Diary of a Member of the 73rd Bombardment Wing Fliers
by Caleb Dana, bombardier, 73rd Bombardment Wing
Saipan, Mariana Islands, 1944-1945
These pages have been transcribed exactly as they were written in
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Introduction to learn more about this document.
Nancy Brister
This diary covers the time period from the date the 73rd crew members arrived in Kansas to be
assigned to their B-29's, in 1944, until war's end in 1945.

21 November, 1944

Our crew, having completed our overseas training at Salina, Kansas, was assigned a fly-away airplane and sent on orders to a
staging area at Herington, Kansas.  Ten of the twenty-one crews in each squadron were assigned fly-away airplanes.  The others
were to proceed to the theatre by Air transport Command.  They would fly alternate missions in our ships.
Herington was a small, but pleasant post, and we were treated exceptionally well there.  Profits from meals were used to
purchase liquor, and free drinks were served over the bar on Saturday nights.  Many of the fellows still had their wives with them
at Herington, so there was quite a party every Saturday.
There was very little in the line of duty for our crews; therefore, we were granted several three-day passes.  Two of these we
expended in Kansas City, along with most of our money, and the third in Wichita.  We had a grand time trying to cram a year or so
of fun into three days, but it surely was hard on the system.
At Herington, our ship was loaded with the essentials for a trip to the combat theatre.  These included a spare engine, spare
bomb shackles, tools, flak vests, flares, first aid kits, cameras, and life rafts.  The last item to go aboard was a guitar which I
sneaked aboard the morning of our departure.
Our flight from Herington to Mather Field, California, the A.P.O.E., was uneventful.  Routine flight engineer's duties caused the
time to pass rapidly.
Mather Field was a wonderful base.  The barracks had individual steam heated rooms, and were surrounded by flower gardens,
walks, and fish ponds.  (This was a former T.T.C. base.)  The treatment we received agreed with the surroundings.  The food was
the best we ever tasted on an army post, and twenty girls were imported from Sacramento for the Saturday night dance, which,
incidentally, we were too tired to enjoy.
At Mather we went through the usual processing - checking of wills and allotments, dog tags, and physical examination.  This
took but one day, and on the third day after arrival we departed for John Rodgers Field on Oahu.  For this flight we received one of
the most thorough briefings at the hands of A.T.C. that I have ever experienced.  Our flight was under the direction of A.T.C. and it
was a pleasure to work with such an efficient organization.
The trip to Hawaii was a 2200 mile over-water flight.  There were sea rescue vessels spaced along each third of the way.  This
flight also was uneventful, except for a creeping prop governor on No. 4 engine, which delayed our departure from Oahu one
day.  The purpose of this mechanism is to keep the blade pitch and thus the R.P.M. constant.  A creeping governor allows the
R.P.M. to change gradually.
Honolulu was a great disappointment.  We were to remain at John Rodgers only three days, including the day of arrival and day
of departure.  Being unable to secure a replacement governor immediately, we were held there an extra day.  Therefore, we
secured a pass to town.  A more dirty or dingy city than Honolulu I have never seen.  To add to the displeasure, it rained almost
constantly during our stay.  It was decided by the crew not to remain long in the city, but to go to Hickam Field to a show.
Hickam Field is a tremendous base; the storehouse or arsenal of the Pacific.  We were lost there and spent the remainder of the
evening finding our way out.
The next day we arose at 4:00 A.M. and departed for Kwajalein.  This flight was about the same length as the flight to Oahu; 10
1/2 hours over water, and like the former was uneventful.
Kwajalien is a barren atoll, grim evidence of the terrible battle that was fought there.  What few palm trees remain standing are
devoid of leaves.  The island is covered with army, navy, and marine buildings.  Thinking that this was a foretaste of our future
home, we became rather discouraged.  That evening, we attended one of the outdoor theatres, and, as usual in the tropics, we
were rained out.  I went to bed at 7:30, soaking wet and completely disgusted.
We were happy to spend but one day on Kwajalein.  The next morning we took off on our comparatively short hop (6 1/2 hours) to
Saipan, our base of operations.  The ship had performed magnificently the whole trip, and continued to do so on the last leg of
the journey.
Saipan and Tinian, growing larger on the horizon, were among the most pleasant surprises we were experienced.  Here, in
contrast to the barren atoll of Kwajalein, was apparently a tropical paradise.  Large, tree-covered mountains greeted the eye.  
These complemented the glistening beach and azure sea.  It was much larger than we had expected.  Soon the runways of Isley
Field stood out among the green.  After circling the island and attempting to pick out suicide cliff from the air, we set down at
Isley and were guided to our well prepared parking space.
