B26 Marauder Pilot's Letters Home. Ted Harwood.
B26 Marauder Pilot's Letters Home. Ted Harwood.(PART 1)1943,WWII
JOINING THE ARMY
When it all began for me, I was an aircraft electrician at Douglas Aircraft Company in Southern California. I was wiring up the cockpit of a Douglas "A-20" light bomber, when I stopped for a moment. I thought to myself, I could fly one of these as well as anyone. At that point, the Army Air Corps was not taking anyone in. I volunteered anyway, for cadet training, and one day I got a set of official orders to report to the Nashville, Tennessee Army Classification Center. Since I worked manufacturing warplanes, I had a deferment, I went anyway. I had a scar on one of my eyes where a rock had hit it when I was young, but I still got through the physical requirements and was classified for pilot's training.
Training was very difficult and vigorous testing. I often woke up in the middle of the night and did extra studies by flashlight while the other cadets slept. Sometimes, I would even sneak out on the porch of the barracks and study under the dim outside lamps.
From Nashville, we went on to pre-flight training at Maxwell Field, Alabama. At Maxwell Field the duties were comprised of “p.t." (physical training), aircraft recognition, and mathematics.
From Alabama, we went on to Thompson Robbins Field, Helena, Arkansas, for primary training. My first solo flight was on 9-7-43 in the afternoon after physical training. My instructor was a crop duster named Virgil McCoin.
From Helena, Arkansas, we reported to Newport Army Airfield, also in Arkansas, for additional basic training, in October, November 1943. Here we flew "BT 13" single engine trainers. We practiced acrobatics and night landings.
From Newport, it was on to Stuttgart, Arkansas for advanced twin-engine training. Here we mastered cross-country navigational flight and radio range procedures. Upon graduation in February 1944, I received my commission as Second Lieutenant, Class of 1944-B, United States Army Air Corps. After a ten-day leave, we reported for overseas training in the B-26 at our next destination.
From Stuttgart, it was onto Barksdale Field, Louisiana for the overseas training. This was March, April, May 1944. This was our first experience flying the Martin B-26 as a crew.
From Barksdale Field, Louisiana, we continued to Hunters Field, Georgia. This was in June 1944. At Hunter's Field, we picked up a brand new silver B-26. We went from Hunters Field to Bangor, Maine. At Bangor we were issued our overseas equipment: 45 automatic pistol, binoculars, rations, survival kit and other equipment.
From Bangor, Maine, it was on to Labrador. While in Labrador, we were briefed for our North Atlantic crossing. From Labrador, we flew to Greenland. The first view from the cockpit was a giant fiord. We had to fly through this for six miles, cliffs on both sides and a giant mountain in the front at the end of the fiord. The runway was at the end of the fiord and it was very steep. We had to land uphill. To make this landing even more difficult, the Germans had placed electronic radio signal jamming devises in the area. We were so close to the North Pole that our magnetic compass headings were 20 off magnetic North. Landing and flying here was based on basic "dead reckoning" navigation. Flying out of Greenland was equally challenging, given the details described. And making things all the more challenging, a giant ice cap had to be traversed before proceeding. Taking off out of there, it was really hairy.
From Greenland, we flew to Iceland. During this flight, the weather changed for the worse and we were held over for ten days. During the time at Iceland, we mostly waited for the weather to clear; playing cards (mostly poker and pinochle), and shooting dice. We were also shown a bunch of "V.D." films.
When the weather finally cleared we took to the air. We flew to Ireland. It was a long, boring flight. When you are flying over the sea like that, you are very cognizant of every slight sound that may pierce the constant drone of the engine's roar. Any slight variance could mean tragedy. The experience is mind numbing. Any variant sound could be a devastating mechanical failure. There was no radio contact or navigational aids, no landmarks as points of reference, just water from horizon to horizon. To our relief, we finally caught sight of the Northern coast or Ireland. It was in July 1944, when we arrived in Northern Ireland. In Ireland we practiced combat formation flying. This was at Station 236.
On August 13, 1944, we flew to Beaulieu, England, and that same night we flew our first mission. It was very exciting.
