Sunday, 10 November 2013 06:29

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1942 age 22---he was one of the old men in the unit 1942 age 22---he was one of the old men in the unit U.S. Army Air Corps

The mood of the country, the mood of the Army, in World War Two was one of seriousness, commitment, and belief in the righteous of our cause.  Something, which has not been a part of our national psyche since this time.  These were children of the Great Depression that had lived through the seriousness of poverty and hunger, and had a belief that the government would help us through tough times.  They knew they would ultimately prevail through righteousness and hard work.

 

Willie Mee was a Sergeant in the war and heard the V-1 rockets screaming over London.  He said as long as they were making noise it was safe, when they became silent it meant they were dropping straight down on you (Source: William Mee, Personal Interview December, 2000) http://www.384thbg.iwarp.com/images/dBuzzBomboverLondon.JPG.  When the rocket actually hit the ground it could knock you off of your feet if you didn’t brace yourself.  When the air raid sirens sounded, civilians scattered across the street to get to the air raid shelters, the American soldiers just bravely walked to wherever they were going.  Soldiers like my dad felt that if it was their time, it would just come and there was nothing you could do to stop it.  Why waste your leave time going in and out of shelters?  This was valuable time to hit the bars or meet women.  His leave trips to London were far more dangerous than being at Grafton-Underwood Air Force Base where he was stationed.  The Germans never attacked the base by plane or rocket to his knowledge during the war.  The V-2 rocket was even more dangerous because it was bigger and more accurate.

 

But then danger was nothing to the men in his unit.  They all thought it was just a matter of time before they all died.  Everyone thought they were living on borrowed time.  Years later in the 1950’s, James Dean might have summed up their attitude best with his quote: “Live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse.” 

 

When my father got his draft notice he was really upset.  It was if he had been sentenced to death: the war had been going badly in the Philippines[i] and for the English in the Battle for Britain and North Africa.  The Germans had battled the larger U.S. equipped Russian Army to a stalemate.  All the news reports on the home front were negative and going poorly.  From this moment on, he was very emotionally tied to getting the war over as soon as possible.

 

But more than anything Willie Mee wanted to be a forest ranger.  He always felt that his dream of becoming a forest ranger in the Pacific Northwest was dashed by World War II.  Although, ironically he made it to Washington state through the military and saw the beauty of the forests he wanted to protect first hand.  He served in the U.S. Army Air Force in the 547th Squadron of the 384th Bomber Group from 1942 until September 22, 1945 (http://www.384thbg.iwarp.com/).  He had his basic training at Fort Jay, N.Y., and then went to specialty schools in: Miami; Wichita Falls, Texas; Wendover Field in Utah; and Washington state.  He even stopped along the way on a leave in Utah to take pictures of the Grand Canyon.  Then his unit embarked across the Atlantic on the unescorted Queen Elizabeth.  He served in England, North Africa and France.  This is that tale.



[i]  Ill-prepared American National Guard units, like the 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment and the 515th Costal Artillery Regiment from New Mexico, where thrown against a seasoned Japanese Army fresh from ten years of combat in China.  These American units often had older rifles and World War One surplus.  But they fought like hell.  Often time just running out of ammunition before their units were overrun.  Many men had never fired their weapons in training because of the shortage of munitions.  Most ammo boxes were labeled with stickers that said “Do not break the seal.”  Commanders took this very seriously and would not let their troops practice their marksmanship.   

 

A popular poem from the time was:

 

“We are the battling Bastards of Bataan,

No momma, no papa, no Uncle Sam,

No aunts, no cousins, no nieces,

No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces,

and nobody gives a damn !”

 

This poem represents the frustration that the men overseas had.  The poem came back in letters to the states.  Many people accused MacArthur of just throwing the National Guard units at the Japanese to buy time.  He left the islands with his famous “I shall return” speech.

 

Finally, on April 9th, 1942, Brigadier General Edward King, on the last remaining footholds of the Bataan Peninsular, surrendered his forces to the Japanese just before they were almost forced out to sea.  They had lost hundreds of square miles of the islands and only one stronghold remained and that was the fortified storage depot on Corregidor Island.

