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December 18, 2011
Volume III, Issue 12


Warmest Holiday Greetings from our home to yours. Thank you for your kindness, friendship and support. We wish each of you a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
Gary and Susan (and Kristen) Moncur

Daily Diary of An Original 303rd Bomb Group Pilot
Part 1 of 3
1Lt Ehle H. Reber was one of the 35 original pilots in the 303rd Bomb Group and one of nine assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron. We recently discovered his comprehensive daily diary, documenting his experiences from late in training until his crew was lost on January 23, 1943. This historic journal is a 100-page, handwritten account of events from August 29, 1942 to January 22, 1943. The entire journal will be published in three parts. Parts two and three will follow in the next two issues of The Molesworth Pilot.

The original journal was first transcribed to typewritten pages by Ehle's sister Cora, whom he mentions in the journal. She passed away in 2002. The journal and other Reber memorabilia were passed on to Cora's daughter, Carol Wright, and eventually to the Malin (Oregon) Historical Society. Sincere thanks to Ryan Bartholomew, President of the Malin Historical Society for providing a copy of the transcription of the journal, along with some photographs, and allowing their publication. Also, thanks to Tim Conver, son of Milt Conver, for providing additional photographs and assistance. Milt Conver was the bombardier on Capt. Billy Southworth's Crew and a close friend to Ehle Reber.

The Ehle Reber daily journal begins as training at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas is complete. The 303rd BG Air Echelon is preparing to depart to pick up their new B-17Fs, which they will fly to England to begin the combat missions. Part 1 takes us up to their arrival at the new base in Molesworth, England.

August 29/42 - Saturday
The Air echelon was split into the rail and air group. Both packed all set to shove off when plans were changed by 2nd A.F. May be here at Biggs for several more days - from the 1st burner. Lt. Quentin Hargrove is back from the hospital. Covered with bandages. We call him "Spook". Still miss Jimmie Hudson, Gene Rochester, Lee Shane, Bill Simno, Jim Van George, [Frank] Johnson and Sgt. Cato Myers, who were all killed in crash on Aug. 23, 1942 near Las Cruces near El Paso. Thunderstorm. Sgt. Knox and Lt. Hargrove, only survivors were thrown clear when plane broke in two. Lucky to have silk [parachutes] on. Quite a blow to 427th. Party evening.

Aug. 30/42 (Sunday)
Nothing new. Still waiting. Scheduled to go to San Antonio to pick up plane. Stockton and I scheduled. Plane out. Hurricane near San Antonio. Training practically nil except for some ground school. Beer evening.

Aug. 31/42 (Monday)
Same old thing. Flew about 30" formation with Calhoun of 359th. He feathered #2 after about 30". Another 1:30 transition. Planes leave tomorrow. We are to leave by train soon. I hope. B-17E's transferred to 330th Group. What next? Lt. Krahl transferred to 358th. Lt. L. D. Sherwood takes his place on Broussard's crew.

Sept. 1/42 (Tuesday)
Still waiting. 3rd crew of 427th to leave to pick up new B-17F. Leave in about a week. Either Tulsa or Cheyenne. Called Dottie [Ehle's aunt] and talked for five or ten min. Drank beer. Passes are liberal now.

Sept. 2/42 (Wednesday)
Ground School in morning. Softball in afternoon with E.M. - 11-0 our favor in 4 innings. I pitched. "Beer Bust" afterwards up the canyon. Stock and I killed a rattler (6 r, 1 button). I think Hagenbuch is getting married soon. Kidded hell out of him. Hagenbuch, Cole and Southworth become Captains tomorrow. Party in order. No flying, no ships.

Sept. 3/42 Thursday
Three new Captains in Squadrons L. R. Cole, G. E. Hagenbuch and B. B. Southworth, Jr. Still no flying. Broussard and crew flew a couple hours in 330 Group ship. Played 360 Squad. and won 6-1. Captains gave party in evening at Paso Del Norte Spanish Room. Bed late. Bryant and Soha out of this world. Some more too. Leave tomorrow, Hagenbuch marriage off. Sad.

Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas - 2 Aug 1942
Bill Goetz, Milt Conver, Billy B. Southworth, Ehle Reber, Glenn Hagenbuch

Sept. 4/42 Friday
We leave today sometime by train. Called Cora [Ehle's sister] early this morning. Everyone fine. Confined to barracks prior to train embarkation. We are finally on our way. Boarded train at 20:30. Glad to leave El Paso and get on our way. Going to Battle Creek, Mich. Pullmans OK. We can at last sleep between something other than mattresses. Mother sent cakes and oranges. Big feed on train. Everyone in fine spirits. Plans were changed again and the whole 303rd left on same train other than Baldwin, former 427th man, and several other crews who flew to parts unknown. Meet them later.

Sent. 5/42 Saturday
Train pulled into Albuquerque, N. M. this morning for breakfast. Now 2200 o'clock. On train now for 26 hrs. Everyone in good SPIRITS. Breakfast in the A.M. at Kansas City. A little partying. One below me now. Bryant and I shifted bunks. I'm joining them now. Parteeee.

Sept. 6/42 Sunday 2210
Still on train. Had breakfast in Kansas City at about 1200 noon. Got to see the Mississippi R. for the first time. Lot a corn in Iowa, WOW. ETA Chicago at 0100. Should be at destination sometime tomorrow. Train pretty wet and bumpy.

