B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

An Historical Account of the Time I Spent With the 441st at Decimo & Corsica in 1944
by Luigi Cabras of Villasor, Sardinia

 

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My name is Luigi Cabras

 

 
 

Luigi Cabras as a young man from Villasor who spent time with the 441st.

My name is Luigi Cabras.  I was born on 25 October 1927 in Villasor (CA).

I speak of some facts regarding the period in which the Military Airport of Decimo was occupied by the U.S.A.A.F. having come from North Africa starting November 1943 and staying until September 1944.  I want to specify that the airport was completely prepared around 1937-38 on the Villasor’s territory. The airport was given the name Decimomannu because that town is in a strategic point.  At that time, Decimomannu was a branch point of the railroad from Cagliari to Sassari and the railroad from Olbia toward Iglesias on the south west of Sardinia where at that time it was said there may be an Allied Landing.

Villasor is the town immediately north of the military airport. Indeed, all of the encampments of the 320th and 319th Groups were settled with the pyramidal tents among the olive trees in the territory of Villasor.

I, like many other young boys, were authorized to enter and to stay in the 441st B.S. to work.  My work in the camp was to clean up the camp beds and tidy the area inside and out of the tents.  My work was also to keep watch on the tents when the American soldiers were away so that strangers did not come near the tent with any ideas to enter and steal something.

 
 

Joe Formichelli
441st Bomb Squadron

In the tent where I performed the work which I mentioned, among others, there was an Italian-American, Joe Formichelli, an elementary school teacher and Photographer. Because of a delay in returning from a weekend in Tunisia, he had been punished by being excluded on a bombing mission as a photographer on board of the Marauder B-26. So Joe stayed at home in the tent to do photography work and to develop the rolls of film which contained the images of the targets struck by others. So Formichelli asked me to help him to excavate an area at the side of the tent in order to create a “dark room”.  In the dark room, I often helped Joe in this work. Many times I had seen photos taken during the bombardments performed by the  B-26 Marauders.  I remember one time when Joe told me, “See Louis, these are our Marauders that fly upon Orvieto.  The light on the ground are the explosions of bombs.”

 

 

Tent No. 22, our tent

Maybe, it is important to tell what happened in the summer of 1944 near our 441st B.S.  We were all in our tents, when we were shaken by an enormous crash of a big explosion, followed immediately by many others.  Without lost time, we ran out with helmets on our heads to take shelter in the ditch made for the purpose of safety near the tent. Someone shouted “These are German fly bombs!” Meanwhile, the explosions continued and we felt falling chips around us among the olive trees and the tent, but nobody was wounded.  In the end, the very strong explosions tapered off.  After a little waiting, we found that it was exploded piles of American bombs that were among the olive trees. The grass there was tall and very dry and must have burned causing the deflagration of the bombs. It was felt perhaps the bombs auto-combusted due to the extreme heat. This occurred not far from the 441st BS.

 
 

Johnny Antony Kramer, 441st

After some time as an orderly, a bed opened up in the tent and it was assigned to me. Consequently, I spent day and night in the 441st B.S. This gave me great pleasure in that it allowed for the possibility to better learn the English language. At that time, Formichelli’s gramophone often played country music which I liked very much. The country music was new to me and I found it to be very agreeable music. Johnny Antony Kramer who was a Texan from Houston and called a cowboy, often put on records of country music. I particularly remember the song “San Anton Rose”. I can still sing to the very nice music of that song. (Continued)

 


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