CHARLES B. CUDD, JR.|
World War II Memories
I found some of my orders and records (I had a complete 201 file), but water got to them, so I did the best I could and made copies and am sending them to you.
Lt. William F. Gilbert flew three missions with other crews before we went with him on our first mission, May 30, 1944, to Rotenburg, Germany.
I did not know when we got "I Bar Item" so thanks for telling me.
Our first Sunday afternoon mission was June 18, to bomb an airfield at Luneberg, France. I remember watching a group below us and to the right (I was in the top turret looking between the fuselage and No. 3 engine) as they turned on the I.P. The lead B-24 nosed down at a sharp angle - 2,000 to 3,000 feet - and then came up in a loop and as it started back down the crew bailed out like they were coming out the door on the side of AC-47. The 24 leveled out behind the rest of the flight. Then the German ack-ack sent up a salvo (four shells). Got the altitude, another and got the range and the third salvo blew her out of the air. So much for my first Sunday outing.
June 6 we went into the beach, 20 minutes before "H" hour. Our 5th mission, our first flight on IBAR 193 per your information.
Ask Tex Burress if he remembers us bringing IBAR 193 back from near Kiel, Germany on July 6.
We were in a steep, left bank 20 miles SW of Kiel turning onto the bomb run at the I.P. "Woody" Wilson, our radio officer, was standing on the catwalk opening the bomb bay doors when we took an awful blast off our right wing which lifted us up and over to the left at which time a piece of shrapnel went into the wiring and salvoed our bombs. We went up through the flight but did not go over on our back.
When we got settled down, we were all alone, so we started a turn back to England, when a P-47 came up on us and said that he was out of ammunition and his engine (R2800) was running hot. It should have been the bottom three tags and lower cowl had been hit by something very large.
He pulled up under us and said that he would try to stay with us.
Almost at this time, two FW190s came at us and he (P47) took out after them like he was loaded for bear and they disappeared.
We had already notified Air Sea Rescue. When "Little Friend," said, "Well, there she goes," and that big four-blade paddle just came to a stop and the pilot put that 47 into the Channel by a crash boat. Stepped out on the wing and into the boat. We don't believe he even got his feet wet.
We went on back to our base and landed and as we were on the runway, one of the other B-24s made their 30th mission pass and drug the little short antenna off the bottom of the catwalk.
When we got back to the hard stand and parked the wreck, the engineering officer said that there was no way we could have flown that ship back.
The loft wing was hanging down so low that I could have changed the NAV light on the ground. It was about 5' above the ground. We had 127 holes in the left, outer wing panel larger than your fist and up to larger than your head and ... smaller than your fist there were thousands them.
If Woody had been at his station, he most likely would have been killed or injured. There were holes everywhere.
If I remember, Tex and his two helpers found a green painted wing that had a small inch star stenciled on the wing root which meant that it was jigged the same as our wing and was supposed to fit.
It seems that the Depot did not want us to have this wing but Joe Burress had this wing and engines back on our plane in a few days.
We looked rather odd with a dark wing on a silver airplane, so everyone wanted to take a shot at us. To say the least, the other crews wanted us to stay away from them - so we had to get paint remover and get the paint off between flights the next two or three days.
The next mission that stands out was the Squadron (12 A/C) flying above, back and t our right just a little, they were making an awful lot of vapor when three German twin engine fighters came out of the vapor behind them and fishtailed through the flight and knocked all 12 A/C out of the sky (this is the way I remember it).
I told Jack Booth our tail gunner to open up before they got into our range and to keep firing because we were not going to take those gun barrels home anyway. We both were firing when the lead plane started firing at us.
I could see the shells come at us and I thought, "Well, I am dead," but again, the good Lord was looking out for us as that old B-24 just settled out from under the line of fire and it passed over the top of the Plexiglas. So close.
The lead German plane picked over and went down in a dive and out of my sight and Jack said it went down. The other two A/C broke away without firing at us.
We heard that IBAR 193 was lost in October or November with no survivors. But do not know this to be a matter of record.
We flew a total of 35 missions. Gilbert had 38 but only got credit for 32 - 35 for Gilbert.
I would always try to fly on the "form up" A/C. The one with the wide, yellow and brown stripes (if I remember correctly) - we flew with only one pilot and flight engineer on these missions. I remember that we were firing off "green two-star" shells one day and when we got the 44th on its way, we were going back to the field when the pilot said, "You fly this thing. I want to go back in he waist and make some pictures.
So, here I am, all alone on the flight deck of that B-24. What a day for a 19-year-old!
I went on to get my wings and flew for 28 years and loved every minute of it.
Well, I guess I got this off my chest and as you can see, my memories and your records don't match.
Such as your records of July 6 show we were flying (J-189) JBAR 189 not IBAR 193. Oh, well, it's been a long, long time.
Somewhere I remember records showing we went on a mission to Germany on June 6, 1944, but I recall very well that we made the "D" Day invasion. Also, it shows in my certified copy - which I am also sending you a copy.
Copies of these other orders I am sending so maybe you could find some other clues from them.