COMMENTS & NOTES
2nd Lt Eugene T, Jensen P CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN
2nd Lt James J.Millett,Jr. CP CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN
F/0 John C.Gonda,Jr. NAV CPT 8/3/4S GIESSEN
2nd Lt Richard R.Ayesh BOM CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN
Cpl James K.Roberts ROG CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN
Cpl Joseph W.Latiolalt WG CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN " TAPS: 23 JAN 1976
Cpl Robert L.Bird BTG CPT 19/3/45 FULDA
Cpl Elmer H.Adams WG NOC REMOVED IN 10 TO 9 MAN CREW REDUCTION
Cpl Floyd E.Thomasson TTE CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN
Cpl Henry R.Sublett TG CPT 8/3/45 GIESSEN " TAPS: 26 SEP 1979
349th Sqdn. Crew,as above,joined the 100th Group on 23/9/44.
DIARY OF LT RICHARD AYESH
#1 Sunday October 15, 1944
Mission-Cologne Marshalling Yds.
Load-16-250# G.P. & 4 M-17 Incen.
This was my first mission so everything was very new to me. We bombed by
instruments due to solid undercast. Flak was moderate to intense and
accurate. 11 out of 13 ships received battle damage. We got a hit in #4
prop. We were #2 of Hi element of the Lead Sq. Mission was 7 1/2 hours
#2 Tuesday, October 17, 1944
Mission-Cologne Marshalling Yds.
Load-34-100# G.P. And 2-M-17 In.
Our position was #2 in the low element of the high sq. All groups were
bombing at the same time which indicated a wide target area. We
encountered heavy accurate flak and were bounced around quite a bit by
accurate flak bursts. Observed one B-17 blow up. We received a hole in
the left flap which was of a minor nature. Saw no enemy fighters and
bombing was done by instru. As we found a complete 10/10 undercast at the
target. After landing, learned one Navigator in the 350 sq. was killed.
Was an 8 1/2 hr. mission.
#3 Sunday October 22, 1944
Mission-Munster Marshalling Yds.
Load-14-250#G.P. Plus 4-M-17 Incendiaries.
We were flying #6 in the lead Sq. Flew in over the Zeider Zee, made a
wide circle and bombed Munster on the way out. Encountered no Flak but
did see a few rockets. I had 2-250# GP and an Incendiary hang up and went
back to kick them out and passed out for lack of oxygen just as I was
about to step into the Bomb Bays. The engineer game me oxygen and I began
to feel better. We brought the bomb back. Rack malfunction. We took off
this morning in a heavy fog at 1015 and landed at 1630. Bombing was by H2X.
#4 Thursday October 26, 1944
Mission-Tank Factory at Hanover
We flew #3 in lead of Hi Sq. We took off in a heavy fog and mist. 2
Forts collided over Buncher 28. We had a solid undercast all the way in
and out. Heavy Flak at the target but it used carpet and I'm sure it
helped immensely. We were alerted for "bandits in the area" but I didn't
see any E/A. Upon return, we had to make in instrument descent over the
buncher and came in at 400ft. Field was lit up with lights and flares.
Route in over Zeider Zee and out. Take off 0930 and landed at 1730.
#5 Thursday November 2, 1944
Mission-Meresburg(Leuna Syn. Oil Refinery)
Our position was #2 in the lead sq. Target area was 5 to 10/10 coverage
so bombing was done by PFF. The flak was very, very intense and accurate.
We got 12 hits-flap,wing, nose, and bomb bay. (Radio operator) Jim Roberts was hit by a
piece of flak which lodged in the zipper of his jacket just in front of
his throat. His flak suit absorbed most of the momentum of the piece. I
saw one Fort blow up and after the bomb run there were quite a few
stragglers. We saw no enemy fighters altho we were briefed for 500 of them
in the area. Route in over the Zeider Zee-bombed on a heading of 90 deg.
Then did 180 turn and came home. Take off at 1730 landed at 1630.
November 3, Our mission to Hamburg was scrubbed. I learned that yesterday
that 1st Div. was attacked by 400 E/A. We lost 41 bombers. Also saw
ship 991 which received a very near hit on right tail and fin. The tail
was riddled and looked like a sieve. The tail gunner was mangled so badly
that they took him out piece by piece. I could see pieces of his head
still lodged in the shattered plexi-glass. Blood was dripping out of the
comp. A blanket was covering his remains but you could still see pieces of
his flesh. They had to wash him out with a hose. It was the most horrible
sight I've ever seen or ever hope to see.
