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CAPT  John P. ERNST

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P
SERIAL #: O-753979 STATUS: POW
MACR: 12046 CR: 12046

Comments1: 3 FEB 45 BERLIN (LOST LEG-EXCHANGED)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
Lt John P. Ernst                            P   POW  3/2/45  BERLIN  Taps 1993
Lt James P. Olmsted                    CP   SWA  10/1/45  COLOGNE sn# O-767625
Lt Seymour G. Passen                NAV   CPT  24/3/45     ZIEGHEHAIN
Lt Robert J. Doucette               BOM   POW  5/11/44    LUDWIGSHAVEN (With crew of O.E. Hopkins)
T/Sgt. Charles H. Webber          ROG   CPT  3/2/45  BERLIN
T/Sgt Duyger C. West               TTE   POW  3/2/45  BERLIN
S/Sgt Warren Winters                BTG   POW  3/2/45  BERLIN
Cpl Orrell J. Brooks                      WG   NOC
S/Sgt George Windisch                 TG   CPT  3/2/45  BERLIN
Cpl Anthony A. Covino                 WG   NOC

351st Sqdn. Crew, as above, joined the 100th Group on 23 JUL 44.  After about 7 missions they became a lead crew. 
Lt. Passen became Squadron Nav. for 351st Sqdn.
On Jan 10, 1945 Lt James Olmsted was seriously wounded in action by flak.  Sent to 65th General Hospital.  Achieved rank of  Capt. Did not return to combat.

Dad was shot (took flak from blast above fuselage) on the 25th mission.  Will have to look up the bomb target.  Plane dropped out of formation after bombs away and returned speedily to base.  Dad was hospitalized when John Ernst crew was shot down over Berlin.  I think they flew another plane when the did the 30th Berlin run.  Remember that Rosenthal (higher ranked than John) was with them, as co-pilot on lead crew, took dad's place on that one.  So dad, James Olmsted, was not on that mission and thus was not caught behind enemy lines like Doug was on that last Berlin mission. He was not a POW, or get to the underground and brought out.  He was in the hospital recovering from surgery.  Dad had damage to his left hand, nose, and left temple from flak burst.  I still have the piece of flak.
I will send you the list of missions.  When dad was injured and what position they flew.  Most missions were as lead crew, either squadron, high or low command, in the group.  That being the case, they always were the target ship for the German Nazi gunnery to take aim.  Dad said after the British escort fighters would drop off a hundred miles past the Channel, German Luftwaffe would come up but out of range of the turret gunner machine guns, never fire a shot, and fly at altitude and radio down the elevation so that gunnery would always fix on the lead crew.  This was typically more accurate than their radar at the time (if they had radar then, I think they did by 1944-45).  That is why flak field was so black and dense, and why John would always try to outfox the gunnery sets by shifting elevation.  Even when they began the bomb runs.  Command at base, always established that elevation for bomb drops to get the most accurate pattern, but pilots like John knew the guns were targeted at the right elevation.  So, they often changed up dependent upon flak filed pattern.  He was always the rebel, but the best pilot!  Not sure what they did when Rosenthal was on board, the day Doug went down.  Dad always said that there where fights, in the cockpit, on that last mission according to John when he visited dad on hospital visits and when he'd come down to stay with us in Pacific Beach in the 50s.
Rosenthal was Jewish (as was Passin), and they did not want to get caught behind enemy lines and be sent to concentration camps, though others were anyway (Jewish and non Jewish) so Rosenthal did not want John to go down behind enemy lines, and he and John fought over how long to stay with the ship trying to get it further into allied held territory, or so the story goes.  There are lots of things that went down between John and my dad that never went into the "storybooks of glory" and all that stuff.  Historians would have a field day!
So, that is what I know.  I have a few other stories, and things stated in letters between my dad and my mom, Kay.  Someday I'll dig though those letters to read about things.  Can't do it now.
And that is why Dad is not listed on that last 30th mission of the Ernst crew, that Doug is mentioned in.
We'll stay in touch.
Jim Olmsted Jr.
  

When this crew went down on 3/2/45, TARGET: BERLIN
the crew list was as follows:  MACR #12046, A/C#44 8379.  MICRO - FICHE #4417

Maj Robert Rosenthal           Command Pilot     Landed in Russian Lines
Capt John Ernst                        P                  POW
1st Lt Arthur I.Jacobson          CP                  POW  (from Crew of Lt. G. Brown)
1st Lt Stewart J. Gillison      Command NAV     EVA   (from Crew of Lt W. Terminello)
1st Lt Louis C. Chappel           NAV                 KIA     (from Crew of Lt W.J. Wilson)
1st Lt Robert H. Stropp       Radar NAV          Landed in Russian Lines
1st Lt Eugene E. Lockhart     BOM                  KIA   (from the Crew of Lt Oren Hopkins)
T/Sgt Charles H. Webber     ROG                Landed in Russian Lines 
T/Sgt Dugger C. West        TTE                  POW
S/Sgt Warren Winters         WG                  POW
S/Sgt G.A. Windisch            TG                  Landed in Russian Lines
Ernst's leg amputated  in German Hospital night of 3/2/45 & he was soon exchanged.

See "CONTRAILS" p.131 & S.O.C. p.95. Also p.219/223 of "FLYING FORTRESS" by E.Jablonski.

