WILLIAM J. EGAN|
19 July We left the field on a raid at 7:10 A.M. Our objective was the railroad yards in Rome, Italy. Crossing Sicily I saw formations of planes, but didn't know if they were friend or enemy; finally, identified them as B-29s. Approaching target at 2:00 we could see that it was bombed before us. So we circled around and came in on our prescribed heading. No opposition as yet. On the run in, we started to get some flak off to our right. Dropped our bombs and started to head for Malta. Fighters started to attack - Macchi 200 and Me 109s - three came from our left, circled around and made a head-on attack on our lead ship. They continued to attack us until we were far out to sea. There were no B-24s lost, but there were some fighters knocked down. The rest of the trip home was uneventful. Arrived back at base around 10:00 p.m.
20 July Through to August 1st, 1943 - Nothing much to write about - laid around most of the time taking it easy. About 23rd a meeting was held and they told us we were going to have a mission in the near future that would be one of the most important we would be called upon to make. It was the mission that we were brought down from England to do. After that, for two weeks, all we did was to practice for this mission - at low level. It was hard work, but we finally got to where we could do it pretty good. A week before the mission they told us our objective. It was the Romanian Oil Refineries at Ploesti. We were to bomb it at low level, about three hundred feet. According to Intelligence, it would take 50 missions at high altitude, or 200,000 men and a lot of time and money to capture and destroy it. So all we did for the remainder of the week was to study our target maps until we were able to see them in our sleep.
August 1st This is the day of the big raid. I got up at four-thirty, ate breakfast, checked over all of our equipment, bombs, racks, etc. Left all excess baggage behind, such as winter flying equipment, bombsight, etc. Take off was at seven o'clock, objective was Ploesti oil fields 1000 miles away. Trip to the target was uneventful except for one accident out over the Med. where one B-24 crashed and blew up. We passed over Greece and part of Romania. Greece is very mountainous, while Romania is very fertile land. From the air it looked very peaceful. When we crossed the Danube, we started to tighten up our formation because we were getting pretty close to the target, and we were protecting our selves in case we were jumped by fighters.
As I said before out-going trip was uneventful, it was just like a pleasure flight, although it was a bit tiring. We arrived at our initial point (IP) point where we make our run in to our targets at 3 p.m.
Before I go any farther, I'll explain the set up. There were six main oil refineries to be hit, so there were six formation of planes with each group having certain targets in that main target area. Each plane in each group had a certain target to attack. Our group, the 44th, had two targets to hit - White Five and Blue - with two formations.
As we hit the initial point and started to make our run in to the target, White Five, we could see it already was on fire. There should have been no fire at all, so someone made a mistake and hit our targets instead of their own, (93rd BG).
We were at 1000 feet at that time and then we dove down to 100 feet and started to do evasive actions. Then we started to get heavy flak off to our left and I'm sure some planes were hit by it. I could see my target faintly through a lot of black smoke and fire, then we went through a flaming wall of fire, dropped our bombs, and with Lady Luck riding our airplane, got out of it.
As we started away from the target, everything and everybody started to shoot at us. Haystacks opened up, machine guns and cannons came out of houses, water towers, trains, fields, etc. Just as we cleared the fire we hit a barrage balloon and snapped the cable. Luckily, there wasn't much damage done. When we thought we were safe, fighters came in from our left and attacked us. There must have been at least 75 of them. But we kept on flying at about 300 feet when they came to attack us. To protect ourselves as much as possible, we went down to 25 feet and flew like that for 50 miles. A lot of planes were lost on that raid and a lot of good men went down.
When we got quite a distance away, the remaining planes and ourselves began to form into formation for protection. We climbed to about 10,000 feet to clear the mountains and everything started to quiet down. But not for long! As we got off the coast of Greece, we were attacked again by fighters and lost three more ships. By that time we were far out to sea, heading for Malta. We landed at Malta at 8:00 p.m., to stay there overnight.