Sept. 7/42 Monday 2000
Arrived at Kellogg Field about 0700. Nice field. Rather small but compact. Learned that we would receive planes soon and group should have full equip. by the 20th of Sept. We will fly to Tulsa or Cheyenne to pick up planes, when they are ready. We learned today that our ground echelon had left American soil bound for England. Rumors flying thick and fast, B-17E's in England with some of our boys that were with us at Boise are doing good work.

Sept. 8/42 Tuesday
Nothing new. Received booklets containing routes across North Atlantic which we will use one of these days. Are studying them everyday. Rumors heard of some leave being granted.

Sept. 9/42 Wednesday
Still waiting. Spent most of the time at operations as I was the O.D. [Officer of the Day] until 12:00 Thursday. To bed at 2:00 in the morning after checking nite passes.

Sept. 10/42 Thursday
Up at 1000. Stayed at operations all morning. Major Robinson made me group athletic officer. Off O.D. at 1200. Played softball at 5:00 until about 8:00. One new B-17F came in at about 12:30. Gave it the once over. It was assigned to Lt. Baldwin of 358th [#41-24577 Hell's Angels]. Ferried in more soon, I hope. Ferry Co. taking over instead of us.

Sept. 11/42 Friday
No more planes. Played softball all day. Still unbeaten. 427th seems to have the top team. 6 hr. pass. Called Dottie but did not make connections. Capt. Sheridan is now a Major. Lt. Hargrove, Spook, is back from a 5 day leave. He left us at El Paso. Capt. Hagenbuch finally got married. Lucky boy.

Sept. 12/42 Saturday
Wasted all day but one hour in Link trainer and 1-1/2 hours in ground school. Played some softball. Read and saw in Life Mag. of Lts. Andy Anderson and Ziesel, classmates, were interned in Turkey. B-24 ran out of gasoline. Pretty soft. Heard Geo. Mackin received his First Lts. today. Ours should be here soon. Denison now Capt.

Sept. 13/42 Sunday
Two more planes today. All to the 358th. They will leave 7 days after they have all their planes. All squadrons the same way. New route too. Non-stop flight. Played EM in softball and went down to a humiliating defeat 6-4. I lost. Squadron in pretty good shape. We will get 72 hour passes starting soon. I think I will go to Cincinnati, Ohio with Milt [Conver].

Sept. 14/42 Monday
Planes coming in fast now, 358th nearly full. We are 3rd Squadron to get full compliment of ships. Long cross countries are on schedule as soon as ships are in. Robey got first ship for the 427th. One 24 hour pass. Had a big time at Sky Club and American Legion in Battle Creek. Home at 3:30. Wow!

Sept. 15/42 Tuesday
Nothing new today. Put in pay voucher for month of Sept. without flight Certificate. No time yet this month, Swindle and I went to show at Custer.

Sept. 16/42 Wednesday
Lt. Robey's plane may be rejected as it is incomplete. First plane put out by Douglas [#42-2966]. Lt. Broussard's plane came in. Nancy Jennings stopped in from Washington, D.C. on way to Grand Rapids. Had party. No more 3 day passes. Woe is me.

Sept. 17/42 Thursday
Planes coming in fast. Show in evening, Lt. Robey's Douglas B-17F was rejected so he received a Boeing this evening.

Sept. 18/42 Friday
Lt. Goetz will probably get plane in the morning. We should all have them soon. Tough finding names for planes. Garbage, Miss Carriage, One O'Clock Jump, etc. are some names in other squadrons. Swindle and I went to show at Custer.

Sept. 19/42 Saturday
Should have had about 3 more for squadron but weather kept them from coming in. Lt. Robey had to land at Toledo because of weather. My plane should be here in the next day or so. After Goetz comes Stockton, Reber, Hayes, Southworth, Cole and Buck [Hagenbuch]. Capt. Southworth and father's picture appeared in Chicago Herald American paper sport section, Full page. His father is manager of St. Louis "Cardinals". He'll surely get the needle when he gets back. We put his picture up on the wall of group operations for all 427th to observe and initial compliance "OUR BOY SMILIN' JACK" was put above the picture. Some fun!

Sept, 20/42 Sunday
"BIG NEWS" Goetz, Stockton, Hargrove and I received promotions to 1st Lieutenants, AT last. Billy B, returned amid shouts of "the needle". Went on 24 hour. Wow. No planes today for our squadron. Should have a couple tomorrow, I hope.

Sept. 21/42 Monday
One Plane to 359th. Can't win a war this way. Getting my crew equipment shortages. Bostick back from infirmary where he had a bad cold in a joint which was out of place (puzzles me too). Went to show at Custer. Broussard and Robey making frequent flights to check fuel consumption etc.

Sept. 22/42 Tuesday
Checked out 45's, rifles and tommy-gun today. Inspection of arms tomorrow at 1500. Have to keep Douglas B-17F. Hope I don't get it. Still awaiting planes. Any day now.

Sept. 23/42 Wednesday
At last my plane came in #124607. Good ship and we started checking for shortages immediately. Out evening.

Sept. 24/42 Thursday
Continued checking plane. Lt. Snyder Opr. officer, is now a Captain. Oh yes several days ago Lt. Hayes became a father. First flight tomorrow to check all equipment. Maj. Sheridan said I could go to Eugene, Oregon for X-C, I hope it comes true.

Sept. 25/42 Friday
Drift sight on plane out. Cannot calibrate AS [air speed] or compass, Can't go West of Rockies other than March Field.

Sept. 26/42 Saturday
Plan to go to Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio to get plane fixed up. After drift sight is fixed flights will be frequent for fuel consumption. Patterson trip off for today on account of weather. Maybe tomorrow.

