HOWARD O. LATTY, JR.|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
P. O. Box 28883
Atlanta, GA 30358
4 January 1983
Thank you for your letter of 12 October 1982. Sorry I haven't had time to answer before now.
To answer your questions about myself, I was an 18-year-old nose gunner who flew 30 missions and finished my tour just before VE Day. I think we were in England from about the middle of October 1944 to June of 1945, so about the only thing I can remember are those damned cold showers in the decontamination center on the negative side and the 48-hour passes to London on the positive side. Come to think of it, the idea of Von Braun's V-2's rockets hitting all around me in London doesn't seem so positive after all.
Back in 1971, my old tail gunner sent me a copy of a diary he kept of all of our missions. It's rather interesting and informative. If you care to have it, I will be happy to send you a copy of it.
Howard O. Latty, Jr.
17 October 1983
Thank you for your letter of 4 October 1983.
I apologize for not sending you the diary sooner. At the time I had misplaced it and frankly it had slipped my mind.
I have located it and am sending a copy under separate cover. It may not be as readable as it should be, but remember it was written by an 18-year-old under less than suitable circumstances almost 40 years ago.
I wouldn't dream of charging you for it, but when your book is ready, you might send me a free copy or give me some sort of discount.
I do remember one story, the trouble is that it happened so long ago, I can't remember if it happened to us or someone else, but I am sure it happened.
It seems that one morning, probably in December 1944, we were stacked up on the perimeter awaiting our turn to move up to the runway. Unfortunately, we were parked at the end of the runway on the perimeter and moving very slowly as planes took off over us. I was standing at the right waist window and getting uneasy about being right in the take-off pattern. I saw this B-24 barreling right at us and having trouble lifting off. Obviously, his wings were iced up and the pilot could not get any lift, even though he was probably on full power, because of the bomb load.
Some fast thinker on the plane salvoed the bombs through the closed bomb bay doors and the plane, with no bomb load shot straight up in the air almost as if it was powered by the then non-existent JATO. It worked great for them, but I got the feeling that we were a frame of tiny ten pins, at the end of a gigantic bowling alley with these huge bowling balls coming right at us. Fortunately, all of the unarmed bombs went into the left and right alleys and there was no strike.
IF you decide to use this story, it would be best to let me know first so that I can check with some of my former crew members for further details and also to find out if I've been dreaming that it actually happened.
Howard O. Latty, Jr.