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[Personal Accounts][Topical Articles][Diaries]


Eight Months of Human Contact in a POW Camp
by Joseph Armstrong (442)

This account by Joseph Armstrong, 442nd pilot, brings to life his experiences as an aviator stationed on the Island of Sardinia and the dramatic events that ultimately led to his capture as a POW on what was to be his 64th and final mission. The following piece powerfully describes some of the more salient moments, both the highs and the lows, he experienced during his eight months not only as a POW, but one wounded in action.

Escape and Evasion
by James L. McCrory (444)
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Former 444th CO, James McCrory tells of bailing out from a ship about to explode and how he and some of the other crew members evaded capture with the aid of some friendly Italians. He eventually made it to Rome where he slept for three months in a concealed fox hole.

Return to Florence
by Benjamin C. McCartney (443)
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An admirer of Florence, Benjamin McCartney tells of his return to the now wartime stricken city. The story describes the selective tactical bombing of the Florence marshaling yards whereby precision bombing was performed with successful preservation of the cities antiquities - masterful bombing that could only have succeeded by the use of the B-26 Marauder and what had become the finest wing of medium bombardment in the world.

Miracle at Beauvais-Surviving a Midair Collision
by Charles O'Mahony (441)
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Charles O'Mahony, a B-26 pilot during WW II, recalls a terrible tragedy that occurred in the air over France on St. Patrick's Day 1945. During a routine flight exercise, three B-26s collided in midair. Of the 19 men aboard those three aircraft, 18 died, while the last one - pilot Alex Cordes - miraculously survived unhurt. It was determined that the catastrophe was the result of pilot error on the part of one of the deceased, who had been a “short-timer.” O'Mahony uses this tale to remind us of the often-unknown dangers of formation flying, which have resulted in numerous unnecessary deaths.

The Makings of a Mission & Another Day in the Army Air Corp.
by Alexander Brast (442)

In a letter to his father and mother, Alex tells the makings of a B-26 bomb mission from briefing the day before, the mission run itself, and ultimately the flight back. In addition, he describes an attack by enemy fighters whereby a fellow B-26 crew is required to ditch at sea. Ultimately, it is all just a day in the Army Air Corp.

Bombing the Breisach Bridge
by Ben West (443)

The Breisach Bridge across the Rhine River was protected by as many as 160 anti-aircraft guns. Ben tells the story of flying through a virtual hurricane of flak explosions. Though the bridge was not knocked out, it was a valiant effort resulting in loss of life and an experience that has influenced Ben West to this day.

Crippled Plane Limps in at 170
by Kenneth G. Ross (442)

This was Ken's 13th mission. What was to be a milk run turned into a fight with German fighters. Ken and his crew flew 60 miles on one engine and ultimately made a forced landing. 150 shell holes were counted in the aircraft. The account was written up in several Midwest newspapers as well as the Stars and Stripes.

The Steeple Chaser-How My Plane got its Name
by Kenneth G. Ross (442)

In this story, read how Captain Ross took a bit of Huntington with him into the battle after his crew members insisted upon calling his B-26 Marauder bomber "The Steeple Chaser" after the time Captain Ross stunted over Huntington, swooping between church steeples, while his commanding officer from Baer Field watched him with blood in his eye.

Remembrances of the B-Dash Crash & My Experiences with the 320th
by John (Jack) S. Harpster (442)

Jack flew not only the B-26 Marauder with the 320th BG, but also the P-47 Thunderbolt as part of the 525th Fighter Squadron. Consequently, he gives us a unique perspective of flying the B-Dash-Crash having been a fighter pilot. In this saga, he recounts his first impressions of the Marauder during training as well as a pilot in combat.

Nazi Admiral Surrenders to 320th T/Sgt. Will Largent
by Homer Bigart (New York Herald)
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Out of fear of French Partisan retaliation against German hospital patients, German Admiral Eyerich surrenders his sword to 320th T/Sgt. Will Largent.

Wud-e-ya Know, If it isn't Bill Phillips
by Gabriel R. McClure, "Monk" (441)

Monk recalls a time when he runs into a boyhood friend on the Isle of Sardinia-of all places. Monk was with the ground crew of Thumper II and gives us a little insight into what is what like. Come join us for a day in the life of the ground crew.




