LeRoy Cruse Diary

LeRoy Cruse Diary

S/Sgt. LeRoy D. Cruse

S/Sgt. Cruse kept a record of his wartime missions as his outfit flew bombing missions over Germany 1943 – 1944.  His scrapbook included his citations, newspaper clippings of the missions, notes of news from home and a diary where he documented the unit’s actions and his personal emotional experiences.  S/Sgt. Cruse documented 25 missions before he was killed in a war crime after bailing out of his stricken aircraft on his 26th mission.

Transcription is from a photocopy of Cruse’s original diary.
Photographs excerpted from Mission 376: Battle Over the Reich, May 28, 1944
By Ivo de Jong

Back to Cruse Service Record

Diary and Scrapbook

(NO. 1)



This was perhaps the biggest day I have had in the E.T.O.  Today we made our first run. We flew with LT. Hoseapple, a hell of a good pilot. The raid was rough, one of the hardest since our group got  here. Everywhere I looked was bursting flack, we made our bomb run and then the whole German air force hit us. I saw some very unpleasant things happen today, fortress exploding all over the sky. The fighters consisted of EW190, ME109, ME110, JU88. They weren’t very scared of us and bored in and through our formation firing their 20 mm cannons. The were exploding all around us.

Took off our aerial and knocked plenty of holes in our ship. The sky was full of chutes both enemy and ours. One ME bored in on our tail, I gave him a burst but he kept coming then in desperation I clamped on the trigger. He rolled over on his back one chute coming out, down he went in a uncontrolled spin. I had tasted my first blood.

Strangely enough I had no fright, only I was sweating and it was 28 below zero. Our formation was breaking up. Stragglers all over the sky. Then when things looked darkest the Lord must have taken a hand because our of the sun like guardian angels come our escort of P 47’s. They knocked down several and suddenly the sky was cleared of enemy fighters and the P47’s were riding above us like proud kings daring Jerry to come back. No one in the world has more respect for the fighter pilots than I. They are the tops. It takes guts to go over in the enemy back yard and trim him with a one engine ship. Germany’s super men don’t show too good against just ordinary American boys.

Then came the coast of England and the let down. I was sure happy to be back and I guess everyone felt the same. Devlin froze his finger and we will lose him now for quite some time. So ended my first mission over into Jerry land. The mission was a success and we left smoke towering up-0 to 7,000 ft. I would have liked to watch it but had no time. I wonder how Germany likes a taste of their own medicine. Down on the ground guns cleaned and on the whole a very worth while day for us. Later found I only got credit for a probable on my air craft but I know he went down and so does Collins our ball turret man.

Pilot              HOSEAPPLE
Alt.                27,000 ft
Temp             27 below
Time              6 hrs. 5 oxygen
Target           Aircraft factory
Bomb load    44 incendiaries 100 lb.


(NO. 2)


OCT 10, 1943

Today was perhaps one of the most unforgettable in all of my 28 years of life. We were roused out of our beds at four in the morning. The target was the marshaling yards in Munster Germany. We went in at 26,000 our fighter cover left us about 20 minutes before the target. They had no sooner left than the hun hit us. We were off course and the flack was breaking all about us. Suddenly it felt as if I had a hot burning sensation in my leg and I was hurtled from my seat way back to the escape hatch. It broke all my lines. I had no felling in my leg and was afraid to look for fear it was gone. I crawled back to my gun position, hooked up my oxygen and ear phones called the pilot and told him I was hit. At this time the sky was full of enemy fighters. They swarmed all over us and it seemed like they took turns shooting at us. There were so many I didn’t know which one to shoot at. Then over the inter-phone the navigator said our oxygen was shot away. The bombardier was shot bad and he was shot in the eye. I’m sure we were all praying plenty I know I was. It seemed again like the end was near and then again in the nick of time came our p 47’s again. We started to let down and Kriesky our radio man went up front to help out. He passed out without no oxygen. We were running low on gas and everyone was all in. The bombardier looked  like he was dying and the navigator looked like he had a bucket of blood spilled over his head. What a mess. We came in at a strange field and they put all  three of us in the hospital. The first day I thought Lt. Rosenthal would die. They wouldn’t let me out of bed. They kept me in bed for 10 days. I was black and blue from my ankle to my ass, looked like a horse had kicked me. The hospital is full of wounded men and I met several I used to know in gunnery  school. Groans and guys screaming in their sleep. I thot [sic] I would go mad.

Met a kid from Storm Lake we talked of good old Iowa. His was the only ship that came back out of his group. I was sure glad to get out of there. There  was so much suffering I was afraid I would lose my nerve.

