Biography of Victor A. Tarzia

Sgt, Crew Chief/Gunner, 410th Bomb Group, 9th AF, U.S.A.A.F.

   This is the diary of my father Victor A. Tarzia (1920-1992). It isn't much but it may interest you here and there. Here are a few prefatory notes -- they are extensive because I made more for the enjoyment of my own children who someday may be interested in the man they were too young to recall. Other readers may skip over what is not interesting, of course. I bracket his war experience with a brief bio before and after the war, to put things in perspective, since the solider is formed by home, after all, and later the war forms the man.

   My name is Wade Tarzia (born 1958), the son of Victor Tarzia, and this is the diary of his war experience, a diary that unfortunately covers only a few months of the approximately 4 years he spent in the war. My father was born from Italian immigrant parents in Haverhill, Massachusetts about a year after they got off the boat. He grew up very poor, often starving (he had rickets as a child), but that made him inventive, he once told me -- he and his cousin hunted small game, robbed gardens, and fished along the Merrimack River to quiet their stomachs, building their own boats out of scrap wood from behind the many shoe factories in the town (this early skill in carpentry would serve him well for the rest of his life). Into his teens he grew up to be a rather wild youth, often living on his own after the age of 16 due to squabbles with his father. No doubt these characteristics made him good war material, in some ways, although his short temper with authority -- especially for stupid authority -- would later cost him some rank.

   He enlisted in the war because he knew he would be drafted any way, and he wanted to choose -- he chose the Army Air Corp for a variety of understandable reasons (he wanted to work on engines, to fly, etc.). One his storiies illustrates how his skills came together during training. he one day, a few years before he died, narrated matter of factly how he had invented a new oil filter for a B-26 while in Florida training. As a line mechanic he was tired of changing out the engines -- they a few hundred hours on them and then the bearings went. So he and a machinist buddy simply made a new filter -- he described using screen and cotton, etc. When his engines were staying in the air much longer than usual, a team of officials came by to see why. Dad said among them was one someone who would go on to the Cuno Corporation (they make filters!). They took his filter off, and that was the last he saw of it. Sounds like folklore, but after witnessing all the inventive ways in which he would build mechanized toys for us kids and fix my crashed dirt bikes, I find his story utterly believable.

   In fact, he rarely told war stories as I was growing up. He would joke that he "would hide under the bed when the shooting started." After he died, two of his war buddies called me up, and I asked some corraborative questions, and they gleefully verified some of the wilder stories he had begun telling me a few years before he died: "Oh, yeah, believe him: your father was a wildman!" said one. I had found his story of "how I checked myself out of the Army at the end of the war" a tall tale (notes on that below), but that was the one his buddies were most insistent I believe.

   When he came home from the war, he once said "I was crazy, my nerves were all shot from flying over a hundred missions." He took up some dangerous sports, such as dirt-track auto racing, but stopped after he a saw a man killed, figuring, "It would be stupid to get killed on a race track after surviving the war." He worked various jobs, was consdiering a job offer to become an airline mechnaic, but then met my mother, got married, and settled down to life in the city where he was born. He eventually "officially" learned to fly with the locally famous Howard Dutton of Haverhill Airport, owned a series of small airplanes (Aeronca Super Chief, Stearman, and two Piper Cubs) but stopped flying after his last plane was ruined in a hurricane (no insurance!). he and my mother then took up part-ownership in a race horse or two, built a barn, and enjoyed that hobby for a while (I was born in that time). His need for civilized adventures would be later quenched with a cabin cruiser, a maintenance nightmare which he cursed an enjoyed for 20 until his death.

   After he died, I was going through Dad's books and found his diary among other things such as aircraft repair manuals. He had kept it for about 3 months in 1944, covering his shipping-out from Florida after aircraft training and some days through the D-Day invasion. The diary is called "A Line a Day" and is meant to have you write, literally, a line per day. Each page has 5 divisions to let you write a line for each calendar day for 5 years to let you compare your doings on that day for 5 years. This stupid book evidently constrained my father from writing more than a line per day! So the most dramatic events are glossed over with a few words. Probably he wasn't inclined to write much more, any way (a man of action, and talking, but not of writing!) but still, I think if it wasn't for those damned lines drawn across the pages, he would have had more to add!


