S/Sgt. Leon R. Kershaw's Diary

Ball Turret Gunner, 601st Squadron

    We left Lincoln [Nebraska] by plane on the morning of October the 11th. Arrived at Grenier Field, New Hampshire at about 2:30 pm of the 11th. Left Grenier on the 12th at about 10:30 am.

    Arrived at Gander Field, Newfoundland, at about 3 pm on the 12th. We left Gander on Friday the 13th of October. We came very close to becoming members of the other world. We landed at Valley 7 Wales at 5:30 pm GCT on the 14th of October.

    We then went to Stone, England. From there we went to Royston England, to Nuthampstead Field and the 398th bomb Group.

    We made buck sergeant on the 24th of October. We became operational on the 30th of October.

October 31, 1944
Briefing 4 a.m.
Target – Politz, the synthetic oil plant. It was to be a 10 hour mission. The mission was scrubbed at 7 a.m.

November 1, 1944
Group stand down.

We shot skeet in the afternoon. Went into Royston and had a bit of fun. Ted got a whale of a buzz on. Got back and were alerted to fly.

November 2, 1944 - Mission #1 - Mersberg, Germany
We had no. 1 today. It was to be Mersberg. It was rough as hell. We were in Flak for 30 minutes and got fighters right in the worst flak. They were insane. Lost 3 planes. Bassingbourn lost 13. Got a hole in our right Tokyo & Ted had one about a foot from his rear.
We got 16 holes in our ship. My mask froze to walk around and I nearly passed out.

We carried 18 250lb G.P.’s
8hr 30”; 4 hrs. O2

November 3, 1944
Stand down.

November 4, 1944 - Mission #2 - Hamburg, Germany
It was a milk run. Target was Hamburg. Little flak no fighters. 7 hrs. We carried 10-500lb G.P.’s.

That night we had the 100 mission party. It was really nice. We had steak, ice cream, cake and beer. Also, our squad’s officers served us.

November 5, 1944 - Mission #3 - Frankfurt, Germany
We flew our 3rd mission today. It was another milk run. The target was Frankfurt. We went in over Belgium & France. The formation was so bad that the Gerry’s must have thought it was on purpose. Nearly ran out of gas. When we landed we didn’t have enough gas to start one engine.

We carried 6-1,000 lb G.P.’s.
6 hrs. 30 min.

November 6, 1944
Group stand down.

At night, I saw a good show put on by the second division.

November 7, 1944
Flew practice mission. It was to be over France. They were going to send friendly flat at 18,000 ft and 4 mi to the left. We were to fly at 22,000. But thank God the thing was called back before we hit the channel.

November 8, 1944
We had a stand down. Consequently we sacked up all day. We’re supposed to fly tomorrow.

November 9, 1944 - Mission #4 - Metz, Germany
Target—Metz. The front lines.
We carried 8-1,000lb semi-armor piercing bombs.

We were after 155 mm battery. Patton moved in right after we were thru. We plastered the target.
We lost an engine due to a runaway turbo.
8 hr. 4hr. O2

November 10, 1944
Stand down again today. The rest hit Cologne and they got quite a shellacking. We got Coffee back today.

November 11, 1944
The group stood down because of lousy weather. James is going to Italy tomorrow. I won 3 pounds playing poker yesterday.

November 12, 1944
Mission scrubbed. Target was to be Hamm. 6 1,000 pounders.

I made a plexiglass frame for my honey’s picture today. It’s really beautiful; the picture I mean. I’m really in love with Marge an awful lot.

November 13, 1944
Today we learned we were to be a lead crew. So for the next 9 days we will be going to lead team school.

Went to town this night. Played darts and had a few drinks. Went and had dinner in the Green Plunge then went to the Bull Hotel. Then came back to the base.

November 14, 1944
We stayed in bed the A.M. The skeleton crew had to fly. Went to school in the PM. Learned some blinker code. Am going to write letters tonight.

A Buzz Bomb just went over. It was so low that we thought it was going to hit in the field next to our hut. We saw the flame of its jet.

November 15, 1944
We flew a practice mission today. We were deputy lead in a PFF ship. I sat in the mickey seat all the time.

Lost Marj’s picture today. Had it in my heated suit and left it in. I pray that I get it back.

November 16, 1944
We went to school again today. Had more code. We didn’t fly because of poor weather. After that I went over to Link Trainer and had an hour of instrument and blind flying. Been laying around all the rest of the day.

November 17, 1944
Had another ½ hr of Link. Went to school the rest of the day. An instructor lost his 48 hr pass because of us.

November 18, 1944
Went to school again and that is all.

November 19, 1944
Another instructor lost 24 hrs of his 48. And we gained some bomb loading.

