Lieutenants Stewart B. Dale & Herbert G. Johnson

India Revisited

5 - 7 December 1943

As told by Lt. Johnson;

About the 20th of November, 1943, secret verbal orders were received to report to 374th Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group at Chenkung [at other end of the lake, about 50 miles south of Kunming]. Lt. Dale and I reported with bags packed for two weeks, and with cameras, which included K-20, 35mm Eyemo and Victor 16mm, also a C-3. The whole Bomb Group left the next day for India, stopping at Chabua on the way, and arrived at bases near Calcutta without any trouble. The 374th Squadron, to which we were attached, was based at Panaghar, India. There we moved into tents and checked our equipment.

Two days later, we started on a series of bombing missions in combination with the 10th A.A.F. based in India. The objectives were in Burma - the primary target being Rangoon, secondary and tertiary targets being Insein and Akyab. From the standpoint of the number of planes involved, these were the largest missions ever flown in the CBI theater. There were approximately sixty B-24s on the Rangoon raids, escorted by P-51s, P-38s and P-40s. Zero's and anti-aircraft fire were encountered over Rangoon and a few B-24s and fighters were lost- but the raids caused much damage to enemy installations. Planes which, for any reason, had to turn back before reaching Rangoon, dropped their bombs on Akyab. Much damage was done there and large fires were started. There was also one mine-laying mission. We laid a series of mines in the mouth of the Salween River at Moulmein - mines which later destroyed considerable enemy shipping.

By the 2nd of December, the series of raids was completed. We were told that we had earned a rest and could go into Calcutta for three days. Lt. Dale and I were there December 5th, 6th, and 7th. When we drove into Calcutta on the December 5th, the Japs were raiding the place but we didn't know it. We saw the sky full of flack bursts, but thought it was just practice. At the time though, we thought it strange that the streets were so deserted, so continued to drive into the Grand Hotel. The next day, we inspected the damage down at the river docks. The 6th of Dec. was my birthday and a quart of Champagne was bought ($20.00) in celebration.

After returning to Panaghar, we stayed there for two days more and on the 10th of Dec., Lt. Dale and I took off with a crew that was flying to Agra to pick up a new airplane. We spent three days there, then flew the new ship back to Chabua. We arrived there in the evening and gassed up for the Hump jump. We started over [the Hump], but 45 minutes out, at 18,000 feet we were jumped by a Jap night-fighter. We turned around in a hurry, as our new plane had no ammunition, and headed back for Chabua as fast as possible. We landed safely, stayed overnight and the next day returned to Chengkung. This was the 15th of December.