#6 Sunday, November 5, 1944
Mission-Ludwigahaven(I> G. Farbin chemical plant-mfgrs. Of poison gas
Our Primary target was to bomb the French forts around Metz which was
holding Gen. Pattons First Army from adv. We were to bomb 2 miles ahead
of our own troops but the area was too cloudy for accurate bombing so we
went after the Chem. Plant at Ludwigshaven. We were in 100 "A" which was
leading the Div. And #3 in the low element. Weather was undercast till we
reached the IP, then visual to target. The jerries let us get close then
they opened up on us. Flak was very accurate and intense. We collected
43 hits and feathered #3 engine. We came across the channel at 400 ft.
Very rough with terrific wind. We crossed England at 300ft. Most of the
ships landed at Framlingham. Had prop wash on take off and cross wind on
landing. Our flaps were shot out and we had collected hits in every
section of the ship. Take off 0700 and landed at 1500. We saw no enemy
#7 Monday November 6, 1944
Our target was up by Kiel and Denmark. We were to bomb an airfield and
factory prod. Parts and assembling FW 190's. It was to be a visual run
but we found 5/10 cloud cover in the area. Flak was light to moderate and
below us. After turn off target enemy fighters were reported behind us
but I never did see any. Route in was over North Sea and out the same
way. We were #5 in the Hi Sq. Take off at 0630 and landed at 1500. It
was a beautiful morning and I watched the sun come up, shining thru the
#8 Thursday, Nov. 16, '44
Mission-5 Miles Northeast of Aachen.
Load-30-260# Fragmentation Bom.
We were to bomb Nazi troops in the area which lies between Aachen and
Duren, 2 mi. ahead of our own troops (Gen. Patton's First Army). We saw
flak enroute to the rally point but it wasn't close. One ship released
early and dropped on our side of the lines. Don't know if they hit
anyone. Tgt. Area was 5/10 coverage. PFF release. We let down over
France. This was the first time I had seen much of France and the whole
countryside was pock-marked by bomb craters and art. Fire. Saw Calais and
the white cliffs of Dover. Upon return our part of England was socked in
so we circled around for an hour looking for a hole. Finally our gas
supply was so low that we had to come in. Made instru. Descent. Ceiling
was was 200ft and visIbility was 260 yards. Nearly collided with another
Fort when we broke out of the clouds. Ceil. 200ft and vis. 500yds. On
the groud. Took off 0700 and landed 1600. One ship crashed on take off
this morning. Jet jobs over England this morn. We flew the slot in the
#9 Wednesday Nov 29, '44
Mission-Hamm Marshalling Yards.
Load-16-250# G.P. and 2 M-17 Incendiary clusters.
We were flying slot in the low sq. Undercast all the way so bombed by
H2X. Saw no flak. The reason for flying the slot is because we are to be
checked out for lead.
#10 Thursday Nov. 30, 1944
Mission-Meresburg(Leuna Syn. Oil)
We were flying Deputy lead (lead of 2nd element) of the Lead Sq. Mission
was delayed 1 hour because of weather. 10/10 all way to IP then it broke
CAVU. 1st Div. going to Leipzig. We missed IP by 20 miles so we had to go
over Zeitz to get to the target. There was supposed to be the greatest
concentration of flak in the world here in this area. There was!! It
looked as tho a huge black cloud hung over the target. We were under fire
for 20 min. The target itself was obscured by smoke screens and smoke of
the groups who had bombed before us. Anderson, who lied in our brk., was
flying on our left wing and got a hit between #1 and 2 and (I saw 3 P-51's
go down) went down. Ball turret gunner reported he saw a fire in his wing
and later it broke off. He saw 3 chutes. I saw a ship covered with
flames shoot up ahead then dive down. It was a ball of fire. It was from
the group on our left. The 95th group under us just before bombs away.
We got hit in #3 oil line and had to feather it. #4 was hit from the top
and spilled oil so we feathered it. Flak sheared the connecting rod from
B. B. motor to door screw and it was impossible to close doors. We
dropped down to 20,000ft and still losing altitude due to the drag caused
by the doors being open. Also our turbo's were shot our a we lost a lot
of the power of the remaining 2 engines. We started #4 again and by this
time we had lost the formation.
