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Legacy Of:

James  F.  Wright

 

Personal Legacy
LT. JAMES F. WRIGHT
68 Squadron, 44th Bomb Group
WW II

Mission 1 -- 5 Nov 1944
Target: Fortifications in the area of Metz

We took off at 0710 with a load of 4 x 2000 lb.; fuses of 1/10 and 1/10. The primary target was obscured by clouds. Our ground forces were withdrawn four miles from the fortifications, so the main group of planes went on to the secondary target, which they bombed with PFF. Our squadron bombed the opportunity target of railroads at Landau, Germany.

Our bombing was at 22,000 ft. on a heading of 330, bombs away at 1145 without difficulty. Hits were photographed.

No enemy planes were seen by the crew. There was light flak near us at the target and some on the way home.

Right waist gunner's oxygen mask froze on the bomb run. He was revived by the left waist gunner and tail gunner.

Our field was weathered in when we returned and we landed at Beccles return to our base later at night (1837).

Mission 2 - 8 November 1944
Target: Railroad yards at Rhine, Germany

Eleven crews in the group were briefed at 0430; takeoff 0810. The weather was poor over England and temperature very low. After a long assembly period, ten crews formed and started over the channel. The group was separated in the fog and circled back. With one other plane we crossed the North Sea and overtook the rest of the group as they entered Holland. We hit initial point and target after crossing the Zuider Zee and returned to he base.

Medium flak was anticipated but not seen. No fighters were encountered, but the contrail of a jet propelled enemy fighter was seen as we started back. (ME163). We passed over the Zee north of Amsterdam.

The bomb load was 12 X 500 lb.; dropped from 21,000'.

Scrub 1 - 14 November 1944
Target: R.R. Viaduct near Altenbekern

Loaded with 8 x 1000 lb. G.P.s. We were briefed and prepared to take off at 0920, but the mission was scrubbed.

Scrub 2 - 16 November 1944
Target: Ground positions east of Aachen.

We carried 32 x 260 frag. Bombs. Were briefed and prepared for takeoff at 0810. Weather closed in around the field and we were scrubbed. 1200 planes from other divisions hit the target.

Scrub 3 - 23 November 1944
Target: Synthetic gasoline plant 3 miles north of Duisburg, Germany.

Takeoff was set at 1145 with a load of 24 x 250 GPs. We were to hit a petroleum coke plant north of Duisburg or, as a secondary target, the marshalling yards in Duisburg. Intense flak was anticipated at the target in the west end of the Rhur. We were at the planes and ready to go when a stand down was called.

Mission 3 - 25 November 1944
Target: Railroad marshalling yards at Bingen, Germany.

We were briefed for the mission at 0600. The primary target was the railroad yards at Bingen, Germany; and the secondary target, the railroad yards at Kaiserslautern. We carried 12 x 500 GPs set at 1/10 and 1/10, and had carpet blinker equipment.

We formed in south England and crossed the Channel over clouds. Since we did not locate our group, we flew with the 445th which lead the 2BD.

In the vicinity of Luxembourg and shortly before the I.P. or V-2 was sighted and it was launched several miles off to the NE. We bombed the primary target through clouds with GH. An opening in the clouds disclosed that the target was hit well.

We turned to left and withdrew without seeing enemy fighters or flak near the target. The bombs were away at 1214 . Shortly after, we found ourselves off course and over Koblenz and immediately surrounded by heavy flak. We took evasive action and altered altitude. Visibility to the ground was about 50% and the batteries were very accurate in tracking and attitude. A few small holes in the right wing and copilot's window resulted.

We arrived back at our base shortly after 1500 to find it raining and visibility very poor. We were the first of our group to return.

Mission 4 - 30 November 1944
Target: R.R. marshalling yards at Neunkirchen, Germany.

Briefing was at 0500. We carried 44 x 100 GPs and two M-17 incendiary clusters. Takeoff was set at 0720; later changed to 0820.

Visibility over England was quite good and we assembled without difficulty. We departed England, crossed the Channel; then crossed France. Approaching the I.P. we saw the Alps towering above the clouds on our right. By the time we hit the I.P., the undercast was 10/10 at 15000/17000. Four groups of P-41s met us at the I.P. on schedule and flew top cover over the target.

The flak was expected to be moderate. It was light, but 155 mm caliber. About one minute before "bombs away," a burst made a direct hit on a plane directly in front above and above us in the high squadron. It burst into flame and exploded immediately. There were no survivors. The right wing plane in that element was also hit and #3 engine burning. He broke away to the right, in a dive, and put out the fire. He continued fling near the ground with #3 and #4 engines smoking. A man bailed out. Pieces of the first plane hit the cowling of our #2 engine as I released my bombs. As we left the target, two more planes exploded behind us.

Bombing was done by G.H. Results considered good. We landed at about half past three.

Mission 5 -- 4 December 1944
Target: R.R. marshalling yards at Bebra, Germany.

We were briefed this morning for another attack on German transportation liens; this one being well into the heart of the Reich. We got off at about 0900 after takeoff had been moved back an hour.

After assembly, we left the north end of East Anglia and headed south down the Channel. We flew across France and managed to nick the edge of Koblenz on the way into Germany and it threw up its usual bursts of intense welcome. We changed our heading several times going generally northeast. Flak was thrown up at various places along the route. It was good to see our fighter with us during all this time. They were with us in quantity even to the point of penetration. The blue-nosed and yellow-nosed mustangs carried wing tanks.

We did not drop our bombs after reaching the primary target and turned back toward the secondary. The undercut was 10/10 in this area. Limsurg, an opportunity target, was selected, and its railroad yards bombed.

We then were met by some P-38s and started the long trip home. There was a returning head wind and our ground speed was low. We got back to our base at about 5 p.m. The bomb load was 10 x 500 GPs and two M-17s incendiary clusters.
Mission 6 -- 12 December 1944
Target: R.R. marshaling yards at Aschaffenburg.

Briefing for the mission was at 0600 hours and takeoff at 0900. The 44th B.G. composed the entire 14th wing and lead the second task force.