PREPARING FOR THE FIRST MISSION
Our first mission was extremely adventuresome. I will remember this me rest of my life. I walked out to the flight line and looked at all the different aircraft parked in the darkness. There were no heavy bombers, but I remember other bombers; Night fighter P70, all black with radar and Douglas A20's for night bombing raids. Just prior to the first mission, a French lady gave us a lesson in the French language, basic phrases. The first phrase that we learned and memorized was "I am an American" ("Je suis Americain") and the second phrase "I am wounded" ("Je suis Blesse"). Before every mission the entire craft had to be inspected thoroughly for any possible mechanical problem. This pre-flight inspection was done systematically and by the book, so as to protect the lives of each member of the crew. The list was huge, from hydraulics to tire pressure.
THE FIRST MISSION
The take off was to be over the harbor, in the English Channel. It was pitch-black darkness, there was a "black out". The harbor was blockaded by immense barrage balloons floating and suspended by large steel cables. The German planes would fly in and shear their wings off on the balloon cables. The British would lower the barrage balloons to let our planes fly out. After our entire group was out, the balloons were allowed to float up again. When we took off, we took off at 20-second intervals. The anticipation to be the plane thundering down the darkened runway was an exciting experience. We flew at 20-second intervals at a designated fixed air speed toward the target. The first mission was flown at night so the usual evasive type flying patterns were unnecessary. The pathfinder ship would locate the target and drop a flare at the "IP" (Initial Point) and a flare on the target. At the "IP" the bombardier took over the controls and flies the plane with the bombsite until over the target area. When over the target area, every third plane flies at an altitude variation of 1000 feet, no formation or flight leader. The altitude variation was to prevent mid air collision during flight. So it was 1000 feet altitude variations and 20 second intervals. We were flying in the dark, and with radio silence. We were flying with our instruments with only small ultraviolet lamps over the instruments. It was so dark you could not see the other planes, even inside your own plane. The only visible light was the "IP" flare, target flare, and the distant, mute flash of our bombs exploding on the ground far below. After the bombardier yells, "Bombs away", the pilot regains control of the plane from the bombardier. The pilot returns the plane to the base. While on the return flight back to base we passed over the Island of Guernsey. The island was still heavily fortified and as we crossed over, an aerial flare exploded with massive flash. The entire sky lit up and the Marauders were like huge silhouettes in the sky. The aerial flare was so bright it nearly blinded us. Almost simultaneously, the German artillery opened fire on our position with 88-millimeter anti-aircraft guns. They sky was still lit up, so we could not see the flash of the immense cannons below. As the flare faded, you could see the heavy contrast of the brightly exploding flak projectiles against the pitch darkness of the night. After a time, the incoming artillery fell away behind our aircraft and we came in and all landed safely with no injuries or battle damage reported. I slept well that night.
"A-20" THE HEDGE ROWS
We eventually got orders to move from Beaulieu, England to an airfield in France. The French airfield was "A-20" on the Cherbourg Peninsula. Just before we crossed over to France we left a lot of excess stuff behind. I scrounged up a short coat to sleep in. The ground crews went across the channel in boats. The ground people got around on bicycle and they were not allowed to take their bikes on the boats so they begged us to fly their bikes over the channel for them, so we put them in the bomb bay and flew them across. When we landed, it was on a newly made landing field. The landing field was made of those large perforated steel plates attached to the ground with huge, long staples. The ground crew had problems because the staple edges worked loose and were really chewing up our tires.
We arrived at "A-20" (The hedge rows) a couple months after the invasion Of June 6th. The troops had gone through but there were still dead bloated cows and horses all over the place. The hedgerows were boulders, from the fields, stacked with bushes on them. Two guys went out m the hedgerows scrounging and blew their hands off with grenades that had been left behind from the battle. One morning I heard a huge explosion. I looked to see a tire and wheel 60 feet up in the air. A truck hit a mine, it also blew the guys' leg off.
From "A-20" we bombed the giant Nazi submarine base at Brest. We bombed Brest four times and on the return home from one of the missions, we could see one of the Nazi subs that had broken away and was trailing water. We would have probably attacked the sub but we could not break formation.
Between missions we went out scrounging around. We found some dead G.I.'s. The dead guys were bloated up like huge balloons. They still had morphine syringes stuck in their lifeless arms, left there, as they died in pain. We reported the dead to grave registration units. There was also dead German guys lying about. It was quite macabre.
My personal background and previous writings were founded m anthropology, and hence, my focus on daily life. Here are the accounts based on interviews with Ist Lt. Theodore V. Harwood, 323rd Bombardment Group, 456th Bombardment Squadron, 9th Army Air Corps.
