Danny Wilson: Thanksgiving 1944 and a Stone Shack

November 1944

Danny Wilson had a mission in November, one of forty-four Lightnings to escort B-24s over the Vienna Florisdorfer Oil Refinery. They met dreaded flack at the target. After the bomb run, one Liberator was on fire, with one engine feathered and another smoking. All ten men parachuted out.

DanP38formation
P-38 Lightnings in formation

Danny received two letters from home, a picture of Richard from Darlene, and letters from Delbert, Junior, and from Donald. “I like the little items that makes up part of your letters,” he told his mother, “such as Dad fixing the bucksaw blade up. In short, I sure like to get mail from you.” He’d been on more missions, including one earlier that day. Since they were bomber escort missions, he said, they were long ones.

“You probably have read or heard of certain missions over enemy territory or Germany proper,” he hinted.

DanMap2
Show about how far the combat areas were from Foggia, Italy. Danny Wilson flew missions over Austria as far north as Vienna, Yugoslavia, even Germany.

The pilots started out in tents, even though winter was coming on. They began to find materials to make a stone shack, which was finished after a month of scrounging, with a brick floor, stove, “running” water, and an electric light.

shackOclubHut

“Yes, Mom, we had turkey and cranberries for Thanksgiving. Plenty of everything and was plenty OK.”  He asked if she could send him the Reader’s Digest and also some 127 camera film, which they couldn’t get overseas. He knew it would also probably be hard to get pictures printed.

Film wasn’t available in the States either, but photographers were allowed to sell it to families who had sons or daughters overseas. Leora Wilson was able to buy some from Edmondson’s Studio in Perry.

11 comments

  1. The stone shack sounds like a case of good old American ingenuity and resourcefulness. The P-38 Lightning was one heck of a plane. Great night fighter too.

      • That would be cool. I think Kentucky has one that I believe they found under the ice in Greenland. Crash landed on its flight to Europe.

      • Glacier Girl! I was paying attention when the crew went after her! I used to keep track of them–were half a dozen flying at one time. Felt awful when Jeff Ethell was lost in one, but I bet it’s the way he would have chosen to go.

  2. Interesting about the film, 127…oh yes I remember that, boy things have changed. Amazing the stone shack they built had electric and water too, the shack itself…amazing 🙂 Sharon

    • Quotes around electric and water! I imagine the lights had to do with a generator. At least our first lightbulb (on the porch) in maybe 1949 was run by generator.

  3. This is excellent. You can feel all involved& it’s Thanksgiving. Being home to receive them, his request for what he Pictures showing more P-38’s from above than I’ve ever seen, great detailed 500 mile radius from the Foggia super complex, assuring Mom he was lucky…had a hot Thanksgiving dinner.
    Finally, the pic of the scrounge-built stone hut… proudly( rightfully) shown with cold & rainy months of winter arriving. With an aerial scale pic showing the 0-club & his huts place in the scheme. My uncle spent part of 43′-’44 at Foggia too. Kudos Joy. This is what soldiers, airmen & ground crews had around them and FELT.

    • Dan sent home the hut photo and the officers club, but found the others on the internet. I’ve had such fun with combining parts f his letters with other things I’ve learned. His best friend, Harry Wold, also brought his photo album to share with us. (A photo of Harry at Foggia is pictured in Leora’s Letters!)

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