Wwii Letter. American B-24 Pilot. Shot Down And Killed In Action In January 1944
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Wwii Letter. American B-24 Pilot. Shot Down And Killed In Action In January 1944:
This isa scarce and interestinggrouping original WWII letter,written in1942, during his flying training, by an American pilot who was shot down by German fighter aircraft and killedin action in January 1944.
*** At the timeof his death this pilotwas in the early stages of his combat tour. On the 24th of January, 1944, he was pilotin command of aB-24 Liberator heavy bomberin the 450th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. He was shot down by German fighters while on a mission to bomb a target in Yugoslavia. He remained at the controlsof his aircraftwhilehiscrew bailed out.His entire crew survived andwas captured by the Germans, but this pilot was killed.
This 3 page letter was written on the 8th of October,1942.
*** The letter was written by Ronald R. Whitehead of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Lieutenant Whitehead flew a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber in combat in the 720th Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group(Heavy), 15th Air Force.Lieutenant Whiteheadwas killed in action on the 24th of January, 1944, on amission to bomb a target inYugoslavia.
Lieutenant Whitehead was earlyin his combat tour when he was killed. He had been with his squadron for only a few weeks. On the 24th ofJanuary 1944, he was in command of a B-24 named "Miss Temptation" on a mission to Yugoslavia when the formation was attacked by 10-15 German ME-109 and FW-190 fighters over Bulgaria. According to accounts provided by surviving members of his crew, Lieutenant Whitehead's aircraft suffered damage to one engine and could not maintain sufficient speed to remain in formation. As soon asWhitehead's aircraft left formation it was attacked by numerous ME-109's, sustainedsevere damage, andat least onecrew member washit. Lieutenant Whitehead remained at the controls and managed to keep the aircraft level while the crew bailed out.His entire crew survived and was captured by the Germans, some of them very badly injured. Lieutenant Whitehead alone was killed.
This letter is3 pages long. Ronald Whitehead describes a cross country flight the previous night. He had experienced radio trouble and had to return to the field. He wasn't expected and therunway landing lights were turned off. He buzzed the field and used his landing lights to signal the field to turn on the runway lights:
"We went on a cross country last night. The first turn was 120 miles south, next 75 east, and then home to Lemoore. The whole trip was around 300 miles. I really enjoyed it. I was about half way to my first turn when my radio went dead. I had to return to the home base and get another plane. I got back at the home field, my radio wasn't working so that I could call in and have them turn on the field lights. I buzzed the field and came in blinking my landing lights. Then they turned on the field lights and I landed.
I didn't get to bed until 12:15 this morning, and had to get up at 5 A.M. I wasn't the last ship to land, so I had more sleep than some."
There is additional interesting content. Ronald Whitehead was killed in actiona little more than a year after he wrote this letter.
WWII letter, written by an American pilot who was later killed in action in 1944 while flying a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber in the 450th Bomb Group.
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