intro

Bob on B29


Introduction

This is the "Diary" of Bob Spring's experiences as a tail gunner on a B‑29 crew, flying 35 combat missions against Japanese targets during World War II in 1945.  We were in the 870th Bombardment Squadron, 497th Bombardment Group, 73rd Bomb Wing of the 20th Air Force. 

Our crew members were:

Pilot - Robert Fox      
Co‑Pilot - Jim Pattee 
Radio Operator‑Bud Gallagher  
Rt. Gunner­ Lou Scarazzo
Left Gunner­ Glen Stirewalt
C.F.C. Gunner – George Whitfield          
Navigator ‑Jim Doyle     
Radar Operator‑ Elroy Foley 
Engineer ‑ Jerry Toepper   
Bombardier ‑ Bill Stoller
Tall Gunner‑Bob Spring

Ground Crew: Slim Summerville CC, Marvin Miele, James S. Thomas

A note to anyone who may read this Diary of a B‑29 crew member during WW II:
After reading my own diary of over 50 years ago I began to think that my months in combat were more like a long vacation on a tropical island in the Pacific. Of course we didn't stay at a hotel "Ritz", but we ate good, had plenty of good entertainment, didn't work hard, met and associated with hundreds of great guys and even got paid for it. The majority of the “shows" referred to in the diary were movies. We did see a "live" show occasionally, like "Bob Hope". Once or twice, we even saw "Live Girls". The only things I dreaded were the 35 "15-hour missions" we had to fly over enemy targets with the thought that each mission could be our last one, and the loss of many of our great "brothers" who never returned from their missions.

DIARY

1945
1/21    Left Herington A.A.B., Kansas. Traveled on a Troop Sleeper Train. Sunday  (Also called a "cattle‑car". ..........Left about 2200
1/22    Went thru Colorado. Stopped in Pueblo. Stopped to see "The  Royal Gorge".
1/23    Went thru Utah. Stopped at Salt Lake City & Ogden.
1/24     Arrived in San Francisco about 1000. Sailed across San F. Bay on a  ferry. Went into San F.
            on a pass at night. Visited Chinatown.
1/25   Our crew processed for overseas duty toda
y.
1/26   Our crew shipped out today, except Foley & I. We're at Hamilton Field.
1/27    Foley & I left on a C‑54 at 1700 U.S.  time. Another crew is also on this plane.
1/28    We arrived at Hickum Field, Hawaii at 0230 Hawaii time. We took off  at 1030 and arrived
          at Johnston Island at 1430. Left at 1530.   Arrived at Kuqj  9 hrs. later or 2330 (Hawaii time).
          Left 1 hour later. Arrived at Guam 8 hours later, about 0330 Guam time. We lost
          a day somewhere?  Left Guam the same day and got to Saipan about 1600 Tuesday, Jan 30.
1/31   Hiked over part of the island (Saipan). Went swimming.
2/1     Went swimming. Laid around all day.     
2/2     Made a crude desk out of ammunition boxes.
2/3    Had some cold beer today. Had 1 hour of Ground School. Went to show.
2/4     Went to church. Made a new top for my desk (to write letters on).
Sun.   Glen went on a mission with another crew to Koby.
2/5     Hunted for shells in the ocean. Went to show.
2/6     Loafed around all day.
2/7      Went on a 1 1/2 hour test flight. Went to show.        
2/8     Sent laundry. Played checkers most of the day. Cut my leg with a knife
2/9     Laid around all day. Went to show.
2/10....Sat. Rained today. Whitey & I rode all over the island. There was a raid
          on Ota. Got paid $36.29. Went to show.
2/11    Went to church. 2 guys each got a foot blown off by dynamite in our squad.
          They were carrying it. Rained all day. Went to show.
2/12     Laid around all day. Started to carve a wood chain.
2/13    Worked on my wood link chain. This isn't easy.
2/14    Played checkers. Went to Lent Services at the chapel.
2/15    Rained all day. We got a new navigator. Our crew had its picture taken. Rode to other side
          of island to fighter strip. There was a raid on Nagoya today.
2/16    Cleaned some machine guns. Went to show.
2/17    We made a raid on Truk. I forgot my oxygen mask. (never again). Some flak, no fighters. A # 32.
2/18    Bought a watch for $28.00. Waited 4 hrs. in line for it. Went to church morning and evening.
           Went to show.
2/19     Bud & Fox went on a mission to Tokyo. Marines invaded Iwo. Show.
2/20    Cleaned some guns. Went swimming with George and a 1 man life raft. Went to show.
2/21    Other crew in our hut left for rest camp. Heard some lectures.
2/22    George & I worked on chapel. I started to build a chair. Had "Ditching Procedure" on the line.
2/23    Made a 2 hr. test hop. Worked on my chair. First mail from home.
2/24  ..Worked on my chair. Worked on chapel with George. Got a lot of  mail.
Sat.     Pat (co‑pilot got us mattresses for our cots. Hot Dog.
2/25     We started on a mission to Tokyo but one of our engines caught fire
Sun.    and we aborted. Went to church with Whitey twice. Slept all PM.
2/26     Whitey & I worked on the chapel and later we started to build a desk. Mon. Glen went on a weather
            strike mission with another crew.
2/27      Ray Schwieger and his crew went down on the raid last Sunday. (The Tue. mission we aborted on)
            Whitey & I worked on our desk most of the day.
2/28      Whitey & I worked on our desk. Got paid $70.40. Went to church & show.


