Preddy, George E
Crazy Horse Aviation Photography

Preddy, George E., Jr.

Major George Earl Preddy Jr (© 352nd FG association archive)

Units

WW2 Score

49th FG, 9th FS


352nd FG, 487th FS


352nd FG, 328th FS

26.83

George Earl "Ratsy" Preddy, Jr.

Aircraft

I must become an aviatior


George Earl Preddy, Jr. was born and raised in the small town of Greensboro, North Carolina. Besides George, his mother Clara had three other children: Bill, Jonnice and Rachel Preddy. George finished highschool at the age of sixteen. About three years after graduating, he went on his first airplane ride. On a beautifull Sunday afternoon he was taken on a flight to Danville, Virginia, by Hal Foster (a friend of the family) in a 1933 Aeonca. The ride changed his life: from that point on he knew he “must become an aviator”.

Preddy House, 605 Park Avenue

Within a few months after this flight, George Preddy learned to fly. His flight instructor was Bill Teague, who owned a Waco. After George soloed, they both invested in the purchase of a second Waco and went on a barnstorming tour across the country.

George's red & white Waco 10 in which he performed aerobatcs with Bill Teague

George Preddy's WACO 10 in which he performed aerobatics and accompanied Bill Teague on barmstorming tours.

L-R: Bobby Boaz, Bill Preddy, Bill Teague and George Preddy

© W. Teague

The year was 1939 when Hitler's armies invaded Poland.


It was then when George applied for the first time to fly with the military. He was denied training with the Navy because of physical limitations (according to the Navy doctors, he had a small curvature of his spine, was found too small and had a high blood pressure). George, not to take no for an answer, applied 2 more times for the Navy but was rejected on both attempts. As a result, he spent the summer of 1940 barn-storming along with Bill.


Once the barnstorming tour came to an end, George renewed his efforts in getting into military flying. This time he tried for the Army Air Corps and passed their exams with flying colors the first time. Thus he was accepted and placed on a long waiting list for a cadet class.


On the advice of one of the Army Air Corps recruiters, he enlisted in the National Guard and was assigned to basic training with the 252nd Coast Artillery. Moments before the group was scheduled for Puerto Rico, George finally received the letter he had waited for a long time: he was to report to the Army Air Corps for training.


George underwent training in the PT-17 Kaydet, AT-6 Texan and Curtiss P-36. He graduated just 5 days after the Pearl Harbor attack and joined the 49th Pursuit Group after a short leave.

Down Under


On January 11, 1942, the 49th Pursuit Group was shipped out to Melbourne, Australia. The final destination were the airfields around Darwin. There George first flew the P-40 and participated in the defense against the Japanese. George named his P-40 Tarheel, after the state he grew up in.


The 9th Squadron missed out on most of the action against the often more superior Zero's, much to George's frustration. He had his mind set on finding and destroying enemy aircraft and finally got his first chance on March 30, 1942 but missed a perfect shot on a Zero by not turning one gun switch on. Other pilots of the 9th , such as John D. Landers had more success in the Pacific: his final tally was 14.5 aerial and 20 strafing victories (That score included both the ETO & the Pacific; Landers became Group CO at a very early age).


On April 27, George finally succeeded in damaging 2 Japanese aircraft: a Zero and a Mitsubishi bomber, but a few months later tragedy struck. George went up on a training mission with a flight of four. On a simulated bomber pass, Lt. John Sauber's P-40 collided with George's P-40, hitting it just behind the cockpit.


George had to bail out and ended up with a deep hole in his calf and a baldy cut hip and shoulder as a result of hitting a branch on the way down. Recuperating from these injuries took several months and when he finally returned to his outfit he was promoted to First Lieutenant and received orders to return to the US.

49th Fighter Group - 9th Fighter Squadron - George Preddy's P-40E '85' at Livingstone Airfield, Australie. He named his P-40 "Tarheel" for his home state.

Transition to the Jug


In October of 1942, Preddy arrived at Hamilton Field, California, looking for an assignment, but it wasn't until December 1942, when he was assigned to Mitchel Field, NY, that he became a member of the 487th FS, 352 FG.


It was Lt. Jack Donalson, with whom he was flying the day he had the midair collision in Australia, who pulled some strings and convinced John C. Meyer, commanding officer of the 34th FS (later to be the 487th FS) that Preddy was the right man for the job as a fighter pilot. During his stay at Mitchell Field, George also got to know his new fighter aircraft: the P-47 Thunderbolt.


On March 5th, 1943, Preddy was promoted to Captain.


On June 30th , 1943, the group went on board the Queen Elizabeth and set sail to England.


In July of 1943, the 352nd Fighter Group, "The Blue-Nosed Bastards of Bodney," set up shop at Bodney, England. George flew his first combat mission in the ETO in September 1943 but he still didn't have any luck as far as shooting down the Hun was concerned. The journal he kept stated the following on November 26th , 1943: “… I know that my day is coming and I am going to do everything possible to be ready when I do meet that Luftwaffe. Starting right now I am going to get in top physical and flying condition.”


Preddy's big day came on December 1st, 1943. That day he scored his first victory on a Bf-109. He would have to wait another three weeks to score again...

352nd FG 487th FS P-47C 42-8500 Cripes A Mighty flown by George Preddy

352nd Fighter Group - 487th Fighter Squadron P-47D-5-RE 42-8500 HO-P "Cripes A' Mighty" flown by George Preddy in 1943.
© 352nd Association Archive

Due to dwindling bomber forces, slow replacement of crews and poor weather, only 10 missions were flown by the 487th in December. With the exception of one fighter sweep, all missions were escort missions with the "Big Friends" either to or returning from their targets. George flew all but one of the missions and bad fortune would have it for him that in that one mission, on the 20th of December to Bremen, the squadron claimed 5 enemy aircraft destroyed... more than any one mission to date. They suffered no casualties of their own.


Two days later, on December 22nd, a force of 574 bombers was dispatched to hit the marshalling yards of Osnabrück and Münter. The primary target for the day was Osnabrück. The 487th was to provide withdrawal support for the bombers on their return from the primary target. George took off shortly after 1300 hours and headed for the planned rendezvous point east of the Zuider Zee between Linden and Zwalle. Clouds were 9/10 topping out at about 18,000ft. Visibility was excellent above the Couds.


Preddy's encounter report stated the following:


"I was leading Crown Prince Blue Flight. As we made rendezvous with the bombers, Yellow Flight [led by John C. Meyer] bounced a Me 109 and my flight gave them top cover. Shortly after that, I noticed three Me 109s coming in to the rear of the B-17s. I bounced two of them and they immediately went into a dive straight down and I went into compressibility following them. I pulled out at 8,000 feet and sighted one of the enemy aircraft just above a cloud layer. I gave him a short burst and he went into the clouds. No damage was noted.
My wingman, Lt. Grow, and I began climbing back up with everything to the firewall. When we reached 15,000 feet, 1 noticed another Me 109 above us positioning for an attack. He made an attack on the two of us and we turned into him. We battled him for almost 15 minutes getting short deflection shots but we were unable to gain an advantage. He finally broke off the engagement and disappeared in the clouds below us.
We resumed climbing and picked up Lt. Bennett, our Blue 3. We sighted the bomber formation about 25 miles west of and above us. We continued climbing towards the bombers and leveled off at 26,000 feet on the down-sun side still quite a few miles out. I saw a B-24 straggling to the left and below the formation.
He was being attacked by six Me 210s, but they saw me coming and immediately dispersed. I began closing on one of them and fired from out of range with 80 degrees deflection. I saw no damage before he ducked into the clouds.
I pulled back up and attacked another Me 210 which was attacking the B-24 I started firing at 60 degrees deflection from 400 yards. I came on down in stern continuing to fire and closing to 200 yards. I noticed many strikes on the center section, fuselage and engines. The enemy aircraft began to disintegrate with large pieces flying off and he went down into the clouds in flames I broke back up and Lt. Grow called that a Me 109 was on my tail. I threw the stick in left corner and saw the enemy aircraft behind me and out of range. I continued down skidding and slipping. Grow then called that an enemy aircraft was on his tail but I was unable to locate him. I told Grow to hit the deck, then I went into a cloud and set course for home on instruments. I stayed in the clouds for about 15 minutes and broke out over the Dutch coast at 3,000 feet.
I could not contact Lt. Grow and did not see him again.


CLAIM: 1 Me 210"


Apparently the 109 on Lieutenant Grow’s tail got him before he could duck into the protective cover of clouds. He never returned.


With two Thunderbolts trying to scare off six twin-engined Me 210s protected by another ten Me 109s, it is truly a miracle that either one got back. As it happened, both George and the crippled B-24 made it home.


For this remarkable display of courage George was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by his commanding officer, Maj. John Meyer, but was awarded the Silver Star, his country’s third highest award for heroism. His claim for one Me 210 destroyed was recognized on the basis of his gun

camera film, and so noted in his award. However, the Fighter Victory Credits which convened in 1956 and 1957 to appraise fighter kills and compile official records of Korean and top World War II aces, failed to give Preddy credit for this victory. It was an oversight on their part, and that oversight was corrected in 1978 when the US Air Force published their Historical Study Number 85, USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II. It was the first edition of this book that brought that omission to their attention. And proof of the credit was given in the form of General Order Number 59 dated February 16,1944, and issued by the Eighth Air Force.

George E. Preddy received the Silver Star for his action on December 22nd, 1943

That order awarded Preddy the Silver Star and contained the following:


George E. Preddy, Jr., 0-430846, Captain, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For gallantry in action, while escorting bombers withdrawing from a mission over Germany, 22 December 1943. While proceeding towards his home base, accompanied by two other fighter aircraft, Captain Preddy observed a lone crippled bomber being attacked by a large number of enemy fighters. Though out-numbered six to one, he unhesitatingly led his flight in an attack on the enemy and pressed it home with such viciousness that the enemy planes were scattered and forced to cease their attacks on the enemy bomber. Captain Preddy personally destroyed one of the enemy aircraft. When the enemy fighters switched their attack to his flight, he skillfully maneuvered them away from the bomber, thus allowing it to escape and then eluded them by taking cloud cover. The gallantry, aggressiveness and skill displayed by Captain Preddy reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.

During the late 1980s, when Allan Matthews read the first edition of this book, he identified that straggling B-24 saved by Preddy’s flight. It was his! He had been the copilot of  the 445th BG's B-24 42-7555 "Lizzie" and, coincidentally, he was living in Preddy’s hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina, at the time he read the book.


Allan Matthews's article on what happened on that B-24 on December 22, 1943:


- NAVIGATOR KILLED, PILOT AND 3 CREWMEN WOUNDED B-24 COMES HOME ON 1 1/2 ENGINES AND RIDDLED WITH 327 HOLES


“A railroad town in Northwest Germany seemed to be the target today and our ship was assigned to the low element of the lead formation. After climbing up through a three thousand foot overcast, we joined our formation and began to join other formations. Upon forming, we began a gradual climb to 22,000 feet. Reaching the assigned altitude, we leveled out and immediately lost number 2 engine due to a runaway prop.  We increased the manifold pressure to 50 inches and the R.P.M. to 2400 on the other three engines. We were still unable to stay in formation due to the bomb load, so the pilot kept jockeying the supercharger back and forth when we began to lag, by so doing we managed to stay in formation on the bomb run.