The B-29's were distributed irregularly about taxi-ways on the airfield plateau, which is a slight elevation above the beach at the
southern tip.  These taxi-ways and circular parking spaces branching from them, like apples from a branch, were all
constructed by packing crushed coral.  A great deal of labor and careful preparation was in evidence.  We had hardly expected
so much progress in so little time.
We were greeted eagerly at the ship by the ground crew, who came here by ship several months in advance of us.  We were the
second ship in our squadron to arrive.  Fishburne having beaten us by one day.
November 27, 1944

It is two weeks since I last wrote and a year of events has taken place since our arrival.  The third day on the island we were
briefed for a raid on Tokyo -- and we thought there would be a few practice runs on the Bonins first.  Then began a siege that was
hard on our morale.  First the raid was off, then on again.  Weather difficulties made it almost impossible for the command to
make up its mind.  For three or four mornings in a row we were awakened at 3:00 A.M. to go to the ship in the pouring rain, only to
be told at five or six A.M. that the raid was off.
Finally, on November 24, we actually took off.  Some 94 or 95 ships reached the target, which was the Nakajima plant at Tokyo,
known to us as 357 -- the Waterloo of the 73rd Wing.  We flew in on the squadron commander's left wing, at about 31,500 ft.  
Even though we remained pressurized, we all wore our oxygen masks over Japan.  I put on a cumbersome flak suit.
There was a complete undercast at the target, so it was impossible to bomb visually.  We wandered around for about one half
hour looking for an opening.  Then the squadron commander broke away from the rest of the group to bomb by radar.  We and
the right wing man followed.  We saw no flak at all.  When we first went in, I spotted two fighters just above the undercast.  By
now, there were some twenty or thirty around, and two reached our altitude and made ineffectual passes at us.
We made our run and dropped the bombs, but were unable to observe the results.  The trip back was uneventful, except for the
fear of running out of gas.  We started with 8050 gallons and landed at Guam with 1000 gallons.  Just north of Saipan, we
observed red signal flares being fired, and assumed that some one was down in the drink there.
For our interrogation at Guam, only four of the nine crews were present, and we feared that the remaining five had ditched.  The
next day we discovered, much to our relief, that they had landed at Saipan because they were short on gas.
We were the first ship back at Guam, and we had our picture taken as we stepped from the ship.  We were treated royally, and
everyone was highly excited over the first bombing of Tokyo since Doolittle's famous carrier raid.  The canvas cots, however,
were still hard.
The raid must have had considerable effect upon the Japs, for as we were preparing for another last night, two Betties came
over strafing and dropping incendiaries.  This was my first air raid.  There was no warning.  I awoke, sitting up in bed, to find all
hell breaking loose.  Then the siren began to blow.  I crawled out of bed and began to slip on my shoes.  Just as I reached for my
helmet, one of the Betties flew directly over our hut.  Then I realized that this was no time for dilly-dallying.  I grabbed the helmet
and threw a raincoat over my shoulders; then made a mad dash for the coral at the ocean edge.  It affords excellent protection.  
By the time I reached safety, the raid was over.
The sky was lighted by a brilliant orange glow, and there was a tremendous explosion in the airplane dispersal area for our
squadron.  We retired after the all-clear with considerable misgivings.  A short time later, we heard that the fire had been one of
the ships, and that its bomb load had exploded.  No one was certain whether it was ours of V-26.  While I was lying awake,
thinking it over, our crew chief came in and gave me the complete story.  The ship next to ours had been hit.  The explosion
damaged beyond repair our ship and the one on the other side.  A whole bomb rack was blown through our airplane.  My crew
chief had just begun refueling the ship, and the gas truck exploded and burned, but he managed to push the ship away from the
fire with a tractor.
So here we are with no airplane -- all because of two little Betties.  Only one ship, Fishburne's, took off for Tokyo this morning.
21, December, 1944

On the 27th November, the one remaining ship in our squadron participated in the mission.  At noon, the Nips paid us another
visit with sixteen Zeros.  They made three passes, strafing the flight line and destroying several airplanes.  I was lying on my cot,
clad only in shorts.  We had no early warning, so I retired to a foxhole the way I was.  Our anti-aircraft claims ten Zeros shot
down.  I saw one crash from my position.  The P-47's scrambled and followed the Zeros to Pagan, where they shot down two that
were landing.
We suspect that these attacks originated at Iwo Jima, 650 miles on the road to Tokyo.  A few days later we received a new ship.  
