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|Tuesday, December 26, 1944 - 386th Bomb Group Mission No. 315.
Target: Railroad Bridge located at Ahrweiler, Germany.
Pilot, Lt. Benjamin Mattison flying aircraft 334356 YA-Z which had been named, "MY SHACKING COUSIN" crashed on take off after climbing to an altitude of approximately 150 feet. He had flown into the wing tip vortex effect of the plane in front of his. That aircraft was piloted by Lt. George Lee from the 554th Squadron.
Lt. Earl Madsen takes up the narration: My crew and I were flying with another first pilot. It was standard operational procedure in the 555th Squadron that each first pilot would fly eight missions with a seasoned first pilot before going as a crew. This was my eighth mission. We had just broken ground on take off, and I pulled up the landing gear lever to the up position. About fifty feet of altitude we started to hit prop wash from the ship in front of us. The B-26 started its natural wobbling movements. Well as you know, the B-26 is a rudder bird in rough air, and not ailerons.
The pilot I was flying with had been a B-17 pilot, the B-17 is an aileron bird in rough air. He began to work his ailerons, and in doing so caused a stall on the left wing. Very shortly I felt the buffeting as the left wing dropped. By now we had possibly 100 to 150 feet of altitude. I guess my pilot transition training came into play right now because I fire walled the throttles and prop controls, pushed slightly forward on the wheel, and kicked full right rudder. It was just enough action to bring up the left wing as we made contact with Mother Earth. Our bomb load was four 1,000 pound GP bombs.
The left engine broke off and the right engine caught fire. We skidded along on the ground for some 500 feet before we stopped. The cockpit was pretty warm at this point. The pilot and I went out through the pilot hatches, the bombardier and Engineer Koch went out of the hatch over the radio compartment. While Koch and I were running away from the aircraft I looked back and saw the armorer gunner, Gray in the waist window, half in and half out. I yelled to Koch and we went back to get Gray out; as we carried him away from the airplane I asked him if he had seen S/Sgt. Stonehouse our radioman, Gray said he was laying by the waist guns.
I ran back to the waist window, but couldn'tt see anything but smoke. It was so hot at this point that 50 caliber ammo was popping off. I left pronto, and minutes later the aircraft exploded! The crash crew found S/Sgt. Stonehouse in the middle of the wreckage. I believe he was knocked unconscious when the plane hit the ground, of course his death was painless - thank God! I got out of the crash without a scratch; but would you believe that very night as I left the mess hall I slipped on some ice and sprained my ankle! End of Lt. Earl Madsens statement.
Chester P. Klier