Ang's letters in early September are mostly about his trip to Rome where the AAC has provided a "legendary" Rest Camp. He does a pretty good job describing his experience to Betty. We grew up hearing the stories about how he met the Pope in Rome. He sends some photos, souvenirs from Rome and mentions starting a correspondence course from University of Illinois. I think that it was pretty crowded in the L.A. apartment with various relatives coming and going. Betty mentions that they "almost had an apartment." But mostly, she continues in her routine of working, shopping, writing letters, and going to movies.
Friday September 1. Very slow day - ugh. Marian & I alone - so! Hasn’t been very warm last couple of days Read & wrote letters in P.M. Bed early 10:00
Form 5. C-1, Combat flight as navigator, B-25J, 4:20h
[FROM ANG'S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #31.]
Piave Susagana Road Bridge
2. Short & center
[written on verso: "Led. Thab.”]
[Crew sheet under Official Documents. Pilot was G.B. Thabault.]
September 2. My day alone at office. Did some Xmas shopping in P.M. Mr S up & dinner out & to show. To bed about 11:30. Dead
Form 5. A-2, Administrative flight as navigator, B-25J, 1:00h
Form 5. C-2, Combat flight as navigator, B-25J, 2:40h
[FROM ANG'S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #32.]
Viareggio, Lucca, Rimini, Ravenna
Wind made it possible to stay on our side of lines.
Heavy, Acc. & intense at Rimini
2 ships holed.
[Crew sheet at Official Documents tab, noted as "Pamphlet Mission."]
September 3. To late Mass—Not very hot today. Re-arranged room—and read all P.M. Had dinner in. Wrote some letters & bed by 11:00.
[Letter. Postmark 9-5-44. Written in ink on front of envelope, "9-11". Perhaps that's when Betty received it.]
Well, darling, I’ve just finished doing it----what I should have done a long time ago—applied for a couple of Correspondence courses at the U. of I. Don’t ask me what caused it—I was just laying on my sack wondering what to do with myself—when all of a sudden I called myself a dammed fool and got up and sent an application to them before I could change my mind.
There really is no reason why I shouldn’t have applied a year ago. I could have had a semesters of credit by now at least.
We happened to be talking about what we were going to do after the war a couple of days ago—and someone mentioned the fact that practically all jobs which required any educational credits at all—demanded at least two years of college. And, when you come to think of it—its very true. And so I figured that my year and a half at Illinois was wasted unless I added another semester at least—so I’m going to. Gee whiz, don’t I sound ambitious—you’d think I’d seen the light!
Its Charlies birthday today—so I guess we’ll celebrate tonight—providing we aren’t flying tomorrow.
I’m sending you a couple of snap shots. One of them was taken at one of the fields on the way over here. They’d shoved a tent and a cot at us and told us to take care of ourselves. We set up the tent and all that piles of junk is our equipment and clothing. You sure can see what I think of the job ahead. Ha—I think its cute. The other one was taken here a short while ago—its pretty good except that my face is blurred—or is that what makes it good?
Say hon, I wish you would send one or two of these pictures to the folks on loan. Make them send them back though. I can only get one print and we aren’t allowed to send the negatives.
I love you my darling—Love, Ang.
[Note: The 57th Bomb Wing site and 486th BS diary note a mission on September 3, and there's a crew sheet listing Ang on 6A. However Ang does not have it noted in his log book and it's not listed on his Form 5. Another in a long list of unsolved mysteries. The 486th diary says the morning mission was "cancelled for standby" and "finally left at about 1500 hours", so it seems likely he was scheduled to fly but didn't. I have two crew sheets for the 3rd and they're both under the Official Documents tab.]
September 4. Didn’t get up until 11:00—very lazy. Did some odd jobs around apt—then met Mom & to show & had dinner. Bed 10:30.
Form 5. C-4, Combat flight as navigator, B-25J, 3:20h
[FROM ANG'S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #33.]
Sestri [should be Sesto] Calende RR Bridge
1. Right end hit
2. " "
3. Center hit
[verso: "Thabault G.B. Rahatz, G.R."]
[Crew sheet at Official Documents tab.]
[Photo from Ang's scrapbook, labeled "33" on the back. The link, below, to the 57th BW site doesn't have a mission report, but it has this photo and the crew sheet for the 486th BS showing Ang on 6L and Tom Cahill on 6Y. You can also see the crew sheet under Official Documents.]
September 5. Cooler today—worked steady—Dashed home & picked up mail and then to re-pack trunk. Lots of mail. To bed about 11:00 Feel grand.
Form 5. C-5, Combat flight as navigator, B-25J, 3:05
[FROM ANG'S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #34.]
Solienano [Solignano] RR Bridge
1. Hit. 2. Hit. No flak.
1 ME 109 chased away
[verso: "Mell, J.R.” and "Rome"]
[Link to the 57th BW for this mission. Crew sheet lists Ang as Bombardier. Crew sheet also posted under Official Documents.
[Letter. Postmark 9-7-44]
Didn’t get any mail yesterday—but can’t complain. But—I did get some the day before—just after I mailed a letter to you—and I’ve got plenty to [be] complaining about. What do you mean by making a plain bald statement such as “Its my day at the doctors today.” And then leaving me hanging out on a limb about any details—are you trying to drive me nuts—or what? So help me—you’re going to get your little behind paddled plenty for that one when I get home. I’m trying to take it for granted that it was just a check-up—but you’d better explain in your very next letter.
And—talking about doctors—Mrs. Adams—have you gone to a dentist since I left. If you haven’t—you had better take yourself to one in a hurry. I’m telling you—if one of your little teeth is missing when I get home—you won’t be able to sit down for months.
If you don’t mind—I will indulge in a little self pity. What a wife I’ve got—In one letter she admits she now tips the scales at 101lbs and getting fat. In another letter she as much as admits that some doctor is scarring up her body with horrible operations. And then I remember that if she doesn’t go to a dentist pretty soon—she won’t have any teeth left. Woe is me!
I sure have troubles. The other day some general decided that all the Eyties would have to go home—and that included Skeezix. Woe is me! Of course we managed to work a few angles and he’s still here—but nobody knows for how much longer. Woe is me!
Well, I guess I’ve done enough crying—I will now dry my tears and try to carry on nobly—even if my heart is breaking.
Hon, don’t be too angry if you don’t get a letter for a couple of days—because I’m going to be off on a cossacking trip to the eternal city—Rome. I’ll say hello to the Pope for you.
I’ll write you all about it when I get back.
I still love you—in spite of that dirty trick you pulled in your last letter. Be sure and let me know about it.
September 6. Just a routine day. Mr. L out of town again. Another big batch of mail. Wrote letters all evening. Bot present for Bylund.
September 7. Very hot today! Washed hair & wrote letters all evening. Bed. 11:30.
Form 5. T-7, Training flight as navigator, B-25J, 1:00h
[I suppose this was the flight to Rome, but usually would be listed as "A" for Administrative. He says he's "going cossacking" but his later description of the trip sounds more like the famous Rome "Rest Camp."]
September 8. Very, very warm today. Marian and I loafed all day. Off at 4:15. Had announcement from Gail. To movies. Wrote Ang a long letter. Late.
[Letter, on American Red Cross notepaper, postmark 9-9-44]
Just a line from Rest Camp to let you know I’m still alive—even though I’m not every happy about it. God, what a “head.” Oh well, the “head” is only temporary—and I sure am having a whale of a time.
There is a sign in front of me that says I cannot tell you where I am right now—but I can tell you that I’ve been here. Since I’ve told you that I am here—you’ll have to wait until I get back to where I came from so I can tell you where I’ve been.
It may sound complicated to you—but to me—well, I can see it as plainly as I can see these three pens in my hand writing this letter. The price we mortals have to pay the morning after.
By the way, I sent you a package yesterday. A couple of souveniers—table napkins or something. One set is for your and one for your mother. All I could find to buy you for our anniversary is three pairs of silk stockings.
Ha—I thought that would make you take notice. I also sent you a bracelet—a souvenier affair.
I’m sorry I couldn’t get any more stockings. I imagine Peg and Mom would like a couple of pair—but I bought the last four pair. I sent the other pair to Jen.
I love you hon. Love, Ang
September 9. Up about 9:30. No mail. Downtown shopping. Saw “Going My Way”. Very good. Read all evening. Bed 12:30.
