On September 23, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group celebrated their two-hundredth mission. Fortunately for the boys on the air crews, no one had to fly the next day.
Mission 197 was flown on Thursday, September 21. Everyone had a day off on the 22nd. The party was on a Saturday – September 23. Probably anticipating the aftereffects of the party, a mission was not scheduled the next day, the 24th. Mission 198 was flown on the 25th and 199 on the 26th.
The boys reached mission 200 on Wednesday, September 27. The 384th Bomb Group formed the 41st CBW “A” wing for Mission 201’s attack on the railroad marshalling yards of Cologne, Germany.
Celebration aside, mission 200 did not go off without incident. Everyone did make it back to Grafton-Underwood, but there were many mishaps.
- The Donald George Springsted crew and Bert O. Brown, Jr. crew were involved in a taxi accident prior to takeoff. The Brown crew’s aircraft, 44-6080, had to be scrapped. The Springsted’s aircraft, Sneakin’ Deacon, was repaired in time to fly the next day’s mission.
- The Loren L. Green crew aboard Pro Kid had to abort and turn back due to an internal failure in an engine.
- The Frank F. Cepits crew aboard The Challenger came back with the #3 engine feathered.
- The James W. Orr crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin II experienced a bomb bay door malfunction over the target. The bomb bay doors could not be opened, either electrically or manually. Gremlin returned to base still loaded with all of her bombs.
- The John H. Hunt, Jr. crew had a harrowing landing. Boss Lady’s tail wheel would not extend for the landing. Fortunately, no one was injured.
- The William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with wounded aboard. Rebel came back with an injured tail gunner, Robert H. Hoyman.
The John Oliver Buslee crew, aboard Hale’s Angels, was the high group deputy, the hot camera ship. They completed mission 200 without incident. The James Joseph Brodie crew did not fly mission 200.
For the Buslee and Brodie crews, the celebrating would be over all too soon. It would be the next mission, 201, on Thursday, September 28, 1944 that would be their last. The Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana and the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy collided coming off the target at Magdeburg on September 28, 1944, at about ten minutes past noon. Aboard the two ships, fourteen men lost their lives, and four became prisoners of war.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014