   In the text below, words in brackets [ ...] are places I cannot make out because of poor handwriting. He often didn't capitalize or use punctuation, so I had to guess at dividing the sentences and phrases. I also made comments in parentheses; many of these notes will seem obvious to old soliders or history buffs, but I have preserved this diary for my children and other young folk, to whom all this is like ancient history -- dim and mysterious. I tried to track down some of his information from a batch of booklets and books compiled by a World War II reunion organization for the 410th Bomb Group, which formed in the early 1980s, I believe, to party once a year and preserve the history and oral history of their units. He trained on B-26s and P-40s in Florida, but was assigned to Douglas Havoc A-20 fighter-bombers once in England. As he wrote this journal he was 24 years old.


   The diary has a page for personal information (fill in the blanks stuff) and Dad wrote: Sgt. Vic Tarzia # 11037916, 633 River Street, Haverhill, Mass., USA. U.S. Army-AAF (Army Air Force). Weight: 180, Height 5'9". Hair: Brown. Eyes: Brown. In case of emergency notify: Father + Mother, Mr. + Mrs. James V. Tarzia, Haverhill, Mass., USA. Gloves: 11. Hat: 6 7/8. Shoes: 10 1/2 C. Hoisery: 12.

March 11, 1994 -- Beginning. At Lakeland Florida. Ready to go to P.O.E. on the morrow. I am going over seas at last after 2 years in the states.

(Wade Tarzia's note: Dad trained two years in Florida officially as a mechanic, gunner, and photographer, and he unofficially learned how to take-off and land a bomber through the informal instruction of pilots who wanted their crews to know what to do if the pilots were hit. )

March 12 -- We have our orders and move out tomorrow. Where -- it remains to be seen.

Dear Diary: On train and rode all day and rested. I'm excited.

March 13 -- Train was pretty nice. Rested and enjoyed trip.

March 14 -- Arrived at last camp in U.S.. [for] [in] Camp [Kilmer] at Brunswick, N.J. N.Y. P.O.E.

March 15 -- Still here in body; mind is at home. Waiting and processing and classifying.

March 16 -- Expect pass in few days so we have a vague hope now of seeing NY once more, and home.

March 17 -- Almost done processing so hopes are way up for our expected passes. Will go to Brlyn [Brookland].

March 18 -- Pass is secure now. All I can do is wait now.

Match 19 -- Went to Unc. [Uncle?] John's house and Mom and Pop waiting for me and everyone.

March 20 -- Got back from N.Y. at 6:00; slept till 4:00 and got 1 more pass and went to Bklyn again.

March 21 -- Moved out unexpectedly to N.Y. and troop ship S.S. Saturnia. An Italian luxury liner; now in U.S. hands.

(Wade's note: Dad talked about this ship a little bit; decades later he was still impressed by the big ship) .

March 22 -- Explored ship and learned destination. England. Got M.P. duty for trip [tho] whole of our Sgdn (Squadron) went for ride to Sandy Hook.

(Note: the 'w' in "went" might be capitalized and so might start a new sentence.)

March 23 -- 6:00 we weighed anchor and pulled out of New York for the High Seas.

March 24 -- On the sea. Convoy all round; 50 or more ships so far as I can see.

March 25 -- Sea calm, gray day no sun. I love it out here. Navy gun crews had practice to.

(Note: the "to" ended with a period; perhaps he meant 'today'. My father built boats when he was a child living on the banks of the Merrimack River in Haverhill, and he owned a boat up to his death-day, and he always loved the river and the sea; so it doesn't surprise that he writes "I love it out here" and does not apparently suffer seasickness as he notes others are doing, below!)

March 26 -- Some cases of sea sickness. Had spaghetti dinner with the Italian crew. Nice fellows.

