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LT  James M. PIVONKA

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: NAV
SERIAL #: STATUS: FEH
MACR:

Comments1: CLEVELAND, OH

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2ND LT LESLIE H. DAWSON               P FEH
2ND LT JOHN H. LECHLEITER         CP FEH  (was injured in Bail out 20 Feb 45 and spent next 60 days in hospitals)
2ND LT JAMES M. PIVONKA         NAV FEH
2ND LT JOHN W. SILVA              BOM FEH
CPL CHANCY A. FINFROCK           ROG FEH
CPL JAMES C, NICHOLS               TTE CPT 17 MAR 45 RUHLAND & PLAUEN
CPL RALPH R. KITKOWSKI           BTG FEH
CPL PETER A. MORISCO               WG FEH
CPL RICHARD J. MULLANEY             WG CPT 28 MAR 45 HANOVER (taken off crew when reduced to 9 men)
CPL JAY L. HENION                     TG FEH

350TH SQDN.  CREW JOINED THE 100TH ON 5 OCT 1944.  For more data on this crew, go to 100th BG Data file and look under Lt Leslie Dawson Crew listing and under military.  This became a Lead Crew in December44/Jan 45.  At this time, Lt Lechleiter may have been given his own Crew.  Also Cpl Kitlowski would have been taken off this Crew and replaced with a radar operator.  Both of these observations have yet to be factually verified….mpf 2002

Lt Lechleiter stayed with the Crew when they transitioned to a Lead Crew but was injured when bailing out on Feb 20, 1945.  He was in the hospital in Belgium, Paris and eventually sent to a hospital in England.  He did not return to flying status unitl after hostilities and was put in the Engineering section of the 350th BS.  He stayed in the Air Force and retired a Lt Col. He is the only surviving member of the Dawson Crew.  This is from a conversation with John Lechleiter on June 30, 2010….MPF. 

Lt Jordan "Bailout Brownie"  Browning took over as Nav (from Lt Raiford Crew) when Dawson became a lead Crew.  See story below. 

In January 1945 Lt David Raiford received all the enlisted men from Lt Charlie "Hong Kong" Wilson’s Crew. This crew would eventually become a Lead crew consisting at different times of the crew listing below; Sgt Hoffpauir transferred to the 15th Air Force when they changed over to a lead crew and Sgt Jay Kendell moved from BTG to Waist Gunner. 

Lt RaifordsLead Crew after Jan 1945: 

Lt David G. Raiford             Lead Pilot
Lt Robert Wendling           Co-Pilot/Formation Officer
Capt Ross Chenney            Lead Navigator (from original crew of Lt Armstrong)
2nd Lt Charles J. Scott       moved up to Lead NAV (FEH) (from original crew of Lt McNab)
1st Lt Douglas S. Eden       moved up to Lead BOM (FEH) (from original crew of Lt McNab)          sn# 0-1997861
1st Lt Paul R.Ruth,Jr.          Lead Bombardier (from original crew of Lt Fellows)
2nd Lt Harry Tennenbaum   Mickey Operator (from Lt Shaddix original Crew)
1st Lt Earl Frye                   Radar/Nav          (flew with Lt Seamans lead crew and Assigned Group Radar Officer on 8 Apr 1945)                   
2nd Lt James  M. Pivonka     Mickey Operator (from Lt Dawson Crew)
ENLISTED MEN ARE FROM LT CHARLES "HONG KONG" WILSON'S CREW.ASSIGNED TO LT RAIFORD BEGINNING OF JAN 1945. 
T/Sgt  EMERY N. CASTLE      ROG FEH                                                                                sn# 37523614
T/Sgt  NORMAN G. NANCE     TTE FEH                                                                                sn# 19171578
Sgt   JAY D. KENDELL           BTG FEH moved to WG when became Lead Crew                        sn# 39908662
Sgt   GEORGE L. PESLER        WG CPT 24 MAR 45 STEENEIJK/ ZIEGENHAINE                         sn# 35051164
Sgt   ARCHIE E. HOFFPAUIR    WG FEH Transferred to 15th Air Force when became lead Crew    sn# 38266722
S/Sgt   JACK R. DeBORDE        TG FEH flew 10 missions as formation officer.                             sn# 39615579

