Crew 7 - Assigned 752nd Squadron - October 1943
Kneeling: Unknown, Unknown, Grady Evans - G, Sam Warren - E
Sitting: Unknown, Unknown
If you can identify any of these men, please contact me.
|1Lt||James K Zimmerman||0743155||Pilot||30-Jun-44||CT||Air Crew Leave|
|1Lt||Joseph Linsk||0811410||Co-pilot||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1Lt||James R Donavan||0809492||Navigator||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|2Lt||Joseph E McDonald||0751837||Bombardier||30-Jul-44||CT||TD AAF 143 - 2BD Instructor Sch|
|S/Sgt||William T McCarty||33416656||Radio Operator||06-Jun-44||UNK||Mission Load List|
|S/Sgt||Samuel E Warren||17115912||Flight Engineer||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Grady D Evans||34446310||Aerial Gunner/2E||02-May-45||CT||Reclassified MOS 611 to MOS 748|
|S/Sgt||Robert B Lowry||15354601||Aerial Gunner/2E||06-Jun-44||UNK||Mission Load List|
|Pfc||Walter G Bagley||32691151||Gunner - Airplane Armorer||30-Jun-44||UNK||Reclassified MOS 611 to MOS 911|
|S/Sgt||William P Cunningham||39691599||Armorer-Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
Lt James K. Zimmerman and the rest of Crew 7 received their combat training in Tonopah, Nevada in late 1943. They moved to the ETO in January 1944.
While the majority of crews in the 458th began their combat flying in early March, it appears that James Zimmerman was hospitalized after an operation. From letters written by co-pilot Joseph Linsk, it appears that the crew flew at least two missions prior to Zimmerman’s first on March 21st. After that he was flying regularly as the pilot of Crew 7.
The crew seemed to draw, on their early missions, a B-24H named Final Approach, flying this aircraft on 12 of their first 13 sorties (including two aborts). After that they used several aircraft, mainly another B-24H, Top O’ The Mark. The crew used this aircraft twice on June 6th, flying the first and third missions on D-Day.
While only four of the crew are listed in Group records as receiving the DFC, it is very likely that all but one were awarded this medal at some point in late July or early August for the completion of their combat tour. Sgt Walter Bagley may have been removed from the crew prior to his completing his missions. He is shown being reclassified as an “Airplane Armorer” in late June 1944 with the rank of Pfc. S/Sgt’s McCarty and Lowry do not appear at all in later Group or Squadron records, but their names are on available load lists for D-Day, so it is very likely that they flew most of their missions with this crew.
It was customary to send those fliers who had completed their combat tour back to the States, unless they were needed elsewhere, or volunteered for another flying assignment. S/Sgt Grady Evans was still with the group in May 1945, when he was classified as a Flight Engineer. It is not known whether or not he continued flying missions after his tour with Crew 7.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|21-Mar-44||WATTEN, near ST. OMER||10||1||42-52457||Q||7V||4||FINAL APPROACH|
