AFTERMATH, AT THE HARDSTAND- (submitted by David P. Moody, 317th Sqn)
Lt. Moody stood anxiously next to his shot-up ship, making sure his wounded crewmen were transported quickly and safely to the infirmary. His three lightly wounded crew had gotten out of Frisco Kid under their own power, and were already being tended to by the medics. But there was one still on the plane -- Lt. Arthur W. Danby, Moody's copilot, who had been with him since basic back in the States. Moody waited next to the crew door as his copilot was carried out by two medics and lain on a stretcher.
"You'll be going home before me, Arthur," he said, clasping his friend's hand.
"Give 'em hell for me, Dave", Danby whispered, the morphine beginning to take effect.
"He'll be alright, sir," said one of the medics as the badly wounded man was whisked into a waiting ambulance. Moody sadly watched them go, shocked at losing perhaps his closest friend in the Air Corps. Their first two missions had been a breeze, with no losses and little damage. Well, Sgt. McNutt, one of the waist gunners had been hurt bad enough to stay in the hospital for a few days, but no one in the crew really liked him anyway, as he was a bit of an odious git. But now half the crew was down, on what was supposed to have been an easy mission. Little fighter opposition!! Moody silently cursed whatever idiot gave them that erroneous intelligence. Moody's conflicting emotions -- pity, sorrow, then scorn and anger -- gave way to stunned shock as the body of his ball turret gunner was removed from the plane. As Moody stood there, silent, watching the ground cover the body with a tarp, someone called to him. He turned and saw one of the group intelligence types, nattily attired in a crisp, pressed uniform. "Lieutenant, what happened up there? What did you see?"
Moody turned away and continued to stare, stare at his plane and his dead comrade. "They hit us hard, all the way to target. We saw Go For Broke break off, with engines smoking. That was before we hit the Greek coast. Jerries everywhere . . . 109s, 190s. Then over target that rich bastard's ship got a flak hit right in the waist . . . and after we laid our eggs the krauts hit us . . . never saw so many . . . got my copilot . . ." His voice trailing off, Moody slowly walked away . . ."
MILTY IS UNPOPULAR - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)
The sounds of the
ambulances faded as they headed off towards the base hospital, leaving Al
Williams and the remainder of the Good Time Gal crew on the tarmac next
to the wreck of their bomber. It was a mass of twisted metal, pieces of
flesh and the flotsam of a long mission. Williams was beyond exhaustion.
He'd refused a place in one of the meat wagons, despite the pleas of the medics.
It was bad enough that that lard-ass Forrest was going to get a purple heart for
a scratch on the arm, he wasn't going to do the same just for fatigue. He
was shattered by the exertions of the past few hours. They'd taken a
helluva pounding, and lost three of their original crew from basic - four if you
counted Masterson in the top turret. He'd lost the whole top of his head
almost. He wouldn't be flying again . . . Ever.
The waist was a mess. The guys there hadn't stood a chance in hell. For his part, Williams had had to endure Forrest's continual moaning about the pain in his shoulder, and how faint he was feeling. He had to admit, though, that the pompous idiot had stuck it out better than he thought he would. Landing had been a bitch, though, with the shattered plane slewing off the runway and bellying on the sandy verge.
Wearily, he made his way over to the rest of the crew clustered around the tail. T hey'd wait a few minutes for the truck to haul them back to the main buildings and debriefing. Time for a smoke. None of the others looked in any state to talk, and it was a silent trip on the back of the truck.
It was Charlie Yablowski, the diminutive navigator of Good Time Gal that finally broke the silence. Walking into debriefing, he turned to Williams. "He almost cost us our lives up there, Al," he spat angrily. "I don't want to hear any noble crap from you about him having done what needed to be done! He's a bastard, and a bunch of good men are dead because of it!" he added.
Williams was no
fan of Forrest, but felt he needed to contain Yablowski's anger before someone
outside of the crew heard him.
"Take it easy, Charlie," he said, grabbing his friend's arm. "You weren't up there in the cockpit, okay? The man did a helluva lot more than I thought he'd do in a crisis!"
Yablowksi shook Williams off angrily, unconvinced.
"You can't blame him for what happened to Lopez, Lippert and Boman. He didn't ask for that 88 to get us. Pull yourself together, man! We're going in there as a crew," Williams, rounded angrily on the other crewmen. They'd been listening to the exchange with interest, and he knew they agreed with Yablowski.