Pilot              WRISBERG  
Alt.                27,000
Temp             37 below 0
Time              5 1/2 hrs  4 oxygen
Target           Marshaling Yards
Bomb load    42 incendiaries 100 lb




This is the one the boys went on while I was in the hospital. They say 60 planes were lost. If the truth were known we lost almost that many at Munster and perhaps over 100 at this target. I really sweated out the crew but when I got back I found they had engine trouble and never made it.


(NO. 3)


NOV 7, 1943

Today we hit shipping and docks at one of Germans biggest sea ports. We met quite a reception but our cover was superb. The fighters came right in and flew with us. We really sent out a force today perhaps the biggest ever sent out. We went in over Holland and the low countries, everything looked so peaceful until the flack started to come up. I think the temp was the coldest yet. There were quite a few enemy fighters but our cover kept them away fine.

Pilot         SIPHER
Alt            25000
Temp        45 below
Time         5 hrs 2 oxygen
Target      docks, shipping


(Entry No. 4 had part of the photocopy cut off)

(No. 4)


Today we struck deep in Germany we carried incinderiers [sic] and bombed on
____finders. The target was rail roads in the city we saw only a few
____uns and the flack was just moderate fighter cover was perfect. It was the
____ yet today but a guy don’t mind
____ bad if the opposition isn’t too

Pilot               SIPHER
Alt                  25000
Temp              50 below
Time               5 hrs 4 oxygen
Target            rail roads and city
Bomb Load    10-500 lb demo


(No. 5)


Nov 16, 1943

Today we stretched out on a long raid. We went to Knaben Norway. We were only supposed to be on oxygen for a couple of hrs. but the clouds were high and we had to climb above them. As it was we were on oxygen about 6 1/2 hrs the run was about 1800 miles. Most of the flight was over water and the navigator sure was on the ball he hit a very small target right on the nose. Norway was covered with snow really beautiful. Lakes, mountains, trees, sure did look peaceful.

Pilot               LT HOSEAPPLE
Alt                  12000-18000
Temp              30 below
Time               8 hrs 6 1/2 oxygen
Target            Molybdenum Mine
Bomb Load    6-500 lb demo.


(No. 6)


Today we hit Emden the good old stand by. We encountered a heck of a lot of flack and the formations ahead really had hell with fighters. The count shot down was 138 by fighters and bombers. We got up at four o’clock had beautiful fresh eggs. We pulled against a strong wind on the way in. I thought we would never get across the north sea. We ran out of gas on the way home and got ready to put her down in the channel. We threw out everything that was loose so we could glide farther, finally found some gas in the Toykio [sic] tank and made it on home. Only 17 forts lost today on a whole it wasn’t a very bad raid.

Pilot                MCCLUSKEY (Iowa)
Alt                   26000
Temp               42 below
Time                5 1/2 hrs 4 1/2 oxygen
Target             shipping and docks
Bomb Load    10-500 lb demo


(Entry No. 7 had part of the photocopy cut off)

(No. 7)


Dec 24, 1943 (Christmas Eve)

Today was the easiest raid yet we had no opposition at all. We went
__ hit the rocket guns the Jerry had
__ to throw rockets into London
__was quite a scheme but after
__y it was just a dream
as far as Hitler is concerned. We dropped demo bombs they say there were 1500 planes in the sky.  Really was a good
__ we really knocked hell out of the targets.

Pilot              EIKOFF
Alt                 12000
Temp             20 below
Time              5 hrs
Target           Rocket Guns
Bomb Load   16-300 lb demo


(No. 8)


Jan 24, 1944 (date of 24th was amended by Cruse, possibly incorrectly as it is out of sequence with later missions)

Today we got up at 3:30 the loading was Bombay tanks and 500 lb demolition bombs so we knew it was to be rough. Then we were briefed the target was Frankfurt and being there before I knew it was to be plenty rough. We got all ready, loaded with plenty of amo. We had a hard time forming but finally left the coast. We went in through Belgium and about 5 minutes over enemy territory we got a recall telling us to return to our base. We had already been shot at so gave us a mission out of it. That makes eight, not very close to 25 but I’m cutting them down a little. Almost a third finished. I guess I will never have a easier one. So it don’t hurt to give us one once in awhile, not very many ever finish anyhow.

Pilot              PETERS
Alt                 24000
Temp             45 below
Time               3 1/2 hrs
Target            RECALL from (Frankfurt)
Bomb Load    500 lb demo


S/Sgt Cruse lists the next mission as No. 8 duplicating the count of the previous recalled mission.

