67 years ago: the 362nd FIghter Group has a busy Easter

On Easter Sunday 1945, the 362nd Fighter Group flew eight squadron missions of eight planes each. The 377th  Fighter Squadron’s first mission, led by Lt. William Kramer, destroyed a locomotive and shot up two trains, one of which was pulling coaches filled with troops, which spilled from the cars like ants, running for cover in the woods nearby. A third train was chased into a tunnel after the group had caused explosions on two of its flak cars. The 378th was led by a reconnaissance P-51 to a locomotive pulling 15 oil cars full of fuel, which they left in flames, and they knocked out a second locomotive before it was able to make it into a tunnel. The 378th later performed close support in Spagenburg, knocking out five trucks and four half tracks and damaging two tanks. Meanwhile, the 377th’s second mission was led by a reconnaissance Mustang to an enemy concentration, where they destroyed five tanks, four self-propelled guns, five half-tracks and more than 50 troops. The 379th, under Lt. Rodney Percy, knocked out three locomotives and some of the rail cars they were pulling. Near Homburg, another 377th mission found a moving train. They “encountered intense, light, inaccurate flak, so (we) shot up two (flak) positions,” reported Lt. Kramer, “and regained altitude above the first layer of clouds.” During the pass, Lt. William Crawford of the 377th was hit by flak in P-47D-30 44-33486 and tried to stretch it back to allied lines, but crashed-landed on the German side one mile west of Witzenhausen; he was taken prisoner but was released by the advancing ground forces a week later. The 379th’s mission to support XX Corps found some German tanks and trucks on the road and strafed them, but it concluded with a landing accident in which P-47D 42-25573 was damaged, but pilot Lt. Robert Butterworth escaped with his life. “All our armored columns are moving eastward at a terrific rate,” wrote Lt. Joe Mullen. “It is apparent that the Hun is thoroughly disorganized and confused. The swiftness of our ground advances does not give him time to consolidate in a defensive line. So all in all, things are going fine.”

 

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