Lou Prucha WWII Service   

416th Mission #185  --  Sunday, January 14, 1945
Schleiden, Germany
(Road Junction)

Pilot's Flight Log

12th Army Group Situation Map

Lou flew Box 1, Flight 3, Position 6;
piloting 669 Bomb Sq. A-26B-20-DL Invader, Serial # 41-39238, Fuselage code 2A-M.

See also the 416th Bomb Group Mission # 185 page.  View the target area in Google Maps.

Click to display the official 416th Bomb Group Mission Folder, Mission Report and Operational Report
scanned to PDF files by the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA).
(Note: Depending on Internet speed, these PDF files may take some time to download and display.)

Group, Unit and Historical Extracts for Mission 185

"416th Bombardment Group (L) - Group History 1945"
Transcribed from USAF Archives

The following day, the 14th, weather cleared and a box of planes, led by Captain Hulse, bombed the defended village of Schleiden visually. Again, an unexplainable take-off crash cost the lives of two of our crew members, Lt G.C. Van Meter and Sgt C.M. Kikar. The plane crashed north of the field shortly after take-off and exploded. The bombing was excellent and might have been superior had not one flight been out of position when the bombs were released. The bombs hit roads and buildings in the center of the town and severed the rail line in four places. All north-south road traffic was blocked by the bombing. Three planes landed at other fields and crashed when their landing gears collapsed. None of the crews were injured. The pilots were Lt L.E. Cannon and J.W. Blevins and Flight Officer H.J. Wilson. Weak, heavy flak was experienced on the turn off the target.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 193 - 194

Mission #185 - 14 January - Schleiden Strong Point. Captain Hulse and Lt. Conte, BN led Box I. Captain Tutt and Lt. Beck, BN and Lt. Buskirk with Lt. Hanna, BN led other flights. The A-26 piloted by Lt. G. C. Van Meter and gunner Sgt. C. M. Kiker could not gain altitude and crashed just north of the runway, exploding, killing both crewmembers. The mission took off behind PFF Pathfinder B-26s. When reaching the target area, the lead BN took over the lead from the PFF leaders and went down the bomb run visually, his bombs blanketing the aiming point. The bombs blasted roads and buildings, severing a railroad line in four places. All north-south roads were blocked by the results of the bomb craters. The group received an excellent report. Many of the planes had to land at alternate airfields since A-55, our field, was closed in due to weather. Three planes experienced problems with landing gears which collapsed on landing. They had been hit with heavy flak. Lts. L.E. Cannon, J.W. Blevins, and F/O H. J. Wilson were not injured on their landings. F/O Wilson from the 671St squadron on his first flight, showed the results of his good training, when he found his engines cutting in and out due to icing. He lost his position in the flight, but kept going in the direction of the formation. The engines began purring correctly, so he tagged on to the end of another group (409th) on their bomb run. Heavy flak greeted the flight. Returning, Wilson left the flight as it neared A-55 but he lost sight of it. He headed toward Paris and went in to land. He checked indicators and saw all wheels were down and locked. As he landed, the wheels collapsed, causing his plane to skid off the runway into a snowbank. He suffered a broken leg. His gunner, Cpl. Stypenski, was uninjured.

"Operational History 668th Bomb Squadron (416th Bomb Group (L)) WWII"
Wayne Williams, et.al.

With barely enough planes on the field to make a formation, GP Mission 185 was flown early in the afternoon. It will be recalled that yesterday’s formation landed at another field, and didn’t return till late this afternoon. The weather was poor and PFF bombing was employed. We added six crews to the loading list, one of which were B/N Teams.

The communications center at Schleiden felt the weight of our bombs. There was scant flak and the formation bombed from the lead ship at 13,000 feet. The bombs fell true to their mark, as photos proved later. Again the crews were forced to land away from the field, as weather made landing here unsafe. Two of our boys crash landed, but fortunately, were unhurt. Lt. Cannon crashed at A-69, having trouble with his landing gear. Lt. Blevins made a crash landing at A-69, with the same trouble as Lt. Cannon experienced. The rest of the formation landed at A-58, and returned to the base at dusk in the evening.

The journey lasted over three hours, but the score of the mission was worth it. The photos taken scored "excellent" for the bombing. Lt’s Cannon & Blevins returned to the base with their gunners, after being picked up by the C-64.

Squadron B had trouble at take-off this time. One of their aircraft took off and then exploded for some unknown reason. Both pilot and gunner were killed.

"History of 670th Bombardment Squadron (L)"
Transcription from USAF Archives

Excellent results were achieved on the next day’s mission, which was an attack on the defended village of Schleiden. On the takeoff another airplane crashed, probably due to wing and carburetor ice and its crewmembers were killed. It was a 669th Squadron airplane. On the turn off the target weak heavy flak was experienced which was ineffective. Seven of our crews took part in this attack.

"671st Bomb Squadron (L) Unit History"
Gordon Russell and Jim Kerns

Taking off on snow-capped runways, 24 aircraft of the 416th Bomb Group went out to hit the communication center of Schleiden, six miles east of the Monschau Forest where Germans launched their winter offensive. Tragedy struck again like on the morning of January 2nd… The first A-26 to take off mushed in just a short distance from the end of the runway and the bombs exploded upon crashing. The crew from the 669th Squadron was killed instantly.

The mission was originally scheduled as a PFF, but upon reaching the target area the visibility was very good, and the Group leader took over the lead. All ships bombed in one pattern, with 85% of the bombs within the 1000 foot radius. Hits were scored on buildings and roads in the center of town, causing severe damage. Flak was nil. The group received an excellent on the bombing results.

F/O Wilson had more to contend with than he expected in flying his first operational mission. Due to icing his engines were cutting out after takeoff and he was unable to keep up with the formation. His plane finally shaped up all right and he tagged on with the 409th Bomb Group, which was headed toward Bitburg. He bombed this town with the 409th and saw plenty of flak. He broke away from the formation when it reached this vicinity, but could not locate A-55. He picked up A-48 at Le Bourget in Paris and came in for a landing. His indicators show the wheels to be down and locked, but just a few seconds after hitting the runway the gear folded up and the plane skidded of the runway into a snow bank. F/O Wilson received a fractured leg and was hospitalized in Paris for a few days, but returned to the Squadron on the 19th. His gunner, Cpl. Stypenski, was uninjured and returned the day after the accident.

"USAAF Chronology of WWII, month by month"

TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): 280+ A-20s and B-26s strike bridges and communications centers in the base area of the Ardennes salient and in other areas of W Germany. Fighters escort 9th Bombardment Division and Eighth AF bombers, fly armed reconnaissance and patrols, attack numerous ground targets, and support the US First Army in the Vielsalm, Belgium area and the US Third Army around Diekirch, Luxembourg.

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Last Updated: 08-Sep-2013