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T/SGT  Charles A. WEISS

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: TTE
SERIAL #: STATUS: NOC
MACR:

Comments1: PATERSON, NEW JERSEY

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW


2nd Lt Laurence J.Lazzari  P NC    CREW FLYING AT END OF HOSTITLITES
2nd Lt Guiher G.Greenwood  CP NC
2nd Lt Charles W.Staiger  N NC
   Sgt Laurence W.Donnelly  BT NC
   Cpl Robert J.Steele   R NC
   Cpl Charles A.Weiss   E NC
   Cpl Richard H.Heritage  NG NC
   Cpl Joseph G.Allen   WG NC
   Cpl Daniel J.O'Connell,Jr.   TG NC 

351st Sqdn.  Crew,as above,joined the 100th Group on 21/1/45

TARGET: BUCHEN GERMANY, 7 APRIL 1945G. GENE GREENWOOD
Posted 18 Aug 02
Early morning, 7 April 1945; the Buchen Oil Storage Depot was the 100th Bomb Group's target. All present at the briefing thought that it would be a "milk run. " The briefing officer stated that there was a strong possibility that we would encounter ME-109 fighters in the target area and that these fighters would be piloted by youngsters with approximately 50 hours flying time. Hearing this, the pilots reflected on their own flying ability when they had only 50 hours flying a Stearman. The briefer suggested that we be more vigilant than usual if we were attacked by these neophytes; that "accidental" collision could be possible. Never once were we briefed that collision would be intentional. Read on!
After a weather delay, we finally got the green flare for take-off; it would be a long day. The 100th Bomb Group, with four squadrons totalling 38 B-17's, route of flight took them over a course from Great Yarmouth, over the Zuider Zee then bombing the target, Buchen. My personal log shows bombs away at 1327 hours. While enroute, the group encountered only two bursts of what appeared to be 88 mm flak. My personally written history of all my missions was recorded on a bomb tag while we were still airborne returning to Thorpe Abbotts, thus, I suggest that the events described in this article are as accurate as my writing was on the day of the day of the mission. We dropped our six 1000 pound RDX bombs from an altitude of 14, 880 feet. I also wrbte that we were under ME-109 fighter attack for 33 minutes. The official 8th Air Force report indicates we were under attack from 1250 hours to 1326 hours or 36 minutes. The 100th lost two aircraft and crews; Lt Arthur Calder flying in "D" Squadron (all crew members were killed) and Lt. William Howard flying in "B" Squadron (three killed and six including Lt. Howard and co-pilot Delgado were POW) Lt. Joe Martin and Lt. Henry Cervantes flying in "B" Squadron in B-17 #8514 was rammed by a ME-109 which sheared off the rudder and left horizontal stabilizer and left huge propeller wounds in the dorsal fin forward of the rudder. The picture of this damage can be seen on the cover of Richard LeStrange's "Century Bombers, The Story of the Bloody Hundredth. " After stabilizing the aircraft into semi-normal flight, Joe and Henry, unable to keep up, dropped from formation and returned to Thorpe Abbots alone. 
One would think that the saga of the 7 April 1945 Buchen mission would end at this point. Certainly, the author and some of his close friends-all 100th Bomb Group veterans, closed the book on this mission 51 years ago. However, recent discoveries and events have again brought the 8th Air Force operation of 7 April 1945 into the very bright sun light. Research conducted in Germany by Germans and faculty members of the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, have reopened the case as to what really occurred on this day, only one month before the German unconditionally surrendered at Reims, France. But before that portion of this story is told as to how the world is currently viewing this infamous day, permit me to set the scene by referring to excerpts from a few official reports rendered by the Third Air Division and Headquarters Eighth Air Force. These reports, which were written immediately after the mission, were an attempt to assess the operation of 7 April 1945. As these reports are studied, one can easily detect inconsistences between them, and the authors surely missed the mark when we compare their conclusions with the known facts which were just recently revealed - 51 years later. The irony of this whole episode is that the information has been there all these years just waiting for some curious mind to open it up, dissect the information and expose all the facts. As you will become aware as the story unfolds, certain people, both in the United States and Germany are now attempting full disclosure. 