bob, whitey, foley

Bob, Whitey, Foley

3/1             We bombed Rota on a training mission. Worked on desk. Made sergeant. 7 hour flight.
3/2             Worked on desk. Whitey & I made steps for the chapel.
3/3             We flew a training mission to Rota. (3 hr. flight) Worked on desk.
3/4             We took off at 0200 and bombed Tokyo. No fighters. Little flak, A#32,
Sun            “Stripped For Action”. Got back at 1600. Went to show.
3/5             Cleaned our guns. Worked on desk. Got paid $9.25 per diem.
3/6             Worked on the desk all day.
3/7             Worked on the desk. Briefed for weather strike tomorrow. Church & show.
3/8             We took off at 0600. Went over Japan to Japan Sea. No fighters. Light
Thur           flak. Landed at Guam 2100. Returned to Saipan 0130. New crew in hut.
3/9             Worked on desk all day. A big mission took off for Tokyo this evening.
3/10           Worked all morning with "Ordinance" bringing incendiaries on the line. The 2 old crews returned from ................."rest leave".
3/11           Went to church. We took off at 1900 for Nagoya.
3/12           Hit Nagoya with incendiaries at 0330. Landed at Guam. Saipan field
Mon           closed in. Stayed on Guam all day & night.
3/13           Took off at 0630 and came back to Saipan. Our crew took off at 1830 for Osaka.
                  Whitey and I didn't go.
3/14           Worked on desk. Went to church at night. Went to show.
3/15           Whitey and I worked on Chapel steps
3/16           Left on mission to Kobe at 2100 In A#34. Lou and Glen didn't go along.
3/17           Hit Kobe at 0500. Medium flak. No fighters. Got back at 1200. Slept all afternoon. Went to show.
3/18           Went to church. Took off at 2100 for Nagoya.
3/19           Hit target at 0430. No fighters. Terrific flak. Got back at 1030. Slept all afternoon. Went to show.
3/20           Whitey & I painted our desk. Bosley got a Jeep and we went to Garapan. Went to show.
3/21 ..........We got the Jeep and went to the Navy for paint. Painted inside of hut.
3/22...........It rained every day for the past 2 weeks. Our crew went on the line and washed our plane. Had a
                  first aid lecture.
3/23   .       Started to make a couple of watch bands. Got first package from home. Stood formation for Purple
                  Heart Award.
3/24           Glen & I went on the line and took some pictures. Played ping pong in the day room with Bud.
3/25 ..........Went to church in the morning and communion in the afternoon. Played a lot of records in the day
/////////////////room. Went to show. Heard a rumor that Germany surrendered
3/26  ///////// Loaded our turrets with ammo. We're going to take off at 0330for Kyushu tomorrow morning.
3/27            Hit Tachiarai about 1130.No flak or fighters. Landed at 1830.
3/28           Went to church. Went to show.
3/29           Went on the line and cleaned our guns. Worked on my watch bands. Got my first coke here. Went
                  to show.
3/30            Went up on the line and got some more metal for watch bands.
3/31           Worked on my watch bands. Got paid $92.00.
4/1              Today is Easter. Went to Sunrise Church Service. Took off for Tokyo
Sun            at 2100, but we aborted just before take‑off.
4/2              Went up on the line. Went to show
4/3              Went on the line. Put tall guns in plane. Took off at 2200for an aircraft plant near Tokyo.
4/4             Hit target at 0400. Medium flak. No fighters. Landed 1130. Slept all afternoon. Went to church
                  at night.
4/5             Cleaned the guns. Went to a lecture on "escape & evasion". Saw a  stage show at night.
4/6             Worked on the Chapel all day with Whitey.
4/7             There was a raid on Tokyo today. We didn't go. They had P‑51 fighter
Sat             escorts for the first time. It was a rough mission. Went to show.
4/8             Planted 4 zinia seeds. Went to church. Went with Chaplain Haugse to the 303rd service
Sun            group for a song fest. Played checkers with Chaplain.
4/9             Worked on the Chapel in the morning. Played volleyball. Heard "Tokyo Rose" at night on the radio.
4/10           Went to show.
4/11           Spent most of the day on the line, cleaning and putting guns in.
4/12           Took off about 0400 for Tokyo. Heavy flak and fighters. P‑51's escorted us from Iwo Jima. Landed /////////////////about 1900
4/13           Pres. Roosevelt died. Went on the line and cleaned our guns. Went to show. A mission left for /////////////////Tokyo tonight. We didn't go.
4/14           Got 3 packages from home. One crew from our hut didn't return from
Sat             Tokyo mission. Bosley, Boal, Saucier, Nick, Monroe and Quatlander.
4/15           Went to church. Went to a "briefing", then put our guns in. Took off at 1730 for Tokyo area.
4/16           Hit target about 0030. Medium flak. No fighters. Landed 0730. Show.
4/17           Rode all over the island with the Chaplain, Whitey and Penrod. Took pictures. Somebody or thing /////////////////pulled out my zinias so I planted more.
4/18           "Supply" took the "belongings" of the "guys" that went down. I moved my cot to the end of the hut. //////////////////Went to church. Went to show.
4/19           Made a lamp for our desk. Went to the line to put our guns in but the mission was canceled. We //////////////////made cocoa at night.
4/20           Went on the line and put our guns in. Went to briefing a 2230 and went right to the line.