Early on the morning of December 7, approximately ten Betties made low level attacks.  We had no warning except the
anti-aircraft guns popping.  The time was about 0457.  They dropped anti-parked plane incendiaries and destroyed three planes
completely.  Most of the Betties were shot down.  I saw one crash.  He came in low over the south end of the island and dove
down over the flight line.  Two radar directed lights picked him up before he emerged from the clouds.  At almost the same
instant I caught sight of him, he was hit by our anti-aircraft, and began to burn.  He wavered, pulled up sharply, stalled, and
dropped straight down.  There was a terrific explosion and display of fireworks.  He had crashed in the parking area but did no
damage to our ships.  Fellows who visited the site shortly thereafter said that there were parts of Japs scattered for yards
Our plane was undamaged by all this, and on the morning of the 8th December, we took off to neutralize Iwo Jima and put a stop
to these raids.  Sixty-two B-29's carried their maximum load of 20,000 lbs. of bombs in the form of 40 x 500 lb. general purpose
bombs.  When our squadron reached the vicinity of the island there was a complete undercast, and we had to bomb by radar.  
There was some question after the mission as to whether our navigator picked the correct island or not.  Other squadrons made
certain strikes, however, for they were verified by the Navy, who stated that the runways were well cratered.  B-24's followed us,
and then the Navy shelled the island for two hours.  We have had no raids since then.
On December 13th our target was Nagoya.  Airplanes seem to have individuality, for our new ship was not as fast as our old,
could not climb well, and the engines overheated seriously.  We got off late because of difficulty with the electrical system, and
did not catch the squadron.  We were able, however, to form a three-plane element with other late arrivals.  Half way out one of
these aborted, so we ended up with a two-ship formation.
With considerable difficulty and by using some flaps and a lot of power, we managed to get to 32,600 feet by the time we
reached the coast.  Instead of coming in to the right of the target as scheduled, we were off course to the left and sailed right up
Nagoya Bay.  Our target was in the northwest part of the city, and from our angle of approach, it virtually was impossible to turn
to bomb it upwind, especially with the wind velocity what it was at 32,000 ft.  It was 150 miles an hour that day.  Therefore, we
continued up the bay, turned upwind over Nagoya, and dropped our load of 15x350 lb. incendiaries in the center of the city.
As we were coming up the bay, we could see the flashes of their heavy anti-aircraft guns.  A squadron was making its run over
the primary target at the time, and there was quite a flak barrage over the area.  There were few fighters, all below us.  As we
turned off our bomb run, there were about fifty bursts of flak on our right side, where we had been, and a few on the left.  We
could not hear them.  We sailed right out over the middle of the bay, contrary to advice which said there were heavy flak
installations there, and picked up no more flak.
We lost our first ship from the squadron on return.  Lt. Ledbetter crashed in the water after attempting an approach to the field.  
Reason unknown.  The next day I packed up Barrett's clothes (engineer) and sent them home.  He was a close friend of mine.
On the 18th December our alternate crew, Leo Conway (pilot), Lougee (copilot), Clyde Simmonds (engineer), Tom Nevin
(bombardier) and John Hartsock (navigator), our closest buddies, took our ship back to Nagoya.  They did not return to base.  The
last time they were seen, which was with the 498th Gp., they were under heavy fighter attack and slightly behind the formation.  
Leo dropped his bombs, peeled off and dove down into the clouds, where they shot down a fighter.  At the time they disappeared,
all engines were running, although some of the gunners reported that they were smoking.  Capt. Fishburne and crew, our hut
mates, just made it back to the base.
We now have our third airplane.
11, January, 1945

The Nagoya mission of the third was quite a success, if burning a large part of a city may be called that.  Huge fires were started
that were marked by columns of smoke rising to 10,000 feet.
On January 9 a mission was planned to Tokyo.  We were leading an element of three that was to fly with the 877th.  At 4:00 a.m.
we struggled out of bed, breakfasted on pancakes, popularly known as tire patches, and were on the line about 5:00 a.m.  The
weather was atrocious.  Take-off was postponed until about 8:00 a.m., when with no improvement in the weather, it was decided
to send us out anyway.  The take-off was practically instrument.  To expect formation assembly was preposterous.  After flying
on course for a time, we saw several ships intermittently through the rain squalls.  They were from another squadron.  Then we
saw Capt. Fishburne's ship.  He was to fly with the 878th, but like us was unable to locate the squadron.  He flew on our wing until
the clouds became too dense.
Before the climb point, we made a 360 degree turn at  1000 ft., hoping to see some ships to fly with.  None appeared.  The flight
plan was to level off at 18,000 ft. for a navigational fix.  We were still in the soup, so we continued to climb.  At 25,000 ft. we came
out above the clouds and made another 360 degree turn.  One ship was sighted at a great distance.
