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January '42
January 1, 1942                                                                                                   Kunming

Thursday -- Happy New Year everybody -- and I mean it!  Even though I am spending it in bed.  Today the line was reorganized with Graham being relieved as crew chief and taking over as line chief.  Lots of other of my pet plans were carried out, but I wasn't there to see them.  However, it seems to me that the Engineering Department is progressing in its organization.  Let the rest of the squadron follow suit.  The Third Squadron flew in today with 10 airplanes.  They lost eight planes and two men during their wonderful stand at Rangoon.  They are going to get a well deserved rest for a week before starting on duty.  Well, 1942, we're off.

                                                                    GTB

January 2, 1942                                                                                                  Kunming

Friday -- Diagnosed my trouble as a bad case of sinus this morning and the entire day has been spent on my back with a hot water bottle draped over my schnozzle.  This sinus is terrible stuff.  I don't know when I've ever had such pain.  Dr. Richards finally gave me some narcotics to let me get some rest.  Not much of anything doing all day according to the boys when they came home tonight.  Not much hope of me getting out of bed for a couple of days at least from the way the Doc talks.  There are lots of rumors floating about that we may be pulled back into the Army.  Nothing definite.

                                                                       GTB

January 3, 1942                                                                                                        Kunming

Saturday -- Another day on my duff.  The sinus appears much improved but it should -- this is the fourth day I've been down with it.  Got out of bed this afternoon and wrote a letter to Betty.  Lord, but I'm starved for some mail from home.  Anything.

Now for some big news.  CRB told me when he came home tonight that he, Jim, myself, and Hoffman have been recommended for Flight Leaders in a letter that went into the Colonel today.  That means $675 in pay, but more than that it means we are getting along here.  Sounds like a story book, Jim, Charlie and myself all being promoted together.  Here's hoping it lasts.

                                                                    GTB

January 4, 1942                                                                                                        Kunming

Sunday -- Spent most of the day playing cards with Sawyer and Little, but feel just about as poorly as usual.  This siege is sure thinning me out.  Down 12 pounds and still dropping.  Best news of the day was that the Colonel is dead set against us going back into the Army and intends to fight against it.  Other good news was that Newkirk and a flight of two others went on a photographic mission to Tak in Thailand today, shot down three ships in the air and ground straffed the field getting four more.  Didn't even lose any sleep over the deal.  Hope things keep breaking as well for us.  So to sleep-

                                                                           GTB

January 5, 1942                                                                                                                Kunming

Monday -- Six days of it now.  Pretty soon the men on the line will be wondering if I am one of the bunch.  Today the damn stuff came back in full force.  For about three hours this morning I nearly went crazy with the pain, until Doc. came along and gave me a narcotic to put me out of my misery.  About the only time I fee any good now is when I'm stuffed with dope.  Would be all right except that the dope wears off -- eventually.  The boys have heard rumors that the Japs hit Rangoon today.  No details.  Probably revenge for Newkirk's little expedition of yesterday to Tak, over in Thailand.  I'll cheer them all on from my sick bed.

                                                                            GTB

January 6, 1942                                                                                                               Kunming

Tuesday -- On and on it goes and when it ends nobody knows -- or so it seems.  Still on the flat of my back today after one of the worst attacks so far.  Dr. Richards seems to think that the drainage has started in which case relief should come soon.  Today was a delayed payday.  After all deductions and a 50 rupee contribution to the Chinese war orphan's fund, I still have better than 100 rupees left.  Should have very little trouble living on my allotment.  I think it was pretty smart to get only a $100 sent over here.  No news from the boys today.  Apparently it was dull on the line too.

                                                                             GTB

January 7, 1942                                                                                                               Kunming

Wednesday -- Not a thing different or new.  Spent the day on my duff in bed, but the Doc says the thing looks quite improved.  There was nothing on the line today, but a false air raid alarm.  Hennessey came in from Loi Wing with the Beechcraft this afternoon and the Colonel left for Chungking and a conference with General Brett and General Magruder about the status of the F.A.V.G.  The rest of the month should see some development one way or the other.  CRB thought today that we might get regular commissions in the Air Force if we go back in soon.  That would really be great.  I'll do it in a minute for that consideration.

