Lucky Lady in summer 1945 - stripped off everything that could be of use!
Back to England
Having a little Scotch blood in some of our veins, some of us took our parachute packs with us and carried them all the way back to England where this action was eventually met with open dismay. We proceeded down the road towards Sarralbe, wich McEwen had indicated was the direction to go; not the opposite direction. Shortly before Sarralbe, we met with infantry from Patton's 12th Tactical Advance Corp. who moved us to an old German barrcks just the other side of Sarralbe toward Saverne and interrogated us. They had had a lot of reports about German troops disguised as Americans infiltrating and causing sabotage. We had to show our dog tags and we were asked questions about American baseball teams, their names and key player names, etc. After passing this test, we were moved by truck to Saverne where we were fed andhoused by the infantry and eventually obtained some good old G.I. shoes from the supply home.
Although we normally carry our G.I. shoes on flight with us, some of us either lost them in the excitement or failed to take them out of the plance when departing. We were dressed in our flight suits, under which was the electric flying clothes and electric boots and electric helmet. This is fine at 60° below zero when "plugged in", but on the ground, we were very cold.
At Saverne, one evening between Christmas and New Years, Harris, McEwen and I were invited to meet General Walker and we joined him for cocktails consisting or fruit cocktail juice, with a piece of fruit here and there, and vodka. We stayed in the Saverne area through New Years and the main highway through Saverne was loaded with trucks and tanks and soldiers moving from the Colmar area to give support against the German breakthroughs north of us which penetrated close to the papers and I was not able to talk the presiding 12th Tactical Advance Officer into giving us papers and transportation.
My athletes foot was killing me and we soon learned that the day after day life of the infantry soldier was not very enjoyable. Just staying healthy seemed to be a major problem.
On New Year's Day, or shortly thereafter, we decided that we had to get out of hear, orders or no oeders. It had been noted that one of the officers left a weapons carrier parked at a certain location each evening with the keys in it, which was customary, and we decided to borrow it one evening after he departed. This we did and drove to Belgium. The details of getting there are extremely vague. I can barely remember saluting M.P.'s and driving through, but I cannot remember how we got additional gasoline or food. McEwen had maps and we also had our escape kit maps.
Late on night or early one morning, we were driving with the main headlights out and only the parking or running lights which offered only a slit of light. The road came to an end going either to the left or to the right, but we continued straight and hit the bank of a fairly deep drainage ditch with the weapons carrier going up, and then falling over on its side. At this point, I was riding in the back and I have forgotten who was driving. There were a few cuts and bruises and bumped heads, but nothing serious.
We started walking down the road and eventually got to an airport which was bombed out and closed. Somehow we got to another airport nearby which had a runway open and I was able to arrange a flight back to Southern England via the U.S. Army Air Transport Command, on a DC-3 transport. We arrived in merry England, south of London, on bright and sunny afternoon and telephoned our squadron officer at our home field at Orcham, England. If I remember correctly, they sent a plane down for us and flew us back home safe and sound to the 335th Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, Station 119.
We were trucked to our Nissen huts and given some clean clothes and told to clean up and report to Doc Himes, the flight surgeon, which we did. After a medical check-up, we were released for duty.
Since we had been reported "missing in action", as our plane was believed to have blown up, none of our possessions remained in our quarters but had been stolen, or shall I say "borrowed" by our fellow crew members and ground pounders. A few items had been boxed up and were located in a supply depot ready for shipment to our families. These boxes were promptly located and returned, with little of value in them.
During the following week, when we were on flight duty away from the premises, things began to reappear. Finally my camera reappeared and last, but not least, Harris had his pearl handle pistol returned.
The supply sergeant issued some replacement supplies, and when it was all over, the crew had almost everything back in material possessions except that we had all lost a little of our faith in our fellow man. I think that this affected me most of all; some it didn't seem to bother.