6/3/2016 Update: It’s funny that I don’t even know if anyone is reading this, but just in case, I’m adding this little intro. I realized that I didn’t add my usual summary at the beginning of this post in any of my three versions of this site. The big news was that Ang finally flies his first mission on May 22; a 4 hour 45 minute mission to Ferrantino. He finally tells Betty about it in his May 30th letter, in his typical joking way. I find it interesting that I’ve read similar descriptions in many WWII histories. They all talk about the fear and then they talk about the Red Cross coffee and donuts — and the shot of alcohol, or “medicine” as Ang says.
I’m always struck by how awful it must have been for both of them to wonder when the mail would catch up and yet they continue writing letters. Ang writes on the 28th that he’s finally received letters from Betty - 11 of them. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Betty seems to be on a whirlwind tour, visiting friends and relatives. It seems that everyone is in Chicago, even her mother, Margaret, who has arrived from California, and her sister Peg with son Donny. Sadly, all these people died before I realized I needed to figure out what was going on in May 1944 that brought them all back to Chicago?? Later, we’ll see that they took advantage of the situation by getting an amazing and treasured “Five Generation” photo.
Tuesday, May 22. Stopped after work and picked up coat. John and Bea over in evening. Bed about twelve.
May 23. Threatening all day - and rained about supper time. Had permanent - very curly. Home to Adams very late.
May 24. Rained. Met girls but broke so just had a coke. To Kays for diner and evening. Falls up and took us home.
FORM 5: C-22, Combat flight as bombardier, B25-J, 4:45h
[FROM ANG’S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION 1. These can also be see under the "Ang's Flight Log" tab.]
1 5-22-44 Ferentino Road Block.
Made two 360's over target because of clouds 9/10 coverage
1 box dropped--missed bridge. 1000 lbs bombs.
[V-Mail, postmark 6-1-44, sent to Chicago, forwarded to L.A.]
Sorry, I haven’t written the last couple of days—but I’ve really been busy. I wish I could tell you—oh well, never mind.
In our spare time we’ve been building ourselves an officers club—and that means more digging and more work. I’m telling you, I’m liable to wind up with three muscles—maybe even four.
Last night we went to an Officers dance. There were about six nurses and umpteen officers—need more be said?
So I went downtown and got in a crap game. I won three hundred dollars—lost it—won two hundred—lost it—and wound up three dollars ahead. All well, whats money—just paper over here—and that’s no joke.
I love you darling.
Form 5. C-24, Combat flight as bombardier, B25-J, 2:00h
(Crew/Mission lists that are available can be seen under the Official Documents tab.) [Crew sheet for May 24, 1944. ]
[FROM ANG’S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION 2.]
2 5-24 Orvieto Road Bridge.
One box dropped.
Flak heavy, scattered & inaccurate from airfield.
Missed bridge—hit power plant.
May 25. Warmer, but rained in PM and cooled things off. To Adams for diner - then to Grams. Did laundry and to bed at 11:30.
May 26. Very warm today. Adele and family & Uncle Paul in. K & family etc down for dinner. Sure glad to see them all. Bed by 11:30
[V-Mail, postmark 6-5-44, sent to Chicago, forwarded to L.A.]
I finally got three letters yesterday—oh happy day. Two from you and one from the folks—yours date 11 & 12th & right after you got to Chicago. Yes, it does seem like the old days again—getting mail from Chicago. I guess now that they’ve got my range[?]—I ought to be getting mail pretty regular.
I guess you’ve been reading about this theatre in the papers lately, eh what! Those Jerries are sure catching hell—and we’re giving them all we got! I sure would hate to be in their shoes—or foxholes right now. We sure feel happy about the boys on the beach head—and I’ll bet they are delirious.
Say, dear, If you haven’t sent those light bulbs—forget about them. If you have, its O.K.—someone can always use them.
I love you honey. Love, Ang
May 27. Cooler today. To Adams after work but to Gram’s for dinner. Out with Donny. Called Mel. Ha! to bed about eleven.