 

The capture of the 78,000 Americans and native Filipino Soldiers at Bataan gave the Japanese a dilemma of how to move the prisoners.  All the trucks were being used in supplying ammunition to the new assault on Corregidor Island, the “Rock”; so there would be no wheeled transportation.  Because of the Samurai tradition they had, the Japanese could not understand why any soldiers would surrender, instead of retaining their honor by committing suicide.  Therefore, the Japanese treated their prisoners horribly-like sub-humans.  They force-marched the prisoners back to Prisoner of War camps located by the capital of Manila.  This action later became known as the Bataan Death March in 1942.  If someone fell down the Japanese bayoneted them as an example to the others not to be stragglers.  Many of the prisoners already had malaria and dysentery, for them, it was inevitable to fall down.  Thousands of men were killed.  Of the two thousand New Mexicans only 900 survived the war.  It is a very special part of New Mexico history.  Something we should never forget.

 

Former State Representative Murray Ryan carried his buddy from Silver City, former State Senator Tommy Foy along the trail and fed him cockroaches to keep him alive.  He even made a grasshopper soup for him and poured it down his throat as Foy got worse when they got to the camp.  Foy made a miraculous recovery, and he and Ryan worked at a Prisoner of War camp building roads for the Japanese Army.  After the war, they came back to New Mexico and served in the state legislature together (Source: William H. Mee Sr., Personal Interview December, 2000).  To this day, Foy and Ryan cannot talk to a Japanese person.  Once Foy spit on a Japanese tourist speaking Japanese on a plane.  He said he blacked out to the time when the Japanese would yell at him and then hit him in the gut for falling down in the death march.  Anytime he heard the Japanese language it would just send him off in a rage.

 

Meanwhile, after daily air raids and bombardment, and a final invasion on May 5th, Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright surrendered the island of Corregidor on May 6th, and the 15,000 men and 6,000 civilians under his command.  About 30,000 men of the American and Filipino forces were still scattered throughout the islands and were requested to disband and fight on as guerrilla groups.  Most of these did not survive the war.

 

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William Mee

Resident of Agua Fria Village Traditional Historic Community (THC) a place of settlement since 1640, grew up by Cerrillos, N.M.  Went to SFHS, NMSU and College of Santa Fe; and later UNM.  Member of Agua Fria Village Association and Acequia Agua Fria Association.

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5 comments

  • Comment Link William Mee Saturday, 24 May 2014 21:25 posted by William Mee

    From the book I am working on:
    Chapter One – The Real Heroes

    William Henry Mee, Sr. or “Willie” as he was known to his friends , had a unique set of experiences during World War Two. Nothing like his close buddies before the war, who went into other branches of the service and experienced heavy combat and the feelings of being “dead men walking.” But real things that I am proud of and that you the reader can be amazed at---as they are described here within.

    His buddies were guys like U.S. Army Sergeant Leonard “Bud” Lommel who led the high command-termed “suicide attack” on the heavy guns at Pointe du Hoc. My dad grew up with Bud and paddled canoes with him. At that point they were both just ordinary guys----mainly worried about getting a date for the weekend.

    Or, Al Bonal, a heavy machine gunner in the infantry. He was a camping buddy and sailed sailboats with him.

    Or Frank Shirmer, who as an infantryman, sloughed his way through the mud and gore of France in an unending nightmare of death and destruction. My dad was in the Elks Club with Frank for years after the war and at that point they were both just ordinary guys, back home…..

    This is a series of personal interviews of my father, William H. Mee, Sr. He was involved in World War Two. He wasn’t a General, a medal winner, or written about in the history books, but his contribution and his memories of other people’s contributions; are now becoming a significant part of American History. At the time of this first formal interview he was already 83 years old and I was thinking there may not be much longer that an oral history can be captured.

    I am William H. Mee, Jr., and my father never liked to talk about the war to me because he wasn’t a so-called “hero.” I always wondered if he saw some really awful things and just didn’t want to remember them. I couldn’t understand his reluctance to talk about the war or the Army. I grew up watching television in the 1960's like the weekly serials of: Combat, Rat Patrol, No Time for Sergeants, and Sergeant Bilko. And movies like: Bridge Over the River Kwai, Stalag 17, The Longest Day, Battle of the Bulge, Tora-Tora-Tora, Catch-22, The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, A Bridge Too Far, Bridge at Remagen, and Patton. The more I saw these shows, the more I wanted to know what my dad did during the war, and the more I wanted to go to the Vietnam War. But the more I asked, the less my dad said about his own role in the war and would talk about his friends in the war, who he said were the Real Heroes.

