No Time to Straggle
14:55 PM - 18:00 PM
At his point, a large number of B 17s still in the air, have accumulated varying amounts of battle damage that could cause a bomber to
drop away from the formation. German fighters were always on the look out for stragglers - they were easy pickings. Fighter attacks were as before vicious and coordinated by well trained pilots flying fine aircraft. More bombers went down. There are many stories of bombers getting across the channel on one engine after throwing out guns, oxygen equipment - anything to lessen the strain on the remaining engines. Wounded were tended to as could be - a morphine styrette gave blessed oblivion until the bomber reached home - or the hereafter. Unlike machine gun shells, aerial cannon shells exploded after going through thin aluminum skin creating a hole which usually was not of import. But when the shell exploded; if in the cockpit both pilot and copilot would be killed outright or wounded and unable to fly the plane, if in a wing route, the gas tanks could ignite or a wing might be lost, one shell could destroy a Wright Cyclone engine and so on. For all its defensive power, and ability to take hits, the B 17 was vulnerable, and they were shot down in large numbers. Without fighter escort things became very difficult. But the bombers kept in the air. Riddled, controls shot up, carrying wounded, some on two or three engines, they made their way back to England.
14:49 PM - Joan of Arc (Lt. Roy Sanders) goes down. "The sky was covered with quite a number of planes and debris from planes that had
exploded. It was real tough close fighting. We were being hit from all sides. The slower German fighters were hitting us from the
back with 20mm cannon shells and rockets They kept picking on one plane off our right wing. They knocked all the fabric off its
elevator and rudder and eventually set it on fire but apparently this didn't slow the plane down much since they stayed with us for
another five to ten minutes.
Then this German plane came back of us and under us in a vertical bank that almost cut our wing off , and set the plane on fire again.
(Joan of Arc) It was mostly smoke, coming from the bomb bay, and then it flared up. We tried to move over to get out of the way
of this airplane, and shortly after I looked and it was gone."26
- Lieutenant Bill Fort Yankee Doodle Dandy - 303 BG
14:50 PM - An Me 109 collides with a Fort and cuts 15 feet of the bombers right wing. The Fort dropped out of the group- five chutes were seen.
another lost bomber for the 379th Group.
14:52 PM - An FW 190 attacks Luscious Lady: "I opened fire at 400 to 500 yards, bullets going into engine - parts of engine begin to fall off - he
began to smoke - his prop stopped completely - then he rolled on his back and fell down. 27
14:50 -15:00 - 2nd Lt. Bernardo Yorba's bomber goes down in flames (381st Bomb Group) 6 chutes were seen opening. Yorba was MIA.
14:53 PM- Fifteen attacks on the 303rd Bomber Group in 14-15 minutes.
15:10 PM - A 379th ship goes down with a large hole in its wing and number 2 engine out - 5 chutes.
A B17 drops out of formation with its number 3 engine feathered
"Suddenly out of the corner of my right eye, I caught a twinkling like a neon sign. I leaned back and turned my head to see what it
was, and the next thing I knew I was lying on one of the ammo boxes half on it and half on the floor wondering what the hell
happened. My face didn't feel right. I rubbed it and realized my oxygen mask was half off, so I put the mask back on. My right
shoulder tingled and I had a sore spot above my right ear." 31
- Merlin Miller - Tail Gunner - Luscious Lady - 303 BG
Our left waist gunner Leo Lanier, Jr. and tail gunner Laurinites reported that the left horizontal stabilizer was badly shot up and the
fabric was gone from the top of the flipper. There was a hole in the leading edge of the wing, inches from my head, the windshield glass
was shot out.I didn’t notice the damage until sweat and the condensation from my oxygen mask started to freeze.The ball turret was
inoperative, which the German’s noticed and gave their full attention.
- Lt. Robert Hullar
15:11 PM - 37 353rd Group P 47's land at Metfield. Five others landed at different fields - one badly damaged fighter landed at Bradwell. Lt.
Peters was killed in a crash landing at Hornchurch airfield.
15:15 PM - Cat O' Nine Tails and Vicious Virgin each shoot down a Me 110. Sgt. Howard Zeitner in Yankee Doodle Dandy shoots down a FW 190
16:02 PM- War Bride shoots down a Me 109 - one engine stopped, it leaves the formation, but makes it home. Lt John Hendry and his crew were
shot down on October 20,1943 in another unnamed B 17 by Major Klaus Mietusch -Commander of II/JG 26 Hendry was a POW. Two
of the crew were KIA.
16:55 PM- 41st Combat Wing crosses the French coast.
17:20 PM - 41st Combat Wing crosses the English coast in the Dover area
17:25 PM - Nine Little Yanks and a Jerk crosses the English Coast
17:50 PM +/- Bombers start to land. Cat O' Nine Tails ( Lt. Grant) orders his crew to bail out. He was trying to land at Molesworth but could not
find the field in the fog and crash landed in a cow pasture at Risley. His plane hit an oak tree in the pasture and broke up. Grant
survives. The 384th group lost three B17s like this in addition to another six shot over Europe. The 379th Group loses six.
At Molesworth, 15 B 17s have battle damage, one is written off, and five crew members come home with wounds.
1Lt. John C. Barker, a pilot flying as tail gunner-observer in Mr. Five by Five, 360BS said, "I sure am glad to be
back. It was a hell of a day. I'll bet there were over 300 enemy planes. Anyway, our bombs landed well in."
Sgt. James Teno, ball turret gunner in S for Sugar 427BS, had a head-on duel with a ME-109. A 20mm shell exploded against his
turret Although cut around the face and head by flying glass Sgt. Teno went up to the radio room and filled ammunition cans for
other gunners."Oh well," commented Sgt. Teno who was on his second mission, "The first 25 are always the hardest."
"Ahead, England was solid overcast: Not enough fuel to make an instrument let down, it was imperative that we leave the formation
and to find a hole through which we could descend. Twenty minutes before the fuel would have been exhausted a small hole appeared
and we were able to spiral down at a rate of descent that frosted the instrument panel. We found a small RAF field just outside of
London. They immediately gave us a clear runway. A doctor and a chaplain met us at the flight line. We needed neither, thank God,
but these actions boosted our admiration of the RAF.
- Lt. Robert Hullar
I recommend playing the above with the music off. No comments are needed.
" It seemed like an endless run through a terrible maze." 29