, and roared on a buzz job with 38's aiding them to Switzerland. I picked up a sweet headache as I hadn't known we were told to put on oxygen masks and I kicked over at 18,j000 ft., a painful lesson. The engineer forgot to transfer fuel and #3 and #4 engines cut out and on approach, we bounced like a rubber ball, but Bob skillfully set her down, an off-hand caution to Red made Bob solid with us. Landed: 12:30.

#4 Saarbrucken, Germany, May 27, 1944

Target: Marshalling Yards. Bomb load: 10 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 22,000 ft. Escort: 9th P-47s, P-38s, and P-51s. Takeoff: 08:21.

Our first trip to Germany!

We were to bomb a railroad yard, which controlled the flood of trains to Southern Germany. We registered poor hits on the target. Jerry's guns were concentrated strongly on the bomb run and a number of us found the sun shining through where it never shone before. We had five holes to do as a start. Here, we met our first rocket, which, when it is spent, leaves a twisting vertical trail of smoke in its wake. Landed: 15:34.

#5 Zeitz, Germany, May 28, 1944

Target: Oil refinery. Bomb load: 100 lb. Bombs. Altitude: 21,000 ft. Escort: 9th's P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s. Takeoff 10:40.

This target, D-2 told us at the briefing, was being hit at the request of the Russian government, and we surely pleased them as the hits were excellent and the fires sent smoke and flames heavenward, which made us feel pretty good. The flak was light and inaccurate over the target. I lost my green baseball hat as I opened the bombing doors on the start of the bomb run in trying to retrieve it, I nearly went out myself. I hope the Jerry who got it treats it well. Landed 18:03.

#6 Politz, Germany, May 27, 1944

Target: Oil refinery. Bomb load: 10 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude 22,000 feet. Escort: P-38s, P-47s, P-51s.

Sixth mission in seven days!

Another "request by the Russians." The trip was long and very fatiguing. The heated suit and oxygen really sap your strength on these type of runs. Flak was moderate, but accurate at the target. One hit, scoring on us. We were 14 minutes early upon hitting the oil fields and were promptly attacked by about 50 FW-190s and ME-410s. They came at us level from 11 o'clock and proved their worth as pilots. The 190 seemed to be able to maneuver more and lob its 20 mm at us. The 410, a twin-engined ship can also sneak in. We were plenty relieved when a P51 showed up as a few 410s were making a direct pass on us and they showed us they could really run out. Landed 16:04.

#7 Merlimont Plage, France, June 3, l944

Target: Coastal defenses. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 21,000 ft. Escort: P-38s. Takeoff: 08:23.

Back to combat again after a most enjoyable rest from the air which was had due to the inclemency of the weather. This target was never hit. I don't know what we did get, but it wasn't given in the briefing. The flak was light and behind us. Landed: 13:19.

#8 D-Day, June 6, 1944

Target St. Laurent Sur-Mer, France. Bomb load: 310 20-lb. Frags and 1 oil bomb. Altitude: 16,000 ft. Escort: 35 squadrons of all types. Takeoff 03:11

Well, the time has at least come for the oft-guessed-at invasion of France!

D-Day and what a day! The evening before, at about 8 p.m., word went around the base to get to bed early as we were to fly shortly. This drew great suspicions as we had never before been told to hit the sack despite the fact that we had some early missions. We presumed it was D-Day and were later proven right.

About 9:30 p.m., I checked with the picket post and "Irish" said we'd be up from bed within the half-hour and I hurriedly informed the fellows in my barracks (or hut as the limey's called them). Rus, Red, and Hank were already in the sack, but after a little convincing, I roused them as it's worse to catch a few hours sleep and then have to fly than have none at all. Briefing was set for 11:00 p.m. and chow was to be a snack to be had at operations: a sandwich and coffee were ready for each man. Bicycles were out in abundance as it wasn't fully dark and the stars and moon were out. An extra batch of trucks were put on to insure a prompt start of the briefing at 11:00 p.m.

