The Way of War Part 4 I showered and dressed in my new Majors Uniform. I looked in my mirror and I thought I looked rather dashing. I walked out to meet the waiting Cpl. I got in to the jeep. Unlike most of my drivers of late this one never shut up. We pulled up to a building … 98th Field Artillery Battalion Are you sure this is the right place he nodded and I got out. I entered the building and walked up to the Duty Sergeant and handed him my orders.
He glanced at my orders, Jumped up, Saluted and said the Colonel has been waiting for you. He lead met down the hall to the Colonel's office and knocked, A booming voice said "Enter" the Sgt opened the door and said, " Major Chase," he backed out and was gone.
I stepped in and saluted "Major Chase reporting Sir." He motioned me to a chair, ' Sit down son sit down. We weren't sure you would make it before the first class starts tomorrow. I understand you wish to be trained with the rank and file and not as an officer. may I ask why. "Sir my training will only assist me, there will be no one for me to pass along orders.
I will be on individual assignment.
When I walk out of your office I walk out as PFC Chad Lincoln. Major Chase is just a name on the books at BOQ.
" "I need a requisition to take to supply, to replace Duffel bag lost in transit. Then a barracks assignment. Oh a German & French language course will also be needed." The Colonel handed me a package containing a set of fatigues and cap.
You can change in my office I will have the Sgt make out the requisition, Barracks assignment and I will have him check on the language course. He has been with me for 5 years any thing you need just check with him he has my ear. I had just finished dressing when the door opened and the Sgt walked in with the forms I needed. I told him he might as well send the driver back to the motor pool. He has a motor mouth and is sure to blab about the Major who went the Colonel's office and came out a PFC.
He laughed, Don't worry about Clancy he is one of the Colonels boys. The motor mouth is a front. He is assigned to you today even if you turn into a German General. I said okay then see you later.
I climbed into the jeep and handed the Cpl my forms. He said supply first it will take a while we will leave the form and come back later to pick them up. He laughed"You sure go through a lot of clothes" I laughed with him "Tell me about it." We arrived at the barracks and I went in and signed in and was issued sheets and blankets.
It was a thirty man barracks One side had ten double bunks the other side had five and the latrine. The barracks office was all the way across the front and included the duty NCO bunk room. My bunk was the middle of the five on the bottom. I started back out of the barracks and the duty NCO asked where I thought I was going I looked at him. Not wanting to cause trouble I explained about my duffel bag. He got cocky and said I should have taken care of it before checking in to the barracks.
I pointed at the jeep the Colonel thought it important enough to have his driver take me around. It was obvious that this was a freshly promoted CPL, and not a candidate for the school, trying to exceed his authority. I noticed my driver step inside the door, I glanced at him he held his hands in front of him palms facing outward.
'Colonel says for you to handle it.' The duty NCO had a nightstick in his right hand slapping it into his left. I looked him dead in the eye, "Are you stupid enough to make threats to someone you don't even know.
Didn't you hear the Colonels driver I have permission to kick your lilly livered ass all over the barracks. I stepped toward the gate when he drew back the nightstick and swung towards me. I let it go past and grabbed his shoulder and the seat of his pants and drug him over the gate and threw him out the front door of the barracks.
The sergeant on duty laughed and said, " What a dumb ass. If he comes back in send him back to the duty office" and he picked up the phone." I got back in the jeep and said" So much for being inconspicuous. We both laughed and went to pick up my clothes. When we returned with my clothes I thanked the Cpl and went to put everything away. Every where I looked there were smiles.
It seems the Cpl was not too popular. The next morning at 0345 we fell out with fifty pound pack for a leisure 5 mile hike, to us country boys it was a walk in the park.
After the hike we cleaned up ourselves and the barracks. Then it was off to breakfast. After breakfast we fell out on the Parade Ground. The Colonel Addressed the troops from the podium.
'Welcome to an all volunteer outfit. The name of our Outfit is the 98th Field Artillery Battalion but don't let the name fool you, the only Artillery most of you will see is incoming. It will be tough on you being the First Class specially since some of you are needed out there yesterday .Your days will be long for we have to cram in two or three months of training into barely a month. I want you all to know that there is no shame in dropping out. And as long as you are making progress we will help you, but if it is obvious that you are holding your platoon back you will be asked to wait for the next class or to return to your duty station the choice is up to you.
