Saturday, September 5, 2009

War Journal - August 1944

Test hopped ship first thing for 45 minutes and it was OK. Went back to Presque Isle, picked up RO-BN-G and flew to Goose Bay, Labrador. Arrived there 1645 hours GMT. With the exception of this field this is wild virgin country and is really beautiful - - from the air. We are being briefed tonight & if weather permits we leave tomorrow morning for Greenland I believe. Right now the weather is pretty bad. We opened our sealed orders today (outside continental limits of U.S.) and found we are going to Ninth AF - Headquarters London, England. This is my first time outside U.S.
Flew from Goose Bay to BW-1 on Greenland in four hours eleven minutes. There was plenty icebergs & bad weather on route. Greenland is one, big, rugged rock with plenty lakes & inlets from the sea. Saw my first submarine today. BW-1 is a desolate outpost and must be pretty rugged for the ones stationed here. WO's say bad weather is on the way so we may be here a considerable time. They do not clear our ships unless weather is perfect for flying.
Slept late and spent the day reading, sleeping and looking over the place. For a remote, secret outpost such as this is, it has an amazing number of conveniences. We buy cans of all types of fruit juices in the PX to have in the barracks every morning for breakfast. Cigarettes sold by the carton for 50 cents. Everything is either free or very cheap.
Got up early to give the ship an inspection and clean it up a little. The eats here are much better than we had in camps in the states. After the noon meal Jack, Jim, four RAF boys and myself climbed a mountain near here to see where a waterfall came from. It took all afternoon to get up and down. We found a fair size lake up there that is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It was crystal clear even at 15 feet depth. It is fed from snow further up so is ice cold. One RAF lad and I got up nerve enough to go in swimming but could not endure it more than two minutes. A huge glacier can be seen about seven miles up the canyon from here and if we do not leave tomorrow several of us intend to hike up there. A recent rumor says the weather is clear now so we may leave tomorrow.
Could not go up to the glacier today because of an accident yesterday. No one is allowed out of camp today. Slept until noon, worked on plane this afternoon and saw "Going My Way" tonight at the show. There is no word about leaving yet so guess Iceland is still closed in.
Very quiet day - slept, read and went to a show. This is an easy life but we are all getting restless. It has been two weeks since I have heard any actual war news. I would like to know what is going on and where!
Very bad weather today - It is cool enough to snow in my opinion. Read, played cards, & went to a show today. If we don't get out of here soon, the winter season is gong to catch us here!
Same as yesterday - If this keeps up I think I will get fat before very long.
Aug 9-10
Sleeping so much in daylight has begun to hurt my conscious! There is about four hours between sunset & Sunrise.
Got up early & flew from BW-1, Greenland to Meeks, Iceland. Iceland was a big disappointment to me. - Just one big desolate rock bed of lava. There is a cold wind from the North blowing about 40 MPH - we are all wearing parka suits - and freezing. There are practically no accommodations and the food is the worst yet. At BW-1 we had the best food I have had in the Army.
Worked on plane all morning in a small gale - fresh off an iceberg. (By the way, there were some beautiful ice bergs & glaciers around & on Greenland to see on the way out.) Finished our repairs by noon but did not get gasoline in time to leave today as planned. Will leave first thing in the morning for Scotland. Run into several fellows I have known here. Went to the show tonight & wrote a letter home. Did not get a chance to buy any Icelandic money to send home.
Got up at sun up this morning (2 AM) and got ready to leave. Flew from here to Pestwick Field, Scotland in four hours exactly. There is nine hours difference between here and home. Landed in Scotland just after noon and was suppose to leave immediately for Southern England some where but due to some mix up we are staying at Pestwick tonight & going to England in the morning. Scotland is rolling hills and mountains covered with sows and farms. This field is nearly all civilian buildings converted. The barracks and streets are winding around under a thick cover of trees that defies sunlight to penetrate. We are all having a great deal of difficulty today trying to buy things and get our money converted into British money. I can't tell if I am being gyped or not. We have been on the road over three weeks now and I am just about out of clean clothes. Tomorrow will be our last flight in this ship. We will leave it at a modification center for a later crew and pick up one ready for combat there. Our flying time from Hunter Field, GA to here was 24 hrs and 20 mins. Heard a couple days ago that Ed Murphy and his crew were lost somewhere along the way. Hope they turn up somewhere along the way all safe.
Woke up early in our strange and new surroundings. The food, accommodations and conditions in general won't let you forget a war is going now. Sit around the ship until middle afternoon. We flew from Pestwick to Burtonwood, England (one hour flight). Things are much nicer here at Burtonwood. We told our ship goodbye today and we get another one when we go to combat in about one month. Tomorrow we go by truck to a place 40 miles from here. From the rumors we stay there five days for processing then go to North Ireland for ten days. After that we are sent back here to the Replacement Depot and assigned to an outfit, a new ship and combat. Course there is no way of knowing how much time well lapse between each move but things move pretty fast at this late stage of the game. Haven't had a chance to really see the place but even from a distance I can tell it isn't anything to compare with home. Guess we are pretty much spoiled! This place is located about half way between Liverpool and Manchester. Got all my money changed to British money today. What a headache! I can't successfully buy a coke yet! And it is too big for my wallet, too.
Went from Bruce Hall to Beady Hall (about 60 miles) by truck. Beady Hall is near the towns of Stone, Hanley and Peover. Present information says we will be here from two to then days. Spent the afternoon washing up all the clothes I dirtied on the trip over. Was on a baggage detail about five hours tonight, then went to midnight chow. There are flashes on the horizon that are suppose to be buzz-bombs but I am a little skeptical at this distance. This place enforces rigid discipline and after the past six months it is going to be pretty hard to take at first. It seems we are reverting back to the basic training days. - Also we have KP tomorrow but even then it will be a good day - we expect to get our first mail then. It has been a long time since I received a letter!
Had a busy day for a change. In the morning there was lectures on several topics of current interest to us in our new country. After that I washed some more clothes and repacked. In the afternoon there were more lectures and a test in the gas chamber with our new mask & equipment. In most people's opinion gas is likely to be used soon over here. Also this was a momentos day for all of us mail hungry G.I.'s. I received eight letters, some coming in only twelve days. The past few hours were spent pleasantly reading the mail, the next few will be spent answering them. Just made a list - there are 25 people I owe a letters now. - My fan mail! Just announced in here that my crew is on K.P. tomorrow. After these past six months of freedom this stuff is a better dose. Guess it really doesn't hurt me - much!
Was on KP - all day - slipped off long enough to get a hair trim. The top is getting long enough to comb but is thinner than ever. Went to bed at 7:00PM and slept solid until 8:00AM, Friday.
Spent the morning on detail cleaning officers barracks. Shipping orders came at noon for us to leave tomorrow morning - supposedly for North Ireland for ten day schooling. We are taking clothing to last three weeks and the rest of our baggage is being shipped somewhere else, where we will get it at the end of the three weeks. Wrote letters during the night.
Left by bus to go to North Ireland at 07:30 hours. Boarded a train at Stone, changed trains at Stake and left the train at Warreneton. Went by truck to Bruce Hall where we ate and then proceeded to Burtonwood Field where we hoarded C-47's to fly to Ireland. Got there at 18:00 hours. Apparently this place is about like Lake Charles was so I am sure we will like it. We have caught up with all the guys we knew at L.C. that was ahead of us. This camp is dispersed over about a four mile area so everyone rides a bicycle. I am going to buy one tomorrow if I can. Saw some guys today that I knew at Las Vegas. This camp is near the little town of Toome on the North shore of the lake in the middle of Northern Ireland. The civilians here are really robbing us in the prices of bicycles.
Have had a pleasant day. Slept until 11:00 hours, got up, ate and then went shopping for a bicycle. I bought one for nine pound ($36.35). It is second hand, very small tires and about equal to our Victory bikes. These Irish are getting rich off us Soldiers. Had several lectures this afternoon - more than 50% of the milk here has T.B. - there is a great deal of political and religious unrest in this country so we are given precautions about what to do and say - also most of the population have no morals and plenty V.D. which is causing the Army here a great deal of concern. Went to a show tonight and then wrote a letter home. From here we all go direct to our combat units - some of us will go directly to France from here. Each barracks here has a loud speaker which is hooked to one central radio set for the AFN (Army Forces Network in the E.T.O.) Station. All the best programs from home, plenty news and music - it is most enjoyable as I had begun to miss that stuff. The only draw back to this post is that it is more than a mile to the latrine and washroom - otherwise it is ideal. The seats on these bicycles are tiny and hard - and I am sore tonight!
Slept late - Went to a meeting in the gym. This field is over crowded for school right now so we have to wait a few days to start school. Got my ration card and bought what I could. The cokes here taste like plain flat carbonated water - not good at all! Late in the afternoon Pappas and I rode our bikes out into the country side around here and to the little town of Toomebridge near here. Saw a beautiful old Irish church sitting up in the hills. Got a glass of wine in a pub to see what the place was like - bought four ladies handkerchiefs in an Irish linen shop in one little village. Got back here in time to go to the second show.
Slept late again - went to another meeting. We start school Friday morning. From noon tomorrow to noon Thursday I have a pass to go to Belfast. As near as is possible in the Army, we were assured today that we would be sent direct to France as a permanent station. Might see some real action! Had a physical, dental & PW pictures this afternoon. Tonight Lt. Mayhand, and all my crew except pilot rode our bikes to a couple of the near local towns. Made a couple of pictures along the way.
Spent a fairly quiet day today. Trip to Belfast was postponed until tomorrow. Received 14 letters today - and they were welcome. Wrote letters at night.
Aug 24-25
Left at noon to go to Belfast via train from Toome (1 1/2 hours). It is a very interesting city and about like a foreign city has been pictured to us over there. Most all pictures shown here are American. At night Pappas and I went to the dance at the Red Cross. The girls are not so pretty but they are friendly & dance good! We slept at ARC for 2s. Got up, ate, looked over some bombed out districts and caught the train back. This afternoon was spent sleeping and preparing for starting school tomorrow. No mail yesterday or today.
The past few days have been uneventful. School has amounted to eight hours solid lecture every day. The days are long and tiresome. Ate supper Sunday night at an Irish farmhouse near hear. They fed me a fair steak, fried eggs, toast and tea for four schillings. As a variety it was awfully good. We had planned to go to a town near here named Ballymena tonight but the weather is unfavorable. I finished reading "Treasure Island" tonight. Got a letter from Sid and home yesterday. I don't like v-mail - is is more like receiving a postcard. Undoubtedly we will move directly to France from hear. We are studying the German & French language.

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