Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 20, 2015

Mount Vesuvius Erupts, March 22, 1944

World War II

During World War II a soldier with the 489th Bomb Squadron is stationed at the Pompeii Airdrome. He watches as Mt. Vesuvius erupts, destroying more aircraft in one day than destroyed in any single enemy action.

Upon reaching the airport on the 26th we found almost complete devastation. Tents were torn to ribbons and 88 airplanes were a total loss. Eighty-eight B-25 Mitchells – $25,000,000 worth of aircraft. How Jerry gloated.



489 Bomb Squadron.


-The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius-


From Personal Diary of Leander K. Powers.
Personal Diary ofLeander K. Powers—Click for Larger View.

Page One Forty-six of the 489th Bomb Squadron History.



At 2 A.M. the volcano seemed to explode, mighty roaring occurred and pieces of lava as large as golf balls began to fall around me – ten miles from the foot of the mountain. They beat upon the planes setting up a racket in the black of that eventful night like hail on tin roofs. This continued for about ten or fifteen minutes. Then the mountain became quiet to remain still until about 3 A.M., when the huffing, puffing and rumbling was repeated but in greater intensity. At 4 A.M. the stones (lava) began to fall again and continued for about twenty-five minutes. From 5 A.M. to 6 A.M. the same procedure was repeated. At 8 A.M. all hell broke loose. Black stones of all sizes, some as large as a football, fell in great quantity completely covering the ground, breaking branches from the trees, smashing through the tents to break up on their floors, tearing through metal, fabric and plexi-glass of the airplanes. Soon all the tents were in tatters with much of their contents destroyed by direct hits. Radios, cots and many other effects were severely damaged. The storm of lava and rain continued throughout the morning piling up on the ground like snow and multiplying the damage. Soldiers who ventured from shelter wore steel helmets. Civilians covered their heads with pans, boxes or heavy baskets.

At about noon, March 22nd, it was decided to evacuate the entire camp. All personal belongings were gathered and amid much confusion my truck finally got off at 3 P.M. The storm still raged. Small stones fell in quantity and every fifteen minutes or so the heavens would open up with the big stuff. I say heavens instead of mountain because that is the way it seemed. The stones were not lobbed from the mountain but dropped from the clouds falling straight down with great force. As the clouds thinned out the rocks fell from them as their weight became too great to be supported. Large stones fell close to the mountain till at a great distance fine black dust was falling. We evacuated through this fine dust which was now over a foot deep.

(Transcription from Bayou Renaissance Man )



(Read diary at original site)


Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

The News Parade (Castle Films, 1944).


A tip o’ the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man .