This is the war diary of George Edgar, Bombardier, 835th. The diary was transcribed from his typewritten notes complete with original grammar and spelling.
The Trip Across
On Saturday morning August 19, 1944 we took off from Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia. It was a swell day for the big birds, and I got to see a lot of the good old U.S.A. which was going to be the last look for a long time. Washington D.C. looked very pretty, and even Mt. Vernon could be plainly seen. When we flew over Bayonne, New Jersey, Bach flew around his house for a while. New York City really looked good too. After 08:00 of flying we landed at our first base, and P.O.E. Dow Field Bangor, Maine. We stayed there overnight, and got our sealed orders for our destination. Early Sunday morning all kinds of planes were taking off one by one for their trips over. We flew for 04:10 and landed at our next stop Goose Bay, Labrador. We got weathered in here for a day, but we were glad because is really nice country and was a relief from the hot weather. On Tuesday, August 22 we took off very early for our longest leg of the journey. Our base this time was Meeks Field, Iceland. The weather was very bad all the way, and 45 minutes after our E.T.A. to Meeks we could barely make out the rugged coastline of Iceland. Across Greenland we had to go to 15,000 feet to stay over parts of the icecap. After finding an opening in the clouds we dropped into Meeks Field. Monk’s brother John, who had been in Iceland for two years, met us, and made things a lot better for us than they would have been had we stayed in the huts the Air Transport Command furnished. The permanent officers on the base there have it pretty good, so we were given the best of everything in Iceland thanks to Johnny Monk.
The weather was so bad at Iceland we couldn't get off for several days, so we went up to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Our journey to Meeks Field took us 9:10.
When the weather finally cleared it was Friday 25. We took off from Iceland about 11:00 AM and started out on our last leg of a trip to Valley, Wales and England. Of the 5:10 of this leg if I flew ship about all the way, and came out right on the button. The radio is a wonderful invention though.
September 21, 1944 This was the big day. We had all been waiting for this one for some time, so here it is. At briefing we were told that our crew would fly with Lt. Stinson for this first mission and "Bach" would be flying as copilot with Lt. Friend. Later I was really glad they worked it that way because Stinson was a good pilot, and plenty cool. Everything went well all the way to Ludwigshafen, our target for the day. Saw my first flak, and was scared a lot more than I needed to be for it was very light, and about 1000 feet below us. The target was obscured by ten-tenths clouds, but we did a good job on the I.G. Farben Industries' synthetic oil plant. Am now a veteran, and we all talked about the mission as if we had just won the war.
Flying time: 06:40
September 25, 1944 Again we were briefed for Ludwigshafen, but this time we were to hit the city's Marshalling yards. Ten-Tenths cloud coverage again, and the flak was just about the same as before. Was still plenty scared though.
Flying time: 07:05
September 26, 1944 Wondered why everyone in the briefing room let out an "Oh my aching back" moan when they pulled up the curtain, and there was Bremen for our target. A few hours later I knew what they meant. Our target was the Focke Wulf airplane plant on the Weser River in the city of Bremen. Our bomb run lasted 20 minutes, and we were in flak just as long. Really got initiated on this one. Bremen has 375 heavy flak guns protecting it, and I felt like they had all of them pointed right at little old me. We were flying lead of the high flight in the lead squadron. Lt. Ogle, who was flying on our right wing, told us after the mission that he was waiting for us to go down any minute because the stuff was bursting right under us all the way in. Strangely enough, we had only about two small holes in our ship. On the way out we watched our first plane go down in flames. A fellow from another group got off course, probably due to engine trouble, and went right over Wilhelmshafen. They crashed in the mouth of the Weser River, but we did see about five chutes come out of the ship on its way down. Made me pretty sick just thinking about it so we tried wise-cracking with Lt. Love a navigator flying his last mission in Monk's place. Colonel Uhle, who was flying the lead ship, had to crash land back at the field with two engines out, and over two hundred holes in his ship. Saw the target plainly, and also the flak. This was the first time I actually heard the stuffed going off, and saw the red flashes as it burst.
