Dwight e. Turner



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A Year in New Guinea

by

DWIGHT E. TURNER
During the past few years I have attended several reunions of men I was stationed and flew with during World War II half a century ago. Our conversations about events has prompted me to look at my pilot log books and other records. That leads to the thought that to anyone unfamiliar with those events the records would be dry, uninformative and not provide much information of interest.

The log, at the time entries were being made, was primarily kept for the purpose of recording pilot experience. Thus the emphasis was upon noting aircraft types and flight hours. Other information was secondary. The "remarks" column was optional and not very large. Now I realize that the log book is the nearest thing I have to a diary of events. Since the remarks were brief, abbreviated, and in a minute scribble, the following is an attempt to elaborate upon those sometimes cryptic entries and render them more intelligible.

Some of the entries I have little memory of, but the process of reviewing the record line-by-line has brought back some recollections. The following is a result of that review, and will perhaps bring to life some of the history of that time in a remote corner of the world.

 

Dear Lee, Ann and Bruce



This year of nineteen hundred ninety five seems to be the year of anniversaries. I have had occasion to review my old log book and the more official Air Force records, both of which are beginning to show the effects of age and be less readable with the passing years. Before the print fades completely and even I can't read my hieroglyphics or military abbreviations, let us attempt to convert the records into something more readable.

The World War II period, from December 7, 1941 to August 1945 was a time of tremendous upheaval. Millions and millions of people were sent to places no one had ever heard of, and all of us lucky enough to come home brought the stories of our individual experiences. Very few knew much about the broad strategy--"the big picture"--or cared. The idea was to do one's job, and hopefully survive. Neither was there much thought about writing memoirs fifty years later. Dairies may not have been officially forbidden but were discouraged. In enemy hands they were very good sources of intelligence, Some did however, and those records have become very helpful. The rest of us have to rely on what has been published or on our memory, and you know what happens to memory. A lot has faded completely away, or perhaps come back attached to the wrong event.

I didn't keep a diary as such but I do have some other information which, with a little interpretation should be of help in keeping the facts straight. First is my pilot log book. At the time as a very young pilot I was most interested in logging my flight experience; so I was quite precise in recording the number of hours I flew, Where we went and what we did was secondary. The comments section of the log was small and comments therefore tend to be quite cryptic. My official Air Force flight record, the "Form Five," is even more cryptic. It does list credited combat missions; i.e. CM-1. . .etc.; but not much else other than detailed breakdown of flying time. My personnel record and assorted other information I've acquired will help to fill in some gaps. This then is a condensation of one of the significant years of my life.

A YEAR IN NEW GUINEA

In mid April 1943 our crew, gunners Sergeant McDermott, Sergeant Parma and myself, along with fifteen or twenty other newly minted combat crews, found ourselves on a troop train leaving Oklahoma City, bound for Hamilton Field at San Rafael, California. We had spent the previous year in flight schools and combat crew training, learning to fly the Douglas A-20 (Havoc). Now we were being sent to earn our flight pay.

Hamilton Field was an airport of embarkation and a base of operations for Army Air Forces Air Transport Command. As I remember, our troop train terminated in Oakland, we were herded onto a ferry to get across San Francisco Bay, and must have somehow been bussed across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Rafael.

Most of us knew very little about what was happening. The troop train commander had custody of our orders, which were classified (secret). At that stage to hurry up and wait was a normal state of affairs. So we checked in to temporary barracks and waited for the next order. California was beautiful in the spring, and while we were waiting had the opportunity to do some sight seeing. I spent an evening in San Francisco. On April 24, '43 orders were issued directing us to "proceed at the proper time by Air (Contract Carrier) to ********** reporting upon arrival therat for duty."

Flight Officer Jay Shoop, myself, and our four gunners were the passengers on one trip, along with what was supposed to be high priority cargo. You may note that we still didn't know where we were going. In any event, on or shortly after the date of those orders we reported for our scheduled flight and found that we were riding in a C-87, a cargo conversion of the B-24 Liberator bomber. At about midnight the crew fired up and taxied for takeoff—to Hawaii--on the first leg of our trip. Jay Shoop had been given a sealed envelope as we boarded, and after we had been airborne for an hour he opened it as directed. Finally we knew our destination—Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Getting to Australia, for us, was an adventure in itself. The first leg, about twelve and a half hours to Hickam Field, Honolulu was a long haul. Our airplane was a pretty primitive cargo/passenger conversion. The bulky cargo took up much of the available space. Seats were not provided for the passengers. Instead fold-down bunks were installed, and I believe that we had either blankets or sleeping bags. Probably those bunks were available to use on return trips for sick or wounded. The flight itself was pretty much boredom. The weather seemed to be beautiful all the way and there wasn't anything to see. We were flying at eight or ten thousand feet and the ocean looked like glass. After some hours of that it felt like being in suspended animation. I suppose that we may have been issued an inflight lunch. About an hour before Honolulu we came to attention when the crew feathered (shut down) one of the engines. There was still a lot of ocean below us, but it flew fine on three and we landed at Hickam Field without incident. There was some talk about an oil leak, but I've come to suspect that it was an excuse for us to lay over in Honolulu, a last outpost of civilization.

I was happy to be informed that we were to have a bit of extra time in Honolulu. It gave me a chance to look up a relative. My uncle Leorrie Demo (Jeannine and Elaine's father) was a painter and had volunteered to work at Pearl Harbor during the rebuilding after December seventh. So I found my way to the main gate of the naval base, and amazingly within a few minutes found where Orrie was working. We had lunch and talked about family and events. Didn't see any of the harbor and in fact had very little idea of how much damage had been done.

After twelve or eighteen hours on Oahu whatever necessary adjustments needed were completed and we bearded our C-87 for the next leg. About fifteen hundred miles southwest of Hawaii in the Phoenix Islands group lay Canton Island. After about eight hours flying time out of Hawaii our navigator found that dot in the ocean. Just south of the equator, Canton is a coral atoll, horseshoe shaped, and only a very few miles long and wide. A runway occupied just about the entire area of one side of the horseshoe; minimum maintenance and living facilities took up other space nearby. I don't remember any vegetation on the island. Pretty basic living for the troops stationed there. There were still some night fighters based there, because of some chance of Jap attacks from carriers or from the Gilbert Islands to the west. It was easy to see that it was no place to vacation, so after some quick food and servicing we were off again.

About seven hours southwest of Canton, beyond Fiji, lay the island of New Caledonia. Another change of scenery—our first experience of a lush green tropical area. We landed in the rain and quickly found out about tropical humidity, and muddy airdromes. Another quick turnaround and our bird was airborne on the final leg.

Brisbane, in the state of Queensland, Australia, about five hours west-southwest of New Caledonia, was what we were looking forward to. Our bird touched down on schedule at Amberley Field, Ipswich, next door to Brisbane and we began to be introduced to life "down-under."

The old timers--anyone who was there a day longer than us--advised us of such things as different eating customs: knife in the right and fork in the left hand, and such staples as steak and eggs--pronounced staiik and aiiggs. We found them very good for breakfast, or any other meal. When you see steak and eggs on your favorite restaurant menu remember that we GI's brought the idea from the Aussies. As usual we waited. In a few days the balance of our contingent arrived on subsequent ATC flights and arrangements were made for the group to get aboard an Australian train--heading north. The word was that we were going to Townsville, about eight hundred miles up the coast of Queensland, and then inland about sixty miles to a place called Charters Towers. All of which was so much Greek to most of us.

As we began to get acquainted with this new country we began to form impressions. I had the feeling that here in the northeastern part of the country we were in a more pioneering atmosphere. Everything was casual, informal, open and friendly. Australia was more conscious of the closeness of the war. Actions had been close enough to them that they had been thinking of the possibilities of invasion. The Coral Sea battle had been fought a few hundred miles off the coast of Oueensland a year before. Air raids had occurred against northern cities, and the Jap advance in New Guinea had been stopped only months before we arrived. Invasion had been considered a real possibility, and we saw evidence of defensive activity when we visited in Brisbane.

Back to the train. Steam locomotive. No sleeping cars. No dining cars. I don't remember any upholstery on the seats but that may be some of the faulty recall. In any event we settled in on the upright seats for a long trip north, Needless to say it wasn't a bullet train. I'm afraid to say just how long the trip was but I'11 guess the better part of three days. I don't remember the Oueensland scenery being that great. After being underway for awhile we found out the routine for food. At each station a restaurant was included as part of the facility, and station stops were long enough to get food. The real interesting part we observed as the train crept into station for first food stop. The Aussie blokes who were familiar with the system jumped off the train as soon as slowed enough and ran alongside to get first in line at the restaurant.

And so finally to Townsville, and change of train. After rattling along for some sixty miles we arrived at Charters Towers, where the U S Army Air Forces had established a base. A year earlier combat aircraft were based there for missions into New Guinea. Now it had become a backwater staging area. In the village of Charters Towers I had the distinct impression of going back forty or fifty years in time--a bit like a movie western town, or Cass City in nineteen hundred. Auto traffic was limited and primitive. Gasoline was very scarce, so many cars had been modified to run on a gas generated by a charcoal (?) burner mounted on the back bumper. The gas was then contained in a huge sausage shaped balloon attached to roof of the car. Stop signs were unknown. The routine for a truck coming into the main intersection of the village was to blow the horn and keep going.

From this point I have entries in my log book to help serve as a frame of reference. We settled in at transient quarters in early May, as usual not knowing what or when was to happen next. Food of course was first priority, and after that there was letter writing time to let important people know where we were. And so we became acquainted with wartime restrictions on information--censorship. We couldn't say that we were at Charters Towers. We were in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) at APO (army post office) 710. We spent the better part of May at C. T. waiting for orders. A Link (instrument flying procedures) trainer was--surprisingly--available so I took advantage and got in three hours of instrument flying practice. There were also a few war weary B-25s on the ramp and, since we had been in them a few times during our A-20 training we were able to talk our way into flying them for a few hours of proficiency practice. I do mean "we had been in the B-25 a few times." My log book shows that I had about five hours, mostly as copilot and to pass an instrument flight check. The other pilots probably had about the same experience. I doubt that any of us had ever made a take-off or landing in the bird. Since it flew much like the A-20 we got along fine. Years later with ten times the experience we wouldn't have been allowed near a new airplane without ground school, etc. etc. In general it was a rather boring three or four weeks with neither very good housing or very good food. I ate some real tough Australian beef, and mutton, and perhaps some goat. Of course all good things must end, so eventually we were told to pack and move out to the airstrip where our transportation awaited. Strictly GI.

Known officially as the C-47--a military version of the Douglas DC-3--it was nicknamed Dakota by the British and Skytrain by the U S--and known universally as the Gooneybird. It was one of the secret weapons, along with the Jeep, of the war.

On the ramp our Gooneybird awaited. No amenities. A row of folding seats designed for paratrooper use ran along each side of the cargo compartment. We sat sideways to the direction of flight, backs to the windows and facing the troops on the opposite row of seats. Our baggage was piled casually along the center aisle and we were off--over the Great Barrier Reef and across the Coral Sea to Port Moresby on the south coast of the island of New Guinea.

After lifting off from Charters Towers our bird set course and probably departed the Australian mainland from Townsville--from which my map says its 720 miles to Port Moresby. About four and a half hours in a C-47. The Great Barrier Reef formed a distinctive checkpoint, and then it was only tropical ocean all the way.

New Guinea. A tropical island. It is the second largest island in the world, after Greenland. About fifteen hundred miles long and just less than five hundred miles at the widest point. Much of the island was covered with tropical forest, or heavy grasses. Fifty years ago it was pretty primitive, practically no roads, and the few settlements were small clusters of grass roofed shacks. The people, too, were primitive and while some were being administered by the Australian government in the east and Dutch government in the west, others were still to be discovered. Head hunting was still said to be practiced. I have recently been informed that we lost a B-24 crew to headhunters after being forced down in a remote area

Look at New Guinea on a map and one may see a vague resemblance to a two-legged dinosaur or a dragon. Oriented from northwest to southeast, the head protrudes into the area of what is now Indonesia, and the bottom side of the tail forms the northern boundary of the Coral Sea. There lies Port Moresby, along the base of the dragon's tail at a point, which might be described as a boundary between the Coral Sea and the Gulf of Papua.

Moresby had been a center of trading activity and Australian government administration before the war. During the previous year civilian activity had been pretty much disrupted by Japanese invasion efforts. There had been numerous air attacks, and during the last part of 1942 the Japanese army attempted to capture it by invasion across the island from a point known as Buna. There had been grim and bitter fighting along an area known as the Kokoda Trail, defended first by the Aussies; later assisted by Americans. Jap advances were finally stopped perhaps thirty miles short of Moresby. If it had been lost there would have been little to prevent attempts at Australia.

During the previous year a number of airstrips had been constructed around Moresby for use of our troops. These were variously known as three-mile, seven-mile fourteen-miler etc. designated only by their distance from the settlement area. Now, in June of '43, operational activity had mostly moved forward and Moresby was seeing only rear echelon staging and maintenance activity.

And thus our intrepid group arrived and landed at one of those airstrips, and we were directed to a transient area. Once in New Guinea we were in what was known as combat zone (CZ). Now the accommodations became large square tents open to the air, big enough for four or six folding cots, with the cots being covered by mosquito netting. We were always supposed to tuck the mosquito net around the bunk because the mosquitoes were everywhere; the kind that carried malaria. There was a mess hall but the food was served into our GI mess kits which we were carrying with us.

Again we waited. After two or three days whatever details that were to determine our destination were worked out, and we again bearded a Troop Carrier C-47.

The route lay to the northeast over the Owen Stanley Mountains, a fairly significant range. On many days tropical thunderstorms built up along the mountain tops, and resulted in a significant barrier to our flying. Clouds "with rocks in them," as it were. Our planes couldn't top the thunder bumpers and we didn't have the equipment to fly through them.

Our pilot, who probably didn't have a lot more experience than ourselves, found his way over the hills and between the clouds and let down towards the northeast coast to an airstrip known as Dobodura. Four months before our arrival the U.S. and Australian ground forces had eliminated the last Japanese resistance in actions known as the Buna Campaign. Buna, Gona, and Dobodura; each consisted of little more than a few thatch roofed huts, but in early 1943 Buna especially was in many newspaper headlines. Now we were landing at Dobodura (known familiarly as Dobo) and to finally get an assignment.

The airstrip was only compacted earth, carved out of the jungle by a combat engineer battalion, and surrounded by many dispersed hardstands each big enough to park one airplane. At the time we arrived Dobo was probably our farthest forward air base, and every parking space would have been occupied by combat aircraft.

Our bird made its way into Dobo strip, in the rain, and we off-loaded into GI trucks. A few miles away from the strip we found ourselves in the cantonment area of the 3d Attack Group. At that time the Group consisted of four squadrons: 8th, 13th, 89th and 90th. Each squadron was equipped with about sixteen airplanes, and of course manned with the two or three hundred people necessary to fly and maintain the birds. Pretty quickly we were assigned to the several squadrons and I found myself posted to the 8th Squadron.

I had no idea at the time but eventually learned that the 8th Squadron was one of the oldest units in the Army Air Forces, having been organized in France in 1917. Following WW I it was retained as an active duty unit performing such duties as Mexican border patrol, training and sundry other assignments. On December 7, '41 the squadron was stationed at Savannah, Ga. Immediately it was alerted and in January '42 people and airplanes were put aboard ship--bound for Australia. From there the squadron participated in all of the Fifth Air Force campaigns, leapfrogging from one forward airstrip to the next as needed to accomplish its missions. Subsequently, after actions in New Guinea, the Philippines and Okinawa, movement was made to Yokota Air Base, Japan as part of U.S. occupation forces. Its airplanes and crews saw duty in Korea and Vietnam; now after forty some years the 8th is finally home, based at Eglin AFB, Fla. and reconstituted as the 8th Special Operations Squadron.

The squadron administrative and housing area was situated in a minimum clearing in the jungle a couple of miles away from the airstrip. Sporadic air raids were still a possibility so dispersal minimized chances of damage. In the tropical climate there was no need for protection from anything except rain. Orderly room, mess hall, operations and intelligence were situated in open thatch roofed shelters. The latrine was an open air affair as were the showers. No need for any hot water, as the sun heated the water supply enough by afternoon for showers.

With gear in hand I was shown to a tent which was to be home for the next six months. Pretty quickly I became acquainted with tent mates George Schwartz and Bob Miller, who had been there for some months. After learning about such important things as the location of the mess hall it was time to find out about the routine and what my duties were to be. Letters to home were to say only that we were in SWPA at APO 503. No mention of specific locations.

Our arrival in the squadron had been in early June. One missing item became obvious very quickly. There were no A-20 aircraft. Instead the hardstands were all occupied by the North American B-25 (Mitchell). I soon found that all of the A-20s were being flown by the 89th, one of the other squadrons of the Group. A rather tired collection of aircraft they were, too, having been the original production models flown by the Group for a year or two before coming overseas.

The other squadrons were equipped with the B-25 but these aircraft didn't look anything like pictures seen back in the States. The bird had been designed to be a medium altitude bomber, with a glass nose for a bombardier to do bomb aiming from. Experience determined that it wasn't effective in that mode against jungle targets, so a new version was invented at our repair depot in Australia. Paint over the glass nose, install four .50 caliber machine guns in place of the bombardier and two more guns along each side of the fuselage below the cockpit. Thus was invented the strafer. Eight forward firing guns were quite lethal. At the same time the technique of skip bombing was developed--approach at minimum altitude, firing as many guns as fast as possible and skip a bomb into the side of a ship or other target. It was a potent weapon provided that the target wasn't too well defended. So it became apparent that I was to become a B-25 co-pilot.

Finally, on Jun. 10 I logged my first combat zone (CZ) flight time. Flying as co-pilot with Major Wilkins, (squadron operations officer) other pilots, and finally with Major Jimmy Downs (squadron commander) for co-pilot checkout, I logged fifteen hours during the month of June. Then it became time to start flying for real; combat missions and assorted administrative flights. The following enumeration is a list of flights made in New Guinea, from first combat mission to the last flight before leaving the squadron for return to the U.S., along with some commentary to make the log book entries intelligible.

Jul. 2,43 -- B-25C-1 -- Dobodura/local -- 1:50 flight hours -- pilot: Capt. Sbisa -- Combat Mission-1 -- mail dropping, Douglas Harbor and Morobe.

This was an unglamorous first mission. Our single airplane was sent out loaded with mail bags slung from the bomb racks. Douglas Harbor and Morobe were locations along the coast northwesterly of Dobodura, where our ground forces were encamped while pursuing retreating Japanese army remnants. After locating a drop zone we came in at low altitude and toggled off the mail bags as if dropping a bomb. Note the "local" destination--no matter where or how long we flew the destination was "local" if we returned to departure point. Also, we were credited with a combat mission if we flew beyond a designated line where hostile action was considered possible, whether or not any action occurred.

Jul. 6, 43 -- B-25C-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:40 --CZ

A night familiarization flight to get acquainted with the area in the dark--and the jungle was really dark at night--in event we had to fly a night mission.

Jul. 8, 43 -- B-25C-1 -- Dobo./Port Moresby -- :45 -- CZ --ferry (see following flight)

Jul. 8, 43 --Port Moresby/Dobo.-- 3:55 -- pilot: Capt. Schwartz -- CZ -- search mission via Kerema & Cape Rodney

One of our aircraft was reported missing, I have no recollection of its mission; the pilot may have been a Captain Ruby. We didn't make any sightings. A lot of planes were lost during those times; running into mountains or weather or the ocean. In any event some wreckage is still being found, fifty years later.

Jul. 9, 43 -- B-25C-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:10 -- CZ --formation flying practice.

Jul. 9, 43 -- E-25C-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:10 -- pilot: Rust -- CM-2 -- search to Markham valley & return.

We got credit for a combat mission on this flight, because the route was to forward areas beyond the designated line. Again, no sightings were ever made.

Jul. 11, 43 -- B-25C-1 -- Dobo/local -- 2:45 -- pilot: Capt. Sbisa -- CM-3 -- strafing Salamaua.

I had fired some guns during combat crew training but this was the first time to see all eight guns in sustained firing. Salamaua was another settlement along the Huon Gulf coast, about twenty miles south of Lae, where enemy forces had been detected and we were called upon in support of our ground force actions.

Jul. 12, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:50 -- CZ

Jul. 15, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:00 -- CZ -- formation flying practice.

Jul. 16, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:55 -- CZ -- gunnery, radio test.

About this time I was assigned to a crew and thereafter most often flew as part of that crew, Sgt. Berube and Sgt. Hall were our gunners. Bob Miller, my tent mater had been promoted to first pilot, and became also my aircraft commander. We were also assigned an airplane and most often flew that plane. B-25D-1, tail number and radio call sign no. 376, became ours to put a name on, which we did. "Wedoodit" was painted on the nose--a saying from a Red Skelton skit. More about Wedoodit later.

Jul. 19, 43 -- B-25D-1, no. 376 -- Dobo/Port Moresby -- 1:00 -- CZ --

Jul. 20, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Port Moresby/Dobo -- 5:00 -- Miller -- CM-4 -- bomb & strafe at Gogol River, Madang

Action had become more serious. I don't know why we would have flown to Moresby (away from target) to begin this mission, unless the bombs we needed were stored there. Madang lies about 160 miles northwest of Laer on the north side of the Huon Peninsula. Jap forces were there, with some amount of small coastal boats which they used to resupply their troops, laying at anchor in the harbor. The squadron swept in at minimum altitude and raked the area, then lined up in trail to hit individual targets. Depending upon several variables we may have made several passes before leaving the target. If the target was "easy", i.e. undefended, the flight leader may have directed that the formation break up and make individual passes for more precise gun and bomb aiming. Conversely a defended target called for a line abreast approach by a three-plane flight or the whole squadron, firing all guns and dropping many bombs in a carpet pattern. Airplane endurance was sometimes a factor, too. The five hours we logged on this mission wasn't maximum for the B-25, but it was long enough to urge us to check for possible landing sites along the route home.

Jul. 21, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:45 -- CZ -- Bombing & gunnery practice

Jul. 221 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:35 -- CZ -- Bombing, gunnery & formation practice

We were still learning to fly formation in this bird. The squadron was still somewhat new with the B-25, and since most of our missions would be flown as part of the squadron or whole group, it was essential that we become proficient in maintaining flight formation positions. All military pilots had practiced formation flying thru basic and advanced flying school, and I had a considerable amount of practice in the A-20 during crew training. The B-25 was a bit heavier on the controls however, and thus more work to maneuver. Looking back I think that I must have logged about four hundred hours of formation flying during my career, up to six or seven hours at a timer and it was the hardest, most intense flying we did.

Jul. 28, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:20 -- Miller -- CM-5 -- Attacked 2 ships off Cape Gloucester, probably sinking; attacked by 8-10 Zeros; one victory; bullet holes in fuselage.

Life had become considerably more exciting. The squadron had been sent out with no fanfare on what was expected to be an easy mission--a milk run. We were looking for small shipping--barges or luggers--with which the Japs were trying to resupply their troops; moving along the southwest coast of the island of New Britain by night and hiding camouflaged in coastal inlets by day. For that purpose we had been loaded with small, 250 Ib. bombs. And so we intercepted the southwest coast and proceeded northwesterly looking for targets of opportunity. Proceeding toward Cape Gloucester at the western tip of the island we expected to find an enemy forward airstrip with not much activity on it. We did make a pass over it and fired a few rounds when flight leader suddenly came on the radio. Two destroyers were sighted off shore and the mission quickly assumed a new character. Bomb doors were opened, guns armed, and the flight positioned to attack. There was some return fire from the ships but it was quickly ended by our forward guns. Passes by the several planes pretty well left both ships dead in the water. At that point most everyone was deciding it was time to leave for home, but my pilot had some bombs and ammo left and wheeled around to make another pass. At that point we were suddenly alone and finding out that the destroyers had fighter air cover and our plane was its easiest target. Sgt. Hall began to fire at the first one in range and his guns jammed. With the fighter closing fast there was frantic effort to clear the guns, which he did just in time to get in a good burst on the Zero before he got to us. Our bird got a few small caliber holes in the fuselage or engine nacelle and the Jap was seen to crash on the beach. Consequently our crew was credited with destruction of an enemy aircraft in aerial combat. A few weeks thereafter there was an awards ceremony in front of Group Headquarters and our crew was presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) by some General Officer--I think now that it might have been Ennis Whitehead who was chief of Fifth Bomber Command at the time. Subsequently these actions were confirmed by military legalize--Fifth Air Force General Orders. To quote:

"General Order 185, 25 August 43: The following named officers and enlisted men ... are officially credited with the destruction of one enemy fighter type aircraft in aerial combat off the western tip of New Britain at 1500/K on July 28, 1943. While flying at an altitude of 100 feet, this crew's B-25 was engaged by approximately nine Zeros which made about 20 individual attacks from the rear. One of the crew members caught an enemy fighter in a burst at 200 yards and continued firing until the Zero closed to within 30 yards. The Japanese aircraft dived and crashed on the beach."

"General Order 34, 14 January 1944: AWARDS OF THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS . For extraordinary achievement ... in aerial flight over Cape Gloucester, New Britain on 28 July, 1943. Lieutenant Turner was co-pilot of one of a formation of B-25D-1 type airplanes which made a successful attack on Cape Gloucester airdrome and two enemy destroyers offshore. Despite heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire, an enemy bomber on the airdrome and anti-aircraft positions were bombed and strafed. Two bombs were dropped on a small destroyer, scoring one hit, and its decks were strafed. Three bombing and strafing runs were made on a larger destroyer and at least two direct hits and several near misses were scored. Both destroyers were left smoking heavily and the larger one was listing badly. The last two runs were made after most of the other airplanes of his flight had left for base and while six enemy fighters were attacking his bomber. Both turret guns jammed after the second burst was fired at the enemy airplanes but the gunners worked frantically and cleared their guns as the enemy fighters were pressing their attacks to close range. One enemy fighter was destroyed in this engagement. By using skillful evasive action and flying low over the water, his bomber eluded the attacking airplanes and returned safely to base."

I would only add that whoever wrote up the citation had more facts than I now remember; and that our gunners probably earned it the most.

I think that we came back all charged up and wanting to go back and finish the job. It seems that another squadron was sent out the next morning; whether they found anything, sunken or retreated, I'11 never know. No one ever told us anything. In any event there was still a lot of flying to be done.

Jul. 31, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:30 -- Miller --

·CM-6 -- barges, vicinity Finchafen.

There were a lot of this sort of mission during that time. The Japs were trying to resupply their troops in Cape Gloucester, New Britain and the Huon Peninsula area of New Guinea. Fifth Air Force had air superiority so the enemy couldn't move anything by day, but they managed to move a lot of stuff by night in barges hugging the coastline, By daylight the barges were camouflaged in coves, inlets, and under the jungle tree canopy. So we went hunting; flying at minimum altitude just off-shore where we could look right in at those hideouts.

Aug. 2, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 2:10 -- CZ – bombing & gunnery practice.

Aug. 3, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:45 -- CZ -- formation practice.

Aug. 7, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:40 -- CM-7 – barge hunt SW coast New Britain.

Those barges were still hiding, camouflaged under the jungle tree canopy. I don't remember ever actually finding one.

Aug. 8, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:20 -- CZ -- bombing, gunnery, & formation practice.

Aug. 10r 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:30 -- CZ -- test

At this point there was a hiatus in my flying. Sometimes there were breaks in the action due to bad weather, no targets, or shortage of fuel or munitions. During those times there wasn't much to do except twiddle one's thumbs. No places to go sightseeing. There was sometimes a movie shown at night--one sixteen millimeter projector and screen set up out-of-doors. We sat on some Jungle tree logs felled for seats, and always took rain coats because the rains came frequently. Those times are a reason why I have never really liked movies since. There was one USO show that made it to our forward area: Gary Cooper, Phyllis Brooks, and Una Merkle appeared for an impromptu variety show; not all that inspiring but we sat and applauded anyway. It was the only show in town. The big shows that we hear about weren't able to get to our forward areas, and our ground troops grubbing it thru the jungle had it worse than us, by far.

It was probably during this time that I spent a few days in the local hospital, which consisted of nothing more than a large open tent and folding cots for beds. I never did find what the problem was; indigestion perhaps. They watched me for a few days and sent me back to duty. Later on I contracted some variety of "jungle crud," which didn't keep me from flying. I had purple feet for awhile though because the medics painted them with something called gentian violet. As I recall it didn't really clear up until I was away from the squadron for awhile on leave or temporary duty in Australia.

Environmental factors were a problem, almost a worse problem than the enemy. The tropical weather some times hampered flying and created humidity problems on the ground. Mosquitoes carried malaria, which I caught but didn't realize until I was back at Fort Benning. Scrub typhus and dengue were worse. They were carried and transmitted by ticks which got on one by walking through the kunai grasses. We lost our assistant engineering officer to scrub typhus and one of our men had to be invalided home--a fifty percent fatality rate.

WEWAK -- It was during those few days that I was away from flying duty that a large and significant mission was executed. Japs had large forces at Wewak, which was well up the north coast of the island, almost five hundred miles from Dobodura. B-25s hadn't been sent that far before. It was with complete surprise that our formations swept in at tree-top height strafing and spreading parafrag bombs. About 75 aircraft were reported destroyed, which forced the enemy to abandon the area as a major operational base. The results of the mission resulted in the award of a DISTINGUISHED UNIT CITATION, which authorized everyone in the Group to wear the citation device.

Aug. 23, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 4:20 -- pilot: Rust

-- CM-8 -- barge hunt, Saidor to Langemark Bay

We were still spending time trying to intercept enemy supply routes. I have absolutely no recollections of this mission, but from a look at my old map I suspect that our outbound route would have paralleled the coastline towards Laer up the Markham River valley and over the Finisterre Range, with a fast descent to hit the coast line at Saidor. From there we would have flown at minimum altitude southeasterly along the coast looking for targets of opportunity. Langemark Bay is at the eastern tip of the Huon Peninsula, from which point the squadron probably proceeded south over Huon Gulf towards Dobodura.

Aug. 23, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 2:30 -- Miller -- CZ

-- radar tracking mission.

This was one of a very few times that I made more than one flight in a single day. Radar was very much in its infancy then. Perhaps we were up there so that the equipment could be calibrated or operators trained.

Aug. 25, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 4:45 -- Miller -- CM-9 -- shipping & installations, Hansa Bay.

Aug. 28, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 5:05 -- Miller -- CM-10 -- shipping & installations, Hansa Bay.

The squadron went to Hansa Bay twice in that four day period. The usual targets; troop encampments and resupply shipping in the harbor.

It was on this mission that Lt. Weidener and crew were lost. He was following the squadron leader who had just skipped a bomb into a lugger, and the boat blew up under him. A wing was blown off and the wreckage cartwheeled into the water in two or three seconds. The crash was recorded on an automatic camera in the tail of the lead plane and later appeared as a series of pictures in LIFE. Bob Miller was flying our ship just behind and saw the impact. I was in the right seat and taking pictures out of the side window with a hand held aerial camera; didn't see what had happened until he shouted at me.

Aug. 29, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- :50 --Miller – CZ --photos of glider towing.[publicity for future events]

Those would have been troop carrying gliders, big enough to carry a squad of infantrymen, a jeep, or a small artillery piece--towed by the good old Gooney Bird, the all-purpose Troop Carrier C-47.

ANOTHER HIATUS: No entries in the log book, but for better reasons. For morale purposes attempts were made to get everyone back to civilization from time to time. That being places along the east coast of Australia; Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mackay, and especially Sydney. Aircrews earned some privileges so we usually got to Sydney. Troop Carrier had a regular shuttle service. One of their crews due for leave would fly a plane load south, we got off and spent a week or ten days living it up and sight seeing, while another crew and load who had completed leave flew the bird back to Guinea.

There was some variety of hotel/dormitory accommodations set aside for us, and the Red Cross operated a service club. It provided a most welcome break from our GI food and laundry, and an opportunity to meet people and get acquainted with Sydney.

It was either during this leave or another time in Sydney that we were visited very quickly at the Red Cross Club by Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt was way down there in Australia being a good will ambassador, checking on morale, and being eyes and ears for FDR. This at a time when she too, nearing sixty, had to fly for thirty hours hop-scotching across those Pacific islands. A remarkable woman.

Leave time ended all too quickly and our Gooney Bird appeared, ready to take us back to Guinea. A long day's ride and we were back at Dobodura and our jungle bivouac. Operations had continued while we were on leave of course. Again I missed a bigger mission--support of the paratroop and glider invasion landings at Lae/Nadzab.

Living conditions hadn't changed. The menu still included a lot of dehydrated foods. Our cooks didn't do too well with dehydrated eggs and potatoes--one of the reasons I still use a lot of pepper. Refrigeration was always a problem. There was something called tropical butter, which must have been mostly paraffin! It wouldn't melt on hotcakes.

Laundry was also rather elementary. We never did have any official laundry facilities. The guys showed us what to do--cut a fifty-five gallon drum in half, sit it on a base of rocks, over a number ten can filled with sand saturated with gasoline, dump in water, dirty clothes and soap, lay out a trail of gasoline about fifty feet, throw a match at the end of the gasoline trail, and stand back! Rinse? I don't think so. Iron?. Never. Pretty soon some enterprising private who wanted to supplement his twenty-five dollar a month salary appeared and set up a small business. A barbershop appeared the same way. There was usually someone with an unofficial skill which helped to make living better.

Sept. 18, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 2:00 -- Greene – CM-11 -- mail dropping to troops at Salamaua.

This was an easy way to get back into the flying routine, and help our troops who were grubbing through jungle cleaning out pockets of enemy resistance.

Sept. 19, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:25 -- Schwartz -- CM-12 -- bomb & strafe, Finchafen up coast to Reiss Pt.

Sept. 22, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 2:30 -- Miller -- CM-13 -- bomb & strafe, Finchafen.

Our troops had leapfrogged and landed at Lae/Nadzab in early September and cut off enemy forces at Salamaua. Enemy forces were becoming more active and concentrated along the east coast of the Huon Peninsula and across Dampier Strait at the western tip of New Britain.

Sept. 25, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 4:20 -- Schwartz -- CM-14 -- weather recco., drop supplies Finchafen.

Troops had made another landing and needed support. There was no weather reporting system, so someone had to go and take a look at the possible conditions along some route we wanted to send a mission on.

Sept. 27, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 5:45 -- Martindale-- CM-15 -- shipping at Wewak.

The action was being pushed farther forward. This had to be about an eleven hundred mile round trip. The B-25 cruised at about 180 mph and this trip was beginning to get to the limit of its endurance. I recall that on this mission, for the first time, I was eyeing the fuel gauges wavering close to the empty mark while we were still looking for the Dobo airstrip. There weren't any refueling stops along the road. Later we were informed that a citation had been submitted on our behalf for this mission:

"General Orders No. 316, Hq. Fifth Air Force, 6 December 1943: an AIR MEDAL is awarded to the following ... for meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight over Muschu and Rairiru Islands [these islands were Just off the New Guinea coast opposite Wewak] on 27 September 1943, These crew members attacked a badly damaged ship in Victoria Harbor and then strafed Kairiru Village. Later four 500 pound bombs were dropped on several small transports which were also strafed. A direct hit on one vessel caused pieces to fly into the air and its destruction was later confirmed by photographic intelligence. . . ."

Oct. 1, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobe/local -- 4:25 -- Roberts --CM-16 -- Gasmatar nil sightings.

Gasmata, located one third of the way east along the south coast of New Britain. We must have still been looking for Jap resupply activities.

Oct. 101 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 1:20 -- Miller -- CZ – test flight.

I just now realized that we hadn't done any flying during a whole week period of the first part of October. As I look ahead to the next mission I begin to understand why. Rabaul--four hundred miles northeast across the Solomon Sea at the eastern end of New Britain--was a major Japanese air and naval base. The heavies (B-24s) and others from 13th Air Force in the Solomons had attacked Rabaul from time to timer but our B-25s had never been sent that far. Intelligence from reconnaissance was that a large buildup of enemy aircraft was occurring at Rabaul and this was to be a maximum effort to disrupt that buildup. The previous week's stand-down was to give our maintenance crews time to put as many planes in commission as possible. Aircrews of course didn't know any of this until mission briefing, a few hours before takeoff.

Oct. 12, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 5:35 -- Miller --CM-17 -- Rabaul, aircraft on Rapopo drome.

This was probably the biggest mission flown to that date by 5th and 13th Air Forces. B-24 heavies, B-25 mediums, and all of the P-38 fighters that could get up to provide both high and low cover. I believe that the Australians also sent a squadron of Beaufighters. Our target was to be aircraft on Rapopo airdrome while other units were to hit targets on nearby Vunakanau and Tobera dromes, and shipping in Rabaul harbor. Complete surprise was achieved. We had flown at low altitude to minimize chance of radar detection, and came in thirteen airplanes line abreast aligned to fly the length of Rapopo strip. Bomb bays were loaded with parafrag bombs which were released in a stream to put a curtain of shrapnel over the aircraft parking area, while the forward firing guns were putting out as many rounds as possible. A hundred planes were destroyed in just a few minutes. It was a bad day for a flight of four enemy bombers which had just started to take off, into the teeth of our approaching attack. Our guns got part of them and our fighter cover got the others. On that sort of target there was no staying around for any additional passes. Stay in formation for defense, go in as fast as possible (probably about 220 mph) and keep going for home at treetop level.

Oct. 13, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo/local -- 3:30 -- Miller --CM-18 -- Rabaul; incomplete due to weather.

The mission was to go back and finish off whatever hadn't been destroyed the previous day. This may perhaps have been the most fortuitous bad weather I ever encountered, When a hornet's nest has been stirred up it is probably not a good idea to go near it for awhile. Whatever fighters that remained flyable were probably on air alert, and gunners on the ground were standing by their weapons. If the formations had gotten to the target we might have been stung pretty badly.

Our crews were probably keyed up but I don't really remember. I do remember that I had forgotten to take my Mae West (life vest). It was an inflatable vest that was worn under the parachute harness. There was also a 5-man life raft in a compartment of the airplane, to be deployed in event of ditching. Getting it out depended on how long the bird floated after hitting the water. Anyway I was glad to survive that lapse. As fortune would have it that was my last mission in the B-25.

Oct. 14, 43 -- A-20A -- Dobo/local -- 1:45 -- CZ --transition.

Upon return from that incomplete mission I was told by the Operations Officer that I was being placed on temporary duty with the 89th Squadron to fly the A-20--which I had done crew training in. Perhaps the 89th was short of pilots, but looking ahead in the log I can see now that changes were about to occur and we were to need currently qualified A-20 pilots.

Oct. 17, 43 -- A-20A -- Dobo/local -- 2:45 -- CM-19 --ground support, Satelberg area.

One transition flight and I was presumed ready to go to work in the A-20. Our troops had landed at Finchafen and were working their way inland toward a place called Satelberg, where retreating enemy forces were. It was a heavily forested area and I dumped bombs when the flight leader did. Never did see anything; which was the case with many of our missions.

Oct. 19, 43 -- A-20A -- Dobo/local -- 2:50 -- CM-20 --ground supportl Satelberg area.[more of the same]

OCTOBER 24. A BAD DAY. Weather had cleared and the Fifth Air Force target again was those aircraft at Rabaul. Another max effort mission. I was still on standby to fly with the 89th Squadron. Eighth Squadron put up whatever number of airplanes were in commission, probably about a dozen; taking position among the other two B-25 squadrons of Third Group. Eighty-ninth squadron wasn't on the schedule because the older A-20s didn't have sufficient range. Bob Miller was in WEDOODIT, with gunners and a new co-pilot. It was to be Bob's sixtieth mission, which he had volunteered to fly despite being already on orders to go home. It was true--the hornet's nest was still active. Somewhere over the target area the squadron was intercepted by enemy fighters. One got too aggressive in pressing a head-on attack, and collided with WEDOODIT. In an instant the two planes were a mass of shattered tumbling metal. Bob Miller was gone, Sergeants Harris and Berube were gone, and new co-pilot Lt. Hale was gone.

There was always some concern or tension among people on the ground waiting for a mission to return. When the number appearing in the landing traffic pattern didn't equal the number which had taken off suspense increased, to determine which plane was missing and why. I was among those waiting around the Operations area for the mission to return. Soon enough we found who the missing were. The crew I had flown with during the previous four months was gone, and I was left to wonder whether the outcome would have been different if I had been in the right seat, instead of a new co-pilot on his first mission. Probably not.

Oct. 25, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo/Port Moresby -- 1:00 -- CZ-- XC [cross country]

Oct. 26, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Port Moresby/Dobo -- 1:00 -- CZ-- XC

Operations had to go on. In the midst of activities some new airplanes began arriving in the Group. Reinforcements were beginning to arrive in the Pacific. The A-20G was an improved model designed at the factory for low altitude missions, with six forward firing .50 caliber machine guns and more fuel for the increased range we needed.

A few of the new planes had appeared but our crews weren't yet checked out to begin flying missions. The reason for the above mentioned over-night trip to Port Moresby was that our parking spaces were needed, by a B-25 unit based there needing to stage out of Dobodura for a mission. The only reason I can think of remembering this short trip is that I learned a lesson about weight and balance. Armament shop had pulled all of the guns out of this new airplane to double check the adjustments, and ammunition; about two thousand rounds; had never been loaded. Then two mechanics and their heavy tool boxes were put in the rear gunners compartment. Once airborne I quickly found a very tail heavy and unstable airplane. Unpleasant and probably unsafe to fly.

Upon reflection, we learned a lot of lessons by doing--sometimes the hard way. The huge increase in pilots needed at the beginning of the war had resulted in a very accelerated training program. Some of our instructors and supervisors may not have had much more experience than ourselves, and curricula and instructional materials left a lot to be desired. Airplane flight manuals weren't around in great quantity, and their use wasn't emphasized. A written check list did exist but it wasn't much used, The "GUMP" check—gas, undercarriage mixture, prop—was still in vogue. Over the years I survived such things as attempting to take off with full down flaps or full rudder trim cranked in. Very educational. We had to learn a lot about all-weather operations by doing.

Radio navigation facilities weren't that good and our equipment in the airplanes wasn't that easy to use, especially at night.

From the beginning of flying school one of the first things drummed into every student was to look around--constantly. "Keep your head on a swivel,

Mister," was a constant refrain from every instructor. The worst thing was to be "head up and locked," that is to be looking solely at the instrument panel or straight ahead, not aware of everything going on around him. Stray airplanes always had a habit of sneaking up at unexpected times. Once we got into combat situations "head-on-a-swivel" became doubly important. That stray airplane might be trying to do one in.

We did have some training in aircraft recognition. There were flash cards, and a slide projector with a special shutter to put a silhouette on a screen for a fraction of a second. And of course the sky was usually full of our own birds. In the A-20 the pilot was continually adjusting throttle to maintain formation position, manage his airplane—engine instruments, gas tanks, gun and bomb switches, and sneak a quick look at a map to have some idea of his location, Scanning became vital.

Oct. 27, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/Nadzab -- 1:20 -- CM-21-- XC.

Oct. 29, 43 -- A-20-A -- Nadzab/Dobodura -- 1:15 -- CM-22--XC.

Nadzab, where our troops had landed in early September, was now being made ready for us to use. We got credit for combat missions but the log says that we didn't do anything except sit on the ground there for a day. Either the weather was bad over a target area, or something. Again I have the stray memory. The flight leader came in for landing at Nadzab, and as he touched down realized that one of his main landing gears was not locked down (no check list perhaps?). He still had enough speed to pour on full throttle and go around for another approach, When he parked he found that he had bent back about six inches of each of the three propeller blades of one engine. I expect that required a new propeller and probably an engine change. And why did I fly a different airplane back to Dobo than to Nadzab? Probably the flight leader wanted my bird to replace the one he had just busted.

Nov. 1, 43 -- A-20A -- Dobo/Port Moresby -- :45 -- CZ --ferry.

Nov. 1, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Townsville, Aust./local -- 1:00 --SWPA -- flight test.

This turned out to be a busy day. The orders were to fly an A-20A to Port Moresby and leave it. I think that the old birds were being transferred to either an Aussie or a Dutch squadron. Then I had a free ride of 3:20 in a B-25 to Townsville, Aust. On the ramp there were a bunch of new A-20Gs which had gone to Australia by ship, been reassembled, and were now ready for us to ferry to Dobodura.

After a test flight to check for any discrepancies we were ready to plan a flight. Cairns was a small city about two hundred miles northwesterly up the coast from Townsville. It made a good jumping off point for flights to the islands, and the Red Cross Service Club there was known as the last place one could get civilized food before heading north. Especially fresh milk.

 

Nov. 2, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Townsville/Cairns -- 1:00 -- SWPA-- ferry.



NOVEMBER 2 -- ANOTHER BAD DAY. Fifth Air Force mission to Rabaul. While our ferry flight was enjoying a last day in Australia events were occurring of which we were unaware. Once again the 8th Squadron was part of a maximum effort mission to knock out enemy forces in the Rabaul area. I believe that eight of the squadron's planes got to the target area. There was some navigation error by whoever was leading the Group, and 8th Sq. got directed on a track right over Simpson Harbor, which was well occupied by Jap naval units--heavy shipping with many AA guns. B-25s weren't effective against battleships. Major Wilkins, who had checked me out six months earlier, was now squadron commander and leading 8th Sq.. His plane was hit heavily and went- into the harbor waters with loss of all six crew members. The squadron also lost a second plane carrying Lt. Mackey and his four man crew. It was a bad day for the 8th Squadron. Subsequently Major Wilkins was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership of the squadron that day.

Nov, 4, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Cairns/Dobodura -- 3:05 -- CZ --ferry

Presumably, we had to lay over a day in Cairns, waiting for flyable weather in New Guinea or over the Coral Sea. November was the beginning of summer there but being so close to the equator there was little variation in the seasons. There were lots of tropical thunder storms, and just about daily buildups over the Owen Stanley mountain range which formed the barrier between Port Moresby and Dobodura. Anyway, when we got clearance we went, using the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef as a checkpoint before setting a dead-reckoning course over the Coral Sea for landfall at Port Moresby. The new birds had plenty of fuel so we were able to jump over the Owen Stanley range directly to Dobo.

I don't really remember any of what I've said in the above paragraph, so it is merely a reconstruction of the flight logs and remembrance of the general conditions. I do remember coming back into the squadron and getting the word about events transpiring while we were away. It was gloomy. We had lost ten crewmen and two airplanes. The squadron was stood down from missions and reorganization was underway to become combat ready in the A-20.

25

Nov. 8, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo/Port Moresby/and return --1:00 -- CZ -- XC.



Nov. 10, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo/Port Moresby -- 1:15 -- CZ-- XC.

Nov. 11, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Port Moresby/Dobodura -- :45 --CZ -- XC.

Nov. 12, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo/local -- 1:25 -- CZ -- test.

November 14, 43. Headquarters United States Army Forces in the Far East, APO 501, issued Special Orders no. 260 announcing the appointment of several Flight Officers to the rank of 2d Lieutenant; by Command of General McArthur. And so I became a commissioned officer.

Nov. 18, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo/local -- 1:00 -- CZ -- test.

Nov. 19, 43 -- A-20G-10, no. 090 -- Dobo/local -- 2:15 --CM-23 -- Bomb & strafe stores & personnel areas along coast north of Finchafen; 4 x 300 Ib. bombs; 1 dud.

The squadron was back into operational status; doing the same sort of close support missionsr but with new airplanes.

Nov. 23, 43 -- B-25D-1 -- Dobo./Port Moresby/Dobo -- 1:25 --CZ -- ferry.

Nov. 28, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo./local -- 3:00 -- CM-24 --East coast New Guinea near Sialum Isl.; bomb & strafe supply dumps along track.

Dec. 3, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo./local -- 2:45 -- CM-25 --Bomb & strafe supplies and track vicinity Fortification Point.

Dec. 6, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo./local -- 2:30 -- CM-26 --Ground support vicinity of Hamligidu Point.

Dec. 7, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo./Hiriwina Island & return --2:15 -- CZ -- ferry P-38 pilots.

This was another of the odd jobs. The Trobriand Islands, including Kiriwina, were a group of small islands lying about two hundred miles east of Dobodura. The Australians had an airstrip which was used for emergencies; probably by birds returning from missions over New Britain. Just perhaps they had been flying cover for our B-25's on that mission of November 2. Anyway, several P-38 fighters had been left there and were now repaired or otherwise ready to be returned to Dobo. Three pilots showed up with their flight gear. Two occupied the gunners positions in the rear of the A-20; the third lay on his belly in an area behind the A-20 pilot's head in a space normally occupied by a life raft. Most unorthodox, but we did it regularly. On missions a navigator would sometimes ride five or six hours that way. So I flew a dead reckoning course for an hour out to Hiriwini, found the airstrip and dropped off the P-38 pilots and returned to Dobodura without incident. With clear weather and good visibility it was no problem. Since we had no navigation aids it wouldn't have been good if visibility had dropped.

Dec. 8, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobo/local -- 3:00 -- CM-27 --barge search vicinity of Arawe.

All of the recent missions had been for similar purposes--to disrupt enemy efforts to maintain and reinforce their forces along the Huon Peninsula of New Guinea and along the southwest coast of New Britain. Arawe was one of those locations--an insignificant point on the south-west coast of New Britain.

I note from the log book that the pace of our activities was increasing. I was flying just about every day. Reinforcements and materiel were beginning to arrive in the Pacific theatre, and our offensive was moving faster. The enemy was attempting to keep forces in western New Britain and our missions were to destroy them.

SIDNEY--In the midst of day-to-day operations the squadrons managed to maintain a policy of periodically sending everyone on rest leave. Thus my turn came to again get aboard the Gooney Bird and head south for another time in civilization. I met lots of nice people during the days I spent in Sidney, Also saw many interesting sights and found some good food. And didn't have to sleep under a mosquito net in the tropical jungle for a few nights. But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Back aboard the Troop Carrier Gooney Bird for the trip north, to Brisbane, to Townsville, to Port Moresby, and to the squadron at Dobodura.

Our offensive operations had continued, and as will be seen from the following missions major actions were about to occur.

Dec. 22, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 2:40 -- CM-28-- strafe defense positions in Cape Gloucester area.

Dec. 24, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 3:00 -- CM-29-- strafe defense positions in Cape Gloucester area,

Dec. 25, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 3:00 -- CM-30-- strafe defense positions in Cape Gloucester area.

Not much notice taken of Christmas Day. Don't remember if there was any attempt at extra food. Cape Gloucester at the northwestern tip of the island of New Britain was still well occupied by the Jap, and we were flying maximum effort to soften it up prior to an invasion landing by our troops.

Dec. 26, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 3:05 -- CM-31-- support landing of Marines at beach east of Cape Gloucester strip [airfield].

Dec. 27, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 2:20 -- CM-32-- close ground support, Walangai village area.

Dec. 28, 43 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 2:55 -- CM-33-- close ground support, Cape Gloucester.

Jan. 3, 44 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 3:00 -- CM-34 --close ground support, Borgen Bay.

Jan, 6, 44 -- A-20G-10 -- Dobodura/local -- 3:30 -- CM-35 --bomb & strafe track area, Bogajim area.

TEMPORARY DUTY -- Some time following that last mission I was given orders sending me TDY to Australia to ferry more airplanes. I seem to recall that the orders were pretty vague or casual. I don't remember packing much more that a toothbrush--expecting to pick up one airplane and back to the squadron in a few days. As it happened that was to be the last time I would be at Dobodura. Hopped a Troop Carrier bird to Brisbane along with several other pilots and checked in at Operations to see what they had for us.

We found an improved bird. The A-20G-10 (dash 10) which we had been flying for the previous three months was the first of the improved "Havoc" designed for the low altitude operations of the Pacific jungle areas. It had six forward firing 50-caliber guns for strafing, and extra fuel capacity for the combat range we needed. Our gunners, though, were still operating out of an open rear enclosure with a single flexible 50-caliber gun. On the ramp now was the A-20G-20. The "dash-20" was further improved by being fitted with an electrically operated power turret controlling two 50-caliber machine guns. Twice as much defensive fire power and a better place to work for the gunner. After a casual briefing we were assigned an airplane and sent north.

Jan. 14, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Brisbane, Aust./Townsviller Aust.-- 3:30 -- SWPA, ferry.

Jan. 14, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Townsville/Cairns -- 1:05 --SWPAI ferry.

Jan. 15, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Cairns/Port Moresby, N.G. -- 2:50-- SWPAI ferry.

 

Airplanes parked in Port Morseby, we were directed to get back on Troop Carrier and return to Brisbane to pick up another plane.



Jan. 18, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Brisbane/Cairns -- 4:15 -- SWPA, ferry.

Jan 20, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Cairns/ Port Moresby -- 2:25 --SWPAI ferry.

And once again Operations told us to head south by Troop Carrier to bring up more planes. By chance the bird to which we were assigned for that return trip belonged to the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force). When we walked up to it we found that maintenance was still under way--something like a generator replacement. And we were introduced to the Aussie penchant for tea. The bird was parked at jungle's edge on a hard packed dirt hardstand, the temperature was about ninety degrees, and ground crew had a small fire some distance from the plane, brewing a bucket of tea. About nine o'clock in the morning everything stopped and we had tea.

After the tea was drunk the generator replacement was completed and we were on our way to Brisbane once again. And we waited. Took the opportunity to visit some of the ocean beaches nearby, but mostly sat around being bored, since we hadn't brought many clothes with us nor much money. Finally the word came that planes awaited in Melbourne, on the south coast of Australia in the province of Victoria. We were given airline tickets to an Australian airline and rode in a Douglas DC-2 (forerunner of the DC-3 or Gooney Bird) to the fine city of Melbourne. A beautiful place as I recall. We had a couple of nights there while planes were being readied for delivery.

Feb. 2, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Melbourne/local -- 1:30 – SWPA, local test.

Feb. 4, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Melbourne/Sydney -- 2:30 -- SWPA, ferry.

Feb. 6, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Sydney/Brisbane -- 2:45 – SWPA, ferry.

I presume that there was some valid reason for our flight to spend an extra day or two on the way back to Brisbane. Of course no one was ever in a hurry to be leaving civilization. Once more in Brisbane our new airplanes went into maintenance for some modifications desired for operational purposes.

And we waited. Finally I was told that the plane I had left for modification was ready for test flight. After sitting around for two weeks I was eager to get into the air again, and didn't use the check list as carefully as I should have. As the bird was gaining speed toward liftoff I was abruptly reminded that full rudder trim had been cranked in at some time during the maintenance work. After frantic retrimming the takeoff and test flight went well,

Feb. 22, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Brisbane/local -- 1:10 – SWPA, local test after modification.

The time had finally come to be getting to work. Larger numbers of airplanes were being sent to the Pacific, and as we got ready to leave Brisbane there were at least nine in the flight. I was a flight leader with two wingmen, following the mission leader's flight.

Feb. 23, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Brisbane/Townsville -- 4:15 --SWPA, ferry.

Feb. 25, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Townsville/Port Moresby -- 3:50-- SWPA, ferry.

Perhaps we should have waited another day before that flight to Moresby. I don't remember what weather forecast we may have been given before leaving Townsville. In any event as the flight approached the New Guinea coast after seven hundred miles over the Coral Sea the weather was deteriorating. Clouds, rain, poor visibility. I scrambled to maintain sight and position on the leader and also look out for my two wingmen. The airport at Port Moresby did appear and the whole flight got safely on the ground, for which I felt very lucky. I was more scared that day than during most of my combat missions. The foothills of the Owen Stanley mountains were close around the Port Moresby airstrips and some of the clouds might have had hard centers!

When we checked in with Operations we found that we were going to take these planes further on--to Nadzab. That was our first word that the squadron had moved while we were touring Australia. Our troops were advancing and aircraft, too, had to move to new forward bases in order to reach newly assigned targets.

Feb. 29, 44 -- A-20G-20 -- Port Moresby/Nadzab -- 1:40 --CZ, ferry.

NADZAB--just westerly of Lae and the apex of the Huon Gulf, this broad plains area was now occupied by a number of hastily built airstrips and dispersed airplanes parked around each strip. My first experience at landing on PSP (pierced steel plank). The combat engineers did a fantastic job of carving out airfields in a hurry. PSP was one way of quickly getting to a solid landing surface. Something like an Erector Set, it consisted of steel planks which could be interlocked to make a runway as long and wide as desired. Terribly noisy to land on, but good for the short term.

After parking the planes we found our way to our squadron's bivouac area, and I found I did have a place to live. Fortunately someone had gathered my gear and brought it along from Dobodura. John Ransier had a bunk for me in a thatch roofed shack which had been screened in. I don't know where the screen was found but it did help to keep the mosquitoes away.

We were becoming aware that the mosquitoes and other bugs were something to be reckoned with. The mosquitoes carried malaria, and it was difficult not to be bitten by the millions of the insects. Everyone had to take quinine or atabrin while we were in the jungle, supposedly to prevent malaria. What I found out later was that it suppressed the symptoms so that we could keep working. After I came home and was stationed at Fort Benning, the atabrin suppressant wore off and I found myself being hauled off to the base hospital with a raging fever. Released after about ten days, I had to spend two more sessions in the Benning hospital before the malaria bug cleared out of my system.

Scrub typhus and dengue were more serious, Nadzab was relatively treeless but the open plain was covered with kunai grass which was infested with ticks. Men working in the grass could get bitten by those ticks and scrub typhus or dengue could be the result. A very serious illness. Our squadron had two cases of scrub typhus during the time at Nadzab. One airman was invalided home and Lt. Andre, our assistant maintenance officer, died. A fifty percent mortality rate.

Back to duty. Time to look for my name on Operation's mission crew lists. And coincidentally to find that a number of us were on a promotion list to the grade of Ist Lieutenant.

March 5, 44 -- A-20G-10 -- Nadzab/local -- 2:45 -- CM-36 --support landing west of Saidor; target not reached.

That log book entry was a real understatement. Saidor was a location on the north coast of Huon Peninsula somewhere southeast of Madang and Astrolabe Bay. Our infantry were scheduled to make a landing there, probably for two purposes. First to isolate Jap troops who might be trying to retreat along the coast, and to establish an airstrip to assist our operations. That landing was to take place at just after dawn on March 5. Our air mission was to bomb and strafe the area just ahead of the landing troops to generally demoralize and destroy the enemy opposition.

Crews had an early reveille. Breakfast, then briefing for the mission. Flight plan called for us to take off and fly singly; easterly for about one hundred miles until over Dampier Strait between New Guinea and New Britain; then turn northerly and follow the New Guinea coast, gradually turning northwesterly and catching up to the squadron mission leader along the north coast of the Huon Peninsula. After about one and a half hours flying time the squadron should hit the target just after daylight.

There were a few problems with that plan. First, I hadn't flown at night since the previous July. Second, the jungle was a very dark place at night. No street lights! With an overcast sky there were no visual cues for outside orientation, Thus, after taking off from a dimly lit runway we had to immediately begin flying and navigating solely by our cockpit instruments, Takeoff itself was without incident. But a short way along our planned route the real problem appeared. Thunderstorms. Continuous and brilliant lightning. All of our training had told us one thing about thunderstorms--stay away from them. Not having much alternative I set up a circling pattern, and am probably lucky that I didn't either hit the Huon mountains to my left or one of our airplanes flying the same mission. Eventually the storm moved away and a bit of daylight appeared to allow some visibility outside the cockpit. I got back on the flight plan route, but soon decided that I couldn't reach the target before time that troops were to be landing. So the mission was aborted and I brought my airplane with bombs still aboard back to Nadzab over mountains in daylight. Not many of our birds got to the target that morning.

Not everyone was lucky, One of our squadron's A-20's with Lt Greenhalgh and Sergeants Bell and Kraeger disappeared into that black night, somewhere into the ocean or those hills.

One other little memory survives. One of my gunners that morning was John Ransier, one of my tentmates. John was our squadron ordnance officer responsible for getting all of the bombs and ammunition loaded. His duties didn't include being an aerial gunner, but John wanted to see some of the action.

Mar. 101 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 2:45 -- CZ; two flights; test hop and formation practice.

Another new airplane. The A-20G-10 which we had been flying since the previous November was transferred out to some other unit and our squadrons were re-equipped with an improved version, the "dash 25,". It seems that the pilot now had electric fuel booster pumps and engine primers, but the most significant improvement was in defensive fire power. In the earlier "dash 10" the gunner had a single .50 caliber gun which he handled manually from an opened enclosure against the slipstream. The new bird carried an electrically actuated power turret controlling two .50 caliber machine guns.

A-20G-25 U.S. Army serial number 43-9177 became the third airplane in the squadron to which I was assigned. Thus no. 177 acquired the name: "WEDOODIT III." It had become the custom to assign crews to individual airplanes, and allow us to put our names and other "nose art" on them. When Bob Miller and I were assigned to B-25D-1 no. 376 the previous July we had come up with WEDOODIT, which we borrowed from comedian Red Skelton. It was a line used by one of his comedy characters. After Bob Miller and crew were lost I carried the name forward.

Mar. 11, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:30 -- CM-37 --Wewak; installations on Boram drome; 6" A.A. hole in right wing.

The pace and nature of operations had quickened. Wewak was a major Jap base located on the north coast of New Guinea about three hundred miles northwest of Nadzab. Missions were now being assigned to reduce that base, and resistance was being encountered. The hole in my right wing tip must have come from an anti aircraft artillery round, piercing the wing on the bottom surface and exiting the top. The hit must have occurred while were in a bank exiting the target area so that gunners had a view from our bottoms. I don't remember hearing any noise of the hit but I could see jagged metal on the top surface of the wing all the way back to base. That gunner had his lead figured just right. Happily the azimuth was off by thirty feet or the round would have been close to my bomb-bay auxiliary fuel tank.

Mar. 12, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:55 -- CM-38 --Wewak; installations south of Boram drome.

Mar. 13, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 4:00 -- CM-39 --stores at Brandi plantation.

Mar. 15, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 4:05 -- CM-40 --Wewak; Kiraru plantation; M.G. holes in bomb bay.

The squadron was getting real busy--four trips against Wewak in five days. The machine gun holes were actually through the sheet metal of my open bomb-bay doors. That gunner was firing head on at us. Good that his aim was about four feet low.

Mar. 17, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- :45 -- CZ --incomplete mission due to engine trouble.

A faulty oil temperature gage erroneously indicated that something was too hot. The Group Commander had some words with me over that, wanting to be sure that there was a good reason for not continuing with the mission.

Mar. 18, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:50 -- CM-41 --Wewak; stores at Brandi plantation.

Mar. 19, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 4:30 -- CM-42 --convoy 60 miles north of Wewak; two bombs in transport.

This may have been my only mission where we were dispatched against targets beyond sight of land. I recall making an approach towards a target--a cargo ship--flying at minimum altitude. It seems that I was leading one of the flights that day. Strafed as we approached broadside to the target at mast height and toggled off bombs when close enough to skip them into hull of ship. I recently found a newspaper clipping and photo in my mother's memoirs stating that we destroyed two corvettes and the cargo ship.

Mar. 25, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:30 -- CM-43 -- Wewak; installations at Cape Wom.

Mar. 27, 44 -- A-20G-30 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:45 -- CM-44 --Wewak; installations at Cape Wom.

The campaign against Wewak was speeding up. My eighth trip in that direction during March and there were probably other missions that I wasn't scheduled on.

Mar. 28, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/Finschafen/Nadzab -- 1:30-- CZ -- courier mission.

The mission was actually to carry a person--a chaplain. This chaplain was a Lt. Colonel. We didn't usually see chaplains of that rank so he was probably from some higher headquarters out visiting chaplains in the field. On that short hop he got to see what the war looked like from the perspective of an upper turret gunner.

Mar. 30, 44 -- A-206-25 -- Nadzab/Port Moresby -- 1:45 -- CZ-- ferry airplane to depot.

That plane had suffered some battle damage as I recall. Something involving the landing gear so that it couldn't be retracted. Had to be flown to Moresby with the gear down. Leave it for depot repair and hitch a ride back to the squadron in whatever airplane was going.

Apr. 5, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 5:55 -- CM-45 --Knock out A.A. Hollandia area.

A new target. Time to break out new maps and study the geography. Hollandia is situated about one hundred fifty miles further along the New Guinea coast beyond Wewak. Its location is in what is now a part of the nation of Indonesia, and on newer maps you may find it renamed Jayapura. At that time it was in a colony of the Netherlands known as Dutch New Guinea. A Jap stronghold. Airfields and other facilities had been developed in an area lying between Humboldt Bay on the east and Tanamareh Bay on the west, a coastal mountain known as Cyclops to the north and Sentani Lake to the south. Neutralizing and occupying Hollandia was another step in the strategy of leap-frogging past enemy forces thus cutting them off from supply and reinforcement and rendering them ineffective.

As aircrews we weren't being told any of that strategy. It may have been before this mission that we were sent on the previous evening to Group Intelligence to study a sand table model of the target area. That would have been an advance over the usual practice of briefing just prior to boarding a jeep or truck to get to our airplane parked in a dispersed location.

That extra distance--about one and a half hours flying time--from Nadzab was beginning to stretch the legs of our birds. Pilots became more conscious of cruise control and fuel conservation. Fuel in the A-20 was contained in five tanks; a main and an auxiliary tank in each wing, and an extra auxiliary tank atop the bomb bay. Fuel could be drawn from any tank to either engine but each tank had to be selected individually. To have sufficient fuel was always a prime consideration as we were increasingly being sent out to the limits of fuel endurance. Common practice was to draw from a fuel tank until dry, then switch to a fuller tank. Pilot was supposed to watch the fuel pressure gage and when a drop in pressure was noted quickly twist the selector valve to a new tank. Invariably my attention would be diverted while waiting for the pressure drop, and a sudden yawing of the aircraft caused by a dead engine reminded that another tank had to be selected.

Apr. 91 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:15 -- CM-46 --Wewak; installations at Cape Moem.

Memory fails. One more mission against the many targets at Wewak. I hope we hit something.

Apr. 12, 44 -- A-20G-2Ej -- Nadzab/local -- 5:25 -- CM-47 --Holllandia; supply dumps.

No memory of anything remarkable about this mission, except it being another long one. It seems sure that all four squadrons of the 3d Attack Group were on the roster, and perhaps other Groups as well. The P-38 fighters must have been somewhere above providing cover for us.

Individual crew preparation was about the same for every flight. At our location just a few degrees south of the equator and at flight altitudes most often just in hundreds of feet, keeping cool was the name of the game. I most often flew in mechanics coveralls retained from my enlisted time. Sleeves rolled up. A billed cap and sunglasses. GI service shoes. Pistol and knife in a shoulder holster. Mae West life vest. Our parachutes were seat cushion type, with a backpack jungle survival kit attached to the 'chute harness. With scheduling of longer missions crew endurance as well as airplane endurance became a factor. I never recall taking any food; perhaps a canteen of water. No rest stops along the way. Step off into the bushes behind the hardstand just before firing up for takeoff. A relief tube was placed at each crew station but wasn't practical to use in our situation.

Apr. 16, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 6:35 -- CM-48 --Hollandia; installations at Tanamerah Bay.

A big mission against Hollandia. Many 5th Air Force units involved. The longest mission that I had flown. The log book had the usual bland entry. Six years ago I received a letter from Michael Claringbould in Australia. He was researching the details of the missions of what has become known as Black Sunday. 5th Air Force lost thirty-seven airplanes--A-20sr B-25s, B-24s and P-38s--that day. None from our squadron. All due to a tropical frontal thunderstorm buildup. It's all detailed in his book, Black Sunday. In spite of the opportunity to think about details of the mission for the past several years I am left with but a single memory. As I parked and shut down the engines John Ransier came alongside the cockpit and shouted that we were now eligible for the "Royal Order of the Purple Shaft." That referring to having sat our butts for so long on our parachute seat cushions.

Apr. 18, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 1:00 -- CZ --radio test.

Apr. 22, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:30 -- CM-49 --Wewak; Wom Point.

Apr. 23, 44 --A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 2:35 -- CM-50 --Hansa Bay; supplies.

Apr. 26, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:25 -- CM-51 --Wewak; anti-personnel.

Apr. 29, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 4:00 -- CM-52 --anti-personnel,' Sepik river; Burio to coast.

A series of missions, all aimed at disrupting enemy forces along coastal areas. Very often we didn't see much activity in the target area on those flights, especially if we were maintaining formation and firing and dropping bombs on flight leader's signal.

The Sepik River area seems to have been one of those areas surrounded by very rugged terrain extending to the north 'Guinea coast. It may have been on this trip that we were assigned to attack along the route of a narrow canyon extending from the top of the mountain range to the coast. Very steep, rugged hills, and a very rapid descent towards the ocean. Flight leader signaled to break formation and go into trail, to make individual passes along the length of the canyon. A very narrow and steep walled canyon, so narrow that it seemed that both wing tips would be touching trees. Very steep descent towards the coast, firing guns and releasing a bomb when it seemed that there was a possibility of a target. At the coast pour on full power and follow the leader in a maximum climb back up the slope of the mountain to make another pass.

May 5, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 1:40 -- CZ --practice formation.

Now why would we be practicing formation flying after all the hours of mission formation during the previous two months? Perhaps we had some newly assigned pilots who needed a familiarization flight.

Looking at the log book I note that almost all of my flying since early March had been in WEDOODIT III, army tail number 177. Staying with one airplane helped morale in that aircrew and ground crew got to know each other better. I had more confidence that the bird was properly serviced when Sgt. Joe Cardin crew chief on my assigned plane for most of my tour, said it was ready. Our ground crews deserved more credit than they usually got. They worked under primitive conditions, and whatever hours were demanded to have the planes in commission and serviced for next scheduled mission. They didn't get to go home after a certain period of time, either. I believe that some of the men who went with the squadron by boat to Australia in 1942 may have still been there at VJ Day in 1945.

May 8, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 1:10 -- CZ – spare ship on mission.

Desired makeup of the squadron on a mission was some number of three-plane flights. If an extra ship was available it would be sent to trail along and fill in if one had to abort early along the route. Apparently no one aborted on that day.

May 9, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:10 -- CM-53 --Wewak area; supplies.

Another mission to destroy enemy capabilities in the Wewak area. The squadron, and many other units, had been working over Wewak since the previous August or September. How could there have been anything left to destroy?

This was to be our last flight from Nadzab. Orders came to start packing; that the Group was to move forward, closer to where the next attacks were to be needed. Pack personal belongings, which didn't take long. Send the ground support equipment and people to Lae by truck for embarkation on an LST. Load the airplanes with a full load of fuel, ammo and bombs. And wait; for several days as we were to find, until a successful invasion was completed and runways made available to accept our planes. Word finally came that Hollandia was secure. We left Nadzab with heavy airplanes. In addition to the combat crew of pilot and two gunners Joe Cardin and his heavy crew chief tool kit were riding along.

May 16, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/Hollandia -- 3:00 --CM-54; change of base.

The squadron got off in good shape, formed up and proceeded without incident along the route of our several previous missions against the Hollandia area. But this time we peeled off into a landing pattern and put down on a runway which until a few days before was being used by enemy forces. My first experience of going into an area where ground forces were still engaged in mopping-up operations. Troops had landed at the Tanamerah and Humboldt Bay areas and driven inland primitive conditions, and whatever hours were demanded to have the planes in comission and serviced for next scheduled mission. They didn't get to go home after a certain period of timer either. I believe that some of the men who went with the squadron by boat to Australia in 1942 may have still been there at VJ Day in 1945.

May 8, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 1:10 -- CZ -- spareship on mission.

Desired makeup of the squadron on a mission was some number of three-plane flights. If an extra ship was available it would be sent to trail along and fill in if one had to abort early along the route. Apparently no one aborted on that day.

May 9, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/local -- 3:10 -- CM-53 --Wewak area; supplies.

Another mission to destroy enemy capabilities in the Wewak area. The squadron, and many other units, had been working over Wewak since the previous August or September. How could there have been anything left to destroy?

This was to be our last flight from Nadzab. Orders came to start packing; that the Group was to move forward, closer to where the next attacks were to be needed. Pack personal belongings, which didn't take long. Send the ground support equipment and people to Lae by truck for embarkation on an LST. Load the airplanes with a full load of fuel, ammo and bombs. And wait; for several days as we were to find, until a successful invasion was completed and runways made available to accept our planes. Word finally came that Hollandia was secure. We left Nadzab with heavy airplanes. In addition to the combat crew of pilot and two gunners Joe Cardin and his heavy crew chief tool kit were riding along.

May 16, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Nadzab/Hollandia -- 3:00 --CM-54; change of base.

The squadron got off in good shape, formed up and proceeded without incident along the route of our several previous missions against the Hollandia area. But this time we peeled off into a landing pattern and put down on a runway which until a few days before was being used by enemy forces. My first experience of going into an area where ground forces were still engaged in mopping-up operations. Troops had landed at the Tanamerah and Humboldt Bay areas and driven inland to meet and secure the airdrome areas, so that the combat engineers could prepare the landing strips and parking hardstands for us. Jap troops were still resisting in the surrounding jungle and we were to hear occasional gunfire for the first several days after we moved in.

A camp site had been prepared, very basically, for the squadron. Pyramidal tents had been erected on open ground and we were able to find folding cots and mosquito nets. No floors in the tents. I recall that someone had scrounged some empty ammo boxes or similar material to walk on; because heavy rain was causing water to flow through the open tent.

But, first things first. We just barely had shut down and got out of our plane to stretch when word came that pilots had to go for immediate briefing for a mission. We were thinking that after flying five hundred miles something to eat might be a better idea. Anyway--the pace of operations was definitely picking up, as will be seen from the next several mission entries.

May 17, 44 -- A20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 2:15 -- CM-55 --support landing vicinity Wakde Island.

May 18, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- :45 -- CM-56 --incomplete mission due to mechanical trouble.

May 19, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 1:45 -- CM-57-- spare ship on mission to Manokwari.

The leapfrogging strategy was picking up steam. Manokwari lay another five hundred miles beyond Hollandia on the northeast corner of Vogelkop peninsula; an area one could visualize as the head of that New Guinea dragon. Getting there called for flying over a large body of water known as Geelvink Bay. There is a mismatch here between memory and what is recorded in my log. I seem to recall still being in formation when the whole mission turned around due to weather along our planned route.

May 20, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 4:45 -- CM-58-- installations on Mokmer strip, Biak Island.

Biak. An island lying northerly of the Geelvink Bay area. Heavily fortified by the Japs. The objective of our next invasion plans. To the aircrews it was just the mission of the day.

May 22, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 5:00 -- CM-59-- installations & stores; Biak Island.

We apparently weren't getting any enemy opposition because the squadron broke up into trail formation and set up a race track pattern to make repeated passes at the target area. Spotted a large van-like semi-trailer which might have been a mobile communications station, It was sheltered behind some hills and hard to spot until right on top of. Made about three passes and practically stood the bird on its nose trying to get a burst on that target. Doubt if I ever hit it.

May 24, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 5:15 -- CM-60-- aircraft and installations; Noemfour Island.

Noemfour was a small island lying to the west of Biak. Japs had an airstrip there. We found no resistance, so set up another race track pattern and worked it over with several passes. Spotted a truck out in middle of airfield and set it afire with a good burst of .50 caliber. I recall hearing someone coming over the radio with something like "good shot." One of few times I ever remember a radio conversation. Unlike the movies we had very, very little air-to-air radio traffic.

May 27, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 4:15 -- CM-61-- support landing on Biak Island.

May 28, 44 -- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/ local -- 4:15 -- CM-62-- support landing on Biak Island.

Last combat mission. I didn't know it but orders were being issued for me to be relieved from combat duty, to return to the ZI (zone of the interior--the United States!).

~A look back and reflection upon some of the records. Since I first began to put these events on paper some two years ago I have received a squadron association directory which records our combat aircrew losses. It leads me to the distinct feeling that through no fault or planning of my own I had been directed to be elsewhere during some of the more severe times.

[After losing Lt Greenhalgh and crew on March 5 our next loss had been Lt Craig and crew over Kairuru Strait on March 19. S/Sgt. Wright was lost from flak damage to his aircraft on March 11. Next I note that Lt D. W. Brown and crew were lost over Biak on May 28--my last mission but can't remember any details. The detail that really sticks is that just after I was pulled off crew duty the squadron lost six airplanes between June 4 and June 17.]

June 1, 44-- A-20G-25 -- Hollandia/local -- 1:30 -- CZ --local test.

June 5, 44 -- A-20G-40 -- Hollandia/local -- 1:00 -- CZ --local test.

June 8, 44 -- A-20G-30 -- Hollandia/local -- 1:30 -- CZ --slow time.

Apparently my orders to rotate home weren't issued quickly because I still spent some time around the squadron, and thus had some opportunity to do some flying and qualify for flight pay for the month of June. There was frequently a need to flight test a plane after maintenance. To "slow time" meant to fly around for one or more hours at reduced power after an engine change.

We must have been in a standdown for a few days because we were able to get a jeep and three or four of us headed out towards Humboldt Bay, to see some of the scenery around the invasion landing area. Carbines were taken along, since there was some remote possibility that enemy troops remained at large in the neighborhood. Fortunately for them--or us--we didn't encounter any. Probably at that point the most urgent thought on any Jap troop's mind would have been food. The previous summer at Dobodura there had been an instance of an enemy straggler sneaking into our mess hall at night several months after we had occupied the camp.




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