Loose Cannon
--The Final Flight of
Lady Lynn

by Charles O'Mahony (441)
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Toward the end of WW II, enemy fighters were few and far between, but the ever-present flak still proved hazardous to Allied planes and their crews. B-26 flight commander Charles O'Mahony tells the story of the last flight of Lady Lynn, the Marauder that flew next to his in the 443rd Squadron on April 18, 1945.

Take Off to the South at Alto
by Ben West (443)

Getting off the ground and over that hill was like running a high hurdle race in your flying gear, including parachute. The Marauder was always a ground-loving bitch and trying to get airborne anywhere was precarious. But it was especially so taking off to the south at Alto."

 Greater Love Hath No Man
--a B-26 pilot fights to save his friend

by Charles O'Mahony (441)
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This spectacular story of a B-26 Marauder receiving a direct hit on an engine is a compelling account about how two crewmen survived this dramatic event. George Moscovis and Robert McCluskey somehow managed to escape the doomed Flossie's Fury before its crash; Moscovis, without even a parachute on his back!

"No Visible Means of Support"
Marauder-A Pilot's Story

by Charles O'Mahony (441)
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Charles O'Mahony takes a look back at his earliest days flying combat missions over Italy in 1944. Introducing a human element to the difficulties he faced, O'Mahony shares anecdotes about his time as a short-timer; being the new guy in the 320th Bomb Group and learning the ropes while at the same time helping to fight a war.

The First Mission
by George W. (Bill) Gleason (444)

Bill tells of his first mission as a gunner with the 320th BG, 444th Bomb Squadron. He had quickly volunteered when a tail gunner was required spur of the moment to fly a mission 15 January, 1944. He discovered that both the Messerschmitt bullets and flak bursts were indeed real. With one prop feathered and hydraulic lines cut, the aircraft landed emergently in Corsica. Upon landing he walked around the plane to find 86 holes in the skin of the B-26 he was almost literally thrown into. He went on to complete a total of 65 missions.

"Balls of Fire!!!" alias "Fletcher's Folly!!!"
by Ben West (443)

This is Ben's account of his 5th mission with the 320th BG. It is on this mission that Col. Fletcher decides to try something new-a night mission! Although a valiant effort by the 320th, the mission's success is debatable. One thing is for sure, however, and that is flying a mission at night is enough to scare the hell out of anyone.

Never Give Up On A Wounded Comrade
by Ben West (443)

On a mission to bomb the Piacenza bridge, the B-26 flown by Ben West is holed by a ME-109 with dire consequences. During that encounter, Earl Nelson, top turret gunner, manifested a will to survive that seemed beyond limitation. Ben recounts - "he claims I saved his life, when in reality I almost wasted it." The story also relates to a 24 year old man's mental struggle in his endeavor to do what's right not only for his country, but also for everyone of his 6 man crew, especially Earl Nelson.

Memories of My Time with the 320th B.G. During WW II
by Donald Wilson Round (444)

Donald Round shares with us his memoirs. In this story one will learn about the trip across via the Southern Route. In addition, Don gives us a nice flavor of what it was like to live on the Island of Sardinia. He provides many humorous anecdotes, but also reminds us of the sacrifice made and the human tragedy of war. This story is sure to give you a better feel for the experience of the men of the 320th.

An Historical Account of the Time I Spent with the 441st in Decimo & Corsica in 1944
by Luigi Cabras

Luigi Cabras was born in Villasor, Sardinia. At the young age of 16 he spent several months with the men of the 441st. Here he gives a historical perspective of Decimo and the U.S. Air Corp presence from his native point of view. It is clear that the men of the 320th left a favorable legacy with Mr. Cabras, his family, and hopefully the indigenous population as a whole.

My Journey to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
by Jane Ferko

On 18 May 2006, Jane Ferko-Balk made a long awaited trip to visit the region of the resting place of her brother-in-law, Theodore Balk, 443rd B.S. who was lost in combat. Her first husband, Tom, Theodore’s brother, had long wanted to visit the area where Theodore’s plane went down as well as the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery where he is memorialized. Unfortunately, Tom passed away before he could complete this desire. Despite Tom's passing, Jane made her own pilgrimage joined by her new husband, George Ferko. This is her touching account of their journey.

The Story of My Military Service with the 320th
by Benton B. Banchor (442)

On 11 November 1941, Benton Banchor was drafted into military service. He tested into the Army Air Corps and soon was on a journey to North Africa via the Southern Route. In his narrative he describes the flight across the Southern Atlantic and his experiences thereafter.

Copyright(c) 2003 320th History Preservation. All rights reserved.


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