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S/SGT  Harvey L. BECKER

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: BTG
SERIAL #: STATUS: FEH
MACR:

Comments1: MARIETTA, OH

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
           CREW FLYING AT END OF HOSTILITIES
2nd Lt James A.Lantz                       P      FEH    WIA 23/3/45 flak SEE DIARY 
2nd Lt John W.Greenlee                  CP     FEH
 F/O Otto P "Pop" Bueren              NAV   FEH  TAPS: 22 JUN 1982
 T/Sgt Francis W. "Lad" Meserve      TTE   FEH
 Cpl Harvey L. "Shorty" Becker         BTG    FEH
 Cpl John A. "Chili" DiMari                 ROG    FEH
 Cpl Bert R.Hodges,Jr.,                      NG    FEH
 Cpl Donald M.Newlin                        TG     FEH  TAPS: 26 OCT 1986
 Cpl Paul Sottler,                              WG    FEH  TAPS: 18 DEC 1961

351st Sqdn.  Joined the 100th  on 4/3/45


Diary of James A. Lantz,  Pilot 100th Bomb Gp WWII

Monday Jan 26, 1945: Pulled into Liverpool harbor. As we went down between the line of buoys leading to the harbor two British destroyers kept their silent watch. A trawler crossed out path and even it was out fitted with an anti-aircraft gun on the bow. The faint outline of Liverpool gradually took it's shadowy form and as the gulls dived, zoomed and glided about our ship we came closer and closer to our destination. As we pulled up to the dock a British band broke into the "Star Spangled Banner." 

 Here are my first impressions of England as I first saw it. The band played well, had good instruments and were neatly attired. The building in front of which they stood was charred and burned with all it's windows broken. There was a low overcast of clouds and away in the distant part of the city a lone steeple reached up into the sky. There was a canal flowing beside us and I could see an English Bobby down below us handling the crowd. He was exactly as I had pictured him with his long blue coat and queer hat. The whole city gave me a feeling of entering into the past and it left a pleasant taste in my mind. Here was a rich culture. Here the people knew the meaning of blood, sweat and tears. Here was a bulwark of Democracy. This was England.

 Before leaving the ship all the Officers were assembled in the main dining saloon of the ship. There we were greeted by the American Colonel in charge of the port. He welcomed us to England and introduced us to the Manpower Board and Col Keith Pembroke of the British Army. Col. Pembroke gave us a very warm welcome on behalf of the British people and assured us that we both had but one common end and that was complete victory. He also quoted and reaffirmed Winston Churchill's statement when he said that when the war in 
Europe had been brought to a successful end Britain would transfer her entire strength to the Pacific and continue the fight against Japan.

 The first person to greet us when we touched foreign soil was the American Red Cross. Few of us realize what a wonderful organization it is and that is because a great majority of us have luckily never been in the position where we have had to have need of them. Already they had given us a full kit of cigarettes, writing paper, a sewing kit, candy, shoestrings, magazines and now they served coffee and doughnuts. There are thousands of American soldiers who owe  their very lives to the American Red Cross.

 We boarded the train and were on our way to a distribution center where we were to await assignment to a Combat Group. The English trains are different from ours and I for one like them better in a lot of ways. They are built in separate compartments which open on either side of the tracks. Each compartment seats six persons and the windows are raised and lowered by pulling a belt down and catching a hole in the belt on a hook. It was getting dark as we started out but you could still see the green rolling hills and the quaint English houses with those peculiar chimneys. At one station stop along the way we made friends with an English fellow of about twenty-five years of age. We had been singing and hoped to make friends and give a good impression. Asking him what he would like to hear us sing, he answered, "Oh anything with a bit of jive in it you know." So ended out first night in Merry Ole England. After we settled down in out bunks we called out goodnight all, cherrio, pip pip, and all that sort of rot, you know "rawther."

 Stone, where we were was a Redistribution Center. Here the B-17 and B-24 crews were assigned to the various combat groups and the P-47 and P-38 boys usually went on to the continent at this time. Our stay at Stone was short, we were there only four days. We lived in tile unheated barracks in rooms that were hardly big enough to turn around in. There were four of us to a cubby hole. After the first day of listening to lectures there was nothing for us to do except divide our time between writing letters and sitting in the Officers Club listening to American broadcasts on the radio. There were several pretty wild blackjack games going on all the time, but due to my perspective fatherhood I had sworn off gambling and has so far kept my promise. Otto (Otto P. Bueren, Navigator), Johnnie (John W. Greenlee, Co-pilot), Dic and Bryson were still engaged in their usual pinochle game and their room was the warmest in the barracks, due in no small part to the hot arguments going on all the time. They had one dance while we were there and I walked down and looked in on it, but didn't dance. If no one had talked you would have thought you were among an average group of American Bobby-Soxers and jitterbugging was right in there.

