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Thread: Lest We Forget: November 14, 1944

  1. #41

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    December 23, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    AIRBORNE OPERATIONS (IX Troop Carrier Command): 260 C-47s drop 334 tons of supplies in parapacks on several drop zones inside the besieged American positions at Bastogne, Belgium.

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

    Mission 757: 423 bombers and 636 fighters are dispatched to hit marshalling yards, communication centers and a rail junction in the rear of the battle area; 75-150 Luftwaffe aircraft are encountered and the AAF claims 75-5-23; 7 fighter are lost:

    1. 148 of 153 B-17s hit the marshalling yard at Ehrang; 45 B-17s are damaged; 1 airman is KIA and 1 WIA. Escorting are 54 of 62 P-51s; they claim 20-0-3 aircraft without loss.

    2. 113 B-24s are sent to bomb communication centers at Ahrweiler (48), Junkerath (31) and Dahlem (27); 74 B-24s are damaged; 3 airmen are WIA. Escort is provided by 243 of 254 P-51s; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    3. 152 B-17s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at Homburg (58) and Kaiserslautern (40) and the rail junction at Homburg; 6 others hit targets of opportunity; they claim 6-4-5 aircraft; 77 B-17s are damaged; 1 airman is WIA and 7 MIA. Escorting are 112 of 117 P-51s; they claim 2-0-0 aircraft without loss.

    4. 6 of 6 B-17s fly a screening mission.

    5. 163 P-47s and P-51s fly a fighter sweep of the Bonn, Germany area; they claim 46-1-15 aircraft; 3 P-47s and 3 P-51s are lost (all pilots MIA).

    6. 20 P-51s fly a scouting mission without loss.

    Mission 758: 5 B-17s and 7 B-24s are dispatched to drop leaflets in France, the Netherlands and Germany during the night; only 10 aircraft drop leaflets.

    The 374th, 375th and 376th Fighter Squadrons, 361st Fighter Group, based at Little Walden, England with P-51s, begin operating from St Dizier (ALG A-64), France; the 486th and 487th Fighter Squadrons, 352d Fighter Group, based at Bodney, England, begin operating from Asch (ALG Y-29), Belgium with P-51s.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS

    First Tactical Air Force (Provisional): The 405th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group, ceases operating from Dijon (ALG Y-9), France with P-47s and returns to base at Tantonville (ALG Y-1), France.

    Ninth Air Force:

    In Germany, around 500 B-26s and A-20s attack rail bridges, communications targets, villages, a rail junction and targets of opportunity losing 31 bombers; fighters fly bomber escort, armed reconnaissance, and patrols (claiming 100+ aircraft downed and 3 airfields bombed), and support ground forces between Werbomont, Belgium and Butgenbach, Germany along the northern battleline of Bulge and the US III, VIII, and XII Corps forces along the southern battleline of the Bulge.

    In Belgium, the L-5s of the 153d Liaison Squadron, IX Tactical Air Command (attached to Twelfth Army Group), cease operating from Liege (ALG A-93) and return to base at Tongres; the 161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group, based at Le Culot (ALG A-89) begins operating from Conflans (ALG A-94), France with F-6s and P-51s.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd History The skies over Europe began to clear on 23 December, and the Eighth Air Force took full advantage of the flying weather. Over 1100 tons of bombs were dropped on marshalling yards, communications centres and railway lines supporting the German offensive. Aerial combat also resumed in a big way when Allied fighters downed 69 aircraft, probably destroyed one and damaged eight during the course of the day. The 328th FS joined in the action near Liège, in Belgium, with Capt Don Bryan and Lt William H Sanford each destroying an Fw 190.

    0600, 23 December: US forces begin withdrawal from St Vith salient.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:09 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  2. #42

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    December 24, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    AIRBORNE OPERATIONS (IX Troop Carrier Command): 160 C-47s drop 160 tons of supplies at Bastogne, Belgium.

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

    Mission 759: 10 of 12 B-24s hit the La Pallice coastal battery in France without loss.

    Mission 760: A high pressure front across western Europe brings clear weather and the Eighth AF launches a maximum effort against airfields and communications in western Germany; this was the largest air strike of WWII; 2,034 bombers and 853 fighters are dispatched; they claim 92-6-21 Luftwaffe aircraft; 12 bombers and 10 fighters are lost:

    1. 858 B-17s are dispatched to hit airfields at Darmstadt (189), Frankfurt-Rheine (143), Bilbis (100), Babenhausen (96), Zellhausen (85) and Gross Ostheim (60); secondary targets hit are marshalling yards at Pforzheim (37) and Kaiserslautern (24) and Haildraum (60); 26 targets of opportunity are hit by 37 B-17s; they claim 18-5-1 aircraft; 8 B-17s are lost, 11 damaged beyond repair and 337 damaged; 15 airmen are KIA, 21 WIA and 76 MIA. Escorting are 343 of 358 P-51s; they claim 53-0-6 aircraft; 7 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    2. 542 B-17s are dispatched to hit the Merzhausen air depot (198) and airfields at Giessen (74), Kirchgons (54), Nidda (53) and Ettinghausen (43); secondary targets hit are Koblenz (42), Darmstadt (7), Kaiserslautern (5) and Babenhausen (4); 20 B-17s hit a target of opportunity; 2 B-17s are lost, 9 damaged beyond repair and 109 damaged; 21 airmen are KIA, 23 WIA and 18 MIA. Escort is provided by 350 of 368 P-51s; they claim 13-1-13 aircraft; 3 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    3. 634 B-24s are dispatched to hit Euskirchen (62), Wittlich (62), Gerolstein (59), Mayen (59), Ahrweiller (54), Bitburg (35), Eller (32), Pfazel (28), Ruwer (27), Schonecken (26), Rheinbach (25), Daun (24), (18), and Cochem (11); 75 others hit 18 targets of opportunity; 2 B-24s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 150 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 5 WIA and 20 MIA. Escorting are 87 of 92 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 4-0-0 aircraft without loss.

    4. 24 of 24 P-51s fly a scouting mission; they claim 3-0-1 aircraft without loss.

    5. 9 of 11 P-51s escort 9 Spitfires and 8 F-5s on a photo reconnaissance mission over Germany; they claim 1-0-0 aircraft without loss.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    276 B-26s and A-20s hit rail bridges and communications centers in western Germany; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division, fly armed reconnaissance, and support the US III, VIII, and XII Corps along the southern battleline of the Bulge, stretching from Echternach, Luxembourg to the area northwest of Neufchateau, Belgium as the 4th Armored Division reaches the enemy's ring around Bastogne.

    The 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group, based at Le Culot (ALG A-89) Belgium with F-6s and P-51s, begins operating from Conflans (ALG A-94), France.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    0200, 24 December: KG Peiper begins escape from La Gleize.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 12-18-2019 at 09:26 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  3. #43

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    December 25, 1944 - Christmas Day

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): Mission 761: 422 bombers and 460 fighters are dispatched to hit communications centers and rail bridges west of the Rhine River; they claim 49-7-12 Luftwaffe aircraft; 5 bombers and 9 fighters are lost:

    1. 248 B-24s are sent to hit communications centers at Hallschlag (41), Prum (40), Pelm (37), Murlenbach (33), Pronsfeld (16) and Wahlen(12); targets of opportunity are communications centers at Budesheim (21), Hillesheim (12), Marmegen (11), Nettersheim (10) and Mechernich (9); they claim 3-1-3 aircraft; 4 B-24s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 92 damaged; 2 airmen are KIA, 4 WIA and 40 MIA. Escorting are 144 of 156 P-51s; they claim 6-0-1 aircraft; 3 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA) and 2 damaged beyond repair.

    2. 174 B-17s are sent to hit railroad bridges at Ahrweiler (44) and Bad Munster (9), the Kaiserslautern railroad (38) and the Hermeskeil-Simmern communications center and Marscheid railroad bridge (36); targets of opportunity are railroad bridges at Bad Kreuznach (17) and Eller (11) and other (1); they claim 0-0-1 aircraft; 1 B-17 is lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 36 damaged; 9 airmen are MIA. Escorting are 278 of 294 P-51s; they claim 40-6-7 aircraft; 6 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    3. 10 of 10 P-51s fly a scouting missions without loss.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    Nearly 650 B-26, A-20s and A-26s hit rail and road bridges, communications centers and targets of opportunity in western Germany and the Bulge breakthrough area; fighters, including an Eighth AF group loaned to the Ninth AF, escort the 9th Bombardment Division, fly patrols and armed reconnaissance, and support the US III, VIII, and XII Corps along the southern battleline of the enemy salient from Echternach, Luxembourg to northwest of Neufchateau, Belgium.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd History Christmas Day 1944 saw no break in the fighting, and the engagements on the ground and in the air were ferocious. The German assault on Bastogne resumed that day in spite of the terrible punishment its forces had received from aerial bombing and artillery fire during the previous 24 hours. As Gen Tony McAuliffe’s 101st Airborne Division continued to stubbornly defend its tiny perimeter in Belgium, the heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force renewed their harassment of German supply lines. The attacks on communication centres and rail lines west of the Rhine River drew the Luftwaffe out of hiding and into the air in an attempt to protect these critical facilities.
    Engagements with enemy aircraft were frequent, and eight of the twelve Eighth Air Force fighter groups operating in the area participated in the destruction of 46 German aircraft. The 328th FS played a major role in the day’s air battles by shooting down 11 enemy fighters, but the squadron’s great victory was totally overshadowed by the loss of its leader. The 328th FS, led by Maj George Preddy, was on patrol when the controller vectored it toward enemy aircraft detected in the Koblenz area. Southwest of the city two flights of Bf 109s, each numbering about 20, were spotted. As the second gaggle of enemy aircraft passed under Preddy’s White Flight, he led three other members of the flight down to attack, and Capt Bill Stangel, flying as White 5, single-handedly bounced the first flight. Stangel subsequently reported; ‘As I was No 5, I went into the first bunch alone and singled out an Me 109, giving him a short burst. He split-essed, I followed, he jettisoned his canopy and I gave him another short burst just as he bailed out at about 6000 ft. The enemy aircraft hit the ground and exploded. ‘I turned away and shortly afterwards engaged another Me 109 at about 7500 ft. We started turning, and every once in a while I would take a short burst at him even though the deflection was great. I then gave him another short burst from the high starboard side and he went into a short dive. I followed, he then pulled up sharply, and he must have closed his power because I overshot him. I came around him and he bailed out as I was coming in for this pass. I passed just below him and circled until he hit the deck. The enemy aircraft crashed into a wood and exploded.’ While Capt Stangel was engaged in his one-man show (which took his score to five kills exactly), the remainder of White Flight was taking an additional toll of enemy aircraft. Maj Preddy shot down two Bf 109s for his 26th and 27th (26.83) aerial victories, and three more of the Messerschmitt fighters were knocked out of the sky by Lts James Lambright, Ray Mitchell and Charles Goodman, giving White Flight a total of seven kills in this engagement. Blue Flight tried to join the fray at Koblenz but ran into the overcast and got separated. When they could not locate the rest of the flight, Capt Charles Cesky and his wingman, Lt Al Chesser, started back to Asch. As they approached the city of Maastricht, Cesky noticed a flight of four Fw 190s flying some 500 ft above them and he attacked. His first target was the number three aircraft, and the pilot bailed out as soon as Cesky’s bullets slammed into his Fw 190. Then in quick succession Cesky shot down the number two fighter and then the German flight leader. As Capt Cesky’s victims tumbled from the sky, Lt Chesser shot the fourth Fw 190 down in flames. Cesky had boosted his final tally to 8.5 aerial kills with this trio of victories. These four Fw 190s claimed by the 328th FS had raised the group’s total for the day to eleven, but the event that was now about to unfold rocked the 352nd to its foundations. As White Flight departed Koblenz the controller vectored it toward Liège to look for some low flying enemy aircraft that had been reported in the area. As Maj Preddy and his wingman, Lt Gordon Cartee, headed for Liège, they were joined by Lt James Bouchier of the 479th FG. As they approached the city, they were warned by R/T of intense flak, but the voice said it would be lifted when they got there. Southwest of LiègeMaj Preddy observed a low flying Fw 190 and chased it at tree-top level into an area guarded by the US Army’s 12th Anti-aircraft Group. The three Mustangs flew into a murderous flak barrage and Lt Cartee reported the tragedy that followed; ‘As we went over the woods I was hit by ground fire. Maj Preddy apparently noticed the intense ground fire and light flak and we broke off the attack with a chandelle to the left. About half way through the manoeuvre, and at an altitude of about 700 ft, his canopy came off and he nosed down, still in his turn. I saw no ’chute and watched his ship hit.’ Gordon Cartee managed to get out of the area after seeing Maj Preddy crash, but Lt Bouchier was not so lucky. His Mustang was also hit by numerous 40 mm flak rounds and he bailed out. Bouchier made it down safely, but George Preddy was found dead in the wreckage of his P-51D. American guns had accidentally taken the life of one of America’s finest fighter pilots, and the leading USAAF Mustang ace. Back at Y-29 the men had just finished a wonderful Christmas dinner when the news of Maj Preddy’s death was announced. The ‘Bluenosers’ were stunned, and Sgt Iggy Marinello noted in his diary, ‘That news quickly brought home the ugly realities of war and did subdue the planned festivities’. Back at Bodney some of the 487th FS personnel were in the NCO club enjoying a few beers when the ‘bomb’ was dropped. Joseph ‘Red’ McVay, who had served for many months as Preddy’s assistant crew chief in the 487th FS, recalled; ‘A silence came over the group. This could not happen, should not happen, could not be true. Not to Maj Preddy, the favourite of the 487th enlisted men. No one spoke. One by one they got up and left the area, left the keg of beer, to find some place where they could compose themselves and try to understand what had happened to their hero.’
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:09 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  4. #44

