War Diary of Will S. Arnett
B-17 Bomber Pilot (301st BG) in
----Diary includes B-17 missions along with the 97th BG (and 414th Squadron)
Photo credit Col. Wm. L Ross
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/categories/c55405/ Will S. Arnett Diary
The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Will Seaton Arnett, 1st Lt. USAAF and John S. Green.
The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Will Seaton Arnett, 1st Lt. USAAF and John S. Green.
This is the day we've been looking forward to -- our first raid. We went
on the alert yesterday and were called out this morning at to be briefed for our first raid.
The target was a marshling yard at
We took off at climbed to 25,000 feet and joined another group, the 97th. There were 36 B17's in the formation escorted by 60 Spitfires.
We were over the target at exactly , dropped our bombs and came home with out a single bomber lost. Its a beautiful sight to watch four 1,000 lb. bombs fall out of 34 planes. Two planes had to turn back because of engine trouble -- one was our squadron commander, Major Quick.
Every bombardier claims a direct hit so the must have been complete.
We landed back here at and were served Rum and Coffee, had interrogation, then news that we were through for the day.
I had the same queer feeling I used to have before going into a ball game, but just as soon as we started our motors it left and everything was O.K.
Not a single enemy fighter came at us and not a burst of flack was fired from the ground.
It is believed that our fighters did a little mixing with F.W. 190's over the target area.
That's all for No. 1.
We were honored last night with the presence of four
After the show, they came to the club and a good time was had by all. For a long time the signing of short snorter bills was the mains source of entertainment. Of course the bar was doing good business all this time too. I always thought of stars being snooty and hard to understand and talk to but I was entirely wrong because they are everything but that. They are just like all the rest of the fairer sex, like lots of attention and petting. Take it from me they are build just like any other girl -- I know. Kay and Martha didn't like it so much but Carole and Mitzy didn't seem to mind as long as you were half careful, in fact, they seemed to enjoy it a little. Wonder how far one could have gotten out under the beautiful moon looking down at the stars.
Left Chelveston this morning at 10:30 and arrived here at 12:30, had dinner, cleaned up, and stayed in the briefing room the biggest part of the afternoon getting the low down on our trip tommorrow. This is strictly an English station with plenty of W.A.A.F.'s roaming around but darn it we are confined to the barracks and can't do anything about it. To make it worse, this is probably the last time we will get a chance to look at a white woman.
See you in
Another day at Hurn Field. We were up at to get ready to take off for Oran Africa by . Took off before sun up and had to turn around and come back after about 15 minutes because the oil dilution valve stuck open on #3 engine, so we fooled around in general all day and Thomas and I got a hair cut. We both got it all cut off with the exception of about an incl. I'm glad we did too, because it will probably be a long time before we get another one. Time to hit the hay because the Colonel said we will have to be by our lonesome tomorrow, so that calls for another early rise.
Arrived here last night at 4:45˝ -- left Hurn Field at Had a wonderful trip down, we came the water route just off the caost of France Spain and Portugal, throught the Strait of Gilbralter and along the northern coast of Africa. When we landed it was almost dark and by the time we were settled it was. Not know where we were or where to go, we started walking through mud knee deep (it had just rained a flood in the afternoon) in search of something to eat and a place to sleep. After walking for miles with no success whatsoever, we finally went back to the plane to sleep, all eleven of us. Boy, what a night after being in the air all day. Dam little sleeping I did using luggage for a bed.
I thought I was tired last night but I was wrong because I'm absolutely dead tonight. We got up this morning ready to pump 1800 gallons of gasoline in our plane by hand from 50 gallon drums, and brother that was a job I'll never forget. This afternoon we found a place to sleep with eight other boys that came the day before in a 20' by 20' room; with the floor as a bed and only five blankets to sleep on and under.
Saw my first Arab today, nobody knows were they live or came from but they are on the field early in the morning with tangerines and eggs to sell and trade. They would rather have cloth, preferably white, money doesn't mean anything to them. They have a mule, a specie of a donkey, but about half as big.
They are filthy and disgusting. One enlisted man traded a mattress cover for 15 eggs this morning and a basket of tangerines.
Fooled around out at the plane all morning getting it cleaned up and ready to go. This afternoon we loaded it with bombs and brother that is a job. It is a good mile and a half out to the plane from here and every inch of it is mud all the way. I made the trip twice so I'm dragging my tracks out again tonight. I was wondering how I was going to sleep tonight on the damn floor, but that problem is solved now.
I've kept looking for a change in food for the last two days, but it is still hash or stew three times a day and it is really hard to swallow for breakfast.
We are on American money basis again now but it wouldn't be worht a continental in the states because it has a yellow seal in place of the blue one.
It makes you feel like you have money anyway. The silver is the same. The P.X. opened up today and we got our candy and cigarette rations. Didn't care so much for the cigarettes but the candy was delicious.
Just got back from an eight hour bombing mission on
Up at -- breakfast to -- briefing at -- take off , over the target 11:30, and landed at the base at
No. 1 classmate "Toby" was shot down and the plane exploded when it hit the water. Capt. Bruce of the 32nd also went down. These were the first two crews and planes we've lost. It's kinda hard to take when they go down like that. Some of the crew members might have bailed but it is doubtful, nothing like living in hopes though.
This was the roughest one yet, more flak and a hell of a lot of enemy fighters -- FW 190 -- ME 109 -- and ME 210. We got a number of them but there is no way to tell how many. I saw one go down in flames and explode in mid air about 5000' above the water. I'll never forget it.
Another hard day, loaded 500 lb. bombs this morning and brother that is a job winding them up by hand.
It's been like Xmas here tonight. Fred just got in from
We had some decent food today for the first time -- no hash thank God. The coffee is still just as horrible made from salt water.
Fred moved in with us -- so there is eleven of us in here now -- had to make room for my buddie.
Lt. Colonel Gormley just came in and announced
a mission for tomorrow.
Took off at to bomb the docks at Souse. After climbing
through a thousand foot overcast, the whole of
Routine. The Navigator hasn't been found yet.
Briefed at , took off at and over the target (Sfax) at . It was a perfect day for bombing but the mission was a failure before we left and none of the bombs went where they were supposed to. No enemy fighters were encountered and no flak was seen. The next time we go over there, they will probably throw up the kitchen sink.
The new year really floated in last night. Where the liquor came from is a military secret to everyone but the C.O. but it was passed out and that's all that matters.
The usual things happened today, 97th went out, we stayed on the ground and tomorrow we go out and they stay here.
Had a decent meal out at the field at lunch and to top it all off turkey at the hotel tonight.
Stayed out in the sun all afternoon and played knock poker.
Nothing happened today but routine until this evening just at dusk when ten JU 88's came over and dropped a few bombs but no damage was done. The anti-aircraft kept most of them away and they didn't get to drop many bombs. They seem to come over just a dinner time everyday, but not as many as today.
Took off to go on the "milk run" to test "Flak Alley,"
Routine. No engine for #3 yet and discovered today that #2 gas tank had a bullet hole in it and has begun to leak, so it has to be changed. Therefore, we will be out of commission indefinitely.
Went out to the field this morning and with nothing in sight for the day
but before we knew it we were being briefed for another raid on
There wasn't much to the raid because it was partly clouded over and we fooled them by making a different approach to the target. They put up their usual barrage of "flak" but it was no where near us. No fighter opposition was encountered so all I got out of it was another stopped up head.
Served as duty officer for the group last night and had to sleep in headquarters. Nothing happened so there wasn't anything to it.
The day was more or less routine.
A mission was planned this morning and I was supposed to go along with the new crew (Calvert) that just arrived, but a big sand storm came up and brother it was plenty RUGGED. I'm still digging sand out of my ears and spitting mud.
A JU-88 came over tonight and dropped some bombs on the field. I watched it from the hotel roof but didn't know how much damage was done. One pretty big fire was started. Sure hope he didn't hit ole "67".
I under estimated the raid last night tremendously because when I went out there this morning I learned that there was at least five planes making dive bombing attacks. Three planes were completely demolished, one B-17 burned, one C-47 got a direct hit and one P-38 got hit by bomb fragments and set on fire. My plane is in the so called "bone yard" for repairs and the two of the above were within 20 yards of it. One bomb hit in front and two at the rear making a triangle and it got hit from all angles. It is repairable but will take about two weeks to do it.
One man was killed and several injured. One kid that I run around with a lot, Calcote, got a bomb crater about ten yards from his tent. He came in and slept with me the rest of the night.
Our plane was made Tech supply this morning much to my joy, because I didn't ever want to fly it again after the plastering it got the other night by the bombing.
