JOHN L. "JACK" QUAIL|
World War II
Memories and Biography
11 July 1944
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy by Sue Quail)
19 January 1984
Hi! I'm Sue Quail, writing the first part of this letter for Jack. Your letter went to Jack's mother, Mrs. John L. Quail, Sr., who also lives in Fresno, so that is why we are listed as Jack.
Enclosed is a blurb from the Fresno Bee with some information from way back then. Also, we found a copy of the MACR, which you requested. After we received your letter, we spent about three hours going through an old box in the attic of every correspondence from Jack during World War II, including War Department letters, etc. Very interesting, especially for me as I didn't meet Jack until 1946.
The following is what he scribbled out for your information with side comments from me. Hope this is what you need:
Only four crewmen survived the bombing mission of Munich, Germany, on 11 July 1944. They are:
Major James Conrad
1st Lt. Louis F. Zweig, Jr.
1st Lt. John L. Quail, Jr.
2nd Lt. Milton Mollen
We were part of the Pathfinder Squadron and consequently flew to pick up command personnel from the designated group and squadron for each mission. This is the reason Conrad and Thielen are on the list. Major Conrad was visiting which accounts for Copilot Burge being in the rear.
Damaged by flak over Munich, we left formation and headed across France toward Dover, England. Near Lille, France, with the English Channel in radar range, we ran out of fuel. Orders were given to bail out and Mollen and Quail opened the bomb bay and were first out. What happened afterwards is not fully known, but I heard a B-24 aircraft go into a spin - it was a cloudy day and I couldn't see the plane - then heard an explosion. Everyone in the back of the plane went down with it.
On the ground, with the help of the French, I met up with Zweig and together we found Mollen. He had broken his leg and we had to leave him, hoping he would be picked up. He was picked up by the Germans we found out later, but never heard what they did with him. Also, found out that Conrad was picked up by the French underground.
Zweig and I moved out of the area with the help of French farmers and after three days of moving toward Paris and Allied lines, we were picked up by the French Force of Interior.
We stayed with a French family until liberated by the British Army in September 1944. While living with this French family, I was told that Conrad was safe and being cared for, but that all other crewmen were found dead in the aircraft.
(Sue): There is so much to tell about the time spent with the French family that it would fill another book! Hiding in a closet while Nazi's went through the house; hiding in a field with bread and cheese until the Germans had left town, dressing as Frenchmen and going to town when no Germans were about; letting Zweig and Quail draw straws to see who got first chance at the Saturday night bath water before the rest of the family used it! Wonderful family risking their lives to hide these fliers.
I'm afraid after 40 years such details as aircraft number, name, etc. is lost. I can tell you what happened to me after the war though.
I was in the Inactive reserve, but in early 1952, I was recalled to the Air Force and retrained as a radar operator on a B-29 and sent to Okinawa where I flew 30 more combat missions over Korea.
The last I heard about Louis Zweig was about 35 years ago when my brother was stationed in San Antonio and looked him up. At that time, he had divorced and re-joined the Air Force. He is no doubt retired and perhaps you could find him through A/F records.
(Sue): I shall finish this up. Jack has not heard about any get-togethers of any units. He is not a reunion person. He said he flew most of his missions with the 392nd and only a few with the 44th before he was shot down. I would love to come to Palm Springs, but he said he wouldn't know anyone - who does he think I'd know?!!
After Jack was reported missing, someone took his bicycle, went through his footlocker and helped himself and also took his wallet, then threw it in the sea. When it floated to shore and was found, this immediately prompted a sea search for the missing plane. He said if he does come to the reunion, that is the S.B. he'd like to meet - the one who stole his stuff when he was only reported missing!
So you do remember the Tule fog in the San Joaquin Valley! We have lived here all our lives, so I'm pushing for a place at the Coast. Tired of fog in winter and 105 degrees in summer - want ocean breezes.
If you opt for 99 instead of I-5 when you go to Chico, we might meet for dinner and rehash WWII. We would like to be able to purchase a book when you finish it.
Thank you for your interest and hope this has been of help and send info on reunion - just in case!
Jack and sue Quail
5041 N. Van Ness Blvd.
Fresno, CA 93711
Phone: 209-439-1348. Call if you plan a stopover.
11 July 1944
American fliers are aided by the French underground as 1st Lt. John K. Quail described his experiences after parachuting from his bombed over occupied France.
Quail's 18th mission July 11th was the one on which he nearly fell into the hands of the Nazi's. We had dropped our bombs said Quail, navigator on the liberator bomber. We were on our way home. Suddenly the engines started sputtering and we knew we were out of gas. There was only one thing to do. We did it, taking to the parachutes. I landed in a field of chest-high grain where I was able to hide temporarily. Then I was found by some Frenchmen. They took me to a house and fed me and gave me a place to rest.
Several times I had narrow escapes as the Germans came hunting for me. I was hidden in a closet once and could hear the Nazi's searching the rest of the house. The underground deserves all the credit that can be given to it.
Quail said his actions from the time he bailed out of his bomber until he landed and bundled up his parachute were almost automatic. I did not even think of the predicament I was in until after that. He helped bomb both Berlin and Munich during his 17 previous missions and declared the flak was especially heavy over both cities. We rode through it for ten minutes over Munich. Cablegrammed two months later that he was safe!
Crew and Addresses
Major James D. Conrad Mr. and Mrs. John W. Conrad (parents)
Command pilot 8 School Street, Saugus, MA
1st Lt. Louis E. Zweig, Jr. Mrs. Lorene C. Zweig, (wife)
1st pilot 3002 Monterey, San Antonio, TX
1st Lt. Harold L. Burge (DE) Mrs. Melba C. Burge (wife)
Copilot 1614 Eastern Avenue, NE, Washington, DC
1st Lt. John L. Quail, Jr. Mr. John L. Quail (father
Navigator 1039 Poplar Street, Fresno, CA
1st Lt. James C. Bruce, Jr. (DE) Mrs. Etta Mae Bruce (mother)
Bombardier Star Route, Gainesville, GA
2nd Lt. Charles M. Thielen (DE) Mr. Matt j. Thielen (father)
Passenger 1017 Grand Ave., Racine, WI
2nd Lt. Milton Mollen Mrs. Bebe L. Mollen (wife)
Radar 178 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, New York
Mr. H. Mollen (father)
2024 Benedict Ave, Bronx 61, New York
T/Sgt. Orus Baxter, Jr. (DE) Mrs. Rose E. Durbin (mother)
Flight engineer ? Box 446, Holdenville, OK
T/Sgt. Cornellius J. Callahan (DE) Mrs. Nora Grob (sister)
Chief Gunner ? 453 Taylor Ave., New York, New York
S/Sgt. Max M. Jessen (DE) Mrs. Bertha Jessen (mother)
Gunner Route 2, Box 210, Lake Charles, LA
S/Sgt. Samuel R. Strally (DE) Mrs. Mary Strally (mother)
Gunner 217 East Williams Street, Waterloo, New York
S/Sgt. Louis F. Smith (DE) Mrs. Elizabeth G. Smith (mother)
Gunner Rural Free Delivery No. 1, Semour, Connecticut
(Letter to Sue and Jack from Will Lundy)
San Bernardino, CA
27 January 1984
Dear Sue and Jack:
I thank you for all the information as well as the effort to dig it all out and sending it on to me. And I want you to know that I do appreciate it.
I can very well understand you, Jack, when you say you are not a reunion person and I am, or at lest was, the same way. I know exactly how you feel. I joined the American Legion only because my boss was an officer and wanted to help him. But I don't enjoy playing soldier and all of that. But this 2nd ADA is a bit different. My wife, Irene, who happened to be English - we met shortly after I got over there in 1942 (I was ground crew) and we went more or less steadily all of that time, marrying after the war. She returned to visit her family in 1972 and learned about the American room in the new Norwich library. So she visited it and brought me back some literature bout the American Room and the 2nd ADA. Then in 1979, they had a reunion down in San Diego so we went down for the mini-reunion, which is a meeting of each individual group - so I, or we, wanted to see if we knew anyone. We went in to the open bar and sat down next to a couple, introduced ourselves after a bit and found out he was from the 392nd, Walter Hebron. Where did he live? San Bernardino! About two miles from us here.
At the mini I saw the 67th squadron former C.O. Bill Cameron, but being a mere S/Sgt. During the war I still felt that barrier between officers and EM and didn't go and introduce myself. But we ran across another ground crewman and we had a ball and I met several others and before long we were like old friends 0-and we definitely are old friends now. Since then, I have continued to look for old buddies and, in fact, every other former 44ther that I can. I have met so many of them at reunions that it is like old home week at these reunions. They generally are very fine people and few of them put on any airs - just one of the guys. Have even had talked to Leon Johnson, who became a General.
And I guess I like and appreciate what all of them are working towards - and that is the American Room over in Norwich. It didn't impress me when I saw it in 1976 - my first time back s I was working and couldn't afford to take the time off. Went back in 1979 and again in 1983. The 1983 reunion was just fantastic with the English putting on a simply great affair. I guess they have forgiven us for all the things we did back during the war and can't seem to do enough for us now. It was truly heart-warming, couldn't have been better. We even then went on to Holland to meet a pen-pal, an author who has written several books about the air war as well as a book about one 67th crew who went down near his home. He was hiding from the Germans (a youth) and he kept great notes; then researched them after the war and sends me huge letters about each plane that was lost near his area. He knows the German pilots, hometowns, wives, ship names, numbers, crews, who they hid and saved. Almost overpowering and yes, both he and his wife speak English, Dutch, German, and Friesland. They took us and showed us crash sites, resistance museums, etc. Couldn't do enough for us, it seems - wonderful people.
So now you can better appreciate that I have never regretted joining this 2nd ADA. Will send you a pamphlet about it for your information about it. I have purchased and taken book over and given them to the library, dedicating them to some of my ground crew buddies who went into combat and were killed. Then I donated a couple of the history of the 67th/44th that I put together for use there. At first I was not all that sure that even those in Norwich were reading or using those shelves of books. But I'm convinced now that they are and it is doing a fine thing in that city and area now - and in the years to come. The Lord Mayor, head Bishop of the church, the military, everyone seems to know about it and be proud of it. People stopped us on the street and talked to us about it as it was in all the papers and even on TV. They even had a Spitfire and British Lancaster fly over one of the affairs in downtown Norwich.
There I go, running on about it - too much! But we will never forget what a super time was had by all.