|The following is an excerpt from the diary of Warren C. Brown. S/SGT Brown served on the Olson
crew, and flew aboard "Honey Chile." On October 14th, "Honey Chile" was lost when she lost her engines, and the crew was forced
to abandon her.
|Thurs, Oct 12
We were supposed to fly a practice mission today, but the #4 engine threw oil, and we had to taxi back in to get it repaired. A beautiful day for a change. In the afternoon we had ground school. Yesterday I got my election ballot and filled it out. I voted for Roosevelt, not because I agree with him on a lot of things, but because I believe he better understands the problems of the peace and is better known and "trusted" by the leaders of England, China & Russia. Got a swell letter (v-mail) from Dave & one from Estelle. I don't believe they have received any mail yet from me. Davy is growing like a weed. Some buzz bombs went over again tonite. They seldom miss a night.
Fri, Oct 13
We got up about 4:00 am and were briefed for a mission to Cologne, in the Ruhr Valley. It is very heavily defended by 280 heavy caliber flak guns, and there are about 200 German fighters in the vicinity. Well, the mission was finally scrubbed cause of thunderstorms in the vacinity of the target, and it had to be bombed visually. In the afternoon it rained & rained harder along toward evening, with a strong wind driving it. Mac & I went over to the dance at the Red Cross Aero Club for a while. Saw several nice looking girls there, but most of them were pretty rough and tough looking. Came back to the barracks (Nissen hut), & Dave and I played checkers until 1:30 am.
Saturday, Oct 14 **
Thus begins our big 3 day adventure. We got up at 3:30 am (after two hours of sleep) to eat breakfast and be at briefing at 4:30 am. We were briefed for the same target (Cologne) as yesterday. We are to bomb it at 27,000 ft, and our visual target is the German Ford Motor Company plant in Cologne. Our PFF target was to be the RR marshalling yards in Cologne if the visual target is obscured. I worked on my turret in the dark using my bike flash-headlight. The soleniods for the firing circuit wouldn't work at first, but I finally got them working. We took off about 7:30 am and circled to gain altitude. It was beautiful up there, with broken clouds lying below us and patches of England, dotted with our fields showing up thru. Our formation left the English coast about 10:50 am at 23,000. You could see group after group ahead of us across the channel and on over Belgium. As we hit the continent coast, our #4 engine began to spray oil out of the breather, and finally had to be cut out and feathered. Our group leader told us to stay in as long as we could. The soleniods on my turret weren't operational (sticky because of the intense cold, -40°) as I worked on them, finally getting the left gun firing. Had to stop & help the pilot, LT Olson, & Jack (our co-pilot) into their flak suits. We gradually fell behind & below our formation; when beyond the IP our #3 engine started to blow oil. We were only 4 minutes run from the heart of Cologne & the flak was bursting right on our altitude, (also some rockets were coming up). We were setlting quite rapidly with our heavy bomb load & LT Olson and Jack decided to turn back & try to make it to our side of the lines. Just after turning West, our #1 engine went out on us and ad to be feathered, and the #3 engine was only giving out 14° of manifold. We had strict orders to drop our bombs only on the target of the target of the day, and since we had very sensitive detonators in our incendiary clusters, LT Olson & Jack decided to bail everone out and head it for the North Sea on the automatic pilot. I helped get LT Olson's & Jack's GI shoes for them to put on, as they would be better to land in than flying boots, adjusted the leg straps for LT Olson on his harness, got Johnnie's escape kit for him, and put on my own helmet & goggles, which I had removed when our ship had settled below oxygen level. We were now across the battle lines on our side Abbie said, so we were good to go. Joe, Mac Johnnie and Bill had been busy getting ready to bail out back in the waist, and I waved to Mac over back thru the bomb bay. When I was thru making these preparationsfor everyone, I looked back, and the waist compartment was empty and the door gone, so they must have finally cleared the emergency release. We couldn't get the escape door behind the #2 prop for the bombardier and Navigator. Johnnie tried to squeeze out thru the door with it half open & got snagged by his heated suit cord. I cleared him on this, & he was slid back along the belly & got hooked on the loop antenna, pulled himself free, and fell away. Jack & I pulled and hauled away until finally the pin in the hinges came away and Jack could kick the door away. I went out next, wondering if this was going to be the end of my career and me. As soon as I was clear of the plane, I pulled the ring. My 'chute snapped me upright with a terrific jerk, and the leg staps almost sawed me in two vertically! We were at about 7500' when I jumped and I looked around and could see one (probably Johnnie) floating East of me at about my altitude & 1/2 a mile away West of me. I could see two more 'chutes which turned out later to be Abbie and John. The plane was going away from us into a cloud bank on an even keel, but settling lower & lower. Below & off to the one side you could see a large city on a river, and underneath us was a small touwn SW of the large city. (It was Liege, Belgium.) A strong wind (nearly 75 mph at altitude) was blowing us East toward Germany & the battle lines. Everything below looked like a painting in a child's grade reader, green with fields, orchards, and red tiled roof houses. For a while it looked like we sould land in touwn, which would be bad, with this strong wind and stone buildings, but we drifed on across it. I just cleared a stone wall, swept down thru the top of an apple tree just beyond it, and landed with a thud in a soft, green cow pasture,...
...where I lit. I laughed a lot as soon as I saw he was OK, as he was dripping mud & muddy water all over. Jack came down about 1/4 of a mile away from us. Soon there was a big crowd of Belgians around us laughing, shaking our hand, feeling of our parachute or Mae West, or heated clothes, & asking us a dozen questions at once in French or Flemish. They wanted to throw their arms around yur neck, and invite you in to dinner. We finally got thru the big crowd of well wishers to a couple of cars & jeeps that some captains & non-coms from a near-by Engineer Battalion had to come to get us in. We waved good-bye to our Belgian friends (there were crowds of them on both sides of the road) and rode in a German built V-8 back to this fighter strip that the Engineers were building for an advanced air base. We then learned that we were about 23 miles from Aachen, where the big battle has been raging all week. We had aa shot of whiskey (Jack, Abbie, & I) that a friendly captain gave us, & we slept that afternoon in the captain's tent while they waited for the rest of the crew to come in. Soon LT Olson & Johnnie came in. That eve. they took us to wreck of "Honey Chile," our ship, which had slid into a beautiful belly landing in a large beet & cabbage field about 25 miles away. Unfortunately, though, she caught fire, and one 500# GP bomb & some incendiaries went off, damaging it pretty badly. We blew up the "G" box which was still intact, and put some equipment under the guard of some Belgian soldiers. Then we drove on to a fighter-bomber (P-47) field that had been a German base for Ju-88s & Me-110s until about 3 1/2 weeks ago. There we ate dehydrated food & went to bed in a German barracks. (I had to sleep on the springs & looked like a waffel the next day). We saw the explosion from a German flying or "buzz" bomb near Liege today.
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