Gd'morning Col. Eldridge;
I don't know whether I can have one for you every Friday - my memory ain't what it used to be. But I'll send them as they come to mind. That way you can use as you want to. Hope they don't get boring.
April 11, '43 was not a good day for the 13th Sq. Reapers. The 10 months we were at Charters Towers, we had never experienced an air raid. The 3 months we had been at Port Moresby we had experienced night raids, but never a daylite raid.
The morning of the 11th Marvin and I were working in the darkroom at about 10:30 when the 'red alert' siren sounded off. We quickly closed things up, grabbed our cameras and headed for the top of a hill next to our camp area. The 13th Photo Shack was in the camp area, rather than on the hanger line. We got to the top; from there we could see the air strip about a mile away. We scanned the skies and suddenly saw the biggest formation of planes we had ever seen - friend or foe - (photo attached, look close you can see about 35 little dots at 20,000 ft.) and they were headed right for our hill. We both decided we'd be better off in a slit trench at the bottom of the hill, and started down. About half way down bombs started exploding and we both hit the dirt. When I was a kid going to WW I movies and bombs dropped they always whistled. These bombs did not whistle, it sounded like somebody rushing thru a wheat field.
When they quit exploding we got up and headed on down the hill, grabbed a jeep and headed for the air strip. The planes we saw veered off and hit 14 Mile Field where the 13th had their 8 B-25s. The main body of the formation headed on down towards Moresby and hit 3 Mile Field where the 8th & 89th Sqs. were.
We got out to the hangar line, and things were a mess. "Baby Blitz" and "Fair Dinkum" were heaps of burning rubble (photos attached). All told 7 of our 8 planes were out of commission, and the Sq. would sit idle for several weeks. When we did get resupplied with planes they were the modified low level straffers. Up to that time we were still flying the high level B-25s, which is what we flew in the Bismarck Sea Battle. The 90th B-25s and the 89th A-20s had been modified and they were the stars of the Bismarck Sea Battle. But that's another story.
The amazing part of the day was the casualty list. Counting mechanics, armorers, commutations guys, etc. there were probably 100 personnel amongst those 8 planes that morning. We had one man suffer shrapnel wound. Those slit trenches really paid off that day, for all the sweat and cussing that went into digging them.
As I mentioned the main part of the formation (there were approx. 100 planes, total in the raid) headed down to 3 Mile Field. Hqs. Sq. was camped on a hill overlooking the air strip, and beside their camp was a gasoline dump. My good buddy "Tack" Tackaberry had been on nite duty in Operations and was sleeping in his tent. When the siren went off he ignored it and stayed in bed. The planes laid a string of bombs thru the gas dump and thru their camp area. When the bombs started exploding Tack just rolled out of bed and hit the dirt. When it was over his tent was full of shrapnel holes. Just wasn't his day to die.