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Old 07-20-2017, 09:24 AM
TjB101 TjB101 is online now
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Tomorrow's Mission

I meant to post this on Fathers Day but didn't get around to it. My Dad was in WWII and wrote the below not remembering doing so. I've read it a few times and wondered a lot of what it must have been like. I asked him if he was ever scared and he said he was too stupid at his age to be scared :-) ... it's a long read. Maybe a few members here were part of the same Bomb Group.

Dad died in 2016 and is buried at the Sarasota National Cemetery


“TOMORROWS MISSION”

By: T/SGT Ernest D. Brown, JR.


WRITTEN SOMETIME IN APRIL 1945 The war in Europe was winding down and soon would be over. Brown was the Flight Engineer/Gunner on a B-24 Liberator Bomber, 44th BG, 67th Sqd, 8th Air Force, flying out of Shipdham,England

It was about 5 o’clock one afternoon

when our tail gunner rose from his sack

and headed for the door of the “Flack

Shack”, our humble and modest home. He

walked past the Wash Room, Coal

Compound, which we frequently visited

nocturnally, to illegally replenish the supply

for our homemade stove. Arriving at the

C.Q. Hut, picked up the mail and a fist full

of sulphur pills and returned to the Shack.

Some of us had mail, the rest hopeful-

ly looked forward to tomorrow.


But, we all received our sulphur pill to

protect us from catching colds. As he

entered the door, almost as one, a chorus

went up “Are the crews up yet?” Shaking

his head, he returned to his sack and

started reading a newspaper from home.

As the time slowly dragged on, some of

the boys returned from the mess hall

bearing the glad tidings that Spam was

on the menu. One at a time, the boys

dragged themselves free from their sacks

and rode ¼ mile to “Ptomaine Tavern” on

their English bicycles.


About an hour later as the Shack start-

ed filling up, the quiet conversation slow-

ly turned from the chow to Piccadilly

Circus in London. Some of the boys sat

around, a now glowing red stove, writing

letters. Others sat in small groups talking

about the farm, their girls; but never once

did the topic turn to tomorrow’s mission.

The evening passed slowly this way, but

always pleasant. On the radio drifted out

music from the states that had been

canned months ago in New York or San

Francisco and sent to the Allied Radio

Station.


About 10 o’clock, some eggs were fry-

ing on the stove and bread along side of

it toasting on a conveniently bent coat
hanger. We never stood short when it

came to our bedtime snacks. There was
always about 5 dozen eggs bought from
a near-by farmer for 90 cents a dozen.

Along with bread, butter, jam, and

peanut butter, stolen from the mess hall.
After we had our full, our radio opera-
tor picked up all the letters and carried

them over to the pilot’s room to have

them censored. Stayed awhile to bat the
breeze around and then dropped around
to mail them. By the time he had

returned, most of the fellows were in the
sack and thinking. Thinking plenty of

home mostly and occasionally their mind
drifting off to tomorrow’s mission. It’s

not much fun trying to go to sleep not

knowing if it’s your turn to fly tomorrow
or not. Most of the fellows wanted to be
awakened when the crews were posted,
even if they were not flying. It seems as
though you can sleep much sounder if

you know you are not going up.


Usually somebody can’t sleep at all,

and he’ll get up and patiently dress and
walk down to once more check on the

alerted crews. If any one of us in the

Flack Shack were up, he would usually

wake up one of us and tell us. It so hap-
pens that Kyle’s crew was up tomorrow.


Early the next morning, around 2:30

A.M., the C.Q. came charging into the

barracks with his little speech. “Brown,

Kirby, Lovegren, Rubczak, Rankin, Dye.

Briefing 3:30, 2,700 gallons topped off,
fresh eggs for breakfast. Okay, let’s go!”
It was not until after he had left that
these words seemed to linger in the air
and slowly penetrated our sleep to once
again wake us up into reality. Reality of
what? That once again we were to bomb
Germany, and that it was going to be a
long mission, as foretold to us by the

topped off fuel order, max capacity.

