DIARY OF WORLD WAR II 1940-1945
December 24, 1940
I was to report to
Gate City VA for going into the Army. I
had just finished high school that year. In Gate City I met with others going
into service and our Recruiters put us on a bus to Bristol, Va. In Bristol we went through a physical. Since
we had to wait for the train they let us go to a movie. When the train came it was to take us to
Norfolk, Va., when we were to spend the night at the Ponce De Leon Hotel. I was
sworn into the Army early the next morning.
December 25, 1940
1:30 A. M.
I started by train to
Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama. We arrived at 12:00 noon in time for
lunch. Imagine how surprised I was to
see Ezra Bishop from Natural Tunnel, VA., and Robert Soward from East Stone
Gap, Va., serving on the line. Ezra was
carving the turkey and Robert was in charge of the potatoes. I was later put in "Tent City One" with
Osborne from Washington State and Roberts from Wallen's Ridge, and Dick form
Gate City, Va. We didn't do much, I
think we were lost for a few days.
January 3, 1941
I moved to "Tent City
Four" and did KP duty, hiking, target practice, etc.
Tent Mates at Maxwell
Field: Al Sorbo, Arian Heller, Glenn Weebly, Rudolf Schnupa, Edward Bosak,
Clarence PA also 2960 Liddesdale Street Detroit, Mich – Albert Kuhne Jr 407
Hayrest Street, Johnston PA – O.H.C. Miller 619 6th Street
Arkadelphia AR – Ai S Bloom, Route 1 Curvensville,
Tent Mates in Italy
Parachute School: Kaylor, Hoagland, Novak, Pental, Pinioli (later known as Joe
August), Speers – 517 Parachute Infantry Regiment – APO 109.
February 2, 1941
I moved to "Old Mill"
on outskirts of Montgomery.
March 5, 1941
March 6, 1941
We arrived at
Jefferson Barracks, St Louis, Mo. Again
I was put in "Tent City One", tent 21 with Al Bloom, John Campbell, C D
Huggler, Stuart Schappick and John Halblem I pulled KP, cut wood, guard duty,
helped unload RR cars and other miscellaneous jobs. It was so cold here that I
slept in my long handles and clothes I wore.
I had a comforter, two blankets and an overcoat I spread on top of
that. Our stove didn't help much. It was a little conical stove with a four
inch pipe. We were burning slack coal
and the pipe stopped up very often. When we first got settled, one of the boys
from another tent told us how to clean the pipes. He said, "Open the door and throw some water on the coals." Not
knowing better, one boy picked up the bucket of water and threw it in the
stove. Our stove went about a foot in
the air and ashes went everywhere. Wood
burned very good, but we couldn't get much wood. There was a forest close by and we would go on detail to cut
wood. When we were on guard duty, our
main job was to watch the tents and if the smoke started out the door or roof
we had to go in wake the boys and get them out. On KP one shift, I went to work at 1:00 AM and worked eight
hours. On another time I helped the man
who made the pies, he wanted me to stay with him because I kept eh pots and
April 19, 1941
I left for Chicago,
Il., for airplane mechanics school at Aeronautical University , 1338 Michigan
Ave, Chicago, IL. We stayed at the YMCA.
April 21, 1941
University was about two blocks from our hotel. Each day, after classes were over, we went to O'Hara Airport for
practice on planes. To start with the
pales were old, they had what was called inertia starters you cranked a starter
till it got up to good speed then you told the boy in the cockpit to pull the
June 25, 1941
We were paid $25.00 a
month and after six months we were to be paid $30.00 a month. I had now been in the Army 6 months without
being paid is a long time.
July 4, 1941
On July 2, I left
Chicago at 11:00 AM, going home but didn't arrive until July 4. The reason it took so long, the station
master routed me the long way instead of the short way. He sent me though West Virginia when I could
have come to Nashville Ten., then home.
I arrived home about 10:30 PM. I tried to arouse someone but everyone
was sleeping. I knew where a window was
where I could open the door. I opened
the door and went to my brother's bedroom and roused him. The next morning I surprised Mother and Dad
who were getting breakfast. I took a chance of getting shot but I didn't want
to wake everyone. I left Saturday July
5 going back to Chicago.
October 8, 1941 Wednesday
Mechanics school. Three of the
graduating class were going to the same base. One of the boys had a car. We left Chicago at 4:00 PM for Baton Rouge,
La. We planned our trip so each could
have a lay over. We went through
Pittsburg and left one there, he was to catch a boy in Baltimore who had a car. Meantime the one who had the care drove me
to Washington to catch a train to Bristol and a bus home. Everything worked fine except the boys were
to pick me up at the bus station in Kingsport.
Because there were 2 bus stations in Kingsport, I went to one station to
wait and my sisters to the other one.
It so happened they went tot where my sisters were waiting. The boys were getting worried and afraid we
were crossed up.
Aeronautical University – October 8, 1941
Marblelsville, PA - Jack Adams, 9103-114th St. Richmond Hill, Long
Island, NY - Dean M Allen, Norway Iowa - Harold Baldwin, 150 Brookside Ave.
Roosevelt, Long Island NY - John Patrick Campbell, 2719 South Seventh St.
Philadelphia, PA - Joseph P Clark, 26 Chelsea Ave, East Orange, NJ -Charles
Decker, Baltimore, MD - Gerald C Emery, 221 Laurel Ave, New Castle, PA - Peter
P Gach, PA -Paul E Gore, 25 ½ Crafton St Wellsbora, PA - Ralph V Griffin, Box
415 Lumbsport, West Virginia - Roy L Kaylor,
Clinchport, VA – Sol Metlin, Niagara St. Pittsburg, PA – Charles Montleon, NY –
Henry Price, TX –
Baltimore, MD – Leo Weil – Wells Wanger White Sweet Valley, PA – John V
Williams, Winfield, Iowa – M A Wilson Jr, Sewen Pines Farm Skillman, NJ – Don
Young 71 Oak St Hudson Falls, NY.
Additions: Joseph A Beruba, 217 Wallen St. Fall River, Mass (Ignition
Class) – Charles Castmore, 511 Central Ave, Newark, NJ (Structures) – William L
Fisk 39 Federal St. Greenfield, Mass (Ignition Class) – M Monroe Spodek, 3749
Neptune Ave, Sea-Brooklyn, NY (Structures).
