February, 1945 brought new targets for the twenty-year-old Richards, Texas homeboy 2nd. Lieutenant Glenn Morris, navigator for a B-17 bomber called The Fortress in the 365th. bomber squadron of the Eighth Air Force stationed in England during WWII.
Ludwigshafen, a city on the Rhine opposite Mannheim, on February 1st…tons of bombs dropped on two chemical plants supplying vital chemicals to the German military efforts…two days later (February 03) The Fortress finally made it to Berlin, the capitol of Hitler’s Third Reich…six days later on the 9th. the mission was a smaller town called Lutzendorf…
Flying at altitudes of 20,000 feet for most bombing runs meant long hours of very cold temperatures in confined cramped spaces where the oxygen was “scarce,” to quote Glenn’s description of the experience during training exercises. Smoke from the fires below and the gunfire surrounding The Fortress during its missions made his eyes burn and breathing even more difficult. The sounds of machine guns reverberated in his sleep at night. The sights of cities burning beneath him seared into his memory forever. Death and destruction. The call of bombs away and away and away couldn’t be tuned out at night when he waited for sleep to come.
After the Lutzendorf mission, the crew had a break for several days. On February 12th, Lt. Morris wrote the following letter to his parents – it’s the only correspondence preserved from that month. He was so happy getting his letters from home – even his daddy wrote to his son. I would love to have that letter.
Just a line to let you know I’m O.K. I’m doing better about the writing, am I not? I will write when I have time. You know I will, cause I’m supposed to.
I got my haircut today. I’m looking very sharp in my leather jacket. You didn’t know I had one, did you?
Yesterday I went to church. It was the first time I’ve been in England. It was the first time I’ve had a chance. I can remember when I seldom missed a Sunday. Do you remember, too?
I got 3 letters from you, Mama, and one from you, Daddy. The latest one was the 23rd. of January. I get your letters very quickly. Keep writing direct mail. I like them better. Well, kids, you’ve had it. I love you,
George Morris with his son Glenn in Richards, Texas
Lt. Glenn Morris the navigator
list of missions flown by Lt. Morris
in his own handwriting on personal stationery
An even dozen bombing runs were made in February, 1945…Dresden, Bdadnnitz, Nuremberg (twice), Wittenberg, Hamburg (the second largest city in Germany where the new U-boats were under construction, but the mission failed due to cloud cover), Munich (the third largest city in Germany, located in Bavaria at the northern edge of the Alps near Austria, near Hitler’s infamous Eagle’s Nest where Nazi leaders gathered for strategic planning), Berlin again and Saist, a much smaller town.
Tail Gunner Pfc. Klepps killed in action
during mission in February, 1945
Twenty-three bombing runs completed by the end of February, and one member of the crew of The Fortress had gone home without his buddies.
(image from Wikipedia)