Continured from Nov. 30
I went back and managed to get the doors closed by turning the screw with
my hands and a screwdriver. By this time we were down to 15,000ft and
able to maintain altitude. We jettisoned all excess weight i.e., flak
suites, guns, ammunition. A lone P-51 flew with us for a few minutes then
left. Our electrical system was shot out and the plane was filled with
smoke from the burning hydraulic oil. We were 2 1/2 hours away from
friendly territory solid undercast made navigation a good guess because
our G-box and fluxgate compass were out. On way out we flew over Koblenz
and they nearly shot us down. When we thought we were over friendly
territory we let down thru the clouds and broke over the wooded areaby
Luxembourg. We were lost and trying to get to Brussels or Paris. We
weren't particular, however, so we landed at the first airfeild near
Cambrai, France. All this time we had been at 1,500 ft because of the
low cloud ceiling. 2 other Forts also had landed there. One had no prop
and another feathered and the other had a feathered prop. We stayed over
night at this field. The guys were very nice to us. The next morning we
walked into Cambrai. We ate at a Red Cross Club and drank at an officers
club which formerly belonged to the Luftwaffe. That nite we were to leave
for Denain to get a ride home. I stored the sight in a vault. All our
crew got together and went to a small pub where we drank biere and wine.
These French people are really funny. Next day we got a ride back by the
A.S.C. (Air Service Command) in a stripped down B-17.
Continued from Nov. 30
This field had a good number of C-47's. It was the closest base to the
front lines. Here the freight is brought by air and loaded on trucks for
the front lines(Red Ball Highway). The field had been hit hard by the
allies and was heavily mined by the Germans when they left. We had an
escort of 1100 fighters.
We lost 56 bombers this day
#11 Tuesday December 5, 1944
We were to bomb the Tegli Munitions and flak factory in the northwestern
part of town. Night take off and assembly. Weather was 10/10 over the
continent. Flak was moderate inaccurate. After bombs away fighters hit
us and we got to witness a dogfight as our boys chased them off. Gonda,
the navigator passed out from lack of oxygen. Ed and I worked on him for
2 hours before he fully recovered. He had been out for 8 minutes. We were
flying #2 in hi of the lead. Temperature was -45 degrees Centigrade.
#12 Tuesday Dec. 12, 1944
Mission-Darmstadt Marshalling Yd.
Load-10-500# G.P. and 2 M-17 Inc.
This tgt. Was 20 miles south of Frankfurt. The target area had 5/10 cloud
cover but we got a visual run. A bad B missed the target. Flak was
meagre. Other groups hit the target. We were #2 in Hi of High Sq. On
return to England we found solid undercast and had to peel off and make an
instru. Descent. We broke out over a convoy and immediately a patrolling
P-47 challenged us. We fired a few flares and that seemed to satisfy him
and he left. We were coming in at 300' which blew the cowling off, so we
feathered it and landed at the 95th(Horham). They interrogated us and after
cation dinner we got a truck back here.
#13 Monday December 18, '44
Mission-Mainz Marshalling Yards
Load-18-250# G.P. and 2 M-17 Inc.
Bomb Alt.-28,000 ft
We were flying #2 in lead squadron. Clouds were up to 30,000 ft over the
continent and we were in the soup all the way. We separated from the
division because our H2X equipment went out. (We were unable to find the target.)
We made a run on Koblenz but the "mickey" was still out so we brought the bombs home.
#14 Sunday December 24, '44
For the past 6 days we have been grounded because bad weather. Meanwhile
the Germans have started a push thru the Ardennes Forest into Luxembourg
and Belgium. They are threatening Liege. Without air support, we cannot
stop them. Today, every aircraft that can get in the air is flying. Our
route in took us directly over the German salient where we encountered
heavy accurate flak. "Bandits" were reported in the area. It is very
clear, visibility is excellent. I saw a B-17 in the group ahead of us get
a direct hit and saw him tumble down out of formation. He was breaking up
and I could see his wing and tail come off. I didn't see any chutes. I
saw another one fall out of formation and spin down. I followed him down
and saw him explode right next to a small town. A single chute came
floating down beside the wreckage. Another Fort got a hit and
disintegrated. A B-26 came by smoking badly and a few seconds later he
burst into flames as he tried to crash land. Immediately after E/A were
reported in the area, I saw 4 balls of fire in one place and 3 in another
which were flaming fighters. I hope they were Jerry fighters. We found
our airfield and trained the bombs right across it. Our objective was to
hit these fields the Nazi were using to base their fighter support for
their push. Flak was everywhere. We could see many groups obliterate
small towns and fighter bombers blasting road and rail junctions. When we
arrived back at the base it was dark and everywhere we could see ships
circling with their lights on. I learned later that there had been a
string of bombers 400 miles long going out to hit the Germans. The 100
group had 62 planes out today. We flew #2 of low element of low square.
When we landed the fog was thick and a few planes ran off the runway.
This caused a congestion which was dangerous for the boys landing.
#15 Christmas Day Dec. 25, '44
Load-10-500# G.P. and 2-M-17 Inc.
