B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Memories of My Time With the 320th B.G. During WW II
by Donald Wilson Round, 444th Bomb Squadron

 

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Building Our House

 

 
 

Here we are Building our house - what a construction crew!

The war in Italy was going slow and it looked like we would be in the same place for sometime. Some of the other pilots were building houses, so my tent mates and I thought that was a good idea. Materials were easy to get and labor was cheap. We hired three natives to make the mud bricks to dry in the sun.

The mud bricks took a lot of water which we took from the area Lister Bag (water bag). This did not the please the GI who had to keep the Lister bag full of water so we gave him something that he needed- Money. We purchased cement in Cagliari and as soon as the bricks were dry we started the house.

One night, after dark, a big truck drove up to where we had started the house with a load of two by fours and big beams that were needed for the roof. Lt. Gasser had gone down to the Port at Calgary and some how managed to get the truck and a driver. We unloaded the lumber and the next day two MPs arrived at 444th Headquarters asking about lumber. The major told them he didn't know anything so they left. The major wanted to keep the pilots happy anyway he could. He remembered how hard living conditions were in North Africa when he was a lieutenant. In North Africa they lived in mud much of the time. Being one of the first B-26 squadrons they had a lot to learn.

 
 

The inside of our completed house - pretty classy wall art.

When our house was finished, it had a nice cement floor with an Air Force star painted in the center. It had one big room and a small dark room. At the back we had a storage room for hanging uniforms. The walls were plastered and painted white and we had some real pretty pictures all over the walls. On the side of the house we had a platform about 3 feet high with a 25-gallon tank with 80-octane gas in it. There was a wrecked German Stuka airplane in a field, which had tubing on it. We needed the tubing to run a gas line inside our house to a stove, which we made out of an oil drum. On the stove we had a good valve set for a slow drip of gas. The drip made a little noise when it hit the bottom of the stove but it heated the house. Later we had to use 100-octane gas because the squadron's gas dump was running short of 80-octane gas. We hired a man who helped make the mud bricks for our house and he asked if he could keep the house clean. It was nice to have someone to make your bed and pick up any mess we made. He took our laundry to the laundry woman and did anything else we might need. This sounds like we might have been lazy, but everyone who built houses had the same deal.

 
 

Our completed house.

Lt. Johnson had been a photographer for a San Diego paper so he knew what we needed for a dark room. We were able to get all the supplies we needed from the base photo lab. We were able to get long rolls of film about twelve inches wide and three inches thick. I made an enlarger from tin from a bomb case which fit on the back of Lt. Johnson's good camera which worked fine. We could not use the enlarger until nightfall when they turned the lights on. The big light bulb in the enlarger took a lot of electricity. This sometimes caused the lights in the squadron to dim and headquarters would send someone down and tell us to turn it off.

We cut a lot of film into the sizes we needed in our dark room. We borrowed a hacksaw from transportation, but had to go easy with the hacksaw because it produced static electricity on the film. We furnished a lot of pilots with film if they had the paper backing from their old film.(Continued)


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