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William R. Fogle’s Journal

PVT. WILLIAM R. FOGLE (33266387)

I found this Journal among my Father’s papers after his passing on December 8, 2001. I saw a sheaf of papers written in pencil and many pages typed by my Mother with dates on them. I figured out what it was, but knew I was not up to dealing with it then. After the passing of my Mother on February 1st, just seven weeks later, I put them away for over a year. Guilt got the better of me recently, however, and I figured this was one more chore to perform.

I couldn’t have been more wrong! This has been an all-too-short journey of discovery of a young man I never knew. It is especially poignant for me personally when I realized that ‘Wild Bill’ is the same age as my own son, Grand’s own ‘Super Dave’.

It is my wish that those I share this Journal with will enjoy the fascinating peek at a very personal history of a very public war.

This is dedicated with all my love and respect to my parents, Bill and Mary Fogle.

Mary Lou Rattay
September, 2003

Photo: Radio Mechanics – Sgt. Jones and Sgt. Fogle – 418th Bomb Squadron
Photo: SSgt. Bill Fogle – Radio Maintenance – 418th Bomb Squadron

May 25, 1943
The last night, perhaps, in the U.S., the day started out very ordinarily. After having chow and lying around for a while, we went out for a little drilling; after this formation, we were given our order numbers for embarkation. I drew 264. Before dinner, Harvey and I went over to the next barracks and helped Jones finish his bottle of OLD OVERHOLT. I had thought that perhaps it was to be my last drink in the country. In the afternoon, we practiced rolling our tents and blankets and carrying them with full pack and helmet and rifle. Rather tough on all of us, as we are still more technicians than soldiers, and we sure have to toughen up. We had inspection of our packs and were given instructions as to procedure on the train and on the ship. Earlier, we were given a talk on what to do and not to do while on the move. He gave us a hint that our trip might not be very long. He said, in answer to the eternal question about paying, that we would probably be off the boat by the 31st. This is the 25th, so the inference is quite obvious. The usual jokes were the order of the day, about “sweating the submarines”, and that we would never be more than one mile from land, straight down.

This evening at mess, which was very much above average, everyone made very good use and abuse of the old cliché of feeding up the condemned criminal. Bob, Harvey and I decided to take in a movie after supper tonight. We saw another war movie; something about subjugating a once-free people and the utter impossibility of it. Charles Laughton starred as a cowardly schoolteacher who found himself as a result of the troubled times. Also saw a newsreel about some torpedoed ships; again, the laughs. The spirit of this crowd is unique. There are very few really young men among us. The laughs and jokes are not bravado but, more likely, self-confidence. None of us are exactly fond of the thought of crossing the ocean to war, but none are worried. The general feeling is however, that the sooner we get started, the better, for it will hasten our return………………..

It is later now and the lights are staying on in the barracks. At one end, a gang of photographers is discussing color and tone and in general talking shop. At the other end are a bunch of boys who stayed too close to the bar at the PX tonight. They are having a picnic cutting each other’s hair all the way. Harvey is snoring and I am still sitting here writing. I can’t help feeling a little funny when I realize how long it may be before I see my loved ones again. I guess, in the final analysis that thought is uppermost in the minds of all of us, and so, I’m crawling into the old bunk for a little shuteye ending May 25, 1943, probably my last day in the States for the duration.

THURSDAY, MAY 27, 1943
Yesterday was such a busy day that I didn’t have a chance to write anything. First thing in the morning after breakfast, we were told to pack up our rolls and each platoon was assigned to a barracks to await a call. At 11:00 we were sent to early chow and then back to await orders for the train formation. At 12:15, the First Sergeant gave us fifteen minutes to dress and fall out. After the usual Army wait, we were marched to the station. One nice thing happened to me just before this. There was a very small mail call and I was one of the lucky fellows. Had a fat letter from Mom. Was damn glad to know that Huck was in the Air Corps. I’ve bitched about it, but I really do know it’s the best outfit.

