Oct. 19, 1945: First Nite Landing in B-17

 

October 19, 1945

Oct. 19, 1945

St. Trond, Belgium

Dear Mom & Dad,

Reckon while I have a free after noon here, better get a letter off to you. Don’t think I’ve written for nearly a week & I wouldn’t call that good.

Your letters are coming through very slowly again. Haven’t had a word since the one telling of Jerries death.

Theres no really good reason for my not writing more lately except I just couldn’t seem to get in the mood to get one started. I tried all yesterday afternoon to sit down & write & I ended up without starting a word to anyone.October 19, 1945 Page 1

Flying is pretty slow now. I’ve flown the most of anybody & that’s only 9 times so far this month. Flew as 1st pilot down to Munich a couple of days ago. Couldn’t’ take off till sunset down there so got in a little nite time on the way back. Made a couple swell landings. Lucky stiff that I am. That was the first time, I believe that I ever made a nite landing in a B-17. Then to think I made a grease job on my first try. Had 5000# of oxygen bottles on board to.

That was the first time my roommate & good friend of mine, a navigator, ever flew with me. Course that gave him the impression I was pretty hot at flying one of those things.

I’m sending $150 home before the end of the month & will send anotehr $150 the first of next. The way I see it now I still should have $100 left. Have $300 & better on me now & of course will get around $135 at the 1st of the month. I can’t send the entire $300 now for I’m only allowed to send $150 each month.

As you see I enclosed a few more pictures. This time I am in most of them. Sorta spoils the scenery I reckon, but what done is done.

You tell Bob I’ve written them at least twice that I know of & I answered their last letter, which if you’ll remind them, they sent to me some time ago.

The news still seems to be the same about going home. On or before the 15th of Dec. Financially speaking I have a notion to stay in for another 18 mos. I’m afraid my reason for getting out, outweighs those for my staying in though.

As I said, haven’t been doing much. Went up to Hasselt a couple of times this last week to see the gal up there but thats about all. Had a letter from the gal in London saying she was fed up with my not being able to get over there, so she’s coming to Ostend some time before the end of the month to see me. Oh my! Still haven’t heard from Diane for a heck of a while.

Think I’d better sign off for today & get that letter written to Mae. Still owe it yet. Bye & I’ll be seeing you. I hope soon!

Worlds of love,

Dick

What’s Happening

Excerpt from Richard Warren’s Autobiography

My first assignment, as 1st Pilot, was to take a crew and fly down to Munich, Germany and pick up 50 to 60 Oxygen bottles (you know, those heavy green ones, about 4 feet long).  I guess the Group was getting a little low, with all of the high altitude aerial photo missions we were flying.

We landed, coincidently at Furstenfeldbruk, where we would later be transferred to from St. Trond in Belgium. 

It was late in the afternoon, when we were finally loaded–the B-17 wasn’t really equipped to haul things like that.  Our heading back, took us over the Black Forrest area of Germany–the weather was good, so I flew at low altitude, (200 to 300 ft)  so we could see what the area looked like. 

It was solid, evergreen forest with gentle rolling hills–so I followed the terrain–up and down the hills and valleys.  It was dark by the time we got back from Germany, so I had to make a nite landing.  I don’t think I had ever made a nite landing in the B-17 and probably hadn’t made a nite landing, since Advance flying School.

I found out from the tower, my landing instructions –I think I was to land on runway 250 (runways are usually numbered the same as the compass heading).  As I made my approach, for some reason, I almost hypnotized myself staring at that number on the end of the runway–fortunately I realized what I was doing before it was too late–I pulled back on the wheel–apparently at the right instant–and “greased” it in!!  (Remember–it’s better to be lucky!!!)  

Incidentally, the next day, my crew chief showed me a bullet hole in our wing.  Apparently, someone had taken a shot at us as we flew low over the Black Forrest area!!

Belgium Girls

I’ve already told you how much better our living quarters were–well–so was our dining area.  We had table cloths–the works!–get this–we also had waitresses!!  Belgium girls, from the local area!  The only problem with  that was, we were only supposed to have one helping– remember –I’m still a “growing boy!”

That problem was easily overcome, for by making sure you had the same waitress each time and an occasional candy bar or pack of gum, it was easy to get seconds –even thirds, if you wanted.  My waitress was a real nice person, but she was built like one of Notre Dame’s Middle Guards.  I’m sure she out weighed me, by  50 to 75 lbs. 

Laundry wasn’t much of a problem either (we had no Base laundry) for the Local women eagerly did a beautiful job of not only washing, but also ironing our uniforms and other clothes.  The price??–usually 2 packs of cigarettes and maybe, occasionally, a candy bar or pack of gum. All of these items were practically non-existent for the European Public at that time, but readily available to us at the PX.

Cigarettes cost us 5 cents a pack and we assigned a value of 50 cents a pack, for barter purposes!  I think, we assigned 25 cents to a candy bar or a pack of gum.  Everybody was happy!! Like today, after a couple of months, inflation raised its ugly head!  The women doubled their laundry price!!  Guess what?–we doubled the price of a pack of cigarettes, gum and candy!!  Everybody was” happy” again!!???

 

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