Lou Prucha WWII Service   

416th Mission #197  --  Friday, Febuary 2, 1945
Euskirchen, Germany
(Supply Center)

Pilot's Flight Log

12th Army Group Situation Map

On this mission, Lou was flying in Position 5, Box 1, Flight 1.
His aircraft was 668 Bomb Sq. Fuselage code 5H-S Model A-26B-20-DL Invader, Serial # 41-39274.

See also the 416th Bomb Group Mission # 197 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 197

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

The mission on the 2nd was the opposite of the "milk run" on the 1st. The target, the Euskirchen supply center, was attacked visually. The range of results ran from good to excellent with hits scored on buildings which blocked the roads, and on the roads themselves. (Ex #8-Feb '45.) It had been used as an active supply and housing center for troops enroute to the front. Ground defenses started firing at the formation from the moment it crossed the bombline until it came out of enemy territory. It varied from moderate to intense, but all of it was accurate. Twenty-two of the aircraft suffered battle damage; nineteen, category "A," and three, category "AC." Lieutenant D.E. Smith was flying a window plane. On the return trip he heard an explosion in the rear compartment of the plane. He called his gunners, but neither of them answered. He landed the plane safely at A-78. In the gunners compartment, he found Sergeant R. DeStafono dead. His body was badly broken. Only one small hole was visible in the plane, but the bulkhead had been sprung by the force of the unexplainable explosion. The other gunner, Staff Sergeant D.R. Abriola, was seen to bail out after the explosion near Bolbark, in enemy territory, and is listed as MIA. The [two] boxes, led by Major Price, Lt Hand, B-n and Captain McNulty, Lt Forma, B-n, scored good results.

"Attack Bombers, We Need You! A History of the 416th Bomb Group"
Ralph Conte
Pages 204 - 205

Mission #197 - 2 February - Euskirchen Communication Center. Captain Price with Lt. Hand, BN plus Captain McNulty and Lt. Forma, BN led boxes. Lts. Brown and Kerns, BN led a flight. They made two runs at the target, placing their bombs squarely on the aiming point, scoring an excellent rating. As soon as the formation crossed the bomb line, intense, accurate flak greeted our planes. Twenty-two planes suffered damage. Window planes preceeded the group dropping aluminum strips but the flak came through the window strips. Bombing was registered as two excellents and two others as good. One plane piloted by Lt. D. E. Smith, while flying window, suffered a loud explosion in the rear of the plane. He tried to contact his gunners but got no response. He landed the plane safely at A-76 airfield and found one gunner S/Sgt. D. R. Abriola, must have bailed out over enemy territory and the other, Sergeant R. DeStafano, dead on the floor of the compartment. There was only a relatively small hole in the side of the plane, but the bulkhead must have buckled in from the force of an unexplained explosion, hitting the gunner, his body badly broken up.

One other plane was reported as having a wing shot off and the plane spun in without parachutes having been seen. Names of the crew are not available

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

Today we made up our lack of crews yesterday. In the mid-morning GP Mission # 197 took to the air, with Sq. "A" crews leading the way. Leading the formation in the first box, fist flight, was Price & Hand, with Gunners Fetko & ----. Right behind them, leading the second box was McNulty & Forma, with Gunners Fuehrer & Lagerman. The rest of our crews formed the flights led by these B/N Teams. The bomb load this time was 250 lb. GP’s.

The enemy Communications Center at Euskirchen, Germany was the recipient of the bomb load. This time it was no "milk run", as intense accurate heavy flak greeted the formation at the target. Two aircraft from other squadrons went down. One of the plans had a wing shot off, and was last seen spinning in about five thousand feet off the ground. The other plane suffered heavy damage, and the crew was forced to bail out. Fortunately, our crews were safe, suffering much flak damage however.

The bombing was done by flight group lead from about 12,500 feet. With the target free from cloud cover; visual observation gave promise to good results. Upon return to the base after a 3:30 journey, photos were printed giving testimony to the results. Needless to say, all the ships were flak damaged, but luckily none of the crews injured.

Results of the mission tabulated from the photos gave the formation 4 – excellent and 2—undetermined. These were "undetermined" because pictures were not taken due to evasive action taken by the aircraft. Both of the flights comprised of our crews brought back "excellent" results. The laurels go to the B/N’s Lt’s Hand & Forma. Both of these bombardiers have over 50 missions to their credit now.

Our move to the next field is certain now, and we expect to be gone within the next week. Our destination --- ????????????????????.

"668th Bombardment Squadron (L) History"
Transcription from USAF Archives

In the outstanding missions of the month, personnel and aircraft of the 668th played an important role. On 2 February the team of Major Price and Lt., Hand led one box, while Captain McNulty and Lt., Forma led another in an attack on the Communications center of Euskirchen. Both boxes scored "Excellent."

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

The next day the Euskirchen communications center was bombed with excellent results. The enemy was using this village as a supply and housing center for troops enroot to the front. Twelve 670th crews took part in disrupting this vital communications point.

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

With clearing skies over Germany the 416th Invaders dropped tons of fragmentation bombs on the town of Euskirchen with devastating results on the morning of February 2nd, 1945. Four flights received excellent ratings with tight bomb patterns in the center of town, while the two remaining flights were believed to have done equally as well, but due to violent evasive action, photos were not taken.

Lt. Brown and Lt. Kerns led the 671st flight. Though flak was intense they made two runs on the target and scored excellent results. However, they could not receive a rating as the one photo taken was from the oblique.

Intense flak was encountered in the target area and followed through the turn off. Twenty-two of the aircraft were battle damaged. A window ship of the 669th Squadron received the brunt of the damage. One gunner was killed, the other bailed out over enemy territory and the pilot crash-landed the plane in friendly territory.

"USAAF Chronology of WWII, month by month"

TACTICAL OPERATIONS (Ninth Air Force): 350+ B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s bomb road and rail bridges to block the E-W movement E of the Rhine River and defended localities E of the battlefront in W Germany; fighters hit bridges and fly escort, armed reconnaissance and patrols, and support US Third Army elements along the Our River in Belgium and the Sauer River in Germany. In France, HQ 406th Fighter Group and the 513th Fighter Squadron move from Mourmelon-le-Grand to Metz with P-47s; the 393d Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group, moves from Juvincourt to St Dizier with P-38s.

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Last Updated: 08-Sep-2013