401st Bomb Group, Mission No. 209, 16 Feb 1945, Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
The Group was briefed at 0700 hours. Aircraft loading was twelve 500 pound G.P.'s and 2,500 gallons of gas. Assembly was at Kingscliffe Buncher at 10,000 feet.
All operational aircraft were airborne by 1054 hours, but the airfield was closed shortly thereafter by low visibility (ceiling 400 feet, visibility 1,000 yards). One ship forced to abort and one spare returning early were diverted to Ridgewell.
Upon returning from the mission, a number of ships were forced to land at other bases because of battle damage, poor visiblity at Deenthorpe or both. The pilot of one ship reported that he could only fly straight and level, could not find a hole in the clouds and was therefore putting the ship on autopilot and bailing the crew out over England. It was reported at 1845 hours that the ship had crashed near Bardney, Lincolnshire, but that the crew of ten had all bailed out safely.
On the following day (17 February) the Flying Control log noted that at 1515 hours all aircraft from yesterday's mission have returned except:
IY-M (371) Capt. Lozinski M.I.A.
IN-N (862) Lt. Baker at Honeyborne, No. 1 engine out.
IN-C (187) Lt. Donaldson M.I.A.
IY-A (860) Lt. Hanson M.I.A.
IY-O (779) Lt. McKay, crashed in U.K.
IY-F (664) Lt. Jordan, at Catfoss
IY-G (983) Lt. Cracraft, at Lissett, Nos. 1 and 2 engines out.
IW-C (833) Lt. Brown at Honeybourne, No 2 engine out.
The 401st provided the three squadrons comprising the 94th Combat Wing "B" Group. Bombing was conducted by a combination of PFF (radar), Gee-H (radio beams)and visual when the lead bombardier saw a checkpoint through the heavy haze and contrails. While all three squadrons missed the target MPI, two of the three placed their bombs into an oil plant just short of the assigned target.
While no enemy aircraft were encountered, the Group flew through intense and accurate flak at the target. As a result, three 401st aircraft were downed over the Continent and a fourth was abandoned over England upon its return. The four were as follows:
The ship piloted by Catain S. J. Lozinski, No. 44-8371 ("Badland Bat II"), received a direct hit and blew up over the target. Only the bombardier, Lt. H. E. Hughes, survived.
The aircraft piloted by Lt. Ernest A. Hansen, No. 42-97869 ("Maid to Order"), was hit in the right wing, which caught on fire. The crew bailed out over Holland, but three members of the crew, including the pilot, were killed. One crew member, Sgt. R. A. Miller, the Engineer, evaded capture, but the remaining crew members were POW's.
The ship piloted by Lt. Jeff N. Donaldson, No. 43-38187 ("Carrie B III") was hit by flak and lost an engine over the target. Unable to reach Allied-held territory, it landed in the North Sea off the coast of Holland. All members of the crew survived but were taken prisoner.
Finally, the aircraft referred to in the Flying Control report, piloted by Lt. George W. McKay, suffered major flak damage but was able to return to England. However, being unable to land the ship, Lt. McKay engaged the autopilot and ordered his crew to bail out. All crew members survived, and the ship crashed near Barney, Lincolnshire.