Have been in one solid rush since the 4th.
On the 5th we went to Fayid, bombed up and went to Bengazi - had one of Our most successful missions.
We hit one ammunition ship, which was docked beside another transport. The ensuing explosion was so tremendous it is difficult to describe. The ship was blown out of the water; debris fell allover the harbor. The earth, or water, seemed to open up in one huge upheaval, ~ black smoke poured out and then smaller brilliant explosions took place in the depths of the first explosion. Other planes got hits on two other transports. On the 7th we went back to Fayid and thence to Bengazi again, but this time we had little luck and dropped most of our 6,000 lb load (6 - 1 ,000 lbers) in the harbor. The AkAk was terrific - one ship had 18 holes in it and nearly every ship came back marked. Both of these raids were in formation - the latter raid was very sloppily handled. We flew over the entire desert war; got fired on three different times by Ak-Ak on the way over ..
On the way home from the last raid we were fired on by ~ night-fighter _ no hits. The formation work was~; but next time I'm sure everyone will get back on the ball, On July 9 a bunch went out after some shipping and through an inexcusable lack of foresight, we lost a ship. The bunch went out in a 5- ship formation. First the powers that handle our lives _ so loosely - planned a route out that was 20 miles off shore from enemy territory; no excuse after our report of such a route being used the day before only in shore. Anyway, from three to six M.E. l09s came out and got the trailing ship.
The formation was foolish for it left one lad all alone. They hit so fast, he was in flames before he knew trouble was near. The crew had two Texas boys, Hiatt & Kayser (Butch was pilot). There was no confirmation that the plane absolutely went down. The last it was seen was when the rear was in flames and it dived for the water. I can't reconcile my thoughts to their loss; can't help but hope and believe they may still be alive _ prisoners or something. The rear gunner certainly was out, for only one short burst came out of the rear turret, then the guns lurched down and were quiet. If this damned incapable rank doesn't get on the ball, they will soon qualify for a commission in the R.A.F. Christ, what stupidity! Probably I am bitter because these boys were good friends of mine, but after so damned much inefficiency and such poor leadership, the few times any of the rank has the guts to take a chance,
I can't hold much respect for them.
This short tirade against the big boys reminds me of a remark that I intended to include some time back, but due to the rush of our strategic defeat, it slipped a page or so ..
Just after the first ship disappeared (not a word has been heard of it to date, though I still hold hope for the crew), Col. Mickey blossomed out with his best flourish of the inevitable cigarette holder (a practice I abhor) and remarked that Nestor had a habit of disappearing at the most inconvenient times.
On being questioned as to just what he meant by one of the Jr. Officers, the effeminate bastard came back with "well when we are moving and all that" ---- Had a 24 hours pass yesterday and went to Jerusalem. –T’was one of the most interesting days I have ever spent. We left here in one of the government cars (six of us) and drove some 40 miles. Hired a guide that turned into a superb combination of educator, historian and biblical authority. Tony was his name. He took us to the Cathedral of St. Catherine. This is built over the cava in which Christ was born. Went through all the points of history - spot of the Nativity, the manger and many churches of interest. The Church of the Bells from which is broadcast the Xmas program. There are some four or more denominations that support the Churches. The entrance used to be a huge door, but due to the Arabs practice of riding camels in the door, has been blocked to a bare hole of an entrance. This now is said to be so because it forces one to uncover before entering. From here we went to the old city (walled City) arid saw the Wailing Wall, where the Orthodox Jews weep and pray for the return of their glory.
Seemed to me to be impractical but prayer, not action, seems to be their approved solution. From here to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where we saw relics of the death of Christ, the Annunciation and the Resurrection. The Church holds five denominations and Guards must be on duty during Holy Festivals to prevent riots over the privilege of praying at the "Annointed" spot. Guess my views of the matter are quite sacreligious for I'm convinced it is not in line with religious good- fellowship and peace to all men; to not allow any but the ones who know the password (as it were) to pray for forgivenness and guidance - yet the most reverend of the pilgrims are the ones that take part in such petty squabbles. But then we Americans are lost anyway, for the Jews are convinced that one must die and be buried in or near the old city so they can be at the first of the line on Judgment Day - funny how I thought and still do believe, that religion is the inner feeling one holds and his practice of being good and kind to others and not the ostentatious show of a beautiful building called a church.