Category Archives: Chelveston, England

July 19, 1945: Trip From Savannah

July 19, 1945 Envelope

July 19. 1945

England

 

 

Dear Mom & Dad,

Not much to say tonite but a little news I presume is even better than none at all.

Theres not a darn thing I can write about around here tonite for various and asundry reasons. You know I can’t write about my flying, other than that I am , can’t write about my 48 hr. passes now, for we don’t get any. We’re restricted to the base so I can’t write about going to town & things are in such a turmoil out here I can’t say anything about that. Am in the best of health though. Oh yes, the weather is cooler & occasional showers.

I’ll tell about my trip over a little more in detail now. We took off from Savannah about  9:a.m. March the 9th. Followed the airways up across Raleigh N.C., Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston & all the other big towns on the east coast. Called in for instructions & we’re  sent to Grenier Field, N.H. instead of Banger, Maine where we started out for. Got in there around 4:30 p.m. Got our quarters & meals & settled down for the nite. Got various equipment the next day & generally fooled around bowling & etc, stocking up on candy & what have you.July 19, 1945 page 1 of the letter written by Dick Warren, a WWII B-17 pilot

I think it was the next morning, as I was walking by the hospital, I decided to get some cold tablets to cure my cold. You know the results of that. Got out the 14th & immediatley got myself a Dnif(duty not involving flying) so that I could go into town that nite. Got on dnif for 48 hrs. so 7 of us went into town. Had a big time. Women galore & no men. We started in at one end of the main drag & had 9 girls by the time we got to the other end. Had a steak supper, a couple of drinks & got back to the post at midnite. Fooled around the post the next day & somewhere around 8:30 or 9:00 of the 16th, took off for Goose Bay, Labrador. Its mighty pretty country up through there, but man I’d hate to have to walk out if we were forced down. Didn’t see over a half dozen towns or settlements all the way up. Especially across the St. Lawrence. Got in then some time in the afternoon & it was down right chilly. The snowbanks were from 6 to 12 ft high & all that could be seen of the cedars & evergreen was about 5 ft of the tops.

We had parkas by that time & we really needed them. We went to the show that nite & then just killed the next day fooling around & looking the place over. There was nothing to see but the doorways & the roofs of the buildings. They got us up about 1 the next morning & took off about 3. It was really cold that morning & starting to snow pretty steadily. Side margin: (only 4 ships out of about 70 made it out that morning) We flew on instruments for about an hr. & a half before we broke out & we were about to the coast out then, on our way to Greenland, picked up the beam from Greenland after about an hr. out & we just followed that in. We had it flying on auto pilot & at one time every cussed one of us in the airplane asleep. Lyle & I would wake up every so often, listen to the beam, find we were still on course & go back to sleep again. We had a solid undercut all the way across the water & it broke up just as we hit Greenland.

Had to go up a fiord to get to the field & it was right in line with the beam. So after calling in, we let down to about 2000’ ft & flew up it, mountain peaks on both sides & the visibility was perfect. After rounding a couple of bends came to the field & theres only one way to land there & thats up hill. The runway starts right at the edge of the water. You have to make it the first time, for the mountains on both sides are too high & too steep to get theses big ships over them again if you miss. Anyway we landed o.k. & were quartered for the nite.

Didn’t take off the next day so we spent it playing nickel & dime poker (picked up about $60. Had quite a wind the following day & couldn’t leave, so we went ice skating in the valley in back of the field that leads up to the glacier. I of course skated all over the place & had a good time. Played poker again that nite (picked up $10).

Had bad weather again the next day, windy as the devil. Some Limey’s I’d made friends with were take a Lancaster up for a test hop so I went along (forgot my parachute). Really got a good look of the place that time. The ice cap, all the glaciers, fiords, mts. It was really beautiful. Skated again that afternoon & played poker again that nite (won $12)

We took off about 8 the next morning, flew directly across the ice cap to Iceland. Got in darn near dusk at Meeks Field. What a lousy place. All mud & rock & you go from place to place by rock to rock. The wind blew about 75 miles an hr. while we were there so a great time was had by all.