We continued our climb to 31,000 ft., then flew level toward the coast.  There were some clouds up to this altitude.  Willie
(navigator) kept his eyes glued to the radar scope, waiting for the coast to appear, but it did not show on the scope.  Suddenly
Charlie (bombardier) said we were passing over the coast.  He spotted land through a break in the clouds.  The radar was
useless.  How could we bomb through that cloud layer?  We had decided to go to a target of opportunity at the entrance to
Nagoya Bay, for we could not go over the primary alone.  Glimpses of land through the undercast showed that we were flying up
Nagoya Bay.  About this time we saw eight other B-29's going in all different directions, apparently all in the same situation as we
were.  One enemy fighter appeared at three o'clock, and turned toward us, but was left behind.  We made a 360, looking for an
opening.  Once we saw an airfield, but by the time we came over it, clouds obscured the view.  We turned back toward Toba, and
luckily a break appeared.  This was our target of opportunity, a steel mill.  All the bombardier could see, however, was the town.  
There was nothing to do but drop on the town, for we could not continue to fly around looking for an opening.
The return home was uneventful.  There was no flak, and we made excellent time.  Seven aircraft were lost on this foolish
mission.  Mechanical failures brought down the majority of them.  Probably the command of this outfit will change after such a
The Japs have not raided us lately, probably because there is no moon.
With the exception of the engines, we have a very fine airplane in the B-29, provided it is used properly.  The finest instruments
may be rendered useless, however, by faulty use.  I hope others will be instructed to avoid the mistakes made in this command.  
The crews too are well trained and of the highest caliber.  The blame lies in the planning.
We will not fly on the next mission.  This was our sixth.  We have reached a target and dropped our bombs every time -- a good
22 January, 1945

On January 13 a mission was flown to Nagoya.  We lost one ship from our squadron and five men.  Lt. Mellen took Fish's airplane
and Mehlow's engineer, Bill Heller.  They had to fly at rated power for a couple of hours over the target areas.  Heller still had 700
gallons of gas left in the center wing.  After leaving the target, Heller found that he could not transfer this gas to the main tanks.  
They ditched about 120 miles from Saipan.  The ship stalled 50 to 100 ft. above the water and then crashed in.  The ship broke
up.  Haller was thrown from one side of the plane to theother, and then washed out in a dazed condition.  The bombardier,
Macabe, dragged him into the raft.  Four stayed in the raft all night and two floated in the water in Mae Wests for twelve hours.  
Mellen was killed in the landing; the co-pilot was not seen after the ship sank.  All were picked up the next day by a destroyer.
Alex Kaychuck, the navigator, was one of the boys who spent the night floating.  He swallowed so much salt water that he
developed a sore throat.  When he boarded the destroyer they gave him salt water to gargle with!
General LeMay has taken over this outfit.  On January 19th we flew a mission to Akashi.  The target was an aircraft engine plant.  
It was the most successful mission flown by the Wing to date.  Capt. Liebman led and we were deputy lead of the entire group,
which comprised 17 aircraft.  Liebman did a splendid job of leading.  He flew at low power and air speed, only 190 indicated, and
everyone was able to keep up and operate in auto lean, thus saving a great deal of gasoline.  Some ships had only one bomb bay
Our bombing altitude was 26,000 ft., the lowest yet attempted.  We assembled in tight formation after the climb, and started up
the large bay near Osaka toward our initial point, just below Osaka.  We were over Japan for about an hour.  From the I.P. we
turned upwind against a 180 knot wind, to our target.  All 17 ships dropped on us and Charlie saw the explosions walk right down
the target.  There were ten wild bombs, all but two of which hit something -- anti-aircraft batteries, airplanes, etc.
We turned out over the bay.  Flak was moderate and inaccurate, all behind us.  There were about a dozen fighters there, but we
had only one attack.  He was shot down.  A cruiser fired at us on the way out, but his range was way off.  Upon return to base we
had 1525 gallons of gas left and had flown for 14 1/2 hours.  no ship was lost from our group.
We have our own airplane again, No. 29, the ship the Colonel used to fly in.  Colonel Brandon is no longer withus, having been
deputy C.O. of the 500th Gp.  Major Van Haur is our new Squadron C.O.
February 2nd, 1945

Capt. Liebman led our squadron on Jan. 27.  The target was the Musashino Plant of the Nokajima Aircraft factory at Tokyo.  We
were deputy lead, flying on his right wing in V sq. 29.
Here was a new plan.  Two weather ships would precede us, flying from Nagoya to Tokyo.  Whichever target was clear would be
bombed.  If both were covered, Tokyo would be radar bombed.
Taking off was about 0730.  I was happy to note on the 1000 ft. leg that we were able to fly at lower proers than the lead ship,
thus conserving fuel.  We had only one bomb bay tank this time and 640# of bombs.