Most of the fear, nervous anxiety really, was experienced in the briefings just before the missions. I never seemed to be bothered by these type of things enough to lose any sleep. Do to the long, harsh days; I never had difficulties falling asleep. Some guys would have nightmares or get restless, but I didn't. Some nightmares I came to me after the war had been over for some time.
The living and sleeping arrangements were simple but effective. There were four people to the average tent and the tents were about 12 feet square. The tents were small but ample. We slept on army cots, no pillow and no frills. Our gear was stowed neatly in our "B 4" bag. The uniforms folded neatly into the middle section of the B4 and the other miscellaneous gear was stowed in the side pockets of the bag. We also had the standard Government Issue duffle bag that had many uses, including storage, hauling, or dirty clothes bag. Some guys, including myself, made makeshift cupboard, or shelves, for various functions m the tent. The tents were constructed like most conventional tents. Canvas covers, wooden pole in the center for support and to give height. The comers were tied off to tent stakes. In the summer this was the standard living facility. In the winter the tents were modified. During the frigid winter months the flaps on the tents were tied down and weights added. This kept them from blowing in the wind. Wood planks were often scrounged up and used to stiffen the tent door flaps. tools were scarce, one person may have a couple nails, another person may have a hammer, and everybody borrowed or traded for what few tools we could get our hands on. In the winter it was also necessary to reinforce the lower sides of the tents and to put in wooden floors. The tent sides were reinforced with 3 feet of pine like board. Due to the lack of carpentry tools we pushed our cots against the sides of the tent in order to support the reinforcement boards. The winter was wet, snowy, cold and muddy. We had to put old wood planks to makeshift a floor. The army supplied duckboards to cross the many bomb craters. We put them in for use as a sidewalk between the tents and mess-tent so we wouldn't sink in the mud.
THE WATER TANK
We scrounged fuel equipment from an old Messerschmidt from a nearby bombed out hanger, left over from German occupation and we found an old 50 gallon drum. The drum was lifted with ropes into a nearby, large, bare tree. We then took the Messerschmidt’s metal hydraulic tubing and attached into the lower orifice of the "treed" fuel drum. Then we put a control valve on at the end of the pipe. Now we had a state of the art water tower. We removed the auxiliary fuel pump (wabbel) from the messerschmidt and used it to pump water into the old fuel drum. We didn't forget to flush out the drum and so the water in the drum was potable. Next, we routed the metal hydraulic tubes into the tent and the tubes were coiled around the old pot bellied stove. The water than came out of the tube into a makeshift sink made form an old light reflector. Simply turn off the faucet and out came hot water. Yankee engineering at its finest.
Water is something that we used every day. We got our water out of a military water storage trailer that had been brought in by the Red Ball. We also had what was called "lister bags" which were large canvas water bags with four valves on the lower perimeter to release the fluid.
THE WOOD STOVE
Being that there was no hot and cold running water, no electrical outlets, no gas lines or other such modem amenities, good old fashion "Yankee engineering" rose up to the occasion. We used to take our outer steel combat helmets, fill them with water and set them in the hole on top of our old wood stove This was one way of getting hot water. We usually used this method of heating the water to clean up, a G.I. sponge bath.
The firewood that we used for the wood stove was procured with a two-man bucksaw. The wood was then gathered up and brought from the bombed out forest back to the base where the green, wet, wood was stacked close to the wood stove. The heat and dryness radiating form the stove would dry out and cure the firewood for use as fuel for the next days needs. This had to become a daily ritual; for the wet green wood was unsuitable as a fuel source. We also set our shoes near the fire each night to dry. We had no goulashes, so one pair of shoes dried and one pair was worn. That was you knew you had dry shoes for the next day. It was very cold and dry shoes were very important.
The stove was an extremely important aspect of our daily existence. What little comfort we had m this harsh environment was given to us from the stove. The actual stove was a sheet metal, potbelly type. The stove was housed | within our living quarters, a square four man tent about 12- x 12' in size. The stove was a place of warmth for personnel, a cooking tool, water heater, shoes, clothes dryer, and more.
We were given soap rations for both laundry and personal hygiene. The ration was one bar of "Life boy" health soap and one bar of G.I. lye soap. We usually washed up m the P.M., because that was when we had the wood fire going and we could stay warm after getting cleaned up. It was very cold. We didn't have time to clean up, or do anything in the morning. We were up and out by 4 A.M. We had such little time in the morning we had to sleep in our combat mission clothing. We just had to slip on our G.I shoes.