    His friends were men like U.S. Army Sergeant Leonard “Bud” Lommel (January 22, 1920 – March 1, 2011) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Lomell, who was with the Second Ranger Battalion in its attack on the guns at Pointe du Hoc and was more successful than anyone had dreamed. These were the famous “boys of Pointe du Hoc” that President Ronald Reagan spoke about in 1984 on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day. Bud Loemmel was featured in Tom Brokaw’s book titled The Greatest Generation, which was turned into an NBC News television segment titled “Greatest Generation with Tom Brokaw.” Bud had a staring role in the television series that my dad was totally in awe of. Loemmel was also in the book Voices of Valor: D-Day June 6, 1944 by Douglas Brinkley and Ronald Drez, a book I bought my father for his birthday. On the back cover a picture of twenty-four year old First Sergeant ‘Len’ Lommel (later First Lieutenant) appears in 1944. Lomell was recognized by historian Stephen Ambrose as the single individual — other than Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower — most responsible for the success of D-Day.[3

    The attack on Pointe du Hoc was billed to the Rangers as a ‘suicide attack’ and they were to take the target at all costs. They were ordered to “get all their things in order” and Sgt. Loemmel felt that “the end was just a matter of time.” A historical marker was placed in Point Pleasant in 1999 with a grappling hook attachment to marker to symbolize the climb of the cliffs, and was added to the historical marker database in 2010 (http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=7733). Recently, in 2012, a connector road to the Garden State Parkway in Toms River was named Lommel Lane (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R409LhS7GE4).

    Another good friend was Al Bonal a heavy machine gunner in the infantry. He landed in Normandy to not much resistance. He remembers saying: “a piece of cake, hope the whole war goes this way.” He went across France and Germany, in his words: “shooting at everything that moved.” He felt that shooting first was the safest way to survive the war. His job was to lay down fire and rake across an open field to give time to the flanking soldiers to get to the objective. Or he was called in when the rest of the platoon was pinned down. He fired in his own words “fast and furious”; it was the best way to stay alive. He often didn’t see the faces of his victims. It was something that haunted him in his civilian life. He remembers the first time he literally cut a man in half with the firepower of his machine gun. It was a man coming towards him, he had been out of his sight on his side, and then rushed into his vision. He said he just really wanted to make sure he stopped him. After this, he just shot in bursts. When they got into Germany, he said he saw a unit of Germans and they stood up and looked at him. He ran up with his gunner’s mate and they set up the tripod and the ammo box and these Germans just kept standing there. He looked at their faces and they were just kids, 15-17. Like deer trapped by a car’s headlight. Finally one picked up his rifle and started to aim it towards him and he cut him in half and mowed down another dozen after that in less than a minute. It was like they never had existed. He saw their ‘surprised’ eyes looking at him and often it was an image that would haunt him the rest of the war. Some of his future victims would have the eyes of the kids, even though he was just imagining this. These were kids cut down in their prime and Al was just trying to protect himself without second guessing what the enemy might do or might not do. He just wanted to stay alive and go home. But one thing he knew, that when the German Army was made up of old men and kids; the war couldn’t last much longer. It was all about shooting belts of ammunition as fast as he could and keeping the gun clear of jams. He aimed at a target gave a burst and aimed at the next movement and gave another burst. It was all so routine and unemotional; like clockwork---just mind numbing. Once when they were already in Germany, they didn’t have much winter clothing so they would go into houses and take what they needed. He was wearing three fur coats to keep warm. As they marched out and the day got warmer he just through the coats away, even though they were very expensive ones. There were just a few scary times when an overheated gun would jam and he thought: “my time is up and they are going to overrun the nest and get me.” He and his gunner’s mate would work as fast as they could to clear the jam or reload; and then they would start again dumping fire power into the enemy lines……

