Jack W. Dieterle's War Letters to His Aunts

Letter of 8 February 1942

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Letter of 8 February 1943

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

Letter of 24 May 1942

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Letter of 27 June 1943

| Envelope | 1 |

Letter of 1 July 1942

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Letter of 22 July 1943

| 1 | 2 (missing) | 3 (missing) | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

Letter of 29 July 1942

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

Letter of 12 September 1943

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

Letter of 4 November 1942

| Envelope | 1 | 2 |

Letter of 15 January 1944

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

 


 

U. S. AIR CORPS

 

                                                                   2/8/42

 

                                                            A/C J. W. Dieterle

                                                            Company M. A.C.R.T.C.

                                                            Williams Field,

                                                            Chandler, Arizona

 

Dear Aunt Charlotte:

 

            This will no doubt come as a surprise

but I figure that inasmuch as you have no

son to give to the service you would like

to hear from one of your nephews in order to

get the real picture.

            So much has happened, and is taking

place, it is rather difficult to know just where

to begin —— but rather than disturb time

honored customs I'll begin at the beginning.

            I won't dwell on my experiences of 3

days at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio other than

to say it was here I was duly sworn in the

United States Army Air Corps as an Aviation

Cadet.

            Three other Toledo boys and myself

decided to drive to Arizona rather than take

the train. Our decision was based on two

reasons which were that the trip would be

much more enjoyable, and too the govt.

payed us 3¢ per mile per man. (which we

ain't got yet). This trip was more like a

vacation than anything else —— a vacation

with pay I'll have you know for our

expenses only ran $19.00 per man and we'll

draw better than $60.00 per man.

            We traveled via St. Louis, Tulsa, & Albuquer-

que. Saw the painted desert & petrified forest

as well as many of the picturesque Arizona

mountains.

 


2/8/42

 

- 2 -

 

            We arrived at Williams field Sunday Jan. 25

about 10:30 and began our active duty immediately.

Williams field (formerly Higley field) is brand new

and is still under construction — scheduled to

be completed in March and commissioned as

an advanced training school and replacement

reception center.

            Williams field is about 25 miles South-

east of Phoenix and is right in the middle

of sage brush desert surrounded by mountains

in the distance, on all sides. It is terribly

dusty here but that is to be expected until

construction and landscaping is finished.

            At this time about the only flying being

done from this field is by Chinese basic students.

These Chinese are here under the lend lease act

much the same as the British flyers are.

They seem to be a very clean cut and enl-

ighed group of men and are very courteous

and friendly. I haven't had an opportunity

to speak to any of them at any length as

yet but I do know they are from all parts of

China and most are university graduates as well

as holding commissions in the Chinese Army.

            We live in two story barracks generally

sleeping about 60 men. They are O.K. as far

as heating and sanitary facilities are concerned,

but one strictly regulated on everything going

on in them Inasmuch as we are being trained

as future officers we must do everything just

a little better than anyone else! We have to

make our beds according to a blueprint. They

 

 


2/8/42

 
           - 3 -
U. S. AIR CORPS

 

even have regulations on how to hang a coat

hanger — we expect any day to have to brush

our  teeth according to regulations.

            We were issued a mechanics suit (coveralls)

the first day and wear them practically all the

time and will continue to do so until our uniforms

arrive (we were measured for them weeks ago). We have

to purchase our own athletic equipment and every

thing else other than our essential issue.

            As for eating we eat in large mess halls which

serve cafeteria style. I guess there is no need to

say we get the best and all eat like hogs or stuff

like that there.

            Our days are taken up with police calls z9cleaning),

drilling, and lecture. We are drilled as future

officers and learn to command as well as execute

a maneuver. We have had some very funny

incidents as the various cadets take turns in commanding

the company. Our lectures, to date, have covered mainly

courtesy, law, & customs, hygiene, aviation medicine,

and mathematics.

            This is Sunday and a great share of the time

is free althou' all cadets are confined to the post

for the duration of their stay here. We attended

chapel today and all men were given a neat

copy of the New Testament. I devoted most of the

morning to playing baseball.

            I received my second typhoid shot and my first

yellow fever shot yesterday as did the other men

in my company. A week ago we were vaccinated

and received our first typhoid shots. Most of the

men are pretty sick from these shots but for

some reason or other I feel fine except for a

sore arm. It must be because I am so mean the

 


2/8/42

 

- 4 -

 

microbes won't work for me. We also received

tetanus inoculations which should give us very

good protection.

            We hand a very difficult physical examination

before flight surgeons a couple of days ago which

qualified us for flight training. I have developed

a faster pulse rate, than I had at home, here

but they couldn't give an explanation or find

anything wrong with me so I passed O. K.

but not before my hair turned a shade more

gray.

            The men in my barracks are mostly

from California but our post has men from

all states west of Ohio as far as I can tell.

Most of them are my age and a bunch of

swell fellows.

            Needless to say I am enjoying everything

and I haven't had any trouble whatever in

adjusting myself to this new life.

            Cameras are strictly taboo so I can't send

pictures home — very disgusting. You should

see the haircut they gave me — my gawd I

could have cut it better myself blind or dead.

            My training here will be of 4 weeks

duration and we expect to move to a real

flying school around the 21st of this month.

I hope I am sent to California.

            The weather here has been perfect.

Sunshine all day and warm during the day

and cool at night. The sunrises and sunsets

are magnificent.

