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Lawrence  -  Cantwell

 

Personal Legacy
LARRY CANTWELL
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

1600 Center Ave, Unit 6D
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

October 30, 1987

Dear Will:

In answer to your October 22 noted:

1. The names of the four "rest leave" men, and that of Lawrence Cargill, are totally unfamiliar to me.

2. I have no recollection at all of ever having a rest leave in the ETO - but after 40 odd years, who can really know? I would appreciate any specific information you may have on this.

We arrived at the 44th in May, 1943. I can now only remember the names of three on my crew: pilot, Lt. Henry Lasco; copilot, Joseph Kill; engineer, John F. Byers. In retrospect, getting there was almost as "hairy" as being there. Enroute ton England via the southern route, we crash landed in Casablanca, with nearly a month delay in repairing the plane. From Casa Blanca to Norfolk, we carried a passenger, a captain, command pilot, ex commercial air. We were lost over England in 10/10-cloud cover, low on gas, with no options. Fortunately, the navigator located an RAF fighter field. The captain took the left seat and took us through the cover almost to the deck. He landed very nose high, hit the brakes, and ran off the end of the runway. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that - without him - we would not have made it.

My first mission was on May 29, 1943 to the subpens at LaPallice, France, replacing the R.O. on Lt. Reed's crew. We lost an engine near the French Coast, aborted, was attacked by two JU88's, got away into cloud cover, lost instruments, and would up with an emergency landing at a royal Navy base in southern Wales. I was the bum on the mission who could not tune the radio to find out where we were. Thank God for the navigator who got us located with the radio compass. I resolved that day to learn my job when I got back to base - and I did, becoming a lead RO, usually flying only when we lead the 44th or the 2nd AD or the entire 8th Air Force.

I went with Lasco's crew to Benghazi for the Sicily/Italy invasion, and the August 1, 1943 low level to Ploesti. I was hospitalized for over a week with amebic dysentery, during which time Lasco's crew went down over Ploesti and the survivors - Lasco, Kill and (two other names just remembered), Lt. Rinhart, and "Shorty" Decrevel - were interned.

After returning to England, I continued flying with various crews, making my last mission on September 8, 1944, turned down a spot commission as squadron comm. Officer (one more year overseas) and was sent home later that month.

Looking back now, I realize I've seen days of maximum effort being 150 bombers with no fighter support (except spitfires to the Dutch Coast), to 1,500 bombers with 1,000 38s, 47s, and 51s, all around and over us. Thirty-five missions, including the 1st daylight over Berlin, and a crash landing in an English meadows coming back from Ludwigshaven, and never a Purple Heart. True Irish Luck!

Will, if you have any information on Lasco, Kill, or Decrevel, would appreciate hearing. Also, any information, publications, etc.

Sincerely,

Larry

P.S. My wife's name is Nancy
 
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