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Mark  A.  Morris

 

Personal Legacy
Mark Morris
Profile
WW II Diary

Born in Logansport, Indiana. I mooned the world even as I entered. First born, of a set of twins with a brother, I was a breech baby. I went to grade and junior high in Logan sport I had just turned fourteen when, my father, a rural mail carrier, was killed in an auto accident From then on, teamed with an older sister and her husband and family, we moved around a lot.

I attended Indiana schools at Royal Center, Peru, Wabash, New Waverly and Somerset and graduated from Logan sport High School in 1937. Draw your own conclusions but it so happened that Logan sport High has been torn down, Somerset is at the bottom of a reservoir and New Waverly, although still standing, has been abandoned for so long that it has trees and shrubs growing through windows and doors.

I worked in an automotive electrical relay manufacturing companies and during the automotive industry's annual summer layoffs I worked at a service station. Happy days!

I was drafted 9 April 1941 and inducted at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, (Indianapolis) IN. Actually I was detailed to pick up cigarette butts (police the area) on the 9th but wasn't sworn in until noon of the 10th so my military service began with being cheated out of a day. Top that off with pay of only $21 a month. Next day I was sent to 38th infantry division at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, which prior to then had been made up of the Indiana & Ohio National Guard units. Without going into detail I will assure everyone that my life for the next 20 months was akin to being in prison.

In those day's 13 weeks of basic training was required, six weeks on base and seven in the field. We lived in a tent city, which we built, expanded and made livable on hot humid weekends and evenings with little or no time off while being herded by the "Old Guard, 1944 After six weeks I was assigned as a truck driver to the 139th Field Artillery Service Battalion for the completion of basic. I spent that fall as a driver in the "Louisiana Maneuvers" hauling ammunition, food, gasoline and other quartermaster supplies. On one occasion I was even detailed for 2 days to fight a forest fire.

In October 1 went to the 4th infantry division for the "Carolina Maneuvers" as a simulated half track driver. Maneuvers were completed at Camp Gordon, GA in December and when war was declared I was ordered back to Camp Shelby to the Service Bn.. "Back to prison," was my thought.

Almost a year later, in 1942, I managed to get transferred to USA Aviation Cadets and went to Berry Hill Gardens, TN then to Maxwell Field, AL for six weeks pre-flight training. The first four weeks of that was under the old cadet hazing "rat system." Nothing! Compared to the 139th's normal fare.

In Nov of 1942 I went to the Laudwig School of Aeronautics at Lakeland, FL for Primary Flight Training. On Christmas day, and after two solo flights I was "washed out" on a check ride. Given several choices, I requested aerial gunner training. My biggest concern was that I might have had to return to the 139th Service Bn.

My curse had apparently been broken as in January I was transferred to the Army Air Force Aerial Gunnery School (A.A.F.A.G.S.) at Ft. Meyers, FL. I guess they knew of my experience because upon arrival I was sent to fight a forest fire on the gunnery range. My training began in late Jan. 1943. While there I even flew once, a 45 minute flight in an AT-6 firing toward a tow target. In late Feb. 1 got my gunner's wings along with an M.O.S. of 612 "Career Gunner, 1944 Now I had a career.

A few days later twelve of us "career gunners" were sent to the 414th Night Fighter Squadron at Kissimmee, FL. Next day we of the 414th NFS were sent by rail to Camp Kilmer, NJ port of embarkation. From that day on I decided that come whatever I would just consider it as an adventure and I still do.

Sailing out of NY harbor at the end of March on the "Empress of Scotland" with its British crew and 2000 Canadian ground troops were we Yanks: Twelve gunners, twelve RADAR operators and twelve A-26 pilots. It was a seven day crossing without convoy. The north Atlantic March weather resulted in about 1000 seasick people, including six gunners who had never been in the air much less on the sea. Upon arrival at Liverpool, England we were transported to an RAF airfield at Cranfield.

