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George  R.  Hill

 

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GEORGE R. HILL
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

Evanston, Ill

24 April 1996

Hi, Will:

The enclosed cartoon brought to mind that I had not written those couple of stories up for you and also that on our first trip to Africa, Sgt. Bagley had teased me about taking and eating a full can of Spam, not true of course. But from then on, till we returned home to the states, I was "Hey Spam," or "Hello Spam" to him.

Our Sgt. Wade Bone was a great joker, always had a caper or story and usually one of the rest of us were the goats! But we got even one time. As you probably remember, we carried our coffee cups with us all the time and they were usually mud-colored inside. One day we got hold of his cup and drilled three or four tiny holes in it just below where his lip would come while drinking. For a week or so we had fun chiding him about being a sloppy eater as coffee dribbled down his chin! He discovered it when he scrubbed his cup one day!

On our second trip to Africa, we share an airfield with a B17 group just outside Tunis. You could see the ancient aqueduct the Romans had built not far away. It served ancient Carthage. One day it was announced that a German supply dump had been discovered and a large supply of all kinds of liquor had been found. Rather than destroy it, a decision was made to divide it up amongst all the men. I remember a fair size box of all kinds of booze coming into the communications section for all of us to enjoy! The commanding officer of the field said he was closing the field down for 24 hours and for us to get rid of it! What a party we had! We had a ball! I woke up the next morning with a big head but to this day, I say bless that C.O. He was a real wise man!

All is well here. Mary and I took a trip to Alaska last September and enjoyed it very much. A beautiful country.

A PBS television program called Nova, had a very interesting program about a group of men who went up to northern Greenland to reclaim a B29 that had been forced down nearly 50 years ago. What a job! Won't tell you the story, but I taped it and if you haven't seen it, I would be happy to loan it to you.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed the fellow in line ahead of me at the checkout had a cap on from the 40th group - a B28 outfit in the Pacific. Only got a chance to talk to him a minute or two, but he said there was a squadron in his group that should have belonged to the 44th.

Regards to you and Irene.

George Hill, Communications Sgt.

See you in St. Louis




GEORGE R. HILL
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

2116 Ewing Ave
Evanston, IL 60201

January 3, 1983

Hi. Sgt. Lundy:

Received the book one day last week and have almost been unable to put it down since! Very well done. You must have kept a better diary than I did!

Allow me to re-introduce myself. I was communication section chief of the 67th. Joined the first part of August 1942 at Will Rogers Field, fresh out of radio school at Scott Field, IL. I failed to pass the fling physical so became a radio mechanic.

Eventually, due to the failure of M/Sgt. Osmundson to perform, I became section chief and M/Sgt. Osmundson was transferred out. Was lucky, I guess, as it turned out I was the only one around who had had any previous radio experience.

I made both trips to Africa as radio maintenance chief. Also got to make the side trips to the Holy Land, Paris, and the trolley mission. Came home on the Queen Mary with the group, 30 days leave, then to Sioux Falls then to McCook, Nebraska with a B29 outfit where I was when war ended and then discharged in September of 1945. Returned to my old job in radio shop then TV, etc. Just sold my part o the business and retired in March 1982.

First time I was in touch with any organization of air corps was in April of 1981 when I happened to be in Lakeland, Florida and saw the death notice of Captain Harvell, the group photo officer in the local paper. I called the family offering my condolences as I had known Capt. Harvell during trips to Africa. His son gave me a copy of his latest book "Jaws over Europe," and put me in touch with the 8th AF Historical Society. I heard about and joined the 2nd Air Div. Assn. After learning of it from a fellow radio amateur operator who was with the 93rd!

I have been in touch with Sgt. Bagley who kindly sent me the invitation for the group reunion in Rapid City in May. Am going to try and make that one.

I went to England in September 1979 and visited the old field at Shipdham, two of the hangars were still there as were many of the buildings in the tech site. Visited the new hangar and shop out at the end of the main runway at the end where the two shorter runways are. That part is now being used by a sport flying club. The hangars and tech site are being used by a heavy construction company and was all fenced in. Couldn't get to the hangars. Ran into an old fellow who worked near the bomb dump during the war! Had a grand gab fest with him!

My room on the Queen Mary going over was A85 - still have my ticket. I got the bunk right by the porthole and was able to get wet hands when she rolled! Tried a salt water bath in the tub but all it got me was trouble. Had the worst case of itch you ever saw and in the wrong places! I was hungry all the time and managed to get another fellow's meal pass so I was able to get four meals a day even though it was poor, I ate it. That sea air!