 We left Stone one the 3rd of Mar (1945). There were no trucks available and we walked one and one half miles to the station. Again we got into the train and were on our way. We rode for several hours and ate our K rations, finally arriving at Norwich. We had a few hours to spend between trains so walked uptown and looked in the store windows. They seemed rather bare but Bill Baldwin who was Bob Fletcher's co-pilot got a nice leather pocketbook for one pound fourteen. Later we stopped at a little Confectionery and had cheese on toast and chips for sixty cents American. They also gave us coffee but it was ersatz and even if it had been real it would have been terrible as the English are notoriously poor coffee makers as are the Americans poor tea makers.

 While at Stone we kidded each other that the other fellow would be sent to the 100th Bomb Gp. We had heard many weird stories about fifty percent loss rates in the 100th and whole Squadrons being wiped out on one raid. This laughter died in out throats, however, when we found out that my crew along with Johnny Johnston, Ray Blaenns, Bill Brown's and Bob Fletcher's were assigned to the 100th. We took it philosophically though and said, that if we got through our missions we could have something to tell our kids. In reality the 100th Group was not the bogey we had supposed. It's loss rate was not any worse than many others and in fact much better than some. It just seemed that when the 100th had losses they all came at once. Legend has it all of their trouble can be traced to a gunner on a crew of the 100th back in 1943. It had always been the custom, a sort of gentleman's agreement with the Jerries, that when a plane or crew had been so disabled by flak or enemy fire that its crew must bail out or the ship must make a forced landing in enemy country, that the pilot of the disabled ship could lower his landing gear, thus signifying the crew was going to bail out or land in enemy territory. In such cases a couple of Jerry fighters will park on each wing and follow him down to the ground. They make no attempt to shoot at the disabled ship and are more or less in a precarious position themselves. In the present case one of the gunners on the crippled B-17 took a notion to shoot at a German fighter who was following them down and he shot the Jerry down. The B-17, of course, was immediately attacked by the other fighters and the entire crew lost. This act on the part of the B-17 gunner so angered the Germans that thereafter for many months they made a special favor of picking on the 100th and on several occasions knocked out a complete squadron.

 We pulled into the 100th about 9:50 P.M. on March 3rd (1945). They fixed us up with some chow and some temporary bunks and we hit the hay. Before going to bed I sat around awhile and talked to some of the fellows in my barracks. They were veterans, most having over twenty missions. Being new to combat it amazed me to see these boys sitting around and calmly talking about the ship lost that day. He had been a lead ship and was knocked down by a couple of ME 263's (ME 262s), Germany's newest jet job. One of the boys, a co-pilot, had just received the purple heart the day before and the rest of the boys were kidding him about it because he had received only a scratch on the arm. The thing that gave him the scratch on the arm though was a big piece of steel thrown up by Jerry flak guns. A few inches closer and it would have torn through his entire body.

 The next day out program was laid out for us. We were to go to an extensive period of ground school for about eight days and then fly a couple of practice missions in order to check the Pilot and Co-pilot out on the new procedures and let the Navigator get the lay of the land. The Radio Operator had one of the biggest jobs and upon him would often depend whether or not you got back or not. After we had a couple of practice missions we were put on operations and thereafter would be sent on our first combat mission.

 On my first combat mission we went with Lt Hughes (T.C. Hughes) from Columbus, Ohio. He had completed thirty-five missions and finished his tour, but was taking three more missions to make Captain. The mission was what we called a "milk run." We saw no fighters and very little flak and that was in the distance and a good bit below. Our main target was Rouen, but it was overcast and they made a run on the secondary target of Plauen. I think about all we hit was farmer Jone's back yard. As I was flying co-pilot on this mission there wasn't any room for Johnnie (John W. Greenlee), but he didn't want to be left behind and flew as a waist gunner.

