My Missions - Italy




We took off with Captain Weller as pilot to bomb Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Poland. It was an oil refinery and storage depot that covered about 10 square miles. We hit the target on the edge and the planes that dropped on us were a little late and hit it right on the button.

Soon after target time the engineer checked the gas. (We were about 20 miles from Cracow). Each tank had about 40 gallons with about 50 gallons for each tank in the "Tokyo" tanks. We soon left the formation and started back on reduced power settings. On the order of the pilot we threw out flack suits, helmets, guns, and ammunition.

When we got over Yugoslavia another declaration was made as to our gas supply. It was decided to try to make it to the island of Vis (just off the Yugoslav coast) where there is a landing strip. The tail gunner (DeLaGarza) upon hearing how low our gas was and the time it would take to get to Vis turned and looked at me and shook his head. Whereupon, I took off my flying boots and put on G.I. shoes even though we were at 17,000 feet and it was cold.

Before this we were somewhere over a large town (probably Maribor) with an undercast (sic) beneath us. We could not see where we were, but enemy radar picked us up and they threw more flack at us than we had gotten over the target. We did some violent evasive action and saved being hit. There was another plane in the same plight as ours going over the city at the same time which helped split the flack. (This was after we had thrown out the flack suits, et cetera).

Shortly after this number two engine cut out from lack of gas. We put it on crossfeed (sic) so it could draw its supply from that of the other engine but it wouldn't catch. After windmilling (sic) for about three minutes the engine finally decided to take up its burden again. Everything seemed to be all right again.

Finally we sighted Vis (number one and two engines had been throwing a terrific amount of oil and we expected them to stop any minute after burning up.

We started coming into Vis. When we were about 300 feet above the water near the shore of the island all four engines cut out, The co-pilot (Colbert) grabbed the radio and yelled "MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY." Just then our engines caught and we went on to a safe landing.

Gosh the ground felt nice and firm and stable and secure and safe, and it looked beautiful. See my letters for a description of the people on the island of Vis.