(From Will Lundy’s ”44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor”, 1987)

29 April 1944

Berlin, Germany

Specific target was the underground railway in the heart of Berlin. Our formation of 21 aircraft encountered moderate to intense flak and from 30 to 50 enemy aircraft sustaining their attacks from Berlin back to Holland, most of this time unescorted. Three of our aircraft did not return.

Squadron losses were as follows: one each by the 67th, 68th and 506th.


67th Sq., #100279 I-Bar, Schuyler, TUFFY, MACR #4464

67th Squadron Crew: Entire crew POW

SCHUYLER, KEITH C. Pilot 2nd Lt. Berwick, PA,ASN 0-808597, POW
EMERSON, JOHN F. Co-pilot 2nd Lt. Santa Monica, CA, ASN 0-818847, POW
RAUSCHER, DALE E. Navigator 2nd Lt. Goodland, KS, ASN 0-678774, POW
DAVIS, JAY LARRY Bombardier 2nd Lt. Cleveland, OH, ASN 0-692481 POW Ohio
SANDERS, WILLIAM L. Engineer S/Sgt. Karnak, IL, ASN 36634767, POW
ROWLAND, LEONARD A. Radio Oper. S/Sgt. Portland, OR, ASN 37495062, POW
REICHERT, WALTER E. Ball Turret Sgt. Farragut, ID, ASN 19130088, POW
COX, GEORGE G. RW Gunner Sgt. Louisa, KY, ASN 15336328, POW
RENFRO, GEORGE N. LW Gunner Sgt. Handley, TX, ASN 38426809, POW
SCHOW, HARRY J. Tail Turret Sgt. Austin, MN, ASN 36032490, POW

2nd Lt. Schuyler was the pilot of "TUFFY". His navigator, Dale E. Rauscher relates his experiences, “Our aircraft was under control as we dropped behind the formation. We had been badly damaged by flak and we were unable to keep up with the formation. We were doing okay until about ten or twelve FW 190s spotted us and came in at us head-on. Their first pass hit us pretty badly, although no one was killed or wounded.

There was cloud cover at about 5,000 feet, so Schuyler put the nose down and we headed for the clouds. I think only one enemy aircraft followed us, and he kept coming in on us each time we came out of cloud cover. We had iced up and had to come out of the clouds to try to get rid of a little ice buildup. We played hide and seek in the clouds for awhile, but finally ran out of clouds.

Our gun stations were out of ammunition, fuel tanks had been hit and we had two fires in the tail section, so we were told to bail out. We had about fifteen minutes of fuel left when we finally abandoned ship. As we had been flying all over the sky and in every direction while trying to shake off those fighters, I was not positive where we were, but we were about forty or fifty miles east of the "Zuider Zee". We bailed out safely and were all captured a short time later.”

The plane crashed at 1400 hours, 10 miles east of Holland at Tilloy-Floriville, County of Meppen. Lt. Keith C. Schuyler, pilot, has written a book of his wartime experiences titled “Elusive Horizons” and gave permission to include some of his account of that day.

Berlin was always a rough one. This was a symbol of Germany’s might. There were still plenty of German fliers willing to die for Berlin for ideological reasons. There were plenty more who had lost their grasp on symbols but flew and fought us in exquisite machines that were manufactured out of the best parts available.

We were told that we could expect heavy fighter opposition. The Luftwaffe had been unusually quiet for the past week, and we expected plenty of trouble today. ‘You will have fighter cover much of the way, but you know they can’t stick around long,’ we were told. Some fighters were overhead, friendly fellows cutting contrails back and forth in a protective web that made you feel good. Then Larry Davis, bombardier, cut in on the interphone, ‘Fighters! A whole swarm of them!’ I didn’t see them at once. Larry pinpointed them, 'Straight ahead, low at twelve o’clock!’ Then I saw them ... and took a deep breath. Coming up at us like a swarm of bees was a literal swarm of at least forty German fighters. And they were headed directly at our formation! Like specks at first, in almost an instant they materialized into wings and engines. Then there was a hellish roar as everything became a confusion of sound and motion. Like entering a tunnel with the windows open on a train – dust, noise, and debris became indistinguishable. Right over my windshield a German fighter came apart in a glimpse of flame and junk. That was Larry’s. A B-24 that had been lagging at seven o’clock, drew in close at five o’clock just as a German came through. The fighter smashed head on into the big one right at the nose turret and both planes exploded in a ball of flame.

Then it was over. For us. Somehow, after you have dropped your bombs, you get the feeling that everything is all right. If your airplane is working as it should, it becomes more a matter of whether you have enough fuel for the trip back. At least that is the feeling you have. But deep down inside you know it is not over. This is not a game. They want to punish you for what you did if they can. So they try.

