Richard "Dick" Gunn, Pilot
558th Bomb Squadron, 387th Bomb Group
Nell and Dick
Richard "Dick" Gunn, Richard "Dick" Ainsworth
Newsletter: YEA BOTZ 557TH BOMB SQUADRON ASSOCIATION.
Mayen Mission Dick Gunn 558th. Recollections of Dick Gunn, pilot and Dick Ainsworth, co-pilot---Gunn was the Box II leader and they were in ship #296164, KX-J, No Name.
On 23rd December '44, before dawn we were awakened by either Louis Sheen, 558th Operations officer or D.B. Block, his assistant. When we arrived at briefing we found the target was to be a bridge at Mayen, an area with very heavy flak installations. However, the target area was expected to be 10/10 cloud cover and it was to be a PPF mission. These conditions would reduce the effectiveness of the flak and with fighter escort, I left briefing with little more than the usual anxiety prior to taking off on a mission.
I (Gunn) was leading the 2nd box. We took off, assembled and headed for the target with no problem. The PPF ship assumed the lead position and our box was in the proper position relative to the first box. As we got deeper into enemy territory and reached the fighter rendezvous point, we found no fighter escort. Ainsworth was frantically trying to contact the escort to no avail. The 1st Box made their turn to the IP but our PPF ship continued straight ahead. I was on the inter-com with Jim Benton, bombardier, who advised we were getting hopelessly out of position for the IP. It was about this time the enemy fighters hit us. Ainsworth tried to make contact with the PPF ship but could get no response. The Pathfinder continued on a heading away from the target area for what seemed to be an interminable length of time (probably 90 seconds). At this point I elected to take over the formation, head for the target and hope for enough break in the clouds to make a visual bomb run. I have little recollection of the enemy fighters. I saw the (word was left out), heard our guns firing, saw tracers etc. , but since the attack was from the rear, I did not have a clear view of the activities.
We approached the target area, the enemy fighters broke off their attack but we started picking up heavy flak. Jim located the target but we were in no position for a bomb run. We circled around and came back for our bomb run. Jim released and as the records reflect, with excellent results. At some point, Jim caught a piece of flak in the head and after the flak subsided he came into the cockpit where Dick Ainsworth administered first aid. When we got back to base, Doc Smith treated Jim and he was transported to an Army hospital.
I presume we had a regular crew. Matlock was the Eng/Gun., Everett, Radio/Gun, Dean, Tail/Gun and I have no idea who the "Gee Box" operator was.
Here are the comments recorded by Dick Ainsworth in his mission log:
23 December 1944: "Well, it had to happen. We were hit by fighters today. Since the Boche push they have put up their fighters in strength. Dick and I were flying lead of the 2nd Box when they hit us. They knocked out our complete lo-flight. Flak followed us all the way in and out. Our bombardier was hit by flak. A nasty cut over his eye. However he refused medical aid until we were out of danger. Our tail gunner claims a probable. In spite of his guns jamming he kept them off our tail. All the crew acted just the way I knew they would. They are the best. This is no--55. (Someone screwed up on the fighter rendezvous)".
9th AF General Order #57 advised the awarding of the Silver Star to Jim Benton, Clyde Harkins and Dick Gunn for their actions on this mission. December 23rd is Harky's birthday and I still call him on this date each year to wish him a happy birthday."
James F. "Jim" Benton, Bombardier
"Three Stooges George-Me-Stan"
"Yours truly previous to going Pub Crawling. Cline an Australian on the right, Clark an A-20 boy on the left"
"Bob Brockett, Ben Hicks, Me, Smokey, Jim O'Brien, High, Warren "Scuffer" Butterfield"
"me going Hun Hunting"
Chet Malec, Bill Kennedy, Dick Gunn, Warren Butterfield, Clyde Harkins
"Smoke" (L) Dick Gunn (R)
"My Gal", "Heavenly Body"
My old heap "Sechsma Sheen"