War Diary: 758th Squadron

W A R   D I A R Y
758th Bombardment Squadron (HV)
A.P.O. 520 U.S. ARMY

10 February 1944
Our Squadron, seven (7) officers and two hundred and fifty seven (257) enlisted men, debarked from the S. S. John Fske at 1600 to the dock area of Taranto, Italy.
Dressed in full field equipment and led by Capt. Fedderman, Lt Lisko, Lt Capianbanco, Lt Archer, Lt Fellon, Lt Gammill and Lt Hillin, we marched to our assigned encampment known as Staging Area #3, approximately six miles distant from the docks. Cold hungry and tired we arrived at 1800. Finding no food available we immediately went to our assigned tents, hoping to gain some relief from our misery by sleep. All through the night the wind whistled around, under and through our poorly pitched tents, affording us with very little comfort, and with still less sleep. We all envied Lt Williamson and the two enlisted men who remained on board ship and were to accompany the TAT equipment to our final destination. Gosh, how we all longed for the warmth and comfort of snowbound Massachusetts.
And so we spent our first night on the shores of “Sunny” Italy.

11 February 1944
Immediately upon arising, our officers contacted the British authorities in charge of the camp and arranged for a supply of food. Bad and meager as it was, that first meal tasted good. The best part of the day was spent in trying to improve our tents and in gathering firewood from the barren countryside.

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(War Diary, 758th Bombardment Squadron (Hv).

12 February 1944
For the most part this day was a repetition of the day before. However, some of the men did hitch hike into Taranto, discovering a bath house and a fairly decent meal at the British NCO Club.
Lt Lisko, the adjutant, reimbursed the enlisted men with the stage like Italian money for the ‘good ole American stuff’ which we had turned in on the boat prior to our landing.
Conditions were still miserable. We were all anticipating, almost eagerly awaiting, our movement from this temporary station.

13 February 1944
Awakened at 0400, we ate breakfast, packed our musette bags, made our bed rolls and prepared to depart from this station.
Leaving at 0700 we marched in full field equipment to the railroad terminal in Taranto, where we loaded our baggage and boarded the train awaiting us.
The armament section in charge of Lt Archer, consisting of forty (40) enlisted men, remained behind and was scheduled to travel with the next departing Squadron.
We left Taranto at 0900, travelling up the Adriatic Coast through Bari, Barletta to Cerignola, our destination, There we were met by truck manned by our combat crews who had preceded us, and transported to Giulia #1, arriving at 2000. Due to the late hour, which prohibited the pitching of tents, the men were quartered for the night in the winery and farm buildings on the field area.
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(War Diary, 758th Bombardment Squadron (Hv).

14 February 1944
We moved into the Squadron area, the northeastern section of the Estate of Marquis Pavoncelli, setting up our Headquarters in the two story building found there.
Our air echelon, who had preceded us, had already set up their six (6) man tents at the northern base of the hill. With no more large tents available, the rest of the enlisted men set up their pup tents in the area surrounding Headquarters. The Officers were quartered in the two (2) rear rooms on the second floor of Headquarters building.
Capt Henry C. Reed was released from assignment as our CO and transferred to Group Headquarters. Capt Clifford Opper and Alfred Johnson, our S-3 and assistant S-3 officers, were both released from assignment and transferred to the 757th S .
Maj Daulton B Lee was assigned and joined our Hq as CO from the 756th Sq. Capt Walter E Black, Jr., was assigned and joined our Squadron as S03 officer, coming from the 757th Sq. 2nd Lt Billy S. Warren was assigned and joined our Sq. as assistant S-3 officer, coming from the 756th Sq.

15 February 1944
All our time was almost entirely devoted to establishing our camp site and setting up the various, necessary offices and workshops in the Headquarters and on the line.
Capt O.H. Vernon, Squadron S-2 Officer, arrived.
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(War Diary, 758th Bombardment Squadron (Hv).

16 February 1944
A Squadron Mess was set up in a tent for the enlisted men, who had previously been messing with the 759th Sq. The Officers continued to mess with the 560th Service Squadron.

No other change.

17 February 1944

18 February 1944
2nd Lt Alfred H. Johnson was assigned and joined our Squadron, coming from the 757th Sq.

19 February 1944

20 Februuary 1944
The Officers began receiving their meals at the Squadron Mess.
No other change.

21 February 1944

22 February 1944
S/Sgt Jimmie Miller, Squadron Mess Sgt, accidentally shot himself in the left foot while cleaning his Thompson Sub machine gun and was immediately rushed to the hospital in Cerignola.

23 February 1944
1st Lt Edwin Olsen, Squadron Navigation Officer, arrived.

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(War Diary, 758th Bombardment Squadron (Hv).

24 February 1944
Lt Thomas Rutherfoord, Squadron Armament Officer, and Lt Clifton A Schultz, Squadron Communications Officer, arrived.

25 February 1944
Sgt Gerald F. Owens, of the Ordnance section, died in the Cerignola hospital. Officially his death was attributed to unknown causes, but of us surmised that it was due to either drinking or eating of tainted food from some civilian source.
This was the first death casualty suffered by the Squadron.

26 February 1944
F/O Mercer was promoted to the grade of 2nd Lt.

27 February 1944
28 February 1944
Capt L.O. Fedderman was relieved from his assignment and transferred to Gp Headquarters.
Capt Aurther S. Vandervoort, Jr., was assigned as Executive Officer, joinign our Squadron from the 759th Squadron.

1 March 1944

2 March 1944
Today’s big event was our Squadron’s first mission.
Led by Maj Lee, the planes took off at 0900 to bomb Villetry Town. Tension concerning this, the first mission, could be felt everywhere. All, our ground echelon and those of the air echelon not flying, were actually ‘sweating it out.’
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