Somehow our lead plane took us over Brandenburg on the way out, so the Germans would now get another crack at us with their flak guns. Although it was heavy, we seemed to be getting by without incident. Then I noticed four bursts off our left wing, maybe a hundred yards out, and just below our level. Then four more, closer. Fascinated, I watched as four more burst just ahead of and below our left wing, possibly 30 yards away. I didn’t see the next bursts – but I heard them. And our ship shook to the concussions. Immediately, #2 prop ran away. The torque, as the propeller screamed up to over 3,000 rpm, dragged at our wing, and I leaned into the rudder, then hit the feathering button. We were hurt again – badly. A hole in #2 cowling gave visual evidence that we had caught plenty from the last volley of flak, the manifold pressure on #4 was down badly. The supercharger had probably been knocked out. Although the engine was running smoothly, it would not do much more that carry its own weight at over 20,000 feet. Normally, we wouldn’t have too much to worry about, but we were still a long way from home. The disruption in power had dropped us back behind the formation and there was no chance of catching up. I personally called the lead ship. ‘Red leader, we’ve got some problems back here. Can you slow down a little?’ ‘We’ll try,’ the answer came back, ‘but we can’t cut it back much.’

But it soon became evident that we couldn’t keep up. We kept dropping back – slowly, inexorably … If we were hit in the wings as much as I feared, there was a good chance that we would be losing fuel from the wing tanks. I called Sanders, our engineer, who climbed down out of his turret to check the gas supply. His report confirmed my suspicions. There was a serious imbalance in the gasoline tanks to indicate that we were losing some somewhere. I asked Rauscher, navigator, for our estimated time of arrival in England and his fast mental calculations convinced me that we were not going to make it home. We’d be lucky to stretch our glide to make the North Sea. But I kept this news away from the crew.

Again it was Larry who alerted us to fighters, ‘Off to the left. They are hitting the group off to the left.’ There were eight of them! And had they elected to come at us singly, subsequent events might have been different. But they came straight on, strung out wing to wing, like a shallow string of beads. FW 190 they were! And I had only an instant to make a decision of how to deal with them. 'Get ready!', I called. I, too, got ready. I didn’t make my move until I saw the leading edges of the FW’s start to smoke and yellow balls begin to pop around out wings. Then I dove straight for the middle of the string of beads! Either they would get out of the way or we would take a couple of them with us. They scattered! Deliberately, I held the nose of the bomber as straight down as I could manage. But she was trimmed for level flight and wanted to come out of the dive. Jack Emerson saw my quivering arms and added his strength to keep the nose down. I wanted those fighters to think they had us.

The strategy worked on five out of the six remaining, but that one was destined to give us more trouble than all of the others combined. He did not believe us.

I heard Jack shout under his oxygen mask and I felt the controls wrenched from me for an instant. Jack had seen him coming from his side and he rolled the bomber into the attack. Tracers cut by the left side of the fuselage as the tortured Lib responded. We kept the pressure on the elevators and the nose toward the ground as I watched the air speed pass the red line. Then it touched 290, which gave us somewhere around 400 mph at our altitude. Below us I could see a solid cloud cover and it was our only refuge. But in one of the frequent paradoxes of war, to gain them was also our undoing. Our precious altitude, needed to get us somewhere near home, was being used up in a desperate effort to escape the more obvious danger from the fighters. The cat and mouse drama continued for a considerable time, including the added problem of icing, and then the clouds ran out.

The tail gunner, Schow, later told Lt. Schuyler, “The fighter came in at 5 o’clock. I started firing but the tracers bounced right off him. And then, when I was just pressing triggers, nothing was happening. It was only an instant before I could find the extent of damage. A 20 mm had hit us in the right elevator. It blew my hydraulic unit onto the floor, clipped off my left gun, cut my mike cord about an inch and a half from my throat, and generally took my plexiglass.

“I tried to fire my right gun manually, but it, too, was ruined. So I got out of the turret, went to the waist, where another fire had started, put on my chute and told Sgt. Cox to relay the news to the pilot, but Cox had already done that.” Both men then attempted to extinguish the two fires, waist and turret.

“With only 50 gallons of fuel left, two fires and only one gun left firing, the time had come. We were close to being over Holland – possibly 40 miles away from the Zuider Zee. “I started a 180-degree turn. Let her blow in Germany! A quick glance back through the fuselage – it was empty. Flicked on the aileron switch of the automatic pilot, always set for emergency, rose hurriedly from my seat; then onto the catwalk in the bomb bay.

“As I tumbled below and away from our airplane, I was determined to delay the opening of my parachute. And I almost waited too long! Later, I was told our ship blew all to hell.” All ten men survived to become POWs.