            Give my regards to Jean and every-

one and let Virginia read the letters until such

time as I can write here you can give her the

news. I feel like a dope m_ning off when she must

arrived but I am sure she understands.

            If you find time I would like to hear

from you and if there are any questions about

anything — just ask.

                                                Keep em flying

                                                            Jack ——

 

 


5/24/42

 

MINTER FIELD
CALIFORNIA

 

 

May 24th, 1942

 

Dear Aunt Charlotte:

 

            Received the birthday card you sent

as well as your other cards — thanks.

            I am now right in the middle of

basic training and it seems the farther I go

the better I like it. I am now pushing

the 160 hour mark and have at least 40 hours

more to go here before advanced. Being

an optimistic person I figure I'll get that

far. They say if you pass your 40 hour

instrument check in basic training your

a cinch to get your wings. That check

for me is a couple weeks away — but

pray for me anyways won't you?

            The ships we fly here are quite

an airplane — I'm enclosing a picture

of one. These Vultures are equipped with

325 horsepower engines, flaps, 2 position

Hailton Standard Propellers, complete flight

and blind flying instruments as well

as radio telephone & code transmitter &

receiver as well as all necessary night

flying equipment. You can see it keeps

a fellow pretty busy — to say the least.  

 


5/24/42

- 2 -

 

            I have had two short cross country flights

thus far and have a couple of more coming

up. Yesterday I flew up to Fresno and back.

Which is a two hour trip, and to make it inter-

esting 2 other fellows and myself flew it

in formation. I don't think we did so badly

considering we haven't been instructed in formation

flying as yet. We'll get formation and night

flying beginning tomorrow. I have had 3 hours

actual blind flying under the hood and let me

tell you it is not easy — it is absolutely nec-

essary to disregard all your senses and rely on

your instruments. Generally when completing

a maneuver under the hood you feel as though

you were going in the opposite direction from

the original and when flying straight and

level you feel as though you were flying

on your side — all of which is very confusing.

            I am also receiving instrument training

in the link trainer and am at present learning

Radio beam work.

            In ground school I have finished basic

Navigation but will continue with Meteorology

and Radio Code for the rest of my time here.

This radio code is a headache to me for I

am having trouble associating the sounds

altho I know the alphabet backwards

and forwards — however I'll get it even-

tually, I hope.

            We certainly operate on a tight sce-

dule but someone slipped up for

 


5/24/42

MINTER FIELD
CALIFORNIA

 

- 3 -

 

we have a free hour between 8 & 9 P. M.

However that won't last long what with

night flying coming up. I actual[ly]

find it hard to find time to shave.

This is my pet gripe but then I

have to have something to sob

about.

            I'm not particularly fond of the

mess hall system here which is served

home style. Usually the fellows at the far

end of the table merely get to look at the

food. We call this spot "starvation corner".

            As you probably know Minter field

is located in the lower San Joachin valley

about 130 miles North of Los Angeles and

the valley has the coastal ranges to the

West and the High Sierras to the East.

Flying at 10,000 ft is quite a sight when

looking towards the Sierras & Mt. Whitney

which is all covered with snow. I

hope to get to fly over these mountains.

            It is hotter than hell here and

I wouldn't give you 10¢ for this part

 


5/24/42

- 4 -

 

of California believe me. I always fly with

the canopy of my ship open except when

using the radio. My face and hands are

deeply tanned from the sun and I believe

I look like a Mohawk Indian what with

the haircut I am carrying around. It'll

take me 6 months to grow my hair back —

and that's a conservative estimate.

            If everything goes well here I intend to

apply for twin engine training in one of the

northern California schools.

            I am an upperclassman now at basic

and I might say all the shagging and other

foolishness has been discontinued for we don't

have time to play.

            Write and tell me all the news

from Detroit and I promise to reply

more promptly next time.

                                                Love to all,

                                                      Jack.

 

P.S.  Had a very remarkable flight yesterday

while flying a course on the radio beam

I had a lapse of memory or something

and ended the flight by flying the last

10 miles 500 ft. below the surface of

the earth. However the only reason

why I can tell about this is because

it was in the links trainer. Ho-hum!

 


 

ROSWELL ARMY FLYING SCHOOL
ROSWELL, N. M.

                        7-1-42

 

Dear Aunt Charlotte,

            Received your letter with the

pictures and the notes from all the

folks, today — thanks a lot. The

general staff slipped up some place

for I have a few spare moments

today — but keep it under your hat.

            I had a nice letter from Daisy

the other day so if you'll see that

she and George get to read this one

I'll appreciate it for I really can't

find time to write all those I should

like to promptly.

            In case you haven't heard

Bob has been promoted once again

to a staff sergeant. That is damn

good considering the time he has been

in service.

            I am now in my second

week of advanced training here at

Roswell, New Mexico. This is a

twin engine school which is

brand new and only a few months

under construction. We are the

 


7/1/42

 

second class here and should graduate

around August 22nd. The field is

so new we are living in tents and

travel to the town of Roswell every

day to use their airport; for the airbase

here is not quite ready for planes

as yet. According to plans this field

will be a permanent airbase after the

war and will probably be one of the

largest in the world. Just between

you and me right now it is a

helluva hole. More about conditions

here later.

            I am flying a single engine

ship just now instead of a twin engine

for there seems to be a shortage of two

engine training planes here at this time.

However I am receiving training in

what most of the experience Army flyers

consider the best advance trainer the

Army has. It is a 600 horsepower North

American advanced trainer with retractable

landing gear and all the gadgets of a

high performance interceptor pursuit ship.

