Mission, 6th February

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

The day’s target under Field order 1595A was the oil refineries\ of Lutzkendorf, near Halle. The Group were directed to provide support to 1st Division 2nd task force B-17`s. After take off at 09 20 the squadron made R/V with the 381st, 384thth Bomb Groups at 10:12 twenty five miles east of Egmond. The 356th would be split into two groups, with the 359th Squadron and the Red and White flights of the 361st under Major Strait forming group `A`. They would act as the sweeping force, while the remaining flights of the 361st and the 360th squadron would furnish close support to the bombers.

This method of operating with the 356th split into two groups, would from the beginning of February until the end of the war often be adopted.

The sweeping force following the general line Dummer Lake, Hanover, Halberstadt, Erfurt, Hamm. Soon after they had located the bombers, group `A` received a report of enemy jets but saw nothing. Later at 10:30 over the Dummer lake area three unidentified aircraft drawing heavy contrails were sighted. These may have been the reported jets, but they were too far away to engage or identify. Later when `A` group was in an area south west of ?alls four unidentified aircraft were seen heading out on the deck and an attempt was made to investigate. However they disappeared below the cloud layer and were not seen again. The weather had been so poor the previous two days, no missions could be flown. At the beginning of the month the weathermen had predicted two weeks of poor weather, but on the 6th they had changed their minds. However they got it wrong and the bombers were unable to hit their primary target, having instead to divert to their secondary targets in the Gottingen-Mulhausen-Nordhausen areas. The bomber’s formation had been very poor, too extended for proper escorting. At 12:10 Nuthouse told the group to head out, the weather was deteriorating even further and the weather was closing in back at base. The bombers were left in the vicinity of Kassel at 24,000 ft. The Group experienced moderate to intense amounts of heavy flak over Ijmuiden, Hanover, Munster, Quakenbruck and Tiel all of which was accurate, with three of the Groups aircraft sustaining damage, one of which was PI-Y the aircraft of Lieutenant Paquet, Bill’s wingman, which sustained a direct hit in the vertical stabiliser. Time down was 14:40 with the 360th squadron encountering no enemy aircraft. The mechanical problems with Bill’s PI-W meant that once again he had had to fly PI-C. and 398

Line up

Capt Yannell Capt Romine
Lt Corner Lt Jones
Lt Burwell Lt Urban
Lt Rensch Lt Pidwell
Lt Crump Lt Carlson
Lt Paquet Lt Gatlin
Lt Ceraolo Lt Gleason
Lt Hedrick Lt Poppell

Capt Ellingson Lt Dunn#

Lt Ragsdale

Lt Thomas

Lt Turner

The poor weather encountered on the day had meant that virtually all the bombers dispatched had had to bomb secondary targets or targets of opportunity rather than their primary targets. The bombing force sustained 22 aircraft written off as category `E` as a result of battle damage and in particular forced landings and crashes. The following day the 8th Air force would once again put up a bombing force, only once more to run in to deteriorating weather conditions, the three hundred B-17`s dispatched to bomb German targets being recalled over the North Sea. Though one aircraft separated from its formation, failed to receive the recall message. Proceeding on its own, it unloaded its three ton of bombs on Essen before returning untroubled by the enemy to its base.

Though the Group did not fly operationally on the 7th, this did not mean that the aircraft of the 360th escaped any damage. PI-K 44-11334 `Lois` the assigned aircraft of Capt William Thomas was being towed by a Cletrac driven by M/Sgt Kahl with S/Sgt Gonsalves in the cockpit when they saw a P-51 essing towards them. Sergeant Kahl began to pull PI-K off the runway, but Captain Schlack (361st Squadron) the pilot of the essing P-51 misjudged matters and struck the wing of PI-K with his, before applying his brakes and nosing over.