Upon dropping the bombs, the formation began to pick up speed and although we had maximum power settings, we were left. Two more 24’s out of our formation were also left straggling due to a feathered prop each. We began to dive for the overcast but upon nosing down, we saw 10 or 15 ME 109’s attacking one of our straggling ships; not desiring to dive through the mass of fighters, we held our altitude. A few seconds later the bomber burst into flames and spun into the overcast. The fighters then swarmed over on the other straggling bomber and upon making 8 or 10 passes succeeded in knocking it down.


As we saw the bomber spin into the overcast, our gunners warned us of an attack from the rear. We proceeded to dive, climb, swerve and everything possible to throw the fighters off. The gunners reported 8 ME 210s coming in at 5 and 7 o’clock. On their first pass, number one engine began to run away. It evidently was hit as it ran up to 5300 R.P.M. until it melted. On the same pass, a 20 mm exploded in number 3 gas tank leaving a 4 inch hole, but no fire. The oil gauge immediately dropped to zero. We tried to feather it, but all the oil was gone. We cut off the mag switches, gas supply, and mixture control and let it windmill.


The second pass by the fighters was more successful than the first. Two or three shells exploded in the bomb bay throwing parts of the bomb racks into the radio compartment breaking the gas gauges and damaging the radio. The hydraulic system was also knocked out leaving the tail turret inoperative. The gunner was unable to rotate the turret as the cable was broken, however, he continued firing.


Another 20 mm went into the nose compartment exploding in the stomach of the navigator, killing him instantly. The explosion also set the plane on fire filling the cockpit with smoke. The navigator fell against the bombardier tearing loose all connections including the oxygen system. The bombardier went for the fire extinguisher, but by the time he found it through a cloud of smoke the fire was out. Although injured in both legs himself he began to administer first aid to the navigator, but it was no use as he was already cold. The bombardier did all this at 20,000 feet without oxygen or gloves.

Two or three more shells exploded in the waist, slightly injuring both waists gunners, but they also continued firing.  A JU 88 fired a rocket that went through both rudders leaving two holes about the size of a basketball in them.  Meanwhile the engineer in the top turret scored a direct hit and the fighter burst into flames and spun down.  The right waist gunner got off a few good bursts into another fighter leaving him smoking.  After that pass the fighters left us to cope with the remaining two engines and the 300 miles back home.


After we knew that we were over the sea we began throwing out everything that would come loose including the steel helmets, flak suits, radios, ammunition and guns.


Since every pound counted, we also threw the navigator’s body out.


The number one engine had just about burned out by this time and its slow windmill caused an additional drag.  Unable to feather number 1 and 3 engines forced us to increase the power settings on number 2 and 4 to 60 inches and 2500 R.P.M. and drop about 8 degrees of flap to maintain 140 MPH and a descent of 25O feet per minute.


With all radio equipment inoperative including the emergency signal units and the gyros tumbled, we continued our trip across the sea descending through a 2000 foot overcast flying the air speed and needle and ball.


A minute or so before the navigator was hit he gave us a heading of 250 degrees, so we kept that heading as near as possible.

We continued across the sea at an air speed of 145 and descending at about 200 feet per minute until we reached 3000 feet.  We managed to hold that attitude until number 4 engine cut out and the ship swerved and started side slipping down despite full opposite rudder.  After the loss of about a thousand feet the engine cut back in and righted us. About a minute later it cut out again, this time we lost only 600 feet before it cut back in.  Noticing the instruments, we saw the fuel pressure was low so we turned on number 4 booster pump and the engine ran with a little less power settings than number 2 engine.


We were now at 1500 feet and still losing so we all prepared for ditching.  It was then that we decided to take a chance on running number 3 engine despite no oil and a hole in the gas tank.  We started it and began gaining altitude until it was red hot then we cut it off.  With 5000 feet between us and the water now, we continued on, but still losing altitude.  We noticed then that the sea was getting smooth so we assumed that land wasn’t far.

Fifteen minutes later we spotted the white cliffs of Dover, a truly beautiful sight.  Crossing the coast at about 1800 feet we began to look for a fairly

level field in which to set her down.  Spotting a long runway, we decided to land on the wheels so we kicked down the lever.  The right wheel came down and locked, the other two refused to come down so we kicked the lever to get the wheel back up.  It wouldn’t come up as all the pressure in the lines was gone then.  Seeing that we had only one wheel we slipped it out over the grass and made a very smooth one wheel one wing tip landing. The plane finally came to a stop and all men jumped out safely.  The plane didn’t burn as there wasn’t enough gas left.  Another few miles and this episode couldn’t have been written.  Thank God, it was written."


The crew included  2nd Lt. Glenn Jorgensen, Pilot;  2nd Lt. Charles A. Matthews, Co-Pilot; 2nd Lt. Roy D. Stahl, Bombardier; 2nd Lt. Arthur Barks, Navigator; S. Sgt. Robert Bertochi, Nose Gun; T. Sgt. Ardem S (Robert) Lamirand, Radio Operator ; T. Sgt. Charles Jones, Eng.;  S. Sgt.William Schaffer, L.W. Gun; S. Sgt.Lee Dodson, R.W. Gun; and S. Sgt. Frank Socco, Tail Gun.”


Lieutenant Matthews stated:  “Although I went on to fly a total of thirty-six combat missions, thirty as pilot-in-command and the last six as squadron leader, I’ll never forget that first mission. I had always wondered why the enemy fighters left us so suddenly, for surely we were easy prey. Forty years
later I unexpectedly found the answer. My daughter was on the Board of Directors of the Greensboro Historical Museum, and she had formed a group
of junior historians at the museum. The group decided to call themselves the Major George E. Preddy Chapter. In connection with her research for the
chapter, my daughter read Preddy’s biography and thought I might enjoy reading it. So as I read about Preddy’s mission on 22 December 1943, chills went up my spine. I had discovered without a doubt that it was Preddy who drove the enemy away.”

George expressing his appreciation to Lt. Whisner for his efforts in helping him survive the freezing Channel

George expressing his appreciation to Lt. William Whisner for his efforts in helping him survive the freezing Channel.
© 352nd Association Archive

Due to poor weather in January, the 352nd only flew 11 missions that month. Three missions were against Crossbow targets (German long-range weapons in the Pas de Calais area). On the 10th mission, an unprecedented force of 800 bombers was sent to Frankfurt to bomb industrial targets. It was George's squadron's task to provide escort.

Clouds for that January 29th, 1944, mission were 10/10 (completely overcast) and the ceiling was relatively high at two thousand feet. But the tops were between eight and ten thousand feet. His encounter report says:


"I was leading Crown Price Yellow Flight and we were escorting two boxes of bombers. The Group Leader called for everybody out and I started to join him when my number two man, Whisner, called that the bombers were being attacked. I turned back coming in behind the bombers and saw a FW 190 below and behind them. Whisner had started a bounce on another enemy aircraft so I went down on this 190. He went into a steep dive and I closed to about 400 yards and started firing. I was closing rapidly and saw a few hits and a little smoke before I broke off. I lost the enemy aircraft momentarily but picked him up again on my left at about 4,000 feet. I started after him and he made a steep turn to the left. I turned with him and started firing at 300 yards and 60 degrees deflection. He straightened out and started down at about 45 degrees. I got a good long burst at 300 yards and saw hits all over the ship. The engine was evidently knocked out as I closed very rapidly after that. The last I saw of him he was at 1500 feet going down at an increasing angle to the left.


I made a steep climbing turn to the left and saw Whisner. He joined me and we climbed back to 10,000 feet. It was past time to go home so I picked up the heading as we didn’t have enough fuel to do any more fighting. We went below

the clouds and came out on the deck crossing the French coast somewhere north of Calais. Suddenly, a concentrated barrage of flak opened up. I began kicking the ship around but felt hits. She began smoking but didn’t lose power so I climbed to 5,000 feet and gave a Mayday. Shortly afterwards my engine cut out. I bailed out at 2,000 feet. A P-47 spotted me and I was picked up out of the drink by a Walrus.


CLAIM: 1 FW 190 Destroyed"

A new horse


The 352nd converted to P-51 Mustangs in April of 1944.


George named his Mustang "Cripes A’Mighty 2nd" and he would soon add to his score flying his new aircraft.


With broken clouds and good visibility, George took off on April 11th, 1944, to provide the Big Friends with penetration support to Berlin. After the long haul to the prime German target, his group left the bomber formation.


His encounter report follows:


"After being relieved of bomber escort, the group made a strafing attack on an airdrome containing 30-plus medium and heavy bombers. On my first pass, I fired at a He 111 on the edge of the field and noticed strikes and a burst of flame.
I turned after passing the field and fired at another He 111 but saw no results. As I departed, I saw many large fires from burning aircraft.
On my second pass I crossed a row of hangars and saw many planes inside.


CLAIM: One (1) He 111 Destroyed One (1) He 111 Unknown"


His gun camera apparently did not record the results of the second pass because he was credited with only one enemy aircraft destroyed on this mission.


Aerial combat during the month of April was most limited because the German losses had been quite high. Many of their experienced pilots had been lost, forcing them to go on the defensive. Many of their remaining pilots banked and dived away from dogfights, concentrating their attacks on the bombers.
As a result of these defensive tactics, which kept most of the Luftwaffe out of the air, the fighters made strafing attacks as they returned from escort missions.


At noon two days later George took off destined to get his second ground victory. The visibility was good with 5/10 cumulus clouds. Here is his encounter report:


"After leaving the bomber formation, we set course for home and sighted an enemy airdrome with about 15 trainer and transport aircraft parked on it. White Flight attacked ahead of us leaving fires on the field. I led Blue Flight into the area and sighted several single-engine biplanes parked on the south side. I put my sights on one and fired about a three-second burst. The enemy aircraft exploded. I pulled up and left.


CLAIM: One (1) Buecker 133 destroyed"


George often took less of ground scores than aerial victories, as did many pilots. Strafing stationary targets did not require the same level of skill needed to hit a moving target from a moving target; successful air fighting demanded quick response to quick thinking. Credit for ground victories was not held in as high esteem by fighter pilots in general.


In a letter to his brother Bill, George compared ground strafing to dogfighting:


"England
April 17, 1944
Dear Bill, ,
Was glad to hear you went to a single-engine school. There are several pilots in my outfit who graduated at Moore Field (Texas) and a couple who instructed there They all sav it is nice country down that way.
I guess you are finding the AT-6 a lot nicer to fly than the BT. It is truly a nice airplane as are all North American ships. I'm now flying your favorite, the Mustang, and I sure like it. Our missions run very long, sometimes five and six hours and the old fanny gets pretty sore.


I've destroyed two more airplanes recently, both on the ground. They blow up pretty on the ground, but it isn’t as much fun as air fighting.


Bill, if you graduate about May 23, that will mean over two months in advance. Seems that you boys will get more training than those ahead of you got. I’m glad to hear it and hope you get some fighter time before graduation. Also, you should take advantage of all the instrument time you can get because when you get to your theater of operations you will fly in weather you wouldn’t walk outdoors in at home.
Another pointer for you, Bill. When you begin flying fighters, know your airplane and how to operate it. There is nothing tricky or mysterious about a fighter but pilots get in trouble by overlooking little things like changing fuel tanks, using the wrong mixture, etc.
I hope you get the P-51 or the P-47 when the time comes because I know they are both good ships.
Keep up the good work, kid, and lots of luck.


Your bro,

George"


On the 13th mission in April, George got his first opportunity to fly as squadron leader. It was a radar-controlled mission to Paris where radar was used to spot enemy aircraft so that the nearest Allied fighter group could be vectored to intercept.


His encounter report for that mission:


"The Group was vectored to the vicinity of hostile aircraft by Type 16 control. We were flying at 20,000ft when we sighted about 15 single-engine planes climbing at three o'clock below us. We dropped our wing tanks and headed for them but, when still several miles away, they all dived for the deck. I took my flight down following the main body of 11 Me 109s. I was using full boost and closing slowly. After about ten minutes chase on the deck, all enemy aircraft pulled up sharply over an airdrome.

We pulled up after them and they hit the deck again. We resumed the chase for five minutes, and the last one on the right pulled up while the others continued straight. By this time only my wing man, Captain Hamilton, and myself were around so we climbed after this one. He headed for a cloud so I opened fire at 30 degrees deflection and 500 yards. I fired until he went into the clouds and then picked him up again on the other side. I got another burst at him and was strikes on the fuselage. He headed for another cloud and I didn't see him again after he entered it.


Claim: One (1) Me 109 damaged"



Preddy got into the thick of it once more on April 22nd. His encounter report for the day:


"Lt. Col. Meyer took his section down to strafe the airdrome at Stade and 1 stayed up to give him top cover. After the first section pulled up from the field. 1 took my flight to the deck and, as we approached the field, Captain Hamilton called in a Ju 88 on our left. 1 turned into him and he made a steep tum. I closed in and began firing at 500 yards and 90 degrees deflection. I closed to 100 yards and 30 degrees deflection and got many strikes on his bottom side and the plane began smoking. I broke off my attack as Lt. Kessler, who had been on his tail and also firing at the same time I was, broke off. The ship was smoking badly and one of the crew was getting out of the top. The ship flipped over to the left and went straight into the ground and blew up.
After reforming with the squadron, we headed southeast and saw another airdrome with airplanes on it. We went down to strafe and 1 picked out a Ju 52 and blew it up.


CLAIM: One (1) Ju 88 destroyed in the air, shared with Lt. Kessler.
One Ju 52 destroyed on the ground."


John C. Meyer had just gotten his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel on April 19th.


Later, and to the surprise of both Lieutenant Kessler and George, a third pilot claimed to have shared in the destruction of the Ju 88. As a result, George told the squadron scorekeeper to credit this one to the other two pilots. Therefore his squadron records did not reflect this victory as either one-half or one-third credit. But on the basis of the gun camera film and Preddy’s encounter report for this mission, the Fighter Victory Credits Board gave him credit for one third.


Close inspection of all encounter reports submitted concerning this particular engagement throws doubt on the validity of the third pilot’s claim. Besides Kessler’s report, which claimed to have shared the kill with George, and George’s report which claimed to have shared the kill with Kessler, there was another by a witness, Ralph Hamilton, who was flying wing for George.


Hamilton’s report stated, “I was flying Yellow Two on Major Preddy’s wing. We were going down to make a second attack on Stade Airdrome when we spotted a Ju 88 over the field at about one thousand feet altitude. Our flight pulled up to attack the Ju 88 in the air. As Yellow Leader [Preddy] closed in on it, the pilot started a steep turn. At this time, Yellow Leader opened fire and the right engine of the 88 started burning and a second later the center section of the plane blew up and burned. Then the plane dived straight into the ground.”


On April 24th, George assumed command of the 487th Fighter Squadron during the temporary absence of Lt. Col. J.C. Meyer, who was taking his leave to the States (Meyer flew several more missions on May 1st, 7th, 8th and 12th however before departing on the 14th).


On April 28th, George's flight went on another radar-controlled mission to Bourges, France. The Luftwaffe did not come up to fight that day, so the flight strafed an airdrome with over 20 enemy aircraft dispersed around the field. George claimed one Ju-52 destroyed and one rare He 111, pending film assessment. He was given credit for a probable on the He 111.

April 28th, 1944, strafing of the Bourges airdrome in France. George Preddy's gun camera footage of him strafing a rare He 177 Grief

April 28th, 1944, strafing of the Bourges airdrome in France. George Preddy's gun camera footage of him strafing a rare He 177 Grief
© 352nd Association Archive

352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy strafing Halle airdrome on May 12th, 1944

May 12th strafing at Halle airdrome. Strikes on a Ju 87 Stuka can be observed. A FW 200 Condor is right behind. Note how low George was on his strafing run!
© 352nd Association Archive

The Group flew another mission on April 30th, but George did not score that day.


The month of May also started out slowly for Preddy. He flew missions on the 7th and 9th with no encounters. On the 8th, Meyer led the Group and George would sit that one out. Unfortunately for him, the 487th would have their biggest day yet: they got 14 victories! Lt. Carl J. Luksic got 5 that mission and thus became the first pilot in the ETO to gain "ace in a day". Preddy would fly again on the 12th, an escort mission to Halle, but again no enemy aircraft would be encountered in the air.


As they left the bombers on their way home, they spotted an airdrome and went down to strafe. Whisner blew up a Ju 52 while George damaged a Stuka. The gun camera showed lots of strikes, but there was no explosion.


Except for the mission on April 22nd, George had not experienced any air-to-air combat since the end of January and he was getting realy anxious to meet the Luftwaffe!


His prayers would be answered on May 13th, 1944, when the Luftwaffe would come up in great numbers and most of all, they were willing to fight.



8th Air Force Mission Report

Date

13 May 1944

Mission Number

355

Objective

Oil production facilities in Germany and Czechoslovakia

Bombers


A/C Type

Despatched

Effective

Target

P/S/O/L

Bomb Tonnage

E/A

Losses

Casual-ties

MIA

Cat. E

Dam

KIA

WIA

MIA

1st Bomb Division units

91st BG

92nd BG

303rd BG

305th BG

306th BG

351st BG

379th BG

384th BG

398th BG

401st BG

457th BG

B-17

289

215

57

Stettin

Stralsund

O

O

659.0

103.0


10

0

81

1

1

88

2nd Bomb Division units

44th BG

93rd BG

389th BG

392nd BG

445th BG

446th BG

448th BG

453rd BG

458th BG

466th BG

467th BG

492nd BG

B-24

261

228

12

Tutow A/I

T/Os

P

572.5

30.5

1

0

2

0

1

10

3rd Bomb Division units

94th BG

95th BG

96th BG

100th BG

385th BG

388th BG

390th BG

447th BG

452nd BG

B-17

199

178

1

Osnabrück M/Y

T/O

P

446.0

3.0

1

0

61

0

2

10

Total

749

691

1833.5

11-2-0

12

0

144

1

4

108

1st Bomb Division briefed for oil targets in western Poland but cloud forced attacks on T/O's along Baltic coast

Bomb Group losses: 305th (3), 306th (1), 379th (3), 384th (2), 401st (1), 447th (1), 466th (1)


Legend


P/S/O/L

Primary target

Secondary target

Target of Opportunity

Last resort target

E/A (Enemy aircraft)

Destroyed/
damaged/
probable

Losses

MIA - Missing in Action

Cat. E - Category E damage (dam.beyond repair)

Dam - Damaged

Target Info

A/I - Aviation Industry

T/O - Target of Opportunity

M/Y - Marshalling Yard

Bomb Info

IB - Incendiary Bombs

GP - General Purpose Bombs

Frag - Fragmentation Bombs

IC - Incendiary Cluster

Casualties

KIA - Killed in Action

WIA - Wounded in Action

MIA - Missing in Action

VIII Fighter Command

Fighters

Field Order 338

A/C Type

Group

Despatched

Effective

Mission

E/A Air

E/A Ground

Losses

Casual-ties

MIA

Cat. E

Dam

KIA

WIA

MIA

P-38

20th FG

55th FG

364th FG

153

153

Escort & support for 8th AF mission 355

1

0

5

0

0

1

P-47

56th FG

78th FG

353rd FG

356th FG

238

238

Escort & support for 8th AF mission 355

14-2-9

2

1

0

0

1

2

P-51

4th FG

339th FG

352nd FG

355th FG

357th FG

359th FG

361st FG

346

346

Escort & support for 8th AF mission 355

33-1-4

2

0

7

0

0

2

Total

737

737

47-3-13

0-0-5

5

1

12

0

1

5

Deepest penetration by P-51s to date: 1,470 miles to Posen

Not included in above table are 370 IX FC P-47s, P-38s and P-51s which also participated with claims of 11-1-3 (A) & 15-0-37 (G) against 4 losses

FG E/A credits: 56th FG (5), 339th FG (1), 352nd FG (16), 355th FG (11), 356th FG (6), 357th FG (5)

FG losses: 4th FG (1), 20th FG (1), 56th FG (1), 352nd FG (1), 356th FG (1)

Here is George’s encounter report of VIII Fighter Command's Field Order 338 mission:


"Leading a flight of six ships, I noticed one box of bombers being attacked so went to their assistance. When we got near them, I saw a formation of 30-plus Me 109s paralleling this box of bombers at 20,000 feet. Having the advantage of sun and altitude, I led the flight down behind the formation completely surprising the Huns. I pulled up astern of one and opened fire at 300 yards. The enemy aircraft burst into flames and the nose dropped and he went straight down. We had a fast closing speed which left us right in the middle of the Hun formation;

we were badly outnumbered. They began breaking in all directions and I singled out one who was making a climbing turn to the left and on the tail of a P-51.1 fired a long burst at him at 30 degrees deflection closing to 200 yards. I had to break off the attack as other 109s were coming in on me. I did not notice the results of my attack on the second enemy aircraft. Lt. Garney, my number four man, said he saw a 109 at this time who was being attacked in a left turn lose his left wing and spin down. He believes this to be the one I was attacking.
CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed
One (1) Me 109 Pending Assessment of Film"


The film, along with Lieutenant Garney’s supporting statement, left no doubt about the results of Preddy’s second attack—the Me 109 was indeed destroyed. It turned out that the 109 was chasing Lt. Col. Meyer in a tight circle that day. Meyer later told in an interview that the 109 was not gaining an advantage, but neither was he. However, the thought of running out of fuel put him at a great disadvantage as he could not keep up the circling forever. Just then, Meyer noticed another P-51 getting on the 109's tail. Making radio contact, he recognized Preddy's voice. He noticed George being out of effective range and, based on his confidence in Preddy's gunnery skills, decided to pull back on the throttle. This allowed the 109 to gain on Meyer, but it also allowed Preddy to gain on the 109. Luckily for Meyer, the scheme worked and Preddy got the 109 with a short burst.


