DAMIFINO, TIMES A WASTIN. There was another plane they flew but that name faded over the years. This crew was very fortunate and they all survived all 35 bombing missions without serious injury. Dad told of an instance where a flak (anti-aircraft shell) burst hit close and a piece of shrapnel came through the plane and took the oxygen mask off the face of the crewman sitting next to him. Miraculously he was not injured when the mask was scythed off. On another mission a 1000 lb. bomb was stuck in the bomb rack. The plane flew with the bomb bay doors open for a while but at 20000 feet at over 200mph the cold (-50)/wind was unbearable. They dearmed the bomb and closed the bay doors. Eventually the bomb came loose, crashing through the bay doors and fell into a field in France. Dad watched the bomb fall and hit a farmers field, leaving a huge crater even though the dis-armed bomb didn't go off. Dad said he often thought of that farmer plowing around that big crater as he plowed his own fields after the war. Dad witnessed attacks late in the war of the German ME262 Jet Fighters. He said they were lucky that those planes weren't around in large numbers as they were so fast that the gunners only saw a blurr when they came through the bomber formation. One of his saddest memories is witnessing the aircraft next to him take a direct hit in the bomb bay from a flak round. His best Air Corps friends were aboard. He saw the plane just come apart and a couple parachutes open which were consumed by the flames of the burning high octane fuel. That must have been a nerve shattering sight. That was on October 12th, 1944. The plane was named "OFF LIMITS AGAIN". The mission target was Osnabrook Germany. Pilot Bridgeman was quite a pilot. When all targets were clouded over they were to return to the English Channel and ditch their bomb loads. Pilot Paul Bridgeman would not waste the bombs and on more than one occasion hauled them back to the Attlebridge airfield and landed with them so they could be re used.
snuck him on board on a training mission. Upon returning to their airfield they encountered heavy fog and had to use the new navigation instruments for the first time under real conditions. Dad and the crew were petrified to land under these conditions. Of course they reverted to there training and took the plane in, luckily without a hitch. Dad never told his brother how close they were to crashing. Claude just rode along thinking this was just business as usual. Little did he know that they had cheated death. At one point the crew hauled gasoline into France for Patton's army. These flights were un nerving due to the fumes in the aircraft. They filled every type of container available with gas; cans ,aircraft drop tanks, anything that would hold fuel. Of course their landing weights were heavy. They witnessed many planes crash on take off and just be obliterated. These WW2 veterans are all hero's in my book. There were thousands of other heros which never came home and never got to grow up....... the cost of freedom that so many take for granted.