Make your own free website on Tripod.com
November '41
November 1, 1941                                                                                             Surabaya

Saturday -- We're preparing to leave here at the crack of dawn for Singapore.  We could have left shortly after dark except for a local rule that ships are not allowed to enter or leave the harbor between sunset and sunrise.  It is very shallow and tricky.  Today was another very quiet one.  It will be no loss to me to leave this place -- I'm ready, there is nothing further here to interest me.  During the last three days I have been reading Dos Passos' trilogy "The U.S.A."  Some people consider it good, but for my money it is strictly "disgusting trash".  And I am not easily disgusted.  Really believe I am losing weight.  Two weeks of exercise and light eating should put me in good shape.  So passes the first day of a new month.

                                                                                GTB

November 2, 1941                                                                                         Bound for Singapore

Sunday -- Back to sea again, and truly is a treat.  All of us seem in much brighter spirits now that we have left the Indies and are enroute on the home stretch.  Today was the usual day at sea with the afternoon workout as the most interesting feature.  Wrote a letter to Veve before supper and then sat with CRB, JDC and some of the other boys playing our records on the deck under a full moon.  It would have been an excellent evening for pitching the amo-- if you understand the parlance of the street.  I was O.D. until noon but had very little to do.  Muster at 8 in the morning.  It will be the first in over two weeks.

                                                                         GTB

November 3, 1941                                                                                                Sumatra

Monday -- After passing by Borneo early this morning we finally sighted Sumatra shortly after noon and have been cruising along the coast ever since.  At the present time, 10:45 P.M., we are between Sumatra's coast and the island of Bakan.  Both shorelines are visible in the moonlight and the straight is apparently not more than 4 - 5 miles across.  We are due in Singapore by noon.  One week from today it will be Rangoon.  I am very anxious to see Singapore, and am hoping that it will be much different from Java.  The day was uneventful except for some deck tennis and a few letters I wrote to the family.  Very dull, I might say.

                                                                            GTB

November 4, 1941                                                                                               Singapore

Tuesday -- This town is the likes of which I've never seen.  It is a combination of trash and beauty that is hard to reconcile.  As we have surely reached the war zone at last.  Everything is military -- only one person of every five is a civilian.  There are Scotch in kilts, Chinese girls that are truly beautiful with R.A.F. boys, Hindu and Punjabi troops, blustering Aussies and American motion pictures.  Toured in a rickshaw for two hours early this morning (actually tomorrow morning) and really saw the seamier side.  Visited a Chinese shop, among other things, and saw the show "Kiss the Boys Good-Bye".  May be our last show for many moons.  Jap situation is getting serious but this is no time to worry.

                                                                             GTB

November 5, 1941                                                                                         Singapore

Wednesday -- Strange, indeed, but a couple of days in any of these Oriental cities are enough, no matter how pleasant they are.  As far as Singapore is concerned, I'm quite ready for a new place -- preferably the good old U.S.  Developments in this area of the last couple of weeks seem to indicate that we are enroute to one hot spot.  The Japs, it appears, will be laying for us.  Some of the boys are worried, others getting a trifle scared.  I don't know why, but it hasn't bothered me at all as yet, and perhaps it should.  The prospect of being shot down is not pleasant but I took that into consideration before I signed the contract, so now is no time for belated moaning.  Maybe I'm screwy -- Sometimes I wonder.

                                                                           GTB

November 6, 1941                                                                                            Singapore

Thursday --  Most important action of the day was the job of getting Chinese Visas on our passports.  Jim, Charlie and myself went to the Chinese consulate general and after spending a lot of time over forms and what not finally got the necessary stamps.  You would think these birds would be a little more anxious to get us into the country, in view of our mission.  Sailing date has been set back until at least Saturday by the seasonal rains which have held up the unloading of the cargo.  We saw a movie this afternoon and then had a sundae which was remarkably like an American special at one of the local milk bars.  I bought several post cards and Christmas cards and spent the evening addressing them.  Hope they get there for Xmas.

                                                                         GTB

November 7, 1941                                                                                               Singapore

Friday -- CRB & JDC spent the day visiting the Sultan of Johore's palace, but I stuck around here to go in town and buy some sulfathiazole tablets which we are going to take along for protection, should we be unfortunate to collect a souvenir from the local female citizenry.  The rest of the day was quiet until we learned that Greenlaw, second in command of the CAMCO outfit in the orient, was in town with six of the boys from Burma.  Greenlaw came out to the ship and put on some 50 tail wheel assemblies for the P-40's which he had gotten from the R.A.F. here, and then talked with us.  His coming has awakened my restlessness again.  Soon, very soon, we'll be flying and probably fighting.  Suits me 100 percent.  Let's get going.