About four or five hours out we spotted a Jap freighter ahead on our course, so we closed in to Liebman in case he wanted to
strafe it.  The ship was classified as a "Sugar Baker."  We, and the fourteen or fifteen other planes remained on course, and to
our surprise, the little bastard started throwing flak at us.  We were at only 1500 ft. and thus rather vulnerable.  We swerved off
course, but Lt. Timmonds flew directly over him and strafed the deck.  Two ships were hit by his 20 mm fire, but not seriously
damaged.  These ships must be stationed to warn the mainland of our approach.
The two weather ships, however, gave them sufficient warning.  We came in to the right of the control point and had to fly almost
into the wind for awhile.  Finally, we got to the left of Fuji, and started inland.  Now we met our first fighters.  They had plenty of
warning.  In the 497th Gp. three ships were shot down between Fuji and the target.  We turned right around Fuji and started down
wind for a radar run.  There was an 8/10th undercast.  Fighters appeared in swarms from Fuji on in.  The flak was the most
intense I have ever seen to date.  It burst in front of the formation, on both sides, and in the formation.  Right at bombs away, we
were hit by two small fragments.  The one that struck near the CFC blister caused us to lose some cabin pressure.  The cabin
altitude rose to 12,500 ft.
Willie had bruised his eye by banging into a turret clamp.  When the cabin altitude rose, he tried to clear his ears by holding his
nose and blowing.  The effect of this was to blow out the bag under his damaged eye until it was as large as an egg.  What a sight!
In about thirty seconds from bombs away, the gunners reported a ship out of formation, 2000 ft. below about a mile away.  He
had one engine smoking.  We immediately assumed that he was from the squadron preceding us which had turned more
sharply to the right than we after leaving the target.  We called the other squadron and told them they had lost a ship.  They
slowed down some.  About 13 fighters attached this lone ship.  He was trying desperately to catch the first squadron for they
were about 2000 ft. lower than we (we were at 28,000) and just a little lower than him.  Soon, however, the fighters set fire to
another engine.  What an unpleasant feeling to sit there and watch one of your own go down!  What made it worse, we found out
later it was "Snuffy" Smith from our own outfit.  He had been closing the box.  Before we reached the coast, something more
went wrong with Snuffy, and his ship turned back toward the target.  Then it began to descend in large circles.  A gunner in the
formation last saw him at about 4000 ft. headed for a lake, perhaps to ditch there.  The lake appeared to be solid ice.
K. B. Smith almost met a similar fate last mission, but he was able to call the formation for help, and Cox and Scarborough went
back and boxed him in.  If we had only known sooner that Snuffy had fallen out of formation!
We had several more fighter attacks, mostly from the front.  The Japs also like to fly parallel to the formation till they get a little
ahead, then turn up on a wing and curve in toward our nose.  We were not hit by any fighters.
What a relief to get through that, and with all engines running!  We sure felt happy about it.  The fighters, for the most part, went
to the lower formation, which I suppose was easier for them to attack.  They followed it fifty miles out to sea.  This formation was
pretty badly shot up.  One ship had the whole right nascell and landing gear damaged.
On the return, we heard a sad story over V.H.F. radio.  There was one distress call after another from ships with engines shot out
and unable to transfer fuel.  We counted five imminent ditchings on the way.  It was noticeable that when we were crossing the
Jap coast going out, almost every ship in the preceding lower squadron had at least one smoking engine.
We lost (in this whole wing of about 60 attacking aircraft) four shot down over the target, three missing (ditched), and one
crashed on landing.  There were 1057 fighter attacks.  This B-29 is a swell airplane.  It can take it.  One came back after a
ramming with the whole left horizontal stabilizer missing.  It is well defended, too, but we are tremendously outnumbered there,
as can be told by the number of fighter attacks.  26,000 ft. is too low.  We do not seem to be gaining anything by flying at this
altitude, for we missed the target this time.  The main defense of the B-29 is its ability to fly at high altitude, where fighters cannot
maneuver well.  However, it is difficult to fly good formation up there.  We hope to have fighter cover soon.
The ship returned with plenty of gas, for we did not climb too fast, and maintained a fairly slow speed over the target to keep the
formation together.  V-29 is a good airplane, but we no longer have it.  Mac told Van off because he picked 23 and 52 for lead
airplanes.  Van said Mac could have his choice of being a lead crew or flying V-29, and Mac told him what he could do with the
whole works.  Mac shouldn't tell people off when he is drunk.
At interrogation, we found out that it was old Snuffy who went down.........
15 March, 1945

After about six weeks of leisure, during which time Mac was an instructor at lead crew school, he returned to us, and we are
now back on flying status.  We spent most of the six weeks playing volley ball and reading.
