The first aerial combat in days occurred at Ormoc November 10th. Major
Bong destroyed an Oscar as Lt. I. Corley also got his first kill. Major Wally Jordan
accounted for 2 Oscars destroyed.
Hundreds of small anti-personnel bombs were dropped
during the night of Nov. 11th, but no casualties were suffered by our unit. Raids were
made Nov. 12 by the enemy during the day on shipping in the harbor, with hits on two
Liberty ships. Two enemy planes fell to our anti-aircraft fire. November 14 commenced with
a surprise bombing and strafing raid on our strip. Major Jordan and Capt. R. Swift, about
to man their planes, were forced to drop to the ground. A bomb exploded about 30 feet away
and a strafing pass went right through the area. Neither pilot was injured, although Capt.
Swift extracted a sizable piece of shrapnel from the parachute he was about to don!
Personnel in camp were treated to an aerial show overhead when a Dinah, hit by ack ack,
burst into flames and crashed. Two 38's got on the tail of a lone Oscar and the wingman
shot it down after the lead plane overshot. It is seldom that ground personnel witness
such action, and the sight was most welcome.
The weather, very treacherous in this area, closed in suddenly on November 15th while 7
of our planes were airborne. Three were able to land safely at Buri, but four others flown
by Lts. C. McElroy, A. Datzenko, J. Hanisch and J. Hovik, after flying all around the
island of Leyte trying vainly to find an opening, finally were forced to crash-land. Lt.
Hovik landed in a rice paddy near Carigara Bay, killing a water buffalo in the process,
but suffered no injury to himself. The remaining three bellied in near Bugho, southeast
Leyte. All planes were total losses although several trips were made later to salvage
Our late patrol over Buri intercepted ten enemy fighters which were attempting to bomb
and strafe the strip. The bombing was frustrated and seven enemy planes were shot down
without loss to us. Lt. W. Curton got one and Lts. C. Gupton, Warren Fowler and
Lewis destroyed 2 each. All of the enemy planes were Oscars except one Zeke destroyed by
Jack Lewis. Lts. Fowler and Lewis scored their first victories in this engagement.
An enemy dive bomber, a Val, flew over camp just at dusk on the 17th and attempted to
bomb the airstrip. It was shot down in flames by our ack ack - a spectacular sight.
The 18th started off with an exciting series of raids. One enemy plane was seen going
down smoking after a P-38 attack. A second was lost from sight with a '38 in a most
favorable position on its tail. Some enemy planes made suicide dives on shipping in the
harbor. One crashed into a Liberty ship, setting it on fire; another missed and fell into
the water while a third was blown up by ack ack before reaching its objective. One plane
dropped anti-personnel bombs on our strip, damaging 3 planes and slightly wounding T/Sgt.
O. Wallace, S/Sgt. Colborn and PFC B. Peterson.
November 19th 2 more Japs made suicide dives at shipping, but both completely missed
their targets and crashed into the water. Ack ack fire was practically non-existant, and
their inability to hit their targets is difficult to understand. Two separate combats with
enemy planes were fought over Ormoc, and Lt. T. Hamilton destroyed a Zeke 52. Another
was badly shot up, and when last seen appeared to have a very slim chance of getting back
to base. Lt. Les Nelson was credited with this probable. Then came several uneventful
days, and Thanksgiving came and went without disturbing the even tenor of our ways.
On the morn of the 24th an enemy twin engine bomber, probably a Frances, was hit by ack
ack fairly close to camp. It caught fire, and after proceeding a short distance, crashed.
A sleek looking Dinah flew over camp heading for home. One of our '38's gave chase, and
even though the enemy plane had a great advantage in altitude, F/O H. Hammett was able to
get behind it and shoot it down. Early November 26th an enemy plane heading in the
direction of camp was hit by ack ack. It started burning, but crashed before reaching our
vicinity. There were a few anxious moments when it looked as if our camp was about to
become the plane's last resting place! That afternoon our planes twice met the enemy. The
first time, the enemy pilots were very good at evading combat and none were shot down.
Four of our planes intercepted 3 Oscars ten miles to the northwest a bit later, and Lt.
Gupton succeeded in shooting one down. Lt. N. Williams fired several bursts at another
and scored hits in the engine, causing it to smoke badly. As this one was not seen to
crash, it can be claimed only as a probable. The 3rd plane succeeded in escaping into the
Patrols without incident were flown until 29 November when two of our flights engaged
15 enemy fighters over Ormoc. Lt. Curton received credit for shooting down a Zeke and a
probable Tony. Lt. W. Lewis scored his first victory, a Zeke. No losses were suffered by
our men. This was the final combat of the month, a month which had proven to be most
interesting and successful. To off-set the thrills and excitement, there were rough living
conditions and hardships. The 30 enemy planes shot down and the 7 probably destroyed did
much for the unit's morale.