Original Drop Outs: B Bitterman (Hospital in Propa, Ohio) Madden, PA (Instament
Class) – Richard Ross, PA, Kicked out in hud (failed).
October 11, 1941
Arrived in Baton
Rouge. Stayed at motel. On the 12th went to Baton Rouge Air Base and
began regular duties, carried lumber first four days, then spent a week of KP.
Next went on to Security Guard. When I went on security guard they strapped a
.45 around my waist (no bullets) and said take these boys to the dump (about
10) to work. I marched them in order till I got out of sight then I let them
relax. I had to take them to lunch at 12:00 and watch them while eating, then
back to the dump. At 4:30I got them in line and we marched back to
headquarters. Went a few nights to night school, but soon gave it up.
December 7, 1941
Laying on my back
listening to my radio and planning on going on furlough next day. Suddenly a
flash cam over the radio: Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. My radio became very
popular after that. That shot my vacation, it was cancelled very quick. We were
ordered to pack up and be ready to more at a moments notice.
December 9, 1941
Packed to leave Baton
Rouge, LA. Destination unknown at this
December 16, 1941
Left Baton Rouge
going to Tuscan, Arizona, through Shreveport, Fort Worth, Dallas, etc…
December 18, 1941
Arrived at Tuscan
(Davis Monthen Field) while at the base at Tuscan I was put on the graveyard
shift. We were making bullet boxes to put on B-24's so we had to put those
boxes on them. One morning I ate breakfast at 8:00, then went to get a shot and
to give a blood sample. When they were taking the blood, I began to get
sick. I didn't have far to go to by
bunk and afterwards I went to work and my arm started swelling from the
shot. The next morning I went to
medical and they sent me to Base Hospital. They put me to bed and my arm
swelled about 4 times regular size. They didn't give me any medicine and after
3 days I was well enough to get out of hospital.
January 10, 1942
Left Tuscan for Port
of Embarkation (NY) but only got to El Paso and turned back arriving at Tuscan
January 28, 1942
Went on DS into New
Mexico, near Rodeo and at Lordsburg (Parks, Dodge, Pinolie, and a Sergeant)
(Pinolie, now known as John August. Sgt. Pinolie, whose real name was John
August, was too young to enlist so he took his stepfathers name of Pinolie to
enlist. Later we found out his real name when we were trying to find Pinolie
for a reunion). Two training planes had
forced landed near Lordsburg and we were to repair them. We stayed at a CCC
camp and worked from there. Every morning at 6:00 they woke the CCC boys and
that disturbed us. However, we had to get up and eat when they did. That was
another cold place, day and night. Some of the boys went to Tombstone but they
slipped out on me and the others. Landsburg had a restaurant, railroad station
and a few other buildings.
February 1, 1942
Or Squadron was
divided into three groups. One group went to the Pacific and one to Britain.
Left Tuscan about 11:30 AM. The group I was in went to Alexandria, LA.
February 3, 1942
Alexandria, LA (Esler Field)
February 4, 1942
Began working with
109 Observation Squadron from Michigan. They didn't bring all of their men at
once so we were loaned to them. They
had two A-20's and a small plane or two.
To get a crew, two men from our group were placed on each A-20. The lightest
job was to see the wheel locks ere placed when the plane came in from the
practice run and also removed when they were taking off. The two boys on my
crew asked chief why me and my partners didn't get a raise. He said he would
see about that.
February 15, 1942
The 109 Observation
plane was so light that the pilots would put it in the air, the wind would hold
it up and the engine would keep it from going backwards. I decided I wanted to
ride it so I got a parachute on and climbed into the back seat. We flew out
over the country side looking for sunbathers. Parking came in handy for that.
The best part was flying over the Red River. The river banks were real high. We
were flying lower than the banks, just above the water. Made PFC.
March 13, 1942
Left Alexandria for
Mobile, Alabama for two weeks practice with 109 Squadron (Brookly Field) with
Bosak, Dewey, Parks and myself. One A-20 plane would pull target and the other
plane would shoot at it. We were supposed to help service the planes and I decided
I wanted to take a ride with them. They wouldn't let me in the cabin, afraid a
cable might get tangled or back lash. So they strapped a parachute on my back
and let me climb up in the Bombay seat. That was the front of the plane over
the nose wheel. We went out over the ocean while the other planes made runs at
the target. After practice we went back to the base and this is where I began
to wonder, "Will that nose wheel hold up or crush me to mince meat?" We landed
safely and my buddies congratulated me. They were such cowards they wouldn't
take a ride. Had two weeks of pleasure, away from the base, and the 109th
were good bosses.
March 29, 1942
Returned from Mobile
to Alexandria where I learned I had made Corporal on March 15th.
April 2, 1942
This day I made 2nd
grade Airplane Mechanic which meant more money.
April 18, 1942
I was attached to a
B-25 Squadron. Didn't have much to do. One day a pal and I went to explore
patch of woods nearby. We found a perfect grapevine swing. You would swing out
over a stream from one bank of the stream to the other side. Everything went
well until Sam, who was heavier, took his turn. Our swing broke and Sam hit the
water. All you could see was his cap floating down the stream. He did get out.
One day a B-25 crashed back in the swamp. All my friends had to go that day to
retrieve the bodies. They found four that day and when they went back the next
day I had to go too. We had a native and his boat to take us to the plane. He
knew his way through the swamps. The first day they had stretched ropes from
one tree to another. They attached a rope pulley to that rope down to the
plane. We all had to get out in the water, which was waist deep, and pull on
the rope to lift the plane. There were two bodies we were looking for and we
finally managed to find them. We tied them to the boat and headed back to dry
land. When we reached dry land the Squadron had sent us sandwiches and drinks.
Medical personnel took the bodies. Another day I decided I wanted to ride in
one of the B-25's. I strapped a parachute on and crawled up in the cabin part.
I got my money's worth this time. I said never again in a B-25. It was a rough
ride. I could see out the window, the tips of the wings fluttering like a bird.
My buddies had a good laugh when I told them never again. Left for home on a 10
day furlough. Arrived back at Esler field on April 29.