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    December 26, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

    Mission 762: Poor weather inhibits operations but 151 bombers and 336 fighters are dispatched to hit rail targets behind the Bulge; they claim 11-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 fighters are lost:

    1. 74 B-17s are sent to hit the railroad bridge at Neuwied (23) and the Andernach marshalling yard (9); secondary targets hit are the marshalling yard at Neuwied (12) and communications center at Sinzig (12); 1 B-17 hits a target of opportunity, the communication center at Mayen; they claim 0-0-1 aircraft; 30 B-17s are damaged.

    2. 77 B-24s are dispatched to hit the marshalling yard at Niederlahnstein (36) and the rail bridge at Sinzig (35) without loss.

    3. The bombers are escorted by 249 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 11-0-0 aircraft without loss.

    4. 70 of 73 P-51s make a sweep in the Bonn area to support the bombers; they claim 3-0-0 aircraft; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    5. 2 of 2 P-51s fly a scouting mission without loss.

    Mission 763: 3 B-17s and 6 B-24s drop leaflets in the Netherlands and Germany during the night.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    The 9th Bombardment Division attacks road junctions, rail bridges, rail head, communications and casual targets in the Bulge breakthrough area as the enemy's westward drive ends short of the Maas River; fighters fly escort, armed reconnaissance, sweeps, and support the US III and VIII Corps south of Bastogne, Belgium, as the US 4th Armored Division breaks the ring around the city.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd History On the ground, the heroic stand by the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne had blunted the German offensive. The fighting would continue for several more days, but the momentum had now shifted to the Allies. The 352nd FG continued its coverage of the front, and on 26 December picked up where it had left off the day before by scoring another 13.5 kills during two engagements with the Luftwaffe. The first fight of the day occurred at 0940 hrs when the 487th FS led by Lt Col John Meyer, received a vector to Ollheim. The squadron arrived at the scene just in time to prevent two gaggles of Bf 109s from bouncing Ninth Air Force Thunderbolts that were dive-bombing German positions. Meyer led Red and White Flights in an attack against the leading enemy formation and sent Blue and Yellow Flights against the second gaggle, which was flying top cover. First blood was drawn by Maj Bill Halton’s Yellow Flight, which quickly downed two Bf 109s. The first of these fell to Lt Walker Diamond, who closed and fired from a short distance, shooting ‘huge pieces’ off his target. The enemy fighter then went into an uncontrollable spin and smashed into the frozen earth below. Seconds later Maj Halton scored Yellow Flight’s second kill of the morning, and simultaneously Lt Ray Littge of White Flight added a third to the list. Littge stated in his report; ‘I then bounced a ’109 shooting at a P-51. This enemy aircraft broke for the deck immediately, and I started shooting from 800 yards down to 150 yards, seeing many strikes and setting the left wing on fire. The fire stopped after a little while, and he climbed to 6000 ft and bailed out.’ Five minutes later Lt Col Meyer’s section knocked another 4.5 fighters out of the sky, these kills being credited to ‘J C’, who downed one and shared a second Bf 109 with a pilot from another group, Capts Ralph Hamilton and Marion Nutter and Lt Alexander Sears, all three of whom downed a Bf 109 apiece. Later that day the 487th FS was patrolling near Vellendor when someone noticed a formation of about thirty Bf 109s flying on the deck. In an instant the ‘Bluenosers’ peeled off and hit the unsuspecting German formation with a vengeance. The first two Bf 109s fell away being ripped apart by the gunfire of Lt Col Meyer and Lt James Bateman. As these fighters crashed, Lts Duerr Schuh and William C Miller moved in and destroyed four more. Schuh despatched two of the Bf 109s within seconds of each other, and then covered Miller’s tail as he shot down another Bf 109 from this hapless formation. As Miller’s victim crashed, Schuh pulled in behind another Messerschmitt and smashed its right wing with a long burst, then watched it roll over and crash. As this Bf 109 hit the ground, the remaining German pilots in the formation apparently woke up and hastily departed the scene. By then Duerr Schuh had claimed the three aerial victories he needed to ‘make ace’.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:10 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  5. #45

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    December 27, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

    Mission 764: Freezing fog at bases in the UK restrict operations but 641 bombers and 390 fighters are dispatched against rail targets in western Germany in support of the battlefront in the Bulge; they claim 29.5-1-9 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 bombers and 5 fighters are lost:

    1. 227 B-17s are sent to hit marshalling yards at Fulda (118) and Andernach (63) and the rail bridge at Neuwied (7); 13 others hit a target of opportunity; 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 45 damaged; 9 airmen are KIA. The escort is 44 of 46 P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA).

