Friday, March 6, 2009
December 24, 1944
The following is an account written by a member of the 8th Air Force in England:
During World War II, I served as a gunner on a B-17 with the 8th Air Force in England. Out crew was stationed near Lavenham, England with 487th Bombardment Group of the 3rd Air Division. I was a Ball Turret Gunner on the crew of Lt. Turnquist, 836th Squadron. On December 24, 1944 we set out on our 16th mission to bomb a small air field near Babenhausen, Germany. Because of dense fog which soaked in the fighter fields, our fighter escort was alte and we started over the continent unescorted. Our course lay over Belgium "Bulge" (Ardennes sector). Our plane was the lowest plane in the squadron, "Tail End Charley." A few minutes after the pilot informed the crew that we would soon be in Germany, the tail gunner sighted fighter planes which he mistakenly thought were our friendly escorts. This erroneous impression was soon dispelled when the fighters began to fire at us. After a few preliminary passes at the squadron, the Germans lined up in back of the squadron in what is known as the "Company Front" formation. That is they all lined up parallel with each other and came in with one solid front of 20 mm cannon fire.
The above account is what my grandfather experienced and what caused him to write the ensuing account of his experience when this happened. He was one of the few who survived.