|Back to Whatcombe Farms
Again stationed at Whatcombe Farms, some of us took advantage of a one-week furlough to fly to Glascow, Scotland. When our pilot found out we were Airborne troops, he began showing off his flying skills with quick dips and climbs, making many of us, (myself included) airsick. Our reputation as a rough-and-tumble unit was a little tarnished that day in the pilot's eyes.
The Scots were grateful to our American troops. We were among the first to return to their country after the invasion and many townspeople came down to the American Red Cross Center to invite us to stay with them and be guests in their homes. We accepted their invitations, but compensated them by more than it would have cost us if we had stayed at the Red Cross. The Scots, however, would not let us buy a drink in their pubs, as they insisted on picking up all tabs. This was not like the people of Scotland that I had heard about!
Back at Whatcombe Farms, we trained for another glider mission and were on the airfield ready to take off when the mission was scrubbed. Our orders had been to fly to Paris, surround the city, and protect it from the retreating German army. But General Patton had spearheaded a drive to Paris and got there before we could depart. As our training continued at Whatcombe, we knew something big was coming up. All passes were canceled for weeks and we were placed on full alert all the time. On Sunday, September 17th, 1944, we traveled the short distance from Whatcombe to Aldermaston, where my brother was stationed, and I was amazed at the number of C-47 and CG-4A air transports waiting there. Our orders were to fly over and land behind enemy lines to save bridges and other transportation routes from being blown up by the retreating Germans. The paratroopers took off that same Sunday. They were to secure our landing areas and we were to fly in the next day. The returning planes, emptied of paratroopers, were riddled with holes, having flown through enemy gunfire. Our own takeoff, however, was canceled because of fog over the English Channel.
On the morning of September 19, we were awakened early for breakfast and served steak. I slipped a big steak into half my mess kit and told the GI on KP to put fruit cocktail into the other half. He filled the remaining space with fruit cocktail and asked me if that was enough. When I said no, he reached back and grabbed a full, unopened, gallon can of the stuff and gave it to me. Apparently, they had been told to give us as much of anything we wanted! That gallon of fruit cocktail was to surface again that day.