July 2, 1942
We left Alexandria,
LA by train. There wasn't much to do on the train, so most of the time we
played Blackjack. I was real lucky. One time I won and got the cards. I was no
good at shuffling cards so I gave them to my buddy to shuffle and we would
split the pot. I don't remember how much we won but it was quite a lot of
dimes. Jul 4th we arrived at For Dix, NJ.
July 15, 1942
We stayed at Fort
Dix, NJ, until July 15th, then we left Fort Dix for New York. At New
York we went aboard ship for sailing. On board ship was terrible I had the luck
of getting in the front hold that was the hottest part of the ship. We had to
hang hammocks over the tables and that made it hotter. The boys slept any place
they could lay down. We had one group who slept in the potato hold. They never
did get below deck. Sometimes I slept on a table. There was a gutter around the
edge of the ship. It was an ideal place to put a blanket to sleep. Well I tried
it one night, I woke up about one o'clock and things were terrible. The wind
was blowing, the boat was rolling and I decided I better start crawling. I got
out of that gutter in a hurry. "Louis Pasteur " was the boat.
July 24, 1942
Boat stopped at
Freeport, Africa. No one went ashore. At
Freeport, Sierra Leon young boys came out to the ship and they would dive for
money. Sometimes they would go pretty deep. The British did the cooking and we
didn't care much for their food. We complained so much that our Captain managed
to get our cook to do our cooking. As usual I got some kind of duty, so I got
Guard Duty. I had to cover the whole ship from deck to deck. After Freeport we
sailed around to Durban, South Africa. I thought the waves were pretty bad, and
at times it looked like the shop was lower than the waves. No one ventured out
on deck and we stayed close to the walls of the ship.
August 4 & 5,
At Durban we were
allowed to leave the ship from 10 AM til about 5 PM. The first thing everyone
did was go to the bank to exchange our US money to South African currency. We
then hit a nice restaurant. Everyone ordered a big steak with eggs and chips.
Chips were similar to our French fries. After eating, we started exploring the
town, which had street cars we could hop on and off as we pleased. No charge.
The best part of our travel here was by rickshaw. There were seven of us and we
didn't want to split apart so the driver, a big bushy fellow, placed us all on
the vehicle and away we went. I wondered about him pulling us but he had no
trouble. He would get up to pretty good speed then raise his feet and we would
drift along for ever so far by his getting a good balance. There was a small
park we visited. At the edge of the park there were monkeys having a big time
and an elephant tied close by. We saw a lady crocheting in the park, so we went
up and talked to here. She told us about the town and temperature. Although it
was mid-winter it was like Florida. She said sometimes lions and tigers came to
the edge of the park.
August 6, 1942
Left Durban and
sailed for Suez.
August 16, 1942
Arrived at Suez.
Tents were already set up for us. We didn't have much to do so we mostly played
cards. We were warned that the natives would steal our barracks bags if we
didn't watch them. Sure enough they stole some of our bags that some of the
boys were practically sleeping on. I found a good flat rock and rolled by
blanket over it and made a good pillow. Since it was very hot in the day time
and cooled at night, we slept in our clothes. One boy who had been on guard
duty ate so many candy bars that he landed in the hospital. We had a chocolate
bar with our rations.
August 21, 1942
We left Suez by
train. As we passed the outskirts of Damascus, going up the side of the
mountain, we had a real good view of Damascus.
August 23, 1942
We arrived in Syria,
at Rayak we were put in a French Barracks building which had no cots so we
slept on the floor. Somewhere along the line I acquired a small mattress which
helped a lot. Our equipment hadn't arrived so we had little to do. All Non-Coms
were ordered to practice drilling. When it came my time I let the men off easy.
I didn't have much voice for drilling and sometimes I would pantomime. I could
do very well on forward march and rear march. We bout our bread locally and it
was seasoned with mealy bugs. I picked them out of my bread but some boys
Between August 23rd
and September 12th I had a 24 hour furlough. There was a village
nearby that we could visit. My fried and I decided to go to Beauret. We started
down and looked at the American University and by now I was getting a little
late and almost dark. We passed an ice cream bar so we got some ice cream and
walked back to the corner to wait for a ride. There was no such thing as
traffic so we began to worry. A native saw us and said maybe he could help us.
A big truck came by and the native talked to the driver and the man said we
could go with him so we crawled into the cab and he took us to the village. We
were just in time to catch the truck back to the base.
September 12, 1942
At Baalbeck there
wasn't much left, several big columns, one room in rough condition was pointed
out to us. Our friend, we inquired, said it was the Virgin Room and lots of
honeymooners were interested in it. Baalback didn't look to be very big, about
two or three city blocks.
September 27, 1942
Left Rayak early in
the morning and arrived at Lydia Air Base near Tel-A-Vive, Palestine in the
afternoon of the same day. At Lydia Air Base we found two B-17's and they
didn't have personnel to service them. There were four of us and they assigned
two of us to each plane. We would have to change engines about every day, since
they would make about a four hour run and the engine would wear out. Here
again, I decided I wanted another ride. I talked to the pilots, and since they
were making a test run, they gave me a parachute and told me to climb in. This
time I rode in the cabin, and after riding awhile, I decided I wanted to know
about the tail gunner's position. I climbed into the tail gunner's position and
was tail gunner for awhile. Even though I couldn't get my buddies to go up, we
still were recommended for our work here and that made us feel good.
November 6, 1942
Visited Jerusalem and
Bethlehem we had a guide and he took us to the interesting places. While in
Jerusalem we went to the Church of the Nativity, saw the Star of Bethlehem, the
manager scene, the Wailing Wall, and where the Last Supper was, and many other
November 8, 1942
Left Lydia for Abu
Sueur, Egypt near Ismalia, Egypt. At Abu Sueur, Egypt we had another good job.
All engines shipped would get an ocean skim on the cylinders, so we had to take
each cylinder off and buff them. They soon started putting chemical plugs where
each spark plug was. These plugs took care of the moisture so what happened we
lost that job. Some British were near by and every morning at 10:00 AM and
again at 3:00 PM, they brought crumpets and tea for sale. I like their crumpets
but didn't care much for tea.
December 2, 1942
Left Abu Sueur for
air base known as Landing Ground # 174, Amaria Desert, located Alexandria. We
had P-40's to work on. Our Army was using P-40's to push the German Army back.
