Mission #9 - June 22, 1943
A change from the usual naval installations was welcomed. The target today was just as important, the synthetic rubber plant at Huls. The group, led by Major William Ready, put up one of its largest formations. Thirty A/C took off but only 24 bombed the target. Today, incidentally, was the first mission for our neighbors at Thorpe Abbots. The 100th BG -- soon to be known as "The Bloody Hundredth." (This was, by the way, a very undeserved and unfair nomme de guerre.) The 100th BG flew with the 303rd and the 379th in a composite group on a diversionary raid. That diversion, however, was dispatched too late to confuse the enemy. Also flying their first mission today were the 381st and 384th Bomb Groups. The Mighty 8th was gaining strength rapidly.
One hundred and twenty 1000 pound bombs were dropped with good results. Heavy flak was encountered on the run to the target which resulted in the loss of two aircraft: 42-5877 with Lt. H.C. Russell's crew from the 337th and 42-3284 with Lt. Cyril Morrison's crew from the 413th.
Wounded today was Captain Francis Madsen's navigator, Lt. Danny Crist. As Madsen's plane 42-29761, Lucky Lady, approached the target but was still halfway over the Zuider Zee, Crist was hit in the leg and his co-pilot was hit in the butt -- a .50 caliber went through both cheeks rendering the co-pilot, Lt. George Beckhelm, unconscious.
"I was hit by parts of an exploding oxygen bottle," Crist explains. "One piece, the size of a half-dollar, went in the calf, passed between the two bones and stopped at the knee bone. The piece scraped both bones but broke neither. I was not in pain -- because of shock, I guess."
Crist spent a month in the hospital and while there enjoyed a visit by Bob Hope and Frances Langford. Crist would not be returned to combat until August 19. By that time his original crew were further split by the fortunes of war. But some, like Madsen, would soon finish up. When Danny Crist did fly against the Germans again, he would do so with distinction meriting four Distinguished Flying Crosses before being shot down and captured on -- of all things -- his 25th mission!
On this date Sergeant Bob Woods got a 24 hour pass to Norwich where he bought a bike for 7 pounds.
On the 23rd the Group was recalled just short of the French coast.