That 2 ship raid turned into quite a deal. British Intelligence gave us credit for 3 ships and dock installations, and that is something for them to confirm. One of the co-pilots in the 17 group got sent to Brereton for a dressing down because of a letter he wrote to the States. Seems that this boy put in all the facts in a letter home. He told of the extreme efficiency of our higher officers; told of General Brereton's throwing out ammunition, machine guns, vital and much needed tools in order to lighten a plane in which an evacuation was being effected, and his keeping on board a crate of artichoke hearts, some rare wines and other luxuries. Then, on top of all this, the General had a lot of publicity on his heroism and sacrificing of his personal belongings to save the crew - what rot! Also, this modern Shaw told of the General decorating himself and offices and not crew; told of the women the rank manage to keep about; told of the luxury the rank lives in and the parties they go on. In fact, he told some things that need telling - things that need telling in high places, so something can be done. But our author fell short by trying to evade the censorship system. He sent the letter home by a man on his way back to the States. This man's orders were changed, so he mailed the letter and since it was uncensored, it got stopped.
Don’t know what the lad will draw, but it should be a decoration. Most of the men about this post would stand back of the statements made by this Lt. but few would find nerve enough to repeat them if they thought it would hinder their progress up in rank. I must recount a story that happened in our outfit the other day. When Butler was shot down by an M.E. 109, one of the plates was piloted by a Major ~ that is, he was listed as first pilot, but had not done 1/3 of the flying for he had a very able co-pilot who usually flew entire missions while the Major slept. On this particular day the co-pilot was flying and when these M.E.s pulled off on them, they headed for home, but only after their plane was riddled - one wing had a cannon shell explode in it, tearing a huge hole and despoiling the air foil greatly; the panel lights and many of the instruments were ruined. But this Lt. through a magnificent display of flying skill brought the plane in and landed it safely. The days following, the Major gave out super publicity stories on how he had taken over and saved the entire crew by batting the elements in a tattered hulk of a plane,- he took full and complete credit and for an actual proven fact did not touch the stick - and so we see a typical example of the action of the higher officers. By this time, it is easy to see that something is wrong with our present war set up, and I am briefly going to try and explain my ideas of it.
First, our Army is too damned old. When a man gets past an age of say 25 or 27, he begins to calm down and look for the safe ways to do things - well there are only a few safe ways to fight a war and there are only basic precautions. A few risks must be taken or else the war could drag on forever. Youth is necessary to win the war. There are two things that make a valuable fighter - guts and experience. And the older heads in our Army have neither. The men who fought the last war have experience in tactics of 1918, but this is 1942.
Our Army frowns on the young officers because some of the old boys have been in so much longer, they think time is the only criterion for promotion. Oh, how wrong they are!! If a lad has 200 combat hours, he should be consulted as to what will work against the enemy - for he alone honestly knows the situation and the best way to cope with it. How could an old Colonel who has been on maybe only one raid or so, have any idea what his unit can do; let the older, wiser men plan, campaigns, but for hell's sake let the ones that do the fighting, plan the fight. Yes, we need a wise manager, but don't let him try to tell us when to throw each blow and how. Men with many responsibilities are no good in the combat game because they let the others down. Keep them at home fighting the supply system. If a lad is only 23, but has many combat hours. let him be the leader of a squadron - after experience here, take him back to operations And he'll be able to plan raids so they'll be successful - don't hold his age against him.
Again, I say, youth over age in the combat zone - guts and experience will win this in half the time. I heard one West Pointer say "They just now made my class captains~~, it seems a handicap to be a Pointer" - To my way of thinking, it is just too damned bad about his class - if any of them have battle experience, shove them up; if not, let them go up slowly and keep their safe jobs in training centers. Because a man is a Reserve Officer is also no reason to hold him back. I have utmost respect for Point men, but I don't want one telling me how to go in on a target, unless he has been there one more time than I. This war is youth'~ war - youth must fight it then why in hell can't you plan it with supervision only older heads.
Got some mail today; three letters from my closest friends - the family, Byng and Muriel. Was much more of a thrill than I thought possible.