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Interview with George England [4/8/2006]

Lisa Pereira:

You want to do that _____ before? Okay. What is your date of birth?

George England:

October 13, 1924.

Lisa Pereira:

Nineteen -- I'm sorry?

George England:

1924.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. Your address?

George England:

44 Worthington Drive, Farmington, Connecticut, zip -- ready? -- 06032.

Lisa Pereira:

Zero -- okay. If you want to put -- we can -- it's optional to ask you the -- your race or ethnicity. Would you like to --

George England:

Oh, Irish.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay.

George England:

Proud of it.

Lisa Pereira:

The branch of service or -- you were in?

George England:

In the Navy.

Lisa Pereira:

What is the battalion, regiment, division, unit, or ship?

George England:

I wasn't on any ship. I flew overseas; so here's the name of the squadron or the -- VPB-111 Patrol Bombing Squadron.

Lisa Pereira:

Your highest rank?

George England:

Aviation Machinist Mate, First Class. It's like a First Class Petty Officer.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. We'll probably do this after during -- because we'll have to restate it and all that. I have to -- what's the name of the camera that we're using? Panasonic? That's what we _____+ the statement from? _____+ right?

George England:

Right.

Lisa Pereira:

And branch of service, Navy, Aviation First Class. Okay. We can get started. It's on? It's on the whole time? Oh.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. We are right now at the Farmington Library, interviewing veteran George England. My name is Lisa Pereira, and Zack Neland [ph] will be here to interview as well. Mr. England's birthday is ten -- October 13th, 1924. His place of living is 44 Worthington, Farmington, Connecticut 06032. The name of the camera we are using today is Panasonic. He served in World War II and also served with the Navy. His rank was an Aviation First Class. Okay, Mr. England. Were you drafted, or did you enlist in the war?

George England:

I was drafted.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay.

George England:

I think you probably know that at a certain point during World War II, high school graduates were being given the opportunity to select a service --

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

-- and I selected the Navy because I always admired the ships and so forth.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. Any other reasons of why you joined --

George England:

Yes.

Lisa Pereira:

-- during that time?

George England:

Fellows like me who were graduating high school felt they wanted to go and serve our country.

Lisa Pereira:

Where were you living at the time?

George England:

Manchester, Connecticut.

Lisa Pereira:

Were you -- were you in any type of a boot camp or --

George England:

Yes.

Lisa Pereira:

-- training?

George England:

I went to the Navy boot camp located in Sampson, New York -- it's upstate New York -- for eight weeks.

Lisa Pereira:

And what was that like?

George England:

New, obviously. We weren't used to taking orders.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

We weren't used to getting up early in the morning and being told we gotta have the lights out at 9:00.

Lisa Pereira:

What was a typical day like there, starting at what time?

George England:

You'd hear a reveille -- "You've got to get up. You've got to get up. You've got to get up in the morning" --

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

-- and then we'd "fall out," as they say, out in front of the barracks and do some exercises, after which we'd go to breakfast, after which we would drill. And then we'd be divided, and it'd be march and march and then march, and you ran; so it was march and run, march and run, obstacle courses.

Lisa Pereira:

How did you manage to get through those eight weeks?

George England:

Anyone could do it.

Lisa Pereira:

Determination?

George England:

Anyone with health could do it.

Lisa Pereira:

Did you meet friends along the way there?

George England:

Yes, lots of them.

Lisa Pereira:

Great. Do you remember what your instructors were like or do you --

George England:

Yeah.

Lisa Pereira:

-- remember their names?

George England:

As I look at you, it's flashing by my mind.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

I can't say it right now.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs] Okay. What were they like? Was there many or was there one in particular?

George England:

One in particular.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay.

George England:

We had him for an entire time.

Lisa Pereira:

How many people were a part of your training?

George England:

A unit was 120. That's the quantity that would fit in the first floor or the second floor of the barracks; so Hay [ph] barracks would have two of these companies, total of 240.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay.

Lisa Pereira:

Which wars did you serve in? Just --

George England:

World War II.

Lisa Pereira:

Where exactly did you go during this time?

George England:

Okay. After going to boot camp in Sampson, New York, I went from there to Memphis, Tennessee, to the Naval Aviation Technical Training Center. It's also the location of the naval -- naval airport. That's where they trained you to service all aspects of the plane. Some were aviation electricians; so they learned the electrical part. The aviation mechanics learned all the mechanical part, including the engines, _____ and all moving parts, hydraulics, landing gear, and so forth.