Missions of S/Sgt Jack Deborde with Lt Raiford Crew/Lead Crew

06 JAN 45      ANNWEILER
10 JAN 45      COLOGNE
14 JAN 45      DERBEN
28 JAN 45      DUISBURG 
03 FEB 45      BERLIN      
06 FEB 45      CHEMNITZ 
21 FEB 45      NURNBURG
24 FEB 45      BREMEN
26 FEB 45      BERLIN
03 MAR 45     BRUNSWICK
10 MAR 45     DORTMUND
11 MAR 45     HAMBURG
14 MAR 45     HANOVER
17 MAR 45     PLAUEN
19 MAR 45     JENA
22 MAR 45     ALHORN
28 MAR 45     HANOVER
31 MAR 45     BAD BERKA
09 APR 45     MUNICH
15 APR 45     ROYAN
17 APR 45     AUSSIG

My grandfather's name was Chancy Lawrence Finfrock, and my uncle Chan's first name was after him. So, it is definitely Chancy Albert Finfrock. 

Born: 19 Mar 1925, Urbana, IL 
He concluded his service at the rank of: 
Tech. Sgt. Chancy Albert Finfrock  
Service ID: 3675-4556 
B-17 Radioman/Gunner 
350th Squadron 
100th Bomb Group 
13th Bomb Wing (3rd Div.)

MISSIONS of T/Sgt Chancy Finfrock (mpf 2002)

1.   26/10/44      HANOVER
2.   02/11/44      MERSEBURG
3.   05/11/44      LUDWIGSHAVEN
4.   06/11/44      NEUMUNSTER
5.   16/11/44      AACHEN
6.   21/11/44      OSNABRUCK
7.   26/11/44      HAMM
8.   09/02/45      WEIMAR
9.   15/02/45      COTTBUS
10.  19/02/45     OSNABRUCK
11.  20/02/45     NURNBURG (had to bail out due to flak damage, see story below)
12.  02/03/45     DRESDEN
13.  03/03/45     BRUNSWICK
14.  04/03/45     ULM
15.  07/03/45     SIEGEN 
16.  08/03/45     GIESSEN
17.  15/03/45     ORANIENBURG
18.  18/03/45     BERLIN
19.  24/03/45     STEENWIJK
20.  31/03/45     ZEITZ
FLAK LEAVE
21.  15/04/45     ROYAN
22.  17/04/45     AUSSIG
23.  20/04/45     ORANIENBURG (BERLIN)

CHOWHOUND MISSIONS:
      03/05/45     BERGEN
      05/05/45     AMSTERDAM   

AIRCRAFT SERIAL NO.  48400
Date:  2/20/45
Status:  SAL
NH:  G
Sqdn Target:  LN-W  Nurnburg
Pilot:  L. Dawson
Co-Pilot:  J. Lechleiter
 
          
Mr. Faley, I've tried to document a 'timeline' of his service in the 8th Army Air Force from the time of his entry in Illinois until he was ushered out in San Antonio.  The following was put together from an 'interview' that I did with my Uncle Chan in Dec-1998.   
1943 
Jun  URBANA, IL  & RANTOUL, IL – Enlistment/Testing @ Chanute AFB
                             Graduated from High School and signed up with the draft board to enlist.  “I got in the service about 10-days after I graduated from Hi-School.  I first went up to Chanute Air Force Base, a bunch of guys… we wanted to be pilots.  I went up and I passed all the tests real well, and then it came to the colorblind test and I flunked it!  And, they said you’ll never fly... and then went active duty July-1st. “

Jul  BATTLE CREEK, MI – Induction Center
                             “My induction center was at Battle Creek, Michigan, Ft. Custer.  And we were there 3-4 days, and were put on a troop train and didn’t have any idea where we were going. Finally we ended up down south."
Jul/Sep   BILOXI, MS – Basic Training @ Keesler Field
                               “I was there for about 2-1/2 months.  We were in a place called Back Bay, in a drained swamp.  It was intense training, but I’d been in athletics all my life, and I was 130-lbs when I got out of high school, and when I got out of there, I was 165-lbs!  We had classes all morning, and in the afternoon we had two hours of drill and two hours of PT [physical training] in that hot Mississippi sun!  So, at the end of that [PT], they would race us… I’d say… about ¼ mile or ½ mile across the sand … and the winner got a milkshake.  Well, I was a quarter-miler; I won every damn milkshake… (Ha-ha-ha)… and that’s where I think I caught all the weight.”

