1st Lt. Bernard A. Chiama Jr.
Bernie Chiama - 1944
Bernie training at Enid, Oklahoma - 1944
Cadet Chiama - San Antonio - 1942
Cadet Chiama - San Antonio - 1942
14 December - 1942
16 December - 1942
San Antonio - 1942
San Antonio - 1942
The crew of B-24, 41-28965 named her Vivienne after the pilot's wife and had the nose art painted on the plane in Marrakech on their way over to Italy.
When they arrived in Italy the plane is taken away from them and went to the 376th BG. She was shot down on Aug 6, 1944 MACR 7317.
Vivianne was painted on the plane nude, but a General saw her and told them to "cover her up" thus the little g-string she has on was added.
April 7, 1944
Today is Good Friday, few
remembered it and still less gave much thought for today was the one when the
"screwed-up" 2nd Air Force gave us our destination and our route to
They say that things are getting tough in
the Italian front, where the Huns are doing most of the pushing, so as an
emergency crew, we have been sent there to relieve the pressure. We are to fly
to Soffia, Italy via South America and Africa, but then we can't even depend on
Tonight we said our last adieu
to the crews which are assigned to the 8th Air Force in England and who are leaving at a latter date. Since we leave for the flight line at 0400 in the morning, this is the more appropriate time for our farewells. Saying "Good bye" to those
men whom you have learned to know as a brother, is not an easy affair for one
knows in his heart that some one of them will not return.
Tonight is also the time when
most of the fellows are taking their last walk with their wives and families
before they go across and this is the toughest part of the whole ordeal. We
have three married men in our crew, only two of them have their wives down
here. Daniels, our pilot, and his wife Vivienne for whom the ship has been named,
are having a difficult time of breaking up. Maybe not as hard as anyone else
for he has done this once before. Anderson, our engineer, will be the more
broken up between the two. Everyone on the crew and in any other crew, has a
heavy heart tonight, but my heart falls with Kelley out tail gunner. He was not
able to see his wife, for she just gave birth to a girl. We did everything to
get him a furlough, or just a few days to see the baby and say goodbye to his
wife. I'm sure he'll be the happiest to get home when this is all over. The
remaining members of the crew are all squared away in regards to notifying the
family and clearing their minds of any trouble at home. This is the way I like
to leave a place, all debts payed.
April 8, 1944
Morning Holy Saturday
When we awoke this morning, a
cold front was passing over leaving many cumulus clouds around, but when a
plane is scheduled to fly, it flys regardless. After final preparations were
made, last good-byes said, our ship left the runway at 0810 destined for
Morrison Field, West Palm Beach Florida. We took off just behind Snediger's
ship and headed for the South. Our first turning point was to be Memphis, Tenn but we never did fly over the city due to cloud formations. We dodged
thunderheads at an altitude of 3 to 4 thousand feet and had quite a time in
those clouds. We ran into rain and hail and were bounced all over the sky and
for the first time I put my chute harness on. On our way to Morrison we passed
over Burmington, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. A few Navy scout planes, namely some Catalinas, Dauntless, Wildcats and Grummans
came up to look us over and fly formation. We passed over beautiful country on
our way, which was quite different from that around Texas and Idaho.
Our wheels hit Morrison Field
runway at 1650 of the same day. The trip lasted 8 hours and 40 minutes and
turned out to be a 1400 mile hop. At Morrison, we were again processed and
given our secret orders to our next landing field and then to our final
destination. While we were here, we learned that Snediger's ship had blown-up
somewhere on the trip with all ten lives lost. This was a great lose because we
all knew the crew. Bob Christy was the bombardier and we went to Bombardier School together. The last time I saw him, was when he was with his wife in the
April 9, 1944
Nothing happened this day
except for a little bit more of processing and more of orders. We just drifted
around the base, eating most of the time and briefing the rest. The women of
this Palm Beach section are of a peculiar type. They're very, shall we say,
sharp-looking, in the dress, shape and looks. They have that wind-swept look
covered over with a smooth even tan on their face and legs (that's as far as I
got). Most of them have blue eyes with sharp features and in the long run, they
look like New York City debutantes who came down for a vacation.
The M.P. outfit down here are
the snappiest I've seen yet. To assist them on the edge of the Perimeter fence
are the Kanine Korps, whose chief duty is to tear any man to pieces who tries
to get in or out of the place.
April 10, 1944
Monday Very early morning
At 0200 we were awakened, for
the purpose of preparing for our next hop. We were given our secret orders to
our last destination and to the front on which we had to fight. These were not
to be opened till we were on our way passed the Southern tip of Florida.
Our wheels left the Morrison
runway at 0500 and we were circling the field in order to attain an altitude of
11,000 feet. At 0540 we did reach this height and commenced our heading to our
next stop. Our Flight Plan was listed as follows:
to Borinquen (18030'N-67008'W)
Borinquen to San Juan(18030'N-65036'W)
San Juan to Cape San Juan (18024'N-65036'W)
Cape San Juan to Beane (18041'N-60057'W)
Beane to Galera PT (10030'N-60055'W)
Galera PT to Oropuche River Mouth (10037'N-61002'W)
Oropuche P.M. to Waller (100-38'N-61013'W)
the whole distance
covered 17882 miles.
Some islands we passed on our
way to Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico and Waller Field Trinidad. Andras Islands,
Nassau Islands, Eleuthers, Cat Island, Lang Island, Mayaguana, Provdenciales
and South Caicas Islands, Winsdor Field at Nassau, Camaguey Field in Cuba,
Guantanamo in Cuba, Bowen Field in Haiti, Miraflores, Dominican Republic, Borinquen
Field, Puerto Rico; San Juan(Naval Air Station at Puerto Rico). Benedict Field
in the St. Croix Island, Coolidge Field at Antiqua Field, Beane Field, St.
Lucia, Waller Field Trinidad, Carlsen Field Trinidad.
By the way, on this hop, we are
on sub-patrol. Well we opened our secret orders, which were making most of the
crew sweat, fearing they'd be sent to some wilderness outpost. We are to join
the 15th Air Force at El Alouina, Tunisia. We were all happy to
learn this, we think we will be happy in Italy.
Well our sub patrol came in
handy. At 1300 our tail gunner Kelley sighted a sub which was on its way to
submerging. Coordinates were (14055'N-62010'W) and the
sub traveled on 1300 course. Maybe we should have forgotten about
it, for our pilot certainly got chewed-out for not identifying it closer and by
the Navy too.
After a hell of a tough time,
we finally found Waller Field on this Trinidad Island way up and hidden among
the hills. Trinidad looks beautiful from the air and from the ground as well but
rain clouds are continuously formed at the peaks of these small mountains. The
weather is damp and I imagine it's hell down here in the summer. This field is
always closed in so we'll take off in instruments tomorrow morning.
April 11, 1944
We were awakened at three o'clock in the morning in order to take off at six. Trinidad's a beautiful little
island as far as scenery is concerned but the heat and moisture is a little
intense. I only saw one white woman there, but the fellows reported that a few
more are roaming around somewhere. Take off was at 0600 exactly and as
predicted, it was an instrument takeoff.
The first big towns we came
across was Georgetown, British Guiana. We made our usual call into Atkins Field
and Landery, Dutch Guiana. At Paramaribo we altered our course and headed
straight for Belem. We crossed the wide mouth of the Amazon River and
incidentally our tail gunner took a picture of the river just as we were
crossing the equator. From the equator to Belem we crossed the island of DeMarojo. This island, they say, looks like the plains of Texas, and I quite
agree with them. We landed at the Val DeCaes Airdrome, which happened to have a
couple of R.A.F. planes. This part of Brazil, as far as scenery goes is very
beautiful. Palm trees swaying in the breezes, together with a blue sky
scattered with little white tufts of clouds, makes a nice scene. This trip took
8:00 for 1226 miles which wasn't too bad.
April 12, 1944
Well another beautiful morning
for us especially at 0500. This was to be a short hop only 714 miles, but I was going to do the navigating. We took off and I started my work, which was about
time. My first heading was 1170MC. My first check point was a little
gathering of houses called Sao Miguel do Guama. The next one was Santa Helena.
At Sao Luis I altered my course to 1150 to bring us into Fortaleza, Brazil. From here, we are to cross the Atlantic and reach Dakar.
The country down here is also
beautiful, but from the air, the land looks a little scary. There's every color
in the rainbow blended together to form some object of nature. That's all I can
see, but I'd hate to have to bail out in that stuff.
Our plane was pulled apart for
a 25 hour inspection and turret check-up. That plane is a beautiful little job
and she seemed to stand-up okay. The turrets need a little adjustment tho.
At night the three other
officers and I retired to the officer's club and commenced to get ourselves
April 13, 1944
Tonight we take off for the worst
leg of our trip to Tunisia. A 2000 mile hop across straight water. All day long
we shifted the baggage in the ship in order to make the tail a little lighter.
We are trying to figure out how we can save our gas so as we won't have to
ditch in the middle of the pond.
April 14, 1944
At 0030, our beautiful little
girl left the runway at Fortaleza, Brazil and headed for Dakar, 2000 miles away across straight water. In each of our minds, was that constant worry of inadequate
gas supply. At least one plane a day ends up doing a ditching procedure out 40 miles from Dakar, just short of the beach. There was a front ahead of us and that means rough
flying, rain and then a definite wind-shift. Don't think I didn't say a few
prayers along that jaunt. Our altitude was 9,000 and MC was 760.
Well we flew and flew, and flew until the Dakar beam came into our command
receiver. This was half the fight, the gas consumption was the other half. Our
navigator slipped up on the ETA was of that windshift so we were one hour late.
Dakar finally did hit the destination and there we landed at Eknes Field, Dakar, French West Africa.
This isn't a bad place at all.
We are about a mile away from the Atlantic Ocean and that means swimming in
ocean blue. Boy these natives down here are dillies. The army guards are all
rigged up in their Sunday best, but I'll admit the salute they give are really
sharp. As usual our pilot complained of Pilot's fatigue so we stayed over for
another day. The weather is a little hot but nice.
April 15, 1944
We all awoke at noon after a nice long rest cure of 14 hours of sleep. Today was our day to go swimming
and we did at one o'clock. The trip down to it was one worth while. The road,
before hitting the shore wound around two villages. The houses consisted of
straw huts and plaster one-story buildings which the French probably built a100
years ago. What dirt and filth. The natives lived in with the chickens and
cows. There are no chairs. Everyone sits on the floor (they lay down if there's
room) and the women are usually stripped when they're in the house or porches.
The streets seemed to be paved and there was a small pair of streetcar tracks
down the middle of the two main drags. The children ran after our truck,
begging for cigarettes, candy, franc notes or gum. Traveling up and down that
village was a worthwhile one. At the beach, dress in our underwear shirts we
went for a dip but came out very shortly. The water was freezing and the salt
terrific, but just sitting in the ocean breeze was the best.
The monetary system is a honey
too. A Franc is worth two cents in American dough. American money is not used
down here, just that French African stuff. Men are even paid in that stuff,
which reminds me, it's a good thing I applied for that class "E" allotment back
at Morrison in Florida.
The rest of the day was spend
in the usual Air Corp way, loafing in general. Sometime was spent in the Club
drinking out the place and some time was spent in the P.X.
April 16, 1944
Awakened at 0500, our crew
prepared their belongings for our next leg toward our final destination. At
0600 we were again briefed this hazardous trip to Marrakech which was 1300 miles away. Marrakech is a small town, surrounded by mountains. In order to arrive in a safe
manner, one must follow a pass thru these mountains.
We took off at 0723 with a M.H.
of 520. Our trip was to cross the western end of the Sahara desert, just east of neutral (nuts) Spanish Morocco and Rio de Oro. At 1030, the
Atar radio station and the Tindouf station report that the field at Marrakech
was closed in by a sandstorm so we flew a reverse course back to Dakar. Naturally, we were all eager to come back for that means another day of rest. Our
biggest worry was acquiring a ration card which hadn't been used before. In the
billeting room, we acted dumb in regards to being in a new field and I guess
this made the sergeant forget about whether we were here before. But then when
we got the card, the P.X. was closed and nothing could be sold.
April 17 Monday
At the usual time 0500 in the morning we were awakened quietly for our briefing. At 0810 our ship left the runway of
Ehnes Field with a 540 heading, once more toward Marrakech, French
Morocco. A few minutes after take off, the engineer smelt gasoline and again
that old fear came back to us. So many ships have blown up with the entire crew
lost just because a tank leaks or a gas line is broken. It was just a few days
ago that one of my buddies was killed in just such a mishap. This is just one
of the many occasions for a crackup.
Again we are passing the
western end of the Sahara and the sand hasn't changed a bit since yesterday.
It's still that yellow-red color. As we wing our way toward the Atlas Mountains a few French Foreign Legion posts are recognized. Most men join the Legion
to forget and from the looks of the forts, this can be easily done. Some of the
places we passed, went near otherwise were Piufisque in Gambia, Saint Louis in Senegal, Mederdra in Maurtania, Atar Maurtania, where a large Legion
Post is located, Spanish Morocco, sometimes known as Oro de Rio and Tindouf,
also in Maurtania. In order to locate the entrance into the pass we must
navigate to Taberbourt which is the beginning of our flight thru the Atlas Mountains. At Atar and Trindouf, we called in at the range station and tower there
for further weather data in these treacherous mountains. We flew all over the
sky looking for that break. They told us to follow a river and a road but there
were at least a million of them. So, the pilot finally gave up and followed a
C-47 thru the mountains until we hit that field at Marrakech. The city was
beautiful from the air, especially the Pasha's Gardens which is supposed to be
the thing in northern Africa. This field here looked like a crossroads of a
million planes. There were at least 500 bombers on the ground and this included
about 100 B-29, which Intelligence tried to call P-40 to offset enemy agents.
And since this is a large field, you can expect the same old line, Snafu.
And as sure as hell when we approach,
operations there were a thousand other men in line waiting to go nowhere.
Typical Army style, run like hell and then stand and wait. It took about 4
hours to square things away and become half way organized. This base may be the
biggest around but it also is the worst in most anything, food, drink and
sleeping, but I will admit the air is wonderful to sleep in.
April 18, 1944
Was awakened by Dan at 0530 for
our briefing and managed to stay awake all thru it. Finally when all was over
we told the officer who was doing all the talking, that the ship wouldn't fly
sooooooo we didn't take off. I don't know but this crew of ours just don't want
to get to combat right away. They are always thinking up of some way to screw
up the engines so we won't have to takeoff. I'm not eager either but we have to
do it sometime or other, the sooner we get to it the sooner we can get away
At 1300 we left for town and
that was some little ride we had thru and around it. Women balancing basket on
their heads and with veils wrapped around their face, old type buggies,
bicycles by the thousands, and all sorts of objects flying around. Some of the
homes, especially those with the most money, were more beautiful than any I've
seen in America. Violet colored flowers just cover them.
Well we finally found an
outside bar and the boys began to souse themselves as usual.
I don't like these Native towns in Africa and this one was no exception. Little dark boys come charging out of the streets and
pester the life out of you. They'll rob you just as sure as you have a nose on
your face. The white women are nothing to look at but you get the way most of
us do, anything looks good. While we were at this outside bar, a woman took out
one of her breasts and commenced nursing her child. They say that is natural
for any woman to do this in public. The only part of the visit I liked was
giving chewing gum to the little French children. The little girls, probably
around 6 and 7 years old with blonde hair and blue eyes and very pretty, were
so polite in their speech and only knew a little English.
We reached camp at 1800 for I
was finished with that town and any other one like it. Since there is nothing
else to do around this field we moped around and shot the bull for awhile
April 19, 1944
We were supposed to leave today
but no one called us, so another uneventful day in this hole. Summer fever is
beginning to get as it always does, so I'm not very eager to go anywhere.
There are a few
prisoners-of-war down here. The French have some and the Americans have the
rest. You can see the marked distinction of the way the French and American
keep their prisoners. Those of the Americans may roam the grounds under guard of
course but nevertheless, they do have a chance to see variety. They sing a lot
of American songs such as the "Beer Barrel Polka", but only in the Italian
language. Those of the French are kept behind triple rows of barbed wire and no
one can near the fence in order to give them cigarettes, but we told those
French guards to go to hell and gave away our packs. Maybe the Italians did
stab France in the back, the Geneva Convention would blow a fuse if they saw
how prisoners are kept by the French. As far as I'm concerned France can go take a leap in the pond.
During the afternoon, some of
us took a hike to the Cassino, a former gambling house of the old days, and
which is now a Red Cross hangout. The surrounding gardens were beautiful, and
together with the building, a sight worth seeing was in store for us. The Air
was cool and breezy, and all except for the flys that afternoon on the terrace
was most enjoying.
At night the crew started a
poker game and this lasted a few hours before bed time.
April 20, 1944
This is the day for our last
leg, into our final destination. Most of us are getting sick of the field so we
decided we'd better go. The pilot and navigator were both briefed well for this
journey because we are nearing enemy waters. Our wheels left the Marrakech
runway at 0925 and with a 570 heading, we started for Tunis. The country we passed over sand terrain which is both rough and dangerous. Some
movies portray the city of Algiers as a sandy city next to a desert but this
part of Africa is very beautiful and is more beautiful than most states I've
seen back in the U.S.A. We passed near Algeria and Oran and flew over Tunis and Bizerti.
Our next stopping point was
Djedieda which is 15 miles west of Tunis. Landing at 1615 for a 6:50 hour trip, we received our orders to our final destination in Italy. Officially now we are in the 15th Air Force. For the first time we ate
with our mess kits, that is the officers did, and after chow, Allen and I took
a short walk thru the fields observing the yellow daises and green grass as
well as a couple of donkeys. Before retiring for the night the crew and I
passed a little time with a game of blackjack.
April 21, 1944
Briefing was at 0830 which was
a little late for a change and our wheels left the ground at 1030 for a zig-zag
course to Manduria, Italy. From here we are again destined for another short
hop to our last (I hope) stopping field. This zigzag course requires altered
bearings at different points on Sicily and Italy. These are: Cape Bon, Algeria; Cape Granitola, Sicily; Licata, Sicily; Cape Passero, Sicily; Cape Sportivento, Cape Rizzoto, Cape Spulicao, Massafra and Manduria, all in Southern Italy. This distance is
640 miles. We are now flying at 2300 ft. over the Mediterranean Sea and will probably lower to 500 in order to make an uneasy target for enemy aircraft
which may come this far. At Cape Bom, passed about five minutes ago, a convoy
was sighted about five miles away. Walsh, our radio operator, signaled them
with his code lamp so as to identify ourselves as friendly.
Most of our time coming across
the water was spent in foggy weather and low clouds. Convoys were spotted here
and there and at one time, we watched three fishing boats sail toward a
submarine whose identity is still unknown. Nevertheless, our radio operator
called in a position report on it. Our zigzag course followed the coast of
southern Sicily and Italy until we hit the city of Taranto. From here we flew
to Manduria, landed, took off again only this time our crew wasn't feeling too
well. I don't know what kind of a system they have down here but none of us
like it. We learned that our ship was to be turned over to another crew. Our
beautiful ship, the "Vivienne", to another crew. Here we lived in, slept in,
worked in it and flew over 9000 miles of sea, sand and jungle and it had to be
turned over to someone else. We now have our opinion of the 15th Air
Force and all in one easy lesson. On our way back with all our personal
equipment and gear which we could hook from the plane while nobody was looking,
our transport truck passed thru two Italian towns, names unpronounceable. The
filth and dress of these people was no less than that of the native villages of
the African jungle people. People here live a life of years ago. Italian
Soldiers police the streets while Italian girls look for easy prey among the
American soldiers. The Venereal Diseases are of a high quality down here, and
who can blame them when German troops move thru a populated city. The Italian
people have absolutely nothing what-so-ever to help themselves. They have no
regards for sanitation or disease or their own personal cleanliness. Homes are
from the old stone days of the earlier twenties. Children run around in dirty
clothes begging for cigarettes for their fathers. Soldiers (American) live with
Italian families and sleep with the wife or their oldest daughter. Well so much
for the towns. The country side is beautiful, olive trees are strewn on both
sides woods and in beautiful orchards. Everything is green, except for the
occasional brick houses which are usually leveled to the ground due to recent
shell fire and bombs. I can't understand how land can be so beautiful both in
native and in manmade orchards.
When we hit Manduria field rain
stated pouring down and our crew without a plane was left in it. So they
finally gave us tents and with the usual G.I. runaround, our idea of this 15th
Air Force and this Field was a little more established.
April 22, 1944
SNAFU! as usual prevailed this
morning. Somebody tells you to go here others tell you to go there. Back and
forth, back and forth and then later you find out nobody wants you! We also
find out that we are to lose our co-pilot, Just to another replacement crew and
they need a co-pilot, well we lost him anyway, so they say. We also learned that
the crew will be split up for the first couple of missions and then we'll be
The officers mess is pretty
good and we have Italian Soldiers serving us. Our pilot, together with the rest
of us have that fear, that one has in an occupied country such as Italy. Spies and saboteurs lurk all over the place.
Our evening ended as usual with
our crew either playing poker or blackjack. Outside of passing time these games
have another importance. Every country that we have gone thru so far, we use
the standard monetary system for that country and now we get to their money
pretty well. Sometimes we play with four different nationalities in doing this.
April 23, 1944
This is a day of rest but not
for the boys in combat. Thirty-nine planes from our group, the 450th,
took off and met other groups for a combined attack. Their target was a
airplane plant in Vienna, Austria. When they came back at 1800, all of our
planes came back but some were shot down in the other groups. Fighter planes
opposition was slight but the flak was intense and from what I hear the target
was missed, but I suppose in the home newspaper, the news will be, "target
At 1100 we went to church in
this lovely city of Manduria. Since this was Sunday, quite a few people were
out, and there were quite a few at that. Some children were dressed in white,
for I guess this Sunday was their First Communion Sunday.
little church we went to was somewhat different than those in our country but
basically all are the same. There are no kneeling beaches, just chairs and side
alters are more sparse. The inside was painted white, with beautiful paintings
placed here and there.
At 1800, we watched, together
with every bit of personal on the field, our planes peel off and come in for
their landings. An hour before the first plane comes in, ambulances, crash
cars, trucks, fire engines, mechanics and all types of vehicles strew the ramp
and runways, anxiously awaiting their crews the personal prance up and down,
restlessly sweating out their buddies. Well that's the way the Air Corps
April 24, 1944
Nothing happened this day. At
night, Daniels, Just, Bazley and I, the four officers of our crew went to town
to a show. Boy this town is a honey. People gather on street corners, gabbing
away on recent politics or discussing where the next meal is coming. Poverty
has most of the populace, but a few seem to have some means of support left.
After the show, as usual in a strange town, we got lost, but then a jeep came
by and rescued us.
April 25, 1944
We were awakened at the most
ridiculous hour of the day to be awakened 0600 in the wee hours of dawn. Our pilot Anderson came out with the news that we were to go on our
first mission. Daniels, Bazley and I were to go with Anderson's enlisted men,
of whom most of them already had 35 to 40 missions under their belt. After a
mad scramble to rearrange our equipment, our ship took off at 0848. There were
about 60 planes in the sky as far as I could count, but there might have been
more. At 1108 we were to pick up our fighter escort but we never did see them. About
this time, I happened to look out the lower nose window under the turret and
notice the 19 ship formation which was lower and ahead of us. The lead ships
turned into the cloud formation so naturally we had to follow. I looked out the
left window and saw a plane even with us but was coming into us just as we hit
the clouds. This plane scared me enough. At this moment our ship started
climbing and naturally our speed decreased to a stalling position and we did.
Our ship at 19,000 ft went into a violent spin, and could not be controlled.
The nose gunner screamed for us to open the door while the navigator and I were
viciously trying to recover ourselves and put our parachutes on. All three of
us scared as hell were making a mad scramble to get out. I looked at the
spinning altimeter and looked out the side window and saw old mother earth in a
spin, and stopped going anywhere. I could have bailed in a second, but what was
the use. I could never have left the ship without hitting a prop so I just
stayed and the navigator and I just looked at each other, hoping. At 11,000 ft the plane leveled out, a sheer miracle and all was more hopeful. We headed toward sea again
at full throttle for fear of hostile aircraft. When over the sea, I dropped my
bombs and sat back, panting. So as the engineer could transfer fuel, I took his
position in the waist and learned that only one of the chutes opened. The
second man to jump hit his head on the hatch edge and no doubt broke his neck.
The dent he caused would have killed a horse. Everyone kept their eyes peeled
for enemy aircraft as we raced toward home. On the ground, and after everyone
was reorganized again, we all went back to our abodes with a relieved feeling.
We learned that most of the group broke up in that cloud formation and returned
as we did. The target wasn't hit anyway and we lost 4 ships and crews.
It's just one of those things.
We fly again tomorrow. We have 1 mission to our credit now. Out of the 41
planes which left our field, 6 are still missing. Two of these were in our
flight of three. Before retiring, I went to confession which was the first time
in almost a year. Boy I felt like a new man after that.
April 26, 1944
As usual we were scheduled for
another mission this day and our target was supposed have been Wiener Neustadt
which is about 20 miles south of Vienna, Austria. The weather was closing in so
no one went up. Nothing was done during the day time, but just loafing around
and squaring ourselves up with Air Corps Supply.
After supper, Kelley and I went
for a stroll thru the orchard in search of some of the other boys. We happened
to pass a farmhouse and peered in a sheep corral. I've seen pigpens which were
cleaner than that one. Our walk continued for awhile until an Italian soldier
invited us into a small building used as a house. They had an Italian pistol to
sell us so we went in and looked the situation over. There were two young
soldiers and a farmer. Our language during the conversation included a little
bit of everything: Italian, English, French, Latin and the sign language
together with picture drawing. I could make out, by pieces their talk, so all
during the talk, we understood ourselves. I enjoyed talking with them because I
leaned a lot about their troubles. There seemed to be 5 parties, one fighting
the other and were causing most of the civil war amongst the natives. They
denounced Mussolini and his mob. Both were sergeants and one was a Bombardier
in the Italian Air Force of late. Getting back to the pistol deal, we never did
purchase it because, although in poverty, they wanted too much their price was
either 12 cartoons of cigarettes or 50 dollars. Never the less, we talked for
over two hours on the troubles and events of the world at large.
Getting back to our tents our
usual blackjack game presumed. Only 5 of us were playing. Bazley, our navigator
who was still suffering from the effects of our first mission, had gone on a
bender as was expected. He was worried about tomorrows mission.
April 27, 1944
Again our mission was cancelled
because of bad weather and we all felt good, in fact I've never seen Bazley so
The day was spent moving into
our new barracks and arranging our equipment in it.
Latest report came that the six
ships and crews are still missing-in-actions.
After the night meal, I relaxed
in the day room and listened to some good old American music, the first time in
April 28, 1944
Today at first when we awoke,
looked to be a holiday for us, because it was 1030. Then our pilot, Anderson
came dashing into our room with all his gear and told us, we were to go on a
mission at 11:00. After the recovery from the blow, our crew was ready to take
off and we did at 11:30. The forming of the bombing group took about 45 minutes
and this took us all over southern Italy, at a hedge-hopping altitude. Then we were
on our way to bomb Orbetello, Italy. Our course to get there was a well diverted
one, since we hit Jugoslavia. We climbed to 20,500 in order to hit the target. After turning on our Initial Point, the cursed flak started. It
came all around us, below, above, to the left and to right, in front and in
back, but none hit us. Our gunners were alert but none came too close. The flak
continued all the way to the target and for a ways past it. We were to bomb a
munitions dump, barracks and a ship supply basin, all packed together on a
little peninsula off the coast of Italy. I dropped my bombs at 1444. We peeled
off a minute later, headed north, still in the flak area and commenced on our
course back home. I looked out the side window and saw our target burning and
wondered just how those people down there felt, even if they were the enemy. We
hit flak again for a little while but this was slight. Now we were on our merry
chase back at full throttle. I was at a waist gun now and as I was looking back
at the formation to our left rear I saw two B-24 smoking and trailing further
behind. One went into a spiral dive and crashed into the hills with no one
bailing out. The other soon followed suit but I think all bailed out. No
fighters opposed us, for our P-38 escorts had did away with most of them. The
flight back was long but it only seemed long when you're running away from some
We landed at 1725 and all were
safe again. Out of 38 planes, two were lost and one probable and a couple
turned around and fled home earlier.
We met a few crews who have
gone to school with us back in the states. Cook and Bozzo, both bombardiers and
whom I met long time ago in school, had just arrived and a good old get
together with all the officers in the Club ended in a usual drunk on the part
of our navigator. While in this drunk, he happened to talk a little too much in
front of the squadron navigator. So he was called to fly tomorrow's mission.
April 29, 1944
Well the "old man", was
awakened bright and early for his 'voluntary' mission.
While he sweated, the rest of
the crew just rested the whole day thru. In the afternoon, most of us went to
town and did a little wandering around, which ended up with a drinking spree.
On this walking tour, I noticed a couple of pretty Italian girls of about 15
years of age. They didn't walk like most of them and they seemed to be clean
girls. I wondered just how pretty these girls would be if both could be brought
to America and dressed up.
Toward suppertime, we all rode
back, since our old boy was due back in from his mission. Their sortie was to
be a rough one, to Toulon, France. And as we expect, Will was a little shaking
up but after a few of the regular drinks, all was 'partly' forgotten.
The night was spent discussing,
with the old gang, the events all went thru in phase training and the trip to Italy.
April 30, 1944
Yep today is another mission
day for the crew except for 3 men. Our trip was to fly north up the Adriatic
Sea, across Italy to Milan swinging sharply south and raiding the marshalling
yards at Alessandria. Just and Evans were to fly right wing to Major Davis who
was leading the group. Walsh and I were flying right wing of the high right
squadron to Davis. Will and Anderson were flying in the number 7 corner in our
squadron which was 100 ft under and 1000 ft in back of our ship. As we turned in from the Adriatic Sea toward Italy we were net with a small barrage of flak
placed on the beach. Our escort, 40 P-38's were flying all over our formation
and these really looked beautiful. The trip in wasn't too eventful, mostly a
lot of worry.
There were four groups in the
air and our group was to make the initial attack on the target. At 30 miles from the Initial Point, I happened to see off to the right about 30 miles, another group being attacked by flak. This same group swung sharply left toward our group
and hid from this fire. Our Initial Point was sighted and now we were in for
the kill. There layed the town and just outside stood the marshalling yards and
no flak. Most of the groups bombs hit over, only two planes hit the yards ours
hit short but two hit the yards. Those bombs which hit over, demolished
barracks, ammunition dumps, repair shops and supply depots. So the mission was
successful. On the way back, some of the groups met flak here and there but no
one was hit. That may have been a milk run but it's still another mission for
Back on the ground again,
nothing different occurred. We did get paid at supper time and this amounted to
255 dollars. The rest of the night was spent as usual in the club and the "Old
Man" got stewed again as is routine.
May 1, 1944
For a change since there wasn't
any mission scheduled Baze, Dan and I got up early to eat chow and then go back
to bed again. Well after we ate and as we were returning to our sacks, the
squadron operations officer walked in and told me I was flying on a practice
mission right at that moment. Oh lucky me.
There were two other bombardier
on the plane and the flight wasn't bad after all. Since an overcast blanketed
the sky, we just bombed at low altitude. We dived bombed, shipped bombed and
all sorts of things at low altitude. This wasn't bad at all, nevertheless it
was a headache.
In the afternoon, Just, Dan,
Baze and I hit town again and just walked around. Just knew a fellow from his
hometown and who has been here quite awhile. We stayed at his place for awhile
and he explained a lot of things as far as Italy is concerned. After piecing
these little bits of information together and drawing conclusions, this little land of Italy is in sad shape. There seems to be five parties which control the land, the
two outstanding ones are the Socialists and Communists. Fights are continuously
raging through the streets of every town especially Manduria which is still
Fascist. The Socialist are the big boys in Southern Italy and it does look like
this will be the post war government of this country.
May 2, 1944
Another day off today partly
due to weather and partly to the attitude of the Big Fence. The Wing seems to
think and they are absolutely right, that our latest missions are stinko, so
the boys are trying to figure it all out. There were a lot of practice, both
formation and bombing, especially with the newer men. We just laid around all
day as usual.
After supper, we went to the
show but came out earlier for we had seen it and mostly because it stunk.
Kelley and I went to see the
field boxing tournament held out-of-doors. Some were interesting, those with an
Englishman and an American boy. There were a couple of Negro boys who were
ringsters back in the states and who did partly good.
The night ended as usual with
old Baze getting a stew.
May 3, 1944
We were awakened at 0500 by the
OD and announced that our briefing for today's mission was being held at 0915. Since
this was a late hour, we figured it must be just a short hop but when we
entered the S-2 room our hopes died out this was to be a raid to Polesti,
Roumania. The crew met the ship on the ramp as was schedule but the mission was
cancelled. So we all were relieved and everyone was happy for another day. We
all had a meeting with the Colonel and he commenced chewing us out for the poor
bombing in the last few missions.
Well this day was ours again,
but as usual, practice missions were scheduled again.
At night, Just, Dan, Baze and I
together with some of the old gang went to town to a movie. The Cowboy Serenade
was so stinko we all left and walked. Incidentally I enjoyed this little walk,
about 5 miles because it brought back the old days when I did a lot of walking
in dear old Summerville.
The night ended as usual, with
the Old Man getting a drunk on again. And too, Dan and I ended the night by
discussing life after the war and our opinions on what will happen.
May 4, 1944
Again we were briefed for the Ploesti raid only this time the briefing was at 0545. We took off at 0715 and flew around
the area, getting the formation together. We were to fly No.2 position on the
high right in the 2nd attack group. We circled quite awhile and flew
all over Southern Italy, turning on the command set, I heard the tower cancel
the mission, and told us to fly around till 1100 just for practice. Boy how
relieved we were that day. The No. 1 ship of our box went out with a feathered
prop and we took over the box formation.
In the afternoon some bright
brain got the idea we all needed drill so we all drilled including the
chaplains, dentist, doctors and ground officers. This wasn't too bad and it
really showed that we all hadn't had drill in a long long time.
After supper we watched the
squadrons play volleyball since this is the only form of entertaining. The
dentist is the life of the game with his 100lb frame making a fool out of
Well the night ended as usual.
The old Man having another jag on and some of the boys, discussing matters at
May 5, 1944
Friday #4 #5
We were awakened at 0700 and
had breakfast for a change at 0915 we briefed and again our hearts sank for Ploesti was to be our target. At 1020 our wheels left the ground and we circled for an
hour, settling in our formations. Then we took off toward Jugoslavia. Our trip
took us across this country and Bulgaria and Roumania. There were 35 planes in
our group and 40 in the one to our left. A total of 500 planes were going to
attack Ploesti but at different intervals. All thru the trip over, our crew
kept on the alert for hostile aircraft. A few were seen and a few attacked but
our 38's kept them at bay. As we crossed the Danube River, I looked thru the
side window and marveled on the beauty of it. This terrain we cross was equally
beautiful. High mountains circle us and many rivers and streams formed valleys
in between them. Nearing the target, the group on our lift ran into some flak
but all came out of it. It seems that the lead navigator wanted to hide in the
clouds but ran over this flak area. We hit the I.P. and hence the flak started
and boy it was thick. I looked out the nose window and seen our target, the oil
refinery at the south edge of town. Smoke pots had previously been laid all
around the town and these were very effective. Together with the broken clouds,
our target was hard to find, nevertheless our bombs dropped at 1400. I looked
thru the nose in order to see the effects of our bombs and the groups. One of
my bombs hit directly in the middle of a huge storage tank, the others hit some
other part of the refinery. The groups bombs hit over and to the left, but the
refinery was hit, and the marshalling yards and the city of Ploesti was
demolished. We were the first two groups to hit Ploesti, I hate to see this
city after the other seven groups got thru with it. Flak became thicker now
because we quarter-circled the city. We headed north and then west again for
home, and here the trouble began. Enemy fighters were all over. I moved back to
the waist to relieve our engineer and this is where I seen most of them.
JU-88's were shooting rockets from way back to the rear of the formation.
ME-109's were attacking the rear while FW-190'swere hitting from all sides. I
stood there watching the formation when 5 or 6 streams of 50 cal machine guns
came rushing by and just missing No. 1 engine and which was about 8 feet from the end of my nose. Just at that time Kelley our tail gunner started blasting away. I
figured these streams of 50 cal wheezing my face was that of one of the B-24
who was test firing his guns but it wasn't. Our tail gunner was shooting at a
ME-109 and shot it's wing off and these trails of machine gun fire were coming
from this Heine. If I'd have known that ------. Anyway Kelley's got credit for
a German Plane. Then Walsh the other waist operator started shooting and when
he finished I seen a ME-109 trailing in smoke with a P-51 chasing it. This
victory is just a probable. All thru this chase, events like this was going on
to every ship. Some had worse tales to talk about. We landed at 1730 and this
landing was the best one I've had the pleasure to be in.
The night was spent as usual.
Going to town and seeing a movie.
Old Bill came to bed with a jag
on and we ended the night discussing future missions. We now have five.
May 6, 1944
Two of our boys had to fly
today's mission. Walsh and Evans. Both came back and this is good.
Nothing important came about
this day, nothing does till we have a mission and then everything happens. We
just ate and slept most of the day. After supper Dan and I sent to town just
for an hour or so. On the way back, I met my old friend Chiovarelli and Baker
and Hearns. Chiove and I went to Bombardier school together and we have been
together since. Tomorrow they leave for England. Baker lives in Fairport. I
must see him when this is all over. At night we all went to the Club to drink
it thru. The old Gremlin's Roost gang was all there. Thirteen bottles of Champagne were killed before the night ended. Some fellow was playing the piano so
naturally the music made me drift into that direction. He must have played
everything in the book, Beer Barrel Polka, Harbor Lights, Mulberry Hill, Begin
the Beguine, Elmer's Tune and many more of my favorites.
The night finished with the old
man stewed to the gills.
May 7, 1944
I wanted to attend Mass today
but briefing was too early. We were to raid Bucharest today. Our wheels left
the runway at 0730 and circled for an hour. Our formation was completed at 0830
and we were on our way across the Adriatic into Jugoslavia. The sky was
completely overcast so when we were within 45 minutes of our target, the head
of our outfit decided we'd better go back, so we did. Just a waste of time, of
energy and the peoples income tax. In the afternoon the crew went on a gunnery
mission, much to their disgust.
At night, I went to Oria, to a
show there. I was alone and I'd have been a lot safer if I had brought my
The night ended in discussion
with most of the crew and the old man came in all stewed up again.
May 8, 1944
Briefing and the mission was
called off due to weather and the day was ours.
Today is also my 20th
birthday. We just laid around and slept most of the day. Dan and Anderson had
to fly a practice mission, so they couldn't sleep. I'm not one to complain
about a place but I have to in this case. This 15th Air Force is no
different than the 2nd Air Force back in the states. Everything
looks good on paper for the both of them.
After supper Dan and I went to
the show and seen, "Reveille and Beverly".
The night ended with the old
man in just a little bit of a stew.
May 9, 1944
Briefing was supposed to be at 1100
but was cancelled together with the mission. So we had another day of rest and
it was restful. None of us did anything too strenuous, maybe a little
volleyball once in a while.
In the afternoon, the
Bombardiers and navigators of this 450th Group had target
recognition. The city of Wiener Neustadt seemed to be their main target and
later I head that this city is the number one priority target in Europe since it manufactures most all of the German Planes. Everyone is sweating out these
missions to this city.
After supper Just, Kelley and
myself went to mass and communion and again I am at peace with the Lord.
Later Kelley and I went to the
U.S.O. show in Oria. Not bad at all.
And the Old Man came in a
little tight as usual.
May 10, 1944
No mission was scheduled for
today, just practice missions. These can be a pain in the neck because you can
gain absolutely nothing in them. During the day, we had intermittent briefings
on future targets and on formation flying. Outside of this we just laid around
the club and dodged the operations officers who were looking for men for
At night most of us went to the
The night ended in a discussion
of women and the old man came in drunk again.
May 11, 1944
Again no mission scheduled for
us but most of the crews had practice formations. Nothing of importance
happened except maybe to go to town and shop around.
At 2000 we were to brief for
tomorrow's double sortie. Our crew was to fly both missions together with a few
other crews, but most crews were only scheduled to fly one. We were given the
dope on the target, which was supposed to be harbor facilities at Porto San
Stefano, and at 0400 the next morning we were to receive the little changes for
the last briefing.
It seems that the invasion is
really going to get into swing very soon now. The 15th Air Force,
composed of the heavy bombers, is to bomb all communication lines, harbor
docks, marshalling yards, rolling stock and airfields. Everyday now sorties
will continue to devastate these types of targets all over Northern Italy. The
12th Air Force composed of low altitude medium bombers and fighters,
is to severe roads, bridges, troops, airfields and anti Aircraft positions.
Both of these Air Forces are coordinating their efforts with the ground forces
at the front, in order to break the stalemate at Cassino and Anzio.
Nothing was done after the
briefing except discussing matters in the club.
The old man was stewed again.
May 12, 1944
We were awakened at 0330 so as
we could have breakfast before our 0400 briefing. Daniels was to be our first
pilot again (he had been co-pilot on the previous missions) and some first
lieutenant was to be our co-pilot. Our wheels left the ground at 0532 and
circled the field. We were to fly the No 6 position of the lead box in the
second attack unit. Personally I don't like this position at all, ack-ack gets
to many planes there. I wish we could have our old place back again. Our bomb
bay, carried an extra 1000 lbs of bombs, boosting the bomb load to 6000 lbs. Daniels was afraid of being first pilot since a load like that requires good piloting. He
was pretty good in formation, but many a time, my heart was in my moth when
those wing ships closed in. Our course was to take us directly to the front to
the coast. Every Group of the 15th Air Force did this, in order for
the boys in the mud holes below could see that we were with them all the way.
The man who thought of this must have been a genius. It was very encouraging to
see thousands of bombers and fighters over head, ready to pound some German
installations. When we reached the Sea our course turned right and paralleled
the western coast of Italy. We saw the Anzio beach head and I seen way in the
distance, the hills where Rome layed. I noticed the little Island around there
and the island of Monte Cristo which was near our target. On the trip other
groups of planes were coming and going, some going to the target, others coming
home. After awhile the target was seen way off to our right and we passed it
but then two sharp turns put us on our bombing run. Just at that time another
group off to our left was bombing a target three miles from our own. As I
looked into that formation I saw two chutes floating to earth, which meant one
of them was hit. When we were 4 minutes from our target, I watched where this
other group of about 40 planes were hitting. They all fell in the water except
for a couple of bombs which hit the target. No flak was encountered on the run
at all and this puzzled us. Our bombs went away at 0859 and I watched them all
fall. It was a beautiful concentration of bombs but it missed the target about 3000 ft over. Three of my bombs hit the target and the rest went into the drink where most of the
group's went. The installations across the bay was pulverized. Just as we were
to peel off sharply to the right for our breakaway from the target, the flak
started. It wasn't much but it was very very accurate. In 30 seconds three
planes were screaming earthward. This sight I saw during that thirty seconds
was sickening. I was looking out of my little side window, when a direct hit of
flak, smashed the turret of a B-24 in front of us. The whole tail assembly
which includes the two rudders and stabilizers and part of the waist, were
disconnected from the rest of the plane and the pieces went floating in the
air. The remaining part went into a violent spin and split-S into the sea. No
chutes were seen. About 10 seconds after this plane was hit another one was
hit, but the pilot turned sharply to the left and waited for his crew to bail
out. Seven chutes were seen before the plane completely fell apart. Shortly
after this another ship met the same fate, only I didn't see this one, the
navigator reported it. A plane was hit in its number 3 engine and started
smoking. Next a plane lost it's left rudder and elevator shot away. It
immediately went into a 900 bank and peeled off to the right in
order to miss the formation. This ship probably and no doubt had a good pilot
and he managed to get into the rear of the formation and get the plane and crew
safely home. The flak quit then and all was well once more. Boy what a 30
second period that was. I sat down at this point and thanked the Lord for
keeping us all in one piece. Most of the Crew saw these unfortunate planes, and
all were a little sick and disgusted. That's war and all its gains. Our flight
back home was very uneventful for no one felt like saying too much. The landing
of Dan's was a little sloppy but then he hasn't been first pilot for over a
month and needs to get back on the ball again. Before we had one foot on the
ground, the bombs and gasoline were already waiting for us. What efficiency! We
walked to the briefing room, ate and were off again. The take off was late but
after sweating out the take off we were in the air. These takeoffs are
miraculous, with 6000 lbs of bombs and 2700 gallons of gas. Every inch of runway is used and needed. If any thing even slackens of an
instant, sure death is very probable. We circled a couple times and the tower
called us back to land for the mission was cancelled. Now landing with this
load is a lot worse than takeoff. This was something to sweat about. The plane
was brought in at 135 with three heavy bumps. Nevertheless we were safe again for
At night we went to a show,
which wasn't too bad. Will came in feeling good again and the night ended in
discussion. I now have 6 missions, which includes 5 sorties. I now have the Air
May 13, 1944
Our briefing was at 0830 and
our wheels left the ground at 1020. Our target was to be the marshalling yards
at Piacenza in Northern Italy, just south of Milan. After a rough takeoff and
finding our position in formation, we took our course toward the front at 1100.
We were to parade down the front again in order to enlighten the hearts of the
men below, who were fighting in the mire. When we reached the sea we turned
right and again paralleled the coast of Italy. I saw the Anzio beachhead and
noticed fires all along it. Two ships were burning just off shore. Going up the
coast I saw the Tiber River and followed it with my eyes till I saw Rome in the distant on it's famous hills. On our way we passed near Sardinia and Corsica, then between the cities of Genoa and La Spegia, our formation reached the coast
again and headed for our Initial Point. Our bombs left the plane at 1453 and I
followed them together with those of the group until they hit the target. For
the first time, the bombs hit the target and ours hit squarely on them. The
much anticipated flak did not come up so this turned out to be a milk run.
While we headed back the 50 miles to the sea, I saw the sky full of bombers and
saw tons smoldering from bombs. Northern Italy took a beating today. On the way
back home, at least 200 bombers flew a formation which would scare anyone.
Planes fly below and above you, some passing and some slowing down. Nothing
happened on the way back so this mission was somewhat easy although it did last
over 8 hours. I have now dropped 36,000 lbs of bombs and we should all be expendable because we have destroyed a lot.
Nothing came about at night
since we were all tired and then it was late anyway. Some of the boys came over
and we commenced in our usual discussion.
Will hasn't come in yet but
when he does he'll be stewed sure as hell.
May 14, 1944
Sunday Mother's Day #8
Briefing started at 0630 and
our target was to be Vicenza and we were to use 10 – 500lbs. incendiary bombs
on some railroad repair shops. Our wheels took off at 0815 and we were on our
way. Most of our crew didn't fly this mission but the rest of us that did fly
were split up. Baze and I flew together and Kelley flew in another ship. The
scrubs, or what is known as the fourth team were to fly today and let the first
team rest. Now we are on the first team and this ride is a drawback. The trip
over was uneventful so I listened to music as we went over. We hit the
Jugoslavia coast and flak, heavy and accurate came up. The right box really got
a load of it but no one was hit. We had to drop our bombs in the sea because
the motors were slackening and the pilot couldn't keep up with the formation
with a full bomb load. As we reached the shore more flak came up. This fourth
team is a honey. The Navigator missed the initial point and the bombardier
couldn't see the target. I saw it in the distance and I couldn't figure what
the score was. We passed it and then made a sharp turn and made our run. No
flak was encountered. When we were at the release point the leader turned
sharply to the left but our second attack unit started dropping in the turn.
Boy this fourth team scrubs are a dilley. The bombs fell all over the country
side. Some, a very few hit the target area, how could they miss. They hit
everything in the Po Valley. What was worse we circled around for a second bomb
run. This time the planes which didn't drop the bombs did in this next run and
the target was hit good and then to make things worse, a couple of planes
turned around to make another run. Planes were all over the sky. We finally
passed Venice and started home. At this point the formation was so screwed up
that I turned the Compass radio on and listened to the music. Nothing much
happened on the way back. I did see a lot of harbors in both friendly and enemy
territory and watched some sunken ships in the harbor.
We landed and the rest of the
day was ours, what was left of it.
Our night ended with a
discussion with the crew, and the old man left us early in order to check out
the club. I have now 8 missions and have dropped 41,000 lbs of bombs.
May 15, 1944
No mission was scheduled for
today so that means another day to live. Anytime we're not scheduled then
that's all we can think of. Nothing happened to speak of this day but the
pilots all had a meeting with the Colonel. If I'd have given a lecture like he
did, I'd hide my head in shame. Because the bombardiers are obstinate in
dropping bombs all together, he wants to put a toggle switch in each pilots
dashboard. When he said this most of the bombardiers and I took our wings off
and threw 'em away. What good are they now? Might as well not be a bombardier.
Any stup that would say a thing like that ought to hang himself. This is my
At night after a strenuous game
of volleyball, we all went to the club and drank away. We sang and drank the
night thru because tomorrow has no mission.
The old man came in loot again.
May 16, 1944
I received my first letter
today but it was sent Apr 7 to Boise and this naturally is kind of late. Elizabeth wrote it and it wasn't bad at all. In the afternoon Kelley and I went to Oria
and walked the streets looking at all the people and stuff. Boy these places
are filthy but what can one expect when the Germans got thru. I noticed, the
little children and wondered how they would grow up if they were in America. We walked all around and inside an old church which is 300 years old. These
Italian churches are beautiful inside. Then we toured the inside of an old
castle which was something like 1200 years old.
At night Dan Just Kelley Wally
and I went into anther discussion. Baze hasn't come in yet but I know what he
will be like.
Kelley Just and I went to Mass
and communion today.
May 17, 1944
After a restless night we awakened
at 0700 for briefing at 0745. Our target for today was to be San Stefano again.
As I remembered correctly the last time we bombed that place we lost 3 ships
out of 35. These boys are pretty good. Our plane took off at 1032 and at 1107
we were on our way. We passed over Mount Vesuvius, Naples and the Isle of
Capri. The trip was boring but I did look at the Anzio beachhead again and
watched the fires and tracers. We swung wide of our target while other groups
bombed first. The barrage they threw up was terrific and don't think we didn't
shiver. Our turn was next so we went in full of vigor and stuff like that. Our
bombs dropped at 1332 amid a sky full of flak. The target was hit like a ton of
bricks. Bombs fell all over the harbor installations and the flak was still
flying. Our rendezvous was a wide sweep to the left. We could see the target
smoking and we watched the other groups bomb. One plane in the 449th
blew up but five chutes. The trip home was easy and we landed at 1630. Coffee
and doughnuts were waiting for us when we landed and all was fine
again, for another day.
We talked at night in our room
and waited for old Baze to come in, in his usual manner, "I love it here".
May 18, 1944
Thursday #10 Ascension
Our briefing was at 0600 and
our target was to be the Ploesti oil refineries again. We're fighting a battle
of three fronts. We help the British and 8th Air Force on the second
front. We help those on the Cassino line and now we help the Russians on their
own Front. The Russians are now 100 miles from Ploesti and well on their way to grab it. We took off at 0730 and started on our way at
0810 for the Jugoslavian Coast. The weather looked bad all the way but the
leader of the group Col. Gideon wouldn't heed any others thoughts. When we
reached the Danube river, the flak began and came in buckets full. Our position
in the formation was number 3 spot on the high right box of the first attack
unit. I looked back and watched the old flak try it's luck. One ship in the
second attack unit was hit and turned back. After flying thru this stuff for a
few minutes, the Colonel decided to call it quits because of the weather so we
flew around in circles for awhile over Roumania. Finally we headed homeward
again and all was well for another day. Landing with a full bombload is still a
problem and we all sweat it out. Why they do it, God only knows.
Coffee and doughnuts were
awaiting us again and the rest of the afternoon was spent in rest. Some of us
went to town for awhile and slept till supper time.
Then the officers drank awhile
in the club until it was time to get to bed. Old Baze came in as usual.
May 19, 1944
Our briefing was held at 0430 in the dark hours of early morning. Our target was to be La Spezia, Italy and we took off at
0535. We took the number 6 position on the high right box of the lead attacked
unit. Again our course took us up to the Gustov line and westward to the sea.
This is purely morale building for the foot soldiers below. Big Red the Gladiator
led the formation so we could expect a lot of crazy flying and it came. Our
trip to the target was uneventful and no fighters were seen. One leg of our
course crossed Sardina and Corsica. The target came into view on our starboard
side and then we swing onto it. Since the marshalling yards, which our unit was
to hit was obscured by smoke, we swung to the next marshalling yard, nearest
the harbor installation. Our bombs dropped at 1018 and the flak from 96 guns
was heavy and accurate. The bombs dropped on the yards, the oil refineries near
them and the harbor plus a few ships in them. The concentration was beautiful.
Then we headed home in thru the three layers of clouds and as was expected Big
Red screwed up the works by trying to go thru them. We passed over the Anzio beachhead and watched the heavy guns pound away from both sides. Three cruisers and
several destroyers pound away from their decks into the defenses of the
Germans. Fires were all over and strafing was seen on both sides. At this time
one of our planes landed at Naples because of engine trouble and another
ditched 50 yards from the beach at Naples. We later heard that the pilot and
navigator both died in the procedure. We landed and everything was in order
again for another day.
At night we drank and talked in
the club and the old Man was feeling happy again.
May 20, 1944
No mission was scheduled today
so this was our rest day. We did have to arrange our room properly to meet the
usual Saturday morning's inspection.
Nothing happened for the rest
of the morning except sleeping and eating.
At night tho we had a little
trouble. We were drinking in the Club till 2300 and the Old Man and Gage were
stewed as usual. Dan and I were in bed for just a few minutes when Old Baze
came in looking for a flashlight. He and Gage found a jeep and were going to
Oria. They were driving down the road and because of Bills reckless driving the
jeep overturned and Bill bruised his arm. He was sent to the hospital and Gage
took the jeep home. This jeep belonged to some Colonel and since it was stolen
and damaged, both may be court martialed. This remains to be seen,
nevertheless, Baze is in the hospital and Gage is sweating out the trouble in
May 21, 1944
Well we have been here a month
now and have 11 missions so far.
I went to church in Manduria at
1100 for the first time on Sunday in four weeks. Usually we have a big mission
on Sunday but this Sunday was ours. In the afternoon, we just slept and ate and
batted the breeze for awhile. Old Baze was still in the hospital and an investigation
is going on.
At night we watched the fights,
which are held once a week and our night ended in the Club. Since we have no
light in our room, we have to spend our time in the Club.
May 22, 1944
The fourth team went out to fly
today so we had another day to rest. Our former co-pilot Just, since he's on
the scrubs went with them.
Nothing was done today except
the usual sleep and eat. We did go to town and walked around for awhile, and
then we batted the breeze with the crew. Just and the formation came back early
because weather was bad at the briefed target. And as usual they screwed up the
works again and missed everything but the country side.
We spent some time in the club
waiting for the show to start. We saw Sweet Rosie O'Grady and it wasn't bad at
We still miss the old man but I
imagine he's having a wonderful time in the hospital.
May 23, 1944
Our briefing started at 0600
and our target was to be Frascati, Italy. It is between Rome and the Anzio beachhead. In fact the target was only 8 miles from the flak infested Rome area. The Anzio lines laid five miles away to the south and Cassino laid 15 miles to the Southest. We were to bomb troop concentration. We took off at 0725 and took our
course at 0830. We reached the beachhead and started in. I stared out the side
window and watched the artillery dual between our boys and the Germans. I saw
explosions and fires on both sides. Dogfights were seen with our P-38 doing the
better work. Boy the land under us was just sizzling with Germans and
artillery. We didn't see the target the first time so we circled the entire
area and came in again and hit the target. Boy that flak was plentiful and
accurate. Almost all ships were hit in some way but none went down. They must
have shot everything they had because all kinds of shells came up, from 20mm to
105mm. I looked at Rome on the way and just imagined how many Nazis were in it
and what they were doing. We came over Anzio and watched the show again, in the
harbor a destroyer was shooting depth charges at an enemy sub. Boy everything
was going on in this section. We landed at 1300 and ate Dinner.
Nothing of importance happened
the rest of the day. However Just, Kelley and I saw the movie held outdoors on
the field and this picture was really damn good, "Meet Mr. John Doe".
May 24, 1944
I want to dedicate this day to
a great lad. He was just a big lanky boy from the Midwest but he was a great
fellow both in our hearts and everyone he came in contact with. Invariably, I
want to dedicate this day for all the draft-dodgers and intentional 4-F's.
Our crew did not fly today,
thank God, but Lt. Just our former co-pilot flew with Lt Hollander's crew. The
target was the dreaded Wiener Neustadt, Germany. They took off at 0530 when
most of us were asleep. At 1300 they returned, who returned, just a mere hulk
of planes in disorder. Nine planes out of 40 didn't come back or will ever see
this field again. This is what the boys call a tough mission but in some mens
mind these missions are not quite enough to be awarded the Distinguished Flying
Cross. Kelley our tail gunner was flying too, in a lead ship.
Did you ever see a man sit down
and cry, yes cry till his eyes are swollen? There were a lot of them today who
lost buddies in this air battle, they're the men to be sorry for. These brave
men came into this war, not because they were mad at anybody not because they
love to kill people, no their in there to end a war in a hurry so all men may
have freedom again. Who's freedom we often ask? Ours! And every man who
partakes in this war. To the draft dodgers too, yes! They're our American
friends, they live in our own country, we fight for them too. Why do the draft
dodger, dodge the draft? Anyone knows. They are afraid of getting blood
splattered across their chests, they are afraid to lose their jobs and the
chance of grabbing other servicemen's wives, they are afraid to lose their
positions, when this is all over. But what's the difference, there are a lot
of worth while men and boys to take their places in uniform. Are we any
different when death looks us in the eye? We're scared too, scared of blood on
our chests, scared for our wives and children, but we cannot think of our own
selfish want. We're in here to save humanity and what will we get out of it?
Yes we all know, some will be crippled for life, some will lose their minds
some will not come back at all. But the draft dodgers will live. Yes they'll
reap our works with no conscience at all. I only hope that some day, they too
will learn what it takes to suffer.
When the first sweep of enemy
planes came thru the formation, two ships were knocked out. Lt Just was in one
of them. From the best reports only two waist men were able to bail out before
the ship lurched upward than started a mad screaming plunge earthward in a
dreaded vertical dive. Other ships went down too from all boxes, especially those
in the rear. One by one, they fell and German planes fell too. But what is
forty ships against a hundred and fifty. Yes the escorts were there only too
late and not enough to stem the tide. There were other groups in the air too
but our group got the brunt of the attack. Why. We are the Cottontail group,
the one Hitler himself ordered out of Italy in 48 hours or be shot down. He's
doing it. The Goering Yellow Nosed Squadron, the Abbeville kids were up today.
These boys are the aces of the German Luftwaffe. On and on they came charging
and slashing thru the formations knocking them down or killing others in the
more lucky planes. Most of the gun turrets were out and the gunners just sat
there waiting to get a 50 cal. thru their heads if not more. The target was
missed and they came again after the turn homeward was made, they were in for
the kill now. Not for long tho. Our P-38's our saviors were there and stemmed
the tide. P-51's were around but they didn't do too good until, the faithful
38's came to our final rescue.
The landings were bad back at
the field. Most of the ships had flat tires and ruined nose wheels. Many of them
plowed thru the ground. Luckily none were serious. A lot of wounded and dead
were picked up by our awaiting ambulances. All planes had flak holes and bullet
holes somewhere on the fuselages. This mission was very, very unsuccessful.
I want to make a final
statement for all you draft dodgers, stay out of my way at all times. When I
think of you, I think of my old friend, Just. I don't think that I'll ever come
back, but if I do after this war, stay out of my way. You're marked men and
I'll win the last fight with any of you.
May 25, 1944
Briefing was changed from 0600
to 0800 and this didn't hurt us one bit. Our target was to be an oil refinery
at Porto Marchera near Venice, Italy. The trip up there was uneventful. All the
way, I couldn't help thinking of Just but so do all of us. We reached our
initial point a few minutes late as was scheduled and then we were on our way
down the run. Bombs went away at1235 and we made our mad dash homeward. Those
oil refineries and oil storage tanks were literally blown off the face of the
earth when our bombs struck. Smoke rose to over 12,000 ft. The ack-ack was moderate for us in the first attack unit because we surprised them on the
ground, but the boys in back of us, the second attack unit got quite a bit. I
sweated this mission out because it was the unlucky 13th but this
wasn't bad at all. The trip back wasn't exciting, just a lot of water until we
hit Bari and worked our way inland.
When we got back, the supply
section were moving out the clothes and equipment of the boys who went down
yesterday, and there were a lot of them. I did manage to acquire a few of
Just's personal articles such as his shaver, pistol, flashlight and stationary
equipment which I will give to his brother in Foggia.
We spent the night in our room
discussing the outcome of the next mission.
May 26, 1944
We sweated this briefing out
because we figured it would be Wiener Neustadt again since briefing was to be
held at 0430. But instead we were to hit Nice, France that railroad repair shop
and the marshalling yards. We crossed over the islands of Capri, Pantelleria
and Corsica., and then we reached the French coast over the famous Riviera and followed the coast till we reached our target. Bombs fell at 1031 and again we
blew our target off the map. The bombs fell directly on them and all the
surrounding area. Then we scooted homeward losing altitude as is the usual
procedure. The flak was heavy but was to our right since the guns were far from
our target. The homeward journey was uneventful but many B-25's were seen
flying at very low altitude, searching for subs and strafing enemy positions on
the French and Italian coasts. At our briefing we were told that this raid
would entitle us to be members of the invasion force. They said that this is
were the invasion will be only the time for it was still the secret. Corsica is now jammed with the Free French and American troops. Yesterday the Anzio beachhead was at last joined with the Allied front so now we have a continuous front
line again. Between Corsica and Italy I saw three cruisers protecting a
When we landed old Baze was
there to greet us. His arm was just slightly bruised but he and Gage have still
to face a General Court Martial to be held in a couple of weeks at Bari.
Nothing took place at night
except for discussions with some of the crew and a show at a darker hour. After
five days in the hospital, the old man came in stewed again, just for a change.
May 27, 1944
Another early briefing and
again we sweated. 0430 in the morning is too early to fool around. Our target
was the main marshalling yards at Marseilles, France. This hop is probably the
longest that our group ever takes since the total distance covered over 1500 miles. We took off at 0610 and were on our way at 0651. I slept most of the trip over but I slid
open my eyes occasionally to see Corsica. We hit the Coast of France about 30 east of Marseilles and headed inland. At this coast position, flak was met
and this was really heavy and accurate. They had the bead on it but not quite
enough to destroy my plane. However a few were hit. There were planes all over
the sky, since the 15th Air Force was having another field day and
bombers with escorts just covered the air. Flak was seen around every group.
We hit Marseilles at 1051 amid
a thick blanket of flak from 61 guns. Then we made our way homeward and
shooting our guns just to get rid of the ammunition. I slept most of the trip
and when I wasn't sleeping I was worry about our diminishing gas load. We broke
formation and headed for home in one straight line. Boy the gas was getting
lower and lower. We hit the field and broke into the pattern. The gas left in
the tanks wouldn't even dampen a dish rag.
We spent the rest of the afternoon
as usual, eating and resting. At night we talked and sang at the club and when
I left, old Baze was loading up so we can all expect the condition he'll be in
when he gets into the barracks.
May 29, 1944
Well today was our day for we were
going to rest camp and it was about time. At 0830, we headed for Santa Ceasara
where the camp was located and which was about 70 miles away and to the southeast toward the southern tip of Italy. I was in the front seat so as I
may see the scenery better. As the truck rolled on I couldn't help to notice
the beautiful farms, orchards and gardens. These Italian will do anything in
order to beautify their property, but they neglect their personal selfs. The
farms are more sought after than a lot of our own homes. Acres and acres went
by. We passed thru many small towns, while they gazed at us and were constantly
begging for cigarettes and gum. This will happen in any town in Italy. The truck reached the first large town in this area and was called Lecce. People
seem to be more civilized here than in most cities and are more modern.
We finally reached our
destination of Santa Ceasara and the blue Mediterranean sea and boy it was
blue. After we sacked our equipment away in our room, Dan and I ate dinner. I can
see now that this place is one of rest. Later on in the day I took a bicycle
ride up in the hills and later took a sailboat out on the sea. At night we all
attended the movie show held on the terrace. Then we all retired. Walsh had a
toothache and went to the dentist in Lecce.
May 30, 1944
Another day of loafing. This
rest camp deal is going to ruin me yet. This sea is very beautiful at anytime
of the day or night. And we are all soaking it in. The food is excellent, the
quarters are magnificent and the air is very salty. Just like home.
May 31, 1944
We only stay till dinner and
then we have to return to our base. The boys relieving us told a sad story when
they mentioned that our Group had two missions to the dreaded Wiener Neustadt
and planes were lost from flak. Today the mission was to be Ploesti. Then we
were on our way at last from this fearful place. I enjoyed the trip back to
Manduria just as well as I did going to the camp. Nothing of importance
happened at the base and the night was spent as ever.
June 1, 1944
We were not scheduled for any
missions today, so here was another day of rest. Dan and I were sitting in our
room talking when Just walked in and I calmly said, "Hello" to him and
continued my talk with Dan. Then we both jumped him, shaking his hand all the
time. It sure was nice to see him again since we thought that he was a goner.
He looked healthy and that's all that necessary. He had a lot to tell us, of
his experiences in traveling thru Jugoslavia and such. Most of the day was
spent talking with him.
The night was spent as usual
and the Old Man came in drunk again.
June 2, 1944
Briefing was at 0400 and our
target was to be Simeria, Roumania. There were some marshalling yards to be
destroyed and we were to do it. Takeoff was at 0530 and we were on our way over
the Adriatic Sea toward Jugoslavia. Before we reached the coast however Dan
sighted engine troubles and turned back and landed the ship. Another milk run
lost. So we just waited around sweating out the boys.
There was nothing to be done at
the present so we just loafed around all day. When the Group returned all was
safe, and no one missing. Again the night was spent like most nights are spent,
going to a movie some becoming drunk especially Old Baze.
June 3, 1944
Briefing was at 0500 and our
target was to be Giurgia, Roumania and another milk run. However before
briefing ended the mission was cancelled and again a milk run was lost. So we
had a day of rest. It seems that's all we are doing is resting. Well what can
one expect of combat. We either are working our ass off or doing nothing at
all. Most of the time was spent talking with the crew.
Night ended as all nights do.
June 4, 1944
Since it was Sunday we were
briefed for our Sunday-special and this time it was Genoa, Italy and more marshalling yards again. We took off after our 0600 briefing, at 0720 and headed for
San Vito. At this point however Dan became sick with the G.I.'s. This is
getting to be monotonous and again we were to miss a milk run.
So we sweated the boys out
again. All returned safely.
Just, Kelley and I went to Mass
at 1100 in Manduria and came back after it was over. Dan was feeling better now
but he was grounded for tomorrows flight. Now we are to miss another run. We
also learned that we are to pull OD for the next 24 hours. So I started my
shift at 1922. At night despite this task I did manage to see the fights.
June 6, 1944
Tuesday #16 and 17
Briefings these days are being
early since summer days are coming. We had ours today at 0345 and our target,
Roumano-Americano oil refineries at Ploesti, Roumania. We flew around and left
San Vito at 0530 and on our way. Our position in the formation wasn't too bad.
Number six on the low left of the first attack unit. There were quite a few
groups in the air and this was to be another 15th Air Force field
day. The trip over wasn't too eventful except for the scenery and the occasional
flak. Clouds were forming underneath as we went down the run and the bombs
dropped amid the clouds. Later we heard from S-2 that the target was hit. Some
planes were hit and so was ours but no one was hurt. Over the target we were
split up due to another group's run on the target. Their bombs just missed our
wings while other planes had to dodge them. Coming home was easy except that we
had no generators and couldn't read the instruments.
In the afternoon, we just
rested, sat around and talked. This is about the only thing one can do.
At night we went to the show as
usual and the old man felt good again.
June 7, 1944
No mission was scheduled for
today because of bad weather and it seems that the Big Fence is planning new
places to bomb since the second Front started last night. We can expect tough
We just loafed around all day
and just discussed about current situations. At night most of the boys drank
and had somewhat of a good time in the Club.
June 8, 1944
Bad weather still hampered any
mission which was to be scheduled and the big boys are still planning big
missions. At 0830 we had an hour of close-order drill and the rest of the day
was spent in rest.
We went to town in the
afternoon for our rations and at night we saw the movies which is held
June 9, 1944
Friday #18 and 19
Well today is the day we start
our new campaign against Germany. Our briefing was at 0345 and our target was
to be Oberphoffenhofen or Munich, Germany, in case the weather was too bad. We
sweated this one out all the way because a raid on Germany is different than a
raid in occupied countries. They put their heart in these in order to save
their own homes. So you can't blame them much. This is going to be one of the
longest flights of our group and will cover some 1500 miles. We took off at 0530 and on our way at 0548 and on our way up the Adriatic Sea toward Venice. We did reach the tip of the Sea and then headed toward the Alps. Before we got
there however, we met flak from some Italian city and four ships were hit and
peppered with steel. Then over the Alps. Those Alps mountains are a lot more
beautiful than the Rocky Mountains and a lot higher. Finally we come to flat
country again and this was Germany. Munich was on our left and few circled to
the right and attached the city from the North in order to benefit from the
direct tail wind coming from the North. Flak was met but the Second Attack unit
got the worst of it. I saw the town or I should say large city of Munich and saw the bombs dropped amid it. Then we headed home at the rate of 300 M.P.H. ground speed. Just then our number four engine had to be feathered and then we commenced
to sweat again. Nevertheless we took a shortcut and beat the rest of the group
home and were the first to land. Some of the towns which we passed over or came
near to in Germany were Aichach, Augsburg, Regensburg, Dashau and Landeberg.
We rested and discussed most of
the afternoon and then went to the show at night.
June 10, 1944
Briefing was at 0445 which was
late for a change. Our target was to be the oil refinery at Triesti, Italy. Incidentally this is supposed to be the last oil refinery in Northern Italy. I listened to
the music on the way until we neared the I.P. Our position was the dreaded
Purple Heart portion number seven in the high right in the second attack unit.
We were the last plane in the wing to fly over this target. We reached the I.P.
and our run was started. There were quite a few bombers in the air and very
close together. At least 140 planes hit the target in less than 5 minutes. The
flak was heavy and accurate as we reached the target. The electrical bomb
release was frozen and I had to salvo the bombs and naturally they fell late.
Nevertheless we learned later that some of our bombs hit squarely in the middle
of a marshalling yard, destroying rails and rolling stocks. So our trip wasn't
so bad after all. The target was hit in the middle and storage tanks blew up
and two 10,000 ton freighters were hit in the harbor. Not a bad mission at all.
Then we gradually lost altitude battling along at 180 toward home. Enemy fighters
were seen at the target but our escort dealt with them.
We landed just in time for
dinner. In the afternoon, more resting and more discussion took place. Kelley
our tail gunner was promoted to Staff Sergeant and that made him very happy.
At night we were guests to the
enlisted men's new service club and boy what a honey that is. Our night ended
in a discussion and the old man getting lit.
June 11, 1944
We had a day off today or at
least our crew did. The rest of the crews were briefed for a double mission
milk run to Constanta, Roumania.
There was nothing else to do
but sit and sweat the boys out. During the day most of our time was spent in
At night we all went to the show
and the old man came in lit again.
June 12, 1944
No mission was scheduled for
today, but a group practice mission was held. Dan was to fly number three
position of the lead box in the second attack unit, I guess they're trying to
test him out. Well, he flew good formation but was called down by Major Davis
because he happened to turn around at the wrong time. Now we are still in the
old number seven position of the high right.
At night we went to the show
June 13, 1944
Briefing was at 0430 and our
target was to be Germany and we all knew what that meant. Our target: the
Foche-Wulf Engine Manufacturing factories just outside of Munich. Our Group was
to lead the Wing over the target. Our position was number seven in the high right
box of the first attack unit. Our course took us up the Adriatic and hit land
again just twenty miles east of Venice. Our altitude was 20,000 then and we
didn't lower till five hours later. As we sped across northern Italy, flak was thrown up at a few scattered places but no one was hit seriously. Then we
started our trip over the spacious Alps. These are undoubtedly the most
beautiful mountains I have ever seen. There are broad valleys among the many
jagged peaks and river beds all over. Our escorts were flying continuously over
us, keeping a good sky carpet and the enemy fighters away. Munich was 25 miles to our left as we went past it in order to attack from the north and take advantage of the
winds aloft. A beautiful smoke screen was laid over the target so naturally we
had to pick another and we did, the city of Munich itself. At this point, Scott
was hit with flak. His crew had 49 missions and were finishing today but their
plane went down. Some chutes were seen opening, but then the plane headed toward
Switzerland. Anderson who was once our fist pilot for our first six missions
was co-pilot. We lost a few other planes in that flak. That flak was the
heaviest flak that we have ever seen. The sky was actually dark with the stuff.
Munich is a large and pretty city from the air but our enemy inhabited it and
that makes it just another target. Fights between the escorts and German
pursuits took place near the target area. I saw one fighter go down. We sweated
most of the way back since our plane hasn't got a good reputation. Nevertheless
we finally made it home and all was well again for another day.
At night we went to the G.I.
short movies at our open theatre.
June 14, 1944
For a very good change, our
briefing was late, 0530 and our target was to be Osijek, Jugoslavia, just a
milk run. Flak was not to be encountered and no fighter opposition was
expected. A typical milk run. There were no fighters nor was there no flak. The
target was demolished beyond recognition, and then we headed back to our base.
There isn't much to do here
after a mission except to sleep or play volleyball. Most of the time it's
sleeping and this we did. Sometimes when a plane or two goes down with some of
the crews getting out or not, there isn't too much excitement around the
barracks for the next few days. We lost some during that first Munich raid and the fellows have just started to come out of it. It's just another one of
those things in war.
Dan and I toured the S-2 room
again in order to get the latest dope on the fronts. San Stefano and Orbetello
were captured and we are all happy to see this. Some of our toughest rides thru
flak was over these places.
At night we all went to see the
movies and the old man was lit again.
June 15, 1944
Our target was to be Arob., Rumania but due to weather, the mission was cancelled. Now we had a well earned
day-off. Nevertheless at 0830 we were out drilling as the case is when we have
a day to ourselves. In the afternoon, some of us went to town for our weekly
rations and laundry. It seems every time I walk along the street of Manduria,
it's always interesting. One meets such different people at every corner. Dan
and I just walk and laugh to ourselves and sometimes very publicly. We think
the Italians are stupid, may be they are or maybe we are. Customs are different
and this seems to be the main reason. This is s country torn apart by both
sides so what can anyone expect. The way I look at it is that Italy will be very slow in recovery chiefly because they just don't want to be changed. It
took 2000 years for Italy to fall and it'll take at least twice that much to
The Italians gave us a show
tonight and it wasn't bad at all. A young singer soprano took the show even if
they did have seven half naked boys out on the stage.
June 16, 1944
Briefing was early as usual
0415 and we all expected a rough mission. Our target was the synthetic oil
refinery in Brateslava, Czechoslovakia just thirty miles east of Vienna, Austria. We took off at 0530 and were on our way to the Jugoslavia coast. All thru
the trip flak was encountered. Not all the way, just at intermediate points
which couldn't be briefed because the German mobile guns were always shifting
from town to town. When we were forty miles away from the target the fighters
came and whizzed thru our formations like a cyclone. On and on they came blazing
away with .50 cal machine guns and 20mm cannons. All our gunners were blazing
away. I shifted from window to window calling off the planes as they came. The
number seven ship on the low left was hit and eight of the crew bailed out as
an ME-109 kept hitting the helpless ship. The ship finally spun to the ground
and blew up with at least one crew member gone, the pilot. Two other B-24's
blew up in the other group which were all over the sky. Me-109's and JU-88's
were also going down. Just as the fighters were attempting another sweep thru
our formations, our old friends, the P-38's breezed in and took care of the
rest. We were then near the target and I started synchronizing. Between this
and looking out for fighters, I did not notice the heavy and accurate flak
around us. The target was completely destroyed and smoke rose to over 17,000 feet. When the group turned left off the target, the three boxes of our unit mingled close
together waiting tensely for the next attack from the fighters. I looked to the
right and saw parts of Vienna smoking. Only a few causal fighters came in and
then ceased entirely. Now we could relax and thank the Lord for saving us.
There is only one hope and
direction we can turn to on a mission, the Lord. Whether a person believes in
Christ or not, when the time comes, he will pray to some God. He is the only
Person who holds the final string. We can only thank Him.
At night we went to the show
and saw Bing Crosby portray a priest in "Going My Way".
June 17, 1944
Briefing was late 0545 we
figured on a milk run and it was. The target was to be Aral, Jugslavia and no
flak or fighters were expected. However as we were getting onto the plane, the
mission was cancelled. Then we commenced to drill at 1000 because our barracks
failed to pass the usual Saturday inspection. In the afternoon we rested.
I have now 25 missions and am
what the combat men call "over the hump". Whether I get thru or not remains to
be seen. Starting my last 25 is like beginning the first 25. If and when I do
get thru, there is a first lieutenant's paper and a one-way ticket home which
is waiting for me. There are rumors here that when this group reaches 100
missions, the entire field personnel, combat crews and mechanics will be
shipped back to the states were they'll stay for 8 months for B-29 training.
Then they'll be sent to the South Pacific. The Group now has 88 sorties and if the
rumor is right then I'll have to be included in it. I hope that it is wrong. I
want to be finished with combat and just have my 50 missions.
June 18, 19, 20, 21 Sunday, Monday,
Nothing happened on these days,
since missions were cancelled on each of these days. Weather seems to cover all
of Europe and will hang on for quite some time.
During the day we slept or
June 22, 1944
Briefing was late 0630 so we
figured a short milk run. It was short but not too much of an easy mission. Our
target was too be Udine, Italy just a few miles northeast of Venice. However
when we reached the coastline near Venice the area toward the target was
weathered in so we took an alternate run. We picked on Ferrara and made a dash
for it. That flak they sent up wasn't too much but those boys really were on
the beam. Dan and I figured that the gunner from San Stefano must have moved up
there. The sky was just littered with aircraft, both bombers and escort
Nothing came about during the
rest of the day, there never is anyway. A little game of volleyball started and
ended up with a show at night.
June 23, 1944
We had our briefing at 0500 and
our target was to be one of our old friends, the Americano, Roumano oil
refineries at Ploesti. Those fellows down there always throw up a good flak
barrage and the area is always covered up with smoke. We were suppose to finish
it off today. We took off at 0625 and an hour later we were on course toward
the Jugoslavia coast. Clouds just filled the sky. Major Davis was leading and
screwed up as usual and the formation broke up in the clouds. After everyone
was either diving or climbing then, a few ships managed to form together and
return to the Base. Another mission shot to hell.
In the afternoon, the usually
procedure of sleeping and discussing took place. We finally received our
"coveted" air medal. What a piece of juke that is. I hope somebody nails me if
they ever catch me wearing it.
June 24, 1944
Briefing was at 0415 and our
target, over old faithful, the Americano-Roumano oil refinery at Ploesti. Weather was closing in all around us but that don't stop this outfit. We climbed
high over the field burning our engines up in order to rise up over the clouds.
Then we headed toward Jugoslavia leading the wing. We were at high attitude and
straining a gut all the way. After about an hour, gas started leaking out of
the right auxiliary tank so we had to return to our base. Shortly after we left
the formation, a ME-210 started following us. We waited for him to make a pass
with his rockets blazing but Dan was flying too close to the clouds for him to
try any passes. At 17,000, Dan started his descent thru the clouds which were
about 13,000 ft thick. Rain was pouring in from all cracks. Then finally at 6,000 ft we broke out and found ourselves over the southern tip of Italy. We landed and sweated out
the boys back from the mission. They finally did come back, not all of them but
most of the group did finally string-in. Six planes failed to return, some were
shot down over the target, others bailed out over enemy territory. A few ships
were shot to pieces by both flak and fighters. And still the target was missed.
I've finally decided to invest my money in the refinery because business is
At night we discussed the
events of the day and drank in the club at night.
June 25, 1944
Our Sunday "Special" started
with briefing at 0345 and take off at 0520. Our target the submarine dry docks
at Toulon, France. Weather was setting in around the area and we had to circle
high in order to fly over the cloud formations. Our position was advanced, No 5
of the high right in the second attack unit. The way to the target was a
straight one, over Corsica and this ship we had, its first time in action since
it was new, flew the grade easily. This happened to be the first time our crew
has had the privilege to fly in one. Most of the planes here are ready to fall
apart. We flew to the west of Toulon and then started down our run. But the
target was overcast and we had to hold our bombs. Flak was sent up however,
thus the clouds and the ship was hit a few times. Out over the sea I dropped my
Our trip back was thru weather
so the Group split up automatically and planes flew in pairs or triplets.
Before the break up however, Dan let me fly a little formation. We landed with
a ship just 50 ft above and 50 ft in back of us. Everyone on the ground was
waiting for us to crack up but we both hit the runway, together and nothing
drastic occurred but we sure gave a show for those who were watching. There
happened to be two American Generals and two Mexican Generals on the ramp at
the time and were certainly amazed at this formation landing.
At night we drank in the club
and listened to some sharpie on the piano. Will is getting tight again as
June 26, 1944
Monday #28 and 29
Briefing was at 0400 and our
target was to be the plane assembly plants at Schwechat, Austria. We took off at 0520 and headed toward Jugoslavia. We were flying the number three spot on
the high right in the second attack unit. This was to be another 15th
Air Force raid in the Vienna area. As we were on our way to the area, fierce
dogfights between our escorts and the German interceptors were seen. I watched
a P-38 shoot down an ME-109 thousands of feet below us and watched the Jerry go
down amid an explosion. Others were seen to go with him. We were off course but
quickly we were on it again when we reached the I. P. We were on the bombing
run then. I looked over at Vienna just 20 miles away and saw the huge blanket of flak sent over that city. Nevertheless the B-17 took their medicine and bombed
targets within the town proper. The target was completely demolished. Just a
very few of our bombs were outside the area. German planes were on the field
next to the plant. Our ship was hit a few times but no one was hit. While I was
searching thru my bombsight, the plane's nose was pierced by flak. On the way
back, we dodged more flak near the Wiener Neustadt assembly plant. We finally came
home and had our coffee and doughnuts as usual. Out of that raid our group lost
only two ships. Other groups were hit bad. A B-17 wing lost 36 planes while
others lost more.
We went to the movies at night and
discussed matters there till we went to bed.
I have now completed 29
missions and have still 21 to go. It's just like starting over again with each
mission getting tougher and tougher.
June 27, 1944
Briefing started at 0515 and
our target was to be the airdrome of Budapest, Hungary. Our group was trying
out a new type of attack formation and it took the boys a little while to
figure it out. However it wasn't long before everyone was out of each other's
propwash and everything was ok for awhile. Our plane developed engine trouble
and we were forced to turn back just 40 minutes from the target. So homeward we
flew for another early return. On the way back we were encountered with flak
twice but we came safely back. 30 minutes later the formation came back. It
seems they hit an alternate target fifteen minutes after we left them. Four
ships came back early yet we were the only ones who did not receive credit for
a mission. Our reputation around here is so high nobody will believe us and
give us any credit.
At night we went to the movies
and spent another night in the club and discussing.
June 28, 1944
We weren't scheduled for any
mission today since the Generals were having their tour of the base. We must
stop the war for this. They stuck their noses in just about everything there
was to stick into. We laughed at them as they went by in their procession.
At night the chow occupied most
of our time then a little recreation in the club was sought.
Junet 29, 1944 Thursday
Again we had a day off. Weather
is constantly developing over Europe so our targets are usually covered by the
time we get there. That's why briefing has been so early in the last few days.
The day was spent as usual, eating, sleeping, talking and a little volleyball
after dinner. At night we always go to the movies and now and then to the Club
for a drink.
June 30, 1944
Briefing was at 0640 and this
is very late compared to some of the other times. We figured that the run would
be a small one and it was. The airdrome at Zagreb in Jugoslavia was to be hit.
We took off at 0815 and headed for our target. Major Davis was leading so we
could figure on a screwed up mission. Weather was setting in as we crossed the
mountains in Jugo and before we knew we were in the middle and were near our
target. Our altitude was 25,000 ft with an overcast beneath us. Seeing a hole
in them and at approximately the IP time, Davis dived for the break. He was too
late and our formation was drove thru the clouds. We expected crack ups in
mid-air since the visibility was Zero and our airspeed 220 M.P.H. Our dive started at 25,000 and ended at 14,000 when our widely scattered formation broke
thru the weather. Just ahead of us lay Zagreb but we were not in a position to
make a run so we turned sharply to avoid the flak. This was practically suicide
but we all made it home.
At night we went to a show and
drank at the club.
July 1, 1944
Our briefing started at 0545
and the target: an airdrome near Munich. But it was cancelled soon after due to
weather that was setting in. So now we could all prepare for our usual Saturday
inspection. However, Just, Kelley, Walsh and myself went to Taranto to look the
sights. We arrived there at 1000 and spent most of the day there. We walked
around looking at the women and trying to find a good place to eat. After a
brief two hours search, an Italian restaurant was found and there we had lunch.
Our course then took us to the waterfront and we watched the remains of the
Italian fleet. We boarded a 20,000 ton British Monitor called the Abercrombie
and a Sailor took us thru from stern to stern. He was a nice fellow and told us
much about the British and Italian fleet. Later we had tea below deck and
talked with some others of the crew. After bidding adieu we went back to the
base. I really enjoyed the visit only if it hadn't been for that tour of the
fleet, the day would have been a flop.
At night we drank in the club
as usual and discussed the current events.
July 2, 1944
Sunday #31 and 32
Our target was to be Budapest, Hungary. It seems that there were a few planes on an airdrome near the city and
we had to destroy them. The flak at Budapest is supposed to be of the Vienna type and we know what to expect. We took off early and flew toward Jugoslavia
climbing on course. We met flak on the way as was expected. Weather was closing
over the target and we had to beat it before an overcast set in. We reached the
IP and flew past it and to me this seems to be stupid and it turned out just to
be that. Most of the ships stalled in the clouds and the formation broke up.
However it quickly gathered itself again only not too good. Nevertheless we
went over the airdrome and dropped our frags. The majority of the bombs went
over the target. One plane was lost out of that deal over the target.
We soon reached our base again
and everything was settled for another day.
July 3, 1944
Monday #33 and 34
Another double credit mission
and this one looked like a milk run. Our target the oil storage tanks in
Giuergia in Roumania. This town is in the Ploesti area so this means a tough
one. We took off early and set our course toward Jugoslavia or I should say to Albania. We were hit by flak halfway to our objective and one ship turned back due to
engine trouble caused from this flak. The Danube River was reached at the
briefed time and now the target layed just one hour away. Incidentally the
target sides on the shores of the Danube but we could not easily of followed
the winding river. Rather our course paralleled it. Our bombing run was 31 miles long and thru the clouds. I could just pick up the target thru my sight. The flak was
terrific and three planes went down, one of them exploding in mid-air. The
target was completely destroyed and after stalling out we were on our merry
chase homeward. One ship was crippled badly and parachutes were seen as the
ship slowly came earthward. All told: four lost out of 36. The trip home was
long as they all seem.
On the ground again all was
well for another day. At night we went to the show and that ended the day.
July 4, 1944
Dan was sick today so we had
the day off. The Group was scheduled for a double credit milk run. And later it
turned out to be the same. Why do we miss these. Well I suppose it was for the
best. We rested most of the day and went to the show at night.
July 5, 1944
Again our crew was not
scheduled to fly but Will had to fly on Edgreen's crew as a replacement. Their
target was to be the sub docks at Toulon, France. Two ships were lost and a
couple are still unaccounted for. Old Will came back tho, you can't keep the
old man down. The raid was a tough one as expected. Just, Kelley, Walsh, Allen
and I went to the beach for a little swim and relaxation.
At night we went to the movies
and talked the rest of the night.
July 6, 1944
Our target was to be an easy
one. There's a bridge in northern Italy just 40 miles northwest of Venice that has to be destroyed and our wing was detailed for the job. Most
of the ride was over the Adriatic Sea until we reached the key point near Venice. From here on was the target bombing run. As was anticipated the Group fouled up
and the majority of the bombs landed between the bridges, however the bridge
was hit many places. We happened to be flying in our new permanent position,
number two of the 2nd box, in the second attack unit. Our Group has
been cut smaller now with only 28 ships compared to the usual 40 ships.
Nothing was done the rest of
the day and at night we went to the French stage show.
July 7, 1944
It seems now that we'll fly
every other day since we have had a few new crews added to our Squadron. Bozzo
and Gage flew today to Zagreb and as was expected the briefed target was
missed. It seems lately all the bombing has become deficient.
We went to town in the
afternoon and bought a few rations.
At night we attended the movies
and saw the old picture "Jack London"!
July 8, 1944
Saturday #36 and 37
Briefing was at 0530 and our
target: an airdrome called the Markersdorf A/D in Austria about 35 miles west of Vienna. We were on course at 0758 and headed toward the island of Vis and then to Zagreb. Flak was shot up here but we were 20 miles from it. Our next key point was Wartberg and then to the IP Hainberg. At this point I
glanced over at Vienna at our right which was only 15 miles away and watched the flak blanket they were giving to a group of B-17's. While I was
watching this 17 exploded in midair. It seems as tho a flak shell hit a bomb
and poof it was gone. As we were on our bombing run a Group of 24's appeared 2,000 ft below us also on the run. If we had ignored them, we'd have probably blown the whole Group
to smithereens. Colonel Snaith then leading turned right in order to pick a new
target of which he did. Some little town called Malk was to be the victim. A
few factories were picked but since our plane was on the outside I couldn't
quite make it so my bombs landed in the middle of the town. We then peeled off
to the left and started our journey home. On the way down a crippled 24 was
staggering homeward at a very low altitude. Seven chutes were seen before the
planed dived in a wide spiral and crashed earthward amid a burst of flames and
smoke. The rest of the way home was uneventful and we landed at 1410.
We sat around discussing the
mission during the afternoon.
July 9, 1944
We were not scheduled for any
mission today but the Group went to Ploesti. Just, Kelly, and I went to Mass at
1100 and sweated the boys back from the mission.
July 10, 1944
Again we had a day off. This
time due to weather. In fact rain came down the whole night thru.
July 12, 1944
Briefing started at 0545 and
our target to be: a little bridge in France, near the town of Theoule just 7 miles from Cannes. This was to be another one of those long missions since the target was over 650 miles away. Nothing eventful occurred during the trip over. However I did notice Rome from the air and saw all the bomb craters and gun emplacements before it. When we hit
the coast of France we were 30 miles west of course so Col Snaith did a 360 and
headed for the briefed target. The target finally came into my sight and bombs
went away with only a few hitting the target. One ship was hit with flak but
all bailed out. Coming home, five ships were forced to land at Corsica or Rome for gas and repairs. Clouds were built up high in front of us so the
formation scattered and it was a free for all. Every man for himself. When the
field was sighted the rest of the formation filtered thru the clouds. We were
the third to land.
At night we all went to the
movies and spent the remaining hours discussing.
July 13, 1944
These two days were stand down
days and we all rested again. The 15AAF put out an order that all raids to Budapest and Ploesti were to be single runs. Just a bunch of desk generals.
July 14, 1944
Briefing was at 1545 and the
royal screwing has started: a singe run to Budapest. A marshalling yards had to
be hit so we were scheduled for the job. The trip up was uneventful except for
the frequent dogfighters up over us. Amid the flak, our bombs dropped but only
a few hit the target. One plane was seen to go down and quite a few fighters,
identity unknown, were also seen exploding in the air. The trip back was still
uneventful and soon we were back on the ground.
Old Just was sweating us out as
usual. Our navigator Baze was sick and did not fly with us but we did have a
new one with only a couple of missions. I never saw an eager fellow like that
one. He'll learn as he progresses.
We went to the movies at night.
July 15, 1944
Briefing at 0545 and this time
to Ploesti. The Americo Roumano oil fields are cooking with gas again. Since
this place is never hit, the whole 15 Air Force was set to knock it out once
and for all. The trip up was very much anticipated and soon we were rounding Bucharest. Flak could be seen up ahead thick and heavy. Smoke from the previously hit
targets was already at 15,000 ft and still rising. Five seconds before bombs
away, the ship flying with Col Snaith blew up in a mass of flames. Daniels went
away and the formation peeled off for the rally. Two ships were lost in that
raid. It was tough to see the Colonel go but that's the way it goes.
There wasn't much to do during the
afternoon and night. The Club was jammed again.
July 16, 1944
No mission scheduled so Just,
Kelley and I attended the Church in Manduria again.
July 17, 1944
Again no mission planned.
July 18, 1944
We took off at 0630 for our
target in Friedrickshaven Germany near the border of Switzerland but due to
weather we turned back. At first we were given a mission for it. Then later it
was rescinded. Another screwing by wing.
July 19, 1944
Wednesday #41 and 42
Briefing started at 0515 and we
took off at 0650 for Munich, Germany, an A/C plant had to be destroyed in the
outskirts of this town and the whole Air Force was up to bomb this and other
factories in and just outside of Munich. The trip up was uneventful and we met
flak at several places till we were on the bomb run toward our assigned target.
Flak over the city was thickening and was the most I've ever seen at any
target. We went straight into it and let our bombs go. They hit miles from the
target so this mission was a failure. Every ship in our Group was hit by flak,
some heavy some light. A ship was lost and only a few bailed out. Coming over
the Alps when we were attacked by fighters I decided to take a crap and did so
at 22,000 at 22 below Zero.
At night we went to the show
July 20, 1944
Our crew was not scheduled for
a mission today but the fellows went to Freidrickshaven, the target we were
assigned the day before. So we just rested most of the day at the Red Cross
We sweated the boys back. The
Group lost one plane and the target was totally demolished.
July 21, 1944
Briefing started at 0600 and
our target an aircraft plant in Austria. Halfway there however, we ran into
weather and turned back near Triesti, Italy. We were credited with a mission
however since we were in the air for 6 hours.
Another day at the Red Cross.
Incidentally this building and its contents is a rest camp. Anytime we have
extra, we usually prance down there and spend a quite afternoon.
At night we went to the show
July 22, 1944
Briefing started at 0600 and
our target, the Americano-Roumano oil wells in Ploesti. The 15th Air
Force was assigned to hit this one target. The trip up was uneventful except
that at a couple of places the edges of the formation was hit by flak. We were
flying deputy Group leader that day. We rounded the circular wall at Bucharest and headed for our target. Flak could be seen as the groups of B-17's dropped
their loads on the target. One B-17 blew up and pieces of the plane trickled
earthward in a mass of flames and smoke. The target was totally covered with
smoke so we turned short and headed for an alternate target. One ship was lost
over the target. The town we picked was a little village in Jugo called
Back on the ground again,
everything was well for another day.
July 23, 1944
We weren't scheduled for a mission
today so we spent the day in rest. In the afternoon our time was spent in the
Red Cross. Just lounging around and sipping pineapple juice every now and then.
I finally received my first
lieutenant's promotion which was dated the 18th. Now our T.O.
for our entire crew which came over here
has been fulfilled.
July 24, 1944
The Group went up today without
us and the target was a little place in Albania. Just another gift to the boys.
So our day was spent in the Red
Cross again as usual. At night we went to the movies.
July 26, 1944
Tuesday #45 and 46
Briefing was at 0530 and our
target: Markersdorf, Austria. Another 15 AAF field day in the Vienna area and
our objective was the Airdrome at this little town. On our way up there weather
set in but still we plowed thru it until our vapor trails were criss-crossing
all over the sky. 10 minutes from the target we got lost and separated from our
formation and our entire box of six ships streaked home. The sky was utterly
clustered with planes of all types. There must have been 400 to 500 pursuits
both ours and the Germans battling up over our heads. I saw three P-51's go down
and a B-24 with them. Me-109's were also biting the dirt. But onward we streaked
for home. On our way we decided to head for an alternate Graz but instead we
dropped our bombs on a little Austrian town. 60 seconds after bombs away we must
have flew too near Graz and caught accurate and heavy flak. On the airfield
below, 15 enemy planes were seen. But still we flew on for home. The rest of
the Group were behind us a few minutes but soon caught up and all was well till
we finally landed. Our group lost one plane.
Back on the ground again, most
of the crew went to mass and Communion.
July 27, 1944
The Group went to Budapest, Hungry while we stood on the ground sweating them out. One ship blew up over the
target but our squadron returned safely home. As usual the formation screwed up
the bomb pattern for the lead bombardier.
We spent our day again at the
Red Cross and at night we went to the movies again.
Mother's birthday is today.
July 28, 1944
Stand down for the Group today
and the boys are up for formation practice and practice bombing. Our crew is
now the oldest in the squadron and we are having it easy. I was picked for a
potential Squadron bombardier but after two blissful hours of arguing I finally
got out of it. Daniels our pilot is recently acted as an instructor pilot for
the new fellows here. He also acts as instructor for night flying. It seems
that this air force is going to throw a little night flying on the schedule but
I hope we are thru by then.
July 29, 1944
Again a stand down and more
practice of all types of work. We haven't had many missions scheduled of late
and this annoys us since we would like to finish one way or the other. We did
go to the Red Cross again for another afternoon of slumber.
July 30, 1944
We were scheduled for a
briefing at 0430 but it was called off. Weather was piling up high so we had
another day off.
The group insignia and means of
identification have been changed now on the tails of our ships. Yellow and
black strips are now the standard equipment. I guess this is the fool the Nazis
We spent most of the afternoon
at the Red Cross and batted the breeze amongst ourselves and our chances of
pulling thru here.
July 30, 1944
Again no mission and a stand
down was called. So up went the practice missions as usual. Our crew on a whole
is the oldest in the squadron and in fact the whole field. Things have been
going easy with us except that once in a while Dan is scheduled to instruct
some new men.
July 31, 1944
Briefing started at 0600 and
the target: a little oil storage dump near the town of Targoviste, Rumania which is about 20 miles west of Ploesti. We flew in formation around the field and as we
looked down at the field below a terrific explosion was seen off the end of the
runway. 5000 lbs of demos and 2800 gallons of gas can make an awful roar. We latter learned that this plane was taking off and the pilot slammed the brakes
for some reason. The plane crashed into some trees and started burning. Three
men in the waist ran out and a British Ack-Ack gunner tried vainly to help the
trapped men but they hauled him away. The nearby personal including the firemen
ran for cover. Five minutes after it cracked up the roar finally came and
thundered the country side for miles around. There was no cleaning job done
because nothing was left.
The way to the target was
uneventful except that a plane was shot down by ack-ack on the way due to the
lead navigator. The target was hit, but very poorly and on our way back we
We now have a few more to go.
Walsh finished today so that makes the first of our original crew to finish.
Aug 1, 1944
No mission scheduled today for
us but the Group was briefed to fly to Ploesti again. However the mission was
cancelled due to weather.
Nothing much was to be done
today except a little rest and a little more worry about the last few missions.
Kelley and I went to Church in the evening.
Aug 2, 1944
Weather automatically cancelled
the flight so we all got up early and sneaked out to the Red Cross to spend all
the morning and most of the afternoon there. This is all one can do till he
finishes and after that he goes right on doing nothing.
Aug 3, 1944
Briefing at 0430 and our target
a little bridge leading to the Brenner Pass in the Alps of Northern Italy. We
took off at 0600 and left the field at 0700 on course to the key point and then
the initial point. Our wing, the 47th was the only one of the Air
Force assigned for this job while the remaining groups hit Southern Germany.
With all that space up there I can't see why the four groups were continually
running into each other. A lot of planes could have gone down by their
stupidity. We hit the target beautifully and made our dart homeward dodging
other formations on the way. The trip up and back was uneventful. Jordan our
nose gunner, but not from our old original crew, finished up with this one so
that's another happy boy. His wife is expecting a baby in a couple of weeks.
Aug 4, 1944
The mission was scheduled for
the rest of the group today but latter was recalled due to weather. So we all
had a day off and went to the Red Cross again. That is the only way we can push
off of some practice missions on the base.
Aug 5, 1944
We all had a stand down today
and that means more practice. However we were not scheduled for any since we
are the older men and will finish soon.
Aug 6, 1944
Briefing at 0600 and the target:
the sub pens at Toulon, France. This haul was to be another long one and it
was. The trip up was uneventful as expected. Over the target however the flak
was rough and accurate. The objective was hit and all returned safely. Some
planes were hit but none to seriously. Chestnutt our copilot finished today. On
the way back I noticed over 300 transports in the Naples waters. Must be
Aug 7, 1944
This one is the last for me and
Kelley. Whether we come back or not, we're finished. Briefing started at 0430
and our target Alibunar, Jugoslavia. This flight on our part was to be a
diversion one in order to suck the German fighters out of the Vienna area so as
other groups could bomb targets up that way without much trouble. This decoy
stuff without an escort is no fun. We flew across the Adriatic toward Lake Balantan, turned here and headed toward our target. I kept watching out the window,
noticing the beautiful country below. I knew this to be my last ride and I had
to again gaze upon Europe. Maybe this war is rough especially for us fellows
and maybe your plane will go down but still there is something in side of your
mind which thrills you and keeps you still wanting to go up again. Flying over
this land of Europe makes me a little sentimental as I watch the little cities
and houses below. As I pass them I wonder just what the people there are
thinking and talking about. Then they probably think the same as us. The target
was missed and then we streaked for home. At home Kelley and I shook hands
since we both finished. On the ground the rest of the crew shook hands with us.
All the remaining days, hand shakes were frequent and congratulations were
offered. Now Kelley, Walsh and I of our original crew are finished and we are
now sweating out the rest of the four originals, Daniels, Bazley, Anderson and
Allen. We pray to God that he may have mercy on them.
I am now finished with combat
flying. Yet I may go again to another theater since this side of the ocean is
being cleaned up rapidly.
Life seems a lot easier now
since the Lord gave me another chance to live. He just didn't want me to go
yet. I will try to serve the rest of my life in trying to better myself. I am
living on borrowed time since I should have gone down on my first mission.
Every other one after that could have been disastrous but nevertheless my
number wasn't up yet. I learned a lot about life on these flights and on the
ground as well. I think that I have now grown to beyond my age and even more in
these five months of combat. Flying with fellows who are just ordinary guys
helps a lot in your study of life if you want to call it that. We were all in
the same boat and faced death a thousand times. I learned a lot about self
confidence loyalty and above all generosity and square-shooting. I learned
about how good life can be and what it is to be alive.
F I N I S
These recorded mission are my
own, the remaining members have still two or three to go. However all finally
did finish up with Allen our top turret man closing the crews log. He finished
on the 15th of August and on an important mission. Daniels and
Anderson and Bazley finished theirs with two credits to the Southern coast of France and Allen completed his with three in the same place. Aug 15th marked the
invasion day for this part of Europe and we all had a hand in the beginning.
Our crew happens to be the only
full crew to finish in our Squadron's history to date. By the grace of God no
one was lost or even wounded. Only a couple of other such crews exist today in
the entire Group.
Photo Album Cover
Information courtesy of Bernard Chiama