November 20, 1944
Lost another instructor’s 24 hr pass for him. Some more bomb loading for us.
All we do the rest of the time is play pinochle.

November 21, 1944

November 22, 1944
School again and pinochle. Today was the last day of school.

November 23, 1944
We got our 48’s today. We went to London. Didn’t do much the first night. Went and got a swell house to stay in. Went to Piccadilly. Saw the commandos. One said that we could go home with her for 7 pounds or 28 bucks. Saw “History was made at Night.” with Chas Boyer. Found a place at 11:30 where we could get steaks. Were they good.

November 24, 1944
Played around slept till 10:30 had breakfast went downtown. Went to Nic’s and had steaks for dinner. Went to the Regent Palace and got tickets for Noel Coward’s “Blythe Spirit” at the Royal Duchess Theater. Cost me 13+6 which is about $2.70 for a front row seat. It was par excellent.

November 25, 1944
Got up went to Nic’s & had steak as a combination Breakfast & Dinner. Went and saw “A Song To Remember” which was a wonderful show. They played Chopin’s Nocturnes and Waltzes & his Polonaise. Saw “Arsenic & Old Lace” which was darned good. Came back on the 5’oclock train to Royston.

November 26, 1944
Found out that I am going to 9th Air Force - on to B26’s or A20’s. I hate like hell to leave the crew, but it is necessary.

Been sitting around all day. Expect to leave for France in 3 or 4 days. That’s all for now.

November 27, 1944
Sat around and played pinochle & sweated out the crew. They hit Misburg. Had 18 groups of P51’s with them. They expected fighters. Came back O.K. No fighters.

November 28, 1944
Sat around all day & played pinochle.

November 29, 1944
Sat around again. Cleaned up the hut ‘cause Dolittle & Clair B. Luce were on field. That’s all.

November 30, 1944
Sat around again. We got paid and went into town and got back early ‘cause I’d mixed Gin & Kummel. They made me feel pretty buzzy.

December 01, 1944
Still sat around. Haven’t heard why, where, or when we go yet.
Heard a damn good P.W. lecture by a guy who interrogates German P.W. They really know all the tricks.

Got packages yesterday.

December 02, 1944
Sat around all day.

December 03, 1944
The boys had a mission scrubbed on them. Sat around all day.

December 04, 1944
The boys went on a mission. I sat around and sweated ‘em out.

December 05, 1944
I’m back in the crew now.
We went on a practice mission to Stone. We were there ‘til 11:30 p.m. We got to bed at 12:30. More fun.

December 06, 1944
Practice mission. We got up at 2:30 a.m. Had 2 hrs sleep. Pre dawn assembly.

December 07, 1944
Bad weather so we sat around again.

December 08, 1944
More bad weather

December 9, 1944 - Mission #5 - Stuttgart, Germany
It was to Stuttgart. We were up for 9&1/2 hrs. No flak to speak of.
We carried 27,00 gal of gas & 26-500lb G.P’s & 4-500lb incendiaries.

December 10, 1944
Stand down

December 11, 1944
Stand down

December 12, 1944 - Mission #6 - Merseburg, Germany
We were awakened at 4:00 a.m. for breakfast. 5:15 Briefing.
We flew no. 6 to Merseburg.
Station time 7 a.m. Take off at 7:40

Another 9&1/2 hr mission, not much flak. The stuff at Koblenz was accurate as hell. We didn’t have any airspeed, so we had to pace our wing man for the bomb run.
We had 2700 gal of gas & 12- 500lb G.P.’s

December 13, 1944
We weren’t on the flight plan.

December 14, 1944
They didn’t fly so we’re still down.
Last night they started a pinochle session at 6 o’clock. It ended this morning at 9 o’clock. They’re all asleep right now.

Some time early in the morning a buzz bomb hit on the field. It landed about 100 yards from the bomb dump. I was tossed out of bed even though it hit about half a mile or so from us. If it had hit the bomb dump we’d have probably been hurt very seriously.

December 15, 1944
Went to town and played records.

December 16, 1944
Stand down

December 17, 1944
They flew today, so we’ll fly tomorrow probably.

December 18, 1944 - Mission #7 - Cologne, Germany
We got up to go to Cologne. Full gas as load & 12-500lb G.P.’s.
We got within 4 min of the I.P. We were at 29,500 and the clouds were at least 2,000 feet higher and we couldn’t get any higher in so short a time so we had to come back.

December 19, 1944
We got our 48 hr pass today and went to London. Had a lot of fun. Saw “A Night in Venice.” It was very good, an operetta by Johann Strauss.

Mitzi’s baby is so darn cute. You talk to it for hours in English and it won’t crack a smile but say something in German and it just laughs all over the place.