 My second mission was quite a bit different and here seems like a good place to tell what a mission is all about from beginning to end. A runner came in about 3:00 A.M. on Sunday March 18th, 1945 and told us briefing was at 4:30 A.M. We had been alerted for the mission the night before and I was to fly in the low flight of the low squadron, best known as "Purple Heart Corner". We had our breakfast of eggs, hotcakes and coffee, went to the briefing room and drew out equipment. At briefing the first thing everyone was anxious to know was what the target was. We didn't have long to wait, when the curtain was drawn aside and out target was outlined on the large wall map. There were whistles and sighs and many other responses when we saw that today we were to bomb "Big B" Berlin. Our main target was a marshaling yard on the outskirts of Berlin. We were flying 805 today. A truck took us and out equipment out to the hardstand where 805 was parked. We entered the shack and the boys started getting their guns ready and putting them in the ship. We had almost two hours until start engines do Johnnie (John W.Greenlee) and I just sat around and kidded the boys and ourselves by saying, "this don't mean a thing."  Seven-thirty was start engines and at seven-twenty we were sitting in the cockpit and the second hand came around to seven-thirty #1 engine turned over. "Brakes off, tail wheel unlocked", we were on out way. We were the next to last ship to take off and assembled over Buncher 28. Once the Group was formed we went over to rendezvous with Wing and from there to rendezvous with Division.

 We crossed the Dutch Coast at 20,000 feet and you could see the Ball and Upper Turrets begin their watchful scan of the enemy sky. We had to use 2350 RPM and 40 inches (A power setting for piston engines denoting twenty three hundred and fifty revolutions per minute at forty inches of Mercury engine manifold pressure for the B-17's Wright engines) to keep in the formation as we continued climbing to the bombing altitude of 25,000 feet. About twenty minutes before the IP (initial point or starting point of a bombing run over a target) I asked for an oxygen check and made sure everyone had their flak suits on. I had sat my flak helmet on the floor under the seat and as I reached for it I knocked it down between the seats. I got out of my seat momentarily to retrieve it and just as I started to get back in all the guns in the ship started to chatter and someone yelled "fighters" over the inter phone. Then began the mad chase. We put on 2500 RPM and 46 inches (a engine power setting) and shoved everything but the seats forward, but we were still falling behind. We were being attacked by about four jet jobs, ME 262s, Johnnie (John W. Greenlee) and I both struggled with the controls to try and get the last bit of power out of the engines to keep up with the formation. We knew once we fell out we were lost. Meanwhile the boys were very busy. A jet attacked from 4 o'clock and came up under our nose, the chin turret went to work on him. We saw our tracers hitting him but he kept on going. A jet came diving down on us with a P-51 on his tail and the B-17 gunners were shooting at both planes, unable to distinguish them at that speed. The ship in the diamond position had been unable to keep up and it's #2 engine (closest to fuselage on left wing) was on fire and it was on it's way down. A ship above us blew up and the parts came floating back. The flak was intense, but not too accurate, "Bombs Away" and we made a sharp turn to the left off the target. Now the lead ship really poured on the coal and we tried in vain to keep in formation. Luckily there was another formation right back of us and a little above. We hung on to it until we were safe from fighters for the moment, all the while taking all kinds of evasive action as the flak was following us and getting pretty close. We started to lose a little altitude and pick up some airspeed so we rejoined out old formation and came back with them. Seeing the English Coast was like seeing home again. None of us could deny that he had not been scared to death and I know I was praying every minute and thinking how much I wanted to live. I just couldn't go now that I had Eileen and we were going to have a baby. Life was just beginning to take on meaning. Back over the field we peeled off from the formation and came in to land. There was a good cross wind and I didn't make the best landing, but we were on the ground and came to a screeching halt as they say. Back at the hardstand the ground crew gave us the high sign and big smiles. Those boys really sweat a mission like that out. We had lost four ships today, all from the 351st, my Squadron.
     We changed clothes and went to interrogation. First we got out fruit juice, coffee and a shot of cognac. I gave my shot of cognac to Newlin (Donald M. Newlin), the tail gunner. I didn't care for it and the boys took turns getting my shot. The interrogator wanted to know everything from how many fighters there were and from where they attacked to the time of bombs away and finally if we hit the target. They checked on claims by gunners as to having shot down an enemy fighter and asked if anyone had seen any chutes come out of the planes we had lost. After interrogation I had supper and went to church to give thanks to God for seeing me through and I prayed I might get through the rest of my missions and get home to Eileen. Life and living seemed pretty important right now. When I went back to my barracks I discovered that three of my roommates had been in the planes shot down that day. They had only four more missions to go to finish. Yes, Berlin was still a rough target.

