TIDAL WAVE/Ploesti – Call For Questions

I’m deep into writing the script for my documentary right now and I need your help. With the massive original research I’ve done at the US National Archives, USAF Historical Research Agency, Air Force Museum, Romanian archives, German Bundesarchiv, British National Archives and Imperial War Museum, interviews with participants, etc., etc., etc., I have FAR more information than could ever fit into a film documentary.

This documentary is for you–since I’ve done the research, obviously I already know the story. The point is that to be useful, this doc must first answer your “burning questions” about the mission. This is literally the most important thing.

What do you want to know about the mission? What interests or perplexes you? This could include the background (or situation), planning, execution, aftermath and/or anything else that interests you.

If you don’t want to enter your questions and comments on the video above, feel free to leave them as a comment by checking the comment box below, or you can email me privately here.

Thanks for your help–remember, this project is for YOUR benefit!

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13 Responses to TIDAL WAVE/Ploesti – Call For Questions

  1. Todd Rauch says:

    Question:

    What happened to the airframes that were interned in Turkey after the raid? Were the bombers repatriated at some time, scrapped or did they become Turkey’s property?

    Also, the 376th BG B-24D ‘The Blue Streak’ SN 41-11613 was what got me interested in Ploesti waaaay back in the 1970’s when Revell had a 1/72 scale plastic model kit of it with an awesome (unfortunately erroneous) painting of it flying in the low level Ploesti raid. That one iconic model kit probably is the reason a lot of kids in the 1970’s ever knew about the Ploesti raid, and probably sparked a lot of interest and reading about the raid. Years later because of nostalgia, I consider that kit to be the ‘holy grail’ of my childhood memorabilia. I’ve purchased numerous old sealed kits off eBay through the years, just to sit in our curio cabinet as a reminder of the ‘good old days’. I assume that this plane was in theatre at the time of the raid as it was painted up as ‘1st over Ploesti, Low Level’ 8/1/43′ but I understand it didn’t actually fly in the raid. Why not?

    • DHK says:

      Hi Todd

      Good questions, with quite interesting answers.

      No, “The Blue Streak” was not a TIDAL WAVE veteran; like quite a few 9th AF (98th & 376th BGs) ships she did not make the mission due to maintenance problems–primarily the lack of rebuilt engines. Of course as one of the original HALPRO ships, TBS was quite a well-used airframe by the time TIDAL WAVE rolled around. The three 8th AF bomb groups had generally better maintenance records in the desert, but of course their ships had been in the desert for only a month and not subject to the harsh desert conditions the 98th & 376th ships had been subjected to for up to a year.

      Blue Streak returned to the US for a War Bond tour after TIDAL WAVE and many, many publicity photos were taken so she was quite recognizable and well-known at the time. My Dad, who was an schoolboy on an Illinois farm at the time, actually remembers this specific plane. It’s not surprising Revell latched on to her as for initial release of their 1/72 B-24D kit. Who knows whether anybody at Revell knew she didn’t actually go on TIDAL WAVE?

      The old Revell Blue Streak kit certainly plays a major part in my childhood memories too. One of the first kits I ever built, at around the same time I first read Dugan & Stewart’s Ploesti book. Can’t recall the year, but it must have been in the very early ’60s. Maybe somebody knows for sure what year the Revell kit was released.

      And, I too picked up up a good quality NOS copy of the kit to put on the shelf, never to be actually built.

  2. Robert Brooks says:

    My stepson’s great great uncle, T/SGT Utley was on aircraft, 41-11776-Bashful of the 98BG, he was TDY from the 389th BG. In my research I have found that the aircraft crashed killing most of the crew. I do know that the Co-Pilot, Charles Deane Cavit, is still alive as of April 2014 and living in the San Jose area. I would love if you could get that aircrafts story. Some info I have read states they dropped their bombs and some state they never made the target.
    Please also add me to any mailing list as I would love to purchase the documentary when complete.

    Robert Brooks

    • DHK says:

      Hi Robert

      Good to hear from you. I’m already in contact with Mr Cavit’s family, and you’re right, the story of JERSEY JACKASS, formerly named BASHFUL, is quite interesting. As you probably know, McGraw’s crew, including Mr Cavit and T/Sgt Utley, were from the 389th Bomb Group but flying with the 98th BG that day. The official Sortie Report for McGraw’s crew lists S/Sgt rather than T/Sgt as the rank for James Utley. This could have been a typo, or he certainly could have been promoted after the fact.

      According to Mr Cavit, they DID drop their bomb with the rest of the 98th. They finally crashed near the town of TĂTĂRANI about 45 miles directly west of Ploesti while they were trying to get home. The only two survivors were Mr Cavit and S/Sgt Jack Ross, the tail gunner. This is confirmed by Romanian documents.

      I’ve already added you to the email list for updates to this project; however, anyone else reading this can add themselves by simply filling in their name and email in the “opt-in” box near the top right corner of this page.

