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Group History

Bowman Diary Page 02

Bowman Diary - Page 02
 Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6  Page  7   Page 8   Page 9   Page 10

This is the diary of Major Marvin Bowman as compiled by Paul West.
Jan Riddling, 100th Bomb Group Historian, reformatted this version in July 2003.

 Mar 5, 1943

All our Squadron PI's have been relieved from duty here and assigned to 2nd AF Headquarters where they will become members of a PI Detachment probably attached to a reconnaissance squadron. Lt. Hogg, Lt. Gregg, Lt. Schwarz, and Lt. Merritt are being transferred on the order. Hereafter only the groups will have a PI. Capt. Arnold has been relieved here. (He was on detached service with he 29th at Boise) and has been assigned permanently to the 29th. Lt. Mackesey is being shifted from the 350th to the 418th where he will take over the duties of S-2.

Mar 6, 1943

Gave the first of our news summaries today, Capt. Shaw led off with a general review of the situation. Capt. Bowman covered the home front, Lt. Burr summarized events in Russia; Lt. Hogg sketched the news from North Africa; Lt. Merritt described recent developments in the South Pacific; and Lt. Mackesey completed the session with news of China. Each speaker illustrated his talk with a blackboard sketch which he prepared before the meeting. (The blackboards were mineral wall board fire shields painted with blackboard paint).

Colonel Alkire, Lt. Colonel Dauncey, Major Trevellyan and others attended. Colonel Alkire and Major Trevellyan were enthusiastic over the show and said they wanted to see it grow bigger and available to more men. Major Trevellyan said he would try to arrange for the summaries to be given in the theater hereafter.

Mar 7, 1943

A ground schedule for the 38 new co-pilots has been drawn up by Major Egan, S-3. The staff will be expected to give ten hour of instruction beginning March 12.

Mar 8, 1943

Colonel Alkire liked the news summary session so much that he requested Capt. Shaw to be prepared to give them three times per week, if he called for them. Letters went to Squadron S-2's on it today as well as assignments for the teaching sessions for the new co-pilots.

Mar 9, 1943

Received word today that a trailer equipped to develop and print pictures has been received on the base and will be assigned to this group. This comes after most of the PI's are gone. It would have been useful during the second and third phases of training.

Mar 10, 1943

Accepted delivery of the photographic trailer today. Lt. Stover and four enlisted photographers were detailed to set it up. The trailer will be assigned to us as long as we are on this base.

Mar 11, 1943

General Johnson inspected the base today. He and his party flew in and were on the field about two hours. The inspectors did not come in here although we were ready for them. the report is that the Group put on a pretty good show for him with plenty of saluting, good formations, and exhibits of work accomplished.

Mar 12, 1943

S-2 assembled the new co-pilots today for ground school instruction. Capt. Guy, base signal officer, give them a talk on cryptography; Major Shaw talked to them about the purpose and functions of S-2; and Lt. Arick and Capt. Johnson gave them quizzes on Navel and Aircraft identification. They did well, most of them scoring in the 80's and 90's.

Mar 13, 1943

Gave another news summary today. Capt. Bowman covered the home front and North Africa; Lt Burr described the campaigns in Russia; and Lt. Mackesey covered China and the South Pacific. The Colonel (Alkire) attended with most if his staff; it went off well.

Lt. Burr and Capt. Bowman gave the co-pilots some instruction on objective folders and mapping today.

Mar 14, 1943

Capt. Reid asked today that we give the 95th Group the required examinations on aircraft and naval identification. Examination blanks were stenciled and a schedule was drawn up for tomorrow.

Mar 15, 1943

Squadron S-2's spent most of the day giving examinations on aircraft and naval identification for the 7th Group. Giving the examination was difficult because the lights flickered on an off with the extreme cold, high winds and icing conditions which struck

This place late last night. Winter really came back with a vengeance after we had enjoyed a few spring days.

Mar 16, 1943

Turned in the results of the aircraft and naval identification examinations to Capt. Reid. The boys in the 95th made a pretty bad record, particularly in naval identification where under liberal grading many of them fell below 50.

Mar 17, 1945

St. Patrick's day and nothing green showed on the field except the officer's uniforms. In town there was a dance to celebrate the occasion.

Mar 18, 1943

Rumors are boiling up pretty strong again. This time it seems that the combat crews are going to called back sometime next month and that we'll be on our way sooner than expected.

Mar 19, 1943

The last day of the ground school for co-pilots today, and it was something of flop. The instructor in aircraft identification slipped up on his schedule and they waited a while then walked out. Tomorrow they leave to join the pilots and complete their training. They'll be back with the remainder of the combat crews in a little less than a month.

Mar 20, 1943

Completed a blow up of a map of Tunisian front. Drew it with a photograph from the The Chicago Tribune situation map and lettered it with the Leroy lettering set, making a pretty good job.

Mar 21, 1943

Our return bout with winter is just about over. The snow that has covered the ground the last three or four days has melted almost entirely today leaving the field a sea of mud. Except for the mud, today was almost spring like.

Mar 22, 1943

Processing of 95th practically complete. Rumor has it this group will assist with the processing of about two more groups before the ground echelon gets away.

Mar 23, 1943

Sending the boys over to 418th supply to gather up the equipment that they are lacking. It includes half a shelter tent, anti-verioat ointment, and other items usually issued to personnel about to depart these shores. Kearney has not been a bad place. Living conditions on the field have been quite comfortable. Since the headquarters detachment has left the base mess for the 349th has been much better.

Mar 24, 1943

Major Shaw’s leave begins today and he left last night to return to Sioux Falls.

Major Shaw's Lt. Arick returned from leave shortly after noon today.

Mar 25, 1943

Spring has really set in. All the summer birds are back, Robins everywhere. The sun was hot today and the buds of the trees are beginning to swell.

