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Group History

Crew #13 - L. C. VanSteenis - Page 2


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by Earl V. Benham


 

100th BG Photo Archives

Dec 16th 1943
Briefed for Bremen, Germany..Bomb load, eight 500 lb Demos and 20 incendairies..We flew as spare..Had a runaway supercharger on take off..We landed on the second attempt in heavy fog..Changed to new airplane..No place to fill in..Returned to base landed in thick fog with full bomb load. No mission credit.

Dec 22 1943
Briefed for Munster, Germany. Full load of incendiaries. Pathfinder mission, complete overcast over target..Light flak..P47 & P38 escort very good..We took off in the rain.

Dec 24th 1943
Briefed for NO BALL target near Abbeville and Dieppi, France. Bomb load 300 lb Demos..Altitude over target 12,000 ft. Our base was fogged on return, had a difficult time landing.

Dec 29th 1943
Briefed for Ludwigshaven, Germany..Flew as spares..Full load of incendaries..Took off at 8:30 a.m...No place to fill in. We returned to base with full bomb load..No mission credit. Landed at 12:30 after a 4 hr. flight.

Jan 4th 1944
Briefed for Kiel, Germany..Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos..Pathfinder mission,Target overcast..Bombed from 29,000 ft..Flak heavy and accurate.

Jan 5th 1944
Briefed for Elbeipid, Germany. A ball bearing plant. We hit the 2nd. alternate target at Nuess, a bolt and nut factory. Bombed from 26,000 ft. Temperature 52 below zero..Flak very heavy..P47 escort very good.

Jan 7th 1944
Briefed for Ludwigshaven. Germany..A Chemical, Power and Rubber plant..Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos..Pathfinder mission..Target overcast.Flak thick over target and passing over Duren..P47 & Spitfire escort very good..One bomb failed to release over target, Yarnel and Torbett loosened it over Channel. Target completely destroyed..Bombed from 23,000 ft..Our base closed in with fog., I brought the plane over the field with radio directional system.

Jan 15th 1944
Briefed for Halberstadt, Germany..Mission scrubbed after briefing because of heavy fog.

Jan 19th 1944
Briefed for installation on French Coast--Mission scrubbed on hour before take off..-- Our crew had special delayed action bombs which could not be unloaded on the ground.-- Necessary to drop them in the Channel. We took off in very bad weather and dropped then 40 miles out over the North Sea. We almost ran into a barrage balloon on the way back to base. the bomb load was twelve 500 lb.Demos..--..No mission credit.

Jan 20th 1944
Briefed for installation on French Coast. Scrubbed one hour before take off time.

Jan 21 1943
Briefed for installation on French Coast. Bombed from 20,000 ft. Each squadron made their own individual bomb rum..--..Flak very heavy, our airplane had several holes, most of the planes were hit by flak..--..The flak made it a rough mission.

Jan 24th 1943
Briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. Took off in dark at 7 a.m. -- Heavy contrails at 15,000 ft. had difficult time grouping formations. Were 150 miles over enemy territory when we were recalled to base. -- Came out across Holland so did not drop bombs. -- Salvoed in Channel.

Jan 25th 1944
Part of our crew flew to a field near Cambridge. We took another pilot on business.

Jan 26th 1944
Briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. Mission scrubbed before take off.-- Another mission to the French Coast was also scrubbed

Jan 31st 1944
Briefed or Frankfurt, Germany. -- Mission scrubbed 30 mins before take off.

Feb 4th 1944
Briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. Bomb load, ten 500 lb..--..Pathfinder mission.-- Bombed from 25,000ft. at 300 m.p.h. Flak very thick, some enemy fighter attacks. Very little escort.--.Had a very rough landing at base because of strong cross winds. My first and only mission with a different pilot. Our pilot sick with cold. Lt Harris was the pilot.

Feb 8th 1944 Flew a short practice formation flight.

Feb 9th 1944
Briefed for Halberstadt, Germany.-- We took off at 7 a.m. and were recalled at 8 a.m. - landed at 10 a.m. with full bomb load. -- No mission credit.

Feb 11th 1944 Flew a short practice formation flight.

Feb 12th 1944 Flew a short practice formation flight.

Feb 13th 1944 Bombed installations on French Coast. Flak very accurate bursting close to airplane. Good fighter escort..--..Bombing altitude 12,000 ft.

Feb 15th 1944 Flew short practice formation flight.

Feb 21th 1944
Briefed for Brunswick, Germany- Pathfinder mission.-- Bombed airfield and railroad marshaling yards. -- Excellent fighter support..Light flak. -- Bombed from 2200 ft.

Feb 22nd1944
Briefed for Schwienfurt, Germany.-- Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos.-- Took off in snow flurries, climbed to 22,000 ft. Heavy contrails made grouping difficult. Visibility almost zero at times. We headed out across Channel badly formed..--Recalled.-- Landed at base with full bomb load.

Feb 23rd 1944
Briefed for Schwienfurt, Germany. Mission scrubbed after hour postponement.

Feb 24th 1944
Briefed for Posan, Poland. -- Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos. Attacked by enemy fighters over Denmark. Our waist gunner (Yarnall
) was wounded in the shoulder and hand.-- Target was overcast; could not bomb. We changed course and dropped bombs on Rostock, Germany. -- Some flak, more fighters attacked on the way out, plane hit by a few shells. Landed O.K. at base, a long flight, a bit over ten hours. Yarnall
 was grounded because of his injuries.

Feb 25th 1944
Briefed for Regansberg (Regensberg), Germany. Bomb load, ten 500 lb. Demos..Good fighter escort.-- Flak very heavy over target, we were hit by several pieces. We came to base on three engines.-- base badly clouded up, landed O.K., a nine and half hour trip.-- Target was hit in clear visibility.