Lisa Pereira:

How long did you stay there for?

George England:

That was 12 weeks.

Lisa Pereira:

Twelve weeks? Any other place?

George England:

Pardon?

Lisa Pereira:

Any other places that you --

George England:

Yes. Well, towards graduation at Memphis --

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

-- a few officers arrived and were looking for volunteers to be aerial gunners, and three of us raised our hand, and I was one of them. I had envisioned being an aerial gunner and one of the two dive bombers the Navy had at that time or the torpedo bomber. That's what I thought I was going to do; however, the -- we got orders transferring us to the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, which was the location of the Navy's PBY training program -- flying boats?

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

So I was trained to be a flight engineer, sometimes called "plane captain." And we would have a place in the plane, strictly devoted to the flight engineer. I don't know if you ever saw one. I have one hanging by a string at home. I wish I had brought it.

Lisa Pereira:

Maybe in a later time we'd meet again and you can bring it --

George England:

Uh-huh.

Lisa Pereira:

-- and you can show it. Okay. So how long did you stay there in Jacksonville?

George England:

Okay. That was roughly an eight-week period, and we flew up and down the coast from Florida to Cuba both for training purposes as well as to look for submarines. We were looking for German submarines.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm. Did you find them _____+?

George England:

No, we didn't. We just saw beautiful ocean and sharks. We thought, "Gee, whiz. Look at this. Those -- the water is so clear. It's so beautiful...did you see the sharks down there?

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs] So for those eight weeks, you traveled from -- on the coast from Florida to Cuba then?

George England:

Down to Guantanamo Bay, we landed on there sometimes, refuel, and come back up.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. How many volunteers were there along with you, yourself?

George England:

What do you mean by that? In the plane or --

Lisa Pereira:

That -- yeah.

George England:

In the plane, there'd be two pilots, a navigator, an instructor, his students -- there'd be about five students on board. There was a machine gun in the front of the plane. Today it would appear to be antiquated. At the time, we didn't think so. And there were two _____+ one on either side of the plane was another machine gun, a 50-caliber _____; and at the bottom of the plane was what they called a "tunnel hatch." You could open the tunnel latch during flight and stick out a 30-caliber machine gun. The other machine guns were 50 calibers.

Lisa Pereira:

Was that the only places that you went along the way?

George England:

No. Then we got orders transferring us to the middle of the country to Hutchinson, Kansas. We couldn't believe it that there was a naval air station in the middle of the country. We thought, "Gee, whiz, it must be a secret base." At any rate, it was being used for B-24s, the Liberator. The Navy called them "PB4Y-1," different from what the Army called them. And therefore, we had all new pilots, crewmen. Some were trained to be flight engineers, some were trained to be the tail gunner, top deck gunner, radio men, radar men, [building] _____.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. Any other places?

George England:

And from there, we got transferred to San Diego -- both North Highland and then a naval base, as well as Camp Kearny; and we trained there for a number of weeks and became a crew or -- before, we really didn't know we were going to become a crew. So at any rate, we therefore wound up with 11 members of our crew, two pilots, a navigator bombardier and the plane captain, ordnance men, gunners...

Lisa Pereira:

And how long was that term in San Diego?

George England:

It was about eight weeks.

Lisa Pereira:

Eight weeks?

George England:

Then we had orders to fly to Hawaii to a naval air station there. So it was arranged that three planes, meaning three B-24s, and one PBM, which is another flying boat -- we all depart roughly the same time. And through the night, we flew from California to Hawaii, purpose of which was to have some contact with another plane to _____+ go down to at least report back where it happened so something could be done about rescue. So when they -- roughly around 5:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived over Hawaii. We had to go by way of Pearl Harbor which as you know had been attacked, and no one was to go anywhere near to an airplane or you get shot down.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

So we landed in a place called Kaneohe -- K-a-n-o-h-o-e [sic] -- Air Base, and we trained there for a few weeks.

Lisa Pereira:

And how was that training?

