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Some Comments on my 16 Best Lead Missions

I was able to put bombs in the target area on more than double this many missions. But these 16 meant more to me for various reasons. In some, the bombing accuracy and tight formation was most outstanding, as shown in the strike photos. In several of our missions we could only speculate on the damage done because -- even though we blanketed the target, what we could actually see was just trees or what looked like a farm with out-buildings. The real block-buster missions were railroad marshalling yards, engine and boxcar repair sheds, bridges, V-1 Rocket sites, fortified defenses & German Air Fields. A few specialty targets such as the Chateau at Bruges might qualify as well. I believe it is safe to say that I was confident in my own mind, even before take-off, on all 16 of these missions that I would hit the target if we were not stopped by the weather or the enemy. I never mentioned this feeling to anyone that I recall. But, I remember a feeling of tremendous power that I commanded. I felt sure that I would personally direct a devastating blow to a part of Hitler's war machine within the next hour or two. I couldn't help thinking of how many freight cars loaded with fuel or war supplies we would catch at the target. I remember thinking that they didn't know what was going to happen very soon, but I was sure I did. More often than not, what I thought would happen---did happen.

I never had this feeling as a Togglier. In that capacity I made no decisions that could have much effect on the mission's success or failure. I had no bomb-sight. I opened bomb-bay doors, dropped my bombs and closed my doors by following the Lead Bombardier. I had little control over where my bomb load would land.

LEAD MISSION # 6.    (1st. of 16)    22 SEPTEMBER 1943

The target is EVREAUX-FAUVILLE AIRFIELD in France. The target photo shows a dummy airfield, EVREAUX-HUEST, just north of the target. This was one of the very few dumb things the Germans did in our part of the War. Those white runways were the first sure landmarks we saw from a distance of 40 to 50 miles.

At the start of the bomb run I was out front with no flak and no problems. Our Co-pilot called me with the news that the Lead Bombardier of the second box of 18 planes right behind us was having

bomb-sight trouble. He was instructed to follow right behind us as close as possible and to time his bomb release with ours. Their pattern, identified as D, E, & F landed just beyond my own. They hit on the sod portion of the landing area with only fair results. The idea was good, regardless.

My box if 18 planes (Flights A, B & C) hit the target about as briefed. My own Flight A (center) exploded the fuel storage dump. We undoubtedly did great damage to the storage & supply facilities -- as well as to any enemy planes parked in the dispersal areas. Excellent Results.

LEAD MISSION # 8.    (2nd. of 16)    20 DECEMBER 1943

Our target is AGANVILLERS BUZZ-BOMB LAUNCH SITE # 39 in France. This was a difficult target to locate and identify. It resembled a small farm up close to a grove of trees. As we approached the target area my Navigator, Capt. Pete Bingham, pointed to the target and said, "There it is". I immediately said, "No, it isn't". We both sat silent for a few seconds. Then Pete said, "You are right. That is not our target.". I immediately said, "No, you were right. That is our target". So much for teamwork and precision navigation. It was my call. I went for it. Bulls-eye. As I recall, on the way back to base we received instructions to land at an alternate Royal Air Force fighter base because ours was weathered in. They fed us ROAST BEEF, the first we had seen since we left the States. Soon we were able to return to our base. We were told that a Royal Air Force Mosquito bomber had trailed us to the target in order to photograph the results. The pictures caused the British Air Ministry to proclaim this strike as the most accurate and concentrated in history. 108 - 500 lb. bombs hit that target with none farther than 150 yards from the center of the target. Our Group received an Air Ministry Commendation and my Efficiency Rating was raised from Excellent to Superior.

LEAD MISSION # 12.    (3rd. of 16)    15 FEBRUARY 1944

The target is SOTTERVAST V-1 ROCKET LAUNCH SITE CHERBOURG, FRANCE. Our information was that a huge rocket launcher was being built with London as the primary target. These missiles were to be fired almost vertically. They would arch over the English Channel and cause devastation many times worse than the smaller BUZZ-BOMBS. This target is located well within the fearsome concentration of anti-aircraft batteries located in a ring around the Port of Cherbourg.

Nothing complicated here. It was just about like the Shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. They saw us coming from a long way off. They were ready. We located that prize target from a long way off. We went for it straight on. They came at us with everything they had. They shot holes in almost all of our 18 planes but none went down. We destroyed about 8096 of Sottervast. London could breathe just a little easier. Excellent Results.

LEAD MISSION # 13.    (4th. of 16)    15 FEBRUARY, 1944

The target was CHATEAU DeBOSEMELET BUZZ-BOMB LAUNCH SITE, SOUTH of ROUEN, FRANCE. Lead Mission # 12 was just this morning. I felt , very good that I could lead two missions in one day and get Excellent results on both. The first was very important and very tough. The second was a "milk run".

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