The other thing is your officers are going through the same training that you are. I mean all of your officers including me. Oh if you are wondering about Christmas.I have it on good authority that Santa is springing for a fabulous Dinner. the best part is you will have a whole 30 minutes to enjoy it.(this got a chuckle from us all) And now I would like for you to meet your Lead training officer.
Major Thomas 'Thom' Piper Of the Canadian Airborne. And I wouldn't dare say anything about his Kilt Or his bagpipes. He could eat you for breakfast and spit you out to make room for lunch.' Thom Piper approached the podium with the hop skip of the Canadian march and stopped and looked out over the battalion. 'You will address me as Major Thom. all other expletives better end with those two words.We are going to build your bodies and your minds by the time you graduate every part of your body will be a lethal weapon.
You will be a finely tuned machine. We will start every morning with 50 pushups, run five miles do 50 push ups, after breakfast a little hand to hand and a bit of marksmanship. Then a lite lunch then every bodies favorite. The obstacle course. Then you guessed it 50 pushups … The last hour of the day will be for specialist training Language, Radio, Medical, and although all of you will become somewhat proficient with explosives there will be specialist in that also etc etc.
He didn't lie it was tough but for me, not so much, a lot of the training was like another day in the oil fields that I worked every summer. I had qualified as Marksman and Sharpshooter. I was in the top ten of hand to hand our jump school consists of 5 days of practice then we jumped out of a plane that cost us a lot of men, no deaths but a multitude of broken bones.
The hardest was the obstacle course I was one of the first to finish now it was all about time. Yes there were a few idiots that had to give Major Thom a try … it only took three. Also we learned not to say any thing derogatory about his Kilts that only took two.
As to the bagpipes well some of us even learned to like them. The real fun was the platoon part of the course climbing the cargo net, crawling under the wire while bullets fly over head, and over the wall, but the real fun was carrying the log over head while crossing a mud pool 5 foot deep we all carried the log, only problem was we had a Mexican that was only 5' 3" tall he was good at every thing else. So we used team work, we put him in the middle he wrapped his arms around the log and we lifted him and the log all at the same time.
The special class, Language was the only place I cheated, I contacted Dotty so that she could see and hear The instructor spoke a phrase Dotty would translate directly to my mind and then I would reply with the translation. In total we lost over 50% of the Battalion to drop outs and injuries. The next class would have a large amount of experienced people to fill it. But Finally the day arrived.
Graduation. January 21 1941. I made a side trip to the BOQ for a minor adjustment to my Uniform. My Platoon was shocked to say the least when I fell into my place but now wearing my oak leaves. The Top Kick walked up to me "Major you had already earned my respect but now.He call attention and Right hand Salute." I returned the salute and thanked him.
"I only wished I could go into the field with you. But When the Colonel gave his speech the first day he spoke of being needed yesterday. I am one of the ones of whom he was speaking. Let's say I can't be with you but you will benefit from what I do.
I leave tonight." After all the Parading and passing in review Clancy told me the Colonel wished to see me I got into his jeep and away we went to the Battalion office. As I walked the Sgt motioned me to the door. I went down the hall to the Colonels office and knocked on his door and got the usual booming ENTER. I opened the door and found my self face to face with a Major General.
The Colonel introduced him as Major General Whitcomb. Yipes the head of the program me and the girls were in. The general nodded and asked, ' Is it true you haven't reached your eighteenth birthday as yet.' I answered "Yes Sir not till August." I think there are a few other details that need taking care of. Number 1.
the Oath of Allegiance .Which he administered. And Number 2. making your commission and actual fact. Retroactive to September 1 1940.
You will be paid back pay up to that time as a 2nd LT. Then Dec. 1 as a Major. I think you better make out a bank account if I understand correctly you have not been paid since day one? He laughs that is going to be a tidy sum. Oh and you get your name back. You are officially Major Chad R Lincoln.' I shook their hands and had Clancy to take me to the Disbursing office I was hand carrying my pay record signed by Major General Whitcomb.
