From the diary of Lt. Yoshikawa after the Reggio Emilia mission (submitted by Mark Yoshikawa, 317th Sqn)

 

December 14, 1943

After our baptism of fire, I feel confident that the crew that I am commanding will only become more confident as we get more missions under our belt.  We have to prove to our brethren that we will fight just as hard as they do for our freedom.  And that we are not afraid to make the "ultimate" sacrifice in order to make sure that we will be successful.

As for the first our first mission, things didn't go as bad as they could have.  In fact, I think 2nd Lt. Osa has a pretty sharp eye since
we were able to land at least 50% of our bomb load on target and he was able to shoot down TWO FW-190's!  So, it looks like Hitler had better watch out!

Hopefully this is a sign to what our future missions will be.  Rumor has it out next mission will be to the Adriatic area.  Guess we will
see how bad it will be out there!


Lt. Shamus Montague returns from the base morgue. (submitted by Shaun Edley, 317th Sqn)

 

Shamus emerged from the morgue, squinting at the floodlights around the base.  The crews were getting the crates ready for the next hop.  “I hope to hell they’ve got my new ship ready,” he muttered darkly to himself.  He looked over to the wreck that was The Moaning Witch which still had the remains of his Radio Op smeared throughout the torn and ruptured metal that was the Radio Room.  The waist was still dripping the life blood of his two waist gunners that had joined the Dale of Beyond even as they were heading home to safety.

His three replacements had already been assigned and a new ‘F’ was waiting for him and his crew to christen her.  He just prayed that this bird was as tough as the last.  “Stuff it. I need a drink and then I’m gonna kick some Ivy Leaguer ass out of the vicinity of my tent.  Milton, you pansy-ass, get the rest of the boys in the hut . I got some things to say!  And run, you weasel, we got a war to fight!”

He always felt better after rocketing someone.  He clenched his teeth on his stogie and went to his tent for a big shot of Bushmills to toast the dead and bless the living.  “Why the hell those two pansies can’t have the guts of Yoshikawa?  I really like that kid. Ballsy, gutsy and still ready to stand by Uncle Sam even after Sam stuck his kin into the camps.  Ah Sh*t.  None of this is gonna matter 100 years from now.  Where’s my booze?”

Time to talk to the troops.


Lt. Shamus Montague at his desk. (submitted by Shaun Edley, 317th Sqn)

 

Shamus sat at his desk.  He’d just finished the Dear Mrs. letters home to the folks of the boys that didn’t make the 1st mission.  He chewed his stogie and wondered how many more of these he’d have to write before everyone left standing could go home.  His dad had fought in the mud of the Argonne in the first one and he said that each letter he had to write chipped a little more off his soul.  Shamus never understood until today.  Goddamn war.  Forrest and Kennedy be surprised to find out that his old man had made full bird colonel and had a DSC, Silver Star and 2 clusters, and Purple Heart and 4 clusters.  Hell, if the Irish can’t find someone to fight, they’ll fight themselves.

Forrest had better stay out of his tent or else he was going to be the next blockbuster out of his bomb bay.  Let the Krauts put up with his pansy ass manners and grape juice.  To quote him, “Forrest is an insufferably bigoted prig.”  Let me catch him ragging Yoshikawa again, I’ll shoot him myself.  Articles be damned.

He wondered about Forrest bleating to the old man that he hated him.  He told the colonel that he didn’t care enough to hate him and was worried to find that he meant it.  Him and that Kennedy were true blue pains in the ass.

Maybe he should go over to maintenance and see how his birds were getting on.  Good engineering officer that Murphy.  Hell, Forrest and Kennedy would shoot craps with their butt cheeks if they realized that Shamus and his dad owned two shipyards turning out Liberty freighters and probably had 4 times the money that Forrest and Kennedy’s families put together.  But then the Montague family earned it and didn’t have to wait for some old bugger to kick on before getting their hands on it.

I need a drink and a chat to Murphy, he thought to himself as he tidied his desk and got to his feet.  And some new stogies.


