19 year old Mario Antetomasa arrived
at Rackheath 28th July 1944, assigned as waist-gunner to Crew#67, the Lt.
Carl Epting crew, 790th Bomb Squadron, and began combat operations
commencing August 13th 1944 flying regular missions until finally
completing 21st February 1945. Featured here is the Wartime Journal that
Mario faithfully compiled at the time and has been transcribed by
grandson, Matthew Antetomasa, for inclusion on this site. A fascinating
account of the trials and tribulations of flying combat missions over
occupied Europe during the autumn/winter of 1944/45.
following is written exactly how it was documented in his original
journal. Brackets will be
inserted to clarify what he recorded or to provide the artwork name of
the plane serial number he recorded.
23rd left US
July 5th arrived – Glasgow
July 5th to 12th -
July 13th to
14th - Warrington
July 14th to 28th
July 28th to Rackheath
Finished Feb 21st 1945
1st to June 8th - Muroe
June 8th to June 9th
June9th to June 16th - Hamiltion
June 16th to June 20th _
June 23rd to Embark to
1st Mission (Scared Stiff)
48-100 lbs [Bombs]
France, 1 Plane lost. Slight
Take off 10:29
2nd Mission (Felt like a B.T.O.) [Possibly Bombing
Through Overcast or Big Time Operation]
Knocked hell out of target, Junkers engines, 1 plane lost
Heavy flak our level to our side, Fighter cover 51’s & 47’s
[P-51 & P-47]
Oxygen mask froze and so did Myers.
Hydraulic fluid in tail turret leaked out.
Motor burnt out. Bailey
damn near got himself a 24. A
few scare bombs
Take off 7:13 – 2:30, 3 1/2 hours
in enemy territory. 5 hours
Alt. 22,000 ft
No battle damage. Well only 33 more
France, Mietz [Metz, France]
Air plane repair. Good hits
Take off 11:10 to 7:00. 4
½ hours on oxygen. No
flak, no fighter. Milk run.
38’s fighter cover [P-38].
Altitude 18,000 feet. Damn
low on oxygen and gas. Gregory
screwed up again. No planes
lost. Well only 32 more left.
Storage Tanks [Target] Fair
hits. Take [off] 9:47 to
2:38. 3 hours on oxygen. 1
½ hours over enemy territory. Around
20 bursts of flak off our left wing 150 to 200 yards away [at] our
level. Altitude 20,000
feet. No fighter
opposition. 38’s and
51’s [P-38 and P-51] fighter cover.
Sure glad to see them. Powell’s
first mission in nose turret. No
damage. One plane from
another squad came in our formation with #3 feathered [Idling perhaps].
Got back ok. Now
off day operation, getting training for nite [night] missions.
None of the crew like it. Keeping
all details under their hats. No
one knows just what we’re going to do.
Talk of breaking the crew up and making a 7 man crew for the nite
missions. We know we
won’t carry bomb, leaflet or supplys.
Talk of PFF (Path Finder Force).
Put us on day operation and nite.
Group stood down for 10 days or more for trucking missions to
Practice nite mission
don’t know what’s going to happen about the crew.
Rode nose turret. Flew
at 19,000 [feet], pretty cold 25 below.
Had to get out of turret, low on oxygen.
Got caught in spot lights. Impossible
to get out of them. Blinding
as the devil. G-box jammed
by jerries. Made the flight
by dead reckoning. Got back
to base to land and told we couldn’t, enemy aircraft in area.
Eventually got down a couple hours late.
on trucking mission to San [Saint] Quentin, France.
jerk thought of going in front of a board to get your rating.
Had to go in front of Maj. Holdrege, Cap. Camel and others.
on a practice mission. Flew
the width of England for nothing. Visibility
poor so no bombs were dropped. Cold
as the devil. Briefed that
it was 33 degrees. Had to
open waist windows. Start a 2 day
pass tomorrow (2nd).
Staff [Sergeant]. Supposed
to have a nite practice mission. Taxied
to runway ready to take off and batteries died.
Went back to the sack. Clarke
and I bought a radio. Sure
am glad. The Cards [Cardinals] lost 1st game but came back to win
up 3:30 for a mission to Magdeburg, Germany.
Everything went alright till we got ¾ of the way across the
channel [English Channel]. Amplifier
burnt out and Lt. Eptings oxygen regulator was broken, had to abort.
