Baumann - #46
Photo courtesy of Edwin Baumnn
Standing L-R: English, James (B); Coffey, Joseph L. (N); Larson, Hilmer W. (CP); Baumann, Edwin (P);
Squatting L-R: Griffith, Joseph R. (TG); Forster, Robert L. (G); Galin, Herman W. (NG); Laughlin, Robert D. (RO/G); Millet, Sidney M. Jr.(E/TTG)
Back Row L-R:Baumann, Edwin (P); Galin, Herman W. (NG); Forster, Robert L. (G); Griffith, Joseph R. (TG); Millet, Sidney M. Jr. (E/TTG); Laughlin, Robert D. (RO/G)
Front Row L-R: Larson, Hilmer W. (CP); Coffey, Joseph L. (N); Lewis, Charles F. Jr.; Hopkins, Joseph C.
Courtesy of Richard Coffey
Edwin Baumann, Joseph Coffey and Hilmer Larson in Idaho September 1943
Courtesy of Richard Coffey
Edwin Baumann, Joseph Coffey and Hilmer Larson in Idaho November 1943
Courtesy of Richard Coffey
Joseph Coffey November 1943
Courtesy of Richard Coffey
Edwin Baumann (P); Joseph Coffey (N); Unknown (E/G); Unknown (G); Hilmer Larson (CP); Unknown (E/G); Unknown (G)
Courtesy of Richard Coffey
Joseph Coffey in Idaho in 1943
Courtesy of Richard Coffey
Edwin Baumann and Joseph Coffey in front of monument, "Barletta; It's brave sons who fell in the Great War 1915.
LT. J. L. Coffey
Personal Property of Lieutenant Joe Lee Coffey
766th Bombardment Squadron (H)
461st Bombardment Group (H)
Fifteenth Air Force
January 12, 1944 – Went on board the S.S. William Rawle at Newport News, Virginia for shipment overseas. The William Rawle is a 10,000 ton Liberty ship. Am leaving for combat 14 months and 12 days after joining the army. Was assigned to a state room with Larson, English, and three other lieutenants of my squadron. The Red Cross was there on the pier with hot coffee for all of us. Everyone seemed to be happy. We moved away from the pier and dropped anchor and stayed there two days waiting on the convoy to form together.
January 16, 1944 – We run into a storm and everyone gets seasick, including myself. Changed course from 135° to 90°. Lots of rumors as to our destination. Most popular one is Italy.
January 28, 1944 – We have our first submarine alert of the voyage. Depth charges were dropped 10 miles somewhere off to our right, but we have no trouble. We are getting close to Gibraltar. The trip is beginning to get monotonous. Yesterday we borrowed a phonograph and records from the ship’s transport commander and just played the hell out of the thing from then on.
January 29 – Got up this morning at 0530 for possible submarine attack. Sun up and sundown are good times for attacks by submarines. But nothing happened this morning. This afternoon at 2 o’clock we were alerted. Again depth charges are dropped to the rear of our ship. Also at 6 o’clock we were alerted. We seem to be treading on dangerous ground.
January 30 – Another submarine alert at 0900. Plenty of seagulls around – good sign of land.
January 31 – We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar this morning at 0730. It is good to see land again. Rumor going around now that we are debarking at Sicily. The Mediterranean Sea is much calmer.
February 1, 1944 – We have our first air raid at 7:00 PM by approximately ten or twelve JU-88s. Our ship is credited with knocking down one of the two enemy planes hit. One of the ships in the convoys is sunk and another one is damaged. If anyone had said he wasn’t scared during the raid he certainly was telling a lie.
February 2, 1944 – Were issued four day’s supply of C-rations and began to repack our equipment together. What a happy day it will be when we get off this boat.
February 4 – Our ship drops out of the convoy and drops anchor in the bay outside Carthage in North Africa. Understand we are waiting on another convoy which is going to our port of debarkation. The other convoy, which we were in, went on to Egypt.
February 10 – We pull anchor and join a small convoy going to our port of debarkation. We all agree that we’re going to Naples, Italy.
February 13 – We debark at Naples. City has rarely been torn up by bombs. My first foreign city to see torn up. Guess I will see worst places than this before my overseas service is completed. Got off the boat and piled into trucks and drove seven or eight miles to the small town of Bagnoli and move into some college buildings. College was built for crippled children but was taken over by Germans and used as officers training center.