|05-Apr-44||ST. POL-SIRACOURT||16||2||42-52457||Q||7V||8||FINAL APPROACH|
|10-Apr-44||BOURGES A/F||19||3||41-28721||L||J4||11||DOWNWIND LEG|
|12-Apr-44||OSCHERSLEBEN||REC||ABT||42-52457||Q||7V||--||FINAL APPROACH||RECALL/ABORT #2 ENG|
|13-Apr-44||LECHFELD A/F||21||5||42-52457||Q||7V||12||FINAL APPROACH|
|19-Apr-44||PADERBORN A/F||23||7||42-52457||Q||7V||14||FINAL APPROACH|
|22-Apr-44||HAMM M/Y||25||8||42-52457||Q||7V||15||FINAL APPROACH|
|24-Apr-44||LEIPHEIM A/F||26||9||42-52457||Q||7V||16||FINAL APPROACH|
|25-Apr-44||MANNHEIM A/F||27||ABT||42-52457||Q||7V||--||FINAL APPROACH||#2 ENG ROUGH|
|26-Apr-44||PADERBORN A/F||28||10||42-52457||Q||7V||17||FINAL APPROACH|
|01-May-44||MARQUISE/MIMOYECQUES||32||ABT||41-29352||K||7V||--||WOLVE'S LAIR||#3 ENGINE OUT|
|01-May-44||LIEGE M/Y||33||12||41-29340||N||7V||12||YANKEE BUZZ BOMB|
|07-May-44||OSNABRUCK||36||ABT||42-52455||O||7V||--||PLUTOCRAT||PERSONNEL - TTG|
|08-May-44||BRUNSWICK||37||ABT||42-50314||L||7V||--||ETO PLAYHOUSE||#1, 4 PROP GOV INOP|
|09-May-44||ST. TROND||38||13||42-50314||L||7V||4||ETO PLAYHOUSE|
|11-May-44||EPINAL||39||14||42-94946||R||7V||3||THE CAT'S (ASS)|
|13-May-44||TUTOW A/F||41||16||42-51110||P||7V||1||TOP O' THE MARK|
|19-May-44||BRUNSWICK||42||ABT||42-51110||P||7V||--||TOP O' THE MARK||#2 ENGINE|
|23-May-44||BOURGES||45||17||42-51110||P||7V||2||TOP O' THE MARK|
|24-May-44||VILLEROCHE, near MELUN||46||18||42-51110||P||7V||3||TOP O' THE MARK|
|25-May-44||MULHOUSE M/Y||47||19||42-51110||P||7V||4||TOP O' THE MARK|
|27-May-44||NEUNKIRCHEN||48||20||42-51110||P||7V||--||TOP O' THE MARK||SORTIE #3 SUPER CHG|
|28-May-44||ZEITZ||49||21||42-51110||P||7V||5||TOP O' THE MARK|
|02-Jun-44||STELLA/PLAGE||53||22||42-51110||P||7V||7||TOP O' THE MARK|
|04-Jun-44||BOURGES A/F||54||23||42-51110||P||7V||8||TOP O' THE MARK|
|06-Jun-44||COASTAL AREAS||56||24||42-51110||P||7V||9||TOP O' THE MARK||MSN #1|
|06-Jun-44||PONTAUBAULT||58||25||42-51110||P||7V||10||TOP O' THE MARK||MSN #3|
|11-Jun-44||BLOIS||62||ABT||42-51110||P||7V||--||TOP O' THE MARK||LOST FORMATION|
|18-Jun-44||FASSBERG A/D||69||27||42-100311||A||7V||29||YOKUM BOY||MSN #1|
|19-Jun-44||REGNAUVILLE||71||28||42-51110||P||7V||13||TOP O' THE MARK||MSN #1|
|20-Jun-44||NOBALL FRANCE||REC||--||42-109812||D||7V||--||UNKNOWN 016||MSN #3 RECALL|
|23-Jun-44||3 NO BALLS||76||ABT||42-51110||P||7V||--||TOP O' THE MARK||TGT #7 - #3 ENGINE|
|24-Jun-44||CONCHES A/F||77||29||42-95219||W||7V||21||PATCHIE||MSN #1|
|25-Jun-44||ST. OMER||80||30||42-51110||P||7V||17||TOP O' THE MARK|
|28-Jun-44||SAARBRUCKEN||81||31||42-51110||P||7V||18||TOP O' THE MARK|
|13-Jul-44||SAARBRUCKEN||90||32||42-95117||M||7V||30||YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU|
B-24H-15-FO 42-52457 7V Q Final Approach
AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE LIBERATOR STATION, ENGLAND
Sergeant Grady D. Evans, (left), engineer/gunner on the Liberator bomber “Final
Approach”, who resides at 1003 Montpelier Avenue, Macon, Georgia, points to his
“Final Approach” – his home town, Macon.
