Lou Prucha WWII Service
Pilot's Flight Log
12th Army Group Situation Map
Group, Unit and Historical Extracts for Mission 215
"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives
That afternoon, a second mission took off, this time to attack the Norvenich communications center. It was a PPF attack through a solid cloud cover. There was no flak. Major Price, Lts Forma and McCartney as B and N, and Captain Anderson, Lts Babbage and Shaft as B and N, were the box leaders.
"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Mission #215 - 25 February - PM Norvenish (Munstereifel Town). As Captain Hulse said so often, "The planes can hardly catch their breath when the have to get going again." So it was on this day, again. The planes had not cooled down from the morning mission, when they were refueled and re-armed, even though the weather was threatening. Major Price and Lts. Forma and McCartney, BNs and Captain Anderson with BNs Lts., - Babbage and Shaft leading boxes. Captain Tutt and Lt. Beck BN and Lts. Buskirk and Hanna BN led flights. At 1400 the planes took off and arrived at the target cloud covered, requiring bombing with PFF pathfinders. Again, a new replacement pilot was riding shotgun with another pilot on our A-26s to see what the war was all about. Lt. Evarts rode with Lt. Kenny, which got Evarts all excited about what to expect when he got to ride the left seat.
"Operational History 668th Bomb Squadron (416th Bomb Group (L)) WWII"
Wayne Williams, et.al.
Hardly had the planes returned to the hardstands, when the call came for the next alerted crews to report to the briefing room. Just as the last plane had been check and re-fueled, the crews were already at the hardstands. Weather gave the impression that this mission wouldnít get off, as a low ceiling moved in. A little after 1400 hours, Group Mission # 215 took to the air. Leading the first box, backed by five of our crews, was Major Price, with Ltís Forma & McCartney, and Gunner Fetko. Capt. Andersen ably led the second box, with the B/N Babbage & Shaft, and Gunner Schafer. This time Lt. Evertís experienced his "first", riding along with Lt. Kenny. Not unlike Tank & Gunkel, he too had stories to tell upon returning.
Striking ahead of the Ninth and First Armies, the Group bombarded the communication center of Norvenich. As a cover over the target had been expected, PFF bombing technique was used, and the boxes bombed from 13,600 feet. Results were of course "undetermined", and the planes returned at dusk, free of damage. The trip lasted 2:30. So ended the day.
"History of 670th Bombardment Squadron (L)"
Transcription from USAF Archives
Three more missions were flown on the 24th and 25th against communication centers at Vierson, Kerpen and Morvanich.
"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns
The 416th continued to hammer targets in the Cologne area on February 25th by running two missions against two strongly fortified communication centers. In the morning Colonel Willetts led the formation as a representative of the 671st Bomb Squadron for the last time, having been transferred to Group Operations as Operations Officer the next day.
Colonel Willetts and his bombardier-navigator team of Lt. Royalty and Lt. Basnett scored excellent results against the Communication Center of Kerpon, just ten miles from Cologne. But intense accurate flak took a lot of the joy away from the mission. Lt. Farley of the 669th Squadron, flying deputy lead on Colonel Willetts, was shot down over the target and the Colonelís ship received a flak hit at the same time. It was not in a vulnerable spot, however. The aircraft lost was hit in the right engine. The plane turned over on its back and went into a spin. Several crews reported that the aircraft later exploded. A piece of the plane struck the leading edge of Lt. Graeberís ship, but he was able to bring the aircraft back in tact.
Flak was first encountered about three miles before the target and continued until the bomb line was reached on the way out. Eight ships in all were battle damaged. Plotted gun positions consisted of 27 heavy guns enroute and 50 heavy guns east of the target.
The mission became snafued just after take-off. Colonel Willetts could not get his wheels up and was unable to access the lead immediately. The formation was supposed to form on Lt.Misch in this case, but instead formed on Lt. Farley. Colonel Willetts finally pulled his wheels up and took over the first box with Lt.Farley his deputy. Another flight of the second box formed in the first box, leaving Capt. Pair with just his own flight and one other. A Pathfinder was dispatched with the formation, but upon entering the target area it was evident that visual bombing could be employed successfully. Therefore the first box dumped their bombs by this method. The center of the pattern was 590 feet east of the DMPI, covering a large part of the town. The Pathfinder dropped on its own and Captain Pair released his bombs either on the Pathfinder or one of the ships in Box I. He did not receive word that the mission was changed from Pathfinder to visual. Hits on rail tracks were made by Capt. Pairís flights.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division strikes 4 rail bridges, 4 communications centers, a marshalling yard and 9 targets of opportunity as part of the interdiction campaign against Germany; fighters escort the bombers, attack assigned ground targets, fly armed reconnaissance, and support the 8th and 104th Infantry Divisions in the Duren area, the XIII and XlX Corps E of the Roer River, and the VIII, XII, and XX Corps along the Prum and Saar Rivers.