Dear Mom & Dad,
I’ve meant to write for the last two days , but its seemed as though every time I’ve gotten started, something has come up. It wasn’t any lack of things to write about especially since that last plane brought in your letters of Dec. 20th, 22nd, 2 for the 28th, 31st & Jan. 2 & 4th. That was a mail call deluxe. Received nine letters, seven of which were from you.
The weather has been bad in the area that were supposed to take pictures, so I’ve been taking advantage of the free time by playing soft ball & tennis & just generally soaking up the sun here. Course those malted milks & hamburgers also come under the heading of pleasure. This place has been so darn good so far, we can’t help but wonder if maybe they might take this time off of our leave time. Ha Ha
I think I’ll spend the next few paragraphs answering what ever questions you asked.
Evidently the kids thoroughly enjoyed being shown through a B-17. Reckon it did look kinda complicated. It’s surprising though, how simple most of that stuff becomes after you’ve been around it for a while. I don’t know why you didn’t ask more questions about it Dad. You probably would have had things explained to you that I’ll likely mention someday & you won’t have the slightest idea what I mean. The chances are, your questions wouldn’t have been much stupider than mine, or on my first visit in one.
That was quite a load you had in the car coming back from Selfridge. It’s a darn wonder that, that wasn’t about the time one of the tires would decide to go flat on the bottom.
No, I’ve never seen the picture that Mary Margaret sent you. You see, they were taken on Templehoff Airdrome there in Berlin, just before we took off. Of course they weren’t developed immediately, so I didn’t get to see how they came out. Just leave it hanging there, I’ll get a glance at it one of these days.
I thought I told you what the name of the plane was. If you’ll look you’ll see “half pint” also has a camera on her besides that bomb. (side margin: The crew chief painted it.) She was painted on, just about the time we started taking pictures, so we wanted to call her “photo-Jeannie”, but it’s the majors ship that I flew most of the time, so he named it half pint after his wife I guess.
Theres no use in writing about thinking about staying in. I think I’ve made it more than clear as to what my feelings are along that line. Just signed a statement yesterday, which said quote” I desire to be released from the service as quickly as possible,” end of quote. I do intend to try to keep a reserve commission though. Will explain all I know along that line when I get home & likely will know more about it by then than I do now anyway.
Thank you for the pictures. Would like you to send me a good picture of “Muggs.” I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned or not, but I have a lot of pictures, I’ve taken or picked up since I’ve been over here, that I’ll bring back with me. Such ones as aerial shots of Chelveston, St. Trond & this field here. Also one of Paris, all little odds and ends like that. Theres no sense in my sending them home, for I’ll have to explain what they’re all about for you to get much good out of them.
We have two areas more of pictures to take now, so we’ll be here for quite some time likely. Don’t hesitate on sending anything to me you want to at this apo.
I’ve come to the conclusion Mom that you’re taking some of my ups & downs a little too seriously, just by some of the answers I get back. Its been largely my fault for I’ve written just as I felt at the moment. Theres one thing you’ve got to understand about these gripes or “bitches.” As we call them in the Army. They’re just things that come up that go against your “grain”, some unjust too, but actually all they do is make you mad for the time being & give you something to think about, where otherwise, you’d likely only have your thumbs to twiddle spending that time. When you come down to the fine points of it all I’m actually happier because I’ve got something to be mad about, than I would be if there was nothing on my mind, which then wouldn’t be otherwise. Theres an old saying in the Army. “A “ bitching” Army is a happy one, but when theres none, theres trouble coming.” My troubles aren’t half as bad as I make them sound.