For the few hours I have flown it,

I am impressed or it is a beautiful

ship — it does have it[s] bad points

however — being its narrow landing

gear which gives it dangerous ground-

looping characteristics — and it is very

 



7/1/42

ROSWELL ARMY FLYING SCHOOL
ROSWELL, N. M.

                        7-1-42

 

                      - 3 -

 

dangerous in a spin — the usual

procedure is to bail out under spin

circumstances. — In my opinion this

all makes it more interesting. I'll pro-

bably get into a good twin engine trainer

later in the course — but we never know

what is going to happen next for that is

the Army's way of doing things.

            As for ground school it is quite

interesting for we study Navigation, bomb-

ing, Armament, Tactics and stuff like

that there. Yesterday I was fortunate

in attending a class where the newest

model of the famous "Norden" bombsight

was explained and broken down partially.

Actually it was all a bunch of Greek to me

but was nevertheless interesting inasmuch

as this was the first time anyone but

commissioned officers were permitted such

a good view and explanation of this

instrument. I could probably say a

lot about it but they expect us to keep

it to ourselves which I'll do.

            I made the grade in basic

without much trouble after all — it must

 


7/1/42

 

- 4 -

have been because everyone was pulling

for me.

            My gawd! is this place a dust bowl. We

might as well be in the middle of the Libyan

desert. It is hotter than hell here — worse

than California for we are at an altitude of

almost 4000 ft. The wind blows like the devil

most of the time so we march around in a

perpetual cloud of dust. Yesterday while in ground

school we had a very high wind and a violent

thunderstorm and there we were with all four

sides of our tent up. Fortunately we dug our

beds out in time to get a little sleep that

night. We live in tents large enough to put

6 beds (almost) and as a general rule we walk
around blowing whistles to warn of our coming

for the dust is so thick we can't generally

see across more than one or two feet of the

tent. In my tent there are four other

fellows besides myself and they hail from

Washington, Minnesota, Illinois & Tennessee, so

there is never a dull moment here.

            Expect to get a 10 day furlough when

I receive my first orders after receiving my

commission — should that happy day come.

This should be around last week of August.

I'm coming home for a rest for I think

I need it — might see you all then but

then I am not sure. I have two very

tough months ahead so will probably be

pretty well keyed up however I'll continue to have to

give you the dope from this side. Write again. love, Jack

 

[Written sideways in the left margin:] P.S. Thanks Aunt Eva, Aunt Florence,

Aunt Nell & Uncle Bill, Marion and everyone for their notes to me please — Thanks.

 


7/29/42

 

CADET DETACHMENT
AIR FORCE ADVANCED FLYING SCHOOL
ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO

 

                                                7-29-42

 

Dear Aunt Charlotte, Jean, Daisy & Virginia,

 

            Being naturally lazy and generally "off

the ball" I am writing one letter to you all in-

stead of four. I have received all your letters

and I really appreciate your thoughts for me

for it is as Jean says, a letter from home

is always welcome even tho' there is nothing

in it. (that sounds silly doesn't it?)

            My gawd! am I ever an "off the ball"

aviation cadet. My roommates, about ten others in my

flight and myself decided to sleep in this morning. Well

we did — missing reveille and breakfast formations — as

we're caught. Now all we have to do is walk for

5 hours, and be restricted to our quarters for a

week — which earns the loss of our open post

day and to top it off, each one of us has to

wash [...] 4 windows in the new barracks on our

day off — Ho Hum! I guess I'll get up to-

morrow morning. Believe me when I say,

"This is a horrible war"!

            Oh yes! now that I am an upperclass-

man they have moved us from tents to nice

new barracks. My roommates and I nailed the

best room of all by moving in an hour before

everyone else. It's pretty nice for we have

a corner room with four windows which

lets the dust flow in from two directions

instead of one.

 



7/29/42

 

- 2 -

            Construction here is going on day and

night and buildings are really springing up in

a hurry. The air field is about completed

and we should begin flying off it soon. In

case I didn't mention it before we fly off the

Roswell city field traveling back and forth

by truck at the present time until our field

is finished.

            I have just about completed all my day

flying here and the rest of 4 weeks will be

mostly night flying. I am still flying the

A.t.6.A. for most of the twin engine ships here

are grounded for various reasons. However

as the A.t.6.A. is regarded as the best training

ship the Army has I'm satisfied. From here

I'll be sent either to 4 motor school or

2 motor school flying the new bombers.

Our upperclass was split up between the

schools at Columbia, south Carolina and Tampa

Florida either of which would suit me fine.

            I'm not absolutely certain as to the date

I graduate, as yet, but it will probably be

the 27th  of August.

            Oh yes, as the situation is now all

furloughs have been forgotten: it seems for

our upperclass didn't get theirs which is

enough to lead me to believe I won't get one.

I am not planning on coming home at any

time in the near future so lord knows

when I'll see you all again.

            I flew on a cross country of 400

miles today and it is really amazing to

see how this country has been developed

in the last year. I flew over southeastern

 


7/29/42

 

CADET DETACHMENT
AIR FORCE ADVANCED FLYING SCHOOL
ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO

 

                                          - 3 -

 

New Mexico and Northwestern Texas. They have

developed huge oil fields all over this part

of the country in the last year. We are flying

with maps which are 1 to 2 years old so it

is quite a problem what with good size

towns roads and railroads all over the

country where the map shows nothing.

            My class hasn't had any serious

accidents so far but we have had a couple

forced landings and landing crackups.

