Thursday, September 8, 2011

Then Came Trouble: May 11, 1944

Excerpts from Fogg in the Cockpit, the Wartime Diary of Captain Howard Fogg:

Wednesday and Thursday, May 10 and 11: London

Lost Hodges from the 370th. He bailed out over France.

Kibler and his new wingman disappeared strafing. Bad! Everyone landing anywhere for gas, four and one-half hours without wing tanks!! Rough day.

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Report from the Office of the Group Historian for May 1944 dated 4 June 1944:

The 11th was a confused day that turned out badly. FO 335 was preceded by a warning order at 2040 on the 10th that was canceled at 2357 and revived at 0410. The order itself was in at 0755. At 1030, Wing canceled the assignment and put on notice to support heavy bombers at 1700. At 1108, this cancellation was in its turn canceled, and 51 ships were airborne at 1325. A briefed preliminary sweep merged into an early rendezvous at 1507 near Besançon and support around the target at Mulhouse, where the 359th Group withdrew at 1555.

Then came trouble.

In obedience to an injunction in the FO the Group had not carried wing tanks, and many men, especially the new pilots, had “a sweat job” to get home. Worse yet, the debonair Kibler, slim, sandy, politely aggressive young graduate of the Citadel and US Anti-Aircraft office, and the equally nonchalant, black-haired Hodges both led their flights down on Reims-Champagne on the homeward journey. There was no cover for five miles. The Germans saw them coming and there was vicious flak all the way. Kibler, sure, suave, married just before he left the States, did not come back, and there was no radio chatter to give clue to his fate."

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Photo: Lieutenant Ralph E. “Kib” Kibler with dog “Flak.” Photo courtesy of Anthony C. Chardella: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

Excerpt from the Report from the Office of the Group Historian, included in
Fogg in the Cockpit, was transcribed by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, from reports filed from by Maurice F. X. Donohue, 359th Fighter Group historian and combat intelligence officer, from the original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

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