Wayne made no entry in his journal on December 29, 1944.
In England, his brother, Verne, made the following entry in his diary:
Nothing but loaf1 all day and rest up from practice missions yesterday. Flying at altitudes certainly takes everything out of a person. Sure be glad when mail starts coming regular. I get mighty lonesome for Aileen and Allen. Looking forward to having a baby in a few months. Hope we name her Karla Diane. It is a swell name.
Notes & Commentary
NOTE — The weather was very bad in England with heavy fog and freezing temperatures during the final weeks of December 1944. One contemporary diarist wrote have never seen thicker hoar frost. Fog exceedingly thick especially at night.
“29th Dec 1944: frost, fog, flying bombs and a premature death”. War and peace and the price of cat-fish. (http://myunclefred.blogspot.com/2014/12/29th-dec-1944-frost-fog-flying-bombs.html : accessed 29 December 2014).
1 Verne writes frequently of loafing, of doing very little. This is at odds with what Wayne has written of taking care of the guns and turrets. Both Verne and Wayne are Aerial Gunners. The duties of the Aerial Gunner, MOD 611, included the following:
Operates a hand-held or turret mounted machine gun in airplane to protect airplane from enemy attack.
Loads, charges guns, aims, fires, and reloads. Strips and reassembles standard machine guns used on tactical bombers. Makes preflight and postflight inspections and necessary adjustments. Inspects for worn or broken parts, and performs routine maintenance on such guns.
Must be able to manipulate smoothly and accurately the type of turret on which he has been specifically trained, use sights correctly, charge guns, fire, and reload. Perform first echelon maintenance on his turret, including preflight and postflight inspections.
Must be qualified to fly at high altitudes and use oxygen and interphone equipment.
As noted previously, Wayne was also an Airplane Armorer-Gunner, MOS 612. The duties of an Airplane Armorer-Gunner included the following:
Inspects, repairs, and maintains all aircraft armament, including bomb release mechanism, airplane cannons, machine guns, auxiliary equipment, and may repair other weapons.
Makes daily inspections and running repairs to equipment, such as bomb racks, bomb release mechanisms, aerial gun sights, flare racks, flare rack controls, and chemical carrying release mechanisms.
Installs armament equipment on airplanes. Fuses and places bombs in bomb racks; disassembles guns and inspects them for worn, broken, or defective parts. Makes necessary replacements or repairs and reassembles weapons after thoroughly cleaning and oiling their working parts.
As an armorer/gunner, Wayne was responsible for the maintenance and operation of the 18 machine guns of the B-25J. These machine guns made the aircraft an effective strafing weapon, but required a great deal of maintenance to keep them functioning properly.
In the specialized corporate-industrial style operation and structure of an 8th Air Force station, Verne, as an aerial gunner, appears to have had little responsibility but to wait for the next mission.
See “AAF MOS Codes, WWII Era”, Military Yearbook Project (http://militaryyearbookproject.com/references/old-mos-codes/wwii-era/army-air-force-aaf-wwii-codes : accessed 30 April 2014)
You get the feeling that the Pacific boys were Jacks of all trades and the European boys were a bit like a union shop.
My sense is that was very much the case, especially with the light and medium bomber units in the Pacific. Reading the records of the 390th Bombardment Group (H) leaves me with the feeling that it functioned as a small town or medium-sized corporation to service and keep the bombers in the air. Its historical report for December 1944, which runs for many pages, barely references the activities of the combat crews. Then there is the issue of combat. Wayne’s war was fought from tree-top altitude up to, say, 10,000. His brother’s war was fought at 25,000′.
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