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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC (USAAF) 1940 - 1945


Chapter 106:Fano Roman Town. Magnificent Florence. Sailing Adriatic. The Ladies of Italy

Aug 1,1945 Fano, Italy. Fano is small Adriatic town with splendid beaches which is a pleasant enough place if a little humdrum. It completely combines its role as a resort with that of a small fishing port and minor historical town. Here you can see the crenellated Porta Maggiore and the remnants of the medieval defensive walls on the southwestern side of the town center. Behind them is the Roman Gate, the Arcoo di Augusto, impressive despite having been truncated in the 15th century when its upper storey was blasted away in battle.

You can see what it used to look like in the third century, in a relief on the façade of the adjacent church of San Michele. A Roman milestone states the distance from the capital as 195.4 Roman miles. There are few other relics of Roman Fano, although the fifteenth century fountain in the main square is dedicated to Fortune. Overlooking the fountain are the reconstructed thirteenth century Palazzo Delle Ragione and its fifteenth century Corte Malastestiana. So for a week we wiled away the time playing ping pong, visiting the nearby towns, and in general just relaxing. We could not do a lot more because we were flat broke. In spite of having signed the payroll three times in one month I still had not received any pay.

June 8, 1945 Fano, Italy. We were called to a meeting at the mess hall and the squadron commander told us that the group’s plans had been changed. We were going home all right, and after spending 90 days in the States we would be going to the Pacific!

We all said 'That’s all right, as long as we go home first'. The next week was spent just relaxing; except for one memorable day several of us spent visiting a nearby town by the name of Senigallia. We rented a sailboat and stocked it with a third of a ham, 3 bottles of wine and 4 loaves of Italian bread, and off we went. It was really exciting to make sail, and tack the boat in order to be able to change directions. For some of us that were landlubbers it was a new experience, and given the beautiful day to spend we really made the most of it Several times we took in the sail and dropped anchor in order to go swimming in the warm Adriatic sea.

June 17,19455 Fano, Italy We were called to the mess hall again for a meeting, and the squadron commander told us that their plans were once again changed. The 310 Bomb Group was to be dissolved and the new group would go directly to the Pacific!

We asked to see the inspecting general and were told when and where to meet with him. When the inspecting general from Florence heard my story he told me not to worry, and that he would have me transferred immediately to another outfit that was scheduled to go home shortly. Several days later I found myself in a DC-3 transport en route to Florence.

When we arrived at our new camp we found it to be located on the side of a mountain overlooking Florence. We were billeted in a large villa which had formerly been used by the American Red Cross, and the view is magnificent!

Looking down we can see the Arno River winding its way at the start of Florence and the statuesque Ponte Vecchio (Bridge) crossing it. We were now in the 12th Photo reconnaissance squadron of the 3rd Recon Group, whose planes are P-38s powered with 2 Allison Engines.

We were called to the mess hall, where the squadron commander told us that we were scheduled to go home by October or November. He said that we would have no duties and that we should just relax and have a good time visiting Florence and the surrounding countryside. He said we were required to attend the Lightning University however and take whatever courses we wanted. I am taking classes in Psychology, advanced Italian and French. This is in addition working on my course with the Army Correspondence School. I thought to myself that if this keeps up I might become an intelligent fellow!

This new outfit seems rather nice, the men are friendly, and there are recreational facilities such as ping pong, and the living quarters are good. The women we have seen so far are nice looking, many of them blonde with fair complexions. This is quite a change from the ladies we have met in Sicily and southern Italy. They were for the most part brunettes, with the darker Mediterranean complexion (or the carne morena as the Spaniards call it). I have nothing but praise for the ladies of Italy , who for the most part were quite willing to make my sojourn in their land a memorable one ! While I must admit that I am a rather handsome fellow and might have enjoyed such success anyway, I feel sure that being able to court them in fluent Italian made a lot of difference!

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