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Two Flying Fortresses Were Missing

Posted by on April 22, 2014

March 23 & 30 1943.  Two letters from Stanley to Dad, a short one on the 23rd and a much longer one on the 30th.

There is not much news in the letter of the 23rd. Stanley mentions that he went into the town of Ephrata and that “it is a nice small town. It has a theater in it” and “3 regular bowling alleys and 3 or 4 for playing duck pins.” He is getting into the routine of things on base. He says “the mess hall is open 24 hours a day” and ”they work night and day on the runways”. At this base they have monthly meal tickets, which it seems he did not have at any other bases to date. He says “This sure is a big place. We walk almost a mile or more before we get to work from where we sleep.”

He is getting used to the office routine. “Today I was still working on the service record. Later a few more clerks came so I was put to work on payroll. The days go by pretty fast but you get sleepy working in the office. There is not enough room for everyone. They brought in more tables and typewriters.”

In his letter of the 30th (which was actually written over the 30th and April 1) Stanley says that he received two letters from Dad, one addressed to him in Ephrata and another that was sent to him in Oxford that was forwarded to him. Stanley has gotten into town several more times since the 23rd. He sees a movie pretty much each time he goes to town. So far he has seen Marjo, Cat People, Now Voyager, Reveille with Beverly, and The Crystal Ball.

He tells Dad “This Saturday I am getting transferred from the headquarters to one of the squadrons.” On the first he mentions that “they started to shift desks around into other rooms. They brought down the service records…to the squadron where we will work starting April 2.”

He also says, “On the 28th going into the 29th of March in the night 2 flying fortresses were missing. The planes were supposed to have been grounded on account of a low ceiling. It was awful dark that night and it was rainy. They found one of the planes so far. It exploded about 6 miles from here. The medical corps just picked up pieces here and there so I heard. The total of men missing altogether on both planes ran to about 20 men. 13 enlisted men were killed so far. I imagine you will hear or read about it by the time you get this letter.”

Stanley received the news of their friend Ann Moran marrying Paul McCann. He says that he has written her a letter and notes, “Boy the girls in Albany are sure getting married fast.” As far as his deployment to Ephrata, “I don’t know how long I will be here. I may be here 2-3 or more months. Noone knows. Everything here is humming and buzzing with activity. Once you get into…the Second Air Force there is no chance of shipping east of the Mississippi.”

Stanley also mentions that he received some of the pictures of the baby. “One picture of Theresa-Marie that got me laughing was the one of her laughing and kicking her feet. She made me feel much happier. One picture of her sitting in the sun looks very cute of her. She looks as if she were sticking her tongue out at someone.”

He reflects, “The good Lord gave me a lot of good breaks since I have been in this Army and I know He will do the same for you. When I go to bed I start saying my prayers and by the time I am half through I fall asleep. You know that is some coincidence both of us being in the Air Corps.” He closes, “God bless you and keep you safe that one of these days we may meet together at home on some furlough or so. Do your best brother, I hope to see you wearing Sergeant stripes in about 2 months.”

More information about the two B-17s that were lost that dark and stormy night can be found here.

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