HEROES of
CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

Staff Sergeant James E. Boyer
708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group (Heavy)


Several weeks later, the Dottie Jane was damaged beyond repair and salvaged.


Combat Diary: S/Sgt Louis J. Torretta
Sgt. Louis J. Torretta was the tail gunner on the Robert Morley crew, and part of the original deployment from Harvard AAB to Rattlesden in November 1943.  

His Diary exists today as a typewritten copy, having every indication of being a transcription by Torretta himself, of a handwritten journal made during his combat tour with certain notes and additions included after the fact.  The diary is reproduced here up until the mission in which Staff Sergeant Boyer was injured. The balance of the diary can be found here: http://www.447bg.com/library/crews/morley/torretta.html

MISSION #1 DEC 24 1943 
TARGET - ST. OMAR (FRANCE)
BOMB LOAD 12 Demolition each 500 pounds
BOMBING ALTITUDE 18500 ft
TEMPERATURE 20 BELOW ZERO

We were awakened at 0530 and we all thought it was just going to be another dry run. But we found out different when we reached the briefing room. There we were told what our target was to be and how important it was to the enemy. We worked from 0700 to 1100 getting all of our equipment in working order. Then came the time to start the engines and get ready for take off. We all climbed into our ship and got ready. Then we taxied up to the runway and we were on our way. We circled the field a few times until every ship had obtained its proper position and the formation was made. Then we flew across the Channel into France. We didn’t encounter any enemy fighters which was quite a surprise to me. Also we were able to go around the Flak and no one was hurt. Later we heard that S-2 expected about 50% causalities. Also we were told that our bombs hit and destroyed the target. I wish some of you people that read this could have been there when we returned to our field. It seemed like everyone that could possibly come out to greet and question us was there. 

MISSION #2 DEC 31st 1943 
TARGET – COGNAC (FRANCE) AIRFIELD 
BOMB LOAD 10 Demolition each 500 pounds
BOMBING ALTITUDE 16,000ft
TEMPERATURE 18 Below Zero

My Second raid. We were awakened at 0230. Then we were briefed & the regular routine stuff. We took off at 0715. We arrived at our Target at 1230. Our Target was an Airfield where the German pilots train to fly the FW 190 and the FW 200. Just before we reached our target a formation of B-24s cut-thru our formation and broke it up. We were flying tail end Charley. That is the last ship in the high Element. When the Libs broke us up or cut us out of our formation we were attacked by two ME 109s. They came in at 9 o’clock high then flew out about 1500, yards and picked up another one out there and the three of them made a direct attack on our tail. They came in at 430 Level and I was the only one who could shoot at them. They were too low for the Top Turret and too high for the Lower Turret. Two of them kept weaving and the one in the center kept coming straight in. I kept firing at the center one. Then all of a sudden he burst out in flame and I could see the smoke pouring out of his engine. He went down in a tight spin and that was the end of him. By this time we were over our Target. The Flak was very accurate and there was plenty of it. I saw two of our ships go down. One was from our group and the other was from another group that was flying with us. The one from our group was hit in #2 engine and the ship seemed to sit up on its tail. At first I couldn’t figure what was wrong with it as I had never seen a ship hit as yet. Then I watched it go down in a spin. I saw two fellows bail out of our ship before it hit. We picked up a few holes in our ship from Flak. One piece hit #1 engine and another cut our trim tabs cable. Still another hit the top turret. As for the enclosed article, it tells pretty much what happened to one of our crews. They were flying another ship not Hangover and the ship they were flying was put in the junk pile. We put two ships in the junk pile on this raid. Major Newman’s ship had 150 holes in it from Flak. He had to make a one wheel landing and ground looped no one was hurt. There was another group flying behind us and they called our old man and told him our bombs made a direct hit. We destroyed 11 out of 16 hangars which was our target. We landed at 1715 o’clock and boy was I ever tired. So far I got credit for a damaged ship from that last raid. No one saw it hit the ground and it was not confirmed.

