|"Now It Can Be Told"
Log and Diary from New Orleanians who were members
of the 73rd Bombardment Wing, World War II
The Story of the 73rd Bombardment Wing's Air Strikes Over Japan
~ and ~
Letter Describing Tokyo after the Surrender
Letter Describing Flight to Drop Supplies to POW's Held in Japan
One bright Autumn day, my son and I decided to spend the day shopping for old books in the French Quarter section of New Orleans. Jim was a teenager at the time and I'd passed my love of old books on to him, so we were both looking forward to finding one or two "treasures" that day. But we never envisioned coming home with a treasure trove.....especially one that filled the car trunk to capacity and then overran the back seat, as well!
We were browsing through the chaos and dust of an old used book shop, one in which towering stacks of books waited around every corner, threatening to topple at first whisper. We were ducking and sneezing our way through the far aisle when my son noticed a set of dozens of huge books lining the top shelf on one side of the room. When the first "scrapbook" came down in a cloud of dust, we immediately realized the historical value of what we'd found. We did a bit of haggling over the price, just as a matter of principle and, then, before the clerk had a chance to change his mind, I retrieved the car, Jim loaded the massive volumes and we made our escape through the narrow streets of the French Quarter.....feeling as if we'd just made off with the deal of the century.
There's no way to do the collection justice, but, simply stated, the books held a family's collection of WWII memorabilia. There were 30 scrapbooks, each brimming with things such as whole issues of Time, Life and Colliers magazines and many others; issues of local newspapers; photos, ration cards, war bond ads, correspondence from friends and family, both in and out of the service and much (much) more, including the subject of these webpages: a crew member's diary with extremely detailed accounts of the 73rd Bombardment Wing fliers' courageous missions over Japan (the first B-29's to fly over Japan); as well as the description of a flight to drop supplies to POW's being held there; a log providing thrilling details of the group's "last mission alone" and the gripping story of the "final flight of the 'Irish Lassie.' " Also, a letter from a Naval officer describing his visit to Tokyo in the days immediately after war's end.
We immersed ourselves in these fascinating time capsules and shared them with many friends and family members. I remember wishing that there was a way to share the log, diary and letters with many more people---what a heroic story they tell! But that was before my introduction to cyberspace and I could never think of an appropriate way to manage it. Then, time, as it tends to do, wore on. When my son eventually moved out of the house, the books went with him. Out of sight, out of mind, I'd completely forgotten about them until recently, when I was doing some research concerning WWII and the Marianna Islands in the South Pacific, where my father was stationed during the war (see photos at bottom)---coincidentally, the scene of the action described on these webpages. I asked Jim to dig out a few of the books and bring them over. When I re-discovered the log, letters and diary, I knew that I now had an opportunity to do what I couldn't do when I first discovered them, and what the members of the 73rd wanted done: I could publish them on the web and give them the wider audience they so richly deserved.
As the beginning sentence of the log read: "Crewmen want the story of this mission told.....they are determined and anxious that the real stroy be published, just for the record. And they do have a story---probably one of the most courageous tales of the Pacific War." No one who reads them can deny the truth of that.
I am privileged to be able to share the story of the 73rd Bombardment Wing Fliers. Nancy Brister
Caleb's Diary, 11/1944 - 9/1945, the Story of the 73rd's Missions
LOG: Part One: Story of the 73rd Bomb Wing's Last Mission Alone, 1/27/1945
LOG: Part Two: Final Flight of the Irish Lassie
"Caleb's" Letters: Airlifting Supplies to POWs ~&~ Thoughts of Home
"Hal's" Letter: Touring Tokyo at War's End
"Meet the Marianas" - Pamphlet, WWII
Pamphlet: Highlights of the Operations of the 73rd Wing
The Battlefield of Iwo Jima, Article from Life Magazine, April, 1945
"The B-29 Stretches Its Wings"
"Texas Doll" - 497th Bomb Group, 870th Squadron
Old New Orleans Index Page
|Archie Lee Jackson, my dad;
photo on left: Tinian, Mariana Islands, WWII
|~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
With much appreciation to Tom Robison who shared the following with me:
"Caleb was assigned to the 878th Bomb Squadron of the 499th Bomb Grup, 73rd Bombardment Wing on Saipan. He was a flight engineer and his primary aircraft was tail code V24. The first V24, serial no. 42-24773, was destroyed on Saipan by a Japanese attack on 27 Nov 1944. (My uncle's first plane, V1, was also destroyed in the same raid.) Their second V24, s/n 42-24666, was lost along with their alternate crew, the Conway crew, on 18 Dec 1944. Their third V24, s/n 42-63491, was apparently a luckier aircraft and carried them through the rest of their tour."