    2. 182 B-24s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at Neunkirchen (57), Homburg (46) and Kaiserslautern (33) and the rail bridge at Kaiserslautern (19); targets of opportunity are the marshalling yard at St Wendel (9) and the rail junction at Enkenbach (8); 1 B-24 is lost, 5 damaged beyond repair and 60 damaged; 18 airmen are KIA, 11 WIA and 6 MIA. Escorting are 88 of 96 P-51s; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA).

    3. 232 B-17s are sent to hit the marshalling yard at Euskirchen (72), the Gerolstein rail junction (58) and rail bridges at Bullay (34) and Altenahr (25); targets of opportunity are Hillesheim (12) and Eckfeld (1); 1 B-17 is lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 83 damaged; 9 airmen are KIA, 6 WIA and 9 MIA. Escort is provided by 46 of 48 P-51s without loss.

    4. 163 P-47s and P-51s fly a fighter sweep and engage about 200 Luftwaffe fighters; they claim 29.5-1-9 aircraft; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA).

    5. 15 of 15 P-51s fly a scouting missions without loss.

    Mission 765: A night leaflet mission is flown over Germany.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    The 9th Bombardment Division attacks rail bridges, communications centers, and targets of opportunity in Germany and Belgium; fighters escort the bombers, fly patrols and armed reconnaissance, and support the US 3d Armored and 82d Airborne Divisions in the Manhay and Trois-Ponts area of Belgium, and the III, VIII, and XII Corps in Saint-Hubert-Bastogne-Martelange area of Belgium. Units moving from Chievres (ALG A-84), Belgium: HQ 365th Fighter Group and the 388th Fighter Squadron to Metz (ALG A-90), France with P-47s; HQ 368th Fighter Group and 395th, 396th and 397th Fighter Squadrons to Juvincourt (ALG A-68), France with P-47s.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd History The 487th FS suffered the group’s only casualty on the 27th when Lt Carl Tafel was shot down and killed by enemy fighters near Heimerzheim. That night the Germans made an attempt at avenging their recent heavy losses by bombing Y-29. The attack was noted by Iggy Marinello (328th FS) in his diary; ‘That night the angry Huns came over low and brought everything in the book with them. The field guns went off, the sky was filled with tracers and the foxholes were full of GIs. Eight alerts and not much sleep. Little damage was done, but plenty of action. The next day was spent building more foxholes. War was now a serious thing to us peace-loving fellows. We walked to and from the line carrying our guns, ammo, helmets and gas masks. No one was taking any chances. Yes it was rough in Belgium near the frontlines.’
    On 27 December, while the groundcrews continued the improvement of defences around Y-29, the pilots headed to Germany. As the ‘Bluenosers’ approached Bonn, a large gaggle of enemy aircraft was observed and the 486th and 487th FSs peeled off for the attack. The assault began at 1100 hrs, and within 30 minutes the ground was littered with the wreckage of German fighters. Maj Bill Halton had his best day of the war by downing three Bf 109s himself and sharing a fourth with Lt Anthony Goebel. Halton achieved aerial ‘acedom’ with this haul, as did his squadronmate Lt Ray Littge with his three Fw 190 kills. The quickness of Littge’s destruction of these aircraft is borne out in his encounter report; 104 ‘Flying White Three, our Flight of four bounced 8+ FW 190s on the deck. They started a loose Lufbury to the left and my wingman, Lt (Russell) Ross, and I got behind the last boy in the Lufbury. I got strikes on his wings and tail, and he immediately snapped to the left and hit the ground and exploded. This is verified by Lt Ross’s statement. I got behind another one and scored many strikes on the cockpit and wing root area. He rolled over on his back and went into the ground. ‘In the meantime all but one of the ’190s were either shot down or dispersed, and I started turning with him. I got strikes on him several different times. He straightened out, jettisoned his canopy and started pulling up. Then an unidentified P-51 came down on him from above and got several strikes as the pilot bailed out. ‘I claim three (3) FW 190s destroyed.’ Following Lt Littge in scoring were Lt Col John Meyer (487th), Capt Marion Nutter (487th) and Lts Richard Henderson and William Reese (both of the 486th) with two each. Lt Col Willie O Jackson (486th), Maj Franklyn Greene (486th) and Lts James Bateman (487th), Sanford Moats (487th), Earl Lazear (486th), Russell Ross (487th) and James Wood (487th) closed out the scoring with one each. The solitary Bf 109 claimed by Earl Lazear gave him ace status. By 1130 hrs the enemy formation had been totally routed, and the ‘Bluenosers’ returned to Y-29 with 22 victories and no losses.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:10 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  6. #46

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    December 28, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 3 missions are flown.

    Mission 766: 1,275 bombers and 606 fighter are dispatched to hit rail and road bridges and several cities in the western German tactical area; 2 bombers are lost:

    1. 361 B-24s are sent to hit marshalling yards at Kaiserslautern (123), Homburg (28) and Neunkirchen (18), the Kaiserslautern rail bridge (31) and the bridge at Bullay (20); secondary targets hit are Bierbach (32) and Zweibrucken (20); 12 other hit a target of opportunity; 2 B-24s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 121 damaged; 10 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 22 MIA. Escorting are 147 of 161 P-51s without loss.

    2. 535 B-17s are dispatched to hit the rail bridge at Irlich (109); 399 hit the secondary, the Mosel marshalling yard at Koblenz; 2 other hit a target of opportunity; 4 B-17s are damaged; 1 airman is KIA. Escort is provided by 236 of 247 P-51s without loss.

    3. 379 B-17s are sent to hit marshalling yards at Koblenz/Lutzel (131), Bruhl (75), Sieburg (36), and Troisdorf (11), and the Remagen Bridge (71); 1 B-17s hit the secondary, Sinzig; and 5 hit a target of opportunity; 2 B-17s are damaged beyond repair and 2 damaged; 1 airman is KIA and 2 WIA. Escorts are 158 of 168 P-51s without loss.

    4. 27 of 30 P-51s fly a scouting mission.

    Mission 767: During the night, 7 of 16 B-24s hit de la Colibre, France without loss.