On April 1st each gunner was assigned to a pilot and began training on Beaufighter night fighters. It was an appropriate date as the flight officer/RADAR operator would also man the guns in combat. The powers to be realized this a couple of weeks later and Voila! The 414th NFS had twelve extra gunners. To further our chosen career we gunners were transferred to the Combat Crew Refresher Course near London. Training there included a few minutes on turret operation and three hours in a B-17 to learn altitude and temperature effects on men and equipment

Four buddies and I who had been together since leaving Ft. Meyers answered a call for volunteers and were shipped to station #115. Arriving at the 44TH Bomb Group at Shipdham around midnight we were assigned, and wouldn't you know it, dropped off at four different squadrons. I alone went to the 506th Bomb Squadron. Come morning there I saw my first B-24 Liberator.

In early May a quirk of fate resulted in my not being called for my first combat mission.. The crew to which I had been assigned was shot down. Next day I was assigned to another crew who had to replace its left waist gunner, wounded by a 20 mm shell exploding against his gun. I flew one combat mission with that pilot but he had to be returned to the ZI and we of his crew on an A/C named "Old Crow" were assigned to a pilot whom fate had also decreed to miss the same ill-fated mission as I. It was, in fact, his crew with another pilot, to which I had been assigned that went down.

The 44th BG moved to North Africa in June and our crew flew ten missions out of Bengasi, Libya, in support of the invasion of Sicily and flew Ploesti low level raid of Aug 1st 1943.

Returning to England we flew two raids then went to Tunis for the Italian invasion and the a raid on the aircraft factory at Weiner Neustadt Oct 1st, 1943 which I refer to a "Helluva weiner roast." The 44th lost seven A/C in the target area alone. We were forced down in Sicily but managed to get back to Tunis 3 days later. The group had already left for England. We left "Old Crow" in the Tunis bone yard and resurrected another A/C from there and flew it to England.

Out of England I flew with several different pilots and aircraft. Of great comfort to me was that our crew was very close and the enlisted men at least had remained together. We didn't all finish at the same time but nearly so. Our pilot who had become operations officer helped on that score. Our bombardier and our navigator became lead crew members so we seldom flew with them as we each neared the end of our tour.

I completed 25 missions with 205 hours of combat on Feb 22, 1944. My last one was deep into Germany. You can guess how happy I was to hear, for one of the few times during briefing, that we had fighter escort.

In early March 1 arrived at a staging unit near Liverpool for return to the ZL There I discovered that I was the only one of the five "Career Gunners" assigned to the 44th BG that had survived our career. An interviewer asked "Are you a 'Happy Warrior?"' Although I had never heard the term before, I immediately responded "Yes."

Fate had added a DFC with an Oak Leaf cluster, an Air Medal with four Oak Leaf clusters, the ETO ribbon with four Battle Stars and two Distinguished Unit Citations to my American Theater ribbon. Except for a frozen face, which grounded me for 20 days, I had remained physically unscathed. Leaving Liverpool March 1st, aboard "The Ile De France" I practically had a suite of my own as we sailed for NY.

Back Home again in Indiana I had a month's leave. Also had orders directing me to Miami Beach, FL. for medical evaluation etc. I had requested B-29 Engineering school. Naturally that was ignored. After a couple of weeks in Miami Beach I was sent to Ft. Meyers, FL to Instructors School, better known as "Charm School," to get a new MOS of 938. Thus I began a new career as an Aerial Gunner Instructor.

I arrived at Pueblo Army Air Base June, 1st 1944. My former 506th Squadron had taken "Phase" Training at the PAAB and members always referred to it as "going through the phases" at Pueblo. Since I bad never had "phase training" I still claim that I went through the "phases" after combat. I was a B-24 Combat Crew Replacement instructor until the arrival of B-29s in April 1945.

My last ride in a B-24 was Mar 1st 1945, when due to a mid-air collision, everyone bailed out. I hit the ground hard and injured an ankle in the 30 MPH wind of that day so was grounded for 30 days. - Thus ended my phase training!

By the time I returned to flight duty we were training on heated and pressurized B-29s. What a delight. In the interim I had met my future wife Rose Ferraro who was employed in the Legal Affairs Office. I somehow got passed over in the first group to be discharged in May of 1945. "No sweat" I was told. "You will be next in a few days." In a few days I was frozen as an instructor and held until Sept., 1945. Happiest day of my life, Sept., 5th, bar none!

Rose and I were married in March of 1946.1 had planned on living in Indiana but Rose, who suffers from arthritis couldn't stand the climate. I quit my job there and returned to Pueblo.

After six months or so I decided I was a little light for my job as a freight stowman on the D&RG RR so I quit and enrolled in Pueblo Junior College. My wife Rose supported me as I went to school for one term. An accident caused the class to be without an instructor. It's a longer story but I ended up being employed by the college as a teacher for 3 months or so. With no desire to continue in that career I accepted an offer for on-the-job training at a refrigeration service. About a year later I went to work for an appliance repair and installation store. Once there I was urged to go into sales instead of repair. Previous teenage experiences had convinced that any job where I had to deal with the public should be right next to farming on my list of jobs to avoid if at all possible. I quit.

Three years out of service and I hadn't found a job that stuck. It occurred to me that electronics held a key to any technical career so I enrolled in a correspondence course and completed that. Good move.

In 1948 1 went to work at the Pueblo Army Depot in artillery repair and then various jobs in fire control and inspection. As more missions were added at the depot I was privileged to attend crash courses in electronics at Philco in Philadelphia, Motorola's Radar on Long Island and a short course in Brooklyn on a specialized computer. A new opportunity was offered when the Special Weapons mission was placed at the PAD. After attending courses at Albuquerque I formed the very first army SW calibration teams as each branch of the service took over that mission from the Tri-Service contractor who had been doing it.

Reorganizations and missions changes resulted in a lot of job shuffling as years passed. I worked for the Director for Supply Operations as an Equipment Specialist (SW). Then I was put in charge of a new project for Digital Automatic Test Equipment. Another mission change saw me return to Special Weapons as chief of the Technical Writer Department. A big mission change resulted in my leaving SW for a career that was foreign to me. [transferred to Data Processing as a System Analyst. "And Programmer" was added to the title as I learned new program languages.

By 1973 I had more than 24 years in the Department of Army plus my military time. I had traveled all over the world. The travel for the PAD was best. That time around I was able to tour wherever I happened to be. Loved it! In June of 1973 PAD's Data Processing was undergoing another mission change. I had a better idea. I retired.

Now I could devote full time to hobbies: Amateur radio, writing, computers and travel. Surprise! That didn't work out as planned. A gasoline shortage and consequent inflation dampened that. During a trip to China in 1984 I found that travel to other countries had become too expensive especially since Uncle Sam wasn't paying for it.

In 1989 while visiting the 50th anniversary of the B-24 at Ft. Worth, I ran into Al Seamans, an old friend that I had worked with at the PAD. He encouraged me to join the PHAS. My wife, Rose and I both joined and it has been another great adventure.



MARK MORRIS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

28 May 1995

Dear Will:

Hope you and Irene had a great trip and enjoyed the V-E Day celebration. Hope you put an article in ""-Ball Tails" about it.

I certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending me the Form 104. I would have rushed a thank you letter right back, but knew you weren't home to get it.

I had always assumed that I would have been the hatch gunner on Swanson's ill-fated mission, but see that I was scheduled as tail gunner. McAtee was quite surprised when he first heard of my situation, which I repeated at the reunion in Rapid City. The crew, he said, was his original 506th crew and he had a full crew so didn't understand why I had been scheduled. Of course, I never knew but after thinking it over, until the next reunion, I discussed it again and explained that no rear hatch gunners were on original crews so I guessed I was picked up for that. McAtee, in fact, thought that I was one of Old Crow's original crew. I, in fact, replaced Coldiron after the Kiel raid where he was wounded.

