- Off at 0900 headed for Gander in Newfoundland. Landing gear
horn blowing on take-off rather disconcerting, but later on OK. Landed
4:30 later at Gander after weather rain and sleet enroute, 3 hours
instruments. Little icing, but everything OK. Gander sure is the last
outpost. It is quite desolate here.
A few WAAC's
here, but other than them, women are a premium. Oh! yes, Joan Blondell
is here with USO troupe. She stays in our barracks. Shades of
civilization. War atmosphere is getting more prevalent the closer we
get to England. Not so very cold here yet. The "Newfies"
(Newfoundlanders) all seem to have false teeth. Lack of fresh-milk,
fruit and vegetables, they say. Lots of Canadians here. Have to get
used to traffic driving on left hand side of street.
Rained almost all day today postponing our Atlantic hop. Saw
"Across the Pacific" last nite. Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor. It was the
second time I had seen it, but then I had never seen a picture show in
Newfoundland. Typical American Army post theater - very nice. Maybe we
leave tomorrow. We have had all our briefings. Now we are waiting on
- Winds blowing from North. Field was closed all morning.
Ceiling and visibility zero. It was really socked in. Cleared a little
in late afternoon. Hop again called on weather. Food here not so bad.
We had Gander Turkey for lunch today. Somewhat like chicken. There is a
strong Westwind tonight maybe tomorrow nites the hop. Fellas played
pool and ping pong all day. Very nice Club here. Two pool tables and
two ping pong tables. Lots of books and magazines and of course a
bar. Drinks are fair - beer isn't so hot. "Moontide" on tonite,
but I had seen it so we just saw the Shorts prior to the main feature.
Most of the fellas are buying parkas - look like ski troopers now
rather than flyers.
It looked like we would leave today and Milt and I went
over to the Canadian weather station and they said it looked pretty
good. Later on word came that we couldn't be cleared on instruments so
it looks like we may be here for some time. The weather gets worse as
winter nears. It cleared up this afternoon and the sun was actually
out. The sky was completely clear in the evening and I saw one of the
most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The Northern Lights. They
stretched clear across the sky and all the fellas spent about an hour
with necks craned. It was the first time for many of us. There is a lot
of flying tonite, but I guess the weather over the ocean is not too
good. I won eight dollars playing blackjack, but lost it all again this
evening. Saw "Powder Town" at the theater. 427th Operations starts
-´Went on an 8 mile hike in the morning to Gander Lake
and back. While there we had a trip on the Lake in an $18,000 cruiser.
Coming back we stopped and operated some 3" anti-aircraft guns
installed near the field. Ease and rapidity of operation was a
surprise. Watched 40 mm. AA guns practice firing at sleeve towed by
Westland Lysander, a slow Br. observation and sea rescue plane. Back at
1200. Meeting at 1400. Nothing new. May leave tomorrow. In evening saw
"Saboteur" for second time. Oh! yes, won $10.00 playing blackjack in
evening. Maybe tomorrow we leave. Women, who were first Haints, are now
looking better. Fellas will probably be dating the Newfies soon. Haint,
incidentally, is a girl who could jump over two parked cars and run up
a thorn tree and never get a scratch. In other words a bag!
- Had our usual briefing at 1400 o'clock and we will leave
tonight. Went over the weather enroute and radio procedure and are
ready. It is raining now, but the weather after leaving is good all the
way with a 2000 ft. ceiling at Prestwick, Scotland. Went down to
operations at 1945 for meeting. First plane take-off at 2030, a B-24.
Take-off was postponed until 1200 due to R.A.F. pilot who was flying
over the field trying to spot it to land. Finally landed and all.
Planes were finally off by about 0100. Instrument take-offs were
necessary. I sighted my plane down the runway in line with lights,
zeroed by gyro and kept it straight by keeping gyro on zero. At 120 MPH
I pulled ship off ground. My elevator trim tab was rolled back too far
and my take-off was rather poor.
(A footnote : he and his crew were finally lost on January 22, 1943,
during their seventh mission over Lorient, France.)