Our Mission Isn’t Over Yet

Lt. Del Skjod was pilot of a B-17G, 600 Sqd. of the 398th Bomb Group.
During the summer of 1944, on a mission to a target deep into Germany, they had just finished the bomb run through a heavy field of flak when shrapnel took out the main crew oxygen supply.  Del dove the plane down to a lower altitude but then was very vulnerable to
antiaircraft fire and a sitting duck to enemy fighters.  Del then took the
plane down on the deck and hugged the ground all the way back through
Germany.  Del flew on at about 100 feet off the ground taking care to
avoid populated areas.  At one point they flew over a hill and found
themselves over a German military base and Del remembered seeing a bunch
of soldiers all lined up.  Del didn’t know if they were in line for chow
or to get new socks, but when this B-17 came roaring over at tree top
level these German soldiers scattered like a bunch of scared rabbits!!
Del told his gunners not to fire on anybody and as far as he knew nobody
shot at them.  One thing Del did do was when they were following a
telephone line and he saw a connecting box on one of the poles up ahead,
he told his tail gunner to let loose on this box with his twin fifties as
they passed it.  They did this several times.  They were thinking that
perhaps they could disrupt communications.They passed through the rest of Germany and through occupied Holland then
out over the northern English Channel, and everyone breathed a little
easier.  As they were flying over the water, they came upon a small Dutch
fishing boat with two people in it.  As they passed over, these 2 men
stood up and flashed victory signs.  Del told his crew “Our mission isn’t
over yet” and he started flying a wide curve that would eventually bring
them back over the boat.  Del’s crew put together a package containing
ration cigarettes, German money from their escape kits and hard candy.
They attached a long streamer to the package and placed it in a chute that
was made for dropping propaganda leaflets.  The only problem was to drop
this package they had to open the bomb bay doors.  What these Dutch
fishermen must have thought with this large 4 engine Fortress bearing down
on them with the bomb bay doors opening is not known but it must have been
a bit disconcerting.  They came over the boat and the drop was made.  The
tail gunner said it nearly dropped right in the boat—it missed by just a
couple feet and the fishermen easily retrieved it.  Del circled around
again and by this time the package had been opened.  As Del flew by the
boat they were greeted by enthusiastic waves and broad smiles.

It must be said, that at this time of the war, the occupied countries were
going through extreme shortages and rationing, most of the Dutch produce
was being shipped to Germany.  The money and the cigarettes could be used
to buy food.  The bomber crews knew that their job was to rain down death
and destruction.  Del said this little “bomb run” sure made him and his
crew feel good.  Later in the spring of 1945 bombers were in fact used to
drop supplies to the starving Dutch.

SOURCE:  Personal interview with Del Skjod.Del Skjod made his home in Mandan N.D.  Del passed away Christmas morning,