Monday, November 23, 1942

The words that follow (in italics) are transcribed verbatim from the journal my father, Lt. Ben H. Rushing, kept during his deployment as a navigator on a B17.

Nov. 23, 1942

We got General Ike & left here about 8:00. About 9:45 we came in sight of Tafourah. Oh, it’s a lovely place from the ground, but it doesn’t look too comfortable a place to stay. There isn’t too many barracks down here. Guess we will have to put up a pup tent.

We burned out our brakes coming in to land. Were were supposed to take the General on to Algiers this afternoon.

The Germans have been bombing the boys over there to death. Knocked out about 4 of our group’s planes. Killed an entire crew on one 17. I found out that another one of the boys from Sarasota was lost today. His plane caught fire on the way from England. Roysden was the navigator on it. One of the Squadron leaders & General Duncan was on it, too.

Saw an Arab on a Jackass. It was the funniest sight I’ve ever seen.

Note from Ben, Jr.: Brigadier General Asa Duncan was the commander of the 8th AAF. He was KIA when the B17 he was on caught fire after leaving Gibraltar. From the book, Venit Hora (The Hour Has Come) The 97th Bomb Group in World War II, “We were about an hour away from Predannack, approximately 90 miles west of Brest, flying at 400 feet in loose formatin when I saw a fire coming from one of the right wing engines of Maj. Knox’s aircraft. It was difficult to determine if it was the inboard or outboard engine. Something which I think might have been a wing tank dropped away from the aircraft, blazing fiercely. The entire right wing was in flames and one of the propellers was feathered as Maj. Knox lost altitude. We saw the fire extinguisher on one of the right engines in operation. He struck the sea about two miles from where we saw the plane catch fire. When it struck the water a sheet of flames enveloped it and it sank immediately, leaving an oil and gasoline slick which burned for about an hour and a half afterwards. I saw one person in an individual life raft and five or six others in the water wearing Mae Wests. We threw out to them nine individual dinghies, one emergency radio, six cans of rations and six cans of water, one we saw picked up by the man in the dinghy. The other aircraft in the flight circled for about twenty minutes and dropped things into the water, then continued to Gibraltar. My radio operator contacted Predannack several times and the air-sea rescue station in Gloucester. He also broadcast an S.O.S. on 500 kilocycles, giving the position of the aircraft that crashed. It was 47 degrees 56 minutes north, 07 degrees 18 minutes west. No ships were visible in the area. We circled for six and one-quarter hours, keeping above the oil slick. The persons in the Mae West were drifting apart and when we left we could count only one in addition to the person on the raft. Two Lockheed Hudsons appeared at 1615 hours (GMT) and we started back to Predannack at 1616 hours after getting a recognition flare from them. We arrived at Predennack at 1640 hours with 150 gallons of fuel left for each engine.”

Lost that afternoon were Maj. J.M. Knox; Lt. C.M. Garber, Jr.; Lt. J. Kaplan;, Lt. J.A. Roysden; Lt. L.S. Birelson; Sgt. A.B. Spell; Sgt. L.L. Haddox; Sgt. R.J. Arendt; Sgt. W.L. Talbot; Sgt. P.W. Padgett, and Brig. Gen. Asa N. Duncan.

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