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|Sunday, October 3, 1943-386th Bomb Group Mission Recalled:
At approximately 0400 hours, nineteen flight crews were awakened and informed of an early morning briefing. It was a sleepy walk to breakfast, and then on over to the briefing room. Group intelligence officers were already assembled and eager to get on with the business of the day which concerned Third Bomb Wings Field Order 110.
The target was an airdrome located at Lille-Vendeville, France also identified as Z141. Our aiming point is the dispersal area and the northeast hangar. Axis of attack, generally west to east. We have a secondary target which is the airdrome at St. Omer-Longueness, France. The aiming point is a dispersal area at the north end of the field, our axis of attack is from east to west. We will furnish eighteen planes plus one extra. All of planes are loaded with ten 300 pound demolition bombs, fused nose and tail for one-tenth of a second delay.
The purpose of this mission is twofold, the primary purpose is to act as a diversionary for an attack by B-17s on industrial targets deep in Germany. The secondary reason is in line with current Third Bomb Wing missions - namely to destroy the German Air Force, and keep its various units on the move from one airfield to another!
The 323rd Bomb Group will lead us on this mission, Zero Hour is 0800 hours. Route out from base to Splasher Beacon Number 8 where we will rendezvous with the 323rd at 12,000 feet, Zero Hour minus thirty-eight minutes. Then to Ashford to North Foreland, across the channel to four miles northwest of Furnes, on to Armentiers to target. Route back: At target turn right to four miles south of Hardelot, across channel to Dungeness and back to base. One diversionary airdrome is located at Manston, and another is at West Malling.
Flak information, communications, and weather forecast was given to the crews along with a time check; then all departed to go out to their assigned aircraft. Engine starting time soon arrived, and in a few minutes the ships were moving along the taxi track just after dawn. Lieutenant Paul Bartolain and his co-pilot Lieutenant Edward Blaisdell were completing their cockpit check list, then waited for their turn to take off near the end of the active runway, Lieutenant Blasisdell reached over with his left hand for the wing flap lever - he accidentally got hold of the landing gear lever! Eye witnesses stated - "MISS MURIEL" squatted and tried to dig two holes in the runway with her propellers! The fuselage broke in two just aft of the wings, but nobody was injured. "MISS MURIEL" 134948 YA-K was hauled off to the salvage dump. Her Crew Chief Tech Sergeant Robert (Dink) Ehlen had no airplane to crew for sometime to come!
The other eighteen planes had taken off and assembled into formation, leaving over base at 0707 hours bound for rendezvous with the 323rd Group. Things got a bit mixed up after reaching Splasher Beacon Number 8. The B-17 Groups cancelled their mission, and The 11 Group RAF fighter support from Stations, 162, 164, 358, and 485 failed to take off for rendezvous. The 323rd and 386th Groups were recalled after jettisoning their bomb loads into the English Channel. Then the 386th flew back to base bemoaning their lost sleep, they would not receive credit for a mission, and the fact they also lost one B-26 Bomber!
Chester P. Klier