Had a couple of meetings the next day & then spent the rest of the time looking the camp over. Some got tired of that & played poker again that nite. They woke us up soon after we went to bed & long before daylight we were on our way to dear old England.

Will continue this in the next issue. Nite

Lots of love,

Dick

P.S. Am sending $100, look for it in the near future. Its already on its way.

July 18, 1945: Get There In 2 Or 3 Years

July 18, 1945 Envelope

July 18, 1945

Chelveston, Eng.

 

 

Dear Mom, Dad & Sis,

I presume beyond a shadow of doubt, that the Sis is correct, or it should be by the three letters I’ve gotten in the last three days. Got Johnnies first.

Hows it seem to be home again Sis? Don’t tell me for I really don’t want to know. You can tell me how you felt when I get there 2 or 3 years from now.July 18, 1945 page 1 letter written by Dick Warren a B-17 pilot

Have been flying pretty steadily as per usual. Have well topped the 50 hr. mark for this month. I’m going to be even busier for the next two weeks so you likely won’t hear much from me. Let you know what its all about in a few days.

Got Johnnies letter about 4 days ago telling of putting you on the boat, Sis then got your letter mailed form Seattle, yesterday & finally the Folks letter about the phone call today. Doggone you don’t know how much I wish I could have been there when you arrived & could still be there for that matter. Haven’t seen you for over two years. Do you realize that. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be bald headed. Kinda hard to believe I suppose. Its damn awful thin though.

Yup I worked in those onions a long time. Sis can tell you more about the exact minutes that I worked than I can likely.

Will drop Harry a line tonite if I get a chance. Have to go to a meeting of all officers in a minute to get the latest “poop from the group.” Will drop Johnnie a line too if I can stand to write that much in one nite.

Nope I didn’t celebrate the 4th in London. They changed our pass date so I was down then the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd instead of 2nd, 3rd, & 4th, I should be on pass now, but they were all canceled about 4 or 5 days ago.

Thats Bert who is in to get the M.M. degree the 19th isn’t Dad? The way you put it, I can’t be sure.

As to this being interesting work. I wouldn’t go so far to to say that. Pretty darn repititious except for the territory covered.

Never have watched a cricket match, though I’ve seen them playing it from a distance several times.

Guess I’d better close for tonite. It’s time to go to that meeting. Don’t expect too many letters for a few days.

Lots of love,

Dick

P.S. Please excuse this writing for its worse than ever. Nothing to write on but the bed again.

 

July 11, 1945: Pitot Tube

July 11, 1945 Envelope

July 11, 1945

England

 

 

Dear Mom & Dad,

Its been quite a while since I last wrote but have really been too busy & too tired to get around to it. We’ve flown the last 6 days & the only reason we aren’t up today is because the birds are walking.

We’ve been gettng up any time from 1 A.M. till 4 to fly. By the time we get back from a 4 to 8 hr. flight, we just haven’t the ambition to do more than eat & hit the hay. Yesterday we got up at 1 & didn’t get back till 2 in the afternoon. By 3:30 I layed down & didn’t move till 7 this morning. That’ll give you some idea of how tired I was.July 11, 1945 letter written by Dick Warren, a B-17 pilot during WWII

That ride yesterday was really some trip. We didn’t take off till 5:30 because of fog & then could only see about 1/4 of the the runway at a time. Took off with the pitot tube cover on, thats the tube that gives us our air speed. We’d just started to run down the runway when we noticed it. Didn’t know whether to take off or not then but finally made up our minds to. The second we were off of the ground, we had to go on instuments because of the fog & of course we still had nothing to tell us how fast we were going.

