Diary Excerpt: Clifford Taylor

We’re back with another entry from the diary of Lt. Clifford Taylor, who was a member of the 13th Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group. If you haven’t read the previous entries we’ve published, you can find them here.

 

Aug. 24th [1943]
Today was one of the toughest assignments the 13th of the 3rd Group ever drew. We, the 3rd Group, were to go up to Hansa Bay, 20 minutes fighter time from Wewak & take care of some shipping and supplies up there. It had been reported that six luggers & a couple of large “Sugar Charlies”, and a flock of troop barges were anchored there. In this ever tightening “pincer” on Salamaua & eventually Lae, the main line of supply lies in getting some shipping thru. With the complete success of our barge hunts, we have been slowly starving old Tojo out & he is becoming increasingly desperate trying to get thru our aerial blockade. From this type of strategy, our mission was born, so we were loaded with 8 300 pound 45 sec. demo bombs. The ack-ack up here is known to be the most intense in all of New Guinea & promised to be most interesting.

After we had the number one spot in the Wewak show, it was only rightly decided to let the 90th & the 8th have the shipping to themselves & we were to take care of the ack-ack so they could do a thorough job on the shipping. We took off at 730 & assembled at the Gona wreck, picking up our umbrella of cover, 50 P-38’s and started on course. I was with Bill Dersch & we had Sgts. Witek & MacLean as gunners. We were leading our squadron & flew on the left of the 90th in a “V” of “V’s.” We arrived south of the target at 955 & each element of the 13th was to go in with a group of the 90th giving it the necessary support for ack-ack. As we drew up toward the target slightly ahead of the 90th, black puffs started to appear around us. We opened up with out 8 guns & went in. We strafed some gun positions & toggled off our bombs in a string on the supply bases & saved a couple for the previously known heavy ack-ack on the peninsula, which dropped near the position. We were quite lucky & started a gasoline fire that was visible for 45 miles.

While we were doing our chore, I saw two direct hits made by the 90th on the luggers. As we went out over the bay a long line of bullets churned the water just ahead of our right wing. We went out & circled to the right & as the last element came over, “Jock” Henebry turned & went back in & we joined him to give him the necessary cover. By this time we were down to 3 guns firing, as our barrels on the others were burned out. We started to catch hell again so went down on the trees & flew thru the various columns of smoke, which we, the 13th, caused. Jock pulled away & we continued inland over the strip. We also sighted a camouflaged “Betty” bomber & tried to strafe it, but our bullets started to go all over due to the barrels going too. We then pulled up & went out to sea & dropped low taking evasive action. We were still catching ack-ack. We started down the coast to pick up our wing men & found a couple of “25’s” making passes on two more “luggers” down the coast a ways. We then came in low on the water toward the ships & noticed more ack-ack.

As we came in I saw a shell skip in front of our nose. As we came in to strafe only one of our guns was firing. Some tracers came up at us but were wide of there mark. As we passed over the ships one had been sunk & the other was a sheet of flame, as a result of some good bombing by our boys. We then started home leading a couple of our ships & about 5 P-38’s. As a result of some good dead reckoning & luck we came right out where we should & arrived back at Dobodura without further ado. As proof of our fair support, not one of the other squadrons were hit by ack-ack, and four of our boys were. It was a very successful mission & I’m sure that the little yellow men are on even more meagre rations of rice & fish heads.

Craig told me an interesting incident that happened to him & “Smitty” over the second target. They were coming in for a strafing pass when a burst of ack-ack shook the hell out of them. They then spotted the position & turned to take care of it. With ack-ack coming up all around them, they opened up their 8 50’s & put the old ring & bead right on them. As they closed in, the return fire ceased & they came up over the position, observing four sons of Tojo that would never fight again.

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Breakfast Interrupted

We came across an interesting diary entry from Lieutenant Clifford Taylor, a member of the 13th Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group.

Jan. 15th, 1944

Well, tonight I’m writing in the cool of the evening, pleasantly tired & puffing on my “Bessimer Converter.” Today was quite warm in more ways than one. As we have been doing, we got up at 5:30 & went to chow. Sitting under a canvas roof that doesn’t restrict our view too much we could look out into the valley. As we talked over our coffee, about six fighters at 10,000 started in toward the field. Each of us figuring it was an early patrol. Just about that time they started down toward the strip with tracers blazing from their noses. Our ack-ack opened up on them. As this was going on a transport (C-47) came skimming toward us, just above the trees & heading for the mountain. About that time a “Mike” (Me-109)* peeled down & really started after him. We later heard the C-47 was shot down but all the crew got out. The Japs then high tailed it for home & a “tail-end Charlie” limped across the valley with all the ack-ack trying to get him. They seemed to hit him but not seriously & he got over the mountains. however a P-38 from Lae caught him & shot him down. A few planes were shot up on the transport strip & one boy was hit.