Don’t worry about me getting involved in any black market dealings. These currency control books have us hog-tied along that line. All we can possibly send home is what we make. As for my sending home all I make. All there is to buy 99% of the time over here, is your rations, which cost about $5 a month. I have enough back money on my currency control book to take care of that, so that actually I can send home as much as I make. I’m not going to be able to do that down here. These hamburgers, malted milk & occasional beer, along with souvenirs cost me a little extra. I’ll get paid 38,037 mal the 31st $319 & some cents to put it in English. Will likely send about $225 of that home for now.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned “Mout.” He’s my closed friend & companion. Hes a navigator on another crew & hails from Arkansas. Really a swell guy from all angles. We lived together at St. Trond & Lechfeld, but are separated here. Hes even gotten me to go to church occasionally. I think hes 27 & married. Unfortunately, not happily. His wife has cancer of the breast which makes it so that he doesn’t want to ask for a divorce. He gets pretty down hearted at the situation at times.
I’m saying nothing on this matter until something happens, but there seems to be fair possibilities that I’ll be home before the cards say I will at present.
Think I’ll ring off for this afternoon & get this in the mail.
Worlds of love,
P.S. I’m doing to to my gal friends, what happened (side margin: I mean they’re rapidly disappearing)to the 10 little Indians. Only have one left now.
Dad On my saying that you wrote sneeringly of the hunt on the Island, I’m sure you took me wrong. What I meant was that the way you wrote it, it seemed to me like you were just standing by waiting to put that sneak punch in, that you did get two deer. After I’d laughed so much at your missing that one & figuring you didn’t do so well after all. Still don’t know if I made it very clear?
“Half Pint” Becomes the “Pink Lady”
The following is an excerpt from the web site no longer in existence: www.305thbombgroup.com/The%20Yanks
Those arriving aircraft were intended as replacements having been exchanged with other nearby 1st Air Division Bomb Groups. This was all in readiness for the new peacetime role of photomapping, classified as mission ” Project Casey Jones”. Derek at the time was also beginning to take a few photographs himself, using a simple Box Brownie camera. It is thought that he was helped to do this by his American friends and perhaps even have them developed on the base itself using the 305th Bomb Group photographic lab.
One of the most exciting discoveries made from the sketchbook and the few photographs taken at that time, was the true identity of a plane many of us now today and often seen on the European air show circuit; B-17G 44-8846 ‘Pink Lady’. This is the Flying Fortress currently operated from Paris, as their personal tribute to all those that lost their lives flying in the 8th Air Force during WW2.
Upon a chance meeting in 2004 at the annual 305th BGMA reunion, between 305th members and representatives of the operators of ‘Pink Lady’ in Paris, it was determined that their B-17G was in fact a previously used plane of the 305th, and had been carrying the nickname ‘Half Pint’. The records from Derek’s work matched up with known arrivals from the 351st over at Polebrook; including the very same machine during May 1945. 448846 DS-M had been an exchange aircraft, carrying PFF H2X radar, and had been drawn and photographed by Derek once it arrived at Chelveston that same month. It is assured that she may have been carrying the nose art ‘Half Pint’ on arrival from Polebrook and during the few weeks at Chelveston she would be stripped of all her wartime equipment, armour plating, turrets and guns, and made ready for the new photomapping mission prior to the 305th transiting across to St. Trond in Belgium. Like many of his previous sketches, Derek had ade several notations whilst drawing the nose art of this particular plane, which included that it came from triangle ‘J'(Polebrook) plus the all-important last three digits, 846. It is believed without a doubt by those within the 305th today that 44-8846 had indeed arrived with this nickname, upon the starboard side of the nose, because there would have been little time for such rather complicated artwork to have been painted by the men of the 305th. They were after all, concentrating more on reconfiguring the many B-17’s coming into Chelveston during the hectic few weeks for their new task, and the idea of spending valuable time painting fancy lady’s upon noses of B-17’s was perhaps least of their priorities. Having said this, the 305th records also show that the 365th Squadron pilot that took over 44-8846 from the end of May, and flew her for many months whilst operating from St. Trond, had originally flown a Chelveston based B-17 also named ‘Half Pint’ so called in memory of his then girlfriend back home. So, there remains a mystery in that perhaps the newly arrived 44-8846 might have been named in honour of the plane it replaced. Either way, the sketches have proved to be a hotly debated talking point between the 305th BGMA and the guys that currently operate ‘Pink Lady’ in Paris…………………………………...To read more click on the following photos below.