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Marvin E. Stock
723rd Squadron

Dedicated to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I hope you will understand the horrors of war from these few pages.
May you never have to participate in any future war.


HISTORY of the 450th BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H)


On April 22, 1943 General Order Number 68 was signed, which officially activated a new bomber group to be known as the 450th Bombardment Group (H)
The group started training at Alamogordo, New Mexico, in June 1943. Departed for Manduria, Italy on November 20th of that same year. Arrived in Manduria on January 2, 1944. The group consisted of four squadrons. They were the 720th, 721st, 722nd and the 723rd.
The group flew its first mission on January 8, 1944 and its last mission on April 26, 1945. During this time, the group flew a total of 274 missions, against a variety of targets, throughout Nazi occupied Europe. This extended from Toulon, France, in the west, to Constanto, Romania on the Black Sea in the east. Most crews saw action in Northern Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, France, Austria, and Germany. Bombing raids were long-range blows at enemy communications, industry and oil resources, blasting gun positions, vehicle and troop concentrations, and observation points. These raids were a powerful force in weakening the Nazi war effort. During the sixteen months of bombing raids, the 450th Bomb Group recorded 1505 men killed (KIA) or missing (MIA) in action.
The 450th used the B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber to carry out their missions. Maximum speed of the B-24 was over 300 mph. Maximum cruising speed was 230 mph. Gross weight ranged from 56,000 to 66,000 pounds. Heavily armed, the ship was equipped with four power-operated turrets, each mounting two 50-caliber machine guns. Two additional 50-caliber waist guns were provided through a window on each side of the plane fuselage. Four Pratt & Whitney R1830 radial, engines powered the B-24. These engines could produce up to 1200 horsepower each. Other specifications include, wing span of 110 feet, length 67 feet 2 inches, height 18 feet, and fuel tanks containing 2700 gallons of gasoline. Normal bomb loads were three tons of bombs, ranging from small antipersonnel up to one ton bombs.
The 450th Bomb Group was a great outfit. I am proud to have been associated with and contributed to their success.

The following pages recount my involvement with the United States Air Corps, from induction to discharge. Detailing my time spent with the 723rd Squadron of the 450th "COTTONTAIL"Bombardment Group

THE U.S. ARMY AIR CORPS and the 450th BOMB GROUP (H)


On a Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the lives of millions of Americans were changed forever.

Having graduated from Loveland High School in the spring of 1941, I was employed by the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company. Here I operated a blue print machine until February 1943, when I became eligible for the military draft.

Two years prior, I was dating and very, very serious with a beautiful and charming girl named Dorothy Jean Williams. We had scheduled our wedding for March 6, 1943. The military apparently wasn't aware of our plans, as I received an induction notice on February 19, 1943. We were married on February 27, 1943.

The February 19th induction orders instructed me to report to the Local Draft Board #1, Clermont County, Batavia, Ohio on March 1, 1943, at 7:30AM. This meant being drafted into military service was about to happen.
With the completion of paper work in Batavia, orders were issued to report, the next day, to the induction center in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky. There, received a physical examination, signed numerous papers for records, took several evaluation tests, was issued an army uniform, and was sworn-in to the U.S. Army. As this was inactive duty, friends Earl Benington, Charlie Bryant, and myself would return home each evening. Our active duty date, day we "shipped out", was March 8,1943.
On the 8th of March, we boarded railroad coaches for a trip to an unknown destination. Two days later, we detrained in a rural area of Florida. A Tent City, north and east of Tampa. The Tent City was used as a staging center to separate and further evaluate individuals to be sent to different basic training areas. Here we met GI's from all over the Midwest. Also got a sampling of army life, i.e. discipline, restrictions, freedoms, and punishments. One of the penalties was made very visible. One GI made a derogatory remark about the U.S. Army. For his comments, he was made to pick toilet paper out of the latrine slit trenches. This went on 24 hours a day until he dropped dead.
After a week to ten days of processing in Tent City, a transfer to St. Petersburg was issued. Also at this time, Earl Benington and Charlie Bryant were shipped to other locations for basic training. Earl remained in the Army Air Corp. and Charlie was sent to the infantry. Charlie was later killed in combat.