    Still another friend was Frank Shirmer, who as an U.S. Army infantryman, was caught up in the days after D-Day, in the bloody fighting in the hedgerow country. Young soldiers were sent out as point men and were shot down by German machine gunners. Once pinned down, Frank’s squad would take cover behind whatever they could find, then they would signal each other with crude sign language with a plan of attack. One guy would hold his weapon up above the position he was hiding at, like over a log, and just start firing their Thompson Sub-machinegun. This fire would draw the German machine gunner’s fire, and the two guys on either side of the decoy would advance their positions until they could lob a grenade into the German foxhole or pillbox. Frank learned not to make friends with the new guys because they were always the ones to “cash in the farm.” He was happy once they moved out of the hedgerow country and got into the open fields and cities. The cities started out to be very dangerous since German snipers would fight house to house. But then they developed a system. Frank often used a flamethrower and would ferret out German snipers by squirting the liquid napalm into a shot out window of a house and then turning up the heat and momentarily frying the building. They learned that enough damage was done, to kill all the occupants, when the Spanish-style clay tiles on the roof would start popping up and falling off with a “plink, plink, plink” sound. After that they would advance to the next building. Previous to this they had tried to enter or pass the building and Germans in hiding would pick them off. They had learned through experience that momentarily smoking a cigarette was enough time to save your life. To a casual observer it must have looked callous, just ignoring the screams of the burned; but to them it was just a part of the job. They were part of the Third Army, under General George S. Patton and his motto was to move fast, because the sooner you bypassed the enemy the sooner he had to fall back---the more you moved forward the less the casualties were. It was a tough way of thinking, but something that ultimately saved many lives. It was “Gospel” to Frank.

    William, Sr. went on the weekend pass down to Rainbow Circle in the heart of London. There he went to a couple of big clubs, where he drank next to the veterans of D-Day coming back on R&R (rest and relaxation). They told the most incredible stories of heroism and doing ingenious things under fire and having just blind luck in not getting killed. A group of D-Day vets would captivate the entire bar as they told their story. Stories like drawing lots for a suicide run across the beach. This is where their platoon had seen the devastation on the beach, so before they got off of the Higgins Boat, they took three flak jackets off of the boat crew and put them on one unlucky guy who drew the short straw for it. He would wear two thick and the third one they would tear in pieces and he would cover his neck and crotch and thighs by tying them to his waist. Then this unlucky guy would run up the beach drawing German fire. As the German gunners opened up and exposed their positions, the other Americans would pick them off from the cover of bombed out boats and tanks.

    My dad would tell me these guys were the real heroes and they remained unnamed and possibly totally unrecognized. They were always the average enlisted man who never got the glory and the limelight that the officers got. Officers always put themselves in for the medals. If you never saw these heroes again at the bar, you just figured they had bought it. It was in this environment that everyone lived. Not knowing one day to the next if this one was your last day and how painful of a death you might buy. Drink up and forget!

  • Comment Link William Mee Monday, 11 November 2013 20:22 posted by William Mee

    Also see this story of him in Miami:
    http://www.vocesdesantafe.org/social/index.php/explore-our-history/biographiespeople/item/939-william-henry-mee-sr-in-wwii

    Here are some more stories:
    My mom said that in 1943, an officer came to my dad and had noticed in his file that he had wanted to become a pilot and he offered him a chance to go to flight school and officer candidate school. He had been declined for pilot status because of a ‘lazy’ eye he had and back in 1942 he was really disappointed. But he said he had grown accustom to his ground crew status and felt he would be letting his men down if he left. Further he really couldn’t stand the thought of being an officer that the men hated.

    My dad saw a P-51 Mustang come into the base for the first time and was really impressed with it. Also a P-38 Lighting with the split forks. He had heard how the Germans feared them because of their maneuverability. He said they were so much faster than the B-17 bombers. They often “buzzed” just over head of the returning bombers and would go twice as fast as the lumbering giants, even when they were empty of bombs and gas. He often thought about flying a P-51.

    My dad was having some trouble with his lawn mower back in 1996 and I went to help him with it. I looked at the air filter and it was rather clogged and I looked at the oil and it was rather dirty. I asked him what kind of airplane mechanic was he if he couldn’t do these simple tasks of maintenance on a lawn mower. He said that being an airplane mechanic wasn’t that hard and he had a crew to do the work for him. They really just got reports from the flight crews and they would say that an engine was shot up, or another one was sputtering or went out on the return flight. Then pretty much they would just replace all the engines outright and then take the damaged engines back into the shop and work on them in detail. Once all four engines were in place it was just a matter of making sure they all fired and that was a quick test. They then fueled the plane up and it was ready to go. It was important to have the planes ready to go as soon as possible.

    Then they could go back into the shop or hangars and work on each engine. Each one had like 8 separate motors that needed to be timed together in order to fire properly and that was the biggest trick. If the smaller motors were shot up or physically damaged they just replaced those also outright and then tried to restart the engine. Then you had troubleshooting charts if things weren’t going your way. So he said it was rather simple and the process of elimination.