February 15 – Slipped off and went into Naples on a visit. A kid guided us all over the city for 10 cents. The money system here is very easy. 100 liras equal one dollar. Had a very good time. It is a very pretty city, that is, the part that hasn’t been bombed.
February 18 – We got on the train to move again. We travel in small boxcars. I am put in charge of 25 men in one car. Have never seen so many tunnels in all my life. Out of 200-mile trip, 35 miles were through tunnels, and what a rugged trip.
February 19 – We got off the boxcars about noon and went by truck to a place called Venosa. The coldest weather I have ever been in. We move into tents not even staked down. About the worst night I hope to spend while overseas.
February 20 – Wrong place – so got into trucks and go to within 8 miles of Cerignola. Our permanent station at last. The place used to be a community farming project but we heard that Mussolini had some of his crack cavalrymen stationed here.
February 21 – Our mail catches up with us. I got 28 letters. First letter since December 27, 1943.
February 23 – Larson and I went into Cerignola to take a hot shower and look the place over. The shower made us feel much better. Quite a few stores open for business but nothing you want to buy. Saw a few pretty Italian girls. Am afraid I will never learn to speak this language.
February 25 – Moved out into a tent with Larson, English, and Baumann today. Fixed up very nice too, considering where we are. Have a brick floor and gas stove and electricity. But this Italian electricity is no good. The native sells us all the wine, oranges, and nuts we want.
March 2 – Flew a training mission today. First time to fly since December 27, 1943 and also first time over foreign country. Had been raining quite a bit and we got stuck twice on the runway.
March 3 – We hitchhiked into Foggia today to buy some PX supplies. Were issued ration cards. Only two bars of candy and two packs of gum per week. Foggia is 28 miles away. Had a very good time. The Red Cross has an officer’s club there where we can get plenty of coffee and doughnuts. Very good hitchhiking in this country.
March 8 – Larson, Baumann, English, and I hitchhiked to Bari today. A distance of 75 miles to get more PX supplies. So far it has rained quite a bit here and that gives us nothing to do. So we just start out hitchhiking to look this country over.
April 1, 1944 – April Fool’s Day – a fine day for us to start our missions. This morning we got up at 0300 and went down to Group Headquarters for the briefing of our first mission. It was to be a raid on a railroad bridge in Senigallia, Italy. We were going to drop three 1,000 lb. bombs but it was called off because of bad weather after we’d stood by in our airplane for five hours.
April 2, 1944 – “This is it” as the old expression goes. Again we got up this morning at 0300 and went down to Group for briefing. Took off at 0730 this morning and flew to Bihac, Yugoslavia and dropped 3600 lbs of fragmentation bombs. A distance of 500 miles round trip and we landed at 1230. No fighter opposition nor flack was encountered. One ship was lost in our squadron due to midair collision. The Colonel flew with us. So scratch no. one.
April 5 – Started on our second mission today. The oxygen system on the ship was leaking so we had to abort from the formation over Spinnagala and come back. We were going to Nis, Yugoslavia.
April 7 – Today I got that ole “flak-happy” feeling. Took off from Torreto this morning at 1030 and went to Ferrara, Italy and bombed the marshalling and railroad yards there. Our first successful mission. We were flying wing position on the Colonel’s ship. Carried eight 500 lb bombs. Saw all the flak I care to see that day. Two minutes after releasing bombs we look back and flack was so thick that you could have gotten out and walked on it. That night the Colonel called us down to his headquarters and showed us pictures with the bombing results and congratulated us on a good job.
April 9 – Larson and I got our first 24 hour pass today so we hitchhiked down to Bari. Stayed in the Orient, a hotel used by Fifteenth Air Force officers. As today was Easter Sunday, every Italian and his brother were out showing themselves off.
April 12 – Got up this morning at 0500 and went down to group to brief for a mission. We were going to Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Took off at 0900 but had to come back because a crewmember got sick.
April 13 – We were put up in the Big League today. Went to Budapest, Hungary and tore the hell out of a ME-109 factory. A trip of 850 miles. Dropped eight 500 lb bombs. Good bombing job. But too much flak for me. Ran into some rocket firing fighters. Around 20 enemy planes in all. We lost two planes out of our squadron. We were supposed to have P-38s for fighter protection but none of them showed up. Who says Italy isn’t a nice country to come home to. This raid counted as two missions.
April 17 – Going to Brasov, Romania – close to the Ploesti oil fields. Had to get up at 0400 this morning. Carrying 30 clusters of fragmentation bombs. But had to turn back because a crewmember got sick.