(No. 8)


Jan 23 1944

Today we hit Frankfurt. I really sweated it out because I thought for sure it would be tough as last time, it really wasn’t too bad still the papers and Raido [sic]says we lost 30 bombers and 15 fighters. There were a lot of enemy fighters but I never had any good shots but really didn’t care because when you get good shots they are generally shooting plenty at you too. The flack was plenty thick and it looked pretty bad for us for awhile. I guess it don’t make any difference just so we get back.

Pilot               MACCULSKY
Alt                  24000
Temp              22 below
Time               7 hrs 6 hrs oxygen
Target            piston factory
Bomb Load    12 500 lb demo


(No. 9)


Jan 24, 1944

Today we hit Germany again on a deep penetration raid. They really tired a guy out yesterday. I was almost dead when I got out of the plane then another one today. They always get us up about 3:30 on a mission so there isn’t very much rest for one so tired. I guess it is the nervous strain that makes us so dam [sic] tired. Today we bombed through the clouds so I don’t know how we did. There were quite a few fighters and I should have got one if it hadn’t been going so fast. He came from the front and if I had known he was coming I could have got him easy but our bombs wouldn’t release and the bombidier [sic] was busy and never saw him in time. We had beautiful fighter cover or it would really have been rough. All in all it wasn’t so bad.

Pilot              MACCULSKY
Alt                 22000
Temp             32 below
Time              5 hrs 3 oxygen
Target           plane factory
Bomb Load   12 500 lb demolition


(No. 10)


Feb 3, 1944

Today we hit one of Germany’s most important sea bases. We took off at eight the alt supposed to be 22000 we kept flying through clouds and was forced up to 28000 to clear them. We got to the target with beautiful fighter cover. We bombed through the clouds and never saw any enemy fighters. The flack was there but very inaccurate the we started back over the north sea. We started our let down and went from 22000 to 2500 ft in clouds so thick you couldn’t see your wing tips. Plenty of ice and snow. The sky was full of planes I thought that sure we would run into one another. Lost a new friend he was trying to crank up the bomb bay doors and passed out from lack of oxygen and fell 28000 ft with no chute on, hell of a way to die.

Pilot               MACCULSKY
Alt                  28000
Temp             44 below
Time              6 1/2 hrs 4 oxygen
Target           ship building
Bomb Load   42 incendiaries


(No. 11)

Feb. 5


Today we hit an air field deep in France. It was a long trip and we encountered quite a few fighters but no flack. All in all it was a pretty easy raid. There was a lot of flack but none of it got into us. The fighter cover was pretty good but the minute they left the Jerrys came in shooting 20 mm to beat hell. We never got a hole in our ship. Guess the good Lord is taking care of me. We really plastered the target and it will be out of operation for a long time. Our P-47’s knocked hell out of everything that bothered us.


Pilot             MACLELAN
Alt                 14000
Temp             24 below
Time              7 hrs
Target           Cheaturoux [sic] France
Bomb Load   12-500 lb Demolition


(No. 12)


Feb 6, 1944

Today we were again kicked out of bed at four o’clock. Ever since I got back from furlough it has been four or earlier. A lot of them have been canceled but just the same it ruins a guys rest. The past three days they have really worked us. I think I have lost 10 lbs. and I’m sure all in. We were supposed to hit an air field deep in France in fact it was only about 60 miles from Switzerland. We went over their and found the target closed in by clouds. We started back and somehow lost our escort so the fighters came in. One went by so close I could have spit in his eye. I was too eager tho [sic] kinda like buck fever and I shot too quick. I hit him a little but not a direct burst so he went on his way. I’ll nail him next time but shooting at a target attacking from the nose at 400 mph and you going about 200 mph is a pretty tough target and you have to be on him or he is gone. We carried our bombs back almost to the coast and dumped them on Dippe Air Port, really splatted it.

Pilot                MACLELEN
Alt                   14000
Temp              18 below
Time               6 hrs. 3 1/2 oxygen
Target             Marshaling yards
Bomb Load   42 – 100# incendiaries


(No. 13)


March 11, 1944

Today we went to Munster again. It is surprising what a difference a few months can make. I remember as clear as any thing how on Oct 10 the Jerrys kicked hell out of us on this very same target. At that time the flack was rough. We must have seen all of 100 that day, as many as 10 on our tail at a time but today we never saw one plane of enemy make. I got a purple heart out of this target just six months ago today.