Mar 26, 1943

Major Standish is back from leave, but Major Egan and Colonel Alkire as well as Major Shaw are still away and the place doesn't seem the same.

Mar 27, 1943

Gave a news cast today, mostly for the benefit of the 29th Airdrome Squadron. Lt Arick gave the introduction and the latest developments on submarine warfare and the Aleutian situation. Capt. Bowman spoke on the home front and Tunis; Lt. Burr followed with the Russian campaign and Capt. Johnson concluded with the China and South Pacific. Major Standish was in attendance.

Learned today that our PI's are gone for good and that there will be twelve officers in the Group. That seems to provide two each for the squadrons and four for the Group. Info from Colonel Cella, 2nd AF A-2 via Major Standish.

Mar 28, 1943

Lt. Arick announced today that the Table of Organization for the Group enlisted men had been reduced from eight to five.

Mar 29, 1943

Got some good info from 2nd AF today. The special intelligence reports are getting better and better as time goes on. There is a big improvement since this Group was activated. The Digests are about the same as always -- late and inadequate. The AAF reports have also improved in quality and number. Observing this improvement during this short time makes you realize the war is still pretty young and that the organization is just beginning to take shape.

Mar 30, 1943

Another big dust storm today. Wind began blowing shortly after noon and kept up until late at night. The base and everybody on it was inundated with dust. It was worse than the previous ones because grading for new barracks, hangers, and administration building has been started and bulldozers are all over the place pushing up dust.

Mar 31, 1943

Got our first glimpse of service gliders in operation today. About 15 tow planes pulling one glider each circled the field several times abut noon; none landed.

Apr 1, 1943

A new group came in for processing today and Clark Gable was among the men. He is a fire control officer. The job is something new. Gable went through gunnery school to learn about it.

Lt. Arick went to Wendover today. Colonel Alkire is coming back from Salt Lake City and Lt. Arick went along with Major Egan to pick him up.

Apr 2, 1943

Major Shaw went on leave today.

Apr 3, 1943

Gave a news review today. Major Shaw gave a short summary for and introduction. Lt. Burr covered the Russian front; Lt. Mackesey covered China and the South Pacific and Capt. Johnson summarized events on the Tunisian front.

Apr 4, 1943

Colonel Carlson, acting A-2 called today and told Major Shaw that Lt. Schwartz would be returned to the group. What his assignment will be has not yet been determined.

Apr 5, 1943

Officers and men have been issued carbines and pistols. Classes in field stripping have begun and work on the range is progressing.

Apr 6, 1943

Show down inspection today for all enlisted men in the Group. The gym was full of men and equipment all day. Lt. Col. Dauncey ran the show. It was a dry run for this outfit as it is expected there will be another before departure.

Apr 7, 1943

Got a good dissertation on the value of combat intelligence to crews today. Written by Lt. Col. Carl Norcross, VIII AF, Asst. S-2. Made copies for all combat crew commanders.

Apr 8, 1943

A little excitement on the field last night. A 17 came in with wheels up. Pilot didn't know it. Instruments lied and there was no visual check. Nobody hurt although the plane was damaged. Plane and crew from Group in Process.

Apr 9, 1943

Got our first rain early this morning. Very welcome since it settled the dust and cleared the air. Not heavy but lasted for several hours.

Apr 10, 1943

News summaries today. Capt. Bowman - home front and Tunis: Lt. Burr Russia and Lt Mackesey China and the Southwest Pacific. Colonel Alkire was there.

Apr 11, 1943

Lt. Eugene V. Laughlin, a PI, O-563606 has reported for duty and was assigned to the 418th. Lt. James E. Bower, O-564854, a PI, reported and was assigned to the 350th -- both are 2nd Lts.

Apr 12, 1943

Capt. Richard G. Wiegers, O-446975, a CI, reported for duty and was assigned to the 418th Squadron S-2. Both he and Lt. Laughlin left immediately to take 6 days of leave.

Apr 13, 1943

Lt. Charles W. Terry, O-566890, reported and was assigned to the 349th S-2.

Apr 14, 1943

The first of the combat crews are drifting back and preparations for processing them are under way.

Apr 15, 1943

Lt. Baird returned after his tour of duty at Gowen Field with the 29th Group.

Apr 16, 1943

Received word today that the photo lab trailer will be turned over to us on shipping ticket. Cpl. Robert J. Hagenbach 32142067, PI, reported for duty.

Apr 17, 1943

News summary today, given by Capt. Bowman and Lts Burr and Mackesey.

Apr 18, 1943

2nd Bomber Command sprang a mission on us; four enemy war ships in the Pacific -- worked all day on the situation maps.

Apr 19, 1943

Completed situation map, briefed crews and prepared inserts for target folders. Colonel Alkire, Major Shaw, Major Egan, Capt. Turner, Lts. Arick, Iannacone, and Frye spoke at the briefing.

Apr 20, 1943

Waiting movement orders for special excerise; advance party alerted and ready. Reports indicate targets north of last reported sighting.

Apr 21, 1943

Movement order came early this morning. Advance party off at 0815 hours. Main group of 37 planes off 1116 to 1146 hours. Reports came in soon after that planes were dropping out due to engine trouble, weather, lack of oxygen, etc. Eleven (11) planes were delayed.

Apr 22, 1943

Colonel Alkire reported from Hamilton Field that all planes are in place at the advanced base.

Apr 23, 1943

No word from Pacific coast. Began a little program of soldiering here. Turned out early this morning for drill and inspection; in the afternoon there was tent pitching. The boys spent most of the night getting ready - rolling packs and polishing shoes. No one knew what was expected of us - everyone had a different idea about what a pack should contain. There are damn few old style Infantry soldiers in he Air Corps. The tents went up fairly well, although the lines were waving and it took quite a long time. Had calisthenics this morning - first time since I've been in the 100th.