George Preddy was now officially an ace with 6.5 aerial victories. In addition he had destroyed three enemy aircraft on the ground, and probably des-troyed others and damaged some.


As action squadron commander, George had to cope with a heap more administrative tasks than before and missed out on four missions. On one of the few missions he did fly, he lost two of his close friends: Lt. Carl Luksic and Lt. James D. Hannon. Luksic had just been appointed flight commander by Preddy the day before his death. George was mad and scheduled himself as to lead the next escort mission in search of payback.


That mission came on May 30th, and the Luftwaffe paid dearly for his anger... his mission report for the day:


"As the bombers were approaching the vicinity of Magdeburg, I was leading a section of seven ships giving close support to the rear box which was quite a distance behind the main formation. I noticed 20 to 30 single-engine fighters attacking the front boxes so we dropped our tanks and headed towards them. We came up behind three Me 109s in rather tight formation. I opened fire on one from 300 yards and closed to 150 yards. The 109 burst into flames and went down.

I then slipped behind the second 109 and fired while closing from 200 to 100 yards. He started burning and disintegrated immediately. He went down spinning.

The third enemy aircraft saw us and broke down. I followed him in a steep turn, diving and zooming. I got in many deflection shots getting hits on the wing and tail section. I ran out of ammunition, so my element leader, Lt. Whisner, continued the attack getting in several good hits. At about 7,000 feet the pilot bailed out.

CLAIM: Two (2) Me 109s destroyed

One (1) Me 109 destroyed (shared with Lt. Whisner"


352nd FG 487th FS Demonstrating that George Preddy like to fight up close and personal with the enemy. The Me-109 he downed on July 29th, 1944 almost filled the screen.

© 352nd Association Archive

George declared he was low on ammo for the third kill, however on return it was found that he had fire about 900 out of his 1,200 rounds of ammo. Because he was the leader, he was cleared for the kill while Whisner covered his wing. Apparently George found it fair to give his wingman a share of the action. As usual, Whisner made good for the "gift".


Cripes A' Mighty 2nd now displayed 9 aerial victories.

D-Day


It was June 5th, 1944. The day everyone had been waited for finally arrived.


Rumor gave way to fact when on the afternoon of June 5th, orders were given that caused the base at Bodney to be closed as tight as one could close an open base. From the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, the Operation Memorandum Number 23, a top secret document at that time, was sent out to every bomber, transport and fighter group of the USAAF


The memorandum described the distinctive markings which had to be applied to US and British aircraft in order to make them more easily identified as friendly by ground and naval forces and by other friendly aircraft.

4. DISTINCTIVE MARKINGS

 

a Single engine aircraft. (I) Upper and lower wing surfaces of aircraft listed in paragraph 2 g above, will be painted with five white and black stripes, each eighteen inches wide, parallel to the longitudinal axis of the airplane, arranged in order from center outward; white, black, white, black, white. Stripes will end six inches inboard of the national markings. (2) Fuselages will be painted with five parallel white and black stripes, each eighteen inches wide, completely around the fuselage, with the outside edge of the rearmost band eighteen inches from the leading edge of the tailplane.

 

....

 

d. Stripes will in no case be painted over the national markings, which take precedence. Wing stripes will extend from leading edge to trailing edge of wings. Special equipment, such as deicer boots, will not be painted over.

Guards were posted and maintenance crews started painting black and white stripes around the fuselage and wings of each aircraft. The order caused a major run on black and white paint of every kind and squadron histories of that time relate how some units had to send out unit personnel to obtain supplies from any paint store in the surrounding civilian areas. This proved to be quite a task, as English stores did not open on Sundays at that time, and caused major work as all effected aircraft had to be painted by midnight that night. This was accomplished, but the weather then intervened in a major way, turning so bad that evening that it caused the entire invasion effort to be postponed 24 hours.

352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy's P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 Cripes A Might
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy's P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 Cripes A Might
George Preddy's Cripes A' Mighty 2nd with D-Day stripes freshly applied.
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy shaking hands
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy shaking hands
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy with crew chief SSgt Lew Lunn
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy with crew chief SSgt Lew Lunn
George Preddy thought highly of the ground crew and willingly posed for publicity shots with them.
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy publicity shot
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy publicity shot
George Preddy in a staged publicity shot along with Kesseler and 4 other 487th FS pilots

352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy's gun camera still... strafing a German truck on D-Day
© 352nd Association Archive

George's 487th Fighter Squadron flew 9 missions, starting on June 6th through June 8th.


The amount of strafing they had done before paid off as the group was up supporting ground troops on June 6th, 1944.


Everything hostile that moved was attacked: locomotives and trains, trucks and buses, bridges and airfields all fell prey to the guns, bombs and even the belly tanks of the fighter pilots.


That day, the Luftwaffe was not to be found in the air and the Allies had absolute air superiority.


Five pilots from the 487th were shot down by ground fire during these missions. This was a heavy toll to pay, but considering the many lives of ground troops they were undoubtedly instrumental in saving, the cost was justified.


On one particular mission, a unique tactic was employed.


Spotting a train of 100-plus cars on a rail siding, the Mustang pilots skip-bombed the train with their partially-filled belly tanks. On their second pass across the gasoline-soaked train, they strafed it with incendiary ammunition causing the entire train to be immediately engulfed in flames.

On the morning of June 12th, George took off shortly before 0700 hours leading the entire group on an escort mission to St. Jacques, France. After 3,5 hours after takeoff he met his first enemy plane in the air since the invasion began.


Here is his encounter report:
"I was leading the Group giving area support to bombers on various targets in the vicinity of Rennes. A group of about 18 B-24s were last out and withdrawing in the vicinity of Rennes when 12 Me 109s made a quarter stem attack on them from out of the sun. We headed for them on the same level and some turned into us; others broke for the deck. I followed one down firing from various ranges and angles. I got a few hits and the enemy aircraft lost most of its speed causing me to overshoot. I pulled above him and was starting another attack when the pilot bailed out at 8,000 feet.


CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed"


Much later, in 1970, 448th Bomb Group bombardier Ben C. Isgrig, Jr., wrote a letter about his experience on June 12, 1944, the day his B-24 was shot down near Rennes: "While dangling in my parachute on the way down an Me 109 made a pass at me. Just as he passed me a P-51 came in on his tail and shot him down. The German pilot bailed out. I have always been extremely grateful to the P-51 pilot that very possibly saved my life, but never made any effort to find out who it was. Recently I read The Mighty Eighth, and in it found that members of the 352nd Group reported shooting down three Me 109s on June 12th over Rennes. In trying to find out the individual pilot that got the Me 109 [that fired at me], I wrote the Air Force and received the reply that Major Preddy was the only pilot who reported that his adversary had bailed out. He was the one."


That particular mission would be the last in which Cripes A' Mighty 2nd would see combat action, as George received a brand new D-model Mustang somewhere between June 12th and June 20th: P-51D-5-NA with serial 44-13321 which he would promptly name "Cripes A'Mighty 3rd". It would be a good combination as they would go on to score an incredible 14 extra kills!

352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy's new and most succesful mound: P-51D-5-NA 44-13321 HO-P "Cripes A' Mighty 3rd". It would be a deadly combination for the Luftwaffe!
©
352nd Association Archive

Missions escorting the Big Friends took place every day until June 19th, when the mission had to be scrubbed due to lousy weather. To make up for this, 2 missions were flown on the 20th, there was an early morning takeoff and the other in the late afternoon. The first mission comprised of escorting bombers to Magdeburg. Preddy shot down a FW-190 and shared an Me-410 with Lt. James Woods:


"I was Group Leader and leading a squadron of 12 aircraft supporting the first combat wing of B-17s bombing Magdeburg. Just after the bombers reached the target I saw 15 Me 410s forming up in the sun at 28,000 feet. We flew out and intercepted them from one thousand feet above. All enemy aircraft went into a tight Lufbery except one who broke down. I followed him and after he leveled off at 6,000 feet just above a cloud I fired a short burst and he went into the cloud. I picked him up again on top and back down through he went. After following him through the cloud five or six times, I lost him altogether.
My wing man, Lt. Wood, and I started climbing back up and saw an FW 190 slightly above us. He turned down and fired at Wood and I got a head-on shot at him. After several deflection shots, I got on his tail and got a long burst into him. The pilot bailed out at two thousand feet.
Again we started climbing and saw a Me 410 above us. I managed to get on his tail and scored a few hits before overshooting. Lt. Wood pulled in and got a good burst into him and one of the crew bailed out. The 410 lost a lot of speed and went into the ground. It exploded.


CLAIM: One (1) FW 190 Destroyed
             One (1) Me 410 Destroyed (shared with Lt. Wood)"


After flying that five-hour mission that morning, George stood down for the uneventful late afternoon patrol. He scheduled himself for an early takeoff the very next morning, escorting bombers to and from Berlin. On the way out, as stated in his encounter report, he again encountered the enemy in the air:


"While leading a section of seven Mustangs escorting B-24s on withdrawal, I saw three Me 109s at 23,000 feet make a stem attack on a straggling bomber ahead of us. They saw us coming and turned into us. I singled one out and he started down turning and taking evasive action. He went into a thin cloud and I went below after him. He turned into me and I dropped 20 degrees of flaps enabling me to out-turn him. He then went down right on the deck and tried to out run me, but I closed in on him and began firing from 400 yards dead astern. I got hits on the fuselage and left wing and he began smoking. As I pulled up past him, he ran into the ground and blew up.


CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed."


As usual, George's assistant crew chief Cpl. Joseph J. "Red" McVay was waiting on a stack of drop tanks awaiting Preddy's return. Everytime Preddy would be victorious, he would buzz the drop tank pile where he knew his crew chief was waiting.

Red took great pride in Preddy’s performance; it was almost as if Red had shot down those enemy aircraft himself.


McVay once stated that Meyer chewed him out one day when Meyer took George's plane on a mission and found the guns firing low. McVay had Sgt Kuhanek, the armorer, check the guns. Kuhanek found that Meyer was right, they did fire low. Red said that Preddy would never say anything about it for two reasons: he didn't want his plane taken out of action, and he usually drove in close to the enemy before firing anyway.

Red also said that Meyer called him every name in the book the day he chewed him out, but that Major Preddy would never do a thing like that. That's why the troops like Preddy so much.


By now, George tallied 14.5 victories, three of them on the ground. He had flown 344 hours of operational time meaning he had only six more hours left on his third extension. In other words, he could only fly two more missions without getting a fourth extension, as it usually took a week or more to process the paperwork involved in getting a request for extension approved. Further, to ensure two more missions George had to make sure he didn’t stay up for more than six hours.


By June 27th Preddy still had not heard a reply to his request for an extension. Of course, he was quite sure his request would be approved so he decided to fly a mission the next day. He led his squadron to Saarbrücken, Germany, on June 28th as they escorted heavies to the target. The Luftwaffe stayed on the ground, so George had to content himself with blowing up a locomotive.
When he returned from this mission he started a follow-up action on his request for extension. As acting squadron commanding officer he couldn’t be expected to sit on the ground while others flew. He called wing headquarters and asked if his approval had been returned from Eighth Fighter Command. He was told that it had not, but that the wing commander had recommended approval. On this news, George again decided to fly the next mission. He had already violated regulations so now it would only be a matter of degree.


