Segment 4


Ardell Bollinger had a couple of missions near Paris and Hamburg going after submarines. The cities had a large amount of flak guns. Often squadrons would be sent into the fire at the target before the actual mission. As a radio operator Bollinger would monitor and wait for anything to come up while he sat in his compartment with his headphones. Radio silence would only be used in an emergency. If they were being attacked Bollinger would leave his radio and grab his gun. Bollinger had a porthole as his window where he could watch fighters and the wing of the plane. During down time Bollinger and other men would spend time relaxing. Flying home was the most nervous, because crews never knew if there would be any fighters on the way home. Spitfires would join the squadrons on a lot of missions to escort them home. If the men had to turn around they were sitting targets without the P-47 range. The men would fly as high as 30,000 feet and pick up ice and level out at 27,000 feet. Bollinger would wear long underwear with his uniform and electrically heated suit. Bollinger would save as much oxygen until they reached a certain altitude. The electrically heated suit helped them stay warm in the cold temperatures and the men were still able to fire the guns. Bollinger had a radio compartment and seat next to a hatch so he did not feel claustrophobic. After the mission in Hamburg at the docks the men flew into France on 23 September. Bollinger found out about the mission the night before and expected problems. The target was a submarine repair shop that began as a normal mission. [Annotator’s Note: After the interviewer names the crew Bollinger notes that these men were not his original crew and did not know many of the names.] Bollinger’s second crew members consisted of Philip Higdon as the pilot, Louis Ritt as the copilot, Meyer Hegab as the navigator, Larry Johnston as the bombardier, James Jett as the top turret engineer, Joseph Tallis as the ball turret gunner and Willard Cronin. These men were not Bollinger’s original crew and he did not know or fly with them often.


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