"D" Day, June 6 1944, 8 th Air Force 44th Bomb Gp. 68th Sqdn. # 0-082
Aircraft Name = WENDY W = Shipdham, England
Pilot - Lt.CHALES GAYMAN; Co-Pilot Lt CLAIR HILL,
Navigator - Lt JOSEPH WOODLOCK; Bombardier - Lt FRANK KUNETH
Engineer - T/Sgt.ROBERT PADGETT Radio operator - T/SgtRICHARD BREON
Waist Gunner - S/Sgt ALONZO COLLINS Waist Gunner - S/Sgt JOSEPH WAWERNA
Tail Gunner - S/Sgt LEO REMKES
Wake up time approx.12:30 am, seems like I just crawled in the sack, then put on long handles and flying suit, go by mess hall for a cup of coffee and food if you could eat.. Then go by the equipment room for the flight gear,etc., report to briefing for the crew status, 8 OK for each man, was supposed to mean that he had 8 hrs of rest. When all crews were there, information was given about the "D Day"mission, the reaction of the crews was mixed and some mourning was obvious. When the flight plan was shown for the day it showed a procedure for all pilots to fly this route indicated in order to return to England. The day before we had a stand down so we had an idea big things were starting. From the briefing we pick up guns for the turrets Use Easy Text entries to save a signature block, a special notice, some initials, or any information that you usually type often. and other positioins on the plane. At the plane site we check it over and listen to ground crew comments then try to relax tin start up flare was fired.
02:20 am. It's semi-dark and we have a light ground fog, the planes are lined-up, " my take-off CAP is on and the blessings have been made as we pass the run-way Chaplain," and are starting the take-off run, the plane in front of us rolls, a crew member of that plane, and ours, is in the back of the plane to flashes a colored light for us to follow. I the flight engineer, standing between the pilot and co-pilot on the flight deck, will count off about 30 seconds before we start our take-off run, also to be sure that plane ahead of ours made it off the runway, then callout the air speed and operate what controls the pilots called for. We take-off and start the climb out, later breaking out of the fog but it's still hazy; we still are following the light of that plane when all of a sudden a call over the intercom and I saw another B-24 coming up under us, I shouted out" PULL-UP" and the PILOTS, GA YMAN & HILL and I were pulling controls and pushing throttles trying to avoid a midair collision. The other plane's right rudder struck the lower left front part of our plane. Since we were then moving up and away from the other plane and after recovery, we had a hole in the left front side of the fuselage, and lost an air speed line all other lines were OK. We did not see the results to the other plane, also the crewman in the tail of that plane using the flashing light must have been just a few feet away from our left engine props. A REAL SCARY ENCOUNTER.
We continued on with the Squadron mission that "D" day morning. The target for that day were coastal guns, but due to the weather conditions no bombs were dropped, and to close to troop positions.
The flight then turned right to the channel and then back up to England, This was the only flight pattern back to England or get intercepted.
0845 hrs. This flight 6 hrs 20 min. My cap is ON and a check on the nose gear down lock was OK, I in position to call out air speed and assist as needed in landing it was OK. we checked by the Chaplain, on the taxi by. The aircraft needed some repair on the damaged area. Debriefing after mission is about 30 plus min. I later read in a book of the 68th Sqdn 44th Bomb Group. A write up by TOM PARSONS that their plane had hit another B-24 on liD" day morning, that crew owes us a Steak for that save. A sleeping crew would have been lost on that encounter. I almost took my shot of scotch at debriefing, it would be my first but I passed it down to one of the crew. This was only mission "7".
Still "D" Day; 6th June 1944 Mission 2 G-170 5 + Hrs Later G-170
1445 hrs. Same crew different B-24, The plane we flew this AM is still in repair. This mission is in support of the grounds troops in the area ofVire, France, The beginning of the mission is the same, briefing, etc.
1620 hrs Take-off, squadron assembly in cloudy condition. VIRE, France is south ofthe area we were at this moming. The Squadron climbed to 28,000 ft hying get in clear space, to see any place we might identify as a suggested target.
On the flight back, on the required flight pattern over the channel back to England, one of the crew had painful problems trying to clear his ears. it was suggested to hold and let down slower. We separated from the sqdn. when we did get back to the English coast on the briefed flight path we received anti-aircraft (FLAK) fire from ENGLAND, Turning back away from the coast and checking our IFF electronic, and firing flare identifier colors, we tried again to enter the coast. Again we got ground AA fire, we fired flares again and checked identification information for the day turned back .to try again, Only this time a flight of B-24's came in range. We tagged on to the flight, back and lower with our gun turrets turned lower and away, they let us cross the coast,. At debriefing Lt. WOODLOCK. found-out he had received the wrong identifier packet for the time or day.
2320 hrs Flight time 7 hrs. Ariving.at the base it was dark andpvercast and misty, Landing the formation at night is was rea} touchy, every man was watching from every position, because of the problems that morning and most missions were landed in day light. The ground crews had lights spotted up that lighted up the area some for the sqdn. to help the landings.
Again debriefing about 30 plus min. I again passed my shot down the crew line. One more mission, No. "8". Now the British are throwing FLAK at us!
Flight time on "D" Day 13 hrs. 20 min. the crew was up about 24 hrs The next flight was on the 8 th June. I look back on these events and wonder how the crews survived with so many planes in flight over such a small area, there were no flight ground controllers then, just good planning, practice and a alert CREW. . . . . . . I must say again that this was a GIFTED CREW.
Robert Padgett 68 Sqdn. 44 BG (32 Missions)
This information is from notes of 6 June 1944. Flight times are correct. You may change and or edit this if you choose to use any part of the above.