THE RED BALL EXPRESS
The rations we received were trucked m by a special military convoy. This was a high priority caravan designated by a red ball painted on the vehicles' outer panels. Nothing, and no one, was stopping them once on a mission. These were the trucks that brought us our rations on a monthly basis. Later, after the war, some of the men from this unit started a very successful freight company called "Red Ball"
As far as facilities for when natured called, it was very basic; for a urinal, a 5 gallon steel bucked was buried up to the rim m the ground. The bucket was filled with cobble-sized stones. Personnel urinated on the rocks. Due to the spacing of the rocks in the bucket, the urine would quickly evaporate.
For the more serious toilet needs (i.e., number 2) we dug a 6-hole pit latrine. When it got full an old man from a nearby farm would come and pump out the contents of the pit toilet and spread it on his field as fertilizer. Needless to say, we did not partake in the fruit of his fields.
There were no latrine facilities on the planes, so even the longest missions you had to hold your own until you returned to base. Even if there was a place to go on the planes, which there was not, the nature of our gear would have made it extremely difficult to relieve yourself.
Our tent did not have a radio. I suppose some guys had radios, we didn't.
We had some opportunities to listen to the BBC or Axis Sally, during non-critical
flight time on the ships' radio. "Axis Sally" was a sexy sounding German radio broadcaster that would give Allied G.I.'s anti-American propaganda.
We had the combat flight log and mission journals that I logged in the daily mission statistics, but I did not keep a diary, most of us didn't. We were just kids at the time. I did write home to my folks a couple times a week and those letters have a lot of information on the daily life back there, as well.
Cigarettes were a part of every day life during the war. On brakes or to calm your nerves, American cigarettes have a pleasant flavor. In the rations we received, there was always a mini pack of G.I. Cigarettes. You could buy extra smokes for about 4 cents a package.
We didn’t just smoke the cigarettes; we often used them as trade goods. You could usually get a really good trade m on goose or chicken eggs. Cigarettes could also be used to barter for services and we were often able to get village ladies to do our laundry. Cigarettes were so scarce that the local kids used to come onto the base and collect the butts. They would bring them back to their village and sell them to this one old man who would remove the left over tobacco from the old butts and re-roll it into new reconditioned cigarettes. One day I gave the old guy an entire new pack of American cigarettes. He thought that was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. He was very pleased and thankful.
Some of the guys drank a lot of alcoholic beverage while they were overseas. Once a month the officers would get a quite sizeable liquor ration. The ration consisted of: cognac, gin, scotch, Benedictine, champagne, bourbon, and armanyak. After each mission the Doc had rye whiskey for "medicinal purposes". You were allowed to drink all the rye whiskey you could handle. Some guys drank more. Sometimes the singing went on deep into the night.
BED CHECK CHARLIE
On New Years Eve we cleaned out an old, bombed out German aircraft hanger. The hanger had a cement floor and we made tables out of the old debris that was lying about. We were going to set up a lavish 4th of July party. The party seemed to have been going well. We were having quite a celebration. In the process of celebrating, some guys shot up a bunch of colored signal flares. The flares were supposed to be used to signal us, to tell us of our mission status; green flares signified "the mission is on" and the red flare signified that the mission was scrubbed. In any case, that 4th of July night, as every night around bedtime, an old reconnaissance plane flew down to check out the base. He did it with such consistency he earned the name "Bed Check Charlie". This particular night the flares drew "Bed Check Charlie" in a little closer than usual curiosity more than anything. At the party was a newly arrived, anti-aircraft artillery unit. The artillery guys saw "Bed Check Charlie" coming in to investigate. They made a beeline to their weapons. When the blasting was over, the ordinance officer’s home, which was 50 feet up in an old German flak tower, had been riddled with holes. His stuff was also tom up and "Bed Check Charlie’s" aircraft lay crushed and smoldering in a nearby field. We ran over to check things out and found the poor bastard was dead.
We would go out and find old carbines and old ammo that was lying around the old battlefields. We could target shoot all day and never run out of ammo. Ray Embert and I excavated an old bombed out Nazi aircraft hanger. Inside the hanger was an old messerschmidt-109. Inside the messerschmidt were 37mm cannons. We took a 37mm cannon and mounted it on a hill. We took turns blowing apart slag chunks with the 27mm. The slag pile was from an old abandoned coalmine nearby.