George England:

We were looking for submarines, our own submarines. It was supposed to be planned until you find them. We never found them. Okay. So after that training, we would take off for the war zone. How do you get to the war zone in an airplane in those days? You flew from Hawaii to the stepping stone islands, Johnson Island to Kwajalein, which had been taken, and then to Guam, and then to Laiti in the Philippines. And that's where our squadron started operating. We had 18 crews in our squadron and 15 B-24s. The Navy used us as the eyes of the admiral because we were the only Navy planes who could fly long distances, you know, say, 14 hours, which was a lot in those days. So we flew a number of missions from Laiti, searching. And what were you searching for? We were searching for ships, primarily. And so we went from Laiti to Mindoro, which is another Philippine island, to Lausanne, and the last one was Palawan. From any one of those places -- for example, we flew to Okinawa, which was about a month before the invasion; and we could report back that there were the ships in the harbor and they were firing antiaircraft at us. We saw what we wanted, and we got the hell out of there. And on the way there, we encountered a burning ship. We said, "Well, how the hell could that happen?" There weren't supposed to be any other Americans up here. And as I think about it over the years, I said to myself, "Geez, it had to be a submarine" because no other airplanes were around. It was on fire. We strived to help it, and we went about the rest of our mission; but I always remembered that.

Lisa Pereira:

And from that point?

George England:

Okay. Some of our missions were to Hong Kong. Amazing thing for me was to see thousands of sampans in the water. Our squadron -- I forgot to tell you -- only flew at low levels. We did not have oxygen. We threw the oxygen tanks out when we first got to the Philippines. Therefore, when we came in Hong Kong, coming in low over the water at 200 feet, seeing all those sampans reminded me of matchsticks, boxes of matchsticks that had been dropped on the water. They were everywhere; and as they flew over them at around 200 miles an hour or so, they were just staring up at them from the waves. They didn't know whether they were going to get bombed, strafed, or what. Other places, we went to the coast of Indochina, which is now Vietnam --

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

-- students like you don't know it had an earlier name -- again, looking for ships. We'd fly to Singapore. In the Singapore Straits, we found two hiding Japanese heavy cruisers. One of them was the Takeo, T-a-k-e-o. The reason it was there, it had been damaged by our American submarines; and since they weren't sunk, they managed to make it for repairs to Singapore Straits. Our pilot ordered the rail man to radio back to the Philippines we have discovered two cruisers, and we were instructed to get the hell out of there and keep moving. The cruisers, they had enough guns in there. If the B-24 _____+ shoot you down.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

Other places, our longest flight took us to Java. That was a 14-hour flight, and all we saw was 14 hours’ worth of water. Another one that stands out which we received considerable recognition, flying from the island of Palawan, all the way down the coast of Borneo to zero degrees on the equator, we discovered a shipyard, an unknown shipyard. The allies did not know it was there. We reported back immediately to our base. They said, "Return to base." We returned to base and loaded up three B-24s with incendiary bombs and napalm. We took off and then off in the wee hours in the morning, went back there. They have never had any American visitors before except for us seamen, and we came in low, dropping incendiaries and napalm and burned the hell out of the place, for which our pilot, for discovering it and leading the attack -- he was awarded the Navy Cross. Crew members were awarded the Air Medals.

Lisa Pereira:

So when they returned to the base, they were awarded these --

George England:

Right.

Lisa Pereira:

-- recognition?

George England:

Not right away, you know, a couple months later.

Lisa Pereira:

Were you under a certain type of commander, or do you remember his name by any chance?

George England:

Lieutenant Commander Paris [ph]. I don't remember his first name. And since we had gone to the equator and below -- we went to Java, right below the equator -- there is an initiation in the Navy called "shellback initiation," where those who had been before, initiate you; and since it was done in the islands -- let's say, you would dress up with a bandana on your head, like an old T-shirt, and they arrange for you to crawl in the mud while the others who had been before, had these sticks -- for example, you manage to go back in on your rear as you crawl between their legs. You might say, "What a foolish thing to do"; but it's like initiation.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

So we always see the certificate of Neptune, the warlord or lord of the ocean.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm. Did you have to participate in that as well --

George England:

Yeah.

Lisa Pereira:

-- the initiation?

George England:

I was in the mud and --

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

-- I had the T-shirt on and got whacked. Have you had initiations like that in college?

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs] Not that I know of.

George England:

[laughs]

Lisa Pereira:

Do you want a break for two seconds _____+?

George England:

Sure.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay.