Sept. 27/42 Sunday
Finally took off at 17:45 for Dayton and Patterson, via Cincinnati where we buzzed Milt's home. Landed at Dayton 1630. Arranged to have plane fixed. Went with Milt to town [Cincinnati] where we met his folks at the Biltmore Hotel. Went out to The Farm. [Paradise Farm was the country home of the Stephen Meyers family in Mason, OH.] Had a steak dinner and drank martinis and beer. To bed about 0230.

Sept. 28/42 Monday
Milt and I and Ziskin, Byrom and Goetz went back to Patterson, leaving Mitchell, Mc Dermott, Swindle at The Farm. Went in and checked the airplanes until about 1700 then out to The Farm. That nite we went into Cincinnati with Mr. & Mrs. [George] Conver Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Meyers, Mr. & Mrs. [Sam] Caldwell, Jean Conver [Milt's wife], (Milt's sister [Dorothy Conver]), Jeannette Caldwell, Milt, Mc Dermott, Swindle, Mitchell & Goetz. Had a wonderful time at The Beverley Hills Club over the border in Kentucky. Listened to Guy Lombardo's orchestra. Home late.

Sept. 29/42. Tuesday
Stayed at The Netherlands Plaza at Cincinnati last nite. Best in town and really nice. Up at 1130 and then Milt and I met Mr. Conver and went to couple of clubs. Milt and I went to the [Cuvier] Press Club where I called and talked to Major Sheridan in Cincinnati to pick up Mc Dermott and Mitchell to fix WDAGO. Mitchell, McDermott and Swindle went back to Dayton. We, Goetz, Milt and I, stayed and went to a party. I took Jeannette C. Swell Time. Didn't sleep any.

Sept. 30, 1942 Wednesday
No sleep. Caught bus at 0500 for Dayton where met rest of fellas. Took off about 1000. "Jerry Jinx" painted on plane. Landed at about 1130 at Battle Creek. Major Sheridan unhappy because we were not at ships when he came to Dayton to get Mac and Mitchell. We (Goetz and I) alternate O.D.'s for eight days with Goetz starting. No chance to get to the Coast. Flew in afternoon to swing compass and calibrate A.S.

October 1, 1942 Thursday
All six hours cancelled. Fired all guns on flight over Lake Michigan. Got paid base pay. Big news. 359th and 427th to move to Bangor, Maine about Saturday. 358th and 360th to stay here. Base here cannot take care of a whole Group. Getting closer. I was O.D. today.

Oct. 2/42 Friday
To leave soon now. Planes are being outfitted for trip to Bangor, Maine. Cole and Hayes in Dayton. To return tomorrow. Goetz took Hayes as copilot. Party.

Oct. 3/42 Saturday
Leaving tomorrow at 9:30. Hayes and Goetz back. Cole still at Dayton. Packed plane for take-off.

Oct. 4/42 Sunday
Took off for Bangor via Toledo, Buffalo, Port Brie, Albany and to Bangor at 11:45. Had rather a nasty trip as we went through a front. On instruments for 3 hours. Flew radio ranges to Albany on instruments and then broke into clear and flew contact to Bangor. Seven planes took off and seven planes arrived. Hayes didn't take off on time on account of fuel pressure trouble, but he showed up about an hour later. We landed at about 16:30. No trouble. Nice field and quite warm. Capt. Cole still in Dayton should arrive any day.

October 5, 1942 Monday
Made out shortage list for airplane and work to be done. This place is really on the ball. It is tops as far as getting things done is concerned. They were inspecting the engines before I had hardly cut them off. Milt and I made arrangements for "Bugs Bunny", the Squadron Insignia, to be made for jackets and also for painting on the planes. Capt. Cole not here yet.

October 6, 1942 Tuesday
Got up at 0630, had breakfast and conducted a code class at 0700. I am temporarily commander of "B" Flight. That is until Capt. Cole gets in. Should be soon. Should get a new assistant radio operator as mine doesn't show much initiative or what it takes. S/Sgt Gray, my radio operator, still in hospital at Kellogg Field with strep infection. May get replacement. Lt. Goodale was transferred out of Squadron and Lt. Illgen took his place on Hayes' crew. Had lecture for "B" flight at 1300 on confidential matters. Zipped out later on a deal with Captain Billy.

October 7, 42 Wednesday
Heard we may get per diem since leaving Battle Creek. Being confined to the Post here is rather rugged. We get kind of tired in the evening, About all there is to do is drink or go to bed. Officers' Club is pretty nice. Had party in evening.

October 8/42 Thursday
Capt. Cole and crew came in this afternoon. Sure good to see him and Ed and Driggs again and the rest of the boys. McCune and a new copilot came back with him for Lt. Hayes' crew. Rolfson is in the hospital with appendicitis or something at Battle Creek. He will follow the squadron soon. New co-pilot's name is Barker or something like that. Went skeet shooting with "B" flight. Did pretty well. Went to bed early.

Oct. 9 Friday
Nothing new. Checked airplane. Should be ready for flight in several days. Painted some names on plane. Had a talk on briefing by a Lt. Col. from Gander Lake. Trip across No. Atlantic seems like it ought to be OK. That's all.

Oct. 10 Saturday
Same old thing. Waiting around. Major Sheridan took a trip to Presque Isle to get more info on crossing. Squadron had party in evening at Club. Haint. Sgt. Coomes may replace Sgt. Gray as operator.

Oct. 11 Sunday - Oct 16
Working on planes. Rest of Group left for Gander [Newfoundland] and Prestwick [Scotland]. Plane should be ready soon. Parties in evening at Officers' Club frequent.

