Lot 397

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An incredible 1944 log book/diary kept by pilot/co-pilot Merle Buford Wilson, born July 6, 1923 in Ranger, TX, who crewed and flew B-26 Marauders with the 387th Bombardment Group and compiling an absolutely incredible 65 missions in his one year of service in his squadron. Wilson's entries are made in a 1944 diary that allowed three entries per page, though Wilson mainly entered only details of his individual missions. Simply incredible content, starting with his New Year's celebration, transfer to a combat squadron, and 'Raid number ONE' on Jan. 22: 'It was a lot of fun. I rode with Capt. Sheen, lead position, #3. We only got 1 piece of flak, but it was worse behind. He continues: '...[Feb. 5] Nine hits in the ship. One piece of flak glanced off my foot. The Jerries are getting pretty good...[Feb. 8] Almost an abortion...oil pressure dropped to 45 lbs and temp of 120 c....[Feb. 24] very good results...targets airfield dispersals were well covered. Large explosions and large fire resulted. We had some accurate flak. Good mission...[Feb. 25] 558th was jumped by 30 FW-190's ten miles from Holland. We lost 4 out of 11 ships and 29 men...among them was George Robertson, our Navigator, and my bunk mate...I packed George's things today. That was one of the hardest jobs I've had...[Apr. 12] We went to Dunkerque today after heavy guns and we all did dread it...We were #2 and we started down in a dive and a shell blew the Colonel's rt. wing off right in our face. He almost hit us. We were doing 350 indicated...[Apr. 23] I went as a gunner today to supervise throwing out 'window'...[May 25] Went to Liege, France and bombed bridges. Received quite a bit of flak...[May 27] We went to Rouen, France both times. Did two perfect jobs on two bridges...[May 29] Paris this morning and it was really rough. Capt. Harmon was shot down...[June 3] We went to Camier, France on the coast [near Calais] Bombed gun positions...[June 5] Mission 36 INVASION We bombed the shore of the Normandy Peninsula [near Utah Beach] at 4,000'. I'm just surprised that I'm alive. I can't describe the sight but I can surely pity those poor devils below. [June 6] Mission #37 We went to the beach head again and bombed the railway lines and trains at 2,000' with 500 lb. bombs. The fighters take care of the flak and enemy fighters. A piece of cake...[June 8] A flight of four bombed the target well and Shober got his...[June 10] We went to Bretteville, France at 1500'. They threw everything at us and every ship had battle damage...' Entries following list attacks on fuel and ammo dumps, bridges, 'Villers bocage to support the infantry', the start of night raids, etc. On Aug. 28th, his 64th mission, Wilson writes: '...An ammo dump today. We had the most and the most accurate flak I've ever seen. Jordan got it. He went down in flames. I think they had a chance to get out. However, Jerry probably killed them. He's pretty mad. I don't know how much longer I'll last but I'll keep trying. I lead the group in missions now...' On Sep. 5 appears Wilson's last entry describing a raid on Brest and the death of yet another pilot in his squadron, killed on take off: 'Three killed; three will die'. The last page of the log lists fellow pilots in the squadron, several mentioned within as being killed in action. With his dog tags and transcript. In May of 1944 the group's attention was devoted full-time to bridges, marshalling yards and coastal batteries in direct preparation for the invasion of Normandy; this included attacks on targets outside the actual invasion area to mislead as to the actual invasion site and disrupt the enemy's ability to move reinforcements. On D-Day, the 387th bombed the defenses at Utah Beach. Once the invasion was underway, enemy troop concentrations and strong points were added to the list of priority targets. For the next few months the 387th provided direct air support to allied ground forces by raiding railroad marshalling yards, bridges, road junctions, defended areas and fuel dumps. One of the best mission diaries we've ever seen.

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August 24, 2021 10:00 AM EDT
Chesapeake City, MD, US

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