February 13, 1944


We attended a lecture in The Combat Processing Center on our trip. The possible route of our trip and sex lectures regarding disease. Lord, how brutally frank they were. I’ll see those pictures to my dying day. We were also given a lecture on mails and the safe guarding of military Information. Then, two of our crews were alerted, the rest being allowed to go in to investigate the beautiful city of San Francisco. We were certainly sore about that. Our last chance to paint the town red, and we were chosen for the first alert. That caused plenty of grumbling, but there was nothing that could be done about that.

We also received our last physical examination and a showdown inspection of our equipment. The issuance of pistol ammunition was our first concrete evidence that we were going to war to kill or to be killed, as simple as that; but those words cause a lot of emotional feeling to stop the blood veins and cause a choking throat.

Shortly afterwards we were advised that our departure time was to be at 9:00 am the following morning. We were told that we’d fly as guests of the Air Transport Command. One organization named by the Army but consisting of civilian employees of United Airlines.

Tonight I placed a call to my wife, Bonnie, in Columbia, South Carolina, as well as calls to my father1 in Denver, Colorado; and to mother2 in Los Angeles. There was nothing I could tell them regarding our destination or time of departure. I could only sit in that lonesome old phone booth; and remain silent as to their questions. Feelings of sadness and emotions crowding the phone lines across the nation. My wife repeated over and over again that she loved me, as did the folks. That was the thing I wanted to hear; and my reply was in kind. Sleep was impossible that night as a result. I laid awake and ran over the days in my life sustained by the memory of the human kindness and the love and devotion of my wife of four short months. Short months crowned with pure living; and the fun of two people, madly in love; and without a semblance of anything mean or tawdry or cheap, coming between us.

Thank God for my wife.

Notes & Commentary:

1 Thomas Jason Gray (1894-1982).

2 Mary Gladys Searles (1898-1948). Wayne’s parents were divorced prior to 1929. His mother married subsequently Harvey Francis Ryning (1906-1988) in 1933.

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11 Responses to February 13, 1944

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I see the genealogist behind the scene of this beautiful post.
    Sorry if I commented on this. I have been addicted to genealogy since 2007.

    Liked by 1 person

    • a gray says:

      Throughout Wayne’s Journal, there are the names of people with whom he served or knew. Some of these people did not return. Through serendipity, two relatives of men mentioned in the Journal, both nephews, stumbled across Wayne’s Journal. Without the Journal, they would not have known details of their uncles’ lives.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        There are not many veterans who talked about the war so many family members learn about it when the person is deceased.


      • a gray says:

        An acquaintance once said in speaking about her father that she wished that he had told them about his experiences during World War II. I asked if she had ever asked him about the war. She said, “No, I didn’t know what to ask.” Then after a pause, she commented, “You know, in those days, my sisters and I were more interested in boys, school and our friends than anything else.”


      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        Veterans don’t talk.

        He would have eluded the questions. I know.

        Those who talked the most about the war are the most suspicious in my book.

        I know!


      • a gray says:

        I was two when WW II ended. I had five uncles who served in the war and they had five or six cousins who also served. These guys had been in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Over the years, I also worked with guys who had served. Among my uncles, one was a aerial gunner, Wayne; one was a combat infantryman under Patton; another a B-24 pilot; one was a Navy Corpsman with a Marine unit; one helped maintain airfields in Italy; and another helped map invasion beaches for amphibious landings in the Pacific. Among the others that I knew, another served in the infantry in Italy; one was a C.B. in New Guinea; another was a Marine survived several island landings and ended the war guarding a bridge in China; another was with Graves Registration in the Philippines; one was a glider pilot during the invasion of France; another survived the fight in the Huertgen Forest; one had been captured by the Japanese at Bataan, another had been shot down, spent time in a prison camp in the eastern part of Germany (probably Poland now), been liberated by Russians, and evacuated through Russia; another served in Basra, Iraq, a port from which Lend Lease supplies were shipped on the Russians; another had helped to set up aircraft radio navigation sites in North Africa; another . . . . The list goes on and on. Not a single one of these people ever bragged of anything they did. They only talked of what they experienced. They hated the boaster, the braggers. As had been said during the American Civil War, they had all been to see the elephant. They didn’t want to see it again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        Masterpiece of a comment.
        The first veteran I met was a boaster, a bragger as you put it. I can’t write here what he did, because you would think I was making all this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lloyd Marken says:

    Fairly unique to be a child of divorce back then, coincidentally so was my grandfather. He lived in Brisbane with his father and his mother moved to Sydney. When he went to NSW for some training, he got to see her on leave.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    29 April 1944

    77 years ago HMCS Athabaskan was sunk off the coast of France.

    Commissioned on February 3, 1943, the Tribal Class destroyer HMCS Athabaskan’s first mission was to patrol the Iceland-Faeroes Passage for blockade-runners. Afterwards, she carried out anti-submarine patrols. On August 27, she was hit by a glider bomb off the Spanish coast but managed to reach England. Returning to Scotland in December, she escorted convoys to Russia. On April 26, 1944, she helped sink the German torpedo boat T29. Three days later, a torpedo from the German torpedo boat T24 sank her north of the Île de Bas while operating with her sister-ship HMCS Haida. Her captain and 127 men were lost, 85 were taken prisoner, 42 were rescued by HMCS Haida, and the remaining 6 managed to reach England in a small craft.

    Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/navy/services/history/ships-histories/athabaskan.html

    Liked by 1 person

  4. a gray says:

    I sometimes wonder if those of us who blog the details of lives lived during wartime don’t eventually begin to suffer some form of post traumatic stress syndrome. It is so much easier to skate by when all one writes is impersonal history.


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