By Sidney Rosenblatt

YANK Field Correspondent

A FIGHTER BASE, BRITAIN (By Cable)—“There we were, three mice in a mess of cats—and no ammunition.”

That slightly confused observation by Lt. Urban L. Drew of Detroit, Mich., was excusable; he was right to be confused.

Lt. Urban Drew was one of three Mustang fighter pilots who had just finished strafing German trucks and flak towers and were almost out of ammo when they barged smack into the middle of 40 Nazi FW 190s and ME109s.

urban drew P51 mustant ace

Lieutenant Urban Drew in front of his P51 Mustang.

Flying the other P51s over France were Lt. William T. Kemp of East Peoria, Ill., and Lt. Leonard A. Wood of Lansing, Mich.

“The enemy ships were wheeling around above their airfield, forming up to go after bombers. I suppose,” said Lt. Kemp, “when we sighted them. We debated hurriedly over the intercom whether to take a crack at them. As we debated, we kept barreling right on through.”

“It was like a bowling alley,” broke in Lt. Drew, still mixing metaphors. “We made a strike: Jerry planes scattered all over the sky. We had to keep breaking them up so they wouldn’t get together and gang up on us.

“The Jerries took off in 40 different directions, dropping belly tanks, lowering landing gear, sitting down everywhere and anywhere.”

“I needed a swivel neck,” said Lt. Wood. “Everywhere I looked there were planes. I kept calling them out like a train announcer.”

Lt. Kemp caught up with an FW and gave it a short squeeze. “He exploded in a 30-yard blob of flame,” said the pilot, “and I flew right through the top of the explosion. Then I latched onto another FW and had just put a few hits in his canopy when I felt someone was staring at the back of my neck. Looking back, I saw an ME109 blinking his cannon. I moved plenty fast.”

Lt. Drew had been mixing with a FW when a pair of MEs tried to attack. “I pulled over,” he said, “and as soon as my guns fired, the MEs tailed off. Then I jumped another ship—all you had to do was sit and something would come by—and got some hits on him. Right then my guns stopped.


A Messerschmitt BF-109 of JG2 in France late 1943

“I broke away and another ME whizzed by cannon flaming. I turned into him even though I had no ammo and he lit out fast like the rest. I kept making head-on passes and pulling in behind planes even though I had no bullets, otherwise they might have gone after me. The psychological warfare worked fine.”

Lt. Kemp flushed a Jerry who was so anxious to get away from it all that he went through two power lines, bounced into a field, tore through a fence and kept right on going. “He was in one helluva hurry,” said Kemp, “but I slowed him down with hits in the cockpit.”

Out of ammo and low on gas, the three P51s “hit the deck,” hightailing away from the Jerries at hedgetop level.  They made it to an emergency landing field on the English coast with only a few gallons to spare.

urban drew 375th fighter squadron p51 mustang

P-51 Mustangs of the 375th Fighter Squadron. Part of the 361st Fighter Group. The lead plane “Lou IV / Athelene” was flown by Lt. Col. Thomas J. J. Christian, Jr., CC of the 375th Fighter Squadron (KIA while attacking the Arras marshaling yards on 12 August 1944)

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