I notice on the form that it listed Glemboski, original tail gunner, in the Belly Gun position. I don't know what position that would be on a D or E model being flown in those days. It also lists a rear hatch position --no gunner.

I doubt very much that I will make it to New Orleans. Had a series of unexpected expenses the last year.

Thanks again, Will.

Sincerely,

Mark Morris




MARK MORRIS
World War II Memories
Biography and Crew Stories

Excerpts taken from a letter to Will Lundy
January 22, 1992

Dear Will:

I am sorry that I cannot help Albert Martin in a positive way, but I may be able to eliminate some false paths.

I can tell you that Kief's book has a listing of all officer personnel as of early April 1944 with separate breakout of staff, pilots, navigators and bombardiers with no mention of Martin or Purdy in that specific roster.

Purdy did take over McAtee's crew of enlisted men only in February of 1944. (You know that Mac had taken over Graham's crew - with Old Crow A/C 283 - in February of 1943 (after Kiel).

An official crew picture I have is of Purdy with three officers whom I assumed were of his original crew. However, the enlisted men were myself (L.W. gunner), a. G. Kerns (R.W.), Kiefer (R.O.), Jack Edwards (T.G.), and Mike Davis (Eng), all of McAtee's crew. The identification markings on the picture are thus: (GP-4-97-44)(27-1-44) (Lt. N.E. Purdy & Crew). The A/C is PRINCE-ASS. Plainly visible on the fuselage is Bombardier S.N. Dowsett, in very fancy letters. Purdy took McAtee's enlisted men as crew and PRINCE-ASS over at that date, i.e. January 27, 1944.

My Individual Flight Record though, shows only one mission on PRINCE-ASS with Purdy on A/C 962. The rest was with Purdy and A/C 201 (BALDY AND HIS CREW) through February 20th. My 25th (last) mission with Purdy was that date. Kiefer (R.O.), A.G. Kearns (R.W.) and Mike Davis (Eng) had finished one mission earlier, I believe.

The raids that the 506th went on in November 1943 were Breman. November 23 (scrubbed). Then again on November 26th. The November 26th Mac and Crew did not go so Purdy's crew may have taken PRINCE-ASS on that one.

I have been troubled accepting that A/C 201 was the one I flew that many missions on as my recollection is of climbing aboard PRINCE-ASS rather than BALDY AND HIS BROOD a number of times. My individual Flight Record shows No. 201 but I have found other IFR mistakes that I can verify.

I am ashamed today that I didn't even know the names of the other officers on Purdy's crew. As you well know, strange things happened in those days. I made no effort to get to know many and apparently neither did others. I do believe that Novak was the navigator and Dowsett the bombardier, but I sure wouldn't bet on it.

Mac's crew had become a lead crew around December 1st of 2944. Mac, along with bombardier, Joe Young and navigator, Dave McCash, was within five or so of 25 missions, as were we enlisted men. Then, or shortly thereafter, Mac became operations officer. Dave was lead navigator and Joe lead bombardier. Newest crewmember was copilot Wainno Hannuksela, replacing Laudig.

In fact, one recollection of Kiefer's is: One day as he was climbing aboard, Purdy was overheard to comment to his copilot, "I will be glad when Mac's crew finishes so I can get all of my crew back.""
As you mention, Kief's book also has a record that Purdy and crew - with copilot Ralph Golubock, did fly to Manson on February 15th to bring Lt. Larson and crew back to base.

I, too, would like to know the status of Kief's book. I generally only hear from him at Christmas. Out of curiosity, I did some checking at a publisher locally, and found that it will cost about $10,000 for 500 copies. I guessed that 500 copies would be the least that one could come near to breaking even with a reasonable selling price. I am afraid that that cannot be arranged. He needs prior commitment and probably payment. He wrote at Christmas that he only had commitments for 120 books but was still beating the bushes with "mail-outs."