Commander's Call at the O-Club (submitted by Skip Franklin, 318th Sqn)

 

    "Gentlemen, the drinks are on me tonight.  Colonel Lamb has notified me that I can afford the drinks with these new captain bars.  Lt. Nicks, who has a confirmed kill over Reggio Emilia, will pin the bars on me and make sure you fellas get back to the barracks in time for lights out.  Enjoy.  I can't stay too long though; the Colonel and I have to discuss Thursday's mission."


In The Operations Hut the Evening Before Mission 2

 

    The 27-year old captain continued to stare at the squadron formation chart.  This was the one task Danny Tanner wasn't looking forward to as a squadron commander, having to decide which crew in the squadron would be flying as tail-end Charlie tomorrow.

    It wasn't like he was playing god and automatically condemning a crew to a death sentence he kept reminding himself and yet, he couldn't help it that he would in some way be responsible if the crew didn't come back.  Men that he knew since that April day in Walla Walla, men that he had trained with, had drinks with, and as of yesterday, gone into battle with.

    But every man knew the score in that for every mission, someone would be in the most vulnerable position of the formation, the so-called 'purple heart' corner.  Tanner went over the names of the crews in head once again.

    Sterling?  No, he's a flight leader, I need him to lead the second flight.  Hmmmm, I never noticed it before, but Ben has the same name last as some general in England commanding some B-24 outfit.  What was the group . . . oh yeah, the 200th Bomb.  I wonder if they're related?  But Ben has never mentioned he was related to a general, so I guess not.  But I'll ask him tomorrow anyway.

    McConnell?  No, he's the youngest at 20.  Not yet, another time.  Mac's only 20!?!  And yet, he acts like he was 30.  Look at me, I'm not that much older . . . I'm in the prime of my life.  And yet, why do I feel so old?  Is it because I'm older than all of my pilots?

    Griffin?  Married with a little girl.  No, it's too close to Christmas.  If something happens to Paul, I don't want his kid to remember that her daddy died around Christmas time.  Christmas should be a time of joy and happiness, not sorrow.  He can be 'Charlie' on some other mission but not today.  Besides, his crew needs a reprieve since they lost a man already.

    So, that leaves Reames or Joss.  Both good men, both about equal in ability.  Tanner had flipped a quarter back in his tent earlier and it came up tails - Joss.  Just like that, a random coin flip decided who'd might not come back from the mission.  If Joss' crew did make it back, Tanner rationalized, they wouldn't be Tail-end next time.

    Lost in thought, Tanner was brought back to reality by a familiar southern drawl. "Hey, Danny!  You're going to look at that piece of paper all night, son?  I need that list for tomorrow's formation chart," Captain Jefferson asked.

    "Huh?  Oh, sorry, Jimmy, I have a lot on my mind.  Here you go, it's good," Tanner said thinking about the list one last time.  "That's the way I want it."

    "Well, it better be," Jefferson told him shaking his finger at him like a parent scolding their child, "I'm not typing this over if you change your mind, you hear?"

    Tanner looked at Jefferson in mock indignation.  "Ha!  That's a laugh!  You can type?  If I know you, you make Corporal Addison do the all typing."  Looking in the direction of the operations clerk, "Isn't that right, Addison?"

    Like a deer caught in headlights, Addison looked first at Tanner, then at his boss, before finally coming up with a diplomatic answer, "Whatever Captain Jefferson wants me do to do, sir."

    Faking a hurt look, "Well, when I meant me, I'd meant OPS.  You know that!  And you had better be nice to me, Danny, or you just might find yourself as Tail-End Charlie," Jefferson joked.

    "Sure, Jimmy, sure," Tanner said knowing that Jimmy was a southern gentleman with a sense of honor that he'd never do that.

    After handing the 316th's formation list to Corporal Addison, Jefferson returned to his friend.  "Danny, tell me something.  You're close to the Colonel, aren't you?"

    "Yeah, he flies with me when the 316th leads. Why?"

    "Well, one thing I don't understand, and it could be cause I'm just a simple country boy from the cotton fields of Virginia."

    "Ahh, don't give me that simple country boy for Virginia crap, Jimmy.  You're one of the smartest men in the group.  And what were you before the war?  A chemical engineer, with another degree in geology working for Standard Oil!"

    "Well, that maybe, but I was born outside of Richmond and I consider myself a simple man with simple tastes," Jefferson reminded him.  "Anyway, what I don't understand why the Colonel selected Lieutenant Forrest of all people as tomorrow's mission leader.  It just don't make no sense why he'd make that damn Yankee as our mission leader."

    "Hey, careful, now.  Remember, I'm a Yankee too," Tanner said smiling.

    Jefferson smiled back. "True, but I like you, Danny.  You're not a stuck up Harvard educated snob like he is.  Thinks he's better than anybody else around here," Jimmy said with disdain in his voice.

    "Well, the way I hear it, the Colonel was persuaded from higher ups to let Forrest lead tomorrow."

    "Persuaded?  Ha!  Is that just a fancy new northerner term you came up with for some gentle arm twisting in some back room?"

    "Yeah, you might say that.  Apparently, Forrest's father has some connections, some very high political connections.  It seems it would be a good thing if his son went into combat seen as a leader, something like what his grandfather did in the Civil War."

    On hearing the term, Tanner could see the sour look in Jefferson's face like a man who just drank a bottle of castor oil. "Oops, excuse me, Sirrrr, the War of Northern Aggression," corrected Tanner chuckling.  "You might like his mother though, she a southerner.  I understand she comes from old southern money."

    "Yep, I know all about that old southern money . . . Wish my family had some of that."

    "What, are you trying to tell me you're not related to Thomas Jefferson, a rich land owner and our third president?" Tanner joked.

    "Heck, if my family was related to that Jefferson, no one bothered to tell me.  And if we are, then we must be part of the poor side of that Jefferson family tree," Jimmy replied.

    Suppressing a laugh at Jimmy's answer, Tanner continued.  "Anyway, the Colonel was getting tired of all these 'requests' from some general to let Forrest lead that he'd figured he'd let him lead just this once, hoping that will shut up whoever wanted him to lead.  Hell, if we're really lucky, after this is over, they'd be satisfied and transfer his ass out of here to some staff job at HQ."

    Jefferson shook his head on hearing all of this nonsense just for one unlikable SOB.  "Hell, I'd settle for him getting shot down by the Nazis except that he'd be taking nine other good men with him!"

    "Well, you'd better hope not.  I certainly don't want that to happen," Tanner cautioned.

    "Other than the fact that we'd lose a plane and nine good men, why would that be such a bad thing, Danny?"

    Giving his pal a knowing smile, Tanner replied, "With our luck, he'd get taken prisoner and after two days, the Germans will be surrendering to en masse just to get away from him.  Then there will be no living with that man, having to hear his story everyday how he single-handedly captured an entire German army!"

    "Yeah, provided they don't shoot him first," Jefferson added in very seriously.


A Smug SOB (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th SQN)

    It was impossible to miss.  A smug smile, subtle yet visible - nothing too distinct, yet enough to infuriate even his closest of friends.  There was no doubting it.  Milton B Forrest felt that he'd finally arrived.  Spencer Kennedy had been the first to tell him, and he'd appeared suitably bored and disinterested; outwardly at least.  Inwardly, he was feeling as though he'd finally been recognized.

    Group Leader . . . It had a nice ring to it . . . Almost nice enough to write home to father about.  He'd wait, though, write home after the fact and make it appear very run-of-the-mill.  Nonetheless, a nice feather in the Forrest cap.  Now, he'd have to have a word with his lay-about navigator and make sure the laggard put in a faultless performance today.  NOTHING was going to ruin his magnum opus.  The man was from Brooklyn, for God's sake, he just hoped there was enough moral fiber to keep him from bungling.


    Whistling strains from one of Verdi's operas - a favorite of Milton's - he looked at his reflection in his small shaving mirror. Dashing as ever, he mused.  Smoothing his pencil-thin moustache and placing his flight-cap perfectly on his head, he strolled out of the tent on his way to the flight-line.

    The air smelled sweeter today, despite the heavy odor of gasoline.  He'd make sure that the 317th flew a tight formation today, and that Montague knew who was in charge.  A likeable enough fellow, the squadron commander clearly did not have the breeding that the officer corps needed.  Forrest knew that he had what it took, and today was his chance to show it . . .


