Editor’s Note:  While relaxing over some vintage Scotch, I had a conversation with my father-in-law, Wm. “Bill” Ross, about his WW2 experience with the B-17.  He did not elaborate on combat, but related his experience of ferrying his plane to Africa.  I wish that I could have recorded the conversation. However, he deployed along the same route as described by Charles Arnette:



Charles Arnett

Charles and his crew members were then issued a brand new B-24 Liberator bomber. Arnett personally signed for the $250,000 plane and took great pride in it by naming it the Boomerang. * There is a bit of significance to the name he had chosen. A boomerang is a specific weapon ­ it is designed to hit a target and if it is thrown properly, and encounters nothing in its flight, it circulates back into the hands of the thrower. *

As the area engineer was refueling the Boomerang in
Florida, a stick of gum fell out of his shirt pocket and landed in the fuel tank. The incident was reported to Charles Arnett and in return he informed the maintenance crew. Unfortunately, the maintenance crew at that base was unable to fix the tank. Therefore, instructed them to go to the next base in Puerto Rico where it would be properly examined. Because of the gum incident, the crew was forced to fly off all four engines with merely three tanks!

Puerto Rico they were given the same story of how they were unable to fix the fuel tank. This meant that they had to fly the planes clear to the next base which was located in Brazil. Once they landed in Brazil, Arnett knew without a doubt in his mind that they needed all four tanks to make it across the ocean and in to Africa. Because of the situation at hand he and his crew members were forced to stay in Brazil for three days while the fuel tank was drained and replaced.

The next two stops were in
Africa at Dakar and Marrakech. 


….Wm. “Bill” Ross next stops were Algeria and Tunisia (97th Bomb Group Bases) where he entered combat on 50 missions against Axis shipping and targets in Tunis, Sicily, Sardinia, Naples, Bologna, and Rome.




Dakar, Senegal (from Col. Hank Tillman):  These native men would help to guard their tents and camp while they were out.  Some things still disappeared at times as the security was difficult to maintain with the temporary nature of the bases.