Sergeant Evans has flown 30 missions over Germany and enemy occupied Europe. He holds the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf
Clusters. Standing at his right is Staff
Sergeant Sam E. Warren, who resides at 2020 Kuhn Avenue, Orlando,
Florida, Flight Engineer on the same Liberator bomber. Sergeant Warren has flown 31 missions over Germany and enemy occupied Europe. He holds the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
L-R: James Eagen, Sam Warren, Robert Lowry, Grady Evans, Bill Cunningham
(Photos: Chris Albert & Rick Rockiki)
1Lt Joseph "Jessie" Linsk - Co-pilot
The following letters, written by Joseph Linsk to his wife Lillie, were sent to me by two gentleman into whose possession they came. I am very grateful to Jim Howey and Dan Shapiro for sharing these very important pieces of history.
Some of the content of the letters is very personal, thoughts and emotions from a husband who was thousands of miles away from his wife. After much thought, I have decided to leave these letters as they were written, giving a sense of the time that these young men were living in.
Other than adding in some links for names that are mentioned, and spelling out several abbreviated words, the content of these letters is the same as they were written.
Friday, March 17, 1944
My dearest Lillie,
Happy birthday darling. Oh how I wish I were home today. I would give you 22 birthday kisses. How would that be?
I received a “V” mail letter from you yesterday. I was going to answer by the same way. To sort of let you catch my feelings when I receive one of the letters. Really though I shouldn’t be complaining because today I received no mail. A V mail letter is definitely better than the latter.
The last time I wrote you was the night I had completed my first mission. I wasn’t scheduled for anything the next day & was going to catch up o my sleep. Much to my regret I was awakened the next morning (yesterday) at 3:30 A.M. They were short co-pilots, however the crew I was scheduled to fly with [Crew 11- Nyman] didn’t take off. Armament had been negligent and therefore we lost out.
This morning once again I was awakened. This time my own crew with Capt. Freeman (Operations Officer) as pilot was scheduled. Zim is still in the hospital & that was the reason for the change. However the weather was bad & they kept delaying the time later & later. Finally the whole thing was cancelled.
It is now 6:30 P.M. I just came back from supper a little while ago. The reason I stopped writing before is because Shorty came in and was speaking to me. During the course of the conversation I fell asleep on him. If you can just imagine how tired I am. Tonight I am going to go to sleep early too. We’re scheduled with Freeman again for tomorrow.
It would be nice if you were here with me love. I’m so tired… you could pat my hair down and put me to sleep. Do you think I will have forgotten how to make love to you when I get home? You have no idea how much I miss you.
The boys next door have a radio. There is an American Expeditionary Station here in England. They play American popular dance music and also re-broadcasts of popular radio programs. I could kick myself for not bringing the radio along with me.
You wrote me once that the radio we had shipped and also the one we left at your mother’s house needs repairing. All you had to do to the radio we sent home was push the corner of the glass in so that both pieces of glass were flat and then the dial (frequency) indicator should move back and forth easily. I don’t know what could be wrong with the other radio. Have you had them worked on by a radio man; if so what did he charge you?
Our officer’s club is running their first dance tomorrow night. Free beer and the music will be furnished by a group of G.I.'s. Also they are bringing a load of English service girls (so the posters say). Now if I only knew how to dance (oh yeah) I will go over though, love. I guess I’ll drink some beer and listen to the music. We have two clubs here, one for combat crew officers and others for ground and high ranking officers. The latter’s quarters is where the dance will be held.
Don’t worry about me (too much) darling. I’ve found out that it doesn’t pay to sit around and worry and brood, etc. I’m learning to take things as they come. Remember I always was that way until just before I left the States. They everything worried me. You have to learn how to take things in stride otherwise you can go batty from worrying. Anyway I’m convinced I’ll be alright. Above everything else I’ve got to get back to my darling wife.