(Note: This entry characterizes my father well -- feasting while others are seasick! Perhaps I inherited his anti-sea-sickness gene, because I never got sick during some pretty bad days working charter fishing-trips on a summer job.)

March 27 -- Wind rising, expect rough weather. I love it [tho].

(Sounds just like my Dad in his young wild days...)

March 28 -- Theres a hell of a storm out, worst I've seen. Stayed on deck and ducked the big ones that broke [over?] the sea wall.

March 29 -- Had dinner with crew. Storm has died some but left heavy swells and boats rocking something fierce.

Match 30 -- Storming all day; boat is like an apple on a branch, all over the ocean. 40 ft waves and breakers.

March 31 -- Sea rough [but] good going tho. Sub sighted; course changed several times.

(Note: I suppose he meant a German submarine, thus they changed course a lot to try to lose it.)

April 1 -- Wet day today. Saw [sand/land?] [boned/nosed/loaned/ board?] B24 today so we are near England. Fog and rain today.

(I can't guess what those two words mean, only that he saw a B24 bomber flying overhead. Curator's note, the words should be "land based")

April 2 -- 13th day on board and we've passed the mine fields. Guess we see land tomorrow.

April 3 -- In the channel between [Irel/Irei] [he means Ireland] and England. Passed the Isle of Mann and out [past] signal boat. Scotland here we come.

April 4 -- Anchored in Firth of Clide (Clyde?), Scotland. We sail to [glasco] (Glasgow) tomorrow up the river. First real land in 14 days. 15th now.

April 5 -- Packed up and got ready to disembark. Left Saturnia at 1:00 on train, all nite [reach] Birch, England in the morning.

April 6 -- Settled at [Birch]. We won't stay here long. I guess. Went to town for first time and saw the queer English people.

(For a young Italian-American, landing in England was apparently like landing on Mars, to Dad!)

April 7 -- Stayed in camp and looked over equipment and really cleaned up for a change. Saw our Libs and Forts go over and blast Jerry.

(He means that he saw the B17 Flying Fortresses and B24 Liberators flying overhead to bomb Germany. My apologies to people of German heritage for the ethnic slur, but to the young men it was war, you know.)

April 8 -- Colchester today, went to a dance and a few pubs for a beer or two.

April 9 -- Easter Sunday turned out nice. We join the 9th air force today. Wrote some letters today, home and Mary.

(Dad refers to "Mary" and her letters quite often, and I suppose it was a girlfriend. He has many photos of a beautiful young woman among the papers and books among which I found this diary).

April 10 -- Went to town again today to dance to pubs and had swell time. Still no work for us and no aircraft in sight for us.

April 11 -- Stayed in and went to meeting of all [Micks/Michs/Nicks?]. Got the law down on what's what in E.T.O. Ships are in now.

(Note: I haven't a clue about the slang and abbreviation. The "ships" refer to his group's aircraft, since he refers to aircraft in the old fashioned sense of 'ship'; he also called his own post-war private airplanes -- Piper Cub, Aeronca, etc. -- "ships".)

April 12 -- Town again to dance and to museum. Ate dinner in town but nothing to be had but fish and chips.

April 13 -- Stayed in and cooked chops in the barracks and got some beer from the R.A.F. boys next door. Had fun.

(Note: As I have maintained elsewhere, food and feasting and fun were what was most important to Dad. I wonder if the English seemed less 'queer' to him after they gave him beer!)

April 14 -- Colchester again. Walked around, went to a few pubs and back to the dance.

April 15 -- We packed up today and are ready to leave in the morning. Ships are to go on ahead of us. Had steak in [bks] (barracks?) tonite. Yum.

April 16 -- Up at 5:30 and left by convoy for Braintree and Gosfield, our new home. Base is pretty good and we like it.

April 17 -- We eat in [Gos'd] (Gosfield?) mess but may get our own mess hall. Rumors are thick and fast.

(Note: I wish I knew whether he meant rumors about the food or the war!)

April 18 -- On line for the first time, looks good after we cleaned up a little. Had a raid tonite but not near but close enough for me.

(Note: I assume that the Germans bombed or strafed some nearby target. Dad mentioned this to me on a few occasions. He once spoke about a fighter plane that strafed the field fairly regularly, and how people -- himself included -- would check out rifles to help shoot at the fellow as if it were a kind of game; this might have been when the group moved to France. He mentioned getting an M1 carbine and shooting at the plane. Eventually they downed the plane -- he has some photo of it, but whether it was this particular plane or a similar incident elsewhere I don't know. Sounds like a dumb pilot to me, to strafe when expected! Dad mentioned a Frenchman, named Legerac {etc. -- he pronounced it something like 'lay-zer-arc']: "Legerac, I'll never forget his name," he said a few years ago, throwing his head back to laugh. "When the plane strafed he'd fall down on his knees to pray!")

April 19 -- Got tools issued and 9 aircraft of ours came in today. Busy day for us today.

April 20 -- Got our own Sqdn mess hall so from now on we won't be [buttered/battered?] with sloppy grub. Good for us.

April 21 -- We are at work for good now, worked all day and guard at nite. Tough but necessary.

April 22 -- Sqdn mess [opened] today. Work going on beautifully. Start a bit of casual flying for a week or so in a few days. Raid tonite JERRY.

(Note: I'm not sure if he meant they the Germans raided them or some squadron raided the Germans. He capitalized 'Jerry'.)

April 23 -- Got a [mess/?] of [bike/biks/?] in today for crew chiefs. Work as usual. Raid last nite, no damage to us tho we slept [thru]. Flying started.

April 24 -- Got gigged and have to stand guard tonite. Flying again today. Ships are new and slick.

(Note: The dictionary says that 'gigged' is a slang term meaning to earn a demerit as a punishment, especially in the military. So dad must have been a naughty boy!)

April 25 -- Got an ETO [R.l.b..r/Ribbin/Ribbon?] today. Had sausage in Bks again tonite. Real good tho. Worked all day. No mail yet.

April 26 -- Stayed in and shot darts in Bks today. Nine days are here now. Chilly at nite.

April 27 -- No flying today, started to paint [gray] recognition on ships today. That means combat is on its way. Goody -- ??

April 28 -- [Rations] day today. Had a Red alert today in Broad day light. Awful nice of Jerry not to wake us up one time. Day of (off: he often spelled 'off' as 'of') today.

April 29 -- All thru painting some names and designs on ships. Quiet tonight and I had guard again tonite.

April 30 -- Slept til noon. Day run today -- over France -- no bombs dropped. Just practice. Thats all. Mail? Yes.

May 1 -- No flying all day till late. First mission today but was a scrub run tho [nine/line?] bombs were used. Brought em back.

(Note: First run for which the 410th Bomb Group book begins recording. Records say the run was recalled.)

May 2 -- Paid today at 10:30. 22 1/2 pounds and went to town for first time in 3 wks. [Halstead] and Braintree.

May 3 -- Mission today over France. No bombs dropped yet but time will tell.

May 4 -- Today we bombed gun emplacements on coast of France. No flac on first mission.

(Note: The guns were at St Marie-Au-Bose.)

May 5 -- Day of today. Went to town Chelmsford and saw a movie. Had fun and got half ---- anyway. Felt good.

(Note: Dad drew a line after 'half', which he leaves for us to fill in. I suppose he sampled British beer that day, or a British woman!)

May 6 -- Dull day today, rain and no flying. Letter from Mary M today.

May 7 -- An new crew today. Mail day today, did some painting on Tallywacker. Two Indians on each side. Sis wrote.