Spencer Kennedy Takes The Lead (submitted by Paul Scheepers, 317th SQN)
 

    BULGARIA! What a despicable place to fly to! mused Spencer as he followed Milton Forrest out of their tent.  Spencer's friend the rather aloof Milton was walking briskly, whistling his usual strains of Verdi, there seemed even to be a little jaunt to his step
this morning, more so than on previous occasions thought Spencer.  It must be that Group commander thing, for once it seemed that Milton was enjoying himself, though he would never admit to it.

    Spencer's thoughts turned to the impending mission, he was flying deputy lead today . . . his navigator, Weatherbottom a
likeable enough fellow from a good family, meticulous and neat, would see them though if the need arose.


    "Deputy Lead eh! Well, well, finally!"  The men in charge had seen the obvious potential of a West Point graduate, thought Spencer.  This mission everything needed to go like clockwork, no mistakes!  Spencer had taken pains to make sure every man on
his ship knew this!  Nothing or no one was going to spoil his chance to prove that the 'right' man had been chosen for the
'right' job!


Good Tim Gal's Crew Gripes Before The Mission (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th SQN)

 

    "Man, I hate that sonovabitch!"  Lt. Al Williams thundered, hurling his cap across the crew tent.  It hit a pole, flipped across his bed and landed in the mud.

    "What's biting your ass?" Jim Blackmore, bombardier on Good Time Gal, said to his co-pilot.  He put down his book - a tattered copy of one of Marcel Proust's better works - and sat up on his cot.  It could only be Forrest again, he mused.  Nothing riled the ordinarily phlegmatic Williams like their uptight skipper.

    "He's going to get us killed! He's demanded that we fly lead as often as possible on future missions, and was upset when the CO refused!" Williams exclaimed, kicking his footlocker.  "I swear to God, that if it wasn't illegal I'd throw the f*cker out of the plane myself!"

    "Calm down, Al, don't let him get to you," Blackmore interjected, worried that his friend had gone too far with Forrest.  Their pilot was impossible to get along with, and didn't care that his crew didn't like him.  Cornered, though, he had the capacity to be a spiteful bastard.  Rumor had it that he'd written to his father - some college professor or something - to get their squadron CO posted to Alaska.  That he wanted the command ahead of Montague was obvious to all.  While the Irishman wasn't all that organized or popular with some of his men, he wasn't too bad as officers went.  Trying to hard to be a war hero and live up to his dad, most said, but there were worse crimes than that in Blackmore's eyes.

    Forrest MUST have had connections to get through flight training, 'cuz God only knew that it was Al Williams who flew the plane and kept them alive.  Problem was that Al was too much of a gentleman and dedicated an officer to rat on Forrest to anyone.  Eddie Masterson, the engineer, said that Forrest had been white as a sheet over Reggio Emilia what with all the flak.  The whole crew got to hear of it, and it had done nothing to ease their dislike of their pilot.

    "I was just with him when Montague chewed him out, and all he did was sigh and stroll off! Montague is going to shoot an embolis when he finds out Forrest ignored him.  You know what he can be like when he feels his authority is being questioned," Williams continued, more subdued now.  "Forrest did it in such a way, though, that it'd be hard to pin anything on him. Bastard. I hate him."

    The tent flap flew open and the Gal's navigator, Charlie Yablowski, bustled in. Arms full of maps and a pencil between his teeth, it was clear that he'd been with Forrest.  The skipper wanted "no mess-ups" on his "opening night", and poor little Charlie was bearing the brunt of his ego.

    "Time to go, boys, the Krauts can't wait," he wheezed, grabbing his lucky charm and bustling out again.

    Blackmore stood up and put his arm on Williams' shoulder just before he ducked out of the tent, concern on his face.

    "Don't do anything stupid, Al, he's not worth it. The Krauts'll get him, leave it to them."

    A black look on his face, Williams nodded and pushed past him.