Oct/Dec               SIOUX FALLS, SD - Radio School  
                           (no info at present on this part of his training)
1944
Jan/Mar              SIOUX FALLS, SD - Radio School                        
Mar/Apr/May:     YUMA, AZ – Gunnery School
                              “We lived in tents.  Very hot in the daytime and cold at night, being in the desert.  There were about 500 students in the class and I finished in the top five or ten.  We shot all kinds of guns while there.  The thing I most enjoyed was shooting skeet on a running truck around a course with clay pigeons flying out at us from all angles and heights.  You couldn’t buy that type of fun.   We shot shotguns, rifle training guns, machine guns .50 caliber like cannons; air to air target shooting at targets towed behind planes.  I remember one incident where a student shot down the tow plane.  We also had air to ground strafing of targets.”
“Cpl. Finfrock entered the service in June 1943 and is now assigned as a radio operator gunner.  He received his wings as a gunner, Saturday at Yuma, Arizona where he graduated 10th in a class of 450.”  [29 May 1944, Champaign-Urbana, IL newspaper article] 

Jun/Jul-Aug:       RAPID CITY, SD – Overseas Combat Training
                             “…where we met all the new crewmembers and trained together as a complete crew.  We went to our [specialty] schools there, me Radio, etc.  We learned formation flying, grouping in squadrons and wings and various things we needed to know for combat.”
Late Aug/Early Sep    URBANA, IL – On Leave
                             “Got 10-days leave, but was only able to spend 6-days at home due to crowded trains during the war.” 

Sep       LINCOLN, NE – Rendezvous Point for Flight to Airbase in England 
                              “We assembled here with other bombers to fly over to England.  The route was:  Nebraska to Bangor, ME – Goose Bay, Labrador – Greenland – and to the British Isles.“  
                                               
Oct       NORFOLK (EAST ANGLIA) ENGLAND – Thorpe Abbotts – Sta#139
                              “Upon arriving at the bomber base in England I went to my barracks… the whole barracks had been wiped out the day before… five (5) crews… and I thought, “My God, I’m never gonna get out of this place”, you know.  I got there just when things started gettin’ a little bit better.  But, I thought [at the time], ‘My God, send my stuff home, I’m never gonna get home.’  It’s not good morale to come into a base…a barracks, when they’ve all been lost in a raid the day before!”

Dec      NORFOLK (EAST ANGLIA) ENGLAND – Thorpe Abbotts – Sta#139
                             “Air Medal Awarded Sgt. Chancy Finfrock – Tech. Sgt. Chancy A. Finfrock, 19, son of Mr. & Mrs. Chancy L. Finfrock, 407 W. Elm, has won the air medal for exceptional service as radio operator and gunner on an 8th Army Air Force Flying Fortress, according to a dispatch from a base in England today.   Sgt. Finfrock, the youngest radio operator and gunner in his squadron, distinguished himself as a quarter-miler on the Urbana High School track team before he entered the Army Air Force in 1943.  He flies on missions against Germany with the 100th bombardment group, a unit of the 8th Air Forces 3rd bombardment division.”  [29 Dec 1944, Champaign-Urbana, IL newspaper article]

1945
Feb       FRANCE/BELGIUM border -  B-17 Shot Down
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Germans       "... we had anti-aircraft fire over the French coast when there were still Germans on the French coast, and it hit our plane and on the way in, it caught fire, and we had to bail out at the Belgium/French border, around Luxembourg.  I used to have the name of the city where we went into.  And, that morning when I picked up my parachute, it was kinda loose, and said [to myself],  ‘Well I never use this thing anyway’, and I had to push it back in there… and didn’t think anything more about it until ... he [the pilot] dove once to try to put it out and it wouldn't go out; it just fanned it worse... so he said 'bail out' !… and I thought about that [then].   And, I had to put that on...   and then I had to go…”
"... Some of 'em jumped out the bomb-bay...some out the front hatch... some out the back door on the fuselage... that's where I jumped out.  Jumped out the first time, and the wind threw me back in... couldn't jump out.  And boy, that really panicked me.  I didn't try too hard I s'pose (giggle) the first [time].  So, then I jumped out real quick and pulled the ripcord too quick, and just about hit the tail... I was gettin' frantic at that time... and I wanted to get out before it blew up!"
"I timed myself goin' down... took between 10 and 15 minutes to get down. And this was February [1945].  It was -60F to -70F below up there at about 28,000 ft.  You had to wear heated suits."
"I lit in a forest there, it was winter, and I saw all these trees comin' up... with no leaves on 'em you know, and I crashed through there, and I didn't have the slightest idea where I was, naturally.  And, my chute hung up and I pulled that down to hide it.  They had fire lanes in these forests... I found a fire lane... and I peeked around and looked out, and didn't see anything, and so I went back in [to the forest].  A little later, I looked out again and I saw some men down where there was a crossroad, about probably 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile down.  And, they had guns on a couple of my crewmen.  And, they were civilians, but they were... I found out subsequently... they were French Underground.  So, I kept just kinda peekin' out, then all of a sudden I saw 'em pattin' 'em on the back and shakin' their hands, so I figured well uh, okay, now I'll come out."
 - HAVE MORE STORY ON THIS BUT WILL NOT CONTINUE FOR NOW -
[see newspaper article: “ Finfrock ‘Chutes to Earth, Treks Back From Missing’ ” – 16 Mar 1945, Champaign-Urbana, IL newspaper article].


Jul    NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN – S/S Queen Elizabeth
                              “When I was leavin’ England, they assigned me to a different bomb group, I was gonna go into B-29’s in Japan.  See, I was headin’ for Japan then.  And, I was on the Queen Elizabeth in the middle of the ocean when they dropped the Atomic Bomb!  Well, we didn’t know what the hell the Atomic Bomb was either… nobody ever heard of it, you know what I mean…but, it sounded real bad!!  .And, I thought: “I hope somebody don’t drop it on our ship out here!  (Ha-ha)…”  
                                          
Aug    CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, IL – Back Home  
                             Met wife, Jo An (Hill) Finfock  & mother, Grace Belle (Dallenbach) Finfrock @ the Illinois Central Railroad Station on VJ DAY.  [see page w/ photo & caption from: "History of  Champaign, IL, 1993"]

Sep   SAN ANTONIO, TX – AAF Personnel Distribution Center
                              “Sgt. Finfrock in San Antonio - … will spend approximately 2 weeks in the station undergoing records and physical processing in preparation for a discharge or re-assignment in this country.  A combat veteran, Sergeant Finfrock recently returned from 11 months service in the European theatre.”  [Wed, 26 Sep 1945, Champaign-Urbana, IL, newspaper article]
-----
Mr. Faley, I have photo copies of the newspaper articles referenced above in the Purple Highlights (originals of which are on file at the Urbana Free Library - under my Uncle's name). 
-----
Above "TIMELINE" was submitted by Chancy A. Finfrock's nephew, Randy Finfrock - 4226 E. 84th Pl. - Tulsa, OK  74137-1817
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Faley, FYI, I sent the below e-mail to Cindy Goodman, Splasher Six Editor a few days ago:
In an ‘interview’ 2-1/2 years ago, I asked my Uncle Chan if he’d ever kept up with others that he served with?      He replied verbatim:
©  “I was in the 100th bomb group, and I came back and I didn’t hear from the 100th bomb group for 45-years.  When I was leavin’ England, they assigned me to a different bomb group, I was gonna go into B-29’s in Japan.   I was headin’ for Japan then.  I was on the Queen Elizabeth in the middle of the [Atlantic] ocean when they dropped the Atomic Bomb!
… I presume my whole crew got re-assigned at the same time.  And, we knew we were goin’ to Japan, and goin’ in to train on B-29’s; well obviously, the 100th bomb group wouldn’t have been there.  So, apparently this other bomb group that I 'got in', was assigned [to] B-29's. I don’t know… I never did really look into this… I just told them [when they contacted me]: “I was never in your bomb group!”
 Then, of course, my records left the 100th Bomb Group, and when they started their thing [newsletter], they didn’t have records of it.  So, I ended up knowin’ more about that other bomb group, the history of it… cause I read their magazines for 30-years or so.
[The above was from a conversation with my Uncle back in Dec-1998]  
Cindy, I don’t know whether or not my uncle is truly interested in keeping up with everyone since he had kept it all to himself for so many years.  But, I do know that he shared so much with me when he came to visit his older brother (my Dad) in Dallas, TX just before my dad died.  My uncle has been living in Venice, FL for years now (having retired there from his long time home in Urbana, IL). 
I am writing this both for me (due to my interest), and for Uncle Chan as well.  He lost his wife in the middle of April 2001 and is now by himself  in Florida.  He has married daughters living in San Diego, CA, and in Urbana, IL, and his son is in Pawnee, IL. 
I can’t help but think that it would be so good for him if he could allow himself to ‘open up’ and be a part of his old bomb group after so many years.  He really has a clear memory of so much, and I want to keep questioning him on certain events, etc.  but do not want to ‘be pushy’ at the same time.  
... with his permission, I would like to someday present the ‘interview’ that I’m typing up to your newsletter if this is agreeable to you.  First though, I will need to get some additional details on ‘missing chronological information’ from Uncle Chan and fill it in somewhat and refine it.  Mostly, I desire this record to be strictly his recollections, not including anything else (i.e. gleaned from books or newspapers).   
For now I’ll close, and again thank you for being there – to keep the memories alive for future generations and to recognize all who proudly served our country.   
Randy Finfrock
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Faley, here is another item (a letter from my Uncle) that I thought I'd share with you now for the 100th B.G. archives.   At the present time, pls do not load or share on the website or print any of this as I would first want to get his permission before printing anything.  However, I feel that this letter is a very typical response from a WWII veteran of what it meant to serve his country.  

IN A LETTER FROM UNCLE CHAN DATED 01 MAR 1999, HIS LAST SENTENCE INDICATED THAT HE WOULD GET BACK TO ME AND DESCRIBE HIS FEELINGS ABOUT WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO SERVE HIS COUNTRY DURING WORLD WAR II.  I HAD ASKED HIM TO EXPRESS HIS PERSONAL FEELINGS AND HE REPLIED A WEEK LATER…
BELOW IS TYPED VERBATIM - FROM A LETTER DATED,  08 MAR 1999:
========================================================
 “Dear Randy,
 It was between one and two o’clock on a winter afternoon I first heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  It was a total shock and surprise to everyone.  Most people didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was.  At first, everyone said we would lick the Japs in ninety days.  How wrong a prediction that was.  Most people went from 'isolationists' to 'win the war'.  Germany quickly declared war on us also.
 So, all my friends wanted to join up.  Of course, at that time, I was only 16 years old, so I had to wait.  But, even so, we all participated in the war effort.  At home, I started a Victory Garden for our supplement to food rationing.
 I joined the Victory Club at high school where we supported the war effort by scrap metal drives, tin can drives, bond and stamp drives and bandage rolling.  Then, of course, we started having rationing on things like sugar, meats and other foods, on gasoline for cars, rubber for tires and related products.  So, all we thought about other than school was the war and its news.
 When I was a senior, I went with a few friends to Chanute Air Base at Rantoul, Illinois to enlist as a pilot’s trainee.  I passed all the tests better than any of my friends, but flunked the colorblind test.  So that was that, “never to fly”, they told me.  What a laugh.
 So, I signed up with the draft board to enlist as soon as I graduated.  I graduated in June, and was in the Army Air Force in July 1, 1943.  The rest you have the history on.
 There was no question, everyone I knew was behind the war effort.  If a young man was declared ‘4F’ [unfit for duty and unable to serve], he was devastated.  There has never been a time in my 74 years that [our] nation was so totally together on a subject.
 In my senior class, I believe about fourteen friends were killed.  This was out of about 75 senior boys.
 Love, 
 Chan
 [P.S.]  Of course, most of people in war’s are non-combat people.”


Subj: My Uncle Chan Finfrock's Taped Recollection of the 20 Feb 1945 Flight  
Date: 12/6/2002 9:04:19 PM Pacific Standard Time 
From: adaam0073@cox.net 
To: lechjohn@aol.com 
CC: MPFaley@aol.com 
Sent from the Internet (Details) 
 



Hello John, thought I'd swap stories with you by sending what I typed up from the taped interview
that I made with Uncle Chan on Dec 19, 1998.   This is the portion that led up to the question 
about the time when the plane caught fire and the crew had to bail out.
 
This is verbatim as Uncle Chan related the story, with no additions or deletions from the tape
(with exception of a couple of 'editorial remarks' that I show with a  [     ]  around each notation.
 
I copied this from a word processing file document to this e-mail, so I hope you can read it
okay.  
 
For reference:  The little (R) in front of a sentence is for 'Randy' (me), and the (C) is for 'Chan'. 
(Dad) is my father, Larry Finfrock, Uncle Chan's older brother.   (SF) is my sister-in-law, Shari
Finfrock.  (MF) is my brother-in-law, Mike Farrar.  
 
I'll copy Mike Faley on this also, since I think he will enjoy such a detailed recollection.
 
Your friend,
Randy Finfrock
 
-----
 
®:  You mentioned one of your duties as Radio Operator was to check after the bombardier said bomb’s away.

©:  Well, after the bombs were dropped, I had to get up and open the bomb-bay door, cause I was the handy-man there… to look in to see if any of the bombs hung up.  Sometimes a bomb hung up and didn’t get out of the plane.  Well, you wouldn’t wanna not look, and land on a runway and jar it loose and blow the whole place up!!

(Dad):  Oh, oh man!

©:  I remember once we had to kick one off - out, … two or three of us had to get it… kind of scary, being up 30,000 ft and lookin’ out and you were just on a little old narrow rail out in the bomb-room trying to push a 500-lb bomb out.  But, you didn’t want that on there, so you had a pretty good incentive.

®:  And you mentioned that other time where you happened to get up and check once, and…

©:  Well, yeah… one mission, it was… you see, that lasted maybe 5-10 seconds out of the whole mission, gettin’ up…[from my seat]…  that’s when a shell came right up through the floor and through my radio table where my legs were and right out the top of the plane!  

And, then I got wounded once, but that hit the edge of my flak suit, so… but I was drawin’ compensation for that for a few years after the war.  So, and then, we got … (pause) ... some missions we had 2 or 300 holes in the plane when we got home...

®:  That’s incredible!

©:  So, its just like pushin’… shootin’ bullets through tissue paper – that aluminum you know.

®:  It was very thin wasn’t it?

©:  Oh, my garsh yes, like a pie pan thin.  And it was just where they happened to hit.  They could hit your air supply, hydraulic supply, hit engines… I think it was what hit our engines when we bailed out that time.  

®:  That time the engine caught fire, is that what you think happened?

©:  Yeah, we had anti-aircraft fire over the French coast, when there were still German’s on the French coast and it hit our plane and on the way in, it caught fire, and we had to bail out at the Belgium/French border, uh around Luxembourg.  I used to have the name of the city where we went into.  [ed:  later on Uncle Chan did recall the name of the nearby village: Trelon, France]

And, as I told you that day when I picked up my parachute, it was kinda loose, and said ‘Well I never use this thing anyway’, and I had to push it back in there… and didn’t think anything more about it until they said: “We’re on fire, bail out”… and I thought about that.  And, I had to put that on.  And then I had to go…

®:  Did you have to do a radio call right before leaving?

©:  Well, yeah, I sent out a radio call where we were – not too long a call! (Ha- ha!!)

®:  I didn’t think you’d have much time…

©:  No, because the others still in formation would see us and could advise.  And, well I tried to jump out the door, and the slipstream pushed me in… I wasn’t too eager to jump out I guess.  So, I took a runnin’ jump the next time and pulled my ripcord just about too soon, just missed the tail.  It took about… I timed myself goin’ down… took between 10 and 15 minutes to get down.  And, this was February [1945].

(SF):  I was gonna say, wasn’t that awful cold?

©:  Sure, it was -60 to –70 below up there, you had to wear heated suits.

®:  You were at about what …26,---… [Altitude]

©:  28,000 ft at that time, yeah.  And, I lit in a … this was just at the end of the Battle of the Bulge and there were a lot of German’s around and they were dumpin’ guys in American uniforms [into the area], so everybody was suspicious of everybody.  But, anyhow, I lit in a forest there, it was winter, and I saw all these trees comin’ up… with no leaves on ‘em you know, and I crashed through there, and I didn’t have the slightest idea where I was, naturally.  And, my chute hung up, and I pulled that down to hide it.  And, they had fire lanes in these forests… I found a fire lane… and I peeked around and looked out, and didn’t see anything, and so I went back in.  A little later I looked out again and I saw some men down where there was a crossroad, about probably ¼ mile or ½ mile down.  And, they had guns on a couple of my crewmen.  And, they were civilians, but they were… I found out subsequently… they were French Underground.  

So, I uh… I didn’t think too much of that, so I kept just kinda peekin’ out, then all of a sudden I saw ‘em pattin’ ‘em on the back and shakin’ their hands, so I figured well uh, okay, now I’ll come out!  And, so I went down there, and then we had … I remember he had home-made wine… he gave us some home-made wine, and I was a wigglin’ for miles, walking along there… powerful stuff. 

And, we had to walk through some villages, and I’ve got a ring still that some girl took off her hand and gave me.  It had that… “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” on it.  

®:  Did she give it in appreciation?

©:  I guess!  And, I wore it on my bracelet, my identification bracelet, for a long time.  And, we went into… finally… we walked for hours, and we finally got to this crossroads where there was this ‘strong-point’, where you know we were guarding the crossroads from the enemy.  I remember we went in there and they had a dance that night.  We brought our parachute along.  And, all the women wanted the silk parachute for pantaloons!  They couldn’t get any silk, you know.  And, so, I gave them that [the parachute], and that was… made a big deal.  

And, I remember going in the john, and sittin’ there…and the wall was about as high as these things here [pointing to the arms on a chair, about 2 feet tall], and all of a sudden three women came in there…and, I’m sittin’ on the john!  They’d come in there and go up to the mirror, and pull up their skirts, and pull down their thing, and I’m sittin’ there… [hesitation]… really couldn’t go then!! 

