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Keith Sprague Mission List

MY COMBAT MISSIONS OVER EUROPE
KEITH A. SPRAGUE SN# 0-746210
SEPT. 23 1943 — FEB 25, 1944
ARMY AIR FORCE STATION #139
THORPE ABBOTTS, NORFOLK, ENGLAND
8TH AIR FORCE, THIRD DIVISION
100TH BOMB GROUP (H), 350TH SQUADRON

(THESE NOTES ARE TAKEN FROM LT McCORMAC (FIRST 8 MISSIONS) AND LT SPRAGUE’S ACCOUNTS AS THEY WERE WRITTEN AT THE TIME…Keith Sprague)

1. 23/09/43 VANNES, FRANCE, OUR FIRST MISSION. BOMBED A GERMAN AIRFIELD. SAW OUR FIST ENEMY FIGHTER ATTACKS. 14 FW 190’s. VETICAL STABILIZER HIT.

2. 27/09/43 EMDEN, GERMANY, BOMB RACK MALFUNCTION, UNABLE TO SALVO OR TOGGLE OFF THE BOMBS. THE FLAK WAS ROUGH. TARGET: GERMAN SEAPORT

3. 10/10/43 EMDEN, GERMANY, MODERATE FLAK, 14 FW 190’s CAME IN FROM ALL DIRECTIONS, USUALLY IN PAIRS TARGET: DOCKS.

4. 04/10/43 HANAU, GERMANY, DEEPEST PENETRATION YET. LITTLE OPPOSITION, FLAK QUITE HEAVY, 2 FW 190’s 1,000 LB BOMBS. TARGET: RUBBER WORKS AND FACTORIES

5. 14/10/43 SCHWEINFURT, GERMANY, LONG HARD FLIGHT, LOTS OF OPPOSTION. FW 190’s, Me 109’s, Ju88’s. FLAK WAS HEAVY AND CLOSE OVER THE TARGET SEVERAL HITS ON THE PLANE. BUD BUTTS SHOT ONE DOWN FROM THE BALL TURRET AND TOM KENDALL GOT ONE FROM THE TAIL GUNNERS POSTION. TARGET: BALL BEARINGS. (NOTE mpf) FLEW WITH 390TH BG ON THIS MISSION)

6. 03/11/43 WILHELMSHAVEN, GERMANY, THE EASIEST MISSIONSO FAR. GREAT PROTECTION BY P-47’s LOTS OF CLOUDS, NO ENEMY FIGHTERS AND VERY LITTLE FLAK. TARGET: SUB PENS.

7. 05/11/43 GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY, FLEW STRAIGHT UP THE RUHR VALLEY (HAPPY VALLEY). HIT BY FLAK NUMEROUS TIMES NUMBER THREE PROP HUB HIT AND WE WERE UNABLE TO FEATHER THE PROP AND IT WINDMILLED ALL THE WAY HOME. WE DROPPED OUT OF FORMATION AND 2 P-47’S ESCORTED US HOME. TARGET: SYNTHETIC OIL PLANT

8. 07/11/43 DUREN, GERMANY, SAW THE TARGET MILES BACK. THE LEADER DUMPED THE BOMBS IN A FOREST. THE BOMBS WERE INCENDIARY AND HIT IN A BEAUTIFUL PATTERN. THEY CAUSED A HUGE FIRE BUT LITTLE DAMAGE.

9. 16/11/43 RJUKAN, NORWAY, FLEW AT 12,000 FT WITH 5X1000 LB BOMBS. MILK RUN, NO FIGHERS NO FLAK. BOMBED POWER PLANT? NORWAY IS A COLD BARREN PLACE. FLEW LEAD OF SECOND ELEMENT LOW SQUADRON. TARGET: HYDROELECTRIC (HEAVY WATER)

10. 19/11/43 GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY, WHO SAID? DIDN’T SEE THE VALLEY EVEN LET ALONE THE TARGET 12X500 LB BOMBS FLEW WITH VAN STEENIS (A/C HARD LUCK). AS A SPARE, ENDED UP #3, SECOND ELEMENT, LEAD SQUADRON. SAW ACCURATE FLAK AT THE COAST GOING IN. GOOD FIGHTER COVER, THANK GOD. NEVER SAW SUCH FLUBBING AROUND, 17’s ALL OVER GERMAN GOING ALL
DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. PLOWED HELL OUT OF SOME FARMERS FIELD. NEVER WIN THE WAR THAT WAY. PATHFINDER AT 23,000 FT. TARGET: SYNTHETIC OIL

11. 29/11/43 BREMEN, GERMANY, SORTIE, MISSION COULD BE. I HOPE. BREMEN AT 27,000 FT. LEAD OF THE LOW SQUADRON 4X500, 20X100 INCENDIARIES. LEFT THE FORMATION OVER ENEMY TERRITORY (GERMANY) NO FLAK, FAIR FIGHTER COVER, LOTS OF CLOUDS. TARGET: INDUSTIAL AREA, PATHFINDER MISSION.

NEITHER MAC NOR I HAVE VERY GOOD INFORMATION ON THIS MISSION SO I WILL WING IT AS I RECALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT THE TIME. WE ABORTED SOMEWHERE OVER GERMANY AS OUR FUEL SUPPLY WAS DWINDLING RAPIDLY AS WE FLEW IN FORMATION. AS WE RETURNED TOWARD OUR BASE IN A FUEWL SAVING MODE, OUR FUEL INCREASED AND BY THE TIME WE WERE ON THE GROUND WE HAD AN AMPLE SUPPLY! NEEDLES TO SAY THERE WERE SOME VERY POINTED QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED. OUR ONLY REPLY WAS TO STATE THEI OUR OPINION IF WE WERE TO CONTINUE IN FORMATION WE WOULD HAVE RUN OUT OF FUEL LONG BEFORE RETURNING TO THE BASE. CONSEQUENTLY MAINTENANCE DID A COMPLETE CHECK OF THE FUEL SYSTEM. THEY FOUND A MEMBRANE OF SOME SORT SOMEWHERE IN THE SUPPLY SIDE OF EACH WINGS TOKYO TANK THAT RESTRICTED THE FLOW TO THE MAIN TANKS. I HAVE NO IDEA FO THE HISTORY OF THIS SHIP BUT APPAREENTLY AS LONDA AS THE DEMANDS OF HIGH ALTITUDE FORMATION FLYING WERE NOT NECESSARY THE FUEL SYSTEM WAS NORMAL.

12. 30/11/43 SOLINGEN, GERMANY, DAMN GOOD PATHFINDER. FIGHTER COVER MAN ALIVE. HALF THE GROUPS ABORTED BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER. THERE WERE 6 FIGHTERS FOR EVERY B-17. P-47’s P-38’s AND I’LL BE DAMNED THE SPIT IX SHOWED ALSO. NINE SQUADRONS. WE FLEW WITH THE 390TH, THE 100TH NEVER DID FORM UP. FLEW AS THE ONLY SHIP IN THE #3 ELEMENT OF THE HIGH SQUADRON, MORE OR LESS. FLUBBED AROUND MOST OF THE TIME. ACCURATE FLAK OVER HAPPY VALLEY. ONLY GOT ONE HOLE IN THE COWL OF #3 ENGINE. 24,000-28,000 FT WITH 4X500 LB BOMBS AND 20X100 INCENDIARIES. TARGET: CITY

13. 05/12/43 BORDEAUX-MERIGNAC, FRANCE, NO FLAK, FOUR FIGHTERS JUST ABOVE THE UNDERCAST. OH YES, THERE WAS SOME FLAK ABOUT 1,000 YARDS OFF TO THE LEFT AND LOW. BROUGHT THE BOMBS BACK BECAUSE OF THE CLOUDS. FLEW LEAD OF THE LOW SQUADRON. 21,000 FT WITH 10X500 LB BOMBS AND FULL TOKYO TANKS. TARGET: AIRFIELD

14. 20/12/43 BREMEN, GERMANY, THIS TIME WE LEAD THE LOW SQUADRON. WE SURE HAD ONE HELL OF A TIME. GROUPS CONVERGED OVER THE TARGET. WE ENDED UP FLYING OFF OF THE 390TH WHEN LEAVING THE TARGET. FOUND THE 100TH OK AND FLEW HOME WITH THEM. FLAK WAS HEAVY BUT NOT ACCURATE. NO HOLES BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHY! PATHFINDER SHOW BUT THE TARGET WAS CLEAR SO WE BOMBED OFF THE GROUP LEADER. WE SHOULD HAVE HIT THE TARGET. IT WAS BIG ENOUGH! THE FIGHTER COVER WAS GOOD. THE 51’s STAYED WITH US FROM THE TARGET TO THE COAST. NO ENEMY FIGHTERS THAT COULD BE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED. NO DIRECT ATTACKS. WE FLEW AT 27,000 FEET LEFT THE COAST AT 19,000 FT. BOMB LOAD WAS 42X100 INCENDIARIES AND 500 GALS IN TOKYOS.

