I was not assigned to any Squadron, and flew three missions with three different Pilots - we had just gotten overseas. My first one was with a Lt. Gillespie - a night job to Naples on 12/24/42. My second mission was bombing a Jerry air base on 1/2/43 on the Island of Crete.
The last mission was to Naples 1/10/43 (the one when we were shot down).
I went overseas October 1942. My first air base was Lydda near Tel Aviv. Yes, I guess freezing was the whole problem. I thought it was sand from the desert until I read the reports Jim Walker sent me. No one was shooting from our plane. I was working with the receiver in the Tail Turret. I could pull it back but it wouldn't release. I was working trying to get my receiver going.
You remember those plexiglass windows in back? They were about 3 1/2" thick I think. I looked up and there was a hole dead center in it. The bullet didn't have enough power to go through. The next time I looked, it wasn't even there - it had fallen out. That's when the waist gunner opened up the back door and tapped me on the shoulder and motioned me to come out. I didn't know what was going on forward.
There wasn't any intercom - no nothing. All I could see was that Jerry off to my left and below. I could have hit him with a shotgun. Nothing would fire - nothing would work. That's when I climbed out and the waist gunner motioned to the bomb bay - so I opened the door and boy, did I slam it in a hurry. There was nothing but fire in there. We were carrying a spare gas tank in the bomb bay and that must have gotten a direct hit.
There were two of us in the back - only one waist gunner, Bob Krager from Omaha, NB. Bob and I bailed out - we both survived and he spent time in prison camp with me at Camp 59P - Provincia de Ancona in Northern Italy. In Walkers note to me he said other planes reported some object flying in the air - they didn't know if they were parts of an airplane or guys bailing out.