In England, Verne wrote in his diary . . .
Flew a practice mission today for a couple or three hours.1 Flew over Ken’s base.2 Hope I get a chance to see him soon. No mail from home. The Major3 is still pretty eager but seems to be a good Joe. Hope he can do me some good on the Staff Sergeant’s ratings. Should start flying combat within the next five days. Still out of lights. No coke until tomorrow.4 Have been stealing wood tonight trying to keep our fire going. Goldie’s and Fisher’s birthdays today.5
Notes & Commentary
1 The aircrew were credited with 3:45 hours of flight according to the Individual Flight Record of Boyce L. Pruitt. Verne Gray and Boyce Pruitt were both members of Combat Crew 87.
Ronald J. Reid. “A Tribute to Sgt. Boyce Lester Pruitt”. (unpublished manuscript, 2007). Individual Flight Record. 8th Air Force, 13th Bombardment Wing, 390th Bombardment Group, 571st Bombardment Squadron, Station 153, England. Boyce L. Pruitt, January 1945.
2 Verne’s brother-in-law, Ken, was stationed at USAAF Station 118, located between the villages of Beeston and Wendling four miles northwest of East Dereham in Norfolk.
“Wendling Airfiled (Station 118)” Second Air Division Memorial Library. (http://www.2ndair.org.uk/consumption/groups/public/documents/article/ncc081391.pdf : accessed 15 January 2015).
3 Major Linn E. Wilde, Jr.
4 The electrical lighting of the living quarters is not working and they have no coke, i.e., fuel, for the stove. Lacking coke for their stove, they burned wood from bomb crates, etc., in an attempt to keep warm. It was unusually cold. The Meteorological Office reported that January was “ . . . notable for intense frost and considerable snow.” The Office also reported that “Mean temperatures were very low . . . . 6.3⁰F below average . . . but not so cold as the exceptionally cold January in 1940.”
“Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office, January 1945.” Meteorological Office, Air Ministry. (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/k/h/Jan1945.pdf : accessed 15 January 2015).
In Europe, January and February 1945 were among the coldest winter months of the 20th century, with blizzards and temperatures as low as –25°C (–13°F).
“The March (1945),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_March_(1945)&oldid=633363182 : accessed 15 January 2015).
5 Alvin Goldberg was born in 1925 and Carlton D. Fisher in 1926. January 17 is their shared birthday. Goldberg, 20 years old, was Crew 87’s radio operator and Fisher, 19 years old, its tail gunner.