I think the book, itself is nearly ready and in good shape. My wife, Rose, is an expert proofreader. She proofread it twice as did Bob Struble. Each would proofread 200 pages then exchange them. Interestingly enough, Bob and Rose had the first exchange of pages, each had written nearly identical comments on attached notes. The comment can be summarized as "Sorry I am late, but I found it almost impossible to proof this at first reading. I had to read once then re-read twice more just for proofing." Each discovered, to their dismay that they became so involved in the events that they forgot to proofread. Very unusual. Rose is a natural proofreader and a one-time court reporter. She can glance at a page and errors jump out for her. And, of course, Bob was actually a part of the history and expected to take it in stride.

I sure can kick myself that I didn't copy it all, but figured I would get to see it at publication, anyway. It was 765 pages as it came off of the computer. That boils down to about 365 of regular print the local publisher told me. Kief has it on disks (Commodore 128, I think) and says he has the corrections all made. I would like to have the disks, but would have to bridge them over to my IBM compatible with something.

Some may not like the format in which it is written, but for its original commission, it was for the museum archives. As such, it is fine. In fact, I like the chronicle approach that he used. One of the best chronicles that I have ever seen. Made of recollections with one or two second sources for each recollection or record and a whale of a lot of research. He even had the names indexed so that every name included is referenced by page number(s). You well know how much work it takes for such a project. He sure has done a lot of work and put in close to five years on that thing and I, for one, would hate to see it hidden away.

I hope Al can find the information he seeks. Kiefer may be his best source as he was in the 506th from day one to deactivation and may have known Al personally.

Just as a matter of interest: The B-24 Museum here is doing fine and expanding. Still looking for an aircraft or any pieces.

By the way, here is a true anecdote that may amuse you.

When McAtee and his crew had to bid a sad adieu to Old Crow on the Libyan Desert, after Wiener Neustadt had taken its toll, another A/C was patched up for the return trip to England. Mac came by the tent and asked if anyone wanted to take a ride to cool off. He was going to test hop the replacement aircraft. Jack Edwards and myself, bored with the grasshoppers and red dust, took him up on the offer. We climbed in the back and were soon airborne. Suddenly, I began to see flecks of gold dust in the air. Jack and I looked at each other with mutual recognition of the problem. A burst sea marker lying on the deck was filling the air with dye dust. We headed for the flight deck but by that time we resembled the gold dust twins. We were covered with the stuff. The more we rubbed it, the more it spread. I took weeks to get that oily marker dye completely removed form our arms, face and particularly our hair.

Wish I could help more. Best wishes and good luck on your research. Mark




MARK MORRIS
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

Pueblo, Colorado

February 19, 1992

Dear Will:

Thanks for the copies of the formations of 13 November 1943 and 20 February 1944.

I am enclosing exact duplicates (copies) of all of my IFR's May, 1943 through February 1944. Also another copy of my combat crew record. I think I sent one page in my last letter, but just to get the two records together showing Purdy as pilot of A/C No. 153 for sortie No. 179, February 20,1944 mission, I am including it. That, by the way, was my last combat mission and I recall it very well.

I flew with Purdy. Also note that the flight times match perfectly on both records. I have no means of checking for A/C No. except the enclosed IFR. I hope this helps to clear that. (Maybe it will only add more confusion. Ha!). As an aside, and another curiosity to me, we had P-38 escorts. I noticed the 38s coming right into the formation. Curious, I switched to VHF. The fighter group and the bomber group leaders were arguing: The B-24 leader wanted the P_-38s in close, the P-38 leader, of course, didn't agree. He finally pulled the P-38s in very, very, very close and said, "Is that close enough."

"Fine" was the answer. They stayed there until fighters were sighted coming up through a hole in the clouds about 20 miles away, then they went for altitude. I heard later that that was the B-24 leaders 25th mission and he was nervous. True or not, it made a good story and was fine with me at the time. I Know one thing for sure, he was no more nervous than I was!

I didn't even know I had the above-mentioned records until about five years ago when I stumbled upon them in with old letters. I was surprised, upon noticing that there was no S-2 verification initials.

Sincerely,

Mark Morris
 
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