"THE BIG TEN"
by Dayton R. Taylor
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
CPL. HOLMES S. MORRISON (Engineer)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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?
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!
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
MARRAKECH TO TUNNIS
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
time, January 30, 1945, our bombardier was a flight commander, our pilot a
flight commander and assistant operations officer, and our navigator was group
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
around the pyramids tired us considerably and we were glad to get back to the
hotel for a short and well deserved rest.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 No. 1
20 September 1944 - Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Mission No. 5
12 October 1944 Bologna, Italy
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mission No. 15
21 November 1944 Doboj, Yugoslavia
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
Mission No. 16
2 December 1944 Strazof, Austria
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mission No. 22
5 February 1945 Salzburg, Austria
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mission No. 29
2 April 1945 Sulm, Austria
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
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.
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.