JAMES E. CAILLIER|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
March 21, 1983
Had you given up on me returning your letter? It's just that time slips by so fast when one has so many projects gong and getting ready to retire. I'll be 62 in May and my last day on the job will be the 9th of June and since I'm only going to get $700 total, I have to sell some property for additional income.
Well, to answer some of your questions, I was in the 67th and Frank Slough was the pilot. The name of the plane was "Ruth-Less" (Frank's wife). We came over with the 506th and after 15 minutes on Purple Heart corner were transferred to the 67th and led it the rest of the way. We lost our radioman (Dan Kennon) when he flew with another crew to make up a mission he had missed. Otherwise we finished as a crew and I believe were the only ones from the original 506th to finish.
After our tour, General Johnson gave us a choice of going to the states for retraining on B29s or staying and instructing the new crews. We all chose to be teachers and moved to the BOQ with the officers.
When the war ended, we flew home the northern route (we took the southern route going over). We were again preparing to train on 29s when the war ended. I had so many points that I got out right away. In fact, I was discharged on the 15th of September and was back in High School on the 18th of September.
And yes, I do have pictures! There is an 8x10 picture of the entire crew (with their names) and standing by the nose of "Ruth-Less"; our planes on the African dessert; our planes over the Romanian oil fields lifting their wings to get over the smoke stacks; our planes, over the Kiel sub pens the first time into Germany taken by a P38 from 40,000 feet - (we had 125 holes and I can remember that was a maximum effort with 21 planes and getting back something like 6); my brothers and I in the Tacoma News Tribune in front of a 24 when he came over in an ordinance crew. Some of the instructors taken in front of BOQ; Mrs. White from Leeds who took such good care of us when we went on leave. Father Harshaw on his bike. I may have more. I'll have to look. I had a paper from Bengazzi with the oil field raid and, of course, some 24 pages of awards to the 66th, 67th, and 506th with their addresses.
One of the citations was for a mid-air crash we had over Pueblo, Colorado where our crew all lived and the other crew all died. That is probably what made our crew so special of being afraid and on their toes and the single factor that got us through our missions. I can still remember being at 22,000 feet at 60° below when the German fighters started to attack. We unplugged our heated suit and still had sweat run right down our back and if that isn't being afraid, I'll put in with you.
I have only fond memories of England, but then I was treated very well. I spent most of my free time of passes on the dance floors of Norwich, London, Southport, and Leeds. Of course, I would have a soft spot for England because my mother was born in Liverpool and I can still remember as a boy playing with English money on the dining room table. I drank strong tea, made in a pot, with cream and sugar until I moved to the lake where the fresh air and water switched me to instant coffee.
I would have loved to have gone to a gathering of the 44th, but didn't know how to get in touch and with raising the boys, we didn't have any money anyway. I would love to take my wife to Norwich.