In St. Petersburg, the Army had taken control of several hotels as quarters for servicemen. All marching, formations, and instructions were carried out in the city streets.
Upon completing eight weeks of basic training, we were assigned to different training schools based on the results of the tests from Ft. Thomas and St. Petersburg. Orders were issued and transportation provided for trip to Kessler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi. Kessler Field was one of the Army Air Corps. B-24 Heavy Bomber Aircraft mechanics school. In my opinion, Kessler Field was one of the hottest and most humid places on earth.

During the first weeks at Kessler, Jean wrote with the news, she was pregnant. Soon afterwards, she and my sister Myrna came to Biloxi to visit me. Believe they stayed for almost a week. Off duty passes, to leave the base, were not plentiful, but we were able to be with each other several times that week.

About September 30th, upon completion of mechanics school in Biloxi, was promoted to "Buck Sergeant". Orders were received for air gunnery school in Laredo, Texas. This was an indication that flying in combat was in the future. (On October 29, 1943, received word grandmother Stock, Ida, had died the previous day. She was 78 years old.)
After completing the ground gunnery course, we were sent by bus to Eagle Pass, Texas for the air portion of the gunnery school. This was accomplished by flying in Advance Training planes, AT-6's. While standing up in the open rear cockpit of one AT-6, trainees fired 30-caliber machine gun, mounted on a frame, at a target sleeve being towed by another AT-6. Much harder to hit than you might think.
While at Eagle Pass, saw and heard my first coyote.

On November 25, 1943 Thanksgiving Day, was informed I had become a father. Jean had given birth to Ronald Lee Stock. Mother and son doing fine.

Finishing air gunnery at Eagle Pass went back to Laredo for graduation and a two-week furlough. Was promoted to Staff Sergeant. Took train from Laredo to Cincinnati, arriving home on December 23,1943. Had a great time over the holidays visiting with Mom and Dad. Greatest pleasure was being with Jean and seeing Ronald Lee for the first time. Ron was one month old.
Having enjoyed the two weeks at home, it was time again to leave for my next assignment. Left Cincinnati on January 5, 1944, for a field in the mountains outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Was sent here to await assignment to an aircraft flight crew. In the meantime, duties consisted of KP (Kitchen Police) and keeping stove fires going in the officer's barracks. Since it was in the middle of winter, the snow was deep and the temperature was well below zero. A great way to wake up when standing roll call at 5:30AM every day.

Around February 10th, received transfer papers and boarded a train for Colorado Springs, Colorado. Peterson Field to be exact. The next couple of days were spent meeting other members of the crew. We became known as crew number 3128, from this point on. The crewmembers were as follows:

Theodore J. Brus Pilot Blue Grass, Iowa
George Garoian Co-pilot Cambridge, Mass
Harry C. Fockler Navigator Lima, Ohio
Harry G. Evans Bombardier Scranton, Pennsylvania
James E. Ledlie Radio Operator DuPont, Washington
Salvatore Vanacore Nose Gunner Whippany, New Jersey
Marcus A. Speaks Top Gunner Birmingham, Alabama
Charles W. Tripp Jr. Tail Gunner Chicago, Illinois
Edward W. Wolfe Ball Gunner New York, New York
Marvin E. Stock Engineer Loveland, Ohio

Link to Crew Picture


At Peterson Field, we received instructions and information on the B-24 Heavy Bomber. From this time on, flying was done as a crew. Many training flights were made, day and night, around the Colorado Springs area. This was to allow the crew to become familiar with the plane's equipment. Also, was a great way to get acquainted with the other crewmembers.
Once we started flying as a crew, we had no regular ground duties. So, when Jean came to Colorado Springs in March and April, we were able to be with each other except when I was schedule to fly. This was a great time for both of us, as Jean was renting a room at a Rooming House on Pikes Peak Avenue. Three blocks from downtown. Very convenient and very cheap by today's standards. It was great that we could be together before I left for overseas combat.

Notice had been received that we would be shipping out of "PeteField" in a few days. Good-byes were said and Jean returned home to Loveland, Ohio.

On May 14, 1944, our new orders transferred crew #3128 by train to Topeka, Kansas. At Topeka we were assigned to a new B-24 Heavy Bomber. It was decided by the crew to name the plane "YOO-HOO 28" after our crew number. Along with the name on the right side of the nose was a picture of Donald Duck holding an umbrella.

For instrument test and calibration, we could take a flight anywhere our gas supply would allow us to go. Our pilot, T. J. Brus, decided to fly over his father's farm in Blue Grass, Iowa. Two passes were made over the farm. These were at an altitude of about 500 feet. Naturally at that level, the livestock went berserk. Chickens scattered every which way and the hogs did not stop for the fences. His father even had to get off the wagon and hold the team of horses from running away. It turned out to be a great day.

On May 19, 1944 our orders directed us to fly our plane to Palm Beach, Florida, the next day. We would receive further instructions in Palm Beach.

Was promoted to Technical Sergeant before leaving for overseas.

On May 21, 1944, with sealed orders, we headed out over the Caribbean Sea. After a few hours into our flight, the pilot opened the sealed orders and revealed to the crew we were on our way to Italy. Also, that we had two weeks to get there. Included with the orders, were maps and a flight plan. The flight plan details were:

Palm Beach, Florida to Port-of-Spain, Trinadad
Trinadad to Belem, Brazil
Belem to Natal, Brazil
Natal to Dakar, Senegal (in Africa)
Dakar to Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech to Tunis, Tunisia
Tunis to an airfield in southern Italy


Every leg of the trip went without a hitch.
In Belem, the enlisted men were introduced to Brazilian beer. It's about 21% alcohol as comparable to the 3.2% American beer. As a result, several crews did not make the flight out of Belem the next morning.

The trip to Natal was along the coastline of Brazil. After taking care of the plane's needs, (gas, oil, etc.), the crew voted to spend an extra day in Natal. The sun was very hot. The next morning, a truck arrived to take us to the beach south of town for swimming. The waves and breakers were the largest we had ever seen. Got to eat wild ripe pineapples. They were delicious and would melt in your mouth.

The next leg of our journey, Natal to Dakar, Senegal, would be of some concern as it would be entirely over the Atlantic Ocean. Our navigator was excellent and when the African coast was sighted, we were right on target with our destination. Landed in Dakar in a cloud of dust and blowing sand. Refueled plane and secured it for the night. One night in Dakar would be enough.

Took off the next morning for Marrakech, Morocco. Traveled over the western edge of the Sahara Desert. The mountains at the edge of the desert were covered with snow. This seemed odd when you think of the heat in the desert. Flew through a pass in the mountains and arrived in Marrakech on schedule. Refueled and stayed with the plane overnight. Saw our first German and Italian prisoners of war. They were now out of the war and we were just going to war.

The next stretch of flying would be to Tunis, Tunisia. Arrived without incident. Refueled and took care of the needs of the plane. Were quartered in a large brick and stucco building for the night. Was able to take a shower and get cleaned up. The toilets were a hole in the floor with two footprints facing away from the hole. To use them, you turned around, put your feet on the footprints, dropped your pants, and squatted. Good luck!

Left the following morning for Italy. Flew along the West Coast of Italy, past Mt. Etna, and on into Italy.
Landed June 2, 1944 at an airfield north and east of Taranto, Italy. It was here that our plane was taken away and delivered to the aircraft pool. The next morning, barracks bags and any other personal items were loaded onto an army truck and taken to the airfield of the 450th Bomb Group, located east of Manuria, Italy. We also were transported by truck and arrived after dark. Received temporary quarters for the night, in an old building used as barracks. Ate dinner in the mess hall and prepared for a good nights sleep on an army cot. The Germans bombing the city of Taranto, about forty miles away, interrupted these activities. Could see the flashes and hear the explosions of the bombs. The bombing only lasted a few minutes and then everything became quiet.

The next morning, June 4, 1944, were informed we now are members of the 723rd Squadron of the 450th Bomb Group (Heavy). Our bomb group was better known as "The Cottontails" Named so for the planes white vertical stabilizers (tail). At this time we were assigned to a six-man pyramid tent as our new quarters. Advised to check the bulletin board each evening to see if our crew was scheduled for a bombing mission the next day.

After spending five days becoming familiar with the squadron area and routines, writing letters home, locating the briefing room, the mess hall, being fitted with fleece lined flying suits, we were pretty well settled in.

A check of the bulletin board on June 9, 1944 told us we were on the board for our first combat mission the next day. Crew #3128 would be entering the war on June 10,1944.

The following is the history of crew #3128 while flying with the Cottontails. The record contains; mission date, destination, target, brief description of the mission, and the number of mission credits received. It may not be accurate for every member of crew #3128, as some members occasionally filled in on other crews. It is however, a complete account for the engineer of crew #3128, Marvin E. Stock.

June 10th - Triesta, Italy - Oil Refineries

Two large fires started in oil storage tanks

FLAK - Moderate to heavy, inaccurate

FIGHTERS - Fifteen to twenty enemy aircraft attacked, but were not

aggressive. Our fighter escort drove them off.

CASUALTIES - One B-24 received minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

 

June 11th - Constanto, Romania - Oil Storage Facilities

Photos showed several hits on installation at the NW corner and south

Side of target. Several hits among stores and warehouses.

FLAK - Moderate and accurate over target

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Six aircraft with flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

June 13th - Munich, Germany - City Area

Hits made on city

FLAK - Intense and accurate

FIGHTERS - Sixteen ME-109's attacked, but were not

aggressive.

CASUALTIES - Five crewmembers wounded by flak

Two B-24's shot down

Twenty-two aircraft damaged by flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

June 14th - Osijck, Yugoslavia - Oil Refinery

Bombs fell in the town and a few went long. Photos indicate damage to

refinery

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

 

 

 

 

NOTE: Days not scheduled for a mission involved doing laundry, writing letters

home, playing cribbage, or just resting.

 

 

June 24th - Ploesti, Romania - Romano/Americano Oil Refinery

Main concentration of bombs landed 3000 feet east of target

FLAK - Intense and accurate

FIGHTERS - Attacked by fifty enemy fighters for twenty minutes.

Enemy fire consisted of 20 MM cannons and rockets

CASUALTIES - Five crewmembers wounded by fighters

Four B-24's shot down by fighters

Twelve aircraft damaged by fighters

Fifteen aircraft damaged by flak damage

ENEMY LOSSES - Eight ME-109's, Two FW-190's,

and One JU-88 all destroyed.

Three additional ME-109's probable

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

June 25th - Toulon, France - Submarine Pens

Bombs did some damage to pens, but did not destroy

This is known as an 8 hour and 25 minute "Milk Run"

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

June 26th - Schwechat, Austria - Heinkel Aircraft Factory

Target area completely destroyed

FLAK - Intense and accurate. A solid wall was observed between

22,000 and 23,000 feet

FIGHTERS - Ten to fifteen ME-109's and FW-190's seen but did not

attack

CASUALTIES - Two B-24's shot down by flak

Fourteen received minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

July 2nd - Budapest, Hungary - Vecses Airdrome

Heavy concentration of bombs in target area. Several bombs covered

the parking area in front of the hangars. Seven enemy planes destroyed

on ground.

FLAK - Intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - Nine ME-109's and Three FW-190's observed over

target, but did not attack

CASUALTIES - Six B-24's received minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

July 3rd - Giurgiu, Romania - Oil Storage Depot

Heavy concentration of bombs on target.

FLAK - Moderate and accurate.

FIGHTERS - Nine ME-109's and Three FW-190's observed over

target, but did not engage.

CASUALTIES - One crewmember wounded by flak

Two B-24's lost to flak, no chutes seen One B-24 went down after bomb run, reason

unknown, five open chutes seen

Thirteen B-24's damaged by flak

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

July 5th - Toulon, France - Submarine Pens

Smoke screen obscured bombing results.

FLAK - Moderate to intense, less accurate

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Ten B-24's damaged by flak.

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

July 8th - Markersdorf, Austria - Airdrone

Briefed target was not bombed. The town of Melk was bombed by

Fourteen B-24's. Ten B-24's bombed the town of Markersdorf.

Hits covered the town

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - Six ME-109's and a few JU-88's were seen, but did not

engage

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

July 9th - Ploesti, Romania - Concordia Vega Oil Refinery

Smoke screen obscured accuracy of bombs

FLAK - Intense and very accurate

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Three crewmembers wounded by flak

Eighteen B-24's received minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

July 12th - Theoul Sur Mer., France - Railroad Viaduct

Bombs landed on highway and railroad

FLAK - Slight to moderate

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Four B-24's received minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

July 15th - Ploesti, Romania - Romano/Americano Oil Refinery

Bombs landed short of target

FLAK - Intense and very accurate

FIGHTERS - Nine enemy seen but did not engage

CASUALTIES - Lead B-24 hit by flak, wing broke off, plane went

Down in flames, no chutes seen

One B-24, out of gas, and crashed near base

One B-24 damaged on landing

Fifteen B-24's with minor flak damage

Four crewmembers injured by flak, three seriously

CLOSE CALL - Our plane had an 88 MM anti-aircraft arterial shell

enter just below the horizontal stabilizer and exited

out the top of the fuselage. Fortunately it did not

explode.

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

July 19th - Neuabling (Munich), Germany - Aircraft Components Factory

Smoke screen obscured results of bombing

FLAK - Intense and very accurate.

FIGHTERS - Three ME-109's seen attacking a straggling B-24

CASUALTIES - One crewmember wounded by flak

One B-24 lost to flak, five chutes seen One B-24 crashed landed at a friendly field

Ten B-24's with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

July 21st - Linz, Germany

Target not bombed due to bad weather

Formation returned to base

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

July 22nd - Ploesti, Romania - Oil Refinery

Target obscured

Bombed alternate target at Krgujerac, Yugoslavia

FLAK - Minor

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

July 27th - Budapest, Hungary - Manfred Weiss Works

Both old and new power stations hit

Majority of bombs landed short and scattered over the Danube River

FLAK - Intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - One B-24 lost to flak

Three crewmembers slightly wounded

Seven B-24's with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

July 31st - Tragoviste, Romania - Oil Storage Tanks

Several bombs landed on target

FLAK - Slight and inaccurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - One B-24 crashed on take-off and exploded, killing

seven crewmembers

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug. 6th - Toulon, France - Dry-docks and Submarines

Three dry-docks and four submarines received direct hits

Some bombs landed on repair shops and barracks

FLAK - Moderate to intense and accurate

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Eight B-24's received minor flak damage

CLOSE CALL - On our return, our plane was forced to land at a

fighter plane base on the Island of Corsica to refuel

Received fuel and returned to base without additional

problem

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 9th - Budapest, Hungary - Vecses Airdrome

Heavy concentration of hits over the entire target area.

All major buildings destroyed

FLAK - Moderate and inaccurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - One B-24 with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 12th - Marseilles, France - Gun Positions

Good coverage of bombs in the target area

FLAK - Moderate and inaccurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 13th - DePorquerolles, France - Gun Positions

Photos showed a heavy concentration of bombs covering all gun

Positions. Another "Milk Run"

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 15th - Beaches of Southern France - Coastal Invasion

In the vicinity of Ste Maxine on the St. Tropez Gulf

Observation of bomb strikes were not possible

FLAK - Almost non-existent

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Two B-24's exploded at the end of the runway on

take-off. No air movement on ground resulted in the

planes inability to get airborne

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 20th - Szolnok, Hungary - Marshalling Yards

Due to engine trouble, we aborted mission and returned to base

MISSION CREDIT - Zero (0)

Aug 27th - Ferrara, Italy - Railroad Bridge

Even though bridge received some direct hits, it still did not collapse

FLAK - Intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Two crewmembers were severely injured when

their B-24 crashed landed at Foggia, Italy

Five B-24's damaged by flak

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 28th - Miskolc, Hungary - Marshalling Yards

Target well covered with bomb hits

Several direct hits on the roundhouse

FLAK - Slight and inaccurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Aug 29th - Ferrara, Italy - Railroad Bridge

Heavy concentration of bombs on the south approach to bridge

Some direct hits on the north half of bridge and on the industrial

buildings south of the target.

FLAK - Moderate to intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Two B-24's shot down by flak. Seven chutes seen

from one plane and nine chutes seen from the other

Fifteen B-24's damaged by flak, one severely

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 2nd - Kraljevo, Yugoslavia - Marshalling Yard

Bombs landed amongst the rolling stock in the yard.

A few bombs landed on Red Cross buildings. The existence of these

buildings was not known at the time of the briefing

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 5th - Ferrara, Italy - Railroad Bridge

Bridge untouched

Some bombs went over target while others were short

FLAK - Intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Two crewmembers wounded, one severely

One B-24 lost due to flak

Nineteen B-24's damaged by flak

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 8th - Nis, Yugoslavia - Marshalling Yard

Smoke screen obscured bombing results

FLAK - Scant to moderate and inaccurate

FIGHTERS - None engaged

CASUALTIES - One crewmember wounded by flak

Five B-24's received minor flak damage

ENEMY LOSSES - Two ME109's believed destroyed by our escort

of P-38 fighters

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 13th - Ora, Italy - Railroad Bridge

Mixed results with bombs, some direct hits, others very close to target

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - One B-24 lost, reason unknown

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 17th - Budapest, Hungary - Marshalling Yard

Heavy concentration of hits on the yard

Some rolling stock destroyed

FLAK - Moderate and accurate

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Four B-24's with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 19th - Kraljevo, Yugoslavia - Temporary Bridge

All bombs missed the target.

One squadron of seven B-24's did not drop bombs because of a

malfunction in the bombsight of the lead plane

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 21st - Novi Sad, Yugoslavia - Railroad Bridge

Only nineteen B-24's dropped their bombs

Three possible hits and several near misses on bridge

FLAK - Moderate and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Two B-24's exploded on bomb run

Twelve B-24's with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Sept 23rd - Ora, Italy - Railroad Bridge

No bombs dropped due to cloud cover over target

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Oct 4th - Brenner Pass, Italy - Railroad Bridge and Tracks

Poor results

Some hits on bridge and tracks were noted

FLAK - Intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Two B-24's with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Oct 5th - Vienna, Austria - Winterhafen Oil Depot

Entire group returned due to inclement weather

MISSION CREDIT - Zero (0)

Oct 7th - Vienna, Austria - Winterhafen Oil Depot

A few bombs hit in the dock area and a concentration of burst

were slightly over the aiming point

FLAK - Intense and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - One B-24 ditched near Vis

One B-24 lost near Vis, crew bailed out

Thirteen crewmembers injured by flak

Twenty-seven B-24's damaged by flak, three

with major damage

MISSION CREDIT - Two (2)

Oct 12th - Bologna, Italy - Troop Barracks

Half of the B-24's did not drop their bombs

Fires observed in four barracks, from bombs dropped

FLAK - Moderate and accurate.

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - Five B-24's with minor flak damage

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

 

A MOMENT OF SILENCE

On October 14, 1944, our bombardier, Lt. Harry G. Evans was

killed in a B-24 crash while flying with another crew. Harry was the

only member of crew #3128 who didn't return to the United States.

The other nine crewmen finished their fifty missions and returned to the

United States for other duty.

 

Oct 23rd - Brenner Pass, Italy - Railroad

Only twenty-one of forty B-24's dropped their bombs

Mixed results, some bombs burst along rail line

Direct hits were scored on a lumber mill, setting it on fire

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)

Oct 31st - Podgorica, Yugoslavia

No bombs dropped due to poor weather conditions

FLAK - None

FIGHTERS - None

CASUALTIES - None

MISSION CREDIT - One (1)



The mission to Podgorica, Yugoslavia was my fiftieth. This meant my combat flying days were over. Rotation home, to the good old United States, would be occurring in the near future.

On or about November 15, 1944, received orders to transfer to troop holding area in Naples, Italy. After the short flight from Manduria, Italy, checked with the proper authorities. Were assigned quarters in an old 17th century fort overlooking the Bay of Naples. The beds were not the greatest or modern. They consisted of a wooden framework with a solid board bottom instead of springs or canvas. The mattress was a cloth bag filled with straw. During the night the straw would shift, leaving nothing but wood to lie on. It didn't matter much what we slept on, we were glad to be going home.

November 23, 1944, Thanks giving Day, we received a great meal of turkey and all the trimmings. First good meal we had eaten in six months.

While waiting to ship home, spent the next few days sightseeing around Naples. The area of Naples seemed to avoid the damages of the war. The local opera house was beautiful, even at that time. White marble was everywhere. The streets were very dirty and raw sewerage could be found running in the gutters.

On November 29, 1944, the big day had arrived. Received orders and boarded a small troop ship. Our ship departed that evening. During the night, our ship met other ships and a convoy was formed. This convoy would transport us across the Mediterranean Sea, through the Strait of Gibraltar, and into the Atlantic Ocean. As we entered the Atlantic Ocean, other ships joined the convoy until it numbered fifteen to twenty vessels.

With the threat of enemy submarines in both the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, all portholes were painted over so light would not show through, at night. All smoking was banned on deck from dusk till dawn. Smoking was permitted below decks.

The passage from Naples to New York lasted two weeks. The first twelve days passed without incident. On the morning of the thirteenth day, we awoke to a fierce storm raging across the water. From the bottom trough of one wave to the crest of the next wave was surely sixty to seventy feet. Most of the ships lost part of their survival equipment, such as life rafts, life vests and preservers, and even some lifeboats. The storm blew itself out during the night of day fourteen and we sailed into New York harbor the following morning.

Disembarked the ship and boarded a train for the trip to Fort Dix, New Jersey. Waited two days for orders of next assignment and a furlough home.

Was allowed to go home for two weeks. Had a great time with Jean and thirteen month old Ron, even though my nerves were not their best.

Per furlough orders, reported to Miami Beech, Florida on January 10, 1945 for R&R (Rest & Rehabilitation). Jean was permitted to go to Florida with me. We were quartered in the Monroe Hotel on Collins Avenue.

During a physical examination in Miami Beech, it was discovered I had High Blood Pressure. Was transferred to Army Hospital for tests to ascertain cause. After five weeks of testing, no conclusive reasons were found.

The week of February 21, 1945, Jean went back to Loveland, Ohio and I was transferred to Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois.

Spent five weeks at Chanute with no assigned duties. Went home to Loveland, Ohio by train three of the five weekends. Jean came to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois for a week to be with me the remaining two weekends.

On April 30, 1945 received orders to transfer to Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia. Arrived there on May 1st or 2nd, and was still on "unassigned duty".

May 7,1945, the war in Europe ended with the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Jean arrived in Hampton, Virginia August 3, 1945 for a ten day visit.

On August 14, 1945, as Jean and I were leaving a Hampton movie theater, the streets were filled with people celebrating and shouting, "THE WAR IS OVER". Japan had surrendered.

A short time later, under the points system of the military, I was sent to Camp Atterbury, Columbus, Indiana, located south of Indianapolis. This is where I would return to civilian life on September 2, 1945, after two years, six months, and two days of serving my country.

Thinking back to those days, I would not take a million dollars for everything seen and done. Nor would I want to go through it again…….

THINGS SEEN, HEARD, OR EXPERIENCED WHILE IN ITALY


  1. The roar of all four plane engines on take-off
  2. Standing on the flight deck, between pilot and copilot on takeoff to check instruments
  3. Transferring gas from auxiliary tanks to the main tanks
  4. Seeing a ship explode at the end of the runway. Unable to get airborne due weight of bombs and gasoline
  5. The bitter cold at 20,000 to 27,000 feet of altitude
  6. Seeing planes explode on bomb runs due to hits by flak
  7. Sound and concussion of flak shells exploding outside the plane
  8. Sound of flak shrapnel ricocheting around inside the plane
  9. Sound of 50 caliber machine guns firing
  10. Two weeks of nothing but coffee, bread, and peanut butter three meals a day
  11. Seeing enemy fighters and hoping they would not attack
  12. Seeing planes shot down and checking for parachutes of the crew
  13. Enlisted men's briefing before each mission
  14. Sound of an enemy 88 MM anti-aircraft shell going through our plane
  15. Two more weeks of nothing but Vienna sausages, bread, and coffee three meals a day
  16. Mail Call
  17. A free shot of bourbon whiskey at the end of each mission.
  18. Watching for RED flares fired from planes landing with wounded men on board
  19. Wearing a flak vest on the bomb run
  20. From our tent, Marcus Speaks firing his .45 caliber pistol at a tree lizard. He was busted in rank for doing so
  21. Rainwater 1˝ to 2 feet deep in our tent. Everything soaked or floating
  22. Mud and more mud, twelve to eighteen inches deep
  23. At night, perimeter guards firing submachine guns after challenging someone or something. Or maybe they were just bored
  24. Helped with the making of heating stove for tent. Used half of an oil drum with a 4 inch by 20 foot iron pipe for the chimney
  25. Buying "FRESH"? eggs at 35 cents each from the Italians
  26. Squadron going to the beach for a chicken barbecue and a day of swimming
  27. Our four anti-aircraft batteries scaring hell out of nearly everyone, with an after dark practice firing
  28. Heating water with a pan of raw gasoline
  29. Playing cribbage with Fitch
  30. A shower made from an oil drum and mounted on a wooden framework


Marvin E. Stock
Flight Engineer
723rd Squadron
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