George England:

I won't get it now, but I'm a big coffee drinker. I saw a coffee machine out there.

George England:

Okay. I do want to put a plug in for our squadron.

Lisa Pereira:

Uh-huh.

George England:

I already told you it was VPB-111. It received an Admiral's Commendation for its work in the Pacific, meaning the ships it sunk, the shipyard it took out.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. What was the name of that ship? V --

George England:

Pardon?

Lisa Pereira:

What was the name of that ship? V --

George England:

V -- the name is squadron --

Lisa Pereira:

Oh.

George England:

-- was V-P-B, dash, 111, Patrol Bombing Squadron.

Lisa Pereira:

So after that initiation -- what was the initiation for? Was it just to --

George England:

The initiation meant you had really gone across the equator. And to prove it, you have a certificate which is home somewhere.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. And then from that point on, what was your next mission? What was your next --

George England:

Well, a variety. I told you many of the places we went.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

I mentioned French Indochina, Hong Kong, Okinawa, various places on Borneo, searching sometimes for downed aircraft --

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

-- whether it be from our own squadron or other squadrons. We'd fly down along the coast of the Celebes. I don't know if you know where the Celebes are, do you? They are a huge island to the west of Borneo. We never occupied it. As you know, MacArthur's plan was to hedgehop and not take out all islands, but it was a huge island.

Lisa Pereira:

So basically your assignments were to look for --

George England:

Ships.

Lisa Pereira:

-- ships, submarines...

George England:

Right.

Lisa Pereira:

And you, like, came across the one that was damaged, you said? The one that was damaged?

George England:

What was damaged?

Lisa Pereira:

The Takeo? _____+

George England:

Oh, that was a cruiser.

Lisa Pereira:

Cruiser.

George England:

The other submarine we did discover had already been damaged through this. USS Darter and another submarine had attacked a fleet of Japanese; and in making what they call a "turnabout," it became stranded on a shoal. It's coral that sticks out of the water, sometimes covered by the high tide and not during low tide. It got stuck there which was, obviously, an awful situation. They were able to radio another submarine who came in as close as the commander could, and they arranged to take off the crew of that submarine after it had set explosives in the submarine to blow it to bits so the Japanese could not get any advantage to technology that was on the sub. Unfortunately, the explosion did not do what it was intended to do. At any rate, they had to leave because they sighted an aircraft in the vicinity, and therefore they took that crew from the USS Darter to the Nautilus, I think it was, and departed. In other words, submerged and departed. The next day, another submarine pulled in close and, using -- I think it was -- a 40-millimeter canon, put 60 shots into the submarine. So where do we come in? During any of our missions in that area, we were instructed to strafe it and bomb it, and the remains, which we did. And until 1955, 10 years after, various military ships would stop in the vicinity of the Darter to have a ceremony on behalf of that sub. Submariners and other Navy guys have a tendency to do that. So it continued for ten years. It didn't stop. But its remnants are still out there.

Lisa Pereira:

Did you see any combat during the war?

George England:

You mean people shooting back at us? Yes. That's what they do. They don't let you go in for free.

Lisa Pereira:

Did you ever shoot anyone or --

George England:

Yes. When we did that attack on the shipyard, we came in low, all machine guns blazing. So we saw people running, and we strafed them. I didn't get to see their badges. We were coming in at over 200 miles an hour at that time. We were just -- were strafing, which you did all the time. And if we attacked a ship, you know, you don't just bomb it. You strafe it on the way in.

Lisa Pereira:

Were there many casualties in your unit?

George England:

Yes, meaning, some were killed during takeoff because you're taking off with a full load of gasoline and bombs, and there's no way you're going to get out of that if you went in. Other planes were lost in landing, and sometimes survivors survived and then died later; and some never came back, and you don't know whether they landed in the middle of an island somewhere, crash-landed and survived or become prisoners or what or never hurt.

Lisa Pereira:

Roughly in your unit, how many do you think _____+?

George England:

25 percent.

Lisa Pereira:

What do you think is your most memorable moment or experience during all of that?

George England:

Well, between the shipyard and burning it and almost falling out of a plane.

Lisa Pereira:

Falling out of a plane?

George England:

Yeah. You know, as I said, our missions were very long. You weren't always in danger. And anyway, I went to the rear of the plane. There's places where you can urinate one place, and there's a place where you can do the other thing. At any rate, we kept our food back there, and you could get sandwiches that had been prepared by the Navy cooks. At any rate, this was in Hawaii, and remember we were there for submarine training?

Lisa Pereira:

Yeah.

George England:

And Hawaii is noted for big pineapples, Dole pineapple. So we had lots of Dole pineapple cans in the plane; so I went back to get some. And I think I had three cans under each arm, managed to get the door open to the bomb bay. And the cat walk, I think, is about eight to 10 inches long, and you walk through the cat logs -- cat way, rather -- kind of sideways.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

And all of a sudden, the bomb bays opened, and there was the ocean. My immediate reaction was to grab for something. Obviously, the cans of pineapple went down, and I'm holding on, and I'm looking down. "Holy mackerel, that could be me." And I then I'm holding on to other metal uprights, went through; and then I went up to the ordnance man, who was also kind of a bombardier, "What the hell did you do?"

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

"You almost caused me to drop into the drink." So I let him -- I let him know with Navy salty talk.

Lisa Pereira:

Were you personally awarded any medals or salutations?

George England:

Yes.

Lisa Pereira:

_____+ which ones _____+?

George England:

I have five Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Admiral's Commendation, battle stars for the Philippine Islands, and one for Okinawa. That's three for the Philippine Islands, various Philippine Islands, one for Okinawa. By the way, as a matter of interest, we also had a dog. I don't know if anybody cares, but being a low-level flying squadron, you did not need oxygen, as I think I said. Therefore, a human or a dog could operate at our altitudes. Before we departed for overseas, a couple of my buddies and I borrowed my pilot's car. We went into the Railway Express office in San Diego where there were many servicemen sending things home because they, too, were going overseas, one way or another. There were two female marines standing there, holding a dog by a leash and -- nice looking German shepherd, but I noticed it kept nipping at everybody that went by. I said, "Jesus." At any rate, I walked over and spoke to the girls, and I said, "Is that dog for sale?" She said, "Are you kidding?" So I left. I knew I wasn't well received. Two minutes later, one of the girls came over to me, and she said to me, "What would you do with that dog if you had it?" I said, "Well, were flying overseas tonight, and we're looking for a mascot." She said, "Come over here and tell that to my girlfriend." She said, "Tell her." And I said, "We're flying overseas tonight, and we're looking for a mascot." She said, "It's yours." Now, minutes had gone by. By that time, the darn dog was in the crate because she was sending it home to her parents. So the expressman came out with a crow bar. He pried up one or two slats, got the dog out, had the leash; and I'm a little leery of that dog because I'd seen it nipping at people. But at any rate, we went to the car, drove out to the -- a motel where my pilot was staying with his wife and child, and there was a playpen on the lawn. What are they -- about a five foot square and 30 inches tall? So I just went out towards the playpen and, gee, the dog went for the child. I was holding on. "We gotta get out of here."

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

Fortunately, the motel was on a highway to the base, and it's customary for trucks to go back and forth -- I call them "buses." They weren't buses. And anyway, a Navy truck -- you can just stand out there long enough, a Navy truck would come by, going to Camp Kearny. Then the problem was how are you going to get into the base? The truck had, on either side, a long seat. You sat side by side; so we sat side by side and put the dog behind our legs, and then we went into the Navy base. There was either a marine, a security guy, or a Navy guy. It was a marine this time. You show your ID. Okay. Let them in. So we drove out to the base. I told the driver to drive out to where the planes were located. I took the leash and tied it to the landing gear, and then we went to our base, came back later on that night. All our equipment was already in the plane and took off with the dog. The dog was on all those missions.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

And the dog received the same medals that we did. I have a write-up. I don't think I have it with me though.

Lisa Pereira:

Okay. Did you have plenty of supplies along the way and, like, food and --

George England:

Yeah.

Lisa Pereira:

-- you had plenty of -- there was enough on the plane for you?

George England:

We always had ample food. That's one thing the Navy was noted for, having ample food, while my friends who were marines and army grunts -- they said, "You lucky stiffs."

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs] How did you stay in touch with your family?

George England:

We had a free mail --

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

-- and, therefore, I'd write to my mother and father fairly frequently. I still have a lot of those letters, and my mother had saved them.

Lisa Pereira:

Oh, great.

George England:

_____.

Lisa Pereira:

How often did you write?