Pilot             WINTON
Alt                 21000
Temp             22 below
Time              6 hrs 3 1/2 oxygen
Target           Marshaling yards
Bomb Load   42-100 lbs incendiaries


(No. 14)


Today we went out after military objectives in France. I flew with what is left of my old crew. We never met any fighter opposition but did see a lot of accurate flack. It looks so ugly those big black puffs of smoke and when you hear that stuff burst near your plane with a big woof it makes a guy mighty uneasy. It really don’t sound bad but when a guy thinks of what will happen if one of those bursts hits his three tons of bombs it makes him get kinda cold feet. We picked up six pretty good size holes. Today one piece hit the navigator but went through an amo box first so it didn’t hurt him. Red, our old co-pilot flew us. It sure is nice to fly with someone you know.

Pilot             CAUGHLAN
Alt                 20000
Temp             38 below zero
Time              5 hrs 3 oxygen
Target           Rocket Guns
Bomb Load   12-500 lb Demolition


(No. 15)


March 23 1944

Today we went deep into Germany to bomb an air field and installation. We had beautiful fighter cover and only saw the enemy break through once making one pass. They sent down two Forts in flame. However the P-38’s got them shortly afterward on the whole it was pretty easy. We were down on gas tho [sic] and it looked for awhile like we would end up in the channel. I flew as nose gunner it is really warm and nice up there, a guy can see everything. I hope I can ride up there more as it isn’t so bad since you can see how your engines are working. Soon I will be dropping the bombs myself if things go good. We ended up bombing Munster.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 20,000
Temp             26 below zero
Time              7 1/2 hrs
Target           Munster
Bomb Load   12-500 lb Demolition


(No. 16)


April 11, 1944

Today we drove deep into Germany. The whole trip was about 1400 miles and most all of it was over enemy territory. It was a pretty bad strain. I think the paper says we lost 64 Forts and 22 fighters for the toll of 122 enemy fighters and some took hits on some air craft factories. Our group wasn’t attacked very persistent by fighters but the sky was full of falling Forts due to flack. I think all of our boys came back. Coming out of Flack just about got me again it came up through the bottom knocking my foot over and just barely missing my head. It made a hole I could put my fist in out the top of the plexiglas nose. They had to put on a whole new nose. I guess they are all easy if a person gets back.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 15000
Temp             26 below zero
Time              10 hrs 45 min  oxygen 6 hrs
Target           Stettin Aircraft Factory
Bomb Load   42 incendiaries

(No. 17)


April 13 1944

Today we went to that old airman’s bugabo [sic] (editor’s note:  “airman’s bugaboo” was a reference to heavy flack.) I don’t know how many we lost as they didn’t release the score but I know it was plenty. The fighter opposition was terrific as heavy as it was when I first came over here. They have been wondering where the Jerrys were. I guess they know now. They hit us in droves of 25 at a time. 109’s they are real small and fast as hell. The sky was full of burst 20mm and falling planes. Sure was a rat race for awhile. The flack over the target was plenty tough and plenty of rockets as well. It wasn’t into us tho [sic] as we only picked up a few holes. Maybe the Lord is standing by I don’t see how we get through any other way. I guess none of them are so bad when a guy gets back. That is all that counts. Our fighter cover was good but it was out numbered that gave Jerry a good crack at us.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 21000
Temp             32 below zero
Time              8 hrs  6 hrs oxygen
Target           Ball Bearing Works
Bomb Load   42-100 lb Incendiaries


(No. 18)


April 19, 1944

Today we went to Kassel Germany to hit another blow at the German air power. The target was a Folk Wolfe Fighter factory. I think we hit it pretty good. I acted as a bombider [sic] today and laid the barrage myself. The flack was terrific and a large piece came in the nose again and tore into my gun control. Making them run away. I had just leaned over to drop the bombs or would have undoubtedly lost a finger or so. Guess the good Lord continues to watch over me. Wish I could set on the ground tomorrow and get a little rest but know we will go as long as the weather stays good and it is perfect recently. Flew in a brand new silver plane. I think it was her first time over. She picked up about a half a dozen holes.