October 17 Saturday
Lts. Schueler, Bryant, Dieffenbach, and Soha received 1st Lts. Lt. Conver will be here soon. Lt. Illgen, navigator, reported to Squadron. Lts. Ziskin and Bostick relieved of duty with 427th. Some of the pilots flew missions over ocean tonight. Ship ready now.

October 18 Sunday
Nothing new. Some planes are closer to getting ready. Lt. Conver now a 1st Lt. Mine will be ready tomorrow. Party at Nurses' quarters. 427th steak dinner at Officers' Mess. Enlisted men and all had a beer bust in conjunction.

Walter Soha, Ed Bryant, Mark Mc Dermott
October 19 Monday
Took off at 1030 PM and flew to Isle of Bermuda off coast of Virginia, and back. Took 10 hours. Landed at 0800 next morning.

October 20 Tuesday
Slept all morning up until 1430 in afternoon, then signed for per diem pay for tomorrow morning. Firing early this morning cracked glass in cockpit. Repaired during 50 hour inspection in hangar. Leave soon for Gander and points overseas.

October 21 Wednesday
Got paid per diem this morning. It sure came in handy: Spent afternoon loading ship. Expect to leave in morning if weather permits. Wrote letters in evening.

October 22 Thursday
Plane already. Lt. Robey's ship will stay behind as it is not ready yet. Rest of planes all set. Waiting on weather.

October 23 Friday
Front has moved in with fog and rain. Still waiting clear weather. Officers' Club is the spot now. Shacking prev. Wrote letters to folks, Cora, etc.

October 24 Saturday
Weather change expected tomorrow. Scheduled to take-off at 0900 tomorrow. Plane all set.

October 25 Sunday
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.

October 26 Monday
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 favorable weather.

October 27 Tuesday
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.

October 28 Wednesday
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 scheduling tomorrow.

Milt Conver's Gander Lake Aircraft Access Pass, October 29, 1942 - "Bad Check" 41-24587

October 29 Thursday
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!

October 30 Friday
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.

October 31, 1942 Saturday
Off at 0030. Flew through mist and fog for a good deal of the way. Past point of no return at 0430. No turn back after that. Flew at 15,000 feet for about 3 hours after out about six hours, Sighted Irish shore about 0930 in the morning flying at 12,000 feet. I was gradually letting down to 9,000 feet. No convoys were sighted on trip until we crossed the Bay going into Prestwick. It was very light when we approached Derrynacross in No. Ireland following beam. We arrived over Prestwick at 9,000 feet at approx. 1130 Sat, Morning. Planes arrived very close together. Truly a good hop for the whole squadron. The haze at Prestwick was very thick and landings were difficult as it was hard to see the field and runways. I landed and as I was coming in, heard the tower call Capt. Cole asking him if the field he had landed on had 3 runways or two. Cole answered three and the tower said that he had landed on the wrong field. He landed at Ayre which is about 3 miles south of Prestwick. The field at Ayre was very soft and Cole's plane sunk in up to struts. The rest of us at Prestwick were taken to operation's for check in of maps, etc, and then rushed over to eat, back to operations for briefing and at 1500 o'clock we took off for Molesworth in Southern England, 60 miles north of England, near Cambridge, for our permanent operating station. Capt. Cole was left at Ayre, As we approached Liverpool, which was enroute, and dodging barrage balloons and restricted areas, the fog or haze became so thick that a landing was necessary at Hawarden Field, about 23 miles southeast of Liverpool. I was the first plane to get lined up with runways and land at Hawarden. It was a very fast trip with wind indicated of 200 most of the way. Eventually everyone landed and planes wore dispersed over the field. There were many Spitfires and a few Hurricanes, which had seen strenuous duty in the Battle of Britain and were too out of date for actual combat so were being, used as training planes. There was also a Wellington Bomber factory on the field which Lt. Goetz, Stockton, Lipe, Dieffenbach and myself went through in the afternoon. Accommodations were mot available for the officers at Hawarding, so we stayed at Sealand which is on the coast near Liverpool. It was an overseas distributing center for the Br. to Cairo and points East. We enjoyed our stay that evening at Sealand.

Nov. 1 Sunday
Reported to field at 1030 expecting clearance on to Molesworth but the weather was bad so we stayed at Sealand another nite.

Nov. 2/42 Monday
Reported at field at about 1000. Take-off expected at 1400, so Lt. Goetz, Stockton, Capt. Southworth, Lipe, Conver and myself went into Chestie which was the nearest city. Enjoyed very much the Quaint buildings and shops. Rode on two-decker bus back to field and took-off at 1500 for Molesworth. Landed there at about 1630. Haze again made landing rather difficult, but I was second in. Lt. Stockton, Robey and Broussard fell behind and tagged on to another squadron of B-17F, thinking it was us, and landed at Grafton Field about 10 miles from here. They should be here tomorrow. Dubell met us at ship. Sure a sight for sore eyes. My best friend Geo. Mackin was asleep as our arrival here was not expected. Spent rest of evening meeting old friends and getting settled in room. Capt. Cole and crew landed here about the same time we did, coming from Prestwick. I am rooming with Lts.'s Goetz and Stockton, due tomorrow. The field here is very well situated and extremely well organized. It is undoubtedly the best field we have been at yet. Weather very damp and cold. Field very muddy but a lot better than anything we've been to yet. So to bed in England with about 30 days of operational training and ground school before our first show over France or Germany. We expect Jerry to pop over to see us most anytime now.

. . . continued next month. . .

Happy Birthday Frank Welshon!
Famous at last!

