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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC (USAAF) 1940 - 1945


Chapter 89: War Boosting Thunderbirds. Hospital Again. Singing In Italian

Nov 11,1944 Grosetto, Italy Sgr. Volter got me up at 6 AM for an 8 AM takeoff. My plane was flown by Lt. Mayberry He gifted me with a carton of cigarettes that he had promised me. We are breakfast at the transient mess. My plane returned OK from the mission, and I replaced the broken fuel mixture control safety.

In the afternoon we flew one more mission, providing ground support for the infantry. The weather has now turned quite cold and all indications point to a severe winter. We had to put 6 gallons of alcohol in the water injection system to keep it from freezing up. The water injection system is part of the War Boost which permits the engine to produce more power than that for which it was rated. In an emergency situation when the pilot needs a burst of power, he presses the throttle past its limit, breaking a safety wire to do so. This causes water to be injected directly into the engine’s cylinders, which immediately reduces the cylinderhead temperatures. The result is that the engine now runs more efficiently and thus produces more power which in turn increases the airplane’s top speed. As soon as possible the pilot must return the throttle to its normal range so as to discontinue this water injection process because prolonged use of this War Boost would result in damage to the engine.

Modern day avionics utilizes jato (jet assisted take off) to achieve the same objective, when taking off from a short runway. This War Boost concept is really not far-fetched as it appears. My first cousin Marty Berrin hooked-up such an apparatus to his automobile, which resulted in a reduction in his engine’s fuel consumption, with no loss in efficiency.

I have developed a bad cold in my nose, throat, head and chest, and I believe I will go on sick call tomorrow morning. My tent mates installed a stove and I will test it out tonight. It only heats the room it is in, which does nothing for the other rooms. We will have to put it in the hallway and knock a hole in the roof through which the stove pipe can extend. We played some blackjack tonight and I lost $20.00, got disgusted and quit. Now my left arm and right hip are paining me, so off to bed I went!

Nov 12,1944 Grosetto, Italy. I awoke at 6 AM to a bitter cold day. The mess tents are still down from the storm we had the night before last. I went on sick call after breakfast and the Doctor told me to get my personal articles and move into the Group Hospital. On the way there I stopped off at our supply and turned in my old flight jacket for a new model and a sweater. There was a mail call and I got three letters and a package of food.

Lunch was brought to us by the Italian fellows who work in the hospital. I played cards in the afternoon, studied some Italian, and got the words from one of the Italians to the Italian Partisans song. I did some interpreting for some of the Italians that came in for medications. I sat around chatting with the guys for a few hours, and every four hours I got cough medicine, nose drops, aspirins, and a salt water gargle.

I started smoking my pipe again. The word is that President Roosevelt has been re-elected again! There is no stove in our room, and we have to hang around the Dispensary Room which has a stove, in order to stay warm. The Doctor keeps popping-in and out, and wisecracking. Gene Schnabel still has his foot in a cast, and I really don’t think there is a damned thing wrong with it! I finally went to sleep at midnight.

Nov 13,1944 Grosetto, Italy. I spent an uneventful night, awaking at 8.30 AM. Pietro brought in my breakfast of pancakes, Caro syrup, bacon and coffee. Then I went back to sleep, until Doc Kelly woke me up to ask how my cold was progressing. He said that I had better stay in hospital for a while yet. Tiny Friedman is taking care of my plane for me. I played solitaire, wrote some letters, and sang songs with Joe, one of the orderlies. After dinner, Pietro brought us a pitcher of coffee in case we got thirsty later in the evening.

One of the men in our outfit got a piece of metal in an eye when he was welding, and Doc Auerbach took it out.

I’m so bored here that I told the doctor that I would help install two new stoves that he is getting in tomorrow. I studied Italian for a few hours and got the words to 'Parlame di amore Mariou' from Joe. We sang some more Italian songs, and in between I took nose drops and gargles. Went to bed at ll PM. for lack of anything else to do!

So ends part 89 of my wartime memoirs.

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