15. 22/12/43 MUNSTER, GERMANY, MISSED I’LL BET YOU. DROPPED OUR BOMBS BEFORE WE SAW ANY FLAK. FLEW LEAD OFF THE HIGH SQUADRON. COMPOSITE GROUP, 95TH LEADING. STRICTLY P.P.—LEAD SQUDRON HAD 9 SHIPS, HI SQUADRON HAD 9 SHIPS. PATHFINDER DEAL. 40X100 WITH 600 GAL IN THE TOKYOS. GOOD FIGHTER SUPPORT, P-38’s, P-51’s, P-47’s 27,000 FT.
TARGET: MARSHALLING YARDS

16. 24/12/43 ROCKET INSTALLATIONS, FRANCE, THE ROCKETS ARE TRAINED ON LONDON, SOUTH HAMPTON AND BRISTOL. LOCATED JUST INLAND FROM THE COAST APPROXIMATELY 4-20 MILES. QUITE REVOLUTIONARY FOR THE 8TH AIR FORCE. WE WENT IN AT 12,000 FT AND SQUADRONS PEELED OFF AT 30 SEC INERVALS TO MAKE INDIVIDUAL RUNS ON THE TARGET. WE WERE HIGH SQUADRON AND THIRD OVER THE TARGET. BELIEVE WE HIT IT–NOT TOO GOOD BUT GOOD ENOUGH. FIGHER COVER WAS SOMETHING FOR THE BOOKS. LOW-LEVEL AND HIGH COVER WITH SOME COVERING INLAND 30-40 MILES. NO E/A SEEN. SAW THE HOME BASE OF THE ABBEVILLE KIDS BUT NO SHIPS ON THE FIELD. SAW SOME FLAK BUT NONE WAS FIRED AT US. THIS WAS OFF THE COAST ON THE WAY OUT. CARRIED 16X300 DEMOS AND 150 GALS IN THE TOKYOS. FLEW #2 LEAD ELEMENT OF THE HIGH SQUADRON.
TARGET: ST.JOSEPH au BOIS, FRANCE, V WEAPONS

17. 28/12/43 PARIS, FRANCE, I JUST RODE ALONG IN THE NOSE TO BE GOING. CAPT CARNELL (OPERATIONS OFFICER FOR 350TH BS…mpf) RODE CP. I FLEW A COUPLE OF HOURS ON THE WAY HOME. LEAD OF THE HIGH SQUADRON. BILL DID A GOOD JOB. WE REALLY HIT THE TARGET. IT WAS CLEAR AS A BELL AND WE SAW PARIS FOR SURE. THE EIFFEL TOWER REALLY SHOWED UP. WE HAD GOOD FIGHTER COVER ALL THE WAY IN AND OUT. NO ENEMY A/C WERE SEEN. FLAK WAS PRETTY HEAVY BUT WE ONLY GOT ONE HOLE IN THE LEFT WING. IT WAS ACCURATE BUT JUST A LITTLE OFF TO THE LEFT. ONE BATTERY OF APPX 8 GUNS WAS ALSO SHOOTING JUST IN FRONT OF US ON COURSE AND AT OUR ALTITUDE. WE FLEW AT 23,000 FT. 12X500 LB BOMBS, 75 GAL IN EACH TOKYO.

18. 03/02/44 WILHELMSHAVEN, GERMANY, FIRST MISSION AS A PILOT AND WE HAD QUITE A TIME. BOMBED WILHELMSHAVEN THIS TIME 10X500. THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME QUESTION AS TO WHETHER WE HIT THE TARGET OR EMDEN. WE FLEW THIRD ELEMENT OF THE HIGH SQ. 100TH BG. MADE ONE OF THE MISERABLE NITE TAKE OFFS. WE HAD ONE HELL OF A HEAD WIND COMING OUT AND IT TOOK US OFF COURSE. WE LOST # 1 ENGINE–SUPERCHARGER QUIT JUST BOOM! THE PROP FEATHERING SYSTEM WOULDN’T WORK. WE DROPPED OUT OF FORMATION OVER THE NORTH SEA SUPPOSEDLY! WE FLEW ALONG THE EDGE OF A STORM RATHER THAN FLY THROUGH IT WE WERE REPORTED AS HOT NEWS WHEN WE TRUNED BACK TOWARDS GERMANY TO MISS FLAK. LET DOWN THRU A HOLE SO WE WOULD HAVE OUR ENGINE AGAIN AND NOT HAVE TO FLY THRU ICE. REACHED 6,000 FT AND LO AND BEHOLD WE WERE DIRECTLY OVER THE ZYDER ZEE. WOW! I’LL TELL YOU FOR SURE WE FAIRLY WELL GOT OUT OF THERE IN A HURRY. THAT WAS REALLY PRETTY BUT I GUESS WE DIDN’T APPRECIATE IT THO. OUR LUCKY DAY. CRYAN WAS CP AND BECKER WAS THE NAVIGATOR. NO. 30 FOR OLD HARD LUCK. IT HAS THE ORIGINAL ENGINES IN “413” AND WE PUT ON THE 400 HOUR MARK. HAD 400 GALS IN THE TOKYOS AND 10X500 DEMOS, 28,000 FT AND LOTS OF WEATHER.
TARGET: WILHELMSHAVEN, CITY.

