Enclosed you will find tbree photos. Col.Gibson who is now a General pinning the air medal on me & what I look like now, plus a picture of our crew minus our Copilot W. Manneire & our nose gunner Leon Allen.
My correct name is Morris W Larkin & I was the tail gunner. The crew called me Willie. I was 23 yrs old & the oldest on our crew.
We flew from Kansas to Greneir field N.H. to Goose Bay Laborodor where the snow banks were higher than our wings. We left Goose Bay at night during a blinding snow storm our pilot took the plane up to 12 thousand feet before we broke out of it .I didn't know the trouble we were in until our pilot John Milliken came to visit me after the war was over. He told me that we were dead that he had lost all of the instruments & he didn't know where we were & didn't know where he was going.
Our engeneer Marty Richard got them working again by switching the vacum to another engine. Our navigator Jack Bertoli who was about 20 yrs old hit Iceland, that looked like a postage stamp from the air .We stayed overnight in Iceland and headed for Ireland
In Ireland we left the B24 and they flew us to England where we joined the 44th bomb group. There are to many incidents to mention but four of them still haunt me.
First incident was when we were over the chanel heading to our target a B24 came down through some clouds and hit another plane, I watched both these aircraft go down until they hit the water.
2nd incident was when we were on our way to bomb the Politz synthetic oil refinery German fighter planes passed over us and hit the 492nd bomb group that was behind us. I watched every plane go down. They were wiped out by the German fighters.
3rd incident while we were on our way to bomb Munich we were told at breifing that it was clear over the continent but as soon as we got over France the clouds were up.to 20 thosand feet. We took our plane up to 25 thousand before we broke into the clear there wasn't two planes together. We joined some other planes from different outfits and continued on our bomb run.
4tth incident is one that I will never forget. We had a stand down for that day (AUG. 13th 1944) But they decided to send us on a milk run. The German army was in retreat so they called for air support to try and slow them down. We were flying deputy lead and was to be our last mission, our tour of duty was to be over. Thats what we thought? when we got a direct hit by German flak the whole of the left wing was on fire and we were going down the Pilot gave the order to bailout which we did from 18 thousand feet.
Our plane The Passion Pit that was named after a lounge in Tucson Arizona where we took our combat training blew up after we all got out.
I landed in the middle of the German troops and was captured. I forgot to mention that it was over FALAISE that we were hit at 1 ;30 in the afternoon. There are my things that happened before I was interned at Stalag Luft 4 for 10 months of which the last three months was spent on a forced march in the coldest winter in history.
We had evcuated the camp because the Russians were coming. We were ill shod and had very little clothing. They made us sleep on the cold wet ground or Barnes. The lack of food was bad . We had walked 600 miles with very little food and no sanitary provisions. Most men were infested with lice and had dysentary. About 1500 hundred men had died on this march across Germany.
We were liberated by the English May 1944.