Recently retrieved from the Air Force Archives in Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, is the official 3rd Air Division report on the 7 April 1945 operations. The portion pertaining to the 100th Bomb Group follows:
THE 100TH GROUP (13B), FLYING SIXTH IN THE BOMBER COLUMN, WAS CONTINUOUSLY ATTACKED FROM 1250 HOURS AT 5230N-090E TO 1326 HRS AT 5220B-1030E BY APPROXIMATELY 10 TO 12 ME-109'S AND 1 FW-190. GROUP FORMATION WAS GOOD. E/A WERE FLYING IN GROUPS OF 3'S AND 4'S WHEN FIRST SEen DIVING OUT OF THE SUN WHICH WAS TO THE REAR OF THIS FORMATION. THEY WERE ENGAGED BY P-51'S AND WERE BROKEN UP. ALL ATTACKS WERE MADE BY SINGLE E/A ATTACKING FROM ALL CLOCK POSITIONS BUT MAINLY FROM 9 TO 11 O'CLOCK HIGH. THE MOST OFF (sic) REPEATED TACTIC WAS AN ATTACK FROM 9 O'CLOCK HIGH. PASSING THROUGH THE FORMATION, AND THEN MAKING ANOTHER PASS FROM 1 TO 3 O'CLOCK HIGH REPEATING SEVERAL TIMES. OTHER E/A ATTACKS WERE FROM 7 O'CLOCK HIGH AND LOW FLYING THROUGH THE FORMATION - USUALLY BETWEEN FLIGHTS. E/A OPENED FIRE FROM MACHINE GUNS AND 20 MM CANNON AT ABOUT 500 YARDS AND CONTINUED FIRING UNTIL OUT OF FORMATION. CREW REPORT E/A PILOTS FANATICALLY AGGRESSIVE AND ATTACKED THROUGH HEAVY CONCENTRATIONS OF FIRE FROM B-17'S GUNS. VERY FEW TURNED AWAY WHEN FIRED UPON. SO CLOSE DID E/A COME THAT ONE HIT THE TAIL SECTION OF A B-17 THEREBY SHEERING OFf ITS WING - B-17 RETURNED TO BASE. PLAN WAS APPARENTLY FOR E/A TO ATTACK AND TURN FOR ANOTHER ATTACK UNTIL THEY WERE SHOT DOWN OR AMMUNITION WAS EXHAUSTED. SOME CREWS REPORT ME-262'S ATTEMPTED TO DISTRACT FIGHTER ESCORT SO THAT CONVENTIONAL E/A WOULD BE FREE TO ATTACK BOMBERS. THIS GROUP LOST 2 BOMBERS TO E/A. 
The 3rd Air Division report contain some errors that should be discussed. It refers to a B-17 hit by an a/a that sheered off the B-17's wing. From eye witness reports the aircraft that had its wing sheered off by an a/a was Lt. Calder. The plane was lost and all were killed. The B-17 that was rammed by an a/a and survived was piloted by Lt. Joe Martin. The a/a sheered off most of the rudder and the left horizontal stabilizer. Unable to keep up, Lt. Martin left the formation and returned to Thorpe Abbots alone. 
Following is still another 3rd Air Division Report. Paragraph four reports:
OF 13 THIRD AIR DIVISION BOMBERS KNOWN LOST TO E/A, FIVE WERE LOST TO COLLISION WITH E/A. THESE WERE NOT SUICIDAL RAMMING ATTACKS, BUT IN EACH CASE, WERE AIRCRAFT CLEARLY OUT OF CONTROL, EITHER THROUGH INJURY TO PILOT OR STRUCTURAL FAILURE OF ATTACKING AIRCRAFT. CLOSENESS OF ATTACK HAS GIVEN RISE TO RUMORS OF RAMMING, BUT REVIEW OF COMPLETE DIVISION EXPERIENCE FAILS TO SUBSTANTIATE RAMMING THEORY. 
And paragraph five reports:
ENEMY PILOTS MADE MAXIMUM USE OF CLOUD COVER ABOVE AND BELOW BOMBERS; CONTRAILS AND SUN POSITION WERE USED TO FULLEST ADVANTAGE. FROM ANALYSIS OF ATTACKS, MORE EXPERIENCED PILOTS WERE APPARENTLY IN CONVENTIONAL FIGHTERS. 
From what we know now (51 years later), the 3rd Air Division author of this report, with some flawed analysis and conjecture, drew some erroneous conclusions. Reports from other sources, but written at the same time came to the conclusion that some ramming was intentional. Also, other sources indicate that the conventional fighters were flown by less experienced pilots and that the more experienced pilots were assigned to the ME-262's. 
This next report titled "MISSION OF 7 APRIL 1945" with a reference of (AMS-23) is undated, however, it is possibly an 8th Air Force report. Regardless of the source, it is an informative and interesting summary. Also, it is evident that the author of this report possessed far more detailed information that the previous reports. Pertinent excerpts are as follows:
Paragraph IV THE ENEMY SITUATION
"During March (sic 1945), Reichs Marshall Goering called for volunteers for special and dangerous work. The result was that later in the month, the first 300 pilots arrived for a ten day course of fighter-ramming. This course was chiefly political but the operational side included the method to be used to reach the bombers and the tactics to be employed when ramming. Late in March, the first 80 pilots were organized into units equipped with ME-109's from which most of the non-essential equipment was removed. "
"These special units were to receive top cover by orthodox single-engine fighters and together with ME-262's the enemy was prepared to put up a large scale interception. Pilots had been specially doped up with patriotic fervor, and every attempt was to be made to inspire these pilots in their almost suicidal task. "
Excerpts from paragraph V "THE AIR BATTLE"
