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On My Own (2010-now) - website & blogs
Woman with a Fan, Link to Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope Magazine, a journal "exploring the experience of disability through Literature and the Fine Arts," published my first poem about Maria Blanchard in 2009, and now they have published a three page review on the book in a wonderful layout with several photos of Blanchard's work.
This journal is most interesting, and least interesting, because Dad never tells about the air battle itself. He describes the situation going into the battle, and data account of the mission says it was a "Hit," but his narrative ends with his feeling (and, he suggests, the feelings of the other men) about being assigned to bomb Hamburg. Nothing about the seven and a half hours in the air. I learned on the 100 Bomb Group Foundation website that the December mission over Hamburg was horrendous. I wrote to Dad's friend, Joe Urice, another tailgunner in the 100th (whose birthday is the same day as Dad's), and he replied: "I was also on that Jan 1945 Hamburg mission and it was nothing comparable to the losses of the Dec 31 mission. Flak but no fighters. "
|Dad, Joe Urice, & Will Kreamer|
at a 100 BG reunion
So maybe this mission was anticlimactic. Hard to imagine with flak that was not only heavy, but as Dad notes, "accurate." Or maybe they didn't do so hot, even though they hit their target. Dad being Dad, and a Kendig, he still took time to appreciate the good breakfast they had beforehand. He remained mindful of what was good about some Air Corps life: a bed and meals.
|The Ellis Crew|
Target – Hamburg – Oil Refinery
Visibility – visual Results – Hit
Flak – Heavy and Very Accurate
Takeoff – 0837 Land 1538
Bombs Away -1157 Altitude 25000´
Temp. - 36° Load – 12 -500 lb. G.P.'s
Oxygen – 3 ½ hrs. Mission – 7 ½ hrs.
Position High Element Lead
This morning, we were awakened at 0400 for chow and briefing. One consolation about these missions is that we always get fresh eggs and oranges. When we found out that the target was to be Hamburg, there were a lot of oohs because any time y ou go to Hamburg you know that a bad time is due you.
Dad's third journal, and once again, it's the ending that gets me, "Thank God once more we are home in bed." This after the somewhat jocular, "This wasn't bad enough" and "Woe is me," and I always remember Dad saying that the one good thing about being in the Air Corps (not the Air Force yet) was that IF you got home, you had a bed and food. He was always aware that his older brother and his hero, Uncle Les, was on the ground, in fact, in the very middle of the Battle of the Bulge, which was occurring as these journals were written. Uncle Les went days without dry socks, never mind a dry bed.
And now, this is off track, but here is a story about Uncle Les, who was in the war as were two of Dad's other brothers (Uncle Bumps --Robert-- and Uncle Curly--Leroy). At one of Uncle Les's war reunions, decades later, Malcom Forbes showed up looking for Les Kendig. He said, "I heard it said during those days, 'We have no idea who Les Kendig is, but he is working miracles with whatever he gets, so get as many weapons to him as you can.'" Uncle Les went on to help liberate Belgium, where the citizens decades later, gave him a national award. Uncle Les was not at the reunion to meet Malcolm Forbes, nor in Belgium for his award because although he was most alive still, he wouldn't get on an airplane.
I am struck too by the fact that that day they "never lost a ship" because the 100BG lost many ships. Another memory Dad shared with me later in life was the horrible experience of knowing a plane had gone down and in the evening, seeing workers come in to pack up the downed men's effects and carry them away. "They wheeled them away in a cart," Dad said, "and the sound made me sick." To be "home" in bed was no small thing.
TARGET – DERBEN – OIL STORAGE
VISIBILITY – VISUAL RESULTS- GOOD HIT
FLAK- MEDIUM - INACCURATE
TAKE OFF 0739 LAND 1535
BOBMS AWAY 13O4 ALTITUDE 26,700´
TEMP – 44 °
LOAD – 5- 10000 LB. G.P.’S
OXYGEN 4 HRS. MISSION 8 HRS
POSITION HIGHELEMENT LEAD
We were awakened at 3 o’clock for briefing and it was pretty cold this morning. At briefing we[re] were informed that our target was to be an underground storage for oil at Derben, near Hamburg. There was to be flak and a few fighters. Everything seemed O.K. on the ground, but once in the air we test fired and I found that my right gun was out of commission and I couldn’t get it working. It was pretty cold today and the contrails were heavy. Just before we got to the target, the viskers unit in my turret went bad and started to burn, and then my sight went out. This wasn’t bad enough, because just about then bandits appeared out of 3 o’clock level. I believe this to be one of the biggest air battles I will ever see because the sky was literally covered with burning planes and there were as many ours as theirs going down. About this time woe is me a FW 190 hit us from 11 o’clock low and he was close enough that I could have kicked him but my turret was in bad shape and I never got a decent shot, but I let him know I was there. The group in front of us took the brunt of the battle and we dropped out bombs and came home. We never lost a ship, but we had a fairly tough time of it. We hit the target and that is what counts. Thank God once more we are home in Bed.
Sgt. Russell Kendig
This second journal is an account of the crew's second mission, just a day after the first, to the marshalling yards of Darmstadt. It was not a success, in that they missed their target, but it was a success in that they had a safe landing, though a difficult one, and in the end Dad pays tribute to pilot Bob Ellis for a "beautiful job" of bringing them home though they were all "sweating" it.
|Dad and Bob at Thorpe Abbotts|
I'll also note that the aircraft named here in the journal is "Glory Bound," which I never heard before. Once all the men on the crew were promoted, they named their plane "The Brass Hat." I'll post a photo of the tail art for that later.
Ship – Glory Bound No. 523
Target – Darmstadt – Marshalling Yards
Visibility – 00-00 Resulta – Missed
Flak – Light & Inaccurate
Takeoff 0840 Land 1630
Bombs Away 1223 Altitude 24,600'
Temp – 36 degrees Load 10-500 # G.P.'s
2-500 # G.P.'s incendiaries
Oxygen 4 hrs. Mission 7 hrs, 50 min.
Position – Left Wing – Lead Ship – Low S [rd?]
We were awakened at 0415, had chow, and were briefed. Went to the ship, check[ed] guns, turret, and equipment and found everything o.k. We made an instrument takeoff and ascent because the weather wasn't so hot, but once we were above it why, it was o.k. We hit the I.P. At 1204 and to everybody’s surprise found that it was to be a visual bombing. We encountered light flak on the bomb run, but it wasn't bad. One burst rocked the ship and nearly turned it over, but that was the only close one. The prop wash was rough on the bomb run but they got our little presents away at 1223. It looked as though we really smashed the target but we were informed by the strike photos that we missed it. Damn, that made me mad. The trip home was uneventful. Fighters were reported but our own scared them away. Upon approaching England we found the weather had everything socked in. The formation peeled off and made an instrument landing. Bob did a beautiful job of bringing us home and everyone was sweating. The landing was rough and we were thankful to be on the ground. Thus end number 2.
Sgt. Russell Kendig
So this is Dad's first journal, first mission. I know we spell it "Klobenz" now, but it was "Coblenz" up till 1926, and clearly the earlier spelling persisted awhile, and with that and most spellings and abbreviations, I have let Dad's stand, especially since I don't know what the heck some of these abbreviations stand for, don't even know if I am reading them right, counting on some old-timers to correct them, like the "mb" he uses at "Mission."
Correction: the tail gunner mentioned at the end is NOT Dad. According to another 100BG tailgunner, the wonderful Joe Urice, Dad was ball turret gunner on the crew until their third mission.
Ship: Glory Bound No. 523
Target – Coblenz – Marshalling Yard
Visibility – P.F.F. Results – Unobserved
Flak – Light & Inaccurate
Takeoff – 0815 Land 1545
Position – Right Wing – Lead Ship – Lead S r.d. [?]
Bombs Away – 1248
Altitude – 26,500 Temp. - 38 degrees
Load – 12 -500 lb. G.P.'s
Oxygen – 4 hrs. Mission – TY2 [mb]
This was the big number one and yet it didn't seem any different from a practice mission. We were awakened at 04:45, had breakfast and were briefed. We went to the ship and everyone got just a little nervous. Checked my guns and turret and everything was in perfect order. Everything went off well and we made a good takeoff at 0815. The primary visual target was Geisen and the primary P.F.F. Target was Coblenz. We came over Geisen, opened the bomb bay doors, and were all ready, but clouds covered the target. There were a few bursts of flak here and there and some smoke rockets. We turned around and headed for Coblenz. This target was also covered, but we left them go on P.F.F. The bombs got away as planned and we took off for home, with still little flak. We landed at 7545 and everyone was glad and happy that everything went over on the first mission without a hitch. At interrogation the tail gunner got plastered on six double shots of Scotch. We were informed that we were Sgts. and ended a perfect day.
Sgt. Russell Kendig