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Local World War II veteran recalls D-Day bombing runs

World War II veteran Fred Taylor, 96, poses in his Cazenovia home with his Air Corps uniforms hung behind him and his medals on the table. Taylor flew 31 missions in his B-17 bomber during WWII, including two missions during the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1945 after five years of service. He moved to Cazenovia in 1952 and became a turkey farmer.

World War II veteran Fred Taylor, 96, poses in his Cazenovia home with his Air Corps uniforms hung behind him and his medals on the table. Taylor flew 31 missions in his B-17 bomber during WWII, including two missions during the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1945 after five years of service. He moved to Cazenovia in 1952 and became a turkey farmer. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— “I had a bunch of penny postcards that were pre-stamped. I’d send them to my mother every once in a while to let her know I was still alive,” he said. “’Crazy Fred’ they called me.”

In the fall of 1940, he traveled to New York City and joined the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard. In February 1941, right after war was declared, his regiment was called into active federal service. In February 1942, he volunteered to join the Air Corps.

Taylor flew 31 total missions over Germany, northern Italy, France and Poland during his three years in the Air Corps — including two on D-Day.

“They got us up around 12:30 in the morning [on D-Day] for the briefing, then we had breakfast, then sacked out at our plane until takeoff,” he recalled. He said his crew had 10 men in the plane, and they were loaded with six 1,000-pound bombs in the weapons bay.

“We knew exactly what we were going to do,” he said.

Taylor’s plane — which was named “Patches” because it had more than 400 patched bullet holes in it from enemy fire — made one pass over Normandy that morning, aiming its payload at enemy installations and troops, he said. He said there was not much enemy opposition in the air. “You don’t get scared about anything because we just had such overwhelming power,” he said.

In the late afternoon of D-Day, after the Allied forces had secured the Cherbourg Peninsula (part of the Northwest coast of France), Taylor and his crew made a second bombing run at German positions in Cherbourg.

“That invasion was so well-organized and well-planned, Germany didn’t stand a chance,” Taylor said. “But they put up one hell of a fight.”

During his 31 bombing missions in the war, Taylor never lost a man or had his plane shot down, he said. But he did have one close call during the 1944 bombing of Berlin.

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