Presque Isle to England

We were not aware of where we'd be sent after reaching Presque Isle, Maine. But, we learned in order to go to England our route would include Goose Bay, Labrador; Bluie West 1 (BW-1), Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Prestwick, Scotland; Nuts Corner (Belfast, North Ireland); and a field in southwest England. I forget its name.

When we finally departed Presque Isle for England, the weather out in the North Atlantic was bad enough to cause a delay for us when we reached Goose Bay, Labrador. The weather was still good at Goose Bay, and this allowed us to "explore" a little. Hutto and I took this opportunity to go fishing.

On the way from Goose Bay to Bluie West One, around 100 miles south of Greenland, we sighted an iceberg just ahead of us. None of the crew had seen an iceberg before, so we dropped down and circled it for a couple of minutes. Lo and behold, there was a polar bear sitting right on top of the iceberg, and none of the crew had seen a polar bear outside of a zoo. The poor soul kept revolving his head back and forth as if to say "SOS." Well, later on we did try to help souls, two legged ones, but there was little we could do for this four-legged creature. And, would you believe it, we never thought of dropping some K-rations to him. Even now, I wonder what became of him. Perhaps he swam to one of the shores of Canada.

After we arrived at Bluie West 1 in Greenland, the entire crew climbed 5,000 feet of a mountain there. When we departed from Narsarssuaq or Bluie West 1 (61°11 N 45°25 W), we flew across the ice cap to Iceland. As we approached Iceland, at an estimated distance of ten miles, someone notified the tower that there was a submarine that had surfaced nearby. Two P-38's were dispatched to the site, only to find that it was a fishing vessel.

On their return to Reykjavik, the P-39's encountered a German Junkers reconnaissance plane, and shot it down. When we finally reached the base, it was on red alert until the crew of the Junkers, who had parachuted safely, was captured. So, we had to circle for several more minutes before we were cleared for landing. Bud Hutto and I got into Reykjavik for a fine dinner at the Borg Hotel, and watched some of the lads stationed there dance with girls, with the parents of the girls chaperoning.

You have noticed that Bud and I made two recreational trips together without 1st pilot Pierce. I hesitate, and regret, to say that Pierce and Hutto were not on the best of speaking terms before we left Ft. Wayne and during the entire flight to Tunisia. Hutto would like to venture, and Pierce would tend not to join. And, there was a continuing disagreement between them as to when and how much Hutto should fly in the left seat!

The issue came at a serious head at Prestwick, Scotland. Hutto was flying as first pilot and was waved off by the tower because there was a forty-five mile-per-hour crosswind. Hutto, who was a "hot" pilot, insisted that he should land and was on final approach when Pierce, with a drawn .45 pistol, commanded Hutto to head for Belfast as the tower had advised. Having no real choice, Hutto followed orders, and we landed at Belfast intact, but with some question about any future flights with such disharmony between the pilots.

When we arrived in England, Pierce immediately reported Hutto's insubordination, and we three officers were brought into a huddle with the “higher ups.” It was decided that we had to harmonize because we would be flying on to Marrakech that night at midnight, with twenty-one other Dakotas, with takeoffs at one-minute intervals.

It was quite a surprise to learn that we would be taking off at midnight for Marrakech, Morocco. That morning, in early August, we had flown from Belfast to the SW English base, arriving around noon Greenwich time. We wished, and had thought that we'd be in England for at least three months. Instead, we were instructed to eat, have some crew rest, and report at four o'clock for a briefing. Meanwhile, sometime before or after the briefing, we three officers met with the review board, and they notified us that they had no replacement pilot, and ordered us to get to Marrakech without further "infightin," so to speak.

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