Donald Macrae mission July 19, 1943

July 19, 1943  Awake at 4:00AM. Dressed. Had breakfast. To briefing by 5:30AM. It was dark and pleasantly cool. Today the target was Rome, Italy. We had an objective near the Tiber River and just out of Rome. It was a soft of marshalling yard that was very important This was a sort of propaganda raid. Pamphlet had been dropped early in the morning warning the Italian people to of the raid and inviting them to their house top to witness the high altitude precision bombing. We had superiority so could afford to boast. Over 500 bombers participated. First went the B-17' s, some seven groups or more, then the B-24's, some five groups or more in 30-40 ships, then the B-26’s and B-25’s. Some ships were fighter escorted by P-38"s. We took off at 6:50 and just as it was light. There were some 30 ships but only about 18 got over the target, the others had 10 drop back for some reason or other. The weather was good and we went over Sicily at f 2,000 ft. Then we were supposed to continue at that altitude and climb just before the target. As it was we just kept climbing and were at altitude or nearly so. It was cold up top and I nearly froze my feet. At 22,000 ft as we crossed the coast of Italy we passed over a Sea port and nearly got hit by ack-ack, but we were fortunate. Then we came over the target which was already vanishing. More ack-ack but not bad. Only a couple of fighters who made one pass and left. We were over the target at 1:00 PM. Soon we were letting down and headed for Tunis. We belonged to a section of some seven ships which were old and had to refuel once, get more oil before returning. Just after we left Italy we passed wave after wave of medium bombers escorted by P-38's headed for Italy (Rome). The weather was nice. My feet began to warm up and I ate some K-rations which we had along for lunch. We first hit Tunis at Bizerte thinking it was the city of Tunis. It looked like a fine place from the air. Good air ports and good work yard harbor and fine buildings and a fair size city. Finding we were at the wrong place we went on to Tunis which looked a lot like Birgeto and landed. They had only limited facilities for refueling the ships and there were six or seven of us, so it took a long time. Finally it was too late to take off for Benghazi so we spent the night at Tunis. The airport was just outside of Tunis some 7 kilometers on the east side of the bay.  It had been a fine commercial airport and also a sort of French “Randolph Field" air school. There had been some fine buildings, and large hangars. The hangars had been so badly hit that only the frame work was left, showing good construction. On the commercial side which was now turned to Army. Was a long row of transport ships, mostly two motors C-47 and C-53, both English and American. Planes were landing every hour or more frequently. On the other side of the field was the ground service and U.S.A. and the French air service and a repair depot which was just being set up. Already there was a lot of planes there and a lot of activity. P-40, B-24, B-25, A-20 Grumman Seaplane, LC3, some Italian bomber, and B-17 and others all waiting for repairs. There were three different squadrons working on this repair depot and there seemed to be a lot of friction. We did not get very good treatment. We were transients and no one wanted to be bothered with us.  We managed to get supper at the field which is called an Aovina. Then we went to Tunis. Hitched a ride to town. Finally found a place to stay in one of the three hotels assigned to American Officers. The name was Claridge Hotel. A very fancy place with guards outside and marble living the circular staircase going up to the various floors. Of course we went walking around town. About all we could get was wine but there was ice which was a pleasure. There were a lot of beautiful women. Probably because we had seen so very few white women. Wandered around town till around 11:OOPM, and then to bed. It was fine, but we have no toilet articles, no towels, and could borrow none. We were tired and uncomfortable. One consolation, the raid on Rome was a success. I've run out of space and shall have to enlarge on a separate piece of paper.