461st plaque

461st Bombardment Group (H)

Joseph Breshinsky

I am the one that bailed out over Corsica and landed on a tree in the mountains and wound up in the hospital for a week.  All of the crew got out safely.

If memory serves me right we had just dropped our bombs and took a near hit from flak.  I was temporarily blinded when the pilot put our plane in a steep dive.  We dropped 9,000 to 12,000 feet.  I could tell it was a controlled dive.  Finally my sight returned and I heard movement from my nose gunner.  I thought he was dead until I heard noises in the turret.  I released him from the turret and he had the frightened look of a rat.  He headed for the front wheel escape hatch and I started fighting him in the nose section.  I jammed my fore arm against his throat until he almost collapsed.  I then put my oxygen mask on him and he came to.  He then asked me why we were fighting.  I asked him what did he intend to do when I released him from the turret.  He told me he was going to jump out of the front escape hatch.  Where is your parachute I asked him and he almost fainted?

We then headed thru the wheel tunnel to the flight deck.  There I saw the bomb bay doors half open.  I asked why and was told to look at the wings.  There were holes in them you could walk thru.  When we were over Corsica we were told we would have to jump.  I started to tighten my leg straps but quit after securing one leg.  The bomb bay doors were then opened and I and one of the crew got on the bomb bay cat walk.  I told the crew man to get ready to jump.  He said no.  I told him to jump or I would throw him out.  Finally he leaned over and rolled out.  I got down on the cat walk and watched his chute open.  When it did I rolled out the same way.  When my chute opened, I thought the loosely tightened leg strap would castrate me.  As I battled the leg strap I noticed I was descending faster than the first chutist so I stopped fighting the strap.

At 12,000 feet the ground looked like a soft carpet until I got close to the ground.  I was swinging from side to side so I crossed my legs to protect the family jewels.  My chute shrouded a 20 foot tree as I hit the ground on the back swing very hard.  I thought my back was broken as I lay on the ground.  Then slowly I tried to move my feet and they moved.  I then thought if I could move my feet my back was OK.

I got up and looked down the mountain and laughed as hard as I could.  A native found me and he was more interested in my chute than me.  I tore off a piece of the chute for a souvenir and he took the rest.

He then started down the mountain looking for the first chutist.  My right ankle started swelling and he loaned me his walking stick.  We found the first jumper and for two hours the native had us looking for the first chute.  Finally after 8 hours of walking up and down mountains we reached a road and a waiting ambulance.

Yes, I was on the Genoa mission.  I was sorry to miss the invasion of southern France on the 16th of August.  I was told it was something to see.  At that time I was in a Corsican hospital.  In regard to the fire at Lyons, yes, I was there at that time plus 3 or 4 other times that week or two.

Some details of my missions are a little hazy.  Originally I came over with the 454 Bomb Group, Xmas of 1943.  My first missions were in Jan. of 1944.  On one of those missions we crash landed our B-24.  Got a 3-day pass to go to Bari.  On the way we hitched a ride on an English lorry.  I was sitting in the back of the lorry with a load of vegetables.  Our driver side swiped a truck going in the other direction.  As a result I had a broken shoulder and a shattered elbow.  Two months later I returned to the 454th BG.  My original crew had finished their missions and I was placed in the personnel pool.

Shortly thereafter I got a call to replace a bombardier in the 461st Bomb Group who was killed by flak.  While at the 461st BG I was used on a number of crews as a seasoned warrior.  As to who the pilot was at Genoa, I am not sure.  I was placed on crew #6.

Henry Courcier - Navigator, deceased 1955

Vincent Vino - Co-pilot

Robert Weir - Pilot, deceased 1969

Meyer Joseph - Bombardier, KIA

Breshinsky, Joseph - Bombardier

As a result of the Genoa mission I received a Purple Heart and still have a piece of flak in one knee.