m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson Air Corps 1942 - 1945
Click to view Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's complete thirty five mission list and twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses flown between March 27th thru August 26th, 1944 out of Horham Airfield, England.
'Mayhem Over Berlin' is a fitting title for a situation very few of us would ever imagine encountering ourselves. Yet this scenario is another incredibly intense situation my father experienced during his combat flying days in England in 1944. I grew up contemplating what it must have felt like flying a B-17 in combat. In this commissioned painting, that late morning over Berlin can be sensed in it's chaotic imagery.
The original concept came from a page from my father Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's mission notes from May 24th, 1944 on a mission over Berlin. I include that sheet here beneath the painting. The words he writes are filled with intensity and action. To imagine being up there with him and the crew is awe inspiring.
Also below is the only known photograph of the B-17 'Lili of the Lamplight' (44-6085) on a mission somewhere over Europe. Plus a photograph included of the 'Lili of the Lamplight' crew.
Last man standing below is an article in the Bismarck Tribune dated October 5th, 1944 titled: 'Lili of the Lamplight was Lucky Lady, Pilot Says'.
Months after this Berlin mission, Lt. Erickson of the 95th Bomb Group, 334th Squadron spent time in early August of 1944 in Italy after completing four missions as part of a shuttle bombing run flying the 'Lili of the Lamplight.' It was his longest assignment that began on August 5th, 1944, when the Lili took off from Horham Airfield in England on the first in a series of five consecutive shuttle bombing missions which spanned the width of the European continent.
During that ten-day run Ernest and his crew encountered barrages of deadly flak fire and Luftwaffe fighter attacks. After flying missions over Rahmel and Trzebien in Poland, and Bazau in Romania, the squadron landed at Poltava Airfield in the Ukraine, where they refueled and rearmed. They carried out one final mission in Eastern Europe and then flew back to Poltava. After a brief lay-over at the airfield, the 334th Squadron headed towards the Mediterranean.
They landed at the 15th Air Force base in Italy, formerly controlled by the Germans at Tortorella Airfield, referred to as Foggia Satellite No. 2. The crew spent the time in and around Foggia unwinding from the long week of flying. Soon enough he and some of the crew commandeered a jeep.They visited the Mediterranean cities of Salerno & Naples and my father had a chance to photograph the allied ships which were moored in the harbor and scattered throughout the waterways.
In Foggia, a crew member captured what I have always thought were classic photographs of my father standing in front of various abandoned Luftwaffe bombers. The photos were taken not long after the Allies had taken over the airfield. Abandoned equipment and airplanes were strewn across the countryside.
The images are quite surreal when compared to other photographs that my father took. When viewing the photos, one can consider the shambled retreat of the once highly disciplined, invincible and soon to be shattered German military. An era held still in photographic imagery. A dozen of these photographs can be viewed on the three pages of my father's Air Corps section.
By mid August the 'Lili of the Lamplight' left Foggia and completed one more mission, their 34th, over Toulouse, France before heading home to Horham.
By late August my father awaited the day they would complete their last and
final 35th mission. The cards laid out for that mission on August 26th, 1944
took a very uncertain last minute diversion. While the crew anticipated their
last raid on Germany's Industries, their ship the Lili would be involved in it's
final flight. As my dad referred to his ship as his Lucky Lady, the 'Lili of the
Lamplight's luck would run out soon after she headed off on a mission over
Austria with another crew.
Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's Air Corps Biography
Art by Michael Ross
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