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December '41
December 1, 1941                                                                                                Point A

Monday --  No order to leave yet, but we are ready now.  Kunming is 650 miles and we are going to go nonstop, taking 20 airplanes and 20 pilots out of our squadron, leaving either late in the afternoon or early some morning.  It is going to be dangerous business slipping into Kunming with our ships down to about 1 hour's gasoline.  A bad time for the Squadron to get jumped by a Japanese formation.  We wouldn't have a chance with that little gas.  Went into town and got a pair of boots made for me by a Hindu boot maker.  Very nice.  Also, got a gun belt for the pistol.  This was pay day as you can easily see.  Things are almost moving too fast to record.  Perhaps I need more space, hey.  Too verbose.

                                                                       GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo High altitude engine quit 26,000'  2:20


December 2, 1941                                                                                                 Point A

Tuesday -- Went flying on another high altitude mission this morning after it had been definitely established that the planned departure for Kunming had been postponed temporarily.  It turned out to be a dilly with the crowning feature being a slow roll on the bottom of a loop at 320 miles an hour.  Bond was ahead of me in the string and hit the leaders prop wash as he was coming out of the roll.  The wash snapped him completely around and for a minute I thought the speed had torn his ailerons off.  I was on my back in the roll at the time and it scared the heck out of me.  Worked painting my plane all afternoon.  It is coming along.

                                                                       GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  High altitude rat race at 25,000'  2:15

December 3, 1941                                                                                                  Point A

Wednesday -- Busy day from 5:30 on through.  Armament finished bore sighting my ship this morning and it shoots a pattern of less than 8 inches at 500 yards with all four wing guns firing.  Late in the morning I fired it on the range and the sight and guns are darned near perfect -- even if I am not.  Worked part of the afternoon painting my ship and then came home and our Squadron played ball against the Third Squadron.  It was a good game but they were a trifle too good for us.  Went to the show this evening but the sound system went out so we hit the hay early.  Time seems to be moving rapidly, when you look back.  Still miss the folks.

                                                                  GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Gunnery in my own ship - good sights  2:05

December 4, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Thursday -- Orders to move are still missing, although we had expected to be in Kunming by this time.  No flying for me today, so I spent the morning in the control tower as airdrome officer and kept sneaking down to work on my plane.  Finally have all the painting finished, and #12 is ready to go to the north whenever  the Colonel says "go".  Except for expecting to get caught in combat within 48 hours after we arrive in Kunming.  We are taking 21 airplanes in our Squadron and he is hoping that we get them all in shape.  No other thing could be more pleasant than if we all miss getting knocked off.

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December 5, 1941                                                                                                Point A

Friday -- Had a good 12-ship formation this morning, flying it just as we will in combat missions up north.  The formation was the best that our Squadron has ever flown thus far and indicates that we are progressing in our work -- even though it is far to slowly.  I doubt very much if we can be an efficient unit before six months from now.  The question is will we get the breaks and last long enough to be welded into a good fighting squadron or will we get knocked off early.  Saw a good show tonight, the Marx Brothers in "Go West".  Funny how important that show has become.  Three nights a week, as regular as clockwork.  It would be a calamity if we should miss one.

                                                                GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  12 sip formation - good workout  2:40

Ed. Note:  Contrast this entry with the one on 12-14-41.  Quite a difference.

December 6, 1941                                                                                                        Point A

Saturday -- Sandel mad himself popular with everybody this morning when he called off the 6:30 meeting and let the Squadron sleep in.  Didn't get up until 8:30 -- what a luxury.  When I finally made it to the line I took my ship up on an altitude test to see if the new plugs and carburetor jets had cured it of cutting out.  Reached 26,500' but couldn't get it any higher.  On the way down I gave it a hell of a workout and had a hot dog fight with Neale.  Wrote a long letter to Veve and mailed it so it would get home by Christmas.  Ed Liebolt and I went to Greenlaw's this evening and had a beer at the Savoy before coming home at 9:45.  Hot Saturday evening.