                                                                           GTB

January 8, 1942                                                                                                               Kunming

Thursday -- Found myself quite a good deal better today and spent a couple of hours in bed after which I got dressed and paraded around in the air until tired.  Apparently I'll live after all, but there were times when doubt held a pretty prominent place in my mind.  CRB, Jim, Little, Leibolt, Neale and myself went to town this evening for a show.  I sent a radiogram to the folks about the state of our insurances and picked up the two shirts that I'd had tailored  out of that flannel from Toungoo.  The shirts turned out well and the movie was also good,  The trip tired me out and I felt half-sick at the show but this must be due to the long period of inactivity.

                                                                         GTB

January 9, 1942                                                                                                         Kunming

Friday -- Passed today feeling the best since the sinus first caught up with me.  Doc says to use a little care and I'll be over it, which suits me just fine.  CRB, Jim and Little had the day off and went for a motor trip out west of Kunming.  Doc said "no", so I stayed home.  When they came back we ate a big meal and then fooled around until early evening and went to town again.  Regular gadabouts!  Bought some more knickknacks to add to the collection.  It ought to be a lot of fun when I start distributing this stuff when we get home.

                                                                        GTB

January 10, 1942                                                                                                               Kunming

Saturday -- Some good news today!  Colonel Chennault came back from Chungking, and for a considerable time, at least, we are not to go back into the Army.  This assures our income for an indefinite time and that is the thing I am the fondest of over here.  Bought several more items in town today.  Often wonder if the folks will like the things I'm buying of if I'm getting stuck on a lot of this stuff.  Hope not, although I have to admit that when it comes to silks and stuff, I'm way out of water.  Tonight is the first typical Saturday evening since we have been here.  The nurses came over to dinner and there are several parties in progress.  But for an invalid it is early to bed.

                                                                        GTB

January 11, 1942                                                                                                              Kunming

Sunday -- Four months ago today I left the family and Veve at Harrisburg.  That's 1/3 of a year.  Hard to believe, but true.  Perhaps it is a mistake, but I hardly think that we'll spend the full year here.  This of course depends on how the war goes and what the Army finally does about the A.V.G.  Spent the day in town and in idle pursuits and took over for Mickelson on night duty this evening.  Tried for about two hours to get Frisco on the radio in the Operations room, but couldn't make connections.  The whole damn dial was filled with German and Japanese stations -- bragging and lying.

                                                               GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Air raid alarm interception attempt  :45

January 12, 1942                                                                                                     Kunming

Monday -- Great excitement for a while this morning.  Eight of the first Squadron were picked off at noon to leave for Rangoon and reinforce the Second Squadron.  McGarry, Neale, Little, Boyington, Croft, Rossi, Bartling and Schiel finally went.  Jim and I were on night duty so weren't even considered in the selection.  The boys are mighty good fellows and I hove fervently that they have good luck and all return safely.  Went over to Dr. Bruce, the dentist, this afternoon and had two teeth filled.  They are holding up pretty well.  Found out that Knapp, Bernsdorff, Houle and perhaps Adkins are quitting and going home.  Hope I have the guts not to poop out.

                                                                     GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Reconnaissance mission. weather bad  2:15

January 13, 1942                                                                                                          Kunming

Tuesday -- Had a quiet night last night, and a tolerably quiet day.  Little of anything doing, so Jim and I read and slept most of the day.  Later in the afternoon, the mood possessed me long enough to get a couple of letters written -- on to Veve, bless the thought of her, and one to Annie Stringer -- another, if older, queen.  Wish to the duce that some mail would come in.  It's been more than two months since the last letter.  Sherman was right -- war is hell on correspondence.  Things have been so dull the last 10 days, the boys would actually welcome the Japs over.

                                                                        GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Squadron as escort for Chinese bomber  1:10

January 14, 1942                                                                                                          Kunming

Wednesday -- Got some sleep early this morning after coming off duty, and then spent a quiet day fooling the barracks with Jim.  They had an air raid alarm at noon, but it proved to be a false one.  Listening to the radio last night in the Operations office I heard several German and Japanese stations broadcasting a lot of propaganda.  Mad me so mad that I had to turn it off.  The situation in Singapore is getting serious, and Rangoon will be in bad shape if Singapore folds up.  The damn British had better get on the ball, and quick.  They don't run a very smart war, the Limeys!

                                                                     GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Combat training and rat race  :45

January 15, 1942                                                                                                             Kunming

Thursday -- Went visiting over at the First Hostel this morning, mainly for something to do.  Talked with Red and Jo, the nurses, and they are going to buy some things for me for Mother, Betty and Veve.  Took a few motion pictures of them and Dr. Bruce.  On the way back, Newell and I went through a hitherto unexplored part of Kunming.  It was incredibly filthy, but amazing to see.  At times were traveling with a car on paved areas that were hardly wide enough for a man to walk on.  Charlie and Jim got cablegrams from home today, but I have still to hear.  The evening was quiet.  The night duty has its points.

                                                                     GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Slow time on Bond's ship. Bond sick  3:30

January 16, 1942                                                                                                          Kunming

Friday -- Have made arrangements to pack my gladstone and send it back to the states with Gunvordahl and Bernsdorf, who are leaving Tuesday.  I am going to send all the silk tapestries and everything else that I have picked up in my travels for the floks.  This way at least some reminder will get home to the folks in case something should happen to me.  Perish such pleasant thoughts.  Went into town this afternoon, but an air raid warning had scared everyone into the hills so we didn't accomplish a thing.  Beat Jim, five games of cribbage for the evening's entertainment.  I really like night duty!!

                                                                          GTB

January 17, 1942                                                                                                       Kunming

Saturday -- Talk about luck!  Four ships from the Third Squadron were out on a photographic mission to Mengtze this morning and ran smack dab into three Jap bombers apparently ready to bomb the field there.  The P-40's quickly changed their minds by knocking down two and badly damaging the third in three passes.  The third got away in the clouds but reports later from the radio net was that it was forced down a few miles further making it a clean sweep.  The Japs will think there are P-40's all over China because Mengtze is nearly 200 miles from here.  Tonight is the last for my night duty.  We work for 24 hours straight to end up the shift.

                                                                      GTB

January 18, 1942                                                                                                              Kunming

Sunday -- Worked right through last night and all day today.  It was the first day I've been on duty for over two weeks and it was quite a pleasant change.  The big event of the day was flying again.  Put an engineering hop on CRB's airplane which just had an engine change, and flew my own ship just to see what it was like.  A busy day more or less.  No action of any importance.  After work I broke the fast which I've been on ever since I was sick.  Had five drinks and was in one of the most mellow moods of the year.  Then to bed and a wonderful night's sleep.  It is marvelous to be well again.

                                                                      GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Observe field a Tsuyang  2:00

January 19, 1942                                                                                                           Kunming

Monday -- No Japs did us the favor of showing up today, but it was pleasant and interesting just the same.  Flew for a couple of hours slow timing CRB's ship for him and testing my own.  Ganvordahl, Bernsdorf, Knapp and Houle left for the states via CNAC to Calcutta.  Gunner took my bag with him and is going to send it home.  darn nice of him.  I was flying "25" when CNAC left so escorted them for a few miles and waved good-bye.  Late in the afternoon I flew over to Chan Yi and Yang Ling and looked the fields over.  Both of them are in pretty good shape.  CRB is sick with a bad dose of the hives but improving.  Good nite, again!

                                                                    GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Finish slow time on Bond's ship  1:30

January 20, 1942                                                                                                                Kunming

Tuesday -- Spent the usual quiet day at the field except for good gunnery mission this afternoon.  Fired by far the best mission I was ever on.  Scored 526 hits out of 1107 rounds, which is damn good.  It gives me a lot of confidence too -- let those Japs come now.  "25", my new airplane, flies about as cheesily as any one I ever had the doubtful distinction of wrestling with, but as it so happens it has more time on it than any other so I will get one of the first P-40E's we expect to get soon.  Saw a fine show, "You Can't Take It With You" in at the Nan Ping Theater.  Also bought some cloth to make a uniform shirt.  Some spend thrift.

                                                                       GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Gunnery, 526 hits of 1107, Test"25"  1:45
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Swing compass on "25" Cheesy Airplane  :50

January 21, 1942                                                                                                         Kunming

Wednesday -- Action is something that we had practically nothing of today.  The nearest thing to any excitement was news from Rangoon that they got three Jap fighters while escorting British bombers on a raid into Thailand.  Neale got one of the Japs.  Paul Moss was shot down but has been reported safe at a British base near the border, which is good news.  There is a possibility that the Russian made Chinese bombers may arrive tomorrow and Sandy hinted that we might make an offensive maneuver.  Hope so.  It would be a big chance to blow off steam.  Boyington and Croft came back from Rangoon today.  Six of our outfit is still there!

                                                                          GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Local formation with Leibolt  :45

January 22, 1942                                                                                                         Kunming

Thursday -- Today we tried the most ambitious mission of the war so far, and had the effect spoiled purely by the hard-headed stupidness of a Chinese Captain.  Ten of us from the first Squadron left for Mengtze at 8:30 and refueled there.  At 11:15 two Squadrons of Chinese bombers came by on their way to bomb Hanoi and Haiphong.  We accompanied them as an escort, but the bombing was bad.  The Chinese leading the bombers insisted on flying the wrong course and consequently we missed Hanoi and Haiphong both.  By the time we found them, gas was so low that everything had to be done in a hurry.  As it was we just got back to Mengtze with only 15 gallons of gas to spare.  A very narrow call for all of us.

                                                                    GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Mengtze  Accompany  2 Sq. Chinese    1:10
P-40C  F.A.V.G.   Mengtze-Hanoi-Mengtze  Bombers to Hanoi       3:40
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Mengtze-Kunming  Very narrow call on gas         1:00

January 23, 1942                                                                                                            Kunming

Friday -- That trip yesterday took more out of us than we thought.  Five hours at 20,000 feet, like we spent yesterday under constant strain, really hits you the next day.  The Chinese lost one airplane on that trip yesterday from motor failure.  Glad it wasn't one of us.  Some of the boys think that it was the antiaircraft fire at Haiphong that got the Chinese ship but I personally doubt it.  The Third Squadron was to take the same outfit down again today but the weather was bad, so no mission.  Today was uneventful but the Col. is very much of the opinion that the Japs will be up here in retaliation on the first clear day.  Awfully tired, so to bed at eight.

                                                                    GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Kunming  Engineering flight  :35

January 24, 1942                                                                                                                   Kunming

Saturday -- Things were rather dull all day so I was looking forward to a duck dinner in the evening when I was to be the guest of my crew-chief, Whitey Harrington.  Before dinner we had a couple of belts of this and that and the party was going swell when Sandy came in, all in a dither, and yanked us out.  We drew to see who would leave in the morning for Rangoon.  CRB & I are going but Jim lost.  I'm taking Leibolt's airplane since it is in good shape.  The ground crew is not going and we are only supposed to stay for 8 to 10 days and protect Rangoon against the worst of the Jap's big effort which is now on.  To sleep with lots of excitement.

                                                                      GTB

January 25, 1942                                                                                    From Kunming to Rangoon

Sunday -- After a hectic scramble in the early hours to round up some engineering supplies, we hauled for Lashio.  The trip was rough and slow due to a bad head-wind.  Lashio is a boom town, being a terminus on the Burma Road.  Had a splendid dinner and a beer at the CNAC Hostel while we were waiting on gas.  Those birds aren't sure there is a war on.  Dumb clucks.  Hit Rangoon and Mingaldon airport at dusk.  CRB blew his right tire on landing, but did not tear up the airplane.  I was behind him, but had enough altitude to go around.  The boys had been in a big fight earlier in the day, but none of the 1st. Sq. boys have been killed to date.  It was good to see them again.

                                                                       GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Kunming-Lashio  12 plane formation to Rangoon  2:05
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Lashio-Rangoon  as reinforcement against Japs      2:20

January 26, 1942                                                                                                         Rangoon

Monday -- Stayed at the Minto Mansions Hotel last night for lack of other quarters, but today we were assigned to a private home near the field.  We are living with a Mr. Jensen, a Danish man who is alone, having sent his wife and children to Calcutta.  The home is fine and CRB and myself should get along swell.  Today was a succession of alarms and we spent most of the day climbing to 20,000 feet and then diving down after the alarm was over.  When they finally did come, with 27 fighters, we didn't have enough altitude and our flight had to stay on the outside until we got up to their level.  By that time they were in full retreat and there was not much doing.  Coakey Hoffman is missing out of our Sq. but may turn up.

                                                                       GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  3 alerts- one a-raid no combat  3:40
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  All alerts-no raid spend day climbing  2:55

January 27, 1942                                                                                                               Rangoon

Tuesday -- We had three alarms today, all false, but about noon we got word that Hoffman had been found -- dead.  Shot down with a wing off.  We got four for him though, and I know we all wish that it could have been different.  He was a swell gent!  Last night Jap bombers were over bombing Rangoon and Mingaldon, or base.  We sat in the yard drinking and watched the show.  No bomb came nearer to us than 1/2 mile.  There goes the alarm now for tonight.  That means douse the lights and no dinner again tonight.  Blast the Japs. -- Later.  Four Japs came over in the raid but two Hurricane night fighters were out and drove them off.  One was shot down less than a mile from the house.  We saw it all from the yard.  It was a beautiful show.

                                                                      GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  4 alerts, 3 false, 4th fizzled out  5:10
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  1st alert Hoffman was killed- got 4  1:40

January 28, 1942                                                                                                              Rangoon

Wednesday -- The big subject this morning was the job the RAF pilot did last night in getting the Jap.  It was beautiful.  The pilot was a bird named Stone, a British Squadron leader that Charlie and I know.  He finished the Jap with three long bursts, and the Jap caught fire and came straight down.  Charlie and I were supposed to be off today, but we were pall bearers for Coakey Hoffman's funeral.  During the funeral they had a raid with 55 fighters coming over.  CRB and I missed it, but the boys got 10 of them.  Sandel was shot down but unhurt, and Hastey bailed out safely after his ship was shot up.  A Jap pilot crashed on the field and tried to ram Sandy who was on the ground.  He hit the tail section of Sandy's plane but was smashed to pieces himself.

                                                                        GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  Two patrols-one big fighter raid-got 10  3:20
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  Engineering hop on "24" OK  :20

January 29, 1942                                                                                                              Mingaldon

Thursday -- Yesterday a day off -- big fight.  Today a standby, result another big fight.  My lot is rather hard.  There were three false alarms the 18 Jap fighters came over.  While we watched the other boys did their stuff.  Charlie got two and possibly a third.  The rest all did well and we believe only three of 18 got back.  One tried to strafe the field and was shot down.  In coming down he tried to ram a Blenheim and missed by only a few feet.  It was a bloody mess.  His body was completely disintegrated.  In dispersing the planes to outlying fields tonight I had the closest one of my experience.  "33" started to ground loop and I was headed off into piles of rocks.  I gunned it heavily and squeezed out with only dragging the left wing a trifle.  Otherwise, it was absolutely unscratched.

                                                                         GTB

P-40C  F.A.V.G.  J.Walker-Mingaldon  Ferry ship to field  :20
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Rangoon-Rangoon  Patrol-Test hop on "6"  2:10
P-40C  F.A.V.G.  Satellite-Mingaldon  Ferry trip-nearly washed out "33"

January 30, 1942                                                                                                         Mingaldon

Friday -- Today was a useless day.  Beset with the curse of Burma -- diarrhea I've been in bed all day.  Luckily, for a change, I didn't miss any action at all.  There wasn't an alert all day.  Official figures for yesterday's shindig are now 15 Jap planes.  That isn't bad.  So far the ratio is about 50 to 1 against the Jap's in losses.  A stupid mission for strafing a Jap airdrome and troop movements was sent out by the 2nd Squadron today and it resulted in the useless loss of a very valuable life.  Tom Cole either was shot down or mushed into the ground.  Our ships are so few, and our pilots so valuable, it is complete nonsense to use them for such senseless missions.  Hope is that we go back to Kunming Feb. 4.

                                                                          GTB

January 31, 1942                                                                                                        Mingaldon

Saturday --  The illness was still with me today, and I spent it in bed.  The Doc calls it a stomach cold, familiar to this country.  There were no alarms today and Charlie came home early.  We had a party of the Danish colony in Rangoon here at the house tonight.  All Danish foods were on the dinner menu and I found them excellent.  We sat around and talked until late, drank a few quickies in the garden, and danced to the Gramophone. One of the younger Danish wives, Mrs. Hansen, is a honey.  Wouldn't mind if she were single for a few hours.  The Japs sent four waves of bombers across from 2 until five.  It was a beautiful full moon and just right for bombing.  I didn't even get out of bed.  To hell with them, the yellow skunks.

                                                                          GTB