(Note: I have a picture of an A-20 named Tallywhacker. Examining the painting of the indian-chief, I found a signature barely readable with a magnifying glass: possiblly "By V. Tarzia" or Cpl V. Tarzia." Mike Pezza (in The 410th Book of Newsletters, Sept. 1990, p. 17D) has him listed as assigned to the "Tallywhacker" along with Francis Keating, James Morrissey, and Thomas Koeber; Dad's photo of Tallywacker, has some notes on it: dated 8-14-44, 50 combat missions, has the crew as Lt. Dozier, pilot, T/Sgt Keating, S/sgts Porrechi and Czop, gunners, and Pvt Griffin, assistant). He has a second photograph of the plane and crew in France, with the note that "the great Tallywacker" was "never shot down" and was being "left for fatigue after 108 missions." The men listed on the back of the photo do not include Dad, so perhaps he was crew chief for the plane and flew on others as needed. Dad noted once that he had two or three planes. Below he notes, after he got in some kind of trouble, that he got a "new" ship. He did not remember the name of any other ship besides Tallywacker, which he recalled with some pride and pleasure. Nor do the 410th Bomb Group records state he was assigned to any other.)

May 8 -- Mission no. 4. Went out and returned OK. No opposition at all. Easy. No mail.

May 9 -- Usual day today. Painted and hung around. May get my own ship tomorrow.

May 10 -- Got my own ship today. Great break for me today. Good raid today, hit im hard. Flack is coming up.

(Note: This entry shows that he was assigned to a plane other than Tallywacker? Keating was the crew chief for Tallywacker, so perhaps Dad was to become crewchief for his own plane?)

May 11 -- I completed my inspection today and ready for combat in the morning. Flac is getting heavy, lost a ship today. No [mail.]

(Note: Records show two ships crash landed and one missing in action; flak heavily damaged several ships in May.)

May 12 -- Half day today and I went to London for first time. Saw bomb damage, it isn't bad at all. Went to Piccadilly and met commando's.

May 13 -- Still in London today but must take 11 oclock train out for home. Got in at 3:30 and went to work half cocked.

May 14 -- No flying today, played cards all day. Won 5 lbs 10 shillings (22.00). Stayed in camp.

May 15 -- Got radio in hut now and we got U.S. and all good broadcasts sounded good. And we had it going all day.

May 16 -- Rain today. Stayed in shack, of early, + no mail. I'm blue!!

May 17 -- Rain, no flying. Got off early and went to town and got pixilated [drunk] one [turn/time?]. V-Mail from Terry (Note: his sister, who also had joined the Army) and the Wacks (WACs).

May 18 -- Local flying today and no nite work. Day off tomorrow. May go to London. Letter from Marie today.

May 19 -- Went to London. [Gary/Guy?] [Puds], [Roy], [Leo/Geo?], Mike, and I. Went out with commando's, Went to Red Cross Club to sleep.

(Note: Can't make out if the 'Roy' is followed by a last name or a comma and another name).

May 20 -- Stayed in London all morn. and took train to Chelmsford at 11. Got letter from Pop. Work in afternoon. Of [Off] early, tho.

May 21 -- Local flying today. Letters from Mary V., Pop, Unc. John. Got Tommy's address today and wrote to him.

(Note: Tommy may be Tommy Gerino, Dad's childhood friend, still alive as of 1992, I think.)

May 22 -- Local flight today. Gray day and nothing special. So we just hung around.

May 23 -- Very little work today and no flying, relaxed all day. Letter from Pop today.

May 24 -- Two missions today no flac and dropped all eggs. Worked on brakes today till 10. No mail.

May 25 -- 1 mission today. 1 bomb dropped on taxis strip, we all had to leave for fear it would blow up. No such luck tho. Fuse was taken out.

May 26 -- Lost 1 ship today which we had lent out to another Sqdn. One of ours nosed in the ground [tho]. Lots of flac and worked all nite.

(Target: an airdrome at Beaumont Sur Oise. He probably worked all night fixing flak damage to his plane. Records note two ships crashlanded in May.)

May 27 -- Two missions, one ship crashed on landing. Little flac. Got package from Pop. One from Mary M is on its way.

May 28 -- Two missions, lots of battle damage but repaired it fast. My ship is still OK. No mail today.

