CORPORAL BRAITHWAITE'S ADVENTURE

BAILOUT IN THE CLOUDS

12 July 1945

From 490th Bomb Squadron’s Flight Operational Intelligence Report:

Four B-25s of the 490th Bomb Squadron, loaded with 1000-lb GP bombs, were led by Lt Cain as they departed the airfield at Hsian, China at 0520 hours. Escorted by four P-51s of the 529th Fighter Squadron they headed for the target, about three hundred and thirty miles away; the Ping Han Railroad Bridge No. 130, one and one-half miles north northwest of Anyang, China (36° 08’ N, 114° 21’E). Enroute visibility was six to eight miles with high scattered clouds at about 10,000 feet. Over target at 0755, the weather was clear with unlimited visibility. The B-25s made three bomb runs, each plane dropping one bomb per run, while the P-51s scanned for enemy interceptors.

On the first run the bombs straddled the center of the bridge, all within twenty feet, no visible damage was done. On the second run the bombs again straddled north end of the bridge. Two of the four were very close to the pier between the first and second spans. The two ends of the spans resting on the first pier were bowed out to the east, the rails twisted and some ties blown out. Bombs dropped on the third run hit at the north end of the bridge again, and t the east from ten to twenty feet out. One bomb was very close and caused additional damage to the already damaged two spans.

After the Mitchells turned for home, the Mustangs pulled away to perform a railroad sweep for targets of opportunity before returning to base.

Propaganda Leaflets warning the Chinese bridge workers against working for the Japanese were dropped in the vicinity of the bridge. Leaflets warning the Chinese against the danger of working for the Japanese, particularly on the railroad because of delayed action bombs, etc., were dropped along the Ping Han Railway south to the Sinsiang. Other leaflets dropped were addressed to Chinese regarding concealment of food from the Japanese invaders, as well as some attempting to lower the morale of the Japanese troops.

As the planes were returning from the mission, they were contacted on VHF Radio by OSS team “Lion” in the Sunghsien?? area, approximately one hundred miles south of their return route. Lt. Cain talked with ‘Lion’, who asked for the flight’s location which Cain refused to give. In the course of the conversation ‘Lion’ informed Cain that he had a “nice juicy target” for them. Full report of the conversation was impossible as at the time of the mission report Lt. Cain had not returned from Hwayin, but since ‘Lion’ did not indicate urgent situation no need existed for the bombers to divert from their return, especially since weather was deteriorating.

When the bombers reached the area at 1030 hours, the weather had closed in at Hsian, resulting in a cloud ceiling at 800 feet above the ground and visibility of only a half mile in fog and rain. Three of the planes diverted and made emergency landings at Hwayin Airfield (34° 28’ N, 110° 00’ E). One of three, B-25H, Serial #43-4588, while making a landing on the field which has diagonal paths of gravel rock across it, had its nose wheel turned by one of the paths causing the nose gear to collapse and buckling the fuselage. The other two planes stuck in the mud at the end of the runway, but can be flown out as soon as they are pulled out of the mud. None of the planes’ crew members were injured in the landings.

The fourth plane, B-25-H, Serial #43-5094, was low on gas when it reached Hsian. After attempting to land at Hsian, 1Lt. Frederick Dietz headed the plane north and the crew of six men bailed out in the vicinity of Lintong (34° 22’ N, 109° 12’ E). The plane crashed and is reported to have burned approximately ten miles Northeast of Lintong, along the river (Weihe River). All of the crew parachuted successfully and none were injured. All returned to Hsian, some hours later.

Crew members ; 1Lt. Fredrick G. Deitz (p), 2Lt. Barry M. Vale (cp), S/Sgt. Danver G. Miller (eng-gunner), S/Sgt. Frank J. Graham (radio-gunner), S/Sgt. Wayne G. Hart (aerial gunner) and Cpl. William W. Braithwaite (photo-gunner; 16th CCU).