PILOT'S PERSONAL ENCOUNTER REPORT
B. 18 March 1944.
C. 338th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group.
D. 1500 - 1530.
E. Southeast of Strasbourg.
F. 4/10ths clouds, haze above 20,000 and below 8,000 feet.
G. Me 109's and FW 190's.
H. No claims.
I. While leading Yellow Section in escort of B-24's, I saw a lone B-17 between 2 boxes of bombers off to the northeast. This was on withdrawal. I took the section over to the straggler and arrived just as 8 Me 109's were approaching him from the northeast. As we were coming at them head-on they all split S'ed and dove away. My blue flight had only 2 ships and there were 5 to 8 unidentified contrails above, so I told Yellow section not to chase any of them down and called White section of our squadron, asking them if they would like a little scrap. We stayed just behind the straggling B-17 and almost immediately 4 flights came back to our position. Yellow 3 called and said that many bandits were attacking a box of bombers behind us to the east. Since it was just about time we were to break escort and start home, I asked that the flights that wanted to and were able to go back, to come along and we could have a pretty good fight. Apparently the whole group still in the target area wanted to, for as I turned back I found at least 5 other flights with us. we met 30 plus Me 109's and FW 109's (sic) flying together in what I would call an "Allied" formation (rather tight and compact). We met them head-on at this next box of bombers and were slightly above them with flights spaced all around the E/A. Some lone P-38 jumped the gun and dove down thru the middle of the E/A formation. When he did this, the E/A formation immediately took on an appearance of a huge funnel with 109's and 109's (sic) going down after this P-38. Since my flight was closest, I started down to chase the Jerries off his tail. They apparently didn't like the blink of our guns foras soon as I would start shooting at one he would roll over again and dive underneath us. I was shooting at all of these while still out of range, as my first priority job seemed to me to chase them off his tail and second to get a good shot. We succeeded in making the E/A leave this one, but by that time had them on our tails. We had to break several times and every time we were free we would find another 38 being chased by 2 to 5 Jerries, and we would go thru the original procedure all over again. I had one fairly good head-on pass at 2 E/A with about 5-15°deflection and observed some strikes. Also I observed some strikes on a couple of others I had shot at, but I had no time to see what happened to them. On one occasion my #4 did not break until told to do so the 2nd time. He was hit in the right engine, which started burning. I succeeded in chasing off the E/A that were after him. He started to 'hit the deck' for home and did get the fire extinguished in the dive. While I was trying to cover him on the way down, 4 E/A bounced me. I got rid of two after a bit, at least only two were hanging around, but these two did continue giving me trouble until a flight of 4 P-38's came in and shot down one. Since I was almost 'to the deck' anyway, I stayed there and came home, taking a short pass at an airport that jumped up in front of me. During the course of the fight I saw at least one E/A go down in flames but don't know who hit him.
VAL W. BOLLWERK,
Capt., Air Corps.
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