Chapter 65: Trials Of KP. Typhus Shot. Red Benedict Pays A Visit. Lt. Rahn Killed. Pass To Alexandria!
July 5,1944 Alto, Corsica. The 79th Group was flying all night at a neighboring airfield, and we could actually see the lights and hear them.
We hung a 100 gallon belly tank on my plane this morning, and re-adjusted the sway braces that hold it in place.
There were no scheduled flights and we were released this afternoon. So, I took a dip in the river and then took a nap. I got a letter from my brother Murray today, in which he thinks he will shortly be shipped overseas. He is in a Field Artillery Battalion and his job is as a forward observer.
The next day was uneventful. I gave my assistant Barney the day off because he has a week of KP (kitchen police) coming up. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it means a week of slavery working in the kitchen, for about 14 hours each day. You have to help prepare the food (slice onions, peel potatoes, etc), set the tables, replace serving dishes during meals. After the meal, wash the dishes, pots and pans, clean up the tables and floors, and do anything else that the Mess Sgt. wants you to do. Of all the details that a private is required to do, this is the most odious! That having been said, you can now understand the kind of week that I and four other privates spent doing KP while at Langley Field, Virginia several months after Pearl Harbor.
When I reported to the flying line the following morning I found a notice on the hangar bulletin board reading "Upon the recommendation of the Mess Sgt. the following five enlisted men are hereby raised to the rank of Corporal. Any private who can complete a full week of KP to the complete satisfaction of the Mess Sgt. deserves to be made a Corporal!". During my five years of service in the US Army Air Corps, I have never heard of anybody being promoted upon the recommendation of the Mess Sgt. (unless he was a cook) !
At 9.00 AM we received Typhus shots (they hurt!). My plane had to be scrubbed from the 4 o’clock mission because the tachometer didn't work when the pilot started the engine.
I fixed it, and then went back to camp, where I gave the Bull his Spanish lesson, listened to the news and then went to bed. Boring, boring !
July 8, 1944 Alto, Corsica. My plane flew on a 5.00AM mission and returned at 7.30. The next mission is set for 4.00PM, so we took off. The 79th Fighter Wing says we have to keep 80% of our planes in commission at all times. That, we believe is impossible! Out of our 25 planes we now have 5 in the Service Dept for repairs.
I swam in the river twice this afternoon, and played ping pong for two hours. The planes took off at 4.00PM and returned at 6.15PM. They dive-bombed a bridge past Genoa. Plane Number 80 was shot up badly. We shot down Focke Wolf fighters and damaged two others.
July 9, 1944 Alto, Corsica. Our planes took off at 8.30AM, and dive bombed bridges and motor transport near Genoa once again. Major Benedict came to our Operations Tent this morning to pay us a visit. He is now the right hand man of our Wing Commander, Col. Darcey.
Planes took off again at 2.00PM and returned 4.30PM, having attacked the same targets as earlier today. Spent the rest of the day swimming in the river, playing ping pong, and gave the Bull his usual Spanish lesson. I joined Eipper in his tent for a cup of tea. (He is the squadron artist, the man who paints our ensignia (the Fighting Duck) on the fuselages of our planes).
The 87th fighter wing's books have us down as already being 300% replaced, which we know to be a lie!
The next day we flew two missions. I have a sty in my left eye and it is quite painful. We checked out all 33 of our pilots tonight, starting at 9.30PM. They flew until 1.00 AM, with one plane (No. 89) crashing in the sea, killing Lt. Rahn.
July 12,1944 Alto, Corsica. Flight Chief Moulton told me today that I am leaving tomorrow morning, for a 10 day pass at Alexandria, Egypt. Several of us are being transported there and back in our B-25 (Medium Bomber). I borrowed $200.00 and made a list of the things to get for my friends. We are getting a new B-25 and turning in the old one.
So ends part 65 of my wartime memoirs.