69 years ago: weather spoils the first trip to Berlin

On 3 March, 1944, the Eighth Air Force made its first trip to Berlin escorted by P-51 Mustangs, but weather intervened to make the day less than spectacular. After  rendezvousing with the bombers, the 357th Fighter Group found its mission was aborted because of bad weather. The 4th Fighter Group was luckier; flights from 335 and 336 Squadrons broke off from the main body to fend off enemy aircraft. With nine planes, 336 Squadron got into a battle with 60 enemy fighters and claimed eight victories, but in turn lost Lts. Vermont Garrison, Glen Herter and Philip “Pappy” Dunn. Herter was lured down by the low element of German fighters and was bounced; he died when his Mustang crashed. Dunn got lost on the way home, and with his radio out and no way to get a vector to cross the Channel he headed for Spain. Dunn had already destroyed an Me 210 during the mission, and eight miles from the border he spotted an He 111. Unable to resist, Dunn shot down the bomber, then ran out of gas as he circled to watch it crash, ending up a POW. The same fate befell Garrison, who managed to destroy two enemy planes with three of his four guns jammed. Unfortunately, his P-51B was hit by flak. Lt. George Barnes was last seen off the Dutch coast on his way home with his engine cutting out badly. He was never seen again.

The 357th also lost a Mustang, but recovered the pilot thanks to the Fourth. On the way home, the engine of Lt. Robert Foy’s P-51B failed and Foy bailed out over the channel. Lt. Howard Hively of the Fourth Fighter Group, himself a survivor of a channel bail-out, heard the distress calls and made a low-level search, located Foy in his dinghy and circled until an RAF Air Rescue Service Walrus arrived. The Walrus directed a high-speed launch to the scene and Foy was rescued, unharmed except for a mild case of shock.



1 Comment

  1. My Uncle was Pappy Dunn. Thanks for the interesting info.

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