April 20 – Went to Ferrara, Italy today to bomb the marshalling yards again but the target was overcast so we went up to Trieste and bombed the Tagliamento Casarsa Railroad and highway bridges there. Some good hits too. I flew with Lt. Settles’ crew today. Seems this is the only way I’ll get any missions in.
April 21 – Another big league job. Going to Bucharest, Romania. But again we turned back because another crewmember got sick.
April 29 – Today we went to Toulon, France and bomb submarine pens and other harbor installations. We carried four 1,000 lb bombs. Saw quite a bit of flak on all four sides of us today and one lone ME-109 followed us for ten miles out to sea. Lt. Gold was our pilot today. None of our planes were lost. Was a 900 mile round trip. Did quite a bit of damage too.
May 2 – Today we went to La Spezia. A coast city in northern Italy. Our target was supposed to have been Parma, Italy but 20 miles from there we ran into bad weather. So after the Colonel makes two or three circles over enemy territory, we dropped our bombs on Spezia. Dropped nine 500 lb bombs on one large freighter and several smaller vessels. Plenty of flak but no fighters. This is the kind of mission which grates on your nerves very much.
May 4 – Today was a training mission. We made a couple of practice bomb runs on Pianossa Island. Then coming back home to land one of the planes had a flat tire on landing so we had to circle for two hours. The other group on our field lost four planes today – just on a training. Also I got two big boxes of candy from Mother today.
May 5 – Went to the “oil fields” today. Took off at 0900 and came back and 5:30 PM. A trip of 900 miles. We dropped nine 500 lb bombs on an oil refinery just outside the town of Ploesti, Romania. Flak was plentiful but inaccurate and we only saw six or eight enemy fighters. All our squadron made it back safely. Coming back over Yugoslavia, we run into a patch of flak which was fairly close to us. From now on we will dodge that place. This mission counted double. We got four flak holes in our ship.
May 7 – Went back into Romania again today. Took off this morning at 0800 and got back at 3:30 PM. Had to get out of bed at 0400. Dropped nine 500 lb bombs on the marshalling yards at Bucharest, Romania. A bang up good plaster job. Smoke was billowing over the city to a height of 10-12,000 feet. We were the fifteenth and the last group of Liberators to go over the city. This mission counted as double also. And now I have been to the capitol of both Romania and Hungary. Saw plenty of flak but no fighters whatsoever. Got one large flak hole in our ship. Coming back over Yugoslavia we ran into bad weather and the formation had to split up and everyone came home by themselves. Everything seems to happen to us over Yugoslavia. Engine No. 1 had a gas leak today and used up half of our gas supply. So we had to make an emergency landing with only 200 gallons left.
May 12 – Put on a show for the ground troops today. In support of the ground troops starting the big push up on the front line. Went up to Castel Maggiere, a large marshalling yard just outside of Bologna a small town up in northern Italy. Got up there and the target was solid overcast so after making several circles over enemy target we bombed a large town of Marina di Carrara on the western coast of Italy. Did pretty good damage. Dropped nine 500 lb bombs. No flak or enemy fighters.
May 14 - Supporting the front line troops again. Went to Padua, Italy, large city with marshalling yards on the Adriatic side of Italy. Dropped ten 500 lb bombs on the rails. A darn good plaster job. Plenty of flak and was it accurate. Came back with seven or eight flak holes. A small piece hit in my compartment.
May 19 – Went on my first “Blockbuster” raid today. Bombed a large railroad viaduct on the western side of Italy today. The name of the town is Rocco. Dropped two 2,000 lb bombs and two 1,000 bombs. No flak or fighters were encountered. The town is located seven miles east of Genoa, Italy.
May 23 – A very short mission today. The target was Subiaco railroad garage in central Italy, located 15 miles on the other side of the front lines. No flak or enemy fighters were encountered.
May 25 – Got sick today, and went to an army hospital
for the first time in my army career. The docs thought I had a
slight case of malaria but nothing was wrong with me after all.
Stayed in hospital for six days. Got out on the 31st of May.
“Crew 46 does it again.” The crew has more or less been broken up. Baumann was transferred to the 765 squadron, so he could get a new start. The CO didn’t like his record of so many turn backs. One week after he was transferred, he went down over Yugoslavia. Now he is a prisoner of war. Larson was transferred to another crew.