19. 04/02/44 FRANKFURT, GERMANY, PATHFINDER. WE REALLY WENT WHISTLING OVER THERE. FLEW THIRD ELEMENT OF HIGH SQ UNTIL WE HIT THE ENEMY COAST AND THEN WE FILLED IN SECOND ELEMENT OF HI SQUADRON PUT 31 ON “413” TODAY AND REALLY RAN SWELL. WE SURE SAW A LOT OF FLAK BUT ONLY GOT ONE SMALL HOLE IN #2 NARCELLE. SHIPS IN LEAD SQ GOT SHOT UP PRETTY BADLY. SAW A LOT OF FIGHTERS BUT NOT A SHOT WAS FIRED. WE CARRIED 10X500 LB, 800 GALS IN THE TOKYOS, 24,000 FT ALTITUDE. WE ALSO HAD A FIRE IN THE RADIO ROOM AT ALTITUDE JUST BEFORE LEAVING THE ENGLISH COAST. THE COMMAND SET DYNAMOTOR BURNT UP. TARGET: STEELWORKS

20. 05/02/44 VILLACOUBLAY, FRANCE, VILLACOUBLAY, AN AIRFIELD SOUTHWEST OF PARIS ABOUT 4 MILES. THE FLAK THERE IS STILL BIG AND BLACK BUT WE DIDN’T GET HIT. WARREN FLEW COPILOT THIS TIME. WE PUT OUR FIRST MISSION ON “537”. IT SURE IS A GOOD SHIP BUT ONCE THE TAIL GETS DOWN AND THE AIRSPEED HITS 145 ALL HELL AND HIGH WATER CAN’T PICK IT BACK UP. THESE ELECTRONIC SUPERCHARGERS SURE ARE SWELL. WE LED 3RD ELEMENT OF HI SQ BUT WE FINALLY FILLED IN RIGHT WING SECOND ELEMENT. SURE HAD A TIME ALTOGETHER, ONE OF THOSE 145 DEALS. THINK WE HIT THE TARGET PRETTY FAIR. IT WAS THE SECONDARY TARGET WE HIT AS THE PRIMARY WAS COMPLETELY COVERED BY CLOUDS. QUITE A TOUR WE HAD AS WE FLEW ALL OVER FRANCE. THE FIGHTER COVER WAS REALLY GOOD. CARRIED 12X500 AND 700 GALS. IN THE TOKYOS. WE HAD QUITE A BIT OF EXTRA GAS AS OUR GAS GAUGE WAS OUT. TARGET: ROMILLY sur SEINE, AIRFIELD

21. 13/02/44 LIVOSSART AND BOIS REMBRE, FRANCE, NO BALL–BOY MORE OF THEM FOR ME! THESE ARE THE DICK–WHEN YOU DON’T RUN INTO FLAK. WE FLEW 2ND ELEMENT LEAD OF THE LOW SQ. RIGHT UP TO SNUFF AS WE MISSED THE TARGET. FRANCE SURE WAS PRETTY TODAY. WE FLEW EVER INCREASING CONCENTRIC CIRCLES LOOKING FOR THE TARGET. WE CARRIED 12X500 Lbers, ALTITUDE 12,000
FT. FLAK OVER THE COAST GOING OUT. NAVIGATOR OFF THE BALL. NO HOLES
TARGET: NO BALL