I hope you had quite a nice time going out with Ben and Diana (tomorrow night illegible) I wish that he received my cablegram in time. The reason it was so short is because it had to be twenty-five words. I’ll send him money to pay for the orchids. I hope he will let me know what he spent and won’t try to pay for them himself.
Good-night for now love. Let’s hope that before your next birthday we’ll be together. Boy what [a] time we’ll have when I’ll get home. Don’t forget that promise you made to me of getting drunk. Best regards to the family. I love you with all my heart and miss you more everyday.
Sunday March 19, 1944
You have no idea how good it felt to find two letters waiting for me when I got home from my second mission last night. I didn’t get back until it was at least dark (7:00P.M.) The mission was a long one and I was pretty tired. Your letters really locked me up. Babe you can never guess how good some letters from you make me feel. [I hope this answers your questions about V mail.]
I wonder whether you are keeping up with what the 8th Air Force is doing. You know babe the accounts of the raids (such as target, losses, etc) are very accurate. So if you want to, all you have to do is read the papers from the previous day. When I write you that I’ve been on a mission, and you will know where I’ve been etc. Of course you know that it is impossible for me to write you everything I would like to.
Capt. Freeman flew us. I did quite a bit of the formation flying. You know I know that I can fly the plane as well as Zim. In fact the crew has mentioned to me several times that they would like to see me as pilot in preference to Zim, several times. They paid me a very nice compliment yesterday. You know that was my second mission and their first. Well I said only 24 more to go (even though the Col. Said 30 I’m still going to see to it that I fly only 25) for them and 23 for me. You should have heard them. They said they were going to refuse to fly the last one if I wouldn’t be there to go with them. Imagine that!
By the time I had supper and washed it was 9:00 P.M. last night. I wrote you about the dance that was being held at the Club. Since I wasn’t scheduled for any mission I decided to go over and see what it was like. Also I had heard that they were going to have a good orchestra made up of some fine G.Is. The Club (that is where the dance was held, was at the ground officers club and not of ours) is a very nice large place. Col. Isbell, LaRoche and all of the higher ranking flying officers live there too. All of the combat crew officers live at a different place (places I should say) and we have our own club.
The place was jammed. They had twice as many women than men. Another shocking thing was to see all the good married men and their girl friends. Babe you would be surprised to see how some of these guys are. Well anyway, it was a bit different to see the women outnumber the men. You know how at most army dances there is a shortage of women. I went down there by myself, and Shorty said he would be up there in a little while. We were going to have a few drinks, listen to music for a while and go home to bed. I never did find Shorty. However lots of the fellows I know were around so I sat with them. The music was excellent. We couldn’t get any whiskey because by the time we had gotten back from the mission all these guys had already drunken it all up. Most of the boys were quite angry. Since there are two clubs, they get their liquor rations early.
Well for the past two weeks they haven’t sold any at our club and stored it up at the Grnd. Officers Club for the dance. The boys felt as if they had been aborted. Since we had flown all day the least the club officer could have done was put some liquor away for the boys, who had been on a mission.
This is the first time I have noticed any friction between ground officers and flying officers. These boys sit around and do hardly nothing (just like at Tonopah) while we are up almost every other day. Then again, all flying off. Couldn’t get any whiskey while they were walking around carrying quart bottles. It was a good thing that the affair ended early (midnight) otherwise there might have been some fights. Some of the boys were drunk etc well enough about this junk.
It is now 7:00 P.M. (2:00 P.M. at home). Just as I was writing an announcement came over the loudspeaker that we had a critique. That’s where all the officers who flew on the previous day’s mission get together and someone (Col etc) discusses mistakes, whether the target was destroyed etc. Then I went to have some supper, played some ping pong for a change and here I am.
