3 March 1945 — Gandersheim, Germany
The 359th Fighter Group, 368th Fighter Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 133, East Wretham, England. East Wretham was located in a remote area of Norfolk six miles north east of Thetford, England. With two T2 hangers, twenty-eight hardstands and a pierced-steel planking runway, this airfield was home to the 359th Fighter Group which began operational missions in December 1943. During the course of the war, 346 fighter missions were flown from this base. Personnel living for 1,700 men were in Nissen buildings scattered around East Wretham in various camps. The 368th Fighter Squadron converted to P-51 Mustangs in April 1994 and they were distinguished by green spinners and nosebands. Identification markings on the aircraft were CV with a yellow rudder.
Mission # 309 which took place on 3 March 1945 was to fly penetration, target and withdrawal support for the B-17 Flying Fortress’ raid on Hannover, Germany. The mission began in two groups with thirty-two P-51s in Group A and fourteen in Group A. 2nd Lt. Albert Adam Cowie was flying only his second mission. He was piloting 44-11696 which was a P-51K-5 with the code CV-G in the Red Two position and his radio call sign was Jigger (Jr) 87. The group departed it’s escort duties and dropped down to strafe. Lt. Cowie was successful in damaging a training aircraft parked near Hannover but his aircraft was hit by flak His engine quit over Halberstadt and he crash-landed near Gandersheim. He was captured and taken prisoner. The following two eyewitness statements are from Missing Air Crew Report No. 13406.
2nd Lt. Henry B. Kreuzman stated: On March 3, 1945, I was flying White Two position on an escort mission to Hannover, Germany. At 1115 I heard an unidentified voice say on our group’s frequency, “Sorry, I have to leave you.”
2nd Lt. John T. Marron also related: On 3 March 1945, while escorting bombers to Hannover, we made a bounce on two aircraft which proved to be P-51’s, just prior to target time. Having dropped our tanks we went down to strafe S/W of Hannover. Lt. Cowie’s airplane was seen to be siphoning gas throughout the mission. It couldn’t have been coolant because he couldn’t have lasted so long if it had been. We strafed a couple of trucks and a factory. Lt. Cowie called in that he saw an airplane on a field and attacked it. He damaged it. The ship is believed to have been a single engine type. At the time he made the pass I observed a tracer go by under my right wing. We circled and started to climb up above the cloud layer. Lt. Cowie said he was right behind us. He was. However, I noticed his transmission was getting weaker, and when we arrived above the cloud layer at about 5,000 ft. Lt. Cowie was gone. We couldn’t raise him by radio. We continued to climb and headed home.
The time we made the attack on the ground targets was 1100. At 1115 we had already set course for home.
2nd Lt. Albert Adam Cowie (O-721982) was born on 23 June 1920. His home town was Glandale, CA and he was transferred to 368th Fighter Squadron on 23 January 1945 from the 369th FS. He married Evelyn J. and they lived in Longwood, FL. Cowie died at age 76 on 20 August 1996 in Longwood, FL.