    Mission 768: During the night, 2 B-24s drop leaflets in Belgium without loss.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    Weather prevents all combat operations except night-fighter missions.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd History The weather began to deteriorate on 28 December, and although the 352nd continued to fly missions, encounters were non-existent for the next few days. The increasing cold and new snow was making life miserable for the ‘Bluenosers’, and the search for fuel for their camp stoves became the preoccupation of all personnel during this period. Yet in spite of the horrible conditions the groundcrews somehow kept their Mustangs operational, and numerous sorties were flown on a daily basis.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:10 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  7. #47

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    December 29, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): Mission 769: 827 bombers and 724 fighters hit communications targets in W Germany; 4 bombers and 3 fighters are lost:

    1. 219 B-17s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at Frankfurt (124), and Aschaffenburg(67); 10 hit the secondary, the Frankfurt S marshalling yard; and 9 hit a target of opportunity; 1 B-17s is lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 101 damaged; 5 airmen are WIA and 12 MIA. Escorting are 267 of 282 P-51s; 2 are lost (pilots MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    2. 304 B-17s are sent to hit the Bingen marshalling yard (144), Bullay rail bridge (74) and communication center at Wittlich (50); targets of opportunity are Grosslittgen (12) and one near Diekirch (13); 2 B-17s are lost and 132 damaged; 11 airmen are WIA and 15 MIA. Escorting are 61 of 64 P-51s; 1 is lost.

    3. 262 B-24s are sent to hit communications centers at Schleiden (9), Zulpich (31), Stadtkyll (32) and Drum (10), the Irlich rail bridge (51), the Gerolstein marshalling yard (26) and the Remagen Bridge (30); targets of opportunity are Fensbach (19), Duppach (8) and 10 others; 1 B-24 is lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 95 damaged; 17 airmen are KIA and 5 WIA. Escort is provided by 106 of 119 P-51s without loss.

    4. 38 B-17s are sent to hit the Lunebach communications center (35); 1 hits the Telm marshalling yard; 23 B-17s are damaged. Escorting are 101 of 104 P-51s without loss.

    5. 4 of 4 B-17s fly a screening mission.

    6. 81 P-47s and P-51s fly a fighter sweep against rail transportation without loss.

    7. 26 of 27 P-51s fly a scouting mission.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    Weather causes the recall of 100+ bombers except for 7 which bomb Saint-Vith, Belgium communications center and Keuchingen, Germany road bridge; the XIX Tactical Air Command flies armed reconnaissance over Belgium and Germany and supports the US III, VIII, and XII Corps in the Neufchateau-Bastogne-Arlon areas of Belgium.

    In France, HQ 100th Fighter Wing moves from St-Dizier (ALG A-64) to Metz (ALG A-90); the 386th Fighter Squadron, 365th Fighter Group, moves from Chievres (ALG A-84), Belgium to Metz (ALG A-90) with P-47s.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 12-07-2019 at 10:03 AM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  8. #48

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    December 30, 1944

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

    Mission 770: 1,315 bombers and 572 fighters are sent to attack rail and communications targets in western Germany; 4 bombers and 2 fighters are lost:

    1. 526 B-17s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at Kassel (314) and Mannheim (181); 9 other hit a targets of opportunity; 3 B-17s are lost and 37 damaged; 24 airmen are MIA. Escorting are 301 of 325 P-51s; 2 are lost (pilots MIA).

    2. 414 B-17s are sent to hit rail bridges at Bullay (72) and Kaiserslautern (72) and the marshalling yard at Bischoffsheim (35); secondary targets are the marshalling yards at Kaiserslautern (144) and Mainz (45); and 25 hit the city of Kassel; 1 B-17 is lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 24 damaged; 12 airmen are KIA and 6 MIA. Escort is provided by 144 of 154 P-51s without loss.

    3. 369 B-24s are sent to hit rail bridges at Altenahr (61), Euskirchen (91), and Irlich (58), the Irlich rail bridge (58), the Remagen Bridge (57) and the marshalling yard at Mechernich (87); 1 B-24 is damaged. The escort is 63 of 72 P-47s without loss.

    4. 6 of 6 B-17s fly a screening mission.

    5. 20 of 21 P-51s fly a scouting mission.

    Mission 771: 8 B-24s and 3 B-17s drop leaflet in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany during the night.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force):

    Weather forces the recall and cancellation of the 9th Bombardment Division and IX Tactical Air Command missions; the XXIX Tactical Air Command (Provisional) flies armed reconnaissance over the battle area and around Wallersheim, Germany and the XIX Tactical Air Command covers large areas of France, Belgium, and Germany hitting numerous ground targets and supports the US III, VIII, and XII Corps in the Saint-Hubert and Bastogne, Belgium and the Diekirch, Luxembourg areas.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 12-08-2019 at 08:46 AM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  9. #49

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    December 31, 1944 - New Years Eve

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force):

    VIII Bomber Command Mission 171: Various targets in France are hit; 19 B-17's and 6 B-24's are lost.

    1. 200 of 236 B-17's and 57 of 60 B-24's hit the Bordeaux-Merignac, Cognac-Chateaubernard and Landes Bussac Airfields at 1211-1315 hours; they claim 17-13-27 Luftwaffe aircraft; 18 B-17's and 5 B-24's are lost, 8 B-17's and 2 B-24's are damaged beyond repair and 103 B-17's and 5 B-24's are damaged; casualties are 9 KIA, 36 WIA and 231 MIA.

    2. 57 B-17's are dispatched to hit a blockade running ship at Gironde but cannot find the target; 1 B-17 is damaged beyond repair and 3 damaged; casualties are 2 KIA and 5 WIA.

    3. 87 of 94 B-24's hit the St Jean D'Angely Airfield at 1211-1235 hours; they claim 9-1-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; 1 B-24 is lost, 3 are damaged beyond repair and 5 damaged; casualties are 10 MIA.

    4. 120 of 125 B-17's hit the industrial areas at Paris-Ivry and Bois-Colombes at 1207-1227 hours; 1 B-17 is lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 49 damaged; casualties are 2 WIA and 10 MIA.

    These missions are escorted by 74 P-38's, 441 P-47's and 33 Ninth Air Force P-51's; they claim 9-1-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; 1 P-38, 2 P-47's are 1 P-51 are lost; 1 P-38 and 6 P-47's are damaged beyond repair and 1 P-38 is damaged; casualties are 3 WIA and 2 MIA.

