398th Bomb Group

Dresden/Prague Mission Recollections
14 February 1945

Howard Pinner
Pilot, 603rd Squadron

The mission was up and down all over Germany. The changing of altitude caused us to use more fuel than we would have normally used. The target was covered with clouds. We dropped our bombs. We were impressed by the absence of flak on the bomb run. This was rare. As we were returning to base, our fuel ran low. The gauges on all four engines showed empty. We landed at a P-47 base near St. Tron, Belgium about 50 miles from the Allied lines.

Our crew stayed at this base for five days because of bad weather. During this time we saw a part of Brussels and used up all our money. The weather was still bad at our base in England, but after much pleading they granted permission to take off for the 398th.

Three P-47 pilots, who had completed all of their missions, flew back with us. They hoped to get a ride to the States quicker from England than from Belgium. One of the pilots stood rather anxiously between co-pilot Tebbs and me during this flight. It was so foggy over our base that the tower had to talk us down for a landing. Fortunately there were no other planes flying in the area at that time. On the first pass over the field we lined up with the runway. Then we made a rectangle pattern. This time we got the wheels on the runway, but were too far down the runway and had to go around another time. The third time we made a good landing. Those three P-47 pilots must have aged a lot during this landing and may have wondered whether they had made a mistake by flying with us. No fighter pilot liked flying with a bomber pilot. This was not unusual for us as we had made similar landings before.

We did not know that we had bombed the wrong target until we were back at the 398th. We were told that Lt. Col. Ensign, did not like the way the lead navigator was doing on this mission and he took over the job of navigating. Because of this, we bombed the wrong target.

Article transcribed by Lee Anne Bradley, 398th Group Historian, October 2007.

See also:

Printed in Flak News Volume 20, Number 1, Page(s) 10, January 2005

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