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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


To help us endure the rigors of combat each crew was given two days off about every two weeks. We could visit some of the towns near our station or take the train for a short ride into London.

LONDON

London survived the Blitz of 1940 but there were still lots of evidence of the destruction caused by the massive raids of the bombers of the German Luftwaffe. In 1943/44 they continued to come but they did it at night and with just a few planes. I witnessed several attacks and the British searchlights would converge on the raider and the anti-aircraft guns would open up on the intruder, which was usually a Junkers JU-88. There were servicemen from many different allied nations in London. There was an American enlisted man’s service in an area of London called Piccadilly Circus. It was called the Rainbow Club. A serviceman could go there and get snacks and cigarettes, write letters, etc.

When I went into London I would call a girl friend that worked for the British mint. We would meet and take in a show or go to a dance at the Hammersmith Palais or at Covent Gardens. The lights of the city were totally blacked out to make it more difficult for the enemy bomber crews to locate specific targets. In fact all cities and military stations were blacked everywhere in England. We used the underground subway to travel in various parts of London. Most of the service men that I knew drank socially and so did I but the British liked their beer warm (there was no ice) and I was not too fond of it. There were many cultural sites to visit in London but I didn’t see many of them, however I did visit St. Paul Cathedral and Westminister Abbey once. I also remember going to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Most of my time though was spent patronizing the many public houses (pubs), meeting girls, and seeing shows. War is bad anywhere, but it was better to fight it in a place where the natives spoke your language and were civilized. The times that I spent in London were very beneficial in unwinding, to some degree, from the rigors of combat.

NOBALLS

We had received briefings for raids on secret targets before but in November 1943 we were briefed for a mission against a Noball target. What was a Noball? When we asked we were only told that it was a secret target. Noballs began to constitute the majority of our missions. In November there were 2, in December 12, and in January all 18 missions the group flew was against Noballs. The only thing we could see from our bombing of 8000-12000 feet was a small mark in a hedgerow and a small structure of some sort. They were heavily defended with flak. Why did the enemy defend these Noballs so strongly? We combat crewmen disliked these targets. From our point of view we were exposing ourselves to great risks and unlike an airfield or railway marshalling yard we could see no real damage our bombing did. At this time there were at least 6 other Marauder Groups bombing them also and thirty B-26’s were lost during attacks on them.

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