®:  I guess not!

©:  But, that’s just the way they did it over there.  I mean, that wall didn’t hide nothin’!

(SF):  When my parents were in Italy [after the war], my mother said that it was nothing to see a man just going over and just doing it on a wall. 

©:  In Europe they had little troughs; out in the churches they had troughs.  I didn’t get comfortable doing that.  So, then they had a dance that night, and so on and so forth, and then I remember we had to get on a truck and bouncing over all those cobblestone roads.  I don’t know, we finally were there about 3-4 days I guess. 

Then, I flew back to England in a C3 cargo plane, those two-motor jobs.  They didn’t give you parachutes; felt kinda naked without a parachute.  And we got back there [to the base] and they’d already carried all our stuff out like we were dead.  Then, we got to go on a week’s ____splash down on the Isle of Wight.

®:  How did you communicate behind enemy lines?  And, how did they find you?  The Free French took you to a community?

©:  Well, when a plane was shot down and you had parachutes comin’ down, they could follow you where you were goin’.  The enemy could trace you there, or friends if it happened to be that the French Underground were there.  German’s were droppin’ people in American uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge, so they were very suspicious of those kinda guys until they determined that we were the real thing, I guess.  It was an experience.

I remember an old parachute started collapsing one time, that scared the hell out of me; the wind just blew and caught it sideways and I thought it was collapsing probably – enough to make me nervous.

Yeah, its… seems like a dream when I tell about it; that was 55 years ago.  It was ‘44, and this is ‘98.  So, it’ll be 55 years this next March [ed: 1999].

®:  Did you have any other missions after that?

©:  Well then, after the war, we had some interesting missions.  Maybe some even more interesting missions 

We dropped food to the people in Holland, you know they [Germans] flooded all of that out there and they didn’t have anything to eat.  We’d fly in at level of the church steeples to drop food.  And, of course the people knew we were doin’ this later on, and you’d see guys on bicycles pedaling along the road trying to see where they were going to drop it.  And uh, that was kind of interesting.  You could see the bomb damage [coming in low to the ground like that].  

 And then we flew down to Africa and landed there, and saw a little of that part of the area… and later on, we picked up what they called ‘displaced persons’ down in Austria – people that were slave laborers and stuff like that… and, I didn’t know what they were at that time.  Anyhow, they’d come out there, and they’d de-louse ‘em before they’d get on the plane, the powder they’d shoot in there; they smelled like the dickens… and, they looked like walking skeletons.  I was wondering, “What are we picking up here?” you know.
And, I remember one lady come up, and she said, “We didn’t always look like this”, and she brought out a picture when she was all dolled up in a dress, and showed me.  And, of course, they crowded ‘em in the plane; that plane was like a cattle car.  They had a lot of them in the radio room there.  And they had stuff … they were full of lice.

 ®:  Was that a cargo plane?

©:  No, it was B-17’s, they used the bombers…and we took ‘em up to Orly [airport] in Paris

(MF):  You evacuated people out of North Africa, you say?  

 ©:  No, I was down in North Africa; I can’t remember why we were down there.  We picked up people down in… around Munich.  And, I remember there was an airbase down there, and we saw a lot of those rocket planes and some of their jet planes were wrecked around there…and, we took them up to France.

 

You know, there were millions of people displaced then at that time, and we had the transportation you know…and uh, we did that… it was an interesting experience.  I didn’t know anything about those people at that time [what they had gone through].


***************************************************************************************************************
Cpl Richard Mullaney was removed from Crew shortly after arriving at Thorpe Abbotts (reduced to 9 man crews) and became a spare gunner with 350th BS  Here are list of Missions that Sgt Mullaney ended up completing (Crew (s) unknown at this time).  This list is based on Sgt Mullaney's Form 5 which was sent to us by Patricia E. Mullaney (Daughter-In-Law)  mpf 2001 

Transferred from LAAF Lincoln, Nebraska on September 18, 1944 to AAF Station 139, Thorpe Abbotts England, 100th Bomb Group (H), 350th Bomb Squadron, 3rd Air Division, 13th Combat Wing.  September 18th-23rd flew overseas to England

