USAAF grouping - 8th AAF airman

USAAF grouping - 8th AAF airman

Code: P15468


Grouping to 2nd Lieutenant Robert E. Waites (0-735350) of Middletown Ohio, born 1916, enlisted June 1941, who served as a bombardier on B-17 Flying Fortresses in the European Theatre of Operations with the 8th AAF.  In a letter on USAAF headed paper, written to his parents on 9th August 1943, he says that 'the English language isn't confusing and I get along very well.  However there is quite a pronounced difference in accents and some pronunciation.  We were up flying this morning checking our ship and I got a good view of the surrounding countryside.  Every bit of the land is utilized, most of it used to grown grain...  Blackout time is here so I will close for this time'.  In another letter dated 16th August 1943 he mentions enclosing clippings from the 'Stars and Stripes' newspaper which give an account of the first two raids in which he participated.  'My first raid was into the Ruhr Valley and you can read in the clippings about the target we hit.  After it was over it all seemed like a dream to me.  If anybody wants red blooded adventure, thrills, suspense and excitement, they surely can find it in these raids against Germany'.  He talks of his respect and admiration for the flying ability of Luftwaffe fighter pilots.  Then 'On my second raid we flew over France to bomb an enemy airdrome - we completely demolished it too - I saw an enemy fighter pilot do an admirable feat.  He flew along parallel with us for a couple of minutes then he pulled way out ahead into the sun and turned, then came right head on into the formation.  There must have been a hundred guns firing at him.  He did this twice before being knocked down'.  Waites also mentions having marked the bombs with his parents' names.  He suggests the war will be over in a few months, being eager to complete his tour of operations and placing his faith and trust in God.  'I don't have any fear at all about not coming back'.  

Looking at the newsclippings he sent it is clear that his first raid was a daylight sortie, undertaken on 12th August, to railway yards at Bonn, accompanied by AAF Thunderbolts and RAF Spitfires.  Research suggests this was the first 8th AAF daylight raid into the Ruhr Valley with 147 B-17s from the 94th, 96th, 100th, 385th & 390th Bombardment Groups.  25 B-17s were lost on that particular raid.  Another clipping details his second raid to the Luftwaffe airbase at St. Omer.

With the letters are four period photographs of him in uniform (with his parents?) and a few others dating from the early '50s with his wife (?) and small children.  There is also a report card from his college date 1937/8 and a telegram sent to his mum on mothers' day.  Finally there are his original identity 'dog' tags clearly stamped with his details and next of kin's (mother) address.  A lovely grouping providing first hand accounts of action in the ETO.  Stock code P15468.