 

bob&bob

Bob Sping & Bob Fox

 

4/21           Took off at 0100 for an air field at Kyusho. Hit target at 0920. No fighters or flak. "A real milkrun." /////////////////Made 2 bomb runs on target.  Our squadron had a beer party.
4/22           Went to church morning and night. Went on the line and cleaned guns.
4/23           We were assigned a new plane, A#37. Went on the line for some "ditching drill". Went to show.
4/24           Test hopped our plane today. We were up for 3 hours this afternoon.
4/25           On the line all morning. Took guns out, cleaned and put them back.
Wed          Church at night. Played checkers with the Chaplain.
4/26           Started to make a heart bracelet. Went to show
4/27           Worked on the heart all day.
4/28           Went to the line and put ammo in plane. Briefed at 2230.
4/29           Took off at 0045. Hit airfield on Kyushu at 0900. No fighters, medium
Sun            flak. Landed at 1445. New crew moved into hut. Church at night.
4/30           Got paid $92.00. Started to make a new checker table. The target for yesterday was Miyazaki.
5/1             Worked on my checker table. Started to read "How to play winning checkers.
5/2             Finished my checker table. Went to church.
5/3             Sent a $80.00 money order home.
5/4             We started "Lead Crew School" at Wing. Played checkers with the Chaplain. Went to show.
5/5             Flew from 1230 to 1900 for "Lead Crew" training. A#39. Dee Stringham came over from
///////////////// Tinian to visit me.
5/6             Went to church with Dee. We went to A.T.C. area for his priority.
Sun           Took some pictures. We went to the 499th at night for a "Song Fest".

NOTE: From the time that the 73rd Bomb Wing first started bombing Japan in 1944 until now, the official rule was that all air crews would fly 25 combat missions and then return to the U.S. for Re‑classification.

