Three days. Yesterday, Armistice Day.1 Lots of rest. A mission this morning.2 Rough. 390th lost one plane.3
We go out again this afternoon.4 Would prefer going to church.
Bonnie, darling, I love you with all my heart and will until time stops. Our love has been so wonderful, an inspiration and will be in the future. If it should so happen that I do not return from a mission, baby, bear my love in mind always. Don’t throw your life away in mourning needlessly, but please find someone who will take care of you and make you happy and treat you with respect and reverently. Your happiness, always, has been in my wishes. Thank you for all the loving, and for the peace and for your desire. That has been all in all to me.
Aloha only, Wynne.
Notes & Commentary
1 Armistice Day was proclaimed a holiday in the United States in 1919 when its date was established as November 11, the day in 1918 when World War I ended on the Western Front on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. The “War to End All Wars” was over. I can only wonder how it was observed at Mar Air Field, Sansapor, New Guinea in 1944.
After World War II, the concept of Armistice Day was expanded to include recognition of all veterans, living and dead, and renamed Veteran’s Day. In Commonwealth countries, the day is still known as Remembrance Day and is marked by two moments of silence at 11:00 a.m. This first occurred in 1919 on November 11. The Manchester Guardian(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_Day) reported on November 12, 1919:
The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect.
The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition.
Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy, the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still . . . The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city . . . And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.
In November 2005, I observed the same two minutes of silence on Regent Street near Piccadilly. For two minutes, no one moved or spoke. The only sound was that of the birds flying above a still London. Would that we observed such a custom in the United States.
The significance of Remembrance Day is poignantly recalled by Terry Kelly’s “A Pittance of Time”. YouTube.com (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo : accessed 09 November 2014).
On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the stores PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.
Terry was impressed with the stores leadership role in adopting the Legions two minutes of silence initiative. He felt that the stores contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.
When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the two minutes of silence to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.
Terry’s anger towards the father for trying to engage the stores clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, A Pittance of Time. Terry later recorded A Pittance of Time and included it on his full-length music CD, The Power of the Dream.”
Think about it. Just a pittance of your time . . . . . .
2 Upon verbal orders from XIII Fighter Command, a lone B-25 from the 100th Bombardment Squadron conducted a visual reconnaissance and propaganda leaflet drop over the Asia and Mapia Islands between 1300 and 1500 on November 11, 1944. At Pegun Island, trench works were sighted along both side of the north-south road from the south end of island to the center. A large dugout, well covered with logs, was noted about 1,200’ from the southern tip of the island and on the east side of the north-south road. It appeared to be in good repair and surrounded with recent track activity.
The mission dropped leaflets printed in the local language with the following message:
PROCLAMATION. These three islands are chosen to be bombarded by the Allied forces. It is our wish to protect you. This is the reason we are warning you to move your families away were you will be safe from our attacks.
We are very sorry to cause you this trouble, but it is our will to drive the Japanese from your soil, so that you can once again live in peace. LEAVE AT ONCE.
Consolidated Mission Report #718, 11 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 11 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 67.
During the morning of November 12, 1944, eight B-25 from the 100th Bombardment Squadron and eight from the 390th Bombardment squadron attacked Pegun Island [Pulau Pegun] in the Mapia Islands. The 100th Bombardment Squadron attacked Pegun Village at 0647, and the 390th Bombardment Squadron attacked the central village at 0658. Both attacks were from a minimum altitude. 130 general purpose 100 lb. bombs hit through the south tip of the island to 1,000 feet north of the tip; 14 were short in the water. A small fire with smoke to 500 feet was started on the west side of Penguin Island village and a fire with black smoke to 1,000 feet was observed in the center of the island 1,000 feet north of the south tip. Sixteen general purpose 250 lb bombs fell in the central village area. The entire island was strafed with 23,200 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition. There were no observed results from the strafing.
Moderate to intense machine gun fire was received from approximately 10 positions along the island. Positions seen firing included those in the village at the south end of the island and at intervals of about 600’ under the trees to almost the north end of the island. Fire was also observed coming from a 75’ hulk southwest of the southern tip of the island. Some crewmembers thought they observed twin-barreled guns firing. Two aircraft were holed and one lost.
During the mission, Wayne flew on B-25 #977 piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth E Miller. The remainder of the crew consisted of the following: 2nd Lt. Helmuth Mahnke; 2nd Lt. J. E. Ward; S/Sgt. Stanley Seehorn; S/Sgt. Louis H. Miller; and S/Sgt. Wayne A. Gray.
Consolidated Mission Report #720, 12 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 12 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 69 – 70.
3 While on a strafing run over the island, one B-25 from the 390th Bombardment Squadron went down over the target. Flames were seen along the bottom of the plane’s fuselage prior to the plane turning over and crashing on its back. The plane crashed on the east side of the island about one mile from the south tip and dense black smoke was seen to rise from its point of impact.
Historical Records and Histories of Organizations. 42nd Bomb Group, November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 9 December 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 7-8.
