Tuesday, September 7, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sun. Jan. 31

Sun. Jan. 31 – Lastest day of Jan. Just one year since we arrived on “[?]” soil. Should go home soon! Got up at 8 to slow time my ship; put 2:20 on it before lunch. The Major took my place in the flight after lunch and I put 2:30 more on it, a total of 5:00, and it runs very weel for a new engine. Hope to do 2 or 3 more hours tomorrow and get it back on combat status. Farley has offered to fly for me in the morning so I can do my slow timing. After supper we were lectured by Mr. Jacobson on methods of escaping from Japs if forced down near Lae or Salamane. Very interesting and informative. Mr. Jacobson owned a plantation near Lae, which is now occupied by Japs and he is giving the Army the benefit of his extensive knowledge of the country and the natives. The fellows had a mission to Wau in the afternoon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sat. Jan. 30

Sat. Jan. 30 – On in the morning. Supposed to go to Wau about 11:00. But Johns’ flight wanted to fly and needed missions, so Porter’s flight was relieved. The Wau mission is rough anyway. Afternoon off. A letter from Betty, giving me all kinds of devil for not writing regularly, for writing only one page, for using two stamps instead of one, and for not straightening out the details about going home. Had already written her a letter, asking for stamps, etc, but I tore it up and wrote a longer one, giving a lot of reasons for my laxity. Hope she understands. 45 should be ready to slow-time in the morning. Jordan and I took Wenige and Makowski in Bridge, and won by over 2000.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

George's Service Diary: Fri. Jan. 29

Fri. Jan. 29 – On alert again after going off A.O. at noon. No mission, so we slept and sat around all afternoon. We even got off early in the evening for a change, that is, Porter’s flight.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

George's Service Diary: Thur. Jan. 28

Thur. Jan. 28 – On duty again early but no mission. Sat around in our so-called “alert shack” until noon. Then I was put on as A.O. having to stay at Operations to govern incoming traffic and take charge in case of any accidents. No accidents, no incoming traffic, so I had a very quiet afternoon, reading intelligence reports and “Shadows Over Rangoon.” Also slept some. In the evening Kirsch and I beat Jordan and Lorne in Bridge. Started to put a new engine in 45 today, not new, overhauled.

Friday, September 3, 2010

George's Service Diary: Wed. Jan. 27

Wed. Jan. 27 – Up at 6:00, sour cream for the coffee, and a mission to Wau scheduled for 9:00. Took off as scheduled, but about the time we picked up the transports and got on course, my engine began running rough and cutting out, so I came hauling back home. Took a lot of razzing for coming back, but it was all in fun. Wrote to Betty, to Uncle Tony, to Sonny, to my Mother. At noon new went on 15-min. reserve, but heavy rain caused fighter sector to relieve us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

George's Service Diary: Tues. Jan. 26

Tues. Jan. 26 – Morning off. Got up about 10:30. Took a mission to patrol Buna, T.O. 11:30. On the way over, or rather, after we got across the mountains, Porter had engine trouble and decided to come back. So he told Porteous to come back with him, but as usual, Porteous didn’t catch on. Porter left me to lead the remainder of the flight; I told Porteous to follow Porter. He left, but Porter couldn’t find him, so Porter came back and told me to accompany him, and Mayo to join Gelatkas’ flight. So Porter and I came back, Porteous soaring along about 3000 feet above and ahead of us, never knowing where we were. Porter was really griped at Porteous. Sat on alert till 7:15. Played Poker in the evening and won about (LB!)16. No mail. One heavy raid about 3:30 A.M. The first time the three bombers came over, the lights picked them up at once and

they hauled back out to sea. Then about 5 min. later they came back in. The lights caught them again, but no A.A. was fired because a P-38 night-fighter was up after them. He was apparently unable to reach them before they dropped their bombs, which they did on Wards’, a large number of heavy bombs which started fires, hit ammo and bomb dumps, and got on Beaufighter. The P.38 returned unsuccessful. But A/A would have had a wonderful opportunity if the P-38 handn’t been up there.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