    My dad had a real fondness for gasoline, Vaseline, electrical tape and canvas (maybe even all things in Army Surplus stores). These were things that were abundant in the Army. If a little was good, a lot more was better. The more electrical tape the better a garden hose or shovel handle would hold. He used to wrap it really tight and then smooth over it with his hands to really make it stick down.

    For gasoline, I noticed it early in my life. In his later life we were always burning weeds and he would always run back over to the floundering fire and throw a soup can full of gas on it at an angle so it wouldn’t explode but just flare up really good. If the flame came close to him, he would say “ah ha!”, like there was some mythical spirit behind how it reacted. So he got this penchant for gas from the service. They use to wash parts, burn paint off of parts and burn weeds. A gas soaked stick was a quick way to start a wood stove in the barracks. He use to say that in the Army they use to say that: “if a little bit of gas is good to use at a task, a lot more is better.”

    My dad’s hearing was always poor after the war and he blamed this on the noise from the B-17’s. However, he refused to get hearing aids. He would say to talk into his good ear the right ear. He often walked around the house talking to my mother with a bent left ear. They were issued earplugs and headsets but it still didn’t block out the noise. In tuning the engines it could get loud starting up all four engines. Then for takeoff you had more than a hundred planes starting up and then coming up to an absolutely whining pitch in order to get enough power to get into the air. Deafening was the word for it.

    Army cooking is an acquired taste, and he and most of his close friends hated the food. Some of the rural guys like from the poor parts of Georgia, Wyoming or Texas really loved the food and would get seconds or ask others if they could finish their trays.

    The breakfasts were often instant eggs and potatoes. Very palatable if they weren’t burnt or made with spoiled lard. If they were overcooked they were rubbery and undercooked like mush. After awhile at each new base, the cooks didn’t overcook or undercook. Dinners were usually meat loaf and shit on a shingle (creamed chipped beef on toast).

    My dad hated meat loaf. This dated back to the War and how he says they fed it to them twice a week or more. He swore in civilian life he would never eat it again. The first time they had meat loaf everyone got diarrhea within about thirty minutes and there wasn’t enough toilets for everyone to use. People were just crapping in their pants. The smell and the slime on the floor was just getting others to vomit and it was like everyone was sick. It was such hysteria from that first day that many guys got nausea when the meatloaf was served the rest of the war. Surely, there was something wrong with the cooking facilities or the inexperience of the cooks that first day; but many guys gagged whenever the meatloaf hit the tray.

    My dad often said the ‘mystery meat’ they used for the meat loaf was horse meat. It often came in a big tin can without much labeling or identity where it came from, and looked suspiciously unlike beef. It had a lot of preservatives and made it unlike any other meat he had ever seen. Sometimes a side of beef was used, but this was more often used on some of the other meals.

    “Shit on a shingle” started off in the war very poorly, as the name suggests, but then as the cooks improved it tasted better, but it had already earned a name a was a great point to complain about in the serving line---just to keep the cooks on their toes. Creamed chipped beef on toast was apparently a British favorite and kept the Americans grounded in the idea of how it was for the British home front. Some soldiers speculated that it was served in case British officers visited the base so they could see the equal conditions American soldiers had.

    There was also SPAM; that Specially Processed Meat. It came in small tins and was traded to civilian women for sex. They loved the G.I.’s meat!

    My dad hated meat loaf so much, that when he was a newlywed, in 1950, he came home from work and my mom proudly displayed her just cooked meat loaf which was patterned after a recipe she had received at the grocery store. My dad flew into a rage and through the meat loaf in the trash. Then he told the story of the food of World War Two. My mom never cooked meat loaf after, and made sure her relatives didn’t cook it for him also. She was throwing away the creamed chipped beef on toast recipe away and my dad said it was okay to keep it.

    My mom also said that my dad has an amazing ability to eat really hot food like right out of the oven or just off the stovetop. It just never seemed to burn him. He said that that came from having to eat your food really quickly in the Army.

    Once where we went on a backpacking trip on May 30, 1975, we had freeze dried food that we backpacked in and my dad talked about how it would have been better to have used this for the Army. He particularly liked the Beef Stroganoff. He remarked how it reminded him of the creamed chipped beef on toast so many years past.

