Axis Grinder in Holland


Staff Sergeant James Buzick was ball turret gunner on a B-24H S/N 42-7495
(Axis Grinder) 577th Squadron 392 bomb group.

  The 392 bomb group’s first combat mission was flown 9 September 1943,  and receved the first B-24s equipped with nose turrets.  They got them right off the Ford Willow Run assembly line in Michigan in August of 43 before they flew to England. Jim was with the 392nd from the very beginning.
On 29 April 1944 the 392’s target was Berlin.  Group losses on this raid would be the second heaviest in its combat history, losing a total of eight aircraft and 77 aircrew casualties out of 18 planes.Bombers were to have friendly fighter cover all the way to the target and back but were left unprotected for about five minutes when one group of fighters had to leave and the next group picked them up.  Around 50 German single engine fighters (ME-109s and FW-190s) took advantage of this and hit the bombers in force, attacking in double line, abreast, making a
level pass through the groups formation.

“Axis Grinder” was hit with five 20mm shells (explosive).  The navigator and right waist gunner were injured.  One shell exploded between the fuselage and the number 3 engine taking that engine off line.  One shell exploded as it entered the right waist area. A piece of the same round
entered Jim’s ball turret and smacked up against one of his guns.  Hot shrapnel set off some of Jim’s 50 caliber ammunition leaving the ball turret inoperative.  Luckily, Jim was not injured.  Jim was able to get the guns pointed down so he could get back up in the plane.

Jim tried to get the waist gunner SGT. Walter Kolczynsky to lie down so he could take over his guns.  Blood was running down his legs from a wound in his butt.  Being a stubborn Pollack, he refused.  He said, “No damn German is going to shoot me and get away with it.”  Enemy action was continuing and he didn’t want to leave his post.

Axis Grinder was in a very bad situation and the pilot (First Lt. Slipp) wanted to know if they should try to go to Sweden, which was closer than England.  The wounded could be taken care of sooner that way.  All the crew opted for England.  About this time two ME 109s spotted them all alone, and made one pass at them.  Jim thought they had had it. Fortunately the pilot dove Axis Grinder into the safety of heavy cloud cover and turned back toward England.  After flying blind for a time, they pulled up out of the clouds only to be jumped by 3 more ME-109s.  They
dove back into the clouds.  They did this several times with the same result.  German radar must have had them and were directing the fighters.

The pilot then decided to try and get under the clouds so down through the soup they went.  They finally came out of the clouds right down on the deck.  They were flying through Holland and passed near a Dutch windmill. Jim said that they were so low that looking out of the waist he had to look up to see the top of the windmill.  They were almost past it when they realized there were German troops on it shooting at them with small arms fire.
They made it to the Channel and at times were only 15 feet above the water.   Jim kept himself busy by throwing everything out that wasn’t bolted down, so they could clear the cliffs when they got to the British Coast.  Which they did, and they made it back to their base at Wendling, England.

Pilot – 1st Lt. Floyd Slipp                              Engineer – T/Sgt. William McKinley
Copilot – 1st Lt. A. Jenson                             Radio – T/Sgt. William Lorenzen
Navigator – 1st Lt. Robert Beatson                Waist – S/Sgt Fred White
Bombardier – 2nd Lt John Lawrence              Waist – S/Sgt. Walter Kolczynski
                                          Ball – S/Sgt. Jim Buzick
                                       Tail – S/Sgt. Donald Cordick
SOURCES:  Personal interview with Jim Buzick and Jim’s self published book, “A Story Of Three Years”.

Jim finished his tour with 31 missions.  Served with the N.D. Air National Guard and was recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict.  James retired with the rank of Lt. Col..  Mr. Buzick lived in Fargo untell he passed away on Oct. 25, 2004.  He is survived by his five children.