Journey

Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and it's getting harder. But then sometimes it happens in unexpected ways and suddenly, we are living the dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important so much as the journey along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

janineharrington53@gmail.com







Monday, 19 February 2018

HONOURING 'BEAST OF BOURBON', B-24 BOMBER, 36th BS, 8th AIR FORCE

'Beast of Bourbon', B-24 Bomber, 36th Bomb Squadron, 8th Air Force, U.S.A.A.F.
Photograph courtesy Iredell Hutton Collection

FINAL MISSION

February 19, 1945

by Des Howarth: Navigator, B-24 Bomber,
36th Bomb Squadron, 8th Air Force, U.S.A.A.F.

Ironically, this densely foggy English morning on which I was supposed to complete my tour of duty as a Navigator with the 36th Bomb Squadron, the weather was far worse - instrumental flying only - than the day before when we'd had only clouds, but we'd had to abort. I was seated on the bench behind our Pilot, Mac McCarthy, as was customary during take-off. Unfortunately, the new Navigator, who I was supposed to check out on his first mission, decided he'd remain in the tail section till we were airborne.

Because both the Navigator's and Front Gunner's positions on the B-24 bomber in which we were flying were in the nose section and thus highly vulnerable during take-off, we usually remained on the large flight deck until the aircraft had obtained some altitude. However, on this occasion, we didn't gain any altitude. Whatever the cause, we never really got off the ground; our 'Beast of Bourbon' just collided with Mother Earth and churned up the ground for what to me seemed an eternity.

On the flight deck I bounced around with the Radio Operator and Flight Engineer, both of whom also were stationed there; until the aircraft came to a halt. I remember calling to McCarthy to 'cut the switches' to avoid possible fire, but he had already done so. He and our new Co-Pilot who was getting a check-out ride were fortunately unhurt. Howard Hailey, the Front Gunner, who had been standing behind me, was tragically thrown into the bomb bay and killed on impact. Waist Gunners Lindquist and Becker riding in the rear of the aircraft met the same fate. Lt Foreman, who was Lt. Victor Pregeant's Navigator and flying with the crew to get his pilot's check ride from Lt. McCarthy at the time; suffered a broken hip, and was laid up over six months. He never did get to fly any mission before war ended.

In spite of the encumbrance of our heavy flight suits, the five of us on the flight deck pulled ourselves up and out of the top hatch, dropping to the soft ground ten feet below, and scrambling to safety in a nearby ditch. While our plane carried no bombs, it did carry hundreds of rounds of ammunition since we had five gun positions on 'The Beast'.

Evidently, I was the only one of the surviving crew who suffered any injury. It was only a dislocated shoulder - not qualifying for a 'Purple Heart' since it wasn't received at the hands of the enemy. I was given credit for the mission, meaning I had finished my Tour (300 combat hours required). I had 296, but would have been out of action until VE Day anyhow. I stayed in the Base hospital only a day or two before being sent north to join hundreds of other aircrew being sent back to the States after completing their Tours. Actually, I remember little of the time between being discharged from hospital until reaching my disembarking Base in Lancashire. Ironically, I believe this was the time when my Cheddington Base was being moved to Alconbury.

After one more week in England, I finally boarded the U.S. West Point to sail home to Newport News, Virginia. From there, it was on to Ft Sheridan where I got a three-weeks Leave before reassignment to Santa Ana. Because of the crash, I was sent to Ft. George Wright for R and R (rest & recuperation), which was the best assignment in my Service career ... and then, because of V-J Day, I went next to Santa Ana and honorable discharge. It was just in time for me to again return home and re-enroll at the University of Michigan where I graduated a year later.

(I had originally enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in January 1943. After receiving a Commission as a Navigator in December, I was sent to England where I had the opportunity to transfer to the U.S. Army Air Corp. In June 1944, I began my tour of duty with the 36th Bomb Squadron, a secret outfit of about a dozen planes, doing Radar reconnaissance from Cheddington Air Force Base just south of London. Our planes contained no bombs. We jammed enemy signals with electronic devices ...


The 36th Bomb Squadron (today, continuing to operate under its true title: 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron) lived and worked alongside RAF 100 Group. Both carried secret, specialised equipment in their aircraft designed to identify and jam the enemy. Flying deep into the heart of Germany it was dangerous work, especially when flying day and night operations, and when they flew above the bombers as their 'Angels in the Skies'. They were so secret, the main force never even knew they were there!

Today, we need to honour and respect their memory ... both the 36th Bomb Squadron as it was known then, although in truth they carried no bombs; and RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group, made up of Squadrons of dedicated men and women based on built-for-purpose airfields in Norfolk, England.


Further information is available through:

'Squadron of Deception', by Stephen Hutton, Schiffer Publishing,
'RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits', by Janine Harrington, Austin Macauley,
'RAF 100 Group - The Birth of Electronic Warfare', by Janine Harrington, Fonthill Media.

Stephen and I remain passionate that the history and stories of these people who did so much to turn the war around towards a successful defeat of the enemy, be preserved that their legacy live on.


We WILL Remember Them!




Wartime crest of 36th Bomb Squadron, 8th Air Force, U.S.A.A.F.

Cheddington Base of 36th Bomb Squadron




In Memory of Aerial Gunners S/Sgt Carl Lindquist, Pvt Fred Becker, Pvt Howard Haley
Honouring the 36th Bomb Squadron RCM Unit,
based at Cheddington Station
&
Pilot 1st Lt. Louis J. McCarthy and his crew
who crashed after take-off due to instrument failure
in which three crew members perished
in their 'Beast of Bourbon' B-24 Liberator


 My thanks as always to Stephen Hutton for his help and support in bringing this wartime episode together, and to the writings of veteran Des Howarth (Navigator) who gave his permission to include them.









No comments:

Post a Comment