22. 20/02/44 POSEN, POLAND, BRIEFED FOR POZAN, POLAND. WHAT A RIDE!! IT SEEMED LIKE WE FLEW FOR HOURS AFTER CROSSING DENMARK AND WE STILL HAD 100 MILES TO GO. HAD OUR OLD HOLE AGAIN, THIRD ELEMENT LEAD IN THE HI SQ WITH THE 100TH “A”. WE HAD 10X500 AND FULL TOKYOS. THE FIGHTERS REALLY CAME IN TODAY. WE SAW ABOUT 40 FW 190’s BUT ONLY FIVE OF THEM MADE
ONE PASS IN TRAIL AND LEFT. THIS ATTACK CAME JUST AT LAND FALL. JUST BEFORE BOMBS AWAY WE WERE ATTACKED BY 7 ME 110’s. THEY REALLY CAME IN CLOSE. I’M DAMNED IF THEY COULD HIT US OR WE COULD HIT THEM. WE LOST TWO CREWS TODAY. HARRIS AND SMITH. SMITH WAS REPORTED DOWN IN SWEDEN. THERE WAS A COMPLETE OVERCAST OVER THE CONTINENT SO WE BOMBED BY PATHFINDER. TARGET–YOU’VE GOT ME? ALTITUD 9,000 TO 12,000 FT MOST OF THE TIME EXCEPT AT BOMBS AWAY WE WERE AT 17,000 FT. MAC PICKED UP A HOLE IN THE PLEXIGLASS BESIDE HIS HEAD. HAD SOME FLAK RIGHT OVER THE TARGET. NOT ACCURATE. TARGET: POSEN OR STETTIN, AIRCRAFT ENGINES

23. 21/02/44 BRUNSWICK, GERMANY, USUAL DEAL–WE HIT AN AIRFIELD INSTEAD BY VISUAL BOMBING. THIS WAS TO BE PATHFINDER BUT SOMETHING HAPPENED. WE FLEW THIRD ELEMENT AGAIN–HI SQ OF 100TH “B” THIS SURE WAS A WILD RIDE, PROP WASH ALL THE WAY. FIGHTER COVER WAS REALLY GREAT. BRIEFED FOR 290? FIGHTERS AND I BELIEVE THEM. P-47’s, P-51″S AND p-38’s ALL OVER THE SKY.NO FLAK. WE CARRIED 10X500 AND 900 GALS IN THE TOKYOS. BOOK SAYS BRUNSWICK AIRCRAFT PARTS AND ALHORN AND VORDEN AIRFIELD

24. 24/02/44 POSEN, POLAND, BRIEFED FOR POSEN AGAIN. THRE WAS A COMPLETE UNDERCAST SO WE TURNED BACK JUST BEFORE THE TARGET AREA AND HEADED STRAIGHT FOR BERLIN. DID WE EVER SWEAT THAT OUT FINALLY TURNED NORTH AGAIN AND HIT ROSTOCK BY PFF. WE HAD ABOUT 4 ATTACKS BY FIGHTERS GOING INTO THE TARGET. ME 210’s. THE FIGHTERS THEN JUST HUNG AROUND AND NAILED STAGGLERS. WE FLEW #3 GROUP LEAD. CARRIED 10X500 AND FULL TOKYOS.
ALTITUDE 11,000 FT EXCEPT OF BOMBS AWAY AT 17,000 FT.

25. 25/02/44 REGENSBURG, GERMANY, HAPPY DAY!! FINIS–REGENSBURG TODAY AND WHAT A DAY. WE HAD FLAK SEVERAL TIMES ON THE WAY IN BUT IT WASN’T VERY ACCURATE. VERY LITTLE DAMAGE TO THE GROUP–NONE TO US. FOUR FW 190’s ATTACKED AND KNOCKED OUT ONE SHIP. THERE WAS A 47 RIGHT ON THEIR TAIL AND HE CAME RIGHT ON IN. FIGHTERS AFTER THAT JUST HUNG AROUND TO HIT STRAGGLERS. GERMANY WAS BEAUTIFUL TODAY. IT WAS CLEAR ALL THE WAY OVER. THE ALPS LOOK JUST LIKE THE SIERRAS AND WERE THEY EVER PRETTY. WE REALLY PLASTERED THE TARGET. THE 15TH HAD HIT IT ABOUT AN HOUR BEFORE WE DID AND WE COULD SEE SMOKE FOR 100 MILES. THE FLAK WAS ASA BAD AS ANY I HAVE EVER SEEN. DEADLY ACCURATE. TRACKED RIGHT AROUND OUR TURN WHEN BREAKING AWAY FROM THE BOMB RUN. WE LOST ONE CREW McCLAIN 2ND ELEMENT No 3 LEAD ELEMENT OF THE HI SQ. WE CARRIED 10X500 AND FULL TOKYOS. THAT’S THAT. TARGET: AEOR ENGINES.

28/02/44 MARQUENVILLE, FRANCE (NO BALL) REST OF CREW FINISHED THEIR MISSIONS TODAY. CAPT LAKIN (ORIGINAL PILOT FOR THIS CREW) WAS PILOT.