Chapter 84: My Own Plane At Last. Building a Home from Home. Army Foul Up. Rain, Again!
Oct 22,1944 Grosetto, Italy
We had quite a thunderstorm last night. The whole field is one muddy mess. Della Volpe and I worked all morning building our plywood house and it is starting to look like something now. It is a pleasure to have my own plane now instead of helping anybody in 'A' flight that needs it. Unless you have been in complete charge of something like an airplane, you cannot understand the relationship which exists between it and you. Since my plane was lost in combat I have suffered from a feeling of detachment. You see, when anyone mentioned plane No. 73, it was always 'Jerry’s plane', and the remark always gave me a feeling of importance and satisfaction thus you can see why I was so elated to receive a replacement airplane.
My plane returned from a morning flight with both landing flaps shot up. Our engineering crew changed them both today. After lunch we went to the flying line but couldn’t work because of the mud. We returned to our camp area and we went back to work on our house. By dinnertime we had it all up, except for the roof. We need a 2 x 4 board for a roof brace before we can install the roof. It is raining again tonight, a regular storm! Tonight we swiped enough lumber so we can finish the roof tomorrow.
I studied some Italian and went to sleep early because I was tired. That carpentry sure tired me out! Herb Glucksman, Murphy, and some others are also building plywood houses. We hope we will be able to keep them.
Oct 23,1944 Grosetto, Italy. No flying today because the field was inoperable due to all the mud. Della Volpe and I worked on our house all morning. DeLoretto made a trip to Pescara and brought back an Italian cousin of his. After lunch I went back to work on the house again, this time I had help from Slim because Della Volpe went with Indian White up to the mountains where they make book-ends and similar articles.
After dinner, I gave Bull his Spanish lesson and he helped me with my algebra studies. I have signed up with the Army School, and receive lessons each month. We are told that our new field should be ready by Nov 15th. The engineers are having trouble grading it because of all the bad weather we have had lately. It seems that it rains up in the hills there every day.
Oct 24, 1944. Grosetto, Italy. I awoke this morning with a bad stomach ache. It feels like I may have a stomach ulcer. I couldn’t even eat any breakfast, so I went on sick call at 8.30 AM, and was driven to the 57th Group dispensary. The Doc checked me over and said he thought I might have some kind of parasite in my stomach. He told me to go to the Hospital tomorrow and get a specimen. He gave me some pills and belladonna to take after every meal.
I went to work in the afternoon. We had only one mission before the weather closed in. We hung belly tanks on the planes, and then were told that the orders were changed. So we had to drop the tanks. Typical Army foul-up! After dinner Slim and I made a door for the house. We still have to install the lights and make a stove. We are now told that our new field is up near Florence and should be ready by Dec 15th now.
Oct 25, 1944. The stomach pains have finally subsided. We are released from flying this morning because the field is muddy. I worked on the house all afternoon, putting in a stove and water-proofing the roof. After dinner I finished up the stove by flashlight. It is raining again at 8 PM! Tomorrow we are going to paint the roof. Woody got in from Rome at 9 PM, completely pooped out. I got letters from and Harry Berrin at mail call. Our 'Communications' Sgt. promised me 30 feet of electric light wire tomorrow morning so I can connect our new home up with the generator. If all goes well, Della Volpe and I should be able to move in tomorrow night.
Oct 26, 1944 Grosetto, Italy It is raining heavily again this morning. I got 150 feet of electric wire from Sgrt Whistner at 'Communications' and connected it up to the nearest generator so we now have lights. When the rain stopped I started painting the plywood roof, hopefully to keep it from and warping. I was only half way through when it started raining again! It rained until noon and we stayed in our tent until lunch time. After lunch it stopped raining long enough for me to finish painting our house. It is painted a bright red, and everyone comments upon how much like a brothel (bawdy house) it looks.
. First Sgt. Pettis told me I have guard duty for a week, starting tonight. We cut cards for the shifts and I drew the 10 PM to 1 AM shift. After dinner I moved into our new house, hoping that the roof will not leak. We’ll find out as soon as it rains again. I pulled my guard shift at the movie tonight. At mail call I got a package from Mom full of food. It rained intermittently all night and I got soaked through and through. When my shift was through I started the stove and changed into dry clothes before falling into my bed for the night.
So ends part 84 of my wartime memoirs.