5/7             Dee left this afternoon to return to Tinian. A wicked rumor started about a 35 mission requirement. /////////////////Morale dropped to "0".
5/8             Heard officially that Germany "surrendered”.
5/9             Went to church.
5/10           Flew a training mission for "Lead Crew" from 1050 to 1640. At night we had to put guns in 3 planes /////////////////for other crews.
5/11           Had an hour of "Jam Handy" in the morning. The Point Discharge System was announced. (I'll never /////////////////get out of the army). Went to show.  (Stage)
5/12           No entry.
5/13           Church. Went on line. Put guns  and ammo in A#37. Had a formation of
Sun            the squadron. Saw movie on “Discharge". Went to line at 2300.
5/14           Supposed to take off at 0130 for Nagoya, but aborted on runway.
Mon           First 500 plane raid. Lamback ditched.
5/15           Went to "Jam Handy" at Wing for 30 min. Dudley, Houseworth & I are making a boat from wing /////////////////tanks. Went to show.
5/16           Went on line and made guns hot and put ammo in. We're supposed to take off at 2040 for Nagoya /////////////////and we did.
5/17           Hit target at 0348. No fighters and light flak. A#37 landed at 0945. We left ample fires in Nagoya. /////////////////Worked on boat.
5/18           Put guns and ammo in plane for mission tomorrow morning to Tokyo,
5/19           Took off at 0420. Primary target was socked in so we hit secondary
Sat             at 1218. No fighters or flak. Landed at 1710. A#37­
5/20           Church. Cleaned guns and put them in. Went to show.
5/21           Saw a stage show at night, with 2 girls.
5/22           Worked on the boat. Stood a formation for the Purple Heart Awards. Went to show.
5/23          Went on the line to get some work done for the boat. Went to church.
5/24          We were on the P.X. detail this morning. Dudley, Houseworth and I went to Garapan to a salvage ////////////////yard and got a Jeep motor for our boat.
5/25           Put ammo & guns in. Took off for Tokyo at 1810. Target: Imperial Palace.
5/26          Hit target at 0050. A#35. Heavy flak. No fighters. Landed at 0725.
Sat            My zinias are budding. Saw "Man Who Came To Dinner" stage show.
5/27          Went to church.
5/28          Put guns and ammo in plane for mission to Yokohama. A#35
5/29          Took off at 0330. Hit target at 1050. Heavy flak. Some fighters. Landed at 1700. Paul Smith came to ////////////////visit me.
5/30          Had a Memorial Day formation on the ramp. Cleaned guns. Work on boat.
5/31          Put guns in for mission to Osaka tomorrow.  Was paid $92.00
6/1            Took off at 0300. Hit target at 1110. Very heavy flak. Some fighters.
Fri             Hit in wings. Landed at 1700. A#35­
6/2             Cleaned guns in morning.
6/3             Church. Worked on necklace. Went to a "Song Fest" at night.
6/4             Put guns in A#21, formally "Thumper".
6/5             Took off at 0100 for Kobe. Hit target at 0840. Very heavy and accurate flak. About 15 fighters
                  and many passes. Hit in cowl flaps. Landed at 1500. I don't like this.
6/6             Cleaned guns. Kelly's crew left for the states. First crew to finish 30 missions in our squadron.
6/7             Kelly's crew went down on their way home a Kwajalein. Bad Luck. Finished Mercy's necklace.
6/8            Was decorated with the "Air Medal" at formation. Sent necklace to Mercy.
6/9             Put guns in A#22 for mission to Tokyo tomorrow.
6/10           Took off at 0155. Primary target had over‑cast, so we hit secondary­ - Hitachi at 0957. Light flak, /////////////////some fighter passes. Landed 1610.
6/11           Cleaned guns. Worked on the boat. It's almost done.
6/12           Went down by the Navy with Lou and Sutton to get Lou's films developed.
6/13          Worked on the boat. Put guns in A#35‑   Went to church.
6/14           Took a gunnery test. (?) Mission to Osaka tomorrow morning.

gasmask

Bob in oxygen mask, Clovis, NM 1944

 

