Dailies of the 401st Squadron
Transcribed by Merle Choffel
Prepared by Capt. F. G. Davison
16 May 1942 - 401st Bomb Squadron (H) AAF Activated at MacDill Field, Tampa,
Florida under Special Order # 1 91st Bombardment Group (H). Capt. Edward P.
Myers was named Commanding Officer.
31 May 1942 - Usual excitement of getting acquainted and finding out their
special duties with some flying by the pilots - most of them being checked out
on B-17’s. Nice base - good food - nice surroundings, war at its best, here’s
hoping the rest of it will be half as nice. By this date 278 personnel have
been assigned to the 401st Bomb Squadron.
21 June 1942 - During June at MacDill Field the Squadron was under a strict
OTC for Combat Crews and Maintenance Crews. Making for a general shakedown
assignment to crews, Maintenance started on a 24 hour basis, the crews working on
an airplane until it was completely finished and ready to fly. The pilots were
checked out on the airplane participated in local transition flights made
practice takeoffs and landing and went on frequent cross-country flights. Some
submarine patrols were made out into the gulf.
22 June 1942 - Squadron transferred to Walla Walla Army Air Base, Walla Walla,
Washington. Life starts at Walla Walla, Washington. It’s a nice little town
with many beautiful residential sections. As quarters were not finished all
officers secured their own billets off the post, and were extremely fortunate
to find rooms with the better families of the town. The Enlisted Men were
housed in new barracks - were moved around quite a bit but finally settled down to
a regular round of activity. Squadron’s maintained their own mess halls and
how those boys were fed. We officers ate most of our meals with them and raised
quite a howl when we were forced to eat at the Officer’s Mess when it was
completed the latter part of our stay there. A few Beer Busts were had and
appreciated by all those present and missed by those who stayed away. The outstanding thing about any bust of course is the customary soft ball game between the officers and the enlisted men. Both games ended in the officers coming out on
top the victors. Inter-department volleyball -softball - basketball games and a
few softball games with other nearby fields helped to round the men into fine
condition - this in addition to regular morning drill and calisthenics. Ground
school continued for Combat Crews on aircraft recognition - gunnery - radio
procedure and maintenance, oxygen, its use etc. and such allied subjects which
were found to be of service to them in their chosen work. Pilots continued in
their work of becoming acquainted with their airplanes flying them both day
and night. No cross-countries were flown early in the training schedule as only
one navigator was then assigned to the squadron. The Bombardiers too came late
in the training period and not many practice bombs were dropped due to lack
of airplanes. The classes were opened up to include these late arrivals and
Navigation classes were held regularly and the Bombardiers were in the Bomb
Trainer quite a bit. The gunners received only low altitude practice of ground
targets with no high altitude air-to-air gunnery. Squadron continued to receive
and get rid of personnel with specialists reporting for duty from all the
30 June 1942 - By the end of June another 71 personnel had been assigned.
6 July 1942 - Eight Bombardiers are assigned to the Squadron.
20 July 1942 - Four Navigators are assigned to the Squadron.
31 July 1942 - By the end of July 98 additional personnel have been assigned
to the Squadron.
1 August 1942 - The Squadron is transferred from Walla Walla Army Airfield,
Walla Walla, Washington to Baker Field, Redmond, Oregon for training per VOCO
91st Bomb Group (H) Temporary. This started fourteen days of new experiences.
The Squadron furnished all personnel for an air base and all personnel were
quartered in a CCC camp. Pretty setting with buildings all around two nice parade
grounds. Camp complete in all details even with laundry which was run by some
of the men who grew tired of waiting on the overtaxed facilities of the local
laundry at Redmond. The first night was taken up by establishing guard
details and posts, not much sleep for the C.O. and the Intelligence Officer. Every
one around seemed war conscious and wanted us to furnish a guard detail for the
town’s water supply piped in from a mountain stream - this would have been a
fine detail for some of the men for there was good fishing there - however no
personnel could be spared. We did however supply guards for the Gasoline Tanks
in the town from which we drew our supply for the planes. The townspeople
greeted us with open arms and Capt's. Myers and Davison attended two meetings of
the Town Fathers- the ladies Auxiliary put on a dance for the men and brought
girls from all around. We, of course supplying the transportation and
incidentally the music for we were able to borrow instruments for our talented crew
from the High School Band. This band of ours also participated in a bond rally at
Bend, Oregon and succeeded in selling quite a few bonds and were quite the
attraction at a special dance held thereafter for the bond buyers. The Mayor and
his council were constant visitors at the base and the Squadron played host
to them at a grand and glorious Beer Bust at which they were the honored guests
and all concerned learned many new and glowing ditties before the evening was
over. It can honestly be said that the 401st was one of the best goodwill
offerings ever made by the Army to the Civilian Population for the Squadron
worked hard, played hard and at all times had the respect of the entire community.
Ground School schedules were strenuous covering all subjects in
Intelligence - Navigation - Bombing - Gunnery - Radio - code both blinker and radio
together with a lot of day and night flying with practice missions planned in
cooperation with Operations and Intelligence. Few planes were available - two
were cracked up on landing - no one seriously hurt but the field was condemned
and our trip was cut short. Communications put in the teletype to keep us in
constant touch with Group Headquarters and field phones connected all guard
posts with the Guard room. Much time was given over to drilling and exercise with
formal guard mounts staged each day. The Squadron profited by this trip away
from the Group for it proved it could operate as a separate unit and the
morale was very high. Mutual respect was the key word.
2 August 1942 through 6 August - Usual AB activities.
14 August 1942 - Squadron moved back to Walla Walla, Washington - movement
made with incident.
23 August 1942 - The best of friends must part for a while - Air echelon
departs for its staging duties and to get those new airplanes we’ve been promised;
See you later boys!!!
24 August - Off we go to an unknown destination - Squadron entrained for
24 August 1942 through 18 August 1942 - Enroute to unknown destination by
train - good time was had by all good food lots of fun Morale wonderful. Air
Echelon goes by Air Ferry to Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho from Walla Walla.
26 August 1942 - 2nd Lts. Brown, Green, Freihofer and Frank assigned and
joined Squadron. 2nd Lts. Benny, Traeger, Moeller and Vanderslice transferred out
27 October 1942 - Most of Air Echelon left by train to report to unknown
destination leaving behind the following: Capt's. Myers and Lasselle, 1st Lts.
Bernhart, Bloodgood, Carroll, Eanes, English, Harris, Hosman, Larsen, McLean,
Swais, and O’Neill, 2nd Lts. Allen, Adams, Bamber, Brunn, Buck, Cain, Carmichael,
Conner, Schwendiman, Brown, Freihofer, and Frank, T/S Quarles, S/S Bacon,
Burti, Goldstein, Haynes, Thompson, Sgt's. Gilroy, Cottrell, Lee, Taylor, Zeeck,
Cpl's. Buchanan, Steel and Tyler.
29 August 1942 - Ground echelon arrives at Fort Dix Staging Area at 4:00 AM.
Little do we know what confronts us. We are introduced to our quarters - look
as if all dirt for the past century was picked up and dumped into the barracks
for the EM and the Officers were quartered in a former guard house - dirt
everywhere - Everyone busy all day cleaning up the mess checking up on what was
expected of us getting equipment making up endless rosters answering roll call
after roll call. The poor cooks and KPs worked all through the night to get
the cook house clean enough to cook in - and the mess hall respectable enough
to feed American troops in.
30 August 1942 through 31 August 1942 - Staging area duties.
1 September 1942 - More staging area duties at Fort Dix. First trainload of
Air Echelon arrives Bangor, Maine at 2015 Hours.
2 September 1942 - Air Echelon left behind at Walla Walla, Washington on
August 27 arrives at Bangor, Maine.