Some of us would go out rabbit hunting for extra meat. One afternoon hunting I caught a wild ferret. We could put the ferret down the rabbit holds and the ferret would bring out the game or chase it out so we could shoot it. On a hunting trip someone killed a giant wild boar. They brought the boar back to the base. We were going to cook up the pig and have a pork feast, but Doc came out and told us not to eat it. It seems the pigs in the area were feeding on the many human casualties that hadn't been retrieved yet. We took the pig out and buried it.
Scrounging was the act of going out into the vacant building, bombed out structures, or into the countryside, to scavenger up goods or materials. Guns were scrounged up from old battlefields; some left over from World War I. Mechanical devises were scrounged from deserted German planes and old factories or industrial complexes. We raided a lot of German factories. One was a leather factory and we got tons of tanned hides. One factory was full of kerosene lamps, so we all got lamps. These areas were completely vacant. Entire villages with no allies, no enemy, no one there at all. There was one old church that the Germans had used as a storehouse for equipment. The whole back room of the church was a cash of goods. Inside a large crate was a brand new, unused, messerschmidt 109 aircraft. The Germans used churches to store things in because they knew we wouldn’t attack the churches. They would even put heavy guns in the steeples as a flak tower to shoot low flying allied planes.
Tom Forrester and I once scrounged up some old motorcycles and road around the European countryside. Around that time, Tom Forrester and I lived m an old deserted guardhouse. It was in a structure that had once been a P.O.W. camp where French kept Italian captives. It was the only base that we weren't living out Of tents, so less scrounging was required.
OUR B-26 SHOT DOWN
It was our 37th mission, March 8th, 1945, in the afternoon. Fifty-two B-26 marauders took off toward our target in Hanover, Germany where we were to drop our bomb load on the Niemhagen oil refinery. We were still under evasive flight Pattering just about to the "I.P." when our tail gunner, Anthony Cason, called "Flak at six o'clock". Just then, the thunderous roar of flak, like a hailstorm on a tin roof and the sound of tearing metal. The engineer came up. He was covered with hydraulic fluid. The flak had severed the hydraulic height pressure main hose. Flak also penetrated the ammo on the package gun in the bombardier's compartment where the ammo storage was. The radioman came up. His chest mount parachutes had been shredded by Flak (pilots had back mount parachutes). The main fuel cell on the left inner wing was punctured, spewing fuel all over the exterior panels of the plane and into the sky. I broke out of formation and turned back toward base. We thought about bailing out but with one parachute short, we all decided to go down with the ship. At that point, the flight engineer cranked open the bomb bay doors by hand. We had no hydraulic power at all. We manually jettisoned the bombs and flew on. We came in sight of a secondary field and went in for a landing. With no hydraulic pressure the main gear would not lock down. We came into the landing strip, touched down, and violently skidded to a stop. The crew got out so fast that I didn't even know they had 'exited the craft and they exited right over my body! When I realized I was alone, I quickly got out. That night we spent sleeping on the ground beneath the wing of the disabled B-26 that had brought us safely to earth.
It was April 20th, 1945, in the afternoon. Thirty-five B-26 Marauders flew out toward Nordlingen, Germany to drop their bomb load from 10,000 feet in the sky to the railroad yard below. This was our next to the last mission of the war and like any mission; it could have been our last. From the skies below came a vision of death, the foremost of the German Luftwaffe Jet, rocket aircraft, the ME-262 armed with a 50 mm cannon. It was only seconds before the ME-262 was upon us. I could see the 50 mm cannon of the ME-262 cut loose. It was very close. The whole ordeal was like watching it happen right in front of you in the fast lane of the freeway. The 50 mm cannon bursts hit the number two plane, right wing man, and sheered the nacelle door off. I could see it as clear as day. We had no fighter escort on most missions and on this mission we were alone so we had to take care of the problem ourselves. The entire squadron opened up with everything we had. Quite possible it was out turret gunner, but someone found the target and the ME-262 went down. One of the first jets ever shot down in combat. The account documented by Major General Moench is as follows:
"Flying the left wing on the Box I, number four flight leader, Ist Lt. Theodore V. Harwood’s postwar account of the ME-262 attack included an observation of fire from the attackers against the lead flight and the sudden loss of a nacelle door from Capt. Trostle's right wingman. "Our top turret was chattering like mad and the air in front of us was filled with 50 caliber casings." This element of the attack was not noted in the mission folder."
THE WAR ENDS
After the war the 323rd group was disbanded, I was reassigned to Venlo Holland. I can't remember who told us the war was over but it was good news. In Holland we trained pilots for the Pacific, and especially the co-pilots that had been combat veterans. One guy with me stalled out about fifteen feet above the runway and fell to the ground.