                                                                     GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  High altitude test for #12  2:15

December 7, 1941                                                                                                   Point A

Sunday -- Loafed the day away -- our first day off in more than two weeks.  Spent most of the time writing letters home and getting the rest of my stuff packed up for the trip north.  Despite my good resolutions not to spend any more money on stones I ended up buying three more opals from the Ceylon merchant this afternoon.  The stones are very pretty though and will make a very nice present for Veve (her birthstone) and Mother.  I have a nice star sapphire for Betty so that takes care of the womenfolk.  You can't get any quiet around here, even on Sunday, because of the birds constantly arguing.            

                                                                   GTB

December 8, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

U.S. Declared War on Japan! And here we sit in the Middle of it.

Monday -- This day will go down in history!  Not only for us but for all Americans.  At 8:00 this morning word came that Japan had attacked Honolulu, Manila, Singapore, and Hong Kong.  Within an hour we had every ship in alert formation and all of us were awaiting a visit from the Japs.  They didn't show up today, but we all expect a wave of them tomorrow.  We have started on 24 hour duty.  My plane is ready and so am I -- and it is my dearest wish that I get my sights on one of those Jap bastards.  They killed a lot of fine men with that rotten attack on Honolulu.  Must be up at 4:00 A.M. so goodnight children.

                                                                  GTB

December 9, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Tuesday -- At the line before dawn and after the early ground fog burned off we went for our first WAR patrol.  Spent 3 hours patrolling the Thailand Burma border but no sign.  Tenseness is prevalent for we all realize that our destruction is of paramount importance to the Japs in China.  At 4:05 we spotted a Jap observation plane high above the field.  A patrol went after him but couldn't catch him.  The rest of the afternoon we spent in our airplanes, getting ready to go, but never getting turned loose.  The second squadron patrolled constantly at 15, 000 feet.  Two false air raid alarms and twice I had my ship running, but no Japs showed up.  I hope they do -- blast them.  May leave here tomorrow.  

                                                                      GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  First WAR patrols, no action, 3 alarms  3:25

December 10, 1941                                                                                             Point A

Wednesday -- Air raid alarm at 3:10 this morning and at 3:25 I was in my plane warming it up.  The night patrol was already up to intercept the Japs so we waited on the ground until they were sighted.  The Japs were off on their navigation and bombed a field about 35 miles south of us.  We watched the flashes.  Had one more air raid alarm in the afternoon but they didn't show up.  We were on duty until 6:30.  A long day.  Shortly after noon our flight went out as an escort  for a photographic ship.  We went over to the two border fields of Thailand which the Japs were supposed to have occupied, but we didn't jump a ship on the whole patrol.  To bed at 8:00.

                                                                     GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Escorted photo plane to Thailand  2:05

December 11, 1941                                                                                               Point A

Thursday -- Spent the quietest day since the war broke.  Up at 4:30 and on the line until 6:30 in the evening except for a two hour relief at noon.  They have started serving the noon meal on the line so the pilots will be constantly available.  Went on a patrol along the Burma-Siam border, but still saw no action.  Thailand has supposedly signed an agreement with Germany and we are constantly expecting action in Thailand, less than 100 miles away.  Varied the procedure tonight and went to the movies.  "Espionage Agent".  Some subject for a time like this.

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December 12, 1941                                                                                                Point A

Friday -- This is a red letter day.  I've been close to death maybe a couple of times but today I really sampled it.  Kuykendall and myself were in combat over the field at about 8500 feet and I tried to whip my ship over in a half roll at the top of a steep climb.  It went into an inverted spin and dropped out into one of those uncontrollable flops for which the P-40 is famous.  I tried everything I knew and then started reaching for the canopy release but it was too late.  Finally pulled out of the flop in a vertical dive with full throttle and at 450 miles an hour.  Cleared the ground by less than 500 feet.  Kuykendall was scared even more than I.  The day otherwise was quiet.  It had to be for I was wacky from the reaction.

                                                                     GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Narrowest escape of my life during combat with Kukeyndall - two alarms  2:20


December 13, 1941                                                                                                     Point A

Saturday -- Another one of those on again, off again days.  Three alarms and no action except for some silly Englishman in a light plane who flew over the field so high that his plane couldn't be identified.  Within two minutes, Neale's flight, from our squadron, was in the air and they herded this bird back in without delay.  He was a scared boy; but most any dope should have known better.  Played poker most of the day and it seemed to me that the morale of the 1st. Sq. is as high as it can be.  They laughed and joked and enjoyed themselves.  Saw "Kit Carson" at the show tonight.  Pretty good shows lately.