May 29 -- 1 flight today. Ships OK. Got our battle jackets today. Lost 1 ship today but we are still tops. Tomorrow is my birthday.

(Target was an airdrome at Achiet. Note: Dad spoke about the flack once. He said that they wore armor vests -- the 'battle jackets'? -- but that he got small bits of flack in his back that he was still digging out after the war. I assume the vests were armored only on the front?)

May 30 -- Had alert last nite and did we carry our selves out. No joke a guy could get killed here. I am 24 years old today. Big boy now.

May 31 -- Local flying today and pay day to beat. Played Black Jack and won 2 lbs. No mail.

June 1 -- 1 mission today and [local]. I hope we don't fly tonite 2-6. Day of tomorrow. Lost 8 lb, won 21 in afternoon.

June 2 -- No passes to London so went to [Llford/?]. Had swell time and did go to London on the Q.T. of course tho. Stayed at the [H...] [Crescent?] Rx.

June 3 -- Back from London. 2/1 (he crossed out 2?) mission today. No severe damage. Local flight tonite, worked till 3:00.

June 4 -- No combat but 1 local. Windy but not cold. Lost 13 lbs today ($52.00). No mail.

June 5 -- No flying today, just [strict/strut/stuck?] maintenance. Days of [mail] cancelled today and we are restricted to the base.

June 6 -- Invasion of Europe started today. "D" day has come. We are glad and sent up our bombers to bomb the Heinies. Damn them all.

June 7 -- Working like hell. We are flying everything that will fly to give the Doughboys a hand. Constant roar of aircraft for 48 hours.

June 8 -- Letter from Pop. Said that [Kista] is dead (note: might be a cousin, possibly a childhood friend). Killed in action in [Carcassone]. Hit me very hard. Couldn't do a thing all day.

June 9 -- Rain all day, no flight. Still going strong in France. Hope they keep on rolling. No mail.

June 10 -- Up at 2:0 for preflight, off at 6:00, back at 9:45. Second mis. had to land at [Buick/Brick?]. Fog closed in.

June 11 -- 1 flight today. Fixed up our shack today and we sleep there nites sometimes now. No mail or pkg yet.

June 12 -- 1 mission. Rain and mist. Went to town this eve. tho for a few brews.

June 13 -- 2 missions today over France, really hit im today. Letter from Mary M. and Terry.

June 14 -- 2 missions today. Wiped out a town of 5000 in France believed to house all heinies. No one left alive in that place. Just a hole.

(Note: Vire was hit twice on the 14th, with a road junction as the primary target, according to the bomb group records, p.A22. Note: Dad said he was both a belly-gunner and camera man (the camera swung down and the gun swung aside of the belly hatch), so he often took pictures of bomb damage, and he was in a position to know the damage they had done.)

June 15 -- 1 mission and slept all day in shack and all nite. Day of [off] tomorrow. Hope mail goes thru yet.

June 16 -- Got gigged so got no pass but got the day off. Pkg from Mary. Won 4 lbs. at Black Jack to day way (anyway?).

June 17 -- Went to work in [Dean's/Dan's] plane, he got hurt. No flight. Won 9 lbs this afternoon tho.

June 18 -- Mission at 9:00, No B.D. (bomb damage?). Got two letters from Pop today. New weapon of Germany, a pilotless robot bomb on wings.

June 19 -- Usual day today, no fly -- all day worked on my plane all day. Raid tonite, saw first Robot bomb fall.

(Note: The robot bomb must be the V-1 buzz bomb, using a pulsed ramjet engine and a kind of crude auto-pilot).

June 20 -- 1 mission at 9 and one at 2. Hit supplies in France and blew 'em sky high. 0 letters from Pop today or any one. Raid today.

June 21 -- No mail. Hit Heinies at [Cherbourg] today. Waiting for my day off. Flying pilotless bombs came over.

(Cherbourg is noted in the bomb group's record, page A25, for the 22nd, with Champage de Meedin hit on the 21st).

