On May 30, 1945 Lt. Charles Schlosser wrote the following letter to his wife about one of his missions.
My light had gone out and I couldn’t see my instruments very good, however the searchlights gave off enough light to see that about half of my instruments were broken.
by Lt. Charles Schlosser, B-29 Flight Engineer – Tinian 1945. ©6th Bomb Group Association
Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the 6th Bomb Group by Judith Luce, daughter of Lt. Charles Schlosser who was in the 241h Squadron and served as Flight Engineer on “Jake’s Jernt.”
I mailed you a short letter this morning, but since I have a little time will write you again. They decided we should go to lead crew school, so we started yesterday. It lasts for ten days. We were supposed to fly a practice mission today but the plane wasn’t in commission so we didn’t fly. ‘We do fly again tomorrow though. They are missions like those at Grand Island. I am really glad for the rest as I’m just getting rested up after the last two Tokyo missions. I was on both of them but my crew was only on one. The last one I took another engineer’s place who was grounded. Ask Mrs. Wilson if the Hughs that live close to them have a son over here. I think they used to live a couple houses from them. I saw him last night for a few minutes but couldn’t quite place him.
I’ll tell you about my last mission over Tokyo that T flew with another crew. Everything went fine until just a few miles from the target, when we got caught in a flood of searchlights and everything we did to get out of them was useless. The time finally came to drop the bombs.
The bombardier called the scanners to check the doors and they were open ok. Then he called bombs away and what a relief that was. Seven tons of bombs is quite a load to get rid of. Flak was breaking around us all the time, but we hadn’t been hit yet that we knew of. The bombardier then called the scanners to check the doors for coming closed. That was the last I heard as there was an explosion at the lower right hand corner of my instrument panel and I couldn’t see anything for a few seconds. I also couldn’t hear anything on the interphone, so took off my flak helmet and headphones and asked the A/C if his interphone was out. He said it was and also the rudder control, and we were heading back over the target again. My light had gone out and I couldn’t see my instruments very good, however the searchlights gave off enough light to see that about half of my instruments were broken. The engines were still running but I couldn’t tell much about them with the instruments I had left. Then to make matters worse the radio operator told us that the navigator had been hit in the foot by a piece of flak.
The pilot had the ship on autopilot by then and had control of it and we were heading out to sea. It sure felt good to know we were over the water as we generally are not bothered much after we get out to sea.
We brought the navigator up along side of my position so we would have room to patch him up; he was feeling pretty bad by that time. We bandaged his foot and gave him some plasma and made him as comfortable as possible and then I went to the rear of the ship to find out where the control cable was broken and try to fix it. l went through the bomb bays and found the rear doors still open and also the brake cable to the rudder control was broken in the rear bay. I tried to get the doors closed, but with no success. The pressure line had been hit by flak and it was impossible to close the doors. I went back to the Hight deck and told the pilot the doors ·were still open, and that I could probably fix the cable. I also figured out how long we could fly. Our compass was out and also our radio and we weren’t real sure where we were. It was still dark and it was overcast above us so we took a heading from an emergency compass, which isn’t very accurate, but it was all we could do. It didn’t take very long for us to get the radio fixed and we got a bearing and found our position.
I went back to the bomb bay and started to work on the control cable. It was sure a mean job standing on a ten-inch catwalk with nothing but water below trying to splice a cable. I didn’t wear my chute for fear it would throw me off balance. We were in a rainstorm most of the time, which made matters much worse. After about l l/2 hours I had a pretty good splice. Then all I had to do was balance the controls. It took quite a while, as there was no communications to the flight deck. After I had the repair finished I went back to the flight deck and had the pilot cut off the C. I. and try the rudder. It worked ok. Everybody was feeling pretty good then cause we had contacted a couple of planes and they were buddying us into the base. That is they were flying just ahead of us and we were following them. Everything went ok from then on in. The navigator is getting along ok, but probably won’t fly anymore. One of the clerks just came down for me so guess I’ll have to stop for now.
Love & Kisses,