Turned back just as we hit the Dutch coast. Epting caught hell for something that couldn’t be helped.
Mission was rough. Plenty of planes shot up.
20 x 250 lb
P.F.F. [Path Finder Force] Bombing. Couldn’t see target. Marshaling
Yards. Flew over Siegfried
Line near Aachen. 7 hrs
long, 4 ½ hours on oxygen. No
planes lost. Had flak but
nothing to worry about. I
was sick as the devil. Headache
and faint sick in the stomach. 51
[P-51] escort. Think
we’re on day operation and through with the nite stuff.
Well only 30 [More missions].
Next mission and air medal.
run. Got up at 5 o’clock
and was just starting briefing and found out it was scrubbed.
on a practice mission. Jet
planes [Possibly P-80 or P-59] and 51’s [P-51].
(Köln) Cologne, Germany
7 hours long, 4 ½ hous on oxygen.
Gas 2500 [Gallons]. 16 – 250 lb. 4 x 500 lb incendiaries. 8- 10th
Cumulus couldn’t see results. Knocked
hell out of us. No planes
lost. 20 or more flak holes in our ship (Witchcraft).
Got a piece of flak in left tire.
Made a beautiful landing considering damn near turned over.
Ran off the runway. Gregory
damn near passed out from anoxia. Coming
back we went over the front lines, got flak ¼ of the way back.
1 man killed in nose turret, 1 man fell out bomb bay, 1 man
jumped. Really a rough
mission, too rough. 6th
mission air medal. Now 29
more. 51’s & 47
support. Hurt shoulder.
Just outside of Cologne.
7 hour [Mission], 2 ½ hours on oxygen.
24 – 250 lbs. Think we hit the target, not sure though.
Target was a synthetic oil plant, was visible.
No flak to speak of. Hope
I can say the same thing for the rest of the missions.
Had 51 [P-51] fighter support.
Flew over (Shelt Esqurary [Estuary]) not spelled right, some
fires there. Two day pass starts tomorrow [off base pass].
Now only 28.
Target Marshaling Yard largest in Germany.
Bombed P.F.F. [Path Finder Force]
Couldn’t see results. 2300
gals, 7 hours long, 3 hours on oxygen.
Flak was meager. 51 fighter support. Powell
damn near went out. Oxygen
mask froze. Lucky I had an extra mask with me.
Flew 171 (Prowler) [One of the planes in his Bomb Group] up for
tomorrow. Now only 27!
Think it was near a town named Minden, Germany.
Target was a canal which run over a river.
Biggest canal in Germany. It
was means of supply to the front from Berlin.
Bombed P.F.F. [Path Finder Force] was a solid under cast.
2300 gal, carried 4 – 2,000 pounders [bombs] and a radar man.
What a load. First take off I’ve really sweated out. Rough!! (080)
[Aircraft named the “Super Wolf”]
Ship was equipped with radar which [is] supposed to screw up the
flak. Wasn’t any flak to
speak of. 51 [P-51]
support. Flew over Zider Zee past Dummer Lake where fighters were
expected. There were none
thank God. Seems like the
more missions you have the more strain it is on you.
Sure would have liked to see those bombs hit.
7 hours long, 3 ½ hours on oxygen.
awaken at 5:00 AM for a mission but it was scrubbed.
Was going to Frankfurt to hit repair shops.
Would have been a rough mission.
May still go. The
flak was supposed to be entense [intense].
While waiting “Pete the Pom” was taking off and the nose
wheel gave way. Went all
the way down the runway on its nose. No one was hurt. Have
a damn nite practice mission tonight.
We’ll never get out of it…damn it!
Flew it and we may be out of it.
Target was a Marshalling Yard at Bielefeld, Germany 4/10x coverage.
Visible. From what I
observed the hits weren’t too good.
5 hour mission, 3 ½ hours on oxygen.
2300 gals (280) [Aircraft named “Little Chum”].
Pilot accidentally hit Automatic Pilot and ship nosed down.
Thought we had it at the time so I grabbed my chute.
Over target saw 10 enemy jets up at about 30,000 ft (good place
for them). They didn’t
attack. Other formations
were hit. Lost 41 bombers,
we got 171 of theirs. No
flak over target but on the way home lead navigator screwed up and took
us by Osnabrook. Had plenty
of flak but not many holes.
all the way out to the ship and it was scrubbed.