Sgt. Donald R. Fletcher, a gunner aboard another 390th Bombardment Squadron aircraft, described the crash as follows:
When I first saw Lt. Carroll’s plane, we were going in on our target run with our bomb bay doors open. I saw Lt. Carroll drop his bombs just before reaching the shore. He was on our right wing at a distance of approximately 75 feet, 100 yards back, and about 30 or 40 feet below us. Soon after our run I again saw Lt. Carroll’s plane but this time it was on fire, and climbing. Fire was coming out of the planes bomb bay but the only apparent damage I could see was that only the framework was left of the nose. After climbing to about 500 feet, turning over on its back and hanging like that for a second, the plane nosed down, hitting the ground at a 90° angle. The plane exploded when it hit the ground. It is my opinion that no one survived the crash.
“Casualty Report, 390th Bombardment Squadron (M), 12 November 1944.” Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/29425992/ : accessed 09 November 2014), B-25G, Aircraft Serial Number 42-65142, “Statement” by Sgt. Donald R. Fletcher.
The following men were killed in the plane crash:
Pilot 2nd Lt. J. H. Carroll, Pilot
Co-pilot 2nd Lt. William H. Gill, Co-pilot
Engineer Sgt. Alva F. Gumlaw, Engineer
Radioman S/Sgt. Edward S. Gerstenzang, Radioman
Gunner Sgt. Charles W. Lunsford, Gunner
Scout Sgt. Nicholas S. Vosniak
Scout Pfc. Verner B. Scott
Scout Pfc. Daniel Wallock, 1041st Signal Company, 8th Service Group
Postwar, the remains of Lunsford, Vozniak and Scott were recovered and identified through dental charts.
B-25G-10 Mitchell Serial Number 42-65142. PacificWrecks.com (http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-25/42-65142.html : accessed 09 November 2014)
4 On the afternoon of November 12, 1944, nine planes each from the 69th, 70th, 100th and 390th Bombardment Squadrons attacked Pegun Island again. The 100th Bombardment Squadron bombed Pegun Village with 1,000 lb. general purpose bombs at 1330. One of the Squadron’s tail gunners strafed the village. The 390th Bombardment Squadron attacked at 1600, the 69th at 1626, and the 70th at 1626. These three squadrons all dropped 100 lb. general purpose bombs; all aircraft bombed from 5,400’.
A total of 18 1,000 lb. bombs were dropped along with 324 100 lb. general purpose bombs. Three small fires were started and one large fire with black smoke to 1,000’. 70 rounds of .50 ammunition was expended.
As with the day’s morning mission, Wayne flew this mission on B-25 #977 piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth E Miller. The remainder of the crew consisted of the following: 2nd Lt. Helmuth Mahnke; 2nd Lt. J. E. Ward; S/Sgt. Stanley Seehorn; S/Sgt. Louis H. Miller; and S/Sgt. Wayne A. Gray.
Consolidated Mission Report #725, 12 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 12 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 75-76.
In NZ we have a public holiday on 25 April called ANZAC day to remember those lost in both World Wars. There are services all over the country.
In regards to this entry, he appears to be increasingly aware he may not survive the war. Quite a difference to the positive, early entries.
How tender and apprehensive. Excellent post!
My respect and thanks to all who served and sacrificed.
I can’t even imagine an afternoon like that one.
It’s hard to imagine what it must feel like to write a letter like that, I suppose that there must be times when a melancholy comes upon you like a presentiment of doom when you’re facing death on a daily basis. It’s very moving to read.
Apart from Remembrance Day we also have Remembrance Sunday here in the UK, which is the nearest Sunday to Armistice Day. On Remembrance Sunday most towns have their own memorial service at the local war memorial with parades, prayers and the laying of wreaths. There is also a big service at the Whitehall cenotaph in London and a big parade of veterans, this year being the centenary of the outbreak of the First War there were 10,000 I think. Two minutes silence is used to commemorate so many things these days that it’s easy to forget the significance of it- it was meant to symbolise the moment that the guns went quiet on the last day of the Great War; the artillery were ordered to give everything that they had right up until the last minute and the sudden shock of silence on the front line must have been overwhelming.
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My wife and I were there in 2005 for Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph. That day, if I remember correctly, there were 13 World War One veterans in the parade. Now there are none.
I thought you might enjoy the three-part 2011 Remembrance Sunday Ceremony at the Cenotaph that is on You Tube.
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In Australia we still celebrate on 11th hour and the 11th day. We call it Remembrance day and it is getting bigger especially as it is one hundred years since the start of WWl.
Is this the first diary note where Wayne actually refers, so openly, to the chance of not surviving?
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He appears to be flying more and more missions, many extremely low-level strafing missions, and the Japanese antiaircraft artillery appears to be more intense. More planes are being hit and several from the 42nd Bombardment Group have been shot down. I believe, also, that information about how the Japanese have treated captured Allied airmen is beginning to filter down. He may have made references earlier to the possibility of not surviving, but these have a different tone.
Your footnote… Those seconds after rolling over onto her back… So sad…
With all the horrible deaths, I still find it incredible the remains of our Armed Forces were recovered at that time… Yet, so many could not. While I feel great sorrow, I feel the most for those families whose loved ones could not be recovered.
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