DONALD E. STROH|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
Thank you for your last letter. I now know more than when I was there. After reading it all, it sounds like I may have January 31 at Hallendoy and the April 2nd to Denmark mixed up. I don't know where I got Malis. It doesn't sound logical as you point out. Maybe someone said we were in Wales that didn't know anymore than I did. But what bothers me is I have thought this all these years.
The only other time I remember landing at a base in England was when we had a broken hydraulic line in the bomb bay as we turned on the I.P. What town, I don't know.
The nose gunner was trapped in the turret and the bomb bay door would not open, so we dropped the bomb through the doors. They all came off except one near the door which hung up on one corner and was on the side for about ten minutes before it came off.
We didn't think we would have flaps or brakes so we landed at a large English base with long runways and I don't think that would have been Wales. You probably know about it. Everyone who had that kind of trouble landed there.
We didn't fly much after February 25th because the pilot was given a choice of flying or going to a rest home for a week. He picked the rest home without any protest from us. When we started flying, we always had to pick up three spares to fill in for the guys who were hurt.
The man Podijil you speak of, I did not know, but being lost over Stuttgart sounds a lot like one I know about. But I come up with a Lt. Blumberg. Could this be the same one? He lost two engines over the target and I heard he was shot down by fighters, and was calling for fighter help the last they heard from him.
When you get your shipment of "44th Libs over Europe," hold one for me and I will send you a check as soon as I hear. I am going to send a copy of your letter to the rest of the crew and tell them to write to you if they want a copy.
I have been trying to get the navigator (Thomas) and copilot (Meyers) to write to you. They would know more details than I would. I have written each of them three letters, but no response. But have received two phone calls, both from the guys in Chicago. I talked to Thomas, the navigator, Saturday, and I think he is going to write you. When I write him this week, I will ask him about Denmark. He should know. [Recall 2 April].
It makes me feel good to know old U+ made it all the way. I don't know if she was the one we tore the doors off.
My wife thinks I have gone off my rocker because I haven't written this many letters all together in 40 years. I hope you will forgive my poor writing and poor spelling.
It sounds like we are going to have our crew reunion on September 12, 13, and 14. I asked in my letters if they wanted to have it the same week as the 44th in Colorado Springs. They seem to want to keep it as we have the last two years.
I got a letter from my friend Bruce, for whom you gave me the address for. He sounds interested in Colorado Springs so maybe I will go if he comes. If not, I may go down for a day. Would that be possible?
It was good to hear from you and thanks for the address of Bruce Tyndall. I am going to write to him right after I finish this letter.
The plane we flew most was U+. It was an old painted job. The T+ you write about sounds familiar but the date would be wrong unless they would replace a T+ lost in February with another T+. Did they do that? I suppose they would or else they would run out of numbers.
I have made copies of both of your letters and have sent them to all of our crew to write to you and give you any information they may remember. I hope you are swamped with letters from them.
If there are any books that you can find on 44th Liberators over Europe, I would like to buy one. If there are a lot, I guess it wouldn't be a bad gift to them for our reunion. I asked our crew if they wanted to be a part of the 44th Reunion, at Colorado Springs and will see if they like the idea.
The 5th of April that you wrote about does not sound at all like the trip to Hallendorf I think the whole 2nd or the whole 8th went that day. I don't think anyone got back to base that day because the sky was full of planes in wholes trying desperately to find a field. The fighter field we landed at said they could hold about eight and about 20 came in. There would have been more but we got stuck on the perimeter track and they couldn't land any more planes and everyone brought back bombs except the smart ones who dropped, by saying they had a problem. We did not get credit for that one as I suppose it wasn't even written up.
I know no one flew for about three days because it took that long to get everyone back. And I don't remember the date. Maybe some of the guys will come up with something.
If you look up February 25, 1945, the target, I think, was Aschefensburg, but maybe that will say something abut lost planes.
I will close for now, as it is now 5:30 a.m.; and started this at 4:30, most of time drinking coffee and trying to remember. It is becoming and slower and slower. Will write as soon as I get any more information.
Dear Mr. Lundy:
I was delighted to get your letter. It seems you know more details about our crew in some instances than I do.
I had forgotten a lot until 1984 when six of the seven crewmembers who are alive had a reunion in Chicago and we had such a good time. We did it again in 1985 in Baltimore, MD. This year, we are going to have it here in Denver, so I will make a copy of your letter and send it to each member and see if they would like to join it with the 44th date.
Jim Derrick died several years ago so that is why he is not mentioned in my list. Also, our engineer died about four years ago. I have lost track of their wives but I think Jim's wife still lives around Jacksboro and Clarence Brown's wife lives in Buffalo, New York.