                                                                           GTB

November 8, 1941                                                                                          Singapore

Saturday -- Sailing was delayed again today with the present plan calling for us to leave at dawn tomorrow.  I am more than willing to leave Singapore.  The sight of men from the CAMCO outfit now a Toungoo has me raring like a fire-engine and wanting to get under way.  I don't know if I am a complete fool, or just what, but the prospect of getting started in a job that may very likely be my last one hasn't caused me to lose any sleep as yet.  One out of every three won't be going back.  Pray heaven that the Lord may see fit to ride with me -- for I know very well that personal ability is not nearly sufficient in this case.  Rangoon ho on the 12th, then just 11 months to go.

                                                                           GTB

November 9, 1941                                                                                        Straits of Malay

Sunday -- On our way again, at long last, and within three days of our destination.  We arrive there Wednesday morning and will be met by a paymaster from the Co. which will be necessary in most cases for us to clear the ship.  From here on things should start getting interesting which will be a welcome relief after two full months of loafing.  Last night there was a session at the bar.  I came to bed about midnight and missed most of the excitement.  Bishop whaled Donovan in a fight, and after this several of them broke into the bar which had been closed.  Eventually they were calmed down by the purser and Smitty but it was a long and hard struggle.

                                                                          GTB

November 10, 1941                                                                                     Straits of Malacca

Monday -- One more day and then Rangoon -- and most important of all: LETTERS FROM HOME.  Now that we are getting near it is tough to restrain the eagerness.  Just like getting near your destination on a X-country.  Tonight Charlie bought a bottle of champagne and we all had a sip or two of Mumm's best.  It tasted like more but the tarrif was too high.  We are retiring rather early for tomorrow will be a busy day.  First of all we will be packing, which is bound to be a big job, and then cleaning up the cabin.  It's been a good trip and lots of fun -- specially so because of the congenial fellowship of Jim and Charlie.  Hope that we can go the rest of way `round the world when we go home.

                                                                    GTB

November 11, 1941                                                                                          Bay of Bengal

Tuesday -- Last day at sea and last night aboard ship.  A hectic, pleasant day filled with packing and an undercurrent of excitement.  Being Armistice day, the missionaries aboard organized quite an impressive service.  The national anthems of the Dutch, Chinese, English, and Americans closed it with each race singing there own song as it was played.  In the evening we held a champagne party in the bar.  Hennessy, Bond, Jim, and myself and John Young, the fare east commentator for NBC had six bottles before we finally folded up and went to bed.  We have been 50 days aboard ship, and although we are sick of it now, I don't doubt that soon in the future we will wish we could come back to its comforts.
                                                                        GTB

November 12, 1941                                                                                         Rangoon -- At Last

Wednesday -- One of the longest trips in existence came to an end this morning when the "Boschfontein" docked at Rangoon.  We came up the river "Irawaddy" at dawn and docked at 6:30.  We were all excited and anxious to leave for Toungoo, so hit the deck early despite the hangovers.  Leaving the boat around noon we went to the Intercontinent offices and got paid for Oct. and then took a look around Rangoon  via rickshaws.  The train for Toungoo left at 4:00 and we were all aboard although some were well stewed up.  It was a narrow-gage railway but plenty fast and we made it in six hours including a stop to eat.  The gang met us at the station and man they looked good.  Since it was late we all hit the hay after saying hello to the boys.

                                                                      GTB

November 13, 1941                                                                             Toungoo -- CAMCO Base

Thursday -- Up at six this morning to get acquainted with the set-up.  We -- Charlie, Jim and myself -- luckly drew the same squadron -- the First Pursuit in the assignments.  Spent the morning visiting the line, meeting fellow officers, visiting Toungoo and the quarters.  Everything is much better than we anticipated and I figure that I'll like it very much.  In the matter of experience I find that I rate well up in the squadron.  At least half the men came out of training school after me.  This afternoon we went into town to get our bikes and rode them back -- 7 miles.  As a consequence here we are hitting the hay at 8 bells after our first full day.  Got two letters tonight -- Annie and Veve.  Boy what lift.

                                                                       GTB

November 14, 1941                                                                                            Toungoo

Friday -- Continued the acclimation process all day and got squared away for flying.  Expect to take a P-40 on the initial hop Monday -- with luck there may be an entry in here for Tuesday.  The quarters are good, at least twice as nice as we expected them to be, and the fellows here are all mighty good eggs.  Within a month we will be moving up to Kunming which will be even better.  Kunming is at an altitude of 6,000 feet and the quarters are much better.  Played softball with the First Pursuit team this evening.  I caught and we won.  Very natural.  After dinner we went to the show -- then to bed, and plenty tired.

