Eye Witness Account (1)

Doolittle_Painting_Final

 

The Doolittle Raid was launched on the morning of 18 April 1942, 150 miles further from mainland Japan than originally planned. At 0843 hours, Lt. Ted William Lawson took flight in “The Ruptured Duck” B-25B # 40-2261, of the 95th Bomber Squadron/17th Bomber Group.

Lt. Ted W. Lawson

Lt. Ted W. Lawson

“A Navy man stood at the bow of the ship with a checkered flag.  He gave Doolittle [the lead plane] the signal to begin racing his engines again.  Doolittle gave his engines more and more throttle until I was afraid he’d burn them up.  A wave crashed at the bow and sprayed the deck.

leaving the USS Hornet

leaving the USS Hornet

“The man with the flag was waiting, timing the dipping of the ship for it’s take-off.  The man gave a new signal.  Navy boys pulled the blocks from under the wheels.  We watched him like hawks, wondering what the wind would do to him and whether we could get off in that little run.  If he couldn’t – we couldn’t.”

Pilot 1st Lt. Ted Lawson; Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Dean Davenport; Navigator 2nd Lt. Charles McClure; Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert Clever; Engineer/Gunner Sgt. David Thatcher

Pilot 1st Lt. Ted Lawson; Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Dean Davenport; Navigator 2nd Lt. Charles McClure; Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert Clever; Engineer/Gunner Sgt. David Thatcher

Almost on his Tokyo target – “I was almost on the first of our objectives before I saw it.  I gave the engines full throttle as Davenport [co-pilot] adjusted the prop pitch to get a better grip on the air.  We climbed as quickly as possible to 1,500 feet.  There was just enough time to get up there, level off, open the bomb bay, make a short run and let fly the first bomb.  The red light blinked and I knew the first 500-pounder was gone.

The Ruptured Duck

The Ruptured Duck

“The red light blinked again and I knew Clever [bombardier] had let the second bomb go.  A black cloud appeared about 100 yards in front of us and rushed past at great speed. [antiaircraft fire].  Two more appeared ahead of us, on about the line of our wingtips…They had our altitude perfectly but they were leading us too much.

“The third red light flickered and since we were in the southern part of the city, the fourth light blinked.  That was the incendiary, which I knew would separate as soon as it hit the wind and that dozens of small fire bombs would molt from it.  I put the “Ruptured Duck” into a deep dive.  I looked back and out I got a quick, indelible vision of one of our 500-pounders as it hit our steel-smelter target.

Bomb crater near Asahi Denka factory, 15' wide x 10' deep

Bomb crater near Asahi Denka factory, 15′ wide x 10′ deep

“Our actual bombing operation, from the time the first one went until the dive, consumed not more than thirty seconds.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – the definition of furlough…

aaa5

morale

Postcards courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded

7

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Farewell Salutes – border

Duane Aborn – Ellington, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Alan Bakas – Anthem, AZ; US Air Force (Ret. 24 years), VietnamIMG_9456-001

Herbert Couvollion – Ft. Smith, AR; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 30 yrs), Korea, Vietnam, Special Forces

Manford Gremaux – New Haven, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Glen Lang – Canton, OH; US Army, Korea

Victor Lilley – Detroit, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Joseph Ryan – Rockledge, FL; US Army Air Corps, ETO, 542 Reg/101st Div., Bronze Star

Michael Stucker – Grand Junction, CO; US Air Force, Vietnam

Russell Washburn – Bluffton, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 5, 2015, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 65 Comments.

  1. The bravery of those men is incredible. They had to have nerves of steel!

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  2. Amazing the bravery of those men not to mention nerves of steel! Just incredible!

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  3. Must be a story within a story of the naming of the Ruptured Duck.
    First time I have read of a recorded timed bomb run, I realise there are many variables involved, but thirty seconds must rate high.
    Ian

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  4. Thirty seconds that may have felt like an eternity. –Curt

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  5. Thanks for sharing the video. Can you imagine taking off a moving plane in those waves? The medals put on the bombs … wow.

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  6. HERALD EXPRESS–EXTRA, Los Angeles, May 19, 1942: “DOOLITTLE DOOD IT” – See more at: http://blog.rarenewspapers.com/?p=7635#sthash.CO9nnUBq.dpuf

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    • Thank you, Carl. I’ll include this in the Thursday post when I conclude Lt. Lawson’s story. It is so great to have friends participating in this site – they fought for ALL of us!

