SIDNEY R. BOLICK, 1/ST LT.|
68th Squadron, 44th Bomb Group
U. S. Eighth Air Force
World War II Autobiography
On June 1, 1941, one week after graduating from high school, and eighteen days before my seventeenth birthday, I rode a bus from Charlotte, North Carolina to Ottawa, Canada, and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. I used a forged birth certificate that showed my age to be two years older than I actually was.
I did my pre-flight and flight training at Toronto, Oshawa, and Hagersville, Ontario, graduating as a Sergeant/Pilot on March 1, 1942. I was qualified on single engine and twin engine aircraft.
Two weeks later I went overseas by boat from Halifax, Nova Scotia and landed at Liverpool, England. After a few days at a Redistribution Center I was assigned to a Twin-Engined Flying School at Shawbury, England, where I checked out single engine pilots on twin engine aircraft.
About mid-summer of 1942, I took an Instrument Flying Instructor's Course and was assigned to RAF Base, Stradishall as an instructor, teaching bomber pilots to land on instruments using the Standard Beam Approach System.
In January, 1943, I transferred from the RAF to the U. S. Eighth Air Force, with the rank of Flight Officer, and was sent to a Redistribution Center at Bovingdon Air Base near London. There I was assigned as Co-Pilot on 1st Lt. David Alexander's Crew and we were sent to join the 68th Squadron, 44th Bomb Group (B-24's), at Shipdham, near Norwich. Along with 1st Lt. Bob Lehnhausen's Crew, we were the first replacements to be sent to the 68th.
At the 68th our crew was broken up and I became co-pilot for Captain Walter "Tommy" Holmes, one of the veteran pilots of the 44th. We flew some practice missions together, but before our crew was put back on combat status I came down with pneumonia and had to spend several days in the base hospital. When I got out, I had lost my seat with Captain Holmes to RAF transferee. Since there wasn't another regular Co-pilot seat open at that time, I became the 68th Squadron's "utility man" flying with whatever crew needed a Co-pilot on a particular mission.
I also was made the Squadron Gunnery Officer, responsible for scheduling of gunnery training for all the crews in the squadron. In this capacity, and also as part of a new policy of having a pilot fly in the tail turret of the lead ship in the Group, I flew several missions in the tail turret. On one of these missions I received credit for shooting down an ME-109 German Fighter.
I was in the hospital again when the Group was detached to North Africa so I missed the Ploesti Mission.
When they got back to Shipdham we went through a period of rebuilding our forces, and began to get replacement aircraft of the new B-24-H's and J's. These new planes had nose turrets, and I was kept pretty busy seeing that our Bombardiers and Navigators were trained in these turrets.
In mid-December I was called down to Wing Headquarters and interviewed by a Review Board, and about two weeks later I received my Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. During the first three months of 1944 I flew a couple more missions in the tail turret of the lead ship, including the first mission to Berlin on March 6. Shortly afterward I was assigned as regular Co-Pilot with 1st Lt. Hollis "Nick" Nichols and we were given B-24J No. 42-100112 Q, the "Paper Doll".
On our first mission together we were hit by flak over Friedrichshaffen, Germany, and forced to bail out over nearby Switzerland. We were interned in Switzerland, at camps in Adelboden and Davos. After the Normandy Invasion in June, I escaped into France and made my way back to England, reporting back to the 44th on October 12th. After clearing the base I was flown back to the U. S. for reassignment.
I was assigned to Tyndall Field, Florida, where I flew B-24's at a Gunnery School, and was promoted to 1st. Lt. In June, 1945, I transferred to the Air Transport Command, and after completing OTU on C-54's, I was posted to Hamilton Air Base at San Rafael, California. I flew C-54's on the Pacific run until February, 1946, when I went on inactive duty.