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WAR DIARY OF 759TH BOMB SQUADRON (HV)
By Cpl Ervin P. Sagen
Northwood, N. Dak.
April 1–Captain Smallwood Hargis was appointed chemical warfare officer for the group today. This made the Captain busy looking through Circulars and Memorandums from Natousa (NATO/USA?), 15th Air Force, and what not. Our new Mess Hall opened today, and German Sally’s prediction that we would be bombed as soon as we opened the new mess hall failed to materialize. No mission today, perhaps due to all Fools Day — we fooled the enemy by staying home.
April 2–our Bombsight specialist, Lt Charles Zieglar, returned from a brief sojourn at the hospital. He looked very well, and it made me think a brief trip to the hospital would probably be more restful than the Rest Camp on that Isle of Romance, Capri. We had nine ships in the mission today, one returned early, and six completed the mission. The tolls of war have began to mark us, and we realize the seriousness of our business. The only bright spot was ‘Ice Cream for supper’.
April 3–Six of our ships were in the mission today, and all returned safely. Technical Sergeant Steve ?alice rationed out overshoes and mosquito nets today. Overshoes in summer, in sunny Italy may seem wrong, but try some of that mud while on guard on night, and they are much appreciated. The nets of course, were to protect us from enemy number two over here ‘Mr Malaria Mosquito’.
April 4–One of the airplanes belonging to the 757th Bomb Squadron was shot up quite a little in the raid today, and upon its return was unable to get all wheels down. The result, a beautiful crash landing on our runway, but stopping far enough to the side to leave the runway clear.
April 5–Flight Officer McArthur was transferred to the 5th Bomb Wing today.
April 6–We had an administrative inspection by Wing Headquarters, and passed with flying colors. No mission this date.
April 7–Private Hernando DeHoyes, The boxing Champ from Ordnance, went to the hospital today. We all received immunization shots, but no one minded much, having long since become hardened to the treatment of the Army Medical Section. Lt Paul Fawks, one of our bombardiers, sprained an ankle while playing volleyball tonight.
April 8–Two real, white, American girls, served us coffee and doughnuts. Tech Sergeant Plimpton, and 1st Sergeant Denton went to town to buy wines for our newly formed E M Club. This Club was to be run for a week by department heads, and then to be turned over to Officers who were to be elected by delegates from each department.
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April 9–Easter Sunday, and sunrise services at the Group Chapel at 0600 hours this morning. Other services were held at 0900 hours, and at 1000 hours. There was no mission today, which made it seem more like an Easter holiday for all of us. Today we had our greatest pass list since coming here, about sixty of our Squadron going to town to absorb the various things it had to offer, many of them goint in to attend the Church in tow. In the evening, the Bombshells from Harlem visited the E M Club and helped us make merry, and forget the trials of war.
April 10–No mission today. Eight of our best men received good conduct medals today, having been in the army at least a year, with a rating of excellent in character and as a soldier. All section heads held a meeting to discuss the Enlisted Men’s Club.
April 11–No mission. Our Squadron received its first silver ship today, flown from the states ATC (Air Transport Command). The Enlisted Men’s Club was officially opened this evening, from 1800 hours to 2200 hours. The receipts of the opening night was $189.00. The section heads acted as bartenders, and did just as good a job of selling wines as they do at running their sections. Mess Sergeant Ray J. Beddingfield was popular at the Club, for he handed out free sandwiches to all comers. This was the night when Cpl Sagen’s reputation was made–or was it the other way–for on his way home from the club he lost his way, and wandered through the barley fields for an hour before finally locating himself by watching the cars on the highway, and heading towards the road. When he neared the road, he was able to distinguish the Squadron landmark, two cement silos in front of headquarters, and his tent close to these same landmarks.
April 12–Another new ship joined our Squadron. All planes returned safely from the mission today. Supply Sgt. Steve ?alice received two pair of glasses from Tucson, Arizona today, giving him four identical pairs of glasses. He was reminded by Dr. Vetter, our Medical Captain, that he had better be wearing his glasses when he saw him hereafter. Ice cream was served for supper today.
April 13–Three new ships were added to our Squadron today, thus bringing up to par our quota after the losses we had sustained. One new crew joined our Squadron. This was our 20th mission today. Two of our planes were lost in the raid on Budapest this date. Among the missing was Hyman Cohen, 2nd Lt, who joined us ATC, and was flying his first mission with our Squadron in combat area. Our model crew, the backbone of our Squadron, who had been with us from the beginning were among the lost today, they were, Kennety H. Foley, T/Sgt, Benjamin ?. Avens, T/Sgt, Robert C. Nelson, S/Sgt, ?ayon ?. Steakley, S/Sgt, and William A Burch, T/Sgt, and Hugh D Covert, S/Sgt. Sgt Haier and Sgt Hummel payed baseball this evening, and a miss thrown baseball hit the supply tent, breaking a bottle of red ink, putting Supply Seargeant Steve ?alice in an irritable mood. Arlo Sudweeks was slightly wounded in action today, and became eligible for the purple heart award.