We were Leading the Division and #2 in the low of the low sq. We went
around the front line flak. The weather was CAVU. Germany was covered
with snow and we could see the results of the bombing the day before.
Many little towns were wiped out. In many places, we could see where
battles had been fought leaving prints in the snow. Flak at the target was
accurate and intense. We hit the target beautifully. It was noon when we
hit this town, probably just as they sat down for their Christmas dinner.
When we returned to the base Fog was covering the runway half so we had to
wait for it to move on. Finally we could just barely make out the runway,
so we all came in. We found a delicious Christmas dinner waiting for us
and later in the evening we had drinks in the barracks. When we took off
this morning England was covered with frost and ice and was very peaceful
looking--truly a Christmas Setting.
#16 Tuesday Dec. 28, 1944
The primary target was a road junction in the small village of Luneback
but the target was covered by a 10/10 layer of clouds, therefore we bombed
Koblenz. Due to solid undercast we bombed by H2X. The flak was low and
moderate. Our route in took us right over our supposed drive into
Bastogne to relieve the forces holding out there.
#17 Friday Dec. 29, 1944
Plan A was the Leuna syn oil plant at Meresburg but it was scrubbed
enroute, so we proceeded to Frankfurt. Weather was a broken undercast
until we reached the Frankfurt area then it was CAVU. We drove past
Frankfurt then turned around and made the bomb run. We could pick out the
target the first time we passed the town. The flak was heavy and very
accurate. All three squadrons hit the MPI perfectly. It was a superb job
of precision pin point bombing. Just after bombs away, Furrer got a hit in
#1 engine and started a fire. Most of his crew bailed out but he brought
his ship back after the fire had gone out. This was his navigator's last
mission. He is now a POW. We lead the 8th air force over the target.
#18 Saturday Dec. 30, '44
It was 10/10 undercast all the way. The flak was heavy but inaccurate.
Sunday Dec. 31, '44 On this day the 349th had a stand down and the group
went to Hamburg. They met terrific flak and fighters hit them for 15
minutes after they had dropped their bombs. 6 Forts were lost to
flak (including our own war weary) and the rest were lost to fighters. We
had 15 ships out of the whole group which were able to fly the next day.
Gomer, a fellow graduate from Deming went down and is a prisoner of war.
I heard Charlie Donoua also a POW.
#19 Wednesday Jan. 3, '45
Load-14-300# G.P. and 2 M-17 Incendiaries.
The mission was uneventful in that we had a solid undercast and the
fighter support was good. Bombed by instruments. We flew #3 in the low
element of the low Sq. Route in was down thru the southern part of
Germany, then up to target paralleling the front lines. Took off at 0700
and landed at 1600.
#20 Saturday Jan. 13, 1945
We were leading the low element of the High Squadron. Route in was south
towards Switzerland then west to target. I believe we missed the bridge.
Visual to target then patchy into the target area. The flak was moderate
innaccurate. The temperature at flight altitude was -53 degrees Cent. We
took off at 0800 and landed at 15 00. We came in on the deck at 300 ft.
#21 Sunday Jan. 14, 1945
Mission-Derben(undergroud oil storage depot).
Load-6-1000# G.P. RDX
We were leading the low element of the lead squadron. Our route in was
over the North Sea--thru the corrider by Cruxhaven--fly to the outskirts
of Berlin as an IP--then turn and bomb on a 270 degree heading. Route was
by Hanover and Osnabruck. The 13th Combat Wing was leading the division
with 95th Group in the lead; 100th Group was second; 390th group was last.
Just 3 groups were to bomb this target. We met our escorts (16 P-51s) just
after we passed Heligoland. All of Northern Germany was visual. We could
see smoke screens around all the big cities around there. Also saw some
barrage balloons. As we passed over the Kiel canal a barge shot flak
at us. Observed many German boats scurrying from the harbors in the
area. As we turned and headed for our IP at Berlin we could see many
contrails ahead and we knew the Jerry fighters were waiting for us. Our
16 fighters formed in front of us. The E/A came in from 12 o'click high
out of the sun--diving in about 10 abreast. There were about 75 of them.
Our escort broke up the company front attack causing the E/A to scatter
and make only single attacks on the 95th. After the initial pass at the
95th the E/A passed around us and hit the 390th which was lagging about 5
miles behind. The Jerries shot down the whole low squadron. A lone FW
190 made a pass at us but he pulled up in front of us showing his armored
belly. A P-51 shot him down as he stalled there. A terrific dogfight was
ensuing and Forts and fighters were going down all over. We hit the
target causing huge billowy black smoke to rise to about 10,000 ft. We
made the RP (Rally Point) at Stendal and headed for home. No flak at the target. As we
passed near Osnabruck, I noticed 2 enemy fighters taking off from a
field. I think our escort got them later. Take off at 0730 and landed at 1530.
