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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


Each combat crew had a Jeep available to transport them to the hard stand where their aircraft was parked and ready for the mission.

Our luck finally ran out when the Group flew it’s 10th mission on July 31,1943 while attacking the enemy airfield at Poix, France. The B-26 piloted by our Squadron Commander received a direct hit from a German 88-millimeter flak shell. He, the navigator, the bombardier, and the radio operator were killed. Three crewmen parachuted out successfully. One of these was captured and the other two evaded capture by the Germans and with the help of the French underground managed to get to Spain and eventually back to England.

WOUNDED IN ACTION

All during the summer of 1943 the Marauders hammered the Nazi airfields and railway marshalling yards. Our escorting Spitfires shot down over 100 enemy fighter aircraft during these raids. The weather in Northern Europe was probably our worst enemy. We were briefed for many missions that were either scrubbed or aborted because of bad weather either at our base or at the target to be bombed.

On the 30th of August 36 aircraft from our group bombed a secret target in the Foret de Eperlesque in France. As the formation crossed the coast between Dunkerque France and Ostend Belgium our Marauder was hit with flak. Shrapnel pierced the side of the aircraft at my crew position and severed the ammunition track to one of my guns knocking it out of commission. Pieces of flak and shreds of metal from the ammunition track pierced my right arm, hands, and neck. I immediately knew I was hit and there was blood on the piece of bulletproof glass through which I sighted my guns. After notifying the pilot that I had been wounded I asked the radio operator at the waist guns to look at my face to see where I had been hit and he told me that he couldn’t see any wounds there at all. Upon returning to our airfield from the mission our aircraft landed first (It was normal procedure for aircraft with wounded aboard to be the first to land) and we were met by the ambulance and medics. The wounds to my arm and hand were examined and treated and I advised the flight surgeon that I had also been hit somewhere about my face. After examination he conclude that I had no wounds in that area, but the next day while shaving my razor scraped something and I rode my bicycle to his office where he removed a small piece of metal from my neck. Luckily, I was not seriously wounded and I continued flying missions. For my wounds I was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. I had already received The Air Medal for flying 5 combat missions. I never learned what the secret target was that we bombed that day but considering the amount of flak at the target it must have been important to the enemy.

It was about this time that we lost our bombardier. Every time he was briefed for a mission he would plead illness to our pilot claiming that he was unable to fly. He just lacked the intestinal fortitude that it took to be a combat crewman. He was sent back to the U.S. and was replaced by Lieutenant George Friesner. All of us had a fear of the hazardous undertaking in which we were engaged. We were well aware of our mortality and the risks we were taking of being killed, wounded, or becoming prisoners of war. The hazards we shared forged a close bond between the members of each crew. It was a bond, which in some ways was closer than that which exists between blood brothers.

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