A recap of last week's column: A book, "Missing In Action" by Gene F. Moxley, written in 2002, tells the story of the 465th Bomb Group in Combat in World War II.
Forrest "Dew Drop" Morgan was a waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator Bomber that was hit by flak (shells bursting in air from antiaircraft guns) by the Germans over Poland. The plane was also hit by cannon rounds from a Russian "Yak" plane, setting afire the already crippled ship.
Many years ago Dew Drop met a Polish couple, Mietek and Krystina Metler, in Blue Mountain Lake and told them of his WWII experiences in Poland. In 2008, he received a copy of a book published in Polish telling the stories, by a number of authors, of those bomber crews. The first chapter, mentioned here last week, is about Dew Drop and written by Mr. Metler.
Dew Drop and his crewmates stand on the wing of their B-24 Liberator bomber as pictured in the Polish book about the American flyers in World War II. I can testify that the arrow above Dew Drop’s head never hit him because I talked to him last Sunday.
From "Missing In Action"
Dew Drop's plane was shot down on Sept. 13, 1944. Last week, I related that the co-pilot's story and other stories in the book, are taken from diaries.
Dew Drop was the last one to bail out from the crippled plane and his experiences were about the same as the rest. Four of the crew were wounded; he was not, but by some miracle all of the 10-man crew survived.
He eventually went with the other crew members to Bari, Italy where the headquarters of the 15th Air Force was located. The men were told that if any of them revealed that they were shot down by a Russian plane they would be subject to court martial.
In Italy he was sent to a rest camp on the Isle of Capri for about a week where, he said, "I had a good time" but I could not get him to elaborate on that statement.
As far as Dew Drop knows, he and Sgt. Keenan were the only two that volunteered to go back flying. They ended up on separate crews, and he said he flew only two more combat missions, both over Germany.
According to Dew Drop, the details in the following excerpt by Sgt. Keenan, pretty much tell what happened to them all.
Sgt. Richard A. Keenan, Ball Turret Gunner:
"I pulled the ripcord and felt my chute open. The jerk pulled my helmet and oxygen mask off, but I didn't care much then, all I knew was that I was out of the plane. I saw two other chutes below me and thought that only three of us got out. When I came out of the clouds I felt a stinging around my mouth and head. I put my hand up to my face and when I looked at it, it was covered with blood. I thought my face was half blown off but as it was I just got wounded a little.
"I was getting near the ground now and I was beginning to figure where I was going to land. Pretty soon I heard bullets zinging by me and at first I didn't know they were shooting at me, but then I saw some tracers whiz by me and I got scared more than ever. I put my hands together and started to pray, but then I thought I better get my hands in the air. I thought I was landing in Germany. As soon as I hit the ground, a lot of guys rushed at me with tommy guns. I saw the star on their cap and the sickle and hammer and I knew they were Russian. They asked me if I was German but I held my hands in the air and yelled 'American, American!' Pretty soon an officer came and took me to a house. Then they took me to another house and there I met Sgt. Forrest Morgan, our waist gunner and I was sure glad to see him. I had my head bandaged up and I guess I looked pretty rough. We thought all the rest of the crew was killed because Morgan saw the ship crash.
"They flew us back to Poltava, about 600 miles, in a C-47. They put me in a hospital (with other wounded) and I slept almost all day and ate. I felt good to get some American food once more. At about 6 a.m. I got sick. I guess the G.I.'s. They wake me up and keep giving me medicine. God, I was sick. Tuesday, September 19 (only 6 days after they were shot down) I was sick all day today. The other fellows are leaving tonight. They said if I was well enough I could go too. But when I stood up I was so dizzy I fell back on the bed. I tried again to get my shoes on but I couldn't even see them, I was so dizzy. I wanted to go with them awful bad."
According to Sgt. Keenan's diary, he later flew to Cairo, met Lt. Ayres at the snack bar and he and Ayres flew to Bari, Italy, the next day.
From other diary notes: "Russian 'Yak' planes are armed with a 37mm cannon, firing through the propeller, with two 20mm cannons in each wing. Most also have some 30-38 caliber machine guns. Russians appear to be using obsolete aircraft on the front line. They have little mechanical equipment and use horse-drawn ambulances. I saw some new low-built tanks with medium barrels. 1936 Ford V8s are used as command cars and trucks."