MISSION #3 JAN 11 1944
TARGET BRUNSWICK (GERMANY) ASSEM. PLANT
BOMB LOAD 10 Demolition each 500 pounds
BOMBING ALTITUDE 21,000 Ft
TEMPERATURE 35 BELOW ZERO

Once again we were awakened at 0230 breakfast and briefing and work. Then we left the field at 0700 o'clock. We were to assemble at 16,000 ft but there was a very bad overcast at that altitude and quite a few ships never did find their right outfits. The clouds were so thick I could hardly see our wing tips. There were ships all over the sky we almost got rammed by other ships a couple of times. I was kept pretty busy in the tail flashing code so the other ships could see us and know what group we belong to. We were very lucky to find our ships. We left the English coast at 1020 o’clock and reached the German border at 1110. We reached the target at 1217. We saw quite a few fighters, some JU 88s and some ME 110s and 210s. For our escort we had a few P38s. On this raid we used some new kind of stuff to deflect Flak and it proved to be pretty good. We saw plenty of Flak but it didn’t come near enough to do any damage. We saw one B-17 blow up at 3o’clock. It was hit by a rocket and it really went down in a hurry. A little later I saw-another B17 and two enemy fighters blow up. In this raid we lost Lt Jarrell and his crew. Jarrell was the Pilot. I. flew with from Irie to England. We also lost Lt Col. Bowman, he is the one who came down to Palestine, Tex when we made that forced landing there. Another crew went down into the Channel but they were all rescued. We landed at 1500 o’clock. Sure am glad to be back. It was pretty rough today. 

MISSION #4 JAN 21st 1944 
TARGET- ROBOT BOMB SKIS, (FRANCE) 
BOMB-LOAD. 12 Demolition each 500 pounds
BOMBING ALTITUDE 12,000 Ft,
TEMPERATURE 10 ABOVE ZERO

This one is really a dandy. We were awakened at 0730 o'clock and we went about our regular duties when at roll call I was called to fly as tail gunner with Lt Putnam’s crew # 16. We took off at 1240 and reached our I.P. at 1427. The bombardier said Bomb Bay doors coming open. Then the radioman said Bombs away. Yep we really screwed up on that one. We were flying the lead ship so we radioed the Deputy lead and told them to take over. So we made another run on the target this time there was a formation of B24s under us and we couldn’t drop our Bombs again so we had to make another run and finally they dropped their Bombs and we started for home. There was no fighter or Flak to speak of. I guess we were pretty darn lucky because according to the newspapers some of the boys really took a beating. When we reached the English coast the Deputy lead ship which was leading now forgot to turn on the IFF and identify ourselves and the English began shooting at us. We saw more Flak on our own side than on the enemy’s side. 

MISSION #5 JAN 29th 1944
TARGET-FRANKFURT (GERMANY)
BOMB LOAD 10 Demolition each 500 pounds. 
ALTITUDE 23000 Ft.
TEMPERATURE 45 BELOW ZERO.

Today I really have something to write about. We were awakened at 0200 o’clock everything went along smooth until just after we crossed the French coast #3 engine started to act funny. I noticed smoke coming back by the tail and I was just going to call Dal and ask about it when Simon noticed it too and called. By this time we were almost to the German border and we started to abort. I heard the Copilot call the Pilot and say #3 won’t feather. So the Pilot said shut it off. A little later he called back and said, I cut #3 off and the instruments show 3400 R.P.Ms . We couldn’t figure what was wrong. Then the whole ship began to vibrate and it shook so bad I thought it was going to fall apart. Then the Pilot gave the order prepare to abandon ship. At first I was really scared but as I waited for the order to jump I calmed down quite a bit. For a while it looked as though we wouldn’t have to jump. Then the Pilot told the Bombardier and Navigator to get out of the nose. Later the engine started to act up again. Again the order came over the interphone, prepare to jump. This time it really looked bad. The Pilot got ready to jump and he gave the signal and was just ready to give the order to jump when the propeller came off and the ship smoothed out again. But Owens and Bourrett had seen the signal and jumped. Then the order came prepare to ditch. We threw everything we could out and made ready for a crash landing on water. But our prayers were answered and we made it back to the field safe. Upon inspecting the ship we found 19 holes in the front portion of the ship. All these were from flying debris of the engine. The oxygen line was cut in the nose and a few pieces just missed the Co-Pilot. During our flight back, Dave our radioman did a swell job in bringing us back to the field. Also he got a good fix on the two who bailed out. As yet we haven’t heard whether or not they have been picked up. From the time they bailed out the Pilot and another Navigator figured they must have landed near the German coast. There is a very good chance that they are safe. Morley and Dallas are really down in the dumps although they are not to blame. They both did a swell job and we all owe our lives to their good judgment and skill in bringing us back.