3 September 1942 through 9 September 1942 - Air Echelon performs usual
activities in connection with becoming acquainted with the new planes and getting
4 September 1942 - Entrained from Fort Dix for New York point of embarkation
arrived at 1930 hours. Put on the Queen Mary. The EM went half into state
rooms on “B” deck and half on the Sun Deck and we were quite surprised to find
that they were to sleep on deck turn about. Everyone issued “Chow Passes.”
Every thing was secret about our arrival on board the ship and once on board you
could not get off.
5 September 1942 - Embarked for unknown destination from New York Point of
Embarkation 1500 hours on HMS Queen Mary destination unknown but the bets were
down on landing in England. Our first lesson in security - left port in broad
day light with all hands on deck waving goodbye and every whistle blowing to
call attention to the fact that a slightly overcrowded transport was leaving the
safety of the port to put to sea.
6 September 1942 through 10 September 1942 - At sea on HMS Queen Mary. Our
first introduction to British wartime food - - - Rifles issued to EM each nicely
covered with cosmoline and a very acute shortage of wiping cloths. Nice
smoothe crossing no alerts and only two days of poor weather.
9 September 1942 - 1st Lt. Joseph (NMI) Bernhart, died in Morristown, New
Jersey Hospital as result of airplane accident at Morristown, New Jersey.
11 September 1942 - Arrived at Gourick, Scotland at 1300 hours, stayed on
board until next morning. My Scotland looks pretty the little town looks like a
cardboard town under a Christmas tree.
12 September 1942 - Disembarked at Gourick, Scotland 0930 hours. Entrained
1130 hours enroute to unknown destination. Heading South and East fed about four
times enroute by the canteen workers tea and English meat pies. 1st Lt. Earl
F. Riley assigned and joined air echelon.
13 September 1942 - Arrived at Airbase at Kimbolton, England at 0200 hours.
First taste of powdered eggs very good then. Advance party had made everything
ready for us our quarters were comfortable - what a long walk from the mess
hall to our huts.
13 September through 6 October 1942 - With Air Echelon at Bangor, Maine
-Usual activities in getting other new planes, equipment and instructions for trip
across to join Ground Echelon - this of course includes the job of flying the
Atlantic Ocean with some of the Navigators using it as their first real
cross-country hop. All but Capt Lasselle made it OK. The men lost in his accident
will be found in regular log.
14 September 1942 - Slept late - had a look at the camp - our introduction to
a dispersed airdrome. Easy day to allow everyone to rest up from the long
stretch of traveling.
15 September 1942 through 30 September 1942 - Usual Airbase activities - plus
ground school for all personnel - gas courses - radio courses - lots of foot
soldiering, manual of arms and general duties area guarded at night - usual
growing pains when four organizations are called upon to act a single group unit
- most of it straightened out without and harm except a few hurt egos by
those who did not get that particular job. It was learned on September 14 1942
that Captain Joseph Bernhart died as the result of a plane crash near
Morristown, New Jersey.
1 October 1942 through 2 October 1942 - Usual Airbase activities.
3 October 1942 - It was learned that Capt. Dale Lasselle’s plane crashed
enroute from Gander to Prestwick, Scotland killing all but two of those aboard.
Capt. George C. Wassell, Medical Officer, 1st Lt. R. N. Allen, Navigator, !!st
Lt. Lenord l. Koebel, Bombardier, Sgt R. J. Vaughn, Cpl John n. Gibson, and Pvt
Justin C. Hamblin were killed. Injured were Cpl. Leon R. Harrison and PFC
Korman E. Wickes. This A/C crashed about noon October 3, 1942 while flying
through fog near Cusherdall, North Ireland.
