Home
Cover
Guest Book
The Song
Foreword
Preface
Strategy & Build Up
Sign ofThings
Government Property
My Bombardier
The Crew
More About The Crew
Texas Invasion
Dalhart, Texas
Aircraft Commander
2nd & 3rd phase training
England Bound
Combat Crew Replacement
Bloody 100th
In The Mood
First Mission
March '44 & Berlin
Target Berlin Again
48 Hour Pass In London
Sing These Songs...Mightly
Target Brunswick Again
Target Augsburg
Letters Of Commendation
Munich Is The Target
Aphrodite
Our Little Friends
Other Side...
Heavy Water
15th In Italy
Russian bases
Target Oil
Bob Rosenthal
Colonel John Bennett
William R. Lawley
B-17 Control Panel
The Base Of Operations
Russians Load Bombs
Suzy-Q
Epilogue
Goering's Lament
Code Of Conduct
C.B. (Red) Harper
Credits & Links


GOVERNMENT PROPERTY...THE BUFFALO GAL

A warplane was government property but men who fought in it were apt to consider it “our plane.” The appropriation was usually affirmed with a name and combat achievements painted on the nose area of the craft.

My daughter, Jan, was born in 1943 about the same time our crew was being put together. Her home was at Buffalo Gap, Texas near Abilene. The crew immediately adopted her as the “Buffalo Gal” after the song of the same name. In her honor, the crew’s decision was to name our B-17 Flying Fortress - “The Buffalo Gal.”

A beautiful little “bombshell” - blond actress of the time was being cast in a movie role as the Annie Oakley type. Her attire was cowboy hat, boots, short buck-skin skirt and slightly open vest revealing a modest amount of interest. Her final adornment was a pair of holstered .45 cal. pistols. She corresponded with some of the crew’s gunners, but had no use for officers at all. She became the model for the nose art painting on the Buffalo Gal.

As an invasion, it was more like a parade. The Austrian people welcomed the Germans, and a month after the move, they voted by a nearly 100 percent margin to merge with the Third Reich.

Emboldened by the success of his move against Austria, Hitler invaded Poland and the English and the French responded with a declaration of war. Poland fell unbelievably swiftly to the German blitzkrieg and almost the entire German army now turned its attention west.

In 1940 and early 1941 - countries fell like leaves to the Germans. Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Norway, Yugoslavia and Greece were swept under the Reich in days or weeks.

In the second half of 1941, German offensives were launched against Russia, quickly rolling the Soviet forces back to the suburbs of Moscow itself In North Africa, Field Marshall Rommel and his panzer Armee Africa were threatening to turn the Mediterranean into an Axis lake with the conquest of Egypt. In the Pacific, Japan already engaged in a slow grinding war of attrition with China, launched an attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into the war in the closing weeks of 1941.

Although the U.S. had vastly increased its military expenditures in the years immediately preceding its entry into the war, the country still was not prepared to wage a war that was truly worldwide in scope. Its Navy was small, its Army woefully inadequate to the task of retaking German- occupied Europe.

But the U.S. sent troops to battle very quickly. Naval and Air units moved into position to challenge the Germans and the Japanese. Among the first to see action in Europe and Africa was the United States Army Air Corps.

The frequent use of the words - IT’S ME AGAIN, GOD - is from my many prayers asking for divine comfort before being thrust into the meat grinder of deadly combat during participation in a “funny kind of war” that wasn’t funny ha-ha. This war combined the stress of flying with two thousand planes to destroy German targets in the morning, seeing 150 of my friends blown out of the sky in a ten minute period, and then spending the evening with grateful people celebrating survival. .

Air crews had in common a shared fear that wasn’t something that needed to be overcome. Shared fear was a mutual support system that turned people of disparate backgrounds and intellects and interests into a single, bonded organism. Shared fear was the glue that held a bomber crew together.

C.B. (Red) Harper

Next...Introduction to the Bombardier

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