13 May 1943 — Africa
T/Sgt William "Bill" Sheehan
He was injured by flak when Arkansas Traveler belly landed on 13 May 43 (crashed – sent to the bone yard) – Sheehan was WIA in the crash – that’s what the Purple Heart is for .
A/C No. 41-12947 “Arkansas Traveler” P Williams, Wallace (NMI) “Spike”, Jr., 1Lt CP Morris, Richard. P., Jr. “Big Moe”, 2Lt N None B Brei, Harold G., S/Sgt E McKibben, Walter D., Jr., S/Sgt R Sheehan, William F., T/Sgt G Zook, Urie H., S/Sgt F None
446th BS Special Account: Major Schwane led a formation against Cagliari, Sardinia. The target was well covered and some flak encountered. Lt. Williams, after manual operation of his landing gear failed, was forced to belly land. T/Sgt. Sheehan was slightly injured by flak. The following is an account of this mission by Lt. Williams:
Sheehan, William F., T/Sgt, gunner Williams, Wallace (NMI) “Spike”, Jr., 1Lt, pilot
As I write this I can see now that here was the start of an unlucky streak for me. Since the fall of Tunisia we had to work on Sardinia, Sicily, and Pantelleria. Real work. My thirteenth mission, on the thirteenth of May! What an experience.
Cagliari took an awful pounding that day, the Fortresses, and B-26’s hit it before us and we went in about noon. There were huge fires and immense clouds of smoke. Even the P-38 escort had 500 lb bombs under their wings. Our bomb run was made at about 10,500 feet. We could see a lot of flak bursts up ahead, about where we intended to release our bombs. Just after I had dropped my bombs there was a burst just under my right wing and nacelle. That was too close, one chunk had severed the hydraulic lines and perforated the right side of the plane. The nose wheel tire we found out had been hit, and the windshield on the co-pilot’s side was broken. One piece hit T/Sgt. Sheehan in the leg. Not too serious though. I though we were going down over the target, but we managed to keep up with the formation. The landing situation didn’t look any too good, the right wheel was hanging out of the nacelle and no hydraulic pressure. We tried to use the emergency system, but the cable broke. While the rest of the formation landed we circled the field and when the runway was clear we brought the plane in. Nobody was hurt in the landing. It was a pretty rugged experience, but it was O.K. That was the last mission for that plane. All it was good for was spare parts after that.
Sheehan, William F., T/Sgt, gunner
Williams, Wallace (NMI) “Spike”, Jr., 1Lt, pilot
WALLACE WILLIAMS, Jr
1st Lt., Air Corps.
446th BS War Diary of: Williams, Wallace (NMI) “Spike”, Jr., 1Lt, pilot (mission 13)
“Things went along okay. Kirk Martin flew my ship once over Mateur and got a wing tip knocked off. The first time it had been touched. I had about six missions and just then 446th moved up to Souk el Arba to run sea sweeps before Tunis fell. I flew a 448th ship and got about 5 more missions. Once we caught a large destroyer off Cape Bon and did a beautiful job on it. It burned as we left and later sank. Quite a thrilling sight. Most of this time we used 38’s and 40’s for escort. Sometimes Spits with U.S. pilots.
Martin, John K. "Kirk", 2Lt, pilot
Went back to Ain M’Lila and joined the Group. Had been hearing from home regularly and it was a great help. Next mission was a low element sea sweep, my only one. One I’ll never forget. Can tell it better than write it I guess. I thought my time had come, but I was lucky. Six 446th planes went in at 50 feet on Seibel ferries. 50 cal. Looked like rain in the water and tracers made it look worse. Dropped bombs with 5 seconds delay fuses and did a good job. I was on extreme left on Bradley’s wing. Brad made it home with an elevator shot off. Lovingood spun in on top of the boats. (Took me to DeRidder from Raleigh that weekend I was home.) Max Garmon and Kirk Martin had a 20 mm burst in their cockpit and took turns passing out on the way home. I was, I confess pretty badly shaken up, so all five of us were, when we got home. I think I was still kind of pale. Griff kept me on the ground a few days. Spring was coming to Africa. Nights were still very cold but the sun in daylight was hot.”
Bradley, James L., Jr. "Jungle Jim", 1Lt, pilot Garmon, James M. "Max", 2Lt, pilot
Griffith, Frank J. "Griff", 1Lt, pilot Lovingood, Willard J., 2Lt, pilot
Martin, John K. "Kirk", 2Lt, pilot
“Fight for Tunisia ended somewhere about this time and lots of prisoners were coming by. We got a three day rest and Fred and I went to Philippeville in a jeep. Wonderful swimming in the sea and it was a good rest. No airplanes in sight.
As I write this I can see now that here was the start of an unlucky streak for me. We now had work to do on Sardinia, Sicily, Pantelleria. Real work.
My thirteenth mission was over Cagliari harbor, Southeast Sardinia. It took an awful pounding that day. The Forts and 26’s hit it before us and we went in about noon. There were huge fires and smoke from 300 airplanes. Even the 38 escort took 500 lb. bombs. We rode in at 10,500 ft. The boys on the flak guns were hot and it looked black up front. Almost as soon as the bombs went out there was a flak burst just under our right wing and nacelle. It was too close. One chunk severed the hydraulic lines and perforated the right side of the fuselage. Burst the nose wheel tire and broke Moe’s side of the windshield. Sgt. Sheehan got a purple heart with a piece in his leg. Not very serious. I though we were going down but we followed the formation home and I looked over the situation. It wasn’t good. The right wheel hung out of the nacelle. No hydraulic pressure. We circled the field after the rest landed and found we had a leak in a gas tank. Tried to use emergency gear cable but it broke. Got everything set and came in on the belly with only 15 degrees flaps. Pretty rugged experience but we did it okay. That was the Travelers last mission. It went to the bone orchard at Telergma. Again I didn’t fly for a couple of weeks. I got behind in missions. Finally went back to work and ran into more trouble over Sardinia.
Morris, Richard P., Jr. "Big Moe", 2Lt, pilot Sheehan, William F., T/Sgt, radio-gunner