B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

The Story of My Military Service with the 320th B.G.
by Benton B. Banchor, 442nd Bomb Squadron

 

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Decimommanu, Sardinia and Alto, Corsica

 

   
 

Benton B. Banchor
The conditions on Sardinia were pretty rustic. Here I am seen shaving.

Keeping warm in Sardinia was hard. We slept on the ground on homemade beds or in sleeping bags. Occasionally, we were able to go the Red Cross Beach for swimming. Bob Hope, Frances Langford, and Jerry Colona made a surprise visit to entertain us in Besimon, Sardinia on 11 November 1943. While we were waiting for the show to start, we saw this man coming over the hill in baggy pants (we had a very strict dress code). As he came closer, we saw it was Bob Hope and we all started laughing and clapping.

The invasion of Southern France was being planned which meant all crews, ground and air, worked for maximum effort, i.e., four hours on and four off. The runways were expanded so that six planes could take off at once. There was a film made of this all out effort. We had a saying "too long to Toulon (a very strategic target)!

We moved to Corsica where ground crews had a great deal of work to do on the planes. Here we saw where cork came from: trees! In the northern part of Corsica was a marker showing where Napoleon had escaped from Europe. On 22 September  we received ribbons and awards. On 28 September we received Presidential citations signed by President Roosevelt.

Most troops took LST's (large transport ships), which were heavily loaded, from Corsica to France. We encountered a very bad storm at sea and when I stood at one end of the ship I couldn't see the other end because the rough seas were bending it. We later learned that the captain had doubts about making it thru the storm, but ultimately we landed safely in Marseille. As our convoy drove thru the city, people cheered and threw flowers at us. We stopped north of the city and slept in pup tents. We were then transported to "40 and 8" freight cars that leaked in the rain. The train took us to a small farm in Switzerland where guards made sure we didn't get off. The trains proceeded through areas littered with bombing debris. Once when the train stopped near an orchard and several men jumped off to pick apples.
(Continued)


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