Christmas Eve – Sunday
Wayne did not fly on December 24, and Christmas Eve 1944 passed without an entry in his journal.
In England on Christmas Eve, Wayne’s brother, Verne, wrote in his diary:
Goldie1 made it okay. Bud2 didn’t fly. Bad engine. Reports that the flak was intensive & accurate. 5 ships went down3. Goldies only had three holes in it. No fighters. Several thousand planes in the air4. Hit airfield at Frankfort5.
Notes & Commentary
1George W. Gouldthrite of Spokane, Washington
2 Boyce Lester Pruitt of Enid, Oklahoma.
3 The 369th Bombardment Squadron (H) of the 390th Bombardment Group (H) lost two aircraft during the raid on Zellhausen. B-17G #43-38173 was hit by flak and the plane exploded in mid-air (MACR 11116) and B-17G #43-38274, “Gallopin’ Gremlin”, was hit by flak, spun down and exploded. Both planes crashed near Weisbaden, Germany. “Missing 390th Bombardment Group (Heavy) aircraft on 1944-12-24″, Eighth Air Force Historical Society. (http://www.8thafhs.com/old/get_mia_aircraft.php?acgroup_id=13&mission_date=1944-12-24 : accessed 22 December 2014).
During the raid on Zellhausen, a third B-17 from the 390th Bombardment Group, aircraft #274, was hit by flak prior to the bomb run. An outer wing panel was knocked off and the plane split-essed out of the formation, spun in and exploded on the ground. No parachutes were noted. Operatons Narrative of Mission #229, 24 December 1944, Headquarters 390th Bombardement Group (H), Office of the Operations Officer, 24 December 1944. microfilm B0426, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 615 – 618.
4 After many days of bad weather, a high pressure front brought clear weather over Western Europe where the Battle of the Bulge had been raging since December 16. The 8th Air Force dispatched 2,034 bombers and 853 fighters to attack German airfields, roads, bridges and rail lines in support of the troops fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. This mission, Mission 760, was the single largest mission air strike of World War II. Twelve bombers and ten fighters are lost. “Mission 760”, Eighth Air Force Historical Society. (http://www.8thafhs.com/get_one_mission.php?mission_id=1749 : accessed 22 December 2014). See also “390th Bomb Group Combat Mission #229 “Battle of the Bulge” Fly-Over,” 390th Memorial Museum. (https://www.390th.org/war-stories/390th-bomb-group-combat-mission-229-battle-of-the-bulge-fly-over/ : accessed 23 December 2014).
5 The attack was on Zellhausen Landing Field located southeast of Frankfurt. Zellhausen was among the airfields used by Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11), a German fighter wing. “Jagdgeschwader 11,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jagdgeschwader_11&oldid=639176858 : accessed 23 December 2014).