To the 459th Bomb Group
Within the next two days all planes on the base were flown to another airfield.
Our hot pilots got their jollies by buzzing the field One pilot got so close his bomb bay doors scraped the top of the operations building.
After fifteen missions it was customary to have three or four days of rest and rehabilitation at either Rome or the Isle of Capri. We missed out on that when we were transferred to another group, when the 376th moved back to the United States.
April eighteenth we were trucked to Gioia, Italy and the following day transferred to Cerignola, Italy where we joined the 459th Bomb Group, 758th Squadron. We settled in and got acclimated to our new surroundings and found the organization quite different than the good old 376th.
The town of Cerignola was larger than San Pancrazzio, and had a Red Cross building that had entertainment and food for GI's that I visited a couple times within the next month.
On the twenty fourth of April our next mission we headed for Bossano, Italy, to take out a road bridge and for the first time carried three two thousand pound bombs in an un-named ship #367. Met scant inaccurate flak but found the Red Cross gal, serving donuts after the mission “not bad”.
The next day in a plane named Texas Tornado found us on the way to Linz, Austria again and welcomed with moderate but accurate flak. Two holes in our ship and one piece of flak hit Crafton in the heel of his boot, he got a bad bruise but no blood and he was OK, our only combat injury.
The following day, three days in a row, again in Texas Tornado our target was a motor truck depot, at Tarvisio, Italy, We ran into heavy clouds from the IP to the target There was no flak and no bombs were dropped, in a mission that lasted a little over six hours.
Then all of a sudden no missions were scheduled. Standing in line one morning at the mess hall for breakfast, three P-47's flying in formation buzzed the runway celebrating the end of the end of the European war. It now became a waiting game to see what happens next.
It was decided, that with all the food and supplies that wouldn't be needed, that they be flown to Trieste, a city in northern Italy. From there they would be distributed to various parts of the area to feed and supply anyone in need of them. So for a couple weeks B-24’s were loaded with supplies and a brief crew, pilot, co-pilot, engineer, and navigator made the trips. The rest of us found ways to keep busy. Maybe a trip into Cerignola, or a trip to the beach. We took several trips to the Gulf of Manfredonia, which was a beach, just next to the spur of the boot of Italy. The Group would send a truck to get there and we would spend a couple hours in the water, that was so clear in eight to ten feet of water you could see the sand on the bottom, and the water was as calm as a lake. I felt sure this must have been a beautiful vacation spot. Another beach we went to was Barletta, slightly to the south and a little closer to the base.
On June 14th orders were issued that our crew would be transferred to the 38th Deployment Group, at Gioia Italy, and be equipped to return to the U.S. via military aircraft. We were assigned to fly a B-24J, serial number 42-51963. During the time we waited for orders to leave, it was decided to name our plane "Belle of the Brawl”. I was selected to paint the name and a likeness of an entertainer named Sherry Britton, on the nose of the plane, from a picture one of our crewmembers took from a clubroom on the base.