            The weather these last 2 weeks

has been pretty good — altho' rather

hot we have had enough rain to keep

the dust down pretty well. Every after-

noon great thunderheads form all

abouts and we often have violent but

short storms. These cloud formations

as you know, are extremely dangerous

as well as spectacular. We never fly

into them but always around or over

away from them. I have seen a

cloud mass form in 15 minutes

from 3,000 ft to 30,000 with a diameter

of 8 to 9 miles — you can well

imagine the velocities of the vertical

currents in these clouds.

            They are building a new air

base at Carlsbad for glider training —

 


 

7/29/42

 

- 4 -

             

which is stuff for "old men and

children".

            My Dear Aunt Charlotte I am

a pilot not a bombardier or a  

navigator. The bombardiers and

navigators like to think they are indes-

pensable (and we humor them) but actually

the pilot is the only one that can do

all jobs if necessary.

            I have a flock of pictures to be

developed but I think I'll send them

home to be done for they had all

pictures finished around here and I am

liable to get in dutch for some I

have taken. (It's like I always say, "if

you obey all the regulations things are

apt to be pretty dull.")

            Jean you ask if I ever have

any free time — well frankly not

a helluva lot. We generally have one

night a week off from 6 P.M. to 11 PM and

one day off from 9 AM to 9 PM. That

is of course if we are good little soldiers.

Roswell is quite a small tow (16,000)

with few places of recreation and th

women are outnumbered 100-1 besides

being a rather pathetic group of

undernourished bowlegged scarecrows.

I spend most of my time off swimm-

ing at a couple lakes near town

which are about the size of the

quarrys back home. The water is

 


 

7/29/42

 

[At the top right of the page: "Jean,
A.F.A.F.S" with an arrow pointing to the
second line of the following:]

 

CADET DETACHMENT
AIR FORCE ADVANCED FLYING SCHOOL
ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO

- 5 -

quite salty ad very buoyant. As we

are up about 4000 feet above sea

level the sun is pretty hot and,

what with the salt water I think

I could pass for an Indian.

I sometimes go to a show when

they have a new picture "Ben

Hur" is coming next week.

            I must say I don't envy Bob

for he must be leading a much

more rugged life than I — but

then it won't hurt him and any-

ways he is more ambitious than

I am so he has to work harder.

            My graduation will be very simple

and hardly worth going to much trouble

to see.

            Virginia, I got your ----- shots okay

and I must say you have quite a family.

I haven't any pictures of myself other

than one which flatters me with my

short haircut, silly grin and overly large

coveralls. I'm so proud of it I think

I'll keep it for myself.

            I am writing this in bed so

if it is rather difficult to read — that's

 


7/29/42

             

tough. As the "O.D." is blowing his

brains out trying to get us to turn

our lights out, I guess I had better sign

off. Write again soon,

                        Love to all

                             Jack

 


 


 


 

 


U. S. ARMY AIR FORCES

BIGGS FIELD, TEXAS

 

 

2-8-43

 

Dear Jean, Daisy, Virginia and

also Aunt Charlotte,

 

            This horrible war! The wind

she blows like hell — you won't

dare chew gum around here for

fear of wearing out your teeth in

a week what with the whole damn

state of Texas blowing all over the

place. There is so much sand in

the air in my room that you

can snap your fingers and a big

sheet of blue static electricity will

leap across the room. It is necessary

to keep physically fit in order to

turn back the [....] ants on your

bed at night what with two or

three tons of that good for nothing

Texas soil on it. You can talk

about your snow but I'm ready

to trade any time. So much for

the weather!

            As you all ? ready know I was

out to the Pacific coast to which

 


2-8-43

- 2 -

 

back on maneuvers. It all came about

when the fourth air force requested

our group to place 4 B-24's on the

alert to support the west coast area

in case of an alert. We were to

be in the air and on our way

within three hours of a call. We

stayed pretty close to the post for

a week and after one false alarm

which was a test, we got the real

call about 4 P.M. in the afternoon.

We contacted our squadrons chief,

which was in the air, by radio and

had it on the ground within an

hour. We refueled her and loaded

her down with plenty of ammunition

but no bombs for we were to pick

up bombs on the west coast. As

our ship was the first ready to

go the group C. O. flew with us

or rather we flew with him for

he was pilot since I was the co-

pilot. The C.O. is a man about 35

yrs. old and a veteran of war with

several ocean crossings to the west.

We flew without incident to the

west coast in a four ship diamond

formation and let down through an

overcast with a three hundred foot

ceiling landing at March field about

10 P.M. As most of us had had nothing

 


2-8-43

 

U. S. ARMY AIR FORCES

BIGGS FIELD, TEXAS

 

 

- 3 -

 

to eat since noon. We all took off to

the officer's club to get a sandwich

while the ships were being refueled.

Just as we were about to bite into

our big juicy hamburgers we got orders

to get the planes back into the air

immediately. Well orders is orders

so we ran like hell and got the

ships in the air where upon we

proceeded to Manoc dry lake which

is in the desert country of California

(the whole damn southwest is desert as

far as I'm concerned) landing there about

1:30 A.M. We immediately refueled and loaded

bombs (500 g.p. bombs which were general

purpose demolition bombs) finishing this about

4:00 A.M. We grabbed a few minutes sleep

by sleeping in our clothes where ever

we could find a place to stretch out.

