World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
805 Schoolway Ave., #A-203
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169
January 8, 1992
What a surprise to get your letter form the 44th. I am amazed at all of the activity of the old WW2 outfits. I left the service in 1945 and have not been in touch with many people since. I got interested when I saw the piece in the paper for the B24 America. A chance meeting on the Auto-train in November with Ralph Berward of the 489th started my getting a lot of news!
To answer your letter, I was with the 489th from the time it was formed in Wendover until it was returned to the states for B29 in November 1944. At that time I was copilot on the crew of 1st Lt. Lou Confers. We were transferred to the 44th, I believe it was the 506th, so I am not positive. My records are all in Ithaca. IF you are interested, I can send you a copy of my orders when we get home. I did 27 missions with the 489th and on New Year's Day 1945 in the afternoon, I kissed the ground at Shipdham in thanksgiving for my safe return back from my 35th.
After I finished my tour, I was sent with a pilot Lt. Paul Durett, with a minimum crew Eng and Radio to a Troop Carrier base in England to check out C47 pilots in C109 (B24 gas carriers), we were there for four or five weeks then went to the station to get transport back to the states. Without having my records with me, I can only assume that I was in the 44th at the time of the transfer, perhaps Paul Durett name is in the 44th records.
Another interesting thing to me was to see the 8 Ball on your letterhead. While I was waiting transport home, I was called to the office asking me if I wanted to fly a B24 back to the states. To make the story short, I got Paul and our mini crew to bring the B24 back by the southern route. The B24 had an 8 Ball on the side. It looked like it had been a stripped-down ship that was used for assembly. I never did figure why anyone would want to spend the time to send it back to the states. Anyhow, we had a nice "trip" ourselves.
A brief history of my career in the Army Air Corps. I was in the class of 43A Blythvill AR, TE. In the anti-sub on the East Coast and Newfoundland, then to 489th and 44th. After ETO some time in Jackson, Miss., flying student navigators out over the Gulf of Mexico, then civilian.
It was nice to hear from you. If you would be interested in seeing my orders later, just let me know. Perhaps someday we shall meet.
Sincerely, Orville Curtis
January 30, 1992
Thanks for your letter with all of the information in it. I can understand people not writing as I have always had poor hand writing, even in grade school and the years have not improved it a bit.
I also delayed writing as we went to a 489th mini-reunion in Orlando. This reunion started about four years ago with one crew getting together and on the 25-26 there were 100 people about half spouses there. We enjoyed being at the reunion. The pilot, Harry Wagnon, who got it all started was with me in Garden Lake, 20th Anti-sub, Mitchel Field, Lt. Casper, Wyo., and Wendover on through all of the time I was with the 489th at Halesworth. It was good to get reacquainted.
We even got to go through the B24 American and B17 Nine-O-Five while it was in Orlando. Both planes sure look small!
At least I was partly right in the (906) 406. Thanks for the list of the missions. I must have gone on the December 24th as I had to do eight in the 44th in order to get 35.
I don't remember if it was the 23rd or 24th that we went out and only a couple hundred got to complete as the contrails turned into clouds and made it impossible for the later plane to follow. It was a drop near the Battle of the Bulge and we had 30 minutes of accurate tracking flak, but came back without much damage. It was 10/10 clouds under and we had to drop on "G?"
I did not go on December 24th when the whole 8th put up 2400 planes. I was on the ground and watched what a sight and sound, all morning, going out and from noon until after dark coming back.
I agree that the 506 did not keep good records as the 489th gave me a complete list of my 27 missions with them. I'll have to see what I have when we get home in May. Perhaps I might have something on the B24 we brought home. A number would be nice. I can't remember if it did have a Lemon Drop on it. All I remember is the 8 Ball.
I would like to get the address of Norman Chown as I would like to get in touch with him. I am embarrassed that I don't know all of the members of Lou's crew. Perhaps my orders will help me.
Clarence Snyder was a gunner on the crew and finished up with the 44th. HE passed away June, 1990. I have been keeping in touch with our engineer when we were with the 489th. I thought he had come to the 44th with us, but found out he went back with the 489th to the states. He also died this July 1991. Our ranks are getting thinner all the time.
I only knew Durett after he finished his tour so do not know any of his crew unless the engineer and radio we had in the troop carrier unit might have been with him in the 44th.
I would be interested in seeing the interrogation report if you ever get any. I think one of the missions I was with Lou had the right rear bomb rack hang up. The bottom racks did not release and the 15-100 lbs. bombs were caught in the rear bomb bay up against the control cables. We had to fly from the target until we got over the North Sea. It was sloppy going. We had to pull them out one at a time over the North Sea. That was interesting. I held on to one of the waist gunners while he pulled them off the pile. After going through the B24 America this week, I wonder how did we do it? In hat small space!!
Again, I enjoyed getting the schedules that you sent. I see that on the 31st of December, Lou was in the lead of the Trail element and Durett was on the leader's left wing. We were rather close that day. All of this has been a revelation. Have you ever read the history of the 489th BG by Charles Freudental? It is a great job of organizing the group's history. That is what is known about it now.
ORVILLE D. CURTIS, JR.
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from letter to Will Lundy)
512 McGraw House
Ithaca, New York 14850-5467
May 21, 2001
I received your letter of April 25, 2001, concerning the 44th data base of all that served in the 44th.
I have hesitated in writing as I would like to know what information about me might already be in the data base.
I first heard about the 2nd Air Division in 1991 and joined it at that time. I was contacted by Will Lundy as soon as he got my address. I sent him a lot of information about my time in the 44th. I just wonder if any of it is now in the data base so that I could "fill in the blanks" to make it a complete history of me.
I have copies of all of my orders after I graduated form Twin Engine at Blytheville, AR, on 14 January 1943.
On 16 November 1944, I was transferred to the 44th from the 489th as it was returning to the ZOI for retraining. I had 27 missions with the 489th completed and flew eight missions with the 44th, my 35th on 1 January 1945. I was copilot on Louis Confer's crew.
On 13 January 1945, I was transferred to the 436 Troop Carrier Group for three weeks TDY to check out C47 pilots in C109 used to haul gasoline to France!!
On 14 February 1945, sent to the 70th Reinforcement Depot. On 20 February 1945 I got special orders to Ferry a war-weary B24 back to the ZOI. The ship had a 44th 8 Ball on its side. This led to several letters from Will about the identity of the ship. I had to wait until I got home to Ithaca before I could supply Will with the number of the ship as we were Snow Birding in Florida.
As you can see, I have had a lot of correspondence with Will about my short stay with the 44th. If I can get what information is on file about me, I can complete it. Sorry I am not on the Net. I have a computer, just use it as a word processor so would need something on paper.
Best regards, Orville D. Curtis, Jr. 0795710
[Sent his missions and summaries; asked for complete bio data. Will fill in later. Will]