Wwii Letters. Usaaf B-24 Liberator Pilot. Shot Down And Killed In Action In 1944
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Wwii Letters. Usaaf B-24 Liberator Pilot. Shot Down And Killed In Action In 1944:
This isa scarce andvery interestinggrouping of two original WWII letters,written in early 1943 by an American pilot who was shot down by German fightersand killedin action one year later, in January 1944. At the timethat this pilot was killed hewas in the early stages of his combat tour, in 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 controls while his entire crew bailed out. Therest of thecrew was captured by the Germans, but this pilot was killed.
There is very good content inthese twointeresting and highly emotionalletters. They were written immediately after this pilot was commissioned. He was hopeful that he would be assigned to heavy bombers, but instead he was initially assigned to be a photographic reconnaissance pilot. He was bitterly disappointed. (***Several months laterhe finally got his wish and was sent to a heavy bomber school.)
*** The letters were 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.
The first letter is 4 pages long. It was written on the 5th of January 1943. Lieutenant Whitehead had just been commissioned: "Boy, it sure does feel funny having everyone saluting me. My arm is getting tired." Lieutenant Whitehead explains that he was being sent to Salt Lake City, which was a replacement centre for bomber pilots:
"Salt Lake City is a replacement centre for B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-26 pilots. Almost 2/3 of the Lt's who go to Salt Lake City are sent to B-17 schools. After reaching their school 9 chances out of 10 they are given 10 or 15 day furloughs. So again we'll hope for the best."
There is additional interesting content in the January 5th letter.
The second letter is outstanding. It was written on the 13th of January. Lieutenant Whitehead had just learned that he was to be trained as a photo reconnaissance pilot. He was deeply disappointed. He hated the idea. If he couldn't get into bombers he was going to tryto become a pursuit (fighter) pilot:
"The whole Williams Field gang are going into observation work. When they came to us all the B-17 and B-24 squadrons were filled up. I'm so damn mad, I don't know what to say. In the observation group I don't know what's in store for me. I don't even have a good idea of what type plane we'll be flying.
... Dad, I'm just as disappointed as you are. This was a raw deal. When I get there I'm going to try for a transfer to at least a pursuit group.
Dad, in this observation, all you have is two 50 cal. machine guns, a large camera and an airplane. It's going to be a very dead life. I imagine you get the J_p in your sights and go click (take a picture of him). While I'm not on a photographic mission you're going to see those two 50's going into action. They say they have P-38's at San Antonio.
I give up. I'm hoping I can be transferred."
The lettersarecontained intheir originalcovers. The stamps have been cut off.
Very Interesting original WWII letters, 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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