We were all pretty much assured that it was D-Day by this, but when a Lieutenant Colonel addressed us and uttered three words, "This Is It!", bedlam broke loose and we cheered and clapped for a full five minutes. The excitement took a bit of our wind and we listened eagerly to the route and any information to be had.

We were to take off with radio silence and no flares, our blinker lights from the tail turret would identify us for the formation and assembly. A cable from Doolittle was read, and one from Ike and his staff was given to each man. The D-2 officer briefed us and it summed up to a straight course to the German coastal installations, a path going but one-way and heavy stress given not to go back that way as the strength of the operation was to be so tremendous that "identification" was to be given no consideration coming back over the "one-way route."

We were to fly as deputy lead and Gen. Johnson was to ride in the lead ship. Our fighters and tow planes were painted with white and black zebra stripes for immediate identification in the air war. Our troops were to be but 400 yards off shore when we let loose our eggs.

Our planes had been brought from their dispersals and lined in formation for takeoff at the run-way. The ground crews knew something big was up, but they never asked questions as secrecy is of the utmost importance on a mission. I took a piece of chalk to he plane and put everyone's name I could think of on the one large oil-bomb we carried. It was our first trip with the touchy fragmentation bombs.

We were all out to the planes in plenty of time and the Chaplain who had paid his usual prayer was out there to see us off. The waiting to takeoff was beginning to tell on us as we became a bit uneasy and the usual jolly talk was for the most part absent. The final checks by the operations personnel didn't actually help to ease the tension as they rode their Jeeps through the line of planes and just the silhouette of the vehicle and men could be seen behind the headlights, which were just about flickering. A few mosquitoes that sped overhead took our attention momentarily.

No rocket was fired to start the engine up. Just the word passed along and, as we took our positions in the plane, we expected everything, but kept our opinions to ourselves. As the lead ship took off, I took extra enjoyment from the "A" being flashed by a red blinker in the tail turret, being a radioman I understood well the comforting feeling of communication. We didn't use the interphone much, instead, we "sweated." As we left the English Coast, we were greeted by a thick layer of clouds which made it worse as we were all anxious to see the terrific activity that we were positive must be going on below.

Just before we reached our target, we could see a warship pouring its shells on the continent. That picture was the only one to be seen through the break in the clouds. I went down to he bomb bay at word from the bombardier and waited impatiently to open the doors. The word came and the bombs soon followed, all but two clusters that rebelled to every gadget to drop them. I tried pounding on them (which is very stupid, but I knew little of their delicacy) and they held up yet. Johnny Fein came up and wired the bombs as best he could. This meant we had yet to sweat out the landing. We had dropped our bombs at 06:28, just two minutes before our boys moved in below. We were later accorded excellent hits, which drew the praise of every branch of the service. The flak was light and inaccurate and a few rockets that were fired caused no alarm. We saw no enemy fighters.

The return trip was one of constant interphone chatter and the landing a beautiful one. The ground crew came out and had since heard what the big news was. We were as pelased to see them as they were us.

Sid, our crew chief, led the way, as usual, on his bike. The ground crew armorer looked at the bombs and gave a yell to clear the ship which was done like the proverbial bat. The frags were hanging very dangerously, but with their expert handling, the ground men eliminated the danger. Captain Martin, 67th Operations Officer, came riding out to the plane with Major Felber and a D-2 man. Interrogation was held in the dispersal and we were notified we were up to fly again in a few hours and to rest and eat. We very willingly did this and the second trip found us scrubbed from the roster. The remainder of the day was spent listening to the news reports and wondering when the rain would stop. We weren't bothered again for the rest of the day. Landed 09:30.

#9 Lisieux, France, June 7, 1944

Target: Crossroads. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 19,000 ft. Escort: Area support. Takeoff: a.m.

The excitement of the invasion was, of course, still high and we were out to see the landings as well as bomb our target, which was laden with German reinforcements being rushed to the western front. We hit our target good and had no opposition.