 Our third mission was back to Plauen. The primary was again Rouen, but it was to be bombed only visual and that day was overcast at about six thousand feet, so we again hit the tank factory at Plauen. Going in over the target we hit some bad "prop wash" (vortexes generated by disturbing of air by the passage of other planes, usually thought to be from the propeller but in most cases are wing tip generated turbulence) caused by the 1st Division going in ahead of us, but we were in tight formation when bombs away came. It was bout ten minutes after the target when the jets hit us. They came in at about 5 o'clock with their guns blazing away, and I could see a fiery stream eating its way up the tail of a ship below and beside us in a another squadron. A P-51 was right on the jets tail and his guns were blazing away. I didn't see what happened to the jet but some of the boys said they say him explode. I didn't think the P-51 got him, but he might have. Those jets have a terrific speed and a 51 hasn't a chance to get him when he starts away straight and level. When making his attack the Me 262 turns off the jet and glides in but even at this he is doing over 500 MPH. We lost two ships that day.

 The next day, Thursday March 22 (1945), we had a mission that we all liked. Today we were bombing from 18000 feet and our target was a jet airfield in Northern Germany. The day before the RAF and other divisions of the 8th Air Force and knocked out seven of the nine jet fields in Northern Germany and today we were to get one of the remaining two. After what the jets had done to us at Berlin and Plauen the trip was going to be a pleasure. It turned out to be a milk run. It was a short six hour mission and we encountered no flak or fighter and as I said later, if it wasn't for the prop wash I could enjoy this war. Our MPI (Main Point of Impact) was where two runways crossed. Another Group's MPI was the gasoline storage area and they were warned by the S2 (intelligence) Officer who said with a twinkle in his eye, "You want to be careful boys, as the barracks are right down here and it would be a shame if some of the bombs dribbled over into that area." We hit out MPI dead center and it was a good piece of bombing.

 My fifth mission was Friday 23, March, 1945 and is very memorable to me as it was there I earned my Purple Heart, the one decoration I would have gladly done without. We were briefed at 4: A.M. and our target was to be a railway center in the Rhur, better known as "Happy Valley" because of the numerous accurate flak batteries there. This was the day before Monty's big push across the Rhine and as we crossed it at 25000 feet we could see his sixty mile smoke screen far below and we were glad we weren't down there where all hell was about to break lose. Those boys down on the ground have the toughest job of all in my opinion and I know most of my friends hold with me. We were trying out a new formation today. Using four squadrons to a Group instead of three and with nine or ten ships in each squadron. We had practiced it before but never used it in combat. With my luck still as usual I was in the low element of the low squadron. It really proved to be the purple heart corner for me that day. Our target was a small railway yard not far across the Rhine, but as we turned into the IP with our bomb bay doors open we saw that the preceding Groups had left the target obscured by smoke. The lead Bombardier was unable to see the MPI, so out Squadron turned off to hit a secondary target. We hit this one dead center and the bomb bay doors slowly closed as we wracked out ship into a steep bank as the formation turned sharply off the target. There's always a sigh of relief when bombs are away, as if some great weight has been lifted from our stomachs and all we wanted to do was get the hell out of there. We started a slow decent to 20000 feet picking up airspeed all the way. All of the boys were on the alert as we had been warned there were about seventy-five ME 109s and FW 190s in the area. We saw no fighter, however, and were just about to call this another milk run when suddenly little black puffs of flak appeared right at out altitude. The next few minutes happened so fast I didn't have time to think about what was happening. The #6 ship, which was to the left and above the element leader suddenly went out of control and came turning down into Lazzari (Lawrence J. Lazzari) my element lead. Lazzari tried desperately to get out of his way but was unable to do so. The horizontal stabilizer of Guardino's (Alfonso C. Guardino) ship hit the left wing of Lazzari. Guardino immediately went off into a spin from which my ball turret gunner reported he recovered once and then went into another spin from which he never recovered. It is my guess that the pilot (Guardino) and co-pilot (William E. Davis) were killed instantly by the first burst of flak, but then a lot can happen in 20,000 feet and they may have recovered and made friendly territory as so many did. (They were both KIA as Lantz surmised) In the meantime Lazzari had started down to the left with eight foot of his left wing crinkled. At the time I did not know whether he recovered or not as it was when I was hit, but later I learned he made a miraculous recovery and by pure skill and strength brought the crippled ship home to a safe landing. All this happened in perhaps five seconds and just as Guardino's plane went out of control I felt my left leg go suddenly numb with a kind of dull ache. There was no searing pain and being hit felt more like a great compression hitting my leg that what I had always thought being wounded would be like. The only way I knew I had been struck was by the numbness and seeing the blood coming out into the seat. I called Johnnie (John W.Greenlee) on inter phone and said, "I've been hit, John." He immediately took over and said: "Don't worry Jim, I'll get us out of here." Meserve (Francis W. Meserve) in the top turret had heard me call John and he came out of the turret to help me out of my seat and got me to lay down on the catwalk between the flight deck and the nose. He got a couple of oxygen bottles and attached one to my oxygen hose. I kicked the Navigator (Otto P. Bueren) with my good leg and when he looked around pointed to my bad leg. He immediately got a knife and started ripping off the clothes around the wounded leg. We he came to my fifteen dollar green pants he was a little hesitant, but then sliced them up to my waist. I later told him he could have at least cut along the seam. From the start I hadn't looked at my leg, imaging all along there was proably a hole in it big enough to stick my hand in. Otto (Otto P. Bueren) took a quick look and quickly opened a first aid kit. He poured sulfa powder on the open wound and put a tight compress on it to stop the bleeding and covered me with A-10 jackets to protect me from cold and shock. All this time Johnnie (John W.Greelee) had been staying in formation. Paul Sottler had came up from the waist to man the top turret and Ladd(not positively identified) was sitting in the pilot's seat helping John as much as he could. Laying there in the passageway I was in no great pain. I hadn't taken any Morphine, as the Pilot should never take any unless absolutely necessary. I tried to think of how those two planes looked coming together or what our chance were of getting back. I kept thinking of Eileen, the folks and the baby who was coming. I thought of how terribly much I loved Eileen and all I wanted to do was get back to her someday and spend the rest of my life making her happy. When I heard the top turret firing I though we had been attacked by fighters and had had it, but Sottler (Paul Sottler) had accidentally tripped the switch, which was off safety. About a hour later Meserve told me we were within sight of England. He helped me back in the pilot's seat and I called the formation leader for permission to leave and go in for an immediate landing. Permission was granted and John (John W.Greenlee) brought us in over the field and we fell in behind the lead squadron just peeling off. With John helping me on the controls we came in for a safe landing and turned off the runway where an ambulance was waiting. We cut the inboard engines and I crawled out the Bombardier's escape hatch and was helped to the ambulance by a Captain who said, "Old Purple Heart Lantz." They took me to the station hospital and the doctor cut out the flak which luckily hadn't penetrated the bone. After sewing me up they put me in ward and said I would be flying in a week or ten days.