*In actuality, this was a Mitsubishi Ki-61 “Tony,” which looked very similar to the Bf-109. While the Germans and Japanese were allies, there were no German planes in the Southwest Pacific.

Lt. Clifford Taylor Goes to Wewak

Because we like you readers so much, we’re bringing you not one, but two excerpts from Lt. Clifford Taylor’s diary this week. He was a member of the 3rd Bomb Group’s 13th Squadron.

August 17, 1943— Today we went on a mission that was right out of the books & one of the most successful. We were briefed in the morning & found our target to be Wewak, a trip of over 1000 miles. Our take-off time was 615 & we were in slot #9. I was with “Gerry” & we were loaded with 12 clusters of 3 23 lb. parachute frags. Our real target was the Boram strip just off the Wewak strip, where a hundred fighters and bombers were reported, and we were to destroy as many as possible. On this raid we took off knowing that 20 percent of our aircraft were expected not to return due to ack-ack & expecting to get “hopped.” Overhead we had the comforting sight of 50 P-38s & weren’t too worried about “Zekes.” We headed up the south coast of New Guinea past Yule Island & then headed over land. After two hours & forty minutes we arrived at our target. Everything seemed to be in our favor, the clouds went down to 900 feet & we had a nice hill to come around to complete the surprise.

As we dropped thru the clouds we opened our bomb bays came up abreast & started opening fire with our .50s. We were 8 B-25s & between us had 64 guns firing simultaneously. The raid was completely unexpected & the Japs were caught napping. As we came over the drome lines of Zekes were all over. It reminded me of an inspection day at a training school. Before we got over the planes I saw six break into flame & explode by out bullets. As we went over the drome we dropped our para-frags & the strips was completely covered. In our strafing run we caught quite a few Japs still at their planes. I saw two break & run and after running about 25 feet, I saw them stop & crumble in their tracks. A few  less to contend with! We were forced to continue across Wewak strip, as if we turned our bellys toward the ack-ack they would have a better shot at us. About this time we started catching the ack-ack. I saw tow lines of tracers criss-cross over our nose, but by the grace of God we got thru it. As we turned away our biggest worry was  keeping from hitting each other & getting up over the small mountain.

We started climbing & hit some clouds & went on instruments for about 15 sec., as we came out of the clouds we were no more than 25 feet from a B-25 up front. We were quite happy to have missed him. We then headed overland climbing up to 14,000 to get over the mountains. The return trip was uneventful & we landed six hours later, tired yet successful. One B-25 was lost!

 

 

August 18th— Today we drew the supply depots up at Wewak. Our take-off time was 645 & I went will Bill Beroch. We were loaded with we 100 lb. 8-11 second delay bombs. We went up with 11 other planes from our squadron, but three had to turn back due to trouble with their planes. We had P-38s as top cover but we knew that this mission would really be rough. Preceding us up to the targets were the “heavy-boys” & our element of surprise was nil. To make matters worse, visibility was down to a half mile & the ceiling lay at about 100 feet. We arrived north of the target & came back over advertising that we were coming down for an attack. We went out the harbor a ways & turned to make our run in.

About this time all hell broke loose from shore. I could see hundreds of places where machine gun fire was coming up from & all around us black puffs of ack-ack kept bursting making us realize how close it was coming. We came in over the peninsula & strung our bombs north of the runway. About this time we caught a burst of ack-ack & threw our left wing up & put us in a sharp turn to the right. I thought sure our right engine had caught it & we were on single engine. I looked out & she was still going, so I breathed a real sigh of relief. We were still flying thru a curtain of ack-ack that was the heaviest I’ve seen. We continued down over the Wewak strip right on the deck & got them there unscathed. As we pulled up away from the target, five “Zekes” stopped our group. One “Zeke” made a pass at an 8th Sqn. ship & put the right engine & nose on fire.

He immediately fell off into a spin & crashed about five miles from Wewak. We later found out it was Sheppard, a boy we came across with. The P-38s then got to the “Zekes” & took care of them, shooting down quite a few. We then headed for home, waiting for a flock of Zeros to come barreling for us. Things went along okay & we got back without further happenings. When we got on the ground, the station had gotten a plot on 200 “Zekes” searching for us, from Lae to Wewak. What saved us was the overcast. Our ship was hit in a couple of places & Craig’s had been hit one inch from their gas line. When we got the reports we found that 2 B-25s were shot down, 4 B-24s & 2 P-38s were also lost. However things weren’t unbalanced as we (all groups combined) destroyed in air and on the ground a total of 272 Jap aircraft. We got complete credit for the Boram strip & of 106 planes there, we destroyed completely 72 and damaged others. Quite a blow to Tojo!