Throwback Thursday Stories … WWII

My paternal grandfather, Clifford William Roelle Jr, served as a gunner on planes in the South Pacific during World War II.  I wish I had heard more of his stories, but he wasn’t a big storyteller that I remember.  When I was old enough to ask he would sometimes struggle with words – a lingering effect of an early stroke – and didn’t often talk at length.

bomber001

I do remember one story, however.  He was flying a mission one day, looking out the window, much like in this picture of his – when the wing of the plane disappeared.  It took a moment to react, but only a moment, and he quickly prepared to go down.  They crashed into the sea below.  Soon, an American ship appeared over the horizon to pick them up and rescue them.  They were happy and grateful to be pulled from the drink.  And in the nick of time, too, because a Japanese ship, perhaps even one that had some responsibility in their crash, was just over the other horizon, ready to grab some prisoners of war.

As a bonus, here’s another war picture of my Papa – he had a movie star quality, I think.
roelle002

Update: Just found a note: Papa Roelle was a Staff Sergeant in the 65th Bomber Squadron. I have a list of what I think are campaigns or battles: Bismarck, Archipelago, Burma, China, Luzo, New Guinea, and S Phillipines.

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2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday Stories … WWII

  1. You’re so fortunate to have that picture. My own grandfather spent the war as a side/belly gunner on B-24s, but also didn’t share many stories. My mother started recently doing genealogy research, and decided at one point to see if could track down any information on his plane, “Lucky Babe”. She managed to track down info on his unit, found a descendant of the pilot who had a picture of the whole crew standing in front of her, my grandfather right up in front!

    The only story I really recall him telling was being woken in the middle of the night for a raid, and one of his friends telling him to go back to sleep. This mission would’ve been the friend’s 50th mission, meaning his last as that’s when they got rotated home. Unfortunately, it really did end up being his last as they never came back.

    1. Wow. For only one story, that’s quite powerful! Perspective setting. Thanks for sharing!

      My brother has a friend whose father had a massive WWII collection, and we got his help to fill in some of our gaps off of the fragments of info we found in photos, sketches (he did sketches for their company newsletter, we have a couple), and on medals and badges.

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