69 years ago: The 99th Fighter Squadron wins and loses over Anzio

The resurgence of the Luftwaffe in the skies of Italy in February, 1944 coincided with the difficulties the allies were having on the ground at Anzio. The 99th Fighter Squadron’s critical ground support responsibilities were supplemented with an increasing number of patrols designed to keep German aircraft from strafing and bombing the troops mired on the beachhead.

On February 5, a patrol over the beach was headed west at about 6000 feet when it spotted at least 10 Fw 190sdiving toward the beach from a height of about 16,000 feet before flattening out on the deck. The P-40s quickly turned into the German aircraft, and Elwood Driver made a diving left turn and pulled up about 300 yards behind an Fw 190. He began firing “and continued to fire in long bursts, even though my target was pulling away,” he reported. “My tracers straddled the cockpit and a sheet of flames burst from the right side. I last saw the airplane burning and headed toward Rome at a height of just 50 feet above the ground.”

At the same time, Clarence Jamison and George McCrumby were tangling with six Fw 190s when the latter pilot’s P-40L was struck by anti-aircraft fire. “Something hit underneath my ship,” McCrumby told war correspondent Art Carter. “Then another burst cracked the side of my cockpit, plunging the aeroplane into a dive at 4000 feet. I tried to pull out but had no control. The elevators had been knocked out. I had no alternative but to jump.”

After sliding the canopy back, McCrumby tried to clamber out the left side of the P-40L, but was thrown back in his seat by the slipstream. “The I tried the right side and got halfway out when again the slipstream threw me against the fuselage,” he said. “I struggled until all but my right foot was free and dangled from the diving aeroplane until the wind turned the ship around at 1000 feet ad shook me loose. I reached for the rip cord six times before finding it, but my parachute opened immediately, landing me safely in a cow pasture.”

Meanwhile, Jamison’s aeroplane had been riddled by fire from one of the six Fw 190s he and McCrumby had gone after, and while trying to escape his Merlin engine overheated and seized up. He crashlanded the Warhawk in a field near the front l ine and was rescued by U.S. Army Rangers.

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2 Comments

  1. My friend, Robert Lemon, told me about his uncle, Elwood T. Driver. This is a great description of the fighting he was involved in over Anzio. He was a great hero, one who contributed to the freedom we enjoy today.

  2. […] 69 years ago: The 99th Fighter Squadron wins and loses over Anzio (obscureco.wordpress.com) […]


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