I sat around and listened to Winters play piano. You remember him don’t you? He always used to play the piano at Tonopah. His wife and that blonde haired girl lived at the Mizpah? On the same floor with Millie. He plays beautifully. We just had the piano put in at the club. Played some songs that brought back some swell memories. By the way this blonde’s husband (Holtz) [this was John Hulse] and his crew didn’t make it back to the base the other day. I guess they ran short of fuel and had to ditch. They saved three of the crew members, and only one officer, the navigator. If you remember her husband was a bombardier.
You can’t imagine how glad I was to read what Dr. Diamond had said. Now you won’t have to worry. I was surprised to learn that he told you that you weren’t underweight. Maybe you put some weight on babe. What do you weigh now?
What a silly question. You asked me whether I was of the same opinion you were; that there was nothing wrong with you that I couldn’t take care of. I would be silly to say that I didn’t argue with you. Kidding aside darling I’m glad that you are well. When I get home we’ll be able to get started right away on making a family (you should see the silly grin on my face as I wrote the last sentence.)
I think it was very cheap of your boss to dock you for those two hrs. you stayed out. Tell me the truth do you really like the job. If you don’t I want you to quit.
I hope you had a nice time going out with Ben and Diana last night. I’ll be waiting to hear that the cablegram arrived in time for Ben to get the orchids I asked him to buy for you.
Your letters were so nice I even re-read them. You’re putting my boring letters to shame. You must have had a lot of time to write them or else you’ve been hiding your talents. Maybe it is because you miss me so much. I wonder whether you miss me as much as I miss you (Baby aren’t I?) When we were kids we used to argue who loves who more, until we finally decided that we love each other the same amount.
Pardon me, blackout time. I’ll have to stop and put the blackout shade in the window. I bet you have forgotten what a blackout is like. Remember how we thought that it was dark in Boston? You should see what it is like in all of England at night. These people have been at it for five years too.
Millie’s guess was right about our having flown on several missions by the time you had written on March 4. As I wrote you previously he was in on the first Amer. Raid on Berlin. All of the 8th Air Force was in that one. By the way did you know that I was in the better Air Force. That is the only heavy bomber outfit in England. On yesterday’s raid he flew right near me and we kept checking in on each other. I called him and he called me (on radio) several times. However we didn’t establish contact.
Your typewritten letter of March 3 didn’t even have one error in it. Of course there were some grammatical errors…but I’m not your boss so I can’t complain. [Of course I’m still the boss however I’m not the one who pays you to do so. “you think your the boss etc.” -- Lillie’s old saying]
Well my darling I’ll say goodnight for now. I’m not scheduled for tomorrow so you don’t have to worry. [just making believe that you’re here and I’m talking to you]. You have no idea how much I miss you. There’s one other reason I went to the club last night. I knew that if I stayed around the room for a while I would be getting awfully lonesome thinking about you. Because you let me know so far in advance of what you were going to do last night. So I enjoy thinking she’s probably getting dressed now etc. Don’t forget to thank Ben and Diana for me.
I hope the family is feeling well. Also you, of course, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m still a little tired and will go to sleep as soon as I finish a couple of more letters.
Colonel told me tonight it was 30 instead of 25 missions we had to complete. Bomber losses are now down to 270. And besides the war should be over before we complete the 30.
Be a good girl love and please don’t worry too much. I miss you more than you could ever imagine. I love you with all my heart.
Yours as always,
Monday June 5, 1944
My dearest darling Lillie,
I just got back from the club where I saw “The Lodger”. You’ve probably seen it a long time ago. Boy isn’t it a spine-chiller?
I rec’d two letters from you yesterday morning. You see the mission yesterday morning was cancelled. So I had planned to answer you yesterday afternoon. However just after lunch we were called to briefing. We went to a target 100 miles south of Paris. That was the third time I had been there. It was to an airport in Bourges. It was a pretty good mission. That made my 24th one.