6/15          Took off at 0320. Hit target at 1057. It was all socked in. Used
/////////////////Fri  radar. No fighters or flak. Landed at 1700. 21st mission. 14 to go.
6/16           Cleaned guns. Worked on boat all day and launched it in the evening. I cut my hand pretty bad
                 on the boat prop.
6/17           Went to church. Put guns in A#35 for mission to Hamamatsu. Took off at 1920.
6/18           Hit target at 0214. No flak or fighters. Landed 0800. Went to show
6/19           Put guns in A#35. Took off at 1715 for Fukuoka on Kyushu,
6/20           Hit target at 0044. Light flak. No fighters. Landed 0705. Capt.
Wed          Walters came with us. Went to church and show. 23rd mission; 12 left.
6/21           Our crew worked on the "Day Room". Put guns in A#35. Went to show.
6/22           Took off at 0345 for Kure (naval base). Hit target at 1138. No fighters but "terrific flak".
                  Hit in rudder, 4 ft. above me. Land 1745.
6/23           Cleaned guns. There was another flak hole right below my seat (?).
6/24           Went to church
6/25           Put guns in A#35 for mission to Osaka tonight. We're a standby crew.
6/26           Couldn't start No. 1 engine so we aborted. Went to Blue Beach with Dudley & Houseworth to find a /////////////////place to launch our boat in that area.
6/27           Worked on the boat. Went to church. Played checkers with Chaplain.
6/28           Made myself a watchband. Took off at 1825 for Sasebo on Kyushu A#35
6/29           Hit target at 0218. No fighters. Medium flak. We were hit in left wing. Landed at 0825.
                 25 missions completed. 10 left.
6/30           We launched our boat at "Yellow Beach". Was paid $92.00.
7/1             Went to church. Put guns in A#35 and took off at 1700 for Kumamoto.
7/2             Hit target at 0110. No fighters. Light flak. Landed at 0700. Went
/////////////////Mon  to Yellow Beach to our boat with Johnny Hodgen, Dudley and Houseward.
7/3             Lou, Glen and I flipped to see who wouldn't make Staff Sgt. I lost.  Took off at 2000 for Kochi. Capt. /////////////////Walters came along. Hit target at 0315.
7/4             No fighters Light flak. Landed at 0850. Major Merrils' crew went down. Wed  Went to the 499th /////////////////Bomb Group to visit Paul Smith.
7/5             Worked on necklace all day.
7/6             Took off at 1840 for Akashi. About 2 hours out, we were hit by heavy lightning. It shook us up, but no //////////////////harm.
7/7             Hit target at 0150. No fighters. Light flak. Landed at 0755.
7/8             Church. Went to Yellow Beach with Dudley to work on the boat.
7/9             Helped the Chaplain make a necklace. Took off at 1925 for Sakai
7/10           My birthday. I'm 20 years old. Hope I live to see 21. Hit Target at 0252.
///////////////// We were in 14 searchlights.
                  Very heavy flak. We were hit in right wing. I was really scared. Landed at 0830. Went to a C.B.
                  unit at the other end of the island with Chaplain. Went to show.
7/11           Took some pictures.
7/12           Took off at 1900 for Ichinomiya.
7/13           Hit target at 0156. No flak or fighters. Landed at 0820. Met some marines yesterday and invited them /////////////////down for some beer. 5 missions  left.
7/14           Played monopoly most of day. Those 4 marines came down for some beer. I gave them 20 cans and /////////////////they gave me a lot of Jap money
7/15           Went to the line and tried to get those marines a ride on a B‑29 test hop but I didn't succeed.
                  Went to church.
7/16           Went up on the line with Mat & Whitey and took some pictures. Helped the Chaplain finish his /////////////////necklace.
7/17           Made a clothes rack for above my cot.
7/18           Went to church.
7/19           Johnny Hodgen & crew left for home. Our crew was on a detail to cement the basketball court.
7/20           Laid around all day. This laying around with only 5 missions to go makes me nervous as hell.
7/21           Done nothing again. I have that furlough planned already.
7/22           Had to test hop A#35 for 3 hrs. Those marines came over and we finished 1/2 a quart. Went to /////////////////church. New crew came in our hut.
7/23           Slept most of the day for the mission tomorrow.
7/24           Took off at 0340 for Osaka, but it was socked in so we hit Kuwano at 1155. No fighters. Medium flak. //////////////////We were hit in fuselage, wing and bomb bay. Landed at 1740. 31 missions completed. 4 left.
7/25           Cleaned guns. Went to church
7/26           Took off at 1700 for Matsuyama in A#35


our gang

May 1945, Saipan
Top: Jerry - Engineer, Lou - Right gunner, Glen - Left gunner
Bottom: Foley - Radar, Bob - Tail gunner, BVD - Radio Operator


