Mission #24 - September 7, 1943

             Watten, France

For the second time the 96th attacked one of those strange targets just inside the coast of France which was covered by mystery rather than cloud.  It was described in weird euphemistic terms during the briefing.  What the hell, crewmen were wondering, was "an aeronautical facilities station"?  It was a launching pad for one of Hitler's forthcoming "Vengeance Weapons"!  This was one of the first of the famous CROSSBOW missions.  Most aircraft this day were weighted down with huge two ton bombs.  The weather was clear and the flak was well concentrated.  Bombardier Frank Wiswall's log describes this strange target thus: "Type of target unknown -- just a large concrete block on the coast of France."

Wiswall's pilot, Lt. Eldridge Shelton, had a near miss over Watten when a hunk of flak whizzed into the cockpit just above his head.

Sergeant Laky watched playful Spitfires from his waist window today.  Their demonstration seemed to provide momentary relief in skies that usually smbolized death.

"Escorts of Spitfires above us," Laky wrote that night, "make big Vs with their vapor trails.  Frisky friends.  Several play tic-tac-toe."