Flew from October 1944 to 24 March 1945. Shot up, landed outside Brussels New Year's Day 1945. Lead crew armament crew. Bombed Berlin 3 times -- Maynaburg [sic] and other large targets. Wounded on low level mission Wesel 24 March 1945.
Ended my missions at 23.
Raymond Tate was working in a service station in Gulfport Mississippi when he became eligible for service. He took and passed the written exam for the Aviation Cadet Program but failed the medical. Eventually - aged just 19 - he joined the Air Corps on 19th June 1943 and was sent to Camp Shelby for basic training. Selected to become a radio operator he went on to Sioux Falls South Dakota where he learnt the basics of radio communication. In the severe winter of 1943/44 he contracted pneumonia and spent some time in the base hospital but otherwise seems to have enjoyed the 'high jinks' at radio school. In complete contrast the following summer he was sent to be checked out as a gunner in the heat of the Arizona desert learning to fire 50 calibre machine-guns at towed targets. The next stage was, briefly, to Lincoln Nebraska where he was promoted Corporal and crewed up. Interestingly the crew later voted off their unpopular bombardier and never did get a permanent replacement.
In October 1944 they crossed the Atlantic on a troopship sleeping in 'canvas hammocks stacked four high', all the men being very seasick for the first few days. Their eventual destination the 446th BG at Flixton, Bungay. The Quonset huts, each on of which housed 30 to 40 men, had only one charcoal burning stove, most of the tie they kept their flying suits on to keep warm. Training was ongoing, Tate's pilot Captain Paul Armentrout, their B-24 'Hot Shot Charlie'.
During the Battle of the Bulge The group flew seven missions in as many days. On one of them, when Tate was rostered with a different crew, two 500lb bombs became hung up in he bomb bay. The pilot ordered him to cut them loose with an axe; the bomb bay doors were wide open and flak bursting just beneath him - a frightening experience.
Following the fifteenth mission the crew were sent for a week's R&R to a beautiful old castle where they were 'spoiled to death'. Tate also describes the actions of men celebrating the end of their tours; one night he was trying to get some sleep when a huge fireball came through the door. A drunken flier, his missions completed, had fired a flare gun into the hut. Such antics he says were the reason that crews were being sent home pretty quickly once the tour was finished.
AM w/ 3 OLC/ EAME w/ 4 stars/ PH
Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 446th Bomb Group
44-45. 30 missions ETO 8th AF. Last 13 as lead crew -- lead 8th AF on Wesel low-level supply drop 24 March 1945. Return to States as a captain after VE Day. Assigned to reserve, discharged 7 February 1980 as LieutenantC.
Units served with
The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...
446 BG, 704 BS, 42-95126 , "Hot Shot Charlie" crash landed Jul 31, 1944 after mission to Ludwigshaven, Germany.
||28 April 1924
||10 April 2014
||Mount Airy, Maryland