Recorded memoir of John Hildebran (MC 371/882/40)
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Recorded memoir of John Hildebran


MC 371/882/40

1 audio cassette (? 60)

nd [c 1985]

453rd Bomb Group

John Hildebran

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[00:00-05:00] Summarizes his service in 732nd Squadron. Comments on post-war work for United Airlines and his retirement, 1980. Describes enlisting in Army Air Force, October 1942, Pennsylvania and training: basic, Maryland; classification as radio operator, San Antonio, Texas; radio school, South Dakota; aerial gunnery, Laredo, Texas; radio training and crew formation, Salt Lake City, Utah and crew training in B-24s, Casper, Wyoming and El Paso, Texas. [05:00-10:00] Describes journey, 1 April 1944, from Topeka, Kansas, via Trinidad; Belem Africa; Natal; Dakar and Marrakech, Africa, to Britain, arriving 17 April 1944. Comments on combat technique training, Ireland and arriving at Old Buckenham, Norfolk, as a replacement crew. Remarks on missions: first to Orleans, France, 23 May 1944; flying total of 30 missions in 80 days; last mission, Strasbourg, France, 9 August 1944. Mentions his aeroplane 'Fords Folly' and comments on his worst mission [target not identified] including emergency landing at RAF Manston. [10:00-15:00] Describes mission, 4 June [?1944, target not identified]: listening to radio signal to avoid barrage balloons over London, getting a radio position fix when they were lost, landing at and 'buzzing' [flying low over] a P-47 base. [15:00-20:00] Mentions Jimmy [James] Stewart as their executive officer and minor injury to crew's nose-gunner. Comments on lack of time to visit places in England and a trip to London, mentioning his fear of 'buzz bombs.' Describes his friendship with the Ryder family, from Attleborough, Norfolk, whose mother did laundry for GIs, including their children Julie, John, Ernie and Rose. Mentions his marriage, 28 September 1944, and returning to England with his wife, 1974-5. [20:00-25:00] Continues about friendship with English people and the 2nd Air Division reunion, 1974-5. Mentions his hope to return for the reunion, Norwich, 1987. Comments on learning aerial gunnery during his training and work as an instructor at Harlingen, Texas, on return to the United States. [25:00-30:00] Harlingen continued. Comments on his work to 'pickle' [salvage or store] B-17 aeroplanes in Kansas and his discharge from service, Fort Dix, New Jersey. Remarks that he considered flying Mosquito aeroplanes as a weather observer but left the service instead. Comments on the forthcoming reunion, 1987, his current place of residence in Oklahoma and his family. Recorded on side A only.