We finally got on the train and it left camp about 2:00 PM. I couldn’t help contrast this with all the other troop trains that I’ve been on. It was very quiet. I guess that everyone was busy with his own thoughts, and tired from the long stank in the train shed with all the weight of overcoat, rifle, full packs and raincoat. The train took us to the Jersey Central Ferryslip and we all boarded the ferry “BOUNDBROOK”. It was a unique trip out to the pier where our transport was docked. Many of the men had never seen New York before and their comments were varied and interesting. We saw the Queen Mary ahead and right away everyone had the idea we were to board her. But we passed on, past the fallen hulk of the ill-fated Normandy to the pier of the Queen Elizabeth. Of course, the name was painted out, but it could be discerned beneath the paint. It is the most staggering piece of metal that I ever saw. They tell us that we have 15,000 men aboard and I can well believe it. It is truly something that must be seen to be appreciated. Well, to get on; we arrived at what must have been an inconvenient moment for the personnel. They couldn’t feed us, and we’ve had nothing since this morning. This inefficiency naturally made us all mad. We are all able to stand what hardships we must, when our time comes; but there we were in the wealthiest port in the world and they failed to take care of us. Unpardonable; we didn’t mind spending the night on deck, but we sure got hot as hell about missing chow. The idea of the night on deck is this: we are what are called “double billeted”. That is: so many of us spend 24 hours on deck and then trade with another group in cabins for the next 24 hours. Last night, instead of stretching out on deck as the rest did, Bob discovered a small storeroom and the five of us piled in there. It was a cold metal floor, but with all available clothes on and laying on overcoats and raincoats, we did manage to get some sleep. This morning, we finally managed to get something to eat, and after chow, we changed to our room. Eighteen men in a cabin designed for two. Bunks, three high and very little aisle space, not too bad, though, for a transport.

FRIDAY MAY 28, 1943
Very soon after chow yesterday, we took off. They made us close all the portholes and get off the boat deck until after we had passed Ambrose Light. Of course, we all wanted to watch, but we were not allowed. We finally were let up, and we passed on out of New York Harbor. Blimps and a few B-25’s passed overhead giving us of the Air Corps, particularly, a pretty nice feeling. Our ship is traveling alone, no convoy, depending on the speed and armament of this big bruiser to get us through. Soon after we left the harbor, we had a lifeboat drill. We all caught on to the idea pretty easily and it was fairly successful. We clipped along pretty nicely and soon it was time to eat. That’s the toughest part of this transporting of so many men. It is an awful problem to get us all fed. The meals seem to be pretty good, but they involve a long wait. After chow and a short bull session, most of us went to sleep.

This morning, they seemed to have the chow problem licked a little. They called us over the PA system in groups and it didn’t involve so much of a wait. I came up on deck after breakfast just in time to see a big B-24 Bomber and another

B-25. They are our whole convoy and it sure looked good to see those boys riding around up there. God help a sub that they sight.

It is later in the afternoon and we have been gazing at the sea for a long time. For fellows who have never been to sea, as is the case with most of us, there is a lot of fascination in that stretch of water as far as one can see in any direction. I just noticed that down the deck a short way a bunch of fellows have formed a band and everyone is singing. I guess I’ll join them for a while.

JUNE 10, 1943
Quite a lapse since I last wrote anything. The days after the first couple became sort of monotonous. We would sleep, eat, read, play cards, and in general, try to pass the time. By Sunday, we were all pretty well bored. The meals continued to be pretty fair, all in all. Saturday evening, I went to Confession and went to Communion on Sunday afternoon. We finally pulled in to land on Wednesday morning, June 2nd. We all got up and ran up to the boat deck and got a good look at Scotland. We were steaming up the Firth of Clyde. We docked in some sort of a bay between two Scotch towns, Greenock and Gourock. Another town near there was called Donoon. We stayed on the ship all that day and night. The tugs and tenders swarmed around us, and many of the boys had a lot of fun tossing cigarettes to the Scotch and English crews. Around 1:30 PM on Thursday, the 3rd, we debarked and started on a train ride southward through Scotland and England to a field near Poddington below Leister and Derby. The trip was a wonderful experience. We passed many farms with stonewalls that were probably erected centuries ago. We were particularly impressed with the neatness and trimness of these farms. Every available inch was used to some advantage. Arrived at the new base; we found fairly comfortable quarters waiting for us. The greatest trouble was the long distances to walk between the mess hall and the living quarters and the airfield. We were installed in Nissen huts and they were pretty comfortable. The five of us who had come together from Kansas were lucky enough to get one by ourselves. We had a swell time there. We pulled a lot of “C” rations left, and every night we would cook something up, coffee, cocoa, hash, etc. and sling the bull or play cards until 12:00 or 1:00 AM.

