Wilbur W. Mayhew

Gura, Eritrea repair depot

Our B-I7Es were sent to Gura, Eritrea ( near Massaua ) ( Ethiopia) for overhaul at the end of 1942. There were more crews than B-17s, so the pilots cut cards to determine which crews would take the planes to Gura. The first of the planes left Abu Sueir on 7 December 1942.The other aircraft followed shortly. They also took 23 aircraft mechanics along to do most of the work. After overhaul these planes and all but three crews (Fennell, Long and Toomey) left Egypt for Biskra, Algeria to be attached to the 30Ist Bombardment Group. These planes flew 25 missions after arriving in Biskra. The crews were relieved from combat status on 16 March 1943. By this time the squadron had been reduced from 296 men to 109 that were left with the aircraft ( 28 officers and 81 enlisted men). The 7th Group's B-17 aircraft were retired from combat on 13 March 1943. Planes 41-9016 and 41-2535 returned to the United States via England. 41-9016 was later lost on a special mission. At least one plane was converted to a tow target plane. The rest were sent to a combat crew replacement center. Thirteen maintenance personnel were left behind when the remaining men left Casablanca, Morocco aboard the British transport "Andes" on 30 March 1943. They reached New York on 7 April 1943. The 13 men left behind worked on all types of aircraft at Rabat, Morocco. These men finally sailed from Casablanca on the "Mariposa" on 27 June 1943. They reached Boston on 4 July 1943. By now there were relatively few of "Brereton's Bastards" left in the 513th Squadron in the Middle East. Some of these personnel received orders to return to the United States in mid-January, 1943. Others trickled home over the next few months.