A Lost Diary: Stories Of A WWII ‘Suicide Mission’

In the lost and found diary, Capt. Jack Stanley Jones wrote about a medal presentation he had to wake up early for and complained about the fact that he had to wait until three o’clock to have breakfast and that he spent all morning in bed. He wrote about turning into quite a letter writer and about hearing that peace negotiations “were going on between the States and the Allies.”

It is still not clear whether  Capt. Jack Stanley Jones ever wanted anybody to see these final words or any of the writings he put down in his small, brown leather book, on which it was only written “1943.”

Luckily, his diary survived the terrible years of the war and the ones after as it remained in the dusty trunks sitting in the basements of the children of the Greatest Generation. Thanks to a couple from Roseville, Minn.,  and two strangers, who had a little bit of knowledge in genealogical sleuthing, the diary was returned to its owner’s family. Jones served with the 93rd Bomb Group, as he flew his B-24 out of Benghazi, Libya. The 93rd were trained in the desert, where they learnt how to hit targets at very low altitudes and it was only one of the five bomb groups. Jones didn’t write much about it in his diary, since the security for the mission was very strict and perhaps only a few of the crews flying the 179 bombers knew they had such low chances to ever return home.

On Aug. 1, 1943, on “Black Sunday”, the day the attack began on the Ploesti oil fields of Romania, a very popular place for Hitler, since that was the place he got the oil necessary to fuel the Second World War.

A report of the 8th Air Force describes the attack. The report states that every B-24 was heavily loaded and that the mission involved a 2,400 miles round trip. The operation was codenamed “Tidal Wave” and was considered an extremely dangerous mission, the Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Jones didn’t have to pilot that day, since he had already done 25 missions, the exact number required before a pilot can go home. However, because he had several friends who were in the mission, he decided to fly one more but just as an observer. His plane crashed in Bulgaria, killing all the crew members.

The diary has finally been returned to the family of Capt. Jones, whose sister died in 2012.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE