Co-Pilot Woody Smith 496th BS Timeline

Woody Smith

Reprinted from: https://www.scribd.com/document/44640567/Woodrow-Smith
WWII context info in Red
December 6, 1944. Woody reported to the 344th Bombardment Group (M) of the 496th Bomb Squadron, of the 9th Air Force, based at Cormeilles-en-Vexin (Pontoise), to be trained as a co-pilot on a B-26 Martin Marauder one of Col. Reginald F. C. Vance‟s “Silver Streak” Bridge Busters (Col. Vance was the C.O. of the 344th).

12-16-44 Battle of the Bulge: Hitler orders all-out attack inArdennes Forest in southern Belgium (5th& 6th PanzerArmies, and 7th Army); attack led by Gen Von Runstedt(as in 1940); an entire U.S. infantry division is lost(captured), while U.S. troops flee in panic; German team parachuted into Belle Croix to disrupt Allied communications is captured within 24 hours; meanwhile,Eisenhower and Bradley partied in Paris.

December 18, 1944. Woody drew emergency road-block duty on the road to the airfield due to this underhanded German commando tactic at the outset of the Battle of the Bulge. The Allies lost 76,890, the Germans 81,864 men
12-22-44 101st Airborne Div HQ in Bastogne German demand for American surrender12-24-44 101 A/B acting CG Anthony C. McAuliffe replies “Nuts!” to German demand for surrender; Bastogne shelled XmasEve; U.S. losses averaged 2,000 men per day (mostly from artillery fire), during the Bulge.

12-26-44 Patton breaks through to Bastogne December 25, 1944. Woody lost his first barracks mates missing on a bombing mission. January 1, 1945. The last large raid by the Luftwaffe on airbases in Belgium and Holland.

The Martin Marauder was sometimes called “The Widow Maker,” due to being such a difficult to fly, high wing-load aircraft. See Lambert D. Austin, ed., 344th

January 6, 1945. A UC-45F with a couple of Captains (David Cook and Wilitz Ott), a 1st Lieutenant (Nelson Ott), and a PFC (John Davidson) on board (all of CADA/ASC 403rd BADHQ), but without clearance for take-off, got in the way of 1st Lt. Keith Caldwell, 2nd Lt. John C. Dinou, 71st Lt. John O‟Brien, and Woody aboard their “Queen of Hearts” (Q-Queen) B-26B/C Marauder during landing (S/SGT Lawrence Biggs was also aboard). Head-on collision, with theB-26 on top.. All got out of the B-26 and UC-45F alive, but Woody lost his B-10 jacket when he placed it on a badly injured officer from the UC-45F.

1-12-45 Red Army offensive begins on the Eastern Front.
February 1, 1945. First mission: Flew on W-William with Ehst and crew to destroy abridge at Nassau, Germany, There was light, accurate flak south of Koblenz.

Woody broke a canine tooth biting down on a frozen Milky Way bar on the way home. It took some time for the dentist to find enough gold to fix it. This was the closest Woody came to getting a “PurpleHeart”!

February 4, 1945 (letter), Woody in the midst of War in Europe. Just shaved off his mustache.

Dinou, who flew 65 missions with the 344th, wrote Fading Wings / Faded Glory: Memoirs of Coffin Corner (Carollton, TX: Impact Publ., 1972). He trained in the “Vultee Vibrator” in July 1943 in Waco, TX, before going to twin-engine school. He died in early 2006 in Arlington, TX.

February 14, 1945. 1st Lt. Gordan K. Holm, 2nd Lt. Phillip C. Mulholland, 2nd
Lt.William M. Holman, Sgt. Melvin A. Rabalais, and Sgt. Frank A. McKenny (tailgunner) were lost on a B-26 mission over Koblenz. William Spear bailed out and was captured.

(Shot down by flak over the target on the 14/2/45 mission to the Engers RR bridge, Germany [same mission in which the Shopworn angel went down]. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Gordon Kenneth Holm was hit in the nose section and co-pilots position just after releasing bombs. The plexiglass nose was shattered and the co-pilots windshield broken. The aircraft pulled right out of formation and entered an uncontrollable dive. The co-pilot, 2nd Lt. William Marshall Holman, and radio operator, Sgt. William Arthur Spear were the only two crew members who managed to bail out, and both were captured. The aircraft crashed 800m SW of Ochtendung on the road to Polch, about 14 km west of Koblenz.)

