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.