Was a rough mission. Flak
at target and enemy fighters were expected at the I.P.
Target Misburg, Germany.
Target was oil refineries at Misburg, Germany.
12 x 500lb. Couldn’t
see results. Mission was 7
hours, 4 hours on oxygen. 2500
gals. 51 [P-51] fighter
support, hundred of them. We were told we were going to see 250 enemy fighters.
We didn’t. Bombing
Alt. 23,000. One man in
tail turret died. Oxygen
mask came disconnected. Plenty
of flak, too much in fact.
Target was Karlsruhe, Germany marshalling yards.
Carried 4, 2,000 lbs. P.F.F.
Couldn’t see results. Flak
was pretty heavy but we went through it without receiving any damage.
7 hours, 3 ½ on oxygen. 2,400
gals. 22,000 ft. Karlruhe
was the secondary target. We
were supporting the ground troops.
Supposed to hit a fort near Metz but we weren’t supposed to
drop unless you could see the target because our troops were within two
miles. We had just enough
gas. We just made it back
to the base. A front came
in and we had a 8 to 9/10 coverage.
Made our approach and while banking the wind damn near turned the
ship over on its back. Had
our gears down and had to put them up cause we lost the field. After running around in a down pour we finally found it.
While coming in another fellow lost his engines.
He came down cross wind with a dead stick.
He must have had lady luck with him.
Bring a big tail bird down safely is luck.
We get a cluster for #12
Shack” Nov 10th
Target was Harburg, Germany oil refineries.
Bombing was P.F.F. 6-8/10 coverage.
Bomb hit target. Carried
12 x 500 lb. Flak was
heavy. Can’t see how it missed us.
6 hour mission, 5 ½ hours on oxygen.
Bombing Alt. 22,000 ft. 45
minutes in enemy territory. No
battle damage. 47 [P-47]
Target was the marshalling yard at Bingen, Germany.
Bombing was P.F.F. Couldn’t
see results. If I’m not
mistaken someone hit a jerry hospital.
Knocked hell out of it. Carried
10 x 500 lb and 2 M-17’s [Incendiary bombs].
Flak was meager. As
far as we were concerned we couldn’t stay with the formation cause our
#4 engine was practically no good.
Went over on 3 engines and came back with same.
(534 “Witch”) [Witchcraft]
We flew by ourselves. 6
hour mission, 4 ½ hours on oxygen.
8:35 to 3:15. One plane was shot up and had to land in Fr. Or Bel. [France
or Belgium] They had
wounded aboard. Joe
Kerchner was flying with that [crew].
Don’t know whether he got hit or not.
Had a hell of a time getting down.
Weather closed in with a ceiling of 1,000 ft.
Landed with 3 engines. Lost
#4 on our approach. Started
to burn. Assembly was rough. We
had dense contrails. Isn’t
a wonder we didn’t hit someone. Joe
got back ok. Left waist
gunner got a piece of flak in [his] head.
Target for today was the marshalling yards at Offenburg, Germany.
Bombing was visual. As
far as I could make out we hit it pretty good.
Carried 10 x 500 lb and 2 M-17’s.
8 hour mission, 5 hours on oxygen.
Engines threw a lot of oil.
Couldn’t keep up with formation.
Flak was very meager. Carried
2,600 gals. 51’s [P-51]
Target was marshalling yards at Biefield, Germany.
P.F.F. 8 x 1,000 lb. 5 ½ [hours] long, 3 ½ hours [on oxygen]. 3273*.
51’s [fighter support]. No
flak. 2,500 gals, Alt.
*Note: He discernibly
wrote 3273, however he appears to have crossed out the first 3.
273 was the last three digits of the serial number of a ship that
had no name given to it. The
ship 273 was the first heavy bomber to land on the European continent
after D-Day. She was force
landed on an allied fighter strip in France on June 12th,
3:30 AM [Take off]
Marshalling yards at Bingen, Germany.
Carried 44 x 100lb and 2 M-17.
P.F.F. 5 ¾ [hours]
long, 4 ½ hours on oxygen. No
flak to speak of. Coldest
day yet, -46 Degrees to -50*. Largest
fighter support. 23,000 Alt.