We took off on schedule with a load of 44 x 100 GPs and two M17 incendiary clusters. After assembly, we proceeded on a straight course across Belgium and into Germany. We took several changes in course to avoid light flak. There was 10/10 undercast until we reached Germany where it began to thin. Over the enemy country, the ground was largely visible. Approaching the target on a 210 heading, we dropped our bombs at 1214.

Snow covered the ground in the area and as we flew toward Aschaffenburg from the I.P., a large fire and clouds of black smoke could be seen in the railroad yards at Hanau on our right. Other squadrons also hit Darmstadt and the railroad yards there were burning furiously as we turned to the east to rally. Passing north of Hanau on our return, the black clouds of smoke were almost at our altitude (21,000').

We joined other Liberator units on the return trip, but saw no fortresses. There were no enemy fighters in our vicinity all day, and not many of our own.

Off on the horizon we saw a V2 go up, leaving a long, white, almost perpendicular, contrail. The temperature was -35C. and caused a little discomfort. The tail gunner's oxygen mask froze at the top of the hose. The R. waist gunner gave him another mask and he was okay. Later, he became sick from anaphixia. Later, my own oxygen hose became disconnected at the top of the regular and things began looking black. I called Tommy, who opened the nose turret and put me on another line. I repaired the regular and stayed in the nose turret.

The field was hazed over when we returned and landed at 1535.

Scrub 4 - 15 December 1944
Target: Tank works in Kassel, Germany

We were briefed to hit this largest remaining tank plant of Germany. Hit before, it is still going 25%. The secondary target was the center of the marshalling yards at Kassel. Our load was 10 x 500 GPs and 2 x M17s. We were at the plane prepared to taxi when we were scrubbed.

Part of the first division did complete the mission and hit the target.

Recall 1 - 18 December 1944
Target: Railroad and road junction near Kyllburg, Germany.

This was a ground support mission to cut off supplies from the Germans in an area of intense fighting. The target was only 17 miles behind the battle line. The secondary target was the railroad marshaling yards at Koblenz, Germany.

We assembled over England and left the coast of East Anglia. We flew down the North Sea and crossed the Coast of Belgium slightly north of the briefed point (Ostende). We had to keep climbing to stay above the tops of the clouds, which were up to 24,000' at this point. Dense, persistent, contrail began to form. The contrails of the preceding planes made visibility poor. As we passed Bruges, Belgium we received the radio recall signal and the entire division swung in a huge right turn and headed back toward England. We descended as we crossed the Channel and when we reached the land we were at 10,000'. I replaced the pins in the nose and tail fuses of our 12 x 500 lb. GPs and we brought them back to the base and landed.

Mission 7 - 24 December 1944
Target: German supply lines (railroad tunnel near Bremm, in the Trier area).

When I was awakened this morning at 0345, the moon and stars were shining brightly and the sky was crystal clear. A very rare occurrence in England at this season of the year. For four consecutive days we had been grounded and for five days I had not been off the ground. The entire success of the German's great counterattack can be attributed to these few days of bad weather which shackled the might of the Allied air power.

Today, however, it was a different story and a day the Germans will long remember. The 8th AAF put forth a maximum max effort and enemy combat-fettered heavy bomber that the Americans have in Britain took to the air. Of all the available crews in the 68th Squadron, only one did not fly, for lack of an airplane the situation was the same with the other three squadrons on the field. The 44th Group led the 14th Wing which led the Second Division into Germany. This division , alone, accounted for excellent results on fourteen targets in the Trier area.

We were briefed at 0500, and told in detail the entire day's operations of the 8th. We took off with 6 x 1000 lbs. and assembled per schedule. We departed England at 11,000' with airplanes in a line almost to he limit of vision, behind us.

The target of our group of three squadrons was a railroad tunnel at a sharp bend in the Mosel River near Bremm. We flew directly over Brussels, then south along the battle line through France and Luxembourg and passed north of the city of Luxemburg, past Trier.

The weather and visibility remained excellent the entire mission and we made each control point right on time up until the I.P. Shortly after we turned on the I.P. for a long visual bomb run, we encountered accurate flak, moderate in some places, light in others. It was generally heavy caliber. We started extensive evasive action to avoid the flak and in that way reached the target 20 minutes late. I placed bombs away at 1441 and saw direct hits on the tunnel with many explosions and hits on the railroad. The ground in this area was covered with a heavy layer of snow and long clouds of black smoke covered the earth where targets had been hit.

We saw several jet-propelled aircraft at high altitudes and fighters taking off from the ground, none of which opposed us. Most of the planes were damaged by flak, some losing engines, and a few men were injured, but all passed over the target and all returned to the base. We lost no planes in the group;.

Col. Snavely, C.O. of the 44th, tonight congratulated us on the success of the day, which he termed the greatest since D-Day.

As we left the interrogation room this evening, it was already dark, again.

Mission 8 - 31 December 1944
Target: Railroad bridge near Neuwied, Germany.

This mission, I guess, could be termed a "milk run."

The primary target was a railroad bridge over the Wied River near Neuwied and the secondary, the north railroad yards at Koblenz. The bridge was to be bombed either visually or GH. PFF would be used to hit the secondary target.

We took off at 0740 with 6 x 1000 lb. GPs, from an ice-covered runway. It was raining and freezing as it hit the ground. It was still dark as we took to the air.

After assembly, we crossed Belgium to our I.P. at St. Vith. There, we received the I.P. code for GH bombing "Duck Bill." There was an undercast of 9/10 and the ground was snow covered. We were three minutes late at this point. As we started on the run, "bandits" were reported in the area. Our fighter support was very limited and consisted of about twenty-four P-41s.

We encountered no flak on the bomb run, but as we passed about eight miles north of Koblenz, they shot some smoke markers up through the clouds in an attempt to coax us into that black iron coffin. We circled wide of the place, however, after bombing. Then, as we headed in a northerly direction, withdrawing, we ran into some light flak. We took evasive action and were soon out of it.

The trip home was uneventful, but slow due to a head wind.

Mission 9 - 1 January 1945
Target: Koblenz, Germany.

The primary target for this mission was the railroad bridge connecting the north and south railroad marshalling yards in Koblenz. The secondary MPI was the choke point in the north railroad yards.

