- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Wayne W. Ottley
- Location of story:
- USA and England
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 November 2003
In July 1943 I was assigned to a B-17 Flying Fortress crew in the deserts of Texas without knowledge of where or when we would serve. Barely twenty-one years of age with less than seven months of military experience, I boldly presented myself as being a part of a team to put a stop to the enemies in Europe and the South Seas.
Our training at this point was very intense since we had all been previously trained in special skills needed to carry the bombs to the target and bring our fortress and ourselves back to base safely.
By late October we had moved our base of training to Tennessee and finally Kansas. It was at the latter base that we learned that we would not be going into the Pacific, simply by the clothing and supplies we were equipped with.
On 3 November(my first wedding anniversary)we boarded HMS Queen Elizabeth in New York with 20,000 troops from many nations. It wasn't until we were well at sea that our orders were revealed. We were headed for England as replacement crews. I was delighted with the thought that I was going to the land of all my grandparents and great grandparents and ancestors beyond so far as our records revealed.
I loved my country, America, but I was excited about learning more of the lands of my predecessors. I read all the literature about how to get along with the English, to get used to their customs and language, being quite different than that of a western born American.
By mid November we became part of the 379th Bomb Group based at Kimbolton, Hunts,(now Cambridgeshire.)"On the job training" began the day after arrival with lectures, classes and practice missions. The preparation for war left no time for looking for English cousins except for two days with a related family near London.
December 22, 1943 found us deep into German airspace and on target. For the next three months, with a prayer in our hearts we saw it all happen, much like the movies. We completed twenty-five missions including the first three American daylight raids over Berlin.
By April,I was reunited with my lovely wife, at home, who was preparing for the birth of our firstborn son. After a short leave my military life as an instructor continued until September 1945.
Years of business, community service and church work filled our lives yielding five children, twenty seven grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren.During these years I became interested in studying about my English ancestors. As email became available I made contact with several cousins in England, with whom pictures, histories and researched records were exchanged. It has been my joy to learn more of a beautiful country and the people who claim it as home.
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