39th Bomb Group (VH)
Crew 4

[Search Tip: Use " " for better search results ex. "John Q. Doe"; "City of ..."]
Courtney Letters

The following transcripts are taken from letters written
to Betty Bunting from Joseph Courtney.
They would be married in June of 1948.

This letter is from Smokey Hill Army Air Field, Salina, Kansas

Friday March 9, 1945

No we haven't painted the name on our plane as yet, but we are going to call it "The Marauder". We are going to draw a picture of Hiawatha on it - and it will really look sharp when we get it all done.

The crew is now on Guam...

April 14, 1945 (Please note that Joe Courtney is from Worcester, Ma)

We had to bail out of our plane the other day over open water and of course we lost our plane. I had to do a little swimming, about six or seven hours, but was finally picked up by a Navy Ship. Incidentally, the communications officer on board the ship was a Worcester fellow by the name of Murphy. He is from Grand Street...

Tuesday May 2, 1945

Flew three missions to the jap mainland. One to the island of Honshu, and two to the island of Kyushu. The first two missions weren't that bad, but the last one we flew was really rough. They threw everything they had at us, but we were really lucky and managed to get home safely. We were jumped by about seventy-five fighters and we fought a running battle with them for about a half hour. I managed to shoot down two jap fighters and the rest of the crew got two, and we had another one that we probably destroyed. I was plenty scared I don't mind telling you, but was too busy to worry about it at the time.

Sunday May 6, 1945 (Note: the bailout was April 10, 1945)

On the mission where we had to bailout we lost our navigator. His wife, Dottie, has just been informed, so I can now write about it. The reason I didn't tell you sooner was because I was waiting for the war department to inform her. It's pretty tough, as she just became a mother of a baby girl. I wrote to her yesterday and the rest of the crew is writing her. No doubt she is taking it really hard.

Sunday May 13, 1945

The other day we went up to Kobe on a bomb raid, and like all others we've been on, it was pretty rough. Not very many fighters this time, but threw a lot of flak up at us. We got a few holes in our plane, but we were lucky.

Wednesday May 30, 1945

Since I last wrote you, we have been on two missions, and we we now have a total of eight missions to our credit. The last two were both night raids, and they both were in Tokyo. According to the news we did a good job, and I don't doubt it. I know when we flew over the city it seemed to be all on fire. It was one of the most beautiful and at the same time, terrifying sights I have ever seen in my life. The flak and searchlights that they threw up at us was like something you dream. I really did a lot of sweating on those missions, as did everyone else. But it sure makes you feel good to know that you've done a good job. We were very lucky and god was mighty good to us as we came back from both missions without a scratch. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but we did it.

Tim Gray, our pilot got the D.F.C. for his part in the bailout that we had and he deserves it, because he was the one that we really owe our lives to. He did a wonderful job. They gave him a big write-up on it and they also gave me one, and gave me the air medal for my doings. I didn't think I did anything spectacular, but they gave it to me anyway. I think anyone of the crew should have gotten it instead of me. One of these days I will tell you all about it.

Saturday June 2, 1945

The name of our ship now is "Uncle Tim's Cabin" named after our pilot Ralph Tim Gray. Right now our ship is up for repairs. On our last mission, one of our props ran away and we had to land in a hurry. Luckily we weren't very far out so we made it back o.k. Ever since we had to bailout the fellows in the crew, myself included, have been quite nervous. So the doctor decided to send us back to a rest camp in Hawaii.

Saturday June 30, 1945

We went on a mission up to the town of Nobeoka, on Kyushu the other night. And for a change, the mission was a snap. There was only a very little flak and no fighters at all. It was a night raid and when we left Japan the town was really burning beautiful. It's beginning to look like we'll have to burn every town in Japan before the war is over. Well, we can dish it out just as long as they can take it! I'd just as soon blow the whole damn empire right out of the ocean.

The following letter is from Muroc Army Air Field California: Lead Crew School. They never did return to Guam as Japan surrendered August 15th

Friday August 24, 1945

We have to go back to Guam. In fact, we leave the states in about another ten days. I don't mind so much myself. But well you know, they say you go - so you go. It looks like we'll have to postpone our dates for awhile. I don't know what they are going to have us do over there. They haven't told us. But it can be only one of three things. Either we'll ferry troops back to the states, fly patrol missions, or be in the air force of occupation. Personally if I had my choice, I'd pick the latter. I'd like to see Japan from the ground. I'd like to see some of the damage we did. Sounds rather blood thirsty doesn't it? Well as far as those people are concerned, I guess I am.

Thanks to Joseph Courtney, II for transcribing some of his father's letters and making then availble to us.

60th Squadron Crew Index

Source: Joseph E. Courtney II, son