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Group Party

Posted by on April 3, 2016

June 23 and 28th, 1944: Two letters to Dad from his brother Stanley in England. As usual, Stanley mentions very little about his particular duties, but he does discuss some of the diversions, provides snippets of life on base at Deenethorpe as part of the 401st Bomb Group, including a big group party that was held, and makes sure to wish his brother a happy 21st birthday.

He saw the movie Rationing, “…and it was very good. It was a comedy and it pertained to rationing. A while back saw the movie ‘The Rookie’. They had a ventriloquist by name of Bob Evans and his stooge. Well in one of the USO shows over here we had Bob Evans in person as master of ceremonies.” It seems that Stanley “mis-remembered” the title of the movie, as below is the poster art for the movie Hey, Rookie.

Poster art for the 1944 movie Hey, Rookie. Image credit:

Poster art for the 1944 movie Hey, Rookie. Image credit:

Stanley mentions that he has a friend in the squadron from Albany who gets the Albany Times Union mailed to him in England. The fellow passes along the newspapers to Stanley when he is done with them. Stanley comments, “It sure feels good to read the Albany paper during my spare time…As much time as I can get I make use of it…”

Stanley also commiserates about one of his regular duties. “We take turns to clean the barracks. We clean the barracks in the morning and by the time evening comes around you wouldn’t know that the barracks had even been cleaned.”

On the 28th Stanley sends special greetings. “Today is your birthday and I wish I could be in person wishing you best of luck and happiness on your birthday. It’s a long way from here to you.”

It seems that being stationed in England has Stanley intensely aware of the weather. As he notes, “I don’t know how the weather is where you are but I hope it isn’t like ours. I got caught in the rain today three times. In the morning it was beautiful and I went to work. All of a sudden without a warning it started to rain. A day or so ago I swear it must have rained close to twenty times that day. The sun shone also about that many times during intervals.”  As far as the nighttime he writes, “Evenings are somewhat chilly and I sleep under the same number of blankets as I did in the winter time.”

He also gets into some detail about his Army issued clothing as he was doing some of his laundry. He mentions, “I wear a size thirty-four fatigues and before I left the states they gave me new ones – yes you guessed it – size thirty –eight. You can image how they fit me; just like a balloon. You know the golden rule of the supply room, ‘If it fits bring it back’!”

In terms of other diversions, he writes that “A night ago or so we had a group party with beer and music. They had a seven girl band and they were early good. Our CO of the group and a few others gave speeches. The worst part of the whole thing was it rained.” What Stanley does not mention is that the party was held to celebrate the 100th mission flown by the 401st Bomb Group. This omission is no surprise since all servicemen were very careful to not to disclose important operational information in their letter. If Stanley had mentioned why the party was held, it likely would have been censored out of the letter.

A party held for the 401st Bomb Group to mark the occasion of their 100th mission. Image Credit: Andy Swinnen

One of the Group officers addresses a party held for the 401st Bomb Group to mark the occasion of their 100th mission. Image Credit: Andy Swinnen

To scroll through more photos from the 100th mission party you can go to Andy Swinnen’s fantastic website honoring the heroes of the 401st Bomb Group by clicking here.

Stanley closes his letter with a joke that he read in the Stars and Stripes. “The Pfc. smiled at his girlfriend tenderly and asked. ‘Do you object to necking?’ ‘That’s something I’ve never done,’ she murmured in wide-eyed innocence. ‘Never necked?’ he asked in amazement. ‘No – never objected,’ she sighed coyly.”

As has become my custom, as I reach the end of each month I list the missions flown in the European Theater of Operations by the 613th Squadron of the 401st Bomb Group. The missions flown by the 401st were against tactical and strategic targets in Nazi occupied France and Germany. As you can tell by the list below, Stanley’s routine account of the day-to-day life at Deenethorpe belies the number, scope and importance of the missions flown. The missions for June of 1944 are:

  • June 2: Gun Battery, Equihen, France
  • June 3: Neufchatel, France (613th on stand-down)
  • June 4: Railway at Massey/Palaiseau, France
  • June 6: Ver-Sur-Mer, French Coast
    • 1000 feet inland from the Normandy invasion area on D-Day
  • June 6: Highway Bridge, Caen, France
  • June 7: Falaise, France (613th on Stand-down)
  • June 10: Airfield, Caen, France
  • June 11: Airfield, Bernay/St. Martin, France
  • June 12: Airfield, Vitry-en-Artois, France
  • June 13: Le Bourget Airfield, France
  • June 17: Nazi Airdrome, Monchy/Breton, France
  • June 18: Oil Refineries, Hamburg, Germany
  • June 19: Nazi Airdrome, Merignac, France
  • June 20: Oil Refineries, Hamburg, Germany
  • June 20: Nazi Rocket Installation, Hazebrouk, France
  • June 21: Berlin, Germany
  • June 22: Railroad Lines, Frevant, France
  • June 23: Nazi Rocket Installation, Fienvilliers, France
  • June 24: Nazi Rocket Installation, Belloy-Sur Somme, France
  • June 25: Oil Dump, Montbartier, France (100th Mission)
  • June 28: Nazi Airdrome, Couvron, France
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