From Holland we flew back to England on a "C-46" cargo plane and then on to Iceland. It was in Iceland where the C-46 pilot ran off the runway. We had to wait a week for a new propeller. The irony of the whole situation was that we were thirty veteran combat pilots and we almost didn't make it home because they had a green, inexperienced pilot flying us back. He was very unpopular. The first thing I did when I got back was get three heads of lettuce and a couple of lemons from The Red Cross. I hadn't had any fresh vegetables for over a year. I squeezed the lemons on the three heads of lettuce and completely devoured every last leaf. Some guys drank gallons of milk.
Back in the states, we were at an airport. There was a big room full of telephone operators. It took three hours to get through to Santa Monica. I talked to my folks for the first time since 1 went overseas. From there, some of us took a train to Santa Ana where we were decommissioned, paid, and received terminal leave. I was asked if l wanted to re-enlist. I simply turned away and said, "Goodbye"! From Santa Ana, 1 took the electric train to Santa Monica. I don't remember how I got home from there. I think I took the Wilshire Blvd. bus. When l did get home, I couldn't sleep so I went downtown and ended up drinking too much. My mom was a bit upset because 1 went out the same night 1 got home. Not long afterward, Rae Hagenbuch and 1 went to his ranch in Nevada and hunted deer. He asked me to drive down to Oatman with him to pick up a prospector friend of his and we got talking about hunting and fishing, and that’s how we met. After this, I signed up at Santa Monica College, but it was just too far away. I married Rae Hagenbuch's daughter, Nancy, and that’s the end of the war story.
This is the story of a B26 Martin Marauder Pilot in W.W.II as told through his letters home. Theodore V. Harwood, my father, was in the 456th Bombardment Squadron, 323rd Bombardment Group, 9th US Army Air Cops. A combat veteran with 45 missions in a plane nick named “the flying coffin”.
Dear folks, I have arrived at my new home for 2 months. So far it looks OK, the food is really swell. I had the first milk I have drunk for 2 months, & all we want, I drank 3 glasses for lunch. I am a little tired but not as much as I usually am after a trim. We came by bus, it was much cleaner and easier riding. I am the only one in this barracks so far, only 65 came here from Newport, so the other boys that will live with me will probably come in tonight from some other basic school. I do not think we will start flying for a few days as the weather is really bad. They have started a ridged course in instrument flying now so about 10 of the graduating class were held over. They were really disappointed, they all have their officers’ uniforms tailored and hanging in their closets. They will leave next month if they pass their next checks. My cold is a little better, I am going to bed now, I will be OK as I am taking Bromo Q pills and using that Musterolle you sent me. That robe is really a honey, thanks a million. Good night for now, Monday night 6:10 PM. All my love Ted.
It had been a few weeks and Ted assumed nothing had come of it. After work one afternoon Ted pulled up in front of his parents white wash Santa Monica home walked across the lawn up the gray cement front porch steps. The wood frame screen slapped shut behind him and there on a round table lamp sat a small packet. He excitedly took the parcel in hand, it was from Uncle Sam. He carefully opened them to see in front of him a set of official orders to report to the Riverside, California, Fort Macarthur Army Classification Center. . Four friends from Santa Monica, California joined together; Ted Harwood, Bill McCurdy, Jack Emerson and Webster Havilland. Ted got a ride from his father down to the electric train depot in Santa Monica and took it to an induction center. Ted was off and took a locomotive into Riverside, California, Fort Macarthur the following day. The process was intense, a full physical, a written test, and numerous injections. Then the worst news, when Ted was a youngster he had been hit in the eye with a rock and the scar was enough to get him a rejection, he kept on them and finally got a kind sole to push him through.
The training in Riverside was extremely vigorous. Physical training included marching in n formation, push-ups, pull-ups, running, and calisthenics. Then, more of the same out in the element both day and night. The mental training was equally draining and while the other cadets slept, Ted snuck behind the watchful eye of the drill instructor outside to the dim porch light of the barracks to study. The tests were hard with the sleep depravation but Ted came in close to the top of the class and soon the sites, sounds and faces of Riverside were a distant memory and it was off to Nashville for additional training.
From Nashville, the cadets went on to pre-flight training at Maxwell Field, Alabama. At Maxwell Field the duties were comprised of more “PT.” (physical Training), aircraft recognition, maps/charts, code, first aid, chemical warfare, a heavy dose of mathematics and an assortment of military courses.