I believe he was estimating with wind chill while in flight
Number 572 was a ship without a name that only 19 days later (Dec 29th)
crashed and was destroyed on take off.
Marshalling yards at Hanau, Germany.
7 hour [flight], 3 ½ hours on oxygen.
North of Frankford. 6
x 1000lb. 2,700 gallons
topped off. P.F.F.
Sent up 47 ships. Most ships sent up by this group. 962 [Aircraft named “Flak Magnet II”]. Couple of bursts of flak. Supposed
to fly over Paris but the coverage was 10/10th.
Marshalling yards at Hanau, Germany.
Carried 12 x 500lb. Bombing
was visual, we hit the target good.
2,500 gals. Saw two
chutes. A ship from another group was hit by flak.
Coming back over the channel we got lost.
Clouds were thick. Ceiling
at the field was zero. Couldn’t
see a thing. Finally found
the field. Coming in for
the landing our left wing dipped and came about 2 feet from [the]
runway. When we stopped I could have kissed the ground.
Little flak. Not much damage.
eight days we got up but [the] missions were scrubbed while we were at
the ship. Even flew a mission but it was recalled when we got in
Neunkirchen, Germany marshalling yards.
Bomb load 20 x 250lb and 2 M-17.
962 [“Flak Magnet II”].
No flak. Fighter
support P-51. 6 hours and
15 minutes long.
Neunkirchen, Germany. 962
[“Flak Magnet II”]
Rail bridge. 2 x 500 and 8 Nickel. 7
hours 20 minutes long.
Rail bridge at Colbenz, Germany [Mission logs state that they were
bombing Engers, Germany]. 4 x 2,000lb. 5
hours and 15 minutes long. Landed
at B-58 Brussels. Stayed at
Brussels for New Years eve. Had
a damn nice time. Me,
Bailey and Fudge picked up 3 women right out from under 3 Limeys noses.
The girls showed us a very good time.
When our plane was fixed we were ready to take off when Jerry
came and strafed the field. We
just got out of the plane in time.
They did a good job. Wrecked
almost every ship on the field.
Zwiebrucken, Germany marshalling yard.
More flak! 20 x
250lb & 2 M-17. 6 hours
long. 171 [Aircraft named
Cochem, Germany rail bridge. 5
hours on oxygen. Plenty
cold. 10 x 500lb.
2,700 [Gallons] top off. Pre-dawn
take off. Flak.
224 [Aircraft named “Lonely Heart”]
Rough!!! 8 hours
Rastatt, Germany. Factory. Weather
was very bad for flying. 20
x 250lb and 2 M-17. 23,000
feet. Almost took fence
with us on takeoff. 7 hours
[long]. Very cold. Almost
had it. Plenty [of] flak.
27[00 gallons] top off. Marshalling
yard. Support the Russian offensive.
9 hours 20 minutes toured Germany.
Was diverted to Scotland.
Hit center of city terror raid. Women,
children and churches. Recalled
15 minutes before I.P. (Thank God) [Initial Point].
Jettison bomb in North Sea, landed in North England.
10 x 500lb. 2,700
Magdeburg, Germany. Marshalling
yards. Arised [arose] at 3:00AM.
10 x 500lb. 2,700
gallons topped off. Good
weather. Flak pretty heavy. Got a few holes, one right next to #4 engine.
7 hours long. Hole very close to me to!!!
Magdeburg, [Germany] oil plant. Hit
prop wash and damn near turned over on our back.
Same bomb load. 24,000ft.
7 ½ hours long. Flak
heavy. Pre-dawn take off
and assembly. Plenty holes.
Magdeburg, [Germany] oil plant. 4
x 1,000lb & 2 M-17. 27
[hundred gallons] topped off. Co-Pilot
damn near had it when a piece of flak just whizzed past his head.
Magdeburg, Germany oil plant. 6
x 500lb. Target as usually.
Meschede, Germany marshalling yard.
7 Hours long. 2,500 [gallons]. Flak
Harem, Germany [Mission records state Nurnberg, Germany] marshalling
yards. 8 hour mission.
552 [Aircraft that had not been given a name].
22,500 Altitude. 10
x 500lb. More flak.
Did 2 360’s over target, that’s no place to do that.
Group was hit by a few Jerry’s.
Didn’t hurt us.