Went on a convoy mission on of the days since my last entry. Can’t remember which.1 Five hours twenty five minutes of patrolling ahead of a task force, destination Palau, Morotai, Phillipines. Left it intact after scouting four P47s, eight F6Fs, one TBF which were in the area. The weather was pretty stormy. We sweat out several rainstorms. Have been a little leary of stormy weather ever since the 75th plane that was lost2 and the 69th followed it shortly after crashing returning from a raid on Rabaul opposite Taroquina perimeter on Bougainville.
Saw only three ships through the cloudy weather. A good thing the Navy didn’t have itchy trigger fingers because we were directly above them before we saw them. Just underneath were two aircraft carriers and a cruiser looking deadly for a moment. In about as much time as it takes to snap one’s fingers, six F6Fs3 were looking us over. Our radio went out too when a tube burned out. A lucky thing for us that the IFF set was still operative.4 No deadly blossoms in the sky as a result.
Well the 42nd Group is on the move to Sansapor. The 69th went first, 70th, 75th, 390th tonight and 100th Monday a.m. This being Friday evening, 7:15 p.m.
Had two missions this past week.
A ration detail where things were generally screwed up. To begin with, the cook in charge was drunk on torpedo juice.5 We took first load to Air Corps QM (quartermaster). They took it and said to bring no more. On the way to it we tossed a couple of cans at natives who ran for it in delight. At one Navy man, we tossed a can of grapefruit, large size. Instead of catching it, he ducked, took it in the back and was almost knocked flat.
Arriving back at the mess hall, the mess sergeant and our boss had an argument. The falling out was finally patched up. We took several cans of extra juice to the Red Cross girls who thanked us profusely for it. When we got ready to leave, the mess sergeant drove up and told us to return for more rations as the dump would now take it. The detail cook blew up, told the mess sergeant off and beat it.
The sergeant put me in charge of the detail. Back we went. Stopped the truck at the tents, told the boys to take off if they wanted to and I’d load it myself. So they got Captain Wolfendale,6 operations officer, who let all of us go. Some business. The cooks found a couple of gals who would, and were trading juice and mess supplies for it. Ha! Ha!
My heart bleeds about the crash last week.7 Lawley and Dellinger dead. Mills, Prinderville unconscious. Cathers, a hole in the head. Duncan broken legs and arm. Frenchy with bruising and bum shoulder. Wagner, Holder, Shreibman walked away. Cathers and Duncan evacuated to Finschafen. More ships belly landed yesterday: two A20s, one B-25 and a P47. Tough or not?
Went by to see Johnson today. Not at home. Found a letter from my wife that she airmailed via him for receipt of faster delivery. So the mission was a success. Would walk a dozen miles for a letter from my baby. Nay! Ten words is all it would take. Am going to write to her tonight.
On the way back from seeing Johnson, picked up a fellow who happened to be in the outfit Bob was in. His name was Wilson Smallwood. If Bob hadn’t been hospitalized, he and I may have had a reunion. Tomorrow is another day.
Notes & Commentary
1 The 100th Bombardment Squadron’s report provides additional details:
On September 12, 1944, six aircraft, B-25s, of the 100th Bombardment Squadron performed a tactical reconnaissance mission covering Task Group 32.4 and Task Group 32.6. The vessels of Task Groups 32.4 and 32.6 were carrying troops headed for the Battle of Peleliu. In providing dawn to dusk cover for the two task groups, one aircraft flew at an altitude of 10,000 feet, one at 6000 feet, and one at 5000 feet. No sightings or anything out of the ordinary happened. Cloud cover prevented 100% coverage for the low-flying aircraft.
Historical Records and Histories of Organization. Office of the Commanding Officer, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M), 1 October 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1053
On 12 September 1944, 47 B-25 planes (12 from the 69th, 12 from the 70th, 3 from the 75th, six from the 100th, and 12 from the 390th squadron) participated in a convoy mission. This mission consisted of interdiction searches over naval task groups from dawn until dusk. Continuous cover was provided from 0755L until dark. The first group of planes which took off at 0338L returned shortly thereafter because weather. The second group which took off at 0550L remained on station. At takeoff the first group encountered a solid front running east to west 100 miles offshore, basted sea level with tops and 20,000 feet with lightning and rain. Later groups found a front 200 miles long running east to west along coast, base 1,000 with tops at 15,000 with some rain but no turbulence. Search area was generally fair. With the exception of the first group (three planes) which turned back because of weather, approximately 90% of the track and 75% cover was provided.
Report of 42nd Bombardment Group (M) Combat Activity during the period from August 31, 1944 – September 14, 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 24 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 2005.
2 See Wayne’s Journal for June 5, 1944 (https://waynes-journal.com/2014/06/04/june-5-1944/).
3 The Grumman F6F Hellcat was the primary carried-based navy fighter during World War II. It had a service ceiling of 37,000 feet and a maximum speed of 380 miles per hour. It was armed with six .50 caliber machine guns.
4 IFF (identification, friend or foe) identifies friendly aircraft by triggering a responder on the aircraft. In this case, the Task Force’s radar triggered the B-25’s IFF equipment which then returned a signal identifying it as a friendly aircraft. Had the B-25’s IFF failed to respond, the Task Force would have opened fire.
5 Torpedo Juice. “The standard recipe for torpedo juice is two parts ethyl alcohol and three parts pineapple juice.” Torpedo Juice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpedo_juice : accessed 7 September 2014)
6 Charles W. Wolfendale
7 See Wayne’s Journal for September 9 & 10, 1944.
So the .50 cal round your uncle mentioned involving Cathers was fired and he survived? I read your uncle’s words to mean a .50 cal round fell out of belt and the inertia in it from the crash sent it hurtling his way. My gosh. No one survives a .50 shot, even if glancing.
Your uncle’s description of all those crashes during landing add much more depth to some of “Old Man Jack’s” stories. He had said before he passed that there were plenty of planes to cannibalize for parts – but that the most needed parts were already gone.
In his journal entry of September 10, Wayne wrote “… a .50 caliber tore loose and hit Cathcart in the face or body and dropped from there into Shreibman’s lap.” A single .50 round may have flown out of the feed belt and hit Cathers in the “face or body” or it could have been the machine gun itself. I don’t know which occurred.
In another comment, you asked if those who survived the crash on Noemfoor survived the war. Wayne ended his journal in April 1945. Some might not survive even until then.