4 October 1942 through 5 October 1942 - Usual Airbase activities.
6 October 1942 - The first planes of the Air Echelon arrived at Kimbolton
bringing with them Major E. P. Myers, 1st Lts. Eanes, Hosman, O’Neill, Larsen,
Bloodgood, English, Carroll, 2nd Lts. Adams, Anderson, Arnkil, Barr, Brown, M. E., Brown, R. R., Buck, Bush, Cain, Carper, Connor, Corson, Frank, Freihofer, Mendel, Smith and Tabor, T/S Quarles, Simmons, S/S Thompson, NL, Goldstein, Haynes, Bacon, Sgts. Cottrell, Zeeck, Otto, Byrdic, Dalterio, Damron, Taylor, Cpls. Kinf, Steele, Tyler, Sumpter, Howard, Lancaster, Ade, PFC. Zeglen, Bagwell, Borostowski, Hennessey, Tomek, Ferris, Pvts. Smith, Youell, Gearhart, Slominski, Stefula and Davis. They sure looked good to us and were welcomed by the ground crews. Such loving care no new planes ever received as was lavished on them by their respective crews - new life in the squadron Also arriving by air 2nd Lt R. S. Brunn.
7 October 1942 through 10 October 1942 - Usual Airbase activities.
Lots of fun breaking the air echelon in on British customs and expressions.
They went thru a series of indoctrination lectures. Ground school went on full
blast for every branch of the squadron.
11 October 1942 - 1st Lt. Swais brought in his plane with 2nd Lt Bamber,
Carmichael, Green, S/S Burti, Sgts. Gilroy Velasquez, Cpl Buchanan, PFC. Gauze,
Pvt. Fisher aboard.
13 October 1942 - Our first replacement crew: 2nd Lts. Beasley, Deidering,
Dreisbach, Chubb, S/S Schaeffer, Rupert, Sgts. Franklin, Sams, Cadle, Schippang
assigned and joined Squadron.
14 October 1942 - The organization moved from Kimbolton to Bassingbourn
with the 91st Bomb Group. The move was made by truck convoy over a distance of 30
miles and time of arrival was 1830 hours. The Air Echelon brought over the
15 October 1942 - Major Myers relieved of command and made Operations Officer
of the 91st Bomb Group and Capt. Aycock assigned and joined as C.O. per VOCO
91st Bomb Group. 1st Lts. Riley, Harris and 2nd Lts. Schwendiman and
Ashinhurst, T/S Kirk, S/S Dobson, Sgt Lee, Cpls. Snyder and Ward arrived with the last
of the new planes.
17 October 1942 - Capt. Felton transferred from Squadron.
21 October 1942 - 1st Lt. Brecht transferred from Squadron
24 October 1942 - Seven planes took off led by Capt. Aycock with 1st Lts.
Bloodgood, Eanes, Corson, Carroll, English and Swais. Thirty bombs were dropped
in this high altitude practice mission.
31 October 1942 - Five planes piloted by Capt. Aycock, 1st Lts. Eanes,
Corson, English, and Riley took off and fired 8,500 rounds on a practice gunnery
mission. Capt Walker transferred in from 324th Bomb Squadron.
1 November 1942 - PERSONAL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: One hour on blinker
for combat Officers. FLYING: One aircraft on local flight for 1.15 hours to
check off radio operators.
2 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES; None. GROUND SCHOOL: Navigators one hour
on communications code. FLYING:
3 Aircraft flown on local transition. Total logged 4.3 hours.
3 November 1942 - Pvt Williford sick in hospital dropped from organization,
transferred to 2nd General Hospital. GROUND SCHOOL:
Combat Officers - one hour on photo Interpretation. All combat personnel -
One hour on Security. FLYING: None.
4 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: None. FLYING: None.
5 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: All combat Officers
one hour in Photo Interpretation.
6 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: None. FLYING: 3
aircraft flew local formation logging total time of six hours.
7 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: All personnel one
hour Chemical Warfare. FLYING: One aircraft flew local transition logging 2.3
hours. One aircraft flew night transition. What running around and excitement -
The Group’s first mission target Brest was on for today - 401st not required
to supply any aircraft.
