487th Bomb Group (H)
Station 137 - Lavenham, Suffolk, UK
22-Sep-43 to 7-Nov-45

487th Bomb Group (H)
Comments of Leonard Davis of his war experiences
provided by Leonard Davis

June 30, 1944  Left Ardmore, OK in afternoon  on Santa Fe.  56 crews on one train with enlisted men in troop sleepers and officers in pullmans with a G.I. kitchen car between.  Went to sleep at Winfield, KS.

July 1  Woke up in Topeka, KS, train switched to U.P. tracks.  Everyone got off Train in Marysville, KS for only time on trip and bought everything. available to eat on a Sunday morning. Passed thru Hastings and huge Navy ammo. dump arriving at Kearney AAF, NE in late afternoon.

July 2-10  Had a good mess hall and P.X. with everything.  Kearney was small and dead.  A multitude of excellent clothing and flying equipment of the latest type was issued for overseas. Issued equipment went in my A-3 bag and personal in my B-4 with navigational in a large box.  Excess was sent home.  We were assigned B-17 (43-338041) built by Boeing.  I rated my watches and collimated my sextant. The planes emergency equipment was tested and we gave it a two hour test hop to swing the flux gate compass.  It had been flown straight from the factory.

July 11  We took off  early morning in murky weather with lights to light the horizon.  All 56 Ardmore crews took off at intervals. We flew the airline route to Bangor, Maine via Des Moines, Chicago at dawn, and Buffalo.  The flight was nine hours non-stop. We landed about noon.  This field of the North Atlantic Wing of the ATC was beautiful.  I made a $125 allotment.

July 12  We scraped a wingtip with Shields ship trying to get out of a tight parking space and were delayed for repairs.

July 13  We got off late on the flight of about 4 hours to Gander Lake, Newfoundland on the airline route. I reswung the compass over Newfoundland to satisfy myself for the ocean crossing.

July 14-18  Bought last minute P.X. items, went to show with Canadians and civies, took shower and slept in excellent barracks, visited lodge on beautiful lake, and watched Canadian hurricanes and Patrol Bombers.  Met John DeVries from my navigation school.

July 18  We were briefed for the direct flight to Ireland and took off before dusk.  Dropped my sextant on take-off.  Ate sandwiches & coffee and checked metro positions in different zones by star shots.  Allowed plane to go 50 miles north of Mercator or rhumb line course and corrected in half way over.

July 19  Passed thru front after sun up and let down from 10,000 feet to avoid ice.  Saw other B-17's and one other plane.  Sighted land at time previously estimated.  Flew over Ireland’s Donegal Bay and made landfall on ETA (estimated time of arrival).  Passed over Derrynacross radio beacon and arrived over Nut's Corner air base 15 min. late because of wind shift (gas load 2780gal.) 200 gal./hr. or 13:50).  Left everything but baggage in plane & went to Nissen huts for rest after 11 1/2 hour flight.

July 20  Boarded Borinquen in Belfast 11 miles away in afternoon.  Saw an athletic meet and carnival put on by RAF & WAAF personnel of base before leaving. Saw P-38's minus wings on dock.  Ship was army transport formerly of US-Cuban line just back form invasion of France and trip to England with Drysburg, TN group.

July 21  Sailed for England in early morning.  Saw DE's (destroyer escorts) enter port.

July 22  Passed Isle of Man.  Ate two fine meals a day in dining hall plus K rations.  Slept 5 in stateroom. Arrived outside Liverpool and waited.

July 23  Made port in morning and boarded train for Stone with K rations.  Arrived in evening.

July 24-27  Spent time at transient base eating poor food, writing V-mails, seeing shows free, buying weekly P.X. ration.  Walked into town with crew members to see typical old English town & visit pub.

July 28  Left for base by train with canteen & K rations.  Went thru Rugby.  Arrived at station (Cockfield) just east of base in afternoon and went to base about 1 mile by truck.

July 29-Aug. 8  Settled down in Squadron 837 of 487th Bomb Group on base 1 1/2 mile north of old village of Lavenham England, half way between London & Norwich, in 3rd Bomb Div.  Went to ground school and flew practice missions.  Have free shows & good mess 4 officers of crew share Nissen hut with 4 others.  Pilot flew his first mission with another crew.