The channel activity was unbelievable with PT boats speeding in and out of the landing positions, warships standing steady, and landing barges forming a bridge to the Coast.

The landings were made in sections along the French Coast. Great fires blazing in Cuen and the ground all along where the beachhead was made was cluttered with hundreds of gliders like so may toys spread about a Christmas tree. We found a hole in the nose turret, but its origination was a mystery. Landed: a.m.

#10 Orleans, France, June 10, 1944

Target: Airdrome, Orians, Bucky. Bomb load: 52 100-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 21,000 ft. Escort: Area support. Takeoff 10:30

Our patience for a complete milk run was awarded today. The cloud covering was complete and we saw no bursts of flak. We received no report as yet on our bomb strike. Landed 16:30.

#11 St. Andre, France, June 12, 1944

Target: Airdrome, Illier L'Eveque. Bomb load: 312 20-lb. Frags. Altitude: 18,000 ft. Escort: Area support. Takeoff: 05:35.

Here we ran into a little difficulty on our approach to the target and had to make two bomb runs. This drew quite a share of complaints when we landed as the flak was very accurate at the target. We picked up a hole in the right stabilizer. Landed: 11:26.

#12 Chateaudun, France, June 14, 1944

Target: Airdrome. Bomb load: 52 100-lb. Altitude: 20,000 feet. Escort: Area support. Takeoff 04:50

The trip was good and our bombs found their mark with the official scoreboard chalking up the this as excellent. Flak was light and fairly accurate. Landed: 10:41.

#13 Luneburg, Germany, June 18, 1944

Target: Airdrome. Bomb load: Fragmentation bombs. Altitude: 24,000 ft. Escort: P-38s. Takeoff 05:48

We crossed the North Sea and had a beautiful escort of P-38s awaiting us and skirting the target area, but when we made our run, we found the contrails layer too thick, a cloud preventing bombing. We circled about while Jerry took shots at us in moderate doses. We left Germany still carrying our bombs and were led right over Heligoland Island where the most beautiful flak shooting that I've seen to date took place. We thought we should have dropped our bombs on the island as there was a very well laid out airfield there, but we didn't and debates over who to blame arose at the interrogation. No definite conclusion was reached. Ward was lead crew. Landed 12:45.

#14 Politz, Germany, June 20, 1944

Target: Oil refinery. Bomb load: 40 100-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 24,000 ft. Escort: P-51s. Takeoff 04:40

This, our second trip to Politz oil refinery was even worse than the last when about 50 planes attacked us. This raid brought out at least 100 of the Luftwaffe's best and they really did a job on us. They attacked with ME-100s, 210s and 410s accounting for several B-24s. Flak was terrific and very accurate. We scored good bomb hits on the oil center. No. 1 engine had a hole and we had a beauty in the right wing which piece I got as a souvenir.

These heavy casualty raids always bring back conflicting stories. Paul Dalmage got it on this raid as I was informed by Al when I visited his field. No one was seen to bail out. All I could think of my radio school buddy, Paul, was he had a Yankee Minor League contract and we played some good ball together. Landed 13:17.

#15 Berlin, Germany, June 21, 1944

Target: Factories at Genshagan. Bomb load: 10 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude 24,000 ft. Escort P-47s, P-38s, P-51s. Takeoff 05:05.

The German capital was in our sights and their 480 guns sent up quite a display, but was inaccurate. We missed the target and bombed some town on the outskirts of Berlin. Attacked by fighters we lost two B-24s. The trip was easier than expected. Landed 13:50.

#16 Magdeburg, Germany, June 29, 1944

Target: Airplane engine factory. Bomb load: 52 100-lb. Incendiaries. Altitude: 21,000 ft. Escort: P38. Takeoff 05:23.

Another deep penetration into Nazi-land and another disappointment as few of us hit the target. Flak was very heavy and accurate accounting for two B-24s. The fact of the better gunners being deep in Germany was assured on this run. Landed: 12:55.

