CHARLES T. BRIDGES|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001
1 February 1987
I appreciated your letter of 24 January 1987. My best wishes to you on your historical revelations.
Capt. Gentry was my skipper. Most of our 66th bomb crew were mates. Only three were from the pool. We obtained gunners, navigators, bombardiers, etc. On August 7, 1943, we selected three people from the pool to help complete our crew.
We attacked at low level, gunfire explosions, and all the horrors imagined in hell was let loose!
My crew was shot to bits. First Gentry and two others. We kept on and by attacks from enemy aircraft we were shot down. My plane is on film by CBS and BBC. I can write detailed accounts, if you so desire.
The over 50 missions include British and American Air Forces. I was trained and in combat before the U.S. entered World II.
I was first attached to crews of Royal Norway in coastal command. We all had been trained by Canadian and English instructors. Our main planes were British "Defiants."
Next was transferred to "Wellington's Wimpys," medium size bomber. We were on the first 1000 bomber raid. All British medium, heavy bombers target was the Rohr area. Quite an event in its day.
Next I was transferred to heavy bombers. A good bomber, but I had desired over a period of time to fly in "Lancasters." No such luck.
I was transferred to U.S. Air Force in London, England with two other Americans...Decrevel and Rastowitz. Decrevel still alive; Rastowitz, unknown.
A documentary of me (one hour) has been taken and just released. To dated, BBC has shown the film in the British Isles." This documentary is going to be sold to USA.
You are welcome to see the film as we were given a copy.
Las Cruces is a large city now and I don't think you will miss us now!
Will, I am 70 years young, partially paralyzed, shot and burned. My back was broken twice, but I am thankful.
My crew and if I had the time, I could write in detail. Fought valiantly against all odds, and died as men.
Good luck, Will. If you desire more detail, please let me know.
17 February 1987
Received your letter dated February 8th.
I must have written wrong to you, abut the BBC documentary. I cannot leave without accompanying the same.
I can show the tape as often as I desire, however, BBC will, when ready, sell their tape to the networks. This documentary is one hour in length.
In 1942 and part of 1943, our losses in aircrews and planes amounted to 40 to 50%.
We assembled gunners, navigators, bombardiers, pilots, etc. that were left over from their combat ships. Men and planes were in very short supply. Three of our crew killed in Ploesti were just selected from the pool.
My back was broken twice. I was gunshot wounded both legs, head burns, and etc. My later years have been ones of trying to keep on going strong.
Thank you for your letters. We wish you every success.