Chapter 90: Sick Call. Rain, Rain. Early Morning Training Missions. Losing a Pilot. Storm Rages
Nov 14,1944 Grosetto, Italy. (In the 57th Group Hospital with ax bad cold).
I awoke this morning at 8.30 and Pietro, an Italian civilian orderly brought me a breakfast consisting of dehydrated eggs, bacon, bread and coffee. I will miss this place, if only for the amenities I receive from the civilian Italian orderlies who work here. They have all adopted me and can’t do enough for me, simply because I am the only one here with whom they can exchange pleasantries in Italian. When they visit with me we sing songs, tell jokes, and tell of our families, experiences and hopes, much as all soldiers do.
During sick call this morning, Doc. Kelly said I could return to work, so I swiped a blanket and took off for our camp. Kingsley, over at Group Medics had been telling me about the CIC (Counter Intelligence Corps) and asked me why I didn’t try out for it, given my knowledge of foreign languages. So, I went to the orderly room and asked about it. They said they knew nothing of it, but that they would check it out.
I washed up, studied Italian and algebra. My assistant Google said he would help me every night with the algebra. (His name is Barney, so I call him Google after a character in an old comic strip called Barney Google)!
It rained, making for a miserable afternoon. Rumors abound such as that the cooks are going to have to attend Cooks and Bakers School. Google found a hound dog somewhere and it jumps on everybody’s cot, and in general making himself a real pest! We played blackjack for two hours tonight and I came out $20.00 ahead. There will be an early mission tomorrow morning and I will be awakened for it. Right now there is a hell of a storm raging outside, and our door keeps flying open even though we have it barricaded! There will be a squadron meeting tomorrow also.
Nov 15, 1944 Grosetto,Italy. I was awakened at 5.30 for a 7 AM take off. We were burned up to find out that it was just a training mission. The group got 17 new pilots and they are learning formation drills! In 10 days my plane is already due for a 50 hour inspection. There was another training mission in the afternoon, and my plane was on that one. I was able to catch a one hour nap before they returned. Later in the afternoon there was a third training mission but my plane missed it.
I slept in the cockpit for a while. I also worked on my belly tank, but still can’t get it to suck gas. It is cold as hell today, with a wicked wind that cuts right through you. There was a large mail call and I got a package of food and a letter from Mother. The package contained a salami, cigarettes, and candy. Dellavolpe got my laundry back for me. I still have that lousy cold in my system. There is a movie tonight but I am just not up to it.
We were told that this severe winter weather is a large problem for the air force; however our squadron flew through weather which grounded the heavy and medium bombers. Our planes kept the assigned rail arteries cut, thus preventing the enemy from receiving much-needed supplies from Austria.
Nov 16, 1944 Sgt. Volter came by to get me up at 5.00 AM for a 6.00 AM take off. I told him I felt lousy and asked him to get Glickman instead. He knew I was not feeling well, so he agreed. I got up at 7 AM and after breakfast went right down to the flying line. My plane came back from the flight OK, so I serviced it up. Later she went back up on a dive bombing mission with Lt. Mayberry in the cockpit.
He is a real nice guy and we get along OK! I finally discovered that my belly tank would not suck gas because a hose just above if was kinked. So I dropped the tank and pulled off the sway braces, but couldn’t continue because Sgt. Volter came around and said it would probably make the next flight. So instead I greased the landing gear zerk fittings. We lost plane No. 72 today, when it was hit by flack over the target! The pilot (a new man) managed to bail out safely, and is now in German hands.
There was a big canteen today, cigarettes, beer, candy, and toilet articles. I traded my candy and beer for more cigarettes. I will sell them when I go to Rome for a 5-day pass. Meanwhile, the whole squadron is still restricted to the base because of a common social disease. I turned in a shortage list of things that I lost during the flood, hopefully for replacement!
So ends part 90 of my wartime memoirs.