George England:

I think at least once a week.

Lisa Pereira:

Once a week? Do you have any brothers and sisters as well?

George England:

I have a brother, ten years younger than me; a sister, 25 years younger than me; and one deceased sister.

Lisa Pereira:

So you were the oldest.

George England:

Right.

Lisa Pereira:

Was there anything that you did for good luck that was special every battle or every experience that you went through?

George England:

No.

Lisa Pereira:

No? How did people entertain themselves along the way?

George England:

Well, I don't know if they call it "entertainment," but air crewmen have a lot of spare time because you're either in a plane or you're not.

Lisa Pereira:

Right.

George England:

After you return from a mission, you clean your guns the next day, and then you had nothing to do. You play crap or shoot -- or play pinochle. Pinochle was the favorite card game. On Palawan, the Seabees made up a poker table and a -- crap table, I should say. And therefore, under lights at night, those with money who cared to take a chance shot crap. The rest of us would also play pinochle. Double-deck pinochle was the favorite.

Lisa Pereira:

Double-deck? Do you recall any particular humorous or unusual events that occurred?

George England:

Other than falling out of a plane --

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

-- not falling out, rather. I can remember small arms fire hitting the Plexiglas that surrounds the turd [ph] that I was in, causing that turd -- the Plexiglas to break up and fly off.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

I was not hurt. I didn't know if I was hurt or not, you know, the wind coming at you?

Lisa Pereira:

Yeah. Do you have photographs with you at all?

George England:

Yes. I don't have them all, unfortunately. They're somewhere else. Navy _____.

Lisa Pereira:

_____+

George England:

Okay. This would be a boot camp photograph, and that would be the guy that would be, in this case, a warrant officer responsible for this many men. This is a certificate from the training center at Memphis. Picture of the graduating class from Memphis. Me. Not that I have any special interest but -- and I don't know why I have it, but I kept it, I guess -- the hydraulic system of the B-24. Pictures of a shellback initiation, the mud, how the Navy guys were dressed.

Lisa Pereira:

Oh, yeah.

George England:

Palm trees. Getting exercised. That was not me.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

This is me at home.

Lisa Pereira:

How often were you able to come home? How long was it before these certain places that you were able to go?

George England:

When we graduated from that Memphis training center, we were allowed to go home for a week. A P-38 under water. I forget what island I was on at the time when we took that picture while taking off.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm.

George England:

This is not our plane, but the Army air force and the Navy had talented people who enjoyed painting things, and you'll notice that this aircraft has been painted with a nice design -- you'll find seminude women on most of the planes. Here's a picture of a B-24 aerial gunner at the side hatch. Picture of the dog.

Lisa Pereira:

Oh, yeah. Did you guys dress him up at all? [laughs]

George England:

No.

George England:

After the service. After the service. Football.

Lisa Pereira:

Mm-hmm. [video skipped]

George England:

-- three years. [video skipped]

George England:

He was an Airedale.

Lisa Pereira:

An Airedale?

George England:

Airedale. [video skipped]

George England:

-- not here anyway.

Lisa Pereira:

What did you think of the other officers or any fellow soldiers?

George England:

Well, I loved them.

Lisa Pereira:

You loved them all?

George England:

Mm-hmm.

Lisa Pereira:

Did you keep a personal diary at all or a journal?

George England:

I did, and I lost it. I'm so sad about that -- you know, all our missions --

Lisa Pereira:

Yeah.

George England:

-- however, I was -- [video skipped]

George England:

Finally, he was in -- he says, "I'm looking for George England. I hope he's not dead.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs]

George England:

This is Bill Weir.

Lisa Pereira:

What was his name?

George England:

Bill Weir, W-e-i-r. He was calling me from Las Vegas. That's where he lives now, and I finally caught up with him. He had had two wives, I think -- [video skipped]

George England:

-- or people that had passed him, whatever. So we talked a long time, refreshed each other’s memory on what we saw -- "What the hell happened that day?" [laughter]

Lisa Pereira:

Do you still keep in contact with him?

George England:

Yeah, by letter.

Lisa Pereira:

Letter. After the service, did you call the day your service ended _____+?

George England:

Yeah.

Lisa Pereira:

What day was that?

George England:

April 18, 1945, on Long Island.

Lisa Pereira:

You were in Long Island?

George England:

Yeah. And took the train home. My father met me at the station, said, "Welcome home, son."

Lisa Pereira:

Were you happy?

George England:

Sure.

Lisa Pereira:

Any other close friendships that you made while in the service?

George England:

Yeah, but I didn't keep them.

Lisa Pereira:

No?

George England:

No.

Lisa Pereira:

Do you remember -- recall their names at all _____+?

George England:

I can remember one fellow by the name of Bill Curry [ph] and a nice Jewish fellow, Marvin Feinstein [ph].

Lisa Pereira:

And they were on the planes with you as well?

George England:

No. They were in training at Memphis.

Lisa Pereira:

Was there any other friendships that you continue or relationships that you continue throughout the years --

George England:

No.

Lisa Pereira:

-- with any of them?

George England:

No.

Lisa Pereira:

Not any of them? Or Bill _____+ --

George England:

That's the only one.

Lisa Pereira:

-- just a letter? Did you join any veterans' organization?

George England:

Yes, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I'm a Past Commander. [video skipped]

George England:

_____+ Foreign Wars, I'm a Past Commander.

Lisa Pereira:

How long have you been _____ that? Since after the service --

George England:

No.

Lisa Pereira:

-- or --

George England:

1989.

Lisa Pereira:

To present?

George England:

[nods head]

Lisa Pereira:

After the service, did you go back to school?

George England:

Right.

Lisa Pereira:

You did? What kinds of activities does your organization do? Any type of events that you guys --

George England:

At what? The VFW?

Lisa Pereira:

I'm sorry? The --

George England:

At the VFW? Is that what you meant?

Lisa Pereira:

Yeah.

George England:

I belong to a very patriotic post. They participate, obviously, in the Memorial Day Parade. They participate in two essay programs for the -- [video skipped]

George England:

-- Democracy Contest for high school students. The other one is called the Patriot's Pen Contest for students in the sixth through the eighth grade. Each year, they're given a theme to write, if they will; and they're given prizes, locally, within the state of Connecticut, and nationally -- [video skipped]

George England:

-- and we select the best three and -- rather than pick one of the three because they're all kind of equal. We give them all a prize.

Lisa Pereira:

Nice. Do you attend a -- reunions of any sort? You attend any reunions --

George England:

No.

Lisa Pereira:

-- or gatherings?

George England:

We meet every month; and every Thursday, we have Betz [ph] coffee at Friendly's in Avon. We started out with about five fellows, and I was one of them; and now we -- [video skipped]

George England:

-- granite monument to veterans. It's there now. We decided to -- what; we had to price it out. We didn't know what the thing would cost. We got experts, designers, and designed a -- [video skipped]

George England:

-- professional offices. We took them from the yellow pages, and we got to around $40,000, and we said, "Wow, how are we going to get the other ten?" And we started to struggle. And I said to my friend -- or he said to me -- he said, "You know, I'm going to write to the Foxwood." He said, "I met the chief at a meeting, and maybe he'll help us." I said -- [video skipped]

George England:

Well, anyway, to make this story short, we did not get any money, but we kept writing letters to the professionals in town and -- [video skipped]

George England:

So if you ever want to see a monument well done, take a ride over to Avon to its Town Green.

Lisa Pereira:

It's right there.

George England:

Mm-hm. Members of the committee were all members of the VFW. We had to research the legitimacy of the names to go on there because there only could be names of veterans who served from Avon. Like I wasn't from Avon; so I couldn't be on it. One of the gentlemen even went so far to call Russia and to check on the validity of a name. I thought that's the kind of guy he was. He's still living.

Lisa Pereira:

And these members that put this together was from the --

George England:

The Post.

Lisa Pereira:

Is there one in Farmington as well?

George England:

There's a Post --

Lisa Pereira:

-- _____+

George England:

No. Mine is the one in Avon -- in Manchester, Connecticut.

Lisa Pereira:

Manchester.

George England:

It's inside the high school. They didn't -- they didn't do as good a job as a granite monument.

Lisa Pereira:

_____+? [video skipped]

George England:

Yes. Getting along with others?

Lisa Pereira:

Children?

George England:

Yeah. Four daughters. That's why I'm so spoiled.

Lisa Pereira:

[laughs] [video skipped]

George England:

Thank you for -- [end of transcript]

 
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