 Now that it was all over I thanked God for the comfort and faith He had given me and for a crew who in an emergency knew what to do and did it. I was really proud of those boys. Not one of them lost his head or got excited. They did all that could be done for me and then stayed at their posts until we were safely home. To live with or die for a bunch of fellows like that is as great a honor as any man can ask, and it's that kind of spirit that makes all of us know that Hitler and Germany as well as Japan don't have a chance.
 Radio Berlin is a daily radio program directed to Great Britain from the Continent. It is in English and it's purpose, of course, is propaganda. The type of propaganda varies with the progress of the war, but the programs are similar. A lot of American music is played. Good old American swing with recording by Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and others. Some programs are strictly trying to imitate out style of music with some Fraulein giving her rendition of "Always and Always" and doing pretty well except she hasn't totally eliminated her guttural German accent. A second part of nearly every program is a reading of letters from our prisoners the Germans are holding. They are all rather stereotyped and in a typical one a German with a perfect English accent will say; "Our next letter is from Gerald Langley #161962, a POW in Germany Jerry's letter is to his Mother who resides at 210 Darby Place, Lancanshire. He says, ' Hello Moma, I am well and being treated fine. Hope to see you soon. Your loving Gerald'. " This is an attempt on the part of the Nazis to show they are in truth simple home loving people who hate war. Another speaker with soft British accent that almost brings tears to your eyes says: "Hello Tommy this is Hans." Then he goes on to remind him that the German people are not the fanatical cruel people that they are made out to be and in a pleading voice reminding then that, "It's love that makes the world go around."
 Berlin Sally was quite popular for sometime, but has been off the air for a while. She would try and startle us and often did with the great knowledge the German intelligence had of our every movement. For instance in my own Bomb Group the 100th we had an unusually bad day at Hamburg on Dec 31, 1944 and lost around twelve B-17s. When we got back to the base there was Sally on the radio with all the news about out losses etc. The story is told of one Bomb Gp where a bunch of the fellows were sitting around the radio and listening to Sally one night when she directed a talk to a particular Group and said, "If the members of the Bomb Group will look at the clock in their Officers Club they will find it one minute fast. The boys looked and it was.
 There were some strictly news announcements which spoke of us as the enemy and said the Americans had made certain advances but the brave German soldiers were fighting valiantly against overwhelming odds and would in the end win a thorough victory.
 There were, of course, propaganda programs which spoke sarcastically of Roosevelt the great emancipator and abolitionist. Yes he was emancipating the German people from their land and homes and abolishing their cities with his air force. There were also attempts to split the Allies by saying that Stalin was just using the others to attain his own ends and conquer the world for communism and the pleaded with the US and Britain to turn on Russia, it's real enemy before it was too late.