Out of our squadron which had sent eight ships, only two of us returned. Our crew and Henderson's (plus Brandon's in Suzy Q). Our plane had only one cut in the wing from the barrage balloon cable, and the crew was all okay, as well. Henderson's ship was all shot to hell; three of his men were hit. His waist gunner was shot through the shoulder, and the navigator and bombardier were shot up pretty badly when a 20 mm shell burst in the nose. About all I can say about this mission is that it was a miracle we made it.
August 3rd to
August 9th: Recuperating from that last raid, doing nothing at all. Been trying to get a sun tan, but all I get are a lot of freckles. Starting to get a little brown now.
August 10th Got up at 8:00 a.m., ate breakfast, came back to lay around. Got a hair cut - a regular G.I., and finally dinner. It was good for a change. Have to attend a briefing tonight, having a raid tomorrow. Raid was scrubbed.
August 11th Got up at 7:30 a.m., had breakfast, came back to tent, and laid around till noon. Schuler and myself went to town to see a show called "Sunny." Went shopping, and with the pound note I borrowed from Dobson, bought a straight razor. Tried shaving with it later in the evening but didn't make out so well. Missed our supper and boiled some eggs outside of our tent. Went to the show on the field and saw Irene Dunne, star of the picture in "Joy of Living."
August 12th Raid was scrubbed again. Got up at 8:00 a.m. too late for breakfast.
Started to shave with my new razor, which Dobson sharpened for me. If I may say so myself, gave myself a good shave for my first try. Didn't cut myself at all. It took one hour to shave.
August 13th Awake at 5:00, ate breakfast and went out to plane. Scheduled to take off at 7:00 a.m. on raid to Austria. The target was a Foche-Wulfe factory. Took off as planned. The day was lovely, clear, and not too warm. Flight was uneventful until we were one hour away from target, then we ran into a front and things got looking rather bad. It lasted about 20 minutes. The vapor contrails from planes were like snow being blown fiercely by heavy winds. My bombsight froze up. I tried everything I knew to get it working, but failed. Approaching the target there still was no sign of enemy activity! Just before bomb release we started to get flak up in front and off to the side. Bombs were released before we were attacked by six fighter planes - German Me109s. However, our gunners drove them off, and no planes were shot down.
Our trip back had us a little worried because we had to fly over two hundred miles of heavily armed country (Italy). We met no opposition though until we were off the coast of Italy. There we were attacked by five Italian Macchi 200s - and they were persistent devils, followed us a good distance out to sea. I almost had my first enemy plane that day. One of those planes flew parallel to our ship, about 1,500 yards out. He was getting ready to make a head-on attack on our formation. I saw him, and at the first my aim was not too good. I started to get my range and came damn close to him. I'll be willing to bet that I hit him. But then he peeled off and flew away. If I had only kept shooting at him a second or two longer he would have been a dead duck.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, we landed in Tunis at 8:30 p.m., had dinner, and then went to sleep in our plane. I slept in the nose section. That was quite a long trip - the total distance was close to 2000 miles.
August 15th Still in Tunis. Got up at 7:00 a.m. after a hard night's sleep, ate breakfast. Our plane had a bad oil leak in #4 engine, so it was being repaired. I came back to Benghazi with Punchy Henderson. Arrived here at 4:30 p.m.. Shaved myself with my new razor, ate supper, went to the show, then finally to bed. Raid on tomorrow.
August 16 Awoke at 5:30 a.m., took off at 7:10, target was an airfield six miles north of town of Foggia in southern Italy. At the briefing they told us it would be a very easy raid, as the 98th BG had hit this same target a month ago and encountered no opposition whatever. At the time of this raid, Messina, in Sicily, was being hard pressed by the Allies. Messina was always one of our toughest targets because of the heavy guns situated around there. Well, all of those guns were moved up to the mainland of Italy, but we didn't know it then. Also, on our last raid into Austria, we encountered only light opposition from the enemy coming across Italy. That was only three days before.
