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 Time Magazine, 30 November 1942 - Story of a Raid

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Clyde G. Wiggins III
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MessageSujet: Time Magazine, 30 November 1942 - Story of a Raid   Mer 9 Aoû - 18:46

Story of a Raid

Nov. 30, 1942

Chennault's Pappy is just another Boeing Fortress in Britain. Last week, returning from a raid on St.-Nazaire, Chennault's Pappy met a prodding, determined attack by a flight of Focke-Wulf 1903. In a brief burst of hell, one of the crew was killed, three were wounded. The Fortress was struck by ten cannon shells. But plane & crew saw it through to an American airdrome—"surely," said an Irish sergeant who heard the survivors' story, "by the grace of God."

The Works. The boss of Chennault's Pappy is Captain Robert C. ("Willie") Williams, 27, a onetime law student at the University of Michigan. He is a small, inconspicuous man with baby eyes and a drooping, straw-colored mustache. Even in his leather jacket he looks more like an overworked bookkeeper than a combat pilot. His co-pilot is ruddy, burly, deliberate Lieut. Warren ("Junior") George Jr., 22, from Palestine, Tex., once a ham-handed tackle at Houston State Teachers College. Said Junior:

"Our ship got the works. The first attack came from on top. Sir, those boys were good. Our .50 calibers were hosing tracers into them and there was a helluva din. First thing I felt was an awful jolt on the control column. One of those German boys had plunked two cannon shells into the elevators and punched holes in the fabric big enough for a man to jump through. From then on the captain and I had to brace our feet against the column. That old ship wanted only to climb but we wanted to get down as fast as we could."

The Shells Come In. Staff Sergeant William E. Williams of Jasper, Fla., the tail gunner, winged the first German. Another Fortress crowded close to the stricken Pappy and swung its guns on the Germans. But Pappy was the wounded duck. The 1905 pressed home for the kill. Said Captain Williams:

"They splashed at us from behind and above and whipped past so close you could have snatched the swastika from their sides. Our ship was lurching under their wallops like a beaten boxer. One shell plowed into the top turret and went off in the face of the gunner, Technical Sergeant K. R. Aulenbach of Reading, Pa. Between attacks the crew dragged him out and laid him down for first aid but he was already gone; he died soon after we landed.

"The attack went on. Two shells hit alongside each other in the left wing and exploded. Each ripped a jagged hole about four feet square. Two more landed, in the right wing this time. The radio operator —Technical Sergeant Eddie F. Espitallier of Clovis, Calif.—and the waist gunner knocked down another 190.

"One of the wing hits had knocked out the No. 2 engine. It thrashed and vibrated to beat hell and we couldn't stop it. Gasoline was pouring out of the tank of the No. 3 engine. We had no rudder control at all—cable was cut.

"The radio operator called me on the interphone and said: 'Sir, I've got a little fire back here.' I looked back. Smoke was pouring from the waist-gun ports. The bombardier—Lieut. Emmett W. Ford of Siloam Springs, Ark.—and navigator—Lieut. Jacob C. Shively of Indianapolis—headed aft to help. They were on the catwalk in the bomb bay when a shell plowed in and exploded alongside them. It blew the navigator down on to the bomb doors. It was good luck they didn't open. He had no chute on.

"Ford pulled him back. They and the radio operator put out the fire with the extinguisher and their bare hands. Then they bandaged up the navigator. He was not badly wounded but the waist gunner, Neeley, had been more seriously wounded. When the fire started he was hit in the leg by cannon shell. He helped put out the fire, then got first aid. For the rest of the ride he lay with a broken leg, joshing the rest of us on the interphone."

Just Hugs. "Finally it was over. We were still staggering along. Captain Mack Mackay was near us in his ship now—he and the others had fought alongside us all the way. He guided us to the closest field. The engine vibrations had stopped now but all the other troubles were still there. Worst one was that the ship wanted to start into a loop every time we eased our feet and hands off the control column. We couldn't get the flaps down or the tail wheel either. Somehow the tail gunner finally lowered it. We sat down at a good 125 miles an hour and stood on the brakes clear across the field. The ship finally stopped and there we were. We didn't say anything—just hugged each other."

A reporter asked Captain Williams: "Did it occur to you that you could bail out during the fight and save yourselves a lot of pounding?"

Willie's eye widened. "No," he said, "we couldn't bail out—we had wounded men aboard."
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MessageSujet: Re: Time Magazine, 30 November 1942 - Story of a Raid   Mer 9 Aoû - 19:02

Thank you for this Eyewithness Clyde, cheers

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