Thursday, September 29, 2011

No Wonder the English Drink Tea

Excerpt from Fogg in the Cockpit, the Wartime Diary of Captain Howard Fogg:

Thursday, November 18: Wretham

Painted on plane insignia in cold canvas hangar all day. Hands nearly numb. Paint equipment is poor but it looks fair.

Gall is still fighting trouble in the hydraulic system on my plane.

My cold is worse. Worked on the locomotive model.

Had tea at eleven. Hit the spot. No wonder the English drink tea:
1) to keep warm
2) to prevent starvation


The following essay, "Tea Call" by Helen Moore, is not included in Fogg in the Cockpit, but Helen would have served tea to Howard many times. Helen, a volunteer, was the Tea Wagon's effervescent, cheerful, kind and always pleasant operator. She and her best friend, Bonnie Cole, became “big sisters” to a whole field of men at Station F-133. Captain John G. Dales, Supply Officer of the 648th Air Material Squadron wrote that, “Helen Moore was a delightful person, so animated and full of life."


Bonnie and I were filled with trepidation when we first learned that we had to work among American troops. We were excited and rather nervous about our reception.

We had served previously with Czechs, Poles, New Zealand and, Australian, Canadian, South African and British troops of all descriptions, but the thought of working with Yanks was, well, somehow we knew it would be different to say the least. That it was!

Arriving on a day in August, 1943, to welcome our Allies with tea and cakes, we were vastly interested in the different variety of clothes they worked in -- especially the queer little hats with the turned up brim, worn anyway on the head apparently, but the one it was intended for.

At first sight we noticed how pale and thin all the men looked. In amazement we wondered if these were the United States A-1 men! Since then we discovered there had been a very rough crossing and a tedious journey to the station. I now constantly tease everyone by saying how much better they look and how the weight they have put on since partaking of YMCA tea and cakes everyday. And they do!

When we made our first stop the boys crowded round curiously, looked us over and shook our ego immensely by anxiously asking "Could you tell us if there are any American girls 'round here?" They demanded coffee and we persuaded them earnestly that our tea was very good and hot! They found later when the proverbial English winter developed that the hot tea was to be appreciated. Soon we were distributing from 30 to 40 gallons daily in our two vans, which you will admit is a lot of tea when doled out in cupfuls.

We were very cheered when an Officer came up the first day and told us he was from San Francisco and knew Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Haas who had donated my van to the British War Relief Fund -- It was then we began to think we "really belonged".

When at first we arrived in the morning blowing the horn vigorously the Americans sauntered over slowly. This wasn't the procedure we'd been accustomed to, as the RAF who had been there before made one mad rush when the nose of the van drove into sight.

The GI's soon discovered they had to run fast if they wanted the best cakes or a morning paper and now I wish their folks at home could see them when I turn into the field. They came chasing along on bicycles and every conceivable kind of vehicle. They hang on the van and push and pull to obtain the best position in the "queue".

"Queue" was one word they didn't use before -- only for a Chinaman's pigtail. Now it's used with great frequency and without ever noticing it.

Of course, we had great fun over the difference in the language pronunciation. "Have" was one word that still causes amusement. "Have a cup of tea" is a daily phrase used a thousand times and I pronounce it with a long "A" which still gets a laugh.

When first told we looked "sharp" we looked at each other in amazement as "sharp" is an adjective used over here if a person is particularly intelligent(!). Since I have absorbed so much American slang and expressions that I astound my family by using rather peculiar phrases such as "sweating it out" or "on the beam" -- which just isn't done in polite society and often causes me confusion.

Dealing with the money caused a great deal of fun. The boys handed us out messes of coins of every sort in order to give us, say two pence half penny and many always handed us some huge amount such as ten shillings or a pound note in order to pay one penny for a cup of tea. We feel we helped them considerably from the start to learn the value of our system of exchange.

Bonnie and I became big sisters to a whole field of men. After a time we knew most of them by their first or nick names -- knew their life stories, their troubles, their pleasures, their homesickness and their ambitions.

I've discussed every conceivable problem with the GI's. Those parted from their wives I can readily understand and sympathize with as my own husband has been away from me in the Army overseas for nearly four years.

As time went on we found our tea wagon activities were only a small part of our efforts to promote Anglo-American relations. All our free time gradually got involved with the life of the field.

Bonnie is a professional dancer and she started a weekly dancing class at the Aero Club. As the class grew I was called in to "be practiced on" when she'd taught the steps. Bonnie since left to work with the Y in another area and I found myself doing the incredible by carrying on with about six other girls as partners. These evenings are really fun and are enjoyed immensely by both the girls and the men. Now and again we get a GI to give us a jitterbug lesson -- a lease-end arrangement.

Last year I lent my tennis court four nights a week for the use of the men. This was a great success. I hope to repeat them again this year when the grass is induced to grow again on the bare patches!