That’s all for now.

December 22, 1944
We’re not on flight plan so we lay around.

December 23, 1944
Not a thing doing. Went over and got a shirt from the Cap. Laid around.

December 25, 1944
Nothing unusual went on today.

December 26, 1944
Still nothing doing.

December 27, 1944
Went to town early and played around ‘til record time. Came back & went to bed. Got some letters from my honey today.

December 28, 1944
They went on a mission today so we will be on the next mission. Hope it is tomorrow.

December 29, 1944 - Mission #8 - Bingen, Germany
We went to Bingen Germany to bomb marshalling yards. We were gone 7 hrs 35 min. The flak was accurate as hell. They put 3 thru the wings. One clipped the top spar. We got 9 holes.

Thought it was my last mission. It scared hell out of me. We carried 18-250lb G.P. bombs full gas load. Flew the left waist.

5 bombs hung up and were going to take them back when 2 bursts of flak hit in the bomb bay and shook them out.

December 30, 1944
They flew but we stayed on the ground.
Shot skeet, got 11 only.
Am on guard this week.

December 31, 1944
Didn’t do a thing.

January 01, 1945
Sat around and sweated the crew out.

January 02, 1945
Sat around and guarded PFF crates.

January 03, 1945
Sweated the crew out again.

January 04, 1945
Sat around

January 05, 1945
Same thing.

January 06, 1945
Same thing.

January 07, 1945
Same thing.

January 08, 1945
Same thing.

January 09, 1945
We’re alerted to fly tomorrow.

January 10, 1945 - Mission #9 – Cologne, Germany
#9--7 hr 20 min
We went to Cologne. We had to drive for 2 & ½ hrs in a truck in driving snow to pick up a Gee H ship. We got up and it was 72 degrees below F. at 28,000 ft. We plastered the airfield really nice. A few more Krauts bit the dust, I hope. Hope we hit one-eyed Willy Schmidt. We carried 38 - 100 pounder G.P.’s. That’s all for now.

January 11, 1945
Nothing happened today. As usual.

January 12, 1945
Still no soap. Courneen finished with us at Cologne.

January 29, 1945 - Mission #10 – Koblenz, Germany
#10. Went to Koblenz—7 hrs. Had 10-500lb G.P.’s & 2-500lb Incendiaries. Easy mission.

January 30, 1945
My 19th birthday

February 09, 1945 - Mission #11 – Osnabruck, Germany
Osnabruck #11.
500lb G.P.’s-12. 2780 gal of gas. Easy mission. 9 hrs 15 min. Waist [flew as Waist gunner].

February 19, 1945 - Mission #12 – Munster, Germany
Munster #12
8 hrs 6-1000lb G.P.’s; easy mission. Landed at 91st B Group—BT [flew as Ball Turret gunner].

February 20, 1945 - Mission #13 – Nurnburg, Germany
Nurnburg #13
8 hrs. 6-500lb G.P.’s; 6-500lb m1 7’s; 6 hrs. on oxygen—BT. Plastered it.

February 21, 1945 - Mission #14 – Nurnburg, Germany
Nurnburg #14
9 ½ hrs 6-500lb G.P.’s: 6-500lb m17 iB’s: Oxygen-5 hrs.
14 flak holes
Col Daly CA, Pilot Scofield

February 22, 1945
Stand down

February 23, 1945 - Mission #15 – Schweinfurt, Germany
Schweinfurt #15
Alt 13,8000 too low. Lost 6 men by flak. Engineer caught 2 pieces.
Bomb load 12-500lb G.P.’s 9 ½ hrs on ox

February 27, 1945 - Mission #16 – Leipzig, Germany
Leipzig #16
Alt. 25,000 8 hrs 10 min.
Bombs: 6-500 G.P.’s; 4 iB’s
No flak. Easy mission.

March 01, 1945 - Mission #17 – Heilsbronn, Germany
Heilsbronn #17
Alt 20,000 – 8 hrs 40 min
Bombs 6-500 G.P.’s; 4 M17’s
No flak. Did 3 360’s over target. Knocked hell out of it. BT

March 22, 1945 - Mission #18 – Essen Area, Germany
Essen Area #18 - Troop concentrate
Alt 23,000 ft. hrs and 15 min. 56 flak holes were counted.
34 100lb frags; 2-500 iB’s
Had an unexploded 88 go through our Tokyo, also noz-feeder shot out. No. 2 engine knocked out. Rough as hell. BT

March 23, 1945 - Mission #19 – Coesfeld, Germany
Coesfeld #19 - Marshalling Yards
Alt 25,500 5 hrs 40 min
12-500 G.P.’s.