Our flying began anew with the first low level attack on Tokyo of March 9.  We took off at sunset and flew in total darkness to the
mainland, keeping our running lights on until a couple of hundred miles from the coast.  We passed many slower ships.

[A page is missing here.  NB]

It was decided to bomb the Mitsubishi Aircraft plant in Nagoya on March 24 with a new high explosive 5000 lb. bomb.  We carried
about 19,000 lbs. of bombs.  As usual, this was a night mission.  The group operations officer went with us.  We made excellent
time, and bombed two minutes after target time.  The pathfinders had just dropped incendiaries and flares.  As usual, we could
not pick out the target visually.  We came up Nagoya Bay and turned inland right over the dock area.  At this point we were
indicating 300 m.p.h.  Our ship was not caught in the lights.  We bombed by dead reckoning, and probably missed the target.  We
are dead tired by now, but there is another strike scheduled in three days.
On March 27 we had our first daylight formation mission since January 27.  It was a milk run.  The target was Oita Airfield on
Kyushu.  Our whole formation saw only seven bursts of flak and no fighters.  We bombed visually and hit the target too from
15000 ft.  This was our lowest altitude day mission, and I'll take more like it gladly.
On the 29th we got a weather strike.  Boy are we bushed by now!  But you can't pass up a weather strike.  It was a very long one.  
We flew to within 20 miles of Korea, all the way across Japan at the southern part of Honshu and the Sea of Japan.  On the
return, when over the Inland Sea, we spotted a large force from the Jap fleet; a battleship, several cruisers, and half a dozen
destroyers.  Our four bombs, carried for ballast, were fused, so Charlie made a run on a cruiser.  We got a near miss pretty good
from 28,000 ft.  They did evasive action, but made no attempt to fire on us.
All this fooling around, combined with the length of the trip (3200 nautical miles) almost ran us out of gas.  The last hour before
reaching Saipan, I was more scared than ever before.  The gages were reading a mere 100 gallons each.  When we landed and
started taxiing, two engines began to cut out.  It was really a close one.  We had Fish's ship, and it holds 200 gallons less gas
than ours.
On Easter night we started out again for Tokyo.  This time it was the oft-bombed, but seldom hit, Nakajima plant (357).  We
carried 200 gallons less gas than usual, and only 50 instead of 85 gallons of oil per engine.  All this to lighten the ship so we could
carry more bombs.  Our load was 36x55 lb. delayed action G.P.'s.  that is some 20,000 lb. of bombs.  As usual, we reached the
target early.  The flare ship had just gone in.  There were no clouds, and a good moon had risen 45 degrees behind us, but there
was a ground haze.  Search-lights were all on our right, for we came in to the left of Yokohama.  They did not pick us up, but were
on a ship going out to our left.
Charlie could not see the target, so we bombed again by dead reckoning.  After making a left turn from the target, we had to
climb to avoid the foothills of Fuji.  By the time we passed Fuji, we were at 12,000 ft.  It was a beautiful sight in the moonlight
cloudless sky.  All these bombings (night) I have described have been at an altitude of 6,500 ft.  We were fired upon a couple of
times as we left the coast.
On April 3 we started on another night mission.  The target was Tashikawa Airfield and factory about seven or eight miles west
of Tokyo.  The load was 34 G.P.'s.  Two hours out and the left gunner reported no. 1 smoking badly at the top.  I thought it was a
burned out stack.  We turned around and dropped our bombs.  I checked our oil on No. 1 and found it down to 20 gallons, so we
feathered the engine and returned to base on the remaining three.  This was our first abort in fifteen missions.
On the 6th a bold stroke was executed, and, thank heaven, we could not take part for our ship was still out.  They bombed the
Nakajima plant (357) in daylight.  GAVU at 15,000 ft. with fighter escort.  The boys caught hell, but shot down or damaged 137 Jap
fighters.  The P-51's got 36.  We lost Hibbard, who had an engine on fire, and failed to bail his crew out before the ship
disintegrated.  That the seventh crew from our squadron.  They hit the target this time with 2,000 pounders.
14th July

A great deal has happened in the last three months.  About the time of the fifteenth mission and subsequent abort, Mac was
feeling considerable pain in his wrist and in his back.  He went to the hospital of his own accord with two quarts of whisky to
keep up his morale.  His illness was diagnosed as rheumatic fever, so that let him out.  Benny took over the crew.
On the 13th of April we ran a night strike to Tokyo with Major Van Haur, the C.O., as co-pilot to check us out.  It was the same as
other night missions.  There was plenty of smoke, fire, searchlights and flak.  We came through unscathed.