My low point came in the spring of 1943 when by then most of the original radio ops and assistant radio ops were gone. They were fellows I had worked and lived with and it really came hard to lose them, especially Sgt. John Susan, the radio operator on Suzy Q whom I understand the ship was named for. He had one leg considerably shorter than the other and had fought to get into the air corps when he didn't have to due to his physical problems. We all thought we were invincible at first, I guess and that's when it came to me we were not. After that I made it a point not to get too well acquainted with the combat crews.

I also was in London on VE night and had lots of fun. Ran into several of the fellows from the base and we stuck together. It was wild.

I have kept in touch with two of my old communication crew, Steve Yurasich, now known as Yurick and Jim Otto. Addresses are:
Steve: 3124 N. Concourse, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858 and
Jim Otto - 3008 S. Albany, Chicago, IL 60623.

Hope I haven't bored you with this missive, glad to have your book, and will pass it around to Steve and Jim. Also know a fellow who was with the 464th Sub Depot.

Sincerely,

George R. Hill

****************************************

GEORGE HILL
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

June

Evanston, Illinois

Hi, Will...

Many thanks for your letter of the 8th of January. I am not going to date this one as I intend to take a few days to put down things as they occur to me!

I also received a Christmas card from John Susan from the Rockford address. Sure hope things have turned around for him as he has had more than his fair share of tough luck!!

As to the medals - I received them about a week ago, complete with small lapel pins of the ribbons. Very nice! If anyone is interested in obtaining them, they can write to National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records), 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132-5100. In your letter give them as much information as you can (dates, units, Ser No., rank, etc.) and enclose a photo copy of your discharge and be patient! It took about four months to get mine. They had a fire at the center a few years ago and some records were lost so there may be some delay! Now I have some medals to show the grandchildren!

Weather here has been on the cold side, recently with some snow. I guess when we get older, we feel it more!

As to stories: On our second trip to Africa, when we were stationed on a field near Tunis in sight of the ancient Roman Aqueduct to Carthage, they came across a whole cache of all kinds of liquor in a German supply dump and they portioned it out to all the people on the field and the commanding officer (not sure who he was!) closed the field down and gave us 24 hours to get rid of it! What a party! Everyone had a great time and had no trouble obeying his orders! What a kind, compassionate man he was!

On our first trip to Africa, we arrived at dusk at the field - Benina Main and we had to wait for transportation. Finally a truck came and we all loaded on with our bags, etc., and he took off. Every once in awhile he would stop and holler - "Okay, two guys off," and drive away." Anyway, it was dark as the inside of your hat when I got dropped off in the bare desert - no buildings or people. My partner and I (can't remember who it was) made ourselves as comfortable as we could in the dark on the ground till morning! Never felt so lonesome, abandoned and lost in my life!

Later, someone came around with a tent to put up and showed us where the mess tent, etc. was. The tent was a double-walled British tent, quite cool in the blazing sun. The chow was passable - had an oily taste from the field stoves, but the best was the bread - baked in Cairo and flown in regularly - real tasty and filling! Also, later we found that you could get fresh fruit in town (Benghazi) bananas, watermelon, oranges, etc. We were told not to eat it because of the possibility of the GI's, but most everyone did. At one time, I bought a whole stalk of bananas and hung it from the mosquito net at the foot of my cot and as they ripened, I picked and ate them! Also we could get an occasional egg or two from the locals who would come to your tent on their donkeys and offer all sorts of things.

This week on our 2nd air division radio net, we had 18 members check in from Massachusetts to California and all places between! It's been great fun and interesting. Art Hand is a member, but does not check in too often. One fellow who checks in was one of our radio bunch at Shipdham. He was in the 506th. Another fellow is a local who was in the 464th Sub Depot. He and I regularly lunched together with a bunch of local hams at a local restaurant. Always great fun telling stories and swapping lies!

I hope to get to Rapid City for the reunion. My Mary has decided it is time for her to retire which she will do around the first of June and we hope to take a few trips after that and am sure going to try and make Rapid City one of them!

Another couple of thoughts - A cold night's sleep in the plywood bin put in the bomb bay to carry luggage - parts, etc. The gorgeous sunrise over the clouds off the coast of Portugal on the way down. Opening a can of juice on the flight deck when at a pretty good altitude and having it spray all over due to the low air pressure!

Hope you will excuse the paper, but thought it the best for my scribbling. Thanks again for your letter. Always great to hear from you.

Regards to Irene,

George Hill
 
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