    25/10/44 Practice Mission
1. 26/10/44 HANOVER
2. 10/11/44 WIESBADEN & MAINZ
    12/11/44 PRACTICE MISSION
    24/11/44 GROUP STOOD DOWN-PRACTICE MISSION
    27/11/44 MISBURG-SCRUBBED, PRACTICE MISSION
3. 29/11/44 HAMM
4. 30/11/44 MERSEBURG (ONE OF THE MOST HEAVILY DEFENDED TARGETS IN GERMANY)
5.   4/12/44 GIESSEN
    13/12/44 OSNABRUCK-RECALL, NO CREDIT FOR MISSION
    14/12/44 PRACTICE MISSION
6. 30/12/44 KASSEL
7. 31/12/44 HAMBURG (100TH BOMB GROUP LOST 12 AIRCRAFT ON THIS MISSION)
8.   2/01/45 PRACTICE
9.   6/01/45 GERMERSHEIM
10.   7/01/45 COLOGNE
11. 10/01/45 DUISBURG
12. 17/01/45 HAMBURG
13. 20/01/44 HEILBRONN
14. 21/01/45 MANNHEIM
15. 29/01/45 KASSEL
     31/01/45 BREMEN-RECALL, NO CREDIT FOR MISSION
       1/02/45 PRACTICE MISSION
16.   3/02/45 BERLIN
17.   6/02/45 CHEMNITZ
18. 14/02/45 CHEMNITZ
19. 15/02/45 RUHLAND
20. 20/02/45 NURNBURG
21. 21/02/45 NURNBURG
22. 22/02/45 KITZINGEN
23. 24/02/45 BREMEN
24. 25/02/45 MUNICH
25. 26/02/45 BERLIN
26. 28/02/45 KASSEL
27.   4/03/45 ULM
28. 28/03/45 HANOVER-COMPLETED TOUR



RICHARD J. MULLANEY
WWII Veteran - Waist Gunner on B-17’s
8th Army Air Force - 100th Bombardment Group - 350th Squadron
at Thorpe Abbotts Airbase  Station 139

[From Dick’s journal which he started in September 1944]:

Goose Bay - Thurs. Sept. 21, 1944:
[Dick went fishing with Tom Pace’s co-pilot.] 
“Doing more walking than fishing until it began to rain pretty hard! We went back to the road to catch the truck and I ran into “Lick,” “Silva,” “Jimmy,” and Finfrock of my crew! That was the last place I expected to see those guys! We went back to camp and “Fin” and I went to the matinee and saw “Bathing Beauty” with Red Skelton and Esta Williams. It was swell! After the show “Fin” and I had a coke and pitched a game of horseshoes. Then I had chow and went out to the ship to get ready for takeoff.  Thus ended my stay at Labrador.”

Friday Sept. 22, 1944:
“We took off from Labrador at 3:45 AM. For flying clothing I had on “OD” shirt, “OD” pants, socks, “GI” shoes, electrically heated flying suit, sheep-skinned lined flying books, cal. 45 automatic, lined gloves, Mae West (life preserver), parachute harness, flying helmet and oxygen mask! We flew at 17,000 and with all those flying clothes on I still froze my fanny off! . . . We landed on Iceland at 10:15 A.M. . . . I finished my letters and went to my barracks the beds didn’t have any mattress covers or sheets and the blankets were dirty, so I decided to “sack” up in a sleeping bag in the ship.”

England, Friday Sept. 29, 1944:
“I came back from the Mess Hall at 6 AM and went to bed! I woke up at noon, went to chow and walked over to Beatty Hall to get paid. After we were paid “Dawson,” “Lich,” “Silva,” and “Jimmy” Pete, “Jay,” Finfrock and myself played Volley Ball! Silva, Lich, Fin and I stood the rest! They beat us 4 games. I didn’t do so hot with only one hand! [He had cut his hand on a scythe a few days before.]  The officers then played the enlisted men a game and we lost that one too.” 

England Thurs. Oct. 5, 1944
“We got up this morning and found out that they were only using 9-man crews! One waist gunner had to go! Pete was the “AE” (Assistant Engineer) so it had to be me! Gee I felt bad. I was crazy about that crew of ours. Now I don’t know what they are going to do with me! We went to the show and saw “Pride Of The Yankees.”

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Leslie H. Dawson crew: Standing (left to right);  Ralph Kitowski, John Lechieter, Leslie Dawson, James Pivonka, Unknown and John Silva, Kneeling; Chancy Finfrock, Peter Morisco, Jay Henion and Dick Mullaney.        (100th Photo Archives)  

 Leslie H. Dawson Crew (left to right)
Kneeling: Chancy A. Finfrock, Peter A. Morisco, Jay L. Henion, James C. Nichols
Standing: Ralph R. Kitkowski, James M. Pivonka, John W. Silva, Leslie L. Dawson, John H. Lechleiter
100th BG Photo Archives

Chancy A. Finfrock Service ID 3675-4556, ROG  

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 4149