We swiftly dressed, quietly we won-

dered aloud where we were going. Then

we stepped out into the fog-leaded night

and quickly realized we were up against

the weather as well as the enemy. We

caught a truck to the mess hall where we

stood in line because it was already

beginning to fill up with gunners, radio

operators and engineers. Some to eat

their last meal and others their last one

for about 15 hours.


Our breakfast was very good that

morning, consisting of all the fresh fried

eggs we could eat, breakfast food, fruit

juice, toast and coffee. By this time it was

3 o’clock and we lingered over a second

cup of coffee and a cigarette.

Again we walked out into the cold

night and caught another truck to the

gunner’s briefing room where we went

inside amongst the rising tempo of excit-

ed, but never-the-less, calm voices of

crew members.


In the meantime, the officers of our

crew had followed much the same rou-

tine and were at this time also waiting in

the main briefing room.

After a few minutes of waiting and

smoking another cigarette, an officer

walked in with a piece of celluloid with

long red lines drawn on it. This he thumb

tacked to a huge map of Europe, thus

showing our route to and from the tar-

get, which looked like, BERLIN! This

caused a considerable amount of discus-

sion, which was interrupted by a sharp

command. “Attention! At ease men!

Gentlemen, today you are hitting the

German headquarters in Zossen just a

few miles south of Berlin. This is to be a

surprise attack and you should find it very

enjoyable bombing the German Brass

Hats. Looks like one way to get back at

some officers.” His joke received no

response, so he continued.

“Stations will be at 05:25, you will taxi

at 05:35, take off at 05:45 to the West.
Your bomb load is 44 x 100 G.P.’s and 2 x
500 M17’s and fuel load is max-max. You
engineers watch your fuel consumption
closely and be sure all of your gas is out of
your auxiliary tanks before you are in

enemy territory. Remember this is a long
haul. Your bombing altitude is 22,000 feet
and the free air temperature is -35 degrees
C. You will hit Bencher 21 at 9:20 and start
your climb gradually out over the North
Sea, crossing the Zider zee at 18,000 feet.
Continue to climb out and into the target.
Your bomb run is going to be extra long
today, lasting 18 minutes. You waist gun-
ners start throwing out chaff at the I.P. +
3 minutes. Chaff code will be “Applejack”.
Code word for bombs away is “Daisy

Mae”. Flack today will be moderate to

intense and fighters are expected in the
area. So, you gunners, pre-flight those

guns good and don’t forget to test fire

over the channel. Your fighter support will
be a group of Yellow Tailed P-51’s. Don’t
forget the observer in the Blue Mosquito.
Yesterday some trigger happy Joe took a
few shots at it. If we can have the lights
now, we can show you pictures of the tar-
get.” After the photos of the target and
the surrounding territory, along with the
procedure for our let down back into

England, the weather officer gave us a

brief account of expected weather at the
target and our return home.

Both Catholic and Protestant Chaplains
were present now, just having returned
from the main briefing, they lead us in a
short prayer with a blessing. The briefing
was now over.


Well, that’s over with, I thought to

myself as I walked the short distance to
the drying room where we draw our fly-
ing equipment. Here I headed for the rear
of the room where my locker was, walk-
ing past the rest of the fellows struggling
into their heavy equipment. Getting

dressed for altitude flying is quite a job.
First came our electrical flying suit, an
extra pair of wool socks, heated shoes,

summer flying suit, leather flying shoes, a

45 Pistol slung in gangster fashion around

the chest, Mae West Life Jacket, parachute

harness, silk gloves, electric gloves, flying

helmet, goggles and lastly an oxygen

mask strapped to the side of the helmet.

With this tiresome job completed, I

slowly treaded out to another truck,

which in turn transported us to our wait-

ing plane “D-Dog“. Up until this time,

everything was done much as a machine

would do it, but now we were facing the

machine that would be our end or bring

us safely back. The gunners went about

their job of installing their guns and

checking them, knowing that they had to

work or else. I climbed up through the

bomb bay opening, glancing at the

bombs and patting one of them like you

would a faithful dog. Eventually I made it

to the flight deck where the crew chief

met me and told me that the plane was

A-Okay. I started the put put, which sup-

plied electrical power to the ship while

we were pre-flighting. After installing my

two 50’s in the top turret and checking

them, I proceeded to check over the

entire airplane from the nose to the tail.


For some reason, this is either as much
as I wrote, or I lost what I wrote. I
don’t know. I did find one more para-
graph in my hand as follows:…….


Brown’s Post Mission Report:

I lit a cigarette and settled back, my
head resting comfortably on a blanket
roll, half asleep, trying to settle my nerves
after today’s mission. It wasn’t too bad.
None of them are bad once you’re back
and safe in your sack. Half in this world
and half in the world of sleep, occasional-
ly I would grasp the conversation of
today’s mission. The talk was always the
same once you’re back.



More about The Mighty
Eight Air Force:

The 8th Air force is listed as the great-
est armada of any country in any war.
More than 350,000 Americans served in
the 8th AF in three years. At its peak, the
8th could put up more than 2,000 four
engine bombers and more than 1,000
fighters on a mission. They sustained
47,000 casualties; 26,000 deaths.
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  #2  
Old 07-20-2017, 09:45 AM
havanajim havanajim is offline
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That was a great read!!! Thanks for posting it.

If you ever come across the book "One Last Look" by Kaplan & Smith, pick it up. It's a wonderful retrospective of the 8th, with lots of 'then and now' type picture comparisons and tons of personal accounts like your father's.

Eagerly looking forward to the new series. I hope they do as good a job as they did with Band of Brothers.
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:50 AM
xkimberwomen xkimberwomen is offline
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Your dad and many like him are true heroes. I really enjoyed reading this. They were made of the finest steel for sure. God bless them all. I don't think people including myself are made of the same material as your dad was. They were tough and dedicated. Again thanks.
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:16 AM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Great read! Honor to your Dad and to those who protected the world in WWII on all fronts.
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  #5  
Old 07-20-2017, 11:21 AM
Jeff in Colorado Jeff in Colorado is offline
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wow, incredible look back into that history. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 07-20-2017, 11:32 AM
phil_gretz phil_gretz is offline
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Thank you for sharing that.
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Old 07-20-2017, 11:56 AM
TjB101 TjB101 is online now
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Thanks for your thoughts ... yes, he was our hero... He's kneeling all the way to the left.
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Old 07-20-2017, 11:56 AM
Rock185 Rock185 is offline
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Thank you. I read every word.
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Old 07-20-2017, 12:20 PM
JB6464 JB6464 is offline
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Outstanding post !
My dad served in the Air force during Korean war , B29's was what he worked on .
That picture brings back a lot of memories of the past , thanks .
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:13 PM
CDP Dan CDP Dan is offline
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Thanks so much for taking the time to post that. What a gift to have such a remembrance.
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  #11  
Old 07-20-2017, 03:31 PM
chefspenser chefspenser is offline
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Excellent! Thanks you for sharing it with us. My Dad was 6th Armored D-Day, Bastogue, Buchenwauld, Metz, Paris. I had all of his letters to my mother, but they were so carefully written as to not upset the sensors, that they hardly said anything. My lasting memory of his battles was to tour the battle fields with him in 1980. Wow.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:34 PM
GP14 GP14 is offline
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Outstanding! Thank you for sharing!
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:42 PM
The_Doctor The_Doctor is offline
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Thank you for that amazing piece of history.

And I thank your Father for his service.

My Dad (Canadian) served in the 2nd Anti Tank regiment.

(1940 to 1945) I'm sure he saw YOUR Dad overhead in the B-24!!

(My Dad passed in 2010.)


The_Doctor
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:48 PM
DW G DW G is offline
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If you are ever on I95 near Savannah, the Mighty Eighth museum in off the US80 exit (Exit 102) is well worth the trip. Last time I was there a Mustang was chasing a ME109 across the ceiling, and I understand they have a B17 now.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:49 PM
Texas Red Texas Red is offline
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Thanks for sharing that. My Dad was a C-47 pilot during WWII and flew in, among other things, what they called "The Balkan Air Force"; hauling supplies and ammunition to Yugoslav guerrillas, and hauling out rescued Allied airmen and wounded Partisans. He was my personal hero, and we lost him in February of last year.

