Chapter 67: Transferring to B-29. Out of Debt! Bubble Canopies Due. Sharing Salami. The Whiskey Run. Throwing Oil
July 28, 1944 Alto, Corsica : Very little doing the last couple of days. My plane did not fly, so I lounged around, swam in our river, napped, and played ping pong most of the time. Three days ago there was a meeting of our flight, in which we were asked if we wanted to be transferred to a B-29 Group (4-engine bombers). I put my name in for transfer.
You see that is the only way I can move up to a higher grade. I am a Staff Sergeant. Because the table of basic allowances requires a crew chief on a single engine fighter plane to be a Staff Sgt. A crew chief on a two engine plane is a Technical Sgt, and a crew chief on a 4 engine plane is a Master Sgt. There is quite a difference between a Staff. Sgt.’s salary and that of a Master Sgt!
My plane flew once this morning, with no mechanical problems popping up! I was sent to the Group dentist this morning. He said my teeth are OK. I received mail from home, saying that my older brother Murray is being sent overseas in his artillery battalion for service in Europe. Cousin Marvin likewise is going overseas, probably to the Philippines. I sold all the khaki pants and shirts and one pair of shoes that I purchased while in Alexandria for $240.00: This permitted me to pay off all my debts. Everybody says there is going to be an invasion of southern France within the next few days.
July 29, 1944 Alto, Corsica we received 12 new pilots this morning, and they all flew on a training mission at 11 AM. My plane came back OK. We are told that we will shortly all receive 'bubble' canopies for the planes. There was another mission at 4 PM but my plane was not scheduled for it, so I just hung around the flying line. We were shown a newsreel, which contained pictures our pilots had taken on some of our missions over Florence, Italy.
We hear that the Russians are now in Warsaw, Poland!
I played some ping pong, and received a package from my parents containing salami. It had been wrapped in the Sunday Newspaper and the outside of it had welded itself to the paper during the 6 weeks it took to reach me. I had to cut the newspaper and the outer layer from the salami in order to be able to eat it. ! Needless to say, these slight difficulties did not detract to the pleasure that I and my buddy Gene Schnabel had when eating it with slices of Melba toast covered with mayonnaise. (All these goodies had come from my own private larder). He of course produced articles that he had received from home. Thus we shared whatever we had between us. (A not uncommon arrangement between two buddies in the military).
July 31, 1944, Alto, Corsica : After the last flight yesterday my plane was marked out of commission due to propeller trouble, and it was throwing oil back on the windshield. My assistant Barney and I fixed the prop trouble. We then reworked 4 rocker box covers to prevent the leakage of oil onto the windshield.
We now have two planes fitted with 100 gallon wing tanks. They are to fly to Alexandria, Egypt and bring the tanks back filled with whiskey. Our Officers now find that it is easy to utilize the methods introduced to us by Major Benedict (Benny), even though they violate various
Sections of the Articles of War. (These are the laws that the U.S.Government uses to control the methods by which the military functions.) They were quick to see how making the lives of the ground crews better, resulted in a huge increase of productivity and general good conduct!
Aug 1, 1944 Alto, Corsica; We got orders the first thing this AM. Everybody goes to the flying line, because we are trying to keep all our planes in operation so we can send those two with empty wing tanks to Catania, Sicily to get whiskey.
My ship flew this morning and came back throwing oil again. Lt. . Sprague flew it. No flights in the afternoon, but there was an unusual incident. One of the 64th squadron’s planes while taxiing ran into a plane from the Lafayette Escadrille (they share this airfield with us). Nobody was hurt however.
We had a 6 PM mission, and I taxied my plane out to the flying line with our dog 'Ace' on my lap. He likes this kind of life! Our planes went to Southern France, where they bombed and strafed a German airfield. They returned at 9.30 PM.
So ends part 67 of my wartime memoirs.