#17 Beaumont Le Rogue, France, July 4, 1944

Target: Airfield. Bomb load: 52 100-lb. General purpose. Altitude: 24,000 ft. Escort: Area support. Takeoff 06:04.

July 4, better known to us as Independence Day, found us on the job again. I celebrated by firing the assembly flares. Our crew had just returned from a two-day pass, which was enjoyed by me immensely having met my folks on this side. The mission was definitely another milk run, with no flak to be seen. We bombed off G.H. V cracked up in Southern England, all of crew bailed out safely. Landed: 10:55.

#18 Kiel, Germany, July 6, 1944

Target: Aeroplane prefabricated parts factory. Bomb load: 6 500-lb. And 6 500-lb. Incendiaries. Altitude: 24,000 ft. Escort: P-51s. Takeoff: 05:56.

A month since D-Day!

This raid, which is usually put on the docks since Kiel is famed as a submarine base, was on a factory of prefabricated parts ready to be assembled as planes. We had 7/10 cloud cover, but plastered the target regardless. Flak was heavy, but inaccurate. Fighters attacked our rear element. The escort of P-51s was excellent and was undoubtedly the reason for the Luftwaffe staying away from us. Landed: 12:21.

#19 Bernburg, Germany, July 7, 1944

Target: Aircraft engines and assembly plant. Bomb load: 52 oil and incendiaries. Altitude: 21,000 ft. Escort: P-51s, P-38s. Takeoff 06:08.

This mission was a bad one for the 68th with Weaver, Wilson and Stienkie going down in the target area. We hit the assigned target well through a field of moderate flak. We were attacked by approximately 100 fighters composed of FW 190s, ME 109s, and 410s, and JU-88s. It was our first view of the JU-88 and we didn't care to see it again. A few hot-dog fights showed the P38 at its best. I watched between Bob and Hal and the view of tail-spinning planes going down is startling. I was amazed at their control. Landed: 12:47.

#20 Munich, Germany, July 11, 1944

Target: Center of the city of Munich, Rein A/2. Bomb load: 6 1,000-lb. General purpose. Altitude: 23,000 ft. Escort: P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s. Takeoff: 0830.

A long run with a pathfinder ship in the lead and a sweeping escort to handle the expected enemy fighter opposition which never showed up. We bombed through 9/10 cloud cover and made excellent hits on the city. The flak was heavy, but not too accurate, being very low. Landed 16:40.

#21 Munich, Germany, July 12, 1944

Target: Center of the city of Munich. Bomb load: 6 500-lb. G.P.s and 4 500-lb. M-17s. Altitude: 23,000 ft. Escort: P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s. Takeoff: 09:21.

The same target as yesterday, the same bomb results. Bombed off P.F.F. through 9/10 cloud cover. Flak again heavy and inaccurate. Landed 18:16.

#22 Saarbrucken, Germany, July 13, 1944

Target: Marshalling yards. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. General purpose. Altitude: 23,000 ft. Escort: P38 and P51. Takeoff: 05:40.

Another P.F.F. bombing on the railroads, our second visit. The clouds were 7/10 and flak was heavy, but inaccurate. We had trouble with #2 engine and in feathering it all generators went out which left us without radio help.

No. 4 engine was throwing oil and smoke steadily and we were all set for a crash landing in the North Sea. It was a long drag back to the base and if it weren't for the fact that we were well up on our missions, we might have toyed quite a bit with the route to Switzerland. We were losing altitude, but not too fast.

We lost the group over the North Sea and made the run-in alone, visibility was poor as our windows kept fogging up but Bob, again, brought us back to the base practically a two-engine run from the target. We registered poor hits. We spoke in our hut of two pilots flying like one. Landed: 11:50.

#23 Saarbrucken, Germany, July 16, 1944

Target: Marshalling yards. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. General purpose. Altitude: 22,000 ft. Escort: P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s. Takeoff: 05:45.

Third trip to Saarbrucken!

