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


It was the thing that kept me connected with my loved ones. I received many gifts from my Aunt Imogene and Uncle Beryl Jones while I was in England. I can also remember some candy that my mother sent me also some leather fur-lined gloves. I lent the gloves to my radioman and he lost them. My mother also sent a pair of Nylon stockings for my girl friend in London and she tore a runner in them the first time she wore them.

THE GROUND CREWS

It took a lot of support personnel to sustain combat operations. Without the crew chiefs and airplane mechanics to service and maintain the aircraft there would be no flying. Specialists for the propellers, electrical systems, radios, hydraulic systems, and instruments were on duty. Sheet metal men were kept busy after each mission patching the holes caused by flak. They kept a supply of various size patches on hand to speed the task.

The armorers took care of the guns and loaded the bombs in he planes, however, I chose to take care of my two tail guns myself. Loading the bombs was a hard job. We usually carried eight of the 500 pound bombs, but sometimes the target required 1000 or 2000 pounders. Each of the bombs would have to be hoisted up into the bomb bay with a hand-operated winch. Often, after they were loaded, the target would be changed and bombs of a different size needed. This meant that the bombs previously loaded would have to be removed and bombs of the required size loaded in their place.

Service men and women of all skills were important----cooks clerks, medics, truck drivers, etc. All were needed for carrying the war to the enemy.

1944- A DECISIVE YEAR

I spent my second Christmas away from home and loved ones and we entered a New Year; one which would be eventful for the Army Air Forces in Europe and also for my fellow crewmen and myself personally. During this year we were shot down, our original crew disintegrated, Normandy was invaded the Allied Air Forces finally overwhelmed the German Luftwaffe, I returned home, and my brother was killed while fighting in Italy.

SHOT DOWN

February was a bad month for our crew. On February 5 our aircraft was so badly damaged by flak while on a mission to bomb a Noball in France that we were forced to bail out of it after returning to our station rather than attempting a landing. An account of this incident was published in the "Stars and Stripes" (Daily Newspaper of U.S. Armed Forces in the European Theater of Operations) and parts of it has since been published in several other publications.

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