"Shortly before the first bombers made land fall at the Dutch coast the enemy ramming units were taking-off and headed to Magdeburg for assembly. These aircraft had no means of reporting to the controllers and it seems likely that a number of them were unable to comply with the orders. From Magdeburg they appeared to have flown west to the vicinity of Hanover, with the ground controllers urging then to great deeds of heroism -- reminding them of the women and children lying under the ruins of their towns, and quoting patriotic songs. In this spirit the enemy pilots contacted the bombers just east of Dummer Lake in units of between 5 and 30, made suicidal passes through murderous hail of fire to get through . . . Many pilots appeared to have either lost their nerve or their life before ramming since only a limited number of reports of intentional ramming were made. "
"Possibly 6 bombers were lost through ramming of the 15 lost to enemy aircraft. . . "
Paragraph VI, B. FAILURE OF ENEMY'S PLAN
"A rapidly diminishing Luftwaffe made its swan song. Attempts to stimulate the pilots with patriotic fervor succeeded in that they made suicidal attacks, but the majority of the force put up will not be available for further operations. "
"His plan to terrify the bomber crew by deliberate ramming failed in that few crews realized that the ramming was intentional, but believed that the enemy aircraft crashed the bombers after the pilot had been killed or the aircraft was out of control. "
EIGHTH AIR FORCE INTOPS SUMMARY NO. 342, RE: 7 APRIL 1945
Paragraph C, INTELLIGENCE
"1. Enemy Air Operation
. . . . . . From all reports it appears that this was a desperation attempt on the part of the enemy and although a/a fought aggressively and made determined efforts to get through to the bombers, our losses were comparatively light while more than half the enemy force was destroyed or damaged. Signs of desperation are evidenced by the fact that FW-190 pilots deliberately rammed the bombers, bailing out before their planes went into the bomber formations and making fanatical attacks through murderous hail of fire. "
". . . . From today's reaction it would appear that although the enemy is fighting a losing battle, the GAF is preparing to fight to a finish in a fanatical and suicidal manner . . . . "
On 30 September 1996 through 2 October 1996 nine former 8th Air Force pilots who flew bombing missions to northern Germany on 7 April 1945 were brought together at the 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia. The nine pilots were Jim Lantz, Charley "Hong Kong" Wilson, Joe Martin, Henry Cervantes and G. Gene Greenwood, all of the 100th Bomb Group (B-17's); Perry Sessoms and Clark Robinson of the 389th Bomb Group (B-24' s) and Harry Duccilli of the 452nd Bomb Group (B-17's). 
The purpose of the conclave was to probe these pilots memory and to discuss details surrounding the 7 April 1945 bombing operations in Northern Germany with particular emphasis on enemy aircraft tactics used to destroy our B-17 and B-24 bombers. Organizing this study effort were Dr. James S. Corum, Professor of Comparative Military Studies at the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and Phillip Mausshardt, a free lance television journalist from Stuttgart, Germany. Mr. Mausshardt is under contract to produce a television documentary for Suddeutsche Rudnfund (Southern German Network). In the United States we call it Public Television. 
At this point in writing this article, the author must stipulate some caveats regarding statements made involving the subject of this research effort. The central subject is to uncover as much information as possible regarding the employment of suicide or kamikaze fighter tactics towards the end of World War II in Europe by the German Air Force against Allied bombers. The author held long conversations with Dr. Corum and Mr. Mausshardt delving very deeply into information that they thus far have uncovered. Therefore, the reader must understand that the information and statements made in this article regarding recent findings on the central subject are heresay; I am simply repeating what I understood Dr. Corum and Mr. Mausshardt to say about the subject. 
It would appear that the German public and certain circles in the Untied States became aware in the very recent past that the German Air Force conceived, organized and deployed an aviation combat unit called:
"Sonder Commando Elbe" (Special Command Elbe). Another title used is "Schulungslehrgange Elbe" (Training Course Elbe). It is this Luftwaffe unit that the Southern German Network became interested in and ultimately assigned the task of developing a TV documentary to Phillip Mausshardt. As stated before, Dr. James Corum has conducted extensive study and research into the central subject. One must say that he is extremely knowledgeable on the subject. All of the prior referenced reports were handed to the author by Dr. Corum. He implied that he is in possession of much more documentation which supports the general thesis that the German Air Force did employ suicide tactics against our bombers. 
Mr. Mausshardt told me that he has interviewed in the recent past former Luftwaffe pilots that were assigned to the suicide unit. One former pilot is now a very successful industrialist; another is a very senior professor in one of Germany's universities. Each of these former pilots still possess a consuming hatred for the British and American Air Forces for the destructive bombing of German cities. They are extremely bitter about the British and American bombing of Dresden in February and 2 March 1945. These former pilots stated that these bombings stirred the fires of their hatred of Allied bombers and which drove them to be the ultra aggressive suicide fighter pilots that they were. They implied that if they could they would do it again. Mr. Mausshardt told me that he was going to show the TV tape of the interviews he conducted with us in Savannah to the two former Luftwaffe pilots and hopefully record their reactions. 
All the interviews that Mr. Mausshardt conducted in Savannah with myself and the other eight pilots were done individually and taped on TV cameras. I am not aware of what the other pilots said during the interview; however, in a post interview critique with the other interviewees and Mr. Mausshardt, we all had essentially the same story to tell. Of course, the B-24 pilots from the 389th had a far more harrowing experience when one ME-109 struck and knocked down three B-24 's. 
Now that I know the German Air Force had a suicide unit, that gives rise to the big question? At the briefing on the morning of 7 April 1945, the briefing officer stated that there was a possibility we would encounter pilots with little air time and experience and they could be dangerous. This information had to have come from somewhere? Allied intelligence, no doubt, gathered this information in Germany? If they could get that much, why did they not obtain the suicide or kamikaze aspect of the operation? And if they did, did they pass it on to 8th Air Force. And if the 8th Air Force received all this intelligence, why did it not filter down to our briefer and thus to the crews that were going to fly the mission? I doubt if we will ever find the answer. 
This is how history is written; dig and dig; research and research; write and rewrite. All in all, it is an extremely interesting subject. To be involved in a research project on a subject that I was involved in over 51 years ago is very rewarding. I know that I and my eight colleagues thoroughly enjoyed the part that we played in the research effort. But what we really enjoyed was one another and the closeness that each of us felt as we talked about events that occurred nearly 8 lifetime ago. Lastly, it is a pleasure to report that the B-17--B-24 competitive arguments are still alive and well. 
To those of you who are wondering why the Germans are delving into a 51 year old event that has been forgotten by most of the players, three or four of us, before the interviews commenced had the same question. What were the Germans going to do with these interviews? After concentrated questioning the issue with Dr. Corum and Mr. Mausshardt, we collectively took the position that it was purely an academic exercise and that no political incentive was present. We, therefore, proceeded with the interviews. 
G. GENE GREENWOODCOLONEL, USAF, RETIRED351st Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb GroupJANUARY - OCTOBER, 1945

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Laurence J. Lazzari Crew
Kneeling L to R: Sgt. Laurence W. Donnelly (BTG), T/Sgt. Robert J. Steele (ROG), 2nd Lt. Charles W. Staiger (NAV)Sgt. Joseph G. Allen.  
Standing L to R: Sgt. Richard H. Heritage (NG/TOG), T/Sgt. Charles A. Weiss (TTE), 2nd Lt. Laurence J. Lazzari (P), 2nd Lt. Guiher G. Greenwood (CP), S/Sgt Daniel J. O'Connell, Jr. (TG).

Kneeling L to R: 2nd Lt. Laurence J. Lazzari (P), 2nd Lt. Guiher G. Greenwood (CP), 2nd Lt. Charles W. Staiger (NAV).  Standing L to R: Sgt. Richard H. Heritage (NG/TOG), T/Sgt Robert Steele (ROG), T/Sgt. Charles A. Weiss (TTE),, S/Sgt Joseph Allen (WG),S/Sgt Lawrence Donnelly (BTG) Sgt. Daniel J. O'Connell, Jr. (TG). 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 5455