Flying time: 07:40
September 28, 1944 Our target for this mission turned out to be the worst one for the Eighth Air Force, and probably the R.A.F. too---The Leuna Synthetic Oil Plant at Merseburg, Germany. This was the Eighth's first trip there, and no one knew much about the place. We learned in a hurry. This plant lies, or rather did lie, in the Leipzig area which contains about 2000 heavy flak guns. Four hundred fifty of those guns were centered around Merseburg alone. At this time, the Leuna plant was producing over half of Germany's synthetic oil. We had about five-tenths clouds at the target, but there was a tremendous smokescreen being put up around that area. On our bomb run the flak started out to be heavy, and got better all the time. We were again flying lead of the high element in the high squadron. As I was intently watching the lead ships bomb-bays for "bombs away" the ship broke right in half at the ball turret and burst into flame. The tail fluttered around for few seconds, but the front half of the ship went hurtling down almost vertically. We couldn't see how anyone possibly had a chance to bail out. [Webmaster: This was LT Oltmann's ship, #110, with 3KIA/5MIA/2POW] Lt. Whittington, bombardier in the lead ship lived in our hut, and was, and probably still is a swell guy. We learned in the middle of January from the German authorities that he was a prisoner of war. How the hell he got out I don't know. As we turned off the target I got hit right in the stomach with a piece of flak, and was knocked off my seat. At the time I would have given up my wife, but not my flak suit. When Lt. Oltman's ship blew up the whole squadron got scattered all over Germany.
We were almost to France when we got together again. This was one always to be remembered.
Flying time: 08:50
October 2, 1944 Went to Kassel to hit the Tiger Tank plant there. Couldn't see anything again for clouds, but was just as glad for I knew the flak wouldn't be so bad then. Turned out to be very light, but after the last mission I sat there expecting to be a silk angel any minute.
Flying time: 08: 20
October 3, 1944 Our target this time was a large Jet field at Neustadt. We had good weather all the way, and you could see the extra large landing strip for miles on the way in. We were briefed for no flak over the target so everything was fine -- for a while. We were over the field, and gone when the lead ship start closing its bomb-bay doors, and the command pilot called the group, and said we were going to the secondary target. The secondary was Nuremburg, and the city's marshalling yards. The flak there was pretty heavy, but low, and the bombing was done by instruments due to clouds again. Later we learned the lead bombardier forgot to turn on his bomb bay switches, and for that reason couldn't release his bombs at the primary target. Such a mistake later became a court martial offense. Coming home we could see some German railway guns around Strasbourg taking potshots at us.
Flying time: 08:55
October 22, 1944 We started flying deputy lead on this trip, and it was a good one to start on. Our group was leading the Eighth this day. Our target was the marshalling yards at Münster. Münster had its share of flak, but since this was a Sunday the gunners must have been on pass. I saw two bursts, but our tail gunner said the groups behind us started getting pretty much thrown up at them. The biggest scare I had the whole mission was on the way through the flak corridor going in over the Zuider Zee. One of the gunners in the lead ship test fired his guns, and several of the empty shells came back through the nose of our ship. Thought the Jerries had us already.
Flying time: 07:00
November 6, 1944 This time we were to hit an airfield at Neumunster if the conditions were visual, and the town marshalling yards if there was a cloud coverage. There was cloud coverage but our group did one of the best jobs of instrument bombing known to the Eighth Air Force. The bomb-bay tours froze shut on me on this mission, and I couldn't drop our bombs with the rest of the squadron. After the engineer cranked them open I let the things go at some ships the Kiel Bay. They didn't even come close, but we weren't going to leave the formation to make a bomb run. There was no flak over the target but they shot at us from Kiel and Heligoland. At both places we were way out of range so it didn't bother any of us.
Flying time: 08:00
November 27th, 1944 The little town of Bingen on the Rhine had an important railway yard through which passed the Frankfurt traffic on its way to the front. We put a stop to it. Very little flak again, but I saw some rockets that the gun crews shoot up to estimate range. They looked like a big Fourth of July skyrocket.