We ran two missions on the 20th and 26th of April to Oita Airfield on Kyushu in support of the Okinawa campaign.  I can't recall
much about them except that there was little enemy opposition, there being only a few flak guns in the target area.  Major
Schieber was co-pilot on one and Major Reilly on the other.  Oita is an airfield right on the coast, so the Japs had no opportunity
to send up fighters.  on the second one, the target was socked in, so we had to bomb by radar individually.  These bombings
were from 18,000 ft.  The Kyushu strikes are o.k.
On the 28th of April we went to Myazake, also on Kyushu about halfway down the coast.  The target was clear and we were sent
in at 12,000 ft.  It was too low.  The flak, only over the target, was very accurate.  Capt. Canada led the second squadron in at the
same altitude, unfortunately, and suffered a direct flak hit.  He attempted to ditch, having two engines out, just off the coast and
crashed.  Evidently, there were no survivors.
The 5th May mission to Hiro Naval Air Station at Kure was interesting.  Because of bad weather, we were unable to form with our
group just off the Jap coast, so we turned into the target, hoping to intercept them.  We ended up with a squadron from the 58th
Wing.  They did not seem to have a definite leader.  When it came time to bomb, we released on the leader of the second
element.  Amazingly, all the bombs hit the target.  The flak encountered was from naval installations, and was 11 colors; purple,
yellow, red, green, etc.  We were low squadron, so most of it was above us.
Then came a fighter escort mission to Marcus, which the lead B-29 could not find, so we turned back.  We tried to give him his
position by signalling with an Aldis lamp, but he was unable to understand our signals.
Our first big Bomber Command daylight incendiary strike was run against Nagoya.  The load was 27 E-46 clusters.  We expected
to catch hell, for the target was wide open.  To our amazement, there were practically no fighters and the flak was all below us.  
A large part of the city was burned out.  Seeing nearly 500 B-29's in a column of squadrons going over the target in broad daylight
was a thrilling experience.  These early daylight missions are very hard because we get no sleep for so long.  Briefing is usually
at 1000 or 1100 P.M. and you can get no sleep before them.  After that, chow and stations at 2400 or 1011 and take off at 1200.  
We return to base about 1500 in the afternoon.
K. B. Smith, who stopped flying after four rugged missions with his own crew, has been flying with us as co-pilot to get his
missions in.
Another night fire raid was scheduled for Tokyo on the 26th May.  How can there be anything left to burn!  Major Reilly flew as
co-pilot.  We reached a point about seventy miles off the Jap coast and lost an engine.  It was decided to bomb Shizucka.  With
effort, we continued our climb to 10,000 ft. and dropped our bombs in the center of town.  Tokyo, 70 miles away, could be seen
clearly, burning like a huge bonfire.  There was no flak over Shizuka, but we saw two of these so-called balls of fire.  We returned
to base successfully over 1500 miles of water on three engines.
Time for another weather strike.  Breahear, who must returned from a photo recon to Tokyo, says that there is nothing left of
that fine city.  We started out on 29th May to get weather and pictures of the Kagacahima area and to bomb Nagoya.  We were in
the soup for 1,000 miles and never saw Japan.  There were icing conditions over the target at 25,000 ft. so we dropped on
Nagoya by radar and wended our way home through the storm.
The Nagoya daylight incendiary raid was duplicated on 31 May over Osaka.  What a sight!  The huge column of smoke was up to
21,000 ft., our bombing altitude, and provided a back-drop for our column of squadrons.  We were unable to find our lead ship, so
a miscellaneous collection of aircraft assembled on us, and we had the privilege of leading a squadron for a change.  Flak was
moderate and we did not encounter any fighters.  It was on this mission that Capt. Wilkinson received a direct flak hit on the
nose of his ship that blew off the whole nose.  Fighter opposition is getting weaker, but flak is improving.
Kobe was burned out by the Bomber Command on 5 June.  We were the first and lowest squadron.  The target was in the clear.  
We flew in No. 3 position on Brashear's left wing.  This time we met the first fighters in several missions.  They started to attack
on the bomb run, and being the first squadron we received most of the attacks.  They came in at the nose.  Charlie hit one that
blew up right in front of us and we flew through the pieces.  He hit another at 10 o'clock low, and the pilot bailed out.  Our C.F.C.
gunner got part credit for a third.  After bombs away and as we turned from the target, two fighters came from above, out of the
sun.  We did not see them until they were on top of us and through the formation.  A 20 mm shell from one hit Brashear's right
stabilizer and exploded.  Brashear pulled up sharply, temporarily out of control, and Smitty, flying co-pilot with us, followed him
right up.  I thought at first that we had been hit.  Brashear leveled out o.k. and we kept the formation together.  Pieces started
falling off the stabilizer, and when we crossed the coast, the whole thing came off.  he maintained control, however, and we
buddied with him all the way back to base, where he made a successful landing.  This B-29 is a fine ship.
