Booze and Babes
(or Cognac and Amor)

All right you guys. This is what you all really wanted to hear about anyway. Thanks go to RAF_GONZO. He requested some information about what everyday life was like for a fighter pilot. I posed the question to a few of my squad mates and was surprised to get some very interesting comments. I am withholding their names to protect the guilty.  RAF_Yank

JC's Comments....

``About a typical day. It has been 55 years so I do not remember when we got up. If there were a real early mission someone would wake you up if you were on the schedule.  Missions were all in the daylight. Am sure we had breakfast right away, sometimes in a mess hall, sometimes under a tree, like in Normandy. We ate a lot of K rations. There were six flights, four on tap each day, I think, so we had a couple days off every once in a while, kind of on a swing shift. If your flight was on duty you were transported by truck, etc to Ops early in the morning to see if your name was on the mission schedule. More often than not, it was a matter of hanging around for hours waiting for the weather to improve enough or to await word from Group HQ to get into the air. Many times we went up right away. The Operations Officer, with a weather report, conducted briefings, usually. sometimes the Intelligence Officer would brief on expected FLAK. I flew as many as three missions in one day, but that was not usual. We were usually based near the front lines. In Normandy the German's shot at us in the traffic pattern if we extended it out too far. Seems like we were idle a lot in the ready room playing double solitaire and making grilled cheese sandwiches. We usually took off two at a time. Many missions were four ships, as many others eight and twelve ship formations and once in a while four flights (16 aircraft). When airborne we contacted a controller on the ground that might assign a target or at time we took off and just looked at something to dive bomb and strafe

   Many relaxed at the end of the day with a few drinks, probably more. Of course some guys drank very little or not at all. In addition to our "mission whiskey" we had a ration of 1 qt of Scotch and 1 qt of Gin each month. That was a program for British Officers and we were considered eligible also. No one that I know of drank his shot of mission whiskey immediately after coming down from a mission. Our Doc was in charge of handing out the mission whiskey and he saved it up for us, keeping very accurate records. When we went to Paris or Brussels he would give us however much we wanted in a regular booze bottle up to the amount we were credited with. We were very popular in town with some American Whiskey under our arm. It was mostly rot gut however. On many days off I got hold of a bicycle and just took a ride out in the country. This was in St Trond. I recall one time in Paris at the Lido Club. There was a stage show and you could call a waiter over and tell him which girl you want. Basically, most of us were young and very foolish, always living it up at any and every opportunity. Enough for now. Holler if you have any specific questions."

 

WILCO's (assumed name) Comments...

``On my first pass through I missed the picture of Winnie Gear at the end of JC message. What a _great_ picture.!! 

(I sent this request  to a squad mate who prefers to be unnamed. It's obvious why! I sent him a .jpg of the ``Winnie" -RAF_Yank)

WILCO's  Comments...Cont...

My initial inclination was to ignore this request. After considerable wrestling with my conscience, I decided this might be a good vehicle to record some of my non-combat, off duty, shameful behavior. But one must view these episodes in the context of those days in which we lived—glad  that we survived yesterday-- determined to make the most of today--because tomorrow could be our last day on earth.

I do not intend to publicize my real name. The pilots in our Squadron will know, but I just am not comfortable with releasing my name to the entire world.

TO RAF_Yank-- What I am going to share with you has_never_ever_been seen on the printed page. They are cameo pictures that have been etched in my memory for all these years. While I think they are interesting, humorous and shameful , I do not want to take them with me to the grave. Feel free to share with whomever. Hope you enjoy!

 

``Our 493rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron of P-47's moved forward from our Normandy Beach airstrip to Villacoublay Airport early in the first week of Sept. 1944. We were only a few miles from Paris and the Liberation celebrations were still in full swing.

We had been in our new location only a couple of days, no missions had yet been flown, and the Squadron Commander called me and Tommy into his office. We were informed that our Orders to go home were on the way from Group HQ. and we were grounded. He said, with orders on the way, he did not want us to chance being shot down so the war was over for us. Tommy and I had been with the Sq. since December 1942 and were the two senior members except for the Commander.

Well! What else was there for two, young, red= blooded Yanks to do? Spent and entire week in Paris, that's what we did. Came back to the Sq. for a cheap meal now and then and to get some advance pay. I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said, that if you were a stranger in Paris, and sat all afternoon at the sidewalk Cafe of the Cafe d' la Pais situated on the Champs Elysee, eventually someone you knew would pass by. So, that's where Tommy and I started our "Cherche la Femme".

Sitting on the sidewalk, beneath the canopy of the Cafe d' la Pais slowly sipping Cognac ,two young ladies eventually sat down at the adjoining table. Neither of us spoke French and one girl spoke very fractured English. Undaunted, with sign language, arm waving and much mumbo-jumbo, we paired off. Tommy and his new found friend disappeared leaving me with the one that spoke no English.

My next recollection is in a Cocktail Lounge with a separate room that at one time must have been a large dance floor. Now, the room was packed with small round tables and two Army G.I.s at every table. There were padded benches against three walls of the room where we found space to sit.

As we sat drinking Champagne she kept jabbering to me, not one word that I understood. Finally, an Army Private seated at a table near by tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Captain, what she is saying is' Do you want to go to bed with me'"? My reaction I  leave to your imagination .

I did discover that she worked for a Paris Newspaper. I do not know in what capacity. and for the next couple of days she would often say to me, "Vous mi mariposa, vous mi mariposa". Years later while in the Pentagon , I took two years of French and learned that I was her butterfly!

Tommy and I left them for new adventures that I will report in a few days."

 

(Thanks to my unnamed mate. We won't be passing this story onto his wife. Will we? -RAF_Yank)

NOTE From Dyno:  No Sir we won't !  Got that guys ?

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