  3. Patricia Burell says:

    My step-father, Maj. Gen. Jack Weston Wood was one of the pilots in the raid. Do you know anything about this wonderful man? He passed away in 1994.

    Thank you,
    Patricia Burell

    • DHK says:

      Hi Patricia

      Yes, Jack Wood was, as an Army Air Force colonel, commander of the 389th Bomb Group on this mission. His unit arrived in North Africa directly from the US only a few weeks before the TIDAL WAVE mission, and for many of his men TIDAL WAVE was their first combat mission. Wood had instilled in his inexperienced men a deep sense of professionalism and discipline that caused them to be, along with the 44th Bomb Group, the only unit that knocked their target completely out of the war.

      Brigadier General Uzal Ent, the overall commander of the mission did not fully trust the new 389th flyers to be able to “keep up” with the more experienced aviators of the 9th Air Force in the broad, coordinated attack on the oil refineries in Ploesti city and therefore assigned them to attack the northernmost target, the Steaua Romana refinery at Campina, Romania. Proving Ent’s concerns entirely misplaced, Col Wood and his 389th plastered their target so severely it did not resume production for the rest of the war, which for Romania ended when the Russians occupied the country at the end of August 1944.

      I have been extremely impressed by the discipline Col Wood instilled in the men of the 389th. Such discipline happens only by design, not by accident. From contemporary records it is very clear he instituted policies and procedures that ensured his operational and maintenance men, although new to combat, thoroughly knew their jobs and consistently performed at a very high level–an example a couple of the other group commanders on this mission would have done well to emulate.

      I’m very glad to hear from you!

      Dave Klaus

  4. Darlena Hulsey says:

    i was reading through your list of planes that flew this mission. My dad flew on the Witch with Julian Darlington. My dad was the radio operator. They did drop their bombs on the target and were shot down in Yugoslovia. Six of the crew were taken POW. My dad and three other crew members were taken in by Tito’s partisans. They stayed with the partisans for 319 days robbing German trains, destroying power stations and constantly on the move. A British intelligence officer joined the group to gain Intel on the group and discovered my dad and his three crew members. He contacted his intelligence office who in turn contacted the OSS. They finally got a plane in there and flew them out. My dad is the only member of his crew still living. We attended the 70th reunion in Ohio, but he’s 92 and his health has really started to fail since we lost my mom in March. I don’t know if any of this info helps.

    • DHK says:

      Hi Darlena

      Great story about your dad! What’s his name?

      Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

      I’ve got a couple of questions, but I’ll contact you direct to ask them.

      Dave

      • Melissa Thorne says:

        My grandfather was a crew member on “The Witch” as well. I was just trying to research about it and this came up. His name was Lloyd W. Brisbi

        • DHK says:

          Hi Melissa

          Thanks for connecting! As I’m sure you know, your grandfather was the flight engineer/top turret gunner on Darlington’s crew, flying The Witch that day. Their story is amazing. They were shot down well after leaving the target at Ploesti, by a Bulgarian Bf 109 fighter over western Bulgaria. Darlington was able to miraculously belly-land the stricken plane in a mountain wheat field. The crew survived, but during the crash your grandfather was injured and ended up in a Bulgarian prisoner of war camp and was not liberated until more than a year later.

          Dave

  5. Randall says:

    Hi, I cannot be sure of exact details of this, but I found out today that my great uncle was killed over Romania. He was a B-24 pilot and might have been part of Operation Tidal wave. His name was John Dyer. I would love to dig deeper and learn more about what he did. If there is any way I could learn more I would really appreciate any insight or research you could provide me. Thank you for this awesome display I am absolutely fascinated with this raid. Thank you.

    Randall

    • DHK says:

      Hi John

      I already contacted you via email. Thanks for your interest.

      Dave

  6. Joe says:

    My Uncle volunteered to fly with the 98th that day (he was normally with the 389th) due to a crew member illness. The aircraft was known alternately as the “Damfino” or “Four Eyes” (42-40655) and was in the C section of Kane’s group. Sortie reports confirmed that the aircraft went down (the two witnesses were the tail gunner and waist gunner on Lebrecht’s ship on the other side of the formation). Although declared KIA later, a mother of a crew member (Reitz) was contacted by a soldier after the war who said that he met Reitz, Kraft, Timpco and O’Mara in a POW camp and just stopped by to make sure Reitz made it through the war OK. The conventional wisdom is that they somehow came under the control of the soviets and ended up in a Russian Labor camp. It began a long, difficult road for several of the families to try to determine what really happened, but they received no cooperation from Stalin’s government and little with the US. I’m waiting for the 293 but I’m not sure if they ever even established where the crash site was. I have the sortie reports for the 98th and the MACR for 42-40655 but if there is anyone who knows anything else I would appreciate hearing it. Even an anecdotal record of locals picking up pieces or remains at the crash site would be helpful. I am also looking for the sortie reports of the other bomb groups involved if anyone can point me in the right direction.