Phillip F. Teraberry|
World War II Diary
February 20, 1990
As for your question... Yes, we did fly "Lady Fiffie," into Shipdham in the spring of 1943. As for dates, I am not sure. You were right. It was Maj. Moore who was Co. of the 67th and I thought that Lt. Wilborn flew with him that day. I was wrong. I flew that day as a replacement gunner. Crew, I don't remember. Also, it was Sgt. Hamrick who was grounded for medical reasons instead of Hamblin. As for Banks, he was an older guy who was quite a lush. As far as I know, he got drunk and went AWOL before a mission and was hauled off for desertion in the face of the enemy, or something. Never heard from or saw him again.
We were bombing the docks and marshalling yards as Naples on the day that we bought the farm. We were at about 25,000 feet, I think, had dropped our load and were turning to haul out of there when we got it in No. 4 engine. We dropped out of formation to the right, then the fighters hopped on. The bell dinged to abandon ship and I got out of the turret. I Unplugged heated suit, intercom, but left oxy tube plugged in. I figured I would suck oxy until I got up to the back hatch. Well, I got there, had a hell of a time getting my chute pack hooked up. Had put it on a whole lot of times in practice, but that day, it balked, but I finally managed.
When I got to the hatch, Harrington was facing me on the front side and then I saw Nicholls go out the left waist window about that time. The damn oxy hose came loose at the other end and hit me a wallop. I stepped back ripped the mask off and Harrington went out the hole, me right behind him. Graetinger was ready to jump, but never did, rode her down, I guess. I saw the guys from up front out before we did. Anyhow, the chute worked, thank God, and I saw Harrington and Nicholls below me. Being a little guy, about 125 lbs., I guess I did not go down as fast as they did. The wind was blowing pretty well so I was drifting pretty smartly. I saw this little creek with trees on the banks. Anyhow, my chute caught in the trees and flipped me head first into the creek bank.
I came too hanging about four feet off the ground, bleeding like a stuck pig. Nicholls, who landed about a block away came running up and poured sulfa on my face and wrapped me up. Boy, I smeared my nose all over the left side of my face. We started to walk. I don't know where, but we could hear people crashing around in the brush around us and here comes the Piasano civilians, mad as hell. They had found Harrington who had hit a tree and broke his leg. I was wearing a heated suit, fatigue pants, khaki shirt, flight coveralls, flight jacket, helmet and gloves. Well, they stripped off the coveralls and then took our belts. I guess they figured we could not run because our pants would fall down. Anyway that mob was damn ugly. Finally a couple of German soldiers showed up and ran them off. They had a litter and loaded Harrington up and took us to the local jail in a little town called Avellino. They had the rest of the surviving crew members there.
From there, Harrington and I were taken to the local hospital in Avellino. There they did set his leg, me nothing. After several days, a guy from the In. Red Cross showed up with a card we could send home, which my folks got. All they knew was MIA. So it was a great boost for them. This guy could speak English so I told him we would like to go to a POW camp where at least English was spoken. A couple of days later we were loaded on a train, and eventually landed in Sulmona POW camp.
Harrington went to the infirmary, such as it was, and they made him as comfortable as they could. Myself, I had started to heal pretty well, but looked like hell, so they left well enough alone. Swanson, Nicholls and Corcoran were sent to another POW camp in Italy, and the officers were sent to Germany, or so I was gold by Swanson and the others who I saw in London after we all managed to get out of Italy.
The story by Bob Blakeney in the December issue of the LogBook describes Sulmona very well. I am sure I knew some of those people, but time sure does erase a lot of memories of people and names. Anyhow, after Mussolini got the boot, and a lot of Piasano guards flew the coop, two English Sgt. Hurricane pilots, a Sgt. Maj. Aussie, myself, and Mike Sigle from Col. Kane's 98th group hopped the wire one night just at dark. Seems like we ran straight up a mountain that first night. I had cut my pants off and made shorts of them and those heated boots sure were not made for walking. Fortunately, we met an old Piasano sheepherder up there who was very friendly. He gave me an old pair of boots about two sizes too big and an old pair of Italian army knickers. Not a very fashionable outfit, but better than nothing. We kept going south, always at night, hiding out in the daytime and avoiding all contact as much as possible. Although the Italian peasants helped us with food and shelter and hideouts as much as they could.
Sure did not care much for the Germans. Sure was glad the Army Aussie man was with us as we fly boys sure did not know much about getting around on the ground and making progress. Took us a whole heap of days and nights and walking miles and miles before we were finally able to make contact with the Canadian Army driving up from the south. The Canadian Company Lt. Did not want us around too long, but he did manage to scrounge up some clothes for us, parts of their uniforms. When a supply convoy came up, he told the Sgt. in charge to take us back down with him and turn us over to appropriate authorities. It was in Camp Bosso, I think, Mike and I had bad luck, as the first officer we ran into was an M.P. Maj.
Well we were sorry looking, wearing mostly Canadian clothes that the Lt. Had given us. Both did not have any dog tags, I having lost mine bailing out or in the ensuing shuffle. So into the brig we went. We gave our name, rank and serial number, and our respective outfits and a couple of days we were turned loose. We were given clothes, money, and orders to report to the 12th AF Headquarters in Algiers. Mike and I separated after that and I have not heard from him since.
The orders that I had did not have a date to report in so I thought I would see a bit of southern Italy, which I did mostly by train. Finally, in Bari, I decided that I had better get over to Algiers and turn in. Caught a DC-3 over and when I got there, they gave me a bad time for being late, but as there was not a due date to be there, they had to let it go. Finally, back to London 8th AF Headquarters for debriefing to Scotland and then home in 1944.
Spent leave at home, mighty nice. Then to Washington D.C. for more debriefing, then to Hollaran General Hospital on Staten Island where they decided to send me to Springfield, MO for reconstructive surgery. I was there for quite a while. They hammered and chiseled on me until it turned out pretty good. Finally, to Miami Beach for a little R&R, and then to Laredo, Texas as an Armour and Gunnery Instructor. Got discharged from Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado in September, 1945. That's about it.