Arms swinging, heads erect, shoulders back, feet pounding the pavement. Squad drill, platoon drill, squadron drill. Shin splints, blisters, sore muscles. Parades three times a week-white gloves, glistening sabers, clean khakis, straight lines, martial music. Shoes shined, brass flashing, uniforrm-perfection...inspection after inspection.
After four weeks of confinement, little sleep and intensity, it was a dinner at the Cadet club.
Now for Ted and the boys came “Blue Monday”, that day that people whispered about under their breath in the chow haul or when getting the trunk locker at the base of the bed squared away. Blue Monday-senior class subjects now. Again they dug in and pushed ahead with new strength, but now, the goal in sight. Physics, Naval Forces, Maps and Charts, a new course in Aircraft Recognition, Ground Forces, and still more code. This time however there were “Rec.” privileges and relaxation.
The final “preflight’ days were the graduation dance and that last parade.
Soon Alabama was also just a memory and it was off to Thompson Robins Field, Helena, Arkansas, for primary training. Ted’s first solo flight was on September 7th, 1943 in the afternoon following physical training. Ted’s instructor was an old crop duster by the name of Virgil McCoin.
The rigors of primary flight training at Thompson Robbins Field in Helena now concluded it was time to ship off to the Newport Army Airfield also in Arkansas for additional basic training, in October and November of 1943. Here they flew the “BT 13” single engine trainers. At Newport they drilled heavily on acrobatics and night landings.
From Newport, it was on to Stuttgart, Arkansas for advanced twin engine training. Here they mastered cross country navigational flight and radio range procedures. The Stuttgart Army Air Field was one of the largest advanced two-engine training bases of the far flung Southeast Training Center. Whose headquarters were at Maxwell Field, Alabama. It was also an important unit of the Flying Training Command, being part of the 28th Flying Training Wing. Its specific job was to turn out the best combat pilots in the Army Air Forces.
Flying first started at this field in October of 1942, four months after the ground was broken in the center of what was known as the “Grand Prairie”, the only prairie section in Arkansas, where vast fields of rice had been cultivated the preceding decades.
The first six months of Stuttgart’s history was concerned with the development of the glider as a weapon of war, and many hundreds of the Commandos of the Air, the glider pilots, were trained and commissioned here in what was then the largest advanced glider school in the country. In addition to pilot training, first glider, then twin engine, the ground personnel also trained here.
Stuttgart Army Air Field had been, since its inception, under the command of Colonel Edgar R. Todd, one of the Air Forces’ pioneers in the development of the twin
From Barksdale Field , Louisiana, they continued on to Hunters Field Georgia. This was in June, 1944. At Hunter’s Field, they picked up a brand new silver B-26. They went from Hunter’s Field to Bangor, Maine. At Bangor they were issued their equipment: 45 automatic pistol, binoculars, rations, survival kit and more.
Upon graduation in February, 1944, Ted received his commission as a Second Lieutenant, Class of 1944-B, United States Army Air Corps. After a ten day leave, they reported for overseas training in the B-26 at there next destination.
From Stutsgaurd, it was onto Barksdale Field, Louisiana for the overseas training. This was March, April, May of 1944. This was Ted’s first experience flying the Martin B-26 with as a crew. The following are the actual letters home. (***) indicate a missing page.
Well I ran out of ink, I have no “51” ink in the hospital. and the other type does not work so hot. I friend of mine brought the proofs of my pictures up from the studio, they were not so bad, one was a smiling photo and the other was a somber one. I chose the one with a smile; it will be 2 weeks before I received them. I did not have time to take a full role of film before I hit the hospital, but when I get it all taken I will send the pictures to you. It does not get dark here until about 7:30, we really have a long twilight, and a cool breeze is almost always blowing, the weather is really nice here this time of the year. This pencil lead is too soft; I will have to get some ink. I will at the P.X. tomorrow, well folks for now so long, don’t worry all is OK at this end of the line. Love Ted (over)---- DEAR MOM -I WANT TO WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY MOTHERS DAY. I AM SORRY I CAN NOT BE THERE TO SPEND IT WITH YOU, BUT I AM SURE YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD TIME. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY THING PLANED, TAKE $10 OUT OF MY BANK AND YOU & POP GO OUT FOR DINNER ON ME. -HAVE A GOOD TIME, LOVE AS EVER TED.
