26 TRIPS TO HELL

the combat diary of S/Sgt Theodore A. Rausch

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1.  SOLINGEN (city) Germany.  December 1, 1943
After turning back yesterday, Wheeler and I put No. 1 behind us.  Flew with Lt. Scarlotta.  Heavy clouds over the target.  Saw some flak in the formation behind but none came near us.  About 07:00 [duration of mission]

2.  COGNAC (airport) France.  December 5, 1943
The rest of the crew finally got their first in today.  First and last time I care to fly formation in clouds.  Couldn't bomb target because of clouds but sure bombed hell out of the fish in the Bay of Biscay.  Saw a little flak off the French coast.  08:35

3.  EMDEN (city) Germany.  December 11, 1943
Sure seen what to expect by way of flak, picked up four holes but nothing serious.  Had some big bombs aboard today 1000 lbs (8) which I don't think did any good.  06:20

4.  BREMEN (city) Germany.  December 16, 1943
A PFF mission which was pretty good, saw plenty of black smoke thru the clouds after we left the target.  Today was the day I've been waiting for but not looking forward to, and was I scared.  A piece of flak came thru the tail about a foot behind my back.  Knocked out my interphone and an oxygen line.  Saw enough flak to last me the duration.  Made a forced landing at Rackheath.  Had quite a time for 4 days.  Had all our meals in the Officers Club.  B.T.O. Megenhardt got hit in the eye, not serious but got the Purple Heart.  07:00

5.  BREMEN (city) Germany.  December 20, 1943
A good example of visibility bombing, plenty of smoke after bombs away.  Still as much flak as the first time.  Lt. Greene got off a good one today which I was very much in favor of.  Quote-"Bombs away, let's get the hell out of here."-Unquote.  We're only ship left in our formation so we did individual evasive action all over the target.  Plenty uneasy but we came out OK.  This one was my Air Medal trip which didn't make me feel like a hero (they aren't supposed to get scared).  06:30

6.  MUNSTER (city) Germany.  December 22, 1943
Turned back when we were about 30 minutes from target but we still got credit for the mission.  Ship couldn't keep up with rest of formation.  Had supercharger trouble on one engine and prop on another.  Went to 29,500 feet, highest I've ever been, didn't think a B24 would make it.  04:10

7.  NO BALL (rocket guns) Ray-sur-Authie France.  December 24, 1943
They sure picked a nice easy one for a Xmas present.  No flak No fighters No Nothing, didn't even use oxygen.  Bombed from 12,000 feet, hazy over target which I think we hit.  Could take the rest of my tour on jobs like this.  05:30

8.  ST. JEAN DE ANGLES (airport) France.  December 31, 1943
Good weather today and good bombing too.  Everything in target area destroyed, saw my first bomb hits today as we did a 90o turn after bombs away-quite a sight.  Saw my first E/A today also and had the pleasure of getting in a couple of shots, didn't hit them as they were too damn far away.  But they didn't hang around long after I threw some lead at them.  Had to fire over another ship behind us, found out later that their tail guns were out (next mission that tail gunner cracked).  Mission was too damn long and home field was socked in with ground haze.  Landed at Shipdam came back by truck.  09:40

9.  KIEL (city) Germany.  January 4, 1944
This was our close one.  Started out with our newly assigned ship "The Flak Ducker," everything going along fine till we miss our target and started for our No. 2 target.  Got jumped by about 6 Ju88s and couple Me110.  Attacks came from low at six o'clock.  Jerry took advantage of the contrails.  All I did was sweat as my guns and turret had frozen up before we left England.  After fighter attacks stopped we tried to drop our bombs.  No soap.  Used pilot's salvo release then couldn't close bomb bay doors.  Same time we lost two engines on right side and lost about 10,000 feet.  Lt. Miller asked for heading for Sweden but we were just as far from England so we headed home and glad we did.  Tossed out all ammunition and both waist guns, also all flak suits.  Lt. Miller was awarded the D.F.C. for a swell job of piloting.  Everybody was more scared after it was all over than during the flight.  Landed at a RAF Base (Lissett) about 130 miles north of home.  Got back home the next day.  Coldest I've ever been, minus 59o.  07:20

10.  MEPPEN (city) Germany.  January 11, 1944
Started out for Brunschwiege but was recalled.  Bombed a target of opportunity, a small town which turned out to be a No. 1 Priority target.  Produced armaments.  No Flak No Fighters = Milk Run.  05:15

11.  NO BALL (rocket guns) Escalles Sur Buchy, France.  January 14, 1944
A nice day for visual bombing which was well done.  Saw a little flak from Dieppe.  04:10

12.  NO BALL (rocket guns) Le Petit Bois Robert, France.  January 21, 1944
Made three bomb runs over target but clouds still prevented visual bombing.  Got plenty of flak from Dieppe which perforated the ship, nobody hurt, BUT plenty uneasy.  04:20

13.  FRANKFURT (city) Germany.  January 29, 1944
Another PFF.  Lost our C.O. in a mid-air collision while we were still forming over England.  Kind of sickening.  May have hit target.  Saw first aerial circus by Focke Wulfs, they just played around and didn't come at us-DAMN GLAD they didn't.  This was No. 12-B when we took off but it was No. 13 after we landed.  07:16

