February 20, 1945


In England, Verne writes in his diary . . . .

02-20-45 – 9th Mission NÜRNBERG

Up this a.m. at four and on to briefing at five. Took off at 930 on mission to Nürnberg, Germany. Wasn’t supposed to be very rough, but it turned out much different. A piece of flak hit me under left shoulder blade and tore hell out of my flak suit. Another piece cut hell out of my flying boot and left flak inside but didn’t touch me. The last hit made me the maddest because it hit me the right cheek of my bottom and bruised hell out of it. I thought there was a hole right through it. Sore but feel good.

Verne was a crew member on Satan’s Second Sister, a Boeing-built B-17G, aircraft #338196, piloted by Maj. James O. Gross. This was mission 258 of the 390th Bombardment Group (H).

The marshaling yard at Nürnberg was nearly filled to its daily capacity of 4,000 cars when attacked by the Group on 20 February. Besides great rolling stock at nearby warehouses, material was piled high, for Nürnberg was the greatest tank manufacturer in Germany.

Smoke was rolling from the target area when the 390th arrived, and most of its bombs fell in the built-up area of town, where they could not be plotted.1

No enemy aircraft were encountered; however, intense, accurate, continuous pointed antiaircraft fire was present.2 Bombing at Nürnberg was by H2X; the results were rated poor.3

Notes & Commentary

1 United States and Albert E. Milliken. The story of the 390th Bombardment Group (H). [New York]: Priv. Print., 1947. p. 121.

2 Wayne and Verne both mention flak. The missions they flew were designed to minimize, to the extent possible, the danger of enemy antiaircraft fire. To understand how flak worked and what Wayne and Verne understood of this danger, we have a motion picture training that both of them probably viewed: “Flak”.

“Flak,” Training Film I-3389, First Motion Picture Unit, Army Air Forces, 1944. Animation by Walt Disney. You Tube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP_-WUMi-nw : accessed 3 February 2015).

3 390th Group Intelligence Report – Nurnburg Mission of 20 February 1945, Headquarters 390th Bombardment Group (H), [N.D.], microfilm B0426, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1248.

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4 Responses to February 20, 1945

  1. James Mc Carron says:

    Hi Allen, I found the flack and flack evasion tactics quiet interesting. Jim


  2. An absolutely fascinating film. I never knew there was so much to it!


  3. James Lindley says:

    At least he had his flak suit on. Many waist gunners did not wear their flak suits. Tail gunners would
    take extra flak suits to their tail position and line the bottom of the tail for protection.
    The tail gunner sat crouched on a bicycle seat on his knees and he was very vulneralble.


  4. Considering he was hit three times, he was lucky to have only ended up with bruises after that mission!


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