            We got up at 6:00 A.M., had a couple

half cooked eggs for breakfast then had

a briefing session with the intelligence

officers. Our mission was to proceed

to ______ off the Pacific coast and try

and locate an aircraft carrier force

and its escort, which was to have a

 


2-8-43

 

- 4 -

 

tow target for us to bomb. We

warmed up our engines and took

off, flying a V formation, by 6:30 A.M.

we proceeded to the costs at 10,000 ft

going out to sea just south of

Los Angeles. We sighted a formation

of fighter planes and brought our

guns to bear on them, however they

did not attack (part of the mission

was supposed to be an interception by

our own fighters, for practice). We

flew out several hundred miles off

shore to reach the search area. We

spotted quite a few vessels and patrol planes

also a navy blimp on patrol. About

1:00 P.M. we picked up our target, the

carrier and her escort. We were close

enough to see these ships take a

battle position and swing their guns

on us before we gave the necessary

recognition signals by blinker light

code, for tactical forces observe strict

radio silence. They did not have

a tow target with them so we

proceeded on back to our base with

out further incident. As soon as

we made our reports we all turned

in for some much needed sleep

 


2-8-43

 

U. S. ARMY AIR FORCES

BIGGS FIELD, TEXAS

 

- 5 -

 

            We got off the ground by 4:00 A M

the next morning with orders to pick

up a battleship task force. When we

took off the weather was beautiful with

all the stars wearing their Sunday

suits but as we passed over the coastal

mountains we came in over a great

blanket of fog which covered the whole

coast and sea for hundreds of miles.

Just about this time the sun started

to rise in the east and the colors reflected

off this solid white blanket of cloud were

amazing — it was truly the most

beautiful sunrise I have ever seen.

We continued "over the top" until

we reached the search area where-

upon we let down through the

clouds breaking out below them at

about 200 ft off the water. Leveling

off we proceeded on our merry way

in a three ship formation, just

over the crests of the waves going

on actual instruments many times

when the fog and water got together

 


2-8-43

 

- 6 -

we flew like this for 2 hours barely

able to see more than a half mile at

best when we suddenly went right over

the top of a whole flock of naval vessels.

It must have scared the hell out of them

for we practically swept their decks. We

had to continue on this for our gas

was getting low. We proceeded back to

the coast and made a sweep off

shore from San Diego to Los Angeles

then going inland to a desert bombing

range to drop our bombs while dropping

our bombs we were jumped by a

flock of P-38's and we had quite

a time. I'll wager if we had

used our ammunition, instead of

just swinging our guns, we would

have knocked a couple of them

out of the skys. After a whirlwind

15 minutes we returned to our base.

We refueled and took off immediately

for El Paso for the weather was

becoming quite bad preventing further

flights off the coast. We arrived

back okay and we all took 24 hours

off to catch up on our sleep, believe me!

 


2-8-43

 

U. S. ARMY AIR FORCES

BIGGS FIELD, TEXAS

 

- 7 -

 

            I had an interesting flight

the other night when I ran into

a severe snowstorm over the

mountains near Albuquerque, N.M. I

came into the stuff at 12,000 ft and

immediately began to build up ice

on the wings — so I turned on all

the deicers which helped some but

the ship was holding a great mass

of wet snow so I began to climb.

By this time the windows were com-

pletely covered with ice and I was

really on instruments. The controls

began to feel like they were begin-

ning to freeze so I had the other

nine men on my crew put on

their parachutes and oxygen masks.

All this time I had been climbing, so

at about 18,000 we suddenly broke out

above the clouds into a beautiful

 


2-8-43

 

- 8 -

moonlit night. As we were on a nav-

igation flight I continued on flying "over

the top" using the radio ranges to keep

myself located while I flew the course

my navigator gave me. The navigator

was using "Dead Reckoning" for that is what

we'll use with "celestial" when we hop

the ocean in a couple months.

            Have been doing a lot of

bombing and gunnery these past

weeks — did a bombing mission

yesterday from 30,000 ft. I take great

pride in the fact that I can out shoot

all the gunners in my crew with the

50 caliber machine guns. Have fired

the guns and turrets at every position in

the plane. Have shot a lot of "skeet"

and have become pretty good with the

Thompson machine gun which we

will carry in combat instead of a

pistol. The Thompson fires 45 caliber

bullets and is a very wicked weapon.

I get a great kick out of firing the

guns and would probably have made

a good gunner if I hadn't become

a pilot.

            There is a big antiaircraft

post near us here and practically

 


 

2-8-43

 

U. S. ARMY AIR FORCES

BIGGS FIELD, TEXAS

 

- 9 -

 

every night the sky is filled with

searchlights and antiaircraft fire which

rather gives you the impression of

flying a night combat mission over

enemy territory. Of course the A.A. fire

is confined to certain zones which we,

of course, avoid. The stuff looks

like pretty fireworks.  

            We have quite celebrity in

our midst in the person of 1st Lt.

Clark Gable, expert gunner. He isn't in

my "group" however so I don't see too

much of him. They say he is a pretty

regular fellow. We also had Sec. of

the Navy Knox with us the other

day when he stopped off on his

return from the Pacific theatre.

And then I am here too!!?

            We are all working like the devil

whipping our squadron into shape for we

hope to get into the fight soon. About

the extent of our recreation is the

post theatre and the old "bull session".

 


2-8-43

 

- 10 -

I hope you'll be able to read this

letter for I am writing this lying

on my bed; for we broke all the

legs off our table one night when

we tried to close a window which

was stuck right in the middle

of a dust storm.

