January 25, 1945


In England, a mission is scrubbed and now Verne waits for one scheduled for tomorrow . . . .


Mission for today but it was scrubbed. On another in the morning. Wish we could do thirty in a row then I could forget my perpetual fear of not finishing the tour safely. Gee but it would be terrible for Aileen and our children. I sure hope everything goes well for all our sakes. More sweating tonight. Sure don’t sleep well these nights.1

When Verne returned from London, he found a letter from his dad waiting for him. The mission for today scrubbed, he found time to respond:


Dear Dad & Sis,
I returned from pass in London town and found your V-mail of January third. Sure glad to hear from you once again. Mail from home is certainly a morale builder as far as I am concerned.

It’s really swell to get away from the tenseness, fears and monotony guy feels while on base and over the continent of Europe.

I haven’t been able to get real drunk over here because the drinks are too costly but I have felt very much liking it after (a few) or two of our roughest missions. It’s no fun seeing B-17s blazing earthward with full crews on board. It doesn’t take many sights like that to encourage me to get good & drunk.

Say, Sis, when did you mail the box to me? I’ve been looking forward to it, but nothing came as yet. Hope it contains something good to eat. That’s what we look forward to mostly.

I’ve written a couple of letters to you guys at Box 413 in Collins, hope they will forward them on to you.

Don’t worry about me giving the Huns hell, dad. My time is here but about all I can say of my missions is that I’ve helped drop quite a few tons of the special kind of hell you want them to have.

Have you heard that Aileen and I are once again expecting an addition to the family? It’s the final one, folks, so don’t worry about us going into mass production. We both thought it would be a fairly good time for it even though I would probably be away for the event.

After this how about sending all your letters air-mail? It may take a little longer sometimes, but it has a personal touch to it that amply compensates for the delay.

Well folks, tomorrow promises to be a very busy day for me so until the next time, Adios.
Love, Shorty

P.S. Enclosed is a mighty poor picture that was taken of me in London but perhaps you will like to have it.

The letter, written on January 25, was passed by the Station 153 censor on January 26, and postmarked January 28. It was addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Gray, General Delivery, Hanford, Washington. Uncollected at Hanford, it was forwarded to Fort Collins, Colorado on February 24th. On March 6, the Fort Collins Post Office forwarder it on to New Albany, Indiana where Tom Gray was supervising the construction of electrical transmission lines from a power plant being constructed to serve a new rocket propellant manufacturing plant at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant.2

Notes & Commentary

1 As missions are scheduled and scrubbed, Verne, like Wayne, rides a nighttime roller coaster of fear.

2 Rob Vest. “Charlestown, IN and the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant: The Making of A War-Industry Boom-Town.” (http://homepages.ius.edu/RVEST/INAAP.htm : accessed 22 January 2014)

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6 Responses to January 25, 1945

  1. suchled says:

    “As missions are scheduled and scrubbed, Verne, like Wayne, rides a nighttime roller coaster of fear”. I know these are your words but Verne, in a few words, seems to say a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    These letters are so revealing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tony Wilkins says:

    There is certainly something fatalistic about being given a number within the context of which it could all be over for you. I think its not so much to do with the missions but being made to realize our time on Earth is limited regardless of what we do whether its washing dishes at a restaurant or bombing the Third Reich.


    • a gray says:

      For the Allied bomber crews of the European air war, the measure of their life span was until the completion of the next mission, Then, it started all over again until they were shot down and taken prisoner, killed or their tour ended. Reading through the reports of the 390th Bombardment Group (H), I don’t have the sense that many wounded came home from the missions. It seems like an all or nothing deal. There must have been an incredible level of loneliness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Penner, Scott says:

    The entry about Thomas Gray, your grandfather, being at Hanford makes me wonder if he knew my father-in-law, Bill Nicklason, who worked for the DuPont Company at Hanford. Small world.


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