WILLIAM S. ALDRIDGE|
Memories of World War II Experiences
My crew joined the 67th at Bengazi (a few days after Ploesti). We did not fly a single mission out of Bengazi.
I shall not forget our second trip to Africa - due to that "milk run" (as briefed) to Weiner-Neustadt on 10-1-43. My crew was flying "Earthquake," and was lucky enough to make it back as far as Italy on 2 ½ engines (no hydraulic system, etc.) - and left "Earthquake" on the Salerno beachhead (buried in the mud). That was my crew's roughest mission.
As you likely recall, the 67th lost most of its lead crews on the Weiner-Neustadt mission. Shortly after returning to England, my crew was upgraded to lead crew. I also served as Sq. Opns Officer under both Bill Cameron and Bob Felber. Bob flew with me on my 30th (and last) mission in August 1944.
I volunteered to remain with the 67th as long as needed in a non-combat status (all four Sq. Opns officers had completed their combat tours). Col. Snavely called all four of us to Group sometime in September 1944, and advised us that Col. Gibson (who had departed in August 1944) had left our promotions to Major for his approval. He said that he would approved same if we would volunteer to return to combat status as Command Pilots - you can very likely guess what we told him to do with those promotions. All four of us returned stateside in October 1944.
For some reason or other, I elected to make a career out of the Air Force - married a Stockton, California girl in 1948 and proceeded to raise a family of six. Retired for the second time in 1980 and am currently looking around for something else to get involved in.
WILLIAM A. ALDRIDGE
World War II
Memories and Biography
24-25 July 1944
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
May 15, 1979
As I look back on "my claim to fame," as a member of the old 8th AAF, I can't help but be somewhat amused as to how it happened. On July 24, 1944, I was operations officer of the 67th BG, 44th BG, 14th BW, 2nd AD, located at Shipdham, England.
On that date, it was 2nd AD turn to lead the 8th AAF - 14th BW turn to lead the 2nd AD - 4th BG turn to lead the 14th BW and the 67 BG turn to lead the 44th BG - and I was advised by my CO (William R. Cameron) that I would be leading the whole show. The mission saturation bombing of the German Army at Saint Lo.
My claim to fame: That I led the largest bomber formation that was ever assembled to bomb one target (approximately 1,500 to 1,600 B-24s and B17s). We flew the mission on July 24 - but due to cloud cover over the target were unable to bomb - and then flew the mission again on July 25 (mission accomplished). I was lead aircraft commander for the 8th AAF on both days.
Congratulations on your being a surviving member of the old 100 BG. As I recall, the 100th BG was the "bad luck" B17 group - and we in the old 44 BG (8-Ball Outfit) were very likely the "bad luck" B24 Group.
William A. Aldridge
Lt. Col. USAF Retired
WILLIAM S. "BILL" ALDRIDGE
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Norm Tillner)
15 September 1987
The 44th BG/BW/SMW Heritage Memorial Group will gather for their 1988 reunion on 25-29 May 1988 at Riverside, California. All former and/or active duty members of the 44th BG - 44th BW - and 44th Strategic Missile Wing, are most welcome to join. I am told that the 44th HMG was formed in 1981 by six WW II veterans at Ellsworth AFB, SD (home of the 44th SMW). There are currently 1863 WWII members, plus about 400 44th BW and 44th SMW members. I am somewhat surprised that you have not been included on their mailing list - for I am almost certain they have utilized the 2nd Air Division roster for that purpose. There are no annual membership dues to date. We publish a journal The fighting 44th Logbook three or four times annually. We have been requested to support publication of this journal with voluntary donations, etc. To get your name on the mailing list, I would suggest that you write to one of the following:
Will Lundy, 3295 N. H Street, San Bernardino, CA 92405 - He recently volunteered to assume duties as editor of The fighting 44th Logbook.
Art Hand, 517 Elm Street, Paris, IL 61944 - Art is Search Committee Advisor for the 44th HMG.
I look forward to seeing you at the Riverside Reunion in 1988.
Sincerely, Bill Aldridge
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy from Norm Tillner)
18 September 1987
As you can see by the copy of Bill Aldridge's letter (above), he has pretty much pointed me in your direction for guidance.
About five years ago, I received an invitation to attend a reunion of the 44th Heritage Memorial Group in South Dakota. I believe that the invitation was a result of my having made a donation for a memorial plaque. Not wanting to travel that far, I didn't respond to the invitation and to my recollection, I never heard any more about them. That is, until Bill Aldridge wrote to me for some caps.
I'm not much of a joiner, Will, but if there is going to be some sort of a 44th BG reunion as close to my home as Riverside, I would certainly like to attend. If you are able, would you please advise.
I hope that this finds you and the Mrs. in good health.
Thanks and Cheers,
[Norm was a gunner on Pete Henry's crew and was badly wounded]