Monday, April 11, 2011

Military Monday - Comparing WWII Journals

Researching my Grandfather's WWII history has been a very rewarding endeavor for me.  Looking for the records, finding his discharge paperwork, obtaining his medals, reviewing hometown newspapers for information - all of these things were very worth while.  Lucky for me, he kept a bit of a journal during his time in the Army Air Force and noted the dates he flew on missions, what the target was, the flying altitude, and other details about the weather and enemy fighters encountered etc.  This gave me more of the story behind his time in England, but didn't offer up many details in the way of actual "stories" of his missions.

I was contacted by another researcher last fall for more information on his missions.  It seems our two Granddads had fought together.   He was interested in the journal, to enable him to order mission reports for specific dates.  I provided the information I could and one entry intrigued me (below) and I asked that if he did get mission reports would he mind sharing information with me on this particular mission.

June 25th, 1944 - 16th mission
Target - X
300-500 feet
light flak
2 FW 190S Fighters
9 hours 
About a week ago I received an email from the other researcher. Seems he's been doing his homework and reaching out to others in the same squadron. Luckily, a family member of another serviceman in the same squadron had yet another journal - with an entry for the same date...

Ate at midnite, took off at 4 am for S.W. France with 10 parachute bundles of supplies. Dropped them from 300 ft. in a valley between mountains to the French marquis. We were so low, we could see the grateful smiles on their faces as they waved to us. The group was attacked by one FW-190, but P-47's chased him away. Bombardier (Moe) had a close call by flak. Flew as crew in 138 - new ship with only two previous missions on her.
I was so relieved to read that "target X" in my Grandfather's journal was actually a location for a supply drop and not one of their usual missions.  He wasn't looking down at terrified people, but other soldiers who were happy to see them.    All the official documents in the world can't offer up this kind of information - the actual experience of the individual.