Captain Atkinson Meets the Luftwaffa

Captain Ed Atkinson flying his L4 Piper Cub near Nancy, France.


Captain Ed Atkinson, Group Air Commander for the 182nd Field Artillery
Group supporting the 4th Armored Division, flew little Piper Cubs, L-4’s
(liaison), which were used to target the enemy and direct artillery fire.
The small flimsy planes had no defense of their own, but they managed to
make the Germans mad, so they made every attempt to shoot them down.
One day early in August of 1944, Ed was not targeting artillery but
instead was transporting a courier between units as he would do
occasionally.  Up to this time, Ed had not seen any enemy aircraft as they
were battling their way through France.  The only German aircraft he had
seen was abandoned planes on air fields they had taken over.  The only
flying aircraft Ed had seen was Allied, so he felt pretty safe as he was
transporting this courier near Nancy, France.  Flying at about 1000 feet,
something caught Ed’s eye off his right wing. He looked. It was a German
ME 109 fighter about 100 feet away!  Ed looked off his left wing and there
was another one!  Ed quickly looked to the right again and that 109 was
waggling his wings, signaling his attack.  As the Piper cub is very
maneuverable and capable of slowing down much more than the 109’s, Ed
pulled back and dodged the shooting. As the fighters fired on him with
deflection shots, they managed to put some holes in his wing and shot his
rudder out with a 20mm cannon shell.  Skillfully and luckily, Ed got his
plane down and landed.  He and the courier jumped out of the plane,
crawled in a culvert under a railroad track, and watched as the two 109’s
took turns strafing the poor little cub.  Ed and the courier eventually
made it back to their units, but the Piper Cub was a total loss.


SOURCE:  Personal interview with Ed Atkinson.


Ed Atkinson was from Flasher ND.  He passed away on Oct. 12, 2004.