DescriptionMISSION #43, Bordeaux, December 5, 1943.
The 388th put up two Groups on this mission with 24 planes in each Group. The planes took-off between 0730 and 0806 hours with the "A" Group as low Group and "B" Group as high Group of the 45th Combat Wing formation which was the last Combat Wing of the 3rd Air Division.
Three a/c of the "A" Group aborted as follows: F/O Bianchi, returned to base at 1040 hours because the gas cap was off his #3 engine; Lt. Swift, returned to base at 1230 hours when he lost power in #2 engine, and Lt. Hughes, turned back off the French Coast when valves on the Tokyo tanks stuck and landed at base at 1230 hours.
Two a/c of the "B" Group aborted as follows: Lt. Rubottom, when #2 supercharger went out and landed at 1200 hours and Lt. Hennessy, turned back at 1034 hours when the oxygen supply on the Pilots side cut out.
The remaining 43 a/c proceeded to the Target, except after crossing the Coast on the way out into the Bay of Biscay near Coudre, the formation was south of the briefed course so the formation made four wide circles into the Bay of Biscay and headed for the IP and Target. The Target was cloud covered and the bombs could not be dropped. The formation then headed for Cognac Airfield, the secondary Target, which was also cloud covered and bombs could not be dropped. At this point 18 a/c jettisoned their bombs because of gas shortage. One a/c jettisoned its bombs when a 20mm shell set its incendiaries on fire.
Flak encountered was meager except in the Target area where it increased in intensity. About a dozen enemy a/c were encountered in the Target area with most attacks out of the sun, but none of these attacks were pressed home.
Lt. Todd, in a/c 42-30837 "Ole Bassar" left the formation north of the Target with #1 Engine feathered and was shot down by FW 190's.
S/Sgt. Harvey Norton, Ball-gunner on Lt. Kempton's crew was very seriously wounded by a 30 caliber bullet.
After the bomb run when this a/c was attacked by fighters, Sgt. Norton was very severely wounded. Though suffering extreme pain, he remained by his guns, fighting off the vicious assaults until the last plane had been driven off. Only then was he helped from his turret to receive emergency first-aid treatment. Sgt. Norton received the Silver Star for gallantry in action.
Lt. Moyer in a/c #350, returned with a crippled plane and the entire crew bailed-out over England safely. Lt. Joho landed at Bevingdon because of gas shortage.
On December 5th, Staff Sergeant Donald Van Gundy, of Spokane, Washington, completed his 25th mission, the first man to conclude his tour of operations in this Group. Sgt. Van Gundy has won the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He had participated in such famous missions as those against Stuttgart, Hanover, LaPallice, and Regensburg. Regensburg was the highlight of the shuttle flight to Africa. Van Gundy is officially credited with one enemy fighter plane.
To the air crews, Van Gundy's achievement gave proof that there was a good chance that other fliers would "live to tell the tale." To the ground crews it became a source of pride that they might now consider the Group and themselves as veterans in the ETO, participants of much destruction delivered to the German war machine?and the spirits of everyone on the base went up. They felt a share of Van Gundy's success. A score of other Combat men had equalled Van Gundy's record before the end of 1943.
From The 388th At War by Ed Huntzinger