April 14–No mission today. The whole group heard a lecture by Colonel Williams on Intelligence. Pictures of Bomb results were shown.
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April 15–The Medical department of our Squadron began their daily spraying of all tents and all buildings with mosquito bombs today. This was to be their major engagement against the enemy, killing the malaria mosquito, which to many of us, was more feared than the human enemy. The medics also began serving atabrine tablets after the evening meal, which was supposed to become another daily precaution against the dread malaria. All beds were now covered with mosquito nets.
April 16–We received another replacement crew today. This evening, the Bombshells again played at our E M Club.
April 17–The rank in the Supply tent became too much for Sgt Hummel, Sgt Meier, and Cpl Sagen, so they were given a new, old tent, and moved out tot quieter surroundings. Sgt. Beaver moved in with them.
April 18–We had the election of officers for the new Enlisted men’s Club today. Sgt Ben McClellan, of combat crew, was elected president. Sgt Hebert A. Reading of Ordnance was elected vice president. Cpl Arvin F. Sagen from the Orderly Room was elected Secretary Treasurer.
April 19–No showers today, the water heater in our shower room broke down, and many disappointed inquiries about showers were received over the telephone.
April 20– Highlights of the day–ice cream for supper.
April 21–The only break in todays events was another mission.
April 22–No mission today. Lt Weinstein went on D6(?) to Bari today.
April 23–Today our Squadron made history, for it’s raid on Bad Voslau, Austria, went down in history as on of the finest bombings every done by any air force any where. The following message from Major General Twining of the 15th Air Force, quote “The superior performance of the Bombing attach at Bad Voslau on 23rd April by the 304th Wing is deserving of the highest commendation. No Bombardment Organization has ever done a better job. The skill of your bombardiers and the pilots ability to maintain good bombing formation is evidenced by the strike photos.” One of our planes failed to return from the mission. We bought four truckloads of block for the E M Building today.
April 24–Work began on “Sagen’s Folly” today, in other words, the new Enlisted Men’s Club Building. Native laborers were doing the work, paid by the government. The Enlisted Men’s Club fund paid for the material.
April 25–One of our planes is Missing in Action after the raid today. Lt. Stevenson’s plane crash landed in Corsica, saving all members of the crew, except S/Sgt Michael Malone, who went down with the tail turret as it was shot off the plane. Lt Stevenson made a heroic escape and landing after his harried encounter with enemy planes. S/Sgt Breegemeir was slightly wounded.
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April 26–No mission. It rained today, and we appreciated thos rubber boots which had been issued to us.
April 28–The rain continued all day, and although things were quiet, it was a relief to have the air freed from the dust which had become a nuisance of late.
April 29–The enlisted men’s mess tent was moved to a new location today. General Twining visited the Group, and presented four of our Squadron with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Those receiving the honors in our Squadron were, 1st Lt Robert ?. ?parger, pilot for the lead ship G Flight; 2nd Lt Robert O Williams, bombardier in the lead ship of G Flight, 1st Lt. Robert ? Spargar, pilot of the lead ship in F Flight, and 2nd Lt. Louis A Bellert, bombardier for the lead ship in F Flight.
General Twining commended this Group for its fine bombing of the target, Bad Voslau, quote “I can remember ony one other time that I was happier than I am today, and that was the day this group did such a job at Bad Voslau”. General Twining commended the whole Group, saying that only through the fine cooperation of all the members was such a fine job possible. Ground crew and Combat crew must work together, even to the last man of the Squadron in order to do such fine work.
1st Sergeant Denton led the members of the Orderly Room in a new paint job for the tables there-thus showing another of his very versatile number of skills.
April 30–Pay Day. All members of the organization were paid to date.
The month of April ended as a history making month for the 759th Bomb Squadron. Evidence of the appreciation of the performances of our combat crew members is found in the number of decorations awarded to the men in the group. At this writing, approximately 600 Air Medals have been presented with an average of two to three Oak Leave Clusters per medal. Approximately 45 Purple Heart Awards have been made, and fifteen airmen have received the Distinguished Flying Cross. History is made that will live long after the Squadron is disintegrated. May those who go back remember those who are left behind.
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