                                                                           GTB

Pilot's log entry:
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Toungoo  Two alarms - short searches  :40

December 14, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Sunday -- By accident today happened to be my day off and since it coincided with Sunday it was a real holiday.  Took the squadron car and made two trips to town to buy stuff for myself and the fellows.  Got all the little details settled, for the rumor today has been that we are leaving tomorrow for Kunming.  I hope so, devoutly, for we are darned good and sick of these 14 hour days and frequent air raid alarms that don't materialize.  Bought 3 1/2 yards of excellent wool flannel and am going to have a couple of shirts made by a Chinese tailor.  Packed up again tonight and now we are ready to go.  Tomorrow we hope.

                                                                       GTB

December 15, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Monday -- The expected move again failed to materialize even though it did appear certain that we would leave for Kunming.  I've been over my airplane at least a dozen times getting it ready to go but each time it has been a false alarm.  Greenlaw approached me about trading the Mauser for a .38 pistol.  Think it would be a good deal so said O.K.  The good old F.A.V.G. may not last this war out, but it is a good hearted outfit.  We ain't nearly prepared for the things we are facing every day, but there has yet to be any squawking.  Jim, Neale and myself got plastered as hell on three beers and went to the movies.  It's just like high school -- two drinks will do it.

                                                                    GTB

December 16, 1941                                                                                                   Point A

Tuesday -- Won't we ever get out of this jernt.  Spent an uneventful day doing practically nothing.  The Colonel came by our alert shack this morning and Frank Schiel and myself talked to him for nearly 30 minutes.  He is a great guy -- and really likes his officers.  You can tell that from talking to him.  He is in much of a storm as we are about moving.  Things are evidently out of his hands now.  Battery in my airplane is way down and we had to crank it every time we warmed it up.  Gove, my new crew chief, is a good boy.  We get along well, which is an important item in war.  Bought some excellent sherry today -- for Xmas.  Come to think of it Xmas will darned soon be here.

                                                                      GTB

December 17, 1941                                                                                                    Point A

Wednesday -- Well -- here we go again!  This time it looks like the real thing -- but then it always has.  Gove, my crew chief, and six other mechs pulled out on CNAC this afternoon for Kunming and we are supposed to follow tomorrow.  There were no alarms today, so it was passed in playing poker and the usual griping.  All in all it hasn't been bad.  A British Blenheim came up from Rangoon at dark to pick up Colonel Chennault and take him down to meet Gen. Brett, American chief or the Air Corp., who just arrived in a B-24 on a tour of the Far-East.  We wonder what is up.  Hope we stay out of the Army for the duration of the year.

                                                                    GTB

December 18, 1941                                                                                     Point A to Kunming

Thursday -- Today was another epic one in my life.  My airplane cut out on take off when we were leaving for Kunming and I crashed in the jungle at the end of the runway.  Thanks to the Lord I wasn't hurt, but the airplane was a total smash.  Reported to the Col. and he told me to take another airplane and leave at once for Kunming.  Bacon of B. Squadron, and I made the trip together, arriving just before dark.  It was the roughest country I've ever flown over.  Not a place to land, even in a parachute for more than 500 miles.  Kunming itself, the field, our quarters, the Chinese, everything -- are heaven compared to Burma.  We are all happy as children.  The Japs bombed the city four hours before we arrived, killing over 200.  May it be possible we can prevent a repetition of this?

                                                                     GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo ---  12 cut out on take off crashed in jungle  --
P-40C  FAVG  Toungoo-Kunming  Took new airplane to Kunming  3:50

December 19, 1941                                                                                        Kunming, China

Friday -- With every passing hour I find it harder and harder to believe that Kunming is such a tremendous improvement over Burma.  This is really great.  The quarters are splendid, soft cots, furniture, showers, good food, a nice bar, excellent reception at the hands of the Chinese, and a good field to operate out of for a change.  This is good old Pennsylvania winter weather.  Cold and clear.  We have been issued good equipment, jackets and the like, and things are really nice.  This afternoon I took a flight of Rossi and Croft on a reconnaissance to survey two nearby fields at Yang Ling and Chan Yi.  Both are usable for P-40's.  We had two air raid alarms but no action.  Tomorrow I sleep late.  It is my day off.

