"I was to appear on a propaganda broadcast..."
Contributed by Lt. Colonel Fain H. Pool, USAF (ret)
On October 6, 1944, the 385th Bomb Group suffered its greatest loss of airplanes in a single day during World War II.
But I must start at the beginning of the story and tell about how that day went for me and my crew. We were awakened at a very early hour of the morning by the squadron orderly and were told to get dressed for a mission. We had breakfast and went to the briefing room to receive the mission briefing. I was told by Leo LaCasse, our operations officer, that I would not be flying the mission because I was to be sent to London to appear on a broadcast at ABSIE (American Broadcasting System In Europe). I picked up my orders after changing clothes and departed on the train for London by myself. My orders told me that I was to report to Lt Col. Ben Lyons, the popular movie star of the 30's and 40's. He told me that I was to appear on a propaganda broadcast with Lady Mountbatten and the leading fighter ace of the 20th Fighter Group, Ed Fiebelcorn, and that I was to represent the bomber pilots of the 8th Air Force. In the broadcast I talked about how badly we were beating the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), which was evidenced by the fact that we had flown over German fighter bases and had seen many, many fighters which could not take off to attack us because we had destroyed the refineries and transportation facilities to the extent that they had no fuel to put in their planes. I had to eat those words when I reported back to Great Ashfield and found out that while I was on the airwaves in London a whole high squadron of our group was destroyed by a concentrated fighter attack; we lost eleven planes and aircrews that day. About 75 fighters came through the high squadron and shot down seven aircraft on the first pass, then came back through and knocked off the other four. When I got home and learned this, it really made me feel terrible. It was a VERY humbling experience. Here again was the evidence of my Guardian Angel and Divine Providence!
And, Thanks, Leo,