Framlingham’s Control Tower
390th BG, 570th BS, 8th Airforce
AAR of "Ginger Sweetheart", SN: 42-30478
Mission #14 (This Bomber: 3)
Mission Date: 6th November, 1943
Target: Citroen Motor Works at Paris, France
Payload: 6x 1000lb High Explosive M44 Bombs
Bomb Drop Percentage: 40%
A short ride in a communal Willys Jeep brought me to the mess for my routine early morning breakfast, coffee, and thoughts of home. Briefing would be at 0920, so we had a little extra time to wake up and energize ourselves. Since Schweinfurt, high command has decided to halt unescorted missions deep in enemy territory until further notice, so today’s target would be a motor factory in Paris. Myself and a few other crews would be carrying bombs on 24 and 48 hour time delay fuses to disrupt the inevitable cleanup crews’ reconstruction effort, which was a first for me. Fighter cover would be provided by P-47s to the target, and P-38s on the route back. With our task assigned, my crew and I boarded our ship and took Ginger Sweetheart off at 1030 with clear skies. During assembly, one ship had to abort due to one of the crew becoming ill. With the formation assembled over Framlingham, we began our climb to 21,000 feet towards the target. Over the channel our P-47 escort was nowhere to be seen, and several attempts by the lead ship to contact them rendered no results.
The crossing into France saw the bomber that had aborted joining back up with us with a replacement crewman, and taking its assigned position. Along the way, sporadic and inaccurate flak appeared near Amien but scored no hits on any of the bombers. Many of the crews tested their weapons during the lull of activity. The clear weather allowed our formation to spot Paris early and tweak our courses precisely. Several specks were called out in the distance, and we all readied for the worst, but the specks slowly materialized into our P-47 escort which apparently got lost following the wrong bomb group!
With the city some four miles out, a force of 30-40 ME-109s appeared at our 9 o’clock and the interceptors began their coordinated attacks, attacking in groups of two or three with rockets and gunfire. A 109 from 6 o’clock high was called out, and before we knew it the ship began to shudder under the punishment of 20mm shells. I witnessed the marksman hole our port wing, over the intercom it sounded as if the shots had narrowly missed the gunners in the waist, and a large hole was blown out of the starboard tail plane.
“Ball turret to pilot, I think my heat’s busted.”
“OK ball turret, are you hit?”
“I don’t think so, sir.”
“Good. Go plug in to a spare heater in the radio room.”
The 109 began to pull in at us again from 3 o’clock level where it met a torrent of defensive fire from our ship and the rest of the formation. He too opened fire, though whether or not he was targeting us is uncertain. The tracers passed overhead, he rolled inverted, and dove away. Our P-47s pulled the rest of the fighters away from the formation, and fierce dogfights erupted with airplanes flamed on both sides. We pushed further towards Paris and eventually a new heading was assigned by the lead ship, putting us on the bomb run. No flak was encountered on the approach, and as the target was spotted and the flare went up, we dropped our payload and turned for home. I worried about the civilians’ safety, as the factory was situated right in the center of a residential area. The whole block went ablaze, and our special bombs presumably would detonate a day later.
The P-38s arrived on schedule soon after the bombs fell, and they maintained an excellent close flight with us. No enemy fighters opposed our formation, though the sporadic flak from Amiens harassed us a bit until we cleared the distance over the channel. The weather remained clear all the way back to Framlingham, and we descended and circled the field. Before we could land, however, a ship required priority landing with its gear out. It belly landed in a field in the middle of the two runways, skidding to the right and coming to a halt in some loosely packed ground. After a short delay of waiting for the ambulances and firefighters to cross the runway, I brought Ginger Sweetheart down to the pavement and landed safely.
Captain Bernard 'Bernie' Allen, Pilot
2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Brooks Jr., Copilot
1st Lieutenant Charles Hernandez, Bombardier
1st Lieutenant Clyde Smith, Navigator
Flight Officer Robert Cook, Engineer
Staff Sergeant Francis Cooper, Radio Operator
Sergeant Frederick Brookstra, Ball Turret
Staff Sergeant James 'Jimmy John' Johnson, Port Waist
Staff Sergeant Floyd Mitchell, Starboard Waist
Sergeant Arthur Dziedziak, Tail Gunner
Just one at a time, Ginger Baby, one at a time...
Thanks for sharing. Another nice AAR. Great narratives.