|The Saga of Pantelleria - The first piece of Europe to be occupied by the
by Joe Donato
May 18, 1943
For almost a month now, the North-West African Air Forces were giving the Italian Island of Pantelleria regular attention. This Island was about midway between Tunis and Sicily. On this date the 17th BG hit the one airfield on the Island with 500 pound demo bombs. We added more wrecks to the already number of planes there there that had suffered previous raids on this airfield. I could see a bomb trail one quarter way across the Island, as the whole Island was only about 4 miles wide at this point. Smoke and dust from our bombs obscured the target right after our bombs hit the airfield. To add to this, the enemy had put up a smoke screen - this didn't help our view from above any.
We saw no motion or activity on the ground before the bombs hit. While Pantelleria seemed close to the African mainland, it still was a 3 hour and forty minute trip for our round trip from Sedrata.
June 7, '43
Pantellaria on this day Pantillaria was our target. As usual we were at our designated ship early to check over and Pre-Flight it. When our pilot came from target briefing, he then briefed the enlisted crew. After we were briefed on the target, we ran the props through and boarded, prepared to take off. As we were on our takeoff run, the pilot cut the engines. He couldn't get enough fuel pressure reading on the instrument. He tried a second take off with the same lack of pressure. This pilot had been instructor pilot back in the States before his transfer overseas to our Squadron. He aborted the mission.
The rest of the groups target was the airfield on Pantelleria - with us, of course the crew got no credit for a mission.
Well, some you win and some you lose.
June 9, '43
We went to Pantillaria again today. Our targets were the coastal guns on the Island. These guns could cover any seaborne assault on the Island. This time our bomb load was 1000 lbs. bombs with some on delayed fuse to be more effective against the concrete revetments that housed the big guns.
There was light flak as we dropped our bombs on the target. There was no sign of life or movement on this tiny Island as we left the target area, some more flak was shot up at where we had been. Back at Sedrata, during our interrogation, the consensus was that there were fewer coastal guns in operation after this mission. This was another dull interrogation upon landing. There just wasn't anything different from last mission over Pantellerian to report.
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