It happened again last night about . It sounded like they were blowing the whole field off the map but discovered this morning that they missed it entirely. They bombed a decoy light about two miles away which was lit after they dropped their first load. They aren't so smart after all.
There is one hell of a sand storm in progress today. You can hardly breathe out at the field.
Packed again or rather closed up my bags again for another move some place closer to the front lines tomorrow. I don't care where it is just as long as we get out of this d-- dust and sand.
Up at had breakfast and
were at the field for a take off to out
new field. Was supposed to have ridden in a transport since
we no longer have a plane, but I managed to stow away on one of our own.
We finally took off at and had no more
than started when we landed at our new home at . Don't know just
yet where it is only about 20 miles from
Spend the afternoon putting up our pup tents and getting fixed for the night. Kuncel and I put our tents together and made one long one.
I never spent a more miserable night in my life. I was so cold and shook so hard my crash bracelet was off this morning. Boy, it was really cold. I washed my face with ice chunks in the water. The ground was snow white with frost this morning. After the sun came up it actually got hot and everyone began shedding what they had put on not an hour ago.
Had to move the location of our tent this afternoon and have it fixed up pretty comfortable now. Spent the rest of the afternoon digging a fox hole and boy is that ground hard. The sun has been down about an hour and it is already cold.
Incidentally there is no dust, just solid grass, even on the airdrome.
Started on another mission but didn't get any farther than Biskra where we were supposed to have joined the 97th, but when we got there they had already left with all the P-38's, so we came back since there were no more fighters for escorts.
for a raid on the marshalling yards at
Up at after a wonderful nights sleep, breakfast, briefed at , take off at , left the field at for a coordinated raid with he 97th on the airports at Gabes. The weather was perfect. We were loaded with fragmentation bombs. There is six bombs to each cluster and each bomb weighs 20 lb. Loaded with 24 clusters making a total of 144 bombs in each ship, there was 46 planes in the formation, and each bomb breaks up into 1,000 fragments.
The raid was a success but we caught plenty of hell from fighters and flak, one ship was lost, one gunner killed and another injured on another ship.
Colonel Walker led the formation. I led the 2nd element with Capt. Thraler our new squadron commander.
I was on the raid yesterday when Kuncel, my tentmate, came back from Algiers where he had been having their ship repaired and he didn't know whether to move in with me or not and didn't until I got back.
He was really surprised at what I had done and after looking around he decided that I had built the best one in the Area.
It is cold and damp outside but very warm and comfortable in here.
Went out on a test hop as first pilot.
Another test hop.
Another long tiresome raid. Briefed
off at . Picked up the 97th
at Biskra [Algeria] and
proceeded to the target -- an airport at
We didn't get but very little fighter opposition. Two of three started in but they changed their minds and dived away and I can say that I don't blame them. There was some flak but inaccurate. Gen Doolittle was along today.
Haven't been out of my tent today except long enough to eat and go take a bath. It has been raining and cold all day.
About , it started snowing and the ground was covered in no time. Naturally all the officers got out of their holes and had a snowball fight. Pretty rough too for a while. It's still snowing, guess we will have to shovel our way out in the morning.
It didn't let up all day, snow a while, rain a while, sleet a while, then all three at once. I borrowed the Captain's Jeep to go wood hunting and like to have frozen and is still going strong.
Couldn't even stay outside long enough to eat, so we had to go get our meals and run back to our tents to eat.
Oh Brother, what a night. Kuncel and I awoke this morning to find our "nice little home" three inches in water. Luckily I had a cot but Frank didn't, his bedroll was water proof to a certain extent and that saved him.
Everything he and I have got soaking wet, clothes and all. We spent the morning hanging our things out to dry.
This afternoon, I was determined not to have just shelter halves for a cover so I out-right stole a wing cover and he and I both worked like slaves building a frame for it.
We didn't dig down either.
Worked all day covering up that d-- hole and fixing up our new home and it is much better than the old one and more room, too.
Frank had to go to the hospital today because of the previous night.
I built a stove this afternoon and if I can ever start the smoke going out instead of in, I'm gonna get a patent on it. The ideas is original and if it wasn't for the smoke problem it would be wonderful.
More or less took it easy today except for a little piddling around. Played a little baseball and went to the show tonight, "Argentine Nights." The third one we've had here.
The field is so muddy that they don't dare to move the planes, even had to take the bombs out to keep them from sinking. No telling when it will be dry enough to take off.
Pete came up and gave us 30 minutes to get everything ready to take off on verbal orders and to report to operations at Telegrma, a field about 12 miles from this field.
Thomas was up flying so McConnell took his place as pilot.
After reporting we were told to stand by and be ready to take off at 10 the next morning to ferry some big shots, we don't know who.
We were bright and early and about , we went out to the plane to find out that #3 wouldn't start -- so we said this is it. We got busy and changed the plugs hoping that our party would be late. Well, they were but the plug change didn't do any good.
About General Marshall
and General Eisenhower drove up to base operations with their aides. Thank God
we weren't there to break the news to them but the operations office
instead. They got in their cars and went
We called headquarters the afternoon before and asked for some mechanics to come over and fix the darn thing. They came over early this morning and finally got it started after putting on a new booster coil and draining water out of the carburetor.
Just before we took off, we saw a B-26 spin in about 5 miles from the field. The explosion rocked the countryside.
When I took off #2 supercharger went out completely and it caused me to take off at an angle.
After landing, I proceeded to take to our parking area dodging mud holes. Got within 10 yards and the left wheel almost went out of sight. So I got out and left it there.
Gave a farewell party for Colonel Walker last night, he is going to
Bomber Command at
Oh Boy, what a day. With only three hours of sleep last night, we were up at , briefed at , took off for Kairouan Airdrome, near Sfax, bombed it and were back on the ground by . I was first pilot with Thomas as a brand new Captain as co-pilot.
But that wasn't the end of the day. At , we were given a 30 minute notice to be briefed and off the
ground by 3 and be over
I'm so tired I'm cross-eyed. Never again do I want to fly two missions in one day.
Spent the most miserable night I've spent in a long time. Went to the
"Doc" and he had me in the hospital before you could say Jack
Robinson. So the record I've held for 27 years was finally broken. My
temperature has been ranging from101 to 103.8 all day but it's down now.
The first time I've ever had influenza and my first time in a hospital bed.
Another sleepless night and very unpleasant too,
freezing to death one minute and burning up the next. I've drunk enough
water to float the biggest ship that the 301st sunk on their raid over
I'm the only office in the room with 16 enlisted men. About 5 have flu, three or four with gasoline burns and the others are gold bricks taking a rest or beating guard duty.
My temperature reached 104 at then started dropping.
And another sleepless night with everything running about the same.
Temperature almost went back to normal then back up again. They brought in an old private from my squadron that must have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd cause he was sorta messed up.
I must have sweated my temperature away last night because I awoke from the knock-out pill the "Doc" gave me ringing wet with my temperature normal and it stayed there all day.
Still feel lousy as the devil though.
No temperature today, wrote a few letters.
The "Doc" let me get up and walk around a little today but I was too weak to do much walking.
Got out of the hospital this morning and had to stop and rest before I could make it back to camp I was so weak.
Have been up all day and am as tired as if I had worked all day.
Packed some things for our move today.
We were up bright and early this morning running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything ready to leave on the specified time.
Departed from Ain M'Lilla at and arrived at out new base at . It is only about 40 miles west of our old base.
There is nothing between us and the North Pole but a barbed-wire fence to keep the wind off and the gap is down on it. Oh Boy, it is cold.
We are living in Pyramidal tents and they are pretty nice. My tentmates are Kuncel, R.E. Hart, and Harold Wilson.
We put the tent that we had for a house at Ain M'Lilla down for a rug and it keeps the damp out.
We've been working all day fixing things up and making it more comfortable. The name of our apartment is Maision de la Caak, sore of Hart's bright ideas.
We have a victrola and about 100 records, also a kerosene stove and lantern.
There isn't any electric generator close enough yet to have electric lights -- but give us time.
This is a regular Officers Club since we have the only means of entertainment.
We have some beautiful scenery around us. Mountains to the South and East, farm land and waste land to the North and West.
Briefed at this morning for a
At we were briefed
again to bomb an airport near
Worked like hell all day building a door and table in our tent.
But, today was the one I've been waiting for. All the second Lts. made 1st Lt. except two or three. The co-pilots wore gold for exactly 9 months and 19 days and brother that is a long time considering everything.
Our promotions were effective March 2.
