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2nd Lt. Robert E. Riley
720th Squadron


We received orders to report to Topeka, Kansas. It was here that we were assigned a brand new B-24 off the assembly line. After a few days of instrument calibration, aircraft inspection and shakedown flight, we were ready to go. Ray was given orders for our crew to fly this plane and report to the Headquarters of the 15th Air Force in Bari, Italy. (Can you imagine 10 young men who have never been out of the States, flying the Atlantic Ocean in their own plane?!?!?)


We started our journey and flew the flowing legs:


1) Manchester, New Hampshire.

2) Gander, Newfoundland – it was here that we were outfitted with overseas combat supplies, i.e. 45 pistols, watches, flight jackets, heavy flight gear, ammo, etc…

3) Azores – on this leg the Northern Lights were flashing bright and beautiful. We were a little south of the Azores, but Van was on top of it and made corrections.

4) Marrakech, Morocco – different people, culture and dress.

5) Tunis, Tunisia – We visited the King's palace and the casaba, which was very different with narrow streets, close quarters, open drains and women covered with veils head to toe.

6) Bari, Italy.


When we arrived the plane we flew was taken and reassigned to another base. They also took our liquor that we tried to smuggle in. Soon we were loaded into the back of a truck and driven to Manduria Air Base and assigned to the 450th Bomb Group, 720th Squadron.


It was from this base that we began our combat experience in January 1945. We flew 19 missions with the 450th, until being transferred to the 461st Bomb Group in May, 1945, based in Cerignola, Italy. We flew mainly humanitarian missions while assigned to the 461st, delivering food and supplies to prison camps. We returned to the United States in June of 1945.


Robert E Riley, June 18, 2007

Information courtesy of Robert Riley

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