September 10. To late Mass. Had the strangest feeling all day - as though something was going to happen. Wrote letters all day. Home alone. Mom had date.
[Letter, postmark 9-11-44.]
Back again—and practically in one piece—I guess. Now that I’m back from where I’ve been—I can tell you where I’ve been. As if you didn’t know—I’ve been in Rome.
Naturally you want to know all about the visit—but I’m afraid I’ll have to do it in chapters. I’ve got so much to write about—that I’d have to make a package of this letter if I did it all at once. So, I’d better tell you the most important things—and leave the lesser things to later letters.
Of course the most important thing is—what did I send you—naturally! In the first package I sent you three pairs of silk stockings—a souvenir bracelet—and a souvenir some-thing-or-other (I believe it’s a napkin set). There are two of them—one for you and one for your mother.
In the second package are various souvenirs I picked up. One is a booklet with pictures of the various places I visited—I’ve scrawled my impressions all over it. You might find them interesting. Also a picture of me taken in “Broadway Bill’s” joint—and also a caracture (I don’t know how to spell it) drawn in the same place. Its really a beauty—what a profile—I think its cute.
Also several photos of the Pope & St. Peters. I meant to send some to your grandmother, but didn’t have her address so you can send them for me. There are also a few other souvenirs.
In the third package are two rosaries—blessed by the Pope—I’ll tell you about that later.
I sent a pair of silk stockings to Jen—and various souvenirs to the folks. I also sent a rosary to Gram Hend. and a cross to Gram Har. both of them blessed by the Pope. I thought they might like them for that reason. I had to send them in care of my folks because of the lack of address. By the way, one of the two rosaries in your package is for Peg.
And now to get to the “blessed by the Pope” business. I’ve always told you I would see the Pope for you—and so I did. We went up to the Sistine Chapel to see him. We lined up along the center aisle. He was carried in thru the back door and up to his throne in front. After giving us his blessings, he stepped down from the throne and came down the aisle blessing objects that people held out to him.
Occasionally he stopped and talked to someone. They say he talks 27 languages—and I believe it, because there was a variety of people and he spoke to them in their own tongue. He stopped in front of me and talked to me for a few moments in English. Our conversation is recorded in the booklet I sent you. He then blessed the rosaries and the cross I held. It certainly was a thrill for me—I wish you had been with me.
So, now when your priest gives you rough treatment at confession—you can tell him to watch his step or you’ll have your husband talk to the Pope. On second thought—if you have much to confess while I’m away—maybe I’d better talk to him about you.
There was a stack of letters when I got back—and I sure got a kick out of your being refused a drink. I told you what that dress did to you—ha! I sure got a kick out of it.
I also got the pictures you sent me—I think they are very nice. Herm sure looks cute in his uniform.
By the way, tell Mom & Peg that I’m sorry I couldn’t get any silk stockings for them—that’s all there was—and no more. Maybe my next trip. It’s a good thing I’ve been a little lucky—those things cost boco money—six bucks a pair to be exact. I hope they hold up.
I guess that’s all for now honey—I love you dearly. I only wish you were with me on these trips—we could really have a time. I’m always thinking of how much you would enjoy things that I’ve seen—Oh well, maybe one of these days.
I love you darling—Love, Ang
September 11. Had that feeling again this morning???? Almost had an apartment - but just a wild goose chase. Also had a warning from 502. Nuts.
Form 5. C-11, Combat flight as navigator, B-25J, 2:05h
[FROM ANG'S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #35.]
North of Florence
Light scant & inac
[verso: "Henthorn, G.R. Carroll, G.L."]
[I don't have a crew sheet. The 486th diary describes it as a "frag mission on enemy defense positions -- results--excellent."]
September 12. Work so-so today. Not so cool either. Mr. S for dinner - to movies alone. It’s very late so to bed.
September 13. Today almost like a fall day—quite coolish in fact. Read for while—but wrote letters for most part. Bot robe for Mrs. A. 11:00.
Form 5. C-13, Combat flight as navigator, B-25J, 3:20h
[FROM ANG'S FLIGHT LOG. MISSION #36.]
Pavia RR Bridge
2. West approach
[No crew sheet available. In his 2nd letter of this date, Ang describes it as "screwed up" mission but I don't see anything to indicate problems in the Group or Squadron diaries. ]
[Letter, typed on typing paper, postmark 9-13.]
