Chapter 42: Too Many Men. Sickness Threatens. A Soft Mattress At Last. New Doc.
Feb 14,1944 Amendola, Italy: Weather was cold last night and morning found a coating of frost on the ground. We were on 30 minute readiness all day but there were no flights. So I just hung around the plane all day doing daily inspections. A radio man left a microphone head set near my plane, and I was able to listen to music on my plane’s radio. Since nobody came round looking for it, I saved it for future use.
Tomlinson, Davis and Klein are being transferred out of our squadron. It seems we have too many men now. Steve Zuzze went up in our B-25 yesterday.
The next day was uneventful, with cold weather, and no flights scheduled due to bad weather. I couldn’t help thinking that we might as well be home in America, for all the good we are doing lately! Tomlinson, Davis and Klein left this morning. One of our Italian KP’s (Civilian kitchen workers) burned his hand badly today, lighting the mess kit fires. (we washed our mess kits after meals by swishing them in two 55 gallon drums containing hot water). The first contained soapy hot water, the second just hot water for rinsing.
Stripling is still sick and Czurzicky has spinal meningitis.Al Schoenfield is sick again,and under the doctor’s care We are now providing ground support missions over Cassino, and the German Army is now started to launch attacks at our Anzio beachhead.
Feb 16, 1944; Al Schoenfield was sent to the hospital at Foggia, with high fever and possibly malaria.
We hear that the Germans counter-attacked and our troops had to pull back somewhat toward the beach, before our troops were able to halt the attack. We had one mission today but our planes had to return without dropping their 500 pound bombs due to bad weather at the target area.
More bad news, Czurzicky was sent to the hospital with Spinal Meningitis, and shortly afterwards so did Pinkham and Bedell. We are told about the severity of this disease and its possible consequences. This leaves us kind of scared, thinking that it’s bad enough to be fighting one enemy on the battlefield, without having to simultaneously fight a deadly disease apparently not related to the war.
Today Lt. Benedict, Volter and Fox went up with the B-25 to Bari, and Lederman, Carman and the rest came back from Bari, having been there on Pass. I am supposed to go to Bari tomorrow on pass, but who knows, I might not be able to go. I traded soap and cigarettes to some Italians for eggs (at exorbitant prices)!
Feb 18, 1944: As I expected, my 7-day pass was cancelled, because Stripling just left for the hospital, and with Schoenfield still there, our flight is short-handed. We had one
dive-bombing mission today with 2500 pound bombs!
Today I filled a mattress cover with straw, and I can’t get over how comfortable it is.
More bad news now, Pryzblec’s in the medic’s tent with pneumonia.
Good news for a change, finds us getting a lot of fresh meat and butter lately, and it sure is a morale-booster! We have a new Doc now, and he is peeved with us because we have dirty finger nails and need shaves. This leaves us with the feeling that he will be able to last very long. He is too “picky” for us!
There was no flying the next day due to bad weather. Stripling came back from the hospital today, cured. He said that the 12th Bomb’s flying personnel went to England, and the ground crews went home. They told him that we would follow soon. Ha!
Schnabel, Della-Volpe, Williams and Rocca were transferred to “A” Flight (my flight). So that should be a welcome relief. Stripling who had just come back from the hospital in Foggia, was sent back today with a relapse of malaria. Gregory had a relapse of social disease and is now back in the hospital.
So ends part 42 of my wartime memoirs.