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Thursday November 8th 2001
The Veterans Return ....

November 8th 2001 was a very cold, windy and wet day but it did not stop the party of American Veterans and their families reliving old memories of over 60 years.

After a visit to the old Control Tower their next stop was the Old Head Quarters and Officers briefing rooms which are situated at the top of Sandy Lane.
Their hosts where the present owners of the property.

Some of the remaining American Veterans posing for photographs after the short service and the laying of a wreath to honour their fellow comrades who perished in raids over Europe in World War 2.

 

  © Ray Taylor
 

From:-
1st Lieutenant
Thomas Mooney
United America Air Force (retired)

Dear Ray
I was at first, as we started our tour of duty a second lieutenant...as I suvived 25 missions the Air Force in its wisdon decided to up grade me -as they did for all 2nd Looeys who reached 25 missions...to 1st Lieut. I think that meant about 25 or so dollars a month in the payroll...most of which I sent to my wife so that she had money to keep her in college , while I was away . So about mid January 1945 I got the silver bars of a 1st Lt....a nice touch...but around the officers' club ;little attention was given to the metal bars, leafs or whatever one was wearing ...we were mostly all guys seeking temporary relief from the tension of flying those big ass birds across the Channel and the Flack laden sky...to drop our ration of big bombs !!
In 1983 and again in 1985 my wife and I (then over 40 years wedded !!!) visited Attlebridge but the place seemed devoid of any human management or activity !!! I would have like to have met some of the management of the Turkey ranch operation, since I live in California an area that has many huge Chicken or Turkey ranches....since there are over 33 million people resident in our state there is a awfull lot of chjicken and turkey consumed !!! Strangely enough there were many combat crew men of the B-24s we flew who had little to do with the near by village or Norwich itself for that matter !!! Mostly we were of a mind to suvive the next bombing mission and get past the 35th mission so that we might qualify to go back to the "states"........the combat duty per se was to be experienced ,lived through it, and suvive until we could expect to go home !!!
I left the military service as soon as I could in summer of 1945.And had a career as a Professional Boy Scout Executive !!----



Ray- I have joted down a few note of my time at Attlebridge hope they are of some help---

On the whole we of the active bomber crews on duty at Attlebridge we really didn't have the time, the means or the inclination to visit, tour, or get acquainted with the area in which our air base was located , we were totally single phase guys...we were on duty to fly and bomb Germany...the location we found our self in didn't really matter much ... we lived from day to day from one mission call to the next....some times four or five days would pass by with out getting a call for a mission.... and this was related to the weather through November-December -and January .....we suffered from boredom more than from fright ...fright we did have as we were attacked over the German target cities with heavy ani-aircraft barrages, and some fighter plan attacks, although the flack was on the whole our greatest fear ...cause it surrounded the target area and we had to get to that target on each mission, come hell or high water !!

There was no giving up on a target so we flew on straight through the flack until we dropped our bombs and then as we could we tried like the damned to get our fanny out of there ...doing what ever evasive action was permitable while still in combat flight formation ---staying tight for protection from fighters ---get loose to evade flack if possible....we would climb altitude after bomb drop, we would dive to increase speed of flight to get the heck out of the flack area as quickly as possible...and we knew there was some damn good Scotch and water awaiting us when we landed and as we were debriefed...those of us who drank Scotch or any booze, for that matter, had the chance to have some of the crew members who didn't drink...so that very often ,after a particularly horrendous flight, we would get pretty loose , which probably helped loosen our tongues to tell the ground personnel many things about the just completed mission!! We were especially very chagrined at the weather in December which prohibited our planes from getting up and in action against the Nazi tanks as they were tearing into the Allied Forces in the Battle of the Bulge...we were hopeless..frustrated....hearing about the wavering of the Allied Lines ...and not being given the chance to do some thing about it !!Man when the weather broke near Christmas and after that we were delighted(if one could say you were delighted to fight ) to get off the ground and get over the targets with our bomb bays loaded with great antipersonnel bombs....250's and 500's ....we did some 2 missions flown per day some of those deep winter days to help the foot soldiers and try to take the heat off them !!!

