Wessling, J. V.

The John V. Wessling crew: 709th Squadron

Standing L-R  
W. C. Rausch Navigator
A. M. Smith Bombardier
T. J. Foley Co-Pilot
J. V Wesserling Pilot
Front L-R  
H. F. Olafson Ball Turret Gunner
A. V. Stanley Tail Gunner
M. S. Taylor Waist Gunner
Prince Gunner
B. Garber Top Turret/Engineer
C. D. Koehler Radio Operator




Transcribed text of the pictured newspaper article

Every airman has his own most terrifying experience, but the one related last night by Lt John V Wessling would rank high on any list.

Home after nine months and 35 combat missions with 8th Air Force, the 25-year-old bomber pilot told of wandering hopelessly lost in a Flying Fortress throughout a thick fog for 10 hours over England, France, Germany and the Atlantic Ocean during a test flight.

He went up with a crew of four and no navigator on what was planned as a Two-hour flight to break in the new plane.  Unknown to him, the plane was blown off its course. They had been up an hour in heavy fog when Lt Wessling decided to go down. As the plane neared the ground it was met by a burst of anti-aircraft fire.

He zoomed up again, and just then the radio went dead. Lt Wessling flew east, figuring he would hit Allied territory. After another hour, he headed the plane down again, and once more was greeted with ack-ack fire.

“The gas was running low and things looked bad,” said he. “Then we managed to get the radio working and I flew by that for a while. But when I went down to see what the land looked like I found we were over the ocean.”

He turned the plane to the west, figuring it would be better to be over land than water if the gas ran out. Suddenly, out of the fog, a church steeple loomed up directly in front. He pulled the plane up, skimmed over the spire and then descended.

“We were no good after that for the rest of the trip,” he said. “The radio told us to turn and fly east again. We did – and we found ourselves over the ocean once more.”

Finally he established his position as somewhere off the French coast, received radio directions to turn north and then go on a beam. And at last with the gas just enough for five minutes left the plane was guided to an English airfield.

“But the topper was the answer I got from my home base when I called them,” Lt Wessling said. “They told me the trip could not be counted as a mission because I didn’t go far enough into Germany. That was really the end.”

Lt Wessling holds the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf clusters. His brother, Pvt Frederick, is home on furlough after graduating from the Scott Field, Illinois, Army Air Forces Radio School.







Some photos/information provided by:
Julie Bean, daughter of John V. Wessling