They hemmed and hawed for a moment before their LT Colonel called my Colonel and with a very red face Lt Colonel signed my check. Then on to the Bank to make out an account and deposit my rather large Check which they had to call disbursing to verify. I took out 2000 in cash .plus the $3000 I already had I could pay my BOQ bill and have plenty left over for whatever came up. Back at the BOQ I made contact with Dotty.
"Fill me in. ".' Carol is in the War Room beneath the White House with the Chief of Staff. Louise is on a plane on her way to London To work with Churchill s Staff. ' ." Okay my plane takes off at 0100 we will refuel in England and drop me into Germany sometime with in 3 to four days." 'Negative on that Montgomery's staff wishes to speak to you. You will be in London for at least two days' Maybe time to meet with Louise.
When I arrived at the airstrip I was surprised to see my old friend and his Cessna Trainer."I hear you need a lift to Langley, I smiled and nodded I put on the flight suit. And said, " What the hell do I lose all my clothes again?" I looked over my shoulder at Clancy having a belly laugh at my expense. " Don't worry Major your baggage is going first class it will be at Langley when you arrive." The Pilot I remembered said to call him Pete on our last flight.
" Well Pete whats up this time?" "Well it seems The Army just wasn't happy with in flight training. Now you are going ti take off and to land. never know when you might need to." Pete began to talk to me telling me exactly what to do. The Cessna began to move Pete called the tower to request permission to take off with Trainee pilot at the helm.
We rolled away from the hanger area and Pete directed me when to turn onto the runway I reved up the engine when it reached the proper RPM I took my foot off the brake shoved the stick forward and we went hurtling down the runway. Pete continued talking telling me what to do when we reached the proper speed he had me ease back on the stick. The plane leaped off the runway.
Pete says not to fast I pushed forward causing the plane to bounce when it was back in the air Pete says now ease back adjust the throttle. "Now how is that we are in the air. And only one bounce." We flew to our 1st refueling station, Following Pete's instructions I landed okay. Well I got it down on one wheel and with a nudge of the stick to the left the other wheel touched the ground too.
Pete said I used way to much runway but what the hell ain't that what it is there for. I watched the refueling in case I ever need to know how to do that too. Be the time we arrived at Langley I felt confident I could take off and land a Cessna. I shook Pete's hand and thanked him for the training and hoped I never had to use what you could call a crash course.That reference kind of bothered me a bit. You know when you put Crash in the same sentence with airplane.
As usual a jeep was awaiting our landing. I walked over to it and inquired if he was there for me. He Saluted and said he was, My luggage was in my room at the BOQ he would drop me off at the Officers Mess. He would pick me up at 0830 to take me to my plane. I had a pleasant meal at the mess then went next door, checked with the desk and picked up my key.
My luggage was indeed awaiting me in my room, I thought about going to the O Club but I was really to tired to mess with it. So shower, write a letter home to the family then into bed.
I awoke at 0520 visited the bathroom dressed and was out the door for breakfast by 0600. After I finished eating I packed my luggagechecked out of my room and was sitting on the porh waiting for my ride. He was a few minutes early which was fine by me. My driver drove out to an area that was lined up with eight B- 17's which these pilots were delivering to London. In away this was a working trip the gunner explained the working of the belt gun.
In case of attack I would be one of only 2 gunners on this skeleton crew. The radio operator yelled out it is time. The pilots began to fire off the engines and one behind the other they made their way out onto the runway. These guys considered them self taxi drivers all they did was ferry bombers across the ocean to London, really to one of the bases near there.
And so began our twenty four hour trip of boredom. The B-17 had a cruising speed 170 kph and the trip was almost 4000 miles.We were expected to be in the war soon so Uncle Sam was building up a stock pile.
When the planes landed in England the bombers were concealed under camouflage netting and tarps. We had been out for about sixteen hours when the pilot said gunners test your guns. We pulled the hammer took off the safety and fired a short burst. The guns worked okay we moved to the next set of guns, until all had been tested. The gunner said I hope we don't have to use them.
I ask how often they were needed. He said about 3 out of five trips we are attacked. It is difficult to defend when you only have two gunners to man 13 gun s. When we are attacked we average losing two to three planes, Luckily when they attack we are not far from land and most that bail out are picked up soon after by fishermen or Coastguard.
