392nd Bomb Group

The Combat Log of Lt. James McCutcheon

JAMES McCUTCHEON was born in New York City in 1918. Like his father and grandfather before him, he was a printer; he worked for the New York Daily News. At age 17, he 'adjusted' his birth certificate and enlisted in the 27th Tank Company of the New York National Guard. The Company was activated in January 1941 and stationed at Ft. Meade, Md., where it was combined with Guard units from several states to form the 191st Tank Battalion.

In 1942, McCutcheon applied for, and was accepted into, air training. He trained at Selman Air Base in Monroe, La., in 1943, earned his navigator's wings, and was commissioned in December. During the winter of 1943-44, he was assigned to Peterson Air Base, Colorado Springs, for B-24 crew training. In early spring 1944, his crew was deployed to England from Topeka.

His crew (Holliday crew) was assigned to the 576th Squadron of the 392nd Bomb Group on June 7, 1944. He completed 35 combat missions June-November, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant (September) and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (October) and the Air Medal (with 3 OLCs) during his combat tour. He became a reluctant member of the Caterpillar Club when his crew was forced to bail out of a badly damaged B-24. (Group mission #143, August 3.) His log of combat missions is transcribed below.

Upon his return to the US in late December, he learned that his older brother, Capt. William McCutcheon, had been KIA on December 14 while commanding Company C of the 774th Tank Bn. at Strass, Germany. After R&R/debriefing in Atlantic City in January 1945, he was sent for refresher training in Houston and then was assigned briefly as a navigation instructor in Hondo, Texas. After V-E Day, he was assigned to Memphis but was on detached duty with Air Transport Command flying "war-wearies" back to the US from Europe and North Africa. In December 1945 he was assigned to Malmstrom Air Base in Great Falls, Montana, flying supplies to Anchorage and other bases in Alaska, with stops in Edmonton, Canada. In July 1946, he was sent back to Europe to fly VIPs around Europe and the Middle East. During this post-combat service, he was promoted to Captain. He was discharged from active service in March 1947 but remained in the reserves.

McCutcheon volunteered for service in Korea and re-entered active duty with the Air Force in January 1951. After retraining as a B-29 navigator, he was sent to Yokota, Japan, in the fall of 1951 and served with the 345th Squadron of the 98th Bomb Wing. He flew 37 combat missions October 1951-April 1952, served as Squadron Navigator, and was awarded a fourth OLC for his Air Medal. He returned to the US in the spring of 1952 and was discharged from active service in June.

McCutcheon remained in the reserves, flying out of Long Island (Mitchel Field), Brooklyn (Floyd Bennett), New Jersey (McGuire), and Dover, Del. He was promoted to Major in February 1956 and earned his Senior and Master Navigator wings in the reserves.

McCutcheon retained a life-long interest in flying, obtaining a private pilot's license at age 53. He retired from the Air Force in 1978 at age 60 and from the Daily News in 1981. He died at 80 in 1998 and is buried in Calverton National Cemetery, Long Island. His wife, Eivor, died at 89 in 2010 and is buried with him. They had three children, six grandchildren, and (as of 2020) seven great-grandchildren.

Combat Missions - Lt. James McCutcheon - 392nd Bomb Group, 576th Squadron

15 June 1944         Target - R.R. Bridge 5 mi. East of Tours
Little heavy flak. Enemy fighters in area. No attacks on our squadron. Bomb hits looked good.

20 June 1944         Target - Synthetic Oil Plant at Politz 5 mi. North of Stettin
Heavy flak barrage over target. Enemy planes, Ju 88s, ME 410s, and ME 109s, firing rockets attacked our group. No losses in our squadron but group lost four Libs. Target destroyed.

22 June 44         Target - Airfield at South end of Paris
Heavy flak over target area. Very accurate. #4 engine hit and knocked out. No enemy fighters. Saw Eiffel Tower while on bomb run.

23 June 1944         Target - Airfield at Laon
Accurate heavy flak over target. Saw B-24 spin-in aflame. No enemy fighters.

25 June 1944         Target - Airport near Paris
Turned back over French coast because of weather. Little heavy flak over Caen.

7 July 1944         Taget - Aircraft Factory at Bernberg, Germany
Missed our group at rendezvous. Tacked on to another squadron. Heavy flak at target but inaccurate. Dark towering smoke at target from previous wave evidence of good hits. Luftwaffe came up but attacked an earlier wave.

11 July 44         Target - R.R. Marshalling Yard Munich, Germany
Target not visible due to undercast. Bombs dropped on P.F.F. No enemy fighters. Beautiful support by our own fighters all the way. Heavy flak at the target. Largest concentration of American bombers I've ever seen.