14.  BRUNSCHWEIDE (city) Germany.  January 30, 1944
Started for Brunschweide but I believe we hit Hannover instead.  Not much doing, saw a little flak over target.  07:20

15.  NO BALL (St. Pol) (rocket guns) Siracourt France.  February 11, 1944
This started out to be one of those milk runs but it turned sour.  Crossing the enemy coast we had the living ---- scared out of me.  Jerry put some flak guns down there and with only about 5 minutes in enemy territory we had No. 1 engine feathered and a gas leak that looked like Niagara Falls in the bomb bays.  We had our chutes on expecting to get blown all over the sky but didn't, thank God.  Murray did some good navigating, put us down at a RAF base called Beggen Hall (1000 E/A during Blitz).  The R.C.A.F. were using the field and we were really treated swell.  The R.C.A.F. had Spits.  04:00

16.  HELMSTEDT (aircraft factory) Germany.  February 20, 1944
Headed for Halberstat but due to some P.P. navigating by the lead ship we hit a little airport.  Gen. Johnson was quite pleased with the results tho.  Really demolished the target.  Bursting incendiaries looked like jewels on the snow.  Had damn good fighter support.  Bombed from 12,000 feet over Germany proper.  I'd like to see the guy who made up that ---- damn idea.  07:30

17.  MUNSTER (airport) Germany.  February 21, 1944
Started for Munster and hit another airport at Osnabruck.  Good results.  Bombs hit all over the field, runways, buildings, etc.  No E/A but a little flak.  06:10

18.  GOTHA (airport) Germany.  February 22, 1944
We're recalled before reaching target.  Looked for target of opportunity.  Made a couple of runs over vacant airport.  Didn't drop bombs because we had incendiaries which wouldn't have done any good on what looked like an unused field.  I got browned off because we flubbed our dub over Germany for about 20 minutes and still didn't do anything but waste of gas and bombs and taking too damn much chances with the men's lives.  06:00

19.  GOTHA (aircraft factory) Germany.  February 24, 1944
The Luftwaffe is by no means defeated.  Had fighter attacks all the time we were in Germany.  F.W. with long range tanks, also Me109, 116, 210, 410, and Ju88.  Saw more than enough today, chutes going down all the time.  Some ships went down with no chutes showing.  Ships were shot out of our formation but we didn't get nothing but a couple 7.7 holes.  But we really hit the target.  They won't make any more planes there for quite a few years.  There were times when I thought we weren't going to get back ourselves but I think the Good Lord was looking after our ship personally for which I am very thankful.  Saw a little flak but it was ignored today.  Flew over Kassel, Koblenz, Frankfurt, Bonn, and Brussels.  This is one mission I will never forget till my dying day which I thought it was.  06:50

20.  FURTH (aircraft factory) Germany.  February 25, 1944
Turned back after we got about 62 miles into France.  Nobody was in favor of going after yesterday.  Glad we did as No. 2 engine was throwing oil and if we had continued we would lose the engine in another hour or so and it was a long one.  So the boys who went say easy.  04:30

21.  NO BALL (rocket guns) Lottingham France.  February 29, 1944
Didn't expect this to be like it was.  No flak at all only cold, minus 54o.  Glad it wasn't too long.  Were alerted twice this morning before this No Ball.  04:20

22.  No.W. GERMANY.  March 3, 1944
This one was headed for the Big B (Berlin) but by the time we got across the North Sea we only had four of 14 ships left in our formation.  Clouds from the water to 27,000 feet.  Dumped our bombs someplace and had a little trouble getting home trying to get around the weather.  Damn glad they recalled this as we wouldn't have made it back with the gas we had.  06:30

23.  BRUNSCHWEIGE (city) Germany.  March 15, 1944
Another day on top of the clouds.  A little flak was seen but far enough away so that it didn't even make me uncomfortable.  Murray (navigator) had trouble keeping awake-oxygen trouble.  07:00

24.  FRIEDRICKSHAVEN (city) Germany.  March 16, 1944
This was a long one clear down on the Swiss border on Lake Constance.  Saw the Matterhorn and rest of Alps.  Looked plenty rough.  Got a little flak over target which I don't think we hit.  Only thing I didn't approve of was the length.  08:30

25.  OSNABRUCK (airport) Germany.  March 23, 1944
This should have been it but we have one more to go.  Lead ship took us over Munster after bombs away and was that flak close.  One burst lifted me off my seat.  As close as it was we only took three holes in the ship, one in wing, one in the right tail, and one along side of Lorine which he didn't know about until after we landed, otherwise his pants would have been messy.  06:00

26.  ST. DIZIER (airport) France.  March 24, 1944
This was it, we are now members of the Happy Warriors Club.  We hit No. 3 of 3 targets as the others were clouded over.  We really did a good job on the airport.  Even made another run on target to see how the bombs hit.  We couldn't have asked for a better one to finish with.  No flak and plenty of fighter support.  Found out later that we had Gen. Johnson and Gen. Timberlake, hence the perfect fighter support (no doubt).  Got some flak from the Pas de Calais area on the way back, kept on tracking us for about 10 miles.  Lt. Miller broke away from the formation and came back alone and really did a Buss Job on the tower.  Quite a few of the ground crews were sweating us out as we were the first crew done in the 576th.  It's a good feeling.  FINIS