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Captain Lt. Dayton R. Taylor Crew
720th Squadron





Picture provided by Kenneth Sischo, son of Grover Sischo

Back Row - Left to Right
Captain Dayton R. Taylor - Pilot
2nd Lt. Willard Sloggett - Co-Pilot
Captain Eckley G. Schatzman - Navigator
2nd Lt. Irvin Q. Feinbert - Bombardier

Front Row - Left to Right
Cpl. Grover H. Sischo - Gunner
Cpl. Stanley A. Stewart - Asst. Engineer
Cpl. Holmes S. Morrison - Engineer
Sgt. Robert Egerton - Gunner
Cpl. Carrol A. Stephenson - Asst. Radio Operator
Sgt. Freddie R. Hodges - Radio Operator

"THE BIG TEN"

            compiled by Dayton R. Taylor

 

SYNOPSIS

           

            The purpose of this manuscript is to give an idea of the trails and tribulations encountered by an average four-engine combat crew. In order to make our subject as true-to-life and as vivid as possible, we have chosen our crew, AQ-65, as an example.

            We begin with a brief personal background of each of the crew members which is written by the individual involved; the assimilation of our crew at the replacement center at Westover Field, Mass.; our phase training at Chatham Field, Ga.; our staging at Mitchell Field, Now York; our trip overseas; our life at our combat field which is Manduria "Frantic" Italy; and conclude with a brief analysis of the missions that we have flown with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy.

            From this time on we speak of our crew as "THE BIG TEN." We have chosen that title because we consider ourselves as members of an All-American bombing team with each man specializing in a particular job; and, through coordination and cooperation, acting as a unit. Our motto is "A chain is no stronger than the weakest link."

            Out of the ten on the crew, nine states are represented. Captain. D. R. Taylor (Pilot) comes from Bertram, Texas; 2nd Lt. W. L. Sloggett (Co-Pilot) from Pen Argul, Penn.; Captain E. G. Schatzman, III (Navigator) from Columbus, Ohio; 2nd Lt. I. Q. Feinberg (Bombardier) from Belleville, New Jersey; Cpl H. S. Morrison (Engineer) from Old Orchard, Ma.; Cpl S. A. Stewart (Asst. Engineer) from Greenwich, Conn.; Sgt F. R. Hodges (Radio Operator) from Coffeeville, Miss.; Sgt R. Egerton (Armor Gunner) from Detroit, Mich.; and Cpl G. H. Sischo (Asst. Armor Gunner) from New Buffalo, Mich. (The rank given to each of the crew members is the rank held when we formed the crew).

            Out of the original ten men who made up our crew, nine were still with us when we completed our phase training at Chatham Field. Lt. Schatzman, our navigator, had been previously assigned to another crew. He had been hospitalized at Chatham Field for an appendectomy and placed on our crew when our original navigator, 2nd Lt. C. C. Moore, Birmingham, Alabama, was sent to the hospital with a bad case of kidney trouble.

           

Captain DAYTON R. TAYLOR  (Pilot)

           

            I was born in Bertram, Burnet County, Texas on December 20, 1919. Like all small-town boys I've done a good deal of hunting, fishing, swimming and horseback riding. I graduated from Bertram High School in the Spring of 1937 and entered the University of Texas during the fall semester of the same year.

            While attending the University I was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity (social fraternity), Society of Industrial Engineers (business management organization), and Silver Spurs (honorary service organ).

            At the end of the Spring semester of 1941, I graduated from the University of Texas with a BBA degree and a private flying license. I had acquired the license through a CPT course offered through the University, and it is really hard to say which I cherished the most – my degree or the license.

            Upon graduation from college, I immediately went to work in my mother's general mercantile store there at Bertram, Texas. I soon assumed the position of general manager.

            Flying was out of the question until January 7, 1942 when I was sworn into the aviation cadets at San Antonio, Texas. I spent five weeks at San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center and later finished the following air corps schools: primary training, Coleman Army Flying School, Coleman,Texas; basic training, Goodfellow Field, San Angelo, Texas; advance training, Lake Charles Army Air Field, Lake Charles, La.

            After graduating from advance on September 5, 1942, I was sent to Enid Army Air Field, Enid, Okla., as a base instructor. Here, I received my first promotion to 1st Lt. on April 12, 1943; and instructed students until March 31, 1944, when I received my orders to report to Smyrna Army Air Base, Smyrna, Tenn., to go through B-24 transition.

            I completed my transition training at Smyrna on May 8, 1944 in class 44-4-W and reported to Westover Field, Mass., for crew assignment on May 11, 1944. Here I waited for a crew assignment until June 5, 1944, when I met my new crew – A-270.

 

2ND LT. WILLARD SLOGGETT (Co-Pilot)

 

            In the early morning of July 6, 1922, after the bursting of fire crackers and the shouting of people, came an even more important event – that is to me, for it was then that I was born. I was the first and only child of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Sloggett of Pen Arggl, Pa.

            Nothing of any importance entered into my childhood – just the usual stage coach hold-ups and Indian massacres that usually clutter-up a child's life, that is nothing until I was 6 years old when I was sent up for a long-term stretch-twelve years.

            Well, anyway, in 1940 I finished that stretch by graduating from Pen Arggl High School and so ending a big phase of my life. I had always wanted to go to college after finishing High School, but several obstacles soon put that idea aside; therefore, I started to work in a hosiery mill in a nearby town. After working and saving for a few months, I put my money into an aeronautical drafting course of a nearby school I always liked this type of work very much and some day plan to go back to it.

            The rest of my time up to Sept. 9, 1942 was devoted to working, drafting, and of course, my social life. This social life started way back in high school days. I am not very good in remembering dates, that is those not involving the fairer sex, but September 9, 1942 is one that I will never forget. By this time I was bubbling over with patriotism and excitement was too much for me, so I went stark-raving mad and joined the Army. The Army swept me off of my feet and shipped me to New Cumberland so fast that it was several days before I was a "GI". At New Cumberland I was classified as a member of the Air Forces and was sent to Keesler Field, Miss., for basic training.

            It was at Keesler that I found out that all Air Corps personnel weren't issued an airplane but did a good deal of drilling and etc. This gave me my first material for what turned out later to be a very fine art of "bitching" which is essential to soldier. Keesler also informed me that I was to attend their school for airplane mechanics, which incidentally, is a very good school. I accepted their invitation and graduated in about five months – in Jan. or Feb. of 1943.

            While going to AM school, I was fascinated by a squadron of P-51's that were training at our field; then and there I decided that flying was the thing for me. My application for cadet training was accepted in February of 1943. After about a month layover at Keesler, I was sent to Atlantic City to start my cadet training. When I arrived at Atlantic City I discovered that I was shipped there by mistake. After several weeks of vacation there I was transferred to C.T.D. at Gettysburg, Pa.

            It was at C.T.D. that my education was given a polishing-up and we also got 10 hours of flying time in those big 4 cylinder jobs – Piper Cubs. I must say that at the time, the cubs were quite a thrill.

            After three months of this life I was sent to Nashville, Tenn., for classification. A short stay of about two weeks finished Nashville for me, and after much sweating and squirming I was classified as a pilot. Oh boy, P-51's here I come!

            My next stay was at Maxwell Field, Ala., where I was given my pre-flight training.  My first impression of Maxwell was not very good, and I did not know if I was tricked into becoming a POW or if the Germans had captured the place. After a while I found out that it was a part of the plan to install a thing called discipline in you. With much bitching, studying, drilling and shinning of shoes, I was scheduled to start my "wild-blue-yonder" life at a primary school in Avon Park, Fla. Instead of a year, I discovered that only two months had been spent at Maxwell Field.

            The next ten weeks found me involved in traffic patterns, stalls, instrument flying and everything concerned with flying a plane. My first impression of the PT-17 was "Gosh! Ain't it big?" But hardly in no time at all we had soloed and were doing all sorts of stunts and my vision of the P-51 seemed to come closer. It hardly seemed but a few weeks and I found myself on a train bound for a basic school at Cochran Field, Ga.

            At Cochran, we learned to fly a more powerful ship and also a taste of instrument flying, and, of course, in "chicken s---." But it was at Cochran that my dream of a P-51 was shattered beyond recognition; for before my time in basic was up, I discovered that I was going to a twin-engine advanced school at Columbus, Miss. Well, I was naturally p--- off, but I finally convinced myself that a B-25 or A-20 wasn't such a bad deal.

            After this seemingly trick of fate and the ten weeks of training at Cochran, I was finally on my last leg of the journey – advance flying school. In advance, we were taught to fly a plane with two engines. Instruments were stressed and the Army 50-3 was a nightmare to everyone. Our flying curriculum consisted of instruments, formation, and night flying and cross country flights and a few other odds and ends. Also during my training there I found out what hell-of-a-feeling it was to be lost at night and have an engine "conk out" on you. However, my flight commander didn't appreciate that fact that I finally reached good old mother earth quite as much as I did; and, naturally, I received a severe "chewing" of the posterior end of the anatomy.

            Finally the day came when an act of congress raised me out of the depth of the aviation "gadget" to that of an officer and a gentleman. The big day was on May 23, 1944, and I'll never forget the smile on my parent's face when I came walking out of the graduation hall wearing those shiny gold bars and pilot wings.

            Then came another day that was to be a big factor in my life. I received my orders to report to Westover Field for assignment. There was also a seven-day enroute leave connected with it that I will never forget. During my seven days I got engaged to my girl back at home and then had to leave for my new assignment.

            Was it B-25's or A-20's! Well, not exactly. It was a co-pilot on a B-24 – all of my dreams were lost and I decided to make the best of it. It was here at Westover Field, Mass., that I met the other men on the crew.

 

Captain Eckley G. SCHATZMAN (Navigator)

 

            I was introduced to this world on June 16, 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio. I am the older of three children and the only boy born to my parents. My early life, I suppose just like any other young fellow, was where I developed a love for sports and the outdoors.

            In 1931 my family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where we stayed for four years. From here my father's work took us to Columbus, Ohio, where is located my present home.

            In Columbus I finished high school with the ambition of making good and becoming an aeronautical engineer. Due to the fact that I had worked during the summers while in high school, I had made enough money to begin college. Because of the opportunities and courses offered, I decided to go to Texas A & M College at College Station, Texas. Here I received two years of schooling and military training before the urge to get into the fight overcame every other desire. On March 7, 1943, I was called to active duty as an aviation cadet and sent to Santa Anna, Calif., for pre-flight training.

            After completing nine weeks of pre-flight, I was sent to Las Vegas, Nevada for gunnery school. September 1, 1943, I entered advanced navigation school at Mather Field, Calif., (Sacramento). Due to a movement of the school, I took the last few weeks of my training at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas. Here I graduated in January of 1944.

            After a fifteen day delay enroute, I reported to Westover Field, Mass., for placement on a crew and further combat training. After a short indoctrination lecture, I met the rest of the crew; however, little did I suspect that I would not see combat with this crew.

            Early in February we went from Westover Field to Chatham Field at Savannah, Ga., to take out R. T.U. training. March 20, 1944 found me in the hospital awaiting an operation due to weakness left by previous appendectomy. I was therefore taken off this crew and was very discouraged, because I would miss going overseas with them. I submitted myself to the army knife. Eight weeks later I left the hospital well and ready to try again. I received a fifteen day convalescent leave and upon returning to Chatham Field was made an instructor.

            After six weeks of instructing I finally got tired of it and applied for a position on a crew. Soon I was assigned to crew A-270, the men with whom I was to go to combat. When I met these men at a later briefing, I learned that their former navigator had gone to the hospital and that I was to replace him. We all met and shook hands and immediately I knew I would like being with them. I could imagine them thinking to themselves, "I wonder if he'll lose us, or can he do his job well".  The answer to that could only be proven by results from later missions; and I did my best to prove myself to them.

 

2ND LT IRVIN Q. FEINBERG (Bombardier)

 

            I was born in Pittsfield, Mass., on July 6, 1918. I went through most of my formal education in New Jersey, which had become my new home after my father became employed there.

            In August, 1940, I graduated from apprenticeship in the General Electric Company as a toolmaker and machinist. With a war in Europe and the United States busying itself with a national defense program, I was in a position of great opportunity. I finally decided to accept employment in the Panama Canal Zone, but the wish to enter the Air Force brought me back to the States in the Fall of 1942.

            In January, 1943, I went on active duty, reporting for basic training at Atlantic City, N.J. At Concho Field, (San Angelo, Texas) I was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in April 1944 and ordered to Westover Field, Mass. for assignment to a crew.

 

CPL. HOLMES S. MORRISON (Engineer)

 

            Born September 9, 1917 in a small town in Maine called St. Francis, and went to school there until I was eleven. Then my folks sold out and bought a larger farm in New Port, Maine. We lost everything we owned in '34 and I quit my last year in high school at Swan Lake. I drove trucks for some time, and finally got p--- o'ed and went to work for the Aberthan Construction Company. Later I went to work for the Southern New England Construction Company.

            I enlisted in the National Guards with the 103rd Inf. Reg. (Maine) at the age of 16, and later enlisted in the AAF April 27, 1941 and was sent to Tallahassee, Florida in the 53rd Fighter Group. From here I was transferred to Am. School at Roosevelt Field, Mineola, L. I., New York.

            My outfit was called to go to Panama, and sailed one week after the incident of Pearl Harbor. I graduated from AM school and joined my outfit at Cham'e Field, Panama. While we were there, our group made second place for flying time in one month flying P-39's on Sub. Patrol.

            We were called back to the United States in December 1942 to form a cadre for O.T.U. outfits for fighter pilots. We landed at Governor's Island, New York, and went back to Tallahassee, Florida. We finally got some new planes and moved to Dien Field at Tampa, Florida, and later went to Ft. Myers. It was here that our group split-up and my new outfit went to Thomasville, Georgia.

            I went from Thomasville to the Bell Aircraft Factory at Niagara Falls, N.Y., where I underwent a rigid course in their factory school. After graduation, I rejoined my outfit, and was made a crew chief on a P-39.

            Being a crew chief, I couldn't fly, so I decided to go to gunnery school and was shipped to Sheppard Field, Texas. Here I passed my physical examination, but was sent back to William Northern Field at Tullahoma, Tenn., to await further orders. After crewing a few more P-39's I was finally called to gunnery school at Tyndall Field at Panama City, Florida. 

            I graduated from gunnery school and was sent to replacement center at Westover Field, Mass. I stayed there for a while and was finally sent to Chatham Field, Ga., where I worked on the line (B-24's) for 35 days learning the Pratt-Whitney engines and the B-24.

            I finally joined our crew there at Chatham Field on June 10, 1944 and began my career as a member of a combat flying team.

