Mission 2 – December 5, 1943

On Sunday, December 5th, 1943, Herman was awakened for his 2nd missions at 2:30 am. The target for the day was the factories at the airport near La Rochelle, deep in France, southwest of Paris. During the war, Germany established a naval base at La Rochelle, and it was near this area that U-Boats (submarines) were penned.

Thurleigh to La Rochelle in France

Smithy flew as co-pilot, and Steve was the navigator, along with Sgts. Heuser, Courson, and Marcotte. Their ship was the B-17 “The Great Patriarch.”

Cloud conditions prevented them from reaching their target. At 11 am, an hour away, they had climbed up to 26,000 ft but still the target was obscured.

According to the records I have found online from the 8th Air Force Historical Society, 8 B-17’s, and 1 B-24 were lost that day. Many are damaged. Casualties were “1 KIA, 4 WIA and 50 MIA.”

Herman wrote, “Nine of our ships did not return. You can easily determine from this fact that conditions vary for each plane. What might have been a “milk run” for us was completely the opposite for … others … thus the way of battle.”

 “So, Lou, my second mission. Twenty-three to go. This one indeed was a far cry from the first effort, and, believe me, I won’t shed a tear if the remainder are of the same caliber; however, that is a wishful hope. But God constantly at the wing tips, with the crew continually working as a unit, each succeeding return will prove itself.”

Take care of yourself, Lou, and shall do the same.  

Always the best,
S/ Herman

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  • Barbara Ann
    Posted at 05:54h, 04 March

    Can you imagine what was going through his mind and heart during these raids…..not knowing if he was going to live another day. He has such a strong faith in God and it is so apparent in all his poetry and writings.

    Do you remember what you were doing at age 26?

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