Flight TIme: 07:00
December 6, 1944 Our group lead the Eighth Air Force again to the old headache Merseburg. When we reached the Hanover area a supercharger went out, and the engine was not much good to us from then on. Unable to keep up with the formation we decided to turn back. Only at times could we see the ground because of heavy clouds. While hunting for a good break in the things so we could make a bomb run on the Ems Canal our pin point navigator sighted an airfield. I didn't have time to use our bombsight so I dropped my bombs from 22,000 ft. just estimating the release point. Luckily about six of them messed up one of the Luftwaffe's runways. We had been flying around so long with our doors open they froze open, and we were in the process of cranking them closed when we saw two ME 210's getting ready to start making passes at us. Just as the first one started his pass about five P-51's appeared out of nowhere, and we last saw them all diving hell-bent for the clouds. This was the first time I saw any enemy fighters.
Flying time: 06:20
December 12, 1944 Dormstadt had a small, but important railway yard that needed wiping out so that's just what happened on this mission with very little flak to oppose us.
Flying time: 07:30
December 16, 1944 The same as above for Stuttgart, only with a little more flak.
Flying time: 08:50
December 24, 1944 Everything happens at once it seems. Christmas Eve (helluva way to spend it) Our 13th mission, the largest air armada ever assembled, and the German breakthrough; which we were out to stop. The weatherman promised a perfect day for flying over the Reich so Gen. Doolittle ordered every available aircraft in the air for the big show. Over 2000 Forts and Libs. The Jerries knew what was coming too, so they were in the vicinity of Brussels waiting for the bomber stream. They started on the lead group, and didn't stop until they shot down the whole lead squadron of the group including Gen. Cassel our wing commander. We blew a tire on takeoff, and had to wait until the ground crew got a new one on. They did a fast job, but we didn't get off until 10 minutes after the last possible time of take- off. Major Skipp, the group navigator, was riding with us in Monk's place, and he thought we could still catch the group somewhere around the coast in. When we got there there was so much going on we decided to tag onto the first group we could find. As it was we were ahead of our group, and right behind the lead group. We got into heavy flak between Brussels and Liege which we weren't supposed to get until beyond Liege. The Von Runsteadt boys were farther into Belgium than we knew. In the midst of all the flak there were planes going down in flames all over the place. After a while the flak stopped and the German fighter planes were driven off, and the rest of the ride to our flak free target was peaceful. The target, as was every groups target, was an airfield at Aschaffenburg. The Air Forces job that day was to hit every airfield in the Frankfurt area so our ground forces could take a break from the pounding they were taking from the Luftwaffe. Infantry men I talked to later said when we were going over Christmas Eve they really were glad to see us. We had been purposely routed over gun batteries to draw some of the fire away from the ground troops. I think we did too.
Flying time: 08:10
December 29, 1944 Once more we went back to Aschaffenburg, and still in support of the ground armies, but this time we hit the city marshalling yards so that traffic to the bulge would be tied up. No flak, but on the way back past Frankfurt we watched a B-24 group plaster the city, and take a plastering too from the heavy anti-aircraft defense there.
Flying time: 07:30
January 1, 1945 This was my Happy New Year. We were assigned a large oil refinery at Dollbergen, a little town between, Hanover and Brunswick. There was no flak there, but the Eighth was still trying to knock down the remains of the Luftwaffe, so we were routed all over Germany just to try to draw up some enemy fighters. None came up for us, but it was probably because they were too busy at the time shooting up allied airfields in France and Belgium [WEBMASTER'S NOTE: This was the day the Luftwaffe executed UNTERNEHMEN BODENPLATTE (Operation Baseplate)]. Although our lead squadron was the only squadron to hit this oil plant we did a pretty good job. The mission was called off when we were still on the way to the target, but about two groups failed to get the message over the radio. Had we known we were flying all over Germany with no fighter escort we probably would have died from fright on the spot. There was a 120 mile an hour wind blowing up there that day that took us over the target at almost 30 degrees.
Flying time: 07:30
January 3, 1945 Our job on the Aschaffenburg marshalling yards must not have been too hot because we had to go back again on this one. Nothing of note happened.
Flying time: 08:00
January 7, 1945 Went to Hamm to knock out the railway yards. Ten-tenths clouds kept us from seeing the target, so the bombing was done again by instruments. Very light flak but somehow some of it managed to put some holes in our ship.
