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Reluctant Witness:
5 (100%) 1

Reluctant Witness:

Memoirs from the Last Year of the European Air War, 1944-45

Paperback (537 pages), kindle
Lt Col James Mahoney, the 859th Squadron Commander, 492nd Bomb Group, wrote his memoirs of the war, writing (as the title suggests) about what he witnessed and very little about himself, including the day that seven of the B-24 Liberators he sent out on a bombing mission to Germany failed to return. Seventy men lost.

Reluctant Witness:

A father-son effort of an unusual type, the son 'presents' the never-finished book of 'war-stories' written by the father over the last 30 years of his life.

Lt Col James Mahoney, the 859th Squadron Commander, 492nd Bomb Group, wrote his memoirs of the war, writing (as the title suggests) about what he witnessed and very little about himself.

On the morning of July 7, 1944, Mahoney sent seven B-24 Liberators from England on a bombing mission to Bernburg, deep into Germany. None returned.

The 859th Bomb Squadron had lost planes before, but never in such wholesale numbers. So far they had been luckier than the other squadrons of the 492nd BG, which was earning the unwanted nickname, "The Hard Luck Group," thanks primarily to two earlier deadly missions. Their combined losses on those previous two black days was one ship. But this time the fickle finger of fate pointed to them, and none of Mahoney's seven crews returned. Seventy men lost.

When the 492nd Bomb Group was disbanded on 07 Aug 44, Mahoney was transferred to the 467th Bomb Group along with his 859th Bomb Squadron, which was renumbered the 788th Bomb Squadron.

The 492nd Bomb Group...

Related Scanning WWII dates...

  • 18 Apr 44: 492nd Bomb Group arrives at Station 143, North Pickenham, England
  • 09 May 44: 492nd BG does exhibition formation flight over 2nd AD bases
  • 11 May 44: 492nd BG flies its first mission; no casualties
  • 19 May 44: 492nd BG Mission 05 to Brunswick; first of their three deadliest missions
  • 20 Jun 44: 492nd BG Mission 34 to Politz; second of their three deadliest missions
  • 07 Jul 44: 492nd BG Mission 46 to Bernburg; third of their three deadliest missions; entire 859th Bomb Squadron is wiped out
  • 15 Jul 44: The bomb dump at nearby Metfield mysteriously explodes, rocking the countryside and destroying the 491st BG's base
  • 07 Aug 44: 492nd BG flies its final mission (no casualties) and is disbanded
  • 13 Aug 44: The 801st Provisional Group at Harrington is redesignated the 492nd Bomb Group
  • 15 Aug 44: The 491st Bomb Group moves from their destroyed base at Metfield to North Pickenham
3 deadliest missions for the 492nd Bomb Group
Date Mission Target City Lost KIA WIA POW INT
19 May 44 Mission 05 Brunswick 8 43 3 34 0
20 Jun 44 Mission 34 Politz 14 76 0 22 41
07 Jul 44 Mission 46 Bernburg 12 67 0 52 0
Totals: 34 186 3 108 41
  Casualties per 1000 Combatants in WWII  
  US Army Air Force 16  
  US Army 24  
  US Marine Corps 29  
  467th Bomb Group 91  
  492nd Bomb Group 442  

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The 467th Bomb Group...

Related Scanning WWII dates...

  • 25 Dec 44: Unmanned B-24 BOLD VENTURE III makes 300 mile journey across the Channel

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