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Donald J. Farley – Crew History

Donald J. Farley – Crew History (Letter to Paul West dated December 1995):

My name is Donald J. Farley. I completed 35 missions with the 100th Bomb Group, 418th Squadron. Our crew left Grenier Field, New Hampshire on July 2, 1944. We had picked up a new B-17 from Kearney, Nebraska. We flew to Newfoundland on one hop, then the next hop was probably one of the lengthiest, we were in the air 15 hours and 15 minutes. We landed in Wales on July 4th and gave up our new plane. We went to Wash for further training; this is where we were assigned to our Group. The word regarding the reputation of the bad luck outfit was quickly spread to us before we even got to the 100th Bomb Group airfield at Thorpe Abbotts. We did some practice flights or decoy action before we flew out first mission on August 2, 1944. Our crew was as follows:

* Pilot Harry M. Hempy
* Co-Pilot Jack W. Janssen
* Navigator Cyril A. Roberts
* Bombardier Donald H. Friedman
Engineer Warren B. Smith
* Radio Operator John P. Moncure
* Ball Turret Donald J. Farley
* Waist Gunner Frank A. Bonaguer
Waist Gunner John P. Russo
Tail Gunner Charles W. Emerson
* Denotes men who completed all 35 missions together.

Tail Gunner – Charles W. Emerson – was killed as a result of enemy action on our 15th mission on September 11, 1944, our target for the day was Ruhland Oil Refinery. He was given credit for destroying one ME-109 on that same mission, Ball Turret Gunner Donald Farley, was credited with two probable destroyed and one damaged enemy fighters.

Alex Sood (now Alex Strong) Replaced Emerson and finished up with the Hempy crew.

John Russo – Waist Gunner – removed from crew before flying first mission; crews were reduced from ten to nine men by eliminating one Waist Gunner.

Alexander Hubiak and Thomas E. Porch flew as Engineer after Smith left the crew on one of our early missions.

Alexander Hubiak was given ½ credit with a gunner from another aircraft in being the first gunner to shoot down a ME – 263 jet. I don’t remember what mission it was on, but believe it was one in the later part of August 1944 or the first part of September. It was between our 5th and 15th mission

The 100th Bomb Group Completed a Total of 306 Missions

Bomb Load Date 100th Nbr Hempy Nbr Target
20/250 8/2/44 172 1 Tergnier, La Fere rail bridges
20/250 8/3/44 173 2 Troyles. Rail junction
10-500 8/4/44 174 3 Hamburg, Oil refinery
12-500 8/5/44 175 4 Magdeburg, Tank and A/C factory
Charles Emerson was given credit for destroying one (1) enemy aircraft
8-1000 8/8/44 178 5 St. Sylvain, Gnd defenses
38-100 8/11/44 179 6 Villa Coublay, Airfield (Villacoblay)
8/18/44 182 7 Pacy sur Armancon, Oil Storage area
I believe most of the above missions were flown in various planes. If preceding assumption is right the remaining missions were flown in “Heaven Can Wait”, aircraft #337517. It was flown by another crew after we completed our missions and the plane nearly crashed into the control tower on January 31, 1945, striking two pyramid tents which housed maintenance crews. When it blew up it reduced another Fortress to salvage and damaged two (2) other Fortresses on nearby hardstands. The story of the demise of “Heaven Can Wait” can be found on page 179 –Century Bombers The Story of the Bloody Hundredth by Richard Le Strange (Assisted by James R. Brown).
8/25/44 184 8 Politz, Oil refinery
8/27/44 187 9 Berlin
10/500 9/3/44 190 10 Brest, Gnd defenses
9/5/44 191 11 Stuttgart, Aero engines
9/8/44 192 12 Mainz, Ordnance depot
9/9/44 193 13 Dusseldorf, Arms factory
According to Hempy, we flew mission 12B and never flew a 13th.  I told him (years later) 13 was my lucky number. “Heaven Can Wait” contained a double 13 by adding the first three and the last three digits. We made it through and the crew that crashed her can claim they were pretty lucky as no one was hurt
9/10/44 194 14 Nurnberg, Tank works
9/11/44 195 15 Ruhland, Oil refinery
The Hundredth lost 14 planes on this mission. The entire low squadron was lost. Hempy was flying ‘Tail-End Charlie’ in the middle squadron and after the low squadron was shot down the fighterscentered their attack on us. While we were on two weeks rest leave, out plane, “Heaven Can Wait” was given four new engines, a compete new left wing and a new tail section. A picture of the tail section is show on page 149 of the above mentioned book and is pictured with an erroneous caption in the rear of the book, The Story of the Century”  by John Nilsson.
9/27/44 202 16 Mainz, Rail marshalling yards
9/28/44 203 17 Merseberg, Oil refinery
9/30/44 204 18 Bielfeld, Ordnance depot
10/2/44 205 19 Kassel, Aero engines
10/5/44 207 20 Handorf, Airfields
10/6/44 208 21 Berlin, Aircraft factory
10/7/44 209 22 Bohlen, Oil refinery
10/9/44 210 23 Weisbaden, Ordnance depot
Second target on Mission #23 was Mainz – Rail marshaling yards
10/12/44 211 24 Bremen, Aircraft factory
10/17/44 213 25 Cologne, Rail marshalling yards
10/19/44 215 26 Ludwigshaven, Rail marshalling
Second target on Mission #26 was Mannheim, Motor transport
10/22/44 216 27 Munster, Rail marshaling yards
10/27/44 217 28 Misburg, Oil refinery
11/5/44 220 29 Ludwigshaven, Rail marshaling
11/6/44 221 30 Neumuster, Aircraft factory
11/9/44 222 31 Saarbrucken, Rail marshaling yards
11/10/44 223 32 Wiesbaden and Mainz, Airfields
11/16/44 224 33 Aachen, Ground support
11/21/44 225 34 Merseburg, Oil refinery
Second target on Mission #34 was Osnabruck, Rail marshaling yards
11/26/44 226 35 Hamm, Rail marshaling yard

We were sent home on board the USS Santa Paula, a Grace Lines ship on December 15, 1944, but were rammed by a PT-Boat before we got out of the harbor, Inspection and repairs got us on the way home on December 21, 1944. We had a delicious Christmas dinner on board ship and landed at Newport News, Virginia on New Years day, January 1, 1945. We left this country in July 2, 1944, we were overseas just over six months to the day. Coincidentally my brother-in-law departed on the USS Santa Paula on January 5, 1945 for Italy.