Weather was ideal going out - a few scattered clouds in the sky. We were flying the lead ship in the second element, with the leader being Capt. Bunker. Our formation included six planes from the 67th, but only three of them were experienced crews. Those three were: Bunker's, Henderson's, Hill's and ours. The other three were flying their first mission.
When we were about two hour; out, our leader, Bunker, developed engine trouble and turned back. Henderson took over, but within a half hour, one of his engines quit and he was forced to drop out, too. So we then, took over the lead. We were the only experienced crew left in our element. Our wing men and followers were new. We kept cautioning them over the interphone to keep a tight formation.
So when we approached our target, everybody was in a good formation. We started to get flak, which was heavy and quite accurate. We dropped our bombs and flew away from the target. At that moment it looked like another easy mission. But, about ten minutes later, all hell broke loose. I looked back and to the left, and there were at least 75 enemy fighters - Me-109s. Our tail turret and waist guns started shooting. And the flak started to get heavier. Our wing ships were shot down (Bateman, left, and L. Smith, right). I saw the one on our left with its engines smoking. It started off in a gentle spin, four parachutes came out. Then the plane went into a tight spin and fire broke out all over the plane. One thing, which I remember distinctly, was a man hanging by his parachute in the bomb bay. He couldn't get out, and the plane was burning all over.
As we were then the lead ship in that section, there were four other planes behind us, and all four were shot down. This attack by those enemy fighters lasted about 45 minutes in all. Our plane was credited with six fighters in this encounter. All three of our nose guns were jamming so we were lucky that the attacks were coming from other directions.
We arrived back to the base at 5:30 p.m., on three engines. The left rudder was shot off, a 20 mm cannon went through the left wing and into the gas cells, our radio equipment was all shot up, and we had numerous holes all over the back of the ship from .50 cal shells. I went to bed early that night as we were all tuckered out!
August 17th Got up at 6:30 a.m. and were told that we could have a three-day pass. It was the first pass we'd had in two months. There was a plane leaving for Tel Aviv at 10 o'clock, so we hopped on it. It took 5½ hours for the flight. We stayed at the Red Cross Club, which was in a big hotel in town. We had supper at the Officer's Mess and what a meal! Real potatoes, meat, good coffee with REAL cream, and honest to goodness ice cream! That was the first ice cream we had in four months! After supper, we went out and looked the town over, finally ending up drinking beer. Everything closed up at 10:30 p.m.. We walked along the sea shore for awhile, and then went back to the hotel and to bed.
August 18th Got up for breakfast and ate to our hearts content. Met Ferns and went out to an airfield to buy some cigarettes. Came back to town to find the American Ice Cream Bar and had a banana split along with a strawberry malted milk. It wasn't pure ice cream, but it tasted very good anyway. We walked abound town a bit more, looking at everything and doing a little window shopping on the side. Stopped off to drink five glasses of beer, then went back to the hotel for our evening meal. After dinner, Ferns said he would fix us up with some girls. We were supposed to meet him at two o'clock, but when we got there, the girls he had for us were out of town. He then told us about a little Spanish girl who would go out with us, so we go over there. But again, no go. Stopped in a barber shop and had a shave, then went over to meet Dobson at a photograph shop. It was getting close to supper time, so we went back to the hotel to eat again.
When we were sitting at the table, a U.S. War Correspondent by the name of Phillips sits down and we start talking to him. He was working for Life magazine. We got pretty chummy with him, so after awhile we all went to the show. We saw "My Gal Sal." It was awfully hot in the theater! After the show, we went back to our rooms, and Phillips brought in some wine. We began talking again, and he told us of all his experiences. He was in Europe before the war broke out; he saw Hitler's march into Vienna. He told us many interesting things. Went to bed about 2 a.m.
August 19th I was up bright and early, ate breakfast and at 10 a.m. started back to camp. When we were about two hours out, we ran into a few Spitfires who gave us a thrill. One came up so close to us that we could almost reach out and touch him. Arrived back at camp around 4 p.m., rested for awhile, and then went out to our lovely mess hall to eat Spam and drink cold water. That was supper. Went to the show at camp after supper, saw the picture named "Pied Piper." Was in bed by 11 o'clock. Oh, yes, Tel Aviv was full of Jews.
