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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC (USAAF) 1940 - 1945


Chapter 83: Mosquito Attack. Sore Throat. Brand New P-47. Home Made Stove. 20 Sorties Before Lunch

Oct 17, 1944 Grosetto, Italy. No flights this morning. In the afternoon the group received 4 new P-47s. 'B' Flight got two, 64th and 65th squadrons each got one, so I still do not have a replacement for my plane.

I tried to sleep in the afternoon but the mosquitoes were biting like mad. I had to get some insect repellant to rub on myself to get any sleep. Gene Schnabel visited Grosetto this afternoon and returned with three nice bass (fish). Since dinner was so bad in the mess hall (fried span, rice and coffee), Gene and I did not eat there. Instead we cooked them ourselves this evening, with onions and tomatoes, and it was delicious! Almost everybody went to the movie, leaving me alone to do my studying in peace and quite. I worked on algebra problems, and studied irregular Italian verbs.

Oct 18,1944 I woke up with a sore throat again, and went on sick call this morning. Our doctor is in Florence, so our medic Baron swabbed out my throat with a tincture of alcohol. Serles said that I could crew the P-38 but I couldn’t get the flight chief’s permission. So I just lounged around the tent. I slept for 2 hours, washed up, and brewed some coffee, and gargled my throat with salt water several times. Searles now has Lt. Knauf’s Italian Fiat car. The Lt. got himself another one. I spent several hours after dinner studying algebra and Italian. In the evening I raided the kitchen and got a can full of coffee. Woody Sorrel drew his sugar and coffee rations for his upcoming pass to Rome, so he can give hem to his girl friend.

Oct 19, 1944 Flight chief Volter said I could not crew the P-39 because Serles was assigned to it. So that kills that! Instead of going to the line and working, I went to Grosetto with 'Indian' White to have his Italian truck serviced. (Oil change and chassis lubricated). We were done at 11 AM, then did some shopping, and then returned to camp.

To my surprise, I found that I now had a brand new P-47 (Model RA-28) replacement for my Plane 73. Google (my assistant) and did the receiving inspection and knocked off by 4.20 PM when White came around with the truck to take us to supper. There was a ration of 12 bottles of beer and 1 carton of cigarettes per man. I sold the beer for 2 cartons of cigarettes, and then sold all the cigarettes to our Italian friend for $5.00 per carton. I also sold him a pair of sandals that I had bought while I was in Alexandria, Egypt on pass. Stripling is going on 5 day pass, so I lent him $50.00 since I won’t need it for a while. I mailed a bunch of picture postal cards home, after getting permission from Lt. Sexauer.

Oct 20, 1944 Upon awaking this AM it was cold, so I started our gasoline stove. It got red hot quickly so I could get dressed in a nice warm tent. I went to the line with engineering because they pulled a tech order change on the supercharger gas drain. They re-routed it to the belly from the side. After lunch my girl friend Eva came round and spent a couple of hours with me. Then back to the flying line and finally finished the receiving inspection a 4 PM, and gassed her up. Lt. Angelione then took it up for a test hop and when he returned he said it ran fine.

Lt. Knauf then drove us to Camp for supper in his 7 passenger Fiat sedan that he had scrounged somewhere. It used to be a taxi in its other life! Tonight we got the rest of our rations, consisting of 5 more packs of cigarettes, candy, cigars and toilet articles. Our Italian friend was around again, and we sold him a few things. So far this month I made $80.00 selling him my rations.

Oct 21, 1944 when I woke up I started the gasoline stove without even getting out of bed, because the weather has now turned bitter cold. The line from the stove ran underground and arose next to my cot with a shut off valve easily accessible. It then ran underground under my cot outside the tent and arose to be connected to the bottom of an empty 50 gallon gasoline barrel. The fuel was a mixture of 100 octane aviation gasoline and used engine oil. Inside the stove sat a cut down coffee can containing sand into which the fuel ran. I lit the fire from a supply of tubes I fashioned from newspapers. To light the fire without getting out of my cot I had to lean over, prop open the stove’s hinged door, and insert a lit paper tube into the stove. I then opened the valve next to my bed, just enough for the fire to start. After that I adjusted the fuel flow depending on how hot I wanted the tent to become. Sometimes it got so hot that the stovepipe was white hot all the way up to top of the tent.

In order to keep the tent from catching fire I had the stovepipe exit through a sheet metal box in the center hole of the roof. I had cut a hole in the top of the stove, so that it had a removable lid. When we wished to cook something, we removed the lid and set the cooking vessel over the open hole. I can tell you that notwithstanding the crude manufacture of that stove; it served us perfectly. (And it cost us nothing to make and operate!)

After breakfast we went to the line. We mounted 20 sorties before lunch. Lt. Mayberry swiped a clock for my ship because it did not come with one. It rained so badly after lunch that we were released for the afternoon. So, Dell and I started work on our house, taking the nails out of the empty belly tank boxes and straightening the nails. We got one side of the house done before dinner.

I found my name on the squadron bulletin board, to draw winter clothing (Olive drab). Flight Sgt. Volter says we will soon move north to the Florence area. We are waiting until the engineers lay steel mats on the runway and taxi strips. We received the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes and read that the invasion of the Philippines has begun and it goes well.

Gene Schnabel went shopping in Grosetto this afternoon and came back with three fish. They were nice large sea bass. We cooked them for dinner, with onions and tomatoes nd it was delicious.

Dell and White went to a dance in Castiglione tonight. I am just too tired to go .

So ends part 83 of my wartime memoirs.

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