May 28. Lovely day. No one here for dinner. Up to Joe’s aunts—Mr. M. up & Mom out to dinner. I put Don to bed—and myself by 11:00.
FORM 5. C-28, Combat flight as bombardier, B25-J, 2:20h
[Crew sheet for May 28, 1944]
[FROM ANG’S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION 3.]
3. 5-28 Bucine R.R. Bridge.
Heavy, scant & inaccurate.
Shot at from Elba on course--
Got a razzing.
[V-Mail, postmark 6-7-44, sent to Chicago, forwarded to L.A.]
Well, its finally happened—I got eleven letters yesterday from you. Boy, it was like Christmas—yahoo!
They were all jumbled up though—that is different dates and not as you sent them. For instance, I know you have a job—and that you meet a lot of society dames—but I don’t know where you work and what you do—please tell me in one of your letters. Oh well, I suppose the ones in between will catch up someday.
Gee, I sure feel swell about getting those letters—It made me feel good.
I love you darling. Love Ang
May 29. Very warm. Mother, Kay & boys--E M & Jr to Adams for dinner. Reyniers and Pat out later. Bed about 1:00. Dead tired.
Betty, 2nd from right, with Kay on right and Betty's grandmother. Ang's father, Sam on left.
Form 5. T-29, Training flight as bombardier, B25-J, 1:00h
[Training flights not recorded in Ang's log book.]
[V-Mail, postmark 6-8-44, forwarded to L.A.]
Well, I’ve just gone thru all your letters—again! And now a few questions. Your job—what is it & where. On the tenth you said a notice from Fort Sam Houston told you my allotment had gone thru—on the 27th you said you hoped the allotment had gone thru. What gives? I guess that’s about all—you’re a good little information as a whole.
About the silk stockings—really honey, they weren’t worth sending. The weave was wide apart. When the clerk picked them up and put his hand in it and spread it slightly apart—it just sprung apart and there was a run a mile long. Those Brazilian made stockings are not the U.S.A. kind.
I love you darling. Love, Ang
May 30. Up about 11:00 and up to Grams - just loafed all day. Washed head, did some laundry & ironed. Back to Adams. Bathed and bed.
FORM 5. T-30, Training flight as navigator, B25-J, 2:30h
[Letter on air mail stationary, postmark 5-31-44, sent to Chicago, forwarded to L.A.]
I know, I know! Its about time that I got a nice long letter off to you. I’m sorry darling, but there really is nothing we do to make a long letter possible. Its absolutely the same routine, day after day. If we don’t have a mission for the day—All we can do is lay in bed until noon or maybe get a few letters off. Then after lunch, we sit around and shoot the bull or play poker until dinner. Then we play poker or maybe go to the open air theatre until bed time rolls around. So you see, theres not much there to fill a long letter.
The only thing that could be of interest to you is about our missions, and since we can’t tell you about them—well! That is I can’t give you the details about any missions—but I guess the censor won’t be too mad if I told you how I felt on my first mission. Here goes!
When I first got here—I didn’t exactly know what to expect. It sure wasn’t like what I did expect. Everything was just—well natural. The fellows were just a normal bunch of boys—and really swell to the newcomers. They helped us unload our luggage and helped us set up a tent—and gave us plenty of advice on how to dig a fox hole—ha, ha!
Of course we closely watched the old timers to see how they acted—so we could know how to act too—copy cats.
Well, we weren’t around very long before the newness and tenseness wore off . There was no excitement about the missions—no good lucks, thumbs up—nothing dramatic about them. It was just like going on a practice mission to Lake Murray in S.C.
Of course when the time came for my first mission—that little excited, choked up, feeling came again, and stayed for quite some time. However, it wasn’t quite like anything I expected. I guess those bull sessions and actions of the old boys is a form of group psychology—it sure helped. When we got out to the ship—none of the other boys acted like they knew it was my first mission—they acted just as if I had as many missions as they did.
