D-Day Remembered

My teenage grandson has never evidenced the slightest interest in my military career, my war experiences, nor, in fact, anything about my past. So it was quite a surprise when he asked me to write him a letter “about the most exciting day you can remember in WWII.” He explained that it was for his Grade 10 history class; an essay he was required to write. Oh.

I didn’t have to rummage around much in my memory chest to answer the question. A 1944 strike that the 344th mounted out of station 169, Stansted, England, the 68th mission that we flew against the Germans, was by far my most momentous, and it was THIS that I chronicled for him.

At the time I was Deputy Commander of the 344th. We had been hitting ammo dumps, marshaling yards and bridges all that Spring as part of the effort to soften up Fortress Europe, as Herr Hitler called it.

I was awakened at 2:30 am by the duty-orderly bringing me a black, steaming hot cup of welcome coffee, and the unwelcome greeting: “It’s pouring and blowing, Pretty lousy, sir.” It always seemed to me that John relished these sadistic opportunities to roust out the brass, something to gloat over later in the mess hall.

I had been thoroughly briefed on this highly secret strike by the planners at 9th Air Force Headquarters the week before, and now gathered my briefing materials from the safe in the briefing Quonset to get ready for the 54 aircrews that would come straggling in, sleepily, during the next 30 minutes.