    The total bomb tonnage dropped by the Eighth Air Force in Dec 43, 13,142 tons (14,486 tonnes), for the first time exceeds that dropped by the RAF Bomber Command.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): Around 200 B-26's bomb V-weapon sites in the French coastal area.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd History The missions of 28-30 December were virtually uneventful, except for dodging flak from time to time. On the 31st, however, the 328th FS led on this occasion by Lt Col John Meyer, encountered two of the Luftwaffe’s new Arado Ar 234 jet bombers during a patrol. The engagement took place near the Belgian town of Verviers, and Capt Don Bryan made the first bounce on the twin-engined jets. He scored a number of hits on the Ar 234, but had to break away after being warned of the approach of a second Arado. Lt Col Meyer then attacked the second bomber, and after a long chase, finally shot it down near Bonn. The 352nd also suffered its final fatality of 1944 on this day when the 328th FG’s Flt Off Hugh Howard Jr crashed his Mustang into the Channel when his flight ran into bad weather.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:10 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

  10. #50

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    January 1, 1945 - New Year’s Day

    EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

    STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 2 missions are flown.

    Mission 774: 845 bombers and 725 fighters are dispatched to hit oil installations and rail bridges and junctions in western Germany visually and by PFF; they claim 23-1-3 Luftwaffe aircraft including a jet fighter; 8 bombers and 2 fighters are lost:

    1. 451 B-17s are sent to hit an oil refinery at Magdeburg (11); secondary targets are the Henschel marshalling yard at Kassel (292) and the Gottingen marshalling yard (26); targets of opportunity are Hadamar (12), Wetzlar (12), Dillenburg (15), Koblenz (11), Wetter (12), Limburg (8), Kirchbunden (7) and other (22); 2 B-17s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 71 damaged; 10 airmen are KIA, 8 WIA and 18 MIA. Escorting are 327 of 374 P-51s; they claim 17-1-1 aircraft; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA) and 1 damaged beyond repair.

    2. 109 B-17s are dispatched to hit oil industry targets at Dollbergen (54) and Ehmen (24); targets of opportunity are the Koblenz marshalling yard (12), Limburg (4) and other (5); 3 B-17s are damaged beyond repair and 43 damaged;10 airmen are KIA. Escort is provided by 199 P-47s and P-51s without loss.

    3. 273 B-24s hit the Lutzel (56) and Guls (30) rail bridges at Koblenz, the Irlich rail bridge (57) and the Remagen rail bridge (6); targets of opportunity are Andernach (26), Engers rail bridge (9), Trier (1) and others(6); 1 B-24 is lost, 4 damaged beyond repair and 63 damaged; 20 airmen areKIA, 8 WIA and 10 MIA. The escort is 66 of 70 P-51s without loss.

    4. 12 of 12 B-17s fly a screening force mission; they are 8 minutes late for their escort and are attacked by Fw 190s when 50 miles (80 km) ahead of the bombers; they claim 6-0-2 aircraft; 5 B-17s are lost and 1 damaged beyond repair; 45 airmen are MIA. Escort is supposed to be 23 of 26 P-51s.

    5. 2 of 5 B-17s fly an APHRODITE mission against Oldenburg without loss.

    6. 11 of 11 P-51s escort 9 F-5s and 1 Spitfire on a photo reconnaissance mission over Germany without loss.

    7. 25 P-47s and P-51s escort 3 of 4 Mosquitoes on a special operations mission without loss.

    Mission 775: 5 B-24s and 3 B-17s drop leaflet on Belgium and Germany during the night without loss.

    The 1st, 2d and 3d Bombardment Divisions are redesignated 1st, 2d and 3d Air Divisions.

    TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): The Luftwaffe launches an attack (Operation Bodenplatte) of 700-800 aircraft against Ninth AF and Allied airfields, mainly in the Brussels, Belgium and Eindhoven, the Netherlands areas, and to a lesser degree in the Metz, France area; 127 operational Allied aircraft are destroyed; Allied fighters claim 160 air victories while AA claims 300.

    190 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s hit rail bridges, communications centers, a road junction, a command post, and HQ, all in Belgium and Germany; fighters escort 9th Bombardment Division and Eighth AF bombers, fly patrols, sweeps, and armed reconnaissance (claiming 39 air victories and numerous ground targets destroyed) and support the US III, VII, and XII Corps between Saint-Hubert, Belgium and the Mosel River, Germany.

    In France, the detachment of the 72d Liaison Squadron, Ninth AF (attached to Sixth Army Group), ceases operating from Steinbourg with L-5s and returns to base at Buhl. During Jan 45, HQ XIX Tactical Air Command moves from France to Luxembourg.

    Locations in RED are on the Bodenplatte Map

    352nd HistoryDuring the early morning hours of 1 January 1945 an event which had not been seen in Germany for four years was unfolding. The sky was darkened and the ground shook from the sound of 800 low-flying aircraft as they headed westward on what would prove to be the Luftwaffe’s final large-scale offensive mission of the war. (Fact: Operation Bodenplatte was originally scheduled to start at the same time as Operation Watch am Rhine - Dec 16, 1944, but was delayed because of aircraft availability and weather). This was the beginning of Operation Bodenplatte, the last desperate attempt by the Luftwaffe to annihilate the Allied air forces based on the Continent. Their targets were 16 airfields located in the low countries and northeastern France. The Germans believed the destruction of these bases would end Allied air superiority, and allow their fighters to more effectively defend German cities against bombing raids. In spite of its high hopes, the dreams of the Luftwaffe were shattered by the events that followed. Through sheer determination, its pilots did indeed do considerable damage to Allied facilities, but at a cost the Luftwaffe could not afford. About 200 Allied aircraft were destroyed, but in turn the Germans lost approximately 300 fighters and 232 pilots, 30 of whom were experienced commanders.

    Without a doubt the most decisive battle of the day took place over Asch (Y-29), when the 352nd FG teamed up with the 366th FG to smash the attack. During the course of the engagement, which is now known to the veterans of the 352nd FG as the ‘Legend of Y-29’, the 487th FS destroyed 24 German fighters. Many former ‘Bluenosers’ cite this occasion above all others as the one that exemplifies John Meyer’s gift for leadership. His armourer, Jim Bleidner, probably stated it best; ‘While it is true that he showed extraordinary heroism in that event and many others, it is also true that his planning ahead and ability to “think like a German” played a very important part. In this case, he was convinced that the Germans would believe that the forward airfields would be vulnerable on New Year’s Day because the pilots and groundcrews would have hangovers from the night before. He called his pilots together on New Year’s Eve and said no parties until the following night. As it happened, he was correct in his analysis.’