On the way to the target I kept my eye on the lead ship and lead bombardier. Boy, if you’ve ever seen a shadow operate--I was that lead bombardier’s shadow. When he smoked, I smoked—when he put on his flack suit, I put on mine—when he put on his flack helmut I did the same. I copied his every movement—that is until the flack came up. It was very light (I found out later as I pulled my body out of the helmut), but for every time he ducked, I can proudly say I had him beat to frazzles. I was out of sight behind the plating before he even thought of it.
Well that kept me up for awhile until we went on the bomb run—and then you're so busy you forget everything else—and the next thing you know, you're back at your own field. Well, that's No. 1—and you are a veteran—ha, ha!
Well, dear, as they say—the first one is the toughest. After that, there is only one thought in our minds—and that’s to get those missions off and get back home. That’s all you hear around here—only 10 more to go—only 20 more to go etc—and I go home. They don’t count missions as one, two, three—its 49, 48, 47 etc to go.
And talking about that, they sure don’t waste any time in getting those missions off. Don’t be too surprised if I’m eating the Christmas turkey with you and the folks. “Home for Christmas” is my motto. Don’t expect it, but don’t be surprised—that’s all I’m saying.
I don’t know as yet if I’m to be a Bombardier or a Navigator or both—the old question again. However, if its ever decided—it will be right here, so that’s something.
Well, sweets, for one not having anything to write, I’ve done pretty well,
Give my love to everyone—especially to yourself.
Don’t worry about my poker—what I get out of my salary takes care of it for the month—there is nothing else to spend it on—everything is free.
Oh, I forgot to tell you, when get down from a mission the Red Cross is waiting with coffee and doughnuts—and are they good. And we also get a double shot of “medicine”. Maybe that’s why the boys are always fighting to go on a mission. That’s the only way to get it over here.
I love you—Love, Ang
P.S. Give a nice donation to the Red cross—I don’t know what we’d do without them.
May 31. Rained real hard in PM but still warm. Pat, Dee, Is, Marge & Peg to Adams. Had a real nice time. Bed late.
Betty and Ang were each "en route" during the middle of April 1944. Betty returned to Chicago by train. (She remarks it was a "nice trip." I know the train went through DC because she talked about it when she visited me here in Maryland. I believe the trip took all night and it may have been a "nice" trip, but I can't imagine it was "pleasant.") She has many people to catch up with in Chicago, and seems to spend every day visiting with people or shopping with her sister-in-law Jen. Much of this visiting takes place at the home of Betty's Great-Grandmother, "Gram" Harrington.
Meanwhile, Ang and his crew fly to Africa, via South America. He’s frustrated about what he can tell her that won’t get cut by the censors, but does a pretty good job describing what he has seen so far. His flights are designated as “A” for Administrative on the Individual Flight Record. He talks about crossing the equator and the Amazon which makes me wish I'd asked him what it was like to cross the ocean by air, compared to crossing by ship with his father when they came to the U.S. from Greece in 1926.
In his scrapbook, Ang makes note of his “Natal” boots on a photo of him in Africa. He also mentions them later in an October letter. Their crew was among the many that flew to Africa from the Natal airfield in Brazil. I’ve seen mention of these boots on many WWII sites. Most of the time, the person mentioning them says they wished they had purchased several pair. Too bad they didn’t have a way to have other crews buy more as they came through Natal! Imagine if they’d had the internet!
I’m guessing the long 8 hour flight on the 17th must be the flight across the Atlantic.
April 16. To Mass and dinner at Grams. To Adams with K. & boys. Had snack and then to Baffes[?]. Nice evening - bed late.
April 17. Up early - did some laundry then to station for bags. To show in evening. Bed about 12:30. Tired.
Form 5. A-17, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 8:00h
April 18. To Gram’s all day. Wrote Mom and Ang long letters. Then for dinner and home by 9:30. People here so bed late again.
Form 5. A-18, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 5:00h
Ang and Betty must have known that time was running out on them even while they might have wondered if Ang would ever really be sent overseas. We don’t get many hints about how they felt although Betty mentions how she misses Ang while he’s on overnight flights and she is clearly worried when she can’t reach him.
