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.
I would think 332 am may have meant the time of the invasion, adjusted to local time.
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Yes, he could be referencing the start time of D-Day. This paragraph is his only reference to D-Day.
Canadians played an important role in the Italian campaign.
It is a well known fact confirmed by a historian that Canadian soldiers were not allowed to take part in the victory parade in Rome.
Canadian participation in WWII is not that well known and recognized as much.
Your comment regarding a victory parade in Rome is troubling, Pierre. Do you have a reference for that. I would like to read about it.
I found this….
I will read it and comment on it.
From the article…
In May 1944, despite sustaining some 7,000 casualties, the Canadians had made “good headway, and their work and that of their Allies (had) opened the road to Rome.” U.S. troops captured Rome on June 4, 1944, making it “the first Axis capital to fall,” say historians Granatstein and Oliver. Two days later, the D-Day invasion began obscuring this earlier triumph from view, as did continued Canadian fighting northern Italy. The war was still on, but the soldiers fighting it, if Mowat’s experiences are any indication, had been fundamentally changed.
End of quote…
What the historian told me was that the Canadians were needed elsewhere. But later high command had apologized about this.
This same historian’s father died at Dieppe in 1942. I would have had another view of the war. This is another story to read about how Canadians were used. A lot of controversy.
Who liberated Holland…? A hellish place to be. Who was sent there?
Who writes about wars? Not ordinary people like you and I. It is so easy to rewrite history when you were not there to write what really happened.
This is why your blog is so interesting.
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Found this here…
Rome was finally taken (controversially) by American General Mark Clark on 4 June 1944, a couple of weeks after the fall on Montecassino. Clark, who led the US 5th Army which had just broken out from the Anzio beachhead, had been ordered by Army Commander (British) General Alexander to chase the opposing German forces northwards and not give them a chance to consolidate any position. Clark lied to Alexander that he was doing this, when in fact he was headed for Rome because, a) he was paranoid about the British reaching Rome first (in reality an impossibility) and b) he wanted to be photographed by his personal Photographic Corps entering Rome.
Clark’s decision not to pursue the Germans has been described by the eminent American military historian Carlo D’Este as “as militarily stupid as it was insubordinate” as it allowed the Germans to regroup and condemned the Allies to another brutal Italian winter. Clark’s need to enter Rome in daylight also caused many unnecessary casualties. “His behaviour was so outrageous that he forfeited the respect of (his Chief of Staff) and earned the outright contempt of (the American General commanding the Special Forces) who was compelled to lose men so that Clark could enter Rome while there was still sufficient light for the cameras” (Richard Holmes).
Ironically, the news stayed on the front pages for only a few hours, eclipsed by another event called “D-Day” further north on 5 June! Clark, whose diaries, oddly and interestingly, confirmed many of the nastiest things said about him, went on to command the UN Forces in the Korean War.
End of quote
What to believe?
“What to believe?” An attorney once told me as I was going to a deposition that I should remember that I only know a few things: I know what I saw. I know what I heard. I know what I smelled. I know what I tasted. I know how something felt when I touched it. I know where I was. Those things I know; all else is conjecture. Carlo D’Este is reputed to be an excellent scholar, and I would guess that much of what he writes is derived from primary source material. Too many histories, though, are pumped out by authors relying on secondary sources. In many instances, those authors are focused on monetary gain, the topic of the moment.
There is another issue that is sometimes forgotten. That is the availability of primary source material. For years after World War II and perhaps still, documents relating to certain events were classified. Primary source material simply wasn’t available and authors had to rely upon interviews with those who were supposed to be in the “know”. We both know where that sometimes leads. The mission information in Wayne’s Journal was classified until 1983. As result, you had to rely upon someone’s memory if you wanted to know what happened on such a such a mission.
So back to your question as to what to believe . . . I think that it is important to evaluate the bibliography of any book that you read. If it is all secondary sources, then you have to evaluate the authors whose works are listed in the bibliography. You have to do this to evaluate if they know what they are writing about. The same prevails for the book’s author. You have to ask, “What are the qualifications of this author?” Why is he writing this article or book on this particular topic. What are his qualifications? Why should I believe him?
“What are the qualifications of this author?” Why is he writing this article or book on this particular topic. What are his qualifications? Why should I believe him?
Some historians took all that my veteran wrote in his book as true. I am not an historian and I could see with the help of another veteran that he had lied.
When confronted both historians refused to believe what I was telling them.
I am no expert, but there are many anecdotes that leads me to believe that the Commonwealth forces were used in dangerous operations to spare English forces.
I don’t think any “historian” would dare write a book about this.
I, too, have heard anecdotal evidence that Commonwealth forces were used in situations to “spare” British forces. I also had the sense that Commonwealth troops were integrated within British units. I don’t know enough about any of this to have an opinion. I would like to know the breakdown of Commonwealth units and information about the integration of Commonwealth troops in British units.
There are so many anecdotes that I firmly believe what Stubbs said what he did.
The book Unlucky Lady is a great book which was almost never written,
I have two copies.
One I had bought for my wife’s uncle’s daughters. When I saw that they were not that interested I decided to keep it for someone who might be interested one of these days.
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I think this is highly likely given the percentage of casualties of NZ and Australian troops compared to others. I know the NZ troops were very much looked down upon by the British army due to their casual etiquette and considered backcountry hicks.
In my search for information about the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan I found a statement made by the ship’s captain John Stubbs.
That statement is in the book Unlucky Lady.
I don’t think I wrote about it on my blog.
He wondered why the Canadian destroyers were put in harm’s way.
Had the British agreed to a peace treaty with Germany?
Strong statement from a ship’s captain!
I have been thinking about your comment on 15 June: “…there are many anecdotes that leads me to believe that the Commonwealth forces were used in dangerous operations to spare English forces.”
Do you have at hand any information that provides, by service, i.e., army, navy, air force, etc., the number of troops provided by Great Britain and the number provided by the individual Commonwealth countries? Such statistics might provide some insight to the comments relative to Commonwealth forces and British forces.