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B-17: Queen of the Skies» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Hell's Chariot the first mission rss

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JP LaChance
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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We are here to make a difference

Friday September 1, 1944

It is 0500 and we completed out preflight check of our beautiful B17, a flying fortress named HELL’s CHARIOT. She is a mighty beast. How can we feel anything but safe in this beauty? As we lift off the day is perfect, clear blue skies and you can see for miles. It is out first mission, a bombing run on the rail yards at Amines, some small town in France. We are all happy to have such a close target, it is just a short hop across the channel drop the bombs and back home for lunch.
It is our first mission; we are all green, scared and here to make a difference. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, I am sure of it! The name of our plane inspires confidence we are Hell’s Chariot and we are here to deliver hell to the Germans!

Our pilot is Jimmy West, a tall thin man, or copilot is Timmy Calihan, the navigator is Kenny Noris & out man at the switch is bombidier George Marshall. Henry and Peter are the engineer and radio operator. Little Tommy Wolf is out Ball gunner, and Louis Jenkins has our backside. Rich Evans is across from me on the Starbord Waist Guns and I am Jack Matey Port Gunner. As we reach altitude I can see fro miles it is crisp and clear, just a few clouds and it looks as if we will have a perfect mission with a clear bombsite to take out that rail yard and send them Germans packing.

As we get out over the channel I am struck with just how close France and the Germans are to our base back in England, It is only 20 miles or so. We have our fighters to escort us so the Germans don’t dare come close. We won’t be this lucky if our next mission is deep into Germany or France but today, on our first mission, it is a comfort to have the fighters with us. A few minutes later we are leaving our fighter escort behind as we enter into French airspace, it won’t be long now… Then it happens I see my first German fighter, it just just looks like a bird flying in the distance with us being in the middle of the formation. All of a sudden I see a giant ball of fire, one of our planes shot him down, and all I can think is that poor bastard had it coming, that’s what you get for messing with the 8th you Jerry bastard. Then it is calm and silent, too silent…

The silence is broken with the deafening sound of anti-aircraft fire FLAK, the FLAK seems to be everywhere, then all of a sudden the plane is rocked, not once but twice. The two explosions are in different places, WE ARE HIT!! I can here Peter, our radioman hollering that he has a big hole in the plane in his area, and then I hear Rich scream FIRE! FIRE!, The Fuel tank is hit!
The fire extinguishers go off but have no effect on the fire. The fire keeps raging in the wing and it is growing. We start to fall out of the formation. The captain comes over the radio and starts to yell I can’t control her.. BAIL..BAIL!

Out I jump, man I always hated the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good plane during training, but now it seems like the best training I could have had. As I am floating to the ground I look around to try and locate the other guys, I only see two parachutes, as HLEE’s CHARIOT falls to the ground spinning out of control. It looks like Jimmy West our pilot made it out as did our Tail Gunner Lou Jenkins. I am struck with this sickening feeling that everyone else did not get out, What happened?…..

As we fall to the earth all I can see is German troops everywhere. Oh God help us!

The three of us land in a farm field in the middle of nowhere France, I am fortunate enough to get my chute cut away and run for cover in a very nearby drainage ditch culvert pipe. I then hear the sound of gunfire and words in a foreign language being yelled. I can only assume the others were captured. That evening a farmer comes out to the drainage ditch culvert pipe and motions for me to come with him, I assume I am done for. When we get back to the barn loft he explains to be in broken English that he was watching the whole thing from the barn attic, he tells me that he is with the French resistance, and tells me he will get me home. I ask if he was able to tell if Jimmy and Lou were OK, he says it looked like they were taken away in a big truck, but that they were alive. GOD I PRAY FOR THEM!

It is Wednesday evening and I just got off a ship and I am on a transport truck on my way back to the base. My next mission is just two days away.

Signed,

Port Gunner Jack Matey


 
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chris reichl

Appleton
Wisconsin
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Sorry to hear about your B-17 getting hit over Amiens, especially on your maiden voyage of all things. My B-17 "Farmer's Daughter" is awaiting its 14th Mission, I think our target is Willhelmshaven. Good AAR by the way.
 
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Edward Wehrenberg
United States
Unspecified
CA
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Great AAR!! Man - that bites! Tough first mission!
 
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Ronster Zero
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Flak the plane killer. It seems you can take a beating from planes hit after hit, but one flak burst inside and it's all over.

Keep it up. I've managed to make it to my 17th mission with the Iron Maiden.
 
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