Almost overnight we found ourselves gradually doing the personal shopping for the whole base. This started in a small way when somebody said "Helen can you get me a bicycle tyre or tube in town" -- or "Bonnie can you get my pictures developed for me". Soon it grew to such dimensions we spent literally hours each day buying the oddest collection of things imaginable! We've purchased among other things countless tyres and tubes, spokes for wheels, cotter pins, chains, pedals, patches and all the things that go to repair a bicycle. We've bought birthday cards, Easter cards, Christmas cards to be sent to wives, mothers and sweethearts. Those for the girl friend take the longest time (I must be sentimental). Then there's been frying pans, coffee and teapots, a puppy, an electric iron, a mouse trap, cups and mugs, buttons, darning wool, dyes, nails and tacks, brushes, sheets of music, Christmas presents of jewelry and antiques. Photographs to be developed by the hundreds. I've never been on such good terms with the local tradesmen. This, incidentally, is good for us.

We've delivered countless messages 'round the town. Someone rushed up desperately saying "I'm working tonight, can you tell Doris I shan't be in town?" or "Alice is coming down from London or Manchester is there anywhere in town where she can stay?"

Phone calls come from all over the country from friends asking me to deliver messages. Telegrams have to be sent, etc.

Of course, we've assisted in several weddings. For one we arranged, at the last minute, to obtain a bouquet of scarlet dahlias for a bride who unexpectedly arrived without a bridal outfit! I remember driving a frantic bridegroom into town for this occasion to meet trains. Somehow the bride had set out in the wrong direction and mislaid her outfit en route amidst the confusion of it all. She arrived alright and I attended a very charming ceremony and the bride looked beautiful with scarlet bouquet!

Our coming and goings soon became known and the boys found they had a regular van service at their disposal. Now we usually find small bunches waiting, coming or going on passes or furloughs.

So many interesting incidents happen every day it's impossible to record them -- like serving a bride and groom with tea and cake just before their wedding. We grew to love our life on the field just as it was. The boys are always so glad to see us, always so friendly and helpful.

Someone always jumps in the van and helps pour the tea and do the washing up and can now dole out 'Limey' change as well as I.

I didn't realize how we were liked until Bonnie had to go. She was missed very much and I was besieged with enquiries, and still am asked as to her whereabouts and when she is coming back. In fact I began to think it was I who should have gone instead.

If ever we're in trouble with our tea wagon, a puncture or engine trouble, willing hands are always ready to help out. All sorts of odd jobs have been done for me too. One regularly mends the tea strainers when they become the worse for wear. Cake knives are sharpened, even our vacuum cleaner was mended, our poker soldered together, lawn mower and my watch repaired. These things were all next to impossible to be done in war time England.

I feel I have so many friends on the base that when we do visit the States, as I threaten to do one day, I shan't lack companions to show me around. I feel I belong to the base now so much. The personal loss I shall suffer when eventually they leave will be very acute.

If all Anglo-American friendships prosper as ours has the world won't need to worry for many a long day.


Photo: Helen Moore, a “Tea Girl” for the 359th FG at East Wretham with her “Tea Wagon.”

Photo courtesy of Alfred M. Swiren. Text and photo archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

From the smallest daily details...

Renowned for decades as the world’s foremost railroad artist, Howard Fogg’s career spanned half a century and some 1,200 paintings. However, while his art has been welcomed for decades, few of his enthusiasts have been aware of his prior career, as a fighter pilot in the U.S. 8th Air Force during World War II. Fortunately Fogg left behind a detailed diary of his experiences, proving himself as adept with a pen as with a brush, and his day-to-day comments illuminate this brief but exciting aspect of his life, as he engaged in direct combat with the Luftwaffe at the controls of P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs.

Based in England with the 359th Fighter Group, Captain Fogg flew 76 missions in bomber escort and ground attack roles. From his backstage encounter in a London theater with Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, to the pre-dawn chaplain’s benediction on June 6, 1944, to a mission escorting B-17s as they flew below the snow-capped Alps dropping supplies to French freedom fighters, his diary offers a firsthand look at his fascinating and often unexpected wartime career.

Fogg in the Cockpit offers a frank and fascinating glimpse into the life of a fighter pilot, both in the sky and in wartime England. Through 1943–44 it offers a confidential perspective of life as a “flyboy,” during which Howard was awarded the Air Medal with three clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross with one cluster.

The diary is supplemented with material by Richard and Janet Fogg as well as excerpts from the Chaplain’s Informal Monthly Reports of Morale, and the Monthly Reports of the 359th Group Historian. It also incorporates period photographs and examples of Howard’s artwork, including previously unpublished political cartoons and preliminary drawings.

From the smallest daily details of the airmen’s life to the strategic and tactical decisions that affected their fates, Fogg in the Cockpit presents a hidden side of one of the 20th century’s great artistic geniuses, with a vivid look at the life of a fighter pilot in World War II.

(Text from inside front book jacket.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The 359th Fighter Group, 11 September 1944

Office of the Group Historian
APO 637 US Army
4 October 1944

The 359th Fighter Group, September 1944

The “one big day” so long awaited by the 359th Fighter Group arrived 11 September, as the Group completed nine months of operational flying over Europe.

On that day the 359th destroyed 26 German aircraft in aerial combat, probably destroyed four, and damaged six, besides running up a score of 9-0-13 on the ground. That meant 35-4-19 for the day. Next afternoon, 12 September, the 359th scored another 10-0-3 in the air and 6-0-8 on the ground. The two-day total of 51-4-28 was one-third the total score compiled in the preceding nine months.

Ten men did not return from the missions on these two days, as a revivified Luftwaffe fought savagely against the joint Anglo-American attempt to make successful a final bombardment softening of the Reich for the ground assault.

The Germans fought only when the weather was right. The weather generally was execrable, so bad that it was a distinct achievement and a tribute to the ability of its pilots that the 359th could get up 22 times in the month, though one of these was a two-flight A/S Rescue affair.

On the 22 days on which missions were flown, 1,050 P-51s most of them now the model D, were airborne off the pockmarked, ragged turf at East Wretham, and 112 came back for a sortie total of 938, averaging 5:01 per mission. The total aircraft claim of 58-5-29 was opposed to 16 men listed as MIA as the month ended.

Though a slightly higher total had been scored in May, September generally was regarded as the most encouraging month in the 359th Group’s history. There were two reasons: the grand slam of the 11th, and the emergence of new leaders. Fourteen men returned to the Zone of the Interior during the month as the tour was twice reduced, first from 300 to 285 hours, then to 270 hours. And permission to send men home whenever replacements brought the strength above 121 made the tour even more pliable.


This excerpt from Fogg in the Cockpit was selected from transcriptions of the original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The complete documents were transcribed by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, from reports filed from December 1943 through September 1945 by Maurice F. X. Donohue, 359th Fighter Group historian and combat intelligence officer.

Photo: Silhouettes of P-51s in flight. Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, from records at HQ USAF Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Then Came Trouble: May 11, 1944

Excerpts from Fogg in the Cockpit, the Wartime Diary of Captain Howard Fogg:

Wednesday and Thursday, May 10 and 11: London

Lost Hodges from the 370th. He bailed out over France.

Kibler and his new wingman disappeared strafing. Bad! Everyone landing anywhere for gas, four and one-half hours without wing tanks!! Rough day.


Report from the Office of the Group Historian for May 1944 dated 4 June 1944:

The 11th was a confused day that turned out badly. FO 335 was preceded by a warning order at 2040 on the 10th that was canceled at 2357 and revived at 0410. The order itself was in at 0755. At 1030, Wing canceled the assignment and put on notice to support heavy bombers at 1700. At 1108, this cancellation was in its turn canceled, and 51 ships were airborne at 1325. A briefed preliminary sweep merged into an early rendezvous at 1507 near Besançon and support around the target at Mulhouse, where the 359th Group withdrew at 1555.

Then came trouble.

In obedience to an injunction in the FO the Group had not carried wing tanks, and many men, especially the new pilots, had “a sweat job” to get home. Worse yet, the debonair Kibler, slim, sandy, politely aggressive young graduate of the Citadel and US Anti-Aircraft office, and the equally nonchalant, black-haired Hodges both led their flights down on Reims-Champagne on the homeward journey. There was no cover for five miles. The Germans saw them coming and there was vicious flak all the way. Kibler, sure, suave, married just before he left the States, did not come back, and there was no radio chatter to give clue to his fate."


Photo: Lieutenant Ralph E. “Kib” Kibler with dog “Flak.” Photo courtesy of Anthony C. Chardella: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

Excerpt from the Report from the Office of the Group Historian, included in
Fogg in the Cockpit, was transcribed by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, from reports filed from by Maurice F. X. Donohue, 359th Fighter Group historian and combat intelligence officer, from the original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fogg in the Cockpit Book Reviews!

“Howard Fogg is one of those rare people who managed to keep a diary whilst engaged in fighting during the Second World War. It's "witting testimony" of the highest calibre, and a most welcome addition to the library of reminiscences of this most recent world conflict. Add to this the genuine and amazing talent of Fogg as an artist, and you have a most fascinating read - the appendix of beautiful colour paintings by Fogg is a welcome addendum. A remarkable book indeed.”

~ BOOKS MONTHLY, 2011-08-30



This book represents a labor of love for a family whose father (Howard Fogg), a renowned railroad artist, had served during the Second World War as a fighter pilot with the 359th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), which operated out of Britain between 1943 and 1945.

The heart of the book is made up of diary entries that Fogg had made between October 1943 (the month that the 359th arrived in Britain) and September 1944, when he completed his combat tour and returned to the United States. The historical commentary, which is interspersed throughout this book, provides a wonderful touch, which gives an added perspective on the contributions and sacrifices made by the USAAF in Europe towards the defeat of the Third Reich.

The reader is given entree into the day-to-day existence of a fighter pilot and its sometimes mundane aspects aside from the pressures and hazards of combat flying. The book also has a generous collection of wartime photographs and several examples of Fogg's postwar railroad paintings, which showcase his considerable talent.

For me, "FOGG IN THE COCKPIT" was one of the best purchases I made this year. Any student of the Second World War or aviation enthusiast will love this book.”

~ W. Montgomery (Washington DC – USA) August 27, 2011