After briefing at 0500, the general attitude was "we had it," for the bomb run was directly into the wind and we were to pass directly over the heart of Koblenz at a ground sped less than 100 mph. The weather at the target was briefed as visual. Our bomb load was 3 x 2000 lb. GPs and we flew a carpet blinker ship.

We took off, assembled, and broke the coast at Ostende four minutes late. The wind was even stronger than anticipated and blew us south of our course. We passed Trier and later turned north at the I.P. and started an endless run into the wind. A small fighter escort which was to pick us up shortly after the I.P. did not appear, perhaps because we were very late by this time.

I began tracking enemy single-engine fighters which appeared in threes and fives at a distance from our line of formation. They never came within firing range and did not attack our group at all. We continued our run into the wind for an endless time before coming into sight of the target at the convergence of the Rhine and the Moselle. The ground was completely visible all this time and was covered heavily with snow.

As we approached Koblenz, flak batteries flashed red against the white ground and flak of several caliber broke and cracked in the formation. A Liberator in the high squadron glided down in smoke and two chutes came out. We were moving over the city and through the entire barrage at a GS of about 70-mph.

We dropped our bombs on the railroad bridge and destroyed it completely. The bombs were so well placed that the two highway bridges closely placed on either side of our target were not damaged. Following squadron, therefore, hit the railroad yards. After bombs away at 1315, we took a sharp turn to the left and out. One of our bombs, however, hung up and had to be salvoed out. It finally went.

As we returned over Belgium, we saw fighters flying low over the ground, but could not identify them.

Our fighter support was nil throughout the mission and the flak, of course, was heavy at the target and accurate.

Today, (January 2) we learned that the Germans put up their biggest fighter force in three years on January 1 and blanketed Dutch and Belgium airfields in Brussels and Antwerp. 193* German planes were destroyed.

*Total for 1 January is now corrected to 342.
Mission 10 - 3 January 1945
Target: Siegfried line ammo depot at Landau, Germany.

It appeared that his mission would be scrubbed soon after briefing because of bad weather, but it went through on schedule.

The primary target was an underground ammunition store at Landau, Germany. The secondary target was the railroad yards at Kaiserslautern.

We took off at 0740 with 20 x 250 lb. GPs and 2 x M17s. After assembly, we crossed the Channel at its narrowest point. From the time we departed from England until we returned, a heavy, solid, 10/10 undercast, covered the ground at 8,000' and the earth was never visible. Above this layer of cloud the sky was clear. We made all courses and times good and dropped our bombs by GH at 1134.

About 100 miles before leaving France on the return, we found a hole in the undercast and descended (at 2,500'/min), to get below the clouds. We leveled off at 200' indicated and flew between 100' and 200' over the countryside of France. Horses ran as we approached, chickens ran, and children and peasants waved to us. We flew just below the cloud ceiling, through valleys and up over trees and churches and out over the Channel. As we left the coast of France, we could see the white cliffs of Dover ahead and we climbed a few hundred feet to go over them. We turned north then and flew to our base where we touched ground after eight hours in the air.

We saw some V-2s ascending, a couple of German jet fighters and fair escort of our own 51s.

Mission 11 - 17 January 1945
Target: Largest German oil refinery at (Hasrburg), Hamburg, Germany.

With more than thirty planes still missing from the field from yesterday's mission to Dresden, today's effort was not large. We were one of the nine planes which the group put up; briefed at 0620.

The target, both, primary, visual and secondary, PFF, was the largest producing oil refinery in Germany at Hamburg (Harburg), Germany.

Our small task force left the north coast of East Anglia and proceeded on a 060 heading across the North Sea. We reached the Frisian Islands and flew within sight of them, keeping out of range to the north. We passed Ameland, Schiermonnikoog, Rottumeroog, Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge. We changed our course at Heligoland Bight and headed for our I.P. on the enemy coast, halfway between Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven. The 44th was the last group in the division and by this time there were many smoke screens being put up, but the west wind blew them away from us. Their value was nil. The visibility was good and the Elbe River, to our north, could be traced from the sea to the target.
We passed through flak at the coast and took up our bomb run at 124, drift 12L, speed 139.4, trail 58 mph. The tangent of the dropping angle was .79.

I synchronized on the target which was burning from end to end. Flames and smoke rose thousands of feet into the air. The squadrons before us were cut off from view by the flak, terrifically intense and accurate. Our planes began going down all around us, with our gunners calling them out. On right wing ship went down with flames in the bomb bays and disintegrated without exploding. The tail gunner counted only eleven chutes from all the flak we lost.

The flak was the most offensive we have yet seen. It was of the heaviest caliber, it was accurate, and it was 100% intense. As I knelt over the bombsight, a large piece opened a hole in the left side of the nose, behind my back. It passed between the navigator and me and out the other side. The copilot's window was blown into his face and he got some fine glass in his eye. The waist was hit in several places and there was a large piece embedded in the turret gunner's chute pack. We lost number 2 engine at the target as a shell cut the oil and gas line.

At this time, we were several hundred miles from any friendly territory and had only 300 gallons of gas left for each engine. The trip back was all over water and into a strong head wind. We decided to try for home and laid a direct route over the water. We were, by this time, separated from the formation. Although we could not make radio contact with any fighter protection, we jettisoned almost all our ammunition and all guns save nose and tail as well as all excess radio and other heavy equipment.

We contacted "Colgate" and Air Sea Rescue kept us located constantly during the long over-water trip as we tried to maintain our altitude. We sighted land and made for our base. We were first to return and called for immediate landing.

Making a three-engine landing, the pilot touched wheels to find the right tire blown by flak. After careening left and right, we came to a stop in the middle of the runway and walked away! The left gear and also been broken by flak, but held up. Caterpillars towed the ship off the runway to allow the returning ships to land.

Our bomb load for the day consisted of 12 x 500 lb. GPS.

Mission 12 - 29 January 1945
Target: Railroad viaduct near Altenbeken, Germany.