12 July 44         Target - Munich, Germany
Second trip to same target in two days. Flak heavy. #1 engine knocked out at the target. Ben [Holliday, pilot] wounded in right arm by small piece of flak which cut through Paul's [Daniel, co-pilot] mike cord and bounced off his parachute ring. Came all the way home on three engines with P-38s escorting us. Jettisoned all loose equipment to lighten ship.

20 July 1944         Target - Airfield at Erfurt
No flak! No fighters! No excitement! Beautiful support by P-38s, P-51s, and P-47s.

21 July 1944         Target - Airfield at Munich
Heavy flak. Some fighters but friendly support was excellent. Ship out of control over target for a short period of time.

24 July 1944         Target - Troop concentrations near St. Lo
No flak. Two ME 109s looked us over but did not attack. Tail gunner discouraged them by throwing a few shots in their direction. No bombs dropped due to an undercast and possibility of dropping on our own troops.

25 July 1944         Target - Troop concentrations near St. Lo
Visibility good. Target area saturated with fragmentation bombs. Some flak but not concentrated nor accurate. Saw a fighter crash in flames.

29 July 1944         Target - Oil Refinery and Storage Tanks at Bremen
Terrific flak but no enemy fighters. Spent longest time under fire here than on any other target but did not get hit.

31 July 1944         Target - Chemical Plant at Ludwigshaven
Very accurate flak. Worst battle damage yet. #2 engine knocked out, rear turret hit badly, other hits on wings, fuselage. Fortunately, no one was injured.

1 August 1944         Target - R.R. Bridge at Perrone, France
Target covered by 10/10ths of low stratus clouds. Bombed target of opportunity at Belboc. No flak or fighters.

2 August 1944         Target - R.R. Bridge 10 miles East of Amiens
Intermittent flak while over enemy territory. Didn't bomb. S.N.A.F.U.

3 August 1944         Target - Oil Storage and Refinery at Lens, France
Controls shot out while circling in target area for second run. Came back on A-5 and bailed out over base.

15 August 1944         Target - Air Field near Wittmund
Very little flak encountered. Flew with Lt. Demers crew as Deputy Group Lead.

18 August 1944         Target - Air Field at Nancy, France
No flak at target. Bombs hit good. Quite a few German planes on field. Some of them hit and exploded.

24 August 1944         Target - Airfield at Hanover, Germany
Flak heavy. Bombs hung up. Dropped bombs in North Sea.

25 August 1944         Target - Airfield at Schwerin, Germany
No flak. Good bomb hits.

12 September 1944         Target - Oil Refinery near Hannover
Heavy flak barrage and smoke screen at the target. Bombing results poor.

13 September 1944         Target - Airfield near Halle
Went almost to target (after being separated by weather) then turned back. Was down to 10,000' when suddenly hit by flak over Metz, France. [w/ Richeson crew]

18 Sept. 1944
Dropped supplies to troops in Holland. Several bullet holes in ship but no flak. Went in at low altitude, "On the deck!"

21 September 44         Target - R.R. Marshalling Yard at Koblenz
Flak moderate and accurate. Bombs dropped prematurely.

25 Sept. 44         Target - R.R. Marshalling Yard at Koblenz
Little flak, inaccurate. Bombed by P.F.F.

27 Sept. 44         Target - Locomotive and Tank Factory at Kassel
Little flak, inaccurate. Bombed by P.F.F. [w/ Richeson crew]

28 Sept. 44         Target - Locomotive and Tank Factory at Kassel
Light flak, inaccurate. Bombed P.F.F. [w/ Richeson crew]

17 Oct. 44         Target - R.R. Marshalling Yards at Cologne
Light flak, inaccurate. Bombed P.F.F. Missed our own group at assembly so tacked on to 446th.

19 Oct. 44         Target - R.R. Marshalling Yard at Mainz
Heavy flak on most of the bomb run. Bomb hits looked good.

2 Nov. 1944         Target - Oil Refinery near Dortmund in the Ruhr
Sgt. Negus died of anoxia. Little flak.

6 Nov. 1944         Target - Canal Aqueduct at Minden
No flak. Carried 2000-pound bombs. Couldn't see hits due to undercast.

9 Nov. 1944         Target - Fortifications S.E. Metz
Friendly flak to mark bombing line. Dropped bombs in North Sea. Bomb bay doors jammed and wouldn't open.

10 Nov. 1944         Target - Airfield near Hanow, 13 mi. N.E. Frankfurt
Flak on route in and out from target. No flak at the target. Bombed on instruments.

21 Nov. 1944         Target - Oil Refinery at Harburg
Heavy flak at target and a little on the route in and out. Fortunately, no hits on our plane.