Ang had a pretty busy month with 11 training flights for more than 60 hours of flying time as bombardier or navigator. As usual there were movies, shows, and dinners at the base. Betty continues her sewing and letter writing. Where are those letters now?? She also mentions the "boys" go golfing on a day off. Now, I know Ang golfed at various times in his life, but it always strikes me a something so out-of-character. Wish I had photos of that! On the 16th, there is a 309th lunch. Luncheons for the wives were regular events on most bases. Funny that she doesn't mention Ang's birthday on the 17th, although she spends the day cleaning house and they host their friends, the Bylunds, for dinner. Arne Bylund is the pilot on Ang's "original crew" that flies overseas. She wears the green dress she has previously mentioned she was sewing. Ang was Greek, not Irish, but having his birthday on March 17 always provided him with an opportunity for a good Irish joke. Betty does have some Irish ancestry and perhaps she made her green dress just for this occasion!
On the 23rd she mentions that Killibrew's crew had an accident. The fact that she mentions this indicates how unsettling it was. I haven't found any information on this accident, but I know of several accidents during this time in Columbia. Killibrew is mentioned in Betty's 1943 diary, so I think they knew him from Hondo TX.
Betty’s aunt, Ann Goodwin and her husband Bill visited overnight on the 20th. Bill was in training with the Army paratroopers and apparently on his way to Florida. Ann was the youngest sister of Betty’s mother Margaret and the two of them were very close as they were only a year apart in age. The photo I’ve included is of Ann and Bill with Betty’s sister Peg and her husband Joe Fairchild. Joe was in the Navy.
As March ends, Ang is “on alert” for April 3, so they know their quiet life in Columbia, South Carolina is coming to an end.
Wednesday, March 1. Up about ten. To town and to Club. Ang didn’t show up so we came on home. He came home at 9:00. Bed 10:30
Form 5. March 1. Training flight as bombardier, B25-C, 1:30h
March 2. Had hair done. Shopped and home. Cleaned house a little. To base for dinner & show. Wrote letters. Ang had to fly.
Form 5. March 2. Training flight as bombardier, B25-D, 2:00h
Form 5. March 2. Training flight as bombardier, B25-G, 3:25h, night
March 3. Warmer. Washed & mopped kitchen & bath. Ang got home at 1:00 A.M. Had late dinner. Bath & to bed. Ang dead tired.
Form 5. March 3. Training flight as bombardier, B25-H, 2:15h
March 4. Downtown early to bank. Did some shopping. Ang home in P.M. Had dinner & out to Base. Saw show. Bed late.
March 5. Boys off all day - played golf and then a late dinner. Sat in sun for awhile - beauty of a day. Read in evening. Bed - 10:30
March 6. Rainy all day. To bank in morning. Read in afternoon. To Base for dinner & to movie. Home and bed early. Very dreary day.
March 7. Did some sewing and other odd jobs. Ang home for dinner. Wrote some letters and to bed early.
Form 5. March 7. Training flight as bombardier, B25-G, 4:00h
March 8. Finished sweater and sewed on green dress in afternoon. Ang not home for dinner - about midnite. very tired.
Form 5. March 8. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 4:00h, night
March 9. Ang didn’t have to go out to Base until noon. Read all afternoon, cleaned up & to Base for dinner & show. Home & bed by 11:00
Form 5. March 9. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 3:30h
March 10. Up early. Straightened up house. Wrote letters all day. Ang not home for dinner. Wrote some more letters in evening.
Form 5. March 10. Training flight as navigator, B25-D, 3:45h
Form 5. March 10. Training flight as 3:30 navigator, B25-H, 3:30
March 11. Ang on RON [Remain OverNight] to Boston. Rainy all day. Spent afternoon with Mrs. Bylund. Read and wrote letters in evening. Bed 11:30
Form 5. March 11. Training flight as navigator, B25-H, 4:25h
March 12. To late Mass and then to Bylunds for afternoon. To Base for dinner & show. Cloudy but cleared up. Bed about 10:30
March 13. Washed and scrubbed. Took nap in PM - had headache. Surely do miss Ang. Early dinner & to show. Read & bed by 11:00
Form 5. March 13. Training flight as navigator, B25-H, 4:30h, night
March 14. Ang home early - 3:00 A.M. He got home around noon again. Ironed & some sewing. Mrs Goldsworthy in P.M. Bed about nine - dead tired
March 15. Ang went out late today. Downtown to bank and shopped. Had hair done - ate dinner out. Wrote letters. Bed early
Form 5. March 15. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 2:30h
March 17. Up early again today. Cleaned house thoroughly. Bylunds here for dinner & evening. Drove them to town. Wore green dress. Late.