8 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: None. TOO MUCH
EXCITEMENT AROUND FOR THE SQUADRON GOES ON ITS FIRST MISSION. TARGET ABBEVILLE,
FRANCE. SQUADRON SUPPLIED FIVE AIRCRAFT.
A/C# TOT ALT AT TARGET BOMBS ON TARGET
452 1201 21,000 ft 10x500
431 1201 21,000 ft 10x500
459 1200 21,000 ft 10x500
449 1159 21,000 ft 10x500
The Squadron supplied 5 of the 12 aircraft furnished by the Group. A/C #484
piloted by Lt J. W. Carroll did not go over enemy territory as it was forced
to return early due to failure of #2 engine. Due to the failure of Lt. Col.
Lawrence’s aircraft to get to the target Capt. Aycock led the raid which was
fairly successful. Heavy flak in a moderate amount was encountered in the target
area. About 20 enemy aircraft hit the formation which by then had been reduced
to seven aircraft. The opposition was rugged and counted for the first
casualty for the Squadron as Capt Aycock was struck in the left leg by a 30 Cal.
CLAIMS: A/C #459 Youell FW 190 Probable
A/C #459 Bagwell ME 109 Probable
FOLLOWING CREWS CREDITED WITH SORTIES:
A/C #452 Lts. English, Mendell, T. Brown, Barr, E/M Haynes, Slominski,
Tyler, Tomek, Stefula, Carter.
A/C #431 Capt's. Aycock, Eanes, Lts. Brunn, Buck, E/M Quarles, Smith,
Thompson, Zeglin, Bagwell, Stewart.
A/C #459 Capt. O. D. O’Neill, Lts. Freihofer, Adams, Bush, E/M Goldstein,
Cottrell, Borostowski, Yuell, Snyder.
A/C #449 Lts. Bloodgood Beasley, Dreisbach, Anderson, Chubb, E/M Shaefer,
Steele, Schipping, Cadel.
9 November 1942 - PERSONNEL CHANGES: None. GROUND SCHOOL: None.
FLYING: Mission to St. Nazaire, France
The Squadron supplied 2 of 14 (13 over target) aircraft furnished by the
Group. Both aircraft went over the target and successfully bombed the pin point
objective. Aircraft #447 piloted by Lt Swais with Col. Wray led the Group and
was the first over the target the flak at the target was the heaviest
experienced by the Group to date but in spite of this no aircraft were lost although
several crewmembers were seriously injured, and one Bombardier was killed. S/S
Herbert E. Fisher of A/C #447 was unfortunate enough to have the lower part of
his right ear shot off. This raid was commonly called the suicide raid as it
was at low altitude instead of high altitude and subjected the Group to both
light and heavy flak. The aircraft just pushed through one barrage after
another and everyone feels that the Group was fortunate to come through with its
The reports of returning crews were glowing with reference to bombing
results as the locks were reported blown up. The PRU photos, however disproved
these reports proving that 1,000 pound bombs were not quite heavy enough to put
the lock gates out of commission. Heavy flak on the bombing run was also a
good deterrent and sighting may have been a bit erratic. No enemy aircraft were
encountered on this trip.
A/C # TOT ALT AT TARGET BOMBS ON TARGET
447 1407 9,800 ft 5x1,000
432 1407 9,800 ft 5x1,000
CREWS CREDITED WITH SORTIES:
A/C #447 Lt. J. F. Swais, Col. S. T. Wray, Capt. R. W. Heaman, Lt. W. E.
Hubbard, Lt. J. W. Mc Partlin (spare CP), T /S E. B. Buchanan, S/Sgt's. W. E.
Gilroy, D. Velasquez, E. Gauze, H. E. Fisher, Cpl. R. A. DeBarbrie.
A/C #432 Lts. D. W. Corson, B. W. Brown, M. B. Connor, B. W. Cain,
E. R. Bush (extra Bombardier), T/SM. G. Bacon, S/Sgt's. T. F. Grimes, J. M.
Franklin, R. L. Ferris, S. S. Palterio, Cpl J. M. Barbour.
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