March 24, 1945 - Mission #20 – Enschede, Germany
Enschede #20
5 hrs 15 min
12-500lb G.P.’s.
Simple. BT

March 28, 1945 - Mission #21 – Berlin, Germany
Berlin #21
8 hrs 30 min flying time. 4 days mission time. Easy mission.
6-G.P.’s; 2-iB’s.
Went down in Brussels because we were low on gas. Stayed 4 days.

April 04, 1945 - Mission #22 – Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg Area #22
Dry run. 9:05
4hrs ox

April 05, 1945 - Mission #23 – Engelstadt, Germany
Engelstadt #23
Dry run. 10:20
5 hrs O-2

April 09, 1945 - Mission #24 – Munich, Germany
Munich #24
8:25 min
6-500lb G.P.’s; 4iB’s
3:15 O-2

April 10, 1945 - Mission #25 – Oranienburg, Germany
Oranienburg #25
9 hrs 5 min
4 ½ hrs O-2
6 iB and 6-500lb G.P.’s
Jet fighters hit us. Put a hole in the tail of one ship big enough for a man to walk thru. Buck got one Me 262.

April 11, 1945 - Mission #26 – Kraiberg, Germany
Kraiberg #26
9:25 min
4 hrs O2
Milk run. 10-500lb G.P.’s

April 16, 1945 - Mission #27 – Regensburg, Germany
Regensburg #27
8 hrs 30 min
4 hrs 30 min O-2
16-250lb G.P.’s; 2-500lb iB’s
Assembled over Debden on 5,000 ft., milk run.

April 18, 1945 - Mission #28 – Rosenheim, Germany
Rosenheim #28 - Marshelling Yards
10 hrs; 4 hrs O-2
12-500lb G.P.’s
We saw Lake Constance; we’re over Swiss Alps. Easy mission

April 19, 1945 - Mission #29 – Elsterwerda, Germany
#29 - Marshalling Yards
8 ½ hrs; 3 hrs O-2
12-250lb G.P.’s; 4-500lb iB’s

The bombardier had 11 missions tacked on him because he missed the target. Made 3-360’s perfect visual. My heated suit went out and I froze my feet.

April 21, 1945 - Mission #30 – Munich, Germany
Munich #30
10 hrs 35 min. 5 hrs O-2
Easy mission
We carried 45’s for protection in case of bail-out in enemy territory.
16-250 G.P.’s.
All done
No more

Total combat flying time: 248 hrs 8 min.
Total O-2 time: 116 hrs 15 min
Total G.P. bombs dropped: 116, 800 lbs or 58.4 tons
Total iB’s dropped: 23,000 lbs or 11.5 tons incendiaries
Total Semi-AP: 8,000 lbs = 4 tons.
Total Frags dropped—3,800 lbs or 1.9 tons
Total Dropped: 151,600 lbs = 75.8 tons


Following were members of the Hosman crew:

  1. Captain Richard S. Hosman, Pilot
  2. 2nd. Lt. Roland D. Mundhenke, Co-Pilot
  3. 1st. Lt. Walter P. James, Jr., Bombardier
  4. 1st. Lt. Donald J. Coffee, Jr., Navigator
  5. T/Sgt. Floyd R. Aaron, Engineer / Top Turret (KIA April 13, 1945)
  6. T/Sgt. Jerauld N. "Jerry" Clements, Radio Operator
  7. S/Sgt. Leon R. Kershaw, Ball Turret Gunner
  8. Sgt. William H. "Web" Brown, Waist Gunner
  9. Sgt. Frederick W. Hinze, Waist Gunner
  10. S/Sgt. Theodore P. "Ted" Blank, Tail Gunner

One of the B-17's the crew flew in was named "Jolten Jose".

Brad W. Kershaw, son of Leon R. Kershaw, Ball Turret Gunner provided the following: "Dad passed away in 2004, but he was reunited with Dick Hosman, the captain of the crew, and another crew member or two at a reunion a year or two before he passed away. He had lost contact with the men in his crew and they were all really glad to have the opportunity to see one another."

See also

  1. Hosman's Crew - 601st Squadron - Training, probably 1944
  2. "Schweinfurt Was Hardly a Target of Opportunity" by Richard Hosman, Pilot 601st Squadron



  1. S/Sgt. Leon Ralph Kershaw was the Ball Turret Gunner for the Richard S. Hosman 601st crew.
  2. The above electronic diary transcription was provided by Leon R. Kershaw's son, Brad.
  3. This transcription is a reproduction of the original. Spelling and punctuation changes have been made to improve readability. In some circumstances, material may not have been transcribed or was rewritten.
  4. Clarification of acronyms or special words or guesses of certain words are shown in brackets [ ].