Pilot              PETERS
Alt                 21,300
Temp             26 below zero
Time              7 hrs  5 oxygen
Target           Fighter Factory
Bomb Load   100 – 500 lb demolition


(N0. 19)


April 20, 1944

Today we went on a very short raid to hit the rocket coast. They call them no ball names. They just hit military objective. I don’t think they know what it is my opinion Jerry looks for us to invade there and has built up a lot of rocket slides to stop the beach head. The place is alive with activity and the flack is terrific. Those flack shooters must have checked out on the Russian front. We got over fifty holes and of course some came in the nose again but not as bad as the back of the plane. Maybe little damage prayers are being answered and the Lord is watching out for me. Alice says she prays for me every night. I guess there are a lot of them for me. Devlin (?) got hit today. A piece of flack went through his arm and into his side but guess he isn’t so bad off.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 20,000
Temp             22 below zero
Time              4 hrs, 1 hr 45 min oxygen
Target           Rocket installation
Bomb Load   12 500 lb demolition


(No. 20)


April 24, 1944

Today we struck again at the German Air Force. We went deep into Germany in fact we went way over it. We went along the edge of Switzerland seeing the Alps mts. Past Munich where Hitler got his start in the beer cellar. We hit a air field and really pasted it good. Our fighter protection was excellent. It was a good thing because there were plenty of enemy planes around. I rely saw a lot of dog fights. Several planes going down, some ours and some Jerry. Heard one wing lost 27 bombers. I think all of our group came back and most everyone in the wing. The flack on the coast was terrific and accurate. Thot [sic] they had us one time. Guess they are waiting for the invasion on the coast they have so many guns there. All in all a hell of a long trip.

Pilot              CHALMERS
Alt                 20,300
Temp             26 below zero
Time              10 hrs, 8 hrs oxygen
Target           Air Field
Bomb Load   12 500 lb demo


(No. 21)


May 1, 1944

Today we went to France again to bomb military targets it was all clouded in so I don’t know if they counted it or not. I sure hope so we saw a lot of Flack and one piece came in the nose again. We took off in the dark and it was hard on the nerves. We flew through the clouds and you could hardly see your wing man. I had on my chute and would have got out in a hurry in case of a crash. We encountered no enemy fighters. A very easy raid all in all.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 26,000
Temp             38 below zero
Time              7 hrs  4 hrs oxygen
Target           France Objective
Bomb Load   12 500 lb G.P.


(N0. 22)


Today we hit the rail road yards at Luxembourg. It was a good raid and not too hard. We really plastered the target good. We had one attack made by fighters but our escort was wonderful and we never had much trouble. I lost my jacket containing my identification card and some other things including my short snorter bill.  Sure hated to lose it as my wallet was in there too.

(editor’s note: A short snorter is a banknote inscribed by people traveling together on an aircraft. The tradition was started by Alaskan Bush flyers in the 1920s and spread through the military and commercial aviation.)

Pilot             WRISBERG
Alt                 19,000
Temp             18 below zero
Time              5 hrs – 4 oxygen
Target           Marshaling yards
Bomb Load   5 – 1000 lb G.P.


(No. 23)


May 11, 1944

Today we went back to the marshaling yards at Luxemberg [sic]. It was a very easy raid almost like a practice mission. Our fighter escort was wonderful. We hit the target right on the nose again. It was realy [sic] a nice raid. I would like to get seven more like that.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 19,000
Temp             20 below
Time              5 hrs 45 min
Target           Marshaling yard
Bomb Load   6 – 1000 lb GP


(N0. 24)


May 13, 1944

Today we again went on a long raid. It was to a vital German target so a guy don’t mind. It was 9 hrs long, about 6 on oxygen and that’s a long time with that dam [sic] thing on your face. The target was well hit and I hope we don’t have to go back there. The flack wasn’t bad and we only picked up one hole but it was a good one. We were attacked by from 50 to 75 German fighters. Things looked kinda dark for awhile, however they never hit our group at all. I must have shot a few hundred rounds. I think the score of the day was 54 Germany fighters against 10 of our escort and eight bombers.

Pilot              SCARLETT
Alt                 25,000
Temp             32 below
Time              9 hrs 6 oxygen
Target           oil refiners
Bomb Load   38 100 lb GP


(No. 25)


May 24, 1944

Today we again hit the big B. I don’t see how we ever get any planes back from there. The flack is terrific. You travel miles in it. I guess quite a few Forts were lost but we never had any trouble. Today is the day after the raid and the rest of the guys had a easy touch into France. It seems every raid I don’t go. Sure wish I could get some of these easy ones. Wish I would get in these 5 more before they change it again.

Pilot              RASER
Alt                 22,000
Temp             42 below
Time              8 hrs  6 hrs oxygen
Target           Berlin
Bomb Load   10 – 100 lb GP, 32 Incendiaries


 (No. 26)

On Sgt. Cruse’s twenty sixth mission his plane lost an engine over Germany due to flack. Reports from other airmen stated that there were parachutes seen and that all men should have gotten out. It was later discovered that Cruse landed safely but was killed impulsively by an agitated German soldier who was later found guilty at trial for the war crime.