June 22 -- Work all day and stayed on the line all nite. Today made my 29th mission. Still OK and ship perfect.

(Note: My father seems to take pride that he keeps his plane in perfect order, or that it is surviving well. I often recall how obsessed he was with keeping machinery in good order. He would walk by my motorcycle and in a single glance tell me what was wrong with it -- I could never hide any of my crash-damage or poor maintenance habits from him!)

June 23 -- Day off today. Went to London via Braintree, Chelmsford, [Rumford], Llford and had lovely time. Raid tonite.

June 24 -- None the worse for last nite's raid in London tho saw dozens; they are bad but we can see them day or night as they come.

June 25 -- Work all day tho tired. 2 missions today. Made my 32nd, still going strong. No mail but will write, got evening off.

June 26 -- Stand down all day. No flying. Slept on line. Had Doodle Bug raid. None dropped near. Rain, no mail.

(Note: I'm not certain what a Doodle Bug is: new slang for the V1 buzz bomb?.)

June 27 -- Rain and wind all day. Some local flying and worked all nite on nite flying. Worked in morning. Afternoon off.

June 28 -- Lay around barracks and cleaned up. Got a letter from Uncle John. One from Pop and Mary M. yesterday. Rain today. Dull.

June 29 -- 1 mission today. Mine went as [spare/?]. Usual day today tho. No mail. Tomorrow pay day and day off.

June 30 -- Got paid today and went to London on day off. Had best time I ever had yet in London. Letter from Harry.

(Note: Harry is his next younger brother, alive until the summer of 1993).

July 1 -- Back from pass and heard I am to loose ship and get busted for missing a [staff/stack/?] [ins.] Guess I'll be pvt again now.

(Note: Can 'ins.' mean inspection? Pvt is the rank of 'private.' This part of his military life is one that Dad did mention most often. He said another man in his group failed to do something while Dad was on pass, which resulted in damage or potential damage to a motor. Dad said he got busted in rank for something he was not responsible for, although since he was a crew chief, he was in some way responsible for what happened. He said that the leader (a colonel?) of his unit had him restored in a kind of 'mock' rank since the colonel understood the situation and knew Dad was a good crew chief. Dad mentioned that he was at one time crew chief for the Path Finder -- the plane in the formation that navigated and signaled the time to drop bombs. In fact, he met a former officer -- the officer who restored him to flight status? -- at the 1987 reunion in Florida, and Dad said he recalled his name. Dad must have continued flying in this fashion for a long time, since this is July 1944 (a picture of one of his ships, Tallywacker II, is dated August or September 14, 1944, at 60 combat missions, with Lt Dozier (pilot), Sgt Porrechi, Sgt Czop (both gunners), sgt Keating (crew chief), and Pvt Griffin (assistant) in the photo), and major action continued through 1945 -- the bomb group would move to France to hammer on the Sigfried Line and strike into Germany, a couple of months after his diary ends, so we are missing most of his experience through that year. And about the captain that busted him -- Dad says he punched him in the nose later, which led to his self-mustering-out after the war was won and all that was left was the occupation of Germany. Leroy Deloria confirmed the fact that Dad "checked himself" out of the army at this time ("He was crazy," Leroy said, adding that Dad's friend, Jake Lake, was too), and I wrote him to see if I could get some details. Never heard back.)

July 2 -- Didn't do a thing all day, just hung around, had no ambition, no hope and well no nothing. Letter, Mary M.

July 3 -- No orders out on me yet, just sweating it out. No work today, just hung around. No mail today.

July 4 -- No great celebration today, just regular mission and quiet. Still hanging round, no word on order out yet.

(Note: I suppose there was no great celebration for Independence Day, because they had plenty of fireworks of a serious kind!)

July 5 -- Orders came out. Pvt (Private) for me as of today. Didn't go to work this afternoon. No mail but from Harry.

July 6 -- Lost two ships today, pilots and crews. 2 gunners from our barracks were killed, and two good pilots.