 My first mission after I got out of the hospital was to the docks at Kiel (4 Apr 45)  Our Group had just bombed it the day before and we were going back again to make it a real job. We hit our objective and the flak was only moderate On the way back we passed to the right of Helogoland, which is one of Germany's most heavily defended bases. We were too far off to get any flak.

 My seventh mission was to Nurenburg (Nurnburg 4 April 45) and was undoubtedly the roughest we ever had. We were after the rail targets in the center of the city. Weather was our main difficulty. There was a ceiling of 300 feet and about 500 yards visibility at take-off. We were told that the clouds were only about 10,000 feet high and we were to assemble over France. However after take-off we didn't reach the top of the overcast until we were deep in France and at 25,000 feet. Our airspeed kept dropping off on the way up and we did all we could to prevent ice but gathered some clear ice on our wings. The assembly was a rare thing too. We were in the low squadron and the lead kept us in the clouds all during assembly. Flying in the clouds and prop wash was no fun. We finally got together and were on our way. We reached the target and started on the bomb run. It was fourteen minutes long and seemed like an hour. The flak was intense and they were tracking us. The little puffs were blossoming at our altitude just off out left wing. They weren't fifteen feet off my left wing and I thought sure that the next burst would have us for sure. It didn't though and we made a sharp right turn off the target. We thought we'd seen the worst of it and had already considered this a rough mission but we didn't know what was in store for us. The leaders saw some breaks in the clouds layers and started letting down between them. Finally we were between two cloud layers about a thousand feet apart and ran into a blank wall. The Squadron above us started breaking up and B-17s were going every which way. I expected one to come diving down into the middle of us at any minute. Our Squadron stuck together some way. All we could see was a faint outline of a wing beside us and we just stuck on that. Out Squadron lead did what I thought was a smart thing when he turned 30 degrees to the right and flew for five minutes and then returned to course. In this way we got out of the way of some of the Squadrons that were breaking up. We continued to let down to three hundred feet before breaking into rain, at least we could see the ground. We flew over Holland and Belgium, thought now except for the battle across the North Sea we had seen the worst of it. However just as we were crossing the coast line at an altitude of five hundred feet we were fired on by flak and 20mm cannon. I though we had had it for sure. One plane had its tail lifted up by flak and just as its nose started down another burst caught it and pushed it back up. I told the boys to start strafing the shore with our 50s and you could see tracers making their path towards the shore. They were still tracking but didn't score any hits. A little later Ray Blohm was coming back alone over the same spot. They shot his ship all up and tore a tire to shreds, but he brought it in OK. We finally got back ourselves and I could have kissed that good old Mother Earth. Johnnie (John W.Greenlee) did most of the flying coming back as we were flying left wing. He did a wonderful job, really worked.
 Bill Baldwin (William E.Baldwin, Jr) went down the other day. He was checked out as first pilot and on his second mission as such. He called in on the return and said he was low on gas and turned back. There was a thunderstorm between him and England and they don't know whether he tried to go through and went down or ditched. (It later developed that he had turned back and was going over the Dutch Coast at a low altitude when his plane was shot down by anti-aircraft guns. The ship landed in the Zuider Zee. One of the crew got back and told the story.)

 On April 6 (1945) we went to Leipzig and hit railway traffic centers. It was PFF (Pathfinder ship using radar for navigation and bombing leading) 
but we expected heavy flak. Much to our surprise there was no flak or fighters. Coming back we let down through the overcast in formation through rain and in poor visibility. Otto (Otto P. Bueren, Navigator) took us directly into the field by using the G (Navigation system using radio bearings) and pilotage. There were hundreds of B-17s and B-24s all over the place and we were keeping our heads on a pivot to keep from running into one. We squeezed into the traffic pattern and had to go around on our first approach. The second time around we were too close to the plane in front. I slowed down to about 110 MPH and let down full flaps. We were about one hundred feet off the ground when prop wash caught us and brought our airspeed down to 90 MPH and flipped us up on a wing. Why we didn't go in then I'll never know, somehow we righted it and got on the ground and made a quick stop.

 Mission #9 (April 7, 1945) the next day was to Buchen in Northern Germany. We were bombing oil tanks. There were only about three burst of flak but they were very accurate and right in out middle. We hit the target and started home when bandits were reported in the area. About fifteen minutes later we got our first attack by five ME 109s. We were in the lead Squadron and the first ME 109 pulled right in front of us. He must have been inexperienced because he pulled into a partial stall right in front of our entire Squadron and every top turret gun in the Squadron was blazing away at him. I think the pilot must have been killed instantly because the plane dove right past our nose and crashed head on into a plane in the Squadron below me. They both blew up. The next plane attacked from 5 O'clock and dove under us. Becker (Harvey L. Becker) in the ball turret got a good shot at him and knocked him down. On the way down, however, the ME 109 chewed part of the tail off another B-17. This one however, along with another B-17 whose tail had been shot off by flak, got home and landed safely. All this time the P-51s were really in there and if they hadn't knocked down a lot more 109s we would have gotten them. The fighters knocked down 63 planes and the bombers got another 40 making a grand total of 103 for the day. Once more the flaming air war, rekindled by the LuftWaffe was extinguished.

 Mission #10 on April 8 (1945) was to Eger where we bombed ammunition storage. It was a milk run. No flak no fighters. No #11 on April 9 (1945) was a jet airfield around Munich. We went part way past Munich and flew alongside the Alps, approaching the target from the South. We really creamed the target and flak was light. However a B-17 in the Group after us blew up from direct hit. …Fighter Groups/ (Buds Group) gave us fighter support that day and it was the best we'd ever had. There were three or four jets up there waiting to come in on us but the P-51s boxed them in and they never hit us.

 On April 10, 1945 I had a five day pass. Saw Mac and went to London. Mac has 27 missions. Also saw Ted Thoma, he has 17 missions.

 April 14th, 1945. We got word of President Roosevelts death today. The Post flag was lowered to half mast and we observed a five minute period of silence in his memory. Tonight a special issue of Yank commemorated him.
 April 14 (1945)- Mission number twelve. We got quite a surprise when our target was disclosed to us today. It was about three gun emplacements at Roi Anns (Royan) near Bordeaux in Southern France. 1100 bombs hit the gun emplacement and really creamed it. There were no fighters or flak and we had no fighter escort. Coming over the French Coast we could see the results of D-Day and the terrible bombings and shelling the enemy took. There were thousands of shell holes and Me 109s and JU 88s were blasted all over at one place.

 April 15 (1945) Mission No 12B (13) again we went to Roi Anns (Royan) for another milk run. We carried a new type of bomb for the first time in the ETO. (European Theater of Operations) It was a congealed jelly fire bomb. This time we were dropping them on installations in conjunctions with the French ground forces who were going to try and take the place today. On the way down we passed over Paris and the Eiffle Tower. After bombs away we could see the French artillery open up on the ground below. The way back brought us over Rein and we saw the famous cathedral. Tonight Bazin's (Lawrence L. Bazin) engineer (Roens W. Sherwood) came back. He was the only one to get back and he bailed out through a hole in the ship made by a 20 mm. No one else got out of the ship and it went all to pieces. He landed in Germany and hide and ran for two nights until he ran into our advancing tanks. The Jerries shot at him on the way down and he saw several bodies of Allied airmen who had been riddled by the Germans.

 April 16 Number 14. Gun emplacements at Roi Anns (Royan) again. Another milk run, flew a brand new ship number 424. Its second mission. We hit marshaling yards at Ausig. Take-off at 10:00 A.M. and formed at three thousand feet over Buncher 28. We bombed from 20,000 feet in a heavy fog and clouds. Just before the IP some flak from Bruks was off to our left at our altitude. It was intense but not accurate. Our fighters escort was the 357th and one fighter got a direct hit and blew up with a burst of orange flame. The boys saw another P-51 and a B-17 go down. Because of the heavy mist we made three runs on the target. I was flying number nine position and number six was new and kept on top of me, giving me a rough time all day.
 Ernie Pyle said in "Fighting Hearts" as he saw 1800 Bombers fly overhead giving support to ground forces in their break through in France. "The flight across the sky was slow and studied, I've never known a storm or a machine, or any resolve of man that had about it the aura of such a ghostly relentlessness. I had the feeling that even had God appeared beseechingly before them in the sky, with palms outstretched to persuade them back, they would not have had within them the power to turn from their irresistible course."