The April 5th date I think was to Denmark and we could not bomb unless it was visual and everyone brought bombs back. It was fogged in at all of our bases and we landed at a fighter field in Wales and lost a lot of planes which ran out of gas. I don't think the 8th wanted all of that to be known so that may be why they have listed it that way.
The A-93, I think, was in Luxembourg. Why we landed, I don't remember. I will ask about that.
We bailed out over Chareroi, Belgium on February 25, 1945. Most of us landed in the town. The radio operator and engineer received broken legs and copilot Meyers had a broken back but which seems to be pretty good now.
The engineer, Clarence Brown, and copilot Meyers never returned to our crew. Harry Brown, radio operator, came back for our last mission which is shown in the slot position and last picture of the book.
I was always under the impression that we ran out of gas looking for a field at Chareroi in the fog to set down in, but the copilot and navigator told me at our last reunion we had been hit and were losing gas out of one engine and they were transferring gas to the other three, but you know how these stories get bigger and bigger, so I'm not sure. I guess I should ask the ones who were hurt where their Purple Hearts are?
Robert Antony who lives in Baltimore has a list of our missions and I have asked him for a copy.
I don't see how the record would show eight of us at Shipdham because there were nine unless having two Browns on the crew may have messed things up.
Do you have any information on a Bruce Tyndall from Orlando, Florida? I don't know the crew's pilot's name. He was in the 67th and we wrote for years, but have lost contact with him.
If there is any information you can send me about the 44th, I would appreciate it very much. Pete sent me the names of a couple of books and I am going to look into that.
Thanks for writing.
James V. Derrick Pilot
Joe Meyers Copilot
Roger Thomas Navigator
Harry Brown Radio
Clarence Brown Engineer
Donald Stroh Waist Gunner
Starr Horton Waist Gunner
Robert Andres Tail Gunner
Robert Antony Nose Gunner
I have just recently found out about the 2nd Air Division. I was a crewmember on a B-24 at the 44th Bomb Group.
We, as a crew, had our first reunion in Chicago in 1984 and our second in Baltimore in 1985.
This year we are all coming to Denver for our third. We had such a good time on our first one that we are going on each year as long as we can.
I heard of the association from Sid Cullington in Norwich. I have been writing to him to get information and pictures of Shipdham as it is today.
If you can send me any information or pictures of the 2nd Air Division or the 44th in pictorial, I would be very grateful. You may know of a book or information that I may collect for our third reunion.
Donald E. Stroh - 66th
1324 So. Poplar
Denver, Colorado 80224
DONALD E. STROH
World War II
and Combat Diary
Mission 1 - January 7, 1945 - 42-110030 U+
AC 42-110030 U+. City of Landau, Germany. Target railroad bridge. Bomb load was 20 250-lb. G.P. bombs + two M-17 Incendiary bombs. Bomb altitude 22,500 feet. Takeoff 0900; land 1525. Flew high right, had engine go out two minutes before bombs away. No flak or fighters. Temp. over target 38 degrees below.
Mission 2 - January 13, 1945 - 42-110030 U+
City of Gilsenkirch, Germany marshaling yards. Twelve 500-lb. G.P. Bombing altitude 22,000 feet. Takeoff 10:00 a.m.; landed 5:45. Flew high right tail end Charlie. Some flak not too bad. Temp. at altitude was 48 degrees below. Landed in very bad overcast.
Mission 3 - January 29, 1945 - U+ 030
City of Hamm, Germany. Target marshaling yards. Bomb load was six 1,000 lb. G.P.s. Bombing altitude 22,000 feet. Takeoff 08:30 a.m.; landed 2:45 p.m. Flew high right tail end Charlie. Moderate flak, one piece in nose turret. Temp was 44 degrees below. Saw fighters hit different group. Also got frostbite on cheeks. Good landing "Hoppie Eng."
Mission 4 - January 31, 1945 - U+
City of Berlin target. Ten 500-lb. G.P.s. Takeoff 8:00 a.m.; landed 4:00 p.m. Turned back 20 minutes from target. Mission Snafu landed at English Spitfire Field. Came back with different crew in D. Got credit for mission. Landed with full bomb load. Didn't like that "Hoppie Eng."
Mission 5 - February 6, 1945 - U+ 030
City of Magdeburg, Germany. Target marshaling yards. Bomb load was ten 500-lb. G.P.s. Bombing altitude 22,500 feet. Takeoff was 7:54 a.m.; landed 2:48. Flew in lead squadron. Flak was inaccurate. Temperature 40 degrees below. Saw B24 blow up by Zyderrsea. No fighter interception. Flak was moderate. Secondary target was supposed to be Berlin.