"If we fall apart now, you can kiss your asses goodbye! This isn't the time to take on Forrest, okay?," he added, noticing that Lt. Montague had stopped to stare at them. The last thing he needed was Montague on his back about Forrest. The pair hated each other with a passion, and Williams knew that one word to the Irishman would spell the end of their crew. No-one liked a divided crew, it was bad for morale. They'd probably split them up, and Williams wasn't about to let that happen.
Montague had noticed something, though, and he'd want to know what was going on. Perhaps he'd go speak to him confidentially later on. For now, though, he needed everyone together for the debriefing.
AFTER DEBRIEFING - Inside the
Flight Surgeon's quarters:
(submitted by Mike Munday, 316th
"Doc, I tell ya, that penguin butted jerk in intel that said to expect 'light opposition' doesn't know squat!
"Things were going pretty well for the Doll until all hell broke loose in Zone 5 outbound nearing the Greek coast. Fw-190's all over the sky! Slashing attacks from all around the clock and Vertical dives. The P-47's got most of the bad guys coming after us, but one tried to test PeeWee Wheeler's tail guns, he was last seen peeling off trailing heavy black smoke from his cowling where PeeWee had tattooed his nose."
"Well, we made it through OK but the rest of the 316th wasn't so lucky. Those buzzards tore into Full House and Rock 'em & Sock 'em. Captain Tanner banked right, and slid under us as he fell out of formation. Hank told me later that he saw their Navigator, Joe Roebuck looking back at us from his window. He said that Joe's looked flat out scared, so he popped him a highball to wish him luck."
"No sooner had 'Griff' Griffin slid into the lead with Lucky Penny, then I hear over the Command channel that Rock'em & Sock'em was aborting. Great! We start out 6 + 1 and now were down to 4."
"Old Yard Dog left us pretty shot up about an hour or so out. Griff called for us to tighten up and believe me I shoved that port wing right into his hip pocket! One lucky buzzard punched a few holes in our starboard flap but that's all we got. We didn't draw any more attention from the Krauts until just before the target. Again all hell broke loose. More slashing attacks from all over. I tell ya' those Heinie's just wouldn't quit! They shot up the starboard wing, hit the tail plane, and nicked PeeWee's oxygen system. Billy Boy, yeah that's Sgt. Blankenship in the ball, pasted one coming in from 3 level, and George Turner flattened one with the top turret when he made a second pass from 12 level. I tell ya', that joker was looking right at me when George blew the cockpit clean outta the plane!"
"Just as we started the bomb run, flak started to burst around our rear. The tail end got chewed up a little, and it got bumpy, but ole PJ dropped 50% of the load right into the middle of the airfield. Billy Boy said that the strike looked good and that the runways were pretty beaten up.""
After pouring another drink from the Doc's bottle of Scotch, Lt. J.P. McConnell slumped back into the chair. "It was rallying off the target that they got us. Me-109s slashing at us from all around. We didn't hit any but most of them missed too. One lucky Kraut makes a pass from 9 high and just chewed the waist and radio room up. Yeah, that's where Woody & Fred got hit. We didn't have anymore trouble after that all the way home."
Lighting another cigarette, McConnell takes a long drag, letting the smoke out with a sigh. "God I hope they'll be alright. I mean, what can you do? Woody's gonna end up with a plate in his head, and Freddy's baseball days are over. Hell, he'll be lucky to walk again, right?" Letting out another long sigh he slowly rises to his feet. "I gotta go check on my boys. Thanks for the drink Doc."
88th BG STANDING DOWN DUE TO BAD WEATHER
To all aircrew and base personnel:
Our meteorologists informs me that this low pressure front may last for another week, with the possibility for fair conditions on the 25th or the 26th.
As we replace our losses and repair our planes, I hereby authorize all squadron commanders, at their discretion, to grant their aircrews passes for up to 72 hours beginning at noon today, Tuesday, 21st December 1943. All personnel must report back in to their squadrons no later than noon, Friday, 24th December.
All other non-essential personnel may also be granted passes during this time period.
