Ed Pakish, Marauder Man
449 Bomb Squadron, 322nd Bomb Group
November 9, 1944
I was first pilot on my 28th mission and the target was a military school at Landau. This was a maximum effort so 54 planes were flying on this mission instead of the normal 36 planes. The mission was almost cancelled because of bad weather but it was decided that we should go. We picked up our fighter escort but it wasn't long that we lost them because of the heavy cloud cover and they aborted and returned to their base. We got near the target but we couldn't drop our bombs because of the heavy cloud cover. There was no way of knowing where the target was.
As we started to return home, there was a small cloud clearing and we started to get heavy flak. I was flying #3 position on, the 2nd flight. We were doing evasive action because of the flak. The 1st flight was just ahead and to the right of us by a few hundred feet. The #3 plane in that flight got hit by flak. The plane did a slaw roll as it descended and then started to spin. A gunner in the rear of the plane bailed out but he pulled his rip cord before he cleared the plane. His parachute got caught on the plane's stabilizer. He was just hanging there by the chute as the plane was spinning, and there was nothing he could do falling slowly to his death. Another crewman jumped out of the rear of the plane. He passed the man hanging in his chute. When he cleared the plane he opened his chute. We were glad he got out and was floating down. As he was going down, the Germans began shooting heavy flak on him. I don't know if he survived that or not. We didn't see anymore chutes, so I assumed no others got out.
We were still getting flak as we went back into the clouds so we were still doing evasive action in the clouds. It was very difficult doing evasive action in the clouds, so the flights broke up and everyone was on their own. Another problem was being in the clouds, ice was starting to build up on the wings. When we got below the clouds, all of the planes were scattered everywhere. Only about half of the planes returned to our airbase, and I was one of the them. Others landed at any airfield they could find. One plane even landed on a highway with only one foot to spare on each side of the wheels.
This was a maximum effort all gone wrong and it was a maximum effort on every pilot's skill to survive.
Everyone was very frustrated when we got back because of this mission but mostly because of the plane that got shot down and it's crew.