Today was the day, first I took my first ship on a mission with Choster Ninney as my co-pilot. We call it soloing. Second, when we landed at the Major met us at the plane and told us to dress in full for decorations. So without eating since breakfast, we had to stand at attention for an hour while the awards were being presented.
I received the Air Medal and two oak leaf clusters.
Up at , French Toast for breakfast. Briefing at
and off at to
bomb some convoys on the
My shoulders are killing me from flying so much formation.
It's been a long bad day and no mission was scheduled and all I've done all day is write letters, listen to music, and bull sessions.
Played volley ball against the enlisted men the biggest part of the day. The whole group had a holiday.
There is nothing more disgusting that a fifteen minute notice before
briefing especially right at lunch time. We ate, were briefed and in the air in
just an hour. Took off at to patrol the
The convoy was about 20 miles off the coast of
Another bad and nothing to do but play cheap poker.
Been standing by all day for a mission, but it never did come through so another day wasted.
We finally got an airplane today. It came from the 97th and it already has over 30 raids on it. Since Thomas is pilot on 82, I have a good chance of getting it for myself and my old crew.
The B-17's were really operating today, first, one group of the 97th took off this morning and second, a group from the 301st took off behind them.
This afternoon the same thing happened. All flights were on airports near Gabes. Frag bombs were used.
I was flying as Lt. Biesel's co-pilot.
The flight was rather easy. The 97th was in front of us and caught all the flak.
Briefed at ,
off at ,
left the field at ,
over the target,
Before we left the target area smoke was already about 15,000 feet. The minute the explosion occurred all the anti-aircraft guns stopped firing and didn't start again until we were far away from the target area.
I led the second element of the lead squadron with Thomas as my co-pilot.
All that is good, but we also had a loss. Jimmy Hare was shot down and exploded in mid-air. Five chutes were seen to open.
Boy, am I tired??
The pictures of yesterday's raid just came in and there is absolutely nothing left of the harbor. There was at least six boats and they were all sunk or badly damaged because there were hits on or close to all of them.
This was our day off, so I haven't done anything, just fool around the plane a little this afternoon.
The General came over and before we knew it we were at briefing and off
the ground by for a raid on
I flew 23rd in the second element of our squadron so that put me very last man in the formation. T. C. Green was my co-pilot.
This is the first time our squadron hasn't led the group in a long time.
The mission was fairly easy compared to some of the others. There was a little flak but it was inaccurate so no one was hurt.
It was short but I'm tired as usual. We were back on the ground at .
I have really been taking it easy today. Missed out on
the mission over
The boys didn't drop their bombs because of overcast but they got hell by enemy fighters. No one was lost or hurt.
Took my plane up for a test hop today and went down and gave the nurses a good buzzing. It runs like a top.
Learned today that our plane has to have an engine change. Number three has a bad cylinder in it and it's easier to change engines completely than it is just to put in a new cylinder.
Missed out on the biggest raid that has ever been
We were briefed at for a raid on
The group had a dance last night and invited the nurses over that are stationed about 20 miles down the road. These Arabic names get me. As usual the 419th took over and made the party much to the disgust of the other squadrons. It broke up early because we have a mission scheduled for tomorrow. Everyone had a good time and got a lot out of our systems besides. I got a sleeping bag today and it is tender -- Oh Boy!
We were briefed again at this morning for
another trip to
We knew last night that a good one was scheduled for today, but we had no idea that it was gonna be what it was.
Briefed at , off the ground at and left the field at leading the 99th and the 97th. The 419th led again with Colonel Quick, I led the second element.
Our target was an airdrome at
This was supposed to have been our day off and everyone was lying around
taking it easy when right at lunch time an alert was called for briefing. The
planes weren't even loaded but were in an hour. So we were briefed and off the
ground at to bomb a convoy
that the 97th missed entirely this morning. When we found it, it was
just off the coast of
We were briefed for a raid on docks and shipping at
Our squadron led the group with Col. Quick in the lead ship. I flew #12 with Hart as my co-pilot.
The mission was short (three hours) and the target was well hit and believed to be sunk.
Everyone returned safely. As usual the Red Cross served us hot coffee and doughnuts when we landed.