August 9  Started first mission.  Was sweating it out over channel with flak suits already on when pilot's & navigators oxygen line lost all pressure and we aborted. Maintenance officer objected on landing.  And no trouble was found when we tested the ship that afternoon.  We turned back 6 minutes from Holland.  The mission was recalled over France.

July 10-24  Flew first mission to Evereux, France to bomb roads near Seine to hinder German retreat. Saw flak on other groups.  2nd mission to airfield 10 miles north of Mannheim; bombardier got plexiglass in eye from hit.  3rd to Dresden without Hubbard.

Aug 25  Mission to Rechlin A.F. on Muritz Lake.  Barth A.F. as secondary.  Saw Duncan go down over target.  Met him later in Compound North II.

Aug. 26-Sept 21  Flew two in row to Brest which was holding out.  Hubbard went on second one.  7 to 11 were Dusseldorf, Liepzig, Darmstad, Nurnberg, and Schowen Is.  We made about 4 trips to London despite the buzz bombs and rockets.

Sept 22  Flying to Kassel, the group overran a turning point going over the Weisbaden flak.  We and another ship of our element turned out of formation at 25,000!  The turning point was at 1003, we turned back at 1006, reached the T.P. at 1011 (according to my dead reckoning) and turned west with partial undercast.  The last time I noticed was 1017.  We bailed out at 6,000 feet with No. 4 engine feathered and a fire behind it.  The slip down had failed to put it out & an explosion was imminent.  I joined the co-pilot & bombardier on the ground.  We came upon the pilot's body shortly between 25 & 30 miles south of Coblenz (as near as I could tell).  Location was established to be 7 Degrees, 40 Minutes East; 48 Degrees, 58.6 Minutes North in 1993. 

Sept 30  We were captured trying to cross Moselle bridge at Bullay about 1:00 a.m.  Were taken to a camp just west of Trier (possibly in Luxembourg) by truck.  Marched to station in West Trier and went by train back down Moselle to Coblenz.  Got hot ersatz coffee in paper cups in station canteen.  Station showed bomb damage; no water in fountains.  Guards had terrible argument with civies in forcing their way aboard the crowded night train for Frankfurt.  Visited basement latrine in Frankfurt station and spent an alert with civies and soldiers in basement.  Re boarded train.

Oct. 1  Got off train at dawn & changed to trolley for Oberursel.  Was interrogated, slept, & had feet dressed.

Oct 2  Was taken from cell 3rd time for interrogation.  Taken to transient barracks, saw Huber and Hubbard again & marched to train at 1:00 p.m.  Got off train at sundown and stood on station platform until about midnight waiting for truck to take us around shot up track to Wetzlar.

Oct 3  Arrived at Dulag Luft about 2 miles NW of Wetzlar Searched got 2 min. shower; clean clothes, and meal of mashed spuds and salmon, stewed prunes and raisins, black bread and marge. and coco.  Huber and Hubbard left in afternoon.

Oct 4 & 5  Col. Starck raised our spirits with community sing, wit, and news from new prisoners. Spent hours in air raid shelter.  Bovier (our ball turret gunner) came in.  Was free for 11 days

Oct. 6  Marched in to Wetzlar at 4 pm and boarded train.  Car was Italian with barred windows.  10 men were put in the 8 man compartments.  Got one Red Cross box per man plus German rations.  Pulled out during night. 

Oct. 7-9  Car was switched from train to train clear across Germany.  Some slept in aisles, on hat and parcel racks, under benches.  More time spent sitting in yards than moving. Got hot water in stations for coffee.  Were at Marburg on first morning.  Went thru Kassel, Eisnach, Weimar, Halle, Berlin, & Stralsund.  Parked in Stralsund on afternoon of Oct. 9 (and were stoned because of air raid on 8th, visible from Barth, our eventual POW camp).

Oct. 10  Marched into camp in morning.  Had barley & entered 14 man combine with Heath making 16.  T K cooked.  Got picture taken and Kriege dog tag in few days.  Had one parcel per week Oct.

Oct 28  Col. Spicer put in cooler (solitary confinement) for speech.

Nov.  Got down to one parcel in 10 days. Saw Deanna Durbin in movie “Spring Parade”.

Dec 25  Was on half ration of Red Cross before getting 4/5 Christmas parcel  per man.

Dec 28  Moved to North III Compound.  Compounds were open Christmas and New Year. "Rauchy" Rawlins flew 1,800 mile mission to Konigsberg with 8th AF in B-17.  1500 E.M. (enlisted men) came in from east of Oder River.

Jan/Feb, 1945  Al Goodman, Larry Schacner, & Klarsfeld moved to North I & separate barracks as Jews.  Issue drops from one parcel to 1/2, 1/4, & none after Feb. 25. Seven new Krieges came in on Dec. 30 to make 24 in room.  1/4 Red Cross on Feb. 15 & 26.  Had two 12 man combines then 12-6-6.

March 27  Until this date lived on 1 1/2 cups stew, 1/4 lb. marg. per week, 3 bowls sugar per week for 24, 1/6 loaf bread per day, barley once per week & ersatz coffee.  In the week following this day 90,000 parcels came in from Lubeck.  Everyone in 4, 2, & 1 man combines.  Am in with Andy, Boom  & Ed.

April 28-30  Great German air activity.  Flak school blown up 30th with other surrounding installations.   Dug Slit Trenches.  Germans turned out lights and left at 10:30 p.m.. 

May 1  Our men in towers at 1:00 a.m.  Ju 52 over in morning and He 111 in afternoon while finishing trenches.  Heard Russians were in Stralsund on 10:00 p.m. BBC news.  Were listening to Hit Parade on AFN when Col Zemke broke in at 10:23 & said "The historic moment has arrived when British & American trapped parachutists have been joined with the Russians"  At 10:30 it was announced that Hilter had died according to German radio.  What excitement! After the 11:00 p.m. news the Star Spangled Banner was played.  The Russians were in Barth.  We could see nothing but went wild anyway eating all and more than we could hold.

May 2  In the morning we remained under our self imposed strict discipline.  At 2 p.m. a Russian Col. was reputed to have asked our CO, Zemke, if we wanted to be free.  When he was given the answer yes he said, "Then why don't you act like it?"  In the midst of carrying in 18 more Red Cross parcels to complete the room's issue for the week April 30 to May 6 we were given the order to go out and tear down the fences.  The fences and towers not only went but POW's swarmed out to pillage, plunder, and tear up German barracks, warehouses, the flak school, and Barth.  Much Red Cross equipment which had been needed but never issued by the Germans    was found.  Among it was cooking utensils & clothing plus German blankets, bedding, good beds, mattresses, straw, utensils, light bulbs, and such.   Barth and the flak school yielded untold plunder to the liberated POW's, parachutes, helmets, insignia, flying boots, clothing, liquor, chickens, onions, fish, knives, tools, and everything.  Civilians would give or do anything for Americans hoping to gain favor or protection against the Russians apparently.  Most of the first Russians were members of an advanced terror unit, were drunk, wild and resembled Atilla's Huns.  Another group belonged to a convoy moving thru.  They exchanged gifts and salutations, liquor and plunder.  The Russian Col. wanted to march us out to a town 67 kilometers south and thence to Odessa this evening or in the morning.  It was drizzling and I hurried to prepare a pack instead of leaving camp.  At about 7 pm it was announced that we wouldn't leave.  I went up to the warehouses on the north of our peninsula and got only what I could use on the march just before this, a clean jerry blanket, towel, & GI shirt.  Some souvenirs were given to me by the boys who went to town.  The people had plenty to eat.  Five persons, women and babies were found shot in the head to the east of our camp at the water's edge.  Some men packed and left for the lines, the Russians having said they had reached Rostock and joined the British and Americans.  Some were killed by mines or Russians.  All discipline was lost probably not to be regained.  3 parcels per man issued.

May 3  A morning roll call was held.  Plunder was ordered turned in then not.  Zemke spoke to us saying the Russians were permitting us to stay on the peninsula but only 1% in Barth per day.  They put the area under martial law. Poles and Lithuanians plus German refuges are being sent home.  All Russian men are responsible to their superiors for their actions.  Russian women with the army are at least partly in charge in town.  Germans can keep their food.  I walked all over the peninsula.  In the afternoon it was announced that we had definitely made contact with our forces and would fly out.  We thought we saw P-47's circle the airport and land.