February 22, 1945. Woody hitched a ride into Paris for the day, while operation CLARION (the “Big Day”) put 9,000 U.S. planes on bombing runs into Germany (the 8th Air Force lost only 2 of 1,000 bombers sent out that day). Then a second round was launched.

February 26, 1945. Woody and buddies (Agnor & Billy Sorrels) supposedly to be receiving permanent crew assignments.

March 4, 1945. A B-26 with Lanford, Lohnes, Hague, and Athy crashed, although it was discovered over a month later that Lohnes and Athy successfully parachuted from the burning plane. (42-96094 Battle Baby N3-B MACR 12952 Shot down by flak over the target on the 9/3/45 mission to the Bierbach Marshalling yards, Germany. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Lewis Ezell Lanford was hit by flak in the left engine which began to smoke. It was observed to pull out of formation, then slid off left, and entered a spin. As it entered the overcast below, it was seen to explode in mid air. The pilot, and four of the crew were killed, but three managed to bail out and were captured as POW’s. Aircraft record card confirms this aircraft was lost MIA on this date. According to Horst Weber, the aircraft crashed at Langen near Frankfurt, Germany.)

March 11, 1945. Woody received word that his second daughter had been born, Barbara Susan, on Feb 28. Expended 2 bottles of champagne and 12 cigars.

March 14, 1945. Woody flew 2nd mission with flight leader Taylor, but the effort was a lengthy failure, and many flak holes endured (a 4 ½ hour flight).Target:

.March 15, 1945. Woody flew 3rd mission with Art Williamson and crew into
Pirmasens, east of Saarbrucken, and dropped 4,000 lbs of M50A1 incendiary clusters (500 lbs each cluster,each individual incendiary weighing 4 lbs) on the city.

March 16, 1945. Next mission was to bomb a barracks area at Landau
Bombed hospital area on second pass due to enemy fire. Received 15 flak holes in plane.

March 17, 1945. Flew again with Art Williamson and crew. Target:
Neustadt marshaling yards, and Arnweiler. No flak. Received air medal and Presidential unit citation at HQ in Namur, Belgium, from Col. “Earthquake” McCone, who served cognac.

March 28, 1945. 2nd Lt. Walter H. Hedstrom, 2nd Lt. John R. Gersting, 2nd
Lt. Quinn L.Smith, Cpl George I. Burton, Cpl Henry F. Cavaveste, Cpl Bernell B. Barney (all crew 3); 2ndLt.Arthur M. Williamson, 2nd Lt. Henry F. Smith, F.O. William A. Orthberg, Cpl Gelgo J. Lauteri,Cpl Robert A. Greenwood, and Cpl Albert P. Elliot Jr. (crew 6), died in a mid-air collision of two B-26Bs, both crews killed. This must be the same as the following entry:

April 1, 1945. Twelve crewman died (including Art Williamson and Major McNally?) interrible crash of two planes at the end of the runway.

April 3, 1945. Moved base to Florennes, Belgium from where several missions were flown by the 344th, but the distances to targets were too great and they did not have enough fuelt o return, thus having to land at Frankfurt. Woody was soon to be transferred to Maastricht.

April, 1945. Woody on pass to Namur, Belgium.

April 18, 1945. Word came that Athy was now in a Paris hospital with an amputated leg.1st Lt. George W. Patterson, 2nd Lt. Robert W. Sibinski, S/Sgt Harold W. Stafford, T/SgtEldon Keys, Sgt Chester Bowser, and Cpl Leighton R. McKeen fly their last sortie. Landau, Pfalz, was near the family home (in Edenkoben) of Woody‟s maternal grandfather,

The blue Presidential unit citation was for dropping bombs (by mistake) on a town then under attack by Gen. George Patton‟s armor.

Also lost were R. D. Smith, Henry F. Smith, Walter H. Hedstrom, John R. Gersting, William A.Orthberg, and many others that Woody did not know. (Involved in a mid air collision with 42-95861 over the airfield at Florennes and crashed (accident reports website states A-59 Cormeilles, France), returning from the 28/3/45 mission to the Oil depot at Neuenheerse, Germany. There were no survivors. These were the last two losses for the group during WW2. The pilot was 2nd Lt. Walter H Hedstrom. Other crew include: J R Gersting, J P Bailey, G R Burton, H J Canavespe, and V T Spivey (all killed). )

April 20, 1945. Lohnes in England waiting to go home. He saw either Lanford or Hague parachute into a river the month before.