7/27           Hit target at 0032. Searchlights picked us up. Some flak. 1 fighter. Landed at 0700.
                  32 missions completed. 3 left.
7/28           Took off at 1740 for Ichinomiya. Hit target at 0109. We were caught in 12 searchlights with very
7/29           heavy flak and 2 nightfighters  made passes at us. One of our worst missions.  Landed at 0655.
                  2 missions left.
7/30           No entry                                                                                                                   
7/31           Was paid $92.00. Our crew was on a "detail" cleaning up the area.
8/1             Took off at 1915 for Toyama.
8/2            Hit Target at 0240. Light flak. No fighters. landed at 0935.
                 This was the first 800 B‑29 raid on Japan. 34th mission. Only 1 left.
8/3             Went to see Joe at the navy with Lou and Sutton.
8/4             The promotion list came out today and Lou, Glen and I made Staff
Sat             Sgt. Boy, am I happy. Only one more mission to go.
8/5             Went to church. Lou & I got a truck and rode around the island. We took off for Nishinomiya.
8/6            Hit target at 0158. Heavy flak but the lights didn't pick us up. One fighter made a pass at us. Landed /////////////////at 0845. Hot dog! Last  Mission. Lou & I got a truck and really toured the island. We made it!
8/7             Our crew moved into a different barracks. Just waiting for orders now.
8/8             Turned in all my Air Corp. equipment
8/9             Lou & I got a truck and went to the Navy to see Joe. We went for a boat ride. A couple more crews /////////////////finished and Half the Squadron is drunk.
8/10           Lou and I went to see Joe at the Navy again. Japan offered to surrender.
8/11           Had to guard a plane from 1930 to 2230.
8/12           Went to see Johnny Green (marine). We had a party with his liquor. I stayed there all night.
8/13           Got up early and came back to the Squad. I'm just waiting to go home.
8/14           Sutton and I had a celebration with a quart at night.
8/15           Japan surrendered. Everybody is celebrating.
8/17           Went to the 499th to visit Paul Smith. Whitey left for home.
8/19           Bud, Doyle and Pat left for the states.
8/20           Foley left.
8/21           Received the Distinguished Flying Cross & 2 Clusters for the Air Medal.
8/28           Glen, Lou & I went to a casual depot to process for shipment home
8/31           Lou & Glen shipped out.
9/12           Finally left Saipan on the Aircraft Carrier Kasaan Bay.
9/22           Arrived in Pearl Harbor.
9/23           Left Pearl Harbor.
9/30           Arrived in San Diego. Took a bus to Camp Anza, California.
10/2           Left Camp Anza on a troop sleeper for Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Arrived 10/5.
10/6           Got a 45 day furlough.
11/22         Reported to Greensboro N.C.
11/27         Discharged from the Army Nov. 27, 1945. It's GREAT to be alive.

 

Notes re diary, Nov. 16, 1997

The author of this "Diary" is                               
Robert (Bob) Spring                                         
14485 Georgia Rd.
Middlefield, Ohio 44062

I hope this "Diary" with all the repetitious statements doesn't bore you. I only had 3 lines, each 1 1/2 inches long to list the events of each day. So obviously I only wrote what I thought were the most important happenings of the day. Here is a humorous thing that happened to me that is not listed in the "Diary":
 
April 19, 1945 ‑ Tonight, Whitey, Lou, Glen and I were going to make a little feast for ourselves. Lou got a box of cocoa from home, so we decided to make hot cocoa which is rare here.  We appropriated a large
can, carefully washed it and then got some drinking water and swiped some sugar and can milk from the mess hall. Lou then opened the box of cocoa and he found that his wife had filled the original cocoa box with
mixed nuts. We sure got a big laugh out of that. So we went to the mess hall and told them our problem and they gave us some cocoa so we could finally make the hot cocoa. We also had sardine sandwiches and strawberry jelly sandwiches ‑ and lots of mixed nuts.


Our crew

5/1999 Burton, OH
Bob Spring, Lou Scarazzo, George Whitfield, Jim Patee

 

Thanks very much to Bob Spring for sharing this story with us and for his daughter, Karen Kuske for sending me the typed version and the photos!! ~ Sallyann