First of all—I want it understood that Im using a German typewriter—and I’m not at all certain what will happen when I hit certain key; I don’t even doubt that a booby trap will go off any minute now. Boy, what a screwed up contraption this thing is. Anybody that tells you that the Germans are efficient—you can crown them for me.
And now to get down to business. I got the receipt from Fort Sam for the first 200 bucks I sent them—I’m enclosing it; I guess the one for 300 will be here in a day or two. I’m sending them another 500 bucks today—I’ve been rather lucky again this month—If my luck holds out and I stay over here long enough I ought to be quite rich.
I am also enclosing a money order for 50.00 for you as a anniversary present. Buy something foolish with it—such as I would have gotten for you if I were home. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart—I only wish I was there to give you something else besides money. Oh me, why do I think of such things?
In your last letter I got an idea of why you went to the doctor—I never did get the letter telling me why. I’m sorry I got so excited—and I’m glad you finally went. Do whatever you think is best about your tonsils.
Yes, I do expect to be home in 3-4 months. I already have 35 missions to my credit—so it shouldn’t take too long to finish up. I doubt if I make it for Christmas—but we should be able to celebrate my birthday together for sure.
Yes I had heard that the wives can live with their husbands at rest camp—and I think I can arrange to spend mine at L.A. or there abouts.
Now to get back to my trip to Rome. The Air Forces have set up a Rest camp there—and its really a beauty. They have taken over three of the best hotels in town for us. They really try everything that’s possible for us to make us forget about combat for a few days. Clean sheets—inner-spring mattresses—a nice dining room—wonderful food and a small orchestra to play for us while we eat. Ho hum—what a life! They even have two officer’s clubs that set up in American night club style. The one I had my picture taken in was “Broadway Bills”—Its quite a dump! It takes up the whole basement of a big building—and its made up to look somewhat like the catacombs. Its rather novel—would make a fortune in the states. They have a band—and you feel right at home. The other place is the Apollo Club—its really nice and has a roof garden on top—with bands in both places. They even have a floor show downstairs. Honey you have never lived until you have heard some Italian babe sing “Pistol Packing Mamma” and “Merzi Doats” in Italian—its really a scream. I did enjoy it very much though.
You should see the Red Cross officers club—its even nicer than the one they have in Chicago—what a place! The Red Cross conducts two tours a day for the boys—and they show you everything they can in three hours. One could spend weeks in this town and still not see everything—the whole town is full of ruins. We spent about ½ an hour in the catacombs. They extend for 17 miles and you’d have to spend a week underground to see them all. Of course we saw lots of other things—but you can get a better idea from the booklet I sent you than from a letter.
Let me rave for a minute about St. Peters—I have never seen anything like it in my life—its stupendous. I guess it’s the biggest church in the world—and also the most beautiful. The beauty of the altar and the dome is breathtaking. You know that it takes a lot to impress me—but the inside of that church knocked the breath right out of me. They claim that on certain days there are over 100,000 people packed in—can you imagine that. You know how cold “art” leaves me—well I’m still gasping from what I saw in there. The statues of Michelangelo and the oil paintings by him and other old masters are beyond description.
I guess that’s it honey—I love you very much. Love, Ang
I hope you don’t mind the typing.
[Letter, postmark 9-14.]
Please excuse any screwiness about this letter—because I’m drunker than a hoot owl. I’ve had a screwed up rough mission and I’ve got good reason to get drunk---whoopie. The only reason I’m writing this letter is to inform you that I won another five hundred bucks last night. And, the only reason I’m doing that is so I won’t take it over and lose it tonight. Now that I’ve told you, I’ll have to hold on to it and send the M.O. tomorrow or catch hell. Please raise hell if I don’t send it. On second thought, wait just one minute and I’ll give it Skeezix to hide so I won’t find it. -- -- --
-- -- A pause for five minutes while I close my eyes and he hides the money. I saw the little jerk put it in my gas mask—but its safe because I would hurt his feelings if I took it out. What a kid!
I’m not so drunk that I don’t realize how silly this letter sounds—so I’d better close now while I’ve still got a wife.
I love you sweets—Love, Ang
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.