Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Paul S

WWII Air Crew Picture Challenge #2

Recommended Posts

This posting is not so much a challenge as it is a call for comments. This is the other crew picture I’ve known all my life. It is my father’s first tour crew picture taken in early March 1944. Compare it with my first Challenge posting to see what I described as bravado in the expressions of this crew, or at least of the officers in the front row.

 

Question: Since they are dressed in their flight gear is it a reasonable assumption that they were about to leave on a mission, or would it have been probable that the photographer could have induced them to dress out for the picture, or might they have just returned…although they look a bit too fresh for that?

 

They came over with a bombardier who flew 2-missions with them and was removed from the crew. Since he is not in this picture, I assume it was taken sometime after they flew their March 3 & 4 missions—their first 2-missions. The 2 guys standing, one at each end are ground crew, and the one extra EM was assigned as a Toggleir to replace the Bombardier.

post-3515-1224510553.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm gonna say that since they are wearing their A-6 Flight Boots rather than shoes, that they either had just flown or were about to fly, perhaps on a practice mission as these crews often did. I always love these bomber crew pics. BTW What was your Dad's Squadron & Group? Thanks for posting!

Bobgee


donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif
donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif
donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif
"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a great photograph Paul! Sure looks to me like they're getting ready for a mission. It brings tears to your eyes just thinking about how many of these aircrews didn't return. I had the great fortune to fly on several humanitarian missions aboard C-130s which dropped food over Bosnia and delivered supplies into Sarajevo. On one mission I remember watching tracers from automatic weapons fire arcing toward us during the entire time we were making our approach to the airport. As unsettling as it was, I couldn't help but think what a picnic it was compared to these poor buggers every time they went on a bombing mission. I'm sure they were very aware that the odds were against their coming home safely. Truly a glimpse into a period of sacrifice that should never be forgotten.

 

Mark


Visit My Website

Falls Creek Collectibles
Selling Quality 20th Century Militaria


donation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gifdonation2012.gif
donation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

donation2017.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a great portrait of this 447th BG crew’s co-pilot, pilot, and navigator…note the cool pipe cradled in the pilot’s hands. From my father’s diary I was able to date this portrait to within a day or two as mid-March 1944. They had flown about 6-missions, half or more of them to Berlin. The youthful bravado is still evident and it was the first time they were able to go into London on a short leave. Note that they have no ribbons, they still haven’t sewn on their 8th AF patch, and I’m not sure if Dad (right) has yet taken out his hat stretcher.

 

Question: What do you think about the stretcher, is it in or out?

 

For these children of the Great Depression, the chance to wear sexy uniforms, fly large airplanes, and travel the world was an irresistible calling. They were excited to be able to explore exotic places such as London, that heretofore they had only read about in their school books. Their excitement shows in this picture—they are ages 21, 25, and 21.

 

They still had 24-missions ahead before they could go home. By late April, or about 5-6 weeks after this picture was taken, Dad wrote a couple of interesting things, one in a V-Mail home where he said he thought he had taken his last leave to London…by then he would rather sleep on his off days. The other interesting thing went into his diary…of the 38 replacement crews that came across with them—the first replacements to deploy—19 of them had been shot down.

post-3515-1224520645.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark, thank you for your comment and thank you for your service. You are very right about so many of these crews not returning…since this crew and the other one I posted earlier both made it through safely, I spent most of my life thinking that was the way it was…most of them made it through without incident. How wrong I was. More recent study I’ve given the subject has revealed that a surprising…make that a humbling number of them were lost, either in whole or in part. It’s no wonder that they were almost universally considered by their children as being somewhat difficult parents. Their tolerance for silly stuff was very limited.

 

Vietnam was my war and I spent my time aboard a destroyer on the gunline just off-shore some of the time. Just as you considered the unbelievable pressure and terror endured by these young WWII airmen, I imagined what the WWII sailors endured during the war in the Pacific as we transited through so many of the waters where huge naval battles had taken place. Some of the most thoughtful times I spent then were those warm summer sunsets sitting on the fantail, about a mile or two off-shore, watching as the flares went up when dark fell, and the tracers started their tracks from one point to another over on the beach. If the wind was off-shore I could hear the pop-pop-pop sounds. Needless to say, I gave thanks that I was where I was rather than a mile or two “over there.”