We got above the fog & then the engineer, Kandarian, broke a window & got the cover off so we were all set then. Started for the continent & just as we hit the French coast ran into a big thunderstorm. it was rough as the devil in it, then it started to snow & sleet, the lightning was flashing & all of a sudden we heard bang, bang, crash, boom. Didn’t know what was going on for a minute. Lo & behold the pr. of pants they’d stuck in the window to plug up the hole had come loose & one of the legs was banging up & down against the side of the ship. We turned around & got out of the storm & circled around it then. Flew on through all kinds of showers & clouds & finally accomplished , believe it or not, what we started out to do.

On the way back it was so darn cloudy, I decided to go underneath the stuff. Broke out of it about 200 feet above the ground over Belgium & thats how we came back raining or misting all the way. Then to top it off the darn wind shield wipers broke just as we were about to land. We landed with Lyle looking, or trying to out ahead & me looking out the side. I guess they we starting to worry about us for everybody else came back about 4 hrs. earlier & they knew we took off without any airspeed. There was only one other ship besides us that accomplished what they started out to do, the rest turned back.

Still no ride with the Major. I’m really getting disgusted.

Got a nice picture from Diane yesterday. I guess its about 3×4. Shes really a pal. Wrote to me all the time I didn’t write. Said she knew I’d answer as soon as I could.

Sis must be at least on her way home now. You know I haven’t heard from either you or her for several days again. Good thing my gal in London writes once in a while or I’d never get any mail.

Think I’d better drop a line to Diane now. Think I’ll write T.R. too. As soon as I hear about Sis will either write to her or Johnnie depending on whos still out there.

Bye for now.

Worlds of love,

Dick

What’s Happening

Excerpt From Richard Warren’s Autobiography

There was one photo mission, I particularly remember flying, while we were still in England. It was a typical London Fog morning–you could hardly see you hand in front of your face.  It was just past daylight, but still relatively dark on the ground, because the fog was so thick.  We were supposed to go to Switzerland and photograph part of it that day.  There were about 12  planes assigned to that area and as the fog was expected to burn off by noon, we decided to make what for most practical purposes was an instrument take-off.  I started rolling down the runway for take off–you could only see one runway light at a time–when my Flight Engineer, who usually read my airspeed off to me, said, “Lt (he probably said Dick), we don’t have any airspeed!!”  I knew we were going fast enough and far enough, already, to have indicated airspeed, so I knew what had happened–the pitot tube was plugged, some way or another!   Because of the fog, I couldn’t be sure exactly where we were on the runway, but I knew we were picking up speed and that when we got up to flying speed–the plane would fly, whether the airspeed indicator said anything or not!  We shortly lifted off, but to be certain that we had enough speed for climbing, I held the nose down for a couple of minutes.  About that time, I saw the water tower go zipping by us on my left (I’d completely forgotten about it), so I decided I’d better head for altitude–it could be a short flight–if I stayed that close to the ground!!  We broke out of the fog bank at about 2500 ft and into the sunshine!  I immediately called the tower and told them what our problem was–they asked what we were going to do??  There was no way we could land again, with that fog, so I told them we were going on and would figure out something!!   Checking the pitot tube, which was in front of and down below my left–near the Bombardiers area–sure enough, nobody had removed the pitot tube cover.  (Don’t ask– for I don’t remember who was supposed to remove it–it makes no difference now!!)   Down close enough so that one could reach out and remove the pitot tube cover, was a small, narrow window–during combat, a .50 caliber machine gun was mounted thru it–in fact, some of the supports were still there–anyway, the window was only about 4″ wide and maybe 20″ high–so we decided to see if we could bust it out!  It worked!!  The flight engineer reached out and removed the pitot cover–so now we at least our air speed indication!—the only problem, as the window was near the nose, the wind really whistled thru and at altitude–it would be darn cold!!  What to do??  We finally decided to try to stuff it with a pair of our heavy flying pants and flying coveralls–it worked!!–so we tied them off to the supports–just in case!   All was now well–so we started a slow climb as we headed for the Alps.