Flying time: 07:30
January 8, 1945 The Frankfurt marshalling yards, one of the largest in Germany, was still a big target, and important in supplying the Germans at the front. We went there through plenty of flak to hit it on this day.
Flying Time: 07:45
January 14, 1945 The Eighth was out for oil again, and our assigned target was a large plant at Magdeburg. On one of the clearest days I've ever seen (you could see Berlin from sixty miles away) the escorting fighters of the Eighth set a new record for enemy planes shot down. This day they sent over 200 of Goering's ships right to where they belonged. That wasn't Herman's only headache for the day tho. Our group got crowded out of the bomber stream on the bomb run so we went to the Goering Steel Plant at Brunswick. When we finished there wasn't a German in the Reich who would have given a second hand mark for a hundred shares of that steel stock. The shot at us but good. We had fifteen holes in our ship that you could put your foot through.
Flying Time: 08:05
January 21, 1945 Once more the air forces were called on to give support to the ground troops, this time we were going to the rail yards at Mannheim. This city was also a nice nest of flak guns. It was planned that we would bomb "Cat and Mouse" so as to avoid the heavy anti-aircraft fire around Karlsruhe. On the bomb run, which took us right up the Rhine Valley, the lead ship's blind bombing equipment went out making it necessary to make a straight run on the target. The whole group went right over Karlsruhe, and they were good shots down there. Halfway down the bomb run a burst went off right over our nose. A large piece of flak came through the nose taking out my gunsight and barely missing my head. I was afraid to look around at Dinwiddie because he had always been in the habit of standing right behind me on the bomb runs. This day he stayed lying on the floor, and it was a good thing. The piece of flak went through the instrument panel in the cockpit and sprayed tachometers, and glass all over it. One of the oil pressure instruments hit Spungin in the leg, and made a nice hole in it for him. Bacher got some plexiglass in his eyes, and couldn't see very well. As soon as I dropped our bombs and had the doors closed, I went back, and gave Spungin first aid. As soon as it was possible we left the formation, and with plain on automatic pilot we went on back to the base alone. Bach and Spungin and both received the Purple Heart, as did seven other men in our squadron from that day, and later General Partridge (Division Commander) presented Bach with the Silver Star. After that we all went to the flak house for a rest, and Bacher and Spungin were sent home.
Flying Time: 07:30
Twenty First Mission
February 24, 1945 On this mission, to Bremen, I flew with a Lt. Stevenson's crew. Didn't care much for the target after going thru the last one. In briefing this morning, the intelligence officer told us the Germans subs had been getting active again in the Atlantic, and that we were going to a submarine assembly dock at Bremen. The flak was heavy, but inaccurate, and everything went pretty well with our group knocking out the yards, but good.
Flying Time: 06:40
Twenty Second Mission
March 4, 1945 on my first mission with Lt. Genz, with whom I completed my tour, we went to Ingolstadt to hit the city rail yards. The mission was long, but there was no opposition from the ground making things go easier. The biggest danger on this one was the weather. We were in the soup all the way over and back, and at times you couldn't even see the ship on your wing. The weather was so bad over England that morning the whole Eighth Air Force formed over France.
Flying Time: 08:15
Twenty Third Mission
March 11, 1945 my first trip to a Hamburg, one of the "better" places to stay away from. On this one we hit the ship building yards in the center of the city. The flak was plenty heavy and there were more Purple Hearts in the group.
Flying Time: 06:30
Twenty Fourth Mission
March 12, 1945 The longest mission I had was on the book this time. The Russians were driving on the port of Stettin, and the Germans were trying to evacuate their troops by boat out of Swinemunde. The best crews in the Eighth were picked for the job of going up there and knocking off the port before the Jerries could get out. Only four groups were sent for the job. Among some of the harbor targets that day was the German's prize battleship the Admiral Shear. Our group did a perfect job of bombing even though it was by instruments. Lt. Ogle's radar man Lt. Yep (Chinese Boy) receive a cluster to his D.F.C. for his work. The group assigned to getting the ship missed it, but the R.A.F. later messed it up when they spotted it in Kiel Harbor.
