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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


WEATHER-THE WORST ENEMY

The enemy never stopped us from bombing a target.. The enemy’s defense against us could only reduce the effectiveness of the attack. The weather, on the other hand, could reduce the effectiveness of the raid or completely eliminate the possibility of it being carried out. The B-26 did not have all weather capability. We had to have visibility to take-off, to see the target we were to bomb, and to land when we returned to our base. The weather in northern Europe was bad or marginal most of the time. Fog would roll in sometimes and remain for days and cloudy or partly cloudy skies were the rule. During the year I flew combat (June 1943 through June 1944) our Group was able to mount an average of only 11 missions per month, and the average for each individual crew was 7 per month, as every crew in the Group wasn’t sent on each mission.

OVERCOMING BOREDOM

Each crew had a lot of time on their hands. A lot of time was spent in briefings for missions that had to be cancelled at the last minute due to weather. In order to alleviate boredom crews would shoot skeet, play volleyball, attend survival training, etc. A lot of time was spent in aircraft identification classes. Silhouettes of all aircraft in the war theater, both enemy and friendly, and taken from various angles of flight wold be flashed on a screen and crewmembers would compete in identifying them.

On two occasions our crew was sent to Ayr Scotland to ferry some of the B-26’s to southern England that were flown there from the U.S. over the northern route by replacement crews. This was necessary because these crews would not be familiar with the radio procedures etc in the European Theater of Operations (E.T.O.). Once we went up to Scotland on the train and the other time 54 of us crowed into a B-17, which had been converted into a transport.

Combat crews stayed pretty close together when on base so the pilot could assemble his crew on short notice. Sometimes, if we were not scheduled for a mission, we would just fly around the local area just for the fun of it. Once we saw a lone B-17 bomber flying along and decided to have a little fun with it. We could fly faster on only one engine than it could cruise on all four of it’s engines, so our pilot shut down one of our engines and we overtook and passed very close by the B-17. The crew of the B-17 had very surprised looks on their faces as we slowly passed by apparently with no engines running.

There was a nice service club on base, but I rarely went there. I do recall going there once and eating some tomato and onion sandwiches. They tasted pretty good. During inclement weather we also spent a lot of time in our barracks playing blackjack or just laying on our sacks (cots).

Mail call was held at the Squadron Office each day and it was an event almost every one looked forward to (I say almost every one because there were some who never received mail at all). All of the letters I wrote had to be mailed at the Squadron Office unsealed so a censor could read them. The censor would cut out or obliterate any thing he thought may be of any value to the enemy. The mail I received was of utmost importance to me.

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