Second World War: B-24 Liberator Gunner on the Luftwaffe

Staff Sgt. James W. Wisler, tail gunner of a B-24 Liberator, talks about the Luftwaffe in an interview conducted during the Second World War.

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This is an excerpt from a newspaper interview with Staff Sgt. James W. Wisler, a gunner on a B-24 Liberator during the Second World War. 

"Staff Sgt. James W. Wisler, who has bagged 10 enemy planes and several more 'possibles,' thinks the answer to the comparatively light German aerial resistance in France may be that the Nazis are conserving what air power they have left to make a last-ditch defense of the Fatherland.

"Sgt. Wisler, home in Kokomo (Indiana) on furlough after his outstanding record as a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber based in Italy, said Saturday that the command to which he was attached always ran into more Nazi fighter planes near the German border than over Italy, Rumania, France or other countries, indicating that the dwindling Luftwaffe was saving its strength for a final stand over its own soil.

"The boyish sergeant, who is 23 years old and modest about his experiences, flew on 50 missions before he was sent home on furlough. His crew shot down 14 German planes, and he received credit for 10 of them.

"The missions Sgt. Wisler's plane took part in were over the Ploesti oil fields in Munich, Germany - which he helped bomb twice - Vienna, Toulon and Lyon in France, Bucharest, Budapest, Campini in Rumania, and other places. None of the members of his crew was wounded on any of the 50 missions. The plane caught plenty of flak, too - one day it came home with 218 bullet and cannon holes, and on five successive trips, one of its motors was shot out.

"Sgt. Wisler counts the raids over the Ploesti oil reserve as the most dangerous he made. On one of these attacks, his plane caught fire and dropped out of formation, and the bomber behind them also dropped out. Nazi fighters swarmed in and got the bomber trailing Wisler's ship.

'''Then they made one pass at us, and flew away,' Wisler said.

'We were lucky. If they had come in again, they probably would have got us, for all of us were about out of ammunition. I had seven or eight rounds left for my two .50 caliber machine-guns.'

"In one air battle, he said, his two guns became overheated and both cut out. He saw two German fighters coming in at his position and was helpless to strike back at them. But he told his pilot, and the latter swung the Liberator about so that the waist gunner could get the Germans in his sights. This gunner knocked down one of the Nazis and the other fled."

Pauline Wisler
Niceville, Florida

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