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Target Brunswick Again

On the 15th of March, the Third Air Division was put on mission alert. We were all awakened with the usual fanfare of noise and confusion. Lt. Herbert Devore and the other three officers on his crew dressed out in full class “A” uniform - pinks, blouse, tie - brass the whole works just as though they were going to a dance. We joked with them about it and Herb said, “This is our last mission and we’re going to finish up in style.” At that time 25 missions constituted a tour of duty and that was to be their 25th one.

We were briefed that morning to hit a Messerschmitt plane factory at Brunswick, Germany. The Waggum aircraft plant nearby was introduced as a secondary target in case we were weathered out of the primary.

The Group formation for this mission consisted of 21 aircraft and departure was at 06:40 hours. The Group made assembly at 2400 feet over the base at 07:00 hours. The 100th Group flew the low position in the 13th combat wing with the 390th Group in the lead position and the 95th Group in the high position.

Herb Devote was flying lead. Captain Roland Knight was command pilot in the right seat and copilot Martin Tashjian in the tail gun position as formation observer. I was flying on his left wing and Ed McKay was on his right.

We climbed to an altitude of 24,000 feet which was about 2000 feet above an overcast of clouds.

We had good fighter support. Our little friends were thick as fleas on a dog, thank goodness. We reached the target IP at 11:54 hours and the flak was intense in the target area.

I was flying in close to the lead ship as we approached the target to insure a good bomb pattern. Our bomb load for the mission consisted of 10 - 100 pound GP bombs and 23 - 100 pound magnesium incendiary bombs. We bad our bomb bay doors open and were about 10 seconds from bombs away when I suddenly saw the entire cockpit area of Herb’s plane fill with red fire and smoke and his body slump over the controls.

The plane nosed down slightly and started down. Standard procedure was for the plane on the left of the lead to stay with a stricken lead craft until a decision could be made as to whether or not it could recover from the problem. It was evident after about a minute that Herb’s plane was going in so we dropped our bombs and I climbed back up and joined the rest of the Group.

I had the copilot take over so I could watch the lead plane. Herb’s plane started burning and pieces of the smoking number 3 engine cowling began to fly loose as the bomber went into a flat spin about 1000 feet above the cloud layer. Just as they reached the under cast, the aircraft exploded and the fiery mass disappeared into the clouds below. I saw no parachutes before or after the explosion.

Devore had apparently received a direct flak hit that set off his flares and incendiaries and the plane really just melted down. This one has stayed with me for over 50 years now.

Next...Target  Augsburg


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