George's Service Diary: Mon. Jan. 25

Mon. Jan. 25 – Had my chance today. A patrol mission over Buna, and the same flight set-up, with me leading. Mayo dropped out and the Maj. And the Capt. Flew my wing. Or rather, they flew anywhere except on my wing. I had to look more to keep track of them than I did for enemy a/c. We cruised around at about 14000 until an unidentified a/c was reported. We took off after it and intercepted, finding it to be a B-17 on reconnaissance. Afternoon off. Loafed. Got my laundry back, the first clean clothes in about two weeks. Won about $18 from Moore in Gin Rummy. Another air-raid at night, the A-A spotted the planes when they were nearly out of range, and came as close as I’ve ever seen, just missed two direct hits. Appeared to damage at least one a/c.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sun. Jan. 24

Sun. Jan. 24 – Off in the morning. In the afternoon, there was a mission scheduled for Wau, 8 ships. So Porter and Kingsley matched for it and Kingsley got the mission. Then it was decided Porter would fly it anyway. Maj. Sims took Porteous place in the flight, and for some reason, Porter refused to lead. So I was delegated to lead, Mayo on my wing, Maj. Sims leading 2nd element, and Porter on his wing. Some flight! Then, of all things, when I get a chance for glory and fame, the mission was cancelled, and we didn’t fly at all. Another raid at night. One false alarm at 10:30, a raid at 1:00, a false alarm about 2:00, and a raid at 4:00. A whole boatload of heavy bombs near 7-mile, and they started some kind of a fire. A telegram from Betty saying she could get a visa which would last till June, as she would wait for me. Hallelujah!

Monday, August 30, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sat. Jan. 23

Sat. Jan. 23 – Patrol Buna in the morning, Porter leading, and Sutton on his wing. Sutton flies just like Porteous, P-P. This was my 75th mission, so from now on I don’t care if someone does take my place. No longer am I eager. Fired my guns at the wreck on the way back, and they really handled nicely. Made the worst landing in two weeks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

George's Service Diary: Fri. Jan. 22

Fri. Jan. 22 – Morning off, fixed the floor of our tent with metal strips from the runway mat. Woke Mac up to help me, and he [?] and moaned as if it were killing him. In the afternoon, we had a mission to patrol Buna. On the way over Porter dropped out, so I took the lead. The major was leading the bottom flight and wouldn’t follow the top flight according to the usual plan so everything was SNAFU. While on patrol, some plots of U/1 came in, and they had us going round and round until they decided they were plotting us. Just before we took off, there was a report that a Zero was over the field, but apparently no one went after him. Had a pretty active air raid at night. Lots of A.A., and quite a number of bombs, mostly in the bay and in the vicinity of Waigami. Sirens were going all night long.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

George's Service Diary: Thur. Jan. 21

Thur. Jan. 21 – On 15-min. reserve in the morning, so we didn’t fly. Stayed at the alert shack, and the mosquitoes nearly ate us up. Had pie and coffee in the morning. Had the afternoon off, so played checkers and gin-rummy till the water came on, then showered and washed. Two letters from Betty in the evening while we were playing 4-handed solitaire.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

George's Service Diary: Tues. Jan. 19 / Wed. Jan. 20

Tues. Jan. 19 – Nothing of interest.

Wed. Jan. 20 – A few more entries like the above and this won’t even be worth keeping. We now have a new flight schedule. The flight is on for three days in succession, then on 15-min. for a day, then off a day. We were scheduled for an early flight, but my ship was out. So when I went back to taxi out a spare, I found it had not been serviced, and it took so long to service it that I couldn’t get away with the flight. So I had a day of rest. At noon we went on 15-min. reserve, but 5 Fit. Com. said we must stay on the line. Mayo nearly ran off the end of the runway when his brakes would not hold on the wet metal strip. Had a long talk with Maj. Sims re Betty going home. He says he doesn’t know I’ll be sent, or how, so his advice was for her to go at once, unless it was possible
for her to get a new quota number without too much trouble and effective at once. He seems to think I may possibly be shipped out again very soon after I get home. So if she is there waiting for me when I arrive, it will be better than if I have to wait for her.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

George's Service Diary: Mon. Jan 18

Mon. Jan. 18 – On duty in the morning. Just got to the line and found there was a 7:00 mission to Wau again, to escort Transports. We had the 100-gallon belly-tanks on so that we would have plenty of gas to circle Wau for a long time while a larger flight of Transports landed and unloaded. While circling Wau at 12000 feet, we saw two flights of unidentified ships at about 17-18000, just under an overcast. They were too far away to be identified, so we didn’t go after them. They finally took off north over Lae. They may have been Zeros on patrol. The flight took three hours; we’re all getting bunions or parachute-spread. Had the afternoon off, and it rained a regular flood. Most of the slit-trenches are filled to the brim with rain-water; hope there is no
air-raid. Now need two more missions to complete my 75. When I get 75, my name will got in for the Airman’s Medal and the D.F.C. Not that I’ve necessarily earned the D.F.C., but if it is offered to me, I’ll take it. After all, 50 missions in this N. Guinea area, with no accidents, is quite a sweat job. Especially with ships as old as ours.

Monday, August 16, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sun. Jan. 17

Sun. Jan. 17 – Morning off, slept late. On duty about 11:30, and a call came for a special mission, escorting transports to Wau. Took almost three hours, and we sure had sore bottoms when we got back. Wau is within sight of Lae and Salamaua, and we were on pins and needles while we circled above Wau, waiting for the Transports to land, unload, and take off again. As we left for Wau, we heard over the radio that there were enemy planes near Milne Bay, and on our return we found out that a large flight of bombers, escorted by Zeros, hit Milne Bay, causing quite a lot of damage, principally to aircraft on the ground. Also a large fuel dump. Something smelled bad about the whole deal, because with a 30-min. warning, the fighters based
at Milne Bay only got 4 ships into the air on interception, and they made no contact at all. Probably we can expect bigger and better and more frequent raids from now on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sat. Jan. 16

Sat. Jan. 16 – Two flights scheduled for a 9:00 A.M. mission but our flight stood by and didn’t fly. About 5 minutes before they got back, and while we were having our coffee, a Zero passed overhead at about 15,000 feet. Reconn Joe, probably, and Fighter Sector had given no warning, and apparently didn’t even know about it. King told Operations to call F.S. when they could get through. This afternoon Moore and I improved our slit trench against any possible future raids. Then I took a shower in about 3 quarts of water. Wrote three letters today, two to Betty and one to my mother, and a cable to Betty telling her to leave at once for home, in order to keep her quota number, which otherwise expires at the end of January. Sutton cracked up a ship on the strip today; landed long and slapped on the brakes. He was unhurt.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

George's Service Diary: Fri. Jan. 15

Fri. Jan. 15 – Morning off, but we got up to go down to the line and watch Gen. Whitehead award medals to several of the boys. The recipients were Maj. Sims, Silver Star; Rufus Jordan, Silver Star; Marlin R. Smith, Silver Star; Donald M. Morse, Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Oak Leaf Cluster; and Earl R. Kingsley, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Oak Leaf Cluster. Numerous cameras recorded the scene, mine among them. Had a mission in the afternoon, took off at 3:30; on the way over Porter had trouble, so I took over the flight as top cover. The flight was without incident except that King and I both thought we saw two midget subs west of Mangrove Island. About 11:30 P.M. there was a Red Alert. Moore and I were walking around listening to Joe and wondering why the AA didn’t open up on him, when suddenly we heard the 
bombs falling. We took off for a trench so fast we scarcely heard the explosion. They hit about half a mile from camp. The best part was when Mac got up to go out, and Moore ran into him, knocked him flat on his face, walked all over him, and left him lying there n the dirt. Coming out of a sound sleep, Mac was in a fog for about 10 minutes, and we laughed at him for an hour. Received nine letters from Betty, besides a telegram. Also two letters from my mother.

Major Eck Sims

Excerpt from PROTECT & AVENGE p. 114

"By the end of January, Maj. Eck Sims had completed his tour and the Eightballs celebrated the CO's good fortune in being mustered out with a much deserved trip to the States. Sims would always be remembered for his irregular military manner, but he had proven himself to be one of the most competent flying commanders in Col. Wurtsmith's Fifth Fighter Command. Sims, the oldest flying fighter pilot in New Guinea, had presided over an operation of the oldest Warhawks flown in the 5 AF inventory, and yet, his 8 FS had posted 46 victories to date, and 28 of them had been gained under his leadership."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

George's Service Diary: Thurs. Jan. 14.