            You have all asked about the

great number of plane crashes that

have occurred in the U.S. — well I

can't say much about them other

that sabotage is very unlikely.

            This has been a rather "long winded"

letter but I am writing a little more

about the inside of things in appreciation

of all your most welcome letters.

I received your letter Charlotte, and both

of yours Jean (I'm still trying to get the

first one back together) and also your swell letter Virginia — thanks a lot.

Write soon again won't you?

                                    Love

                                         Jack

 

P. S.     Have gotten myself a little camera

            and am snapping pictures all over the

            place so if I get any interesting ones I'll

            pass them on to you all.

 

[Written in the left margin sideways:]

 

P.S.S.   Will send you some blank 50 & 30 caliber machine gun bullets to show

            you what they look like


6/27/43

 

                                                            1st Lt. Jack W. Dieterle

                                                            566th Squadron

                                                            APO #634

                                                            % Postmaster

                                                            N.Y., N.Y. 6-27-43

 

Mrs. Charlotte Avery

19007 Westmoreland

Detroit, Michigan

U. S. A.

27 JUN 1943

 

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS

 

THIS IS TO ADVISE YOU THAT THE CORRECT ADDRESS NOW IS:

 

1st Lt. Jack W. Dieterle          0-728838

566th Squadron       APO #634    % POSTMASTER

New York, N. Y.

 

                                                Jack W. Dieterle

                                                    (SIGNATURE)

 


Mrs. Charlotte Avery

19007 Westmoreland

Detroit, Michigan

U. S. A.

 

1st Lt. Jack W. Dieterle

566th Squadron

APO #634

% Postmaster

N. Y., N. Y. 6-27-43

 

Dear Charlotte, Jean, Daisey & Virginia,

 

     Well in spite of everything here I am

in dear old England". This is the last place

I wanted to go least as long as I'm here I'll

give 'em the works. I flew the North Atlantic

and had a very pleasant crossing. I should

like to write about the flight but the censors

say it is taboo. I am now assigned to the

United States Army Eighth Air Force so if you

read about the planes I fly being of this Air

Force you'll probably know what I have

been doing. The longer we are all away the

better we appreciate the good old U. S. A. I'll

write a long letter sometime this year if I

ever get in the mood. So long for now.

                                                Love, Jack

 


Somewheres in the Near East

(Probably Cyrenacia)

 

 

 

  7-22-43

 

 

1

 

 

Dear Charlotte, Jean, Daisy & Virginia

            Well I guess General Sherman was

right when he said, "If I owned

Texas and Hell I would rent out Texas

and live in Hell" — but wait, that's

the wrong quotation — the one I mean

is when he said, "War is hell", I

believe, but in any event we all heartily

agree with both his quotations.

One thing I must tell you all is that

if you find numerous mistakes in

this letter you must overlook them

because paper is such a scarce item

around here — such as a sub-

stitute for "Northern tissue" and stuff

like that there.

            I imagine by now you having

all heard I am stationed now in

Africa after a short time in

England. We are living the so

called "rugged life" in this beauti-

ful land? so often referred to

as the asshole of creation.

 


 

[Missing pages 2-3]

 


7.22.43

SAME DATE

4

are usually quite a bit larger than

you may see in the States. It

would amuse you all no end if

you could see us looking through

our beds, each nite, with a flash-

light and then again through all

our clothes and shoes each time we

put them on — always on the alert

for the unexpected.

            We had quite an exciting

time today for this is the day

we can draw our weeks ration

from our make shift P. X.  The

ration this week was a lot bet-

ter than last for we or rather

I got a small can of Heinz Pork

and Beans and also a can of pears

to nibble on in my spare time. The

only other items for sale were

toilet articles. It was kind of tough

on the fellows who smoke for we

were unable to get cigarettes this

week. Even tho' I don't smoke I

always buy a ration of cigarettes

so as I can give them to the 

 


7.22.43

5

men on my crew when their supply

runs out. We never get candy or sweets

down here but then fighting from an

advanced base is like that and I imagine

is the same the world over. Believe me

the longer your away from the good

old U.S.A. the better you appreciate it.

            Well now let's see — yes I have

been under fire and have successfully

completed several very exciting missions

into and over enemy territory. So far

no one on my crew has been injured

and the plane has only about 12 holes

in it from anti aircraft fire — nothing

really serious as yet. Boy we don't

have to be forced to wear our steel

helmets when we go in over a target

and have to fly through a barrage

of bursting flak. On one mission

the element following ours said they

couldn't see us for the intensity of

enemy fire around us. On this

same mission the ship ahead

of me received a direct hit from

a heavy caliber shell and had

two gas tanks streaming gas out

 


 

7.22.43

6

behind him and was really in bad

shape, however, he was lucky and did

manage to get his ship into an allied

airfield. The fellow on our left was

not so lucky he was so badly shot

up he crashed into the sea but we

did see six chutes open of the ten.

In spite of all this our losses are not

bad at all compared with what we hand

out to the enemy. I was also one of

the many ships to give Rome a work-

ing over a few days ago. My ship had

a very good mission (not to brag) for

we were given the credit for the best

precision bombing accomplished by my

entire group and too we had good

aerial pictures to prove our statements.

In fact we had such good pictures they

were sent to Hq's of Ninth Air Force.

We gave the military

installations around the city a

good pasting but we were very

careful not to hit any of the

many cultural and historic treasures

in and about the city — and I

know for we were the last flight

to go over the target.

 


7.