 

Mark, it’s for thoughts like these and those that you expressed that I wanted to put these posts up—sometimes it’s useful to consider the substance behind the wings and other badges to encourage a better understanding of them.

 

Bobgee, It is possible this was a practice flight as they did make two non-combat flights in March ’44 after their bombardier left the crew. Looking over Dad’s flight logs I see that they did make about 3 non-combat flights each month. There wasn’t much time for practice, though—this crew finished their 30-missions in just over 3-months. 447th BG, 710th Sq.

 

Dad is wearing these wings in the portrait above and the ID bracelet can be seen on his right wrist. I’ve altered the name and number in the interest of privacy.

post-3515-1224534884.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Vietnam was my war and I spent my time aboard a destroyer on the gunline just off-shore some of the time. Just as you considered the unbelievable pressure and terror endured by these young WWII airmen, I imagined what the WWII sailors endured during the war in the Pacific as we transited through so many of the waters where huge naval battles had taken place. Some of the most thoughtful times I spent then were those warm summer sunsets sitting on the fantail, about a mile or two off-shore, watching as the flares went up when dark fell, and the tracers started their tracks from one point to another over on the beach. If the wind was off-shore I could hear the pop-pop-pop sounds. Needless to say, I gave thanks that I was where I was rather than a mile or two “over there.”

 

an off-topic comment.....

 

Paul,

 

I used to do something similar....at night in my rack, I'd place my hand on the hull knowing I was below the waterline and only separated by 1/2" of steel from the blue pacific. My ship was already a 'three war veteran' & I'd think back to those days when several of our class were sunk by torpedoes and mines during WWII & Korea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sailor,

 

My ship was a 3-war veteran as well and had been hit with loss of life in each of those 3-wars...and to think that I joined the Navy to stay out of the jungles.

 

As I was growing up, Dad told me numerous times that he had to grow up in a hurry during WWII. He sent me a cartoon that was circulating amongst his 8th Air Force friends that illustrated in a humorous way, the changes a WWII aviator underwent. In his things I found a number of small photographs taken of him in uniform. A couple of them are seen just below the cartoon.

 

Better than words could do, they show the change that occurred in him during a short period of time...the only thing he experienced during the intervening year and a half was that he had survived 50-missions between the 2 pictures.

post-3515-1225461370.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have some great photos of guys before and after going overseas that I will try to post later. But this one is a hoot. An air cadet all tricked out.

 

Obviously proud of his flight helmet, goggles, patches, ID bracelet, class ring, St Christopher's medal, and both pairs of his dog tags. He has clearly turned his sleeve around so that his cadet patch is visible! Looks to be about 17 years old.

post-1519-1225467389.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have some great photos of guys before and after going overseas that I will try to post later. But this one is a hoot. An air cadet all tricked out.

 

Obviously proud of his flight helmet, goggles, patches, ID bracelet, class ring, St Christopher's medal, and both pairs of his dog tags. He has clearly turned his sleeve around so that his cadet patch is visible! Looks to be about 17 years old.

 

HA! That is an awesome picture, but you gotta think, who could blame him!! think.gif


Brandon Sivek "God Bless Texas, and these United States"

 

 

 

 

 

In loving memory: Great Cousin 2nd Lt. Louis E. Machala, B-17 Pilot

2nd Air Force, 331st BG, 461st BS

Killed near Glenrock, WY on Feb. 25, 1943 during night time practice bombing

ALWAYS LOOKING FOR WW2 ARMY AIR FORCE FLIGHT GEAR

 

donation2008.gifdonation2009.gif

PROUD MEMBER OF THE COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE

PROUD MEMBER OF THE FELLOW WINGNUT ASSOCIATION,

WINGNUTS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.