FROM DIARY OF|
TED J. MORGENTHALER
68th Sq. Ordnance
In 1866 my grandfather was killed at the age of 45 as a result of the war with the States. He was buried at West Point Cemetery behind the Cadet's Chapel, opposite Grant's Tomb. My Dad was only seven months old at that time. His brother (my uncle) Victor made the Army his career. However, I never did get to meet this uncle. My Grandmother owned the highest farm up the mountain in back of West Point. Her property was right on West Point property at Highland Falls.
Later, my Grandmother remarried, had a daughter, Francis, who then had a son, Ted Ratke. He, too, made the Army his career. He led the band that marched in front of the Cadets on the parade grounds. When I flew home with the Group, 68th Sq., arriving at Bradley Field, Connecticut on 6/6/ 45, my cousin Ted was there to greet me! He did me a great favor by meeting me, taking me to the family and friends.
DIARY - - -
Page 1. Sworn in at Newark 7/7/42. Transferred to Ft. Dix on 21 July, then on to Miami, FL or basic. Shipped out to Scott Field on 11 August, to school in Class 6, Radio School. After graduation, transferred to Atlantic City on 11/28/42.
On to Camp Kilmer on 4/7/43, and left there same day, 1 AM to Nova Scotia. Arrived at Halifax, NC at 4:55 PM.
Boarded French liner, Louis Pasture at 5:50 PM; pulled away from the pier at 2 PM on 4/9/43, but stayed in harbor until pulling out to the Atlantic at 7:00 PM on 4/9/43.
It took seven days to cross the Atlantic, arriving at Liverpool, England at noon on the 17th of April. There I boarded a train for several hours, arriving at Camp Crosley briefly. After dinner, there was a 90-mile ride to Yamfield, Jefferson Hall.
On 10 May, 1943 I moved on to Shipdham, located 15 miles from Norwich, 44th BG, Station AAF-115, APO 634. Probably assigned to the 50th Station Complement until May, 1944 - to 68th Sq.
Page 2. Bombs dropped near the field tonight, knocked everything off shelves 11 May 44. Earlier in the morning, Jerry flew over going very fast (was quite foggy) and he was being chased by two Spitfires. But even then he strafed us as he passed.
Air Raid Warnings are: Purple - then Red, and finally Black. Black means they are immediately overhead.
Purple = Approaching England Red = In the vicinity Black Overhead
There were two alerts today - 11:30 and 6:15 AM.
14 May - Kiel Raid. We lost two 68th Sq. and 11 overall. Only 19 B-24s took off, 6 reported lost, but one came in after most of the crew bailed out. Pilot & co-pilot flew ship out to the coast, headed it on, and bailed out. Plane could not be landed.
Page 3. Captain Jansen made a swell landing with flat tire -Plane was Margaret Ann, which was the first ship that I saw at this field. We sleep within 50 feet of her. She came in with her tail almost shot away.
On 6/5 almost everyone had ptomaine poisoning, including yours truly.
Page 4. Lord Ha Ha came in over German broadcast to say that the clock on Norwich City Hall was 5 minutes slow.
Bombs fell very close to the base tonight, shook us up quite a bit on 6/8.
Boys went over Kiel again - a total of 11 ships lost. We lost 7 of that total.
New ships coming in very often, more ships here than ever before. I joined Ack-ack crew on 6/9, went to Yarmouth on 6/13 with Gil Riebold. The city was restricted to travel.
Page 5. Next day I went to Cromer, stayed at Red Lion Hotel overlooking the North Sea/Wash.
Went into London on a 54-hour pass making it the 4th time there. But it was the first time I had more than a 5-hour period to see the city. Alerts are now a nightly event at field - we have to man the guns on Red Alert. Have seen Jerry bomb other fields, then race over us toward the coast and home.
Fifty-five P-475 stopped over here to refuel - also had belly tanks to carry them across the Channel. RAF
Page 6. weeks, it takes them two hours to go over us here on their way out over North Sea.
Was in Norwich tonight - they came over (Jerry?). I was in a Pub drinking when crash warning came. We all had to seek shelter in an Air Raid shelter. Bombs hit close to Railroad Station (Thorpe?) Also, a large military objective, but far from the station - 10/3/43. Saw two of their bombers shot down in flames.
Page 7. They came again tonight about twelve. (10/4) They dropped their flares, and then their loads on Dereham - 4 miles away; then came over us like a bat out of Hell on way out to North Sea.
On 10/7 they came over Norwich again, again saw two bombers brought down - one in flames. They were all over the area last night. We expect it any night now. Counted 159 Forts coming home - 14 lost this day - 10/8/43
Page 8. 10-6-43. They came in over Yarmouth and did a little damage by tying up a railroad connection. Must have hit some transportation lines.
Came in again on 10/7 and bombed Dereham, and what reported to be near the coast at Ipswich.
Page 9. We manned the guns last night for two hours while the enemy flew over us. They were in the lights of searchlights, but too high for us to fire at them.
Today is very foggy, can't see your hand in front of your face! Ceiling zero. (10/10/43)
Fog was so thick here last night very hard to grope your way around the base.
We are going to get 60 new Libs soon, and will have quite a few here. New ones have turrets in front, same as in back.
Page 10B. 10/14/43. Thursday. Tonight they came over field, dropped about 300 anti-personnel bombs, as well as about four big 500 lb. bombs. This raid was so fast we were too late in getting to our guns. But partially to blame was the announcing of the alert. Black alert was heard coming over the Tannoy system AFTER they had dropped their loads. I had a good look at them, though.
Page 11. A field mouse slept with me! When I unfolded one of my blankets, he jumped out into another fold. I folded him with a direct hit of Jig's helmet. (10/16.)
They came in again last night, but continued on to London. Didn't do much damage. (10/22/43) Weather has curtailed our raids.
Page 12. We manned our guns last night at 10 PM, and again today at 9:30 AM - 11/1/43. We expect more daylight trips now that winter is coming on.
Came over Norwich tonight when I was in town. They came over and dropped incendiary bombs with about 3 - 4 100 lb. bombs. They started fires and did a little damage. 11/6/43.
Came in over Norwich again, but didn't drop anything but flares. 11/7.
Page 13B. 11/8/43. For ten straight nights now they came over London. They hit a dance hall in London, night before last, quite a few casualties.
11/13. Snow fell on 13th and 14th. Also, sleet, rain and snow. Our ships left very early for Norway on 11/18/43. Came back after about 10 hours in air. One plane had to crash land (Griffith's) and one with one bullet hole where waist gunner was killed with hit to his head.
Page 14. About a week ago a ship names Peep Sight came in with two flak hits inside of the ship. Four men were taken out seriously wounded. 11/20. Went to London again to have two planes brought down in the attack. Left for London Sat. 11/20 and it was very foggy. Left Sunday at 10 AM for Norwich - no use staying in London with weather so bad. I spent the rest of 3-day pass in Norwich.
Was in town again last night (12/1), when we had a Red Alert around 9:30 PM, but ho trouble. All Clear sounded about 9:55.
Page 15. 12/8. Had a red alert tonight - looked like a raid in the direction of Ipswich. We manned our guns all night on 12/13. Our ships are having a tough time coming in today after a raid. Normally about 25 planes would land in less than half an hour, but this time it too one and a half-hour passed and only 14 have found their way in. Very soupy out today. (11/16)
Page 16. Was in town tonight - will stay until X-Mas eve - on three-day pass - 22, 23, 24. Had an alert at 1:30, then all clear at 2 AM. They expect trouble over Holidays, so taking all precautions possible. Trucks are parking outside of city limits.
Sam Miller, my buddy from PA. went down in Sweden, will be interned for duration. Then another week later, another buddy, Mike Liss, went down over Germany. (12/20/43) Liss became a POW. I will not' know about his fate for quite a while.
Page 17. "V" for Victory, which had 48 missions to her credit, went down over enemy territory on 21 Jan 44. She was slated to go home after 50 missions for Bond Drives. Lemon Drop also has 44 missions.
Page 18. Was on alert - Jan 4th - and manned all guns.
Jan. 17. New crew assigned to 68th and crashed after missing his approach to landing. (Hovey's). They just missed the bomb dump and the plane immediately was enveloped in flames, killing all crewmen. Alerted all night. Black came through at 5:10 AM and 30 enemy planes were in one sector over the field. 20 more was in another. There wee 80 all told in vicinity of East Anglia.
Page 19. In Norwich on a 3-day pass; had a crash alert last night at 10:30 (Dec. 28?) Had one again today at 2:35 PM on 29th. Have been sweating out Otto Weiss now for two days - guess he could not make it.
Crash alert again tonight at 8:10 PM.
Jan 3rd. Red alert. Saw what probably was Ipswich way being bombed at 9 PM. An alert....
Page 20. ... at 4:30 AM got us all out again. We saw three different places getting hit, with large fires started right away. Jan 4) Last nights raid we saw a cloudy sky turn red with reflections of what was going on below.
Last night ended a long spell with no alerts. They bombed what appeared to be Ipswich with both heavy bombs and incendiaries.
Page 21. Alert again today (2/16), and again on 2/17 & 18. These dates are the same that London had its worse fire bombing since the Blitz. Alert again 2/22 while I was in town trying to meet Otto again on 2/25. Back on the 16th a Red Cross Club was hit badly in London. Have been having alerts almost every night now, as E/A starts a new Blitz.
Page 22. March 14th. There are four places being bombed tonight. We are right in the middle of it all.
Left on 7-day furlough on 3/16 at 5:10 PM leaving Norwich. Arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland 7 AM on 3/17. This is Mother's birthday. 79? Went on to Glasgow for a day on 23rd, left at 10:20 PM, arriving back in Norwich at 10:40 AM.
Alerts are occurring every now and then, about a week apart.
Page 24. Crash alert in Norwich. They came in last night and bombed between the outskirts of town and Site 6 at 4 AM (4/26). We learned later that on 20th most airfields around us were it on the 20th, but Shipdham was not touched at all.
4/27 - they came in again last night. We had 5 alerts lasting till dawn.
4/29 - Another alert at 2:45 this morning. Page Missing??
Page 25. ....barracks quiet. A bit about 4:30 an MP said he saw paratroopers fall from a plane while a black alert was on. All base defense units went out in search of possible saboteurs. I will be going back to Site 10 tomorrow (5/28/44)
At about 2:30 AM on 29th I was awakened by HE bombs off at a distance; later heard B&T? base, hitting a hanger. Heard planes coming toward us and it appeared to have one of its two engines out.
Page 27. Sunday 4 June 44. Coming back from evening chow I saw our own formations in area, when one of the B-24s from North Pickenham came through clouds in spin, in upright position. Then, wing part broke off and she turned over and went the rest of the way down upside down. Upon hitting the ground, she exploded - and ten men lost their lives. Our firemen went to the scene about a mile from us and then two were killed by an explosion, as part of its bomb load went up.
Page 28. June 6th. Last night at about 5 PM we sensed invasion, as our bombers loaded for three missions before 6 AM. From my point I see bombers taking off before ours. By the time part of ours were the air, the sky was full of planes. A very clear night with moon looking almost full. Planes to a group took off one after the other, first six flashing white. A second green and third, red, a fourth was yellow. In next group our radar ship was with them.
Page 29. D-Day! ...on third group, 2nd or 3rd plane went down right after taking off. We all figured Invasion but didn't know for sure, until six when second wave started out. Planes left without gunners. We knew this before the first group left, so the invasion started at approximately 6 AM on 6/6/44. Sky is full of planes and will be for some time to come from now on. Came in tonight at 11 PM, and again at 2 AM our planes were taxiing for takeoff at 4 AM...
Page 30. One of our boys left our truck to rear of perimeter and one plane's outboard engine propeller sliced our truck to ribbons. But plane took off after looking at damage. A boy loading guns in planes last night accidentally shot a burst between where I was sitting and perimeter, tracers seen going down...
Page 31. . . .down perimeter track just missing truck C/b. 2 AM - Air raid again last night (6/13)
Transferred to 68th B. Sq. in grade as of 12 June 1944. Alerts off and on some during the day.
Robot bomb V-l, hit about a mile from us on July 7, 44.
Had quite a celebration here at base on July 4th with a lot of flares shot off to commemorate Independence Day. C. O. was running around like crazy trying to stop it - no way!
Page 32. Was on duty early this morning; decided to go to dispersal and get in plane as the bugs were driving me nuts. I passed the guard and told him to let me know if anything came up. I wasn't in plane two minutes when Dereham air raid siren went off. Then I could hear what appeared as a plane coming our way. I lost no time getting out of my plane as it was loaded full with 12 500-lb. bombs. I ran to my gun as our own siren went off. Grabbing my gun in the pit, I followed him as best I could . . . (Bomb off at 3:35 AM - 7/31/44)
Page 33. Flight of Robot bombs (V-l) in heavy fog made it impossible to see it. It passed over edge of field and conked out about 1000 yards away, landed and exploded near a farmhouse. Inside house were about 20 evacuees from London. Don't know yet if anyone was hurt. Sorry that I didn't have a camera trained on spot or I would have had a wonderful picture of... Germany's new weapon. As far as we know, it is now hitting London (V-2?) No noise, no way of telling when they are coming. Most likely it is propelled by rockets, out of Holland. However, there is no mention of these facts in papers, as yet. I received my facts in a letter I got from London, and it is pretty bad as far as we know.
Page Not Numbered. While on two-day pass on 21st at Cromer (Sept) Alerts both nights for Flying Bombs. Could hear them come over my head.
On 23rd crash alert as one hit just north of Norwich. Last night, 24th, while in town, crash alert went on at ??? Earlier alert at 9:30 and could hear robot pass overhead at near 10 PM. No further alerts during the night.
Alert last night while I was in town, at 3:30. two bombs passed over (the base) and kept going 9/28/44.
Alert last night at ??? bombs fell just outside of Norwich.
Page 36. Rocket bombs hitting all around us, shaking us badly. 10/3 One at 6:40 and another at 7:40 PM. 10/4 One at 1:40 and 4:40 PM. 10/5 9:05 AM and 1:08 PM.
Robots over last night and morning. Two crash alerts - could hear them coming in, and the Coast gunners opening up on them. 8 & 9th Oct. Alert on diving bombs Thursday 10/13/44. Worst we have experienced so far. Gale winds sent many off course, with most of them hitting all around us here at the base. The clipping. The clipping is for previous, or I should say today, Friday 14th.
Sunday, the V-3 is supposed to be launched against England.
Page 37. From Friday 13th, right through to tonight, Buzz Bombs are relentlessly near passing over and exploding all around us. WE have had some close ones believe me.
10/27/44 Alert black. Robot and Rocket attacks all along now, with little intervals.
First snow 11/9. First real freeze - 11/10. Robot attacks all along now, but mostly in bad weather.
While on furlough, rocket bombs hit Selfridges (London) and Piccadilly. 1st to 8th December furlough dates. Alert on Wed. 6th and rocket hit close on 7th. Then again on next evening at 8:20 PM.
Page 38. No enemy aircraft over now for quite a spell. Only craft approach the coast and release robots, which are launched from back of JU 88s. 68th Sq. plane caught fire and blew up, killing one of our boys who was on guard duty (6 Feb 45.) We are pulling plane guard duty, every night now besides our regular duty. Yours truly over-stayed a pass and would have been in dispersal where plane blew up. Lady Luck, or only the good die young. Must have prompted me to overstay my pass - 2/7/45
Started loading bombs with 68th Ordnance on 2/26/45.
Page 39. Loaded five planes with 50 x 500-pound bombs, Navy type. Enemy activity Friday March 2nd and on the 3rd, Jerry sent over a force of planes to strafe and bomb East Anglian towns. One of the drivers was killed at Wendling. One plane, after dropping bombs on one town then raked the town with cannon fire. Last assault by piloted planes was last June 13, 1944. See paper March 5th 45.
Page 40. Enemy planes over again on 3/5 but didn't accomplish much. More a nuisance, really.
Piloted plane over last night. I heard strafing and bombing around us. Seems like Jerry wants to play again over here. 3/17/45. They strafed Dereham, four miles from field, and last night 3/20th, they came in again in force and bombed what appeared to be Racheath or Wendling fields. Our guns opened fire on them, as did the guns at the other fields.
Page 42. Four HE-500 bombs fell on Swanton Morley and Wendling. Five planes shot up badly 3/20. Notice of my being made Corporal came in today from Group - 4/16/45.
Went on trip to Germany (Trolley Missions?) Seven hours in air. We went over Hamburg and Brunswich, Essen, etc. 5/11/45
We were alerted on Friday, May 18th and went through processing on Sat. & Sun. We were supposed to leave on 22nd, Tuesday.
Page 43. First shipment of our planes left on Monday, and we were to follow next day. We couldn't get clearance, so was postponed to Friday. Now, we are scrubbed for another 24 hours, and may leave Saturday, 26th. I will fly in A/C #512 H, a brand new ship, to be piloted by Lt. Comstock. We were scrubbed again till Monday 28th May.
Page 44. We were scrubbed yet again Monday and Tuesday. May take off Wednesday May 30th, Memorial Day.
We took off at 10:56, May 30th, arriving l hr, 40 minutes later at Valley, Wales..
Today, 31 May 45 we are taking off for Iceland at 8:40 AM, going to fly at 17,000 'feet. Expect 17 degrees below zero weather. Came in to Iceland at 2:20 PM -- 5 hours, 40 minutes. Flew at 8000 until we came close to Iceland, then went to 13,000. Ice formed on wings and it was 16 degrees
Page 45. .. .above, and dropped as low as 8 below when we approached Iceland. 2700 gallon of fuel, to make a full load. Not sure if we will take off tomorrow. Took off from Iceland on June 1st at 4:30 AM and hit runway at Greenland at 8:55. Four hours and 25 minutes. We expect to leave again at midnight, Iceland time and about 10 PM Greenland time. Left Greenland at 3:10 AM our time, arriving at Bradley Field at 12:05 Saturday, June 2nd. It took us 18 hrs 30 minutes flying time from Shipdham. Elapsed time of 3 days, 2 hours and 5 minutes.
I took a lot of pictures which I had developed in town of Shipdham. No print paper, so I had my film put in bomb detonator tins. I had a friend who had my film blown up and printed. He had a camera store.
Two days after V-E Day I flew one of the trips called "Trolley Missions." Luckily, I flew in the lead plane with the rest of the planes having a lot of fun diving at sailboats in canals in Holland.
Gil, my buddy from Scott Field Radio School. Our first job was at Operations, in a room with no windows. Air had to be pumped in. We slept there as well, took turns. We listened to nursery rhymes One of them meant Germany was invading! But Gil and I didn't like the job, so the next thing I knew I'm on my way to Cornwall to a British Anti-Aircraft gunnery school. It was quite a train trip way down to the southwestern tip of England.
When I returned to the base at Shipdham, we were now pointing our water-cooled guns at planes and V-l Robot, two thousand-pound warheads. My buddy, Gil, is going for two weeks training, and he wound up in the Battle of the Bulge. He made it back, sent me an invitation to his wedding at Morse Falls, MO.
When Patton started moving faster, I was put loading bombs in our 68th Sq. planes: 52 x 100 pounders, 13 in each bay. Also, 120 901-munitions handler, as our Scott Field boys are being checked out for flight duty. I also wanted to get in on flying pay. Turned me down as being too tall - 6 foot 4 inches. I was getting only $13 a month, allotment to wife was $80, and mother $30. Finally made Cpl. two weeks before I flew home.
I was on plane guard duty and 5 robots, bucking a strong wind, One ran out of fuel, made it just passed the runway, landed in field.