                                                                      GTB

November 15, 1941                                                                                               Toungoo

Saturday -- Spent the morning on the line drawing a parachute and completing the check in sheets.  Am now ready for a crack at the P-40, even if it is my last.  Ed Liebolt is squadron engineering officer.  Bob Little is Group Operations and C. S. Sawyer is Group Armament.  All three are out of my class in Flying School.  This afternoon we rode into town and back.  CRB needed some new parts for his bicycle.  In the evening we went into the Baptist's Missionary's home for dinner.  Had baked beans and Boston brown bread.  Then home an to bed, so tired that it is almost impossible to describe it.  This life will make a man out of you.

                                                                       GTB

November 16, 1941                                                                                                  Point A

Sunday -- Today was a typical Sunday.  Slept through `till 8:30 and then spent the morning writing letters and fooling around in the barracks.  The fellows here all seem fine and the barracks remind me of nothing quite so much as Boy Scout camp when I was a boy.  My bed is the hardest one in the orient, none excepted, but it doesn't keep me from sleeping like a log when I hit the hay.  We played softball and volleyball in the afternoon and then after supper went to the show.  I imagine it will get to be pretty much of a routine.  Tomorrow, gals, we fly the P-40.  I wonder just what it will be like?

                                                                           GTB

November 17, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Monday -- The deed is done and I am still vitally healthy.  The P-40 is just another airplane -- different in many respects, but all in all nothing to disturb a good flier's equanimity.  Flew for more than two hours and made three landings.  Landing and taking off are simple, but it is a ball of fire in the air and it will take much study and practice to become smooth.  Jim gave CRB, myself and all the rest a bad scare during the last hop when his engine threw a rod and he had to make a forced landing in a rice paddy.  We waited two anxious hours for word, and then the old boy walked into the mess without a scratch on him.  Man what a relief.

                                                                          GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C      FAVG  Toungoo - Toungoo  First trip in a P-40 -- ZOWIE  2:30

November 18, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Tuesday -- More flying today with much more success at handling the airplane.  Slow rolled it several times with fairly satisfying technique and found the ball and needle a trifle easier to control.  Was out at my airplane for a scheduled hop at 11:00 when Ricketts came in with his gear only part way down and tore up the plane.  The brass hats were peeved and promptly grounded the new pilots.  Having done pretty well so far, I expect to get turned over to the squadron tomorrow which is the same as being accepted.  Many of the other have not even flown yet, while some have flown with none too pleasing results.  Hope my luck holds from here on out as well as it has so far.

                                                                     GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  More P-40 - Lots of acrobatics  1:30

November 19, 1941                                                                                                  Point A

Wednesday -- Found a good send off early this morning when Goyette said I was checked out of the training unit and into squadron.  There was no flying for me this morning but I start my formation in P-40's tomorrow.  I have also been appointed as Asst. Engineering officer under Liebolt.  This pleases me a lot.  They are planning to take Bond, Boyington, and myself along to Kunming when the Squadron goes up.  This is fast work, and I wonder whether or not we will be ready to go.  Boyington, of course, is an old hand -- but Bond and I???  Spent some time painting the nose of Little's airplane and heard that I will be assigned to number 12.  Things are really moving!

                                                                       GTB

November 20, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Thursday -- Things got moving with a rush today.  Had my first taste of combat and spent two hours learning the rudiments of pursuit formation flying.  The first hour was very discouraging, but the second hour showed a great deal of improvement, which was very fortunate as I was about ready to give up in disgust.  The flying was done with Frank Schiel and Joe Kukeyendal.  Schiel whipped my butt in no time in combat and showed me that there is much to be learned in that direction.  The rest of the day has been quiet and uneventful -- with the afternoon nap as the main feature.

                                                                     GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C FAVG  Tountoo-Toungoo  P-40 formation and combat  2:15

November 21, 1941                                                                                               Point A

Friday -- busy morning with engineering duties and other squadron work, in addition to a talk by Col. Chennault.  Only flew for about half an hour because the ship I had was terrifically left wing heavy and I couldn't hold it in formation.  Went back to the field after a short try.  The day was livened up by two very near accidents.  Tex Hill just made it off the ground one time and Moss took out a row of flags when he nearly ground looped.  Went foolish tonight and bought about $100 worth of Kashmir cloths and robes to send home.  It is beautiful stuff though, and I will send it home with Frank Schiel's chest.  Hope the folks like it.

                                                                          GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Formation - ship was bad, quit early :45

November 22, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Saturday -- Big reorganization took place in the First Pursuit Squadron today when Sandel converted the outfit into two flights.  I am engineering office for "A" flight, which is one of the most important assignments in the flight and it makes me think that I am getting along.  This afternoon we pedaled into town -- Wolf, Cross and myself -- and got so sneezed up on beer that we put our bikes on the station wagon and came back in luxury.  I bought a bottle of cherry brandy before we left town but it didn't last but about 30 minutes.  The shindig continued well into the night.  A typical Saturday.

