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|Friday, February 25, 1944 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 114:
9th Bomber Command Field Order 214, Zero Hour 1600. Marauder Groups alerted: 322nd, 323rd, 344th, 386th, 387th, 391st, and the 416th. All groups to furnish thirty-six aircraft. The target is a launching site located at Lottinghem, France. Bomb loads 8 x 500 pound demolition bombs as long as available. Otherwise load 6 x 500 plus 2 x 600, or 6 x 600 pounds. In any case all bombs fused one-tenth nose and one-fortieth tail. Fighter escort will be 11 Group RAF Spitfires. Route out from base to Beachy Head where you will rendezvous at Zero Hour 1600 with fighters at 11,500 feet. Then on to the I.P. four miles south of Berk sur Mer to target. Route back, target make left turn to four miles south of Hardelot across the channel to Dungenness to base. Emergency airdromes are Friston , Gravesend, and Manston.
Communications bomber to fighters on VHF Channel B. Bomber call sign is DYPEG. Fighter call sign, GARLIC. Fighter Group Station call is AILSOME, all on VHF. Bomber to bomber frequency: Group Command. Air-Sea-Rescue on VHF Channel D. Flight crews were told due to extremely crowded conditions - the VHF Frequency must be held to absolute minimum. Splasher Beacons in use during entire mission: 5A, 6B, 7C, 8D, 9E, 10F, 11G, 15H, and 16G.
Weather not promising: Take off four-tenths cumulus at 700 feet, stratocumulus 1,500 to 1,800 feet, visibility on top five miles. Route out overcast entire route, tops of overcast 4,300 feet with a base of 2,000 feet. Light rime ice possibly encountered in clouds. Target area could be overcast, visibility aloft ten to fifteen miles. Route back similar to route out. At base ten-tenths stratocumulus at 2,000 feet, tops to 4,000 feet. Cloud layer thinning with occasional small breaks, visibility four miles.
A time check count down was made and then flight crews boarded trucks to carry them out to their assigned planes. Captain Dewhurst flying, "RAT POISON" 131606 AN-S was airborne at 1452 hours. He would be leading the formation of thirty-six planes. His high flight leader was Lieutenant Gus Hoffman flying ship 131848 AN-Q. Low flight leader Captain Len Burgess flying, "WINNIE" 131617 RG-A. Also flying in that flight number four position would be the author flying with the Lieutenant Donald Vincent crew in their plane called,"BUZZ-N-BITCH II" 131953 RG-T.
The second box leader with eighteen ships was Major Don Weiss with his plane named, "INCENDIARY MARY" 131768 YA-O. In high flight lead Captain Robert Perkins with his ship named, "PERKATORY" 131627 YA-Q. Low flight lead position Captain Peter B. Green, Jr., in his ship called, "LETHAL LADY" 131646 RU-C. The Group also put up four spare aircraft to round out the formation at forty planes.
The formation left over base at 1542 hours on a course182 degrees true, a straight shot to Beachy Head. Rendezvous was made with the fighter force at that location heading out over the channel which was completely overcast. "GEE" fixes being used to determine position. At that point Lieutenant Mayfield Flying a ship with two names, "BARBARA" on the left side nose and, "Dorothy on the right side nose. Tail number 131743 RU-S experienced a run away propeller and returned over Gravesend to base. The Group made enemy landfall, no flak greeted them three miles south of Berk sur Mer at 1617 hours. A course of 50 degrees true was flown to Montreuil, and a turn over the I.P. at 1622 hours. The ground was completely obscured by clouds, no actual bomb run made. The formation went on down onto the Abbeville area to look for an opening with no success.
The formation left enemy territory over Cayeux according to D.R. position, and made a "Gee" guided navigation landfall over Rye, England at 1648 hours, Base was reached at 1708 hours. The formation circled in area of the base to let down through overcast by flights of six planes. When it was time for the Vincent crew to start down through the dense clouds the author was sitting by the starboard side open waist window looking at the dark gray cloud cover passing by the window. The slipstream deflectors were still extended. A pair of those deflectors were mounted one above the other about twelve inches ahead of forward edge of the waist windows. Each were activated by unlocking their rod type handle with a golf ball size knob on the end to push them out into the slipstream. The purpose was to deflect the harsh slipstream away from the open window, thus making it a bit easier for the waist gunner to manipulate his waist guns. The clouds seemed to be just outside the window when I decided to stick my bare hand out into the ten-tenths cloud cover and grab a handful of cloud - what I got was a cold wet hand from droplets of water!
All of our crews landed safely and were soon filing their interrogation information forms. The Lieutenant Novitsky crew saw lots of B-17s going out south of course catching a lot of flak. Lieutenant Whitaker crew agreed saying the time was 1631 hours. Lieutenant Fansler said a bird hit one of his wings in the leading edge. Lieutenant Petrey said there were icing conditions going through clouds. Flight Officer Beall crew reported seeing a flying boat flying north up the French Coast from St. Valery at 5,000 feet at 1630 hours. Spitfires turned toward the aircraft but did not attack. Some Group members stated there was ten-tenths stratocumulus at the target but fifteen miles southeast of target was clear. Visibility was about six miles or more. Flight Officer Raney crew saw a B-17 and a B-24 coming out of France alone at 1630 hours. There was no enemy fighter reaction to the B-26 missions. The enemy pilots were absorbed in activity with all of the heavy bombers returning by way of the Calais, France sector. None of the Marauder units were able to bomb their objectives due to intense cloud cover.
Chester P. Klier