  • Comment Link William Mee Monday, 11 November 2013 20:15 posted by William Mee

    When he was at Wendover Field near Salt Lake, Utah in January 1943, my father came out of his barracks and saw a group of soldiers around in a semi-circle. As he walked closer and saw them better, he realized he was looking at a group of twenty men gathered around a mounted binoculars, like a telescope, and he went over to them. He asked some of the guys on the outer circle what the commotion was all about. They said they were looking at a tree that was off in the distance. He thought to himself a tree, one tree, what could be so special about that tree? The area around Wendover was generally very arid and treeless and mostly flat except for the small mountain behind Wendover that rose above the town but was very desolate. The Bonneyville Salt Flats are close by and set the tone for this very arid desert. So seeing the one tree out in the distance fueled the imagination: was it an oasis like in North Africa? Was it another town? Was it a well? Was it by a windmill or an underground stream? How could it possibly grow? Everyone had an idea about it.

    After this, my dad thought they were all getting a little stir crazy without having had a leave.

  • Comment Link William Mee Monday, 11 November 2013 20:10 posted by William Mee

    The significance of Veteran's Day can only be brought home to us by the stories:

    In late April or early May '43, the 384th Bomber Group went by train to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey to await sailing on the Queen Elizabeth. They finally got their assignment on the QE and departed in late May. The 547th Squadron of the 384th embarked from New York Harbor on the Queen Elizabeth on May 27, 1943. The QE traveled at some 35 knots an hour and was one of the fastest ships afloat for her size. So fast in fact that any escort ships could not keep up with her. So the QE went unescorted and zig-zagged to avoid enemy torpedoes. The QE was the largest passenger ship in existence and marveled the soldiers that were on her. Many took pictures. My dad describes how the swimming pool was drained and a set of bunkbeds stacked eight high was put in place. About 12-15,000 men would make the crossing. What a prize for a lucky shot by a u-boat. But the five day passage on the QE went without incident. The QE arrived in Greennock (pronounced “Grannock”), Scotland on June 2, 1943 near Glascow on the Clyde River. They went by train from there to Carlisle in Cumbria, England through Sheffield then Nottingham, then Leicester, and finally to Kettering in Northhampton-Shire, where they disembarked. They had to march about 6 ½ kilometers to Grafton Underwood in Northhampton near Kettering in early June, 1943, Station 106; their base for the duration.

    Unloaded from the train, they marched out into a large empty field at early sunrise it was quite cool and they had no shelter. The officers thought it would be good for morale to have a hot meal so they approached the cooks with this idea. The only thing that could be made given their limited supplies was hot coffee and hot biscuits.

    So the first morning they were stationed in England, the 384th Bomber Group enlisted men were standing around drinking coffee and eating biscuits, and laughing. Then everyone noticed a plane coming in from the southeast from France. It was the first plane they had ever seen coming in from enemy territory, obviously returning from action, with a small smoke trail following it. Everyone was excited to see the first glimpse of the actual “air war.”

    It was a small British bomber that started going lower and lower, and slower and slower as the smoke increased. Finally three or four parachutes emerged from the plane and they wrapped around each other before they opened.

    The men’s helmets pounded each other and the noise could be heard by the dining 384th Bomber Group. The parachutes of the men never opened as they hit the land in a ball with a loud dull thud. They had jumped too low and too close together. It was a lesson the 384th Bomber Group wouldn’t forget.

    Later the word got out that the one of the engines of the plane had given out and was smoking and the crew had told ground control that they were going to try and jump into the ocean and ditch the plane. As they realized they couldn’t make the ocean they jumped anyway. When the men of the 384th Bomber Group recovered the bodies from a field, the men had been bashed into each other’s helmets so much that they weren’t recognizable.

    It was a rude awakening to the horrors of war for these rookies. It ruined the morale boost of “hot coffee and hot biscuits.”

    Later that day the soldiers got tents and camped out just off a large empty field. The next day they made their way to the Grafton-Underwood Airfield boundaries where they received the sides of their future buildings from some trucks. The buildings were constructed and in the course of a couple of days the tents were eliminated.

  • Comment Link Arthur Scott Sunday, 10 November 2013 20:10 posted by Arthur Scott

    A man to be proud of,William. The NM A & M Army ROTC had the name "The Battling Bastards" and part of the poem as their unit
    insignia during the seventies (long after i was commissioned.)

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