NORMAN A. POWELL|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy dated 1/26/95)
Thank you for your letter of January 23, which I received today.
I entered the service in January 1943 at Ford Devens, MA and in a few days was on a troop train for Kessler Field, Biloxi, Miss., where I had limited service basic training (I have limited vision in my left eye). My next assignment was the Cooks and Bakers School at Camp Lee, VA where I learned how to bake bread out of doors with gasoline-fired ovens. Then I was sent to the Bomber Base at New Orleans where I worked in the kitchen. My next move was to Brookley Field, Mobile, Alabama where I was an orderly at a bachelor officer's quarters, then we all went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where we got ready to go overseas.
We boarded the Dutch Ship, Slaughterdyke, at the Bush Terminal in Brooklyn, New York and were in a large convoy for ten days and landed in Greenock, Scotland. We then went to Washington Hall, Lancashire for about ten days, then on to London for one night where we slept on bags of straw and had Swiss Steak for supper. The next day we came to Shipdham.
They didn't need field bread bakers so I was made a dining room orderly at the Combat Officer's Mess Hall. At first we waited on all the officers but we got short of help so a cafeteria was set up and we waited on the staff officers, mostly field grade.
I usually went to Norwich once a week and stayed at the Red Cross and I went to London, Cambridge, Oxford, Windsor, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. In January 1945 I attended a week session at the University of Edinburgh with various lectures and tours of historic buildings.
I did fly twice while at Shipdham. One time in the "Zebra" and another trip to Prestwick, Scotland where we had supper in the mess hall. I would have gone more but it hurt my ears. My family, on my mother's side, has had a problem with deafness so I stopped "joy riding."
In the states, I visited many points of interest especially Richmond, VA while I was at Camp Lee. New Orleans was a fascinating city. I had an interesting walking tour of Cambridge University with the English-speaking Union. In London, I went on tours with Empire Rendezvous.
I lived in three different sites at Shipdham. The last winter some of the cooks of the Combat Officers Mess Hall put up a couple of tents. I lived with Cpl. Gerhart Vosberg from Currie, Minnesota and another cook. Vosberg got some discarded bomb boxes and made a floor and sides up about four or so feet and we had a stove which we got fuel from the boiler room of the Combat Officer's Mess Hall. We had electric lights and I had a radio which my brother, Stanley, had his room in quite good shape - a few tubes had worked loose. I had to buy a transformer in Norwich for a couple of English pounds. Later I traded it for another radio which had a built-in transformer. I gave this and a lot of other things to an English woman who lived in Harrow. I met her through the American Red Cross in London.
I enjoyed the Red Cross Aero Club at Shipdham and Rainbow Corner in London. The woman from Harrow came on the train to see me at the American Military Hospital in either Devizes or Bristol. I may have told you that I broke my heel and ankle on the second run on the obstacle course at the infantry training camp on the Wiltshire Plains.
In 1981, my wife had a two-month's exchange with a URC minister in Broadstone (near Poole and Bournemouth) and in 1988 we were four months in Iver which is about five miles from Heathrow. We visited Norwich both times and the American Cemetery near Cambridge in 1981. Lots of other trips.
Glad to find your biography on page 280 of Second Air Division, 8th Air Force, USAAF. I would like to hear from you again. We have one daughter in San Francisco and we visited her in 1989. Another daughter in VT. A son and wife in VT and one son in NYC who works for the NBC Today show.