Thanks for the swell letter pop, but get your mind of the women, I can take care of myself, I don’t get enough passes to worry about them, and I like to hear about home and not how to woo the gals. I will soon leave this hole, at least I hope so.
Hello folks, I have open post tonight so I thought I would drop you a line before I left for town, I got a couple of the shots from town and am sending them along. It is hot as all hell here now; you are wet at all time of the day and night. I sleep naked and on top of the covers and still wake up wet with sweat in the morning. It is 4:15 P.M. now, so it must be 2:15 there, I would like to be there swimming now. I bought a water melon from an old coon last night for 20 cents and brought it back to some of the boys in the barracks it was really good. We also had cantaloupe for breakfast this morning, it made me think of pop and his garden, did he plant any melons in it? Had two exams today, one in navel forces and one in physics, I think I came out O.K. Thanks for your swell letters and everything. Love as ever Ted.
It is hot as “H” here now, it seems to get hotter each day. The only relief we get is when we go to class. The rooms are air conditioned & they are really cold, you get sleepy as all heck in there but I manage to keep awake.
Hello folks, had, pay day today, $22.00 partial payment that we didn’t get at Maxwell. It really feels good to have those green backs in my wallet. I had three more solo rides today, soloed for the first time, (yesterday) 40 minutes and 25 min. today. I have a total of 1:05 min. solo, and a total of 14:05 min altogether.
Tell mom hello for me, I am fine, tonight for dinner we had tomatoes & bacon & lima beans. So I made a fat sandwich & thought of Faye. I remembered how she loved bacon and tomato sandwiches. Well I will say goodnight for now, not much news. Had 2 final exams today, I got 94 in meteorology & 98 in aircraft engines. So, I don’t have to worry about those two subjects now. Tomorrow we start navigation and aircraft recognition. Love as ever Ted. PS thanks again for your letters
Hello mom, I wrote pop a letter today, he has been sending me clippings of all the crashes & things, this is not necessary, as it does no good. I don’t know exactly what to say, but it just worries me, I am not going to quit, and I know how he feels. It is no use causing hard feelings, but I think it is as safe as any other branch of the service. I do not plan on going into combat when I finish it I finish. I will apply for an instructors’ course, you do not have to go into action, I am sorry I had to write this letter, but I hate to read a lot that accident stuff, please try to understand.
I have 51:30 minutes flying time now, but still have not had my check rides. I will probably get them next week; we learned to do loops and snap rolls last week that is all we get here at primary. All we do yet is to have a cross country flight, about 200 miles, and a hurdle staff landing exercise, that is to land & take off & go over a ribbon six feet high & then land again. That is to practice coordination in landings. O One of the boys started to get “hot” and buzz some little town about 30 miles west of here and hot caught at it. Each ship has its number on the side & someone saw it. His goose is cooked now; they are going to wash him out. So we don’t do much tooling around. We are not allowed to go under 500’ at any time except when landing at the main field. I always go up to about 4 or 5 thousand feet to do any acrobatics so I have plenty of space below me if anything goes wrong, in a 2 turn spin you only loose about 800 feet so there is no danger. I wish I could take you up and show you how safe it is. Well I think I will hit the good old hay now as it is about 9:15, and I am pretty tired, this lazy Sunday life really tires you out. Goodnight for now, love Ted.
I did not fly long today, 15 minutes. The weather was bad so no soap. I don’t know weather we will fly tomorrow or not. I hope not, as when we don’t fly we get to lay around and get some bunk time, well not much to say, thanks again for the (candy) cookies, I am sorry, a little guy 18 years old is in here, he lives in Illinois, & wrestle with him all the time, he is fooling around now, & I can’t think very well, good night, love Ted.
Hello Folks, For once in a long time I have an afternoon off, it is a swell day & I think I will go into town this afternoon. It has been a long week and it feels good to rest.
It all began for Ted Harwood when he was an aircraft electrician at Douglas Aircraft Company in Southern California. He was wiring up the cockpit of a Douglas “A-20” light bomber, he stopped for a moment, “I could fly one of these as well as anyone”, he thought to himself. At that point, the Army Air Corps was turning people away, Ted Volunteered anyway, thinking he wouldn’t be any worse off if they turned him away. Working at Douglas, Ted was already helping the war effort, he had a deferment but, he wanted to be part of the danger The following letter (A-351-P) dated December 9, 1942, was sent on Ted’s behalf from Mr.. S.O. Porter director of Personnel of the Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc. to the Selective Service System, Local Board #243, 726 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica California: