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Charles  W.  Blakley

 

Personal Legacy
C. W. BLAKLEY

World War II
Memories and Biography
Boise, Idaho
Feb. 4, 1988

Dear Will,

Thanks for your letter of Jan. 28. I am pleased that you are interested in the newspaper article that I sent to you.

When the article was run in the Chicago paper, I was assigned to the Aircraft Engine School, Chanute Field, IL. I finished WWII there as one of the instructors. I saved two copies, one I have in my scrapbook, and I mailed the other to my parents. I still have both copies. My wife, Frances, and I are planning to be at Riverside in May. I will bring the extra copy and will give it to the Memorial Group if you want it. Naturally the paper has yellowed over the years, so the machine copies may be plainer.

I still have a notebook that lists each of us evadees name and addresses, and also copies of the orders that assigned the U.S. Officers and E.M. to a unit in London for interrogation, processing, and clothing. These orders lists each persons group number, rank, ASN, etc.

Yes, I knew that the cameraman. Ray Reeves, had evaded and returned to the States, about the same time that Archie Barlow of our crew returned. I did not know his name until Earl Boggs sent me a copy of the "BATTLE CASUALTIES DURING THE MONTH" for January 1944. Boggs obtained a copy from the Air Force archives in Alabama.

Bill Waudby, the RAF pilot from Hull, Yorkshire, and I were together for four of the five weeks that I was with the "French Underground" in Paris; have not had any contact with him since we returned to London.

I do not have the S/N of the plane that we flew to England, or a copy of the orders that sent us to the 44th.

I am interested in your new book - 44TH ROLL OF HONOR & CASUALTIES. A check is enclosed. I was disappointed in the author's omission of so many of our names in the "44TH LIBERATORS OVER EUROPE."

Enclosed is a photo that I made last summer (1987). It is interesting that some Liberators (Navy) are still in service. This one was operating from the McCall, Idaho airport and it drops fire retardant onto forest and range fires. The company that has the contract with the U.S. Forest Service has about seven of these modified planes. If you want it for a future story, I will try to obtain more information.
Hope to see you in Riverside.
Sincerely, C. W. Blakley, 2919 Norman Dr., Boise, ID 83704
Boise, Idaho
Jan. 21, 1988

Dear Will Lundy,

Thanks for the great job that you are doing as editor of the "44th Logbook." It has been rewarding to read articles that I was personally involved.

1. VOL. 1, NO. 1 -- JEWELL'S MAVERICKS

I was a member on Lt. H. R. Howington's crew; the other crew, that also went to bomb Oslo, Norway on 16 November 1943. Lt. Jewell's crew received "a reward of a four day pass." Lt. Howington's crew received a "reward" of the privilege to return to Oslo, Norway two days later.

2. VOL. l, NO. 6 -- MISSION TO NORWAY

When Lt. Griffith's plane (161 K) "slid to a stop in a cloud of smoke and dust", its left wing tip was only a few yards from where we, Lt. Howington's crew, was unloading our plane.

A plane, 161 K, was piloted by Lt. Paul, and was one of a group of replacement crews that left Lincoln, NE. in Sept. 1943. Lt. Paul and 161 K went to the 67th. We went to the 68th. and our plane went to the 66th.

A photo of that crash landing is in the "44th Liberators over Europe" and "The Mighty Eighth."

I am also sending the enclosed newspaper article that was published Jan. 7, 1945 in the Chicago-Herald-American. You maybe able to reprint it in a future issue of 44th Logbook. Lt. Zielenkiewicz was from the 66th. Four of us from Lt. Howington's crew (MIA 21 Jan. 1944 ESCALLES SUR-BURCHY, FRANCE) were among "the number of fugitives grew to 13". Actually the number at that time was 14. T/Sgt. Archie Barlow of our crew was left in the Pyrness Mountains after the first night of traveling (walking). He returned to the 68th at a later date (4 June 1944).

Attached is a "Roll Call" of that group of fugitives.

Sincerely, C. W. Blakley
2919 Norman Dr.
Boise, Idaho 83704

ROLL CALL

1. Maj. Leon W. Blythe Columbus, GA- 94th Bm. Grp.
2. Lt. Conrad M. Blalock Winston-Salem, NC 351st. Bm. Grp.
3. Capt. Donald Dilling Cincinnati, OH 352nd. Ftr Grp.
4. Lt. Paul R. Marriott Ft. Worth, TX 94th. Bm. Grp.
5. Lt. Henry M. Heldmann Hartford, CT. 351st. Bm. Grp.
6. T/Sgt. Joseph Haywood Wilmington, OH. 351st. Bm. Grp.
7. Lt. Adolf Zielenkiewicz Chicago, IL 44th. Em. Grp. 66th Sq. (A)
8. T/Sgt. Alvin A (Rosenblatt) Ross- Newark, NJ 44th. Bm. Grp. 68th Sqdn.
(now Elberon, NJ) (A)
9. S/Sgt. Charles W. Blakley Parma, ID 44th. Bm. Grp. 68th Sqdn.
(now Boise, ID) (B)
10. Sgt. Alfred M. Klein NYC, NY 44th. Bm. Grp. 68th Sq. (C)
11. T/Sgt. Archie R. Bar1ow Hattiesburg, MS 44th Bm. Grp. 68th Sqdn
(now Gulfport,MS) (D)
12. Bill Furniss Roe Tolworth, Surrey, England RAF
13. Bill Waudby Hull, Yorkshire, England RAF
14. Reginald Overwyn London, England RAF


(A) MIA 21 Jan. 1944, Lt Howington crew (Evadee) to 68th 6 April 1944
(B) MIA 21 Jan. 1944, Lt. Howington crew (Evadee) returned to 68th 11 April 1944
(C) MIA 21 Jan. 1944, Lt. Howington crew (Evadee) returned to 68th 4 June 1944
(D) Evading occupied Germany for the second time. The RAF could return to combat.
(F) Ray P. Reeves Lt. Howington Returned Spain Gibralter and 201 on 17 June 1944

****************************************************

CHICK FRANCES BLAKLEY
World War II

Taken from an e-mail sent to Will Lundy

Dear Will:

I am like you, never heard of reference to the RI830 as round, but it sure did fit. In later years I was surprised to learn that some of the "round" ones had more than just two rows. Like the ones that was on display with the "Spruce Goose" when I saw it down at Long Beach a few years ago. Then last year I had a chance to go into a KC-97 that is on display at the Medford, Or airport. It had four rows, looked like two R2800s put on the same shaft.

Yesterday I went through the files of newsletters that Bob Krueger put out years ago. Some were copies of somebody's daily diary. In one issue, and in Webb Todd's book, it tells of a Sgt. Ireland being busted for causing a pilot to abort a mission. It was not his guns that were out, I think it was the tail. But what he said to Lt. Howington caused him to abort, and that caused Howington to be grounded till the matter was settled.

After Mitsche and I were wounded on December 11, 1943 over Emden, the crew was scheduled for a number of flights before I returned to go December 22 (the abort) mission, but I think they only completed one to Keil. After Ireland was removed, Alfred Klein was added and he was on his second mission with us on January 21, 1944.

June 23, 1943 at Clovis, NM, was where the crew was first put together (first phase). I was there about two weeks and flew two to four missions. Hot afternoon flights with pilots that were being checked out on instruments. The instructor that I had was showing how to read the fuel gauges and what to do to transfer fuel. That was first phase.

The crew was made up with Lt. Howington, pilot; Lt. Crowl, bombardier; Rosenblatt (Ross), radio; Barlow, Eng.; Blakeley, Asst. Eng.; Boggs, Arm Gun.; and George Thompson, Arm gun., and the orders to Pueblo, CO. Barlow was listed ahead of me because our names were alphabetically. It was not considered that I had come out of the B-24 School at Keesler and Willow Run Factory and he had just gone through Gulfport before we went to Gunnery School. When I found out that I was on my way to Laredo, TX to Gunner School was when I realized that I was not going to be a B-24 fixer. I really didn't want to be an air fighter when I didn't go on into that line after finishing the CPT Training in the summer of 1941. But I worked with Barlow. I helped him to pick up the difference of the workings of a 24 and a 17. About the middle of July, we were out on the bombing range, dropping one 100# practice bomb each run, then flyby a gunnery range to fire on some targets. This, George Thompson, tail gunner, decided to fire on some range cows that were in the area. So Lt. Howington had him removed from the crew and sent back to first phase.

When we returned from furlough around the first of August, Heiter and Mitsche joined as Arm Gunners and Lt. Curtis as copilot and Lt. Kasten as Navigator. As a crew, we only trained together for about three weeks before going to Lincoln NE, and headed for England.

At Chanute, I still didn't get to be an "airplane fixer." As my job was mostly scheduling and checking to see that the instructors were where they were suppose to be during each week. The main thing was to see that the students from P-51 and B-29 outfits who were sent there on detached service stayed on course and not to pay much attention to the ones who had completed their mission and sent there because "they had to be some place." It is hard to believe how many that area above the wing and not pressurized of a B-29 could hide out for an entire class session.

Chanute was a discharge center, so most of the instructors were discharged there. And some would be back the following Monday as a civilian instructor. For about the last month and half the classes were cut back to one shift per day and I ended up as the NCO in charge of engine change. I think that they just ran out of bodies.

About the 8 Ball Tails article. They make it look like Ray Reeves was assigned to the crew. He and the big camera were brought out to the plane a little while before takeoff and they took away the K20 camera that I was to use. Barlow was having trouble with his guns, so I made up the crew load list and had to go get it from Sgt. Lee (the crew chief) in order to add Reeves to the list. As you know, he was a radio operator form the 67th.

Will, I have a copy of Gilberte Daumal Bourgougon's first letter to Fletcher Howington telling him how she found the watch. Did I ask you if you would like a copy for your files?

It was great to hear from you. Chick Blakley.


CHICK FRANCES BLAKLEY
World War II

Taken from an e-mail sent to Will Lundy


March 3, 2005

Dear Will:

It's about time that I got back to your last e-mail letter, but I wanted to send to you a couple of copies of pictures.

When I was at Chanute, we were allowed three-day passes about every six weeks, depending on the incoming student load and schedules. On one that I took I went up to Milwaukee to look up Michael Mitsche. After he was injured on a December 1943 mission and spent time in the England hospital, he was returned to the States to a hospital in Iowa and was medically discharged in 1944. He returned to his hometown of Milwaukee and was married.

Michael had been in the regular army for six years prior to WWII, so he called the rest of us on the crew "new raw recruits." Another saying was "I'm from Milwaukee, the town that Pabts Blue Ribbon made famous and I'm Michael P. Mitsche the guy that made Pabts famous.

When he was injured on December 11, 1943, a 20 MM shell hit the edge of the ball turret sight glass. The result was that it took a great deal off his upper inner thigh muscle just below his groin. When I was with him in Milwaukee, we made most of his known bar rounds for him to show his beer buddies the guy that gave him in-air first aid "and the guy that saved his life."

The photo on the left is Michael and me. The one on the right is Michael and wife, June. These photos were taken in front of a new house that they had just moved into. They are dated July 1944.

After the war and a couple of address changes, I lost track of the Mitsches in about 1949, you know, the Christmas card thing. But when I met Earl Boggs, who had access to VA records, said that Michael died in 1969.

In May of 1945, on one of those three-day passes, I went up to Grand Rapids, MI, to see Lt. Dick Kasten's folks. And in September I had scheduled to ride with another instructor to Ohio to see Lt. Wayne Crowls' mother. But the fellow that I was going with number came up and he was transferred to the discharge squadron. But we did exchange Christmas cards until he passed away in the 1980s.

Will, I hope you can make a little sense on this rambling on. I am in hopes of finding out why my e-mail is down and will be able to get it back up and running.

As ever,
Chick Blakley


CHICK FRANCES BLAKLEY
World War II

This was sent to Will Lundy by e-mail.

January 31, 2005

Dear Will:

Glad to get your return on the e-mail that I sent to you. Was glad that you had about the same opinion of the article as I did. But they say that everyone has a different outlook of a story about the same occasion and I guess that is correct.

Through the e-mail I have received an article with the title of "Round Engines," which I will forward to you. As a rule, I don't send what I consider junk mail on to someone, but this sort of fits your 67th Squadron days.

As you already may know that when I returned from England in 1944 and after spending five months in the hospital in Spokane, returned to Santa Monica, I was sent to Chanute Field for further Tech training. I ended up in the "Engine" School and on the Monday morning of the start of the last two weeks engine change) they called the entire day and evening classes together and told us that we were all "washed out," finished. We were given three choices, (1) Go back to a combat crew (but I had come out of Spokane, grounded and limited to US duty only), (2) Go to any Tech Training Base and work on the flight line, or (3) Become an instructor at Chanute. To me Chanute sounded like the best of the offers.

We became engine-change students and student instructors all in the same two weeks. A 15th returnee fighter pilot captain was the officer in charge. A M/Sgt. Who had been Gen. LeMay's engineer was our shift NCO in charge. I and another T/Sgt. (he was an 8th AF B-17 Eng.) were made phase chiefs. We were picked because of our grade average. That was my end of "round engines." The M/Sgt and other T/Sgt headed the air cooled and the Ex P-51 pilot and I set up the inline section. Most of the classes were on the "Packard RR." So in the end, I spent almost 1/3 of my WW II time at Chanute - November 1, 1944 to October 30, 1945.

I will have to look back into some of Bob Krueger's 68th newsletters for a name of the A/Gunner that replaced Mitschse on the crew that caused Lt. Howington to abort a mission and have to go up before the base company. He was the second gunner that was relieved from the crew for their actions. The other one was when we were at Pubelo, CO. Chick Blakley.
 
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