Our co-pilot (went) berserk over wanting to get back to his wife and baby while we were boxed in by exploding antiaircraft shells. (We saw) the B-24 next to us on the left wing get a direct hit and dropping to the ground. Our two lead B-24s (received) a direct hit from a German pilot flying his fighter into the Lead’s cockpit and bouncing off onto the Deputy Lead sending them down.
Flying through the black oily smoke and debris, (we saw) six parachutes opening with men jumping from the Deputy Lead B-24 as the pilot made a 180-degree turn while going down.
Our nose gunner (began) screaming that he had been hit. It was debris knocking out the Plexiglas. Then our falling out of formation and deciding whether to jump or try to go to Sweden. Our three engines cooled down so we decided to return to our base in England and called for fighter escort. Immediately three P-51s appeared and stayed with us until we were back in safe territory.
This all happened when we blew up a German dynamite warehouse on the Elbe River somewhere between Berlin and Hamburg. The explosion was tremendous. I thought I had accidentally fired my 50-caliber machine gun which I was leaning against while watching. The smoke from the explosion came up to at least a mile high.
On returning to our 448th Group Air Base at Seething, we saw fire trucks and ambulances waiting for us to land. After landing, our ground crewmen came checking the damage, counting 70 empty 50-caliber rounds under my gun. Really, I don’t know why I went back again.
Maybe my story will get through this time.
Lucian's B-24 Crew - He is second from the left on the front row.
(Note: Bennett writes that Lucian "learned to fly at a young age and flew for the Army Artillery at Ft. Sill, Okla., as a spotter for a while during the early days before the war until they disbanded the unit. Since he had a lot of free time up there, he would fly around the area, spot a farm house and a likely pasture where he would set the plane down. The farm family of course would flock around and usually invite him in for a meal." Lucian is in the Whipple Genweb at http://whipple.org/24908.)