WWII War Hero
To go along with the World War 2 era, I have a special
treat to share which is a true story that comes from a B-24 pilot named Mancel King, who flew in WW II.
A good friend of Jerry's, that lives
close to him in Oregon flew a B-24 in the second World War. He was kind
enough to share some of his real war experiences and pictures with him and also let
me pass it on to you. Jerry went to his house, took some notes, then
wrote the story, went back and read it to Mancel to make sure it was
right. After a few edits from the pilot, here is what Mancel had to say
while flying the B-24. Enjoy!
My name is Mancel W. King. I was born in Kansas in
the year 1922 on a sharecropper’s farm where my family scraped out a
living in the depression years. When World War II broke out, I enlisted
in the Army for two reasons, first to get away from my poor existence on
the farm but also to fight the Axis (the bad guys).
After basic training I was given some extra tests
and it showed that I had the ability to be a pilot. At this time there
was no Air Force, just the Army Air Corp. So, away I went to Hobbs Air
Training Center in New Mexico. Well as it started out I was just a lowly
PFC (Private First Class) in fatigues cleaning latrines. It didn’t take
long to see that being an officer was a much better way to go. After
more tests I was sent off to San Antonio, Texas to become an officer and
Next I was shipped to Uvalde, Texas to begin basic
flying. After graduation there I went to Mountain Home Idaho to learn
four engine flying and then the B-24. What a great airplane the B-24
was. Slightly larger than the famous B-17, the B-24 was an easy plane to
I am now a brand new Second Lieutenant and with my
crew of ten men, we were shipped to England to a place called Flixton,
about 20 miles from Norwich, England. The Earl of Flixton owned most of
Flixton and had a castle about the size of a city block. This is where
we flew out of on bombing raids to Germany.
On my first mission over Germany, we ran into a lot
of flack and one of the bursts hit the front part of my plane causing us
to loose all of our hydraulic fluid and filled the plane with black
smoke. It got so thick that we had to open our windows to see. With the
help of my co-pilot we could keep the plane flying straight and level
and continued on our bombing run dropping all our bombs. This was the
time I realized that I was in a war and they are really trying to kill
me. A very scary time.
On our return home we were given instructions to
land at an emergency base that had a very long and wide runway. With no
hydraulic system we had to manually lower the main wheels, which took
about half an hour. The nose wheel was destroyed in the blast so we were
going to land on just two wheels. We had to come in “hot” and fast
because of no flaps. As the plane slowed I had the men stand in the
center of plane and one by one, a man would go to the back of plane to
help balance it and keep the nose up as long as possible. After slowing
to about 40 knots the nose finally dropped to the pavement and boy was
there a lot of sparks. The plane didn’t catch on fire but did a big
ground loop. We were all out of it before the engines stopped turning.
An interesting note here, the field was RAF (Royal Air Force). Believe
it or not, the plane was repaired and returned to service. They counted
37 large holes in the wings and fuselage. Often wonder what ever happed
I had a great crew especially our navigator. It
became known that we always found our mark and on some flights we were
the lead plane, which was a lot of responsibility as each squadron had
I flew 23 missions and near the end I was the right
wing man of our squadron leader, but when his plane was hit they all had
to bail out. Can’t remember his name but he was taken prisoner and later
returned by a prisoner swap. After his plane left the formation, our
plane took the lead. We were bombing a very important fuel depot near
Kaiserslavten and we needed to take it out. However the Germans had it
so well camouflaged we missed it on our first pass. I turned the flight
around and went at it again, this time was successful but very costly.
Out of thirteen planes we returned with only six. Each plane has a crew
of ten men.
The second to the last mission I flew, my plane was
again struck by ground fire. Flying at 22,000 feet, the flack was so
thick it looked like you could get out and walk on the puffs of smoke.
This time my right wing was struck by flack causing the plane to vibrate
so badly it was all the co-pilot and I could do to fly in a straight
line. Again we were able to complete our task of dropping our bombs. On
the way home it became evident that we were not going to make it. We did
get across the channel but that was as far as we could go. With the bomb
bay doors open I instructed the crew to bail out. When it came my turn
to jump, every time I left my seat the plane would try to roll over on
it’s back which made it hard to jump up. Finally I was able to get out
but it wasn't easy.
I grabbed my ripcord to pull the chute open but it
wouldn’t work. I yanked and yanked and finally it opened but very close
to the ground. It's a good thing it opened because the ripcord handle
come off and was in my hand now. Thank goodness I landed in a freshly
plowed wet field to which I sank up to my knees in and that saved me. I
gathered up my chute, walked to a road, caught one of those
double-decked busses and made my way back to the airfield.
On my last mission on April 20, 1945 we flew at
20,000 feet over Muhldorf, Germany. You can see in the picture below my
plane dropping its load of bombs. Notice that one of the bombs is
trailing smoke. This was a marker bomb for the rest of the squadron to
drop their bombs. Also in the picture you see that there are no flak or
fighter planes. Germany was finished and could not put up any