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.
This in-flight photograph of the B-17 "Haard Luck" (42-97334) in formation with other 17s was taken by my father Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson on a mission between August 1st and the 12th of 1944.
Just three days before his 22nd birthday, on August 1st, 1944 my dad, Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson began a five mission shuttle run flying the "Lili of the Lamplight' (44-6085) with the 334th Squadron. The flights would take him and crew on missions over Poland, then a landing at Poltava Airfield in the Ukraine. A 2nd mission over Romania followed and then back to Poltava. A final mission in the area and then they were off to Foggia Airfield in Italy. After a few days there a final mission of the five was over Toulouse, France before they headed back to Horham.
My father spent time in early August of 1944 in Italy after completing four missions as part of shuttle bombing run. It was his longest continuous flight assignment on a series of five consecutive shuttle bombing missions which spanned the width of the European continent. His reactions in telling the stories years later to me of this experience ranged from, "thrilling, terrifying and exhilarating. He loved Italy and was one of the reasons our family later lived in Italy for three years while i was in High School and College.
This is what he always dreamed about when he was young and wanting to be an aviator. He was living his dream and the many photos of him during this period show that quite clearly.
During that ten-day run Ernest and his crew encountered barrages of deadly flak fire and some Luftwaffe fighter resistance. 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 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. He 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 photos 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 in these photographs seem surreal. I look at them and imagine the chaotic retreat of the once highly disciplined and invincible German military. By mid August the ship and crew left Foggia and completed one more mission, their 34th, over Toulouse, France before heading home to Horham.
By late August my father and crew 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.
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