Heroes: the Army Air Corps
"...When the bombardier opened the doors I heard the gunners in the rear of the plane hollering that something was wrong in the bomb bay. The ball turret gunner said he had to get out because his turret was filling up with smoke and he was choking..."
- Branch of Service: Army Air Corps
- Unit: 305th Bomb Group, 364th Bomb Sqn. [Heavy]
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: 1st Lt., Pilot
- Birth Year: 1921
- Entered Service: Royal Oak, MI
305th Bomb Group Sqdns. 364th, 365th, 366th Bomb Squadron
This is a story that is time to tell. In view of some of the tales about "friendly fire" people need to know and understand that this is something that happens in war and is not totally controllable. This becomes scary when you consider that one day there will be nuclear weapons used and the thought of "friendly fire" is a greater risk than one we should take.
This story is about a mission I led on June 6th 1944. That's right, D-Day. We were told there would be 13,000 planes in the air that day and we could not deviate from our planned course. Our target was to be German gun locations just over the coast at Coen, France. Because of the closeness to the coast we had to open our bomb bay doors over the channel.
When the bombardier opened the doors I heard the gunners in the rear of the plane hollering that something was wrong in the bomb bay. The ball turret gunner said he had to get out because his turret was filling up with smoke and he was choking. I told the waist gunners to help him out and they informed me they were all getting gassed. What had happened was the smoke bomb all lead planes carry so that the rest of the group will drop on the smoke trail and give a closer pattern on the target had gone off in the bomb bay. Our choice was limited, we had to get rid of the smoke bomb. I radioed the rest of the group that we had to drop the smoke bomb and not to drop on it.
They could see the trouble we were in and all complied. I told the bombardier to drop the smoke bomb. He did and then we got the bad news from our tail gunner that he had also dropped a 500 pound bomb. The channel 15000 feet below us appeared to be solid boats. I told the tail gunner to try and track it as it fell into the channel. He tried but said he lost on it's way down. We continued on our heading and hit our intended target and returned to our base. We reported the incident at de-briefing and never heard of it again. I finished my tour the next day and stayed in England until September.
I never thought much about it after a few days, but years later it haunted me. I don't think that scene will ever be repeated again in history. So many planes, so many boats, so many men killed. Man is a crazy animal.
----- Burton Miner
B-17G with markings of the 305th Bomb Group
From: The Mighty Eight by Roger A. Freeman
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
8th Air Force, 305th Bomb Group
305th Bomb Group: Organizational List
Wrong Place - Wrong Time (2nd Schweinfurt Raid, Oct 14, 1943)
305th Bombardment Group
Honoring the Memory of the 305th BG
8th Air Force Historical Society
The Air Force in WWII
Numberous Images of B-17's (German web site)
USAF Aircraft Serial Number Search
USAF Aircraft Serial Number Search Help
World War II Causality Search
The materials depicted on this page were reprinted with kind permission of Mr. Burton Miner.
We, at the World War II Stories - In Their Own Words web site wish to offer to Mr. Burton Miner our most profound THANK YOU for sharing his memories of his experiences -- during World War II. We will always be grateful for Mr. Miner's contributions to the war effort and to the countless other men and women who put forth their "finest hour".
Original story received via e-mail on 13 May 2005.
Story added to website 13 May 2005
September 5, 2002.
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