Lt. Col. Lamb
IN THE OFFICER'S CLUB, 20 DECEMBER 1943 - (submitted by Jeff O'Handley, 318th Sqn)
As Andrews led his crew into the Officers' Club, he was glad that Lt. Col. Lamb wasn't such a hard case that he kept officers and enlisted men from fraternizing. After all, thought Andrews as he pushed open the door, we've just completed our first mission together, why shouldn't we be allowed to celebrate together?
As far as Frank was concerned, they did have reason to celebrate. They had completed their first mission; the bomb run had been excellent, with Vachon dropping his eggs right where they were supposed to go; Meyers had scored a kill, and, most importantly, they had come home in one piece, without anyone getting hurt or killed. True, he had hoped his gunners would have been a little more accurate, but he was planning on dealing with that in the morning. For now, as tired as he -- and all of them -- were, it was time for a drink.
They gathered at a pair of tables near the back of the club. Tech. Sgt. Lynch, as was his usual custom, began talking.
"Well, first things first" said Lynch. "I guess we've got to pay 'Twitchy' for his kill today. Seaton, you got the money?"
Seaton said nothing, just handed over a roll of bills. Before the mission, everyone had kicked in a few dollars to be given to the man who made the first kill. Lynch took the money and held it in the air.
"Gentlemen," he began, in mock seriousness, "the honor of our first kill goes to Fargo's finest, Joseph P. 'Twitchy' Meyers. One question,'" he continued, holding the money just out of Meyers' grasp. "How did you manage to hold still long enough to hit him?"
"I imagined it was you in that plane, Spanky!" replied 'Twitchy' with a grin, as he snatched the money from Lynch. "I'll hit 'em every time if I do that!"
Sergeant Richardson spoke up. "Since 'Twitchy' got the first kill, I think he oughta get the first round."
"I'll get the first round," Andrews said. He was joined at the bar by his co-pilot, Vincent Fratelli, and ordered the beers for the men. Frank could tell there was something on Vinny's mind, but waited for him to speak.
"Listen, Frank, I've been thinking about something," began the co-pilot, as they waited for the beers. Frank said nothing, just raised an eyebrow in Vinny's direction and waited for him to continue.
"Well, I know everyone's real happy about the mission. We did a good job up there, but, well, I'm just a little concerned about the gunnery. I know 'Twitchy' got that one Kraut, but from what I hear, no one else came close to hitting anything!"
Frank looked at Vinny for a moment. This was part of why he liked his co-pilot so much -- not only was he a great guy, he was very serious about his job and responsibilities, and he thought a lot like Frank. "I've been thinking the same thing myself," said Frank. "Tell you what, I'll talk to Lt. Franks about us getting in some gunnery practice tomorrow. If The Russian Lady isn't ready to fly, we'll see about getting one of the group's spare planes. What do you think?"
Vinny nodded. "Sounds great!" he said. "Now let's get these beers back to the guys before they start a riot!"
REFLECTIONS - (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th Sqn)
It was the usual crowd, Forrest reflected, as he pushed his way into the officer's club. The new crews elated at having survived their baptisms of fire, the older crews counting the number absent friends. He'd lost four of his crew today, and suffered a painful if minor wound to the arm himself. He hadn't appreciated the glares his crew gave him when he climbed into the ambulance after the trip. The insolent guttersnipes had appeared unimpressed at him having to receive medical attention. The thought of how glamorous a purple heart would look on his dress uniform was somewhat tarnished by the flippant attitude the medical officer had taken towards him. A scratch indeed!
Pushing his way to the bar, Forrest glared at the crew of Lt. Andrews' aircraft. Enlisted men in the OC? Dear God! Sniffing audibly to show his displeasure, Forrest was mortified that Andrews appeared to deliberately ignore him. The man needed to understand the natural order of things around here! He NEVER socialized with his crew, and the men respected him for it; best to keep it that way too. His co-pilot, the plebeian, spent far too much time with the sergeants and ground crew for his liking. As an officer one had to set the right example. His men respected his position as their leader and NEVER asked him to attend one of their get-togethers. They clearly respected him.
Sipping his gin and tonic - the service in the OC left much to be desired - Forrest surveyed the room. Williams, Blackmore - arm bandaged - and Yablowski were in a corner with some of the other crews. He also noticed Montague's Mob - the group of hangers-on and toadies that the squadron commander attracted - in heated discussion at the other end of the bar. No doubt planning another Guinness-swilling soiree!