    The ‘Bluenosers’ had not been scheduled for an early morning mission, but because of his ‘gut feelings’ Meyer pressed the Ninth Air Force for permission to fly an early patrol. To ensure the Mustangs would be ready if the mission was approved, the groundcrews set to work in the bitter cold at 0530 hrs to pre-flight the aircraft, and when the approval arrived at 0800 hrs, the 487th FS was prepared. Across the airstrip the groundcrews of the Ninth Air Force’s 366th FG had performed the same chores on their P-47s. The group was already scheduled for a dawn ground attack mission against German positions in the ‘Bulge’ area, and eight Thunderbolts of the 391st FS would be the first aircraft in the air from Y-29 at 0842 hrs. These machines, armed with 500-lb bombs and rockets, penetrated the heavy ground mist and headed for the Ardennes battle zone. A second flight of eight P-47s from the 390th FS duly took off at 0915 hrs, and they were just setting course to their target area when Lt Jack Kennedy saw flak bursts northeast of the field and alerted the rest of his flight. Led by Capt Lowell Smith, the flight turned to investigate. While this was happening, the 487th FS was taxying toward the runway. Just as the ‘Bluenosers’ had formed into three four-aeroplane flights on the runway, the P-47 pilots spotted the approaching enemy aircraft and attacked. This key ‘block’ momentarily disrupted the German fighters (from JG 11) that were streaking toward Y-29, and allowed Lt Col Meyer to lead his pilots into this historic battle.

    The Germans were not distracted for long though, and the 487th FS literally had to fight its way into the air. Meyer, leading the first flight down the runway, claimed the first of his two kills of the day while still in his take-off climb. As his first victim half rolled and smashed into the ground, Meyer selected another Fw 190 as his second target, and chased it to an area northwest of Liège. After four separate attacks, John Meyer nailed the fighter for his 24th aerial victory of the war. With an additional 13 strafing kills, Lt Col John C Meyer’s total now stood at 37, which made him the highest scoring American pilot in the ETO. The remainder of White Flight jumped right into the action, and Meyer’s wingman, Lt Alex Sears, scored next; ‘I was flying White 2 on Col Meyer’s wing. We had just taken off when we were bounced by 40 or 50 Me109s and FW 190s. One Me109 came at me head-on and we made several passes at each other, both of us firing. On the third pass I got some strikes on his engine and shot part of the tail section away. He started burning and went down in a lazy spiral and crashed.’

    White 3, Lt Ray Littge, shot down the first of his two Fw 190s after one quick burst, but the second proved to be a little more difficult. This FockeWulf took numerous hits from Littge’s guns but just kept on going, even though it was emitting huge clouds of black smoke. Lt Littge kept following and shooting until he was out of ammunition, yet the Fw 190 still did not fall, so the Mustang ace continued the chase until the German fighter finally pulled up and the pilot bailed out in the vicinity of Paris. White Flight’s Lt Alden Rigby,

    White 4, joined the action by downing an Fw 190 that was on Lt Littge’s tail, then broke sharply to the left and bounced another Focke-Wulf. He described the remainder of his mission; ‘I dropped down on his tail and my gunsight went out, so I fired a long burst until I noticed hits on his wing roots. He started pouring black smoke and lost altitude until he crashed into the trees. I immediately returned to the field and noticed a P-47 in a Lufbury with a ’109. The P-47 fired a short burst and I noticed a few strikes on the tail section of the ’109. The enemy aircraft seemed to tighten his turn, and as the P-47 mushed to the outside, I came in from beneath and fired a long burst, noticing hits on his wing. Coolant came out and the enemy aircraft crashed into an open field. ‘I started circling the field to make a landing because I was almost out of ammo. I investigated what seemed to be another fight a mile or so to my right. I pulled into the fight with two other P-51s. One P-51 fired at the enemy aircraft and scored hits, and then the ’109 broke in my direction and I fired the remainder of my ammo at him, scoring at least one hit in the cockpit. The enemy aircraft dived straight into the ground. ‘I claim two FW 190s destroyed and two Me 109s destroyed (one possibly shared with an unidentified P-47 and the other possibly shared with an unidentified P-51).’

    For the next 55 years Alden Rigby waited to be declared an ace, but these two half victories clouded the issue, and his official score remained four aircraft destroyed. In the autumn of 2000 the Victory Credit Board re-evaluated the claims and gave Alden Rigby full credit for both of the Bf 109s, and he has now officially joined the ranks of World War 2 aces.

    Maj Bill Halton’s Yellow Flight followed White Flight into the air, and into instant combat. The flight tracked German fighters through the area while dodging intense ‘friendly’ ground fire, and managed to destroy nine enemy aircraft before returning to land. Lt Sanford Moats shot down four Fw 190s (to take his final wartime tally to 8.5 aerial kills), Lt Henry Stewart was a close second with three Bf 109s (taking his overall tally to four aerial kills) and Maj Halton and Lt Dean Huston each downed an Fw 190. Sanford Moats provided a vivid description of the action; ‘I was flying Yellow 3 in Maj Halton’s flight. As I took off I spotted about 15+ FW 190s at 100 ft coming in from three o’clock on their way to make a pass at the airstrip north of our field. At the same time I noticed approximately 15 Me-109s flying top cover at 3500 ft just below a thin cloud cover. Two ’190s broke into my wingman, Lt Huston, and myself, and we entered a Lufbury to the left, under intense, light, friendly(!) flak. ‘I closed on the first ’190 and looked back to see a ’190 closing on the tail of my wingman. I called to break as the ’190 started shooting at him. I then fired a short burst at 300 yards and 30 degrees deflection at the ’190 ahead of me, observing strikes in the cockpit area and left wing root. He burst into flames and I saw him crash and explode as I continued the turn. The pilot did not get out. Approximately 50 enemy aircraft were in the vicinity, and the entire area was full of friendly flak. ‘I chased a ’190 that was strafing a marshalling yard as my second target. He broke left and started to climb. I fired a short burst at 200 yards and 20 degrees deflection, observing a concentration of strikes on both wing roots. Both wings folded up over the canopy of the enemy aircraft and he dropped straight in. The pilot did not get out. I continued my left turn and rolled out slightly above and behind another ’190, which broke left. I fired a short burst and observed hits on the left side of the fuselage, canopy and left wing root. He burst into flames, the canopy came off, and he crashed. The pilot did not get out. ‘I then broke into several ’109s and ’190s who were coming at me from the rear, heading toward Germany. They split up and I picked one ’190 who broke into me. We made several head-on passes and I pulled up and came down on his tail, firing a two-second burst, observing several strikes from wingtip to wingtip. He levelled off and hit the deck. I closed and fired several bursts from dead astern, observing strikes all over the tail and wing sections. ‘As we passed over Maastricht I fired a short burst that exploded his belly tank, and my aircraft was hit by 40 mm ground fire. At this time I had only one gun firing, and the enemy aircraft kept taking violent evasive action on the deck as we crossed the front lines. I fired a short burst at him every time I had a chance and observed many strikes on his tail section. I climbed above the enemy aircraft and made an attack from above and to the right. I fired and observed a few strikes around the right wing root. The enemy aircraft broke left, pulled up slightly and dove into the ground. The pilot did not get out. ‘I returned to our airdrome and was fired at by ground batteries. A lone Me-109 came across the field and I made a pass at him. He broke up into me and I fired my remaining few rounds of ammo at him at 90 degrees deflection and 100 yards’ range. He hit the deck and I chased him into Germany before returning to our airdrome to give it top cover. Another ’109 came by and I followed him through a couple of barrel rolls but could not shoot as I was out of ammo. He went straight up, chopped throttle, tried to get on my tail, couldn’t, stalled out, recovered and split-essed at 1500 ft, barely pulling out over the trees.