Over the North sea, we ran into a “deck” of stratus clouds and found that it was getting thicker faster than we were climbing.  No problem–we just went on instruments!   When they had briefed us that morning, we were told that there was a “weak” cold front over France–but no problem!  As we flew on,  I noticed it was getting darker and darker–before I knew what was happening, we were suddenly–obviously in the middle of a thunderstorm!!  It was really tossing us up and down–so much so, that I had to put down our landing gear and flaps, so as to slow our airspeed down to give me more control of the plane.  It wasn’t unusual to find us losing 1 or 2 thousand feet, with the plane in a climbing attitude or just the opposite, ie. gaining altitude with the nose pointed down!  About the time, we seemed to be getting the plane a little more under control–right in front of my face and plane–flashed!!!! a bolt of lightning!!–no more that 50 feet away!   Instantly, there was not only a brilliant flash of light!–but immediately followed by the BOOM!! of the thunder and a bang! crash! bang! crash! and on and on!!–of the coveralls, still tied to the inside of the plane but now beating against the outside, just below me.  I can only guess,  but figure that the air rushing back into where the lightning had flashed thru, sucked the coveralls out!  Within seconds, there was more than one of the crew on the intercom asking, “Shall we bail out”??–“Shall we bail out”??  I quickly told them what had happened and that everything was O.K.  By this time, we were out of the storm, so we pulled the coveralls back in–stuffed them back in the hole and continued on our way!  Within a few minutes, we broke out of the clouds and there in front of us was the Alps, without a cloud in sight!!

So we proceeded to take our pictures–it was beautiful!!  We were flying East to West, so generally we were flying parallel with the line of peaks— we could look down on the snow covered peaks  and  into the green valleys on both sides below.   At one point, the Navigator said, “Whoa! What happened??”  Although we were flying a straight line, all of a sudden he discovered that a town that was supposed to be “dead” ahead of us, was instead about 10 miles to our left!!  There obviously was a “bust” in the existing maps!!  Most picture taking missions were from 3 1/2 to 5 hours over the target area and as the trip from England to Switzerland was a pretty good trip in itself, it was about mid afternoon when we started back.  This time, I kept our altitude until we got back past the front and flew around any thunderheads that were higher than we were.   After I had pretty much let down, I had the radio operator call the Base and give them our position and ETA.  They quickly responded with obvious relief for most of the other eleven planes, after “hitting” the front, had done a “one eighty” and returned to base and the last time they had heard from us–we had a problem!!  They were already in the process of putting together a search and rescue mission to try to find us!!   As my crew was the only one that was productive (took pictures) that day, I didn’t even catch heck for breaking out that window!!

July 5, 1945: Up to Glasgow

July 5, 1945 Envelope

July 5, 1945

England

 

 

Dear Mom & Dad,

Another short one before I go to bed. Have to get up at 5:15 & that comes pretty early.

We were up to Glasgow today. Flew our liberty run up there. Had time to be in town for about three hrs. & look it over a little bit. Thats where I got this paper.July 5, 1945 Letter written by Dick Warren flying a b-17 during WWII

I looked all over that town Dad for a birthday card for you & I couldn’t find a darn one that seemed right. Happy Birthday anyway Dad! I sure hope we can spend your next one together. You know I’m slowly but surely catching up to you. Next year I’ll be just half your age.

Got three letters from you when I returned from my 48. 7 letters all together, the most mail I’ve seen in a long time.

I didn’t see a darn soul I know while I was in Iceland Dad. I still have the first one to see that I know from home.

I hadn’t forgotten that I had 1 year or that gold bar. Am saving up for a real celebration after I get two years on it.

I don’t know where either Anderson or Van are. Haven’t seen Van since Savannah. I heard he got over here o.k. but thats all.

I think Johnnie was a darned fool myself for not taking a discharge while he could.

Wade & I keep our stuff(clothes) on a long iron pole held up by a couple of straps at each end. Incidently it hangs directly over my bed. Only my head really has any clearance. Then I have two drawers, a trunk & millions other items scattered & hung up over the room. Have a hard time closing drawers & I can’t the trunk.