Flying Time: 09:15
Twenty Fifth Mission
March 22, 1945 The day had come for Monty's push across the Rhine along with the American Armies around the Ruhr Valley area. Our job was to go over right ahead of them, and saturate a barracks area at Mulheim. We took over the group lead halfway down the bomb run, and by the time I could get my bearings through a heavy ground haze it was almost time for bombs away. I dropped on another target that the First Division was assigned to, and we were nine miles away from our assigned target. Colonel Overing, our C.O., had words with me after the mission. We did hit the oil dump though that the First Division was supposed to get, but missed.
Flying Time: 06:00
Twenty Sixth Mission
March 24, 1945 To keep the Luftwaffe from opposing the push into Germany, and the paratroop and glider landings, the Eighth was called upon to knock out all the airfields in Northwest Germany. In the Dummer Lake region of Germany there were kept over 2500 first line aircraft of the Germans. On a very clear day these fields were put out of commission. Before we got to our assigned target, which was a large field at Varel, we watched many of the other groups go in and really tear up things. Even while I was on my bomb run, and while looking through the bombsight, I could see the bombs from our own lead squadron ahead of us hitting our target. 500 pounders really make a lot of fireworks when they hit too. On our way out of Germany we could see hundreds of C47's towing gliders, and carrying paratroopers in to follow up what we did.
Flying Time: 05:30
Twenty Seventh Mission
March 28, 1945 The rail yards at Hanover, the largest in Germany needed to be put out of the way so that supplies to the men defending the Rhine Push couldn't get through. Through some bad weather, and heavy flak we did what we could.
Flying Time: 08:00
Twenty Eighth Mission
March 30, 1945 I was getting toward the end now, and I wasn't at all happy about our having to go to Hamburg again, this time to hit the Oil Industries there. Hamburg now had the only remaining synthetic oil plant in Germany. The flak was very heavy that day, and it sent the ship right behind us down in flames. Worse yet, there were about five jet planes trying to make some passes at our group. Only one of them succeeded but he peeled off in a hurry when all the tail gunners in our squadron started firing all at once when he was still out about 2000 yards. Plenty scared, and the sweat was really pouring off me for a while that day.
Flying Time: 07:30
Twenty Ninth Mission
March 31, 1945 Germany still had plenty of oil stored away and there was some million or so gallons put away in a dump near Brandenburg. When we got there the target was obscured by clouds so we went on into Brandenburg to hit the city's rail yards. On the way to the target that day we kept ourselves occupied by watching Gen. Patton's Third Army running wild over Germany near the vicinity of Cassel and Geisen. He was many miles beyond the places the news broadcasts said he was the night before.
Flying Time: 08:45
Thirtieth and Last Mission
April 4, 1945 There was now left only a very small area in Northwest Germany that we could bomb inside, and be safe from hitting any Allied troops. The Eighth went to Kiel two days in a row, and our crew got in on the second mission to the city’s docks and harbor installations. At one time Kiel was a target not liked very well by Allied airmen. It had over 200 heavy guns plus the ones on any of the ships in the harbor. All the way across the North Sea I realized how a condemned man must feel on his way to the "chair". Was really sweating this one out. One good thing though, our group was leading the Eighth again, and we would be first over the target, and right behind six Mosquitoes that were the "Chaff force" for the day. The chaff really screwed up the radar for the gun batteries, and the five are so bursts of flak that I did see were about a mile out to our left. When I got back to the field and out of the plane I felt like I was starting all over on a new life again.
Flying Time: 07:20
Our convoys of 35 ships left Southampton, England on the morning of May 2, 1945. The first night out a sub was following us, and they dropped depth charges all night long. The second night about 07:30 our ship rammed what must have been a submarine. It never did surface so I couldn't say for sure. When we were in the middle of the Atlantic, and on our fifth day, we received news of the signing of peace in Europe. After going miles off course to get out of a severe storm on the ninth and tenth days, we arrived in Boston on Saturday night May 12.
During my tour I flew an average of 07:34 for each mission and a total of 227:11 for all missions. Counting the days we flew weather ship, and the three times we had to abort, I had about 250 hours of combat flying.
SO WHAT !!!
Bacher Crew Page
[Keywords: Darmstadt; von Rundstedt; Admiral Sheer; Schwinemünde; Kassel; General Castle]