The weather was expected to be especially good over Germany in the locality of the railroad viaduct near Altenbeken, Germany. This target, which is 480 yards long and 25 feet wide, stands above the ground on 23 concrete arches. It has been unsuccessfully attacked before and at present stands #2 on the transportation priorities list. The remains of Runstedt's (field Marshall Runstedt's), are now eastbound on the railway over this bridge. The secondary target was the large, intricate, railroad yards in Hamm, Germany, at the northeast end of the Ruhr Valley, also the center of heavy military traffic, at present.

At 0930, we took off with 6 x 1000 GPs set at 1/10 and 1/100. After assembly, we crossed the North Sea and broke the enemy Coast at 1035. We flew over the Zieder Zee. It was heavily covered with ice. As in England, the ground was snow covered and soon the undercast became 10/10. We flew over the same solid undercast for the remainder of the mission, until we reached this same locality again, on withdrawal.

Since the primary target was not visual, we turned just west of Hanover, Germany, and commenced the bomb run, by H2X on Hamm. As we approached the target, it recognized our presence with a good moderate barrage of flak which, however, was inaccurate because of the conditions. We put bombs away at 1254, and turning north, dropped 2000' withdrawing.

P-51s gave good cover. Our bomb's results were unobserved. We landed at 1500.

Scrub 5 - 7 February 1945
Target: Railroad marshalling yards at Osnabrueck, Germany.

We were briefed to destroy the marshalling yards at Osnabrueck to present the withdrawal, through here, of two Panyer divisions to the east front to bolster the defense of Berlin. We had 10 x 500 lb. GPs and 2 M17s. They were to be destroyed at any cost to us to prevent their reaching their destination.

The mission was scrubbed while we were dressing before going out to he ships.

"V" for yoke was burning in its dispersal lighting the entire field, for it was still dark out. It caught fire and was entirely destroyed while being fueled. One man was killed and several burned.

When the weather improved later in the day, R.A.F. Mosquitoes completed their mission.

Scrub 6 - 13 February 1945
Target: Jet plane parts plant at Meschede, Germany.

We were briefed to bomb the jet plane part plant at Meschede, Germany. This plant had just begun operating and had not yet been a target. The secondary target, for unfavorable weather, was the railroad yards at Osnabueck, Germany. Bomb load was 4 x M17s and 6 x 500 GPs. The mission was scrubbed while we were at the planes.

Mission 13 - 14 February 1945
Target: Magdeburg, Germany.

I was awakened at 0200 for pre-briefing to fly deputy lead for the mission. The primary target was the #3 priority synthetic oil plant on the Elbe in the north part of Magdeburg, Germany. The secondary target, H2X, was the choke point between the north and south railroad yards in the center of the city of Magdeburg.

We were briefed at 0920 to carry 6 x M17s and 6 x 500 lb. GPs for delivery to either these targets. The only remaining objectives of value is this heavily defended city southwest of Berlin.

We took off at 0905 and formed at 13,000'. After assembly, we departed East Anglia and began our climb over the sea, at 1135. We broke the enemy coast in Holland, being greeted with a goodly quantity of flak.

The cloud base grew steadily. Fighters and persistent contrails began to form to make flying very difficult., We continued on our easterly course to the I.P. at Goslar, Germany. By this time, we had climbed high above our original bombing altitude to keep above the clouds. The contrails remained dense and persistent and the temperature had dropped to -50 degrees. Bandits were reported in the area.

We received code word "jungle jolly" and took a 070-degree course to the secondary target. As we approached, the flak became moderate-intense but inaccurate. It appeared to be fused too low at 26,100. Lead plane's bomb bays had become frozen and he dropped through the doors. The clouds were almost 10/10 but a tremendous number of incendiaries could be seen sparkling on the ground, through cloud breaks. One or two flurries in the low squadrons were hit and went through the clouds.

We rallied east of the target where the ground became visible in places. We started the homeward trip into a strong head wind. We maintained our altitude until greeted with flak as we left the enemy coast where the ground was still cloud covered. We began our let down and landed under an 8,000' ceiling at 1650.

Mission 14 -- 16 February 1945
Target: Railroad yards at Rhine, Germany

The field was well souped in long after briefing time for this mission, but takeoff time was moved back. We finally took off at 1115, the latest time yet. The field was still fog covered and we continued to climb until we broke out above it. Assembly was very poor, but completed, and we departed East Anglia.

The low stratus cover remained with us all the way along our route, but became thin as we approached the enemy coast. We crossed the Zuider Zee and flew direct by east over Meppel, Holland; hit our I.P. and started out our bomb run. The undercast was about 5/10ths at this time and I.P. code word "sweet pea" indicated we would bomb the secondary target.

As we passed over the primary target, the oil refinery at Salzbergen, the bombs of the 392nd Group leading the wing, could be seen bursting on the target. The flak here was light and not very accurate.

We had difficulty opening the bomb bay doors, and those on the left front and rear stick about two feet after and would not move further. I determined to clear all racks and pulled the electrical contact release to permit dropping through the doors. Bombs went away at 1431. The doors were only slightly damaged. The flak at the target was moderate and not very Accurate. We pulled out in a left turn and as we started the rally, were tracked with light flak which was quite accurate. We left with only one small hole in the side forward of the left bomb bay.

We headed westerly, home, and as we dropped to 10,000' over the sea the engineer and I managed to hand crank and kick the left doors almost closed.

As we approached the English Coast, Operations called to tell us that the fog, expected to disperse, was still there, so we turned and started southeast to France. We landed at Peronne, France, 9th AAF B-26 base about 20 miles west-northwest of St. Quentin at 1750.

Here, we stayed for four days while our home base remained closed in. We took off this morning, Monday, 19 Feb., and landed, returned to our field at about 1300.

Our bomb load was 14 X 500 lb. G.P.s and the mission, while an extended one, was a milk run.

Recall #2 -- 20 February 1945
Target: Naval parts plant at Nuremburg (Nurnburg), Germany

We were briefed at 0500 to bomb the naval parts plant at Nuremburg, Germany. We took off, formed and crossed the sea, gaining altitude. As we broke the coast at Ostende, Belgium, the formation became separated in heavy cloud layer. The recall code was radioed to us and we circled to the left and returned to the base. Bomb load 10 x 500 GPs.