    Another P-51 came into the area at this time and shot the enemy aircraft down four miles northeast of the field. I later found out that the pilot of the P-51 was Capt Stewart. ‘All enemy aircraft were aggressive, and the last ’109 was absolutely hot. We were all handicapped by fuselage fuel tanks and by ground fire, and I feel very proud of our 12-ship squadron destroying 23 bandits on take-off without loss. Claim: 4 FW 190s.’

    By the time Capt Bill Whisner’s Blue Flight lifted from the runway the sky was filled with low flying enemy aircraft, and Whisner scored his first kill of the day while still climbing. His encounter report stated; ‘As I pulled my wheels up after taking off I heard over the radiotransmitter that there were bandits east of the field. We didn’t take time to form up, but set course, wide open, straight for the bandits. There were a few P-47s mixing it up with the bandits as I arrived. I ran into about 30 FW-190s at 1500 ft. There were many ’109s above them. I picked out a ’190 and pressed the trigger. Nothing happened. I reached down and turned on my gun switch and gave a couple of good bursts. As I watched him hit the ground and explode, I felt myself being hit. I broke sharply to the right and up. A ’190 was about 50 yards behind me, firing away. ‘As I was turning with him, another P-51 attacked him and he broke off his attack on me. I then saw that I had several 20 mm holes in each wing and another round hit my oil tank. My left aileron was also out and I was losing oil, but my temperature and pressure were steady. ‘Being over friendly territory, I could see no reason for landing immediately so I turned toward a big dogfight, and shortly had another ’190 in my sights. After I hit the ’190 with several bursts, its pilot tried to jump. Just as his canopy came off I fired again and the ’190 rolled over, crashed and exploded. ‘There were several ’109s in the vicinity so I engaged one of them. We fought for five or ten minutes and I finally managed to get behind him. I hit him good and he tumbled to the ground. At this time I saw 15-20 fires from crashed aeroplanes. Bandits were reported strafing the field so I headed for the strip. ‘I saw a ’109 strafe the northeastern portion of the strip. I started after him and he turned into me. We made two head-on passes and on the second I hit him in the nose and wings. The ’109 crashed and burned east of the airstrip. After it crashed I chased several more bandits, but they evaded me in the clouds. By now my windshield was covered with oil, so I headed back to the strip and landed.’

    So impressive was this performance that both the squadron and the participating pilots were decorated. The 487th FS was presented with the Distinguished Unit Citation, which was a unique honour since this award was usually reserved for units the size of a group or larger. Individual decorations included DSCs for Lt Col John C Meyer (his third), Capt William T Whisner (his second) and Lt Sanford Moats, and Silver Stars for Lt Col William Y Halton, Capt Henry M Stewart, Lt Raymond Littge and Lt Alden Rigby. Another very unique aspect to this battle was that the groundcrews finally got to witness their pilots in action. John Meyer was extremely proud of the 487th’s performance, and in his tribute to the men of the unit he noted the importance of the groundcrews in an almost poetic fashion; ‘This day was particularly important to the crew chiefs of the 352nd FG. In a year and a half of sweat and tears their only knowledge of the war was the stories their pilots told, the missing faces, torn aircraft, and sometime bloody cockpits. Until now these men had lived on the fringe of the crusade in Europe and had nothing to show for their large contribution but a solitary European Theater Ribbon on their jackets. Until now they had even been denied the self-satisfying fruition of the tortured mind and aching hearts behind their skilled hands. ‘On January 1, they stood out 100 strong, each man on the edge of his foxhole, never venturing to get in it, in order that he might see the skilful pilot employing the aeroplane which he had inspired with the caressing hands of a lover the night before, destroy the enemy in flaming cauldrons well within the reach of his own eyes. Fifteen of the enemy aircraft came down within a mile of the field.’ Meyer was equally praiseworthy of the efforts of those pilots from the 487th who succeeded in getting airborne on this day; ‘For the first time in my experience in the European air war American fighters had neither the advantage of superior tactical position, numbers or equipment.

    For the first time there was no measurement involved in the final determination other than the relative skill and initiative of the pilots. It was no time for leadership or organisation. It was man against man.’ As it turned out 1 January 1945 would see Lt Col John C Meyer fly his final combat missions of the war. After returning from his second sortie of the day, he was alerted for another assignment, but several days later an accident involving the ammunition carrier he was travelling in and a snow-covered Belgian road left Meyer with a serious leg injury. Shortly thereafter he was sent home for rest and recuperation.
    Last edited by 352nd Oscar; 01-12-2020 at 01:11 PM.
    "War has a grim purpose and is extremely complex. Sophisticated planning and doctrine are present at every level. Yet at the point of fire battle is the essence of chaos and violence."

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