Final arrival to our new home, Tafaroui-Algeria
route then took us through a mountainous area to Yundum
Field at Bathurst, Gambia. We continued to Marrakech,
French Morocco, going over the Atlas Mountains to Tafaraoui,
To our surprise, Martha Raye, a famous
comedian, was there to entertain the troops and raise
our spirits. Later, when we were at the movie and the
film broke, Martha Raye, wearing an officer's uniform,
stood up and yelled at the projectionist "don't
you guys know how to splice the film? Let's get this
show going." Now that was really entertaining!
18 April 1943, we went to Montesquieu, Algeria. On the
first night there was a terrible rain storm and the
tent flooded; I woke up to find water under my cot.
We had to walk on hay bales to go to chow because there
was so much flooding. My foot slipped off into the mud
and when I lifted my foot and my boot stayed stuck in the
mud! It was funny to watch the Generals and other officers
trying to stay dignified walking in all the mud. Because
the Germans had sunk the supply ships, all we had to
eat was K-rations and C-rations; everyone was sick &
lost weight. We had to use mosquito netting to sleep.
One morning a camel stuck his head into our tent!
order to avoid malaria, we were given Adabrin tablets,
which made some men sick. Water had to be treated with
chlorine to kill bacteria. G.I. ingenuity had converted
a French machine to pump water out of a well and despite
being salty, it felt wonderful to take a shower
and cool off. The heat was so intense that before we got
back our towels blew dry! Changing engines in that extreme
heat was laborious and the chance of being burned was
We had two runways made of corrugated
steel mats that crossed in the middle. We made bombing
runs over the Mediterranean Ocean for the purpose of
destroying German submarines. I could see the rock of
Gibraltar and the north coast of Africa at the same
time; they seemed so close.
Arabs were very colorful.
A wedding ceremony lasted three days and when they
sang it sounded pretty exotic. In the middle of the
night, Arabs would sneak into officers' tents and steal
their uniforms. The following day, the MP's went in
all directions to catch the thieves and retrieve the
1943, North Africa
- A successful
landing after being fired at by Italians, Germans & even Americans! But, it
was a successful raid over the coast of Tunis, as they were able to stop
escaping Germans. The plane was damaged, but they landed safely
one mission, supposedly a safe route, due
to poor communications everyone shot at
us, including other Americans! But it was
still a successful raid over the coast of
Tunis, as we were able to stop escaping
Germans. Some planes ran low on fuel, but
our plane returned safely. Our next mission
was to bomb the Sardinia railroad yards in Cagliari,
Sardinia –Italy. The city is near the coast.
Flak was intense. I held my helmet down
and it sounded like hail hitting the helmet.
returning from missions were often desperate
to land. Some were out of fuel, some carried
injured men, and some had damage to the
plane. On one occasion, a plane coming from
one direction had a dead engine and another
coming from the other way had lost its hydraulic
fuel and also had injured personnel. The pilot
of the plane with the dead engine maneuvered
to fly over the other and both panes overshot
the runway before they could stop. It took
all the emergency equipment on the ground
to rescue everyone. On another mission,
I heard the pilot call out, "engineer
come forward! We have a gas leak!"
I had to remove my helmet, flak jacket and
Mae West (inflatable vest) to squeeze thru
the narrow catwalk to the forward bomb bay.
There I saw the navigator holding a gas
hose which was spraying 100% octane all
over the bombs! I yelled "Major, let
me get by to shut it off", but he was so
dazed he couldn't move. I had to knock him
on the shoulder to get him to move so I
could reach around and shut off the valve.
I told him "Major, you're supposed
to be up in the navigation position to lead
8 planes to the target. You do your job
and I'll do mine." He replied, "good
So I got the
hose repaired and transferred fuel from
the auxiliary tanks to the main tanks. I
checked the pilot's instruments to be sure
everything was OK. When I returned to my
position and looked down, I saw German 88's
(anti-aircraft guns) pointed straight at
me with fire in the barrel. Flak tore a
hole in the wing and tail. Luckily, Captain
Simms was a skillful pilot and we were able
to complete our mission and return safely,
unlike many others.
One time General
Doolittle joined us. As we shook hands with
him, he chose my plane to fly in. (Continued)
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