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B-17: Queen of the Skies» Forums » General

Subject: Petey's letters home- Collected session reports rss

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Phil Davies
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As my session reports continue I thought it might be worthwhile to have the links for the various reports collated in one thread. I'll add new reports to this thread as I fly them and write them up.

Just to re-iterate what I wrote in my first introduction to Lille, I apologise for historical inaccuracies (I'm sure there are plenty) and any similarities to people living or deceased are purely coincidental.

Playing the game and writing these reports has given me an even greater feeling of respect for those brave men that actually flew these missions, and I sincerely hope not to undermine or devalue their own experiences with what I'm writing.

******************************

By way of an introduction to the series:



Date as postmark

Dear Mom

I hope this letter finds you Dad and Sis well. So here I am here in London, England, though as most of the guys I talk to are American too, you could almost think we were back home (the ghastly weather here would soon remind you otherwise). Everyone here seems friendly enough, and you'll be glad to hear that the food is serviceable and I'm eating well.

Life on the base is routine so far. I've not done much else than talk about you folks back home and practice. The base itself is busy with planes taking off everyday, the guys say we'll get our first chance to take the fight to the Nazis soon. I'll be flying in one of those big B-17 planes, the guys here call them the 'flying fortress'. The one I'll be in is called the Wailin' Jennie, our radio operator, David Hampson, told me its called that because it best described his old lady when he told her he was coming to England. Some of the crew just laughed at this and the ballgunner 'Gonny' Williams suggested I ask Sammy Whelan the Jennie's Engineer. I've not done this though as Sammy Whelan isn't the kind of chap who takes to lots of questions.

In the short time I've been here I've spent a bit of time with each of the crew I'll be flying with and it doesn't feel right to not introduce them each to you all.

First there is the pilot of the Wailin' Jennie, Glenn 'Mac' McIlroy. He doesn't say too much and spends most of his time smoking and talking with the co-pilot. It is Mac that tells the crew to write a letter before each flight out. Some of the guys have flown with him before and say he likes things to run smoothly on his planes.

The co-pilot is Jack 'Gillie' Gillifroy. He seems to spend most of his time with Mac and once again I've not had much chance to talk to him. He seems like a decent guy all the same.

The bombardier is a guy called Benny Jackson. He is the reason we fly the Jen. He's the guy that drops the bombs on the Krauts. We just have to make sure we get him and his bombs to where HQ wants us to get to. Benny seems to spend a lot of time in front of the mirror and always has an eye for the ladies or 'dames' as he calls them!

Teddy 'Ginger' Thompson is the navigator in the plane. He gets called Ginger because of his ginger hair. He seems a swell guy but is quite serious. I'm sure Dad would get along fine with him as he knows a lot about Europe. I heard Gonny ribbing him once when Ginger was trying to explain why we shouldn't be bombing certain sites. Ginger was talking about the history throughout Europe and how we were destroying ancient buildings. Gonny said surely the Europeans would be happy as we were getting rid of those dangerous old buildings maybe we should even send a bill of expenses after we'd finished. We all roared with laughter.

I've already mentioned Sammy Whelan, he is the Engineer in the plane. He is easily the oldest of us all as Gonny always seems to be telling him. Sammy spends a lot of his time in theJennie 'fiddling about' Gonny calls it.

David Hampson is the radio man (but you know this already if you've been paying attention!) Hampson is friendly enough and has played cards with us gunners on a couple of times but he is also part of Mac and Gillie's group so I haven't spoken to him as much as some of the others.

My position in the plane is in the middle on the port waist gun. There isn't a lot of space and unfortunately I share this space with 'Tiny'. He is one of the biggest people I've seen and I'm sure his nickname is another of Gonny's jokes that has stuck. Tiny seems to resent the fact that I take up valuable space in the plane, space he could be filling.

At the back of the plane is Charles Trent known more commonly as 'Tailend Charlie'. As you may expect from someone who gets to see a lot of action Tailend Charlie is a bit nervous and prefers to keep his fingers on the triggers so the others tell me.

And of course there is Gonny. Or Francis 'Franky' Williams to give him his proper name. I don't know where he got his nickname from but it always seems to rise a smile when I ask the other guys. When I first met Gonny I didn't like him:

'Weismann?' He said when I told him my name 'more like wise a___!'
Everyone laughed of course, as everyone does when Gonny is on form.
'Isn't Weismann Kraut for white?' He asked around and so I ended up with the Gonny given nickname of 'chalky'.

Despite this I've grown to like Gonny a lot. He makes us all laugh and we spend a lot of time talking when he goes into town with Benny he keeps trying to get me to come along with them to 'see the sights' and meet the dames (or should I say ladies).

Gonny is the ball gunner. Or as Gonny puts it: he's the reason why Jennie is Wailin'.

So there they are, the whole team and really a swell bunch of guys. With teams like us, Uncle Sam will have the Nazis licked in no time!

I must bring this letter to a close: Mac has told us to make ready, pens down and head to the plane, the Wailin' Jennieis flying again!

Your ever loving Son,

Petey

***********************



Flight One - Lille
Flight Two - Amiens
Flight Three - Meaulte
Flight Four - Abbeville
Flight Five - Meaulte (again)
Flight Six - Antwerp
Flight Seven - Rotterdam
Flight Eight - Meaulte (for the third time)
Flight Nine - Rouen.
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