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Samuel M. Findley "Tex", Engineer/Tail Gunner, 323rd BG, 453rd BS

Samuel M. Findley (Tex)
Engineer/Tail Gunner
323rd BG, 453rd BS


After departing from Dakar we flew in a two engine transport 1300 miles across the Sahara desert to Marrakech in French Morocco. There was nothing but sand as far as the eye could see until we reached the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. We crossed the mountains just before making our descent for landing at Marrakech. The top-turret gunner and I were reunited with our aircraft and our pilot and radio operator here. The crew chief was removed from the crew here and we gunners were put back on for the rest of the trip to our destination in England. On the 24th of April we departed on a short flight to Port Lyautey located on the Moroccan coast where we landed on a perforated- steel runway and spent the night. The next morning, which was Easter Sunday, we departed for England. Our aircraft was heavily loaded. We had auxiliary fuel tanks in the front bombay and special tools stowed in the rear bombay. We gunners were each given 150 rounds of ammunition for our guns because we would be flying adjacent to German occupied France and well within range of Nazi fighter planes. The flight, however, was uneventful and we landed in Newquay located on the southwest tip of England. From Newquay we flew to Bury St. Edmonds where the 322nd Bomb Group was based. They were the first Marauder group to arrive in England but had not yet began operations. The reason for us going to their station was that our airfield was not quite ready for occupancy. I enjoyed the deployment over but I must say I was glad it was finished. With-in 16 days I had been in four of the six continents of the world.

BURY ST. EDMONDS

One of the first things I did was to go into the town of Ipswich and buy a bicycle so I would have transportation on the station and the countryside.

Our host, the 322nd Bomb Group planned their first mission, which was to destroy a power plant at Imuiden, Holland. This attack was launched on 14 May using delayed action bombs in order to give the Dutch workers a chance to evacuate before they exploded. The aircraft returned from this raid badly damaged from enemy anti-aircraft fire. Allied combat crewmen in Europe always referred to anti-aircraft fire as "FLAK" (an acronym for the German term Flieger Abwehr Kanone). One of the badly shot up planes crashed after returning to the station while attempting to land. The Marauders had received a "bloody nose" but the worst was yet to come ----a real catastrophe. Photo- reconnaissance revealed that the power plant had not been destroyed so three days later the 322nd attacked the plant with ten B-26s. We all went out on the flight line to await their return. None of the ten planes ever returned. What a blow to our morale this was! There were some that thought the Marauder was no good for combat in Europe and there was talk of our being sent to China. We, who flew this airplane, still had confidence in her. Some of the "brass" decided that the problem was that the B-26 just wasn’t being used properly. They believed this airplane could be effective if flown at medium altitudes with fighter escort. It was decided to give this concept a try. Our station at Earls Colne was now ready so we moved there and re-trained for operations at medium altitudes of 8000 to 12000 feet.

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