#22 February 3, 1945
Mission-Berlin(a building in the center of town.)
Load-10-500# G.P. RDX
Flying lead of the low element in the Low Sq. and leading the 3rd
Division. The 1st Div. was to precede us over the tgt. We had been
briefed for this target the past 3 mornings but they were scrubbed. The
original ship we had this morning cut out on the mags so we changed ships
and met the formation just as they departed the English coast. Bandits in
the area around Dummer Lake. Flak at the target was accurate and very
intense. The target area was visual. About 3 minutes from the bomb
release line, 2 ships blew up by a direct burst. All I saw of one was
four flaming gas tanks and heavy black smoke. The other went into a spin.
It was flaming and later a wing came off. Saw another one get hit and go
down on fire. One of our ships in the sq. on our left got hit and was on
fire. It pulled up 500ft above the formation then peeled off and headed
directly for us. We dived to try to get away from it and it went past us,
upside down, just missing us a few feet. Maj. Rosenthal's ship (he was
leading the group) began to smoke but he stayed until bombs away then
pulled over to our right and 5 guys bailed out. Then it went into a spin.
We lost ships out of the group. We bombed in group formation and layed our
bombs in the vicinity of Templehof. The city was flaming from the 1st
If we got into trouble we were supposed to go to Russian lines. We had a
315 mile per hour ground speed and the lines were just 35 miles away.
Learned later that Maj.Rosenthal and 4 others were safe with the
Russians and they are coming back here. Take off at 0800 and landed at 1545.
#23 February 9, 1945
Mission-Bolin Syn. Oil (visual) Weimer (H2X)
Load-10-500# G.P. RDX
Unable to bomb the primary because of clouds so we bombed an armament
factory at Weimar. No flak at the target but plenty in the area. We hit
the target. On the way in a lone ME 262 jet plane flew alongside then
crossed over us and disappeared in the clouds with P-51's after him. It
had a green top and grey bottom with a red nose. Took off at 0800 and
landed at 1600.
#24 Valentines Day Feb. 14, 1945
Load-10-500# G.P. RDX
Bomb Alt.-23,000 ft
We were striking in direct support of the Russian armies in their drive
to Central Germany. Route weather was patchy low clouds and clear with a
layer of Cirrus at 20,000 ft. Bandits were reported in the area around
Leipzig. On the bomb run the contrails were very dense and persistent
making formation flying a problem. Another squadron of planes had
evidently turned too early because they came right through our formation.
It is a wonder we did not lose a lot of planes. We bombed PFF. Route was
over Z.Z. (Zeider Zee) to Leipzig to tgt then out south by Frankfurt. Got front line
flak at Prum. The group ahead of us lost two ships here.
#25 February 15, 1945
Load-10-500# G.P. RDX
The synthetic oil plant at Ruhland was the visual target but we
encountered a solid layer of clouds so we bombed the city of Cottbus, just
30 miles from the Russian lines. We made a run on Ruhland anyway but went
around it and hit Cottbus. We must have hit something down there because
after we dropped our bombs we saw a column of brown smoke come up to an
altitude of 18,000 ft. (We also felt the explosion on the bomb run.)
There was very little flak. The route in was over
the Zeider Zee-towards Leipzig, to Dresden then up to target. Back out
was west to Frankfurt. We got a little front line flak on the way out.
Take off 0700 and landed 1700.
#26 February 19, 1945
Mission-Osnabruck, but we bombed Munster M/Y
Load-12-500# G.P. RDX
2500 Gals. Of Gas
Bomb Altitude-26,000 ft
Breifing was to be at 0730 with take off at 1030. As I was checking ind.
Lites before take off, a bomb fell off the top station. Everyone jumped
out of the ship for fear that it would go off but we put it back up and
took off. Left coast at 20,000 ft and climbed to 26,000, just above the
cloud layers. Over target cloud cover was 10/10 at 18,000 I only got rid
of ten bombs as bomb rel. fuse burned out. I cranked doors up. I defused
bombs and we brought them back as there is a shortage of them. Flak at
the target was moderate tracking. Landed at 1600. Route in was over
Zeider Zee and out the same. Fighter escort was good. After landing I
learned two men had been wounded in our Sq.
#27 February 23, 1945
Mission-Truechtlingen, Germ. M/Y
Load-12-500# G.P. RDX and Max.
Gas load. (2780 gs.)