Boy this has been a long day. We were awakened this morning at , had breakfast at 4, briefed at 5 and off
the ground at 6 to bomb a convoy off the coast of
I'd like to have the son-of-a-gun by the nap of the neck that planned the route. We can't find out but whoever it was he sure had his head way up. He put us right between the two most heavily defended cities in North Africa, Bizerte and Tunis at 15,000 feet, and they threw up everything but the kitchen sink. A navigator in another squadron got a piece of flak through the neck and was killed instantly. For the first time I saw 20 MM cannon shells bursting from every enemy fighter. Besides all that we missed the target completely. Spent the rest of the day sleeping, playing volleyball, and just got back from a show.
There isn't much to say about this one except that it was long and
tiresome. Our target was an airdrome at
I had to feather #2 engine on my plane because of a hit behind the super-charger.
Put a floor in our tent and did a away with the rugs. We used frag boxes for lumber.
I am leaving for rest camp tomorrow and it doesn't look like I'm gonna get to look for Marvin because you have to have a special order from the Commanding Officer to ride transports now, and Col Gormly refused Alex.
[Ed. Note - Marvin J. Arnett, by grandfather, was in the Seabees and
Eked up courage enough to ask for a special order and actually got it.
He even gave me transportation to Telegrma to catch a
transport. Caught one to
Swenson and I went to the flickers to pass away the time.
I caught the plane to
To make a long story short, I found out that there was a battalion of
Seabees at Arzew about 20 miles up the coast from
Walked all over
My first night in town and it had an air raid. I never saw an air raid
with so much anti-aircraft in my life. It had just gotten dark when hell broke
loose. I couldn't help but go right down on the water front and watch the show
and I'll never forget it. Anybody would have to be either drunk or crazy to try
and fly the barrage of flak that is put up over the
One plane tried it, but didn't get to first base. He must have been tired of living or something.
I got up this morning, had breakfast and took a stroll down the docks to see if any damage was done by the raiders last night.
Doc Speaker, Maj Coverly
and I saw the fire works from a ringside seat again -- like d-- fools.
Brother, what a day. Off at to bomb an airport
just North of
Photos of 97th
BG 414th Squadron Plane Going Down from Col. W.L. Ross
Well we finally got off the ground again and the weather was
perfect. We were briefed at for a sea sweep with 24 planes. We found a big
merchant vessel and two small destroyers off the coast of
Well, this has been a rather interesting day. First we were briefed for a mission this morning but it was called off. This afternoon we were honored by the presence of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. He is making a trip around the world visiting all the fighting forces. He told us about his experience in the Pacific and about the fighting conditions in the Pacific Area.
After his speech, Hart and I drove up in the hills for some target practice and to look the vicinity over in general. Just a few minutes ago a train load of Italian and German prisoners came through and of course the were stormed for souvenirs. They seemed very happy and were glad to get away from it all.
We were briefed to bomb the city of
A bunch of us went to see the Roman Ruins of D'jennila and it was really interesting to. We had lunch at a Cafe up there run by an old French woman. She served us egg omelet and steak and it was wonderful. After seeing the ruins, I am convinced that the Romans were a smart race of people. We gave a farewell party for Col. Quick and Harman last night.
Another rough one chalked up and I really mean that. Our target was a town on the West Coast of Sicily and it was well covered. Thomas and I were leading the squadron but we had to let our #2 man take the lead just before we turned on to our I. P. because our bomb sight went out. When we finally got reorganized the rest of the group were miles away so we were left out there like clay pigeons for the fighters and they really gave us hell. Hart got his #4 engine knocked out and had to feather it on the run and boy, that's bad. My nerves are really shot tonight.
I took Hart to Laseni to see his brother today. Even though it was a holiday, I was in the air five hours but it wasn't like going on a mission. Hart has eight days off to spend with his bud, the lucky dog.
Another big show today and we blew the hell out of Cagllari and I don't mean maybe. All four groups went over first then two groups of mediums followed us over with an escort of 96 P-38's. It was a perfect day. A few fighters came in but they didn't hang around very long, otherwise, it wasn't very tough only a few bursts of flak were seen.
The Group surprised us with a four-day vacation Friday for some unknown reason. We thought we were gonna have to hang around the whole four days until late Friday afternoon when Col Gormely gave us permission to take a plane to Algiers. So the 419th took off and had one hell of a big time. We just got back and I'm feeling like a million dollars after getting a lot out of my system and being in civilization for a few days. I saw two good pictures, "Eagle Squadron" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" also a French stage show last night that would have been good if I could have understood it. I caught the drift of it by their movements and motions though. I'm ready to go back to work again now.
