Recorded memoir of Earl Zimmerman, part 1 of 2 (side A of cassette) (MC 371/882/1/1)
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Recorded memoir of Earl Zimmerman, part 1 of 2 (side A of cassette)


MC 371/882/1/1

1 side of audio cassette

19 Jan 1983

389th Bomb Group

Earl Zimmerman

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00:00-05:00 - Summarizes training: entered Air Force, Chicago, Illinois, June 1942; basic training Jefferson, Missouri; gunnery school, Las Vegas, Nevada; radio school, Washington State College, Beaumont and learning Morse code. Names his crew including Lt Harold L. James (pilot); Max Cavey (upper-turret gunner); Harold Thompson (engineer); [S/Sgt Hugh R.] McLaren (gunner) and [S/Sgt John [P.] Morris (tail-gunner). Continues about phase training, Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona and finishing training, Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas. Describes blowing-up super charger, wounding Harold Thompson, during training. Comments on journey from Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado to Hethel, Norfolk, arriving June 1943. 05:00-10:00 - Remarks on new B-24s. Describes facilities and food at Hethel airbase. Describes low level flying in training and mid-air collision over Seething killing Lt Quantrell and severely injuring Lt Stout. 10:00-15:00 - Continues about collision. Describes: journey to Benghazi, Africa, via Oran, including flak burst over Strait of Gibraltar; base at Benghazi; water rations; dehydrated food and powdered lemonade. 15:00-20:00 - Describes activities and duties at Benghazi, locusts on base and men hunting kangaroo rats. Comments on other B-24 groups in Africa, including 98th and 376th, called 'Pink Pigs' due to sand storms blasting paint off their aeroplanes. Describes first mission to Crete, problems with aeroplane and getting lost on return. 20:00-25:00 - Mission continued: landing at Hurricane fighter airstrip and journey back to Benghazi with British army convoy. Comments on drinking British tea. Describes second mission, Bari, Italy. 25:00-30:00 - Mission continued: hit by German fighter; injury to Capt. Alan Green and emergency landing in the desert. Describes mission to oil fields, Ploesti, Romania, including type of bombs carried. 30:00-35:00 - Ploesti continued: confusion during mission; concern about running out of fuel; ?Edmiston (bombardier) dropping bombs on target. Describes death of another crew's pilot, Capt. Mooney, and his co-pilot, Lt Gerrits, landing in a Turkish field. [35:00-40:00] Describes landing their own aeroplane at Turkish army camp and Turkish searching aeroplane, crew taken to hotel and Capt. Mooney's funeral. Describes train journey to Ankara, Turkey and their time held at a Turkish military academy. 40:00-45:00 - Describes escape attempts from academy. Mentions transfer to a hotel, Italian deserters held there and playing chess with a German and a Russian deserter. Describes daily routine and activities at the hotel. Describes his work at American Embassy and setting up radio station. 45:00-50:00 - Remarks on being given orders to escape, December [1943]. For continuation recording, see MC 371/882/1/2. The names of some of the crew are not easy to hear on this recording. Crew members which took part in the Ploesti mission are listed in Zimmerman's memoir, 'Down in Turkey,' as Lt Harold L. James (pilot); Capt. Robert W. Schwellinger (co-pilot); T/Sgt Grover Edmiston (bombardier); T/Sgt Earl Zimmerman (radio operator); Lt William R. Gilliat (navigator);T/Sgt Harold M. Thompson (engineer); S/Sgt Max Cavey (gunner); S/Sgt John P. Morris (gunner) and S/Sgt Robert L. Hamilton (gunner). For a transcript, see MC 371/199. For tape insert, see MC 376/431/1. For Zimmerman's memoir, 'Down in Turkey', see MC 376/456/1. For continuation recording, see MC 371/882/1/2.