March 6, 1945

Tuesday

Today finds Wayne still being treated for ear fungus in the 155th Station Hospital on Morotai Island . . . .

March 6, 1945

Still in hospital under sulfa drug treatment, 45 pills in the last 24 hrs. Ear seems to be draining visibly; but I can still feel minor twinges of pain. Expect to remain here only a few more days.

The 14th our squadron1 is scheduled to leave for Puerto Princessa, Palawan Island of the Philippines. Heigh ho, and it’s probably Borneo we’ll be bombing, though I hope not. Things are tough down that way, I understand. Where is your patriotism Wayne? That? Oh Hell, I’m so weary of war.2

Wrote letters to Bonnie and Mary Grace today.

It’s raining again today. Mud, as king, holds sway!

Three aircraft down over Zamboanga.3 The past three days fourteen men saved, one radio operator lost. Boys in raft heard him yelling for a knife. One dove off and dove toward plane. It sank before his eyes!4

Two men on 127s, blew tops. Can’t blame them.

Doc Avakian, flight surgeon, came to see me today. He was encouraging as usual. Am wondering if nothing will be come of it, as usual? Undoubtedly. He said three men might go home and I might be on the list. If names went in on the 27th [of February] Gray will be on it. If not, he’s due for another month overseas combat time. Brother I’m praying, but not counting on it. Will sign off for tonight. Adios, and Bonnie, I love you, adore you, I do.

In England, Verne writes in his diary . . . .

03-06-45

Ho-hum. Nothing for today but cleaned up a ship and did a slow time job. Received a beautiful birthday card from Aileen. Paid George five shillings for the showers. Pruitt5 had some nice Scotch tonight. Had some good drinks out of the bottle. Read part of the Christian Science books6 mom sent. On the battle order for tomorrow. Stand down for the last few days.

Notes & Commentary

1 100th Bombardment Squadron (M).

2 Compare his current attitude with that of February/March 1944.

3 Zamboanga, the northwestern part of Mindanao Island.

4 Wayne entered the 155th Station Hospital on 27 February and the information he receives is from visitors and the grapevine. Wayne did not name the missing aircrew man. A search of 42nd Bombardment Group records for the period from 27 February through 6 March reveal the following incidents:

27 February 1945

One plane from the 100th Squadron was forced to make a water landing in Basilan Strait after the right engine caught fire from an AA hit over the target. The 100th Squadron circled the area until the rescue Cat arrived to pick up the survivors. Five crew members were rescued. The following crew member is listed as killed in action:

Cpl. Ralph E. Shepard

Standard Mission Report, 27 February 1945, Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 27 February 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1246.

3 March 1945

One plane had its windshield smashed over the target by a bird. The pilot’s face was acratched.

Standard Mission Report, 3 March 1945, Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 3 March 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1257.

4 March 1945

Two planes from the 75th Squadron made water landings after having been hit by AA fire over the target. One with both engines on fire landed on a reef near Little Santa Cruz Island in water five feet deep. After all personnel had left, another plane from the 75th strafed it in an attempt to prevent it from falling into enemy hands with negative results. The island and the tower or beacon on it were also strafed.

The other [75th Squadron] plane, with the left engine and bomb bay on fire, landed about two miles SW of the first. All personnel left the plane, but the radio operator, Cpl. Joseph L. Schneiderham, although seen to leave the plane was not seen again and is missing in action. Initially reported as “missing in action”, Cpl. Schneiderham was later reported as having drowned.

One plane from the 390th Squadron made a water landing 10 miles SW of Caldera Point after having been hit by AA over the target.

Two planes from the 390th flew cover until crew members of the ditched planes had been rescued by the Rescue Cat. 17 men were rescued.

The target was the San Roque Airdrome air defense gun positions and supply area one mile west of the runway. Antiaircraft fire was described as (1) Intense, light, accurate; (2) Moderate, medium, accurate; and (3) Slight, heavy, generally inaccurate. The attacking aircraft observed an unidentified twin-engine aircraft at 0935, about five minutes before the attack. This aircraft may have alerted the San Roque Airdrome of the impending attack.

Each of the attacking aircraft carried twelve 100 lb. Napalm incendiary bombs. 250 bombs were dropped and 46,500 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition expended.

Standard Mission Report, 4 March 1945, Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 4 March 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 1258 – 1260. See alsoHistorical Report for month of March 1945 . 75th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 7 April 1945, microfilm A0565, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1337.

5 Boyce Lester Pruitt of Combat Crew 87.

6 Wayne and Verne’s mother kept her sons well supplied with copies of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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12 Responses to March 6, 1945

  1. suchled says:

    So good to hear from Wayne after all this time, but it would appear that the Squadron has been hit quite hard.

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    • a gray says:

      In his early journal entries, he complained frequently about all the recognition being received by the 5th Air Force. If you haven’t done so already, you might want to go back and read through his journal entries from his early days in the South Pacific.

      Like

  2. gpcox says:

    You know how much I enjoy the first hand accounts and here you supply a daily dose of them – Lucky guy!! I always feel they not only add the human factor into the war’s story but often have far more information.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      These daily accounts provide an insight into the daily lives of the troops, something that is often missing in our understanding. Wayne had arguments occasionally with his younger brother, an infantryman, about who had it worse in the war. His brother complained about having slept in the snow for days on end, having frostbite, and wearing the same clothes for weeks on end. He envied Wayne sleeping in a bed, having clean clothes, taking showers, and eating in a mess hall. Wayne envied his younger brother being surrounded by his comrades who were always there to help him. Wayne’s war was “clean”, his brother’s “dirty”. In battle, his brother was surrounded by friends while Wayne was all alone at the rear end of an airplane. It is something to think about.

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      • gpcox says:

        I’ve heard (not my opinion) that the pilots were often overcome with what they had done on the ground. This of course is if they had been downed, and this was the main reason for any pilot’s PTSD. They were actually disassociated from the actions and results in the arenas. Your opinion?

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      • a gray says:

        I do not believe what you have cited as hearing is true.

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      • gpcox says:

        Thank you for your response.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. RSwank says:

    The “slow time job” referred to is the breaking in of a new replacement engine by slowly flying the plane around until the engine had put in a few hours of easy flight time . Done properly, this process extended the life of an engine.

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    • a gray says:

      Thanks for the comment regarding “slow time job”. I experienced some difficulties exploring what that meant, and you saved the day. With the engines of a B-17, what constituted a “few hours of easy flight time”?

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  4. RSwank says:

    It may have varied by group, but here is a reference on the 303rd website to two hours of slow time before an engine was OK for combat. (Search for “slow” on the page).
    http://www.303rdbg.com/gc-hellsangels.html

    They would also test out other things, such as the feathering mechanism on the engine. Some groups apparently had a “tradition” that the end of a slow time flight was a “buzz job” (very low, very fast flight ) over the home field. In other groups that was strictly forbidden. There are examples of planes crashing during such “buzz jobs”.

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  5. I must admit given the choice of infantry or airforce I know which I would take. However, the grass is never greener on the other side and each role has it’s fair share of depression and heart ache to name but a few.

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