Still no ride with the Major. I’m getting ready to tell him to (stick it)sorry but thats what I mean.

Sure wish I could have been with you on that weiner roast Dad. Ummm We get hot dogs occasionally but you can just barely eat them. I’m afraid deer hunting is going to be out this year unless its done in Germany. They tell me theres quite a few where we’re going. I’ll have a try at it. You can bet on that.

Think I’d better close for tonite for we have another try at #3 tomorrow, but early.

Nite for now.

Lots of love,

Dick

What’s Happening

Excerpt From Richard Warren’s Autobiography

The Commanding General, over our Bomb Group, in his “inestimable” judgment, “volunteered” our Group for a Top Secret Mission (Project Casey Jones)–to photograph all of Europe–up to the “Iron Curtain”– all lands bordering on the Mediterranean Sea –and Africa, where it bordered the Atlantic, down to Liberia.  They stripped all the guns and gun turrets off of the planes and mounted an aerial camera in the belly of the ship.  At least, with the guns and turrets off, the plane flew faster—not the 150 mph that had been combat speed.  I believe we tried to maintain about 185mph while taking pictures and in some of the planes you could get 210/215 mph flying straight and level.  All aerial flights were at 25,000 ft or better–for example, I think that when photographing the Alps, we flew at 32,000 ft.  Each flight line was about 1 1/2 miles apart—up to 150 miles long—there couldn’t be over 10% cloud coverage.  In addition, when taking pictures, we couldn’t deviate over 50 ft in altitude, or make a heading correction of over 3 degrees at a time.  As can be seen, we were always on oxygen and for all practical purposes, were doing instrument flying most of the time.  We’d fly on the automatic pilot as much as we could, but often they wouldn’t hold to the tight tolerances that we had to maintain. (They weren’t made or maintained  quite as “good” in those days).  I know that very few of you that read this will ever fly using oxygen nor pilot a plane on instruments–but believe me, it takes intense concentration to hold within those limits and as a consequence, is very tiring.  I know, there were many times, when I’d get back from a flight–decide to take a nap and never wake up until the next morning! 

With the restriction on cloud coverage, you never knew, from day to day where you might be sent next in Europe to photograph–one day it might be Norway or Denmark and the next day–Switzerland or southern France.  The weather men did their best to  send us to an area that they thought should be clear—it didn’t always work, and even though you might have an alternate area–it too, sometimes ,would be too cloudy to photograph!  Of course, there were many days that the weather, all over, was just too messed up to fly–period!   There was one other problem, besides weather that we had–that was the “Iron Curtain”.   I never experienced  this myself, but I heard that others, that flew beyond the “Iron Curtain” were fired at by Russian fighter planes or tried to be forced down in Russian territory.  As a consequence, if our flight line, took us up to the “Curtain”, we were under orders not to cross it but instead make a 180 degree turn–fly to the west end of the next line and fly that one.  As you can see, normally, when we had finished a flight line, we would continue on for another few minutes, make a 180, of a mile and a half, and take pictures on the way back on the next one!   I didn’t always obey those orders, but instead, would fly into Russian territory at the end of the first flight line and take pictures on the adjacent one on the way back—my reasoning??–first of all, we were at 25,000 ft or higher and the old piston (propellor) planes couldn’t climb like the jets of today–so I figured I could get in and out before they could get to my altitude.  The third flight line, I would turn back at the “curtain”, for having been in and out of the territory, an hour or less before, I thought they might be waiting for me that time. Anyhow, it worked, and I never had a problem!

 

July 4, 1945: Home in a Year or Two

July 4, 1945 Envelope

July 4, 1945

England

 

Dear Mom & Dad,

This is going to be just a short note, really short, tonite for I want to go into town at 6:30 & its 5:30 now. Want to eat in between there somewhere. Continue reading