Mission #20 - Abbeville-Poix
August 16, 1943
On this day the group went off to beard the lion in his own den. Every American airman in the ETO knew of the famous "Abbeville Kids." Their legend had been transmitted to us by the RAF. These Luftwaffe units, primarily JG-2 and JG-26, called "kids" by the Allies, were in fact manned by seasoned veterans. Squadrons from these units had been based in Holland and Northern France for most of the war after having been bloodied either in Spain or in Poland. By this date most of their leaders had earned Knights' Crosses. These German pilots were much older, much more experienced. There was no more frightening sight than an FW-190 pilot barreling through a formation of Forts. He was always skilled enough to expose his armor-clad belly to your guns. It was his way of thumbing his nose. So it was with a sense of revenge that the 4BW attacked these two major airfields. A fine escort of Spitfires discouraged enemy fighter activity. But the flak damage was very heavy. In fact, 21 of the group's Fortresses received damage to varying degrees. A/C 42-30123, the 413th's Big Dick, had to make an emergency landing at a British salvage depot. It had severe flak damage and one engine on fire. The crew was safe and Big Dick was repaired.