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  7. Toller Beitrag Grüße und Küsse Gislinde

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  8. I’ve read that 30 seconds quote several times — and it always amazes me.

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  9. I believe I was in Junior High School when I read (make that believe I read) Lawson’s book. I remember it had a blue cover and I had borrowed it from the East LA library.

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    • This operation really gave the American people the boost in morale they needed. Do you remember the title of the one you read – First Heroes, Destination Tokyo or maybe Target Tokyo? I located cheap copies of each one on Thrift Books.com if you’re looking for one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In my feeble memory, I firmly recall “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” as the title of the book. Of course, I watched the Van Johnson movie but that title sticks in my aging brain. It may have been one of the titles you mention but I can’t be sure. I was pretty young then… lol I guess you can tell I was fascinated with WWII even then. 🙂

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        • You and I are similar in that respect as well, Koji. I used to be glued to the TV watching the old movies, then later, the TV series, “Combat,” “Rat Patrol,” “Baa, Baa Black Sheep.” But the initial spark was finding Smitty’s scrapbook tucked away in an empty upstairs bedroom.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Black Sheep?! That’s new!! You’re younger than me afterall, gpcox! Or is it that Robert Conrad makes you tick?!?! Lol

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            • You’re a hoot, Koji! I hardly doubt that I’m younger; I always got a kick out of Conrad using the children of his friends, including his own daughter, for the parts. But you’re right, it did come out 10 years after Combat. After I submitted my comment this morning, I thought of 3 others – McHale’s Navy, Hogan’s Heroes (everybody remembers that one) and my 2nd favorite Twelve O’Clock High comes right after Combat – can’t imagine how I forgot before.

              Liked by 1 person

  10. Perhaps that ‘taking off’ gale was actually welcome (more wind speed across the deck). Interesting that one of them got up in quite a short distance, and all seemed to nose-down once clear of the sea, before climbing.

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind … well done~!

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  11. I so much enjoy reading this blog. Thank you.

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  12. Just last night I watched yet another Dvd with actual footage of carrier groups in action. Hornet was in several, but what really impressed was the defensive flak and the dedication of all concerned. (Even more impressive that for every tracer recorded as dots there were half a dozen invisibles—and the gunners so hyped they’d keep on shooting at the bits as they fluttered down) (made good sense).

    Damn~! Thursday? Oh well …

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    • Whoa, I’ve never gotten so much flak about continuing a story before – this will make me think twice next time, eh? 😉 I was hoping some people would continue to watch the other videos once they got on You Tube, but you are the first one to say they did. Those old films may be grainy, but you feel like you’re there. Thanks for popping in for the post, Argus!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful to see this story again. Also a great video. Thanks.

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  14. Another great post and I have to say I find it somewhat refreshing to know that there was a sense of humor through cartoons and post cards throughout those terrible times.

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    • Oh they have to have it! As you can tell by many of my posts, the military have kept up their tradition of having a sense of humor today. Thanks for visiting, Bev.

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  15. Amazing post. Love the humor! Hey, GP, have I missed it or have you never created an About page for you? 🙂

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    • No you haven’t missed it. I nixed the idea of an About page since absolutely nothing in this blog is about me and I shall remain in the background, (sort of like a narrator on a documentary). In my information at the bottom of the posts is all I would put on the page anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. By the end of this post my heart was pumping and I was leaning almost out of my chair. The cartoons were great! Thanks.

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  17. Wow, was amazed when you said that it all lasted 30 seconds. I understand the logic of keeping the posts short but I too saw the “to be continued” and thought already. Guess I will have to be patient till Thursday, Everett 🙂

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  18. 30 seconds! That’s amazing. What a story.

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  19. Can’t wait for the continuation of this story of one of the great air raids of all time!

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  20. As a former glider pilot I think I have seen most of Hollywierd’s movies on flying. I recall the Van Johnson starred version of the raid and often wondered just how accurate they got it. Is there a good book version you would recommend?

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  21. Damn! I was deep into the post and I got the “To be continued ” sign, now that’s torture of a very different nature. When can I expect to read more of this fascinating first hand account of this great feat of courage endurance and dedication?

    Fair dinkum gp you got me riled there for a bit cutting this off too soon 🙂

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  22. Thank you, Carol.

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  1. Pingback: Eye Witness Account (1) | Home Sweet Home WY

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