The only bad feature of the whole thing was that we were to get back to our bases just after sundown. I remember another mission when we landed after dark and the Luftwaffe followed us home. So this time as soon as we hit England, it was still light we landed at the first airfield. Besides getting dark the weather was awful. It was pouring. We landed at a fighter base 6 miles off the English coast, came back to our bases this morning.
Right now my darling I’m so excited I can barely hold this pen to write you. (Also remember this pen is broken.) I have to get to sleep because in a very short while I will be awakened. You will probably [hear] all about what I would like very much to tell you way before you receive this letter. Maybe soon our hope for a quick ending of the war will be realized.
Good-night for now my love and please don’t worry. I hope you are receiving my mail regularly again. I know how you look forward to it. Please excuse this short letter. The reason will be obvious if you check the date and time when you do receive it.
I love you and miss you terribly. Be a good girl, Best regards to the family.
Your loving husband,
P.S – My this letter is short.
Wed. June 7, 1944
My Darling Lillie,
I hope by this time you have received all the mail I have written. I’m glad to see that you used your head and knew that the reason you weren’t receiving any mail was because it was probably being delayed due to the invasion.
Darling I’m still tired. Last night was the first night I slept in my own bed in about 72 hrs. Then I still didn’t get to sleep till almost 3:00 A.M. I had the Doc. give me a sleeping pill to make sure that I would get some rest. I awoke at 11:00 A.M. this morning. Believe it or not but I’m still tired. Zim and Mc went out to this small bar outside the gate they both said that they were getting home drunk. I can’t figure out where they get their energy.
I read a letter from you today (dated May 29) and another yesterday (of May 28). In the former you said that you hadn’t had any mail from me in 11 days. Darling I know how worried you must have been. I’ll put you a little at ease now, when I tell you that I have 26 missions completed. I flew on two yesterday. I was on the first mission that dropped bombs just a few minutes before the troops came ashore.
Babe that was some mission. We had briefing at 11:30 P.M. I wrote you a short note at 9:30 P.M and knew then of what was going to take place. Of course I couldn’t say in my letter. I therefore hinted and imagined you knew what I meant. We took off at 2:30 A.M. Remember how you used to hate for me to fly at night at Tonopah. Well this time it was a formation takeoff in total darkness. The weather was bad. There were lots of low clouds and here we were supposed to assemble in formation. The reason for the very early takeoff was to make sure that the bombers hit the French coast just before the soldiers landed. A few minutes late meant that we would drop bombs on our own troops. Enough of that stuff, I’ll be able to tell you more about it darling, when I get home. It will be a whole lot easier that way. One thing I must say and that is that I’ve never seen so many boats in so small an area (the boys in the boats probably said the same thing about the bombers over-head.)
I got back from that mission at about 9:00 A.M. After a short rest I was off on my next one. I flew close to 14 hrs. yesterday. Babe, no one will be able to accuse me of not doing my part in this war. From this last mission I returned at about 10:45 P.M. It was just turning to dusk (gets dark very late here). The darkness wasn’t bad enough it had to be raining too. We were flying at about 580ft and still running into clouds. We tried hard to make our field. In fact I landed just 12 miles from my base. We landed at another field because the closer we got to our field the worse it got.
Oh yes I believe the papers are correct when they say the Germans were caught unaware because we didn’t see a single German fighter, and met very little opposition in any form (flak, rockets, etc.) I guess things will be different now though because now they know where to expect the trouble.
That was very nice of Bennie and Diana to get you to go to the baseball game. I can just see you going to a ball game when I want to take you. You would probably say “Go ahead I’ll wait for you.” Babe, becoming a glamour girl isn’t you wearing slackers, etc. Can’t forget the time Diana said to me “I look just like a little Gypsy in that dress, don’t I?” I bet you both must have looked cute (just ribbing you).
Gee whiskers babe I hope you received some mail by now. I can just picture you. See if you didn’t have a husband, and I still was your boy-friend, you wouldn’t worry so much about me. Besides why do you want to worry about a jerk like me? Just ribbing you darling, for my own selfish motives, I enjoy reading how much you miss me. I’m glad to see that you don’t let Doral’s bull bother you anymore. That’s smart darling, when she starts raving about fantastic things just let her talk. I can just “hear” her argument as to who misses me more my mother or you. Next time she brings that up ask her who misses Irving more Pauline or his mother. What’s the difference! I still say that I’m glad to see that you used your head.
Well stinky, I’ll say good-night now. I’m going to sleep very short and by Zim went up and got the crew grounded for tomorrow. So I’ll get some more rest. Have lots of time and write you a nice letter. Meanwhile don’t worry too much darling, there is even a good possibility that by the time you receive this I will have completed my 30 missions. Good-night for now. I love you and miss you everyday. Best regards to the family.
Your Loving Husband,
Tuesday June 13, 1944
Regent Palace Hotel
My darling Lill,
I read your letter dated June 3 yesterday. I’m sorry to hear babe that you still haven’t received and mail (at that time). Personally I think that with-holding mail this way was a very silly gesture, because it seems to have defeated its purpose. Besides getting all the people of home worried it was, in a way the tip-off to the invasion. You’ve probably begun to receive mail regularly again by today’s date anyway.
You must have guessed by now that I’m on a pass here in London. Yesterday morning one of the sergeants from operations came up to our room (mission yesterday was cancelled) and told us that we were to go on pass starting [at] noon. That was the first 48 hr. pass I’ve been granted in 6 weeks. So when Zim and two of the fellows who live next door said they were going to London I decided to go too. It was a big temptation to stay home for the two days, get my last 2 missions in and so get through. However darling I thought that that wouldn’t be fair to myself. Besides there’s no sense in getting too eager. I’ve made it a habit to fly only on days that I’ve been scheduled. We’ve had some eager boys who have flown on their days off. I’m not superstitious mind you but some of those guys didn’t get back. Also like I said it’s been a long time since I’ve been on pass. I wrote you that all passes were stopped. They were just started again (by the Air Corps) yesterday.
I’m writing with a pen that you have to dip into an ink-well. You know the kind we used in elementary school. My fountain pen is still broken. I’m not hinting but…
I arrived in London yesterday evening. The four of us got two double rooms at this hotel. Then I went out and had a Chinese meal. Boy was it good. I was starved so I guess I was a bit easy to please. Kidding aside though love, it was the best Chinese meal I’ve had since we had Chinese in New York. Even better than the meal we had in San Francisco and undoubtedly better that the one we had in Tonopah (remember?)
Then I came back to the hotel, washed up and after a while we went down to the lounge and had some drinks. One of the boys is a Mormon (not Dabb, this is a different fellow whom you do not know) so he doesn’t drink. The other boy, Cone (you met him but probably don’t remember him) doesn’t drink much either so Zim and I did the drinking. After a while Zim found some “company” and left the crowd. The fellow who is a Mormon (his name is Cragun) is “sweating out” his wife who is supposed to have a baby in about 2 weeks. He really is a nice guy. He came to our squadron from Boise just about a week before we left Tonopah. He and his crew are the ones I speak of when I write you and tell you that I’m listening to the radio and writing a letter. They finished up about a week ago.
At about eleven o’clock Cragun and I went up to bed. Cone went off with some “friend” (he’s O.K. babe, he’s still single). Naturally Zim never got back to the room last night. He told me that he found a private club that sold drinks after 11 P.M. and was open to the wee hours of the morning. London is full of private clubs. The regular joints have to close at 11 o’clock.
I got up pretty early this morning and had some breakfast. This pen is beginning to drive me nuts. Then I went to the barber shop where I had the works (just like you and the beauty parlor). Haircut, shampoo, massage and even had my shoes cleaned.
Right now I’m waiting for Cone and Zim (who got back about 9:00 A.M.). They are at the barber. We are going to have lunch at a Kosher Restaurant which I found. In the afternoon I’ll probably go see a picture. There are lots of current movies on. I might go see “Cover Girl”!
Well my darling that’s all for now. (This pen point is awful. It catches the paper all the time.)
Hey that was a mean trick not going to see Helen [illegible] after you made an appointment. Also I want you to stop acting so silly, “to be truthful I have no patience for friends or anything.” Stinky I don’t like that kind of talk. I know it’s hard going without mail but still you shouldn’t feel that way. Boy does this pen stink.
I’ll write again tomorrow. I’m supposed to be back at noon tomorrow. So-long for now. Please don’t worry. I should have my 30 missions in by the time you receive this.
I love you with all my heart and miss you terribly. Best regards to the family.
Your loving husband,
P.S. – Forgive the writing. It really is the fault of the pen.
February 18, 1945
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
1. At 1330 PWT, 18 February 1945, B-24L Serial Number 44-49505 arrived
at McClellan field and pilot reported failure of left main landing gear lower
side brace strut which prevented locking the main left landing gear in "down"
position. Pilot proceeded to make a normal landing. As the main landing gear
received the weight of the airplane, the left main gear folded permitting the
propeller of the No. 1 engine to strike the runway and the airplane to settle
on the fuselage just aft the rear bomb bay doors. When nose wheel right main
landing gear and fuselage were supporting the entire airplane, it made a sharp
turn to the right leaving the runway and damaging the nose gear when it struck
the soft dirt adjacent to the runway.
2. Investigation revealed that on lowering the landing gear at Victorville Army Air Base the left main landing gear lower side brace strut Part No. 32L030 parted at the weld which attached the lower side brace latch joint fitting Part No. 32L032, which made it impossible to secure the left main landing gear in the "down" position. Examination of the left main landing gear lower side brace strut Part No. 32L030 showed the weld adjoining the lower side brace latch joint fitting Part No. 32L032 to be faulty. One-half of the fish mouth weld was 100% faulty, as the metal was not properly fused into the strut main landing gear side brace lower Part No. 32L030; thus, when shear stress was applied faulty half of the fish mouth weld gave way shearing the other half.
3. It is the conclusion that the accident was caused by 100% material failure and no fault of the operating crew.
PILOT'S STATEMENT ON ACCIDENT
B-24L 44-40505 [sic]
We took off from Victorville AAF at 0710 and returned to base at 0900. Upon checking landing gear, the flight engineer reported that the lower brace on left main landing gear was broken. We circled the field for one hour checking it. At 1045 the two navigators and radio operator bailed out and we were instructed to proceed to McClellan Field for emergency landing. We reached Sacramento approximately 1300, made a normal traffic pattern. As soon as the aircraft touched ground, gave full right aileron, feathered #1 engine, cut all switches, full right brake and gas valves off.
1st Lt., Air Corps
At 0710 we took off from Victorville AAF and upon return at 0900 the engineer reported the lower brace on left landing gear was broken. It is belived it was broken before the gear was lowered. The two navigators and radio operator bailed out at Victorville. At 1045 we proceeded to Sacramento, made a normal pattern. When the right wheel touched, gave full right aileron, feathered #1 engine, all switches off, gas off. We were advised at Victorville to feather #1 engine upon landing to save the engine. We transferred gas from #2 and #1 to #3 and #4. There were no injuries to personnel. A guard was posted on the airplane to guard equipment after landing.
James O. Laughlin
2nd Lt., Air Corps0-779289 Co-Pilot
After returning from a routine training flight at Victorville, checked the landing gear and discovered lower left landing gear brace was broken. Reported it to the pilot who contacted the Victorville AAF and received instructions for navigators and radio operator to bail out and proceed to Sacramento to land. The landing was successful due to good piloting of the pilot and co-pilot. Dropped the ribs and bomb bay before landing. Turned off gas valves, generators and auxiliary hydraulic.
Gene E. Hines