March 18, 20, 22 and 25, 1944: a handful of V-mails from Stanley to Dad. Uncle Stanley is at Deenethorpe, England with the 613th Bomb Squadron of the 401st Bomb Group. While his squadron has been spending the month bombing strategic Nazi targets in Europe, Stanley has been careful to write about regular base life so as not to have any of his V-mails censored. As a result most letters are about things like the weather, going to the movies and just hanging out in the barracks making toast. Sprinkled in is some news (but not too much) about the achievements of his Group.
He writes that it is “…just another day in the ETO [European Theater of Operations]” and that he is “getting accustomed to…English weather.” By the 25th he is writing that they have “had some real Spring weather…everything is starting to bud” and “we walked around with our sleeves rolled up.”
He also paints a good picture of life on base, writing “It is pretty warm in the barracks and everyone is busy writing letters and listening to the radio. Outside you can hear the droning of the planes overhead. If you want to know how our outfit is doing over here, just read the headlines in the paper.”
He also passes along the news that “We can now wear a bronze star on our ETO ribbon.” Stanley’s reference to the “bronze star” is to the service star which is worn on their campaign ribbon. This is not to be confused with the Bronze Star which is awarded for heroic or meritorious service or achievements.
He continues, “The AERO club is sure a good hangout. We usually go there and have a few toasted cheese sandwiches and cupcakes and coffee or tea. We have some nice soft chairs there and it feels good to sit in a soft chair.” As if to make a point of the routine of things, in two of the V-mails Stanley mentions toasted cheese sandwiches, while in the other two letters he mentions making toast with butter on the wood stove in the barracks.
He mentions seeing the movies Wintertime with Sonjia Heine and Cesar Romero, as well as listening to Fred Waring and Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge.
Thus wraps up Stanley’s correspondence for March of 1944. While Stanley was giving the impression that everything was routine on base, the 613th Bomb Squadron of the 401st was performing duties that were far from routine that month. As is my routine, the following is the list of missions flown by Uncle Stanley’s squadron in March of 1944:
- March 2: Frankfurt, Germany
- March 3: Wilhelmshaven , Germany
- March 4: Cologne, Germany
- March 6: Berlin/Templin, Germany
- March 8: Erkner, Germany
- March 9: Berlin, Germany (included leaflet drop)
- March 11: Marshalling Yard, Munster, Germany
- March 13: Rocket Installations, Gorenflos, France
- March 16: Airdrome, Augsburg, Germany
- March 18: Airdrome, Landsberg Am Lech, Germany
- March 19: Rocket Installations, Watton, France
- March 20: Alfred Teves Works, Frankfurt, Germany
- March 22: Berlin, Germany (included leaflet drop)
- March 23: Rail & Industrial Center, Ahlen, Germany
- March 24: Ball Bearing Plant, Schweinfurt, Germany
- March 26: Watten, Germnay
- March 27: Nazi Airdrome, Tours, France
- March 29: Aircraft Parts Plant, Brunswick, Germany
As Uncle Stanley said in his V-Mail, “If you want to know how our outfit is doing over here, just read the headlines in the paper.” Here is the front page of the Troy, NY Times Record from March 16, 1944 with news of an Allied bombing raid in Germany in which the 401st Bomb Group participated, specifically the Augsburg raid of the 16th..