                                                                     GTB

November 23, 1941                                                                                                     Point A

Sunday -- A day of indolence, if there ever was one.  Spent the morning reading and the afternoon snoozing and shooting the bull.  In the evening we went to a good show and so ended the day.  Except for the bugs, which are legion, this place is really fine.  We find the days easing past with fair speed and every passing one finds us more converted to pursuit flying.  These P-40's are not nearly as bad as they have been cracked up to be.  There are seven who have been washed out here, completely or partially, but it has mostly been due to sloppy pilots.

                                                                   GTB

November 24, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Monday -- Started off the week with a swell hour of 6-plane formation early this morning.  We flew attack missions and I was on Kuykendal's wing.  It was the best flying I've ever done since being here and it encouraged me greatly.  Frank Schiel was leading the formation and we spent about 15 minutes chasing tails.  Frank slow rolled both ways and did 6 sharp Immelmans when we were in string.  Personally, it was the wildest and best damn ride I ever took.  Played ball this afternoon and got up a good sweat.  The weather has been blasted hot the last couple of days.  I'd like to leave for Kunming at once.

                                                                GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Six plane formation - Attack  1:20

November 25, 1941                                                                                                     Point A

Tuesday -- Everything broke loose all at once today.  fired my first ground gunnery and then followed that with 1:30 of the wildest flying in history.  First Pursuit put a 12 plane formation in the air and we mixed it with 12 from the Second Pursuit right over the field.  I was butt-end Charley in my outfit and had my hands full from the word go.  Neale was leading our element of six planes and except for running out of gas at one point, the whole thing was an admirable success from my point of view.  Went in town tonight to meet the new pilots who arrived from Rangoon.  Fuller, out of my class, was among them.  No show.

                                                              GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C   FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Ground gunnery - 12 plane from  2:45

November 26, 1941                                                                                               Point A

Wednesday -- Had an entirely new experience in aviation today.  Fired 240 rounds of .30 cal ammunition in ground gunnery practice.  We fired at targets about four feet square and made diving approaches from about 2,000 feet and at 260-300 miles an hour.  The gunnery is most interesting and quite difficult.  You must not skid your airplane if you expect to get any hits.  After dinner we went to the show and sighed over Ann Sheridan.  The new pilots came in about ten o'clock and Jim and I waited up to say hello to Fuller, Shamblin, Stubbs, Van Shapard, Baugh and Bolster.  Was very glad to see them.

                                                                           GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Formation and tactics   2:45

November 27, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Thursday -- We had a partial holiday today as it is Thanksgiving in the States.  Flying ended at 11:00, but I had to take over as O.D. at noon.  This is my first tour of duty with the A.V.G.  This afternoon was set aside for an all-state softball game between the pilots and the enlisted men.  They picked me to catch the first five innings with Col. Chennault pitching.  The enlisted men beat us 8-5, and I did a poor job of hitting.  The prize was two cases of Java Beer, but the winners cut us in on that too.  As O.D. I didn't get to bed until 1:00 A.M.  Latest I've been up in 3 months.

                                                                     GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Formation, Aerial gunnery  2:30

November 28, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Friday -- This was a busy morning and partially busy afternoon.  Had a ground gunnery mission and showed some improvement over the first time I fired.  Got 31 hits in the inner circle of the target which was fair but far from good.  Spent the rest of the morning with lots of little jobs and after dinner was so tired that a nap was in order.  Later in the afternoon I wrote a long letter home which Al Criz is going to take with him and mail in San Francisco.  This will avoid a lot of censorship which would otherwise keep me from telling the folks anything about the place.  It is now certain that I'll be in the group that goes to China.

                                                                        GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Formation ground gunnery  1:25

November 29, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Saturday -- Maintenance day on the line this morning, and Liebolt and I spent the morning clustering over our airplanes like a couple of mother hens over their broods.  It was the day of the beer bust for the first sq. so flying was over at 11:00 for the trainees.  Went up to the swimming hole in the mountains for the beer bust.  The trip was most beautiful, the jungle in the mountains is the most dense thing I have ever seen in my life and the teak trees are the largest things I've ever seen.  The bust was a great success with all hands getting in shape, enjoying swimming in the mountain stream, and talking flying.  The whole squadron was there.

                                                                      GTB

November 30, 1941                                                                                              Point A

Sunday -- Expecting to sleep and loaf, we were startled with action instead of leisure at six o'clock this morning.  Orders from the Colonel are to be ready to leave for Kunming on 3 hour notice.  Kunming was bombed badly Friday and we are needed seriously.  We all worked all day.  Two important orders came out in the Squadron: I've been given an airplane #12 -- and am to be engineering officer for my flight, "A" flight, commanded by Sandel.  We loaded all guns ourselves and spent most of the day checking the airplane.  Late this afternoon I had a gunnery mission.  In case we don't leave tomorrow, I can take my time in finishing packing.  Kunming here we come!

                                                                         GTB