Last Mission, 2nd April

Excerpts from the manuscript  “Wild Bill Crump”, written by S.E Crump and (c) J.W.CRUMP & S.E.CRUMP.

Bill’s last mission, as it had been planned, was unusual on two accounts. Firstly, it would have, if it had been successful, involved the Group in attacking its most northerly target, Skrydstrup airfield in Denmark. Secondly, instead of 15 of his fellow Squadron pilots flying his last mission with him, there would be 31.

This would be due to the Squadron providing 18 pilots to fly the mission for the 359th Squadron. The reason for the substitution was an agreement between the two squadrons that as the 360th had enjoyed a large party at Playford Hall on the Saturday before the mission, the following day the 359th were to provide two squadrons of pilots. One of which would take the 360th squadrons place, as Bill and his fellow pilots recovered from their revelry. As it happened, no mission was flown on the Sunday, but the 359th Squadron similarly had a party, a housewarming to celebrate their renovated mess at Kesgrave Hall on the Sunday night and in return the 360th provided two squadrons for the following day’s mission.

Line up

Maj Yannell Capt Urban
Lt Shea Lt Hickey
Lt Ragsdale Lt Corner
Lt Turner Lt Schmidt
Capt Carlson Capt Crump
Lt Stevenson Lt Remenicky
Lt Ciocchi Lt Switzer
Lt Baker Lt McNary

Lt Jones (Spare)

Lt Pidwell (Spare/flew mission)

It transpired that virtually all the 360th squadron pilots were at the field on the morning of Bill’s last mission, either assigned to fly or to see Bill and Captain Donald D. Carlson complete their tours. Ray had not originally been assigned to the mission, but there was no way he was going to miss it and managed to tag on to the substitute 359th Squadron. The Group under Field order 1882A assigned to protect the B-17`s of the 381st Bomb Group of the 3rd Force 1st Division, took off late in the day, time up being 14:29. Bill was leading Blue flight comprising Lieutenants Remenicky, Switzer and McNary and after forming up they headed out. The weather initially was excellent and R/V was made with the bombers over the North Sea at 15:30 sixty miles north of Terschelling Island at 15,000 ft. Lieutenant Weller flying with the 359th had to return early with a rough running engine. The 360th Squadron led by Major Mike Yannell, being the `A` group, swept ahead of the bombers while the other two squadrons furnished close support. Just as the Squadron was inside the enemy coast on the Danish peninsula, the mission was cancelled. The target had to be bombed visually and it could be seen that there was a heavy blanket of haze at 15,000 ft and a 10/10`ths layer of cloud cover at 8,000 ft from the Danish coast eastward that would prevent visual bombing. The bombers and the other two squadrons turned back before crossing the coast, the fighters eventually leaving the bombers at 17:10 over the North Sea at 8,000 ft. The 360th swept on in as far as Asbenrss?? sighting nothing of note, before returning back on instruction of the `Colegate` controller. No enemy aircraft had been sighted, and it was with mixed emotions that Bill once again sighted the familiar outline of the English coast. The mission had been completely uneventful, there had been no last great dog fight, but he had survived.

Line up (359th/360th SQ)

Capt Thomas (Red flight) Capt Borrelli (Blue flight) Lt Burwell#

Lt Rutland Lt Schmalz

Capt Easley Lt Quigley

Lt Schalck Lt Charlton

Lt Dunn (White flight) Lt Gatlin (Green flight)

Lt Maudlin Lt Proctor

Lt Ceraolo Lt Poppell

Lt Weller (Abort) Lt Seanor

Lt Rensch (Spare)

Lt Schrull (Spare)