Frank Welshon, 360th BS Pilot, celebrated his 91st birthday on November 19, 2011. He sends his best wishes to all his 303rd Bomb Group friends. His grandson Patrick Doherty reports:

He is still doing quite well, lives at home with my grandmother, in very good health, still drives and does yardwork. He is seen in the picture with one of his great-grandchildren, Ian. I told him that you asked for a current photo today and he said "Hey! I'll finally be famous."

LtCol Mel Schulstad, 2Lt Edythe Nelson (303rd Hospital Nurse),
Capt Marion "Dutch" Niemants, Major Bill Heller

A Tribute to Bill Heller
Bill and I began Emailing each other a few years ago after he passed very generous comment on a piece I sent to the Guestbook of the 303rd Bomb Group. He told me of his time in England and at Molesworth in particular. Despite the obvious stress and trauma of those dark days of WWII, losing friends and facing extreme danger himself on a regular basis, Bill gave me distinct impression that he would not have missed any of it. This then is the measure of the man and indeed of that wonderful generation as a whole. He kindly answered any queries I had about the AAF etc. He was not only a fine American, he was a true gentleman and no doubt so typical of the heroes of the USAAF and RAF, we shall sadly, not see their like again.

Chris Barlow

FLYPAST MAGAZINE, January 2012 issue, reports on the 303rd Memorial rededication.

Frederick (Fred) Gano Sr. 90, passed away December 13, 2011 in Boise, Idaho with his family and caregivers by his side. He was born October 03, 1921 to Orville Gano and Ruby May Cook Gano in Burley, Idaho. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Katharine Delores Gano. He is survived by his sons, Frederick G. Gano, Roderick Gano, Thomas Gano, Dorothy Ann and husband Phil Schmidt, Katharine and husband Tom Martin. He also leaves behind five grandchildren, Cresta Slagel, Candice Slagel Osbourne, Brian Amer, Allison Gano, Nathan Gano (who is currently serving in Pakistan), Jamin Martin and two great grandchildren, Daylon Eng Osbourne, Sutton Osbourne.

Fred graduated from Burley High School and in 1942 he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. He was sent to Antigo, Wisconsin and then to Ft. Morgan, Colorado to train as a Basic Glider and Air Craft Pilot. In 1944 Fred was sent to Hobbs, New Mexico and transitioned to a B-17 Pilot, then sent to the European Theater, 8th AF, 303rd Bomb Group H, 427th Bomb Squadron. Fred flew 35 missions out of Molesworth, England with his last tour ending in January of 1945, and attained the rank of first lieutenant. Upon his return from England, Fred was sent to Lubbock, Texas for Instrument Pilot Instructors Course and then to Keesler Field, Mississippi as a Flight Instructor, to Instruct in B-17 airborne lifeboat rescue training.

Fred married Katharine Delores Grohosky, together they started a family in Jerome, Idaho and raised five children. Fred had an auto body shop for several years. With his love of flying, he sold his business and began flying private charters and eventually working for the US Forest Service. He flew a DC-3 transporting smoke jumpers across the country. Later he worked for a commuter airline as Chief Pilot. In later years Fred enjoyed dabbling as a bench jeweler, gemologist and faceting semi precious stones.

The family would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Kevin Clifford, Ben Murray RN ICU and nurses of the St. Al's Trauma ICU Unit, for the respect and compassion they demonstrated while providing Fred with excellent care. He was an honorable and humble man. Fred's sense of humor never left him, even in his last hours. He will be deeply missed. A private service has been planned with Dry Creek Cemetery. Memorials can be made to 303rdBG.com

Thomas Gardner “Tommy” Mays III, 87, was born January 24, 1924 at the family home in Maysville, Oklahoma to S.J. and Julia Houghlin Mays. He passed on Friday afternoon on December 2, 2011 at the Norman Specialty Hospital.

Tommy Mays is a member of one of the families that pioneered this whole area of Oklahoma. The lineage of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are all included in the history books of Garvin County and early day Indian Territory and Oklahoma.

Tommy attended primary and secondary school here and after graduation enrolled at Kemper Military Academy for 2 years. On June 17, 1944 he married Jo Frances Miller of Lindsay, Oklahoma.

Tommy was a Veteran of WW II serving as a machine gunner in the Army Air Corp with a B-17 bombing crew called the Hell’s Angels Combat team of the 303rd Bombardment Group stationed in Molesworth, Cambridgeshire, England from September of 1942 to June of 1945. This crew of brave men flew many missions over German occupied cities in the European Theater.

After the war, he and Jo Frances moved back to Maysville to make their home, and start their family, first Joe Thomas and later J Carroll.

Tommy and Jo Frances were both very active in community affairs and with not only involvement in the family farm, but Tommy was a member of the Maysville School Board and a volunteer Fireman for many years. He managed a mile long go-cart racing track, known over a large area of south central United States that is still remembered today. He owned and operated Mays Auto Supply for many years. Later with the Citizens Band Radio craze getting started, he opened Tom’s Two-way Radio Sales and Repair.

Mixed in liberally with all of his business activities were school functions with and for his children, along with weekend lake get-a-ways and other fun activities that could get squeezed in such a busy life. After the boys finished high school and started with their careers, Tommy and Jo Frances enjoyed travel opportunities and would meet other travel trailer friends anywhere and everywhere with southern Colorado being a great favorite, Fun Valley and later Moon Valley held great memories for not only them, but for other families here today.