No sign of Spencer Kennedy yet, he noticed. Strange. He hadn't had time to catch up on news since landing, what with being whisked to the hospital, and then preparing for his grand entrance at the OC. Turning back to the bar, he heard Lt. Yoshikawa thank Williams for the drink he'd sent over. He didn't appreciate having to take over tail-end Charlie from the man, and was about to let him have a piece of his mind when he heard Paul O'Connor, the Darkwatch skipper, speaking to another officer. He stood stunned as O'Connor described the loss of Kennedy's Little Missy.
It couldn't be! He'd told Kennedy only this morning that they should open the '78 Chianti tonight, and now he was DEAD?? Downing his gin, Forrest stumbled out of the OC. Strange looks followed his exit, but he was unaware of them.
He stumbled through the tents, tripping over ropes, until he found his and Kennedy's. They'd already been to clear his stuff. Nothing left but a bunk, and a locker. Later, he didn't remember how long he'd stood there for, but he did recall the Chianti going down his throat. After that, there were shouts, fists and a blurred vision of Montague trying to hold him down.
From the diary of Lt. Yoshikawa after the Athens mission - (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)
December 22, 1943
This is one mission that I would like to forget. The plane is a mess, (I hope they don't I.C. it) two people were hurt and to top things off we were not able to finish the mission. Or the ultimate of all TUIFU'S!!!!
I hope we are able to get our plane back in time for the next mission, or at least a new one. Don't want to miss out and make everyone else feel that we are just crybabies that lay low when the shooting starts. We still have to prove that we are supposed to be out there.
At least we were lucky. (We were able to get back basically in one piece) . . . From what I understand the other's that had to take our place as tail-end Charlie took it worse then we did. Guess the ratzy's found our weak spot and figure that it's best way to attack us. After all that's what started our problems. Our tail stinger wasn't able to hit the 1st ME109 coming in and they were able to hit use across the plane. I was able to feather the prop, (wasn't liking the prospect of going into the drink). Being that we were still in fighter coverage helped also, didn't like the prospect of trying to get back all alone and fight off all of those fighters without anyone able to man the waist guns. Gets kind of lonely up there when you're the only bomber.
Sgt. Yano and Sasaki are tough birds. Both of them were hit and they still wanted us to go and finish the mission. But with major damage, and the distance that we had to go, don't want to make it a suicide mission. We don't have to prove that we can die (after all anyone can do that), just that we are able to fight the fight. Guess leaving as early as we did doesn't sit well with anyone.
Hope we have better luck on the next mission. Don't need to be known as the group that bails out when things get tough.
FLYNN's WAR - (submitted by Paul Scheepers, 317th Sqn)
Cold, wet and
dreary! There was no other way to describe it. The truck carrying
Flynn and his crew slid and squelched its way
through the quagmire of mud to the tented area that was to be their home for who knew how long. There was not much talking or joking now, none of the bravado or wisecracks, the reality of a combat post had covered the men like a shroud, there seemed to be a cloud of doom over the base, here and there men would stop and stare at the trucks progress, there were no cheery waves or exchanges.
"Heard this outfit has had a few tough missions," Flynn muttered to Donald Tonkin his co-pilot.
"Yeah! Heard the last one over Greece was the worst",
came Donald's terse reply . . . "You a betting man Ralph? The way I see
it, the chances of not coming back increase statistically with every mission."
"Not going to worry about some dammed statistics," grinned Flynn, "just going to concentrate on surviving!"
"Don't know Ralph! Things don't look too hot for the 15th at the moment."
"Come on cheer up! I'll buy you a drink, lets go meet the locals once we have signed in . . ."
"Yeah you're right! we need to speak to the CO of the 317th
anyways! Logistics officer told me, we would find him at the
Officers' Club! Seems he holds court there!"
Sergeant Carlos Carter's (tail gunner, 318th Squadron) letter to home after the Athens Mission - (submitted by Phillip Zaragoza 318th Bomb Squadron)
I know you won't get this until after Christmas but, Happy Christmas! Ah, it's the wonderful time of the year, isn't it? Well things are different in the army. Sure they have little things to remind us that it's Christmas but it's not the same. It's not like home, with your home made cookies, the Christmas tree and being together. Sure makes me wish I was home. Its not that bad here, we are getting a 72 pass because the ducks are walking and I guess you could call it a present from the army. Well, I gotta go. Give Bobby a big huge from me and one for you too.
With love, your son