Later we learned Owens & Bourrett were taken as Prisoners.


 

MISSION #6 FEB 3rd 1944 
TARGET WILHELMSHAVEN (GERMANY )
BOMB LOAD 10 Demolition each 500 pounds 
BOMBING ALTITUDE 30,000 Ft
TEMPERATURE 45 BELOW ZERO

Our target today was the Shipyards & Submarine docks at Wilhelmshaven. It was pretty cold up there today and I was afraid someone would get frostbite. But we were lucky and we made it all right. Today we had crew # 17’s Bombardier & Navigator. We saw quite a bit of Flak but it was not too accurate. Also we had a wonderful fighter support they came in very close and even played tag with us. But don’t get the idea that there weren’t any enemy fighters around. One of our boys had a little engine trouble and he had to turn back. On his way back to the field he was jumped by at least 19 enemy fighters and the heavy clouds were the only thing that saved him. No one was hurt on his crew but his ship really took a beating. He had 5 Twenty mm shells hit his right wing and three in his left wing. How he ever managed to bring his ship back to the field was and still is a mystery to me.

MISSION # 7 FEB 4th 1944 
TARGET FRANKFURT (GERMANY)
BOMB LOAD 42 each 100 pounds (INCENDIARY) 
BOMBING ALTITUDE 24000 Ft
TEMPERATURE 38 BELOW ZERO.

Today we flew ship 097 as our baby is still grounded for repairs. Our target was the city of Frankfurt. The idea was to start a fire in the city itself in order to break down the morale of the German people and we really did just that. We were about a 100 miles away from the target and we could still see the smoke coming up. This is our third time we started out for Frankfurt and twice we had to turn back because of engine trouble. Both times we came back on three engines, but at last we broke the jinx and went all the way. We went thru quite a bit of Flak on this raid but lady luck was with us and we only got three holes in our ship. One was in the nose by Dallas the Co-Pilot. One was in the wing by the radio room. The other was in the waist just missing Joe our waist gunner. It hit his ammunition box. We had one casualty Boyer our ball gunner his heating suit burned out and his legs were frozen. They took him to the Hospital as soon as we landed. Later we went to see him and his right leg was frozen from the knee down to the toes. They had to graft new skin on it. On this raid we lost Major Sheppard. His ship was hit by Flak and went down. Someone reported seeing ten chutes come out so I guess they all were able to bail out all right. The heater went bad in the cockpit and Moe & Dal had a heck of a time keeping warm. I was afraid they too would get frostbitten.

 


42-31227 "Dottie Jane"
Photo dated March 6 1944 upon return to Rattlesden with flak damage. Designated for salvage on March 7.
See Aircraft Profile

I was a tailgunner in WWII, ( 8th airforce) on the plane the" Glamour Gal". I flew 13 missions out of England over Europe. Our plane was in repair when we were called out on duty.  We used the "Dotty Jane". On our 13th mission, March 6th ( my birthday) 1944 to Berlin, we were hit by anti-aircraft fire over Berlin. Our radio man was blown out and 9 bombs, and 3 were wounded ( a waist gunner- Bob Benjamin, the top turret gunner- herbert Morris, and I in the tail.).  The pilot flew us back to England, with only half the plane.  The Dotty Jane never flew again, and it was my last mission due to wounds. - Lyman Emerich


Pilot-Arthur Socolofsky Co-pilot- Hayden Hughes Navigator- Wray Hylton Bomber- Charles Duncan Radioman- Alton Moore Ball Turret- Kenneth Olson Waist gunner- Bob Benjamin Waist gunner- Ralph Mertz Tail gunner- Lyman Emrich 


 

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