 

CPL. STANLEY A. STEWART (Assistant Engineer)

 

            I was born December 27, 1925 to Mr. and Mrs. James J. Stewart, the fourth child in a family of five. I entered school at the ripe age of five years. However, grammar school was quite an ordeal for me. I struggled through it and graduated at thirteen into Greenwich High School, which I completed without much difficulty. I received my diploma at the age of seventeen.

            My hobbies are reading, writing, and practical electricity. During my high school career, I held a number of different jobs, such as: florist, electrician's helper, soda jerker, clothing salesman and liquor manage. I was never fired from a job, but always left on my own free will.

            On June 15, 1943, my army career began. I enlisted in cadets, and was later eliminated at Greensboro, N.C., on classification and physical examination. I was then sent to Harlingen, Texas, where I took my gunnery training. After I completed the gunnery course, I was transferred to Westover Field, Mass., where I was assigned to the crew I am on at the present time.

 

SGT. FREDDIE R. HODGES (Radio Operator)

 

            On or about May 4, 1922, there appeared in the "Coffeeville Courier" a little piece stating, "Born to Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Hodges a fine baby boy – etc." This was the fourth child born to this family – three sons and a daughter.

            After much discussion, they decided to christen me Freddie Raymon. How this name happened to strike me was through the courtesy of our neighbors, so I have been told. However, space doesn't permit to go into that here.

            My life was like that of any other lad of that community. In other words, I did things that the other youngsters did through high school and etc. Then came the time that changed the whole course of my life. Somehow, after graduating from high school, a "washed-out" cadet talked me into going into the Air Force with him. The date was June 17, 1941. Ah! How well I remember. But more clearly I remember Dec. 7, 1941. I was very homesick, for I had neither seen the boy I had joined the Army with or any of my folks for nearly six months. As you've probably guessed, I didn't get to go home nor was I to see home again for nearly two years.

            Before the war began, I was in a reconnaissance squadron with two B-18's and a PT trainer. Immediately after Dec. 7th we were turned into heavy bombardment with 17 Liberator ships, then called LAB-30's. Despite everyone's belief that we were headed for early combat, we were placed on patrol duty off the Pacific Coast.

            I was put to work on a LB-18 as second radio operator, for up until this time my training as a radio operator was very incomplete. We kept the job of patrol for a couple of months; and then for some unknown reason we turned to using medium bombers again. We were living and eating with the Navy all of this time. Boy, what a "gravy-train"!

            As the old saying goes, "All good things come to an end." We lost the patrol duty. Incidentally, I might add that the axis submarine had been issuing since July 7, 1942 and the crew received the DFC for it. Since you are no doubt in the dark as to where all of this took place, I will give you a clue. My first stop after enlisting in the Army was Hamilton Field, Calif.; from there to Tucson, Arizona, to Muroc, Calif., to Sacramento, Calif., to Fresno, Calif., to Seattle, Wash., to Alameda, California, to Cherry Point, North Carolina, Fresno, California, to Sacramento, and to San Francisco, where I was put on a new job.

            In the Army, I believe that they call it "getting shanghaied". Anyway, I think that that is what happened to me. In San Francisco, I went to work in the 4th Bomber Command radio section where I put-up with ten months of miserable life. Then one day there appeared on the bulletin board a paper saying, "If you are a radio operator with a weak mind and a strong back, put in your application and become an aerial radio operator gunner." Not exactly in those words, of course, but to that effect, anyway. So, disregarding the unofficial wording of the Army, to never volunteer for anything, I did a hundred yard dash and placed my application in.

            May 6, 1943, I arrived at Yuma, Arizona – a place that resembles that of Texas in many ways. (No insinuations, of course!) With some experience in squadron gunnery I'd had before, I stumbled through gunnery school fairly easy, and graduated as fourth highest in the class on April 24th, 1944.

            The next stop was soldier's "paradise", Westover Field, Mass., where I was to meet crew A-270 – one of the best crews to ever ride a B two-four dozen."

           

CPL. CARROL A. STEPHENSON (Assistant Radio Operator)

 

            I was born on February 20, 1918 and lived in most of the middle Western towns. I went to eleven different schools in twelve years, and graduated at Austin, Minnesota in 1936.

            From the time I graduated until the time that I went into the Army, I worked in a music store with my father. I also played string-bass in different dance orchestras.

            I got married on December 1, 1940 to Ruth Christopherson and we had a daughter born on May 4th, 1942.

            I took the oath in the Army on December 4, 1943 and was sent to Fort Snelling for further assignment. From there I was transferred to English Field, Amarillo, Texas for basic classification. After being classified, I was sent to Harlingen, Texas for gunnery school; and after completing my gunnery course the at Harlingen, Texas, I was shipped to Westover Field, Mass., for crew assignment.

            While we were at Chatham Field, going through our RTU training, on July 23rd, 1944, a son, Richard Scott, was born and I left the States without seeing him.

 

SGT. ROBERT EGERTON (Armor Gunner)

 

            I was born on August 19, 1918 in Detroit, Michigan. I graduated from high school in Detroit and had two years in Wayne University, and was a year and half in a business college where I majored in accounting.

            I entered the service March 31, 1941, with the National Guard Field Artillery, which was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I served with this outfit for two and one-half years and achieved the rank of corporal.

            I applied for aviation cadet training and was sent to Nashville, Tenn., where I was eliminated on account of color-blindness. I was then shipped to Maxwell Field, Alabama, where I was assigned to the Headquarters Sqd., and to the duty of clerk.

            After my application for O.C.S. was refused, I requested gunnery and was transferred to Tyndall Field Gunnery School. After completing the gunnery course I turned down the assignment as gunnery instructor and requested radio school. I was then sent to Sioux Falls Radio School, where I graduated as radio mechanic because I failed the code check in order to qualify as a radio operator.

            I was then sent to Salt Lake City, Utah and from there to Clovis, New Mexico, for combat crew assignment with the 2nd Air Force. I completed my O.T.U. training at Pueblo, Colorado, and was grounded and taken off the crew. I was reclassified as instructor in gunnery and shipped to Instructor's school at Fort Myers, Florida.

            I was eliminated from this instructor's school and transferred to Westover Field, Mass., for reassignment to a combat crew. Here I met the rest of the fellows on crew A-270.

 

CPL. GROVER H. SISCHO (Assistant Armor Gunner)

 

            On July 26, 1925, I, Grover H. Sischo, was born. Most kids start to school at the age of six, and I , being a kid of average intelligence, did likewise. However, I soon found myself slipping and feeling the responsibility of manhood coming upon, I graduated myself from school at the age of 14.

            My father offered me work with him at the Pullman Car Works, which I accepted, but soon tired of it and started to work for Royal Metal People. The position I held was sit-up man for welders. This lasted until I reached the age of 17, when I stopped work here and went to work with my grandfather.

            At the age of 18 years, I was eligible for cadet training or the Army one, so I decided to give the cadets a try. Unfortunately a week later the Army informed me that I was no longer a cadet, but that I had assumed the position of a plain old "GI" soldier. Nevertheless, I spent ten hard weeks of basic training there and soon realized that there really was a war being fought. I also learned that my conception of fighting a war and the Army's conception for some unknown reason didn't coincide; therefore, I resorted to doing it the Army way.

            Through some mysterious way which still has me "stumped" I found myself in aerial gunnery school at Harlingen, Texas. It was here I learned that the machine guns used on our ships are cal. 50 and definitely not 50 cal.

            Gunnery school consisted of eight weeks of intensive training, which started at day break and lasted sometimes until the sun had passed far beyond the horizon. They told me that their objective was to produce the world's best gunners; although they seemed to say it without even looking at the material they had in front of them to work with. At the end of eight weeks we graduated and received our wings. The orders read, "Westover Field, Mass.," so that was my next stop. Here I was assigned to crew A-270.

 

ASSEMBLAGE OF CREW

 

            It was an average New England summer day – June 5, 1944 – and all of us had been through the ordeal and chaotic stages of processing and preparing ourselves, both legally and mentally, for combat service. We were all tired, but nervous energy from a new excitement had each one of us on his toes, for today, we were to meet the other nine men that we were supposed to sleep, eat, and fight with for the duration plus! Yes, this was the day that we formed "THE BIG TEN", although we were not to meet our engineer, Cpl. Morrison, until we arrived at Chatham Field for phase training.

            Each of us, both groups – the officers and the enlisted men – were formed and marched to the theater there at Westover Field, Mass. Here we were assembled in crews ours designated at A-270, and then marched into the theater for indoctrination lectures and given information as to where we were to be sent for phase training.

            As each man met the other he would eye him from "stem to stern" and wonder how competent he would serve in his new job. Then as tactfully as possible the questions asked to each man, "Where are you from? What have you been doing?"  And, "How do you like the B-24?" Some of us had had previous time in the B-24 and some of us hadn't, therefore, those of us who had told of our previous experiences and acted as authorities along the line – although we realized that we were far from that category.

            After buying all of the candy, chewing gum, and magazines that the PX officer would allow, we prepared to board the troop train that was to carry us to our phase training station. This was a hot June day – to be exact, June 7, 1944 – and all of us were hot and tired from standing in formation waiting for the order to board the train. We will have to admit that those orders certainly sounded good to our feet as well as our ears.

            The officers were given separate cars from the enlisted men, but we spent most of our time visiting back and forth and talking to each other. Naturally, the first large event that took place after we settled down was the organization of the various and sundry type games known so well by all army personnel. The stakes and sizes were variable, and of course, our crew had several representatives. Not bragging, our boys came out very good and luck seemed to be with us from the very beginning.

            The troop train finally pulled out of Westover Field at 16:30 and we found ourselves on the "go" again. Most of us had had a good time during those days we were stationed at Westover. There had been the grand old town of Springfield, then there were Holyoke, Chicopee Falls, and Chicopee all to visit and see the sights. While we were glad to be on our way, we still cherished the good times we had encountered while we were there.

            For a troop train, we were extremely fortunate. All of us had been assigned berths – not the latest and most modern, but much better than the average troop-train offered. As far as sleep was concerned, the enthusiastic poker players kept most of us up until the early hours of the morning. This didn't hold true the second night, for since the porter was very persistent on an early arrisal, the second night found most of us in bed fairly early. Yes, some of the semi-professional money makers continued their game of chance during the second evening, but we were too dead to be bothered.  

 

PHASE TRAINING

 

            Early on the morning of the 9th of June, the Negro porter awakened us and told us that we were due tin Chatham Field within thirty minutes. Out of the sacks we came, enthusiastic to be the first to see the sunny landscapes of Savannah and the State of Georgia – the home of the well known "Georgia Peach". We came, but we didn't see, for ground fog was so bad that morning that we couldn't see across the road. There are a number of records recorded in California about the worst ground fog in history, but we have yet to be convinced that Georgia isn't just as bad as the sunny State of California for rain and fog.

            We considered it a gruesome welcome, because of weather conditions but our convictions were assured when we were marched to the orderly room and had to stand in line for a couple of hours drawing our bedding and being assigned rooms and quarters. Finally we were allowed to eat – of course, after due time in a long line – and believe us, that was the most tasty breakfast we have ever had.

            As the Chinese say, "With our bellies full," we settled down to preparing our sacks for a short rest. Hardly had we started making our beds when we were notified that we were to assemble at the old base theater for another indoctrination lecture. True to form, this meeting was long and drawn-out and adjourned just in time to allow us to get in on another long line for noon mess.

            That afternoon was just as eventful for we were ordered to report to air corps supply to have our form 121 (equipment records) checked. This seemed to offer some consolation, because we thought that our shortages would be taken care of here. Instead, the forms were checked, and if you were short anything, the sergeant would say, "T. S., buddy!" and would call for the next crew.

            After reporting to supply, we reported to the medical officer so that we could undergo another "short-arm", a brief medical examination (which wouldn't detect but only the more serious diseases, such as T.B., cancer, etc.), and have our shot records checked. Naturally, shots were due, and again we underwent the torture of the needle, which we had become so well acquainted with at Westover and during our entrance into the Army. Maybe some of the old-timers in this Army (some so old that they are about to be retired) are accustomed to the needles; but we have yet to see a person who didn't shun just a little when the doctor started towards him with that "harpoon" in his hand. We will also have to admit that we have never seen anyone actually murdered by the inoculations; although cases have been reported of death from the after effects. Half dead from standing in line and a little "woozy" from the vaccine, we returned to the barracks. A sigh of relief filled the room as we placed our carcasses down on the bed and prepared our poor body for another rest. Yes, this was it! We were notified that our days work was complete and that we were "off" until the next day at 18:00 (Sunday) when we were to report to the flying line to start our rigid training program. We were also told that passes would be issued and that we could go into Savannah to see the sights of the "deep old South".

            You guessed it! All of us drug ourselves out of the sack into the shower and dressed to go to town. Certainly we were tired, but each minute counted a lot and we, being average Americans with a super inquisitive trait, had to see what was in store for us on the social side of life.

            Again, we went, we saw, and we were disappointed. Being used to the luxuries of the New England bars and night spots, Savannah was a relic of the Civil War. Although the transition was most severe, we made the best of the situation, when we located the Drum Room, The Camelia Room, The Tavern, Hotel Oglethorp, Jonnie Harrison's, and a few of the other places of interest. It wasn't too bad, was it, Morrison?

            For some of us, Savannah offered unusual and desirable circumstances. For an example, Lt. Feinberg was auspicious enough to be accompanied by this wife (although he reported living conditions not to be desirable). Oh, yes, there was Cpl. Stewart, who actually found one of the original "Georgia Peaches" that we had heard so much of. (Believe us, we still hear a lot about her). Even to this day, Stewart says that he intends to return to Savannah after the war and try to incorporate two people legally. Then there was Lt. Schatzman, who had several months start on us and he gave some very favorable reports on the "feminine gender" there also. Naturally, there were the "bar flies", including Lt. Taylor, who spent their hard earned cash on wine and song and what women they could find.

            The next afternoon found some of us with "hang-overs", others with guilty consciences and a few of us with clear heads reporting back to the field in time for our first briefing. We had been assigned to "C" flight and Lt. Whetric was our flight commander. The first briefing turned out to be a lecture, telling us what to expect and what was expected of us while we were there. Luckily, our crew was not scheduled to fly that night and we were dismissed with orders to report back for a 05:00 o'clock briefing the following morning.

            For a GI bunk, that sack certainly "hit the spot" that night and time flew faster than lightning. We arose at 04:00 o'clock super eager to eat and get to the line before 05:00 because we had been given fair warning about the results of tardiness at briefing.

            There we all were, ready to fly on our first training mission at phase training. We were wondering what was ahead of us and how we would meet the new problem when briefing started with the ultra-loud voice of Lt. Whetric shouting, "Quiet, goddamit, quiet!"

            The briefing started, as we soon discovered, in the normal manner with the weather briefing first, the mission assignment, the ship assignment, and then the "poop from the group" read and last word of advice. To some of us, it was a disappointment when we learned that the pilot, engineer, and radio operator were the only ones scheduled to fly that morning. The rest of us were sent to the synthetic trainers. This was just the beginning and being assigned to these trainers wasn't too bad; but later on, we learned to avoid them as a cat will a dog.

 

            The pilot, engineer, and radio operator were to undergo a short transition schedule and after they were checked out, the entire crew would fly in a body. The co-pilot also had to be checked out in his duties before he was allowed to assume his position with the crew. This all required about three days flying. With this completed, we flew our first mission together. This happened to be a low altitude bombing mission. Our pilot was mighty proud of us as could obviously be seen by the expression on his face. We took off and flew to the bombing range. Everything seemed to run-off smooth – as could be expected with a super green crew – with Lt. Feinberg doing a very good job dropping his bombs. We completed our primary mission which was bombing within three hours and then began our secondary mission of transition. All the gunners mounted their turrets and tracked everything tractable in the sky while the pilot tried to show how "hot" he was by doing a series of super-steep banks. This lasted about an hour and a half and our time was up and we returned to Chatham Field to land. This was the first real test for our pilot. Could he land this hunk of metal we called an "airplane"? Most of us had flown with him before at one time or another, but this was our first experience solely on "Our Own". We wondered how he would do.

            We will admit, with all due respect to Lt. Taylor, that we really "sweated that landing out". All of us gave a sigh of relief after the wheels hit with a "thud" and we had come to a slow taxiing speed at the end of the runway.

            Yes, we had completed our first mission without any mishaps. Technically, it was far from the most important mission we were to fly, we still class it within the first 1%.

            Naturally, we all wanted to see what went on outside, so we all stood up in the waist and looked out of the windows. Then we started taxiing on the taxi strips toward the parking ramp. Man-o-live, our pilot was certainly rough taxiing that ship! We were tossed around in the rear like a cork on rough water. Thank goodness that he finally learned to taxi a little better! Any way, we soon learned to keep our positions until the ship was parked on the ramp; therefore we will assume a little credit for the rough taxiing conditions.

            By, George! We almost forgot to tell about meeting our engineer, Cpl. Morrison. Morrison had been sent to Chatham Field about a month ahead of us for training. We didn't meet him until the first night that we reported to the flying line. All of us realized how valuable an engineer is to a four-engine bomber crew, so, naturally, we eyed him pretty closely. To the best of our knowledge we asked him technical questions about the ship and what previous experience he had had. Well, it didn't take us long to discover that he knew his engine and that we could consider him and asset to the crew. With Morrison with us, this completed "The Big Ten."

            During the first two weeks there at Chatham Field everything seemed to be on our side. We flew a mission practically everyday; therefore, getting ahead of most of the other crews in requirements. We shall never forget our first night X-C. Every member of the crew was present with the exception of Lt. Feinberg and Cpl. Stephenson. The night was as black as "pitch" and we were to go from Savannah to Panama City, Florida and return. There had been thunderstorms reported along the Gulf coast line of Florida, and we had been warned to stay away from them. We were told to keep a close look out for other planes and report their position to our pilot when sighted. This happened to be the first night flying for several of us and you should have heard us reporting planes all over the sky. Of course, they weren't planes at all, but lights on the ground – mostly the red and green lights on the revolving beacons on the airways.

            The weather man was right (for a change) that night and we could see large cumulus cloud formations and lightning in front of us. It seemed as if we would run into the storm at any minute; fortunately, the weather turned out being a good ways off shore. The weather was close enough to limit the use of our radio; therefore, we were unable to contact several stations along the route.

            That night, Lt. Moore, our original navigator, did a magnificent job navigating. As radio ranges were unusually hard to contact and the radio compass was useless, because of static, we had to take Moore's word and fly strictly by his headings. Although he missed his ETA slightly at Panama City, were convinced of his navigation ability. The return trip was a "snap", but we were glad to set foot on solid earth again.

            Our officers had a fairly nice set-up for a midnight snack after night flying at Chatham. Those good hamburger steaks, bacon and eggs, and plenty of milk, will never be forgotten. Although the prices were a little too high, we all enjoyed it and were willing to pay the prices.

            Our next experience was flying formation – both low and high altitude. For those of you who have never ridden in a B-24 while flying formation, and especially in rough air, you have a treat in store. We went up and down, side ways, cross ways and every way, and finally some of us felt a little funny – especially in our stomach. None of us got deathly airsick, but we felt much better on other types of missions.

            To add to the miserable feeling acquired while flying formation the temperatures are terrific. We bundled ourselves up in all we had – wool flying suits, heated clothing, boots, gloves, and etc., and still we almost froze, especially those of us in  the nose and waist positions. The fellows in the flight deck and command deck didn't suffer much from the cold because they had cockpit heaters and a closed compartment. With the waist windows about (and practically all of them were out at Chatham) the air seemed to be 80 degrees below 0, even if the free air temperature gauges did indicate only 15 and 20 degrees below 0.

            Oh, yes, not to forget the comfortable oxygen mask which is so essential at 20,500 feet. Did you ever tie an old shoe around your head so that your mouth fitted where the foot enters the shoe and the shoe laces around your neck, holding the shoe securely to your head? If you haven't, try it sometime and it will give you a good idea as to how an oxygen mask feels. Some say that the mask is easy to become accustomed to, but not any of us - we still detest the damn things.

            As we have mentioned before, everything went swell until the end of the second week of our training; and then luck went against us. Then Lt. Moore, our first navigator, developed a nice case of kidney trouble and was taken to the hospital at Hunter Field. Then we began to get behind in our missions. We waited two weeks, expecting Lt. Moore to recover and return to our crew, and finally we were informed that his case was so bad that he would have to be replaced by another navigator. This was a terrific blow to us because we had lost one man in the first two weeks of our phase training; and we realized that at this rate we would never complete our training as a crew.

            Lt. Moore was a fine officer and an excellent navigator and we all hated to lose him. We all wish him the best of luck on his next crew and hope to run into him again somewhere.

            Finally, we met our new navigator, Lt. Schatzman. Here again we were extra fortunate, for Lt. Moore had been replaced by a man with the equivalent training, plus a few additional months of instructing navigators at Chatham Field. Lt. Schatzman, we soon discovered, had been assigned to another crew the previous February and similar to Lt. Moore, had been held over because of hospitalization. It didn't take us long to realize that our new crew member knew his "stuff" and that he would blend in with the rest of our crew perfectly.

            After we had been assigned a new navigator, we were "back in the saddle again" and flying a mission every day. About this time we were scheduled on a camera gunnery formation mission. This mission was especially important for the gunners. Now it was their turn to"strut their stuff". We flew a seven ship formation with a P-47 making passes at us from every angle. Each man had been issued 50 feet of camera for his gun, and, when developed, the film would indicate what was right or wrong with each individual's gunnery technique. We really had a time that day! Lucky for the pilot, we were leading the whole formation, so that he switched the auto-pilot on and watched the whole affair. Everyone was excited and trying to do his very best, and soon we could hear the nose gunner calling eh pilot and complaining about not having enough nose attacks. Later, the tail gunner would do the same, while the rest of us were so busy that we didn't have time to complain. Yes, we certainly realized then and there that a fighter could be very poisonous to a four engine bomber. We also learned how valuable the interphone could be in reporting a fighter's position to each crew member and how a good system of calling these positions would keep everyone cognizant of the fight's position.

            The big laugh we got later when we were called into the photo lab to see the film after it was developed. The best part of this was to watch the expression of each individual's face as his film was shown and hear him say, "That just couldn't be me firing". We kidded Sgt. Hodges about being such a good gunner because his film came out excellent. Actually Lt. Sloggett and Cpl. Morrison had done the most of the shooting. As far as the gunnery instructor knows, Freddie is a "hot rock". We also got a "bang" out of Cpl. Sischo when a part of his film showed half a B-24 in his sights. As an average, we weren't too bad, but realized that there was a lot ahead of us to learn.

            Chatham Field definitely isn't noted for its superior maintenance of aircraft. We considered our greatest obstacle there was getting an airplane that would fly us through a complete mission. Seemed that every time we were scheduled for a mission we would have to wait on our airplane for repairs – and of course that was awful disheartening. We shall never forget the day we were going on a high altitude bombing mission over Bull Island. We took off and joined a formation that was going that direction. (High altitude formation was hard to achieve, especially the number of hours required; therefore, we took advantage of every opportunity available tin order to meet our POM requirement). Anyway, we had joined the formation and assumed the "tail-end Charlie" position. At 12,500 feet our number 3 supercharger seemed to start acting queer and we started lagging behind formation. Finally, we lost our supercharger altogether, but we were determined to complete our high altitude bombing mission. (All of the high altitude requirements were exceptionally hard to accomplish because of weather conditions, mechanical trouble and routine scheduling). So we climbed the best we could and when we reached our bomb altitude of 20,500 feet we heard our pilot say, "Well fellows, if you have never made a bombing run on three engine, you are about to make one now." With the restricted power settings when using 91 octane gasoline we were able to indicate from 135 to 140 mph and at that altitude, that is a very low airspeed. The first run proved successful and we turned to the left over the target in order to make another pass. In this turn, we lost 5000 feet and started working and struggling to regain our altitude with other ships sailing by us as if we were anchored to a cloud. Finally, we gained enough altitude to make our second pass, and it proved fairly satisfactory, but our third pass was our last for the day. Due to the erratic controlling of the auto-pilot the ship completely stalled out and the pilot had to recover manually. We finally gave up as a bad job and returned to the field.         

            Another incident which is related to our experiences with high altitude bombing and one that taught us all a very dear lesson was the time we started to altitude and reached 13,000. We were also about thirty minutes from the field and Cpl. Stephenson called up and said that the diaphragm was out of his oxygen mask and that it was worthless. We had to turn around and go back to the field. Remember that, Steve? If this had happened on a regular combat mission, it would have been really TS!

            We shouldn't forget the day Lt. Feinberg established a new high altitude bombing record there at Chatham. That day was perfect in every respect. The air was relatively smooth and the auto-pilot worked like a charm – oh, yes, we had four good engines to carry us through that mission. Any error that day would have been purely bombardier error, but, as it turned out, there was very little error. Jerry's CD for the whole bomb load was 105 feet. Boy, was he hot that day? Our crew had really started functioning.

            We will all agree that local night instrument flying was the most unwelcome mission assigned us while going through phase training. Even our super eager pilot, Lt. Taylor, dreaded those night missions. Not having witnessed combat conditions at that time, we were certain that nothing could be so dangerous and perilous as flying around Savannah for hours at night. Not counting the other ships from Chatham Field that was flying that same mission, there were those boys from Hunter Field up there also. As far as the instrument flying was concerned it was taboo. What we actually did was spend most of the time dodging other ships.

            The most exciting part of all was the traffic pattern at night when all the ships came home to land. Man-o-live, ships would be coming from all directions, at all airspeeds, and it was a real test for the "the survival of the fittest" theory. Somehow, there were very few accidents, but we've come so close at times that it left stains in our underwear.

            Then there was the time that we finally accomplished the high altitude camera bombing mission. All of us got a big kick out of Lt. Feinberg and Lt. Schatzman when they were trying to decide which target to bomb. We had tried twice previously to this time in order to complete our POM in camera bombing and had failed both times – once because the lid was on the camera and the pictures were ruined, and once because the film was bad. Consequently, we all were in desperation to accomplish this mission and get it over with. Believe you us; it is not fun flying at high altitude on any kind of mission. This particular day we were scheduled to fly high altitude formation and try to get our camera bombing in at the same time. Naturally, this isn't too easy to do; but we tried to make the best out of it. The first half period we were flying on another ship's wing; therefore, we didn't get any good pictures. So when our turn came to lead, we started looking for targets – any type of targets as long as they would meet the requirements. Finally we heard our navigator say: "Hey, Jerry, there is a target over there. Let's bomb that target." Our bombardier would reply: "Swell, Schatzman, will do." He would notify the pilot and off we would go. After the target was bombed, the bombardier would call the navigator and say: "Say, Schatzman, what was the name of that target?" The answer would be: "Beats the hell out of me, Jerry, but I will find out about it as soon as I can." This type of co-operation between navigator and bombardier continued the remainder of the period and we resorted to bombing right and left – everything that looked like an airfield and anything else that would satisfy our cause.

            Well, you might classify this procedure a little hazardous, but we completed our requirements in high altitude camera bombing. On the way back to the field, another peculiar incident happened. Some of us believe in intuition and others of us don't, but we can cite a good example of intuition on this mission. Lt. Schatzman had given the pilot a heading to fly home and we found ourselves about forty miles from Chatham Field. Some reason or other the pilot decided to correct five degrees to the left (don't tell Schatzman, but we believe that the pilot could see the Field). As the ship started turning it caught the navigator with the microphone in his hand ready to tell the pilot to make the same correction. So the "Gopher", (we call Lt. Schatzman the "Gopher", because he will stick his head up through the glass astro-dome in front of the pilot and reminds us of a gopher) stuck his head up in the astro-dome with a sickening smile on his pan and said: "Now how in the hell did you know that I wanted to make that correction?" To this day, our pilot leads Lt. Schatzman to believe it was intuition – we know better – don't we, fellows?

            Of course, we had some pretty large experiences during our phase training, but we will all agree that our over water cross country mission was the most exciting and caused us to place divine faith in our navigator's ability to navigate over water. As usual, our crew was among the last to complete their over water cross country mission – and true to form and principle there at Chatham Field, we had been scheduled twice before and failed to go because of weather conditions. We had heard all of the exaggerated stories from the other crews who had been lucky enough to have completed their mission. Naturally, we were all anxious to give her a try. When our day did come, it was a "dilly". The morning was perfect and everything seemed to be in our favor. The ship – believe it or not – was ready to go and everything checked and double checked on the ground, and we left the runway at about 07:30 – one of the first to get off on the mission that particular day. As we circled the field we just couldn't believe that we were off and in the back of our minds, we just knew that something was bound to go wrong. Then it happened! The radio operator, Sgt. Hodges called our pilot and said that he couldn't contact the ground station. We all realized that our mission would be canceled if radio contact couldn't be made, so we "held our breath" and hoped like hell for the best. Finally, we heard Sgt. Hodges sing out over the microphone that contact had been made and everything was O.K.

            We circled the field once more and swung on our heading out to sea. The sun was about an hour and a half high at this time and the ground fog hadn't had time to dissipate, and much to our advantage and comfort the waist position was quite ideal. With the exception of Sgt. Hodges, none of us had done much flying over water – that is for long periods of time, so we all wondered what it would be like, what we would see, and what we would do in case of engine trouble and had to ditch. We had been though our ditching procedures time after time, but it just now dawned on us that we might have a chance for a real thing that day. Anyway, the thought of it caused a peculiar feeling in our stomachs.

            Out to sea we flew, twenty-five, thirty-five, and so on up to one hundred miles out to sea and the sight of land was gone. "Old Betsy", our ship that day, seemed to be strutting her stuff, for she slid through the air like a feather in the breeze and each one of her four engines purred like a kitten. As we looked in all directions and could see nothing but water, it brought to our memories the "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" – especially that part that goes, "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink". Only this time we had plenty of water on board to drink and plenty of food to eat – so we didn't let that worry us.

            The "Rough Atlantic" wasn't true to form that day, because the water was as smooth as silk and the wind was cool and very moderate in velocity. As we passed south of Miami we noticed that the color of the water changed from an ultra-deep blue to a greenish color and we knew that it was there that the Gulf stream met the Atlantic waters and soon we could see small islands and shallow reefs. Also about that time we ran into some small cumulus clouds that were slowly building-up off the Florida shore and our visibility dropped slightly. At this time we could tell that the water continued to change colors as we approached the Bahamas Islands.

            The Bahamas, to most of us, was a great disappointment, for we expected a beautiful island with large sandy beaches similar to those at Palm Beach and Coney Island. The beaches on the Bahamas were beautiful in color with white sand, but they were small and the island was nothing but a hunk of land with a lot of trees growing on it. The beauty we noticed was the different and various colors – that of the water, the beaches, and the brush on the island, and the shadow of the clouds as they slowly moved over the scene. A camera sure would have come in handy – wouldn't it, boys?

            The sight of all sights that day was seen as we headed farther South and as we neared the Grand Emerald Isles. Here we were far from disappointed for the sight before our eyes was hard to equal. The color of the waters around the islands seems to assume a thousand different colors and blended the branches and the tropical growth on the land perfectly. Every once in a while we could see a small native hut and their small fishing boats anchored nearby in the water. As we dropped a little lower we noticed the porpoises playing in the shallow tropical waters and one school seemed to be playing games of water polo with another.

            As this was our point of return, we headed back up the east coast in a northern direction. Our course took us over the Bahamas again and farther out to sea than did the course we used coming down. The reason for this was to give our navigator a landfall problem – how he would handle this problem, we were all anxious to find out. After flying another three and one-half hours over water with no sight of land, Lt. Schatzman notified our pilot that we was to turn to a course of 290 degrees which should bring us over the field at Chatham Field. Would the course be good? That was the question that ran through our minds. This was the ultimate test for our navigator, and if he messed this up, we wouldn't give him our full faith on the "big hop" across. Forty-five minutes had passed, and the sight of land appeared and we were soon able to distinguish the mouth of the Savannah River, where it emptied itself in to the ocean, and we knew that the course couldn't be far off. But to really gain our faith, Lt. Schatzman plotted a landfall that took us over the southern edge of our Field. This of course lit up his face like a Christmas candle and we were all super proud of him. Do you remember how the pilot bragged about his success to the flight commander and the flight navigator? Give us a quarter, Schatzman. Any way, it was an excellent job.

            Do you recall the day we all got a stab at the pilot's position? What a day! Our primary mission had been to shoot maximum load landings and take-offs and we completed it in about forty-five minutes. As we were scheduled to stay in the air for the entire period, we headed out over the coast just flying around. Then the pilot called Lt. Schatzman and asked him if he wanted to try his hand at the controls. Naturally he accepted, and mounted the pilot's seat. Lt. Taylor, our pilot, left the plane in command of Lt. Sloggett, our co-pilot, and came back to the waist to try out the ball turret. Each of us was allowed fifteen minutes at the wheel and we flew that ship all over the sky. Some reason or other, that damn ship just wouldn't hit a constant altitude in a turn for us and we would roll out of the turn and climb back to regain our lost altitude. It was great thrill and we all wished for a little longer time, but time wouldn't permit and we had to return to the field and land.

            This brings us down to our last few days at Chatham Field. We had heard rumors running around the base to the effect that all crews that finished all of their requirements early would be given leaves and three day passes. Now all of us have been with the Army long enough to disregard most of these so called "latrine-o-gram" rumors, but the question, "Have you heard any more about leave or passes being issued?" would come out every day. Maybe some of us simply resolved that he wouldn't be contended with "dreaming the rest" and the rumor sounded so good that even though we realized that there was nothing to it we still liked to keep "the iron hot" on the fire. Even some of the instructors would put in a couple of encouraging remarks once in a while. Then the blow came that assured us that we wouldn't have a chance of leaves nor passes. With only five flying days left, we were informed one morning that all crews would complete all of their camera gunnery and flak attacks before officially completing their training there. This we realized was almost impossible for us, but we still intended to "give her a try". Then luck did turn against us when we missed two of those five flying days, and not until then did we sit back and let fate take a hand. Consequently, we failed to get another flight – which didn't bother us too much. Do you remember Freddie going all through the ship trying to find something wrong with it the last day we were scheduled to fly? Actually, that was the first and only day that we have ever seen Sgt. Hodges take so much interest in the maintenance of our airplane. We finally squirmed out of that mission, didn't we, Freddie?

            We couldn't end telling our tales about the "Chatham Field Days" without ending with telling about Lt. Taylor losing his clearance sheet and having to go through the whole procedure again. God, that was awful discouraging, wasn't it Taylor? Those of us who have cleared an Army field realize the red tape and ordeal involved in getting the clearance form signed by the photo division, provost marshal, supply, the orderly room, on up to the commanding officer. It required three days of fairly constant routine clearing the field at Chatham and on the last day, without the officers' BOQ officer's signature, Lt. Taylor discovered that he had lost the clearance form. When this happened it was a good thing that the Chaplain wasn't around, for if he had of been, I'm afraid that his face would have changed colors just "a few times". It was as hot as any July day gets there in Georgia and fifteen minutes before roll was called for the crews leaving. Lt. Taylor completed this second tour of the post – yes, ringing wet from sweat and tired as "Uncle Billy He--. But the mission was complete, and AQ-65 (the code number given our crew at Chatham Filed for overseas transfer) was ready to leave with the rest of them. Mighty tough, Taylor, old boy, but you made it!

 

LEAVING CHATHAM FIELD

           

            At last our day had come! Yes, it was our day because we'd all been looking forward to this ever since we began our T.T.U. training, August 17, 1944, a typical Georgian day, hot and sultry, and we were all bubbling with excitement. We were leaving Chatham Field, going to our Staging area, Mitchell Field, New York. Yes, we were on our way to combat at last!

            At 17:00 our troop train pulled into the field and we could hear echoes of fond farewells such as: "At last the battle of Chatham is over!" or "Thank God that we are leaving this place!" Even with all this loud outcry of sentiments, we had memories of a few good times, incidents of good GI laughs and an occasional moment of "sweating-out" a ship or a mission.

            On the train we played penny-ante poker to pass the time. Our trip to Mitchell Field was rather uneventful. As we rode into and through the States north of Georgia, frequently was heard a remark such as, "Gosh! God's Country at last!", "We're out of Georgia!" with an expression of feeling that only a GI could expel.

 

OUR STAGING AREA

 

            We arrived at Mitchell Field at 24:00 midnight on the 19th of August. We were ushered to our quarters which were loudly acclaimed as "Heaven" compared to previous conditions. Our morale hit a new high when we were immediately informed that we might spend the evening in New York City during our stay at Mitchell Filed. What nights they were, too, and how we enjoyed them. It was just plain "wonderful", wasn't it, fellows! During those days we took our final physical check-ups, drew our overseas' flying equipment, and settled all legal matters that only the Army could handle – just yards and yards of red tape!

            Finally, one sunny afternoon we met "her". Yes, we met "her" and she was truly an example of fashion, which only skilled hands and minds could make a reality. She was ours now, our ship. We admit that we all acted like kids with a new toy – why shouldn't we? The order, "Clear No. 3" was given and soon she stood swaying with the vibration of all four of her engines. This was the ship that would carry us overseas and the one that would carry us to the combat targets. The ship soared off the runway like a big bird and right away we knew we liked her and that she would carry us through. This was a test hop, and believe you us, she did herself proud. We all checked our instruments, interphones and gun turrets. Dayton was just grinning from ear to ear and just to prove he was satisfied, he promptly "greased her in" like there was cotton in the wheels. We were all happy, and pleased with her performance, but realized that proof of her worth was yet to come on our long flight across.

 

FROM MITCHELL TO DOW FIELD

 

            At 07:00 on the 23rd of August, we arose to meet an 08:00 o'clock briefing, after which we were to take off and head for our last step on the way across. The night before, all had been made ready. We had loaded the plane and had her serviced. At 09:00 we taxied out to take-off and Dayton and Bill ran-up the engines for the usual preflight check. We were all rather excited because we were finally beginning our flight to combat. At 09:18 GCT we left the runway and after sufficient altitude we circled the field and departed.

            In our briefing, we had been told that the flight was to be made either to one of two different bases. Either Dow Field at Bangor, Maine, or to Grenier Field, at Manchester, N.H. We were not to find out to which we were going until later in the flight. Why all the secrecy about this we could not figure out, but developed our own ideas. As it was the navigator's job to notify our radio operator at a certain point enroute, Schatzman called Freddie so that he could call in Boston and find out our destination at 09:36. We were told to report to Bangor, Maine, and our pilot was given the change of course. Jerry, our bombardier, was looking out of the window with a pair of binoculars to see if he could perceive anything of special interest in the old city of Boston.

            The ship flew all the way and at 11:25, the navigator called to say: "that is the field ahead of us", and we landed at 11:38 after 2:20 hours of flying time. We all voiced the opinion that we were extremely hungry. Although we were starving to death, we had to sweat-out another long line for indoctrination and rechecks before we were allowed to eat.

 

FLIGHT TO GANDER, NEW FOUNDLAND

 

            We spent a couple of dreary days there at Bangor, waiting for the weather to clear, so that we could continue our journey. Finally, we were notified that we were leaving, and after specialized briefing for the navigator, pilot, and radio operator, we left the ground and turned on our course towards the North Atlantic.

            As we were flying under the jurisdiction of the ATC Command, we stuck to the airways and flew beams most of the way to Gander. Our course took us over such towns as Blissville, Moncton, Charlottetown, and Sydney. At each station, we called the control tower and gave them our position and listened for a weather report. The weather was "lousy" that day and we were flying about 50-50 instruments and contact. Our toughest weather conditions were encountered right after we reached the coast of New Foundland, and had contacted the approach channel control. As we were flying at 9,000 feet, we were relatively safe from hitting any mountains or etc., but we had no idea where the other ships were that were on the same trip. This was one time that a B-24 took rough weather in a beautiful stride. We could have sworn that the wing-tips varied three feet when we hit that stuff.

            The pilot was sweating-out making an instrument let-down at Gander, but we broke out of the soup about four minutes before we got to the station, and landed under contact conditions at 19:55. We were all tired, and, naturally hungry: but knew that we had another legal line to wait in before eating.

 

LIFE AT GANDER

 

            The country around Gander was beautiful – that is what part you could see. In fact, the weather was so bad there that most of the time you couldn't even see across the road. There were a few nice sun-shiny afternoons that we made good use of and went fishing and boating on the lake that was near by. Although we knew that there were fish in this lake, we never had sufficient evidence to prove it. Our barracks were fairly nice, with very good beds – right, Bill? – and well heated and with good showers.  We landed there in khaki uniforms, but it wasn't' too long before we were all in O.D.'s. We worried quite a bit about being there so long that the snows would come and close the field. As it was, we were weathered in there for fifteen days. There was very little to do since the nearest town was about 75 miles away, so we played a little poker, black-jack, and etc., and made all of the movies – bad or otherwise. We will never forget how good that popcorn tasted and how hard it was to get waited on at the canteen. Naturally, we eyed all of the New Foundland girls and made a little fun of them, since they were a good ways from being as beautiful as the American girls. Little did we realize that later on these girls would have looked like queens to us.

            After sweating-out the rumors that we would go back to the States and cross over by the southern route, we got our break and were notified that we were leaving that God-forsaken place. Morrison, Hodges and Stephenson had been throwing a little party in the enlisted men's club there on the base with the anticipation that we wouldn't get off the next morning. (Incidentally, the transit crews were restricted from the use of the clubs there, but leave it to Morrison and the rest of the fellows, and they will get in some way or another). As we were notified at 24:00 that we were leaving that morning sometime between 02:00 and 07:00, we had to hustle-up the crew and check our bedding in and clear the post and get to briefing – which we did in true form. The party-boys were just about asleep when they were notified and were still a little woozy, but they all had a chance to get their heads clear before we took off.

 

FROM GANDER TO LAGENS, AZORES, PORTUGAL

 

            We finally received permission from the tower to take-off at 09:10 GCT and headed out over our long water hop. Now was the time for the navigator to "shine his rine", because this was the hop that we had practiced for so long. Over 1200 miles of water to a small island that was owned by Portugal. There were beam facilities but just the same, we were not taking any chances, so Schatzman was "on the ball" all of the way across. Because of inclement weather conditions enroute, we expected instrument conditions, but the weather wasn't too bad. Most of the way we were flying between cloud layers and every once in a while we would get into the soup.

            As we were instructed to keep a good watch for convoys and ships and everything else there on the water, we had a pair of binoculars in the waist and a pair on the command deck. What water we could see didn't offer anything, but we kept looking just in case. Around 12:00 o'clock we had our dinner, which consisted of a couple of sandwiches and some coffee, an apple, and some candy. Man-o-live, this sure hit the spot!

            We were not away from Gander more than an hour and a half when we picked up the Lagens' beam on the radio. We knew for sure then that we were on course and that everything was in our favor. When we were 100 miles from station, our navigator notified Freddie that he was to contact the approach control. We still wonder what in the hell happened to Freddie, but the control was never contacted and we passed over the island above the overcast and at 9,000 feet. Man, was our pilot red under the gills! We finally found a hole in the soup and made a quick let-down doing about 225 miles per and losing altitude at a rate of 3,000 feet per minute. It was such a violent maneuver that it made one of the party boys a little sick – Stephenson. After we had gotten down to traffic altitude and had contacted the tower, we thought that we would never land. That traffic pattern was a mess and we spent over an hour trying to land. At last we got on the ground and all of us let out a sigh of relief.

           

FROM LAGENS TO MARRAKECH, FRENCH MORRACCO

 

            After briefing and etc., we started our engines and taxied out for take-off on September 10, 1944. Do you remember the dust there at the Azores? We could hardly see the ship that was head of us until we reached the steel mat taxi strips. The pilot poured the coal to the ship and off we flew for another leg of our trip.

            Up until this time we had been flying the Great Circle course, but this time we were to fly the Rheum Line course. This was done to avoid some Islands that were heavily guarded by the British. This leg of the trip was slightly shorter than the previous one; but since the weather was much better we had a good look at the Atlantic. On the way we spotted a Red Cross ship that looked as if it was headed for Mediterranean waters. Again, we had good luck with the radio and picked up the Marrakech range immediately.

            As we approached the shores of North Africa, we could see the barren waste lands that we had read about so much. It looked to us something like Arizona and New Mexico, because the terrain was rather flat and red in color. The shore line was not characterized by sandy beaches, but was rugged and bound with cliffs of red-clayish dirt. Seemed as if we could see a million miles across the desert. As we passed over the small towns we noticed the peculiar buildings and arrangements of houses and etc. Most of the places looked deserted and we caught sight of a camel or a horse once in a while.

            Finally we saw Marrakech and called in for landing instructions. From the air, Marrakech looked dirty and all of the houses were jammed-up against each other. After we had landed, we found out that 200,000 people lived there and that there were 50,000 known prostitutes included. Although we didn't get a chance to visit the town, we learned that we had not missed very much.

            The field there at Marrakech had been previously occupied by the Italian and German soldiers. Believe us, when we say that the Eyeties go in a big way for building their officers' quarters. The transit crews were lodged in barracks which looked more like hotels with large rooms and separate bathrooms. These buildings were made with stone, with red tile roofing. The floors were also made of tile and we felt like kings. Of course, our E.M. were more unfortunate, because they were assigned to a tent.

            After a brief medical lecture on the tropical diseases, we went to the show. The theater was a typical open air job, and the picture was "Lady in the Dark", with Ginger Rogers. The weather was quite ideal and we all had a very restful night.

 

MARRAKECH TO TUNNIS

 

            Up bright and early the next morning, we were ready for another leg in our journey. Already a twenty hour inspection was due on our ship, and we soon learned that we would be detained for some time, because the ground crew hadn't checked our ship the night before. Morrison and Stewart had taken extremely good care of our ship all along the way and pulled most of the twenty hour inspection while we were at Gander. Therefore, we signed a twenty-hour check and taxied out for the take-off.

            The trip to Tunis was very scenic and characterized by many different types of terrains. For example, we flew over the mountainous area of the Northern part of North Africa and also over the flat lands in between. Some of the towns that we passed over were Meknes, Taza, Qujda, Oran, Algiers, Phillipville, Bone, and Owinto and on into El Aquina Field at Tunis. As we passed over Oran we could see shell holes in the ground and the big bomb craters that had been planted there in the battle of North Africa. All along our route, we could see the after effects of a large army invasion, and these scenes quickly brought back to our minds the articles about the Battle of North Africa that we had read in the papers and magazines.

            When we finally reached Tunis and circled the field, we flew over the bay there and we could see the remains of enemy ships that had taken their death-bed under allied gunfire in the bay. Occasionally we saw enemy aircraft that had been destroyed and had fallen into the waters around the harbor. These scenes will never leave our minds.

            All of our runways had been fairly long and smooth, until we landed at El Aquina. Here we discovered immediately after landing that the field was rough and short. Our pilot had to apply brakes to stop our ship. We taxied to the parking area, where a truck picked our pilot and navigator up and took them to operations and the rest of us to our transit barracks. Here again at El Aquina we had a close look at the effects of war, when we closely observed the ruined buildings, and the planes on the ground.

            We were all lodged in a large stone barracks built by the Eyeties and spent another cool night in North Africa. For some reason or other Taylor and Schatzman had a hard time sleeping that night, and blamed it on the atabrine tablets.

 

FROM EL AQUINA TO GIOIA

 

            At eight-ten on the morning of September 12, 1944 we left the ground of North Africa and headed towards Sicily and from there on to Italy. Our course took us directly to the island of Sicily, then through part of the mainland of the island, then back towards the toe of Italy. As we passed Mount Etna, we all asked each other questions about the prominent landmark and reviewed our knowledge of ancient history.

            It didn't take us long to sight the main land of Italy after we passed Sicily. As far as the terrain was concerned, there was very little difference. Finally we came to the bay of Taranto and Sloggett reminded us that it was in this bay that the English destroyed the best part of the Italian fleet. It was a beautiful harbor and a good sized city for Southern Italy. Then we changed our course again to 339 degrees which would take us to Gioia.

            Gioia is a kind-of-a replacement pool for both crews and ships. There were several ships on the field, both old ones and new ones. We were afraid that we would lose our ship here, but were fortunate enough not to do so.

 

LIFE AT GIOIA

           

            If we have ever witnessed actual combat conditions, we did so during the two days and nights at Gioia. As we have mentioned before, this field was used as a replacement pool by the 15th Air Force, and there were many crews there waiting to be assigned to groups. In fact, the place was so crowded that some of us (all of our enlisted crew) had to sleep in the airplane. Incidentally, sleeping in the airplane wasn't too bad, compared to the tent that we were assigned. The wind blew so hard most of the time, that everything inside of the tent would be covered with dust.

            Our chow line was most disagreeable. As we stood in an ultra-long line waiting to be served, the dust would collect on our mess kits and it would have been just as well that we hadn't washed them. After being served in regular GI style, we took our seats in the open air mess hall. Again dust almost choked us as we ate. If we hadn't been super hungry, we could have never stomached the food – but open air conditions always stimulates the appetite.

            We soon learned that we could visit the small town of Gioia every afternoon and evening, but that there was very little to do and see there. Naturally, the "Bar-flies" found a place to drink and made use of it during one of the nights that we were there. Taylor and Stewart will tell you that Yugo-whiskey doesn't agree with them. Ask Stanley why the little episode in the airplane caused the rest of our crew to sleep out under the wings one night.

            Here at Gioia our plane was checked and a few modifications were made, our pilot signed a lot of papers and etc., and finally we learned that we were to take our plane and report to the 47th Wing headquarters at Manduria. We weren't really disappointed in leaving there, either.

 

"FRANTIC"    

           

            Gioia was certainly a hole in the wall and we all anticipated the worse as far as our stay overseas was concerned. We were glad to be leaving the tents and dusty meals there and be on our way again to our permanent station in the 15th Air Force. The morning was bright and shiny – yes, something similar to the ideal weather that we had read so much about in sunny Italy – and we had received our clearance from the tower. The pilot gave our ship the throttle and down the runway we started on our big hop from Gioia to Manduria, which was only a fifteen minute flight. On our way we passed the field of the 449th Group, which was right out of Taranto. It had a large hanger on the field that had been bombed and the field was a rugged looking field, and then we thought that we were beginning to see some of the ex-combat conditions. Then we cited Frantic Field, which is the home base of the 450th Group and the 47th Wing Headquarters is attached. We noticed that the field was in much better condition than the other fields that we had landed on, but had no idea that this was to be our home for the duration of our stay in Italy. We landed and taxied up to the transit area, where a Sergeant met us and asked us if we were transit or had been assigned as replacement of the 450th Group. Hell, we didn't know and just gave him the old answer, "We have yet to find out ourselves." A truck drove up and took our pilot and navigator to Wing Headquarters (47th) and we all stayed with the ship. There at Wing we were assigned to the 450th Bomb Group and to the 720th Bomb Squadron within that Group.

            It was about dinner time when we were notified that we had been stationed here, and man, were we hungry! Although we still had to use our GI mess kits (the enlisted men), the chow there was so much better than at Gioia that it was a real treat for us.

            We were put through the old indoctrination lectures and procedures once again and with a little drilling thrown in and were highly disappointed to lean that our Group Commander was a  West Point man and believed in revues and a good deal of drilling. Standby inspections were the next thing to irritate our wounded feelings, and we began to think that we had been sent back to basic training instead of combat.

            As our primary objective overseas was to fly on combat missions, we were all anxious and eager for our first mission. Naturally, the Air Force wouldn't send a green crew into combat without being checked out with an experienced crew, so we had our first ride over Yugoslavia with different crews. The first mission, all of us were on with the exception of the co-pilot and the bombardier.

 

LIFE AT FRANTIC

 

            Disregarding the more obvious hardships of combat conditions, life at Frantic was very similar to our RTU training at Chatham Field. We found one great difference and that was we had more drill sessions and inspections at our new base. In fact, we arrived Friday and found ourselves to say, our first impression of our new post's policy had us worried. Some of us made the remark, "I believe that the army has made a big mistake and has sent us to another basic training unit!" We just couldn't conceive of drill formations in a combat zone. Believe us, we had them and plenty of them!

            We were given fairly good quarters at first. Our enlisted men were assigned to a barracks and so were our officers, but our officers learned during our first night at Manduria that they had been given a room that had been previously occupied by Lt. Hirsch's officers and that Lt. Hirsch had gone down in Yugo a week before. They returned that night and were very displeased to find our officers in their room. Therefore, our officers were moved into the E.M. day room until a more suitable place could be found. Incidentally, they were there more than a week before adequate lodging could be provided. Very crowded wasn't it, Slogget? Especially when Lt., Kreitz's entire crew moved in. After due time, and after pitching a ten, our officers were moved into another room in the barracks.

            Believe it or not, we discovered that hot water showers were provided! Well, these showers were a reasonable facsimile thereof. Although the water couldn't be regulated as we so desired, they served the purpose and we kept ourselves fairly clean.

            We soon discovered that the "chow" in combat was nothing like we had in the States. Here at Frantic we ate the well known K and C rations. Our best meal was, without a doubt, the evening meal. At that time we generally had fresh meat and fairly good meal. Once in a great while we would get fresh eggs for breakfast. Of course, Lt. Feinberg and Lt. Sloggett wouldn't know about this – they never got out of bed in time to eat breakfast!

            Our field was located about four miles from the town of Manduria. We made our weekly visits to Manduria to draw our rations of cigarettes, candy, and etc. The city of Manduria was a typical southern Italian village, with all of the trimmings. The streets were narrow and crooked, and always lined with animal (mostly jackasses), drawn carts which were loaded with vino barrels and etc. The streets were always dirty as well as the buildings and most of the people. All of the kids knew the old art of begging, and an American soldier couldn't go down the street without hearing, "Hey, Joe, cigaretta?" Man-o-live, some of these damn "Itie" kids could worry the hell out of you. Manduria with all of its drawbacks did support a good Red Cross Building and Club. Here is where we spent many afternoons – that is what afternoons that we could get away from the field. Here, at the Red Cross Club, we could get coffee and cake – ice cream once in a great while – play ping pong, cards, and read. Ever so often, we would go to a dance there.

            After we had settled down in our new home, we discovered that we had lost our airplane, 610, "The Big Ten". At the present time, we were very greatly disappointed because we had become attached to her. We knew that she was a good ship and could stand the paces. Disregarding our sentiments for our ship operations assigned us 645, the ship that Lt. Kreitz had brought overseas. He and his crew had christened this ship, "Throttle Jockey"; therefore, we didn't change the name. Lt. Mart Cope, one of the older pilots, was assigned to "The Big Ten". He very quickly fell in love with it and admitted that it was one of the best ships on the field.

            When we first went out to fly our new ship, 645, we met her crew chief, T/Sgt Oakleaf. He was a hell-of-a nice fellow and all of us liked him from the very beginning. Naturally, when Taylor found out that he was from Waco, Texas, Sgt. Oakleaf was included as one of the crew. Now there were eleven of us.

            From the beginning our crew seemed to do alright. After our first five missions, Lt. Taylor was assigned to the duty of Assistant Operations Officer, and immediately our entire crew started to prepare for a lead crew. Lt. Schatzman, showing his ability as a leader, as well as an expert navigator, was made squadron navigator; and Lt. Feinberg was sent to lead bombardier's school in Bari after flying some good missions as box-leader. Lt. Sloggett was one that didn't get the breaks at the time because he got behind the rest of the crew, but Bill was coming along and would soon be checked as first pilot. Our E.M. were doing plenty O.K. for themselves, because they were asked to fly with the squadron commander and operations officer. By-the-way, they were all promoted and had hopes of another promotion later on.

            It was on or about the 13th of November we were all made sad. Our old ship, "The Big Ten" met her end. She was not shot down by the enemy, nor did she fail to bring her crew back to the base. She had served her squadron well and had passed her 50th mission, but on this day her number one and four engines just wouldn't take the strain from the enormous load. Poor girl, she had taken off from the field that morning in her usual high and proud performing technique, and had joined the formation. Her pilot, Lt. Cope, flew her in No. 4 position; and, because of the steep and fast climb, had had to use excessive power. Something went wrong with No. 1 engine and "The Big Ten" gave way to the pressure when the No 1 engine caught fire. Trying to preserve the ship Lt Cope left the formation and started back to the Home base. After he had jettisoned his bombs to lighten the load, the No. 4 engine went out and Lt. Cope left the formation and started back to the home base. Trying her best, "The Big Ten" headed her nose back to the field to bring her crew home safely. This she did! Although without sufficient altitude, Lt. Cope had to make a downwind landing. Since there was a very strong wind that day, the ship was landed with a terrific ground speed. In fact, the speed was so great that the pilot couldn't stop her before reaching the end of the runway. "The Big Ten" did her best and sacrificed her life, but she brought her crew back safely without harm. As she left the end of the runway with her brakes screaming, we realized that she would never fly again. She lost part of her landing gear, part of her tail section, and her left wing tip. Her fuselage was sprung and the technical inspector classified her as a class 26 – not to fly again. She was turned over to the service squadron to be salvaged. We all bow our heads in respect – she was a great ship and served her country well. Although "The Big Ten" will not go down in aviation history for her great achievements, she will always be remembered by us who knew her well. SHE WAS A GREAT SHIP!

 

            We couldn't leave out our trips to the nearby metropolises, such as Lecce, Taranto, Bari, and etc. All-in-all, most of the smaller towns were very similar to Manduria, but the larger cities were fairly nice. For example, Taranto had about the same facilities that could be expected in a war-town city. There were obsolete street cares, horse-drown taxies, several theaters, and nice stores. Naturally Taranto had the advantage over some of the other larger cities because of its ideal seaport. Our regular hangout and eating place was the Allied Officers' Club. As Taranto was governed and controlled by the British, several English customs prevailed. We enjoyed our afternoon tea with the "Limies" and went to see some of their shows.

            Then there was Lecce. Without the advantages of a large seaport and being crowded with American airmen, Lecce was just an overgrown Manduria. There were hundreds of miles of narrow, dirty, winding streets that were always crowded with civilians and soldiers. Yes, there were the "Itie" kids pimping for the glamour girls or the super-salesmen for the eating and drinking joints there. Most of our visits to Lecce were to the theater. Lecce drew more and better USO shows because of its splendid ex-municipal theater building and because it was located near three of the four bases of the 47th Wing. We also spent several evenings in the nice officers' club there.

            Bari, the headquarters of the 15th AF, was too far from Frantic to be visited by us very often. Stewart and Feinberg knew more about Bari than any of us. Sgt. Stewart was sent to the 26th General Field Hospital because of his sinus trouble and Lt. Feinberg was sent to Lead Bombardiers' School there. Therefore, they got to know the city quite well. Like Taranto, Bari was another seaport city and was fairly modernized. The streets were much wider and there were automobiles for taxi service. The stores were much nicer, but prices were sky-high. 

            About the middle part of November our E.M. reached their T.O. rank. Morrison and Hodges were now T/Sgt, and the rest were S/Sgt. The extra pay came in mighty handy – didn't it, Steve? By this time we considered ourselves as seasoned combat men. Some of us had had some considered ourselves as seasoned combat men. Some of us had had some pretty narrow escapes, such as the time that the flak cut a piece out Egerton's shoe and then cut a hole in the oxygen supply. This was close enough – eh, Egerton? Then there was the time that the shell came through the waist window and knocked a hole about the size of your foot in the tip of the ship as it went out. Even if we weren't seasoned as yet, we were rapidly becoming the oldest crew in the squadron.

            On December 8, 1944, our "skipper" got his promotion to Captain. Man-o-live, did he strut around with those tracks on! Lt. Schatzman had received his First Lieutenant's shortly before and he was strutting around also. With our E.M. promoted to T.O. and two officers promoted in our crew, we were doing alright as a crew. Now we had to sweat-out our other two officers, Lt. Sloggett and Lt. Feinberg.

            Christmas rolled around before we knew it and we had all planned on a big party – yes, even if it didn't seem like Christmas time. Much to our "Skipper's" disappointment, we had flown a mission on his birthday; and little did we contemplate flying Christmas day. True to Army form, we did what we didn't think we would and flew on Christmas day. Naturally, all parties Christmas Eve were strictly out, for we very seldom celebrate before a mission. This mission Christmas day (described in our Mission Analysis) turned out not as eventful as we would have liked it; but we believe that we gave the "krauts" a headache on our second pass.

            Then again, New Year's Eve found us scheduled for another mission – the 200th for the group. Again we missed our celebration. This mission, incidentally, was called off about midnight and weather prevented us from flying again until on the 4th of January.

            On January 22, 1945 Lt. Schatzman was transferred from our squadron into Group as the Group Navigator. Schatz was "going to town" and we were all proud of him. Congratulations were due shortly after that when the second Captain on our original crew was announced. It was Captain Schatzman now and it was obvious that he was doing a superior job in his new position. From this time on he flew his missions with other squadrons.

            At this time, January 30, 1945, our bombardier was a flight commander, our pilot a flight commander and assistant operations officer, and our navigator was group navigator.

            By-the-way, we almost forgot! Our field supported a large bond drive that terminated on the 1st January, 1945 and our commanding officer promised that the crew that bought the most bonds would be given a trip to Cairo. Naturally, we were interested and we got together and pooled our funds. Lt. Rudman was assigned to our crew as Navigator at this time. After we had begged, borrowed, and won all of the money we could get, we had $1,700 in war bonds. This placed us in first place in the squadron, but second in the group. Discouraged, we had about given up the trip until our pilot was notified that our crew had been put on orders to go to Cairo. The date would be the 21 February. This stimulated our spirits until we were told that wing had filled all of the allotted trips to Cairo for the month of February, and that we would have to wait until later.

            Time went by slowly because we weren't getting many missions in. Actually the weather was excellent in February and March, but our pilot was made a group leader which meant that he would fly about one out of every six missions. The month of February slid by and March began; and, low-and-behold, we were put on orders to go to rest camp at Rome. Some of us hesitated to accept this as a "good deal" because we wanted to complete our missions as soon as possible and by going to Rome it would cut us out of seven good flying days. This would mean that we would lose two missions. Anyway, we all agreed to go with the exception of our pilot and our navigator, Lt. Rudman.

            While in Rome, we had a wonderful time. After being in southern Italy, we had thought that civilization was lost in the 8th century; but after seeing Rome, our eyes were opened. Night clubs, automobiles, good food, and plenty to drink. Even women there looked like women and were dressed very well. We visited the sights there in Rome, such as the ancient Roman ruins, Vatican City, King's Palace, and government department buildings. Some of us rested-up, while others wore themselves out having fun. Believe it or not, we thought for a while that we were back in the States again. Prices were above being high – in fact, most of the things were out of sight. If we had been allowed to trade cigarettes, soap, shoes, and etc., we could have been millionaires. For example, a carton of cigarettes would bring $13 and a pair of shoes $50. Our only drawback to the trip was the long GI truck ride to and from Rome. Man-o-live, was that rough, cold and most uncomfortable? We were all glad to get back home.

            We were all happy the day Lt. Sloggett and Lt. Feinberg received their promotion to First Lieutenants. They were both way overdue in time and deserved the promotion. Remember, Jerry, how peculiar Bill looked when Major Stevens raked him back and then told him that he was First Lieutenant? Poor old Sloggett just couldn't believe it and had to have the proof of the orders before he would wear the bar. This gave a promotion to every man on the crew and we were standing on T.O.'s strength now.

            Back to Frantic and flying more missions. Since our pilot was flying so seldom, we were able to fly with another pilot, Capt. Rastede. He was a damn good pilot and a hell-of-a swell fellow. Remember, Sgt. Stewart, how you flew your first mission as first engineer with Capt. Rastede?

 

OUR TRIPTO CAIRO CAME TRUE

 

            Then our dream of adventure and sight-seeing came true. Our trip to Cairo developed into an actuality. We took-off from Frantic on the morning of April 8th in a plane known as "The Spirit of '76". What a plane! It had been declared war-weary because it pulled excessive power at altitudes; otherwise it flew like a "charm". To look at the plane you would guess that it was about to fall apart, but it still had lots of pep left in it.

            As we circled the field to go out on course we were thrilled to the nth degree and wondered what was in store for us at the "Cross-Roads of the World", Cairo. The navigator gave the skipper a heading and off we flew. Our crew on this trip was as follows: Capt. Taylor, Lt. Sloggett, Lt. Feinberg, Lt. Kenna (our squadron navigator), Capt. Quillan (our squadron executive officer), T/Sgt Morrison, T/Sgt Hodges, T/Sgt Leasure (a squadron ground man from communications), S/Sgt Stewart, S/Sgt Egerton, S/Sgt Stephenson, and S/Sgt Sischo. We all missed Capt. Schatzman, who had to remain behind. What a bunch of "jovial jockers"!

            We all got a kick out of Capt. "Pop" Quillan as we flew over the mountains on the toe of Italy. We agree that the pilot was a little low, but the only one that worried was Capt. Quillan. He hadn't flown very much and wasn't strictly airborne at this time.

            Our course took us from Frantic to the toe of Italy, to Bengaste and on to Cairo. The big hop across the Mediterranean was from the toe of Italy over to Bengaste. This took us about two hours and a half. The weather was excellent all of the way; and, although we enjoyed our trip across, we were mighty glad to see land.

            From Bengaste to Cairo, we had a good look at the battlefields used in the North African campaign. All along the route we could see where heavy trucks and tanks had traveled across the desert. Hard to believe, but the tracks were still visible. We also saw a number of abandoned airfields which had been bombed. The wrecked planes were still on these airfields just as the "Jerries" left them in their retreat across the country. Every so often we sighted a truck, tank, or plane that had been put out of action and had taken to the desert for a grave. We could tell where troop concentrations and bases had been in the desert and noticed how these areas had been totally bombed and shelled.

            We were amazed at the good roads there in the middle of the desert. All along the Northern part of North Africa, from Bengaste through Alexander to Cairo and Port Sad there is a good paved highway. At that time there was very little traffic on the roads.

            After seven hours of flying we finally noted the change in the terrain. The Nile Valley came into sight with the pyramids in the background. Vegetation outlined the many bends in the crooked river, and finally the city of Cairo could be seen. Cairo from the air looks very similar to any American city, such as Phoenix, Albuquerque, or Santa Fe. All of the buildings were made of stone or mortar. Some reached as many as ten stories into the sky. As we flew over the south end of the city, we passed the pyramids on the right, and the Nile River on the left. The water was beautiful with the desert sun shining on it from the west, and a hundred little white specks on the water told us immediately that sailing was a famous past-time there.

            We landed at Payne Field after seven hours and thirty minutes in the air and put our two feet on Egyptian soil for the first time. Still just a little dazed from amazement, we loaded our bags on a truck and rode to the operations building.

            Payne Field is a large ATC base near Cairo and is one of the busiest fields in the AF at the present time. Airmen from all corners of the globe pass through this field on their way to and from the different theaters of operations. At one glance we knew that the army built this base for permanent use after the war. All of the buildings were made of stone and all of the ear-markings of a first-class airport had been used in its construction. The airport is located about ten miles from the city of Cairo, so we caught a truck into town.

            By the time we pulled up in front of the National Hotel it was dark and getting too cool for suntans. The nights in Cairo were ideal for sleeping, although we didn't do too much sleeping while we were there. As we entered the lobby of the hotel we noticed the distinct difference between the American and the Egyptian hotel lobbies. Compared to our luxurious furnished hotel lobbies, the Egyptian lobbies are rather plain, but comfortable and practical. We went straight to our rooms to shave and clean up. Naturally, we had to have a few refreshments before eating.

            We had dinner in the hotel dining room, and were very pleased to find steaks on the menu. Although they were camel steaks we thoroughly enjoyed them. As soon as we had finished our meal we were ready to see some of the night spots and since Groppi's had been highly recommended by all who had been to Cairo, we made it our first stop. Finding the place rather crowded, we didn't stay long and turned in fairly early.

            The next morning we were up bright and early to take a tour of the city. Our first mission was to rush over to a nearby boot store and to buy a supply of boots that were in such demand back at Frantic. Here we should mention Ali Baba and, as Morrison puts it, "his forty thieves". Ali Baba was the head man of the dragman's click and, therefore did most of the bargaining for the others. In fact, it was Ali Baba who sold us the tour of Cairo, who showed us where all  of the night spots were, who directed us to the boot store, and who got most of the money that we spent in Cairo. Of course, the forty thieves were working with him all of this time. Ali called the taxi and put a guide in the front seat and sent us off to see the sights of Cairo. Our first stop, after riding up Mohammad Ali's highway, was the citadel and Mohammad Ali's mosque.

            Before entering the church, we had to put cloth slippers over our shoes, (an old religious custom). Outside of the main building our guide told us the history of the city, of the church, and of Mohammad Ali. Inside we were shown where the body of Mohammad Ali was buried and shown where the Moslems came to pray every Friday. All-in-all, it was very interesting.

            From the citadel we had an excellent view of the city (both the old and the new). We could also see the wall that was built around the old city of Cairo, the fort on the mountain that was built by Napoleon when he was in Egypt, the pyramids in the distance, the Nile River winding its way slowly along the outskirts of the city, and the large mountain where the rocks were cut and used to build the pyramids.

            The next point of interest in our journey was the crowded bazaars, where you could buy or sell anything. Here the streets were narrow and dirty and were lined with one shop after another. Naturally, our dragman took us to his pet shops and we pleased him by buying several souvenirs and perfume. Cairo is world famous for its perfumes. We all agreed that it wouldn't be safe to stroll through those streets alone at night.

            After spending a good bit of our money, we caught another taxi out to the pyramids which were located about five miles from the downtown district of the city. We arrived at the pyramids at noontime, so we ate lunch in a nearby café. Steaks again and at a reasonable prices! This was too good to be true and Capt. Taylor almost made himself sick by eating two of those camel steaks.

            After eating, we started our tour of the famous structures that preserved records before the life of Christ. Egypt is proud that records have been preserved in these buildings from the first dynasty until the last, and that these records are the basis of our culture. We learned that each Egyptian ruler would build a pyramid to commemorate his reign over the land and that these large structures were built by hand-slave labor. It seems as if the king required these men to work three months out of every year on the pyramids. For example, the largest pyramid was more than 400 feet high and required more than 100,000 men thirty years to build. We also discovered that each king had to build two temples along with these pyramids. The first was the Valley Temple, and the second was the Mourning Temple. The Valley Temple was used to prepare the body for burial. Here the people would cut the heart and intestines out of the dead and place them in alabaster jars and seal the jars with wax. Then the body was embalmed. Incidentally, modern scientists are still baffled as to the methods used by these early Egyptians to embalm their dead. The funeral services would start at the Valley Temple and the procession would go to the Mourning Temple, where the services were held.

            The largest pyramids were used by the king and queen and the smaller ones were used by the royal staff. We went through the largest pyramid and visited the king's chamber. It is remarkable how the Egyptians ventilated these huge structures and how perfect they are. We were all glad to get back out into the daylight again.

            The trip around the pyramids tired us considerably and we were glad to get back to the hotel for a short and well deserved rest.

            That night we visited "The Café Badia", which is known by all who visit the famous city. After a few drinks and a good meal of ham and eggs, a floor show climaxed the night's entertainment. We all turned in tired and with lots less money in our pockets. These damned Egyptians certainly believe in taking your money. We admit that "we did have fun with no harm done."

            Using our best judgment, we awoke the next morning and went to the Cairo Automobile Club and took a good Turkish bath. We sweated dirty Italian water for fully 45 minutes, and then a big buck negro gave us a good rub-down. A little weak, but feeling fine otherwise, we started off on another day of adventure. Our first stop that day was the St. James Restaurant, which is so famous for its excellent foods. We'll never forget how Sloggett ordered a lobster and when it was served to him it was cold. Bill had the darnedest time convincing the head waiter that he wanted hot lobster. Finally, Bill ordered ham and eggs.

            That afternoon Ali Baba sent us to the museum, which took practically all afternoon. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to see all that we would have liked to have in the museum, because they close up at four o'clock. The Cairo museum is one of the best in the world and we enjoyed the tour through it.

            After leaving the museum we visited the world famous Sheppard's Hotel. Honestly, this is a sight within itself! The main floor and lobby is relatively plain, with a touch of English architecture here and there. In the back of the hotel is an enormous garden of beautiful flowers and a few wild animals in cages or pens. Too bad we couldn't have gotten a room there, but thirty days notice in advance is required.

            Surely, we shouldn't forget the super salesmen on the streets.  Kids from 5 years old to men of eighty crowded the streets trying to sell diamond rings, relics of all sorts, and souvenirs. Their prices started way about OPA's ceiling prices, but finally dwindled down to practically nothing after we convinced them that we weren't interested. Believe-you-us, when we say that those people have certainly mastered the art of salesmanship.

            Tired and restless, we took the night easy – at least some of us did. We were leaving the next morning early for Palestine, so most of us went to a nice quiet show.

            We were up, had had breakfast, and were in the air by 10:30 the next morning, headed towards the Holy Lands. Our route took us over the Suez Canal, and we were all eager to see what it looked like. Unlike most canals, there was very little vegetation along the banks, as we came back over the Suez Canal there was a large freighter going through the locks and from a distance it seemed as if a ship was steaming along on the desert.

            We landed at Lyda Field, which is about fifteen miles from the city of Tel Aviv, Palestine. We had lunch in the British PX there on the field. Here we drank our first bottle of Palestine beer. Instead of bottling their beer in small social bottles, their beer is put up in quart bottles. The name of the best beer there is Gold Star Beer, and really has a tasty flavor – doesn't it Morrison? About three of these bottles and you begin to feel like you own the whole city of a Jerusalem!

            Much to our regret, we discovered that we were unable to exchange our Italian lire into Palestine lbs. Our pilot was required to sign a statement of emergency before we were allowed any money whatsoever. This threw a crinkle in our style, but slowed us down in our spend thrift attitude.

            The enlisted men stayed on the field there while the officers were taken to Tel Aviv and stayed in the Yarden Hotel. The first night we, the officers, ate in the hotel dining room, and had another good steak dinner with all the dressings, such as real butter, cow's milk, and etc. We didn't care too much for the bread that they served in Egypt and Palestine. After eating, we made a couple of the local night spots and saw a good floorshow. Later on that night Lt. Feinberg got a super-duper case of the "GI's" and we were afraid that he wouldn't be able to make the tour of Jerusalem with us the following day. But he managed to make it in a peculiar sort of way – didn't he fellows?

            The manager of the hotel had us up bright and early the next morning, so that we wouldn't miss the truck that was going to take us on our tour. We were taken to the camp to pick up our enlisted men and then on to Jerusalem. As the Red Cross was taking care of everything, our worries were few. A guide was hired to take us through the old city of Jerusalem, and after getting in the middle of the city we were damn glad to have that guide to get us out. Again we had our eyes opened by the interesting sights. Our tour took us through the narrow streets that our Savior had trod with His cross centuries before. Our guide told us that the scenes in the old city had changed very little since Christ's day. As we passed each station on the road to Mount Calvary, our guide would stop and give us the historical background of the particular spot. On top of Mount Calvary a church was built to commemorate the spot Christ gave His life for Christianity. This church is preserved and managed by the people of many religious sects. At the present time the church is braced with large wooden beams, so it will not fall under abnormal conditions.

            As we worked our way through the narrow and crowded streets, our stomachs would almost turn up-side-down. Some of the odors were sickening. The markets were wide open and everything was sold strictly in the "raw". There were meats, eggs, spices, feed, shoes, trinkets, dates, and etc. All of the neighboring farmers brought all of his commodities into this market to barter. As much as we enjoyed the trip, we were glad to get back into the open air again.

            On one side of the wall that had been built around the old city of Jerusalem is a large fort. After we had climbed on top of this large fort, we had a wonderful view of both the old and the new city. The original wall that was constructed before Christ is still standing and is in good shape.

            The new city of Jerusalem was started by three millionaires, who each donated a million dollars a piece. One of these men was John D. Rockefeller. The two outstanding buildings in Hew Jerusalem are the NYA building and the King David's Hotel building. The NYA building is used as the headquarters for the Red Cross and the King David's Hotel is one of the most elaborate hotels in the old world. We had lunch at the hotel' and, although the food was excellent, we enjoyed the good beer most of all. A Navy Lieutenant accompanied us on this tour and he turned out being a good fellow, as well as a good beer drinker.

            After lunch, we motored to Bethlehem and went through the oldest church in the world. This church was called the Church of The Nativity, and is standing over the spot where Christ was born. This church is also shared by many different religious sects. Capt. Taylor met a priest there that was from Houston, Texas, and they both agreed that it was the Texans that were winning the war. Naturally, after going through the church, our guide took us to a gift shop and tried to convince us that we needed some more souvenirs.

            We returned to Tel Aviv and had lunch at the hotel. Actually, we were all dead tired and to top it off, the "skipper" developed a bad case of "GI's" along with Lt. Feinberg.

            The following morning we flew back to Cairo and had intended to fly back to our base in Italy. The ATC wouldn't clear us because we would have landed after dark; therefore, we spent another night in Egypt. Since Payne Field was not equipped to take care of transient personnel, we were sent to Camp Hutchstep, which is about two miles from the field there. Most of us were so fatigued that we went to the movie and went straight to bed.

            Tired but willing to return to the combat zone, we took off from Payne Field and headed back to Frantic. We arrived at our home base in good condition after flying through a little bad weather right off the coast of the toe of Italy. Although the weather was nothing to worry about, it kept "Pop" Quillan on one foot and then the other, which we will never forget.

            "Fresh from latrine" were several rumors waiting for us, to the effect that our group was going non-operational and that we would be moving shortly. Everyone was super-eager to fly, and finish his missions before the group folded-up. Box and group leaders were flying as co-pilots and as "tail-end Charlie" positions. Everything was in a mad scramble. By flying with both Capt. Rastede and the "skipper", our missions piled-up to the point that we were about finished. We were all going to wait and fly our last mission with Capt. Taylor, but rumors were out to the effect that the next mission would be the last one; therefore, we flew the next mission with the "skipper" and finished Morrison, Hodges, Sischo and Egerton. Steve finished the next mission and Lt. Sloggett finished soon afterward. Now it left Capt. Taylor and Sgt. Stewart the only two along with Capt. Schatzman that were not finished. These three had all signed up to go with the group back to the States and for another tour of combat, so actually they were finished flying. By-the way, it was T/Sgt Stewart now since Stanley had checked-out as first engineer. He had been assigned to Alt. Mill's crew, and would soon leave for the States with that crew.

 

LEAVING FRANTIC

 

            Because Lt. Sloggett had finished later than most of the crew, he failed to get on the same shipping orders with the rest of us. He was to wait for another group of men to leave Frantic. We were all happy as Larks for we had completed our tour of combat without even one of us getting scratched. We considered that we had done a good job during our stay overseas and had given the enemy many a headache. To celebrate our departure from Frantic we had brought a few quarts of Yugo whiskey and settled-down to some real sociable drinking.

            The next morning we were hauled out to the airplanes and loaded aboard with our baggage. Sgt. Stewart was one of the engineers that flew us back to Naples, where we were to catch a boat back to the "Good Old United States." We waved good-byes to Capt. Taylor, Lt. Sloggett, Capt. Schatzman and Sgt. Oakleaf, as our plane taxied out. We all wondered if we would ever see each other again.

            Our crew was formed on June 5, 1944, and was broken-up on the day we left Frantic, April 27, 1945. We had slept, eaten, flown, and fought together for ten months and twenty-two days. "War is hell," but "departing is such sweet sorrow"!

 

MISSION ANALYSIS

 

Mission No. 1

20 September 1944 - Novi Sad, Yugoslavia

 

            Talk to some of the fellows that have been through their fifty missions and they will tell you that some of the toughest targets as far as accurate flak is concerned, will be some of the smaller targets. This was true with Novi Sad. We were briefed to fly over the target at 20,500 feet and bomb a bridge that was being used to evacuate the Jerries out of Albania and southern Yugo. We took off and rendezvoused in formation and headed out over the Adriatic towards Yugoslavia. The trip to Novi Sad was very uneventful with the exception of getting into a little bad weather enroute and two men having to jettison their bombs in order to stay with the formation. We reached the IP and started down the bomb run. As we were flying in the Y-1 box that day, there were two other boxes in front of us. The briefing officer had told us that the flak would be light and inaccurate; and, none of us having seen flak before, we were waiting to see what it would look like. Believe-you-us, when we say that we soon found out.

            As the X-1 and X-2 boxes neared the target ahead of us we noticed that little black puffs of what appeared to be smoke, kept coming up along the ships in the formation. From a distance it was beautiful the bright sunshiny day with little black clouds all around the target area. Then all of a sudden, we realized that those little innocent looking puffs were as deadly to a
B-24 as a rattlesnake bite is to a two-year old baby. As the ship that we were in neared the target a peculiar feeling drew over us and we seemed to be having a dream and couldn't realize that we were in danger, and that we were being shot at by the Germans from the ground. We all agree that the flak was light, but that it was damn accurate. None of the ships in our entire formation was shot out of the sky, but there were several holes to prove that we had been over a rough target.

            When we landed safely back at Frantic, we were still in a daze about the mission and didn't say very much; but our minds were working in super-high gear. We all wondered what heavy and accurate flak would be like, which we were told would be encountered over Vienna and Munich. Could a formation of bombers fly through that stuff and still come out as a complete unit? Surely, some of the ships would be lost, and we wondered if we might be one of those ships that weren't so fortunate. Cautiously we asked questions to the older boys trying to get an idea what to expect on later missions. Very little was accomplished along this line, for those fellows wouldn't talk much about it. We had now seen flak and had learned to appreciate the effects. The first mission was definitely not wasted for we had gained worlds of experience that afternoon.

            Naturally, after we had returned to the barracks, those of our crew that had not been on the mission began to ask questions; and slowly a feeling of experienced combat men began to creep into our bones, as we related to them our day's experience. Try as we could, we could not help exaggerating just a little to assure them that the mission was far from a "milk-run".

 

Mission No. 2

23 September 1944 – Ora, Italy

 

            With our previous mission still deeply imbedded in our thoughts, we arose at 05:00 that morning and found ourselves at briefing for our second mission. We were told that the target was to be the Ora River Bridge and that we were carrying 2,000 lb. bombs. What a hunk of "salt" they are in Jerry's coffee. After being told the escape procedures for that area in case we should go down, we all walked towards the parachute department.

            Later we roared off the runway with 6,000 lbs. of double action TNT in the bomb-bays to join the formation and began our long haul to Northern Italy. Our trip was uneventful until we were three-fourth of the way up the Adriatic, here fighters were sighted and all of our gunners alerted. Soon we ran into bad weather and began sweating out the formation. Just ask Dayton what he thinks of flying formation in the "soup", and we think that you will understand why we were uneasy. After what seemed hours we broke out of the weather and crossed the coast of Northern Italy. Below us lay a layer of stra-cule that completely covered our target, and prevented us from bombing the target.

            Since all of the alternates were 10/10 covered we returned to the base. On our way back we flew over Pola and saw a few puffs of flak come up through the undercast – none of them dangerously close. We landed at our home base tired and hungry; and the coffee and doughnuts really hit the spot.

 

Mission No. 3

7 October, 1944 – Vienna, Austria

            As we took our seats at briefing and glanced at the mission chart we realized that today would be no "picnic". After all of the older boys had told us of the hell that the Jerries guns throw up over Vienna, we knew that this was it. The briefing was given even more technical today, and escape was drilled into our minds while we sat there and listened eagerly. Today we were to carry 500 lb. bombs of the composition "B" type.

            As we neared the IP tenseness appeared in the crew. Naturally, we were a bit uneasy. Two minutes before beginning our bomb run we sighted flak and Stephenson said, "It looked like a thick black cloud." All the way down the bomb run flak followed us and it was as accurate and heavy as hell. It looked as though we would never get through, for the flak kept bursting 500 feet above and 500 feet below. Occasionally we heard a "wham", which meant that we had been hit. We could see the guns firing at us from the ground and they looked like tongues of red flame pointing towards us and firing very fast. After what seemed years, we heard the bombardier say, "Bombs away", and we turned sharply to the left to avoid further flak, then several chutes were seen to open and a ship went down. When we were out of range of the flak and headed towards home again, several sighs of relief were heard over the interphone. We had been in flak for fifteen minutes and now sweating out the ship on the long road home would begin. Will we make it, was the thought that ran through everyone's mind. Four ships in our formation had lost an engine, and we were wondering when we would discover a cut gas line or something of that nature. We had a couple of holes as big as your fist in the waist and numerous of smaller ones all over the ship. One oxygen line was cut, but at the oxygen check the whole crew checked in ok. We arrived at our home base tired as usual, but very happy to be back.

 

Mission No. 4

11 October 1944 – Vienna, Austria

 

            Another day and another mission and another Vienna raid! We were briefed to hit oil installations again in Austria. We took off early and again our formation droned out over the Adriatic. Bad weather was encountered over Yugo and things began to look bad for us. We tried everything in the books to get through, but to no avail. Finally after almost reaching the German border we were forced to turn around and head for home. Some of the boys crossed a flak area at Mostar and got shot at on the way home, but other than that nothing else happened. We landed ok.

 

Mission No. 5

12 October 1944 – Bologna, Italy

 

            On this raid we were to bomb the Jerries barracks at Bologna and pave the way for the 5th Army to make the assault. We were especially eager to show the infantry that we could do a good job. The target area was known to have heavy and accurate flak installations; consequently, we had to be on our toes. Our escort was too late, but we certainly were glad to see those P-28's when they did arrive. Our box was at 25,500 feet and when we got to the target the flak started popping as expected. Because we were so high it did not hit us, but the boxes below us caught holy hell. The tail gunner reported smoke and fire at the target area as we rallied off the target. As we turned, some of the guns opened up on us from the coast. On the way home, the navigator, Lt. Schatzman, saw a big naval battle and we all watched it as long as it was in sight. Then the navigator said, "Morrison, how much gas do we have left?" Our engineer assured him that there was plenty of gas left to get us home safely. Then we all settled down to K rations with the thought that we had completed another good mission.

 

Mission No. 6

14 October 1944 – Maribor, Italy

 

            The 450th led the attack against the Maribor Railroad Bridge and scored excellent results. Although most units missed the IP due to bad weather, the 720th box came as briefed and scored excellent results. The flak was relatively heavy and we were all glad to get out into the clear again. We returned to base with nothing unusual happening.

 

Mission No. 7

16 October 1944 – St. Valentine, Austria

 

            We flew in the lead ship this mission with Capt. Stevens, who was our squadron commander, as pilot and Lt. Taylor as co-pilot. This was the mission that we toured Austria and Germany for our two lead navigators lost themselves – man-o-live, we really missed Lt. Schatzman! Finally, we gave up trying to find the target and headed back home; when, low-and-behold, we found ourselves over Weiner Neustadt, which threw up plenty of flak at us. We had never been so glad to see our home base and admit that the entire mission was a first class flop. This mission is known by us as "the cook's tour of Germany and Austria."

 

Mission No. 8

23 October 1944 – Brenner Pass, Italy

 

            This morning we were briefed to bomb the Brenner Pass communication line. We were flying the number three position on the group leader, who was our squadron C.O. The mission turned out as being another weather mission with no flak and no fighters and no bombing. In fact, about all we had to sweat-out was the weather, which wasn't too bad.

 

Mission No. 9

31 October 1944 – Podgorica, Yugoslavia

 

            We were all out parading this morning with little thoughts of flying a mission, when the parade was recalled because wing headquarters had called in a short mission over to Yugo. This certainly looked like a milk-run to us and we were happy to be put on the schedule. Over to Yugo we flew, and found that the target was 10/10 covered, so we returned to base. The group leader was told to return to the target area again and see if the hole hadn't opened so that we could bomb. We did as instructed, but found the target covered as before.

            After we had returned to the base and was in the traffic pattern was where we got the thrill of our lives. We came in to land with a full load of bombs and our tanks full of gasoline; and, low-and-behold, we hit some severe prop-wash on the final approach. Sgt. Hodges ran around in the waist of the ship like a scared rabbit; Sgt. Sischo slid under flak suits to get into ditching position; Lt. Schatzman gave out a cry, "This is it, men!" And Sgt Morrison made room between Lts. Feinberg and Schatzman for his ditching position. The pilot and co-pilot worked like hell trying to get the wing up and finally recovered just in the nick of time to miss the ground by ten feet. The pilot gave the ship about 62' mercury and we went around the traffic pattern again. After we had landed we were told by the ground personnel that they had given us up and were expecting us to crash on the field. While we were taxiing back from the landing, Lt. Feinberg said, "Well, I guess we scared hell out of those poor saps on the ground," and someone from the rear said, "And they weren't the only ones!" Our pilot was greeted by the C.O. as such, "Taylor, what the hell? Are you tired of living?" The skipper assured him that he wasn't.

 

Mission No. 10

4 November 1944 – Munich, Germany

 

            Today we were briefed on Munich West Marshalling Yard. We had been to Vienna and understood that the flak at Munich was almost as bad as Vienna flak. You can imagine what took place in our minds. Our only consolation was that the target was to be bombed by PFF methods. We encountered flak at the target, but it was rather inaccurate because of the thick undercast below us. We returned to base in good condition with no holes in our ship.

 

Mission No. 11

7 November 1944 – Brenner Pass, Italy

 

            Again we were briefed for the Brenner Pass Line in Northern Italy. So far, we hadn't witnessed any intensive flak over any of these targets along the Brenner Line; therefore, the target for the day didn't bother us too much. With the exception of a little rough flak at Pola, we didn't have any trouble. Our greatest worry was the weather around the target. Our lead bombardier selected an alternate target and scored 100% on Vipiteno M/Y, which was also on the Brenner Pass Line. We returned to the base with little difficulty, but tired as usual.

 

Mission No. 12

12 November 1944 – Aviano, Italy

 

            From the briefing we assured ourselves that this mission would be a milk-run. Our bomb load increased our convictions after we learned that we were carrying 100 lb. bombs. Our target was the Aviano Airdrome in Northern Italy. We hit the IP square on the head and went in on a good bomb run. The weather was ideal and the bombardier laid an excellent pattern across the airdrome. Our trouble started after we had rallied and had started back to the home base. While trying to get back into a group formation, our leader took us over some flak installations along the coast and our milk-run was ruined. We seemed as if we would never get out of range of those damn flak guns, and after we had landed safely at the base, we noticed quite a few holes in our plane.

 

Mission No. 13

18 November 1944 – Ora, Italy

 

            The Ora River Bridge is also on the Brenner Pass line and we discovered that the krauts did have some flak guns along this line. Today we encountered intense, heavy and accurate flak over the target. Lt. Schatzman will vouch for this, because the nose turret was practically shot out in front of him on this mission. (Lt. Schatzman was flying with the group lead team as nose navigator). The pilot, Capt. Stevens, called him and asked him if he was hit and all that he could say was, "Well, er, I don't know yet!" He wasn't, but had had a very close call. Our ship, which was flying in the number two spot, had a few holes in it to prove that she was on the mission also. We returned to base with no difficulty; although the ship Lt. Schatzman was flying in lost an engine and came to the base with three fans turning.

 

Mission No. 14

20 November 1944 – Doboj, Yugoslavia

 

            This mission was quite a thrill for us because this was the first time our pilot had led a box. The target was good one with all the earmarks of a first class milk-run. The altitude was 16,000 feet and we were carrying 2,000 lb bombs. Our target was the river bridge there at Doboj, but we failed to knock the bridge down.

 

Mission No. 15

21 November 1944 – Doboj, Yugoslavia

 

            Again we were briefed to knock out the bridge that was still standing from the previous day's mission. When we took off we were determined to knock the bridge out this time; but unfortunately weather prevented us from ever reaching the target and we had to bring our bombs back to base. Our radio operator radioed in, "Mission unsuccessful – weather."

 

Mission No. 16

2 December 1944 – Strazof, Austria

 

            We were briefed to bomb the Straszof M/Y today by the use of PFF methods, but we ended up bombing the southeast industrial section of Vienna. On the IP the group leader's PFF set went out and we took over the lead. Due to the fact that our mickey operator, Lt. Cody, had such a short run, he was unable to make a run on the primary target, consequently, we made a run on the Vienna industrial section with good results, Huge columns of smoke came streaming up through the solid undercast after we had passed over the target area. We all congratulated Lt. Kenna, our navigator on this mission, for doing such a superior job of navigation and getting the group home safely. Incidentally, he received the DFC for this mission.

 

Mission No. 17

16 December 1944 – Innsbruck, Austria

 

            Innsbruck was always considered a rough target and it turned out to be for us this particular day. Not so much because of the flak, but for we lost our number four engine right after we came off the target. This was the first time that our crew had ever lost an engine on a mission, and we were all rather thrilled. Back to the field we came and called the tower for and emergency landing and were given permission to land, but some joker cut us out of the pattern. We went around again and came in for another landing. As soon as we hit the ground we realized that we had a right flat tire. We pulled off to the right side of the runway after a rather abrupt stop and parked our plane. Engineering had to come out and tug it back to the area after the tire had been fixes.

 

Mission No. 18

19 December 1944 – Rosenheim, Germany

 

            We celebrated the skipper's birthday over Rosenheim, Germany. The mission was a planned PFF mission and very little flak was encountered. Lt. Feinberg did an excellent job of co-ordinating with the mickey operator on the run and we believe that we did damage to the target. We returned to base with no trouble and glad to get our usual coffee and doughnuts that were waiting for us there.

 

Mission No. 19

25 December 1944 – Innsbruck, Austria

 

            Christmas Day and we went to briefing in hopes that there would be no mission that day. The weather had been bad and there was a good chance that our wishes would be fulfilled. On the briefing map the S-2 officers had great big Christmas packages of bombs, signifying that they were hitting Innsbruck, and were the 450th Bombardment Group's present to the Jerries. The weather turned out to be ideal as far as visual bombing was concerned and we encountered no bad weather whatsoever. A little haze and smoke around the target caused us to have to make a 360 degree turn and come in for another run. The flak was not so heavy, but very accurate that day. In fact, it was too darn accurate and our number five man in our box was knocked out of the sky with a direct hit in the bomb-bay. Since he was the one carrying the camera, we had no pictures to show the results of our bombing, but eye witnesses gave us credit for excellent bombing. We believe that we dumped a lot of bombs right down on the top of the Jerries Christmas tree.

 

Mission No. 20

4 January 1945 – Bronzelle, Italy

 

            Our first mission for 1945 and the 200th mission for the 450th Bombardment Group, was on January 4, 1945. On this mission we flew as deputy lead to Lt. Amdur, who led the second attack unit. Again we witnessed multi-flak at the target and were mighty glad to get back into the clear again. We lost our number one engine about thirty minutes away from the target, and flew three hours and forty-five minutes back to the base with three fans turning. This is one day that we really sweated-out the gas – didn't we, Stewart? In fact, the pilot had us alerted to bail-out on a moment's notice. We made it alright and with plenty of gas.

 

Mission No. 21

15 January 1945 – Vienna, Austria

 

            We were briefed on Vienna's Southeast R/R target and we were to fly the leader of the second attack unit. Again we were glad to hear that this target would be bombed by PFF methods and that a good underdcast was expected. About one hour from the IP. Lt. Cody, our mickey operator, notified the pilot that his set was out and that we had better give the lead to some other box. We changed places with the X-2 box and went over the target in that position. We rallied as briefed and encountered very little flak over the target. We came home with no further trouble.

 

Mission No. 22

5 February 1945 – Salzburg, Austria

 

            This mission was rather uneventful as far as our bombing was concerned. The target was obscured with clouds and the IP and the first part of the bomb run was made with the PF methods. Right at the last minute Lt. Feinberg picked the target-up and made a short visual run, but discovered that he wasn't synchronized and we missed the target. We had no trouble on the way back and landed with another mission to our credit.

 

Mission No. 23

13 February 1945 – Zabrab, Yugoslavia

 

            Today was our first group lead and we were briefed to lead the second force, which was called the Blue Force, to destroy a marshalling yard at Zabrab, Yugo. The weather was ideal and we hit the IP directly on the head and had a good bomb run. Because of the smoke caused by the bombs of the group in front of us, Lt. Feinberg failed to pick up the primary and selected M/Y on the same line. We laid a beautiful pattern on the secondary target and came back to the base pleased with our day's work.

 

Mission No. 24

20 February 1945 – Fiume, Yugoslavia

 

            We were not briefed to use Fiume, Yugo., as the primary target, but weather conditions forced us to do so. Our primary target for the day was Vienna, Italy. Our target at Fiume was the boat and dock installations. After witnessing one of the longest bomb runs recorded by the 15th  Air Force, we finally dropped our bombs and rallied off of the target. Because of a slight collision course with another group, Lt. Feinberg didn't have a very good bomb run, and we missed the target completely. We encountered slight to inaccurate flak at the target. We returned home without any other difficulty.

 

Mission No. 25

24 February 1945 – Verona, Italy

 

            The 450th Bombardment Group had been to the same target the day before with unsatisfactory results for the entire group. This was the reason that we were briefed on the same target today. We took off and encountered very bad weather conditions enroute to the target. In fact, we were in the overcast for one and one-half hours and our navigator, Lt. Shulz did a superior job of navigating and getting our group back into the wing formation. We had to make a 360 degree turn just before we reached the IP because of another group cutting off, but we hit the IP dead on the head the second time around and started in on a good run. The mickey operator, Lt. Jones, helped bombardier, Lt. Pritchard, pick up the target. After the bombardier picked the target up he scored excellent results and completely demolished the M/Y. On this raid, Lt. Shannon, leader of the S-2 box was hit and reported to have gone down, but we heard that he had made a safe landing at Florence. Shannon had been with us through all of our training and we hated to hear of his hard luck, but glad to hear that he was safely down in allied territory. One of the ships in our box got the oxygen shot out and had to leave the formation after we left the target area. There was multi-flak on this target today.

 

Mission No. 26

8 March 1945 – Maribor, Yugoslavia

 

            Our primary target for the day was the Komaron M/Y and to give direct support to the Russian ground troops that were fighting in that area. Because of the inclement weather conditions that day, we had to select Maribor, Yugo., as an alternate. We went in on the target on our briefed axis of attack and witnessed a very short bomb run. Our bombardier, Capt. Gawne, did an excellent job of picking the target up and bombing this target. The target was 25 percent covered with clouds. The flak was thick and heavy that day and we were expecting a hit any minute when the bombardier yelled, "Let's get the hell out of here!" Naturally, the pilot waited for "Bombs away" and kept on flying straight ahead. We were all glad to see the ship hit a steep turn and leave the target area in evasive maneuvers. We were certainly happy to get out of that flak infested sky.

 

Mission No. 27

14 March 1945 – Varazdin, Yugoslavia

 

            Again we were briefed to the Komaron M/Y and to support the Russians that were now advancing on the town of Komaron. Weather again entered into the picture and we were unable to bomb the primary. We selected the alternate, which was Zagrab, Yugo., and made a couple of passes at this target. We were given credit for Varazdin, Yugo., but never came close to the target that day. Finally, we returned to base with our bomb load.

 

Mission No. 28

24 March 1945 – Nueberg, Germany

 

            Today we were briefed to destroy the airdrome there at Nueberg, Germany. We realized right away that we would not have to worry about the flak around the target ahead; but that our big worry would be the jet planes in that district. This was an eight and one-half hour mission and we were carrying 100 pound frag-clusters, which is a very touchy bomb load to carry. We hit the IP directly on the head and had an excellent bomb run on the target. As the bombs were away one of them exploded right beneath the bomb-bay and a piece of the bomb came up through the nose compartment and hit Capt. Gawne on the arm. By the time we returned to base he had a good sized lump on his arm below his elbow. We did a superior job of bombing that day and 10 to 15 jet propelled aircraft were reported to have been destroyed. Lt. Kenna did an excellent job of navigating back to the home base.

 

Mission No. 29

2 April 1945 – Sulm, Austria

 

            Another one of Capt. Taylor's milk-runs was the Sulm River Bridge mission. Everyone, but the bombardier considers it an easy mission to knock bridge targets out because there is seldom any flak to bother us. The bombardier will agree that a bridge target is one of the most difficult targets to bomb. Naturally, we hit our IP on the head and went over the target at 19,000 feet. Today, Capt. Gawne did another superior job of bombing with 98 percent of his bombs falling within the 1,000 foot circle. In fact, it was the best pattern ever laid down in the 47th Wing. Incidentally, that was Capt. Gawne's last mission and one he can always be proud of.

 

Mission No. 30

16 April 1945 – Gun Positions, Italy

 

            Just before the big push in the Bologna area, we were briefed for several missions in direct support to the 5th Army. This was one of those missions and we were briefed to hit gun positions and occupied houses and buildings in the Bologna area. Because of a solid undercast, we were unable to drop our bombs and had to return to base without accomplishing our mission. Most of us finished up on this mission.

 

Mission No. 31

23 April 1945 – Legnago, Italy

 

            We were all eager to fly this mission – that is Bill and Taylor were – because it was supposed to be another milk-run. We were briefed to destroy the Legnago River Bridge and prevent the German Army from retreating from the Bologna area. This we did, because we completely destroyed the bridge. In fact, General Rush, the Commanding General of the 47th Wing wrote, "Your group so completely destroyed the target that the next group had to select another target." By-the-way, we were leading the 47th Wing that day and was the first and only Wing lead Capt. Taylor had ever led. Although the flak was light but very accurate, Bill says that there was too much flak to finish up on. This was Lt. Sloggett's last mission, and also the last mission flown by Capt. Taylor in the European Theater of Operations.

 

            *The missions analyzed above are the missions that were flown by Capt. Taylor, and most of the crew were along on each of these missions. Although there are only 31 missions analyzed, every one of us, with the exception of Sgt. Stewart, Capt. Schatzman, and Capt. Taylor flew 35 missions with the 47th Wing, 450th Bomb Group, and the 720th Bomb Squadron.





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