7-24-43

 

            Somehow or other two days have elapsed

since I finished page six but so what.

My gawd! whatta day, I just returned

from a session with the dentist — he also

has his office in a tent and is completely

equipped with every modern inconvenience. I

would rather face the enemy ten times

than have to go through the dental mill

again — however I guess I'll live.

            The mail situation here is in horrible

condition — that is there just isn't any. It

seems mosts of it is sitting up in

England. The only mail I have received

since I left the States are two "V" mail

letters from Dad. Most of us prefer to

receive air mail letters as they arrive

quickest and are more of a letter

than "V" mail. Of course if I don't

receive any more than I write it

won't make any difference whether the

post office uses air mail or the pony

express.

            You know we have three cans

of Carnation condensed ilk setting right

in the middle of our damn tent, in

fact they have been there even since we

put the tent up — just why we are

 


8.

Same Date

 

hoarding these cans of milk none of us know

for we can get all the can milk we want

at the mess hall. This problem is slowly

driving us nuts — you might write to the

"Dr. Anthony" program and ask him what we

should do.

            We had a U.S.O. show last night

and you have to hand it to those people

for the entertainment they can put out

under very adverse conditions. They had

an accordion player, a dancer, a singer

and an M.C. You should have heard

the all male audience when they saw

the first white women since they had

left England — it would chill your very

bones. Oh yes, they also had a magician

and about the only thing I can say

about him was he wold have been

a great hit if he would have made

himself disappear?

            Well whenever you read about

the "Liberator bombers" operating from the

middle east you can figure I'll probably

be on the duty work. Watch the papers

for big doin' soon. So long for now

let me hear from you all for I

imagine my mail will catch up with

me some day.

                                    Love,

                                         Jack

—(over)—


England

9-12-43

 

Dear Charlotte, Jean, Daisy & Virginia also Sandra:

            Sorry I haven't written sooner

but it seems I am still a busy

little beaver. I've forgotten when

and what I wrote to you last

so if I repeat myself — so what.

            Well let's see — the last

big raid I flew on was into the

Rumanian oil fields where we wiped

out the Ploesti oil refineries. I am

enclosing a souvenir copy of the "Stars

and Stripes" which gives the "poop"

on the raid and also a letter given

us by the Commanding General of our

Air Forces. The pictures in the paper

are not very good reprints but

even so you can get some idea

of what it looked like around the

targets. The pictures only show the

damage we did with the incendiaries

we dropped for the demolition bombs

were of the delayed action type (so

we wouldn't blow ourselves up) and

hadn't exploded as yet. Our intell-

igence reports said there were

 


9-12-43

2.

bombs going off in the target as

late as three days after the attack.

My "group" so utterly destroyed our

target that a "mosquito" sent over

the second day after the raid to

take photographs was unable to

find our target. We came into

the attack at 200 feet and would

have been lower if it hadn't been

for the tall chimneys. We used speed

bomb sights and very neatly hit every

thing we went after. This attack with

"heavy" bombardment planes was unpreced-

ented in air history and was success-

ful in achieving the destruction of the

target. We gave them "hell" but we

also took punishment ourselves. I was

the only ship to get back out of

my flight and on the way back

I didn't think I was going to make

it into my home base because of

my dwindling gas supply. I thought

I was going to have to make a

landing in the sea but as luck

would have it I set my ship

down on the old home grounds

 


9-12-43

3.

with sputtering engines, crew intact,

and but one machine gun bullet

in my number one engine to show

for my efforts in the raid. I lost

many good friends on this raid and

believe me the country owes some-

thing to those kids. I can say, with

pride, that it was a tough raid, well

done.

            The day after the Ploesti raid

my crew was given a short leave

which we spent in a fairly modern

city, in Palestine, called Tel Aviv. While

in Palestine I visited the holy lands

and saw the Dead sea, river Jordan,

Wilderness of Judea, Plains of Jericho,

the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem

the famous "Wailing Wall". In the

city of Bethlehem I visited the Church

of the Nativity and saw the manger,

the birthplace of Christ. In the old

city of Jerusalem I visited the Church

of the Holy Sepulchre wherein the

tomb of Christ is and also the

spot where Christ was crucified.

It was all very interesting even

 


 

9-12-43

4.

            I am now back in England

and again attached to the Eighth Air

Force. While in Africa I was with the

Ninth Air Force. We're now giving

the Germans a "work out" over their

own playing grounds. —— I gather

from the opposition we meet that

they don't like it.

            What with the loses we have

suffered and the new men coming in

our squadron underwent a reorgan-

ization. I am now the Operations off-

icer and no long have a crew of

my own. I don't fly as often as

when I did have my own crew but

I do fly missions with the new crews

acting as instructor pilot. Back to the

paper work, phooey! I am rather

"burnt up" for I took my crew

through several very tough missions

with out anyone being hurt

and what happens the first time

 


 

9-12-43

5.

they fly with their new pilot — the

bombardier gets hit by a good sized

piece of "flak". He is going to be okay

tho'. The anti-aircraft fire is very

accurate in this combat theatre and it

sometimes scares the hell out of you

when pieces of a shell go singing

past your head. But so it goes —

it could be worse?

            Boy the weather here is cer-

tainly the opposite of the ever present

sunshine of the desert. It's wet

and damp practically all the time

and we have to watch our step

to prevent colds.

            I have, I believe, received all

your letters finally. Thanks a lot.

I always like to hear how the poor

civilians are making out. The latest

"poop" I get from Bob is that he

is still in Africa and is coming

along okay after a touch of malaria.