Mission 6 - February 9, 1945 - U+ 030
City of Magdeburg, Germany. Target, marshaling yards. Bomb load was five 1,000-lb. G.P.s. Bombing altitude was 22,000 ft. Takeoff 0800 a.m.; landed 3:25 p.m. Flew in low squadron. Flak was inaccurate and moderate. Temperature 40 degrees below. Landed at English base. Had hydraulic lines out and no brakes. Froze fingers today, not too bad. Came back in different ship.
Mission 7 - February 21 1945 - U+ 030
City of Nuremberg, Germany; target was marshaling yards. Bomb load was ten 500-lb. G.P.s. Bombing altitude was 23,000 feet. Takeoff was 0745 a.m.; landed 3:45 p.m. Flew in low squadron. Hardly any flak at target. Caught plenty of flak at bomb line. Temperature was 35 degrees below. Berlin was the target for A plan; we will get there yet. Landed at English base for gas.
Mission 8 - February 25, 1945 - 51258J+
City of Aschuffenburg, Germany. Target: marshaling yards. Twelve 250's; four 500-lb. incendiary. Bombed from 21,500 feet visual. Takeoff 6:50 a.m. Bailed out at 1:40 p.m. No flak. No fighters. Ran out of gas and bailed out at 3,200 ft. I landed by a farmhouse. Hit a pasture. Myers got a fractured spine. H. Brown and C. Brown got broken ankles. I got a sprained ankle and was taken in by Belgian people. Had two shots. Three eggs and ½ a cherry pie. Was kissed by 15 gals. When I left, rounded everyone up. Stayed at Charlimane, Belgium Hospital. Next day went to Brussels; went to town that night. Next day went to Antwerp and came back with a different crew in a B24.
Mission 9 - March 19, 1945 - H+ 329 Fifinella
City of Nuremberg, Germany. Target: jet plane factory. Ten 500-lb. G.P.s; 20,000 ft. bombing altitude. Visual. Hit the target. Takeoff 9:45 a.m.; landed 7:45 p.m. No flak or fighters. Rotten weather. Instrument let down. Dobowsky-copilot Saidas eng., Pisarski radio/op. Carpit blinker also pretty warm formed over France
Mission 10 - March 22, 1945
Airfield near Halle, Germany. Logged four hours 25 min. Bomb load was 52 100-lb. frag. Bombs. 20,000 ft. bombing altitude, visual. No fighters or flak. Saw about 15 bursts off behind us. Saw bombs hit. Was a very short and soft mission. Dobowsky copilot/eng. Sallis as on last mission. Pisarski radio operator, same as last.
Mission 11 - March 30, 1945 - 329 H+
Target: Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Sub. Pens. Takeoff 10:10 a.m.; landed 1610 p.m. ten 500-lb. G.P.s. Was briefed for intense flak, but only ran into moderate flak. No fighters encountered. Crocket, copilot, eng. Sallis, radio, Pisarski. Wasn't too bad.
Mission 12 - April 8, 1945 - 761 F+ (Kingpin)
City of Bayreuth, Germany. Target oil storage plant. Takeoff 5:35 a.m. Landed 1454 p.m. No flak or fighters. Bomb load 11 500-lb. G.P.s. Target was visual. New copilot Stepka. Same eng and radio as last mission.
Mission 13 - April 9, 1945 - H+ 329 (Fifinella)
City of Leiphein, Germany. Target airfield outside of city. Bomb load was 18 250-lb. G.P.s. No flak or fighters encountered. Takeoff 11:50; landed 2000. Same crew as last time.
Mission 14 - April 15, 1945 -- F+ 50761 Kingpin
Target was Royan, France, near Bordeaux. Target was flak guns. Bomb load was 8 napalm bombs. Bombed from 15,000 ft. Flak was meager. No fighters. I flew waist. No guns aboard. Takeoff 5:55; landed 1404.
Mission 15 - April 18, 1945 - T+ 50480 (B.T.O.)
City of Passau, Chec. Took off 9:10 a.m. Landed 1820. Bomb load 18 250-lb. G.P.s. No flak or fighters. Weather kinda bad on takeoff. Copilot Stepka. Had a smoke marker explode on the nose and pilot's windows. We flew slot.
Mission 16 - April 25, 1945 - H+ 95329
City of Hallein, Austria. Flew the slot again. Howard as copilot. Brown as RAD/OP again. Seen quite a bit of flak. Also got low on gas and landed in Belgium. We also had bandit in the area. Didn't see any though. Take off 0600 a.m.; landed at 1800 p.m.