May 4  Heard planes again. Krieges cooking outside and eating food from can, boating, fishing, picnicking, visiting, and spreading rumors galore.  It was announced that Eisenhower told POW’s to stand by.  Everyone impatient to get out with no sign of our forces. Airport will be cleared in the morning.  5:00 p.m., Russian commander in Barth says our ambassadors in Moscow have been informed of our position, has ask our needs, provided 50 guards for protection and said keep men in camp.  Russian DC-3 with officials is waiting to fly in at noon tomorrow when airport will be cleared.  Zemke announces our air transport to England has been arranged.  Col. Jovinik commands in Barth.  Heard Hope, Crosby and Andrew sisters on command performance over AEF.  All German armies north of Berlin surrender unconditionally.  Russians wonder why we aren't in mourning for Roosevelt so we are to wear black armbands.

May 5  Donating Cigs, soap, & clothes for French, Italian, Polish prisoners etc. in camp south of here.  Saw plenty of Russian rank from Marshall down (Marshall Rokossovsky). One gave a speech accented by our cheers when translated.  Best of all to see were two American jeeps with an Airborne Colonel from Wismar.  Four Ruskie generals in camp.  Driver spoke of all makes of U.S. cars.  Saw Russian biplane. 

May 6  Many are leaving for the lines on their own.  Russians ask our needs and are providing them.  Drove in 50 cattle, brought white bread, 2 tons sugar, & movies  Smithline and Bramson left.

May 7  British L.C. came in command car.  Said he was authorized to say we would be out in a few days and fly directly to England.  3 G. I.'s followed in jeep not on official business. Had May 2 "Stars & Stripes with headline "Hitler Dead." Russians bought in stage show in Ford trucks,  band, chorus, singers, dancer, and 3 girls also in uniform.  BBC announces war will end officially at 1300 GCT tomorrow.  Colored flares shot tonight.  BBC also announces our liberation and notification of relatives.

May 8 VE DAY  Two medical majors came in command car, took back mail. Our representative sent to lines came back. 

May 9  Got beef.  Part of 1000 pigs Russians got for us brought in yesterday.  Must have passports made before clearing here. Walked thru Barth to air base and back. Peace signed at 0045.

May 10  Major with photo equipment arrived in evening Got story of going by truck and train to LeHarve from his driver.  Mailed a letter home.

May 11  Bill Sherling left. Ate nine home sized hamburgers plus french fries for supper.  Signing passport late tonight, Zemke expect planes from Hagenau tomorrow or Sunday at latest.

May 12  Two B-17's over field at exactly 1400 Russian time as scheduled.  At 1600 two C-47's then 36 planes of the 91st Bomb Group came in, Triangle A.  920 English taken out.

May 13  First planes in at 0800 Triangle A, L, H and G.  Left camp at 1400 got to airport at 1500, plane landed at 1613 took off again at 1630 or 1530 British time.  K or Kimbolton flew us (block 7). I was in 338695 (L) with Cuddy & Collins.  Flew over Wismar, Osnabruck, Munster, Dusseldorf, Muchen to Laon, and A-26 base where we landed at 1910 British time.

May 14  Arrived at bivouac & C-47 base outside Reims at 0100.  Had first G.I. meal. Jerry POW's washed dishes.  Had real eggs and shredded wheat for breakfast after short sleep outside with 6 blankets.  Flew to LeHarve at noontime in C-47.  Had coffee and doughnuts on arrival from R.C. girls who said we were late getting back (8 mos.).  Went immediately to RAMP camp (Reclaimed Allied Mil. Personnel) near Cany and LeHarve by 60 man trailers.  Join with Andy, Cuddy, K.B. & Boom. Got mess kit, cot in tent city, fatigues & sleeping bag.  Left Hub at Reims and met Evans here.  Sent V-mail & free cable home.

May 15  Evans found Huber & Hub in C block.  In packet 21

May 16  Got P.X. issue. Found Cummins in my area then moved out to separate officers & E.M. Airstrip has been in operation two days now.  L1's, C-47, P-47, AT-7's have landed

May 17  Got in 6 man tent last eve.  Eating fresh frozen beef and chicken, canned meats and turkey, fancy canned vegetables, fruit, jam, milk, and coffee, white bread, butter.  German POW saluted and stood at attention to get water.  Found Johnson.