The mission on June 29th was to Liepzig, Germany, again escorting the Big Friends. It was a beautifully clear day with only scattered stratus cloud formations. He took off at 0700 hours and the mission went as follows:


"I was Group and Squadron Leader. After P-38s relieved us of escort, we saw an airdrome with a plane taxiing down the runway. My flight consisting of four ships went to the deck well north of the field and came into it at tree-top level. I took the left side of the field with Lt. Moran on my left and Lts. Pickering and Wood on my right. Moran and I fired at two Ju 52s setting both on fire. Pickering damaged a Me 110 and clobbered a He 111 at the end of the field. Lt. Wood scored many hits on a He 111 parked near the hangar line. Just as we passed the field I saw many tracers go past us. We continued on the deck for about two miles and attacked a locomotive. From my first hits, the side of the boiler blew up. All four of us attacked and left the loco-motive steaming badly. We pulled up and started climbing. We could see the airdrome and four fires burning and throwing up columns of black smoke.


CLAIMS: One (1) Ju 52 Destroyed—Major Preddy
                One (1) Ju 52 Destroyed—Lt. Moran
                One (1) He 111 Destroyed—Lt. Wood
                One (1) He 111 Destroyed—Lt. Pickering
                One (1) Me 110 Damaged—Lt. Pickering

                One (1) Locomotive Destroyed—shared by the four of us."


Having used up thirteen hours of his not-yet-approved fourth extension, George decided it would be prudent to attend to ground duties until the approval came through. As a result he missed the next three missions over enemy territory. Finally on July 4th, formal approval reached the squadron.


At that time, only one man in the 352nd Fighter Group had destroyed more enemy aircraft than George: Capt. John F. Thornell of the 328th FS.

352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd 15 kill markings
352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd 15 kill markings
George Preddy in his P-51D-5-NA 44-13321 HO-P "Cripes A' Mighty 3rd". The Mustang displays 15 kills markings so the timestamp should be around mid June, when he first received it.
352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd with 17 kills markings
352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd with 17 kills markings
Cripes A' Mighty 3rd being serviced at RAF Bodney. She displays 17 kill markings.

Six on the sixth


On July 18th, the 352nd claimed 21 kills, with no less than 4 of them falling to Preddy. His new mount, P-51D "Cripes A' Mighty 3rd" now displayed 21 victory crosses.


The raid that day comprised of 1,600 heavy and 350 medium English and American bombers, which, together, dropped 7,700 tons of bombs. These  bombers were escorted by more than 500 fighters, over half of which were P-51s, the others being P-38s.


Preddy had his biggest day of the war thus far. At 0900 hours, northeast of Rostock with 9/10 clouds and tops at 1,000 ft., the 487th encountered enemy aircraft. George's encounter report follows:


"I was leading the Squadron on a sweep south of the bombers and heading north to intercept the bombers. Yellow Leader called in bandits at four o’clock low. I made a right turn up sun of the enemy formation which consisted of a mess of Ju 88s with many Me 109s as top cover. I took my flight of three—Lts. Vickery, Greer and myself—to attack the Ju 88s, about 50 in number, while the rest of the Squadron dealt with top cover. As we approached the formation, I saw a single Me 109 ahead of me and attacked it from quarter stern. I opened fire at 400 yards and drove up his tail. The enemy aircraft was covered with hits and went down burning and falling apart.


I continued to attack the 88 formation and opened fire on one of them knocking off many pieces and setting the plane on fire. Lt. Greer then called a break to the right as an Me 109 was pulling up on my tail from below. After we broke, the 109 stalled out and went back down. During this maneuver Lt. Greer became separated. Lt. Vickery and I then made a 360 and launched another attack on the main formation and I damaged one with a few hits and drove up the rear of another getting hits all over this one. I believe the pilot and crew were killed as the enemy aircraft began smoking badly and went down out of control with parts of the ship falling off. I broke off the attack and pulled out to the side before the third attack on the formation. I came in astern again. In this attack I plastered one Ju 88 causing both engines to burn and the enemy aircraft disintegrated.


I got a few hits and damaged a second 88.1 was out of ammunition—or so I thought, but later learned that my guns had a stoppage on one side—and I had been hit in the engine by the rear gunner in one of the Ju 88s. My ship was covered with oil sprayed from the enemy aircraft which had been shot down, so I set course for home with Lt. Vickery.


CLAIM: Three (3) Ju 88s Destroyed
             One (1) Me 109 Destroyed
             Two (2) Ju 88s Damaged."


The 352nd accounted for twenty-one enemy aircraft destroyed and eleven damaged. George was the high scorer for the day.

352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd 21 victory markings
352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd 21 victory markings
352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd parked at Bodney with a pair of 500 pounders loaded underneath the wings. Victory markings were already up to 21 at this time.
© 352nd Association Archive
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy bags 4
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy bags 4
352nd FG 487th FS Publicity shot of Major Preddy after scoring 4 in one mission.
© 352nd Association Archive
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy bags 4
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy bags 4
352nd FG 487th FS Publicity shot of Major Preddy after scoring 4 in one mission.
© 352nd Association Archive

George’s next mission was on July 20th ,1944, and took him to the vicinity of Nordhausen. Cloud cover was 4/10 between 4,000 and 10,000 ft.—no factor in this combat which occurred at about noon as the 352nd approached airdrome on the deck. Here is his encounter report:


"I was Group and Squadron Leader on this mission. I sighted about 20 twin-engine aircraft around the edge of a field. They were painted silver or a very light color. White Flight—including Lts. Greer, Graham and I—strafed while the rest of the Squadron gave top cover. I attacked an Me 410 or He 111 on the south side of the field and after a good concentration of hits it blew up. I continued across the field and got hits on another enemy aircraft near the hangar line.


Lt. Greer attacked two He Ills getting hits on both. Lt. Graham got strikes on another He 111.


CLAIMS: One (1) Me 410 or He 111 Destroyed—Major Preddy

               One (1) Me 410 or He 111 Damaged—Major Preddy

               Two (2) He 111s Damaged—Lt. Greer

               One (1) He 111 Damaged—Lt. Graham"


Preddy’s claim was confirmed to be one Me 410 destroyed and one damaged. Gun camera film allowed the specialists at headquarters to determine the types of aircraft his flight had hit. George flew HO-E with serial number 413406 on this mission and fired a total of 388 rounds of API (armor piercing incendiary ammunition).


The very next day Preddy led his squadron to Dingolfing, Germany, on another escort mission. Visibility was excellent and clouds were thinly scattered. It was 1030 hours, just east of Munich at 30,000 ft. when he encountered the enemy:


"The Group was north of Munich at our rendezvous point but the bombers were late and way south of their course, so the Group Leader made a 180 degree turn to pick them up. I was Squadron Leader and we saw one contrail very high and eight aircraft in formation below it. We were heading east at the time and the enemy aircraft were northeast of Munich heading south. I took our Squadron to intercept while the rest of the Group turned back to rendezvous with the bombers. We were at 27,000 feet and the enemy aircraft were 3,000 feet above us. We climbed towards them and came in dead astern. Our closing speed was very great considering a climbing attack. I opened fire on one of the enemy aircraft at the left of the formation from 300 yards and 30 degrees deflection but noticed no strikes. As I passed him I pulled over to the right and fired at another from 100 yards but spun out in the prop wash without noticing the results. The enemy aircraft began jettisoning their belly tanks and breaking for the deck. When I pulled out of the spin I was at 15,000 feet and saw a P-51 with a Me 109 closing on him. The enemy aircraft broke for the deck and I followed him down closing easily. I fired from dead astern getting strikes and knocking his engine out. Lt. Moats from my flight made an attack at this time and the enemy aircraft looked as if he were going to belly in. Instead, the pilot pulled up and bailed out.


CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed (shared with Lt. Moats)"


On the 29th, enemy fighters again came up to intercept the heavies. As it turned out their fighting spirit was far greater than their fighting ability. Here is George’s encounter report for this mission:


"The Group was assigned to cover the 2nd Task Force of B-17s consisting of ten combat wings bombing Merseburg. We rendezvoused with the last combat wing and swept up to the lead box. We were southwest of the target covering bombers going in and coming out. After one box came off the target, I saw 20 Me 109s in formation come in behind and high to them. I led the Squadron in astern of the enemy aircraft and came in range just as they began firing on this box of B-17s from astern. I saw one B-17 get hit and start burning so led the flight right into the middle of the 109s. I came up astern of one enemy aircraft on the right side of the formation and opened fire from 300 yards, five degrees angle-off, and got hits. I continued firing as I closed to 100 yards and the enemy aircraft began smoking badly and went down falling apart. The whole formation began splitting up and diving for the deck. I followed one down but lost him in the clouds. I picked up Lt. Sears and we climbed back up towards a box of bombers. While still several thousand feet below them I saw a B-17 peel out of formation and explode. There were enemy fighters above the B-17s but other P-51s chased them away before we got up to them.


CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed"


George led the 487th on Ramrod missions on August 2nd and August 4th. On the first mission the squadron penetrated to St. Quentin, France; on the latter to Cape Arkona, Baltic Sea. There were no losses on either side.


Since getting his last extension George had claimed 6.5 enemy aircraft destroyed in aerial combat, within a space of two weeks. However, the next several missions were uneventful and no encounters with enemy fighters were made. The ever-present flak was there, however, taking its normal toll of our fighters and bombers. George was getting somewhat anxious; his extension was about to run out and Meyer was back from his Stateside leave. At this point George was the leading ace in the group with 22 enemy aircraft destroyed.

352nd FG 487th FS Cripes A' Mighty 3rd with 23 kill markings

352nd FG 487th FS Nice detail of the nose art of Cripes A' Mighty 3rd with 23 crosses painted on the nose.

© 352nd Association Archive

On the August 5th, 1944, mission, weather was clear and visibility unlimited. George was leading the 487th Squadron south of Hamburg at 28,000 ft. He had just enough flying time left for one more mission after this one and was hoping to make the best of them both.


As his encounter report shows, he did:


"We had just made rendezvous with the bombers southwest of Hamburg. I led the Squadron out ahead of the lead box. We were five miles ahead of them when I saw 12 to 15 Me 109s coming towards the bombers. They saw us at the same time and jettisoned their belly tanks. We pulled in behind them before they could reach the bombers and I opened fire at one from 400 yards and got many hits. The enemy aircraft began burning and losing many pieces. He went down out of control and on fire. At this time 40-plus enemy aircraft were sighted above us at 30,000 feet. They were the top cover for the aircraft I had just attacked. They began coming down. A big dog fight ensued with just a few enemy aircraft diving away from it; the rest remained to fight. I got behind another one and scored many hits on him. He began pouring out white smoke and went into the clouds. At this time I looked back and saw an Me 109 in range and firing at me so I pulled into a steep tum. I lost this one and then saw another being chased by a flight of P-38s. He went into a spin and was still spinning at 15,000 feet when the pilot bailed out. By this time there were 50-plus enemy aircraft in the sky and many P-38s and P-51s. I picked out an Me 109 in a steep left turn and fired at him with 50 to 30 degrees deflection without results. By this time only my left inboard gun was firing so I drove up behind another Me 109 very fast. I fired to 75 yards and 5 degrees deflection without getting hits. Finding no friendly aircraft to join with, I decided to go home as I had only a little ammunition left in one gun.


CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed
             One (1) Me 109 Probably Destroyed"



For August 6th, weather forcast predicted to be rotton, so the men enjoyed an evening of relaxing. George and a couple of others endulged in a game of crap at the officers club. After winning all the money on the table with his friend Harry Kidder, they started collecting pants and blouses. When Preddy had yelled his final "Cripes A Mighty" and made his final roll of the dice, he had won $1,200. He purchased a war bond with the proceeds and mailed it home to his mother.


The evening turned into one big blast and when the party was over, and with several drinks too many, George returned to his quarters and prepared for the sack. No sooner had he settled down than the officer of the day appeared... the mission was on!


The briefing would take place in twenty minutes. As it was George’s turn to lead the group, he was expected to give the briefing. John Meyer came by George’s quarters and saw his predicament. Meyer offered to take the mission. According to Meyer, George said, “No, damn it, I’ll take the mission. It’s my turn.” So Meyer accompanied him to the briefing room.


Normal procedure called for the briefing officer to stand on a platform about the size of a large coffee table while giving his briefing. Normal procedure did not, however, call for the briefing officer to fall off the platform. But that’s exactly what happened to George. The group commanding officer looked to Meyer the first time it happened and whispered, George is drunk!” Meyer said to the officer that it would be several hours before they had to take off and he felt sure that by that time he could get George in condition to fly.


As soon as the briefing was over, Meyer and others made sure George breathed an adequate amount of pure oxygen before takeoff time. George led the mission to Berlin flying Cripes A’Mighty 3rd through high scattered clouds on what turned out to be a beautiful day with excellent visibility. This would be a 6-hour mission, and since he didn’t feel the best, George sort of hoped for a milk run.


Here is his encounter report:


"I was Group Leader. We were escorting the lead combat wings of B-17s when 30-plus Me 109s in formation came into the third box from the south. We were a thousand feet above them so I led White Flight—consisting of Lt. Heyer, Lt. Doleac and myself—in astern of them. I opened fire on one near the rear of the formation from 300 yards dead astern and got many hits around the cockpit. The enemy aircraft went down inverted and in flames. At this time Lt. Doleac became lost while shooting down an Me 109 that had gotten on Lt. Heyer’s tail.

Lt. Heyer and I continued our attack and I drove up behind another enemy aircraft getting hits around the wing roots and setting him on fire after a short burst. He went spinning down and the pilot bailed out at 20,000 feet. I then saw Lt. Heyer on my right shooting down another enemy aircraft. The enemy formation stayed together taking practically no evasive action and tried to get back for an attack on the bombers who were now off to the right. We continued with our attack on the rear end (of the enemy formation) and I fired on another from close range. He went down smoking badly and I saw him begin to fall apart below us. At this time four other P-51s came in to help us with the attack. I fired at another 109 causing him to burn after a short burst.


He spiraled down to the right in flames. The formation headed down in a left turn keeping themselves together in rather close formation. I got a good burst into another one causing him to burn and spin down. The enemy aircraft were down to 5,000 feet now and one pulled off to the left. I was all alone with them now so went after this single 109 before he could get on my tail. I got in an ineffective burst causing him to smoke a little. I pulled up into a steep climb to the left above him and he climbed after me. I pulled it in as tight as possible and climbed at about 150 miles per hour. The Hun opened fire on me but could not get enough deflection to do any damage. With my initial speed I slightly out-climbed him. He fell off to the left and I dropped down astern of him. He jettisoned his canopy as I fired a short burst getting many hits. As I pulled past, the pilot bailed out at 7,000 feet.


I had lost contact with all friendly and enemy aircraft so headed home alone.


CLAIM: Six (6) Me 109s Destroyed"

352nd FG 487th FS On August 6th, 1944, Major George Preddy set an ETO record of 6 kills in a single mission.

© 352nd Association Archive

On his return to Bodney after the mission, George once again buzzed the stack of drop tanks where McVay would be snoozing.


Word had gotten back on the radio that Preddy had really gotton into the thick of the battle, so McVay, Meyer and half the squadron gathered around Cripes A’Mighty 3rd as Preddy taxied up to his hardstand.

Fortunately, Lt. George Arnold had a camera and took photos of a very sick-looking George Preddy. George said he would never again fly with a hangover. According to Meyer, George had thrown up last night’s party while flying at 32,000 ft. just before engaging the Me 109s.

352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th
352nd FG 487th FS Preddy returns on August 6th

352nd FG 487th FS Capture of the event as it unfolded upon Major Preddy's return to Bodney after the August 6th, 1944, mission. The strain of the mission shows on his face.

© 352nd Association Archive

Reporters, photographers, correspondents, commentators and writers were at Bodney the next day to congratulate Preddy and get his story. He performed some aerobatics, a few victory rolls and landed, rolling out on the hardstand where his proud crew were waiting to congratulate him as they had done the previous day. Editors spliced into this publicity film the actual gun camera footage made while Preddy was shooting down six Me 109s. It’s interesting to note that Preddy didn’t fly his Cripes A’Mighty 3rd for the photographers on the seventh. Rather, he flew Lieutenant Greer’s new P-51D while performing the aerobatics and landing, but taxied up in Cripes A’Mighty 3rd for the benefit of the cameras. Perhaps his plane had not been completely serviced after the mission, or maybe George just didn’t want to put any unnecessary flying time on his aircraft.

352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6
Giving away an interview for war correspondent Arch Whitehouse
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring
Giving away an interview for war correspondent Arch Whitehouse
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6 05
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6 05
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6 07
352nd FG 487th FS George Preddy August 7th after scoring 6 07
Preddy receives the Distinguished Service Cross by Wing Commander General Edward H. Anderson

For his actions on August 6th, Lt. Col. Meyer recommended George for the nation's highest award: the Congressional Medal of Honor. Much to Meyer's surprise and disappointment, Preddy was awarded the second highest medal: the Distinguished Service Cross.


Cripes A' Mighty 3rd now displayed 31 white Balkan crosses. These included his 5 ground victories and partial victories.


George would say farewell to his trusty mount. The airplane would be assigned to Capt. Henry Stewart who changed the name to "The Margarets". The aircraft was also known to have been flown by Meyer (who scored four kills in it on September 10th, 1944), Lt. Marion Nutter (who claimed 3 aerial victories whilst flying her), Lt. F. C. Reading, Jr. and finally by Lt. Walter Padden, who was killed in it while strafing on April 15th, 1945. The name was changed to Sexshunate (refered to Section Eight) some time before it went down.

This makes 44-13321 probably the longest active career Mustang, serving continuously in combat for over 10 months.

44-13321 former Cripes A' Mighty 3rd as flown later by Capt Stewart

352nd FG 487th FS Former Cripes A' Mighty 3rd, now repainted as HO-N "The Margarets" when she was flown by Capt. Henry Stewart.

© 352nd Association Archive

George's extensions had run out and Meyer was back to take command of the 487th. Now it was time for George to go home on a well-deserved and overdue leave.


Back Stateside his first stop was at Washington D.C., where the USAAF had scheduled a stopover for a few days in order to give some speeches and interviews. After all, propaganda and recruiting was still a large part of the still ongoing war.


He was met by his parents in Washington, and after the obligatory publicity for the USAAF, made his way back to his hometown where he could meet with his brother, his cousin Noah, and some of his closest friends. After attending a Sunday church gathering, Reverend E.H. Neese asked Preddy about his desire to return to combat in Europe for an additional tour. George replied:


“I must go back

back to do my part,

Back to fly and give again;

And I am not afraid.

My plane may be shot away;

But I shall not fall,

For I have wings -

Wings not of wood or steel or stuff,

But wings of a firmer kind -

Wings God gave my soul.


Thank God for wings”



George Preddy

Return to combat


George spent the month of September at home with his loved ones, but was granted a second tour in the ETO. He returned to his old Fighter Group, the 352nd, but not to his old Squadron. Colonel Joe Mason, the Group CO, had plans for George.


Major Preddy was to take over the 352nd's 328th Fighter Squadron, which was the Group's lowest scoring squadron. George accepted the challenge. The 328th had many different leaders since the start, whereas the 487th had the same leaders the entire period. This accounted for a great deal the low score and low morale of the squadron.


Lt. Raymond Mitchell stated: "The morale was a bit low because the other two squadrons were doing better score-wise, and they were looking down on the 328th. I had a good impression of George because I had heard a lot about his past exploits in the South Pacific as well as in the ETO. So our expectations were great for George before he came. In his first meeting with us he seemed to be more cold and calculating, kind of quiet. When he talked, he had something to say; it wasn't just idle chatter. Everybody respected him, but it took a while for us to get acquainted with him and know what to expect of him."


His new crew chief, Sgt. Arthur Snyder, said "Within a day or two of taking command, he gathered the squadron around a bomb shelter, and he got up on top of the shelter and gave a short talk as to what we were there for. I vividly recall him saying that the main thing we were there for was to shoot down the Hun. The aircraft they gave me to crew for him was a brand new model. I used to cut hair on the side, and always had the theory that it paid to advertise. So I painted a barber pole on the right side of his cowling. He never complained, he thought it was a good thing."

352nd FG 328th FS P-51D-15-NA 44-14906 PE-P Cripes A' Mighty

352nd FG 328th FS Major Preddy's new P-51D-15-NA 44-14906 PE-P which he simple named "Cripes A' Mighty"

© 352nd Association Archive

George took over the squadron on October 28th and led them on their first mission 2 days later. The bombers were recalled due to bad weather over the target area that day, so there were no engagements on his first mission.


On November 2nd, things turned out different for George and his squadron. That day, they would fly an escort mission to Merseburg, Germany, with clouds 10/10 at 4,000ft. It was 1230 hours when Preddy saw the enemy. His encounter report:


"I was leading a section of 20 P-51s sweeping ahead of the last two combat wings of B-17s in the target area. The rest of the Group was giving close support to the bombers. Shortly before our assigned wings approached the target I saw 50-plus contrails at 33,000 feet heading for the target area from the east. We were at 28,000 feet so we dropped wing tanks and began climbing for the enemy aircraft. I reported the bandits to the Group Leader and made contact with the enemy before they could reach the bombers. They were Me 109s flying in waves abreast, and as we approached the first wave they began diving. I got behind one of them but he went into a cloud before I could close on him. I then pulled up and began climbing for the bombers.
At 15,000 feet I saw several P-51s and Me 109s in a dog fight so I pulled up behind a Me 109 which was in a left turn. I opened fire at long range but did not get results until at 150 yards. I then saw strikes on his engine and center section and the enemy aircraft began burning. He went down leaving a long column of white smoke. A P-51 from another Group went in behind him and the enemy aircraft continued on down crashing into the ground.
I believe the K-14 sight is effective if the pilots know how to use it. My results were not satisfactory on this occasion because I haven’t had enough experience with it. Pilots should have eight to ten hours training and continue practice tracking while on training hops.


