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Mission No. Seventeen – September 28, 1944


 Kimbolton Castle Kimbolton Castle was always a welcome sight for the men as it reminded them that they were over friendly territory and so they could let their guard down a bit.  The castle is best known as the final home of King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  It now houses Kimbolton School, a private school for boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 18.  Photo credit:  James E. Rung.

Kimbolton Castle

Kimbolton Castle was always a welcome sight for the men as it reminded them that they were over friendly territory and so they could let their guard down a bit. The castle is best known as the final home of King Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. It now houses Kimbolton School, a private school for boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 18. Photo credit: James E. Rung.

Target: Magdeburg – Krupp Ordnance Works
Bomb Load: 5-1000# G.P.
Gas Load: 2700 gallons
Briefing: 0445
Plane: P4183 – Lost Angel
Position: #2, #2 Element, Low Sqdn., 41st “A” Gp.
T.O.: 0757 Land: 1610 Time: 8 hours, 13 minutes
Left Base: 0837-1/2 @ 7000′
Bombs Away: 1159-1/2; 25300′; -37 degrees C.
Distance: 1364 SM

Remarks: Scared from the time they woke me up. Flew with another crew. Pilot, co-pilot, radio-operator also flew. Each with different crew. I was flying with “bad luck” crew. Didn’t like name of plane. Light but very accurate flak on bomb run. Queen O’Hearts just off our wing.  It received direct hit in right wing gas tanks. Burst into flame & went down.  Saw no parachutes. Crew in it on 34th mission.  Flame from Queen O’Hearts covered our plane.  Tail gunner saw it, thought it was us, & bailed out over target.  Enemy fighters attacked just after leaving target. Hit groups ahead & behind us.  Most horrible sight I’ve seen.  Sky filled with burning planes.  Too many to count.  Had to look away.  Our fighters did a good job but couldn’t stop Nazis.  Making suicide attacks against us.  Thought I was on last mission.  Wringing wet from sweat at -37 degrees Celsius.  Felt like kissing ground when we landed.

Learned we were attacked by almost 200 enemy planes.  Think we were sent out as bait.

Assigned plane belonging to crew who went down in Queen O’Hearts.  It had been grounded for repairs.  It is X4934 – Million Dollar Baby.  Much better plane that Queen O’Hearts.

[Note: This was the 379th Bomb Group’s 211th mission.  Dad learned that the tail gunner who bailed out of Lost Angel made it to the ground and was captured as a prisoner of war.  The tail gunner was Staff Sergeant Phillip J. Maniaci. In my research, I did find a letter written about the crew members of Queen O’Hearts on this day.  As Dad mentioned, the crew’s usual plane was Million Dollar Baby but, because it was grounded for repairs, they used Queen O’Hearts.  Charles D. Rutledge was the pilot and he was KIA when the plane was hit.  Stanley Paine was the navigator and he was killed on the ground by a civilian.  From what I can tell, most of the remaining crew survived the hit although there is a note that the waist gunner, Mark Singer, was wounded by flak over France and died in an English hospital.  I don’t know if he was wounded during this mission or a later mission.]

 

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