May 18  Went to see Johnson, Bauchmann captured at Stromberg on landing.  POW's flown in.

May 19 Today's Stars and Stripes has article on Spicer's speech and says Halter wanted to kill POW's.

May 20  Showers again.  Saw "Destination Tokyo" again.

May 21  Sent V-mail.  G.I. cable sent home.

May 22  Sent V-mail, Eisenhower visited.

May 23  Drew gratuitous clothing.

May 24  V-mail home. Got combat boots and hair cut.  Saw French Special Service Show. Hubbard on leave.

May 25 Saw "Mr. Winkle Goes to War", Evans moved to D' Block.

May 26  Looked at photo albums of 8th raid. Showed 487th on Sept. 17 at Schowen Is. & 3rd Div. at Brest on 3rd & 5th, Dusseldorf 9th, and Leipzig on 11th.

May 26  Saw 3 shows, "Merry Manahans", "Together Again," & "Murder My Sweet".  Didn't go to church.  Rode on water truck.

May 28  Saw Special Service Show.  Wrote 4 V-mails home.  A-26 gear failed on landing.  Walked to beach and back. 

May 29  Wrote letter hone. Moved to "D" block.

May 30  Processed this morning.  Saw show "Impatient Years"

May 31  Had ice cream today.  Met Bob Ferrel of 44-6, said more than 8 others were at Sagan and later moved to Nurnberg--Munich area.  Correspondent made transcription  of Iowans experiences for rebroadcast in US.  Sent airmail letter.

June 1  Got paid $100.88 or 5,000 Fr.

June 2  Saw AF combat movies.  Hub. left for U.K. Met P.F. Todd's (crew 117 Ardmore), ball gunner was sent to 15th and shot down twice.

June 3  "I Love New York in June"

June 4  Cummins left, Al Meyers in his packette.  Cummins took letter.

June 5  Sent air-mail letter

June 6  Second haircut here. 7 candy bars

June 7  Going on Paris pass.  Pass canceled, bought lace and wooden shoes.

June 8  25 officers of packette left.  Saw French S.S. Show

June 9  Those going to separation center 7 but living in D-40 with us left.  30 E.M. & 8 officer going to S.C. 17 left in packette.  Saw movie.  Met Held.

June 10  Went to church and show.

June 11  7 more candy bars. 180 stragglers moved in with us in D-40.

June 12  Wrote last letter. Waiting!

June 13  Got up at 3:30 a.m. Had orange. Boarded Admiral Mayo in LeHarve about 0800.  Had ice cream at noon & apple at supper.  Ship is brand new & USCG manned.  Vic Mature on board.

June 14  Set clocks back 2 hours last night.  Sailed at 11 am.

June 15  Seasick.  Set clocks back one hours.  Got 9 candy bars, sack of hard candy, 3 bags peanuts, & can of cashew nuts in rations.  Only Capt.'s & some 1st's got officers quarters.  P.X. in officers mess is selling all candy, cigs. & cigars you want. Was sworn in two years ago.

June 16  Felt pretty good today, had felt lousy with seasickness.  Visited ships bridge.

June 17  Went to church on deck.  Bought two German pistols.

June 18  Heard ship's band. Set clocks back one hour. Clear skies

June 19  Fog.  Set clocks back another hour or 5 altogether.

June 20  Fog

June 21  Docked in Boston at 00:30:14 Debarked at 0800.  Went to Camp Myles Standish in about one hour by train.  Placed call home, no answer.

June 22  First buying secession in real P.X.  Left at 5:00 p.m. on New York, New Haven & Hartford RR.  Went by New London sub base.  Changed to New York Central line NYC, NY at dusk.  Went up Hudson River to opposite Albany.  Called home at 2:30 p.m.

June 23  Woke up in Rochester.  Buffalo, Akron, on Erie R.R., Huntington Ind.

June 24  Changed to Wabash in Chicago. Woke up in Decator.  Thru Spring field, Ill, Hannibal, Mo & Moberly Gen. Bradley's home. Got to Ft. Leavenworth about 9:00 p.m. 

June 25  Called home at 7:00 a.m.  Got orders at 3:00 p.m.  By bus to K.C.  Got Santa Fe Streamliner at 5:45 p.m. for Wichita.

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