Chapter 59: Return From Corte. Huge German Attack Kills Many. Move To Mountains. Push on Cassino. An Excellent New Camp
May 17, 1944: Alto, Corsica. The flight chief put me on a detail together with four others, to bring to make four trips bringing supplies from our old camp to our new one. It is situated, in the hills not far from the airfield. in a lovely lush valley.
When we were finished for the day, we all took a dip in the stream. The water was quite cold, since the stream originated high in the mountains, but it was very refreshing. We all felt that this move to the mountains was a good one, because when our day’s work was over we could wash away the dust that had accumulated on our bodies at the dirt airfield, with a refreshing dip in the stream. Some of the fellows pitched in and built a dam across the stream to deepen it, so we could swim around a bit.
The squadron mounted three dive bombing missions today over Northern Italy, attacking bridges, tunnels and motor transport as usual.
May 19, 1944; we lost a pilot this morning on the first flight of the day. Lt. Mays bellied-in (crash landed) near Florence. We have no other details about him at this time. His flight destroyed a railroad bridge, and cut the railroad tracks in several places in the Florence area. Poor weather over northern Italy prevented further operations, so I spent the time studying Italian and slept.
The next day, I was awakened at 3.30 AM for an early mission. I had to climb up the hill to the road, on my hands and knees because the ground was so slippery due to the constant rain we are experiencing. I no sooner climbed into the truck, when G.E.Smith came by saying that the flight was called off due to bad weather!
After breakfast I went down to the flying line and worked on Tillson’s airplane, and preflighted it. (Warmed it up and checked it out, prior to the arrival of the pilot).
Afterwards I sat around with my Spanish friends in their ack ack pit, drinking their Cape Corse (Corsican Brandy). We were released from operations this afternoon due to bad weather. The whole squadron pitched in this afternoon to make the mess hall. We all went down to the river bottom and cut reeds. And then built a frame work on which to attach the reeds.
The next day, Tillson once again did not show up so I went down to the line and took care of his airplane. When I got there I found that he was there already, so I went back to the camp area. Some of the boys built a diving board at our swimming hole, and I tried it out while bathing and swimming around.
One of our ground crew was told this afternoon that he is going home (on rotation). In exchange we received a T/Sgt from this rotation plan. As to when the rest of us are to go home on this rotation plan, is anybody’s guess!
May 22, 1944 Alto, Corsica. Moulton, the flight chief once again had me take care of Tillson’s airplane this morning. It flew once, and dive bombed a railroad bridge near Florence, destroying it There were no flights scheduled this afternoon because of bad weather, so I hung around the tent, caught a nap, played ping pong, and took a dip in the stream.
Today we received 10 new, two of which were assigned to 'A' Flight. Around 11.30 three men came around to see if we were using our mosquito nets! There is a real danger of contracting malaria from the local mosquitoes, and taking Atabrine tablets daily is only one way to try to avoid it. Aside from the traumatic effects of malaria (high fever, nausea, sweating, dysentery, and convulsions), without obtaining a permanent cure at Walter Reed Hospital malaria attacks keep recurring! Witness the case of my friend Al Schoenfield, who was just sent home for that permanent cure because he spent as much time in the hospital as he did on duty!
The next day there were no operations in the morning. In the afternoon I went down to the flying line, and worked on Tillson’s airplane (Number 80) again. I instructed his new assistant on his duties. In the afternoon I spent two hours visiting my Spanish ack ack friends at their gun pit, drinking their Cape Corse brandy and singing Spanish songs with them.
There were no flights in the afternoon once again due to bad weather. There was air raid tonight in Bastia (the capital) at 11PM.
So ends part 59 of my wartime memoirs.