January 18, 1945


Verne wrote in his diary . . .

Called out on a mission this morning but it was cancelled almost immediately because of the weather conditions. 1 Loafed around barracks all day and lost my ass at blackjack. Have sworn off gambling. It takes time and keeps my mind off of death so it must help some. Doubt if I’ll ever live through this tour but hope to because of Aileen and Allen.

Notes & Commentary

1 It was a bad day for flying . . . .

On the 18th a vigorous depression west of Scotland moved east-south-east and an associated trough moved south-east. Widespread and severe gales prevailed which caused extensive damage and some loss of life. Heavy precipitation occurred in some areas and widespread thunderstorms: there was a temporary rise in temperature. In the rear of this disturbance north-westerly gales were reported at exposed places and there were snow showers and local thunderstorms.

“Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office, January 1945.” Meteorological Office, Air Ministry. (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/k/h/Jan1945.pdf : accessed 15 January 2015).

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4 Responses to January 18, 1945

  1. imdouglass43 says:

    A much more matter of fact way of looking at things compared to Wayne.


    • a gray says:

      Verne’s entries in his diary are certainly laconic, but that is to be expected. He has a different personality than Wayne . There is also the matter of the medium on which they are writing. Wayne’s journal was written on 8.5″ X 11″ lined notebook paper. He could write without limitation. Verne wrote in a Letts Quikref diary that he purchased in England in December 1944. His diary provides seven lines on which to record each day’s entry. Each line is 5″ wide. Verne fills the space allotted for each day.


  2. Is this the first time where he discusses facing death? Seems like a change from his usual entries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • a gray says:

      Unlike his brother, Wayne, who arrived in the South Pacific on February 18 and did not fly a combat mission until April 8, 1944, Verne was almost immediately thrust into the air war over Germany. In less than three weeks, 13 B-17s have been lost along with 119 men. Death is all around Verne.

      On 27 December 1944, three days before Verne’s first combat mission, B-17G, #42-107010, Gloria Ann II/Close Crop, of the 569th Bombardment Squadron crashed one minute after takeoff from Station 153. All aboard were killed:

      F/O James McGuire
      F/O Hamilton H. Swasey
      F/O Albert V. Banning
      M/Sgt John F. Graham
      T/Sgt. Pleasant D. Ralston
      T/Sgt. Dominick Licata
      Sgt. Devere Murdock
      Sgt. Francis Tornsbene
      Sgt. James L. Trotter

      On Verne’s 1st mission, an attack on Kassel on 30 December, one aircraft, B-17G #42-32026 from the 568th Bombardment Squadron (H), simply disappeared after taking off from Station 153. Ironically, the aircraft’s nickname was Tis A Mystery. This was 390th Bombardment Group Mission #234.

      The next day on 31 December, Verne’s 2nd mission, during an attack on a synthetic oil plant at Hamburg, two B-17Gs from the 390th Bombardment Group were lost.

      B-17G, #43-38247, of the 569th Bombardment Squadron was hit by flak at 25,000’ over the target area. The left wing was on fire when the aircraft peeled off to the left out of formation and exploded. No chutes were seen. Reported missing in action were the following:

      2nd Lt. Walter Monit
      2nd Lt. Ivor J. Siler, Jr.
      2nd Lt. Eino E. Jarvi
      2nd Lt. Joseph Cohen
      Sgt. Russell L. Reed
      Sgt. John A. Mullins
      Sgt. Fred R. Woodland
      Sgt. Calvin V. Coulbourn
      Sgt. Frank E. Weimer

      B-17G #43-38632, Free Delivery, from the 568th Bombardment Squadron (H) was lost to flak and enemy aircraft during the strike on Hamburg. Reported missing in action were the following:

      1st Lt. Ronald J. Nash
      1st Lt. Donald P. Coleman
      1st Lt. Vernon C. Dinger
      1st Lt. Robert A. Hennessy
      T/Sgt. Don J. Geiger
      T/Sgt. Richard D. Sawyer
      S/Sgt. Dale A. Carpenter
      S/Sgt. Leslie A. Flewelling
      S/Sgt. Morris F. Jenkins

      This was 390th Bombardment Group Mission #235.

      During the attack on Hamburg on 31 December, aircrew of the 390th Bombardment Group (H) observed a concentrated attack on the 100th Bombardment Group (H) by 22 ME 109s, 14 FW 190s, and 6 ME 262s.

      On 2 January, one B-17 from the 569th Bombardment Squadron (H) was lost to flak during an attack on Kaiserslautern, Verne’s 3rd mission. This was 390th Bombardment Group Mission #236.

      On 10 January, one B-17 from the 568th Bombardment Squadron (H) was lost to flak during an attack on Dusseldorf-Cologne.

      A/C #668 (Skinner) received, at 1221, a direct hit by flak at Dusseldorf between #1 and #12 engines and went into a 30 degree dive in an attempt to extinguish the fire. A/C leveled off at 25,000 feet for a short time then the left wing came off, and A/C went into an uncontrolled dive with A/C 151 reporting observing it hitting the ground in a mass of flames. No chutes were reported by any observing A/C.

      Listed as Missing in Action (MIA) were:

      1st Lt. Horace Mathew Skinner
      1st Lt. James D. Hannaman
      2nd Lt. Stanford A. Kay
      2nd Lt. Ivan Woodrow Scott
      S/Sgt. Charles F. Pasch
      S/Sgt. William H. Wylie
      Sgt. Mark W. Hertz
      S/Sgt. James L. Craig
      Sgt. Ward C. Gillespie

      According to a German report, Report on Downing of an American Aircraft, Downing No: KU 3608 dated 10 January 1945, 1st Lt. Horace Mathew Skinner, 2nd Lt. Ivan Woodrow Scott, S/Sgt. William H. Wylie and S/Sgt. James L. Craig survived the downing of B-17G s/n 43-38668.

      This was 390th Bombardment Group Mission #241.

      On 14 January, the 390th Bombardment Group (H) lost one B-17 from the 571st Bombardment Group (H) and eight from the 568th. The total loss was 83 men. In addition, two men were wounded during this mission. This was 390th Bombardment Group Mission #243.

      Verne did not participate in the missions of January 10 and 14, but those lost were all from Station 153. There was no mistaking the empty hardstands and bunks – ground crew without planes to tend.


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