Form 5. March 17. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 1:35h
March 18. Up late and did nothing all day but write letters. Had dinner in. Ang home late & joined kids at Chatterbox. What a time. Late.
Form 5. March 18. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 3:45h
Form 5. March 18. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, :45h
March 19. To late Mass - rained all day. Ugh. Everyone napped all day. Had dinner out & then to Ramsh....[?] for evening. Bed late.
March 20. Coolish today. Downtown early & bought few things. To Club for dinner & movie. Ann & Bill here for night. Ang late.
Form 5. March 20. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, :55h
Form 5. March 20. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 3:40h, night
March 21. Ann & Bill left early for Fla. Downtown & to movie. Ang home for late dinner. Bathed and bed about 10:30 Cold still.
Form 5. March 21. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 3:05h
March 22. Dark all day. Washed a few things. To Mrs. Goldsworthy in P.M. To Base for dinner & show. Rained all evening. Bed early.
Form 5. March 22. Training flight as navigator, B25-H, 1:55h
Form 5. March 22. Training flight as navigator, B25-H, 1:35h
Form 5. March 22. Training flight, B25-H, :40h coded “W"
March 23. Downtown early and then read all P.M. Ang home about 8:00 and dinner alone. Killibrews crew had accident!
March 24. Washed and thought it was going to rain. Turned quite warm. Mr A called. Ang home about eleven. To bed then.
Form 5. March 24. Training flight as navigator, B25-G, 2:00h, night
March 25. [?unable to read] half way today. downtown & shopped. Worked on Ang’s clothes. Dinner, show & dance at Base. Very late to bed. Dead tired.
March 26. Sick. To late Mass and home & rested - feel a cold coming on. Ang on RON to Memphis. Hills for late dinner. Bed about 11:30
March 27. Sewed on black dress all day. Downtown & shopped. No news from Ang -- storms between here & Memphis. Bed late
March 28. Ang alerted for 3rd & he’s still in Memphis. Surely do feel low. Just loafed all day. To show in evening. Wrote letters. bed late.
March 29. Rainy & cloudy all day. Still no word from or of Ang. Tried to call him but no luck. At Base all P.M. & home in evening. Late.
March 30. Still no word from Ang - weather cleared up. Stayed in all day. R…[?] in for evening. Bed quite late.
March 31. Clear day. Ang got home about four P.M. Sure glad to see him. Now the rush starts. Bed early - did a few odd jobs.
[Form 5 for April shows a March 31 flight as navigator, B25-H, 3:00h.]
Ang & Betty’s established routine continued through February 1944 with more movies, dances, dinners at the Club, and quite a bit of rain. In between their social activities, Betty stayed busy with household chores and her sewing. Ang only has 4 flights recorded, but it seems he managed to get to Chicago for one more family visit. I haven’t found any leave orders but Betty mentions it in her diary, so perhaps he hitched a ride on a flight, or else his flight on the 13th took him that far. It appears they returned on the 15th. She mentions a cousin from Ft. Jackson visiting, but I have no idea who it was.
Tuesday, February 1. Ang not home for dinner -- cousin from Ft. Jackson came in for while. Bed quite late.
February 2. To post for dinner and show - getting low on points. Home and bed early.
February 3. Downtown when Ang went. Shopped and paid some bills. Fellows picked us up. Home alone. Bed about ten.
February 4. Washed today and scrubbed bath. Cleaned up and downtown. Bot material & shoes. Ang home later.
