Not much these past four days. Flew one mission today at Rabaul AA1 guns. Not much flak. Results were fair. Major Longwell led formation. Lt. Col. Spencer came along, Service Command pilot.2
Not much doing these days except reading the Bible, answering letters, washing clothes and working on the airplane. Pulled turret dome to bore sight guns, but no Allen head wrench available. All that meant work for nothing. What a job! Phooey.
Felt well all week and got a good rest. Lectures on life rafts and emergency equipment this week. Dinky radio set to broadcast from life rafts.3 Ingenious little item. Small parachute one-man life rafts attached to parachute seat in place of cushion.4 Bought a couple of sheets, three pairs of socks, three shorts, 12 handkerchiefs and three Hershey bars at Seabees’ PX today.
Received letters from Bonnie, Nord, Mom, Bob and Guyneth, plus Shorty5 this week. Those were the most welcome crutches I’ve ever seen, as this week is the loneliest on record.
332 am6 on the 11th saw the Invasion of France by the Allies. All good news up ’til now. 5th and 8th Armies, with Aussies, Americans, New Zealanders and French and English entered Rome in a rush and are 100 miles beyond that now. Allies landed along 50 miles of coast between Cherbourg and Le Havre, France and are after Cherbourg untaken to this time. Eager anticipation is being expressed by all. And we’re hoping against hope for a quick victory over the Germans. Russians are driving against Finland in Karelian Peninsula. South Pacific Task Forces struck Guam, Saipan and Tinian in Mariana Isles. Shot down 144 Jap planes, sank 13 ships, damaged 16. We lost no ships and 15 aircraft. A great victory. Bombing of Palau continues.
That’s all folks. I love you baby doll.
Notes & Commentary
1Twelve B-25s in two sections of six each from the 75th Bombardment Squadron attacked Rabaul area antiaircraft positions on 15 June. General purpose, 500 lb. bombs were dropped from medium altitudes, i.e., 11,000 and 11,500 feet.
The mission aircraft took off from Stirling Island between 0757 and 0802L, and flying direct, they were over the target as planned at 0940L. The results were indeterminate with most bombs falling short or outside the target area.
Meager inaccurate heavy and medium caliber antiaircraft fire was received during the last part of the bomb run and until bomb bay doors were closed. The last flight element reported five bursts about 100 feet below and close enough to be heard. The origin of the fire was not observed. Rapopo antiaircraft positions were definitely inactive.
Eleven of the mission aircraft recovered at Stirling Island between 1117 and 1123L. The twelfth aircraft landed at 1204L. After leaving the target, it had been diverted to an area 15 miles south of Cape St. George to search for a plane from which an emergency signal was received. The results were negative.
Mission Report, Mission No. 154, 15 June 1944, 75th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 15 June 1944, microfilm A0565, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 776-777.
2 The pilot of one of the mission aircraft was a Lt. Col. Spencer who Wayne identified in his journal as being a “Service Command pilot”. Since Service Command pilots were not combat pilots, the Spencer referenced in the journal was probably Lt. Col. Truman A. Spencer, the 42nd Bombardment Group’s Operations Officer.
3 The SCR-578, “Gibson Girl”, survival radio kit included a box kite to raise the radio’s aerial. See Wireless for the Warrior, Gibson Girl part 1. Air-Sea Rescue: Long wave and short. (http://www.wftw.nl/gibsongirl.html : accessed 11 June 2014).
4 In 1944, the USAAF replaced the on-man AN-R-2A life raft with the Type C-2 pneumatic one-man life raft. The Type C-2 life raft, which had a capacity of 350 lbs with a wide range of survival equipment, attached to the parachute:
“In 1942 the one-man AN-R-2A raft’s equipment was simple: repair kit, bailing bucket, two paddles, concertina pump, two bullet-hole plugs, sea anchor, can of drinking water, seat pad, and two hand paddles. No food was included. In 1944 distress-signal flares, a sponge, signaling mirror, and desalting kit were added. Standard multi-place raft accessories included also fishing tackle, first-aid kits, and a packet of religious booklets. Devices used to attract the attention of rescue searchers comprised signal mirrors, sea-marker dyes, colored smoke, and, where possible, a Gibson Girl radio.”
Craven, W. F. and J. L. Cates, editors. The Army Air Forces in World War II, vol. VII, Services Around the World. digital image (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/VII/AAF-VII-15.html : accessed 14 June 2014) p. 486
For photographs of USAAF aircrew survival equipment, see http://wing.chez-alice.fr/USAAF/USAAF_survival.html.
5 “Shorty”, Wayne’s younger brother, Verne, was also serving in the USAAF.
On September 14, 1943, Wayne’s brother, Verne R. Gray, received orders on September 14, 1943 from his local Selective Service System board to report for induction “for training and service in the land or naval forces of the United States”. The Order required him to report to Office of the Local Board 19, Fort Collins, Colorado at 5:00 a.m. on October 2, 1943.
Selective Service System, Local Board 19, Fort Collins, Colorado. Order to Report for Induction. Order 11355. 14 September 1943. Verne Gray.
Verne was inducted into the Army Air Force and sent to Sheppard Air Field outside Wichita Falls Texas for basic training. His basic training unit was the 304th Training Group, Barracks 394. Although basic training ended about a week before Christmas 1943, he was still stationed at Sheppard Field on January 16, 1944.
Concurrent with his reporting for induction into the Army Air Force, he applied for admission to the aviation cadet program. His application was accepted, and at the conclusion of basic training, he was assigned to the 309th College Training Detachment, Squadron C, Section 114, at Texas Technological College in Lubbock, Texas. He was assigned to the 309th College Training Detachment through March 18 1944.
Prior to April 20, 1944, he was transferred to the Army Air Force Flexible Gunnery School, Class 44-24, Squadron 4, at Yuma Army Air Field, Yuma, Arizona. He was still assigned to the Flexible Gunnery School at Yuma on June 14, 1944.
Whether he washed out of aviation cadet program or was simply reassigned is unknown. The College Training Program (CTP) had been developed to provide additional training in math and physics, basic military indoctrination, and to keep the service volunteers employed while awaiting transfer to formal aviation cadet training programs. With combat casualties beginning to drop, there was as need to eliminate the backlog of aviation cadets who had not yet entered the formal aviation training programs. From a high of 114,336 in the aviation cadet programs in December 1943, the total was reduced by about 66% to a total of 39,062 by December 1944.
Bruce Ashcroft. We Wanted Wings: a History of the Aviation Cadet Program. [Randolph Air Force Base, Tex.]: HQ, AETC, Office of History and Research, 2009. pp. 33 & 37
6 The meaning of “332 am” is not known. The remaining portion of the entry appears to be an effort to record what was going on in the war at that particular time.