July 8, 1944

Saturday

We loaded the plane this a.m. for takeoff to the Russell Islands and rest leave. (We hope.) Most of the baggage was loaded in the tail end of the plane, because the pilot had a huge bed placed in the bomb bay, which took most of that loading space.

Scheduled take off at 10:00 a.m., but rain cancelled it. We finally left the ground at 1:00 p.m. flying into a leaden sky and going low to miss rough weather. We had to go around by New Georgia Island and Kolombangara1 to get to our destination. After a tail heavy ride due to placing of baggage, we thankfully landed at Renard Field, Banika Island. Quite thankfully indeed.

Were sent to the 390th Squadron area to spend our rest leave. We were placed in “D” Quonset hut and immediately went to chow. Lo and behold! Steak and ice cream. Things look good at the present time.

Nothing happened in the late afternoon, except that we spent much time cleaning the huts. Took a fresh water shower. A blessing after the salt water jobs at Stirling Island which always left one’s hair like wire and disposition impaired. We men overseas are thankful for a bath, though. It’s been a cleaner life all around than we expected.

Attended the picture show Chip off the Old Block2 at the 6th Service Group3 theater. Quite entertaining. Also a March of Time4 “Navy Log of Victory”, giving statistics on our’s and Axis naval approximations. We lead and should soon be on the road to victory!

As we were flying here, the radio operator, Beaulieu, (Rhode Island), tuned the set in on the news. B-29s again bombed Japan! Good! Russians still on the march toward Vilno, in old Poland. Good!

Went to bed after getting my nightly Bible lesson!5

Notes & Commentary

1 Kolombangara is an island in the New Georgia Islands group of the Solomon Islands.

2 Chip Off the Old Block was a musical comedy released by Universal Pictures in February 1944. It starred Ann Blyth, Peggy Ryan and Donald O’Connor. Chip Off the Old Block IMDB.com, Inc. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036710/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 : accessed 07 July 2014)

3 6th Service Group. The service group was responsible for supply and maintenance functions on combat bases. These groups had all the equipment, machinery and supplies necessary to sustain the operation of the combat squadrons of an air Group. Supplies included such items as rations, clothing, fuels, and lubricants, organizational equipment, airplanes, spares, ammunition, etc.

For a discussion of the U. S. Army Air Force’s logistical organization, see Craven, W. F. and J. L. Cates, editors. The Army Air Forces in World War II, vol. VI, Men and Planes. digital image. (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/VI/AAF-VI-11.html : accessed 07 July 2014) pp. 362 – 397.

4 The March of Time was a newsreel series shown in movie theaters between 1935 and 1951. It was an extension of Time Magazine and presented the news of the week in a dramatic manner. According to some critics, The March of Time blurred the line between news and entertainment. The presentation, Naval Log of Victory, was released in December 1943 and ran nearly 19 minutes. The March of Time ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_March_of_Time : accessed 07 July 2014).

5 Wayne’s continuing Bible lessons and church attendance is of interest since there had been no religious tradition among him and his brothers. A note on the reverse of a 1945 Easter card sent to Verne R. Gray, Wayne’s brother, reads:

Remember our first Easter [1942] when you & Wayne didn’t want to go to church with me. Someday you will have to make up for it. We have never been to church together. My hope is that soon we shall.

The Easter card was sent by Verne’s wife.

Easter card from Mrs. V. R. Gray (Longmont, Colorado) to Sergeant Verne R. Gray (Sgt. Verne A. Gray, 571st Bomb Sqdn., 390th Gr. (H), APO 559, c/o Postmaster, New York, New York, postmarked March 5, 1945, held in 2014 by A. Gray.

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