August 20th Was up at 10 a.m.. Went over to the enlisted men's tent, told them to go out and clean their guns. After dinner, went to the hospital to visit with Schwab. He was feeling pretty good, expected to be out in a short while. Came back, had supper, laid around. The enlisted boys came over when it got dark, and we built a fire, sang a few songs, and then to bed.
August 21st Was up at 7:30 a.m.. Ate a lousy breakfast, then went out to the ship to clean guns all day. Came back at 5:30 p.m., had supper, took a shower, shaved, went to the show, "Tin Pan Alley." Then to bsd.
August 22nd to
Sept 12th Not much of anything doing - getting ready to leave for England. On Aug. 25th we left Benghazi at 7:00 a.m., landed in Marrakech at 8 p.m. the same evening. Spent the next two weeks they're getting an engine changed and waiting for the weather to clear up so we could take off for England. Marrakech is a very beautiful place, somewhat like one would think of after reading "Arabian Nights." In those two weeks I went to town often - once with Schwab, twice with Zalonka, and once with Fisher. Went to Medina with Fisher and that was the most eerie place I have ever been. It was out of bounds to soldiers, so Fisher and I had to crawl on our knees and hide from the M.P.s until we got there. The place had real narrow streets with buildings packed close together. There were Arabs all over the place, sitting around on corners etc. It's a wonder we weren't knifed.
Finally, took off for England on Sept. 8th at 9 a.m., arrived in Newquay at 6:30 p.m.. Stayed overnight, then took off the next morning for Shipdham, arriving there at noon. Spent the rest of the day getting in once again. Was up at 1:30 the next morning for a mission. We were scheduled for two of them - one was the airfield at Abbeyville, France, and the other was a little farther into France. We took off at 7:30 a.m. to find the temp. up at 20,000 feet to be -30 degrees C. Quite a change from Africa. Flew around for three hours and just when we were thirty minutes from the target, had to turn back because our #3 quit. We sure were browned off. The afternoon mission was scrubbed because of bad weather. Spent the next two days laying around, going into town (Norwich?) at night.
Sept. 13th Ate breakfast, laid around all day, went to town with Dobson. Met two girls in the lobby of Bell Hotel. Sat around, talked, and was back in camp by 12:00 p.m..
Sept 16th Was surprised to find out that we have been ordered back to north Africa. Didn't find out about it until noon. We were supposed to leave at 12 noon! Hurried back to the barracks, packed, etc. but then the take off was postponed until 9:00 p.m.. Took off for Marrakech in French Morocco. Arrived at 6:00 a.m. the following morning, dead tired.
Sept. 18th Left Marrakech, arrived in Tunis at 7:00 p.m.. Found some tents, got some cots, put them up, then went straight to bed.
Sept 19th Flies are bad! They are all over the place, won't give us a moment's peace. It's awfully hot here during the day time, no place to go to get cool. Luckily, there's a few showers on the field. They sure are life savers. Met Schwab after supper. Talked for a while, and then to bed. The nights are wonderful, need to sleep with two blankets!
Sept. 20th Schwab, Tony Rispoli and myself went into Tunis, bought some clothes at the Quartermasters, then had our portraits drawn up. Came back to camp in time for supper. Mission tomorrow. Loaded bombs, finished at 9:00 p.m.. Went to bed.
Sept. 21st Aroused at 4:00 a.m., ate and went to briefing. Take off was at 7:30, target was a harbor in northern Italy - Leghorn. We took off as scheduled, dropped our bombs to hit our target beautifully. No opposition encountered, and returned safely to the base at 5:30 p.m. After supper, went out to clean and check our guns. Was in bed by 11 p.m..