Mission #15 -- 21 February 1945
Target: Plan "A" Stettin marshalling yards in center of Berlin, Germany. Plant "B" -- marshalling yards in north of Nuremburg (Nurnberg, Germany)

I was awakened at 0130 for pre-briefing to deputy-lead the squadron in an entire 8th AF raid on Berlin. The target was the Stettin railroad yards 3 miles north of the center of the city, to be hit with 10 x 500 GPs. Weather indicated good visibility all the way to the target.

After regular briefing at 0400, we went to the ship for early takeoff. During this time, the target was changed to Plan "B," the railroad yards north of the center of Nuremburg, Germany.

The 44th lead the 2nd Air Division to the target, leaving England after the 1st and 3rd Divisions. We cut the coast at Ostende and the weather and visibility was excellent and remained that way until we were well into France. A 9/10 undercast started here and remained with us all the way into the target and back.

After a long, over-the-clouds flight, we arrived in the vicinity of the target to find the forts still pounding targets in the city. We described a 45-minute, 360-degree turn to the left to allow the forts to finish bombing. We then hit the I.P. and took a leading of 123 to the target.

Bombing altitude was 22,500' above 9/10ths undercast, and bombs were away at 1213.

Flak at the target was light and inaccurate. Flying time was 8 hours 50 min.

Mission #16 -- 23 February 1945
Target: Railroad yards at Weimar, Germany

I was awakened at 0300 to attend pre-briefing and fly deputy lead for the squadron. This mission, which was a long circular tour of Germany was the 300th mission for the 44th Bombardment Group.

Weimar, the primary target visual, and Saalfeld, the secondary PFF, were located about 40 miles southwest of Leipzig, Germany. Following the previous day's very successful low-medium altitude bombing of secondary rail targets in western Germany, this day's effort of the 8th AAF was concentrated on secondary railheads in south eastern Germany. The bombing altitude was set at 10,000 feet or 6,000 feet minimum.

The weather was very poor from takeoff time to return. We crossed the enemy coast on time and at the briefed altitude of 18,000'. Shortly after we crossed the north part of the Zuider Zee and had taken up a southeasterly course east of the Ruhr we were to start a descent to 10,000'. There were several strata of clouds below us, however, and more clouds above, and it started to rain. So we maintained our altitude. Concentrated flak was seen at Hanover and we circumnavigated avoiding it.

The very poor visibility made formation flying difficult but this improved as we hit the I.P. and approached our target, Meresburg, to our left, identified itself with a black barrage. We used PFF to drop our bombs on the primary target at 1145 with altitude 18,000'. Target flak was meager and we withdrew to the south, later turning east.

The weather remained very poor, with the ground seldom visible. It started to snow and we began to climb a couple of thousand feet. As we passed northeast of the Frankfurt area, the ground became visible in patches through the clouds. Looking through the nose windows, I watched four German aircraft flying in a circle close to the ground over an airport. Suddenly, flak burst on our formation and a shell line walked from in front of our plane back to the rear. Fragments hit the nose and both stabilizers. One piece shattered the left bombardier's window and passed through my mop folder and maps and hit the left side of the B.S. stabilizer below my hand; dropped to the floor.

The ceiling was 50' where we landed after 8 hours 15 min. flying time. Our bomb load was 10 x 500 G.P.s.

Mission #17 -- 28 February 1945
Target: Railroad yards at Siegen, Germany

We flew deputy-deputy lead on this mission to carry 20 x 250 GPs and 2 x M17s to the railroad yards at Siegen, Germany. The secondary target was the south railroad yards at Koblenz, Germany.

We took off at 1040, assembled and departed east Anglia; entered Belgium at Ostende.

We hit the I.P. (50 27' N. 08 45'E) just short of Geiszen which threw up flak. We took up the bomb run on a 304 heading (Drift 6R, trail 91 mph, D.S. 131.8). The temperature was -29C at bombing altitude of 22,500'. Here, the overcast was 10/10 and the target obscured and flak was nil. We used H2X for bombing. Bombs were away at 1432.

Mission #18 -- 1 March 1945
Target: Railroad yards at Igolstadt, Germany

I was awakened at 0415 for 0445 pre-briefing, to fly deputy lead for the squadron. The target, the railroad yards at Igolstadt, Germany and located just northeast of Munich. They were to be bombed visually or H2X.

At briefing, the flak at the target was expected to be nil to meager and S2 warned of attack of ME262s.

We took off at 0800 with a load of 8 x 500 GPs plus 2 M17s. After assembly, we entered the coast at Ostende, Belgium and flew to southeast France. We crossed the lines below Strasbourg and flew to the target area where the undercast was 9/10th and bombing done by H2X.

As the wings separated at the divisions I.P. (4858' N. 1037'E), for the various targets, bandits were reported in the area. We took up our bomb run on a 120 heading; altitude 17,000'. Halfway down the run two ME262s came in on our group from the north and about 1,000' low. Four 51s peeled off our top covered and chased them down through the clouds. Bombs were away at 1330.

After rally, we flew south and east past Munich and then flew west along the Austrian Alps, then past the Swiss Alps. We turned northwest and headed home.

The squadron leader turned over the lead to us and landed in France to refuel. Other planes dropped out of formation to refuel before crossing the Channel and we continued on home. We landed after 9 hours 15 minutes in the air.

Mission #19 -- 4 March 1945
Target: Tank depot at Aschaffenburg, Germany

We were briefed at 0330 after being awakened at 0100 by a twin-engined Jerry who swooped in for several passes at the field, staggering the Operations tower and dropping some small anti-personnel bombs about the field. Several other fields in this locality received the same treatment last night and several Jerries were brought down.

After yesterday's interception near the target by a goodly number of ME163 jet jobs, which, along with heavy flak, made the day fairly black for the 2nd Division, we anticipated more attacks on today's trip. Some of the night intruders were still being pursued around the wash where we took off in the dark at 0600.

We proceeded directly across the North Sea individually, and assembled at a point in east central France. The weather was very bad and dense, persistent contrails stuck with us from any altitude from 12,000' to 22,000'. After a difficult forming, we flew across the lines at the gap below Strasbourg and hit our I.P. and headed for the target.

