From: "The 464th Bomb Group In World War II"
By Michael Hill and Betty Karle
This excerpt describes Raymond Farquhar's final mission
The fliers of the 464th were back in the air on the 16th (of October 1944). They had been forced into a 48 hour stand down due to bad weather at Pantanella and over Europe. It seemed that the weather was becoming more of a factor in the war than the German defense, that is if that was at all possible.
The mission briefing called for 36 B-24s from the 464th to launch at 0650 and hit the St. Valentin Tank works at Linz Austria. Oh goodie, another trip to scenic Austria. The bladder buster would be led by Maj. William Moore, while the second attack would be led by Lt. Dean Lovitt.
Four planes aborted the mission. The three spare aircraft that had taken off that morning moved to the vacant spots within the boxes as the formation headed out over the Adriatic. At the usual turn point, the group banked and headed for the Yugoslav coast.
As the planes flew over the mountains the flight crews were treated to a beautiful sight. There below was a vista of bright colors form the changing foliage. Hues of red, yellow, and blazing orange spotted by green passed below as the bombers flew over. For a fleeting moment it gave some of the men a thought of back home in the United States. If they survive the mission, maybe they would write home about the site they had seen.
According to the briefing flimsy, the fighter escort was supposed to show up at 1010. Sure enough, right on time about 40 P-38s crossed over the formation and took their position to cover the bomber stream.
At 1015 Maj. Moore signaled that he was loosing oil pressure on his #1 engine. He pulled FLAKMAN (42-95332) out of formation and headed back towards Italy. Lt. Donald Nann, Deputy Lead, slid his B-24 into the vacant slot and assumed the lead.
The reshuffle of the bomber deck resulted in the formation drifting about 20 miles off course to the right of the main formation of the 55th Wing. By the time the Key Point was reached, the 464th was back where they should be and on course.
At the IP, the group found the ground almost hidden by clouds. It looked like it was going to be a "Mickey" run. The group turned at the IP and started for the target. The radar had already been turned up and was working just the way it was suppose to. The "Mickey" men started calling range and course corrections to the bombardiers.
Two minutes before the release point the flak opened up. Not bad at first, but as the group moved closer to the target, the flak moved closer to them. From the waists of many of the B24s clouds of silver metallic chaff blossomed in the slipstream. For a few moments it seemed that the more chaff they threw, the more flak was thrown up at them.
At the release point, flak seemed to fill every corner of the sky, no matter how much chaff the gunners threw out. They had only been in the flak for a couple of minutes, and already that was too long.
At 1136, the radar and bombardier agreed that it was time for Bombs away. Thirty three of the 34 planes dropped their loads towards the undercast. One plane did not drop because the release lever had broken.
As the group began to rally the flak caught up with 42-51389, flown by Lt. William Lee and crew (Raymond Farquhar as Navigator) from the 776th. The burst scored a direct hit on the #1 engine, which exploded and caught fire. The fire spread across the wing. Lt. Lee rang the bail out bell, and the co-pilot Robert Keller and Sgt. Sidney Elder jumped from the burning plane. The B-24 fell from the formation. The fire eaten left wing folded, and the plane spiraled into the clouds, taking the rest of the crew with her (MACR 9132).
Note: Betty Karle's brother, Lt. John James, was in Ray's squadron.
John James was killed in action in August of 1944 when his plane,
Little Lulu was shot down.
Copyright to the above belongs to the authors. It has been used with their permission