This was too good to be true, however. On Sunday, the 7th, the rumors of a move started to spread. On Monday night, we were told to pack up and we pulled out by truck convoy on Tuesday morning, the 8th. It was a swell trip and we saw quite a nice cross-section of English life. We rode for about ten hours and had a lot of fun. I guessed we caused many an English head to turn, as we roared past. That night, we arrived at our destination and discovered we were only fifteen miles from Dover and the Channel; only 35 miles from France. This gave us all a moment of pause, when we realized how close we were to the enemy. Another thing, we have no bomb shelters, as yet, as we had at the last base. Yesterday, the rest of the 100th Group came in by train and our outfit convoyed them to their quarters. Later that day our planes came in and all available drivers were called on for transportation. I drove a Jeep and really got all over the field. This morning we are just lying around the barracks until we get the communications set up. I’m going to try to write a few letters. I’m way behind and I sure do miss hearing from home so often.

Two weeks after our arrival in Great Britain and much has happened. The night of that last entry Joe Dungy, our crew chief, came in and told us that we were to start work the next day. We took over the work as a matter of course and were soon in pretty good shape. Bob and I teamed up and got along pretty well. Like a damn fool, on Friday the 11th of the month, I was in a hurry to get to a ship and perched myself on the hood of our jeep transportation. Result, the Jeep took an unexpected turn and I rolled off. I instinctively doubled up and rolled with the fall, saving myself very serious injuries. I wound up with a swollen wrist. The next day at sick call, they sent me to the 12th Evacuation Hospital near Botesdale for X-Ray. I had a fracture of the scapdoid bone of my right wrist. They put it into a cast and incarcerated me for five days, letting me out today. The stay was pretty nice, what with the nice beds and the good food and the chance to catch up on my letter writing. I was glad to get back on the ball after getting such a swell rest.

FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 1943
Lousy day, it rained all day and on top of that, no mail. One thing happened that brightened things up quite a bit: I made PFC. Not very much after all this time, but it’s a little encouragement. It’s the first one that is the hardest, they say, maybe there will be another soon.

SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 1943
Made Corporal today—from Pvt. To Cpl. in three days. I was only a Pfc. for two days. Things have been pretty quiet. Went to the N.A.A.F.I. this noon to Mass. Seemed strange, but the Mass was the same. A British Priest, Father Morris, comes out from town. Quite an accent!

This month has rolled along so fast that it is quite hard to realize just how much time has passed. Our planes started going on missions and we of the communications sections have gotten to know each other pretty well and have the maintenance situation well in hand. I’m still teamed up with Bob Jones and we get along pretty well. We have three ships of our own to worry about: 230061-62-63. We are responsible for all the radio equipment on these airplanes. We have come to know the pilots and crew of them and we really worry about them while they are out. A funny thing is the feeling we of the ground crew get when the combat men return. We all would like to be along and feel sort of left out of things. I guess that we are doing our share, though. The tragic note has already struck our group. We of the 418th have been very fortunate so far, but some of the other squadrons have had bad luck. The 349th in particular, seems to be jinxed. Our first raid, they lost three planes and their crews. The second and third raids each cost them a plane and they crashed one up here over the field. That was pretty hard to take, but the next day, they had another tough break. A crew chief was directing a fort out of its dispersal site and accidentally stepped in front of a prop. He was decapitated. The last few days have been pretty quiet because of bad weather over the continent.
A little personal note here; Stanley Maczewski, a very good friend of mine here, is pretty happy as a result of getting his corporal’s rating back. He is a control tower man and a pretty good guy. He is sort of excitable and is always talking, but he really seems to be on the ball with his work.

Friday, the 23rd, I made Sergeant. We have been working like hell lately, lots of trouble especially ‘radio-compass’ and UHF 522’s.

Well, here is another month down the hatch; time really goes like hell. We have everything pretty well under control. Licked the high-frequency sets; lost a bombardier on a raid last week. One damn bullet through the greenhouse did the trick. The last few days have been a snap. Our ships flew down to Africa on a shuttle bombing deal. They have been away for several days and we have been really taking it easy. Sleeping till noon three days in a row. Catching up on my mail, incidentally, getting very damned little. There have been all kinds of rumors lately about us moving. Some are absurd and others have a grain of possibility in them. I expect to wait and find out.

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 1943 – 3:00 AM
I have been on C.Q. this morning and have just experienced another red alert. This one makes the third in the past two weeks. It is a very funny feeling to see the searchlights scan the skies and know that the motors that one hears belong to the enemy aircraft and that they are not fooling, to say the least.

Yesterday, Sunday was one full of rumors. As yet, our planes, which flew down to Africa last Tuesday, have not returned. Major Egan, our CO, was ferried back today by one of the ships which went after him. The stories of our losses are very persistent and seem to indicate that they were quite heavy. Of course, they all have yet to be confirmed. We are all, naturally, worried quite a bit. We will just have to sweat it out, I guess, until we really know just what the real score is.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1943 – 1:00 pm
Our losses in that shuttle raid mentioned above were four ships and two crews: two of Bob’s and my ships, 061 (Queenie) and 063 (Sugar) were lost. 063 with Captain Knox in command was abandoned over Switzerland. It was reported that they all bailed out and let’s hope they made it. 066 and 061 got to Africa, but were damaged beyond repair and were turned over to the outfit down there. 860 with Lt. Biddoc as pilot blew up and they figure that all were lost. That was the famous Regensburg Shuttle Raid of 8-17-43. The losses were much less than was expected and they blew hell out of the Messerschmidt Factory. This is expected to make it that much harder for the Luftwaffe to stop the boys. Good deal! A week ago, we got our first B-17-G. It’s just a modified late F with a new nose turret. It has yet to be tested in combat and some of the gunners are a little doubtful of it. Time will tell. Today, we heard that Italy had unconditionally surrendered. Good news! But we had suspected it for a few days. Lots of things made us think that something big was up. We all expect to hear of the invasion of the southern part of France. It was mentioned a couple of days ago by a boy who is in a position to know. Hope so! Today, there has been a thickening of the rumors about the 100th moving. India seems to be the popular guess. The Jerries have been over the last three nights; red alerts are on pretty often, but no action. Damn nuisance.

It’s been a very routine month; work, sleep, eat, go to London and go back to work. A lot of new ships are coming in. They are building the 100th up into a real big outfit. I guess we will stay here for a while and give cover for the invasion, which is bound to come soon. The Jerries have been giving us quite a few red alerts lately. Had our first one during the day yesterday. A couple of nights ago, they got through to drop a few on Dickleboro, a village a few miles away. They are obviously trying for us. The day before yesterday, the Group lost a ship on a practice mission. Accidentally ran into a flock of F.W.’s. The mail situation this month has been demoralizing. I’ve had about ten letters all month until yesterday when a few more sneaked through. They better get them through or I’m going to find out why.

After I wrote the above, things began to happen. The great raids on Scweinfurt, Marlonburg, Munster, Danzig and Gyndia began and we were hit hard. We lost most of our ships on the Scweinfurt raid; that day the 8th lost sixty planes, the most ever. Major Egan, our CO, was lost, naturally plunging the whole outfit into deep gloom. He was well liked and everyone still hopes he is just a prisoner. Captain Blakely, one of our best-liked and most able pilots, brought his Ship 393 back from Germany on two engines, crash-landing in or near Norwich. One of the waist gunners, Saunders, got a belly full of lead and lived for a while, but finally died. Later, Captain Blakely was made the new CO. Everyone will like that, I’m sure. The mail situation continued to be very poor and on the 13th of October, I was sent to 8th Bomber Command Headquarters at High Wycombe near London for additional three weeks radar training, especially the “Gee” set. There I met my cousin, Leo Miller, and was surprised to find that he is a captain in the Signal Corps. I was a bit disgruntled and discouraged for a while about the difference between us, but felt better after I thought over the importance of my job too. Struggled through the next three weeks with no mail at all. Miserable!! Came back last night, the 6th, to find forty-five letters and three boxes, good deal!! I have spent the entire day reading and answering this influx. Tomorrow starts my career as a “Gee” man. I hope I’m lucky.

DECEMBER 9, 1943
Been working at “Gee” for a month, getting along quite well. At present am working as temporary crew chief of 418thRadar Section.

DECEMBER 12, 1943
S. O. came out yesterday; I finally made Staff Sergeant. I guess that’s as far as I can go for a while. Pretty nice money: $115.00 a month.

JANUARY 5, 1944
The last days of the year were pretty rough. We had a damn nice Christmas. We all got kind of barreled up Christmas Eve. During the week after Christmas we had a terrific accident: 094, a 418th ship, landed and another plane landed too closely behind and crashed into it. Damage was not too bad, but as a result of sun on the runway, another ship landed. Red flares finally warned him about what was going on. At first, he tried to brake, and seeing that he couldn’t stop in time, he tried to lift it. No dice!! He ploughed into the other two at about 110 mph. It was terrible to watch that ship break up into pieces and tear the other two into shreds. It happened at the end of the short runway right near our ship. Lucky there were no bombs aboard.

Kiffe, Kaufman, Brock and I, “The Unholy Four” took a four-day pass to London starting the 30th of December. It gave us New Year’s Eve in London. Had a swell time. Got rather tight a few times, but enjoyed it. I’m expecting to leave in a few days for another school. Code name this time “Carpet”. I’ll soon know what that is all about.

JANUARY 10, 1944
Had a letter from Huck today, saying he is in England. Can’t wait to see him.

FEBRUARY 19, 1944
School was pretty tough. I left the 28th of January and it took two weeks. R.C.M. is what they call it. (Radar Counter Measures). The sets are quite tricky and I expect will give their share of headaches when the stuff is finally installed. Things have been very slow the last week, terrible weather, keeping the ships close to terra firma. Still have not been able to reach Huck except by mail. I find he is at a signal depot near Burtonwood in the Manchester area. I’m going up there on a two-day pass next weekend if I don’t manage to get a flight before that.

MARCH 5, 1944
Last week I met Bob (Huck, Bill’s brother) in Manchester. Had a damn nice visit. Was sorry to say so-long to him and I’ll have to get back up there as soon as possible. We have been going to beat hell lately. Maximum effort everyday. Third Division sent a T.W.X. through telling us to get sleep, as often as possible, because of 24-hour duty. The 3rd of March, the crews started for Berlin, but weather forced them back. Yesterday the 8th Air Force went over Berlin for the first time. The 100th and the 95th were the only ones to make it. It looks like a citation or something, cluster to our Presidential Citation.

MARCH 8, 1944
On the 6th of March, our boys went up in the lead of the 13th combat wing and went once more to Berlin. They came home that night losing fifteen ships, our worst loss yet. The entire loss of Bomber Command was 68 ships. They blasted the hell out of Berlin. Today, they went out again and the 351st lost one ship. Again, they hit Berlin. They are really after it.

MARCH 23, 1944
Just got back from furlough tonight. Left the 16th, spent most of our time in London, but managed to sandwich in three days in Edinburgh, Scotland. Pretty fair time, lots of sightseeing and pictures. Pitched a few good drunks and that about did it.

APRIL 1, 1944
Things have been going on as usual for the past few days since coming back from furlough. A little excitement the night of March 30th. I was working with Wolff and Haglund on the line around loaded ships. A Heinie sneaked in and dropped a few eggs. I set a pretty good pace getting to the ditch, but there were quite a few ahead of me.

APRIL 27, 1944
The last week has been pretty active. We are getting some decent weather finally and it’s maximum effort once more. Once last week, they used the external bomb racks and carried four tons, quite a load. They carried four tons again today but inside this time. They took off early this morning and were back by noon; then they took off again around 3:00 this afternoon. It is our first double mission. I guess there will be plenty more of these after the weather gets good and stays that way. It’s starting to look like the invasion is very close. We’ve been restricted from sea towns for some time now, and are not allowed to sleep off the base. I guess it won’t be too long now.

We’ve had a few rough accidents again. One day last week, 091 (Blivet) one of our older ships with over forty missions to her credit and an ‘F’, was crashed and burned by a new crew on takeoff of a practice mission. (The ten-man crew was all burned to death.) Later the same day, we heard an explosion and roaring engines; looking up, we saw a wing and four engines twisting down to the ground. A few seconds later, the fuselage came through the overcast on its way down. We saw a few parachutes get out. Later this same day, two other Forts collided and crashed, costing quite a few lives. Today, we heard an explosion and a crash about a mile away. We tore over and found a crashed Liberator in a field of sheep. Quite a few people were hurt and there were fifty or more dead or mutilated sheep lying around. Rather a horrible sight.

Last week, Wolff and I signed up with Operations as volunteering for enlisted bombardiers. We were not permitted to go to School for this because our officer wouldn’t release us.

SUNDAY, MAY 28, 1944
Just about a year ago, I started this thing. An awful lot has happened in that year. We are still “sweating out” the invasion. Things have tightened up around here. Lately, they are throwing the Military malarkey at us right and left. We are all hoping that doesn’t last too long. They seem to fear paratroop invasion or sabotage. We are going around armed to the teeth all the time; we aren’t permitted to leave our guns out of our sight. Our mood is starting to get ugly. I suppose they know what they are doing though.

JUNE 6, 1944 – “D” DAY – TUESDAY EVENING 21:00
Well! It finally happened! The invasion is on. The tip-off came last night when we were ordered to safety wire the I.F.F. in the off position. We were told over a month ago to be prepared to do this, and we had the handles drilled already. The radio boys had to safety the U.H.F. in the receive position. Last night, we had all the ships ready to go by midnight and had all the Defense Crews alerted. The machine gun nests are around the perimeter were manned, and all the guards were on the alert. I worked till nearly midnight and then pulled guard till 0:500 AM. The first mission took off at 03:30 AM, the next at about 0:600 and the latest, which we are “sweating out” now, took off at 17:30. Their mission was scrubbed this afternoon for a little while. Reason: The infantry had taken their target already. They were re-briefed and took off. We expect them back around 23:00. It looks like another all-night affair. Hope it’s quiet.

The rumors are really flying thick and fast again. According to the radio and rumor, things are going good. We are listening to an address by King George. I guess they are listening in at home now. That’s a favorite hobby right now, wondering how they are taking the news there. I’ll bet Dad has been glued to the radio all day.

JUNE 21, 1944
Our ships took off on a shuttle raid to Russia. We have been sweatin’ this out for a week or so. I worked last night getting them ready. The rest of our ships went to Berlin and came back to land at the 390th. We are without ships! Rumors have been flying pretty wildly about what this means. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

JULY 20, 1944
Things have been going much the same. The ships went on to Italy and then back here. The rest came back from the 390that Framingham and went back on operation. The rumors about going back to the States in a few months time are still rife. We shall see! Heard from home that Al has been sent overseas. I had a card from him with a N.Y. APO. Sure hope he arrives in England. Some of our boys went on detached service at Honington for a while and came back with guarded talks about Forts being fixed for radio control to fly as treacherous pilot less bombs in retaliation for those buzz bombs Jerry has been throwing at London.

Incidentally, a P. Plane landed within ten miles of here a few nights ago. Today: Raid cost us another CO. Major Fuller and Captain Kincannon were flying the Pathfinder on today’s mission. It didn’t come back and it has been reported crashed in Belgium. Mustangs were reported destroying the ship with strafing methods after the crew was clear. I hope they destroyed all that radar equipment!

Now that Major Fuller is gone, we are all hoping that Major Blakely will again be given command of the squadron. He recently returned from the States.

FEBRUARY 21, 1945
I’ve really fallen way behind at this thing. The summer went by in a hurry. We got all excited last summer when the ground forces were raising hell in France. All sorts of bets were going around here about how soon we would be going home. Things didn’t work out so well, though, and it seems that we are still here with no immediate prospects. The U2 bombs hit all around here long before they got the range of London. They did quite a bit of damage there. Damned nasty things! Our work has changed a lot since I last wrote. That R.C.M. or “Carpet” program started around the end of ’44. I had studied some of this business in February of last year and didn’t use it for all that time. However, I soon got to know it again. Wolff and I were put in charge of the set-up under Lt. Cox. He’s a pretty good egg; let’s us run things pretty much on our own, as long as we show results. We have two line crews working on a group set-up, with a couple of fellows in the shop with us. Wolff and I went to a special school last December. Went along with some spare gunners who were to become spot jammers. Our function was to learn this manual operation of “Carpet” and instruct and maintain it. We went back to the base and found out that we could be classified as operators ourselves. We both took the 64 or flying physical exam. We both passed quite easily. I was delighted to find that my eyes were in fine shape. We were put on flying status on the January payroll. Nice money!

To go back a little: I might mention a few of the festive events of the past months. Last October, we had a group wide party celebrating 200 operational missions. Quite a binge, with dances at our NCO Club and the Officer’s Club and an immense one at the big hangar. One of the days was like a picnic of State Fair at home. A carnival was hired; we had hot dogs, ice cream and beer, real delicacies to say the least. Gen Doolittle spoke and seemed like quite a guy. I got a big kick out of a little W.R.N. I was talking to. She wanted his autograph in the worst way and seemed to be amazed when I stopped him for her, tremendous sense of hero-worship in these people. The party was a huge success.

About the second week in October, Bob, Kiffe, Kaufman, Brock and I took another furlough. We went to Belfast, Northern Ireland. A rough trip, but it was worth it. We had a fine time. Those Irish girls are marvelous. I expect to spend my next furlough up there. It’s due in April. We came back by air, getting a Fort across the Irish Sea to a AAF field at Wharton near Liverpool and a C47 from there to Reading, which isn’t too far from London. We got to London just in time to spend a couple of days with Bob at Doris’ place. I took it pretty easy then till Christmas time, when I finagled a four-day pass. I spent Christmas with Bob at Doris’ home. It was nice to be at our English home, as we’ve learned to think of her house, for Christmas dinner.

On that spot jamming program, it turned out that we were to train all the spare gunners on the base in the operation of the set-up. Most of the training work has fallen to me while Wolff is sticking closer to the bench. We both have always had that left-out feeling about not going on the missions, and we saw an opportunity to try it out. Our officer was opposed to it, but we convinced him that our value as instructors would be enhanced if we did get a few of the real missions under our belts. We had a little trouble getting released from the Operations. Lt. Cox went to Col. Suterlan and the permission was finally granted. They seem to have the idea that our knowledge of radar made us more valuable on the ground, but hell, we both would like to experience it. Our chance came this week on the 19th; Wolff went along. They hit Munster and were back in about six hours. My turn came the next day, 2-20-45, and I wasn’t quite so lucky. We were briefed to go to Nuremberg, a nine-hour jaunt. Going over was very routine, not much different than practice and check flights over England and France. As we drew near the target, however, my apparatus started to keep me busy. My search RX started picking up many of the Wurtzburg frequencies, which control the flak guns. I became very busy, jamming especially as I had only two transmitters, having burned out a grid resistor in my #3 earlier. The boys told me later that there was a lot of flak around, but I guess we had them pretty well jammed up. The only ship we lost was #400, a P.F.F. it wasn’t due to enemy action, it blew up.

Shortly after leaving the target, I listened to the Interphone and heard the pilot say that our gas gauges looked low and he asked permission from the formation commander to come home alone via the shortest route. It was granted, so we peeled off for the base on our own. As soon as we reached the Channel, the gunners and I proceeded to lighten ship. We threw all the 50-caliber ammunition out; all our flak suits and just about everything else not needed. I got a big kick out of that! I called the bombardier to open the bomb bay doors and I chucked out an immense box of chaff. Poetic justice! After all of that stuff I’ve hauled and loaded into the ships, I was able to toss it into the drink! About this time they realized we could make it, so we relaxed a little and waited. We came in over the Field and landed ok. That ended #1. A fine way to start! I’ll probably fly another one next week.

MARCH 3, 1945
I’m awfully tired tonight. They woke us at 01:45 this morning for a mission, my second. We were briefed on Brunswick, which we hit: we really plastered the place. I saw huge smoke columns 10,000 feet in the air. It wasn’t too long a trip, seven hours – four on oxygen. We lost a ship to Jet Fighters – a P.F.F. #220. Muffley, one of our R.C.M. boys was a waist gunner. Tough!

MAY 8, 1945 – V-E DAY!
Well, here it is, the big day! This old war is all shot to hell. We got the news last night, and by a remarkable coincidence, we had a big party. About ten days ago, we decided to throw a big party for the Radar Section. I was all in favor of it, naturally, so I took care of everything. Talking over the date, I decided casually that the 7th of May was a good day for it. I didn’t quite realize at the time just how good it would be! We got all our beer, moved a piano down from the Sergeant’s Club and a lot of food from the Mess Hall. When the word got through that the war was over, we were naturally, very glad that we were prepared to celebrate. We were especially fortunate because the news caught the base short. Both the Officers’ and our Sergeants’ Clubs were short on whiskey and beer, while down at the Shop, we had six ½ barrels of beer. Everyone got tight as a tick. Lt. Cox had the idea that he wanted to get me drunk. He turned out to be a pretty respectable drinker, and he tried damn hard to put me under the table. He became quite intoxicated in the process.