Heavy snow made visibility nil and further progress impossible. We were flying second deputy lead for the 44th which was leading the Division. They decided to pick an opportunity target in the vicinity. We headed south over the snow-covered ground to the railroad yards at a place identified as Sigmaringen on the Danube. We made a short, visual run, putting bombs away at 1006.

Flying west, after rally, we crossed the lines slightly south of our place of entry and received some flight flak right on us but a little high.

We landed at 1405 after 8 hours in the air.

Our bomb load was 16 x 250 GPs and 2 x M17s.

Mission #20 k-- 10 March 1945
Target: Railroad viaduct at Bielefeld, Germany

The 14th Combat Wing, all groups led by 44th planes, led the 2nd Air Division and the 8th AF in today's assault on transportation targets east of the Ruhr. The target of our group was the long railroad viaduct located northeast of the city of Bielefeld, Germany.

We were briefed at 0500 and took off at 0750 with a load of 6 x 1000 lb. GPs. Our position was second deputy in the lead squadron.

After forming, we crossed the sea and broke the Belgium coast; then over Luxembourg and into Germany. We turned north through the flak alleys to the I.P., 13 minutes from the target.

The undercast was 10/10 below us at 4000' from base to target and we bombed GH. Altitude 22,500', bombs away 1206. We rallied and took the same course home. The trip was uneventful and we landed at 1540.

Fighter protection was poor and we saw our first 51s over Belgium nearing the coast on the way home. They were escorting some B26s. Expected jet-plane opposition did not materialize.

Mission #21 -- 11 March 1945
Target: Submarine assembly docks at Kiel, Germany

The 2nd Division's assault on submarine assembly docks at Kiel was part of a concentrated attack, by the 8th AF, on submarine building facilities at Hamburg, Bremen and Kiel.

I was awakened to fly deputy lead in the high squadron. After pre-briefing and briefing, we went to the planes for a 0930 takeoff. They were loaded with 52 x M47 incendiary bombs.

Our course took us across the North Sea above the Risian Islands and finally across the coast into Denmark. A 9-10/10 undercast started at the coast. We hit our I.P. and headed south on a 158 course. We crossed the border into Germany and Flensburg threw up flak.

As we neared Kiel, the area was well covered with heavy caliber fire which covered a wide range before and beyond the target on both sides but the undercast which prevented visual aiming, made it largely inaccurate.

We were the last group in the division to pass over Kiel and previous incendiaries had started a great fire which caused flames to break through the clouds below and send up pillars of smoke.

We broke away to the right dropping a thousand feet and rallying. Flak burst on us at intervals till we left the coast just south of Heliogland where visibility was again good.

After a long over-water trip, we landed at 1540.

This was the same target and MPI which was attacked in 1943 when this group was wiped out; losses 100%.

Mission #22 -- 14 March 1945
Target: Railroad marshalling yards at Gutersloh, Germany

Briefing was at 0800 for this day's excellent mission. I flew deputy-lead for the low squadron and this time with my own crew.

The target was the railroad marshalling yards at Gutersloh, Germany, to be bombed visually or GH.

The day was warm and the sky was cloudless, but hazy and we prepared for takeoff at 1055. We flew a new M-model ship "M" on its first mission (M-588).

After assembly, we crossed the sea and entered the continent over the Dutch Islands; formed over Antwerp. We crossed the Rhine below Koblenz out of range, while they shot at other groups. We turned northward and flew a zigzag course to the I.P. east of the Rhine.

As we approached the target, Alps and #1 & 2 had already been hit by previous squadrons and the yards were full of flame and smoke. I synchronized on AP #3 and our 44 x 100# GPs and 2 x M17s went away at 1532. Later squadrons hit AP #4 and the target was destroyed from end to end. Altitude 18,500'.

We followed a parallel course back and saw Giessen being bombed by other squadrons.

We saw artillery fire and front-line activity as we crossed the lines, B26s and A26s bombing and P38s, P47s and P51s strafing. We arrived over the base at briefed time of 1810.

It was one of those rare days when the ground was completely visible from base to target and back again and only a haze prevented visibility from being perfect.

Mission #23 -- 19 March 1945
Target: Neuburg Airfield

I flew deputy lead for the low squadron on this mission to destroy the ME262 jet plane assembly plant and airfield at Neuburg, Germany just north of Munich.

After briefing at 0530, all times were set back 45 minutes and we took off at 0945 with 10 x 500 GPs. We departed England at 6,000' and started climbing to 10,000' at which altitude we entered Belgium. We assembled near Brussels and then headed south into France.

We turned east and crossed into enemy territory below Strasbourg. We went north around Stuttgart to our I.P. at Ansbach and began the bomb run at 16,500'. Conditions were perfectly visual as we approached the target just south of the blue Danube River./ Several ME 262s were on a ramp in the front of the hangers which was our aiming point. I put bombs away at 1447. Every building in the plant was destroyed by the first three squadrons and the remainder of the wing pocked the entire field. A heartfelt sight.

We passed Koblenz and Aachen on the way back and landed at 1830.

Abortion #1 -- 20 March 1945
Target: Oil refinery at Hemmingstedt, Germany on the Danish Peninsula

We were briefed at 1100 to bomb this oil refinery. We flew second deputy on the one squadron which the group put up.

Takeoff was at 1325 with a load of 12 x 500 GPs. We assembled and flew the long trip over water. No. 1 engine started to fail oil pressure going down and oil temp. increasing until was about necessary to feather it just at the I.P. before we hit the coast. However, the engine failed to feather and we started to lose altitude immediately.

I salvoed the bombs as we turned for a course home. We were 280 miles from nearest friendly land; airspeed down to 140 and altitude steadily dropping. We dropped from 20,000' to 12,000' above the water where the pilot started the oil-less engine to freeze it and prevent the windmilling the engine started and throbbed along until it was hot enough to freeze to a stop. Then for the first time we were able to maintain airspeed and our altitude. We had dropped won the 8,000' above the water.

We contacted Colgate as we flew the last 200 miles to dear, old England, into the wind.