(Page A34 of "The 410th Bombardment Group in World War II" records two aircraft MIA to flak, with crews, though a few days earlier.)

July 7 -- Left for pass today, went to London. Didn't have to work today at all. V-mail from [Johanna].

July 8 -- Back from London. Nearly got killed twice by Buzz Bombs in London, Leroy and I. It was close, and I don't mean maybe. L. Mary M. (letter from Mary M.?)

July 9 -- Pulled [acceptance]. Am on new ship and hung round. No mail.

(Note: I think this means that he was informally restored to crew chief status and was thus responsible for a plane, rather than simply flying gunner on one.)

July 10 -- Dull day today, 1 mission. Little work if any today. All ships OK. Leroy lost ship today.

(One aircraft noted as lost in an emergency landing on the 9th.)

July 11 -- Nothing special. Lay round waiting. Letter from home.

July 12 -- Dull again today. Went to dance tonite at Red Cross Club tonite. Very nice.

July 13 -- Letter from Tommy today. Slept on line all day and have guard tonight. So -- may write some tonite.

(Note: 'Tommy' is Tommy Gerino, I think, an old friend of his.)

July 14 -- Must stop diaries today. Orders to turn them in for duration so till then its fate and hope its over soon.

Note: This is the last entry in the diary)


   Epilogue -- On May 4, 1993 -- I got a funny and delightful call from Paul Woodward of Hertfordshire, England. He called early when I was at work and spoke to Eileen, who was surprised to get a call from England. She thought it was a scholar, or something, calling me about some anthropological matter. In fact, Mr. Woodward was calling to say hello to me and to talk about his relationship to the 410th Bomb Group, and indirectly with my father and others like him.

   Mr. Woodward called back later after I had come home (it was midnight for him!). He said he was a child of 8 years in 1944, an evacuee from London, and he and his brother lived near Gosfield where Dad and the others were quartered. Paul and his brother often came to the field, and he said they were well-treated by the 'Yanks'. He feels very grateful to the Americans for small kindnesses as well as for the defense of his home ground. He has visited the 410th Bomb Group reunions, is an honorary member, and has hosted members traveling in England. He extended an invitation to me and my family (including both sides, Dad's and Mom's family!), to visit him if we ever go to England.

   He had about my father's death in a letter I had sent to the 410th Bomb Group Newsletter, and he wanted to contact me to tell me I ought to be proud of my Dad for what he did, and that he felt grateful to him and the others, though he did not know Dad personally. As Eileen said to me, it is as if Mr. Woodward was calling to say his final farewell and thank you to a man whom he may never have met (although surely he and Dad at least crossed paths, and perhaps dad got him something to eat from the mess hall -- wouldn't that be in character!)

   It is interesting to see the other side of such a tale -- a child growing up in World War II, now an old man and still grateful for the foreign soldiers who defended him. It is very touching, in fact. I cried like a baby after that phone call, and still find in it the symbol-made-real of human goodness grown from human horror.

----- Dr. Wade Tarzia, September, 2002


410th Bomb Group Collection, 410th Bomb Group, 9th AF, USAAF

410th Bomb Group POWs and Evadees, By Jack Deuitch, S/Sgt, Gunner, 644th Bomb Sqdn, 410th Bomb Group, 9th AF, USAAF

410th Bomb Group, Unit History, 9th AF, USAAF

A Surprise Landing, biography of Karl Haeuser, Mopsy, 410th Bomb Group, 9th AF, USAAF

Biography of Jack Deuitch, S/Sgt, Gunner, 644th Bomb Sqdn, 410th Bomb Group, 9th AF, USAAF

Diary of Guiseppe A. Siciliano, S/Sgt, Eng/Gunner, A20#714 "Dexter's Dragon", 646th Bomb Sqdn, 410th Bomb Group, Unit History, 9th AF, USAAF - Not a Center Page Use Back Key to Return

A20 of the 410th Photo at Boeing Co. Site, Use Back Key to Return

Photo Gallery 410th Bomb Group Not A Center Page use Back Key to Return



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