While here we had a lot of trouble with dust storms. You could go to bed at
night and wake up the next morning with your eyes covered with dust. It got so
bad that sometimes we would go into Alexandria to stay, and since Alexandria
was on the ocean there wasn't much dust. After one of these dust storms we had
to clean all the planes. Each plane was designated a crew of three. My crew and
I got our plane ready for test. The test pilot took it up but returned it
immediately because the engine was vibrating. We had missed by one degree
getting the props even. But within a few minutes we had it corrected and this
time the pilot ok'ed it combat.
At night the darkness
would confuse us. If I was away from my tent, the only way I could find it was
to go to the mess hall and go straight to my tent. The Mess Hall was easy to
find since it had a generator and lights.
While we were here
some Nomads had camped nearby. They would put out a wheat crop right in the
desert and when it was ready to harvest, we looked out one morning and they had
What little water we
had was hauled in by truck. We didn't use water to clean the planes; we used
gas which worked good in a spray gun.
February 8, 1943
Left landing ground #
174 for Biennia, Libya.
February 12, 1943
Arrived at Biennia. At
Biennia Airstrip we now had B-24's to work on. We were about 12 miles from
Benghazi where there were three landing strips all nearby. This was another hot
place, and in all the time we were there we saw about one minute of rain. To
cool our beer we them on sand bags we had around the tent. The wind blowing
through the tent onto the can would cool it (a little). A big pest we had were
locusts (or grasshoppers). They would get in our food, our mouth if you didn't
keep it closed, but worst in our beds. We had mosquito nets for our beds but
the grasshoppers got through some way. You don't ever want a grasshopper
crawling over your naked body. Our tent had 3 poles holding it up and at the
top of those poles you could get a bucket full of grasshoppers.
February 13, 1943
The Germans had left
a 3000 lb. bomb and we didn't think much about it. Some boys pitched their tent
nearby between a fence and the bomb. Italian paratroopers slipped in and set
the bomb off. It so happened the boys woke up and ran. Their tent and clothes
were blown through the fence, the size of the fence squares. We had some planes
we were working on and the paratroopers put plastic bombs in them. The bombs
were pulled out of two of the planes but one was burned up.
The B-24's made runs
over Italy and Germany and when they came back they would have to be repaired.
Some would need the engine changed, the wings, fuel tanks and bullet holes
February 17, 1943
Made another raid on
Benghazi (8:30 PM).
May 21, 1943
Went to Marble Arch
on DP to work on P-40's. Two P-40's made a forced landing on the beach, we had
to tear them apart and transfer them back to Biennia which took a little more
time than we planned. We took two of our tents and a cook. Once we were running
out of food and we borrowed some from the British who were nearby. They gave us
some dry peas and potatoes, which we soaked about two days and they still
weren't fit to eat. One of the boys went back to Biennia and got some food.
They sent word for me to come back to Biennia but I told them we were about
through and I would stay awhile longer to help. It was very hot here and the
ocean was back of our tents, that help[ed take care of our recreation time.
The Marble Arch was
an arch that spanned the roadway. It was about 100 feet high, 50 feet wide and
50 feet long where the cars would go through. Near the top there was space for
two bronze men about 6 feet long laying down. The story was that these two
countries would send a man and when they met that would be the dividing line of
their countries. There was nothing at Marble Arch itself. One boy decided he
wanted a big toe, from one of the bronze men, so he sawed a very long time and
he finally got one about the size of a big fist.
July 23, 1943
Went from Castle
Benito to Bovina Airport near Tunis and spent the night. I was supposed to do
some work on B-24's but it was already completed.
July 24, 1943
I started back to
Benito and went by Castle Seniti (stayed for fuel) then went back to Cabrite
and spent the night with the 316th Transport Group.
July 25, 1943
Arrived back in
Benito. (all this trip by plane)
August 12, 1943
Left Benito on
furlough, going to Cairo by transport. From Cairo went by train to Alexandria.
August 13, 1943
August 22, 1943
Left Alexandria going
back to Cairo.
August 23, 1943
Reported back to
transport office and asked about a plane ride back to camp.
August 26, 1943
Received a ride and
arrived back in camp, three days overdue.
September 21, 1943
Left Benito on convoy
trip and went to Adgedabia, volunteered to drive a truck (three quarter ton
British Chevrolet). All of the boys in the outfit had a truck and one left
over. I was left over too, I told them I couldn't drive, but they said I had to
drive part of the way and another boy would help. I went about twenty five
miles before I got the truck in high gear. To beat that the steering wheel was
on the right side and you changed gear with the left hand. I brought up the
rear but made it until I got help.
September 22, 1943
Went from Adgedabia
to point beyond Marble Arch.
September 23, 1943
Spent night at
outskirts of Beirut.
September 25, 1943
We visited ruins of
Old City of Homs. The Old City of Homs was well worth seeing. Parts of the city
were still standing. The bathing vats were still there, placed even with the
floor. Around the top of the columns and wall were small figurines about five
inches big. Can you imagine the work that must have taken? Their water probably
disappeared; there was a small wet place but no running water. Early morning
arrived and camped near Tripoli.
September 26, 1943
Still camped near
Tripoli and loaded trucks for rest of journey.
September 27, 1943
September 28, 1943
Left Tripoli and
camped near Midinnene.
September 29, 1943
Camped near Fousse.
September 30, 1943
Arrived at airfield
(Hagler) near Enfidalle. Trip registered 1069.9 miles on truck I was driving,
which was much less than most registered.
October 3, 1943
Left Enfidavilla for
base near Tunis. Arrived about noon. Base was about fifteen miles from Tunis
and an old historic aqueduct was near by.
October 4, 1943
On a visit to Tunis
we passed through the old aqueduct several times.
October 27, 1943
Took a ride over the
town and later returned to the squadron.
November 22, 1943
Went to 415th
Bomb Squadron while working on B-24.
November 25, 1943
Went to Headquarters
Squadron (B-23). Spent the night in USPO. Didn't seep much.
November 26, 1943
Left Enfidaville and
went to Bizarta Staging Area. (Rainy day). Made bed on two tool boxes, barracks
bag and part of truck bed that covers the wheels (3/4 ton).
November 27 to
December 11, 1943
Stayed at staging
area, visited Bizarta several times.