February 5. No dance at Club so to Chatterbox and then to some joint. Had a good time though. Bed by 3:00
Form 5: Feb 5. Training flight as bombardier, B25-G, 1:45h
February 6. Ooh what a morning. Out to Base right after church. To matinee and then dinner. Home early & dead.
February 7. Saw “For Whom the Bell Tolls” - very good. Rainy today. Bed late again.
February 8. [no entry]
February 9. Rainy all day. Up early and to dentists. Home by noon. Cleaned up & to base for movie. Sure got messed up.
February 10. Chilly today. Ang home early. Cleaned up trunk and odd jobs. Did some sewing. To library in evening. Bed late.
February 11. Rained all day- had hair done early. Boys home for late dinner. Wrote letters all evening. Bed rather early.
February 12. Washed and scrubbed floors. Cleaned up and to town to show and supper. Bot Ang some shoes. Read in evening and bed early.
February 13. To early Mass - home & bed again. To base for matinee and dinner. Ang & Kem on R.O.N. [Remain OverNight] To town & another show. Bed pretty late. Tired.
Form 5: Feb 13. Training flight as bombardier, B25-G, 3:05h
February 14. Rained cats and dogs all day. Downtown late for dinner and then to a movie. Ang in Chicago. Bed about twelve.
February 15. Warmer today and no rain. To bank and then home. Kem home so to Club for dinner. Ang came in later. To movies. Bed about 10:30
Form 5: Feb 15. Training flight as bombardier, B25-G, 4:20h
February 16. Ang home about 10:30. We both slept all P.M. My throat sore. He was [on] alert so early dinner. Ironed and bathed. Bed early.
February 17. Still feel a little punk. Laid around all day. To late show at Base. Of course bed late.
February 18. Cleaned house today. Cleaned up and downtown for awhile. Ang called - is at camp all night. Bed late.
February 19. Ang home early with a sore arm. Read all day - rainy again. Dinner alone. Read some more. Bed about 10:30
February 20. To 7:00 Mass - home and bed again. Read all afternoon - to Club for dinner & movie. Home and read awhile. Bed about 11:00.
February 21. Ang’s late day. Down with him & got license for Ann [?] Shopped and home for dinner. Sewed a little & read in evening.
February 22. Had hair done early this morning. Dark & dreary. Ang home but out to base. Alert. Read and sewed. Bed about 12:00
February 23. Nice day - very warm. Out in P.M. to Base to see parade. Very nice. Dinner & then to early movie. Home & bed early.
February 24. Ang home very early this morning. Cloudy and rainy. Shopped. Had phone call from John. Bed about ten.
February 25. Washed this morning. Ang home all day. Did some odd jobs. Cleaned up & out to dinner. To dance at Club. Swell time.
February 26. Sick. Boys off all day. Played golf in A.M. Ironed all P.M. Cleaned up and to store. Picnic supper. Read awhile & to bed early.
February 27. To early Mass - got up about noon. Had the car - to club for dinner & movie. Very warm. Home and right to bed.
Form 5: Feb 27. Training flight as bombardier, B25-G, :50h
February 28. Up about ten. Cleaned and re-arranged bedroom. Downtown shopping. Had bath in evening. Bed about 10:30. Tired.
February 29. Sewed all day on green crepe dress. Read awhile too. Did a little ironing. Wrote some letters in evening. Bed early.
In January of 1944, Ang and Betty had been in South Carolina for five months and had settled in to Army life. Ang was still taking classes and accumulating hours in training flights in B-25 Medium Bombers. He logged 40+ hours in the air, including 3 long flights of 7 or eight hours. Betty spent her time cooking, sewing, reading, cleaning, ironing, waiting for Ang to come home from flights or from the base, and worrying. She mentions going to the club for movies, dancing, and shows. I assume that they did those things together for the most part.
There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about January 1944. Ang and Betty lived a routine Army life. Well, except they did not live "on base" as the on base housing was very limited.
Joni Adams Sesma, daughter of Angelo and Elizabeth Adams. Ang served on Corsica with the 57th Bomb Wing, 340th Bomb Group, 486th Bomb Squadron. April 1944-April 1945.