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12. Hansell and LeMay in Washington

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

12: Hansell and LeMay in Washington

H

ansell was up at 5 A.M. on 15 October 1943. He was scheduled to fly back to Washington and resume his former position as General Arnold's chief plans officer. Mter an early breakfast he decided to stop and say good-bye to General Eaker. As he entered Eaker's office he saw that the Eighth Air Force commander was studying the previous day's strike photographs and casualty figures and was visibly upset.

Eaker told Hansell that the bombing results were slightly better than in August, but the ball-bearing factories still had not been destroyed. Hansell asked if the final reports had come in from

Williams's and LeMay's divisions. Eaker said that LeMay's division had achieved better bombing results and suffered only a third as many losses as the 1st Division. He said he thought it was time the

1st Division adopted LeMay's tactics and procedures. He added that preliminary reports indicated that so many had been badly damaged that it would be weeks before they could mount a force large enough to risk another mission over Germany without fighter support.

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2. Across the North Atlantic

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

2: Across the North Atlantic

W:

en we returned to Syracuse from Harrisburg, we were informed that we should get ready for our flight to England.

We were not going to lie under palm trees and exchange visits with the Japanese in the Pacific. We were to make social calls on Nazi Germany from the air. The first stop was to be Gander Lake,

Newfoundland.

The night before we left, our group had a boisterous and raucous party at the Hotel Syracuse. We sang the air force song, "OfIWe Go into the Wild Blue Yonder," and threw our drinks and glasses into the fireplace. My guest at the party was a blind date from Syracuse

University. I didn't know what to say to her as I escorted her back to her dormitory. As I said good-bye at the door, we both kept asking,

"When will we see each other again?" Two and a half years later we were married after I returned from England.

The next morning, as we walked toward our aircraft for our takeofIfrom Syracuse, Sonny Collins turned to me and said, "This is it,

Ralph. This is where we separate the sheep from the goats."

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8. Prelude to a Bloody Summer

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

8: Prelude to a Bloody Summer

C

ontrary to his glowing public relations statements to the

American people, General Arnold was privately dissatisfied with our bombing results in the winter and spring of 1943.

He criticized General Eaker's senior command personnel and told him that he was overly protective of his combat crews. The Eighth

Air Force was not flying enough missions; Eaker had not made adequate use of our available bombers or the short-range P-47 Thunderbolt fighters.

The assistant secretary of war for air, Robert Lovett, defended

Eaker. He informed Arnold that we were fighting against the toughest odds in the world. Even when our bombers returned from missions without personnel casualties, many of our planes were often so badly damaged that they could not return to combat for several weeks.

Each month during the spring of 1943, our losses increased. We lost seventy-five crews and less than a third of them were replaced.

Our increasing losses had to have become apparent to the Germans.

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1. A Second Lieutenant Meets Colonel LeMay

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

1: A Second Lieutenant Meets Colonel LeMay

I

t was seven o'clock on Sunday evening, 7 December 1941. I was studying in the dormitory of Perkins Hall at Harvard Law School.

I heard the sound of tramping feet in the hall and the voice of my classmate Sander Johnson, yelling in a military cadence, "hut, two, three, four; hut, two, three, four." I opened the door of my room and yelled back, "Sander, I'm trying to study!"

He kept on marching with several classmates behind him, then looked back at me and said, "Throwaway your books Ralph. The

Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. We'll all be in the army!"

My roommate turned on the radio. There were hysterical reports that the Japanese were going to bomb San Francisco. I decided that

Sander Johnson was right. I pushed my books off the desk into the wastebasket.

I had tried to join the navy air arm in November but was rejected because of my eyesight and a sinus condition. Perhaps physical standards would be relaxed now that we were at war.

The next morning I went to the air corps recruiting station in

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13. Reflections at Sea

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

13: Reflections at Sea

I

left England shordy after the massive Big Week attacks on Germany in late February 1944. I felt confident that the tide of the air war was at last turning. I was told that I would probably be assigned as an instructor for radar navigator-bombardiers in the B-29 program. As I said good-bye to Hansell in October, I didn't know that

I would again be working for both him and LeMay in the Pacific.

Combat troops returning to the States for reassignment were given the option of flying home or going on a troopship sailing to

New York to pick up ground troops for the forthcoming invasion.

Never having been on an ocean liner, I chose to go by sea. I boarded the Mauritania, a pre-World War I ocean liner and sister ship of the famed Lusitania, which had been sunk by submarines off the coast ofIreland in 1916, an act that helped draw America into that conflict. The ship had no real defense against German submarines, and we had no naval escort.

In an effort to avoid submarines, the captain planned a route that would take us north of England to the coast of Iceland and Greenland, and then south and east of Newfoundland. We sailed north in an arctic snowstorm, with huge waves breaking over the bow. Visibility was limited. As we plowed through the heavy winter seas at full speed, I asked the British captain if we were in any danger of a collision with an iceberg. We were traveling at a speed of twenty knots, and I thought about the Titanic and its collision with an iceberg off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland while traveling at a similar speed.

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