After flying overseas from Kearney, Nebraska to England, we were assigned to a temporary facility near the "Wash" for about a week or more of training, mostly in aircraft identification. Then on to "Stone" to be assigned to a bomb group. We took a train to Peterborough and the standard GI truck from Peterborough to the 457th Bomb Group at Glatton.
Upon arrival at the 749th Squadron in May 1944, we immediately noticed something different from anything we had experienced before.......the men wore all types of outifits. Most wore A2 jackets as the outer cover. These A2 jackets were painted with all kinds of things......bombs on the front of jacket, and pictures of a airplanes or perhaps a girl on the back. We immediately felt a little out of place with our shiny new A2 jackets that had just been issued in Kearney Nebraska a couple weeks before.
As we got out of the truck we immediately noticed something even more unusual.......these veteran crews ignored us completely and went on about their business. There were no welcome shouts of "You won't like it here" or "You'll be sorry", that we experienced in the past at training fields when we first arrived. No one came over to see if they happened to know any of this new crew just arriving. Just nothing...... We were ignored. It was just as if we were invisible.
It did not take long for us to adjust and become just like the men that we had seen upon our arrival.
I was to spend 8 months in this squadron without knowing anyone who did not live in our quonset hut. The crew was everything, in our life. We worked with our crew and we played with our crew. No exceptions. Several other crews came to live in our hut along with us, but we stayed aloof from them. One crew came to our hut and was missing two days later. It simply did not pay to enlarge the friendship scene. I flew 10 missions as a spare gunner with a different crew each mission. I did not learn a single name of any of them. I was told to report to a certain aircraft number and was given the pilots name after the briefing was over. Upon arrival at the aircraft and introducing myself, the pilot assigned me my gun position for the day. Never saw the crew before or after that mission.
I left the 457th on January 3, 1945 after having lived there for almost 8 months. When I left, there were three of my crew members still waiting to finish their missions. They were the only ones to wish me luck upon my departure. It was almost as a dream, I came in with a replacement crew and left alone. It was almost as if I had never been there.