About the 15th June, we went on rest leave to Oahu for ten days.  It was wonderful!  Fresh milk, chocolate floats, hamburgers
were part of our daily diet.  Willie and Bennie accepted an invitation to a ranch on Kawaii.  Charlie and I stayed at a regular rest
camp on Coconut Isle, a millionaire's estate and a beautiful spot indeed.  We were a sorry lot when the time came to return to
Our first mission upon return was to Sakai, the southern part of Caska.  It was a night mission and the target was in the clear.  
We passed the 313th Wing target on the way and it was burning fiercely.  There were only a few searchlights over the target and
they held us for perhaps 30 seconds.  There was no flak.  The missions are definitely becoming easier, especially because so
many airplanes participate now with the 313th, 314th, 58th and 315th Wings to help us out.  the 73rd still gets the most airplanes
over the target, however.  The 313th has the worst luck on take off.  In one evening I saw three ships crash on Tinian.
The 28th mission was to Itchynomiya, nine miles North of Nagoya.  The date was 13th July.  The target was covered by a cold
front so that we never saw land.  The thunder cloud coverage was so thick that it interfered with our radar and we had rough
time locating the target.  Most of the ships going over kept their running lights on to avoid mid-air crashes.  There was no enemy
opposition at all -- only other B-29's.  The trip was uneventful.
Fishburne, Liebman, Scarbrough and Cox got under the wire at 30 missions, and all have left except Scarb.  Fish's last mission
was the toughest pathfinder on the last Tokyo night raid.  Two B-29's exploded on each side of him.
The 29th mission was to Oita, and was uneventful.  The target was socked in and our greatest danger was from other B-29's.  
July 16 was the date.
On 20 July we paid a visit to Hitachi.  Again, the target was socked in and there was little to report.  The load was 14840 lbs. of
bombs.  This made No. 30.
Matsyama was our target on July 27.  It was a beautiful moonlight night.  We went near Cita and then across part of the Inland
Sea, passing over many small islands on which there was one searchlight.  We could see the water quite plainly.  The target was
burning fiercely when we arrived, and in order to make a good bomb run, we had to fly into the huge column of smoke at 10,000
ft.  The turbulence was violent and many objects were thrown about in the ship.  The odor of burning wood filled the plane.  Our
air speed varied from 140 to 210 m.p.h. indicated and we rose 1200 ft. in a few seconds.  We came out headed straight for the
On the 29th July we went back to Itchinomiya.  We were more than an hour over enemy terrain.  The weather was fine and clear
again, with a bright moon.  This turned out to be perhaps our worst mission.  In the climb to bombing altitude of 15,000 ft. we
developed a short stack on No. 3, and this engine to 1900 R.P.M.  Eight miles before the O.P., No. 2 failed completely.  We
continued the bomb run at 170 indicated and lost 2,000 ft. between the I.P. and the target to maintain 170.  We expected No. 3 to
fail at any time.  Over the target we were caught in the lights for about three minutes, but did not get any flak, luckily.  The bombs
hit right in the target area.  Thirty-five minutes to lands end, and it seemed like hours, mushing along at 170 on two and one half
Upon leaving the coast, we immediately alerted the air-sea rescue system, and gave our location and course to the nearest life
guard sub.  After losing a little altitude, the short stack on No. 3 looked pretty good, so we were fairly sure of making Iwo.  At Iwo
we were fed, given a cot, and slept for about five hours, and then flew a 500th Gp. ship back to Saipan.  It felt good to get back.
The last mission started on 1 August.  We took off at 1840.  The target was Toyama, up on the Sea of Japan due North of Nagoya.  
We had to spend just about one and one half hours over enemy territory.  Everything went well; that is, all four fans kept turning
on V-34, the ship we were flying till ours was repaired.  The predicted weather was bad, but we did not find it so, except for a
slight disturbance just north of base.  Over Japan there was about 9/10 cumulus undercast until we reached the Sea of Japan.  
There was a bright moon and no over-case.
The target could be spotted for miles and the weather was perfect.  We dropped our bombs, 16,000 lbs. of incendiaries, right in
Toyama, which was burning fiercely.  We later found that this city was 99.5% destroyed.  There were five bursts of phophorus
flak, but none too close.  On the way out, we had an electrical fire in the Bombardier's panel, caused by a runaway generator.  I
pulled the voltage regulator and the fire went out with the help of a CO-2 extinguisher.  The trip back was uneventufl and, as
usual, very boring.  This ended my tour of duty and ends this log.
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Old New Orleans Index
Caleb Dana and friend, WWII -- thanks to
Diane Dane for sharing this photo.