By Don Allen
Those words are part of the opening written by Tech Sergeant Donald Chase of the 44th Bomb Group, the “Flying Eight-Balls”, in his record of the 28 combat missions he was on, available on our Digital Archives here. Our online Archives are filled to the brim with such diaries and memoirs, which too often are forgotten about in the recitation of battles and outsized personalities of World War II.
The memoir is relatively simple, as he records the date of each of his 28 missions accompanied by a synopsis of each mission that was written by Will Lundy, followed by his personal reflections. Some are short, no more than a paragraph or two. Others are long, taking up a page or more.
However, while in a simple form, the T/Sgt’s memories and descriptions help bring a personal feeling to what can otherwise typically be a rather “sanitized” description of a bombing mission given in most books and records of the war.
For example, his memories of Mission 9, while short, are particularly vivid, as the T/Sgt describes “Hunkering low as possible, but still able to observe E/A [Enemy Aircraft] anywhere from 9 through 3 o’clock, I watched the red wink-wink-wink of German 20 mm cannon fire and heard our responding .50’s”.
After his 15th mission, the T/Sgt described the time-off in between missions, when a “Liberty-run” to Norwich in “canvas-topped trucks full of GI’s” was allowed:
“Generally, the Americans were well-recieved by the English. However, some GI’s thought the English were unfriendly and snobbish. Usually they were the same ones who complained about England’s wartime shortages and stridently boasted of America’s ‘superior’ advantages and products. Had the situation been reversed, I wondered, would Americans have been as tolerant and sharing as the British?”
His 28th and final combat mission description ends with:
“So, after 28 missions of varying intensity and the loss of many friends, I was through with combat.
And I wished that nobody, anywhere, ever had to go to war again”.
Powerful words from a man with first-hand experience. Thank you Tech. Sergeant Chase, both for your service and your memories.