                                                                     GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Lead element of Rossi, Croft recon.  2:45

December 20, 1941                                                                                          Kunming

Saturday -- This was one of the most miserable days I have ever spent.  The Japs came over at 10:00 with 10 airplanes.  Boyington and myself enjoying a day off, damn it -- rushed over to the field but couldn't find a spare airplane so had to stay on the ground.  The second squadron fizzled out completely, but the first intercepted the Japs about 50 miles southeast and lit into them.  They got six out of ten in a long running fight.  Five of our airplanes were hit, but we didn't loose a one.  Both Jim and Charlie collected bullet holes, Jim's being just about a foot in front of the windshield.  It was a great day for the 1st Squadron, but a hell of a day for me.  Damn, but we wanted to be with them.

                                                                        GTB

December 21, 1941                                                                                            Kunming

Sunday -- Thought my chance had come this morning when Greg and myself were sent out after a Jap observation plane which had been reported, but the bird was smart and turned back short of Kunming.  We accomplished the mission of keeping him out of here, but it was no consolation just to scare him away.  News about the victory yesterday is well known now and it is actually amazing how pleased all the Chinese are.  We were congratulated by the Generalissimo himself to say nothing of the Generals.  It is very obvious the Colonel is tickled.  The Chinese have been so very nice to us it is a real pleasure to be able to think that we are helping them.  Everybody expects an attack tomorrow.  Both Bond and Cross are off -- ha, ha.

                                                                         GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Patrol on raid alarm  1:20

December 22, 1941                                                                                            Kunming

Monday -- It may be the first day of winter, as the calendar says, but it was plenty warm here.  We had two raid alarms and made a couple of quick patrols.  Either the reports were false or the Japs turned back before reaching here.  Spent most of the day on the line getting things organized.  Put my new plane out for inspection and valve check today.  Gove seems to think that the valve check will give it considerable more power.  There is a reorganization coming within the Squadron -- Bond is to be the new adjutant, with Little in Operations.  Sandel has practically a mutiny on his hands.  It seems to me that we need a more stable C.O.  Have to wait and see how things go.

                                                                         GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Two patrols - engineering flt.  3:40

December 23, 1941                                                                                                  Kunming

Tuesday -- Laid up for a couple of hours this morning for sick call.  Have a miserable cold and don't see any means of getting rid of it.  Air raid at 9:30, but we got in the air fast enough to turn them back.  So far the only actions I have been in have been bloodless ones.  We never get near enough to get a shot at them.  Got some mighty bad news today.  Shilling, Merrit and Mangleburg started from Lashio this afternoon for Kunming in very bad weather and against orders.  Mangleburg and Merrit both crashed and burned.  Shilling finally got down safe at Tze-Yaun.  They were flying the CW-21, Curtis interceptors which we need so badly.  Terrible news.

                                                                       GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Interception on air raid alarm  :55

December 24, 1941                                                                                             Kunming

Wednesday -- `Twas the night before Xmas, and all that stuff.  Today was my day off and as usual at 10:30 along came the raid.  This time they couldn't keep me out of it.  We rushed over to the field and I took one of the ships out of engineering for the flight.  As usual, when I'm on deck, the birds turned back and we couldn't intercept them.  Wish they quit stopping short of Kunming.  Heard the news from Rangoon today -- the Third Squadron fought off a heavy raid there, but lost Gilbert and Martin, and seven ships.  At that rate the war will be short for the F.A.V.G. unless we get some airplane replacements soon.  Hope we have better luck.

                                                                         GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Intercept on air raid alarm  :55

December 25, 1941                                                                                                 Kunming

Thursday -- Xmas in China -- and on duty from 4:30 till 6:00.  Kind of expected the Japs today, but they didn't show up.  Found out today that we lost another airplane.  Ricketts, Hurst and Swartz were ferrying planes up from Toungoo and got lost.  Hurst and Swartz landed safely, but Ricketts tore his up.  Third one for Rick.  Too bad, but he apparently can't handle the P-40.  Forgot to mention yesterday about the fine Xmas dinner we had with the man.  Afterwards I treated several of them in the bar and then we went to the show in town.  Jim gave me a nice present -- Chinese officer's short sword.  The presents I ordered for Jim and Charley didn't show up.

                                                                       GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Xmas day - two short patrols  1:10

December 26, 1941                                                                                                   Kunming

Friday -- Am down with a darned bad cold.  Didn't go to work until about 9:30 and arrived just in time to pile into my plane and join the Squadron in an air raid patrol.  Was in such a hurry I had to take off without even clearing my engine.  Worked that time, but hope I never have to do it again.  Quite a strain.  Some good news today.  Merrit was not killed in his crash and the Third Squadron had another victory at Rangoon.  Lost two pilots and planes, but got 17 Japs.  Leibolt and I are talking about reorganizing the line and appointing a new crew chief as line chief.  Still in the formative stage.

                                                                      GTB

P-40C  FAVG  Kunming-Kunming  Four engr. hops - 2 planes cut out  1:50

December 27, 1941                                                                                                        Kunming

Saturday -- On sick call today with this cold.  Bunch of us went in town and bought some stuff and then ate at the Nan-Ping Cafe.  The food was excellent and so was the Dubonnet wine.  Crazy thing -- the wine cost us $200 for five glasses, yet a four course dinner for five was only $194.  Days have ceased to mean anything.  The only time I know what day it is, is by referring to this book.  Am going to take the night duty for Bond tonight as he has other work to do.  Had a shave -- with a real hot towel (wonderful) from the Chinese barber and my face feels the best it has in weeks.  The canteen now has Luckies and Hershey bars -- they are rationed out one to a man.

                                                                      GTB

December 28, 1941                                                                                                    Kunming

Sunday -- Wonderful news this morning.  The two missing pilots of the Third Sq. showed up safe and sound with their airplanes.  New count is now 19 Japs -- 13 of them fighters and 6 bombers -- and not a single F.A.V.G. loss.  The Second Squadron is supposed to leave for Rangoon today to relieve the Third which will come up here with us.  Am loafing today after having been on night duty last evening.  I go back on day duty tomorrow.  We are looking for a concentrated Jap force to come over soon.  We will cure them of the idea when they do.  The Second Squadron tried to get "93", my new ship, to take to Rangoon, but we gave then another one.  Some Crust.

                                                                          GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Patrol for Japs  1:20


December 29, 1941                                                                                                    Kunming

Monday -- Big laugh today.  The Japs broadcasting from Tokyo called us "Savages" and cold blooded murderers.  They h'anit seen nothing yet.  Those rats shot at Joe Greene after he bailed out of his plane in the last fight at Rangoon.  The American radio is giving us a big play, much greater, probably, than we deserve.  The Chinese had an Xmas party for us this evening and we all received beautiful white silk scarfs embroidered with the Chinese emperor's surname.  Col. Chennault spoke in behalf of the A.V.G., and was highly inspiring.  He closed with the pledge to fight to victory or death.  They served us a Chinese dinner and we all ate with chopsticks.  Can't say much for the food, but it was a splendid experience.

                                                                       GTB

December 30, 1941                                                                                              Kunming

Tuesday -- Tired and sleepy most of the day because we didn't get home from last night's party until 11:30.  It was a quiet day, though, not even an air raid to mar it's quietness.  Bond found out today that a change is brewing in our squadron -- it can't come too soon for the good of the organization.  I like Sandel fine, as far as I am personally concerned, but he is a terribly inefficient Squadron head.  Boyington would be the man for the job.  Bond would also be a dandy if he only had the pursuit experience.  Tomorrow is the last day of 1941.  It has been a momentous year.  Here is hoping I live to see 1942 -- and then `43.

                                                                      GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Forced landing  Prestone pump out  :15

December 31, 1941                                                                                           Kunming

Wednesday -- It was a year ago tonight that the 43rd Squadron was having it's New Year's eve party in the Hacienda in Beach Park, Tampa.  We are a long way from that now.  I wonder where those men are and if they are well and eager.  1942 is going to be a mighty interesting and unusual year.  It looks as though my part in starting it will be very insignificant.  Tonight I am the sickest I've been in years.  Dock Richards says it is an appendicitis and a cold, but I think it is just some poisoning from the food, combined with a cold.  To bed at 6:45 with the hope I'll feel better in the morning.  We are expecting the Japs.

                                                                    GTB