Feb 26th 1944
Briefed for Friedrichshaven, Germany.-- Bomb load forty-two 100 lb. incendiaries. Mission scrubbed just before take off.

We went on a nine day leave at this time....

Mar 14th 1944
Flew a practice mission.

Mar 15th 1944
Flew a practice mission.

Mar 16th 1944
Test flew a new airplane (Hard Luck II) -- Were group lead.

Mar 17th 1955
Briefed for Oberfafinshaven, with Munich as secondary. Mission scrubbed before take off, returned to briefing room and were briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. This mission also canceled because of fog that did not lift.

Mar 18th 1944
Briefed for an airfield and installations five miles north of Augsburg, Germany. -- bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos.-- We were hit by flak as we crossed the French Coast on the way in. We were flying group lead. Torbett, our bombardier, was hit. He was not able to operate and we left the formation and returned to base.

Mar 25th 1944
Flew practice mission.

Mar 26th 1944
Briefed for Leipzig. Germany, a factory making JU-88s. Mission was scrubbed at taxi time. Were scheduled as group lead. We were up at 2 a.m. and flew a four hour practice mission on the afternoon.

Mar 27th 1944
Briefed for an airfield 15 miles from Bordeaux, France. Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos. Flak very heavy over the target, bombing altitude 23,000 ft. We hit target with good concentration. The 8th Air Force bombed several targets in the area, saw smoke of several targets. Group lead mission and we led the group.

Apr 7th 1944
Briefed for Quackenbruck (Quakenbruck) , Germany. Mission scrubbed before take off.

Apr 8th 1944
Briefed for Quackenbruck (Quakenbruck) , Germany airfield again, bomb load, thirty-eight 100 lb bombs.- Bombing altitude 20,000 ft..-- Good fighter escort.

Apr 9th 1944
Briefed for Posan, Poland, aircraft plant. Bomb load, incendiaries.-- Took off in bad weather, formations were split up over North Sea in heavy cloud formation. The group could not be reformed. Returned to England, could not land at our base because of weather. Landed at a B-24 base and returned to our base when the weather cleared later that day.

Apr 11th 1944
Briefed for Posnan, Poland. Bomb load, five 1000 lb Demos. Took off at 7 a.m. - We flew across the North Sea in very bad weather. Formations were badly formed as we crossed the coast of Denmark. We met strong formations of enemy fighters. Many B-17s lost in out division. -- Target was overcast, we changed course and bombed railroad marshaling yards at Rostock, Germany. Flak very heavy over target. We met many enemy fighters on way out. Met out P-38 fighter escort on the way out. Landed at 5 p.m., field closed in. A long rough mission very similar to Feb. 24th when out Armor gunner Yarnall
 was injured.

Apr 18th 1944
Flew a practice bombing flight, just our crew.

Apr 20th 1944
Briefed for installations on French Coast. Took off at 4 p.m., Bomb load, twelve 500 lb. Demos.-- Also took two 1000 lb demos. The two 1000 lb. demos were attached to the underside of the wing, one on each side. First and only time we carried them that way. - Flak over target very heavy and accurate. Landed at base 8:35 p.m.

Apr 22nd 1944
Briefed for Hamm, Germany. Target, the railroad marshaling yards. Bomb load, ten 500 lb demos.-- Bombing altitude 23,000 ft. Flak very heavy over target. We had a good escort. Our crew led the Group and most of the 8th Air Force. Our Group C. O. Colonel Kelly flew with us as an observer. Our Squadron C.O., Major Elton, flew with us as co-pilot. Our crew co-pilot flew as tail gunner. Took off at 3 p.m. and landed at 9:30 p.m. Think we led the wing.

Apr 24th 1944
Flew a practice mission.

Apr 25th 1944 
We (our crew) flew a weather mission for the group. We were called at 1:45 a.m.
Briefed to take off at 4:30 a.m., a German air raid delayed take off until 5:30 a.m. We went to 20,000 ft, Navigator took wind readings which we radioed to base. After mission left the coast of England - returned to base at 9:30 a.m. Our flight took us over London. No mission credit.

Apr 26th 1944
Briefed for Brunswich (Brunswick), Germany, bombed by pathfinder. Bomb load forty-two incendiaries.- Flak heavy over target, good escort..-- Took off at 5:10 a.m. landed at 12:20 p.m.

Apr 27th 1944
Briefed for a target near Cherbourg, France. Bomb load, sixteen armor piercing bombs. Bombing altitude 18,000 ft. -- Flak thick over target

Apr 27th 1944 
We returned to base and were briefed for an airfield near Paris, France. Bomb load, twelve 500 lb. demos. Took off at 3:30 p.m. Some flak over target, bombed secondary as primary was overcast. Landed at 9:30 p.m. ---- Two missions this one day..

May 1st 1944
Briefed for Metz, France, marshaling yards. Bomb load six 1000 lb demos. Took off at 3:30 p.m. --- Fighter escort very good. We had full support with P47s, P38s and P51s. Some light flak over target and four enemy fighters made an attack on out group..--- Landed O.K.

THIS FLIGHT COMPETED MY TOUR OF 28 MISSIONS...Earl Benham

(The following data on the May 7th 1944 Berlin mission is supplied by Walter A. Schneider)

May 7th 1944
Briefed for Berlin, Germany. Bomb load, ten 500 lb. demos. - Heavy flak and very accurate; Navigator(Harold C. Becker) killed. - Bombardier (L. Torbett) was wounded. This was the last mission for the following members of the crew.

Pilot Van Stennis
Tail Gunner Schneider
Bombardier Torbett (wounded)
Navigator Harold C. Becker (KIA)

For more information on this crew see "With Crew 13" by Earl Benham of 3725 E. Altadena Phoenix AZ 85028

 

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