It is Good to be Home — and a WWII Story or 2…

Drivel Starved Nation!

I just returned from spending three weeks in Europe participating in a publicity tour for Bridge City Tool Works and all the new distributors.

Here are all the stops; London, Axminster, Exeter, Paris, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Munich, Stuttgart, Wurzburg (I think), Frankfurt, Barcelona, and finally Lisbon, Portugal. Needless to say, I am beat. Spain and Portugal were sightseeing stops before heading back to Portland…

The receptions we received were fantastic, and as we discussed future plans, it became clear that I am not the only one excited about Pencil Precision! So that is good news.

The most interesting stop was the bed and breakfast we stayed in in Arnhem, Netherlands. (Do you remember the movie “A Bridge Too Far“? this was about the WWII battle in Arnhem. The site was selected by Montgomery to circumvent the Siegfried Line.)

This particular bed and breakfast was in the middle of nowhere and we had a hard time finding it at night. But when we did, the owner shared the most interesting story regarding his “home”

The place appears to be a country farmhouse and that was the intent of the Nazis when they built it during the Second World War. In reality it was a plane hanger that housed two Messerschmidt 109’s. The Nazi occupants even went to the trouble of making and placing paper mache cows in the surrounding fields to throw off allied aerial surveillance.

Disguising a hanger to look like a farm house is one thing. Hiding an airstrip is a bit more difficult. The allies knew the Germans were in Arnhem but didn’t know in which buildings. However, cows that don’t move for days on end is certainly suspect, so the allies bombed the cows — with paper mache bombs! All for the purpose of messing with the minds of the enemy.

Also located on this property is an enormous concrete bunker that was the northern Europe control center for the Luftwaffe. Apparently Herman Goering was personally instrumental in its design.

The allies knew this bunker location, however they were unable to destroy it from the air. After the war was over, attempts were made to destroy it from the inside, and that partially failed as well. It is now possible to tour this bunker but our schedule was too tight unfortunately. Dang!

If you would like to read more about this cool place, click here .

My interest in WWII is personal as my father flew 27 missions over Germany as a 17 year-old member of the Army Air Corp. He was the B-24 radioman/top turret gunner. The government keeps meticulous records and you can imagine my surprise when my brother found his military records.   I am sharing an abbreviated version below because this is simply unimaginable to me.

This is a complete list of his missions, all flown out of England;

Nose Art Name A/C Serial # Mission Date City Country Target
Southern Comfort III 42-50896 11/26/44 Bielefeld Germany Railroad Viaduct
Gypsy Queen 42-109896 12/05/44 Munster Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 12/10/44 Bingen Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 12/11/44 Karlsruhe Germany Railroad Bridge
42-51552 12/24/44 Ruwer Germany Bridges & Tunnels
00-522 12/28/44 Kaiserlauten Germany Railroad & Road Junction
42-51552 12/31/44 Dorsel Germany Railroad Junction
42-51552 01/02/45 Koblenz Germany Koblenz-Lutzel Railroad Bridge
Southern Comfort III 42-50896 01/05/45 Neunkirchen Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 01/07/45 Landau Germany Rail & Road Junction
T.S. Tessie / Beck’s Bad Boys 42-95001 01/14/45 Hemmingstedt Germany Oil Refinery
42-51552 01/16/45 Dresden Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 01/29/45 Hamm Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 02/03/45 Madgeburg Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 02/06/45 Madgeburg Germany Marshalling Yards
42-51552 02/09/45 Madgeburg Germany Marshalling Yards
Joplin Jalopy 42-50535 02/28/45 Siegen Germany Marshalling Yards
Myrtle The Fertile Turtle 42-99967 03/02/45 Magdeburg Germany Marshalling Yards
Sabrina III 42-95209 03/08/45 Betzdorf & Frankfurt Germany Marshalling Yards
Clean Sweep / Dragon Nose 42-51351 03/11/45 Kiel Germany Sub Pens & Shipbuilding
Sabrina III 42-95209 03/22/45 Schwabisch Hall Germany Airfield
The Big Headed Kid 44-50748 03/25/45 Hitzacker Germany Oil Storage
44-50500 04/09/45 Leipheim Germany Airfield
Joplin Jalopy 42-50535 04/10/45 Parchim Germany Airfield
The Big Headed Kid 44-50748 04/15/45 Fort-De-Royan France German Troops
44-50682 04/16/45 Landshut Germany Marshalling Yards
The Big Headed Kid 44-50748 04/25/45 Hallein Austria Marshalling Yards

If you have a similar parent or grandparent story, please share.  I think these things are important to remember. Particularly at this point in time in America.

I started this post complaining about being tired from my trip which seems silly or petty or perhaps ungrateful.  That certainly was not my intent. Anyway, it is good to be home, and I am excited to get back to work.

-Still Your Favorite Tool Potentate

PS:  I am still cleaning out the Bridge City Skunk Works and on Monday, December 2nd, 8PM PDT, about 60 items are going up on auction on eBay. There may be a deal or two in there.

9 comments on this post:

  1. I was wondering when you’d give us an update about your BCTW Europe tour! Sounds really fun and, as always, full of interesting stories.

  2. john,
    even though you dad was on a number of different planes, he did fly over the 25 mission “goal” to be considered to have completed a tour of duty. did he return to the states after the austria run?

    interesting link about the 25 mission issue and a factoid most probably don’t know concerning the naming of joint base andrews.

    you left us hanging about the interest of others concerning the pencil precision. why the teaser with no follow up?

    at any rate, merry christmas and happy new year to you and yours.


  3. So great to have you back, safe and sound, John. Wow – what a trip! Walking through the battlefields of the two world wars is a sobering experience. I don’t know how people can still live there. But I guess most of Europe and Asia has seen bloodshed at one time or other. One of the consequences of our human history, I suppose.

    I’m pleased to hear that your trip was so successful, and would love to see pictures, if you have some to share. I hope you can relax now, into the holiday season. We’re all still looking forward to the brain drippings of our favorite Tool Potentate; any hints about what’s in the hopper?

  4. john, know your dad returned (remember the book “unbroken”), was just wondering if the “magic” 25 mission count got him home early.

  5. Reading this account of your father’s brave service in a COVID world where some people feel the simple act of wearing a face mask is both onerous and a direct assault of their “liberties”. Your father and his generation, combatants and non combatants, all saw what real terror, hardship and loss was – and amazingly, if they survived, still went on to bring children into this world with kindness and care. I hope this generation can somehow retrieve that blend of backbone, morale fiber and instinctive understanding that humanity requires us, when challenged, to do the right thing. And, yes, build paper mâché cows!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *