IF A TREE FALLS ON A FORREST, WOULD ANYONE HEAR HIM? - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)

 

    Amoore was tired and livid.  He hadn’t been scheduled to fly the Florence trip, but Milton Forrest had conveniently reported sick hours before take-off.  He’d had no choice but to take over the yoke in Silver Spoon, and bite his tongue.  The little gold-bricker hadn’t arranged a stand-in for Jim Blackmore, the bombardier, either.  The man had muddled his way through the mission, but was badly in need of some 'R n R'.

 

    Forrest needed flight time, and Amoore intended to see that he got it.  He was standing Bob Carpenter down for the next trip, and would take over the right hand seat, giving control to Forrest.  Let’s see what he’s made of, he thought grimly.

 

    He hurled his flight jacket and cap onto his cot and shuffled over to the rickety night-stand in the corner of his cramped quarters.  The chipped china wash basin had seen better days, like him, but offered tepid water to soothe jangled nerves.  He splashed some on his face, and tried to forget the last few hours.

 

    Trudging over to his footlocker, Amoore hauled out his pen and note-pad.  Time to let the folks at home know he was okay.  They’d already lost one son over Germany in a B-17, no need to get them worried over him.


NEW TACTICS - (submitted by Bob Hamel, 316th Sqn)

 

To: Colonel Lamb

CC: S-2 Intelligence

 

Sirs,

 

I just wanted to alert you to a report of new tactics that we observed on the last couple of missions.

 

FW-190s that line up on our planes and then roll over on their back as they fire.  Seems there is armor plating on the bottom of their plane and as they roll, that plating is coming between our guns and the pilot, making our shots seem to bounce off the fighter’s belly.

 

Our twin guns are still able to get hits but the single guns are having a rough time, meanwhile the Krauts are spitting cannon shells back at us.

 

One thought was to try to spray fire putting lead in a wide pattern around the enemy fighter hoping to hit the canopy as he rolls, and in addition, calling out shots BEFORE the guy can begin his roll.

 

Not sure how else to counter this threat but I felt this new tactic is worth mentioning at a briefing.

 

Capt. Paul Griffin


THE NEW PLANE - (submitted by David Moody, 399th Sqn)

 

    Captain Moody wandered alone out to the hardstand.  It was evening; the mission was over, and the members of the group were getting what rest they could before the next one.  It had been a hard day for his new unit, the 399th.  The CO's plane had come home shot up with the bombs still aboard, thanks to a Jerry fighter who had jammed the bomb bay doors shut.  And Captain Moody's own aircraft, veteran of eleven missions over occupied Europe, had limped home missing its nose.  So now they had a brand new plane, a brand new B-17G, with a chin turret for added defense against whatever Jerry could throw at them.  The new bomber sat on the hardstand, the hexagon Y of the 88th freshly emblazoned on its tail fin, its olive drab finish not yet marred by fading.

 

    Or bullet hole patches, thought Moody as he stood next to the plane.  He smiled as he noticed his crew chief had already painted FRISCO KID II in big white letters under the cockpit.  He ran his hand along the fuselage, feeling its smoothness.  And it all came back to him . . . the bomb run . . . the flak so thick he felt he could land on it . . . then the noise and the fire and the oil and blood on the windshield as the plane lurched.  And looking out over the nose, and seeing nothing there but twisted metal.  And jettisoning the bombs and turning for home and praying they'd all make it back in one piece.

 

    He thought of his friends -- Baty, the trickster, from his hometown, who loved to play jokes and who guided them safely there and back again; Swanson, cool and smooth, who seemed to have had a different girl on his arm all through basic back in the States, and who had hit every target they had flown to and won the Air Medal doing it.  But now, both gone.  Just like that.

 

    "Dave?" Moody turned and saw his co-pilot, Bob Thevenet, coming toward him.  He had warmed to Thevenet, who had replaced his best friend, Arthur Danby, after Danby got his ticket home on the Athens mission.  That seemed so long ago, Moody thought.  Since then, he had come to appreciate Thevenet's steadiness.

 

    "Hi, Bob.  Just checking out the new bird."

 

    Thevenet sidled up to him and looked at the new plane. "Pretty, ain't she?" he said in that familiar Texas drawl.

 

    Moody smiled. "Indeed.  Lets hope she carries us home as safely as the old one did."

 

    Thevenet grinned.  "Come to the O-Club with me and let's drink to it.  To the new Frisco Kid."

 

    Both men turned from the new plane and walked off into the darkness.


FIRST MISSION CELEBRATION - (co-submitted by Mike Lam and Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)

 

1st Lt. Wil Wilcox, the newest 316th BS member, enjoys a drink after his first mission with some members of his squadron.

 

    "Drink up Rookie!" 1st Lt. John Sears orders.

 

    "And your money's no good here tonight," 2nd Lt. Mike Cawley adds.

 

    "So, tell us what it was like on your first trip out," 2nd Lt. James Penny asks.

 

    "Wow, our first mission was a breeze!" a happy Wil Wilcox began.  After taking a swig from his glass, Wilcox continues with his story.  "The run to the target was good, resulting in about a 40% bombing accuracy.  Aggressor fighter activity was nil, evidentially this vaunted JG-700 doesn't fly this far south, or we caught them napping.  This target must have no value to the Germans, as they had no flak protecting it.  If we ever need to make a return trip to Guidonia we might see a different situation.  I doubt they will leave it unprotected again."

 

    Wilcox pauses just long enough to take another drink before he continues.  "The only causalities were to the egos of our gunners, as they were looking forward to shooting down some enemy aircraft."


OUTSIDE THE O-CLUB, 15 January 1944 - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)

 

    "Good evening, Sir." With a smart salute, 1st Lieutenant Wilcox addresses the CO of the 88th BG (H), Colonel Mike Lamb. 

 

    "Good evening and at ease, Lieutenant," replies Colonel Lamb as he returns Lieutenant Wilcox's salute. "What's on your mind?"

 

    Wilcox continues. "Well, Sir, in my shaken state yesterday, after the Florence mission, I had neglected to put in my report that Sergeant Denis Goldie had taken a light wound to the left upper arm.  I checked with him after dinner and he will be fine and ready for duty, Sir."  Wilcox gets lost in a thought . . . Then he salutes and says, "Just thought I should let you know, Sir."

 

    With a salute Colonel Lamb replies, "That's fine, Wilcox.  Dismissed."  Wilcox turns and enters the Club and heads straight for the bar.


REMEMBRANCES AT THE O-CLUB - (submitted by Jim Pink, 316th Sqn)

 

    Lieutenants Wilcox, Thorne and Catford were sitting in the back corner of the club lost deep in their thoughts.  Each man was reminiscing on his friend and crewmate, Lieutenant Nick Coverly.

 

    Until this morning over Florence, Coverly and Catford had been inseparable.  Catford was from the same town, yet they hadn't known each other till basic and they hit it off famously.  The others of Darla's Bite would refer to them as "Cat-Cov" whenever they were coming to classes or for grub.  Both men had tried out for pilot training but Catford has a natural sense of directions.  This landed him the job of the crew's navigator.  Never, jealous of his friend, Marty could not wait till their evening get together as Nick would tell him all about his day of flying.  Even once the crew arrived in Italy, they would always be together when possible.

 

    Lt. Wilcox was visibly shaken.  He had some misgivings from the mission before.  Guidonia was too easy, and he felt the men weren't taking it as serious as needed.  In fact, he hadn't taken it that serious either.  The trip into the target today was hairier than the one before, but that flak.  Willford had never seen anything like it.  Big, black fluffy puffs, yet so deadly.  The shrapnel on the B-17's fuselage sounded like large hail on the tin roof of his uncle's farmhouse back home in Iowa.  Though the most vivid memory was of his co-pilot's last moments of life.  There was nothing he could.  It was Nick who was in pre-med back in the states.  Not Wilcox.  Wil admired a man that gave up a promising career to help fight the Krauts.  It was eating at Wil that all he could do was watch his friend die as he fought the limping Fortress.

 

    Lieutenant Thorn had always looked up to Coverly as a big brother.  Nick was five years his senior after all.  Not that Nick was that old, but, if the government really know Chuck Thorns age he would be back in school.  Chuck always looked a few years older than his classmates, and he had duped his mother into signing the enlistment paper.  Chuck's youthful eyes earned him a front row seat in the big bomber.  With his eyes and marksmanship Thorn was lucky the army didn't transfer him to a sniper division.  Nick having grown up with five older sisters enjoyed the admirations of Chuck.  You might catch the two of them wrestling around when they were both off duty at the same time.  Chuck was going to miss Nick calling him his "Thorny".  This was his pet name for Chuck, and Thorn wouldn't let anyone else call him that but Coverly.

 

    As these three somber men stared blankly in to their beers, the Ice was broke by the crew of the Full House II coming in.  Lieutenant James Penny, their navigator, swung by the table saying "Hay boys, I here you went for a swim today?"


AFTER FLORENCE MISSION IN 'O-CLUB' - (submitted by Bob Hamel, 316th Sqn)


    "Felix...I mean our new First Lieutenant Johnson, . . ." Paul Griffin raised his glass, "do you realize we have the most kills in our group and pretty close to the most missions tagged to our Lucky Penny?"

 

    "Yep, it's a fine crew you got there, Captain sir, . . ." Felix begins slowly.  "I just came back from infirmary and Eddie, who I hear has been with you from the beginning, is itching to get back so not to 'miss out'.  Now, that really says a lot 'bout the captain if guys are rar'en to get back into action."

 

    "Yep, we got a really close knit group and we have really improved from those days back in the states . . . Heck, will ya listen to me, sounds like I been here for ten years and it's been what . . . 3 months?"

 

    Felix stares into his beer, then lifts up his eyes to meet Paul's.  "Ya, but we've only got fourteen of them done . . . THAT's a long way to go.  Wait until they start putting us over the Alps into Germany . . . it'll come . . . we just got to kick the Krauts out of Italy first, but the ground-pounders are doing it.  My buddy in the R.A.F. says that end of last year, they sent some Bee-Twenty-Fours after that oil field in Romania.  He only knows as he was at one of the North African bases when two of their number came in.  It was horrid.  Flak was so thick one guy said it was like flying into a solid metal wall, a fighters were like locust, they were so many.  Don't think we aren't going to get to do something like that soon, do ya?"

 

    Paul put down his glass, took out his picture of wife and daughter, then turned to Felix and said, "Not too soon I hope, and not without better fighters that can stay with us . . . at least let's hope not . . ."  Both of them grew silent and let the noise of the club drown out their darker thoughts.


THE NIGHT BEFORE - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)

 

    "All right, what've ya got?"

 

    August West laid his cards down on the makeshift table. "Three beautiful ladies," he said, looking up at his copilot. "Beat that!"

 

    DeLyon looked at his own cards. "Ooooh," he moaned, looking skyward.  The rest of the men began cheering what looked to be a rare losing hand for Billy DeLyon.  West began reaching for the money on the table, but then: "Ooooh, Gus, I hate to do this to you, but --"

 

    West's hands stopped in midair as DeLyon laid down one, two, three, four kings.  The table burst into shouts of disbelief at the luck of the Lieutenant.  West shook his head in mild disgust.  "Remind me never to play cards with you again, Billy," he grumbled good naturedly.

 

    "I can't help it," responded DeLyon as he raked his winnings into an ever-growing pile in front of him. "Good luck runs in my family.  Who deals?"

 

    "I'm up," replied Sergeant Taft, the engineer.  "Who's in?"

 

    West looked at his own dwindling money and sighed. "I'm out, for now.  I'm going to step out for some air."  He stood, took his jacket and a pack of smokes, and stepped out of the tent into the chilly air.  Pausing to light a cigarette, he listened to the chatter of the men in the tent.  It had turned out to be a pretty good way to defuse the tension of their first mission, though it was getting
late and would have to end soon.  I'll have to make sure I thank Ham for thinking of it, thought West, exhaling a stream of smoke.

    He walked slowly along the line of tents, looking at the clear night sky.  Although he was about to enter -- and perhaps die in -- combat, he considered himself to be a lucky man.  Lucky to have a woman back home like Pearly; and lucky that the Army, of all things, had saved him from the downward spiral he'd been living in back in Frisco.  When the news about Pearl Harbor had come in, he and a few of his fellow longshoremen had left work, gone down to a nearby bar, and began drinking.  Three days later he'd signed up for the Army -- and could hardly remember doing so.  After that, he'd gone dry for a while (at Pearly's insistence), but had gradually started drinking more and more frequently.  When Pearly threw him out, he'd gone on a week-long tear, bunking in with a fellow docker.  Then the Army had finally come to get him.

 

    Once he'd gotten into the army, he hadn't had time for drinking, between basic training, flight school, and seemingly endless
training.  Even when he'd had passes, he'd largely stayed away from drink (especially wine, his particular demon), having at most two beers.  Best of all, his call-up had gotten him and Pearly back together, albeit briefly, before he had had to leave San Francisco.

 

    When I get out of this, he thought, with a final look at the stars as he stubbed out his smoke, I'll go home to you, Pearl, and I'll
make something of myself.
  With that, he went back to the card game to see if he could get something of his pay back before the end of the night.


TOWER TRANSMISSION - MISSION 15

 

Over Sterparone Field.

 

    In the distance, an over due Sky Rat lumbers into view, but rather than land she begins a series of slow circles around the base.  Its wings and tail are shredded, the #4 is out and the #3 is sputtering.  Suddenly flares can be seen coming from the craft and then a series of 'chutes, 7 in all.  Once the last 'chute hits the ground, Sky Rat begins its approach, not at the runway, but at the grass field.  As the plane approaches the #3 engine gives out and the plane lands hard on its belly, and slides to a stop.