EYEWITNESS REPORT from MACR #  "A/C #44 8379 was hit by flak,reported to be a ground 
rocket a few seconds before bombs away. A/C continued on run and dropped bombs.  Fire and 
dense white smoke was seen in the fuselage and bomb bay, including the cockpit.  Bomb bay 
doors closed and then reopened.  Pilot opened his window and peeled gently off to the 
right,  directing deputy leader to take over on VHF.   A/C headed NE and flew level for a few 
moments while six members bailed out (3 appeared to come from waist or tail and 3 from 
bomb bay..There was a small explosion in #3 engine nacelle and thd A/C headed down, burning 
and beginning to spin when last seen at 15/000 feet.  Observers believe entire crew had an 
excellent chance to bail out."

TAPS: 1993 
JOHN ERNST. Last month, in California. As S.J.
Passen put it, "Congestive heart failure got him his final
flight to the Great Airfield in the sky." 351st Squadron.
With Bob Rosenthal as command pilot, John was the
lead pilot of the entire 8th Air Force on the February 3,
1945, maximum effort to Berlin. Shot down by flak,
seven of the crew became German prisoners, with one
of them Iynched by civilians. Three were picked up by
Russian soldiers. As he left the plane, John caught his
leg on the jagged edge of the bomb bay door, cutting it
so badly that it had to be amputated by a Russian doc-
tor without anesthesia. About him, Bob Rosenthal wrote,
"I regard John as one of the most skillful, courageous
and dedicated men I ever encountered." (Wayne Page,
Bud Vieth)



First 26 Missons of John Ernst

8/5/44  Mageburg
8/11/44 Paris - VillaCoubleu
8/15/44 Venlo
8/25/44 Politz
8/26/44 Long Island - Brest
8/27/44 Berlin  (Recalled at 31,000 feet)
9/12/44 Fulda
9/18/44 Warsaw (Russia Mirgorod - Ukraine)
9/19/44 Szolnok (Hungray) Deputy Lead with Scott)
9/22/44 Foggia (Return to England, no mission credit)
10/9/44 Mainz (Wing Lead)
10/12/44 Bremen (High Squadron)
10/19/44 Mannheim (Group Lead)
10/26/44 Hannover (High Squadron)
11/6/44 Neumunster (Group Lead)
11/9/44 Saarbrucken (Group Lead)
11/30/44 Leuna  (High Squadron)
12/2/44 Koblenz (High Squadron)
12/3/44 Friedburg (Wing Lead)
12/11/44 Koblenz (Group Lead)
12/18/44 Mainz (High Squadron)
12/24/44 Biblis (High Squadron)
12/27/44 Fulda (Group Lead)
12/28/44 Koblenz (Group Lead)
12/29/44 Frankfurt (Low Squadron)
1/10/45 Cologne (High Squadron)
2/3/45  BERLIN (3rd Air Division Lead) SHOT DOWN 

Our Pilot (Capt Ernst) told a story on himself. He made lead crew on his 10th Mission.  While taking lead crew training, he was returning to base but in the co-pilot seat. As they pulled up to the hardstand and got the signal to stop, he reached down to pull the parking breaks.  Instead he mistakenly pulled the fire extinguisher for the engine.  Fire retardent poured all over the right wing.  The crew had a good laugh over that...Capt Jim Olmsted

MEMO 2:

Injured leg on bailout, it was later amputated by Germans and Ernst was later exchanged.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Berlin DATE: 1945-02-03  
AIRCRAFT: (44-8679) CAUSE: Ground Rocket  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Lt John Ernst Crew Ststeside

Mission list compiled by Lt James Olmsted. He was SWA on Jan 10,1945 and missed crew last mission on Feb 3, 1945 to BERLIN!!!!

Briefing for Lead Crews: From left: Paul Spurgeon, Jerry Brown, Austin Dunlap, John Ernst, John Carpenter and a Capt, Fox, not otherwise identified.   (100th Photo Archives)

 351st airmen from left: Ralph Baer, Gerald Brown, Tony Lentz, Bud Stropp and John Ernst. (100th Photo Archives) 

 Command Pilot's briefing: Gerald Brown at extreme left and John Ernst extreme right. Others are not identified. (100th Photo Archives) 

48379 EP-J on take off Roll.  Aircraft Rosie and John Ernst Crew flew on Feb 3, 1945 mission to Berlin

100th A Group Strike Photo for Berlin Mission Feb 3, 1945 from Capt Douglas Eden.  Photo Courtesy of Beth Eden-McGuire
Looks Like WILSON flew the A-Sqdn 975 Z  HS 27  drop photo ship...Jack O'Leary

100th B Group Strike Photo for Berlin Mission Feb 3, 1945 from Capt Douglas Eden.  Photo Courtesy of Beth Eden-McGuire
 WALLISH was flying the B-Sqdn drop photo 613  HS 9

100th "C" Group Strike Photo for Berlin Mission Feb 3, 1945 from Capt Douglas Eden.  Photo Courtesy of Beth Eden-McGuire
Thats Lyman Fillinggame flying LITTLE SWEETHEART---KLEEN SWEEP in the C-Sqdn bomb drop photo 532 G  HS # 15 ... Jack O'Leary

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 1521