CLAIM: One (1) Me 109 Destroyed."


The K-14 gunsight was entirely new to George because the 352nd Mustangs had been equipped with them while he was home on leave. The gyroscopic sight, which compensated for high G-forces encountered when pulling tight turns, allowed for more accurate deflection shooting. It was however very sensitive and required smooth coordination of stick and rudder.


That day, the 328th downed 24 of the 38 enemy aircraft accounted for by the 352nd Group. Both of these totals set new records in the Eighth Air Force.


During the rest of November, the Luftwaffe was mainly noted for its absence. It would take until November 21st when Preddy would once again experience aerial combat:


"We were sweeping behind the rear box of B-17s as they pulled off the target at Merseburg. We were at 20,000 feet and saw a big formation of FW 190s with about 15 FW 190s for top cover heading for the bombers from the northwest. The main formation was at 29,000 feet so we started climbing for the top cover. I pulled up behind a formation of three FW 190s and fired on the middle one from astern. He was leaving a heavy contrail making it hard to see him from behind. I got good hits on him and he began smoking badly and fell off to the left in a spin. The last I saw of him he was spinning through the overcast which had tops at 25,000 feet. I then attacked a single FW 190 and opened fire at 400 yards with slight deflection. After many hits he flipped over and started down in flames, out of control. I believe the pilot of this airplane was hit by my fire. I saw the airplane lose pieces of its wing and tail as it went into the overcast. I then went down on the main formation from astern and they started a turn to the left. I pulled up behind one of them as they headed for the overcast. I opened fire just as they went into the soup and continued firing part of the way into it. I saw hits on this enemy aircraft but do not know the outcome as he disappeared into tin-overcast.  I then pulled up and saw another FVV 190 above and behind us so I broke into him. We passed head on and exchanged fire without results. I turned to get on his tail but he dived into the overcast.


CLAIM. One (1) FW 190 Destroyed (Air)
             One (1) FW 190 Probably Destroyed (Air)
             One (1) FW 190 Damaged (Air)."



George now stood at 26.5 aerial victories and 5 ground scores. Two of his fellow Fighter Group friends were challenging him: J.C. Meyer, who had recently been promoted to deputy commanding officer of the 352nd FG got 3 FW 190s on the same mission to bring his total to 30 (17 air and 13 ground), whilst Bill Whisner equalled Preddy’s record of 6 victories in one mission on November 21st, 1944.


A fatefull Christmas Day in Belgium

It was the winter of 1944... German troops were being pushed back on all fronts and the Luftwaffe was being clobbered by allied fighters.


Come December 16th, General Von Runstedt launched an all-or-nothing brutal offensive which would last until January 25th, 1945. The battle would be known as the Battle of the Ardennes or the Battle of the Bulge. The offensive was launched through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia, Belgium and extended to parts in France and Luxemburg.
As the Germans drove into the Ardennes, the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, hence the battle’s name. The German offensive was launched at a time when the weather was dreadful, with temperatures far below 0° Celcius and with constant heavy overcast, which grounded the Allies' overwhelming superior Air Forces for a long period of time. Some 30 German divisions launched an attack against the battle-fatigued American troops. It would be the costliest battle ever fought by the US Army, which suffered approximately 100,000 casualties in the battle.


Just prior to the offensive, a lot of fighter groups sent out portions of fighters to forward or advanced airfields in France and Belgium. The 352nd FG were also ordered to prepare their move to the continent. The push into Allied territory and the fact that Axis airfields and terrain for new airstrips were overrun, made it possible to shift Allied Air Forces onto the European mainland.

This had several benefits: the tactical Fighter Groups, which bombed and strafed in support of ground actions, could stay close to the ground troops. They could, as a result, provide faster response and an increased number of attack missions per day. Escort units were given the opportunity to fly farther into German territory and stay in that area for a longer period of time.


So it became that the 352nd FG, temporarily attached to the 9th Tactical Air Force at that time, was given the task to move to Y-29 airfield at Asch, Belgium. The airfield was located just north of the current town of Zutendaal.

Y-29 was the home of the 366th FG of the 9th Air Force at that time. The 352nd had been moved there on December 23rd , 1944, mainly in response to the heavy activity of the Luftwaffe in support of the German Ardennes Offensice. The plan was for the 352nd 's Mustangs to fly fighter sweeps to clear the enemy from the skies and provide top cover for the Thunderbolts attacking ground targets.


Because of heavy fog, finding the forward airfield was not an easy feat as one of the veteran pilots, Lt. Raymond Littge of the 487th FS recalls: “So, they gave us a set of spark plugs and said we’d have to change our own plugs because the mechanics wouldn't be there. They said there would be fuel, and there would be a strip cleared out of the forest with steel matting on it. We arrived at the continent on the afternoon of December 23rd . After completing an escort mission to a target in the Ruhr Valley we landed at A-84 near Brussels towards evening, having been unable to find Y-29 due to weather. "


On the 24th, they finally got to their newly assigned base, Y-29. Conditions were hard compared to the comfort of their previous home base at Bodney. In the roughest winter in anyone's memory, the officers and enlisted men were housed in tents, with virtually no protection from the pervading cold and deep snow other than their heavily layered clothing.


Littge added: “We lived in tents hidden partly in the woods on the south side of the field, and it was extremely cold in those tents at night. Most of us were frozen stiff the first night, not knowing how cold it got there after dark. The morning found covers frosted and the ground inside the tent covered with a layer of white frost. After the first night we went to bed in our heavy flying suits and wrapped ourselves in 10 or 12 blankets. The last one to turn in would fill the stove with fuel until it was red hot and then retire in the same manner”.


The entire skeleton force of the 352nd FG comprised of 75 pilots, 6 ground officers and 100 airmen. Rather than a ground crew team being assigned to a single plane, the hard-pressed selected crews found themselves individually maintaining numerous planes with no shelter.


Lt. J. Gordon Cartee said, "It was a rough day. I’ve always been so proud of Duke Lambright leading us there, because unless you're familiar with the country, slag piles going 100 to 125 feet in the air-we had to dodge around them because we were right on the deck hunting this steel mat. Mitche added, “As we circled to land on the mat once we found it, we got shot at by the Germans from across the swamp. They weren't too tar away.

Arriving at their destination one at a time and over the course of perhaps an hour, they were greeted with tents set up in snow—quite a change from the relative comforts of Bodney. A typical tent contained six cots, a stove and a bucket of coal. A steel helmet served as a substitute for a bath tub or a shower."


George's tent contained a stove rigged to accept gasoline rather than coal, so he gave his bucket of coal to his wingman, Lieutenant Cartee. Cartee made the understatement of the day, “That was primitive living for us—tents and a bucket of coal for a potbellied stove. It was fairly comfortable considering there was snow on the ground. The most uncomfortable part was going to the latrine. It was a slit trench with canvas siding."


The pilots’ tents had been placed in a straight line in a pine thicket, and guards were posted about the area at night to deter infiltrators from knocking off pilots while they slept. Some of the tents were equipped with trenches in front in case of air raids, and some were not so equipped. At about 9:30 that first night, bed-check charlie came over to greet the new inhabitants of the strip at Asch. Unaccustomed to surprise greetings of this sort, the American pilots raced for the scarce trenches to seek protection from their visitors. It became immediately obvious that the trenches were inadequate to provide shelter for all the pilots; those without trenches spent most of the night digging in. Later they became so accustomed to bed-check Charlie’s visits that they seldom retreated to the trenches; they just turned over, got their helmets and went back to sleep. Then, too, at Y-29the V-1s came over frequently. As long as that putt-putt sound made by the engine continued, there was no cause to worry. When it cut out, all tried to find a trench quickly.


Sgt. Art Snyder, who got there a couple of days later, said, “There were no facilities for taking care of the planes; we just kept our stuff in a bag. We had some extra tools and spark plugs, and a few very essential things that were needed to keep the planes in operation.”

352nd FG 328th FS The last known picture of Major George E. "Ratsy" Preddy, taken just before or just after the move to Y-29

© 352nd Association Archive

The 352nd was sent to Asch to conduct a continuous patrol of the area. One squadron was to be in the air, one squadron briefed as next up, and the third squadron was free to remain in the tent area. On December 24th, they flew a four-hour patrol during which the weather was terrible and aircraft radios were set incorrectly. The air waves were filled with garbled static, and there was no enemy action.


Tragedy would strike the 352nd FG on Christmas Day, 1944...


On December 25th, the 328th Squadron was second up for patrol. The weather was still rotten but George said he knew it was going to be a good day because he had his fighting socks on. After briefing his squadron George laughingly pulled up his pants legs and showed off his bright red fighting socks and said, Let’s go get ’em!”


Ten pilots of the 328th got into their planes, warmed up and took off in element formation climbing to 15,000 ft. at full throttle. According to Lt. J. Cordon Cartee: "We climbed like gangbusters until we got to 12 or 15 thousand because there was a real danger of being caught with our wheels down."


When they leveled off George checked in with radar control. There was no action at that time, and the radios were still poor but readable. After almost three hours on patrol, radar control called Preddy, reported bandits and gave him a vector to intercept. Setting his squadron on the new course they soon came in sight of a dogfight already taking place. George drawled over his radio to his squadron mates, “Looks like they started without us; let's join ’em."

George drove in, picked out one Me 109 and started turning with him.He was gaining when another 109 cut in front of him. He gave the latter a burst, observing numerous hits. The 109s canopy came off and the enemy pilot bailed out. Preddy resumed his attack on the first 109. After several more turns with him he managed to close and get many hits. This pilot also bailed out.


The brief dogfight had scattered the aircraft of the 328th, so Preddy and Cartee resumed patrol until joined by Lt. James Bouchier in a white-nosed P-51 from the 479th Fighter Group. George received a new vector from radar control and proceeded to Liège, where bandits were reported on the deck. There was some talk on the radio about intense flak, and radar contrl said they would halt the flak so the three Mustangs could attack the bandits.


Lieutenant Cartee reported the action in his December 25th ,1944, encounter report:

"I was flying Ditto White Two. Near the end of our patrol, Ditto White Leader was vectored to a point slightly southwest of Coblenz where bandits were reported. When we got there a fight was already in progress, but we drove in and Major George E. Preddy, Ditto White Leader, picked out a target and started turning with him. After several turns Major Preddy was gaining on the Me 109, when another 109 cut in front of him. He gave the latter 109 a burst. I observed many hits and the pilot bailed out. Major Preddy immediately swungback to the first 109 and after about another turn got on him. He got numerous hits and this pilot also bailed out.


Getting a new vector, we continued toward Liege where bandits were reported on the deck. We have a three-ship flight now, a white-nosed P-51 having joined us. Southeast of Liege we were at 1500 feet when we spotted a FW 190 on the deck. Major Preddy went down after him. The 190 headed east at tree-top level. As we went over a wooded area, I was hit by ground fire. Major Preddy apparently noticed the intense ground fire and light flak and broke off the attack with a chandelle to the left. About half way through the maneuver and about 700 feet altitude his canopy came off and he nosed down, still in a tum. I saw no chute and watched his ship hit the ground. Flak and tracers were still very thick. I went balls out until over it.