June 4 – Went on a long haul up to France today. Dropped bombs on a RR bridge. Circled the target two or three times trying to find a break in the clouds so we could bomb. The target was St. Mihail, a small town just inside the French border from Italy. No flak or fighters were encountered. Today 5th Army troops entered Rome and occupied it. So I guess our bombing of RR targets in Northern Italy did some good after all.
June 5 – Hitting North Italy again today. Went to the Borgo Val di Taro Railroad Bridge. It is located 30 miles inland from the western coast. No fighters were encountered but saw plenty of flak in our path but managed to go around it without any hits.
June 6 – The second front was started today. Parachute troops were landed in the Le Havre coast area of France.
June 7 – Went to visit the French again today. Dropped five 1,000 lb bombs on the Antheor Viaduct on the southern coast of France. It is located ten miles west of Cannes, France. The home of the “Café Society” of France. I have never before seen such intense and accurate flak. A piece of flak, two inches in length, came through the radio compartment, missed my elbow by three or four inches, went through my navigator briefcase and also knocked the lock off of it. Pretty close I calls it. I’m rarin’ to go again though!
June 10 – So it’s oil we’re after now. Went to Porto Marghera, Italy today. An oil refinery located just four miles west of Venice. A good plaster job. No fighters were encountered, only light flak came up to meet us.
June 11 – Oil again. Dropped 16 250 lb bombs on Giurgiu oil refineries. The target was located in south Romania on the Danube River, just 30 miles south of Bucharest. Quite a bit of flak was encountered. Only saw 6-8 enemy fighters. One fighter attacked our flight twice but a little hot lead soon drove him off. It was a doubleheader today. Good target hits.
June 14 – I know the Fuhrer must be crying for oil these days. We went to Szony, Hungary after an oil refinery on the Danube River, just 30 miles northwest of Budapest. Dropped 19 250 lb bombs right on the spot. Plastered the hell out of that one. No flack was there today. Only saw two enemy planes and they were scared. The easiest double-header I’ve ever been on. It was a round trip of 1,000 miles.
June 22 – After oil again. After seven days of rest because of bad weather, we took off for Trieste, Italy oil refineries. Carried 18 250 lb bombs. Bad weather was solid on primary and both alternate targets. So we brought them back. Counted as a mission though. Went through a little flak.
June 26 – We went to Vienna, Austria today. Had to get up at 0100. Bombed the Korneuburg oil refineries seven miles northwest of Vienna. I have never seen such a heavy concentration of flak. Were jumped by five ME-410s but came through OK. without a scratch from flak or fighters. Halfway home we were jumped by five ME-109s. This was a doubleheader. That should get just about all of Der Fuhrer’s oil.
June 29 – Today we went back to Giurgiu, Romania. Dropped nine 500 lb bombs on oil installations there. A very heavy concentration of flak came up to meet us. Got a few holes in the ship but otherwise we got home OK. Got some good hits on the targets and saw clouds of smoke come up 10,000 feet high. This was a doubleheader.
July 5 - Went to visit the French today. Bombed a fat marshaling yard at Beziers, France, just 90 miles north of the Spanish border. Some Eighth Air Force bombed targets in that area on their way home from shuttle runs to Russia and down to Italy. So we escorted the Eighth boys home. Plenty of flak but no fighters. One of our longest runs. Coming back we landed in Corsica – running short on fuel. In the air twelve hours.
July 7 – Made my longest and worst mission today. Flew to Blechhammer oil refineries on the Polish-German border. The refineries were one of Germany’s largest besides Ploesti. We flew in an old crate today. On the way up there we had to drop four of our 500 lb bombs to make the plane climb better and stay in formation better. Flak was so thick over the target that we could play hide and seek in it. ME-109s made passes at us up as closes as 200 yards. Saw around 30-40 fighters that day. B-24s were dropping out of formation in all places – on fire. Coming back I threw out about $5000 worth of ammunition, machine guns, and radio equipment to lighten the ship. We were getting very very low on gas. Sweated the fuel out all the way back. Landed on emergency airfield on Italian coast with 35 gallons of gas in each tank. Gold strictly did a good job of piloting the ole crate. We just about cried when we sighted the Italian coast. Strictly a rough mission.
July 9 – Our squadron commander called us in today and told us to get packed – we were going home the next day.
July 10 – Left 766th Squadron
July 10 – Arrived at Naples Rep. Center
July 17 – Boarded S.S. Cristobal
July 21 – Left Naples
July 24 – Passed through Gibraltar
August 4 – Landed in States
August 7 – Left Camp Patrick Henry
August 10 – Arrived at Camp Shelby and given 21 day leave.