Tonight the Germans have just finished shafing our field again and dropping bombs nearby.

Mission #24 -- 22 March 1945
Target: Jet plane field at Schwabisch-Hall, Germany

Awakened at 0300 for pre-briefing at 0400. We flew second lead for the high squadron.

Our attack was part of the day's effort by the Division on nine jet plane fields in Germany.

We took off at 0800 with 52 x 100 GPs and assembled our visible terrain. We departed England and just before entering the continent sighted a merchant vessel sinking, part of an eastbound convoy. Our wing, leading the division took a straight course over Belgium, France and Luxembourg. We entered Germany at Strasbourg.

Skirting Stuttgart, we passed over part of Switzerland and Lake Constance. We hit the I.P., made a long run on the target and completely demolished the airfield, covering every part. There were about two dozen two-jet planes dispersed around the field. Part of the division were being hit by bandits as they withdrew. I believe our fighter took care of all oppositions.

We crossed back into friendly territory below Koblenz. We landed after 8 hours 15 minutes.

Mission #25 -- 24 March 1945
R-Day

We attended pre-briefing last evening to fly deputy lead for the low squadron on this mission. It turned out to be an experience entirely unique and different.

Early this morning at 0400 our ground force of the 9th Army forced a crossing of the Rhine two miles north of Wesel, Germany.

This morning, between 1000 and 1242, three division of our paratroopers dropped, along with glider-borne infantry, in a clear area about two miles east of the Rhine north of Wesel. Thirty-three minutes later, three squadrons of the 44th crossed the Rhine at 50', pulled up to about 200' and dropped food, ammunition, radio equipment, medical supplies and gasoline by parachute into the hands of the paratroops. This procedure was duplicated for several miles up the Rhine by three combat wings of the 2nd Division.

We took off at 0730 with our load of supplies and formed at 3,000'. After forming, we flew south over England and crossed the Channel at the narrowest point, departing from the White Cliffs of Dover.

Entering France a few minutes later, we passed over the big guns at the shore with their concrete replacements demolished by bombs. As we flew our briefed course over France, we grayed the ground, pulling up over trees and small woods. We sped along over the crests of hills and down into the valleys. Farmers plowing their fields stopped to wave their berets. Cattle and horses ran in all directions at the sound of our 240 Liberators roaring aloud in trail.

At Lille, we turned to a new heading and below Brussels we turned again. Along this 95-mile leg, we met Lancaster's on their way home after dropping 10-ton bombs on Wesel and large formations of C47s flying toward southern France.

Before the I.P. was reached, the air became dark with smoke and the visibility began to decrease. Although we followed our course without error, it was difficult to see the two squadrons before us. As we neared the combat zone, the ground was covered with the signs of war. The fields were full of shell holes and the tracks of vehicles. Near the I.P., there were field hospitals set up with wounded being carried in stretchers. There were troops all through the area, piles of supplies, tanks and large guns and ruined towns. Everywhere they waved at us.

We hit the I.P., opened the bomb bays and headed for our dropping zone.

Crashed C47s lay in some of the fields, some with crews nearby, waving us on. There were British Gliders and Spitfires laying on the ground.

There were many Lancasters broken to bits and burning on the ground. There were pieces of Mosquitoes and other fighters too.

We saw the Rhine ahead with its bend above Wesel. We zoomed over the water and pulled up to 200'-300' to lose speed. Chutes of all colors were descending in the area; white for radio equipment, blue for food, and medicine, red for ammunition and yellow and green for fuels. I set ours free and the bomb bays emptied into the hands of our men below.

The two squadrons ahead disappeared into the smoke from Wesel; flying to the right of us. I was sweating and air was hot.

The nose went down to gain speed as we turned to the right. It was hard to view details on the ground because we were so close and the speed was so great. Though we kept turning, we were at 75-100' over the enemy and tracers cut among the planes. Two Germans sprayed us with a machine gun from the roof of a building. A couple of planes exploded into the ground. One hit a high-tension wire and went up.

We were on our way out now and the visibility was terrible. We were breathing smoke. We crossed the river and dropped even lower, roaring across Belgium. The trip seemed short and at Ostende, we gained some altitude to cross the Channel.

We landed at 1515 after only 5 hours 45 minutes flying time. Examination disclosed several small caliber holes in the plane, but little damage. We lost eleven planes in the wing out of 90.

Tonight's radio announced a three-mile penetration beyond the Rhine above Wesel and perhaps this will be the start of the line that will encircle the Ruhr and bring about the eventual end.

1 April 1945
We went to rest home.

11 April 1945
We returned to operations.

Scrub 7 -- 12 April 1945
Target: Railroad marshalling yards at Zwickau, Germany.

We were briefed at 0400 to carry 6 x 500 GPs plus 4 x M17's to the target at Zwickau. The secondary target was the yards at Plauen.

The briefed weather was poor the whole route and we were scrubbed at the planes at 0630.

Roosevelt died today.

Mission #26 -- 14 April 1945
Target: German fortifications at Fort De Royan near Bordeaux, France

We were briefed at 0200 to carry 4 x 2000 lb. GPs to Fort DeRoyan, France to erase fortifications held by 120,000 Germans in a pocket blocking the entrance to the Gironde inlet on which Bordeaux is located.

We took off at 0510 with maximum gas and bomb load and no guns or ammunition and no waist gunners to eliminate weight. We had no fighter support. We took a course to a buncher near Brussels, where we reassembled.

After assembly, we flew southward over France, east of Paris, almost to the border of Spain. We swung right, toward the coast, and followed it north to the target. We bombed at 15,000' and were opposed by meager flak of heavy caliber. The ship was clear and visibility good. The target was entirely demolished.

We landed at 1315.

Mission #27 -- 15 April 1945
Target: German fortifications near Fort De Royan in Bordeax area, France.

We were pre-briefed at 0130 to fly deputy lead for the high squadron.

We took off with a load of 8 x 600 lb. napalm bombs. It made the initial use of these new firebombs, still in experimental stages. Our bombing of this area of small caliber artillery was in tactical support of the French Army which began its assault to eliminate this enemy pocket, yesterday, after our bombing.

