Saturday, November 09, 2019

Looking Back

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April 1944:
On March 4th 1944 my crew in the 388th Bomb Group flew our 25th and last mission.
Completing a combat tour of 25 missions at that time was a miracle, the average was 8 to 10 missions before a crew went down. This is actually a recorded fact from 8th AF history.
When our crew completed our missions we were sent our separate ways. Most of them were scheduled to return to the States. I thought I was included but I was told that I would I would be sent along with 7 other Radio Operators to a school for instructors and then we would be sent to Bomb Groups that were arriving from the States. Each day I was told that my DFC would be awarded soon.
When I arrived at the new base, Lavenham the only men there at that time were an MP Squadron, no bomb group personnel. Within several weeks the ground echelon of the 487 Bomb Group arrived followed a few weeks later by the air crews and their B-24's.
When the Group was finally settled in a formal review of the entire group was held with a parade on the tarmac. I and several Officers assigned as instructors were ordered to appear in dress uniforms. In front of the entire group we were awarded our DFC's. We all thought it was to show the crews that they could complete a combat tour. This Group later transitioned to B-17's. When they flew their first combat mission, we instructors were released and sent to Chorley the base where all personnel was processed for return to the States.
Larry Goldstein

Hi Pat,

I have another of those recall stories of 60 plus years ago.

My crew that I was a part of completed our 25 missions on March 4th 1944, and as was the custom the Army Air Corps never kept their promise. That promise, complete your combat tour and you earn a trip back to the USA. Some of the crew members, and I was one , were assigned to new Groups to train their men before they flew their first mission. We were promised that once they did fly their first mission we would be on our way back home. This time the promise was day after they flew, the Instructors were re leased, paid up to date and given orders to report to a camp near Liverpool for shipment by boat to the USA. The route to that camp went through London and with no actual reporting date I decided to take a seven day delay en-route. I decided to stay at the Mt. Royal Hotel a favorite Hotel for GI's because of it's location and it's low rates. London was a GI's delight and there I was with a pocket full of money , my pay up to date, and time to spend it. My second night in the elevator going up to my room I shared it with a GI who was wearing a field jacket which for those wh o knew the situation at that time was an absolute violation of the uniform rules. On pass in London required a class A uniform (Dress) at all time. When I questioned him on his jacket, he told me, "I am part of the regular Army Red Diamond Division and we have been stationed in Greenland for 3 years. We were loaded on a transport and thought we were on the way back to the States and we were landed here in England. Then we were stripped of all class A uniforms and reissued new field uniforms".

This was May 1944, m y first thought, D DAY IS COMING GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE !!!!
It was always the thought of combat crews that if D Day arrived crews might have to fly additional missions. That thought ran through my mind and I was on the first train out of London on the way to Liverpool. That was the right call........the base was Chorley near Liverpool and the few men there were nervous , waiting for orders rotating back to the USA. After one week there June 6, D Day was announced and we all sweated it out and finally o n June 9th we all boarded a ship for the seven day trip to the good old USA arriving in NY harbor on June 16th.

The Army Air Corps did stretch out the combat tours right after that time but they did it
fairly .

When I think back about that incident I consider it one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

Larry Goldstein


As a Life Member of the NYS So. Wg. Chapter I have a story, not necessarily a combat adventure, but nevertheless an 8th AF adventure.

One of my fellow crew me mbers that I always went on pass with on our 48 hour passes to London was a farm boy from West Virginia. I mention this because I was from New York City and this was a strange companionship, big city and farm boy.

Our Co-Pilot was a man of my size uniform wise, our Bombardier was my pals size. In our training period they gave each of us their Aviation Cadet blouse. The difference in the Officer's blouse and the Cadet blouse was the commission stripe on the sleeve. We were both Tech Sgts and had our chevrons sewed on. When we were in England, early in 1943, the 8th Air Force authorized a blue patch to be worn on the blouse under the Air Crew member wi ngs. This indicated actual air crew members for the ladies of the night in London. Ground crew men would buy or borrow a set of crew member wings when they went on pass.
On pass in London even in the intense blackout it was against regulations to wear anything other than the issued uniform. One night while my friend and I were walking in London, I mentioned that we might be stopped by the M.Ps and would be severely reprimanded. Sure enough we were stopped by two M.Ps and when they flashed their lights on us, they questioned the odd blouse that we were wearing. My friend immediately answered, "See this blue patch, we are in a special Squadron". Evidently this answer satisfied the M.Ps as they moved on. This was a triumph of country over big city.