Forrest's Magnum Opus (submitted by Neil Amoore, 317th SQN)

 

    All in all, not a bad showing first time up as Group Leader.  Looking and feeling decidedly pleased with himself, Milton Forrest hummed to himself as he left debriefing. There had been some sloppy formation flying it was true, but that was hardly HIS fault.  His co-pilot kept yapping in his ear about the trim and so on, and had only shut up after being threatened with extra duties in the mess.  That had kept him quiet, and Forrest had chosen to ignore the insolent stares Williams had given him the rest of the mission.
He'd have to have a word with the officers in the crew.  They really weren't a good example to the men, what with their carousing and fraternizing with the sergeants and ground crew.  Simply not done.  He knew they respected him, though they were afraid to show it.  Why, only this morning Masterson, the engineer, had affectionately referred to him as "old Snowy".  Clearly a sign that the men accepted him. It was only to be expected that someone with his breeding would earn the admiration - even jealousy - of others.  He'd endured it for years, gotten used to it.


    In the distance he saw Spencer Kennedy taking his co-pilot on an inspection of their aircraft.  The man was a first-rate officer, Forrest thought.  He'd heard that Kennedy had ordered his crew do two extra training flights a week where possible, and sharpen up their evacuation drills.  Not a regimen popular with the men, but that's why they needed leaders who knew what it took to be a fighting man.
 

    On reflection, Forrest was starting to rather enjoy this war. Not a bad life, after all.  Perhaps a word with the Colonel about taking the lead again, possibly transferring Williams - he'd never liked the insolence of the man - and a move to better quarters. Yes, that sounded like a productive way to end the day.  If he had time later he may pop around to the medics and see if his men were okay.  If he had time.


Background Info on 2nd Lt. Roger Thornhill, new Navigator, Old Crow Express (submitted by Phillip Zaragoza,  318th Sqn)

 
   Roger Thornhill was born on 5 April 1923.  He was an only son who lived with his Dad in Flint Hill, Virginia.  His mom had died giving labor to him and his dad never remarried.

 

    He had always wanted to see the world and when he was small, he used to sit down during a rainy day when there was nothing to do and spend hours looking at maps.  He had always wanting to see Europe.  He used to image the people he would meet and the kinds of amazing things he would see if he went to any of these places.

    As he grew up he became friends with Peter Watson, a fat boy that had moved in next door.  And a girl named Lisa McKnight, she was tall and skinny.  Peter had been his best friend, and during high school Lisa had become his girlfriend.  During his final year in high school Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  And then it seemed that everyone was enlisting to be in the army.

    He had told his dad that he too wanted to enlist in the army.  His dad decided that it was time to tell him that he had been in WW1, in the Trenches as a foot soldier.  He had seen his best friend Jimmy Ross jump into a hole, during a shelling, filled with mustard gas without his gas mask on.  Frank told Roger the horrors of war.  He told him this because he knew that Roger was determined to join the army, and he wanted Roger to know what he was getting into.  That it was not just fun and games, People died.

    The stories that Frank told Roger made him change his mind about going the infantry.  But Peter was still determined to enlist into the infantry and he did so.  But Roger chose instead to become a navigator.  Since he knew how to read maps and somewhat enjoyed looking at them, it seemed that at least this way he would be able to stay out of danger (he believed), and still contribute to the war effort.  It seemed odd that he was the only one in his class that chooses to be a navigator.  The others had flunked pilot training or been drafted there and had to choose between bombardier training or navigator training.  He passed the navigator training in the top of his class.


    Just before he got shipped out he was permitted a 2-day leave to visit his family.  He spent all of his last day with Lisa.   He proposed to her under the big tree down in downtown, it was where they had there first date, she said yes and they spent the night together.  In the morning he told her that when he got back they would get married.

    Once over seas he was shipped to England where he stayed there for a week.  And then he was shipped to Tunisia where he flew his first two missions with the 99th Bomb Group.  There he got his first taste of what was war like.  He would have stayed there but he got the flu before his third mission and they did not allow him to go.  His 17 crashed in enemy territory and all were killed.  The higher ups decided to ship him to another Bomb Group because it would not have been good for moral.  So he was then shipped to the 88th BG on 15 December 1943.


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