This statement can be used as confirmation of two Me 109s destroyed by Major Preddy."


The ETO's leading ace was killed by friendly fire. In the very short time the AAA fired at the overflying fighters, Major Preddy took 2 rounds in his body, one severing his femural artery. Despite the hits, he managed to crash land Cripes. When friendly troop got to the site, they rushed Preddy to the hosptial, but it was too late. Major Preddy never stood a chance and died on his way to the hospital.


The tragic incident was related by Capt. William S. Cross, 12th Anti- Aircraft Group:


"When the Battle of the Bulge broke out, our unit moved south in Germany. Snow piled up among the trees of the Hurtgen Forest and the whole landscape was bleak and forbidding. The weather was extremely cold; the mud had frozen. It was just terrible in the fields. The skies were overcast; we could rarely see aircraft flying overhead although we could hear them and were aware of them through our communications net. It was only when they came in low and attacked ground targets that we had a chance to see them. We were in a heavily wooded area. The mission of our unit was to defend that area, basically the field artillery, the Corps Headquarters, bridges, ammunition and fuel dumps. The enemy tactic at that time was to make ground attacks against the artillery, the infantry if they could find them, and of course against any bridges to delay our movement back and forth. And our purpose was to deny them.
Our weapons were basically automatic weapons. We did not have the long range antiaircraft artillery guided by radar; ours required visual observation in order to fire them. These were very fast firing quadruple .50 caliber machine guns in turrets mounted on the back of half-tracks. And accompanying each one of those was a 40 millimeter Bofors automatic weapon that fired an inch-and-a-half round about 7,000 yards. The weapons were extremely effective against low-flying aircraft, but of the two the quad was by far the most effective.


The situation at that time was rather desperate from the point of view of the Army. The Germans had broken through the Bulge. We were defending the northern flank of the Bulge and trying to contain it. We set up our guns around the artillery battery we were defending. As time went on we realized it was more effective to set up in area defenses; we assigned a .50 caliber quad and one Bofors gun to a 1000-meter square area. That was our situation in December. There was a crew of six with each area defensive unit. The crew was lonesome and cold, and had little support.

The firing units were connected by a command radio that was on all the time. It was an open-loop network so that any one unit could hear any other unit speak. From the radio, the firing unit got warnings of approaching enemy aircraft and any other data they needed. On Christmas morning, planes had been flying overhead all day long trying to attack ground targets beyond our units. There was very little enemy activity in our unit on that morning. We would hear the planes but couldn’t see them because they were above the overcast. From time to time a plane would come under the overcast, would be identified and fly off. In this case, there was a flash, flash, flash warning—a first or red alert which says that enemy aircraft are approaching. They were approaching from the southeast. All the weapons swung in that direction and there was the sound of anti-aircraft firing or machine gun firing—whether it came from a plane or from the ground was impossible to tell. Anyway, the guns were alerted and swung in that direction waiting to see the planes coming. We were told there were two Me 109s flying in strafing ground targets—a typical attack.
Suddenly, over the trees, two planes appeared. The gunner on the quadruple .50 caliber machine guns fired a very short burst at these planes. He had only an instant to fire because the planes were flying so fast and low. We understand that he fired only sixty rounds, and the weapons had a fire rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, so you can see he simply touched those triggers and immediately recognized that the plane was friendly, that he had fired on a friendly plane. The plane was hit and crashed nearby. It was not a terrible crash, it didn’t go in head first, and the pilot could possibly have survived the impact. The gun crew ran to it as fast as they could. It crashed some five to six hundred yards away. Unfortunately, the pilot had been hit by one of the .50 caliber rounds. It was then that they realized - when they got the dog tags off - that it was the leading ace of the ETO, Major Preddy. You can imagine our sorrow. The other friendly plane made a wide circle and flew back overhead several times before finally departing."

The other plane belonged to Lt. Cartee. His report:


"After witnessing Preddy’s victory over two Me 109s, we were called and told that there was an FW 190 on the deck. Radar control said they would halt the antiaircraft fire if we would go down and get the 190. Apparently communications were not as good as I thought they would be. But, anyway, we went down chasing the 190 right on the deck. We passed a little patch of trees and then we began to get exceedingly heavy ground fire. I took a tracer in the cockpit, and about the same time I saw Major Preddy start a chandelle up—but it seemed like halfway through that maneuver they gave him another burst that clinched him because he went on over and in. He just went down. The white-nosed P-51 that had joined us was so severely damaged that the pilot (later identified as Lt. James Bouchier) was forced to bail out. I was trying to flash my stars as best I could, but until I got over their area they continued to fire. I wasn't hit but once. When I got over the gun emplacement the tracer was still burning and I tried to stamp it out. I hurried back to Y-29 and landed on the mat. Colonel Mayden, who didn't normally greet the returnees, was out there perhaps because he was interested in Major Preddy. Mayden had probably gotten word that there was a mishap. His first question was, “Where is George?” The whole outfit was upset at the loss of Preddy."


Sgt. Art Snyder, George’s crew chief in the 328th .Squadron, recalled Christmas morning this way:
"The major used to give me his watch to hold for him while he flew combat missions. But that morning when I preflighted his plane I noticed the cockpit clock was out of order. So when he came out to the plane, I mentioned this to him. He said, “I'll just take my watch with me." When the mission was over and the planes landed and taxied in, the pilots would hold up one or two fingers indicating how many aircraft they had shot down. Then I recall this one pilot—I can still see the picture in my mind—went by with his thumb down. I knew what he meant—that the major had had it!


About three weeks after the major was shot down, his brother came in with a special service fellow in a jeep. And one question that I recall him asking was if I had any personal effects. Well, of course, I didn't. But I related the story about the watch which was lost because he took it with him that day. The watch was never recovered even though Preddy's plane was only damaged when it crashed. I mentioned the fact that we had a roll of film that was being developed, and I would be sure and send him a copy of it when it came back. I did this, and about a week later I got my letter back with MIA stamped on the envelope."


George's brother Bill had in the meantime made it to the frontline in the ETO as well, flying a P-51 Mustang with the 339th Fighter Group  He would be lost on April 17th, 1945, after strafing an airdrome near Prague, Czechoslovakia.


Both brothers are buried, side by side, at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery, St. Avold, France. Preddy in Plot A, Row 21, Grave 43 - his brother in Grave 42.

PILOT SCOREBOARD


The victories of Maj. George E. Preddy

Date

Time

Location

27/04/1942

????

Darwin

27/04/1942

????

Darwin

01/12/1943

1230

10m S of Rheydt

22/12/1943

1430

E Zuider Zee

29/01/1944

1200

Malmédy

11/04/1944

????

13/04/1944

????

20/04/1944

1800

Beauvais & Chartres

22/04/1944

1830

Aérodrome Stade

22/04/1944

1845

Aérodrome Stade

13/05/1944

1425

En route to Neubrandenburg

13/05/1944

1425

En route to Neubrandenburg

30/05/1944

1115-1130

En route to Magdeburg

30/05/1944

1115-1130

En route to Magdeburg

30/05/1944

1115-1130

En route to Magdeburg

12/06/1944

1025-1030

SO Rennes

20/06/1944

0920-0945

E Bernburg

20/06/1944

0920-0945

E Bernburg

21/06/1944

1030

E Magdeburg

29/06/1944

????

18/07/1944

0900

NE Rostock

18/07/1944

0900

NE Rostock

18/07/1944

0900

NE Rostock

18/07/1944

0900

NE Rostock

18/07/1944

0900

NE Rostock

18/07/1944

0900

NE Rostock

20/07/1944

????

21/07/1944

1030

E Munich

29/07/1944

1015

En route to Naunberg

05/08/1944

1155

S Hamburg

05/08/1944

1155

S Hamburg

06/08/1944

1110

Lüneburg & Havelburg

06/08/1944

1110

Lüneburg & Havelburg

06/08/1944

1110

Lüneburg & Havelburg

06/08/1944

1110

Lüneburg & Havelburg

06/08/1944

1110

Lüneburg & Havelburg

06/08/1944

1110

Lüneburg & Havelburg

02/11/1944

1230-1250

En route to Merseburg

21/11/1944

1200-1215

En route to Merseburg

21/11/1944

1200-1215

En route to Merseburg

21/11/1944

1200-1215

En route to Merseburg

25/12/1944

0945-1233

SO Koblenz

25/12/1944

0945-1233

SO Koblenz

E/A Type

Result

Aicraft used

Unit

Rank

#

Zero

Damaged

P-40

9th FS, 49th FG

Lieutenant

Bomber

Damaged

P-40

9th FS, 49th FG

Lieutenant

Me-109

Destroyed

P-47D-2RA 42-22457 HO-H

487th FS, 352nd FG

Captain

1

Me-210

Destroyed

P-47D-5RE 42-8473 HO-V

487th FS, 352nd FG

Captain

2

FW-190

Destroyed

P-47D-5RE 42-8421 HO-Y

487th FS, 352nd FG

Captain

3

He-111

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Bu-133

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-109

Damaged

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Ju-88

Destroyed 1/3

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

3.33

Ju-52

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

4.33

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

5.33

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

6.33

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

7.33

Me-109

Destroyed 1/2

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

7.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

8.83

FW-190

Destroyed

P-51B-10-NA 42-106451 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

9.83

Me-410

Destroyed 1/2

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

10.33

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

11.33

Ju-52

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

12.33

Ju-88

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

13.33

Ju-88

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

14.33

Ju-88

Probable

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Ju-88

Damaged

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Ju-88

Damaged

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-410

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-109

Destroyed 1/2

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

14.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

15.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

16.83

Me-109

Probable

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

17.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

18.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-5NA 44-13321 HO-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

19.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

20.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

21.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

487th FS, 352nd FG

Major

22.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

328th FS, 352nd FG

Major

23.83

FW-190

Probable

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

328th FS, 352nd FG

Major

FW-190

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

328th FS, 352nd FG

Major

24.83

FW-190

Damaged

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

328th FS, 352nd FG

Major

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

328th FS, 352nd FG

Major

25.83

Me-109

Destroyed

P-51D-15NA 44-14906 PE-P

328th FS, 352nd FG

Major

26.83

Total: 26.83 aerial victories, 5 ground victories, 3 probably destroyed, 6 damaged

PHOTO GALLERY


Additional pictures of Major George E. "Ratsy" Preddy

VIDEO GALLERY


Videos of Major George E. "Ratsy" Preddy

ART GALLERY


Paintings of Major George E. "Ratsy" Preddy

Various beautiful paintings of George Preddy and his aircraft can be found at the following websites:


Troy White's marvelous paintings at Stardust Studios


The Preddy Foundation


Aviation Art Hangar

BOOKS


Books of Major George E. "Ratsy" Preddy & 352nd Fighter Group

LINKS


Useful links for additional information

CREDITS


A big thanks to

Samuel L. Sox - 352nd Fighter Group Association photo archivist


"Punchy" Powell (┼) and Donald P. Bryan (┼) for some great stories


Joe Noah (┼) , first cousin of George Preddy for his support on this project and for some great Preddy memorabilia

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