Larry Goldstein
388 BG
Our last mission was to bomb some industrial target in Dessau, Germany. I think it was in the northeast quadrant of the city. As we arrived at the IP(initial point for bombing) one of our gunners informed the crew over our intercom that we were being followed by large number of Jerry planes. When they came closer, we could see that they were ME109s (Messerschmidt 109-the world record holder of speed before the war)-a very dangerous ship. A short time later(about 3 minutes) they seperated into groups of about ten each. One of the groups suddenly broke formation and headed toward us - coming in from 2 O'clock.
I was in the nose of the plane at a desk on the port side where I performed my navigation chores. I had one fifty caliber machine gun just forward of my position on either side of the plane. I got to the starbord gun and lined up on the first Jerry. They came in very fast. I only had one or two bursts before they broke away. But, they hit us badly. The plane shook when hit and the pilot, Paul Scharf from Iowa-called Pappy, called me by name to help him because he had been hit in the right arm. I disconnected my oxy gen mask and got up to the pilots compartment where I found the co-pilot had been hit in the chest with several rounds of 20 millimeter shells and appeared out of it. He was dead. Paul had been hit in the upper arm by a shell and was bleeding profusely. I used my leather belt to make a tournequit, which after much effort stopped the bleeding.
I then tried to straighten out the plane, which was in a shallow climb to the left and had reached 32,000feet, about four or five thousand feet above our bombing height, with no success.The wheel seemed to be locked in position. I realized it was on automatic pilot, but it should have responded a little. There was obviously a good deal of damage to the controls in the cockpit area from the shelling. I was afraid to disconnect the automatic pilot for fear I could not control the plane. So I went back down to my compartment and grabbed my chute which I held in my hand. When I headed back to the pilot compartment, I saw one of the guys helping Paul out of his seat. So I returned to my place and called the crew with orders to bail out. By this time, our group had left us and we were sitting like ripe ducks for the slaughter by the Jerry fighters which were still around us. There did not seem to me to be any alternative. I bailed out and had a two week adventu re trying to get to Prague where I would look for a church and possibly get help to evade capture. I finally got to the hills overlooking Prague when I ran into a small group of French workers (Impressed by the Germans) . They were great. They fed me-the first real meal I had , and offered me a cot on which to sleep. But, when I woke up, there was a bayonet in my back,held by a Hungarian S.S. man. I was ultimately turned over to the Luftwaffe (flyers) who processed me by sending me to the interrogation center called Dulag-luft from where I was sent to a prison camp-Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan, a camp for air officers ( about 3,000 in the west camp) That was the end of my career as a soldier. I had been in the infantry for almost two years before transferring to the army air corps in Oct. 1942, commisioned as a navigator in August 1943 and a prisoner of the Germans in July 1944. As the war went on the Russians were destroying the German Army in the East and making its way to the West.
When we could hear the artillery in the East, we were moved out of the camp in a blizzard in 20de grees below zero. All I had was a field jacket and a cap and a pair of mittens I had made from a sweater I had. We walked for three days, sleeping in barns when the Germans could persuade the farmers to let us sleep in the hay with the animals. They then loaded us on to 40 and 8s(forty men or eight animals) and we finally ended up in Nurnberg where we stayed for several months. Our final move in April1945 was to Mooseberg at Stalag 7A, a camp for 4 or 5 thousand, but we were over ten thousand. On April 29th the fouteenth armored division sent a tank into the camp to inform us that we were free.

I hope this has not been to boring.

O.K. Pat--here goes
I went on my first mission and it was unbelievably easy. It was a bombing mission to one of the "ski slopes " that the Germans built that were designed to aim the V-2 missiles to one of the key a reas of England. Mostly London. When we reached the very edge of France,we bombed the slopes, then we just turned around and went back to our base at Grafton Underwood.

My second mission was just the opposite. Our target was Berlin and I was the bombardier on that mission which took many hours. We took a Southern route and the Germans were perfecting their aim with their 88 Howitzers. When the time was right, we made a sha rp left turn and descended on Berlin. The Flak over Berlin was remarkable in its intensity and density--with flak everywhere. Our plane was hit a few times. We dropped our bombs on Friedrichstrasse station ,which was the equivalent of the bombings the British endured in London. After we dropped our bombs, we were attacked by a swarm of German fighter planes. It looked very much like they were all aiming at me. I fired my twin 50 caliber machine guns at anything that was flying at us and , since I had tracer bullets, it felt like I hit more than a couple of the German planes.
We fought them off as best we could, until one moment when the German planes suddenly disappeared. And then I saw that the American P51's came on the scene and chased the Germans away.

As the morale officer on the plane, I called for everyone to answer on the intercom and only the tail gunner did not respond. I ordered one of the waist gunners to use a portable oxygen bottle and see what happened. The oxygen connection of the tail gunner had become disengaged and so he passed out at 25,000 feet. He stayed on oxygen all the way home.
Now we get to the interesting part. The ground crew went over our plane and found that there were 91 holes in the plane. And not one of the 10 crewmenwas hurt !

Martin P. Rosenblum, 2d lt.., 384th Bomb Group.
545th Squadron.

Hi Pat. Obviously a memory of my service, particularly the combat tour, is very personal. I often think of my crew mates, and how they are at this point in time. For years I had been meaning to try to make contact, and never did it until some months ago, since I got to use the computer. The pilot was a retired colonel . I did have previous contact him, and since his passing on, with his wife. He retired as a colonel and lived in Colorado Springs, col...I happened to post a request on the 447th bg website for any information about my crew members of the 'phaneuf crew' in the 708th b sq..and some one responded that they believe they have some info for me..I located the tail gunner, and the radio operator. And also the toggleer, who unfortunately is in a va hospital suffering from parkinsons. I have had much contact with the tail gunner , he is retired teacher, the radio operator is a retired phsychiatrist. I was unable to make any other contact. My feeling is that they may no longer be with us. If you would care to go on the 447th BG website ,, under combat crews, you will note on the left side , under phaneuf crew , some sketches of the crew , and photos that were sent to me by the person who gave me the info, and the tail gunner, plus of course , my photo. On the right side is much the same under the heading of Charles Meshel. I think very often how much a lucky bastard I am and that of my crew mates, having survived with out any injuries. I was grounded for the last 2 missions, because of a cold, and was returned home with the pilot and tail gunner. I hope this is of some of what you wanted..thank you..Charles