Library Shelf Seven

Waist Gunner Mario Antetomasa's War Journal

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.

The 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.

June 23rd left US
July 5th arrived – Glasgow
July 5th to 12th - Stone

July 13th to 14th - Warrington
July 14th to 28th - Belfast
July 28th to  Rackheath
Finished Feb 21st 1945


April 1st to June 8th - Muroe
June 8th to June 9th - Hamiltion
June9th to June 16th - Hamiltion
June 16th to June 20th _  Kilmer
June 23rd to Embark to


1944 Aug 13th
1st Mission
(Scared Stiff)

2300 Gals
48-100 lbs [Bombs]
France, 1 Plane lost.  Slight battle damage
Take off 10:29

Aug 16th
2nd Mission
(Felt like a B.T.O.) [Possibly Bombing Through Overcast or Big Time Operation]

2300 Gals
12-500 lb
Germany, Magdeburg

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 on oxygen.
Alt. 22,000 ft
No battle damage.  Well only 33 more 

Aug 18th
3rd Mission

2500 [Gallons]
12-500 lb
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. 

Aug 26th
4th Mission

2300 [Gallons]
Dulmen, Germany
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 only 31. 

Took 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 France. 

Sept 26th
Practice nite mission

Still 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. 

Sept 28th

Went on trucking mission to San [Saint] Quentin, France.  Carried Gas. 

Sept 29th

Some 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. 

Oct 1st

Went 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). 

Oct 5th

Made 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 the second. 

Oct 7th

Got 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. 

Oct 9th
5th Mission

2500 Gal.
20 x 250 lb
Coblenz, Germany
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.

Oct 10th

Dry run.  Got up at 5 o’clock and was just starting briefing and found out it was scrubbed. 

Oct 11th

Went on a practice mission.  Jet planes [Possibly P-80 or P-59] and 51’s [P-51]. 

Oct 14th
6th Mission

(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. 

Oct 15th
7th Mission

Manheim, Germany
Just outside of Cologne.
2300 gals
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. 

Oct 22nd
8th Mission

Hamm, Germany
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! 

Oct 26th
9th Mission

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.  26 more!!

Oct 27th

Was 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. 

Nov 2nd
10th Mission

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. 

Nov 3rd

Got 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. 

Nov 4th
11th Mission

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. 

Nov 5th
12th Mission

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 

“Flack Shack” Nov 10th 

Nov 21st
13th Mission

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] fighter support.

Nov 25th
14th Mission

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. 

Nov 27th
15th Mission

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] for support. 

Nov 29th
16th Mission

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. 24000ft.

 *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, 1944. 

Dec 10th
17th Mission

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.  572** 

*Note: I believe he was estimating with wind chill while in flight

**Note: Number 572 was a ship without a name that only 19 days later (Dec 29th) crashed and was destroyed on take off. 

Dec 11th
18th Mission

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

Dec 12th
19th Mission

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. 

Next 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 Belgium. 

Dec 27th
20th Mission

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. 

Dec 28th
21st Mission

Neunkirchen, Germany.  962 [“Flak Magnet II”] 

Dec 30th
22nd Mission

Neuwied, Germany
Rail bridge.  2 x 500 and 8 Nickel.  7 hours 20 minutes long. 

Dec 31st
23rd Mission

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. 

Jan 3rd
24th Mission

Zwiebrucken, Germany marshalling yard.  More flak!  20 x 250lb & 2 M-17.  6 hours long.  171 [Aircraft named “Prowler”] 

Jan 5th
25th Mission

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 long.

Jan 7th
26th Mission

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. 

Jan 16th
27th Mission

Dresden, Germany
27[00 gallons] top off.  Marshalling yard.  Support the Russian offensive.  9 hours 20 minutes toured Germany.  Was diverted to Scotland. 

Jan 31st
28th Mission

Berlin, Germany
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 top [off]. 

Feb 3rd
29th Mission

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!!!

Feb 9th
30th Mission

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. 

Feb 14th
31st Mission

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.

Feb 15th
32nd Mission

Magdeburg, Germany oil plant.  6 x 500lb. Target as usually. 

Feb 19th
33rd Mission

Meschede, Germany marshalling yard.  7 Hours long.  2,500 [gallons].  Flak heavy.  Holes.

Feb 21st
34th Mission

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.