Tommy Mays was a man of faith. He is our oldest member of continuing membership, since 1936. He is a member of the Dan Malone Sunday School Class of the First Baptist Church of Maysville and has served as an accounting officer for Church finances for over 60 years. He liked to tell of going to Falls Creek as a young boy and not staying in cabins like today, but in tents for the week-long youth crusades.

Of all of his accomplishments and endeavors, his greatest were his love and care for his parents, especially his mother in her later years, his great love and support of his boys in their lives and careers and his love and support for his wife of 67 years in her struggle with her health. He will be well remembered. He will be missed greatly. He will rest in peace provided by his Savior.

Survivors include his sons: Joe Thomas Mays and wife Betty of Maysville, and J Carroll Mays and wife Carrie of London, England; 2 grandchildren: Lisa Wagner and Morgan Mays; 2 great-grandchildren:Tyler Wagner and Madison Wagner. Tommy is also survived by other relatives and a great number of friends everywhere. He is preceded in death by his father and mother, S.J. Mays in 1969, and Julia Mays in 1987, and by his wife Jo Frances in February of this year.

Funeral services will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at the First Baptist Church of Maysville, with Rev. Jim Paslay and Rev. Steve Spangler officiating with burial in the Mays Family plot of the Maysville Cemetery under the direction of John Williams of Winans Funeral Home.

William C. Heller, 91 year old World War II veteran, B-17 Combat Bomb Squadron Commander out of Molesworth, England, passed away on November 16, 2011 in Las Vegas Nevada.

Among WWII awards he received while serving in the famous 303rd "Hells Angels" Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force were: The Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 5 Air Medals and The French Croix de Guerre avec Etoile d'Argent.

Flown as pilot since early 1936. Amassed 33,000 command pilot hours. Airline Captain for 35 years and also held supervisory positions. Heller was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1920, and was raised in Spring City, PA He is survived by his widow, Ruth Y. Heller of Las Vegas, son, Carl Heller of Chicago, Ill and daughter, Lorelei Heller McDevitt of Austin, TX, grandson Sean Y. McDevitt of Santa Monica, CA

In September 2010, Bill submitted his own obituary to this newsletter. He wrote:

"I was born in New Jersey July 11, 1920. That year we moved to Spring City, Pa., in the Valley Forge area. The Church I attended as a youth served as a Hospital for General Washington's Troops at Valley Forge.

"After joining the Air Corps I was sent with my crew to the 8th Air Force at Molesworth, England. I was assigned to the 360th Squadron and became a Lead Pilot. By my 16th Mission, I qualified for Air Command Lead Pilot. After this time I was assigned to the 359th Squadron as Operations Officer.

"While there, my late Brother, a B17 copilot was assigned to the 359th in late 1944. We made a pact to stay until the war ended or one of us was shot down. We remained until the end of the war. Soon after my late Brother was assigned to the 359th, I was assigned back to the 360th as Commanding Officer. This was quite interesting to me since that was the Squadron in which began my service in the 303rd.

"I was sent to Casablanca with the 303rd Cadre in mid June of 1945. After ferrying a C54 with ambulatory wounded to the States and delivering the plane to Hamilton Field in California, I separated from Active Duty and joined the Reserves.

"Both my wife and I will rest in Arlington, where my late Brother now rests. He was KIA in NAM. My wife of nearly 65 years, Ruth, is the Niece of the late President of Korea, Syngman Rhea and his Austrian wife, Francesca."

Donald M. Wilson, the last surviving member of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ExCOMM), a specially created policy group that advised President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, died on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, at his home in Princeton, NJ.

Mr. Wilson was born on June 27, 1925, in Montclair, NJ, and graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1943. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was commissioned a second lieutenant as a B-17 navigator. With the 303rd Bomb Group, he flew six missions over Europe before the war ended.

He enrolled at Yale and gravitated to journalism, writing a column for The Yale Daily News. Graduating from Yale in February 1949, he was hired by Life as a reporter working in New York and Detroit. He became a foreign correspondent for the magazine in Asia, and covered the Korean War and the French Indochina War. In 1956 he was named Life's Washington bureau chief, in charge of coverage of the U.S. Government. In 1960 Mr. Wilson joined the Kennedy campaign, and when Kennedy was elected, he appointed Mr. Wilson deputy director of USIA in 1961. Mr. Wilson served in the post under Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson until 1965. Returning to Time Inc., he became general manager of Time-Life International.

Mr. Wilson's autobiography, "The First 78 Years," was published in 2004 by Xlibris. He was a member of the Century Association and the Council on Foreign Relations of New York City. Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Dwight M. Wilson of Berkeley, CA; two daughters, Katherine L. Wilson of Newton, MA, and Penelope Wilson of The Bronx, NY, and five grandchildren. A Service of Remembrance will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. in the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church, 2688 Main St., Lawrence Township, NJ 08648-1701. A reception in the Fellowship Center of the church will follow. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights for the Donald M. Wilson Fellowship. Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.

Duane O. Turner, our beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather, Uncle and Friend passed away peacefully in the loving arms of his wife and family on December 6, 2011 in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Duane was born May 18, 1920, the third of six children, to David Ernest and Hulda Artimisha Allen Turner in Lyman, Utah. Growing up in Wayne County as a youngster until the age of eight when his mother passed away. He then went to Springville, UT to live with Evon and Valera Averett, a cousin. He attended and graduated from Springville High School.

After a short time, world conditions incited himself and several of his brothers to enlist in the military. On October 21, 1941 he became part of the US Army. Promising his love to the beautiful Norma Ernsten they married prior to him leaving for the service. October 26, 1941 they made their vows to one another in Preston, Idaho. Then, that same day, he was taken to Fort Douglas and entered military service.