Tommy
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:54 PM
pedalplant pedalplant is offline
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Thank you. We lost my dad last year, also. He, too, is buried at the Sarasota National Cemetery. He came home after serving in both theatre's of operation (Europe and The Philippines) with a small, Spanish-made, .32 ACP semi-auto pistol which is an exact replica of the 1911. He found it, field stripped, in a tin can while in Germany. It is, now, my most prized possession.
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  #17  
Old 07-20-2017, 03:56 PM
Jaguar Golf Jaguar Golf is offline
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My father told me he never thought he would survive the war.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:59 PM
Red Dirt Dave Red Dirt Dave is offline
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Thank You. I knew several gentlemen who flew in the 8th, now all passed. My father flew bombardier in A-20 Havocs in the 47th Light Bombardment Group through North Africa and into Italy. They were all just kids except for the officers, who were not that much older. But, land sea or air, they were all a tough bunch! Thank you again for posting.

Last edited by Red Dirt Dave; 07-20-2017 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:09 PM
lbmcse lbmcse is offline
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What a great read. Thanks so much for thinking to post it. There's no better window back in history than the personal accounts of one who was there. Your dad just might be one of the reasons we're sitting comfortably in our chairs staring at this computer screen.

"Too stupid to be scared. . .. ." That's priceless!

Thanks again! Thanks also to your departed dad.
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:17 PM
dakota1911 dakota1911 is offline
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My Dad joined the Army Air Corp in 1940 to avoid being drafted and becoming a "gravel agitator" as he called it. He was in B17s in England early. His stories were interesting. If one gets through Tucson, AZ the Pima Air & Space Museum is worth a visit. They have a B17 in its own building with tons of info.
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:50 PM
TjB101 TjB101 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Doctor View Post
.

(1940 to 1945) I'm sure he saw YOUR Dad overhead in the B-24!!

Cool thought.... everyone's comments about their Dad or uncle, etc has touched me tremendously. Dad stayed in touch with several of his crew mates. I believe he was the last survivor at 93.

Tim
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Old 07-20-2017, 06:15 PM
Icepick15 Icepick15 is offline
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Thank you for posting that.

My dad was in the Navy in WWII. He was a radioman/gunner flying anti-sub patrol in the Pacific in the Navy version of the B-24. He passed away in 2008.

I don't have any of his wartime stuff. We lost everything in Hurricane Camille in 1969. The next morning, where I used to live was a vacant lot.

I wish I had his dog tags. They went with the house. So did his leather bomber jacket with a picture of his plane hand painted on the back by one of the guys in his unit. And a set of his dress blues.

He used to have a one dollar bill that he got everybody in his unit to autograph. He carried that dollar bill in his wallet every day of his life for as long as I can remember. I can't imagine him ever getting rid of it, but I don't know what ever happened to it. Mom passed away last year. Maybe it's at the old house somewhere.

Even at my advanced age, I miss them both every day.
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Old 07-20-2017, 06:40 PM
ncvol ncvol is offline
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God bless your dad, and others like him. I remember reading that the 8th Air Force suffered more combat casualties, than the entire United States Marine Corps, in WWII! Those daylight bombing missions were costly.
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Old 07-20-2017, 06:59 PM
WyrTwister WyrTwister is offline
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Thank you for that account .

My late dad was half way across the world , in the Navy , in the Pacific .

God bless
Wyr
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  #25  
Old 07-20-2017, 08:33 PM
FNISHR FNISHR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DW G View Post
If you are ever on I95 near Savannah, the Mighty Eighth museum in off the US80 exit (Exit 102) is well worth the trip. Last time I was there a Mustang was chasing a ME109 across the ceiling, and I understand they have a B17 now.
They do indeed have a B17. It's a great place, well worth visiting.
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