We were briefed for a raid on
Another load of Italian prisoners came through and as usual they were stormed for souvenirs. They all want to go to N. Y. and be farmers.
Boy, what a day! Seven hours and 30 minutes in the air and 3 and a half
on Oxygen. Our target was
I checked out another pilot today -- Richardson -- and he did a jam-up job. Our party was a flop last night as planned. There were just 10 girls for fifty officers and five of them were French girls from Setif brought over by Stelley.
Another easy one and short today only five planes. Our target was an
Briefed at , off at for docks and shipping at Terranaua.
It's on the North-East end of
Just got back from the rottenest show we've ever had. The days sure are long now and the nights are twice as short. The time changed again and we lose and hour's sleep in the morning it doesn't get dark until so there isn't much time left for sleep.
Just got back from
Boy, this was a tough one and long. Our target was the docks at
Our target today was
Our target today was the Pomigliano airdrome
There wasn't much opposition except for a little flak and a few fighters. All planes got back. I led our second element with Allison as my co-pilot. It took seven hours and 25 minutes to make the trip.
My, I really sweated this one out. It was Bridges last one and I had to
go with him as co-pilot. Our target was a big warship at
All four groups went on the same docks and was it a mess when we left
but boy, what a rat race over the target. We were all supposed to have used the
same I. P. but there were planes making run's from every angle. Some even made
individual run's. The mission wasn't so tough -- just
a hell of a lot of "flak" but inaccurate. It might be called a
It took to make the trip.
Fred, Richardson, Stelley, Maynard and my self spent the day in Setif. We were supposed to have had a private picnic of five couples but it turned out to be a reunion so it was a mess from the word go.
This is the day I've been waiting a long time for. Our target today was the
Thomas and Pete brought us to
Boy, I'm tired, been on the go all day getting things fixed up. It seems
that I am responsible for the whole bunch. First I reported to A-1 to get our
orders cut. Had to have them before we could get a priority
rating and transport tickets. The orders were ready at and by four we had our rating, but then came the
stump. At the air transport office they
told me that we would have to wait until the 12th because all planes were full
I'll know in the morning because he is supposed to call me.
Aboard the West Point Another long day and don't seem to be getting any place. There is about 8,000 people on board with only two women and 3,800 of them are Italian and German prisoners. The Italian are more or less free to do as they please, but the Germans aren't given any freedom at all and are watched like hawks.
Nothing but flying fish and white caps. Saw a life boat adrift today.
Still sailing. The water has been exceptionally calm all day.
Found out today that we went almost to
I've been buying clothes all day and sure am tired but I have a date with a model tonight that's gotta be taken care of.
My date last night was beautiful and a lot of fun. We took in several night clubs and finished the evening at Cafe Society -- morning rather.
Wagg invited Alex and I to his home in Lambertville, N. Y. for the day and we really had a wonderful time.
Came back to
We reported to Mitchell Field today and had a 30-day leave within three hours but we had a hell of a lot of walking to do and boy was it hot.
Bridges and I are together. we left
This brings to a close my combat experience as a B-17 pilot. The past eleven months were exciting and full of experiences that I will always remember. Some of these experiences I would like to forget -- those that brought heartaches to others.
Will Seaton Arnett Ed. Note: My uncle was lucky that he was not assigned
to the 8th Air Force , which took the brunt of the
losses in the European Theater. If I remember correctly, about 1/4 of all
American combat losses in the entire war occurred in the sky over
However I know with pride that had he been over
Men and women go into combat thinking they will get through it alive and
victorious. However, there occasionally comes a time in battle when you realize
that you won't make it, that you cannot possibly win. How you act in this
instance is the razor's edge dividing line between a great nation and a wanna-be-great nation. It only really shows up when the
odds are impossible. These days
Think: John Paul Jones continuing the fight against superior odds.
Think: 182 men at the
Think: Will Seaton Arnett, 1St
These men did an amazing thing; to fly day after day into utter terror, droning on and on through flak and fighters, unable to move to defend themselves until the bombs were dropped and the job was done. That is a special courage; that is the legacy of this country and it's fighting spirit.
pecial footnote to any future oppressors:
Whether it be in
DJC Editor’s Note: Lt. Wm. L. Ross rotated home after
50 missions with the
97th BG 414 BS on