Only a little over a month later the US was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Duane became part of the US Army Air Corps and proceeded to become part of the 8th Air Force, 303rd Bomb Group (heavy) and served the war from an airbase in Molesworth England. He served there along side other heroes who defended our freedom.

Surviving the war he returned home to his family and beautiful bride to begin his civilian life. Duane and Norma were joined in eternal marriage in the Manti Temple on December 11, 1947. Operating a repair shop in Lyman Utah along with his brother Nelson he became known for his expertise in mechanical repair. In 1964 he was given an opportunity to become part of the US Park Service and moved to Fruita, Utah and Capital Reef National Monument. After a few years he was promoted to a position that required he travel to all the National parks and monuments in the Western US. With this promotion he transferred first to New Mexico and finally to Yellowstone National Park where he resided until his retirement. Having lived in Billings, MT, Richfield, UT, Salina, Springville and finally Pleasant Grove, he and Norma were loved by all who knew them.

Following retirement Duane and Norma were given an opportunity to serve an LDS Mission in the Family History Center in Salt Lake City. Duane served in five bishoprics, was Branch President at Yellowstone North Ward, volunteered over 4000 hours at the Family History Center in Billings, Montana and was a volunteer at St. Vincent Hospital in Billings. Duane loved to meet people and would spend endless hours talking to anyone whom he met. He loved the outdoors and would spend hours walking and enjoying the things God created for him to see.

Duane is survived by his beautiful bride, Norma, his son David (Paula) and a brother Fonzo. He was preceeded in death by his Mother, and Father; Brothers: Nelson, Ward, Guy and sister Leola Chappell as well as pre-mature twin sons and a granddaughter, Mary Kay Turner. He has three Grandchildren, Tina Ann (Dean) Schock, Barbara Lee (Bob) Miller and David Troy (Michelle) Turner plus a native-American foster daughter, Barbara Jean Charlie (Hank) Morris. He loved them and would spend time, including summers in Yellowstone with them. Later blessed with six Great-Grandchildren, Justin Ludwig, Jessica Ludwig (Jared) Watts, Joshua Ludwig, Brandon Turner, TJ Turner and Samantha Baty. Numerous nieces and nephews were so special to him. Especially the last few years with the love and attention from Myrna and Doyle Hess, Rick and Laura Turner and their entire families. Time spent with family was always his most special times.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 1:00 P.M. in the Lyman LDS Ward Chapel. Friends may call for viewing at the Springer Turner Funeral Home, 260 North 400 West in Richfield, Friday evening from 6 to 8pm and again at the Lyman LDS chapel on Saturday from 11:30 to 12:30 prior to the services. Burial with military honors accorded by the Harold Brown American Legion Post #92 will be at the Lyman, Utah cemetery under the care of the Springer Turner Funeral Home of Richfield and Salina, Utah.

Walter Edward Hein died Thursday, December 1, 2011 at his home in Cherry Hill, NJ. He was 87. He was born Aug 31, 1924.

On December 1st, Ball Turret Gunner and Flight Engineer S/Sgt Walter E. Hein, the last surviving member of the B-17 “Thunderbird” crew, piloted by Vern Moncur, was granted leave. He departed peacefully.

Walt is survived by his loving wife of 59 years Florence, his loyal brother Donald, his son Carl and wife Diane (Cherry Hill, NJ), his son Larry and wife Karen (Dallas, Texas), his Grand Step-daughter Audrey Hadley (Dallas, Texas).

Commendations, Achievements and Awards:

  • Army Air Force credit for 750 Flying hours and 28 missions over France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Poland, E. Luxemburg and the Netherlands 1943-1944
  • Credit for two of the three toughest 8th Air Force Missions of the war
  • On 1st Deep Daylight Penetration to Berlin
  • Distinguished Flying Cross - 1944
  • His crew’s plane “The Thunderbird” immortalized in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum with a hand painted mural, 75 foot wide, 1976
  • Salvatore Vuocolo Award for NJ Forester of the Year -2008
  • Recognized by the NJ Assembly and Senate for outstanding Forestry Accomplishments - 2008
  • Honored by Proclamation, by Washington Township for service (forestry and military) - 2008
  • Recognized by, then President George W. Bush, for accomplishments in advancement of sustainable Forestry - 2008
  • On December 1st, 2011, at the RAF air base for United States European Command the American Flag was flown for the day in honor of Staff S/Sgt Walter Hein.
  • At 11:37 CST (12:37 EST) December 3, 2011, the B-17 Thunderbird (renamed), carrying the American Flag in the Ball Turret, dipped her wing over the Lone Star Flight Museum, in Galveston Texas, in honor of S/Sgt Walter E. Hein, last surviving member of the Original Thunderbird Crew.
  • Feature speaker at the 2010 Galveston Reunion of the family members of the original B-17 Thunderbird crew.
In lieu of Flowers, the family suggests contributions to the 303rd Bomb Group Web Site www.303rdBG.com, which supplied dad, in his last three days, with letters of salute from around the world, would be appreciated. (Select Donate on the top menu line)

Viewing Tuesday evening 7 to 9pm in the Schetter Funeral Home 304 W. Marlton Pike, Cherry Hill, NJ. On Wednesday morning, relatives and friends will go directly to St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, 327 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill, NJ for a 10am funeral service. Entombment will follow at Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill, NJ.

