The only notable battle that occurred when John was in England (June 1943—May 25, 1944) was the Battle of Berlin. This is not the battle that occurred in 1945 that resulted in a Soviet victory of the suicide of Adolf Hitler. This is the air battle of Berlin, in which the British launched a bombing campaign on Berlin from November 1943 to March 1944. The USA Eighth Air Force, which entailed the 388th Bomb Group, played a vital role in this air battle. This battle was waged in two parts. The first was fought between late August and early September 1943, and the second and most intense was fought between mid-November 1943 and late-March 1944. “It was the longest, most sustained and most costly campaign against a single German city in the war.”
John participated in this battle, reflected on his mission logs. His seventeenth and eighteenth mission were centered in Berlin as the target. His seventeenth mission, the first time he fought in Berlin, occurred on March 4, 1944. His eighteenth mission, the second time he fought in Berlin, occurred on March 6, 1944. Both dates are in the time period of the air battle of Berlin. In both missions, his captain was Zengerle, and his unit flew in the aircraft “Thunderbolt.”
While the first mission was completed by “Thunderbolt,” many of the other aircrafts in the formation had to abort the mission. According to Ed Huntzinger a World War II veteran that was in the 388th Bomb Group, “12 aircraft abort[ed] because of weather or mechanical reasons. Formations were [a]ffected with difficulty again due to the weather conditions…All remaining aircraft returned to base by 1443 hours.” Fortunately no one was killed in this mission.
The second Berlin mission was a different story for “Thunderbolt” and its crew. Hurdle and his crew were part of the Group A in the formation. However, they had to abort the mission prematurely due to mechanical failure. This is supported by mission logs and Ed Huntzinger. This proved to be a devastating mission by the remaining aircraft in the formation. They were met with brutal attacks from the enemy. Huntzinger wrote, “It was from these attacks that six of our aircraft were lost and a seventh aircraft lost when it was hit by a crippled aircraft. Encounters were from all directions but mainly from the front…Many of the planes that were shot down, went down in flames.” Despite such attacks from the enemy in the Air Battle of Berlin, it is considered an Allied victory. German forces were weakened in this battle and the city of Berlin.
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