Assembly was at Brussels. We proceeded to the target in southwest France which was being hit by the entire 8th AF and was already covered with dense, black smoke. Our cruising point was entirely obscured by flames and smoke and so close secondary replacements.

Flak was meager and accurate. The smoke rose above our bombing level of 15,000' and made visibility very poor. We continued on our course beyond the target over the Atlantic Ocean and turned right to rally.

We turned north along the coast and some plane, too close to he Isle De Ide were tracked with flak.

Our return brought us close to Nantes and Rennies. We flew up the Cherbourg Peninsula, past St. Lo, and crossed the Channel. After breaking the English coast, we flew over the heart of London. Big Ben read 20 minutes to two.

Scrub 8 -- 19 April 1945
Target: Railroad junction at Schwandorf, Germany

We were briefed at 0415 to carry 10 x 500 lb. GPs to this transportation target at Schwandorf, north of Regensburg, Germany. At the planes, waiting takeoff, the mission was scrubbed.

Mission #28 -- 20 April 1945
Target: Railroad junction at Schwandorf, Germany

We were briefed at 0400 to fly second deputy lead for the group on this mission. We took off at 0800 with 10 x 500 GPs. The group gunnery officer flew at the right waist gunner, anticipating an encounter with jets.

After assembly, we entered the continent near Flushing and flew over Antwerp, Belgium. The route was entirely clear of clouds. We entered Germany and passed over ruined Aachen. We flew south of Cologne, within sight of the cathedral and passed over Koblenz where we crossed the Rhine. Our course went over Frankfort-on-Main below Nurnberg to the I.P. just short of Regensburg.

After a good visual run, we put bombs away at 1143 with excellent results.

We rallied north of the target and passed around burning Nurnberg and over Schweinfurt. We took the same track home landing at 1500.


Scrub 9 -- 23 April 1945
Target: Railroad viaduct at Rendsburg, Germany

We were pre-briefed at 0200 to fly deputy load for the high squadron in this mission to bomb the railroad viaduct at Rendsburg near Kiel. Secondary target was the sub pens at Heliogoland. Bomb load was 7 x 1000 GPs. Takeoff was 0525. We were scrubbed at the planes 0430.

Mission #29 -- 25 April 1945
Target: Railroad marshalling yard at Hallein, Austria

We were pre-briefed at 0200 to fly deputy lead for the high squadron on this mission to Hallein in Austria. The secondary target was the railroad yards at Salzburg, Austria.

With 22 x 250 lb. GPs, we were airborne at 0447, formed and departed England. We entered lower Holland and passed over Belgium and Germany. We crossed the Danube and Inn Rivers, entering Austria and approaching the Alps.

Our altitude was 22,000' as we cleared the northern edge of the Alps, the weather calm. We entered the valley and lake pointing to our target at Hallein. Salzburg was being hit on our right. The second largest railroad yards in Austria, Salzburg was employing a dense-moderate barrage of flak. We were tracked with moderate flak as we approached our target putting bombs away at 1106 and rallying at Berchantesgaden.

After rally, we flew north of Munich and home as we came.

We landed 7 hours after takeoff at 3:00 p.m. (1500), most planes sustaining battle damage.

P.S. This as the last mission flown by the 44th BG in the war. I took a 1 " x inch piece of flak to the palm of my left hand.




JAMES F. WRIGHT
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

415 Edgewood Avenue
Westfield, NJ 07090

5 March 1989

Dear Mr. Lundy:

Yes. You are correct. I was a member of Lt. Erikson's crew. I have enclosed a complete listing of the names of the members on the form you provided. It was taken from Special Orders No. 295 dated 21 October 1944 sending us from AAF STA-594 to 44th Bomb Group, AAF STA 115. Our crew served with the 68th squadron, 44th Bomb Group from October 1944 until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945. We flew back to the U.S. the following month, June 1945.

The 5 November 1944 mission which you had listed was the first mission we flew.

I have recorded additional information about that mission on the back of your from. I have similar detailed information about all the 29 missions I was on.

I am not sure I can remember which of the enlisted crewmembers seemed in which capacity but maybe the nomenclature numbers I have listed will help. I believe Joe Bing was our radioman, but it might have been Pat Carlin.

I am sorry that I cannot give you the addresses of any of the crewmembers as we have not been in touch. The only address I have is that of Russ Erikson. However, Russ has not evidenced much interest in remembering his wartime exploits and is not a member of the 2nd A.D. Association or any other such organization as far as I know. Therefore, I am not sure he would want his name and address released. So, I do not feel at liberty to do so. I will, however, send him a copy of this letter and a copy of yours so he may send you his address if he desires to do so.

Best wishes,

Jim Wright

cc: Russ Erikson




26 March 1989

Dear Will:

In response to your letter of 11 March, I subsequently found two "Enot's" listed in NJ phone directory. If you wish, I will phone them and ask about Jeb Enot, just tell me what questions to ask.

The Russell G. Erikson you know of is the pilot of our crew, and the address you have is his present address in Quincy, Massachusetts. Perhaps you have heard from him by now.

I am curious about the addresses of the other crewmembers which you listed. Are they present-day addresses, or were they the addresses at the time of entry into the service?

John R. Hall did not fly with the crew for long for reasons which escape my memory, but he did come from Georgia. I thought "Tommy" Thompson came from Bonne Terre, Missouri, however. Earnest Robison was a farm boy from Hickory, North Carolina.

My record of all my missions is contained in a leather-bound book entitled, "My Trip Abroad," which I bought in a London bookstore. It contains about 170 pages (5"x8") on my 29 missions, with additions of photos and news stories from "Stars and Stripes," which were pertinent to the specific missions. It includes the last mission of the 44th BG in the war, a nine-hour mission to a marshaling yard at Hallein, Austria on 25 April 1945. Bombs were away at 1106, which I gather from what I've read since, was ten minutes before the last bombs dropped by the 8th on Europe. I remember it particularly since I took a 1 x piece of flak in the palm of my left hand during the return trip. I still have the piece of flak, but in rush to clean out and get home when the war ended, it never got in the records, so not Purple Heart!

Sincerely,

Jim Wright
 
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