War Diary, 416th Night Fighter Squadron,
Pontedera Airfield, Italy
22 April 1945
Last night we were warned that the enemy might start withdrawing from the front lines in force and our commitment was to go on armed reconnaissance looking for convoys to attack. We had five armed reccons and one patrol. Visibility was good but practically no movement was seen along enemy highways. Lt. Bateman was the only pilot who saw anything to attach. He destroyed 4 trucks and damaged another. Base closed in again and Lt. Johnson, flying the last mission, had to land at Pisa. Capt. Miller and Lt. Parker got an early start for Rest Camp on Capri. About 0900 hours Major Morrison got a message from XXII Tactical Air command ordering an all-out, maximum day effort against enemy motor transport, reportedly withdrawing in great numbers in the Po Valley. We were given a central Po Valley area to search and Major Morrison searched for signs of enemy movement on the first mission, taking off at 1100 hours. He was followed by Lt. Kangas, who took off ten minutes later. After this two planes took off together every hour. Major Morrison searched our area thoroughly and saw no traffic at all on the highways. Some P-47’s on same mission saw him and were discussing on the R/T as to whether or not he was a ME-410. He overheard them and said: “If it’s this plane on deck wagging its wings you are talking about, it’s a Mosquito!”. They let him alone then. At 1300 hours Lt. Kangas with his observer, Lt. Herron, were an hour overdue. A check through sectors and G.C.I Stations revealed no word had been received from them. At this point wing telephoned that Lt. Fuller and his observer, Lt. Lander, had pranged two miles off the runway at Forli. Lt. Bruton on the same flight returned and said Fuller had been hit by flak and lost one engine near the Po River at San Benedetto, forcing him to go to Forli for a landing. Lt. Bateman returned from his mission reporting that the Mosquito flown by Major Urso and Lt. Simpson, his observer, had either exploded or crashed near San Benedetto. A P-47 was seen coming out of a dive on it. A telephone call from Forli reported Fuller and Lander safe after crash landing in a orchard. A telephone call from 350th Group reported a P-47 pilot observed a Mosquito, hit by flak, made a crash landing near San Benedetto and burst into flames, one parachute seen to open. Lts. Robinson and Johnson returned after a very successful attach on 2 locomotives, box cars, a steam crane, a barge and 6 M/T destroyed and damaged. Both experienced ground fire and a gas line in Lt. Robinson’s Mosquito was hit, all the gas leaking out of the tank. Our daylight missions were called off and we went home to get some rest before a night that promised to be busy. Nothing was heard of Kangas and Herron. Fuller and Lander were home when we got there. Unable to let down wheels or flaps they overshot the runway at Forli. Nothing was left of the airplane, Fuller suffered only a sprained foot. One shell had gone straight through the cockpit between the pilot and observer. There was a pile of baggage in the hallway at the Villa – three new crews just arrived. We had a drink before supper with the C.O. The day seemed long.