It was the first time we didn't have our own ship. This time we used I 189 and got a new navigator, Lt. Rommel-Langer, a swell guy. We bombed off P.F.F. through 6/10 cloud cover. The flak was moderate and fairly accurate. We had good hits on the yards. Landed: 12:15.

#24 Caen, France. July 18, 1944

Target: Opportunity - target. Bomb load: 40 frats. Altitude: 16,000 ft. Escort: Spitfire. Takeoff: 0556.

"049 O Fearless Fosdick." This mission went away as far as the original target was concerned. We were to bomb Caen at the request of the Limie who were stalemated there. A target of opportunity was picked out and excellent results were had. The flak was light and inaccurate. We were back with "Fearless Fosdick," once again and were glad to be as we knew how she acted well. We didn't see any escort about. Landed: 09:37.

#25 Koblanz, Germany, July 19, 1944

Target: Marshalling Yards. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. bombs. Altitude: 23,500 ft. Escort: P-47s. Takeoff 05:25.

Back to Germany and the marshaling yards!

We had a fine P47 escort, but encountered no fighters. Flak was moderate, but inaccurate. We recorded excellent hits. Landed: 11:10.

#26, Erfurt, Germany, July 20, 1944

Target: 154 assembly plant. Bomb load: 12 500-lb. Bombs. Altitude: 21,000 ft. Escort: P-38s, P-47s, P-41s. Takeoff: 07:27.

This assembly plant was literally blown to bits and the fires we left blazing gave strong evidence that there wouldn't be much left of the plant when the first subsided. The flak was wild, but never near us. Landed: 14:30.

#27, Munich, Germany, July 21, 1944

Target: Oberpfaffhofen airfield. Bomb load: 52 oil and incendiaries. Altitude: 25,000 ft. Escort: P-47s and P-51s. Takeoff: 06:09.

Our assigned target was as rough to come back from as it is to pronounce. All was quiet until the bomb run when we were attacked by ten FW-190s and ME-109s, along with this Jerry sent up the most intense and accurate field of flak yet met by us. The pounding of each brush rocked our ship about like a toy. Why we didn't fall apart, I'll never know. A flak suit was a laugh up there. I watched an ME-109 try to attack the element in front of us, but Rus' nose guns threw a hosing of lead in him and he never had a chance to bail out as two P-51s followed his death plunge.

Hank and Schiff claimed enemy fighters. Hank getting his while he stunted far out and Schiff on a pass. My oxygen hose connection broke and I went out from lack of oxygen. Bob found me on the flight deck and along with Johnny Fenn, brought me to. Very close call and we should have gone down. Door hits. Landed: 13:40.

#28, St. Lo, France, July 24, 1944

Target: Troop concentrations on outskirts. Bomb load: 52 100-lb. General purpose. Altitude: 15,000 ft. Escort: P-47s and P-51s. Takeoff: 09:36

We were called in by the American forces at St. Lo that were but 1,500 yards from our target, German troops. This gave us a small area in which to let our bombs go and we were really praying that we'd hit our mark. Clouds covered the target area and due to the American troops below, we held our missiles and returned home. The flak was very light and fairly accurate. We knew we'd be back. Landed: 14:10.

#29, St. Lo, France, July 25, 1944

Target: Troop concentrations on outskirts. Bomb load: 52 100-lb. General purpose. Altitude: 12,000 ft. Escort: P-47s, and P-38s. Takeoff: 06:41.

A repeat mission and the same setup existed, save that Jerry was expecting us and gave us a heavy and accurate belt of flak claiming a number of our bombers. Our troops fired red smoke bombs as a guide for us and save for a few misguided bombs, we did a terrific job on the German concentrations. St. Lo fell shortly after.

All Normandy seemed to be covered with Red Cross emblems and our men were already making fine progress on readying fighter strips as we pushed the Nazi's back. The channel was still bridged with our ships from which each sent up a barrage ball on. When we landed, the reports of our work made us really feel swell. Landed: 12:00.