Sept. 24th Target was to be the marshaling yards at Pisa, in northern Italy. Was up at 6: a.m., breakfast, went to briefing, took off at 10:00 a.m.. This raid was a milk-run. No opposition at all, target was hit very well, beautifully done. We were back at the base by 4 p.m. Cleaned our guns after supper.
Sept. 25th Was up at 6 a.m., to find that we are the spare ship in our squadron and we didn't like it a bit. Formation took off. Lucky for us, one ship turned back due to engine trouble. So we took off, caught the formation shortly afterwards. We weren't in a very good position in the formation, as we were what is called "Tail End Charley." We followed along until we were 50 minutes from target, Lucca Airdrome - but then had to turn back because of weather. We landed and cleaned our guns. After supper attended a USO show on the field given by French actors. Raid tomorrow.
Sept 26th Up at 7:15 a.m., attended briefing at 8:30 - same raid as yesterday. But again the mission was scrubbed due to weather. Going to town this afternoon.
Sept. 27th Raid scrubbed. Went into town, bought myself a stone to sharpen my razor. Schwab was with me.
Sept. 28th Raid scrubbed. Awfully cold during the night. Weather has sure changed. I like it better like this, though. Temperature in the 60s. Awoke with the G.I.s. Second time since I've been down here in Africa and they aren't funny either. Laid around camp all day, in bed early.
Sept. 30th Went to town with Schwab, had a spaghetti dinner and all the wine we could drink. This was at an Italian home. Came back to camp at 8 p.m.
October 1st Raid to Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Up at 3:30 a.m., breakfast, and then briefed. We took off at 7:30. It was an all-out effort with all planes available to were flying today. Target was the Messerschmitt aircraft factory. We were flying #5 position in the lower element. The trip out was uneventful, the weather wasn't any too good. When we approached our I.P., flak began to come up. It was the most treacherous flak that I have ever seen. It was what is called "barrage flak."
We started to maneuver around a bit, but we got hit anyway. I could feel the jar of the plane. It looked bad for all of us - it seemed like this was IT. But we started our bombing run only to be hit by fighters. About 20 of them made a head-on attack on our ship. I ducked back a little - I don't know why I did it because it wouldn't have done any good anyway. Our ship began to quiver and shake - I knew that we'd been hit again. Enemy planes began to fill the sky - there must have been at least 75, all Me-109s. The nose guns on our ship jammed again, as usual, and we never could get them working again. This attack lasted a good hour, and in that time about 15 Liberators were damaged, along with a number of fighters.
Our ship and crew came out of it again safely, but the plane was pretty well shot up! We landed back at the base at six o'clock. We had two 20 mm shells in the nose, just in back of me, a big piece of flak went through the glass nose, straight past my head. The radio operator had his oxygen mask tube shot in half, the right waist gunner was hit on the head with a piece of flak and knocked out. The pilot had a big hole near his feet where a 20 mm went through. Our squadron was practically wiped out again, so far) we are the only ship to report back. We know of four that were shot down - Punchy Henderson, Beg Carpenter, Bronstein, and maybe Aldridge (no). Well, another day, and another dollar, but it sure was hard-earned. The Group lost 11 ships out of the 24 sent out. (Butler and Aldridge OK) (Several of the 44th planes landed at other fields or crash-landed and saved.
Oct. 2nd Going to move back to England tomorrow. Guess I had better start packing. Found out Schwab was okay in Italy. Very glad to learn that.
October 3rd Took off for Marrakech at 10 a.m., arrived there at 4:30 p.m. Not sure if we are going to continue on to England or stay over night here. Talked to Hill, guess we are going to stay here. Went back to barracks and met Schuler there. Was in bed at 9:30 p.m..
Oct. 4th Up at 6:30. Schuler and I ate breakfast and then went over to Ops to see what time we are taking off. To our surprise, found out that they took off at 3:00 a.m. this morning. We were told that we had a ride on Lt. Bunce's ship, went out there and found out that it was going to have two engines changed. So we wouldn't be going out for another week. Went back to barracks and laid around.
OCT. 5th Met Zalonka who had just come in from Oran. Went to town, at the Red Cross, and then went to hotel, drank some wine. to camp. Went over to operations and got myself a ride on a C-54, going up to Prestwick, Scotland. It took off at 9:30 p.m.
Oct. 6th Pretty cold riding on this airplane, but had no clothes with me except what I had on. Finally Steward gave us some parkas to wear.
Boy! It sure felt a lot better. Slept most of the way up, arrived at 7:00 a.m.. Showered, shaved, went into Glasgow with Capt. Harvell and had a few drinks. Then caught a train for Norwich at 7:00 p.m..
Oct. 7th Arrived back in camp at 12:00 noon, tired out from an all-night train ride. Crew was out on pass, so I went to the Finance Office, got paid. I then cleared up a little matter, sent some clothes to laundry and cleaners, had supper, met a few of the boys; then to bed.
Oct. 8th Ate breakfast, straightened out a few affairs, was deciding whether to go to London or not. Finally stayed in camp. Saw a movie in the evening, a crazy play "Pardon My Stripes."
Oct. 9th Slept late today. Ate dinner and laid around the club most of the day. In the evening Steve and I went into town to a dance. Back in bed at 12:00 Midnight.
Oct. 10th Up, ate breakfast, went to church, and received communion. Laid around all day. Saw a picture at the club, "Valley of the Sun." Then back to bed.
Oct. 11th Went to town in the afternoon and did some shopping. Met Zalonka at the Bell Hotel in the evening, got ourselves a date. Back in camp by midnight.
Oct. 12th Laid around most of the day. Had a date in evening. Went to a show, then back to camp.
Oct. 13th Last day of pass. Nothing doing all day. Took a girl to a show in Norwich. It was all vaudeville - then back to Shipdham.
Oct. 14th Stayed in camp all day.
Oct. 15th Up on a practice mission. Tried out our new gun turret. Stayed in camp after supper.
Oct. 18th Went on a mission - a diversion along the coast of Holland. There was an attack by fighters, no planes lost. We got credit for a mission.
Oct. 26th Practice mission. We were lead plane in the formation; made out rather good. Laid around afterwards; not much doing.
Nov. 3rd Raid to Wilhelmshaven, P-47 escort. Had trouble with #1 engine before reaching the target. Dropped our bombs, then fell behind formation because of engine trouble. We were attacked by an ME110 which shot four rockets at us. Luckily, they all missed. We called for help and P-47s came to help, shot the Me 110 down.
Nov. 5th Raid to Munster. No trouble going into target. Upon reaching target we dropped our bombs, flak began to come up. Very accurate and plenty of it. Had flak all about us until we reached the coast. Flak came into nose turret, but armor plate stopped it. Lucky for me. Was attacked by FW-190s, but our escort fighters (P-47s and P-38s) drove them off. Those boys are sure nice to have around!
Nov. 8th Laid around all day.
Nov. 13th Raid to Bremen. Hit by fighters before we reached our I.P. Had the fighters with us well after we dropped our bombs. Almost didn't drop my bombs on the target as I was too busy fighting off the fighters. We were almost hit by three rockets - those darn things sure are dangerous. After a bit escort fighters (P-38s) finally showed up, but by that time the enemy had us pretty well worked over. Flak was light and that was good. Landed back at Shipdham on two engines and almost out of gas. Temps at 25,000 feet was -45 degrees C. It sure was a cold ride.
Nov. 16th Raid into Norway. We were not scheduled to go because crew is grounded. Raid was partially scrubbed, anyway. Laid around, played cards and then home to bed.
Nov. 27th Raid to Bremen. Aborted because of gas leak in #2 engine. Raid was a success, with only one plane lost due to a mid-air collision. German defenses are not what they used to be, judging from these last few missions.
Dec. 9th Going to London on pass, leaving at 2:30 p.m..
Dec. 13th Back here at Shipdham after a strenuous three days in London. Saw a few shows and had a party in our hotel room. The Group was out on a raid Dec. 11th to Emden. Charles Shaw and his crew (O'Neill's) went down due to somebody dropping their bombs on his plane.
Dec. 14th Up on a practice mission. Dropped ten bombs with A.F.C.E. Group went on raid to Kiel yesterday with all planes returning safely.
Dec. 24th Day before Christmas. Nothing much doing around base. The boys went out on a raid inside the coast of France. All came back safely. Christmas eve Schwab, Kullmann and I drank beer at the club until the wee hours of the morning.
Dec. 25th Christmas Day! It sure doesn't seem like Christmas. The only thing that reminds me of it is the tree in our club. Laid around most of the day, then Kullmann got the bright idea we should go into town. So Schwab, Rispoli, Kullmann and I went in. A miserable time was had by us all. No shows, taverns or anything was open. So we just sat in the lobby of the Bell Hotel waiting for 1100 hour to come around so we could get the bus back to camp.
Dec. 30th Raid to Ludwigshaven. Take off at 9:00 a.m.. We hit target about Noon. Bombed by Pathfinders. Clouds were 10/10th thick. Leading group, but had to relinquish it because of supercharger trouble. (F - 865) Arrived back at base at 5:00 p.m.. Beautiful fighter cover allowed only a few attacks by enemy fighters. Flak was light. All in all, a pretty good mission. Our group lost one plane -(Flesketts)
Dec. 31st New Years Eve! Nothing much doing around camp. Bought two quarts of beer, brought them back to the barracks and between writing letters and drinking beer, had a pretty good time for myself.
Jan 1st New Years Day. A day off. We had a good turkey dinner, as much as we wanted to eat, went into the officer's club, drank some beer, and then played some cards with the boys.
Jan. 4th Up at 10:00 a.m., ate dinner at noon, went to navigational class at 3:00 p.m., then went over to get a half-hour on the Link Trainer. Played checkers with Schwab after supper.
Jan. 12th Off for London tomorrow. Figuring on catching the 7:30 a.m. bus out of here.
Jan. 17th Back from a rest and relaxation. Spent three days at the Rest Home, and it was very nice, indeed. Rode horses, played badminton, archery and best of all, ate good food. Went to London last three days. Stayed at the Park Lane Hotel. Had a pretty good time, but a stay in one of these English cities can't compare with any U.S. city. Back at camp now, to begin work again.
Jan. 19th It has been so long since our crew has been on a mission that I have almost forgotten what a mission is like. Since we became a lead crew, we fly one in every eight missions. In other words, about once a month. It is lucky for us they had a plane to test hop or we would never have gotten our flying time in this month.
Jan. 29th The Group went out on a mission to Frankfurt. I was designated as an alert bombardier, so I had to stay up all night and help get together all of the information for this mission. I am going to bed now with a busting headache. It's exactly 6 o'clock in the morning. 11:00 a.m. Getting up in time for dinner and then I think I'll get a haircut. 4:00 p.m.. The planes are returning from the mission. We lost two ships - one was Maynard, 66th, and Pinder, from the 67th Sq.
Feb. 2nd Went out on a raid to Pas de Calais. Short, easy mission. One ship crashed in southern England and it had to be Schwab's! Poor Schwab and his whole crew were killed. I sure do miss him. He was one of the best friends I ever had. (Bolin's crew is in "RuthLess").
Feb. 5th Raid to Tours. It is an airdrome deep in southern France. I was the lead bombardier on this raid. We hit the target, very little opposition was encountered. All ships returned safely.
Feb. 7th Raid to Watten, France. It is located just inside coast of France. It is one of Hitler's secret rocket gun emplacements. Flak was terrific but no fighters were encountered. However, there wasn't a ship that returned that didn't have holes in it. The Germans are sure moving a lot of flak guns in and around the coast. I guess those targets are pretty important to the enemy. This was my 24th mission - only one more to go!
Feb. 24th Haven't flown since the 7th and I am sweating out my Captaincy. The C.O. is going to recommend it to higher ups, after the first of next month. If I want my Captaincy I can't fly before then. That is because as soon as I finish my tour I must be off this base in 24 hours. And if I left this group without my promotion, I'll never get it. So, I figure it is worth waiting for. Found out today I cannot try for Pilot's training as the government figures us more valuable as instructors. Oh, well.....
Feb. 15th to
23rd Five day pass spent in Nottingham. Had a wonderful time. Plenty of women and liquor. Paid $13 a quart for Scotch that wasn't worth more than two bucks back in the States. I guess we have no value of money here. Arrived back in camp the night of the 22nd, all worn out and ready for about a week in the sack. Met a nice looking babe up there but the trouble with all of these English girls is they all want to get married to an American no matter what he looks like or what he is.
April 14th Just got back from a ten-day pass. Spent most of it down in London. Had a good time. I stopped over in Cambridge to visit with Al Godwick.
April 17th Transferred to Horsham St. Faiths. A very nice base, indeed.
April 24th Going on a three-day pass to London with Stupski.
April 28th Arrived back in camp. Met Sandy Fineman and Pete Markhan in London. Spent most of my time with them. Had a good time.
May 17th Haven't done much of anything since I arrived at this camp. Well acquainted with all the fellows - a nice bunch of boys, too.
May 20th Up at 8:00. Have a sore throat and bones ache. Must have a touch of the flu. Went down, did a little work, and then came back to the club to play a little chess and read some books.
May 28th Up at 11:30 a.m.. Ate dinner and played a game of chess with Recchia. Went down to the office and signed a few papers. At three o'clock I played tennis with Ray Eldridge, played for two hours. After supper, we had a show in the lounge, "I Married a Witch." Very good picture. Afterwards, pitched a few games of horse-shoes. Into bed at 1:00 a.m. The weather has been lovely these past few days.
June 10th Up at 1:30 in the morning. Fellows are going on an early mission. Back in bed at 4:30 a.m.. Have been awfully busy ever since the invasion started. A lot of missions have been scrubbed due to bad weather. I hope this weather clears up soon so we can give those boys on the ground some help. Jerry has been over twice now since the invasion. It is possible that one of these nights he may drop paratroopers or spray gas.
June 26th Went up on a test hop with Roy Kern. Roy was a pilot and I served as co-pilot. On take off a cylinder head blew, the engine caught fire and besides that, we had a runaway prop. Almost crashed into the ground but for Roy's skill in handling of the aircraft, landed safely. No one was injured, but plane was slightly damaged.
June 27th Nothing much doing; heard some rumors that we were going home this week, but didn't pay much attention to them. I have been hearing them for the last three months.
July 7th Left Horsham and going to 12th RCD to go home!!!
July 12th Left 12th RCD by train to Valley, Wales. Arrived there at 1900 hours. Ate supper and went to bed.
July 13th Up at 0400. Take off was at 0500 in a C-54 airplane. Flew to Iceland, landed there at 0800 hours their time (11:00 London time). Ate breakfast, refueled and took off at 0900, headed for America! The flight was long and monotonous. Landed at Presque Isle, Maine at 2200 hours EST. The total time from Valley, Wales to Presque Isle Main was 19½ hours. Checked in, went to a restaurant, had a nice juicy steak. It sure tasted good! Later, went to Officer's Club to drink some good American beer. Was in bed at 2300 hours, asleep in no time.
July 14th 0715, went to breakfast where I had two REAL fresh eggs and sausages. 1130 a.m. took off in a C-45 to fly to Newark, New Jersey, arriving there at 1500 hrs. Made arrangements to board a plane to Indianapolis, Ind., leaving next morning at 0530.
July 15th Awake at 0400. We are scheduled to take off at 0530 bound for Ind. I am on the plane writing this. We will be taking off shortly.
END OF DIARY THAT I RECEIVED. THE REST OF IT IS PERSONAL DATA.