I was probably fairly close to

him at sometime or another for

 


9-12-43

6.

while in Africa I was in Maraketh,

Oran, Tripoli, Bengazi, and Cairo

as well as points east and north.

            I am in pretty good shape —

lost about 15 pounds while in the desert

but this was mostly around the waist

line where I could stand it. Well I'll

sign off for now and I'll make every

effort towards writing again this year?

            So as the "Wogs" would say,

                                    "Sabida George"

                                    (Si-eat-ta)

                                    Jack

 

       P. S.   Explanation

            1. Wogs ——   Arabs, dirty natives, Egyptian

                                    gentlemen, people in general,

                                    and etc.

            2. Sabida —— greetings, so long,

                (arabic)        scram, get the hell

                                    out of here, and stuff

                                    like that.

 


England
January 15, 1944

 

To the Averys, Smiths, Barnes, Potts,

MacPhersons and anyone else that wants

to get in on it.

 

            Well I suppose I should start

out with an apology for not writing

more often – but what's the good in

it? I would only be lying so we'll

just act like nothing even happened.

If I ever got ambitious and wrote more

than one letter a month there would

be no need to fly I'll I say at half mast.

All of which is neither here nor

there so I'll get on with my

tales of the rough and tough E. T. O.

            Believe me, kiddies, when I

say flying at 25000 feet in the winter

time over Europe is no picnic. Temp-

ertures of from 40° to 60° — C. are the

usual thing and we have the cold

to combat as well as the enemy. Of

course we are getting the upper hand

all the way around so really haven't

any real complaints.

            Speaking of the cold temperatures

reminds me of the last raid I was

on over Bremen, Germany. It was

 


[1-15-1944]

-2-

colder than the proverbial cats ---- and

we were having a helluva time

keeping warm. I had on an electric

flying suit complete with gloves

and boots but the damn thing

wasn't working just right. In order

to keep my hands and feet from

freezing I had to turn the reastat

to full high and when I did

this the part of the suit covering

my posterior (?) got very very hot.

Well to make a long story short

I literally burned my fanny off!

However, the Doc's say that with a

little ointment in the right place

I'll recover.

            I am getting on very well

what with being the command pilot

and leading our group on its last

mission. I hope to get a chance

to lead the wing and then the

entire division on a raid before

I finish my tour of operations.

I take great delight in giving the Ger-

mans what they deserve. I've seen

too many good friends go down and

I no longer feel like a disinterested

party.

 


[1-15-1944]

-3-

            You should see the great fleets

of bombers and fighters we put over the

continent now —— you would just have

to see it to appreciate it. Most of our

raids are now escorted by our own

fighters and the "little guys" do a bang

up job too! Lord knows how many

bombers they have saved. The Nazi

air force is by no means "licked" as yet

and we do not have an easy time of

it in spite of our fighter escort. Some

of the great air battles are a sight to

see —— it really scares [the] hell out of you

sometimes. The enemy fighters are one

thing but the "flak" that's another!

There is nothing you can do about

the flak but fly right into the stuff

if it is at your target. Boy oh Boy,

the barrages they throw up are a

terror — I think they have thrown

everything but Aunt Hattees three

legged cat at us already. The German

is a tough customer when fighting

over his own home.

            I do not feel or have

the optimistic attitude which is

reflected by the American newspapers

and radio. From what I have

seen I do not believe the Nazis

are due to "crack" for sometime

 


[1-15-1944]

-4-

yet. Of course we are winning and

will continue to do so but there

is a lot of hard fighting ahead and

we're going to have many of our

men killed before we finally win

out.

            I lost one of my best friends a

few days ago. He happened to be the

boy (only 21) that I trained as my

co-pilot and who flew with me

on my first five raids as well

as Ploesti. We were returning from

a raid on a French air field

in Southern France when the

plane he was flying in received

a direct hit, by a heavy anti-

aircraft shell, and blew up.

It spoiled an otherwise very succ-

essful raid. It's a dirty game!

            I haven't heard from Bob for

sometime but even so I figure

he is okay even tho' he is right

in the middle of one tough battle.

His outfit is certainly making a

name for itself.

            In spite of the fact that I

never wrote and thanked you all

for your very fine gifts I did appreciate

them very much. When you stop

to consider that our weekly ration

over here hardly would cover a

small two cent stamp you can  

 


[1-15-1944]

-5-

readily see that anything to eat is

very much appreciated. (I did not

eat the clothes pins but rather used

them for fire wood). Jean the bible

was very nice and I promise that

the day I see "the light" (?) I'll put

in some fast work on it. Sandra's

chocolate bar arrived okay but in a

very broken condition. The fruit cake

I got from the Potts was neatly done

in by my boys at the office, pretty

good too. The Christmas cards were

all very nice too —— I used them

to start fires with when i didn't

have any paper.

            There is a bunch of G.I.'s out-

side of my room now making a

lot of noise. They are in the pro-

cess of "bailing out" the local bomb

shelter. We have had so much

rain lately that the damn thing

[is] flooded. It would have been funny

as hell if we would have had an

air raid that night. Those of us

that couldn't swim would have

been "up the creek".

            Well, folks, I guess I have

covered all the "poop" so I'll sign

off for now with a promise to write

again in another two or three months.

                        Love to all

                                    Jack

 


[1-15-1944]

 

P.S.      God! but war is horrible ! For

last night I am tortured with sweet

dreams of hot buttered popcorn" — with

salt.