The target was VOLKEL AIRFIELD, HOLLAND. Ninth Bomber Command asked our Group for a maximum effort on this raid. We put up 3 boxes of 18 planes each. Each box had a different part of the field as the aiming point. All 3 aiming points were covered with bomb bursts. The net result of this mission was 3 hangars, 13 revetments and one sub-depot area. Depending on how many German fighters we caught on the ground, this raid has to be one of the most successful against a German Air Force target. We lost 2 planes on the bomb run. One was our Group Leader. I was Lead Bombardier for the second box of 18 planes. Excellent Results.
LEAD MISSION # 17. (6th. of 16) 25 MARCH 1944
The target was HIRSON MARSHALLING YARDS in FRANCE. This mission turned out just great in spite of me making the worst judgment mistake of my combat experience. I was Lead Bombardier for the entire formation. The target was a huge locomotive repair shed. I came in on the bomb run with everything looking good, except for some reason my cross-hairs swung from side to side. I had them on the aiming point and should have just ignored the erratic cross-hairs. On an impulse I suddenly dropped the trigger on my bombsight. I told the Pilot, Col. Joe Kelly that we would have to go around and make another pass at the target. He didn't question my sudden change of plans. He turned our formation to the right and we circled back for a second run at the target. By this time the other 54 planes behind us had bombed the target.
I could see very little but smoke and dust. As it turned out my pattern hit to the left of the aiming point. Since the other boxes creamed the big repair shed we may have done more damage the way it turned out. By swinging out for a second bomb run I turned the lead over to the second box Lead Crew. We became box # 4. That could have confused our fighter escort and caused problems if we had been hit hard by German fighters. We were lucky that nothing of that sort happened. Excellent Results.
LEAD MISSION # 18. (7th. of 16) 8 APRIL 1944
The target was HASSELT MARSHALLING YARD in FRANCE. A similar target to our 25 March raid on Hirson. This time I was in front of the second box of 18 planes. This time everything went according to plan. The bombs from the Lead Box landed right on the large locomotive repair building. My box of 18 planes dropped right on top of his pattern. This strike photo was used in propaganda leaflets dropped behind German lines. A sample copy can be seen in folder # 18. Excellent Results.
LEAD MISSION # 19. (8th. of 16) 11 APRIL 1944
The target was CHARLEROI MONTIGNES MARSHALLING YARDS in FRANCE. This is my third straight marshalling yard target. The big difference in this mission was that General Dwight D. Eisenhower was on hand to see us off.
This yard was a little smaller but may carry as much or more traffic than either of the other two. The Lead Box of 18 planes got a Bulls-eye. I was Lead Bombardier of the second 18. I got a Bulls-eye right on top of the first pattern. This mission sent a message to Bomber Command: give us two separate aiming points unless you want two patterns -- one on top of the other. Excellent Results.
LEAD MISSION # 24. (9th. of 16) 27 MAY 1944
The target was the Louviers Railway Bridge over the Seine River. I was Lead Bombardier of the 36 plane formation. We bombed in flights of 6 planes each. My pattern hit first. It was picture-perfect. It hit right on the center support aiming point. Other flights had aiming points on either side. It appears that all 6 flights hit either the bridge or where the rail lines cross into a tunnel on the river bank. It would have been a mistake to assign the center support to all 6 flights. By May of 1944 if Bomber Command wanted bombs spread around on the target they had better assign separate aiming points. Excellent Results.
LEAD MISSION # 25. (10th. of 16) 26 MAY 1944
The target was a Chateau a short distance south of Bruges, Belgium. It looked about like all the other rural home in the area. Reports to Bomber Command were that this target contained a radio station and served as a high-level meeting place for the German Naval High Command. Our Group was to follow a Group of A-20s into the target. I was Lead Bombardier for the second box of 18 planes from our Group. Assuming two boxes of A-20s, I would be leading the 4th. formation of 18 planes over the target. We never saw the A-20s. The target was fairly clear so it was still in pretty good shape for a bombing run. The Lead Bombardier of our first box hit the aiming point with a tight pattern. His High & Low Flights missed. I hit the aiming point with a Bulls-eye. My High Flight hit mostly in the target area. My Low Flight got a Bulls-eye. Out of our Group 4 of the 6 flights got excellent results, providing the Belgian Underground knew what they ere talking about. We never heard for sure.