Milton J. Hamill, a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and war veteran, died peacefully Wednesday morning, Nov. 30, 2011, surrounded by his family, during his 88th year. Service: 11 a.m. Friday in the Barnett Sanctuary of Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St., with Rabbi Andrew Bloom and Rabbi Gary Perras officiating. He will receive military honors to be held under the auspices of the Martin Hochster Jewish War Veterans Post 755. Following committal prayers, Milton will be laid to rest in Ahavath Sholom Cemetery.

Bearers of his casket will be David Anton, Larry Anton, Eliot Barnett, Louis Barnett, Marc Barnett, Howard Bernstein, John Helms and Lon Werner. Honorary bearers will be members of the Jewish War Veterans Post and the 8th Air Force Historical Society. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, consideration of contributions to Congregation Ahavath Sholom, the Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah, the Child Study Center or a charity of choice, in his memory, is suggested.

Born in Saugus, Mass., on June 29, 1923, Milton was the son of Etta Hamill Barrett and Harry Hamill. He grew up in Lynn, Mass., and graduated from Lynn Classical High School. On the eve of World War II, Milton enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps at the age of 18. During the war, Milton flew 25 combat missions as a member of the 303rd Bomb Group. He was in the first bomber group to bomb Germany. His B-17 bomber was named "Jersey Bounce," a well-known aircraft. Milton married Ruth Barnett on June 26, 1947, and, with their young daughter, moved to Fort Worth where he lived for 60 years. Together, they raised their children in Fort Worth where he worked with Ruth's brother, Lou Barnett, at Loma Industries. When Loma was sold, Milton owned and operated the Westcliff Hardware Store from the 1960s to the 1980s. During that time he served on the board of the local hardware association. From there, he opened one of the first gourmet shops, The Cook's Nook; he sold his shops in the late 1980s. Milton was a true patriot. Throughout his lifetime, he was very involved in preserving the memories of his and others' military service. He was the first president of the 8th Air Force Historical Society and reunited with his bomber group many times throughout his life. He was a very active member and leader at Congregation Ahavath Sholom for decades, where he served as its president and participated in the choir. Milton was also an active member of B'nai B'rith, the Rotary Club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Milton was a true gentleman who loved his family and loved being around people. He loved music, played the trumpet and had a beautiful singing voice. Milton also had unparalleled sense of humor. Being around him meant you were guaranteed to smile. He lived every day of his life with a positive attitude and a brilliant sense of humor. Others loved hearing his stories and sharing a laugh with him. Above all, Milton adored his family and led them with optimism, kindness and honor.

He was preceded in death by his son, Dr. Alan I. Hamill; sister-in-law, Madlyn Barnett; and brother-in-law, Stanley Barnett.

Survivors: In addition to his wife of 64 years, Ruth, Milton is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Harriet and Larry Anton of Fort Worth. Milton is also survived by his grandchildren, Jennifer and John Helms of Dallas and David and Lauren Anton of Fort Worth; great-grandchildren, Jack Dunning Helms, Grace Alason Helms, Abigail Anton, Charlie Anton and Marietta Anton; sister, Sophie Hamill Klein of Lancaster, Pa.; brother-in-law, Lou Barnett of Fort Worth; sister-in-law, Myra Barnett of Fort Worth; and his very special nieces and nephews and their families.

Wayne E. Cope 87 of Homer died at 2:54 p.m. Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at Canterbury Ridge, Urbana.

Graveside services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, October 6, 2011 at the G.A.R. Cemetery, Homer by the Homer Masonic Lodge #199 A.F. & A.M. Military rites will be accorded. Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Cope was born on August 3, 1924 in Westville, the son of Boyd and Bessie Cowell Cope. He married Dorothy M. Endsley on September 20, 1947 in Homer, she survives. Also surviving are on son; Boyd Dale (Karen) Cope of Brunswick, Georgia, one daughter; Debbie (Greg) Vaughn of Flatville, one son – law; Dennis Rein of Homer, one brother; Dale (Irene) Cope of Littleton, Colorado, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by one daughter; Melody Rein, three brothers, one sister and one grandson; David. Mr. Cope retired from the University of Illinois as a carpenter.

He was an Air Force veteran of WW II, where he was a P.O.W. for eleven months and was liberated by the third Army led by General George S. Patton.

Mr. Cope was Presbyterian. He was a member of Homer Masonic Lodge # 199 A.F. & A.M., Homer American Legion, Illiana P.O.W. Chapters, Moose and Elks. He enjoyed crossword puzzles and working in his woodworking shop.

Memorial contributions may be made to Provena Covenant Hospice, P.O.W. M.I.A., or the Wounded Warriors.

John T. Goslin Jr. of Berwyn, PA. Born December 24, 1920. Died on November 2, 2011 at age 91. Born in Media Pennsylvania. Survived by his wife Jane Reed Goslin, son John T. Goslin III, and brother Karl Edward Goslin.

Served in the Navy, Army and 303rd Bombadier Division of Hells Angels in the Airforce in World War II. Graduated from Temple University in accounting and finance.

He was a manager at the Lee Tire Corporation and a Systems Analyst at the school District of Philadelphia. He retired early to pursue his true passion in the antiques business. He traveled frequently to Europe on extended purchasing trips. On Sundays he could be found at Reiningers Flea Market selling antiques for 30 years. Every Thursday for 25 years he worked along side a best friend blacksmith from dawn to dusk. He possessed talents of creativity and artistry to build stone walls, woodworking, works of art out of metal, painting, drawing and so much more. More than anything else he loved animals and is survived by his beloved cat, Mr. Grey.

Keeping the Legacy Alive,

Gary L. Moncur
Molesworth Pilot Editor
303rd Bomb Group Historian
copyright © 2009 - 2011 Gary L. Moncur

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