Nineteen aircraft on escort dive-bombing mission on Reims/Champagne airdrome led by Capt. Flavin. Squadron strafed airfield after it was dive bombed. Larsen and Putnam damaged a Ju-88 and a Do-217. Capt. Houghton hit by flak and was seen to crash on the airfield (I was on his wing, flying #3 position at the time)...following
the attack on the airdrome at Reims, I remained on deck and turned northwest, toward England.
About 2 miles west of Reims airfield, I came across a train which I began to fire upon.
It turned out to be a flak train and my aircraft was hit with 40mm in the engine and right wing root. I was able to fly, but could only achieve 156 mph airspeed. As a result I continued homeward alone and behind the others. As I approached the airfield at home, my engine quit at 1000 feet and 2 miles short of the runway. I crashed into trees and cart-wheeled to a stop. No fire. I was assisted from the cockpit by British AA troops and suffered only a broken ankle. As the sketch shows, this was a bad day for everyone.
We were attacking the Messerschmidt factory in Reims. The first wave of four aircraft dive-bombed from high up, the second group of four skip-bombed, and the third group strafed the field. I told the
last group over the radio, "Don't go across the open field. There's nothing to shoot there and you're
easy to spot. Go around the edges." Houghton flew straight across the open and they threw
everything at him.
Rarey's letter: June 10, 1944.
Betty Lou, I know how you must feel about old Hugh. I can't quite believe it myself yet. Doc Finn
has already written Janie and I will write her, too - I'm afraid I can't offer much hope. We were pretty low -
busting an airdrome - we think he caught some 20mm - think he went in - that's all I know. It's a
dirty business. I know these things are rougher on you gals than they are on us - but you mustn't
let it bother you too much. Fatalism isn't the answer, but it's as good as any other I know of. Try not
to worry, old gal, that's a big order, but that's the way I want it...
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