December 11, 1943
Boarded boat (Daniel
H. Lownsdale) for Italy.
December 12, 1943
Loafed on ship. We
played lots of card on this trip. The boys tried to teach me how to play. We
were going to play Hearts. They said whatever don't get the hearts or get them
all. Well they started dealing and I began to get the hearts, ended up with
them and by getting them all I won the game.
December 13, 1943
Left Bizarta Harbor
with a large convoy.
December 15, 1943
Dropped anchor and
spent the day in Augusta Bay.
December 16, 1943
Messina Straits and also passed an active volcano (Etna).
December 17, 1943
Gong through the
Messina Straits there wasn't much room between Italy and Sicily. From the
Sicily side we could see a stream of lava flowing part way down the mountain.
We passed the Isle of Capri and pulled in Naples Harbor. Mt. Vesuvius is
December 18, 1943
We went ashore and to
parking area at Naples University.
December 20, 1943
where trucks are parked and we also viewed Pompeii. Pompeii was at the foot of
the volcano mountain (Vesuvius). At one time the eruption covered Pompeii. Some
of the streets and buildings were uncovered. Bodies were left lying where they
perished. Some of the buildings had large wine vats still in good shape. The
volcano erupted so sudden the citizens had no chance of survival.
While in the staging
area of the parking area we had a visitor. A girl visited us and invited us to
a party. She gave us an address which we couldn't find. We would stop and ask
where it was and nobody could tell us. Usually more than one would get into an
argument and we would just leave them arguing. We gave the girl some C rations
which we guessed was all she wanted.
December 23, 1943
December 24, 1944
Left Naples staging
area and went as far as Avellino. Camped on the side of the road and slept in
December 25, 1943
Arrived at point
beyond Foggia. Christmas dinner was a can of C rations (meat and beans cold).
Turkey, four nuts and apples were served for supper.
December 26, 1943
Got lost from convoy,
went to Bari, near South and camped near Monopoly.
December 27, 1943
Arrived at camp
(Manduria). Camp was approximately half way between Manduria and Aria. Air base
is called New Port. Visited towns of Leece and Toronta from here.
April 4, 1944
Several boys received
Good Conduct and Purple Heart ribbons. Also on the "second" two movie starts
were at the decorations and they ate dinner with us.
April 4, 1944
I received a Good
May 28, 29, & 30,
Enemy planes were
over us. Troublesome alert but no bombs dropped.
June 4, 1944
Rome fell after 21:00
June 6, 1944
Invasion of Europe
started at 2:00 AM.
June 15, 1944
B-29's bombed Japan.
June 17, 1944
Opening night of the
Enlisted Men's Club.
June 26, 1944
B-24H, 720th Squadron AC 42-523443.
- Remove batteries.
- Treat engine for temporary
- Replace nose turret.
- Replace #1 engine power plant crew
- Replace left wing panel (wing
- Replace passing light.
- Replace #2 engine nose ring cowl.
- Replace lower channel pilot's
- Replace damaged skin upper left
side 1.0 to 3.0.
- Repair stringers and belt frames
left side station 1.0 to 3.0.
- Replace electrical wiring left
side station 2.1.
- Repair four oxygen lines left side
- Replace nose wheel actuating
- Repair pilot's floor sill left
- Replace rudder cables station 3.0.
- Replace left elevator cable.
- Replace astrodome.
- Repair skin and stringers top left
side station 0.2.
- Replace left pilot tube and
- Replace and repair left Aileron.
This assignment was
completed July 21st.
July 4, 1944
Worked all day, no
celebration, down in the dumps too.
July 11, 1944
Pulled Charge of
July 14, 1944
Pulled Guard Duty.
July 15, 1944
I had the afternoon
off. I had a tooth pulled in the morning, went swimming and had a party at the
beach. Had ice cream and barbeque goat. Ate ice cream and left party. It was a
July 16, 1944
Went to Leece with
the gang of the old 331st men.
July 19, 1944
Went to Bari to see "This
is the Army". Irvin Berlin was in the show.
July 24, 1944
Pulled guard duty
again. Picked up "Dina Might," nose wheel collapsed, a salvage job.
July 25, 1944
Worked with pulling
bar for B-24's, so far it tested to be a flop. Went swimming after supper.
July 26, 1944
Heinicke received the
Legion of Merit, stood formation.
July 27, 1944
Day off. Went to
Leece and Brendesia.
July 28, 1944
Took a walk in the
morning and went swimming in the afternoon.
July 29, 1944
Helped pull three auxiliary
wing tanks off the ship "Horrible".
July 30, 1944
Helped move "Dinah
Might" to salvage yard, went swimming. On alert night of 30th and 31st.
Had day off and got paid.
August 1, 1944
Put in one auxiliary
tank #3. Went to Manduria to a concert: Navy Orchestra.
August 2, 1944
Put in #2 auxiliary
August 3, 1944
Went to Leece.
August 4, 1944
Guard again. Worked
on #1 tank which was leaking.
August 5, 1944
Put in carburetor air
thermometer bulbs, finished "Horrible".
August 10, 1944
Went to Leece.
August 11, 1944
Pulled two wing
August 12, 1944
Pulled #3 tank and
replaced #2. I pulled a lot of wing tanks. You went up into the wheel well and
removed a pane about 18 inches square. After getting connections loose you are
ready to pull #1 tank. After pulling #1 tank you have to reach through and pull
#2. Next you have to pull #3. They all come through at #1 hole. After new tanks
or old ones are repaired you go through the same motions to get them back in
the wing. It's a lot of tugging, pulling, pushing and testing. Pulled #3 tank
August 13, 1944
Completed #3 tank and
August 14, 1944
Completed #2 and put
in #1 and replaced cowling.
August 15, 1944
Guard Duty and
completed changing of auxiliary tanks.
August 23, 1944
Airplane B-24H, 720th
Squadron 450th B Group A.C.N 42-95344
1. Replace right wing.
2. Repair ball frame 7.4.
3. Repair bulkhead #8.
4. Repair hole bulkhead #6.
5. Repair scattered holes between bell frame 7.4 to 8.0.
6. Repair hole fuselage station 5.27.
7. Repair hole in left near bomb bay door.
August 23, 1944
Pulled #1 fuel cell.
August 24, 1944
Day off. #2 cell was
August 25, 1944
Pulled #3 cell and
removed part of the wing nuts.
August 26, 1944
Pulled Guard duty and
pulled right wing.
August 27, 1944
Have to wait for
August 28, 1944
Received wing about
August 29, 1944
trailing edge and repaired cables.
August 30, 1944
Replaced aileron and
#3 fuel cells. Had boxing exhibition. Joe Louis was there but he didn't box.
August 31, 1944
Finished airplane, I
hope. Also received official news about going to paratroops.
September 1, 1944
Missed formation and
had to walk 30 minutes in front of orderly room with gas mask on. Had to carry
mask not on face.
September 3, 1944
Left Manduria for 24th
Replacement Depot, by way of Toronto, Bari and Naples. Arrived late at night
12:00, went to bed on the ground (very muddy).
September 4, 1944
Stayed in Replacement
Depot 396th all day. While at 396th we noticed a lot of boys
carrying a lot of food to their tent. An officer noticed this and decided to
investigate. He went into their tent and found a young girl hiding under a
bunk. She was dressed in fatigues and looked just like a GI. The boys had
smuggled her in on a truck and they had had her for several days. In afternoon
went to boxing match, approximately 20,000 there. What a rough crowd.
September 5, 1944
Drew a gun in the
morning and clothes in the afternoon. Also went o A COLORED STAGE SHOW AND A
MOVIE, "Casanova Brown" (Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright).
September 6, 1944
Went to drill field,
had approximately 20 minutes of calisthenics and the same of drilling. IN the
afternoon went to draw a cap. Saw the movie "Step Lively" with Frank Sinatra.
September 7, 1944
Went to drill field I
the morning and for a hike in the afternoon saw the movie "The Undecided Ate"
with Jean Arthur.
September 8, 1944
Went to drill field,
drilled, calisthenics and a hike. Went to a lecture in the afternoon and drew
PAX rations, went through a problem 6 under fire, very realistic.
September 9, 1944
Depot and went to Parachute Training Center near Rome. (Rockville)
September 10, 1944
Made gravel walks and
dug ditches. Saw movie "Gaslight" with Charles Boyer and ?.
September 12, 1944
parachute training, push-ups, arm exercise, running, Judo training, M-1 and
talk on the history or paratroopers.
September 13, 1944
preliminary training again and more Judo. Had lecture on the Thompson
sub-machine gun and the B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle).
September 14, 1944
One hour physical
training and two hour march. In the afternoon one hour drill and talk on
paratroopers, hand grenades and bazooka.
September 15, 1944
One hour physical
training, venereal disease talk and dug a slit trench (practice trench).
September 16, 1944
training and a hike from cam[ t suburbs of Rome (approximately 15 miles). Also
walked to an Italian farm for grapes (approximately 3 miles). The end of the
first week at paratroop school we only had pre-training but so far have had
lots of fun.
September 17, 1944
On detail all day,
hauling gravel, etc…
September 18, 1944
training for paratroopers and worked at taking care of parachute.
September 19, 1944
training and tumbling steps 1 and 2 in packing a chute and the long roll.
September 20, 1944
physical training, 30 minutes double time, judo, knife and billy club and
tumbling. From the long roll of the chute we went to folding of the suspension
September 21, 1944
Usual training except
no run on account of rain.
September 22, 1944
Usual training with
fifty minutes calisthenics and 58 minute run, usual tumbles and continuance of
September 23, 1944
The usual physical
training with 70 minute run and tumbles and jumps (practice). Laced the
parachute and had 75 extra push-ups. I had started to make a mistake on packing
my chute, and before I got it corrected, the instructor caught me, he gave me
75 push-ups. I pushed up by spurts, I couldn't do them all at once.
September 24, 1944
Wrote letters and did
bunk fatigue all day.
September 25, 1944
Packed, laced and
learned thread adjustment of parachute. Had a 30 minute run, jumped from the
mock tower, and trolley tumbles, and learned how to side slip. The mock tower
was a simulator of a plane cabin door. We had to stand in the door and jump. We
were attached to a cable and harness and it let us slide to the ground. We were
up about a hundred feet. The cabin part was made at the top of four long poles.
I had 75 extra push-ups but only did 55 (cheated).
September 26, 1944
Packed reserve chute,
did calisthenics, trolley tumble, mock harness, jumped from door of mock tower.
Had 25 extra push-ups but only did 20. Saw an English tank regiment stage show
September 27, 1944
Packed main chute and
had 30 minute run. Did tumbles rear and front from trolley. Practiced jumping
from airplane, made three jumps from mock tower, learned how to land in a tree,
high tension wires and in water. So many push-ups lost count.
September 28, 1944
Packed another chute,
same physical training, no run, two tower jumps. Night of 27th saw movie "Up in
Arms" with Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore.
September 29, 1944
Went for one hour
hike and leaned how to spill the chute and get on your feet from your back.
September 30, 1944
Packed a chute #3 and
had night training, only one jump from mock tower.
October 1, 1944
Day off, wrote
letters and sat around all day.
October 2, 1944
No physical exertion
but went for a couple mile hike, played ball, went out with our rifles.
(Supposed to drill).
October 3, 1944
physical and 30 minute run. The physical was very strenuous; we would do arm,
back and knee bends, also push-ups. (Supposed to play ball).
October 4, 1944
One 40 minute run and
platoon played ball. Our runs were usually to the edge of Rome and back to
camp. I think it was 7 miles one way. One of the boys started kicking a can and
the instructor made him kick it all the way to Rome. We called the boy kicking
the can "Green Hornet", he was crazy about the comic book "The Green Hornet".
October 5, 1944
Rained all day.
October 6, 1944
Three hour hike and a
afternoon pass. Visited Rome.
October 7, 1944
Tore down and folded
October 8, 1944
Went to two different
airports for making jump. No transports available. Went through Rome, Gloria
and MA airports…
October 9, 1944
Went to Champeno air
base and took off for two jumps, came in to the rear on the first jump. Hit
hard but no injuries, 2nd made a perfect right turn but landed
wrong, injured right foot (ankle) I sprained my ankle on the second jump. Next
morning I went on sick call, the doctor was taking a shower. The group was
waiting for the third jump and I thought a bad ankle ain't bad, it's ankle or
get behind, so I went ahead and made the jump. Also packed a chute.
October 11, 1944
Went to airport for
another jump, no transport, packed a chute.
October 12, 1944
physical exercise and the rest of the day off.
October 13, 1944
One parachute jump in
the afternoon, came in at 1000 feet, landed on left hip, light bruise, 1st,
2nd and 3rd had very rough weather. No jumps.
October 14, 1944
Parachute jump in the
morning, very light landing, calm weather, came in at 600 feet, landed on feet
and left side. Made a night jump, landed on tail of GI truck, bruised right leg
below and above knee. Jumped at 800 feet, air current in the air but calm on
October 15, 1944
Received diploma and
October 16, 1944
Moved to battalion
headquarters and put in Company B for basic Infantry training.
October 17, 1944
Lay around and did
general things, clothes check made bed, etc…
October 18, 1944
Dismantled M-1 rifle
and had lecture on some. Had lectures and pea-shooting positions, sightings and
October 19, 1944
Went on sick call and
had charge of Quarters in afternoon.
October 20-21, 1944
About the same as 18.
October 22, 1944
CQ Sgt made a mistake
in the roster so I had a charge of quarters also. While I was on CQ, one boy
continually wanted a pass to got into tow, I told him I'd give him a pass, he
was supposed to be sick.
October 24, 1944
CQ…again. Couldn't do
shooting positions on account of sore leg so back on CQ.
October 25-28, 1944
Charge of Quarters.
October 29, 1944
Went to Rome, visited
Red Cross and saw a movie "The Adventures of Twain".
October 30, 1944
Had the 30 cal.
machine gun. Went on guard. (Sgt) up at the parachute guarding box cars. Slept
most of the night (tired).
October 31, 1944
sightings, etc…of 30 cal. Machine gun.
November 1, 1944
Fired the machine gun
and had nomenclature function, sighting, etc… of carbine.
November 2, 1944
CQ fired the B.A.R.
November 3, 1944
Had bayonet practice
and fired the Tommy Gun.
November 4, 1944
mortar and fired the carbine.
November 5, 1944
Wrote letters and had
November 6, 1944
Went to the range and
fired the 60 millimeter mortar.
November 7, 1944
Bayonet practice and
81 millimeter instructions.
November 8, 1944
Went to range and
fired 81 millimeter.
November 9, 1944
Fired bazooka and
November 10, 1944
bayonet practice and inoculations.
November 11, 1944
Street fighting, afternoon
off spent night in Rome and met Dodge, McKay and Defoggi.
November 12, 1944
Tour of Rome for two
hours, looked over the town and toured the day spots.
November 13, 1944
Packed for moving and
went to Rome.
November 14, 1944
Packed and cleaned as
usual when getting ready for a ride.
November 15, 1944
Walked to train, approximately
six miles, boarded train to leave at 2:20. Proceeded to Rome, left Rome for 24
Replacement Depot, rode in boxcar with 17 other enlisted men and two officers.
Slept on parachute bags.
November 16, 1944
Arrived in Caserta,
then went to Replacement Depot. Had a good supper and drew a cot.
November 17, 1944
Had a clothes check
and laid around rest of day.
November 18, 1944
Drew a few clothes
and loafed the rest of the day.
November 19, 1944
Sunday, loafing as
November 20, 1944
Took a nine mile hike
in two hours. Still at Replacement Depot.
November 22-23, 1944
At Replacement Depot
had Thanksgiving Service. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, cheesecake,
cooked apples, nuts and cranberry sauce for dinner.
November 24, 1944
QP at 3:00 A.M. to
leave but left at 6:30. We arrived at Naples where we loaded a boat about 9:30
P.M. Had a poor dinner.
November 25, 1944
Left Naples Harbor,
slept all day, my birthday.
November 26, 1944
Marseilles, walked about 12 miles to staging area, slept on the ground two
nights, walked with field pack and blanket (3) roll.
November 27, 1944
hit quite a few bars (brothels), sight seeing and they were a sight.
November 28, 1944
Went to Marseilles,
stayed all night and hit a few bars.
November 29, 1944
Went to Marseilles
and did about the same as usual. Came back to camp, hitched street cares,
trucks and walked.
November 30, 1944
In Marseilles again,
hit the usual spots and stayed in town.
December 1, 1944
In Marseilles again,
had a slight scuffle but nothing happened.
December 2, 1944
In town again as
December 3, 1944
Went on Guard Duty
December 4, 1944
After Guard went to
town, had quite a few drinks and slept in town.
December 5, 1944
Went to town but went
to bed at 8:30.
December 6-9, 1944
Went to town but
didn't do the usual bad habits, went to bed about 10:00 or 10:30.
December 9, 1944
Saw the movie "So
Proudly We Hail".
December 10, 1944
Sunday so I went to
December 11, 9144
Went to town, saw
movie, "24 Hours to Russia". (Movie in French language)
December 12, 1944
Went to town and saw
movie, "Barrette of Wimpole Street". Spent night in town. Took a tour and
visited the catacombs where the Christians hid from the Romans. We also viewed
the coliseum but didn't go down in it. We had a nice seat on the wall and we
would sit there and watch the people. Also visited St. Peter's Cathedral.
December 13, 1944
Went back to town and
spent the night.
December 14, 1944
Stayed in camp all
December 15, 1944
Went to town and saw
movie, "Cover Girl", with Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth.
December 16, 1944
Spent the night in
December 17, 1944
Sunday, left Marseilles
about 6:30 or 7:00, by train.
December 18, 1944
Monday, still on
train, passed through Lyons.
December 19-20, 1944
Still on train.
December 21, 1944
Thursday arrived at
Givet about 3:00 P.M., went to 11th Replacement Depot. (501
December 22, 1944
Went to town and took
a bath (sponge). The French women heated water and let us take a bath in the
December 23, 1944
Went to see the
French family again.
December 24, 1944
Stayed around camp
all day, civilians were evacuating the village, artillery can be heard.
December 25, 1944
Stayed in camp all
day. We had turkey for dinner and supper.
December 26, 1944
We went on detail and
cleaned guns. We finally got guns and had to clean them. They had been packed
in some kind of grease.
December 27, 1944
Took an hour
training, running and walking.
December 28, 1944
Cleaned the area and
went out for training again.
December 29, 1944
Friday – nothing in
the morning and a run and hike in the afternoon.
December 30, 1944
Cleaned tent area and
moved in the afternoon. Airplane bothered us a few nights around Christmas.
Very close to the front (push) but not worried (much). No guns or ammo for
December 31, 1944
Did a few details,
tent cleaning etc…Had chicken for dinner.
January 1, 1945
Monday. Had guard
last night, Sgt. of Guard but it was no trouble. Jerry came by and strafed a
troop train and dropped a bomb near by. I stayed in bed myself, to tired to get
up (ha). Had creamed turkey for dinner and roast turkey for supper.
January 2, 1945
Tuesday. Did details,
making bunks and using pick and shovel when I wasn't gold bricking.
January 3, 1945
Wednesday. Left Givet
and went to Warrems, 3rd Replacement Depot.
January 4, 1945
Thursday. Stayed in
the area (Old Grain Building) all day, drew PX rations, and saw a movie,
"Rainbow Island" with Eddie Bracken and Dorothy Lamoure.
January 5, 1945
Went to 92nd
Replacement Depot, 454 Bn.
January 6, 1945
Went to a Service
January 8, 1945
Monday. Moved up
behind the lines with the 517th.
January 9, 1945
Came out of the woods
to town, went on trip to look for billets; slept in barn.
January 10, 1945
Went out again to
find billets, had to come back but spent time enroute in town where the service
January 11, 1945
Returned back to the
January 12, 1945
Left Aberdun and
Stovelot, a cold snowy ride. Today sat
and pulled Guard. Billeted in Old Tern.
January 13, 1945
Saturday. Last night
Platoon crossed river to take rest of the town, didn't have any trouble. One
Tern captured out of two which came in where we were. One boy walked out of the
house and ran into them, one shot at him but missed. We were all in the warm
cellar of the house. Another boy and I were put on guard and we stayed in the
upstairs window where we could see up the hill. There was a mattress in the
room. We took turns crawling under the mattress and still couldn't keep warm.
January 14, 1945
Another boy and I
pulled guard duty. We were outside in a field. We were getting hit pretty heavy
with bursts. We decided we would go inside the barn where the others were
sleeping. I started to go back out and about 9:30 as I got to the door some
kind of mortar shell hit and 12 inches from the floor. The shell got me in the
leg, the Sgt. Had me crawl back into the building and he checked my wounds. The
other boy got hit in the temple. After getting patched up the ambulance boys
picked me up and started back to the camp with me and three others. I know
where two came from but haven't' figured out where the other two came from. I
thought we were the only ones in the area. About two hundred yard from where I
was hit the Red Cross truck hit a mine. The two boys carried us back to another
truck. At headquarters I remember being set out of the truck and snow falling
on me. The next thing I knew I was in a hospital.
January 15, 1945
When I woke up in the
hospital the doctors had my left leg in a cast up to my hip. The part of my
right leg that was remaining was all bandaged.
January 16-17, 1945
In 97 Evacuation
January 18-19, 1945
In General Hospital.
January 20, 1945
Still in 45 General
January 21, 1945
Went to 298 General
January 23, 1945
Left 298 (Liege).
January 24, 1945
Arrived at 1st
General Hospital in Paris.
February 10, 1945
February 12, 1945
Had to lay over two
days in Azores, plane developed engine trouble. They said we landed in Maine
with one engine out and went to Azores – C-54 (10:00 P.M.). Left Azores and
went to Maine 7:00 to 8:30 Paris time. 4:00 Azores time. 1380 AAF Base Unit
NAD, ATC. Presque Army Air Base Maine. Admitted to Battle Creek Michigan
Hospital for re-amputation of right leg.
February 17, 1945
Left Maine and went
to Battle Creek, Michigan on a C-47 stopped in Montreal, Canada.
February 20, 1945
Alan Ladd and Sue
Carol (Alan's wife) visited the hospital today. Shook hands with them and
March 22, 1945
operation. When they operated on my leg in the field, they only did enough
until I could get to a better equipped hospital. They gave me a shot in the
spine and I was numb from waist down. There was a screen so I couldn't see
them…There was a large light over them and I got a reflection from the mirror.
I could hear them sawing the bone but I couldn't feel a thing. Spent a long
time in hospital after the surgery.
June 7, 1945
Left Battle Creek for
home on a 30 day furlough. Arrived home June 8.
July 8, 1945
After 30 day furlough
at home I left Bristol for Battle Creek, arrived on July 8. Everything ok.
July 18, 1945
Went to Battle Creek
and left on another furlough.
August 17, 1945
Left Johnson City for
Battle Creek, arrived 18th.
October 4, 1945
Discharged from Army.
October 6, 1945
Left Battle Creek by
car, arrived home about 1:00AM. The 7th.
60 Years Later
Miraculously the two
little vest pocket notebooks with my day to day diary were intact after I was
injured and are still in my possession.
Two of my sisters, Edna Bishop and Rudy Kitzmiller encouraged me to fill
in my remembrances of the events of each day that I could recall. They wrote
After my recuperation
I took advantage of the G.I. bill and entered East Tennessee State University
to complete my education. When I finished,, I went to work at Tennessee
Eastmen, Kingsport TN for 32 years retiring in 1978. I retired to my farm in
Church Hill, TN, to enjoy my wife Jean, son Lee, daughter Martha and
granddaughter Audry. Incidentally my son and daughter finished school at East
Tennessee State University and my granddaughter is a freshman there now.
Roy L. Kaylor
Dedicated to and
written by Edna Bishop and Ruby Kitzmiller in 2002.
I'm sitting here and
of the things I left
and I hate to put on
what is running
through my mind.
We hauled a million
tons of coal
and peeled ten
We've paid several
for the washing of
The number of parades
is very hard to tell.
We hope it's nice in
We know what it is
like in Hell.
We've eaten heels of
and cans of
We've stood a million
and cleaned all camp
We've marched a
thousand miles or more
yet never left the
We've studied till
the dawning hours,
for education most.
When the final Taps
and life's cares are
We'll do our final
up the golden stairs
on Judgment Day.
The angels will
welcome all of us
and there harps will
start to play,
We'll draw a host of
and spend them all
It's there we'll hear
St. Peter greet us
suddenly with a yell.
"Come in you boys
from Jefferson Barracks!
You've served your
hitch in Hell."