View Full Version : Another WWII real-life account.

07-16-2007, 07:56 AM
**Finally completed!**

This time it's from a Leroy Kuest, ground crewman for B17s in Suffolk 1942-1945.


His diary covers from his enlistment to his return home in 1945.

A fascinating insight, dryly written with his thoughts on the UK, the 'fellows' he worked with and visits from the likes of Captain Clark Gable, meeting one Bob Crosby after 'crashing the gate' whilst confined to barracks.

An extract:

September 9th. 21 planes went out with one hundred and forty four 20 LB fragmentation bombs. Our new ship 989 went on it's first misssion LT Haskins is our new pilot. Air field at Le Bruget was the target.

September 11th. Today was our first crash at this field. A Marauder B-26 came in to land, overshot the field, banked sharply went into a crazy spin and crashed. All 6 fellows were killed.

September 15th. 21 planes with twelve 500LB. Target was a ballbearing factory near Paris. Ships returned after dark. it's a real sight seeing the ships return. At first you can see the red flashing lights twinkle as they pass through the clouds and then you hear the roar. After they get above you it looks like a Christmas tree lit up witha ll the different coloured lights on them.
When they land they use their landing lights which as a rule light up the whole field. Lt. Haskins brought ours back with 2 fuel tanks empty.

September 16th. 21 planes left with ten 500LB and wing tips filled with gas. They returned at 10:30 pm. Target was aircraft factory and rubber plant at Bordeaux.

September 17th. Worked all day repairing damage which had occured on the last two raids, which were so close together that they hardly gave us time to get the ships in shape.

September 21st. Mission went out, 21 ships twelve 500 LB returned with bombs, weather was overcast.

September 24th. Mission of 24 planes took off with twelve 500LB.

September 25th. Mac and myself went to London on our 48 hour pass. Waether was nice and we took a lot of pictures. We went on a tour of London Tower Castle. It was built about 1050 by William the Conqueror. The white stone with which it was built was brought from France. We also seen the only portion of the Roman wall that is left. We also seen many coats of Armor also the chaple in the center tower where all the knights were made knights. Also we seen some of the velvet robes that have been used in the kings coronations. Also seen the scaffold where many kings and queens were beheaded. On our way back we ran into sgt. D. Avitt who has returned from France through the underground (passed away 25th February 1978) he is the only one who has returned from Major Saltsman's crew. Maj Saltsman is a POW also was hit in the arm and burnt on the face.

Our plane returned on the first night raid with number 1 and feeder tank empty. Lt. Haskins is now flying our ship.

September 26th. Mission went out today with two 1000 LB in external racks and twelve 500LB also 100 Gals extra fuel in outer wing tanks. Ours returned in good shape. Now it has 5 misssions on it. It has been named "Marge H" after Lt. Haskins wife.

September 27th. Today 21 went out with twelve 500LB. Ours (989) and 888 failed to return. Lt. Haskins and Lt. Lanfried (?) are pilots. They were last seen slipping out of the formation into a cloud bank with number 3 engine smoking.

They had been hit by a lone fighter.

She really had a swell crew and everyone had a long face when they failed to return. Latest rumors are that they went down on the coast of England. That sounds good to us I hope it's true.

September 28th. Nothing more has been heard about our crew as yet. Last night some english Sterlings and Halifaxes which couldn't find their way home because of rain and fog landed at our base. She survived them and had an awful time finding the places for everything. They look like big clumsy box fans or as Mac says a big dog sitting down on his ***! They were supposed to have been followed back by German planes which dropped butterfly bombs. so far we haven't found any.

07-16-2007, 09:20 AM
Nice find.

07-16-2007, 11:13 AM
Excellent article... Thank's for posting. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

07-16-2007, 11:39 AM
Thanks guys, nice to know it's appreciated..

We're not even half way through typing it up at the moment, please excuse the typos http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

07-16-2007, 11:40 AM

Interesting...I attended school at Sheppard too (and was the honor graduate too...not to brag...well, okay, I'm bragging. Still got that dang keychain they gave me around here somewhere). It was nice being the only Jarhead on a base full of Air Force Nurses. Had to compete with the pilots of course. Who's the genius who decided to put pilots and nurses on the same base? Sheesh!

Love to read about the period slang as well.

Well, better get back to work before my boss gets really browned off!


07-16-2007, 11:45 AM

07-17-2007, 06:19 AM
Leroy Kuest was a Crew Chief with the 94th Bombardment Group.

I came across a 94th Bombardment Group tail gunners diary today, this guy (John Gabay) flew in 'Lucky 13' B-17 846 (this B17 flew 69 missions before being dismantled and used for spares) one of Leroy's aircraft.

Leroy mentioned another B-17 returning minus the rear tail gun following a collision with another B-17.

John Gabay witnessed the collision and saw the poor gunner fall into the North Sea on February 3rd.

His account was included in a book, "No End Save Victory : Perspectives on World War II" by Robert Cowley (Editor). The editor has published extracts detailing 26 missions here:

07-17-2007, 12:39 PM
Excellent, TFP... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Everytime i read these, it makes me want to try "B17 Flying Fortress The Mighty 8th" again(still installed on my PC), AHH!...if only the graphics would be updated and made playable online.

07-17-2007, 12:56 PM
Thx for posting matey.


07-17-2007, 01:00 PM
Just a quickie hopefully someone will enighten me:

What was the Allies fascination with bombing ball bearing factories during the war?

I guess I'm missing the bigger picture here but surely engine manufacturing plants and tank building facilities would've been better?


07-17-2007, 01:07 PM
All engines had ball bearings in them.No bearings=no engines http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

07-17-2007, 01:07 PM
"Ball bearings were needed for the manufacture of many precision instruments and war machines. "The various types of ball-bearings...are essential to the functioning of a modern military power equipped with tanks and aircraft. For instance, a Ju88 airframe alone, exclusive of its engines, required 1,056 anti-friction bearings and a single 200cm searchlight required 90.5" Another significant portion of Germany's ball bearings were imported from Sweden. The Allies attempted negotiating with the neutral Swedes to limit the export of the ball-bearings, but to no result. Therefore, the Allies saw it important to attack the factories Germany had for these bearings. With a severe cut in the availability of these important components, the Allies hoped to significantly cripple the ability of the German war machine to produce aircraft, tanks, and other necessary machinery."


The Germans targeted ball bearing plants as well:

http://www.headlinehistory.co.uk/online/East%20Midlands...20Front/story476.htm (http://www.headlinehistory.co.uk/online/East%20Midlands/World%20War%202/Home%20Front/story476.htm)

07-17-2007, 01:31 PM
Thanks a lot guys.


07-17-2007, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by skimbo:
Just a quickie hopefully someone will enighten me:

What was the Allies fascination with bombing ball bearing factories during the war?

I guess I'm missing the bigger picture here but surely engine manufacturing plants and tank building facilities would've been better?


Because in order for the Germans to invade Europe they needed balls of steel. In order for the allies to stop this advance of terror it was only logical that they attack said steel ball factories and essentially "nueter" the opposition.

07-26-2007, 01:36 PM
We have finally finished typing this account up!

Leroy kept the diary going right up to the point when he was finally discharged and was once again 'a free man' when the war ended.