Bomb Alt.-15,000 ft
Route in was over Zeider Zee-towards Leipzig-south to tgt.-out by Colmar
and Metz. Took off by instuments and assembled at 17,000 ft as a front
was in the area. We were flying #3 of the Hi fit of the Hi sq. We lead
3rd Div which was leading the 8th AF. Col Prince comm. Pilot. We had
lo/lo undercast till we got to the IP then CAVU. We went in at 19,000
and out. We missed tgt because lead bombardier (Orendorff) left his
extended vision in his bombsight therefore hitting short of the yards.
Our other 2 sqs. Hit it with perfect patterns in the yards. Yards were
full with 6 locomotives. We started huge fires. After we dropped our
bombs we circled to the left and watched other groups bomb. We could see
their smoke bombs and bombs hit very plainly. Later P-51's went down and
strafed everything in the area. Saw an air field with 6 German planes.
I saw Colmar and at Metz I could see 2 huge cemeteries which were very
well kept where possibly Joe Stoddard might have been buried. Also saw
Chateau-Salions; Mannes Canal. Countryside was green for a change.
Return weather was terrible. Peeled of at buncher and approached at
500ft. Rain in the clouds. Good landing. I saw a deserted B-17 in France
and a B-24 on a road in Ostend, Belgium. Also saw wreckage of 2 Forts
which had collided earlier in the morning. Flying time-9hr and 30 min.
#28 February 24, 19 45
Mission-Railroad Bridge in the heart of Bremen.
Load-2-1000#G.P. RDX, 2-2000#G.P.
2780gs. Of gas
We flew #3 in lead fl. Of Lead Sq. Our group was last over the target.
Blanding with Belimow as Bobdr. 1st Div was going to Hamburg and 2nd Div
near Hanover. Cloud cover in target area was 5/10 patchy. There was 300
Flak Guns in the City. We were Briefed for visual run. Wild bomb run
with a rat race for the target. We made a steep right turn and avoided
the flak in the city park. The flak was a very heavy barrage but I didn't
see anyone go down. Talmage finished. I believe all 3 sqds. Missed bridge
with a few possible bombs on it and the rest in the city of Bremen.
#29 Februray 25, 1945
Load-6-500# G.P. RDX and 6-500#M-17 Incendiary clusters
Max. gas load (2780)
1st and 3rd Div were going to Munich and 2nd Div. was hitting a flak free
tgt. Again. We were to follow 1st Div. Route in was Ostend to Colmar,
east to Augsburg then NE to a point North of Munich as the IP then to tgt
and out over the Alps and reverse of way in. We were #5 in the Low Sq.
We climbed steadily over France where it broke CAVU. Flak was very heavy
accurate and intense tracking fire. I saw a ship get a direct hit and
blow up taking another down with it, in the grp. Ahead of us. It was the
biggest ball of flame I have ever seen, with heavy black smoke. We made
our Rally point over the Alps. They were very pretty with their snow
covered peaks and green valleys. Flew close to Lake Constantine. We
encountered a little flak from the front lines. Adair finished. Take off at
0730 landed at 1630.
#30 February 26, 1945
Load-6-500#G.P. RDX and 6-500# M-17 Incendiary clus.
2780 gals of gas.
All 3 Div's were going to Berlin. We were leading the low element-flying
in the high sqd. Of the 95th Bom Grp. We aborted at 6 degrees because
turbo supercharger burned out. 2 fighters escorted us out. We got credit
for this mission because we were passed the sortie line. Landed with all
#31 March 2, 1945
Mission-Ruhland-visual only Dresden-secondary and H2X
Load-20-250# G.P. RDX
Max. Gas (2780 gallons)
We bomb Dresden because Ruhland was covered by clouds. 1st Div. were
going to Bohlen before us and 2nd Div to Magdeburg after us. Flak
over Zeider Zee. Jet jobs and enemy fighters hit us just before IP. I saw
terrific dog fight. Several enemy fighters going down in flames. They
shot down 2 Forts in grp. Ahead of us. E/A attacked out of sun at 12 hi.
Our ball turret gunner fired at him and scared him away before he got too
close. 5/10 coverage in tgt. Area. And 10/10 over tgt. Bomb by instr.
No flak over tgt. But we saw flak from Brux, Czechoslavakia.
#32 March 3, 1945
Mission-Brunswick(small arms plant) Last resort was Large Hermann Goering
Steel Plant. Load-12-260# Fragmentations
Max. gas load. 2780 gallons
We were flying lead of the second element of Chaff formation. 100 Bom Grp.
Was leading the Div. therefore we had to put up Chaff ships. Thrasher was
leading us. Col Wallace was leading the 100th. Route in over North Sea
thru Cruxhaven-south to Brunswick then out over the Zeider Zee. We
couldn't contact our fighters so we broke off ahead and went in alone. 4
P-51's passed us overhead then a few seconds later 6 ME 262's came around
from 12 to 6 and came in from 6 level in pairs. 2 of them were very
determined and came on in thru our formation. Our tail gunner opened
fire on them causing them to pass us by and go after the lead (Thrasher)/
One of them shot the lead down then they both left with our escort chasing
them. Thrasher dived down and the last we saw of him his wing broke off
and his bombs were spewing out. I could see the red flashes from the E/A
wings as he was firing. Believed to be firing 37mm. Cannon. The jetties
were all over. Flak was intense and very accurate. We could hear another
group calling for fighters as they were being attacked. When we arrived at
the barracks they were moving Trash., Remil, Bott, and McGuires clothes
out. They slept next to me. I was talking to Bott early in the morning
and he remarked that he hated to kill all those people. Our fighters
really took care of the enemy fighters. They were chasing them all over
the sky. British anti-aircraft were alerted because the night before Nazi
U-boats had attacked channel convoy.
Learned today we destroyed 103 Jerry fighters yesterday.
#33 March 4, 1945
Mission-ME 262 component plant at Kempton. (Primary) Ulm M/Y (Secondary)
Load-6-500# G.P. RDX and 6-500# M-17 Incendiary clus.
Gas 2600 gals.
Plan was to take off here and go over singularly and we were to assemble
at 20,000 ft. 60 miles this side of the lines near Trier. We wre #2 of
lead of Low Sq. Crossing the Channel we saw lots of tracers which we
learned later was enemy aircraft firing at different ships. Earlier in the
nite 70 German raiders had strafed and bombed East Anglia. They did no
damage nor caused any casualties. We flew in the soup all the way. After
forming we went into target Ulm M/Y. Heavy dense persistent contrails and
the dense weather obscured everything. We could hardly see the other
planes in our formation and nearly lost them several times. Some of the
grps were recalled because of the bad weather. We bombed Ulm, saw no flak.
Take off 0600 and landed 1500. Learned later the Jerries killed a could
#34 March 8, 1945
Load-14-500# G.P. RDX
Our target was a coking plant between Dortmund and Essen. Produced
Benzol. We had a 10/10 cloud cover all the way. Briefed at 0730 and took
off at 1000. We were #2 in the lead of the High Sq. We had no fighter
escort. Encountered meager flak. One bomb exploded just after it cleared
the bomb bay of one of our ships and we got a few pieces of shrapnel in
the ship. Route in over the Zeider Zee and out by Koblenz. This was a
good mission to finish up on which is just what I did.
March 15, 1945
On this date I found out that Johnson (whom I went to CTD with) was shot
up and had to land in Switzerland--stayed there 9 days and now is on his
way back to the States. That was his first mission.
Subj: Lt Ayesh
Date: 3/24/2005 10:44:57 AM Pacific Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
Dear Mr. Farley,
Recently, the Secretary of the Air Force approved a long-overdue Distinguished Flying Cross for a Lt Richard Ayesh. I understand that he was assigned to the 349th Bomb Squadron in the 100th Bomb Group. I am currently scouring your web site to look for his name / photo, and would appreciate any help you might offer in a search. Mr. Ayesh will receive his DFC at a ceremony at McConnell AFB, KS on Monday, and I’d like to celebrate the history.
The citation reads, in part:
SECOND LIEUTENANT RICHARD R. AYESH DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF BY HEROISM WHILE PARTICIPATING IN AERIAL FLIGHT AS A BOMBARDIER ON A B-17 AIRCRAFT OVER MERSEBERG, GERMANY, ON 30 NOVEMBER 1944. ON THAT DATE, AS A BOMBARDIER, WHILE PARTICIPATING IN A DIFFICULT MISSION, HIS B-17 AIRCRAFT RECEIVED HEAVY DAMAGE WHILE FLYING INTO ENEMY TERRITORY.
I realize this is short notice – we only learned of it ourselves this week. However, any information even after the Monday date would be appreciated. I will also ensure you receive a photo / information on the ceremony at the earliest opportunity.
Lt Col Scott Smith
22 Operations Group
And former Commander, 349th Air Refueling Squadron
From: richard Ayesh [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 4:28 PM
Subject: Distinguished Fly Cross
Dear Harry Nelson.
I met u at the palm springs reunion last January in the lobby of the motel and showed you my medal. It was presented to me at in the auditorium at McConnell Air Base with some fanfare because the 349th bomb squadron is still active as the 349th AIR REFUELING squadron here at McConnell. A video was made by the base of the presentation, as well as TV coverage, and newspaper articles were written covering the event.