The trip was a quiet one until the pilot came on the radio Gunners man your guns and look alert we are with in three hours of the Coast. We manned the guns and began to sweep the sky after a few minutes the radio started Crackling Bandits, Bandits, Bandits 9 O'clock high.
I could hear the other gunners firing. I kept scanning when suddenly the Co-Pilot yelled Bandit 2 O'clock. That was my cue I disengaged the safety swept the sky and lined up with the fighter streaking toward me. I pressed the trigger in bursts as I had been shown as the German fighter streaked under our lane I screamed I hit him he has oil coming out his side. As he emerged from under us my partner was on him and 1 short burst later the German exploded.
My partner yell that's one Me 109 down. I yelled make that two and pointed out his turret at another smoking and streaking for the sea then we saw the parachute. The fight went on for another 15 minutes then the me 109s broke off we could see at least three of them smoking. We had not lost a plane although #4 was shot up pretty bad and had injuries on board. We were lucky in more ways than one. Right now there were not a lot of B -17 in operation ( it would be until after Pearl Harbor that they would be back into full production).
Each of the the planes had no more than three gunners it is a shame considering each B -17 had Thirteen 50 caliber machine guns if they were all manned they are a force to be reckoned with, so we really did good. One thing on our side is the Me 109 s were at the extent of their fuel.
If they wanted to get back to their home field their attacks had to be hit and run. The rest of the trip was pure gravy When we were ready to land # 4 held back to land last His undercarriage was shot all to pieces &hellip. The co pilot took one in his right hand and the port side gunner had both legs scissored by the 109s bullets. They did a fly by so the tower could take a look, It didn't look very good, neither wheel would come down. They had them go around and go to runway North it was rarely used so would not block regular traffic.
The tower dispatched an ambulance and fire equipment to that runway. The pilot lined up as well as he could. The crews of the other planes were on the ground running toward the north runway. As #4 lowered toward the tarmac the pilot pulled back on the stick stalling the engine, He pushed the stick forward and pancaked. It was a perfect text book no wheeled landing. The crew all walked out with no further injuries.
As they deplaned they were surrounded by the other Crews. We all had to be debriefed, my partner and I received a Commendation for shooting down one of the 109s The gunner who got the other also received a citation. I stepped aside and contacted Louise, "Where are you?" … 'I am waiting in your room.' When I reached my room Louise truly was there.laying on my bed 'NUDE'.
I picked up the phone called the front desk and asked if the room next door was vacant "it is … have the bell boy bring the key and the connecting door key and register the room to Sam Chase." Louise asked why are you renting another room I told her I would tell her later. The door bell rang I opened the door and accepted the keys from the bell hop gave him a nice sized tip and locked the door.
I unlocked the connecting door escorted Louise and her clothes into the connecting suite and locked the door. Now I can tell you why, Every time You and Carol and I would almost get together some one would knock on the door and away we would go. Now when they come for Chad Lincoln he is not there, I started to undress. I heard the bell ring next door and laughed. I grabbed Louise and pulled her nude body to me.
I placed my lips on hers and sunk my tongue deeply and tongue wrestled with hers I began caressing her back. ummm just as smooth as Carols. I moved my hands to the front and grasped her nipples, I twirled them and.Oh No not again. The door burst open and there stood three British military police … .'Major Lincoln please get dressed your plane awaits you.'. " What happened to the meetings for tomorrow." …' Montgomery was called away.
So the original orders are back in force.' I got dressed and they escorted me to the field to board a Vickers Wellington. It seems Bombers are my bird of choice. We arrived just in time for the Bomber group to start engines. The bomb run was in occupied France on the way I was to make my jump. There was a lot of flak as we crossed the coast the star burst shell's rocked the plane.
The pilot sent word back that we had 30 minutes I changed my clothes to those of a German civilian. Put on my parachute and made ready. The red light came on and a crewman opened the door. The light turned green and I stepped out the door. The bombing run with over 500 bombers were on a run about 200 miles into Germany to bomb factories and rail lines. As soon as we crossed into Germany was my cue.
I would have no clue as to where I was til I was on the ground.