When not actually flying combat missions we did do some other constructive things --- 1.in early fall '44 we flew supplies to Patton and his forces as they charged across France and headed for Berlin ...we did a number of those with out any bombing mission credit\ 2. some of us were selected to fly DECOY mission's to come to the aid of the RAF, dozens of us YANK B-24s would spend the night up in the sky over London and southern England to fill the air mass with such blips on Nazi radar they didn't know what direction the night raids were coming acrosss.....one memorable night we were at about 14,000 to 16,000 feet above London and the October night sky was loaded with storm clouds...lots of lightening...probable heavy winds down near the ground, but that didn't bother us up where we were ...our planes built up static electricity -"St.Elmo's Fire " it was known as, didn't happen very often but it sure scared the hell out of inexperienced crew members on our bombers...old hands could act very blasé" about the strange phenomenon and fortunately the display didn't stay on the wings,prop tips for too long...long enough to scare or enlighten us ...but not long enough to be boring !! 3.Some of us in B-24's were also chosen to fly Gasoline to supply Pattons Tank Corps , we were on crew that did some of that duty.(not mission credit either --but it was interesting and we did get a whack at this French Cognac....our planes assigned were outfitted with 2 huge rubber tanks that each filled one of our two bomb bay areas, where normally would be hung oodles of bombs( 250's, 500's, 1,000 ,ers or even 4 2,000 pound super sized bombs. Anyway we would fly from our base loaded to the hilt,wing tip tanks filled as well as the bomb bay special tanks so we could off load our 2,000 gallons of gas for the Tank Corps. And we did raise some cain with the French farmers and their nice looking little farms and their farm animals, as we would fly 'contour of the land' just clipping tops of grain ---if there had been any...and sometime we even clipped tree tops that quickly rose by surprise in the small valleys forced in the crevices of the rolling farm fields!!! We plowed through one cluster of young willow like trees not far out of St.Dizier and the place where we were to land and the gas would be off loaded.

The smash scared the be-jeepers out of the whole crew, especially the bombardier and the navigator who had to ride in the nose of our plane, course the other enlisted crew were back in the rear behind the bomb bay and didn't know what the heck was coming next ,until they would hear and feel a "THUNKPPPPP''-----But we survived to fly another day ...it seemed that bad weather had forced us to fly right down on the ground under the clouds to get to St.Dizier...which we did !! 4 And there were lucky escapes on regular bombing missions --like in November we were heading for the area of Osnabruck,Germany, flying in formation, having been pounded by flack gunners across northern German occupied Holland and the German land near Osnabruck....our plane took a heavy load of flack, lost an engine, were forced to drop out of the line of flight, still with our bombs, had to try to hold altitude but couldn't do so ...turned about and headed back to England, forced to evade flack but couldn't help keep loosing altitude, dropped our bomb load "safe" in the North part of the Zieder Zee, then headed south for North tip of France, dropping altitude all the way...lost a second engine as we crossed Belgium(north to south)...finally reached area of France where Allied Forces were in control....and crash landed with 2 engines out on one side...and the rate of decent was so rapid we had created a heavy coating of ice all over the windows of the plane...only view of the ground we had as we tried to line up on the old French airfield as side windows slid open and the two of us pilots hanging our heads out to catch a glimpse of the ground That was a thriller...but we walked away from the plane ..the whole crew....and hitched a ride on some supply trucks that were rushing back to Brussels from the French front, so they took us along and we had three or four nice days while awaiting a plane from our air base to come and fetch us !!!

Gosh Ray,look at the time...I just got carried away ...maybe these ramblings might be of some interest to you and your artical on the old Attlebridge Air Base...

Gosh;;;didn't mean to bore you ..and I have not had any drink this day ....!!!
Good Luck to you and your efforts ...regards ...

Tom Mooney

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