Thurs. Jan. 14. – On duty early, so up at 5:30, got to the line at 6:30. Had a patrol mission at 9:00, take-off at 8:30. Major Selman came down from Group; he wanted to go on a mission, so Maj. Sims led [Harold] Bud Learned’s flight and Maj. Selman led second element. An uneventful patrol, everyone got back and down with no mishaps. The weather was as clear as a bell over the mountains for a change. This was my first completed mission since the 7th, I believe.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

George's Service Diary: Wed. Jan. 13

Wed. Jan. 13 – Morning off, slept till 10:30, and got up hungry as a wolf. Went on duty about 1:00 when the other shift got back from a mission. Maj. [Eck] Sims took [Tom] Farley’s place in our flight, then took the lead. We were scheduled to take off at 3:30, but it was called off. Haven’t been on a completed mission for a week or more. When I set up in my assigned ship (53) the crew chief found a bad cut in the left tire. If I had tried to take off it would probably have blown out. Bellows was lucky it didn’t go out on him when he landed. Another letter from Betty tonight, no. 3, and she reports she has a bad cold. Poor kid, I’ll bet I know what would cure that. Of course, that letter was written the last of December, so she may be better by now, I hope. I’ll bet my name will really be mud when she finds I didn’t even mention 
today being our anniversary (11 months) but when her letter arrived I was so excited the anniversary slipped my mind until I had used up all my allotted space in my letter! So I decided to put it in my next letter, with profuse apologies and explanations. Up to date there has been absolutely no sign or news of [Dick] Dennis. He was lost on Dec. 18. While returning from a normal patrol, [Earl] Kingsley was leading the flight, and climbing for altitude to get over some bad weather. As he approached a hole in the clouds at about 18-20,000, he looked back and saw the last plane, losing altitude and heading toward Kokoda. King came on home, but Dennis did not arrive, and since that day, no sign of him has ever been found.

George's Service Diary: Tues. Jan. 12

Tues. Jan.12 – On alert this morning. Up early after a rainy night, and everything was so damp it fairly dripped. Everything except the showers; no water now for two whole days. A cruiser is in (the lights went out when the generator went on the blink, so continued next day) the harbor refueling and taking on water, so the whole Moresby area is short of water. Three letters from Betty tonight, nos. 50, 1, + 2. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard from her, and it was really fine to hear from her at last. I’d been wondering if she was sick or hurt ort something, and I was getting worried.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don "Porky" Morse

Don "Porky" Morse was a pilot in the 8th Fighter Squadron in the 49th Fighter Group. On August 23rd, 1942 Morse was awarded a single bomber kill while intercepting a bomber attack on Darwin. (Source: PROTECT & AVENGE: The 49th Figher Group In World War II)

St. Petersburg Times - November 18, 1942


George's Service Diary: Mon. Jan. 11

Mon. Jan. 11 – Another uneventful day. Had the morning off, slept till late, went on the alert at noon, with a mission scheduled for 3 o’clock. Got into our planes and had the motors started, ready to take off, when the call came that the mission was cancelled. So we went back to the shack on the hill, and sat around until 6:30, playing gin-rummy and reading. And it is a most uncomfortable shack. Just a hut built of poles, with a thatched roof, stuck way up on the side of a hill overlooking the runway. There are 4 or 5 canvas cots, and a couple of dirty old burlap hammocks. The enlisted men use it too, and make their coffee there. Package arrived from mother, containing puzzles, a harmonica, a pocket-knife, papers, a Reader’s Digest, candy, cards, and poker chips. A real nice present. Swapped my cigarette case to Morse for a tobacco pouch.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sun. Jan. 10

Sun. Jan. 10 – Our flight is on 15 min. reserve this morning, so we sit around at the officers’ mess. A most uneventful day, with only the usual patrol missions scheduled. Went down to the line after lunch to put an hour of slow-time on 57, but it wasn’t ready to go. We had a very poor supper; if it weren’t for bread and jam we would go mighty hungry sometimes. After supper some mail came in, principally packages, and surprise! I got a package from Stan and Jo. And what a package! A Dr. Grabow pipe, a pound tin of Kentucky Club, a box of La Frederick cigars, and a carton of Luckies. Really a swell surprise. Every one in the mess, at the sight of the cigars, immediately assumed I had become a father; most embarrassing! Numerous offers were received for my pipe, too, but no sale!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ernie Harris

Ernie Harris was a pilot in the 8th Fighter Squadron in the 49th Fighter Group. He became the first ace who recorded 10 victories on the P-40 in the Pacific [source]. Here is an artist rendering of his plane.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

