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"We Remember"
by Dwayne O'Brien

Sgt. Raymond C. Doran
723rd Squadron

War Diary
23

Centre is Raymond C. Doran, Far right is Lilbourne Noe

11/26/43

 

Left Alamogordo NM the night of 11/26/43. Arrived at Camp Patrick Henry, VA.

 

11/30/43. Left Patrick Henry 12/4/43. Boarded the ferry at Newport News VA. Crossed  Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk VA . Boarded the Benjamin R Milan, a liberty ship. Put out to sea from Norfolk, 110 ships in convoy. Convoy made up mostly of freighters and oil tankers. Had aircraft carriers and destroyers for escorts. On the way we passed the island of Bermuda The next islands were the Azores. We lost one ship just before we entered the Straits of Gibraltar. Sunk by an enemy submarine. Had good weather most of the way.

Had our sleeping quarters in one of the holes on the ship. We slept on canvas cots with about a foot of space between each one, from the floor to the ceiling (7 high). We only had two meals a day. Mostly pilot bread, (a large molded cracker), and bean soup. I think if they ever had another war, I would join the merchant marines. The crew lives and eats like kings. All and all the trip was really worth it. The ocean is even bluer when you get out to sea than I thought it would be. Sighted the coast on 12/17/43 (Spanish Morocco).

Passed through the Straights of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean Sea on 12/21/43. The sea was a blue/green. We came under attack and got lost from the rest of the convoy. Arrived at Bizerte, Tunisia on 12/24/43. Bizerte is a pretty large city, but the whole place was bombed out. There were not any people there except soldiers. Left Bizerte on the Milan, 12/28/43 at 5:30pm, only two ships: a Canadian freighter, ourselves, and a British destroyer for an escort. The escort sighted a mine floating in the water and signaled us to go around. Then exploded it with shellfire. Pulled into, Port of Palermo, Sicily at 2:30 pm on 12/29/43. Docked at 3:00am on 12/30/43. We were put in trucks and taken to a staging area on the outskirts of the city. We were given tents with nothing but dirt floors. The night was one I will never forget. We slept on the ground on our shelter halves and blankets. None of us hardly slept at all due to the wet, cold ground.  We had three quarts of vino that we traded for cigarettes from the natives. Cigarettes are really worth money here. They sell for about $10 a carton. We can get a quart of wine for a pack of cigarettes. Money isn't worth much because there isn't anything to buy.

 

12/31/43

Went walking around the camp, which is located between two mountain ranges. This is where the Americans who invaded Sicily entered. There are still German pillboxes and trenched here from the battles. These pillboxes are really built strong. They are located on the sides of the mountains and have walls about 5 feet thick made of solid concrete. There is a lot of fruit here. For 2 cigarettes, you can get a helmet full of mandarins.

1/1/44

It has been raining all day and the mud is knee deep. We had a turkey dinner today for New Year's. From the rain, the grass is getting pretty wet. So we went down to the mess hall and stole some tables and made beds out of them. They really work good after sleeping on the ground.

1/2/44

Last night was something to remember. It rained and the wind blew all night. Several of the fellow's tents blew down and they got wet and full of mud along with all their equipment. We made a stove out of a ten-gallon can. Spent most of the day looking for firewood. Sent home a cablegram.

1/3/44

We are beginning to enjoy ourselves, except for the hard beds and our stove smokes pretty much. Most of our cooks have gone to town the last few days and are getting drunk but our Sgt Tolliver got them on the beam. Now we are getting good meals. We have our own guards now, along with some Italian soldiers who have guard duty. One of our guards got shot in the arm by a sniper. They have some snipers who take shots at the soldiers at night. We can hear shooting all through the night.

1/4/44

Today a group of fellows and myself went down to the seashore and picked up some small seashells of all different colors. I found a seahorse in the sand. There are some beautiful, old homes here. They are made of stone and have a foreign look. There is a white spot on the cliff where a German Messerschmitt crashed into the side. Weather has been nice today although snow fell in the mountains last night.

1/5/44

We left the area this morning at ten. We were taken to the dock in Palermo on trucks. It rained for about 3 hours. We were put aboard a liberty ship, the Louis Mc. Lane. We think we are going to Foggia on the east coast of Italy. We are still lost from the rest of our outfit and don't know where they are. So far, everywhere we have been, there have been no others of the 450 Bomb Group. I don't know when we will meet up with them.

1/6/44

In the harbor of Palermo and still haven't heard anything but wild rumors. Wish we were still back in the staging area. Life on these ships is terrible.

 

1/7/44

Still in the harbor but they say we sail in the morning. Slept for most of the day. The food on the ship is about the same as the Milan: "C" rations.

1/8/44

Beautiful day, stayed out on deck most of the time. We moved out the harbor this afternoon and into the bay. There are sunken ships all over the bay. We passed a German freighter that the Germans had scuttled when they knew it would fall into Allied hands.

It had two large holes in the side just below the waterline. There also was an Italian cruiser and about 10 or 15 other different kinds of ships sunk in the bay. All the buildings along the waterfront are bombed into ruins. We will probably leave tonight or tomorrow morning.

1/9/44

We left Palermo at about 11am this morning. We joined a convoy outside the harbor and we are on our way somewhere, probably Naples. We saw an active volcano on the island to the south of us. It is a beautiful, clear night. The sea is calm and the moon is shining bright. We sat up on the deck and sang songs.

1/10/44

When we came up on deck this morning, we were sailing between the Italian mainland and the Isle of Capri. It is a nice looking place with most of the buildings built on the top of the cliffs. There are beautiful little towns scattered along both coasts, on the hillsides. The land is very mountainous. There were quite a few landing barges that passed us just before noon. About 10pm we dropped anchor in the bay of Naples. The city sits in a semi-circle around the bay and looks like a very colorful and interesting place. The city is now quarantined due to an epidemic of typhus. Tonight we went up on deck and watched the fire and smoke escaping from the volcano Mt. Vesuvius. Which sits at the foot of the city.

1/11/44

We left the ship at noon today. Went over the side on rope nets and into a British landing barge. The harbor is full of sunken ships. Stayed on the docks until 8pm until we were put in trucks and taken to the University of Naples, which the army is using as a staging area. We are sleeping on the floor of a dormitory. The city, or what we have seen of it, has been pretty much bombed into ruins. Seems to be quite a large place.

1/12/44

Had a very interesting day. We found out our bomb group is based somewhere on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy. First we cleaned up in our helmets. They make wonderful washbasins. Then we took a look at our surroundings. The university was really something in its day. The buildings are of the latest design with the floors and plenty windows. Every building has been camouflaged to protect them from the bombings. It doesn't seem to have been bombed, but the Germans took all the electrical and plumbing fixtures and broke every window in the place. I found two German coins in the window of the bathroom. The Red Cross has a very nice club here. There is a stateroom where everyone signs a book for their state. There are quite a few fellows from New Orleans, but I didn't know any of them. They have pool tables, a library, ping-pong tables, a music room and almost everything. This afternoon we saw a stage show put on by the, "Yardbirds", that was very good even though it was all soldiers. Tonight we went back to the Red Cross and bought some pastries. We were issued two more blankets this afternoon and told to be ready to leave early in the morning.

1/13/44

We got up at 4am this morning, ate breakfast and started across the campus carrying our backpacks and headed for the trucks. A couple of fellows and myself road on an open freight truck. We drove out of Naples through the mountains and across the peninsula. We saw some very interesting country. All the towns seem to be located on hilltops due to poor drainage. It seems impossible that some of them could have ever been built there. All of the level land seems to be cultivated in wheat and potatoes. I think they will have a good crop and have plenty of food this coming season. Some of the roads are very dangerous, especially through the mountains. The Germans blew up everything that resembles a bridge. You have to give them one thing. When they retreat they don't leave anything undone that will help the enemy. Tonight we are sleeping in an olive orchard just outside of Foggia. We are right next to a B-17 base. The night is beautiful and it isn't very cold. 

1/14/44

Last night was a beautiful night, but it rained. I didn't know it until I woke up with my head all wet. I still can't figure out how it didn't wake me up. We drove almost all day again today. The country is level and very beautiful and the people don't seem to be in as bad a condition as they are on the west coast. The Germans really had the people on the beam. The kids still have a tendency to heil us. One old lady had her thirteen kids all lined up cheering us. Twelve of them gave us the "V" for victory and one heiled and promptly got a kick in the seat of the pants, then ran into the house. We passed through the city of Bari. The city was pretty well bombed. Just a week before, the Germans bombed the waterfront and sank seventeen of our ships. They were still fishing bodies out of the water when we passed through. We were told that a lot of Army nurses were killed in the raid. What happened was that a couple of ammunition ships blew up and were still on fire. We arrived at our destination about 5:00pm this afternoon. You can see about four towns from the field but it is suppose to be at the town of Manduria. Manduria is located in the southeastern part of Italy, just at the top of the heel. There isn't much here. One hanger, a few old buildings, and a mud runway with steel mats for the planes to land and take off on. We pitched our pup tents in another olive orchard. The air echelon is here and have already been on two missions. Looks like rain but I hope it doesn't because we will be washed away in our pup tents. I talked to some of the fellows who flew over. We lost one ship from the 720th on the way over. It crashed into a mountain in North Africa. All the men were killed except the tail gunner.

1/15/44

Rained a little last night but it didn't bother us much. A couple of fellows and myself borrowed one of the squadron trucks. We went and tore down and old stone farm house near here and hauled it in to build us ourselves a stone hut. I worked harder getting those stones than I ever did since I've been in the army. Six of our ships went mission today. They were attacked by about 30 German fighters (ME 109's). One of our ships, the Wicked Witch piloted by Lt. Holloman, was shot down in the Adriatic Sea and a ship from the 449th Bomb Group was shot down also. Our ships shot down eight fighters. Four members of another crew were wounded.

 

1/16/44

We built the walls of our hut today. Had a rough time of it. Everyone seems to be getting on each other's nerves. I guess it's from moving all over the world under such conditions. I haven't washed my face since we left the base at Naples. I haven't had my clothes off since we left North Africa which was nineteen days ago. We have our shelter half over our hut for a roof. I hope it doesn't rain because I know it will leak. One of the tents burned up tonight. Some of the fellows had a gasoline stove and it blew up. Tomorrow we start back to work on the line.

1/17/44

Worked on the line until noon today. One of the fellows got us a large tent from our supply officer. So we are moving out of our stone hut. We were afraid it might cave in on us while we were sleeping. We filled our mattress covers with straw to sleep on. The food isn't too bad here. The kitchen is in a large tent and we eat in the open air. We have a bunch of Italian kids to work K.P. for us.

1/18/44

Nothing much happened today. Our ships went on a successful mission and returned safe and sound.

1/19/44

We got our P.X. rations today. First time we have been able to buy anything since we left Palermo. We get seven packs of cigarettes, a candy bar and a pack of gum, each week. I surely was glad to get the cigarettes. I've been rolling cigarettes out of pipe tobacco ever since I ran out of the good ones, which was eleven days ago in Palermo.

 

1/20/44

Had a little trouble with one of our ships today on the takeoff. The pilot couldn't get it off the ground soon enough and couldn't stop it by the time he reached the end of the runway. So he crashed into a stone wall in the orchard. The plane is a total wreck and will be salvaged. None of the crew was seriously injured.

1/21/44

Our ships went on a mission today to bomb German positions south of Rome. They told us they saw thousands of our troops landing on the shore just south of Rome. I guess we were making another invasion. Out bombardier said he could see landing barges in three rows for miles. I had remembered seeing quite a few landing barges in the port of Naples. I guess a lot of them came from there. They said our troops didn't seem to have much opposition in landing. I suppose they took the Germans by surprise.

1/22/44

Nothing much happened today. Our ship didn't fly due to bad weather.

1/23/44

Ships had a successful mission today. Didn't run into any trouble. The right landing gear collapsed on our ship while taxiing in, this afternoon. Will be out of commission for a week or so.

1/24/44

Ships had a rough mission today; somewhere in Bulgaria. Two of them had their brakes shot away and had to slide the tail of the ship the length of the runway in order to stop the ship. Another ship had half it's vertical stabilizer shot off but made a good landing. They ran into a lot of flack and ME109's.

1/25/44

All of our ships were grounded today due to weather. Pulled a 100hr inspection. We haven't got half enough tools to work with and it's rough.

1/26/44

Had the day off. A couple of fellows and I went to town (Manduria) this afternoon and did some shopping. We bought some mirrors, candles and candy. We stole a light bulb out of the city hall. So now we have an electric light in our tent. Light bulbs are really scarce here. We tried to buy one but couldn't. So we had to steal one. Our stove still smokes a lot Sam, one of the fellows in our tent, swears he is getting T.B. from it.

1/27/44

The planes went on a ten hour and fifteen minute mission today to bomb a factory in France. The gunners said they have never seen so many bombers at one time. Flack was their only opposition. One or two of our ships were hit but not seriously. Two or three B-17's were shot down. Signed the payroll and received my P.X. ration.

1/28/44

Nothing unusual happened today. Our planes had a successful mission.

 

 

1/29/44

Ships had a successful mission. One of the ships had hydraulic trouble and couldn't get but one of his landing gear down. After circling the field for about an hour, all the crew but the pilot and co-pilot bailed out. Then the pilot landed it on one wheel and made a good landing. All he did was bend the prop on number four engine and bent the right wing tit. Today is my birthday. I am twenty-two years old.

 

1/30/44

Ships had successful mission. Two of our ships were shot up by enemy fighters. One of our ships (090) shot down an enemy M.E. 109.

1/31/44

Ships had successful mission today. We are pretty well fixed now. We have a good stove rigged up. It is a gasoline stove. We burn hundred octane in it and we have everything else fixed up pretty well. Last night there was a German reconnaissance plane over our field. 

2/1/44

Our ships were grounded today so we could work on them. The weather is beautiful.

2/2/44

Ships came back today without completing their mission. They didn't get to see heir target due to bad weather. Worked on the line most of the day.

2/3/44

Received a letter from home telling me they received my cablegram and letter. It made me feel good to know the folks knew I arrived safely. The planes made a successful mission today. Got in some new planes as replacements. Had another alert tonight. Another German reconnaissance plane flew over our base. Received our P.X. rations today. There was an American Red Cross girl in our chain line today at noon giving us three doughnuts each. It was the first girl I had seen at close range for quite sometime. There was a show in the hangar last night but we didn't now it in time to go. We swiped a six-pound can of luncheon meat, a gallon of peanut butter, and a loaf of bread from the mess hall supply tent tonight and made sandwiches. We fried the luncheon meat on our stove.

2/4/44

Ships couldn't complete their mission today due to bad weather. Saw an outdoor movie at the hangar tonight. We are going to have two a week (Tues.-Fri.).

2/5/44

Very bad weather today as it rained and sleeted off and on all day. Went out in the mud and drilled for an hour this afternoon. Then came in and washed up in our helmets. The planes didn't fly at all.

2/6/44

Very bad weather again. It has rained almost all day. The mud is terrible. Ships were grounded.

2/7/44

Bad weather again. It snowed early this morning and rained all afternoon. Our own squadron, as well as the rest of the base is ankle deep in mud. We have a box of food in our tent now. We keep it filled with luncheon meat, bread and butter from the mess hall.

Tonight we swiped two six-pound cans of luncheon meat and a gallon of peaches. Every night we wake up and have a late meal. We are out of light bulbs again and are using our oil lamp and candles. The last bulb cost $1.50 and even then it is like hunting a needle in a haystack.

2/8/44

The weather has cleared and the ships made a successful mission. One of the planes of the 722 squadron came in about noon on too steep a glide to land and wrecked the nose gear and piled up. It caught on fire and the navigator was burned to death. I had to do my foxhole today. Orders came out this morning that we had to have them dug by 4:00pm this evening. So Noe, one of the fellows in our tent, and I dug one. He is a rebel from Jonesville, Virginia. We named it," Rebels Rendezvous".

2/9/44

It rained and snowed again today. The weather is very cold. The ships didn't fly, so we had nothing to do but lay around the tent.

2/10/44

Ships meant to go on two raids today. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. The afternoon raid was called off due to bad weather. The morning raid was successful. They bombed the bridgehead south of Rome. They ran into quite a bit of flack. The ratings came out today and I made sergeant.

2/11/44

The ships didn't fly, so we had nothing to do but lay around the tent again.

2/12/44

Ship grounded again because of bad weather. Just laid around all day. Went to the show tonight to see Claudia. Was a pretty good picture.

 

2/13/44

Ship grounded by bad weather. Went to the movie and saw Buckskin Frontier, Was another good picture. Got paid and sent home $100.

2/14/44

Got up at 4:00am and went out to pre-flight the ship. The ground was all white from a heavy frost. The wings and props on the plane were all covered with ice. It surely was cold. The ships made a long mission somewhere in northern Italy and ran into a lot of opposition. We lost three planes out of our group. One was out of our squadron. As they got over the target about 90 M.E. 109's jumped them. We lost one of the best pilots in our squadron, Lt. Gernand. The ship was 710, " Take Off Time". Just this morning, Lt. Gernand was talking to us about fixing his scooter. I don't guess we will do it now. It kind of makes you feel funny when they leave and don't come back. Another thing they had to contend with was that they were flying at 25,000ft and the temperature was 47 degrees below zero. They all liked to froze to death. Some of the fellows in the other ships said they had seen when the 710 left the formation and about eight ME 109's followed them down. They blew the target up so the mission was a success. I heard today that one of our ships from the 721, that was shot down a while back, was found by the Yugoslavian guerillas and they smuggled the crew in to Turkey.

 

 

2/15/44

Ships didn't fly today. Most of the flying crews were pretty well worn out from yesterday. Some of them have frozen toes and fingers from the server cold. Worked on the ship most of the day. Had trouble with the hydraulic system, the bomb doors would not close at 2000 feet. Got finished fixing them about ten tonight.

2/16/44

Planes made a successful mission today. We lost one ship out of the group but it wasn't from our squadron. It blew up in mid-air one hour after take off this morning. It was due to either a fuel leak or too much supercharger pressure. Didn't receive any mail today. Took a bath in my helmet tonight. We don't have any showers of any kind to take a bath here. The last bath I had was in Palermo, thirty-eight days ago.

2/17/44

Ships had a successful mission today but they ran into a lot of flack. The ship I work on 228, " Buelah", had its co-pilot wounded in the leg. Our ship was pretty well shot up. It will be grounded for a couple days. Received a letter from papa, Judy and Carmel. Also got birthday cards from Judy, Carmel, mamma, papa, little Hugh and Louise. I bought a penny box of matches for eleven cents. They're like gold around here. Sam and Gus, two fellows from our tent, had a fight today. They got into an argument about something and it went to blows. Gus got his mouth cut a little. We separated them. They are friends again and everything is o.k.

2/18/44

Planes grounded today for repairs. They were shot up pretty much from yesterday's mission. I went over to the hangar to take a look at one of our ships 164, " Dinah Might".

I counted 74 holes in the ship done by flack and ME 109's. They had some larger holes made from 20mm cannons. The ME 109's have 20mm cannons in the nose. I didn't work today because I go on guard duty tonight from 6pm to midnight. One of the barracks at headquarters burned down last night and a fellow from Group intelligence was burned to death.

2/19/44

Planes did not fly today due to bad weather as it has been raining all day. I didn't see a thing on guard duty last night. I had four planes to guard. We have guard duty a week at a time, every three months. It was pretty cold last night. I guess it will be pretty rough tonight because it is raining. Received four letters today: two from mamma of Feb 1 & 2 and two from Carmel of Feb 3 & 4.

2/20/44

Had a rough night on guard duty last night. It rained all night and I like to froze to death. Ships went on mission but had to turn back due to bad weather. Received one letter from Judy of Jan 30. It was cold last night.

2/21/44

Ships grounded due to bad weather. Took a bath in my helmet. Didn't receive any mail today. One of our ships came in this evening on its nose. The nose wheel collapsed and the nose is all wrecked. No one was hurt. The weather wasn't too cold on guard duty last night.

 

 

 

2/22/44

Ships had a rough mission today. They bombed a ME 109 factory about a hundred miles from Berlin. We lost six ships out of the Group and one of them from our squadron. The 161, " Gremlin Gus", was the ship we lost. We lost one of our best crews. Lt. Nilsson and Sgt. Red Hobble and T. Sgt Ish, were some of them I knew. They were swell fellows. Lt. Nilsson was one of our best pilots. We seem to be losing all the old men in our outfit. They were shot down over Yugoslavia. Three of the ships, that did get back, had to make crash landings. They were all shot to pieces. We had six men wounded. Capt. Smith, our flight surgeon, is performing an emergency operation on one of the boys who was the most seriously wounded. All we have here for an operating room is a tent.  Nothing happened on guard duty last night. Didn't get any mail.

2/23/44

Today is a day I think I will remember all my life. Our planes really had a rough mission. They bombed an airplane factory in Germany. Thirty-six planes out of our Group took part in the mission and we lost eighteen of them. Three of the ships were out of my squadron. They were, 225 (Buelah), 226 (Leaky Tub), and 213 (Round Trip Rosie). Buelah was the ship I was assigned to work on, so now I don't have any ship. Major Miller, our squadron commander was flying my ship. He was really a swell fellow and we all are going to miss him very much. Everyone in the squadron feels very bad over it. Some of the fellows were even crying. It's funny how the fellows you know well seem so much closer to you over here in combat. One of the pilots who was flying another ship said they were jumped by about 200 German fighters, ME 109's and JU 188's. The JU 188 is a new fighter which has a rocket gun on it. That's what gave them so much trouble. This pilot said he seen when Major Miller was shot down. He said a 20mm hit the nose of Major Miller's ship and blew it off. Then another shell hit the bell of the ship and they began to go down. Then the tail fell off and it burst into flames. I guess there wasn't much chance of them getting out alive. I knew the crew pretty well. There was Lt. Whitney, co-pilot. Lt. Flack, bombardier and Red Allen was the ball gunner and some others. I knew the pilot and co-pilot on the "Leaky Tub" pretty well also. I used to work on their ship back in the states. They were pilot Lt. Scanlon and co-pilot Lt. Davis. I didn't know anyone on Round Trip Rosie. This makes six ships we lost so far. A few more raids like we had today and we won't have any outfit left. I was just thinking, we lost 31 men today and $5,400,000 worth of airplanes. Our ships did get about 50 German fighters. One of our ships, " Twin Tails" knocked down five fighters themselves. Another one of our ships, the 215, I don't know how they made it back. They had two engines shot away, and the wings, fuselage and part of the hydraulics system were shot to pieces. Another ship, "Little Stinker", had half of its vertical stabilizer torn off. The wing of a German fighter hit it. We only have three planes in flying condition. The other seven have almost a week's work on them. Our base is one mass of beat up airplanes. The 721 squadron sent six ships on the mission and lost every one of them. They blew up the factory so the mission was a success. Today was a beautiful day. The weather is getting warmer. Didn't receive any mail. Nothing happened on guard last night.

2/24/44

Ships didn't make any mission today. We had a meeting right after lunch. Lt. Kellerman, one of the pilots in our squadron, has been made our new squadron commander. He made a little speech, telling us what a swell job we had done while Major Miller was C.O. and wanted us to keep it up. He also said that he could never fill the job like Major Miller and he wanted us to feel that he was there only temporarily and that Major Miller would come back some day. It rained a little today but the weather is warm. I received two letters today; one from mamma of 2/6 and one from Carmel of 2/8.

2/25/44

Ships had a successful mission. They made another long raid into Germany. We lost six planes from our Group but none were from my squadron. It has been raining all day and the mud is a foot deep but it isn't very cold. Worked on the line this afternoon. Last night was my last night on guard duty. Didn't receive any mail today. Got our PX ration.

2/26/44

Ships grounded today. It was pretty cold and windy all day today. Worked on the line most of the time. We got in some new men today as replacements. I believe everyone in the squadron has body lice. We have been using all kinds of insect powder to try to get rid of them.

2/27/44

Ships grounded due to bad weather. It has been raining most of the day. Worked on the line a little while this morning. We were told by one of our officers today that our intelligence department picked up a German broadcast stating that Herman Goring had ordered the Luftwaffe to wipe out the whitetails, our outfit had have the rudders painted white for identification, as revenge for the raids we made a day or so ago which destroyed the Messerschmitt works.

2/28/44

Ships grounded due to bad weather. Had a meeting up at Group headquarters this morning. Colonel Mills, our Group commander made a speech congratulating us for the good work we had done in the past. He told us that he had received a couple of telegrams from the 47th wing and 15th air force general congratulating him on the splendid work we had done in our last three missions made on Germany. We had destroyed one-third of the Germans single engine fighter production. He also told us that the Germans were already squealing about the white tailed liberators. Went to the show tonight in Oria, a little town about eight miles from here. It was in an old Italian theater that the army had taken over. We leave here in trucks and they bring us back. They had a double feature: "This is the Army" and " You Got Me Covered" with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Both of the pictures were very good. Instead of having a candy counter in the show they have a counter selling vino. So we got a couple of quarts and got feeling pretty good.

2/29/44

Ships grounded again for bad weather. Worked on the line most of the day.  It rained most of the day. Nothing else of importance happened. Didn't receive any mail today.

3/1/44

Ships grounded again today. The field is so muddy that they can't take off. Worked on the line most of the day. Went to the show in Oria tonight. The picture was, " Thank Your Lucky Stars", with Eddie Cantor. It was pretty good.

3/2/44

Ships grounded again. Worked most of the day hauling rocks to fill up all the water holes. We are trying to get them fried out due to the fact that there is a lot of malaria. They don't want anywhere for the mosquitoes to breed. Took a bath in my helmet. We were paid today and I drew $77.49. Also received our European Theatre of War ribbon. Received three letters, one from papa of Feb 10, one from mamma of Feb 14 and one from Judy of Feb 15. Also received one letter from Bill of Feb 1.

3/3/44

Today was one of the worst days I have ever seen. This morning we were standing by the runway watching our ship taking off on a mission. The ships seem to be having a hard time getting off the ground due to a crosswind and they are carrying a heavy load of fragmentation bombs. There are 240 bombs on each ship; each weighing 20 pounds for a total of 4800 pounds of bombs. The 707, one of the ships in my squadron, came down the runway and the pilot could not get the ship off the ground. He tried to stop but it was too late. The ship ran off the end of the runway into a pile of stones and blew up. It threw a sheet of fire 300 hundred feet in the air as most of the bombs went off. The bombs contained a hundred and eighty pounds of TNT. We all ran down to the ship and it was blown in a million pieces. There were pieces spread around for two hundred feet. The fire was so hot we could not too close. There were 50 caliber shells going off like firecrackers and still had some live bombs laying around. All the pieces of the ship were full of holes where pieces of shrapnel from the fragmentation bombs went through. Every one of the crew was killed. We found one of the bodies about a hundred feet from the ship that was blown clear of the fire by the blast. He was all torn to ribbons and could not be recognized. The blast was so great that it shook the ground around us. There was nothing else that could be done so we went in an ate lunch. After lunch we went back out and the fire had died down. The medical department was out there removing bodies. It was a horrible sight. They found some of the ten bodies and they were all ton up and burned. When they found the pilot, his watch was still running. I knew the pilot and flight engineer pretty well. They were Lt. Isabel and TSgt. Evens. This makes the seventh plane we lost plus 72 men so far.

Tonight I went to a U.S.O. stage show in Oria. It was pretty good. Didn't receive any mail today. Today we got two new ships and crews as replacements. The crew I'm in was assigned to one of them, which is the "Breezie Weezie". So now I have another ship to work on. Today was a beautiful day. The weather is getting warmer. It's just like spring.

3/4/44

Ships went on a mission today but had to come back early due to the fact that they ran into bad weather. Worked on the line most of the day. We pulled a 100 hr inspection on our new ship. Today was a beautiful day. It is getting real warm now. Received one letter from Carmel of Feb 13. Got my P.X. rations.

3/5/44

Ships grounded due to bad weather. It rained all day. We just laid around the tent most of the time. Fourteen ships of the 451 Bomb Group landed on our field today. They are stationed about 40 miles from here. Their field is so muddy that they are going to operate from our base here but I can't see how it can be any worst than ours. Didn't receive any mail.

3/6/44

Ships grounded due to bad weather. Received two letters. Worked on the line most of the day. Went to the show in Oria. We had an air raid alert tonight. Enemy aircraft sighted and everyone jumped in their foxholes.

( TO BE CONTINUED )

 

 

3/7/44

Ships had a successful mission today. They bombed a supply depot in Italy. No mail today. Weather very beautiful, as it is getting warm.



Information provided by Mike Doran, son of Raymond Doran.
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