#30, Bremen, Germany, July 29, 1944

Target: Synthetic oil refinery. Bomb load: 250s and M-17s. Altitude: 23,000 ft. Escort: P-47s and P-51s. Takeoff: 0625.

This, Bremen, was to be our last mission, but at the time of the operation, we were figuring on five more runs. En route, Green and Eberhart collided over the North Sea and out of the fellows who bailed out only one made land. Flak was heavy and accurate at the target. One lot of flak disappeared as we were flying into it. We made excellent hits on the target. Previous to this mission, we were scrubbed on two runs to he Coast, one to Munich, one to Chateaudun and another to Raven. It was good we didn't know it was to complete our tour of combat.

We were interrogated and went to the sack when about 16:30, Bob Knowles came in to tell us General Johnson and Col. Gibons had released us from flying as we had flown 30 missions in 66 days without an abortion. I couldn't believe it until the rest of the crew persisted in the story. Then we decided to celebrate at the pub. Evening came and we thought it best not to ride our bikes down as we could foresee a staggering return. We each drank ten glasses of ale, which is equivalent to five quarts! We were, of course, feeling happy and we heard later that the MP's had a job getting us out at closing time. Deo Gratias! Landed:

Ground crew: Sid Collbay, S/Sgt. Fitch Cpl.

Countries visited: U.S., Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands.

Humorous Recollections:

I think the biggest both I ever pulled was during World War II at Reynolds Spring Co., I screwed up a trailing edge wing section of the B-24 bomber. I have always had the guilty feeling about prolonging the war. When I went into that department, nobody seemed to know what they were doing. After sizing up the situation, things were so bad down there I had a feeling that Hitler was putting a hex on us. One of the guys who had whiskers in that department (he had been there a whole week) said to me out of the side of his mouth, "Hey, Buddy, if you make a big screw-up, walk off and leave it. And then when the government inspector comes around and a crowd begins to gather about your "boo-boo," you step up from behind and stick your head in and say "Who in H____ done that?"





MICHAEL A POWERS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter forwarded to Will Lundy)

205 Charles Ave.
Massapequa Park, NY 11762

21 January 1987

Dear Hal:

I have only recently re-read the missions and the mind plays its usual tricks and rolls us back to fields we traveled. I can see so vividly our movements and conversations and I find we had a pretty darn good crew. The lead crew status we enjoyed kept us on our toes militarily, but I think it also provided a reason for the firmer grasp on a tight-knit crew that we surely felt. Some unbottled insurance of a knowledge of security in each crew member to operate within their own competence and as a crew.

Thank you so much for the crew picture. I may be in error and the more I think on it, I doubt it more. I think that the interview had Major Felber in the picture or would you recognize him in the photo? I know that S-2 came for dispersal interviews. I find some very good perceptions of what we were up against and its affect on what would follow in our lives. The mission readings are necessarily terse and bomb loads and escort and locations jump off the page and run us back again and again.

Take care and keep in touch. It's appreciated very much here.

All the best,

Mike Powers


**********************************************


D-DAY


June 6, 1944
Target: St. Laureut Sur-Mer
Bomb load: 310 20-lb. Frags and 1 oil bomb
Altitude: 16,000 feet
Escort: 35 squadrons of all types
Takeoff: 0311

[Taken from the diary of
Mike Powers, Radio Operator
Received March 10, 1987]

Well, the time has at last come for the oft-guessed-at invasion of France. D-Day and what a day! The evening before at about 8:00 p.m. word went around the base to get to bed early as we were to fly shortly. This drew great suspicions as we had never before been told to hit the sack despite the fact that we had some early missions. We presumed it was D-Day and were later proved right.

About 9:30 p.m. I checked with the picket post and “Irish” said we’d be up from bed within the half-hour and I hurriedly informed the fellows in my barracks (or hut as the limeys called them). Russ, Red and Hank were already in the sack, but after a little convincing, I roused them as it’s worse to catch a few hours sleep and then have to fly than have none at all. Briefing was set for 11:00 p.m. and chow was to be a snack to be had at operations, a sandwich and coffee were ready for each man. Bicycles were out in abundance as it wasn’t fully dark and the stars and moon were out. An extra batch of trucks were put on to insure a prompt start of the briefing at 11:00 p.m.

We were all pretty much assured that it was D-Day by this, but when a lieutenant colonel addressed us and uttered three words, “This is it!” bedlam broke loose and we cheered and clapped for a full five minutes. The excitement took a bit of our wind and we listened eagerly for the route and any information to be had. We were to take off with radio silence and no flares, our blinker lights from the tail turret would identify us for the formation and assembly. A cable from Doolittle was read, and one from Ike and his staff was given to each man. The D-2 officer briefed us and it summed up to a straight course to the German coastal installation, a path going but one way and heavy stress given not to go back that way as the strength of the operation was to be so tremendous that “identification” was to be given no consideration coming back over the “one-way route.”


We were to fly as deputy lead and Gen. Johnson was to side in the lead ship. Our fighters and tow-planes were painted with white and black zebra stripes for immediate identification in the air war. Our troops were to be but 400 yards offshore when we let loose our eggs. Our planes had been brought from their dispersals and lined in formation for take-off at the run-way. The ground crews knew something big was up but they never asked questions as secrecy is of the utmost importance on a mission. I took a piece of chalk to the plane and put everyone’s name I could think of on the one large oil-bomb we carried. It was our first trip with the touchy fragmentation bombs.

We were all out to the planes in plenty of time and the chaplain who had said his usual prayer was out there to see us off. The waiting to take off was beginning to tell on us as we became a bit uneasy and the usual jolly talk was, for the most part, absent. The final checks by the operations personnel didn’t actually help to ease the tension as they rode their Jeeps through the line of planes and just the silhouette of the vehicle and men could be seen behind the headlights which were just about flickering. A few mosquitoes that sped overhead took our attention momentarily.

No rocket was fired to start the engines up, just the word passed along, and as we took our positions in the plane, we expected everything but kept our opinions to ourselves. As the lead-ship took off, I took extra enjoyment from the “A” being flashed by a red blinker in the tail turret, being a radioman, I understood well the comforting feeling of communication. We didn’t use the interphone much, instead, we “sweated.” As we left the English Coast, we were greeted by a thick layer of clouds which made it worse as we were all anxious to see the terrific activity that we were positive must be going on below.

Just before we reached our target, we could see a warship pouring its shells on the continent. That picture was the only one to be seen through the break in the clouds. I went down to the bomb bay at word from the bombardier and waited impatiently to open the doors. The word came and the bombs soon followed, all but two clusters that rebelled to every gadget to drop them. I tried pounding on them (which is very stupid, but I knew little of their delicacy) and they held up yet.

Johnny Fenn came up and wired the bombs as best he could. This meant we had yet to sweat out the landing. We had dropped our bombs at 0628, just two minutes before our boys moved in below. We were later accorded excellent hits which drew the praise of every branch of the service. The flak was light and inaccurate and a few rockets that were fired caused no alarm. We saw no enemy fighters.

The return trip was one of constant interphone chatter and the landing a beautiful one. The ground crew came out and had since heard what the big news was. We were as pleased to see them as they were us. Sid, our crew chief, led the way as usual on his bike. The ground crew armorer looked at the bombs and gave a yell to clear the ship which was done like the proverbial bat. The frags were hanging very dangerously, but with their expert handling, the groundsmen eliminated the danger.

Captain Martin, 67th Operations Officer, came riding out to the plane with Maj. Felber and a D-2 man. Interrogation was held in the dispersal and we were notified we were up to fly again in a few hours and to rest and eat. We very willingly did this and the second trip found us scrubbed from the roster. The remainder of the day was spent listening to the news reports and wondering when the rain would stop. We weren’t bothered again for the rest of the day.
We landed at 0930.
 
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Last modified: 01/26/14