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Sgt. Lamar H. Good
720th Squadron


MY STAY IN ITALY Dec. 1943 May 1945

By: Lamar H. Good

450th Bomb Group (H)

720th Bomb Squadron (ORDNANCE)

 

We arrived in Bari, Italy December 31, 1943. The first night was spent in a camp west of the city. After several days here, we were convoyed by 2 ton trucks to an air base near Manduria.

 

Lieutenant Correia asked for volunteers to return to Bari to search for the 450th Bomb Groups equipment so the planes could begin flying from this location. T/Sgt Zeller and myself were sent. We made the trip in a Jeep. The 15th Air Force Headquarters was our lodging place. Sleeping on cots in a warm building was quite a treat after the pup tent I left at Manduria. We checked ships and their manifests daily. After a three week fruitless search, we made our way back to our base.

 

We returned to the tents and the rain. It rained and rained and rained some more. My geography books had always told me that Italy was a sunny place. Did I ever get a surprise?

 

Crew Chiefs were Buck Sergeants. There were 5 crews 1 chief and 4 men to a crew. The chiefs were notified in the afternoon of the number of the ship and the missions to be flown the next day. About 3 or 4 o'clock in the evening, the fellows would commence to load the bomb trailers with bombs. The bombs were taken to the assigned planes and were left under the bomb bay. Later the Armament Group came to crank up the bombs and load the plane.

 

Following their work the ordnance men returned to fin and fuse then an arming wire was hooked to bomb bay rack and through nose and tail fuse. A B-24 plane prepared for a mission carried 10 500 pound bombs. Some times a mission called for 100 pound bombs. A load contained 30 to a ship. Then at other times fragmentation bombs were needed 120 on either side of plane. 20 incendiary was a load.

 

2 1000 pound bombs made up a load. These were only used on two different missions. They were used at Regensburg and again in Southern France.

 

The Ordnance crews would work until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning. Finishing our job for the night, we made our way to the Mess Hall. We seldom got up for breakfast except when pancakes and fresh eggs were served.

 

To receive a package from home one had to write a letter requesting what one wanted or needed. The letter would be taken to the Post Office along with items being sent. The letter would be stamped and dated as it could only be used one time. My aunt was always writing please I want to send you a package. A soldier always thinks of food so I wrote asking for candy. When her package arrived it was a 5 pound box of hard rock candy. You couldn't eat it or give it away even the Italians wouldn't eat it. I learned to be a little more specific.

 

Some time later we wanted to play poker but soon remembered that we didn't have any poker ships. One of the fellows came up with a bright idea of using Good's candy. The candy was brought out and was used until a piece became too sticky at which time it was replaced with a fresh piece. My aunt never heard about the poker games had she learned, she would never have spoken to her nephew again.

In our free time we wrote letters home, played poker, read and some times listened to Axis Sally on the radio. Her programs were filled with propaganda but many times contained half truths. For instance before we departed Italy, she announced that the Cottontails were being sent home but we would never make it across the Atlantic. The ships would be sunk. She had an inside track on what was going to happen. Shortly after that announcement, orders came for us to return to the States. The soldiers listened to her because she planed the latest American songs.

 

I took advantage of some of the USAFI (United States Armed Forces Institute) courses taught by officers from Headquarters. I attended these classes several times a week. When I was discharged from the service, I enrolled at the University of Houston. I received credit for 18 semester hours.

 

During the spring of 1944 Arnold Quackenbush, Fred Chapman, Lawrence Rice, Lamar Good and Bernard Sutton decided to pool their monies and have a tufa block house built in the olive grove on the base.

 

An Italian builder was hired. The builder was driven by truck to the tufa quarry where he selected the blocks to be used. A concrete floor was poured and the tufa blocks were used for the sides then a fireplace was added. The incendiary bombs came packed in elongated wooden boxes that were lined with tin. We used the tin to roof our house with. The fuse boxes were squared wooden ones that made excellent foot lockers hat personal items were stored in.

 

At a later date a bedroom was added to our house. This room had a wooden floor instead of concrete. It was then that Carl Tussy came to join us.

 

A man and his wife with 3 daughters lived in an olive grove back of our house but a distance away. We would load up our truck with laundry and take it to their place to be washed and ironed. I do not know the names of this family but I do remember that they called me Sargente Buono.

 

One summer day John Phillips, Fred Chapman, Arnold Quackenbush and Lamar Good drove to Taranto for the day. We did the usual things like shop and sight see. Before leaving the city we paid a visit to the British Red Cross where we were severed tea and crumpets.

 

Rome was liberated in June 1944. Shortly afterwards a B-17 was sent to take John Phillips, Norris Johnston, Fred Chapman and Lamar Good there for five days of R and R (Rest and Recreation). The B-17 was used because it had more space up front to carry passengers than did the B-24. The pilot gave us a never to be forgotten ride by circling Mount Vesuvius while battling with a troublesome engine. In spite of the engine we finally arrived in Rome.

 

Our first night in Rome was spent at Mussolini's Youth Camp east of the city which was quite a distance from most of the places we desired to see. The next day we located a room in a private home downtown.

 

The Germans surrendered on the 7th of May 1945!!!!!!!

 

The 14th day of May 1945, we fellows were loaded on B-17's and flown to Naples. We spent 2 days there in an old building that had been converted to accommodate service personnel. It had a Mess Hall, bunk beds to sleep in and rest rooms. This place was near the docks.

The 16th of May we boarded the USS West Point. We were on the high seas for 8 days before we arrived in Newport News, Virginia. It took us 29 days going over to Italy on a liberty ship so this was like a dream come true. We were sent back home to train to service B-29 planes then be sent to the Pacific. Thank the dear Lord that the Japs gave and that never happened.

 

My wife and I were among the 30 people of the 450th Bomb Group who made the trip back to Manduria to dedicate a marker that stands at the entrance of the old air base. Mayor Caprino and men from San Vito took part in the program held there on April, 1991. It was a happy and emotional experience. That evening we dined and were entertained at San Vito. Mayor Caprino graciously invited us to visit him at his office in Manduria.

 

On April 12th all 30 of us boarded our bus to Manduria where we were met o the outskirts of the city by police who escorted us to Mayor Caprino's office. The Mayor presented the fellows with 3 bottles of Mandurian wine. Mrs. Caprino sent toilet articles for the wives. We were given such a warm welcome that we will always remember our happy time spent in Italy.

 

There's one thing I would like to mention here. When I was there during WWII, I remember a well in downtown Manduria. We were told that Hannibal had watered his elephants here. I found this so interesting that when I came home I told all of my friends about it. I couldn't find it in 1991. What happened to the well?

 

Arrivederci Itali!

 

Lamar H Good

Houston Texas

Feb. 1995





Sgt. Lamar Good
Reunion - Dayton Ohio, 1986



Lamar and his wife, Birdie Good
Reunion - Dayton Ohio, 1986



Peggy Correia, Birdie and Lamar
Reunion - Dayton Ohio, 1986



William Correia, Peggy Correia, Birdie and Lamar
Reunion - Dayton Ohio, 1986



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