Message from Above
In February 1945 our 35th Division was dug in along the Roer River in northwestern Germany. Because of the floodwaters from dams downriver we were unable to jump-off. One day as we were being shelled the rounds made a pop and we were showered with propaganda leaflets (“Paper Bullets,” January 2009). One listed the names of two of our men who had been captured while on patrol. Some were directed at our British allies, showing an American soldier embracing an English woman.
While there we also observed many V-1 rockets being fired into Liège and Antwerp. I counted 13 in one hour of guard. One exploded near us. A lot of concussions.
Bombs Away? It Wasn’t That Simple
Your article about the Norden bombsight (“Great Expectations,” January 2009) was exceptionally good. But saying that the bombsight was less accurate because of cloud cover would be akin to saying that my sniper rifle is less accurate when I aim with my eyes closed.
It was extremely accurate when used in the proper conditions, but the combat box formation used over Europe at that time handicapped the bombsight’s effectiveness (“Outkilling the Enemy,” January 2009). The bombardiers in the lead squadron planes were the only ones capable of dropping bombs within the 1,000-foot aiming point radius. The other 14 planes were on courses outside that radius.
The other point which bears mentioning is that once the sight angle was established the bombardier was required to make constant adjustments to the rate and displacement knobs and turn and drift knobs with both hands. The two minutes from sight-angle establishment to “bombs away” made many bombardiers feel like one-armed paperhangers, but they got the job done—and swore by the Norden’s ability to help them.
RICHARD J. STRODE
My grandfather saw action as a combat infantryman in the Philippines. He was engaged in fierce jungle fighting on Cebu, Iloilo, Luzon, and Leyte, where he received a Bronze Star. As a little boy, he told me many stories that made my hair stand on end, including one about pulling security duty when MacArthur waded ashore at Leyte.
Sadly, he passed away a couple years back. Not long after he died, I started dating a wonderful girl whose grandfather also served in World War II. I told him about my grandfather’s service, and he said his only claim to fame was that his PBY Catalina delivered the Life magazine photographers to Leyte for—you guessed it—the famous MacArthur photo op. Our grandfathers were within a stone’s throw of each other in October 1944.
In With the New
I have been a subscriber to your magazine for at least 15 years. I was ready to cancel my subscription due to the fact that the magazine seemed to be stalled. But when the new format appeared, the magazine came alive again.
The new stories were all new to me. Being a D-Day veteran I have read much about the war, but found many events that I had never heard about. Great going with this “new” magazine.
Fighting for Recognition
I’m very pleased that Robert Mackey quoted my father, Andrew Adkins, in “The End of the Good War” (October/ November 2008). The quote is actually from a book that my father and I wrote called You Can’t Get Much Closer Than This: Combat with Company H, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, based on my dad’s experience as a mortar platoon leader on the frontlines.
These brave men, who fought so hard to help make this a better world in which to live, deserve to continue to be recognized long after we’ve laid them to rest. May we always honor our soldiers.
ANDREW Z. ADKINS III
The 35,000 Americans who fought in the battle of Tarawa included soldiers, marines, and sailors (February/March 2009, page 8). Ferdinand Porsche did not design the mass-produced version of the German Tiger tank (page 55). During Stalin’s purge of Red Army leaders, Marshal Mikhail Tuchachevsky and eight other generals were sentenced to death by execution at a secret trial, not a show trial, in 1937 (page 57).
Originally published in the May 2009 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.