Newsletter Issue: Winter - Spring '05

A little history... Submitted by Ken Winders

Source: Extract from the Philadelphia, PA Evening Bulletin, written by Morley Cassidy (War Correspondent).  Retyped from what appears to be an original carbon copy of the report.

"An airfield in Germany, April 5th 1945, 6 Philadelphia area fliers, cooperating with tanks in the present drive for the Ruhr, share the credit today for probably the greatest single bag of German planes destroyed by any one group in this War. 

This group the 373rd Fighter Bomber Group of he IX Air Force is officially credited with destroying or damaging 223 German aircraft in 5 days.  And 3 of that Group have just scored something new by driving 125 Germans into the path of an armored column and forcing their surrender.

First US Air base in Reich: 

Operating from the first American air base on German soil, the Group caught a sizable hunk of the Luftwaffe flatfooted while paving the way for the 9th Army's advance.

The fun began when a squadron of 12 was returning from an armed reconnaissance mission in the Hamm-Paderborn area.  Something in the looks of a beautiful field near Gutteralch caught the eye of Capt. Tom. DeGraffenried, Memphis, Tenn. When he peeled off for a closer look, he found 15 Messerschmidt 262 jet planes concealed on the field.  He and 2nd Lt. Fred H. King, Nashville, Tenn, the only fliers in the Squadron with any ammunition left, strafed the line  and destroyed 2 of the planes.

Find ripe pickings:

The next morning the whole group concentrated on a close study of the green fields in the area and found ripe pickings.  That day they hit 5 fields and knocked out 115 planes. 

In the next 3 days they got 104 more planes for a total of 223.  There bag included everything from JU 88s to ME 109s and many of the newest type jet planes.  During these 5 days of hammering, the Luftwaffe never got off the ground to challenge the group. 

"The only way we can figure it", says Colonel Downing, slim 25 year old Operations Officer of the Group, "is that the planes probably had just been ferried from the Russian front to meet the American drive and have not yet been supplied with gasoline.  That made it lovely".

Star of the Duck Hunt:

Star of the 5 day duck hunt was Lt. Edwards. In the first strike of Gutteralch, he destroyed 3 JU 88s with bombs.  He then made 12 staffing passes and damaged  9 ME 109s.  He previously was credited with 2 planes in air combat and 2 ME 400s on the ground.

While an armored column was hitting dug in German infantry, the tanks called for help.

A Squadron led by 1st Lt. Noyes, (Glen) of Hermosa, Calif, spotted the Germans in a woods.  The squadron let fly the 500 pound bombs and following up with 3 strafing attacks.

White flags promptly broke out as 125 Germans ran out of the woods and surrendered (to the tanks).  As the column rumbled on, the Commander radioed his thanks and told Noyes that "the bombs hit right on the button", just 200 yards ahead (of the column)".

 "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value"  - Marshall Ferdinand Foch

                                                                           Professor of strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre

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