The medal was awarded exactly 60 years to the day after our mission to Merseburg, Germany where we were severely damaged. I served as Bombardier on that mission on November 30, 1944. I think my pilot, Eugene Jensen sent my complete diary to the 100th Bomb Group as well as the Eighth Air Force Historical Society and their March issue highlighted my story.
Don' t know if this is of any interest to you. If it is , do u have any suggestions? By the way, I met Paul West a number of years ago. Is he still involved?
Richard R. Ayesh
Eugene T. Jensen of the 349th writes about the 100th’s first encounter with the Me-262, 8th Mar 1945.
Article published in the Arizona Republic & The Phoenix Gazette on January 6th, 1997.
In 1942, I surrendered my farm-based draft exemption and enlisted in the Army Air Force Cadet Corps. In February of 1944 I graduated from flight school with the coveted silver wings of a pilot
Graduation was followed by training as B-17 crew member, and eventual assignment to a bomber group (the 100th), part of the 8th Air Force, flying out of England. Nothing out of the ordinary, except the inevitable accidents that were a part of air crew training. Death and an empty bunk simply became a part of our lives.
History now proclaims that the war in Europe was drawing to a close in late 1944 when I joined the 100th. But the German Army and Air Force was not then aware of this development. We had lost or damaged aircraft on almost every mission. We lost 12 out 36 aircraft on a single mission on the last day of 1944.
Nature contributed the worst weather in a century. Takeoffs with overloaded aircraft under zero visibility were routine. Flying formation through dense cloud covers was exhausting and perilous. The returns to base in a sky crowded with thousands of aircraft flying in instruments became an airborne lottery. Who would have the next midair collision? Death was still a constant companion, but no one seemed much concerned.
The development and deployment of a super fighter by the German Air Force had been rumored but air crew had not been briefed on the profile or performance characteristics of the air craft.
So it was on March 3rd, 1945, that the 100th was chosen to lead the entire 8th Air Force, perhaps 1,000 bombers, on a mission to destroy one of the remaining truck factories.
My squadron, the 349th, was to fly the lead in the 100th, and three of us were to fly well ahead of the bombers stream to spread “chaff” (metalized strips) that confused anti-aircraft radar. At the briefing we were told it was essential that we deploy the chaff. It was predicted we would be a prime target for the German Air Force, so we were to have an escort squadron of P-51 fighters.
It was a beautiful day! Clear, frigid and not a cloud in sight. There was only one P-51 in sight and it was far away, unusual for an escort aircraft. Behind us the 8th Air Force bomber stream stretched for miles.
As we watched our lone P-51 evolved into an aircraft unlike anything we had ever seen. No propeller!
As we watched it made a tight high-speed circle, coming in from behind our little formation of three bombers. It became evident that we were to have a new and unpleasant experience. The pilots of the three aircraft abandoned the “chaff” formation and pulled in close together to give us maximum firepower, wingtips only a few feet apart.
Our gunners were fooled by the speed of the aircraft, and despite our massed firepower, we did no apparent damage. The jet flew through our already tight formation so close that we could see the pilot, the rivets in the aircraft skin and the 20mm cannon firing.
The wing of our lead aircraft was cut free from the rest of the aircraft almost as if by a giant chain saw, and the aircraft began it’s lethal tumble to earth. We saw no parachutes.
We were then over the target, our supply of chaff had been over-boarded, and I thought it prudent to seek the relative safety of the main bomber stream. Unfortunately, this maneuver brought us under the lead formation just as their bomb bay doors opened. – which meant we were only seconds from bomb release. It was quite clear that we were in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. our luck continued and we avoided the rain of bombs by seconds. Seconds that seemed like hours.
When we returned to base we were interviewed by an Air Force General.
I had never seen, let alone talked to a General-Grade Officer.. I had the impression that we were one of the first air crews to experience combat with a jet aircraft. (something I remember whenever I hear a jet from nearby Luke Air Force Base). As a First Lieutenant, I think I was more frightened by the General than the jet fighter. Such is war.
My final mission, the 35th, was flown on March 8th, 1945. I was very ill, really unable to fly the aircraft, but we wanted to do the trip and get it over so the crew could go home. When we returned, I was transferred immediately to the station hospital – the first in series of Military Hospitals that would lead to Camp Carson, Colorado.
On that same day, March 8th, a young nurse in St. Paul, Minn., half a world away, joined the Army Nurse Corps. She was assigned to a hospital in Colorado Springs, where I was to be a patient.
We had our 51st wedding anniversary a few days ago. You might say we lived happily ever after.