I haven’t flown any more combat missions since my last entry, but I’ve been over to Holland twice in the last week. We all got quite a buzz out of going down to treetop level to drop food to the Dutch. Boy! You could see the people jumping up and down on the streets and waving their flags. Not much else of importance has occurred lately. I had another furlough not long ago. Met Bob in Manchester and had a good time. The only thing to do now is sweat out what’s next. I’d like to get into the Pacific. I’m not too keen on going to the Continent for patrol work. My specialist number is meant for offensive work and I’d have to change my work if I stayed in this Theatre. It would sure be swell to go home for a little while.

JUNE 14, 1945
Well, I’ve got it made! Last Friday, while Blackie and I were coming back to the Shop, Lt. Cox told us we were due to ship. Well, we messed around till Monday, finally leaving in the afternoon. They shipped our whole R.C.M. Section out, averaging about four to a group. We were sent to groups who were re-deploying. I’m not sure we’ll stay with them once we hit the States. I surely hated to say good-bye to all those boys I’d been with for better than two years. I hope I meet up with some of them in the States. I was sent to the 452nd Group. They seem like a nice bunch of Joes. I got here too late to be able to fly back; I have to sweat out a boat. I surely hope it won’t be too awfully long. Just about ten days ago, I managed to get Al and Bob and Leo together at Doris’ home. We had a grand get-together and talk. I guess that’s the last I’ll see of those three guys for a while. I’ll miss Doris also. She has been marvelous!


AUGUST 3, 1945
The last night here on the base of the 452nd, I was picked to pull C.Q. Tomorrow morning, we are to start the final preparations to leave. At about 5:00 AM, I’m going to call the whole squadron for reveille. We have to tear our beds down, turn in the blankets and mattresses belonging to the British. Then we have to get our duffel bags and musettes out ready to go in their proper order. We are supposed to pull out of Attleboro around 4:00 tomorrow afternoon to start the trip up to Scotland. It looks like we are to go back on the Queen Elizabeth, the same ship that I came over here on. That’s a good deal because it is a fast boat and I know my way around on it; also, most of the boys from the 100th Group that I’ve palled around with these last few years will be on it.

I guess that I will be rather tired by the time we get on the train tomorrow night because I shan’t get much sleep tonight, and it will be impossible to make it up in the morning with so much to do. I really don’t mind, though, because it will enable me to sleep on the train and make that 18-hour trip seem shorter.

AUGUST 4, 1945
It’s nearly midnight and we’re on the troop train well up into northern England. We all got up early this morning and cleaned up the barracks and area and took our beds down and turned them in. Our final formation at Deopham Green was at 14:15 and we were loaded into trucks and pulled out be 15:00. The ride to Attleboro was very routine and we got our train in good time without incident. The trip has been uneventful so far with only one stop to stretch, Lincoln. It’s different from that other trip I took down here 26 months ago. Mainly, lights are the difference. Then, we snuck down in darkness.

A lot happened since last entry. We boarded ship on Sunday morning at about 9:00. I was lucky and got on “A” deck again, nearly the same room I had coming over. Kiffe and Kaufman were already on deck when I got there. Bob Jones was too, although his outfit was on KP. We all met where we hung out on the last trip. While there, I saw another Group coming on and there was Glenn Brock, thus completing the circle of the “Unholy Four”. All of the 418th Old Guard are somewhere on the ship. We finished loading at about 2:00 yesterday afternoon and prepared to sail, finally pulling out about 5:00 PM. I went to chow then and coming back, I experienced the most amazing coincidence of my life. I was walking down the corridor on “A” deck and a guy named Potts was with me. We were wondering about the 493rd Group, so I asked a guy who was standing in the doorway just past my doorway, what his outfit was. He said ‘I’m from the 117th General Hospital’. Potts said that I just about fainted. In about five minutes, I had found Al and we were talking a blue streak.

I’m still not over the shock of finding my brother, out of 15,000 men aboard, being quartered so close.