George's Service Diary: Sat. Jan. 9

Sat. Jan. 9. – Supposed to have the morning off, but Ben Duke asked me to take his place at Fighter Sector while he attended the funeral of a friend of his who was killed in the recent crash of a B-17. So I went back to that old grind. Ben’s assistant was late to work, so I was on my own for the first hour, but no difficulty was encountered. Our boys, together with the 7th and some P-38’s went to Lae on the previously scheduled dive-bombing mission, and while I was on control, I could hear them checking their radios and chattering in a rather subdued manner. Eventually they all arrived back safely, reporting no enemy interference, but they rather failed in their object, which was to sink shipping in the bay. Most of them missed the boats, but Ernie Harris dumped his bombs amongst about 10 Zeros on the drome at Lae. Ben Duke came in to take over at about
9:30, so I took off. I wrote to Betty while on control, letting the trainee, Ball of the 9th, take over. On the way back to camp, I stopped at 7-mile drome to look at a B-24, the first one I’ve had a chance to look at closely. It certainly is a mammoth, compared to our little “bugs”. The “office” alone is nearly as big as the whole fuselage of our ships, and the bomb-bay could hold an entire P-40, disassembled. Then there is the rear compartment where the waist gunners sit, and lots of room to spare. And the tail turret is easily accessible. Nothing seems cramped, everything is on a grand scale, and it mounts 10 50-calibers as armament. Back to camp, where our flight was relieved for the afternoon, and I slow-timed 57 for one hour, buzzing four ack-ack pits while I was up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

George's Service Diary: Fri. Jan. 8

On duty to take the place of the boys who were in it yesterday. Scheduled to fly at 10:00, but weather cancelled it. Afternoon off, but a dive-bombing mission to Lae came up. Weather also cancelled it. Porter, having had some dive-bombing experience, joined the other shift for the mission. Funny how tense every one becomes when such a mission comes up. They know they’ll go through with it, no one will back out, but most of them would be thankful for a legitimate excuse not to go. Probably they remember Dickey and others who have gone down. The old boys in the 8th, that is, the boys from Darwin, have a most discouraging way of talking which undoubtedly makes a poor impression on someone who doesn’t know them. And I know that some of our new additions from Hawaii think me a chicken hearted. But all they need is to see us 

take off on a scramble once. In a pinch, we’re always on hand. It’s just that we don’t like some one who puts on a big bold front, pretending he’s so damned eager, when we know very well he’s just as scared as ony one. And every one is scared, make no mistake about that. Take “Porky” Morse, for example. He has 2 Zeros and a bomber to his credit, but every time an actual combat or strike mission is planned, his stomach gives him trouble. No reflection on his character, just that his nerves get the best of him. It’s something no one can help, and no one can ignore it, either. That is the reason that a fellow with a nervous temperament is not suited for combat flying. 

I wanna go home!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

George's Service Diary: Thur., Jan. 7

Thur. Jan. 7 On duty in the morning, tired as a dog; but up at 5:30, daylight about 6:30. Off at 6:40 to patrol Buna. Went over through a lot of weather but found Buna area so closed in with rain and low clouds we came back. My radio was out, so my ship was taken off when I got back. They found that loose spark-plug leads had been making the engine noise. Loafed around the shack till 10:40; off on another mission, completed. Flew no. 60, Capt. Johnson’s old ship, radio also out. Afternoon off. The other flights were suddenly given a mission to strafe a convoy in Lae harbor. On the way over, Capt. Wright’s ship went out, so he landed. The rest of the Group continued under Ernie Harris’ leadership. As they approached Lae above a layer of low strato-cumulus, they sighted Zeros above them, and in the ensuing mix-up, our boys

shot down 13 certainties, 1 probable and 2 damaged. Harris, E. got 3, Johns 1, White 2, Littleton 1, Jordan 1, Blakely 1, Kirsch 1, Day 2, Howard 1. Pretty good! The major was pretty happy about the whole thing, and gave the boys the next morning off. Dickey is missing, having bailed out near Salamaua. Howard landed at 30 mi. and Lynd at Kalamazoo.

Monday, February 15, 2010

George's Service Diary: Wed. Jan. 6

Had the morning off again, slept until 10:00. It rained during the night and early in the morning. One mission took off just before dinner. So we ate lunch and went down to wait for them to return. After setting up in our ships, we lay on our backs till 3:30, took off, climbed over an over an overcast to patrol Buna for 1 ¼ hrs. Landed at 5:50. After supper and a shower, settled down to a very quiet evening. It is rumored there is a lot of mail at Group, but none for me as yet. Will write to Betty again tomorrow.