Apr 24, 1943

Still soldiering; barracks inspection this morning at 0800 hours; showdown inspection on the ramp the remainder of the day, followed by formal retreat at 1645 hours. The retreat was pretty ragged, but better than might have been expected since this was the first time this outfit had held a formal formation. No word from the Pacific coast. Gave exam in aircraft, naval, armored vehicle identification to picked ten man teams from each squadron. General average less than 50% on easiest model we could find. News review today; Lt. Arick, Aleutians and submarines; Lt. Laughlin, home front; Lt. Callinan, South Seas & independent air action; Lt. Juster, Russia and Lt. Baird, Tunis.

Apr 25, 1943

One drill in the afternoon; everybody went through the gas chamber. Combat crew returned in the afternoon about 1600 hours. Everyone was disgusted with the performance of the Group. The entire exercise was sloppy and poorly executed. Staff member agreed that poor staff work was responsible for the failure of the mission. Three ships failed to return - one lost it's tail on landing - another was shot up by stray bullets.

Apr 26, 1943

It was announced today that Colonel Alkire had been relieved of his command as result of the mess the Group made of the mission. New commander arrived last night - he is Colonel Howard M. Turner, formerly on the staff of the Chief of Staff of the Air Corps in Washington D. C.

Apr 27, 1943

The Inspector General was in today as well as officials from the 15th Wing. Colonel Travis, Commander of the 15th Wing, was here and talked to everybody on the staff. Later it was disclosed that the Group's combat crews would be sent back to Wendover for a couple of weeks for intensive training. The ground echelon is to be sent to an undisclosed place to await orders for the port of embarkation. Colonel Alkire is to report to the 16th Wing at Briggs Field, Texas.

Apr 28, 1943

Colonel Alkire left today. Before leaving he called the entire Group together and told them bluntly of his failure. "I am being relieved of my command for inefficiency and lack of leadership," he said. At the end of his talk he reiterated his belief that the 100th group is the hardest fighting, hardest hitting, hardest flying outfit in the country. " "My reputation will stand or fall according to the way the Group performs in the future," he said.

Apr 29, 1943

Started packing today - also worked on a series of six missions we are to have ready and take to Wendover Field. The squadrons prepared one apiece and the Group S-2 prepared two. The S-2 staff at Wendover will consist of Major Shaw and M/ Sgt Kirkpatrick. The remainder of S-2 personnel will go the Port of Embarkation with the ground echelon. All packing must be completed by noon tomorrow - air echelon leaves at the same time.

Apr 30, 1943

Departure of the air echelon for Wendover canceled due to weather. Ground echelon received order to have all equipment packed and loaded on the freight trains today. The shipment is to the New York POE. (Port of Embarkation) This change in plans required most of the boys to spend a long tough night packing.

May 1, 1943

Air echelon began taking off at 0700 hours. It was a beautiful morning; forty planes took off and all but one reached Wendover. One was forced down in Cheyenne with engine trouble. The trip over the mountains was fairly smooth with visibility unlimited. Some bombs were dropped on the Wendover range before landing. Colonel Dauncey had pretty well perfected arrangements for the group here. There is half a school building reserved for Group Hq. - hanger for maintenance and engineering Hq. - an office for operations in the Base Operations building. There is a cafeteria that will seat two to three hundred men and the food is not bad. Many new building have been erected. The mess halls have either china or mess trays, there is a swimming pool, and the officer's club is said to be very luxurious.

May 2, 1943

Instrument calibration took up most of the flying time today. Held a pre-briefing conference to take care of the briefing of crews for Mission #2 which runs tomorrow if there is enough gasoline. Severe shortage of fuel at this base. The plan to run the mission at 0800 hours had to be altered to 1100 hours so that gasoline coming in the morning could be delivered to the planes.

May 3, 1943

Briefed 351st & 418th Squadrons on Mission #2 at 1100 hours - S-2, S-3, Command Pilots, Navigators, Bombardiers, and Radio Operators attended. Takeoff delayed until 1530 hours due to gasoline shortage. Interrogation at about 1900 hours. Report submitted to Commanding Officer. Major Shaw left with advance party at 2200 hours.

May 4, 1943

Capt. Turner briefed 349th & 350th Squadrons on Mission #2 this 1100 hours. Won't fly until tomorrow due to weather. Time on the tow target range this afternoon. Staff meeting tonight - no more Group Briefings and interrogating.

May 5, 1943

High altitude tow target practice today. Major Warren, 15th Wing DCO, was in to check on progress of training and get estimated date of completion.

May 6, 1943

Weather hampered training today, although a couple of squadrons flew their missions as scheduled.

May 7, 1943

Still waiting for weather to clear up. It is cold and windy with occasional showers. Heard from Colonel Dauncey - party still waiting to move out.

May 8, 1943

General Eubank and Colonel Travis were in to look things over. Learned there would have to be modification to our Tokyo tanks - work will require 10 to 18 days and we'll be stuck here in Wendover at least that much longer.

May 9, 1943

Wonderful Wendover weather again - warm, clear and breezy.

May 10, 1943

Sent first planes to Ogden AD (Air Depot) to be modified. About 14 planes from the 349th and 350th dispatched with skeleton crews. (Pilot & Co-pilot)

May 11, 1943

Colonel Tillery at Ogden called to say he was taking out flap check valves and installing hydraulically operated valves although Wright Field had recommended addition of the positive action valves without removal of the flap valves. He also was putting in new vents - a job requiring the removal of the wing tip and wing leading edge. Two planes were slightly damaged by a single . 50 cal. slug accidentally fired from a top turret. Another plane's tail was damaged when it swung into a spool of cable on the edge of the parking ramp.

May 12, 1943

Started issuing 36 hour passes - first time restriction has been lifted since we hit this base.

May 13, 1943

Flew interception mission to Tonopah, Nevada. A pursuit group there intercepted an eight ship formation of ours over a dry lake near Currant - continued on to bomb a dry lake near Tonopah.

May 14, 1943

Having unusual weather for Wendover in April - much cooler than normal - fires required at night for comfort.

May 15, 1943

Nothing doing. Everybody sitting around waiting for something to happen - morale not too high. From top to bottom there appears to be fear this delay is like the others and may continue indefinitely. This base is not too pleasant for the group. MP's are bothering our boys a lot because they wear summer flying jackets away from the line, civilian shoes and other articles of clothing that are not GI. Officers have the same trouble a the club - blouses required. Pass regulations are very strict - none of our gang is very happy.

May 16, 1943

Ships of the 349th are beginning to come back, and hopes of getting away are rising. There are some defects, leaky valves, etc. , but nothing serious enough to cause much further delay. It is planned to get in a little more training after the ships get back.

May 17, 1943

Still sweating out Ogden.

May 18, 1943

Most of the ships of the 349th & 305th are back now. Preparing to send them on a fighter interception mission to Tonopah.

May 19, 1943

349th & 350th flew interception mission to Tonopah. (same as May 13)

May 20, 1943

General Johnson here to check on Bomb Groups training. Our 349th & 350th Squadrons will leave today to go back to Kearney - the 351st & 418th will leave Friday and Saturday if all goes as planned. Didn't 350th left this afternoon.

May 21, 1943

349th left early this morning and the 418th this afternoon.

May 22, 1943

Arrived in Kearney about 1215 hours after a very smooth flight from Wendover. We were met at the ramp by a truck that hauled our luggage up into the processing

Headquarters. We were processed and inspected then and there. It took nearly five

hours to finish the processing.

May 23, 1943

Clothing issue today for the early arrivals and briefing at night for the entire Group. A pilot and a navigator from ATC and a Lt. from CW gave a fine show and told everyone just what they needed to know. It was the best job of briefing I have ever seen for an overwater hop. Even the chemical warfare was interesting - learned about some new equipment - protective clothing, etc.

May 24, 1943

Finished clothing issue. Gave everybody a complete issue - duplicating the items that were sent across with the ground echelon. I don't know how we are going to lug all this stuff around, but I suppose we shall be glad to have it sometime. There will be another briefing tonight because two of the squadrons will be taking off early - 0200 hours. Kearney is much the same as always. Boys here are now in khaki although the weather has been cold, wet, and gray. Fires in the barracks are comfortable. I guess we are getting acclimated for our final destination.

May 25, 1943

Colonel Turner and the 349th left Kearney this afternoon shortly before 1500 hours to go probably to Selfridge Field in Michigan. Major Veal is waiting until the last plane has left Kearney before he goes. Lt. Gosgriff is staying behind with him.

May 26, 1943

Major Kidd and the 351st left Kearney this afternoon at 1500 hours for Baer Field near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Smooth trip although it was over a low overcast most of the way. Got to Baer about 1900 hours and prepared to wait for clearing weather before going on to Bangor, Maine.

May 27, 1943

Weather has broken over New England and we departed Baer shortly before 1300 hours to fly to Bangor Maine. Trip was a little rough, ran into some ice and rain shortly after passing Syracuse, New York. Last half hour opened up and we came into Bangor in clearing weather with at least 5,000 feet ceiling. Landed shortly after 1700 hours - took another nominal physical - filled out another emergence address card. Ship needed some maintenance. Got quite comfortable barracks set in a pine forest. A beautiful country with lots of lakes, rivers and forests.

May 28, 1943

Weather is closed in over Gander and there is some maintenance to be done on our ship so we are staying until tomorrow. Colonel Turner has been here and has departed - left on the 26th. Practically all the remaining planes are here now since the 418th arrived.

May 29, 1943

Departed for Gander about 1430 hours. Flew on top a overcast practically the entire way. It was radio navigation. Dark when we reached Gander and the ceiling was about 1200 feet. Everyone sweated out the let down since we didn't get much cooperation from the tower. The last half hour we ducked down through some clouds and saw nothing but low brush, swamps and small lakes - a desolate country. The lights of Gander Lake field were sure a welcome sight. The lost feeling flying in an overcast builds up and I suppose eventually to panic. We're going the southern route because the northern route is reserved for two engine aircraft - four engine aircraft carry enough gas for the longer hop. Our quarters are in a huge hanger. Chow is first class - better than we got many places in the States. The only thing we lack so far is fresh milk. There is plenty of butter and eggs.

May 30, 1943

Low ceiling and rain today - no take off. Also we must wait for a tail wind. The delays from here are often long since the favorable tail wind must be with you all the way if the long hop is to be made. Two crewmen guard ship at night and one during the day. It's cold and gray here - fleece lined flying clothing is necessary all the time for comfort. Hanger is only fairly warm.

May 31, 1943

Still at Gander - cold rainy day with a nasty chilling wind. Almost everybody from the 100th is here now. This base has the one of the biggest theaters I've every seen on an army base - usually full for three hours a day. The Canadians have a large establishment here and they share the pictures. The pictures are new - same as those showing at post theaters in the States. The PX is pretty well stocked, but beer is not very plentiful. They sell alarm clocks here.

Jun 1, 1943

Sweating out the weather at Gander - a damn cold sweat too. Keeping two men on the ship at night and one during the day. The sleeping at night is pretty frigid, however it is usually better than the hanger because it is quiet at least and the lights go off at sunset. The infantry guards have nervous trigger fingers, never a night without some shooting. There are lots of stories about saboteurs coming out of the brush at night and climbing over the airplanes. I have not seen any or talked to anyone with first hand knowledge of them.

Jun 2, 1943

Weather is clearing up a little and the visibility has increased to the point where we can see something of the country side. It is covered with scrub pine and spruce, none of more than a couple of inches in diameter. No chance of leaving as yet.

Jun 3, 1943

This is one of the days that seems more like spring. The sun is shining quite warmly and there is blue sky visible. In spite of the good weather here we are held by the weather officer - probably conditions are still bad over the Atlantic. However we have been told we shall soon be pushing on - perhaps tomorrow.

Jun 4, 1943

Thought this would be the day - gave ship a good inspection. Got ready so we could leave by 1630 hours but it didn't come off. Everybody is anxious to be off, but the Atlantic weather must still be bad. Went on daylight saving time here the 30th of May. Now at 2200 hours it is still light enough for comfortable reading. I don't know how early the sun rises here, I have never caught it in the act. The nights are pretty short here.

Jun 5, 1943

Left this evening at 1939 GMT right in the middle of mat full of planes taking off for the islands. A fairly clear day in Gander, but soon climbed on top of an overcast and remained on top all the way over. Hit Scottish Coast about 0604 hours and Prestwick a short time later - very smooth trip. The airplane functioned perfectly.

Jun 6, 1943

Into Prestwick a few minutes after 0700 hours and then to Adamton House, beautiful Scottish estate for chow and quarters - tents on the fresh grass of the park. Azaleas and Hyacinths were in full bloom. Everything was wet, seemed to rain there about 12 hours a day. Warm during the day but cold as hell at night.

Jun 7, 1943

Taxied out this morning for take-off but had to return due to weather. Went back to Adamton House for chow and was called out immediately afterward to get under way again. Finally took off about 1300 hours and flew to Podington, a small place near North Hampton. Learned we would leave early the next morning for our permanent station.

Jun 8, 1943

Flew to the new station near Thorpe Abbotts arriving about 1400 hours. Couldn't find headquarters so spent the afternoon getting settled. The others in the section had come over with Lt. Schwarz, leaving Podington before we arrived there. This is a new base, there are some RAF people here and a handful of Americans who are setting up an S-2 office for us. Three men are here from the 3rd Wing and the detachment commander is Capt. Freydenburg.

Jun 9, 1943

Spent the day with Capt. Freydenburg and his staff learning the system he was setting up for us. Major Shaw will arrive tomorrow and Capt. Freydenburg will probably return to 3rd Wing.

Jun 10, 1943

Major Shaw arrived. Lt. Arick, Capt. Johnson, Lt. Tatala, Capt. Winters and Capt. Bowman are in school. Lts. Baird and Laughlin have been transferred to other outfits. The others (Capt. Burr, Lt. Mackesey, Lt. Bowers, Lt. Juster, Lt. Terry, Lt. Callinan and Lt. Schwarz) conferred with Major Shaw and set up duty assignments for the enlisted men. Departmental duties were divided among us. Part of the staff visited the 95th Group to observe S-2.

June 11, 1943

Colonel Harold Q. Huglin assumed command of the Group today. Colonel Turner is assigned to the 1st Wing in some capacity. Completed the may inventory and started moving them into the new S-2 building. Briefing room maps are almost complete. Very warm weather here now - ideal summer weather as we used to have in the States. Capt. Burr and a couple of others officers visited the 4th Combat Wing to observe their system.

Jun 12, 1943

Moving completed. Setting up maps and furniture in three front rooms of the S-2 building - hope it will be our permanent quarters. Most enlisted men have been assigned to sections.

Jun 13, 1943

Working on situation maps and filing systems. Moving in more furniture. Group Headquarters has moved again and there may be changes in out space as well. Cleaning up inside and outside the building.

Jun 14, 1943

Getting up more maps and trying to iron out administrative procedures. Major Shaw has appointed Capt. Burr Executive Officer; Capt. Winters is Administrative Officer; Capt. Johnson is Security Officer; Capt. Bowman is Public Relations Officer; Lt. Terry is POW Officer; Lt Bowers is Identification Officer; Lt. Arick is Photo and PI Officer; Lts. Mackesey and Schwarz are in charge of maps and files; Lt. Schwarz is also Chief of the Photo Lab. Lts. Callinan and Juster are assistant administrators.

Big shake up on Colonel Huglin's staff. Major Egan has been relieved as Air Exc. and appointed Commanding Officer of the 351st. Capt. Turner, acting Group S-3 has been relieved and appointed Commanding Officer of the 351st. Major Kidd relieved of command of the 418th and appointed Group S-3. Major Flesher has been relieved of command of the 418th and appointed Air Exc. Lt. Colonel Dauncey has been relieved as Ground Exc. and made Administration Inspector. Lt. Colonel Harold E. Dugan, a new man in the Group, has transferred from Tech. Inspector to Ground Exc. The shake up came as a surprise and some of the appointments were totally unexpected.

Jun 15, 1943

Some squadron equipment is in now and the pressing need for such small junk as paper clips is not so great. material for the situation maps is still not available and will probably be difficult to obtain. Ground crews are attending school daily - instructors are men from Groups that have operational experience or from Wing. There are also some RAF instructors.

Jun 16, 1943

Getting more equipment from quartermaster - offices pretty well furnished. Finding it hard to give everybody enough work because there is so little equipment - only two typewriters - need four. Much of the material coming down from Wing is written in longhand. Two motion picture projectors are in.

Jun 17, 1943

Received map cases today and there are three more file drawers in the office now. Most of the 349th office equipment is in now, although none of the other S-2 material has came from the squadrons. Finally received some larger light bulbs to replace the feeble lights that look like hall lamps in a cheap hotel. Still need a tube for our florescent light on the situation map.

Jun 18, 1943

Combat crews going to classes daily, instructions from British and American operational aircrews on Identification, escape, bombing, gunnery etc. Most of them come in on time and listen attentively, although many feel it the just more of the same old stuff they heard for months in the States.

Jun 19, 1943

Target material came in from 4th Wing today - a truck load - much more than we can handle at this time. Capt. Burr left to attend Bomber Command School.

Jun 20, 1943

Filing as much of the target material as possible. Moved files room and maps cases into a larger office which will be devoted exclusively to map supplies. All office supplies moved to latrine room. Won't have any latrines here for a while. Scole Division of the Norfolk Home Guard visited the post. The 40 guardsmen went through a B-17.

Jun 21, 1943

Peaceful day, but things began to happen during the early evening. Received a field order at 2240 hours. Sent Lts. Callinan and Mackesey to observe operations at the 94th. Major Shaw, Capts. Winters, Johnson, Bowman and Lts. Arick & Juster working on the project here. Three enlisted men on duty all night, Kirkpatrick, Christensen and Turner. A beautiful clear moonlit night - fairly warm.

Jun 22, 1943

Breakfast for the night shift at 0245 hours and briefing at 0400 hours - passed out escape kits, watched crews leave. They didn't seem very nervous, but those left behind paced around waiting for take-off. About 0600 hours the first ship, #23050, in the dispersal bay just across the street began to taxi out. The sun had been up for some time and the day was bright and promising as the big ship turned and started down the taxiway to the East-West runway. Other ships were warming up their engines all over the field. Only 21 were to go and the others were silent and dead.At last at 0801 the first ship roared down the runway, one minute late. . Five others followed and the rest began to cut engines and taxi back to dispersal - The mission had been scrubbed. A few minutes later crew members began to trickle back to turn in escape kits. They were bitterly disappointed. Some few minutes later word came that the 100th would be flying a diversion mission over the North Sea and crews must remain by their ships - a hour later they were all airborne.

Shortly before noon they began to return and within a few minutes all had landed. An interrogation room was set up and coffee and sandwiches brought in. They had a negative report - flew mission just short of briefed route and saw nothing except a couple of conveys. Colonel Huglin flew in the lead ship. Interrogation lasted 80 minutes. The supply of 500 sandwiches proved inadequate. All crew were pretty tired since they had flown last night until 1900 hours. Most of our reports were completed by 1500 hours.

Jun 23, 1943

The papers were full of the AAF raids on Huls and Krefeld -- the targets of the ships for which we ran the diversion. The raid must have been successful although it was reported that 44 planes were lost for a percentage of 6%. Received some temporary cupboards for the storage of target material.

Jun 24, 1943

Room is stacked full of target material and every available man is working trying to get it in the cabinets. Got another Field Order tonight and most of the staff is hanging around trying to swim through the whirlpools of confusion - none to successful in most cases.

Jun 25, 1943

Took off early this morning - 0617 hours to bomb the submarine plants and pens at Bremen. Weather was bad after leaving the English Coast and the formation turned back before reaching the target. Extremely heavy flak was encountered and there was strong opposition from enemy fighters - FW 190's and ME 109's. Three of our ships failed to return from the raid. All were in flight led by Capt. Petrich of the 349th. Lts. Adams and Schmallenback were his wingmen. The weather was too bad to get any reliable story of their loss. Apparently they simply disappeared, although there were some who thought Capt. Petrich's plane had been hit and his wingmen followed him down to protect him and all became victims of enemy fighters. The men who came back were disappointed they had not been able to deliver their bombs and some of them bombed a small convey which they took for German.

Jun 26, 1943

Turned over the personal possessions of the missing men after the briefing the Squadron Adjutant. The loss of these men was accepted with seeming unconcern. There wasn't much talk about it. There wasn't a hellava lot of time to morn anyway since another mission came along today. This one is to Le Mans, France, to bomb the Gnone & Rhone aircraft engine factory. Took off at 1600 hours and returned at 2003 hours. Once more the formation turned back before reaching the target. Some of the crew reported bad weather - others maintained the weather was good - visibility unlimited. These crews said they had no idea why the leader turned back and many of them were bitterly disappointed. The repeated failure to carry through and land a punch is getting to be an old and disagreeable story. All crew returned.

Jun 27, 1943

Struggling through the reports for three missions now. There's more paperwork to making one raid than there was to run the entire Group for a week back in the States. Every section reads and writes reports, a few WAACs would be a big help on the report details.

Jun 28, 1943

Ran the first really successful mission today on the sub pens at St. Nazaire. Conditions were very favorable although the Germans tossed up a lot of flak and trotted out considerable fighter opposition. One man came back with a slight wound from flak, S/Sgt Bernard I. Hanover, our first candidate for a Purple Heart with a small flesh wound on is arm. The ships were loaded with 500 lb bombs and they were dropped squarely on the assigned targets. Crews were happy and elated - ate more and talked more freely - waited patiently for interrogation.

Jun 29, 1943

The good weather has put Bomber Command on it's high horse. Got another mission tossed down to us today. The assignment is to go back to Le Mans and finish the job on the Gnome & Rhone engine works - once again our boys fielded a tomato. The Leader - some other Group - missed the Initial Point and the bombardiers following him scattered bombs all over the country side. I guess it was a pitiful exhibition. Lt. Peal, the Group Bombardier, saw what was happening and brought his bombs back. Another Group went back and took a second run since there was no opposition from either E/A or flak.

Jun 30, 1943

Library has been opened for the Combat Crews. Lt. Arick has stocked it with what ever magazines and newspapers available together with the statistics on raids, pictures and printed publications from higher headquarters. There is a lot of good material there and the boys are spending a lot of time there. The only comfortable chairs on the base are in the library.

Jul 1, 1943

Second day without a mission -- rough weather.

Jul 2, 1943

Got a new Commander today. Colonel Huglin has been ill for several days with serious stomach ulcers and had to be relieved due to illness, it may be assumed. He was not very popular -- cold and reserved. The new Commander is Colonel Neil P. Harding, an older man who seems quite a bit like Colonel Alkire.

Had mission today - raid on the sub installation at La Pallice - weather bad and it was scrubbed at 1155 hours.

Jul 3, 1943

Things are getting smoothed out so the boys can go to London on 48 hours passes. With a little system setup one man can now do the work of three of four during the first days of operation.

Jul 4, 1943

The 4th of July and we celebrated with a raid on La Pallice, France. It was one of the most successful to date and the men who came back from the raid all agreed they had never had more fun on the 4th or set off bigger firecrackers. One crew failed to come back, Lt. Pearson's. When last seen he was heading south from the target with all props turning but losing altitude. There is hope he reached Spain. Enemy A/C and fighter opposition was light.

Jul 5, 1943

All departments are pretty well caught up. Maps has all their shelves in and a fairly complete stock. Files has nearly competed the task of putting target information on the shelves. The room is clear of boxes and the floor can be swept- seems a shame it will have to be redone when we move.

Jul 5, 1943

Three of our enlisted men are gone now and we are down to the basic Table of Organization. (TO) There are three men from each squadron and five from headquarters at total of 17. We still have two men from the RAF who are helping us in the filing department and we are getting along quite well. The seems to be a severe shortage of manpower temporarily and every squadron is screaming for men. A service group and two or three ordnance units, an MP company and a chemical warfare company are attached to the Group - still there is too much to do for the number of personnel available.

Jul 7, 1943

The long period of fine weather has been interrupted and not this is the third day without a mission. It comes at convenient time, since there are still reports from the first five missions that are not submitted - take a couple of more days to clear up.

Jul 8, 1943

Got alerted today - called off account of weather.

Jul 9, 1943

Weather is really bad now, cold, wet and gray. Have to have a fire to achieve any kind of comfort - coal is hard to find. When the weather is good here, it's very good - but when bad it's terrible.

Jul 10, 1943

Flew mission #8 today, tried a run on Le Bourget Air Field near Paris - once again the weather is bad and the formation turned back ten minutes from the target. Our Group ran into the heaviest fighter opposition it has seen so far. One ship and crew was lost, Lt. Ducan's. Members of other crew saw them going down with two engines on fire - 7 to 10 chutes reported. Our crews are claiming six enemy fighters destroyed and several damaged. Failure to deliver a load of bombs on the target left everybody pretty sour again.

Jul 11, 1943

Back to the old grind - individual encounter forms are stacked up two inches thick. Getting through them as the weather is bad and missions are not piling up as they did the first week.

July 12, 1943

A couple of Wing Lts. inspected the files today and seemed pretty well satisfied. The rain ceased late this afternoon and the sun came out - should be a prelude to another mission.

Jul 13, 1943

Mission to Le Bourget scrubbed account of weather.

Jul 14, 1943

Mission to Le Bourget with favorable weather for a change. It was a short and unhappy mission. Only four A/C dropped bombs and they were not very close the target. Ten out of 22 returned early - some mechanical and other never caught the formation. Colonel Harding led and returned in a very dark mood. Things are going to get tougher for the Combat Crew from now on it seems. The reason the other ships did not bomb is that the Lead Bombardier failed to see the target and those following were scheduled to drop on him.

Jul 18, 1943

Lts. Mackesey, Juster and Terry worked all night preparing mission to Kassel, Germany, one of the toughest assignments the Group has faced - far inside Germany and well guarded by flak and fighters. Just before take-off the mission was scrubbed - probable due to weather over the continent. Crewmen disappointed at missing another of their precious sorties. Most of them want to get their complement in as fast as possible on the principle of jumping into a cold shower all at once. Capt. Tex McCeary reported on way here to interview and photograph Major Egan, S/Sgt Donald Wise and others of the Group who are in line for decorations. Many of the 100th crews have completed their first five missions and are now eligible for the Air Medal - nine recommendations for Purple Hearts are in the works. Sgt Hanover of the 350th was awarded the Group's first Purple Heart, but will not receive the award until after the war is over. He is a member of Lt. Duncan's crew which went down at Le Bourget July 10th. (1943) As several chutes (seven to ten) were seen we are hoping they were saved for better things.

Jul 19, 1943

No mission today - several crews went out on practice flights. Major Shaw read a communication from Wing stating that Lt. Terry's narrative report on the abortive mission to Hamburg was the best every received at the 4th Wing from point of view of detail and clarity. Lt. Ayres of the 2nd Wing arrived on post today to remain several days and observe methods of the 100th's S-2 office - seems the 100th S-2 section is acquiring a favorable reputation throughout the 8th AF. Lt, Ayres complimented our set-up as being one of the best he has seen in the many stations in the 8th AF he had visited. Cold disagreeable day marked by the shifting of S-2 commissioned personnel from the Combat Crew mess to the regular officer's mess. The boys were thankful, since in all candon the officer’s mess is far superior. Major Shaw visited Wing today.

July 20, 1943

This was quite a day for military pomp and ceremony; at noon the RAF handed the base over Thorpe Abbotts Air Station to Uncle Sam. A flagpole had been erected opposite headquarters and at noon a detachment of RAF lined up with a company of GI's. Squadron Leader D. Lawson, RAF liaison officer with the 4th Wing and Squadron Leader L. G. Bloomfield, Commanding Officer of RAF station, Thorpe Abbotts, represented the RAF. Colonel Neil B. Harding, Commanding Officer of the 100th, accepted the transfer to the USAAF. The troops presented arms and the British standard was lowered to bugle accompaniment. An American Color Guard raised the Stars and Stripes, while the RAF bugler accompanied with a RAF bugle call. All personnel were elated to see the Star and Stripes raised, signifying the change over, but felt an American bugler could have been found to sound "To the Colors" making it even more impressive.

At 1600 hours Colonel Albert A. Kesseler, Commanding Officer of the 402 Bomb Wing, presented the first Purple Heart Awards to our Group. The first man from the 100th to win the award went down with the Duncan crew 10 Jul at Le Bourget. Those honored today were crewmen of the ship "Wild Cargo" which had the hell shot out of it Jul 14th. (1943) Major T. M. Stouffer, Wing Adjutant, read the citations as Colonel Kesseler pinned medals on 2nd Lt. Hiram E. Harris, S/Sgt Donald E. Wise, S/Sgt Phil W. Ong and S/Sgt Sebastian F. Niedermeyer at the base Officers Club before a large gathering. The official party then visited Evacuation Hospital #12 and decorated other members of the crew; S/Sgt Roy L. Schellin, S/Sgt Alfred J. Vickers and S/Sgt John O. Stireman, who's wounds were nearly fatal. Colonel Kesseler in a short announcement stated that the 390th Group had joined the Wing and should be in action with us soon. Note : Lt. Harris was not a member of "Wild Cargo's" crew, rather he was wounded on mission a few days before.

Jul 21, 1943

Lt. G. R. Young of VIII Bomber Command here to photograph combat crew members from various parts of the country, then make sketches from photos for display in home town newspapers. First selection; boys from Boston, Milwaukee and San Francisco.

Jul 24, 1943

Group engaged in longest combat mission, up to now, every undertaken by B-17s. Take-off was at 0800 hours for Trondjhiem, Norway, and the formation returned at 1954 hours, just under twelve hours later. Bombing results were good and all planes returned safely, although Lt. Biddick was forced to make a crash landing in the vegetable garden of the Commanding Officer of a RAF training field in northern Scotland. The natives had never seen Americans or American planes and their hospitality was terrific according to the crew which was flown out the next day. On the mission, fighter opposition was light and flak only meager. Tonight Larry Winship of the Boston Globe, was brought down from Wing by Lt. Huber to interview several New England boys just back from the Scandinavian trip. Winship, in his first actual contact with the war , got a tremendous kick out of the whole affair, promised good publicity for the 100th when he got home. NOTE: The Boston Globe ran several related stories and notified families of those interviewed.

Jul 25, 1943

Weather beautiful for two days now - hardly a cloud. Today the Group paid a call on Warnemunde, Germany - or rather intended to - thwarted by solid overcast and bombed the dock yards at Kiel instead. At the last moment before take-off, Capt. Richard Carey, 350th Operations Officer, replaced the ill Lt. William DeSanders. Capt. Carey failed to return, last seen after the target going down in the direction of Sweden with one engine smoking. There were no other loses.

Jul 26, 1943

A most unsuccessful day - Group took off early for Hannover, designated 4th Wing lead. Owing to confusion over the Friesian Islands, the rendezvous was not effected and the whole Group was forced to abort - or go into Germany alone - not a wise procedure. Some ships took out their disappointment on a enemy convey encountered on the way home - reported a direct hit on a merchant vessel. Colonel Harding led and was not happy. At night an excellent USO stage show in the old Officers Mess building. Later two red alerts and the sky was full of searchlights until 0100 hours. Most of the Group has taken a somewhat cynical approach to the alerts, as nothing has every happened -- to date. Perhaps we may yet change out minds.

Jul 27, 1943

A day of comparative leisure for our Combat Crews - they were not alerted -- novelty these days.

July 28, 1943

Ochersleben was the target today - weather closed in and Group was hampered. Fighter opposition was terrific (150 to 200 reported) and the enemy made clever use of cloud cover to make hit an run attacks. This same cloud cover severed a useful purpose for some 100th crew, noticeably Lt. Helstromm who with an engine out dived into the clouds two jumps ahead of a JU-88 who plainly meant him no good. Crews reported the enemy's use of 37mm cannons in this encounter, JU-88' remaining out of range and lobbing 37mm shells at the Toyko tanks on our planes. They reported three Fortresses in an accompanying group downed in one fighter pass, all going down in flames. Today 44 combat crewmen received the Air Medal for completing five combat missions over enemy occupied Europe - 90 more have earned the award but as yet have not received it. Colonel Harding presented the ribbons at the Officer's Club. A great many crewmen already rate the Oak Leaf Cluster, awarded for ten missions.

Jul 29, 1943

One of those days which compensate the Combat Crews for the many disappointments of strategic bombing. The Group paid a courtesy call on Warnemunde. Most of the flight was over a solid overcast, but at the target, Lt. Frye's forecast was vindicated for once - clear at the target. Photo's show the target was plastered. Jerry was fooled - under a half dozen fighter seen and only meager flak.

Jul 30, 1943

This one the crews had not been looking ahead to. Kassel, Germany - a long way - the crews had been briefed before only to have the mission scrubbed. Took off early today, 0600 hours and did the job. Oddly enough fighter opposition was light - not that anyone minded but flak was severe. One plane was hit over Antwerp, and came home on three engines. Bombing results were reported as good, and several enemy fighter were claimed. They say they won't have to go back - hope they are correct.

Jul 31, 1943

Some one finally lifted the pass restrictions on the combat crews - high time as they were going stale - too many missions in quick succession and not enough relaxation. Half are away now and the remainder awaiting their turn.

Tonight the Officer's Club entertained about 150 visiting ladies from Norwich and Bury St. Edmunds at the outfit's first dance in Merry Ole England. It was a distinctive evening. Just at midnight a cloud burst struck, with lightning and thunder - a great help to Lt. Paul, whose duty it was to round up the ladies for transportation home.

 

Bowman Diary - Page 2