 Today, Saturday April 17, 1945 we were scheduled to bomb Amsterdam, Holland but with a far different load than usual. This was to be a mission of mercy and not of death. Our bomb bays were stacked high with 4500 pounds of food for the starving people of occupied Holland. All depends upon whether the Germans would permit us to drop our precious load at an altitude of under 500 feet in order to successfully and safely drop the food. It was necessary that a truce be arranged so that we would not be fired upon. To have gone otherwise would have been suicide. The Germans, however, would not agree to such terms, so we did not go. They wanted the supplies brought in by boat or land and thus they would have full control and undoubtedly use them for their own benefit. It has been said the people of Holland are now receiving about one hundred fifty calories a week. Our normal supply is thirty-five hundred a day. It snowed today. Then it rained and finally the sun shown.
Crew did fly a mission to Aussig MY according to what Jim Lantz told Century Bombers, " Took off at ten a.m. and formed at 3000 ft over Buncher 28. We bombed from 20,000 ft in heavy clouds.  Just before the Initial Point we ran into some flak from Brux and one of our fighter escorts , from 357th FG, received a direct hit and blew up with a burst of orange flame.  The boys saw another P-51 and a B-17 go down".

 Tuesday may 8, 1945: Today was VE Day. Truman, Churchill and Stalin simultaneously announced the unconditional surrender of Germany. The surrender was signed early yesterday morning in a school house at Rheims, France by Gen. Walter B. Smith, Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, Russian General Ivan A. Suslapatov, and French General Francois Sevez. Today at 3:00 P.M. Churchill  spoke and at 9:00 the King. Both thanked God for deliveration. On the post we had church services in front of the flag pole at 3.30 P.M. Last night there were flares of all color everywhere in the sky and British and American flags flying from every cottage. Churchill ended his speech with "God Bless you All" Picadilly Circus was wild with joy last night. Bells were ringing all over the country and in the hearts of everyone was a sincere thanksgiving. The bells as they rang seemed to say over and over again the silent pray of everyone, "Thank you God, Thank you God". Tonight also Gen Ike talked on the radio. I spent VE Day in the barracks. No one here got too excited because we knew that the war is not yet over for us, but I think everyone is deeply thankful in their hearts.

 Wednesday May 16th, 1945: Flew a POW mission today and it was one of the most interesting we had. Got off at 4:50 P.M. and flew at 1000 feet over France, Germany and Czechoslovakia where we landed at Horsching. Along the way we could see the remains of quite a few B-17s that had been shot down. The German airfield where we landed was quite good with smooth runways and huge hangers. Drottar in landing just before us collapsed a landing gear so we had to go around a couple of times. As we landed a rough looking German woman cut directly in front of out ship and we missed hitting her by inches. We parked the ship and got out and there were thirty French POWs waiting for us. I asked if anyone spoke English and one fellow in civilian clothes came forward and saluted and said he could talk it and understand if I spoke slowly. I asked him how long they had been POWs and he said five (5) years. They were all deeply suntanned but looked fairly healthily and they certainly had enough de-lousing powder on them. Their clothes were everything from civilian to French and German Army issue. We loaded them into the plane and I put the English speaking fellow up with me. We took off and all the way back I kept pointing out places to the POWS. We passed over Nurnburg and I could see now with my own eyes what a really devastating effect allied bombing had on Germany. The rail yards which had once been out target was a mass of twisted track and cars. I tuned in a French station and let them listen. When we came upon the Ziegfield line I pointed it out and told them they were now in France. My destination was Chartres but we went a little out of our way to fly over Paris and let them get a glimpse of the Eiffle tower. We landed at Chartres and they were hurried out into waiting trucks and home. The English speaking fellows home was Bordeaux and I told him we had bombed around there. These men were all joyous coming home but it wasn't a wild shouting kind of joy. Rather it was the kind of joy that comes after five years of living hell, five years of frustration, five years of learning patience. No, they didn't shout but you couldn't hide the grin on their faces and you knew there was a bigger smile in their hearts. They were home.


Hello, 


I have a crew photo for James Lantz. I have several photo of my grandfather's and this was in them. It is attached. 

Thank you, 

Crystal Hausman
1902 Boyd St
Denton, TX 76209
940-383-2975
cr.haus@yahoo.com

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ID: 290