The Personal Diary of James Franklin Boston
U.S. ARMY AIR FORCE
Date of Birth: August 26, 1921
Color of hair: Blonde
Height: 6 feet 3 inches
Color of eyes: Blue
Nearest relative: Mrs. J. I. Boston, Mother, Curryville, Georgia
Transfers and changes in rank:
Enlisted as private on
Friday, March 13, 1942 in old P.O.
Building in Atlanta Georgia.
Appointed Aviation Cadet, May 12, 1942.
Arrived at Napier Field, Dothan, Alabama, May 26, 1942.
Arrived at Gunter Field, Alabama, June 2, 1942.
Arrived at Maxwell Field, Alabama, June 12, 1942.
Arrived at Turner Field, Advanced Navigation School, Albany, Georgia, August 16, 1942.
Arrived at Advanced Navigation School, Monroe, Louisiana, September 18, 1942.
CLASS OF 42-16, FLIGHT 56.
Set back to Flight 26, Class 43-1 November 6, 1942.
Graduated as 2nd Lieutenant, Selman Field, Louisiana, January 16, 1943.
Arrived at Salt lake Army Air Base, Utah January 20, 1943.
Arrived at Blythe Army Air Base, California, January 24, 1943.
Arrived at Pyote Army Air Base, Texas, February 3, 1943.
Arrived at Casper Army Air Base, Wyoming, March 8, 1943.
Arrived at Salina, Kansas (6-day delay en-route) April 17, 1943.
Arrived at Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Florida May 2, 1943.
Arrived at Warner Robbins Field, Macon, Georgia May 7, 1943 for installation of “Tokyo Tanks.”
Arrived at Morrison Field, Florida, May 15, 1943 for the beginning of foreign service.
May 17, 1943-Departed from Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Florida at 02:00 with clearance to Waller Field, Trinidad. Passed by Nassau on course, possible to do pilotage occasionally on small islands. Were ordered to be on lookout for the crew of a B-25 down in water. Passed 30 miles right of position reported. No survivors were seen. Landed at Boringuen Field, Puerto Rico 10:30, because of strong headwinds, very stormy and turbulent weather, No. 1 engine throwing oil, interphone out, and no radio contact. Boringuen is one of the nicest fields I have ever seen.
May 18, 1943-Departed Boringuen at 11:00 for Waller Field. Flew along about 60 miles west of Martineque and Guadaloupe. Rounded Galeria Point and landed 17:45 at Waller Field, Trinidad. On way to Trinidad saw a phenomenon reported only a few times previously—a small circular rainbow on the clouds below us with the silhouette of our plane in the center. Very Beautiful.
May 20, 1943-Took off Waller Field at 1:00 local time for Belem, Brazil. Arrived at Belem 07:30 later. Met A. Boraiko (42-16) now in ferry command and has made one trip to India. Now on second trip across. Said Ralph Adams is briefing Officer in Khartoum, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Some other classmates at Accra and Roberts Field. Belem is worse than Waller. Water and food bad, except for fruit. Plenty of mosquitoes.
May 21, 1943-Took off for Natal, Brazil 06:00 local time and landed Paranarim Air Base 12:30.
May 23, 1943-Went into city of Natal. Bought a male parrot for $4.00. Jack bought a female, Natives call parrots “popo-aqua’ee.” Parrots swear in Portuguese. Crew will teach them the English translation. Bought short-snorter boots. Only ones that fit were cream colored. Colonel didn’t approve of color.
May 25, 1943-Departed Natal 02:30. 250 miles from Ascension followed radio beam which ended abruptly out at sea. Believed to be a submarine. Did not see any subs but member of George Freeas’s crew sighted one. Landed Ascension 11:30. Food plain but much better than other places. Saw outdoor movie Saturday on the ground on the hillside.
May 25, 1943-Took off 8:00 for Dakar. Flew through another tropical storm but made it ok. Landed 16:30. Met John Ehma—Ferry Command (42-16).
May 28, 1943-Took off 08:00 for Marrakech. Flew over Sahara desert. Went up to 21,000 feet to get over hight mountains and storm 100 miles south of Marrakech. Nobody remembered parrots ‘till we leveled off. Gunners said they acted slightly drunk from lack of oxygen. Landed Marrakech 13:00. Officers quarters in town in unfinished modern night club and theater. Only taxis were rubber tired carts pulled by native boys on “bicycles built for two.”
May 29, 1943-Departed Marrakech 11:oo for Rabat. Flew over Casa Blanca. Landed at 01:00. Rabat Air Base to be permanent station for about three weeks. Plane unloaded. Possibility of losing plane to some crew already at the front. Officers quarters are tents pitched on ground with no cots. Food eated from mess kits. Flying in morning—ground school in afternoons. Rabat nice city with good Officer’s club. Sandwiches and real cake with lemonade sold by Red Cross. Met Captain Coupa’ French ace flyer. He shot down 11 German planes and 4 others flying P-36’s. He attacked 40 Dorniers.
June 7, 1943-Navigated ship being ferried to Oran (La Senia). Saw many wrecked planes, mostly French and Italian. Got a bag of mail for the other fellows, including a letter from home for me. Came back the following day.
June 14, 1943- Departed Sale’ Air base 13:00 and landed Le Senia 16:30. Stayed overnight.
June 15, 1943-Our plane (082) was given to Freas and Brewer. We got one like it (127). Departed La Senia 14:00 and arrived at St. Donat Air Base, Algeria 17:00.
June 18, 1943-Went on first mission 08:30 to Messina, Sicily. Flew with Lt. Namede who had just been recommended for DFC for flying B-17 back from Naples on two engines. The target-harbor and railroad ferry completely destroyed. Our plane dropped three tons of demos. (demolition bombs). No interception by enemy planes. Flak heavy and accurate. No planes shot down. One plane made a crash landing at Constantine. Landed St. Donat 17:30. One piece of flak went clear through wing behind No. 1 engine. Another hole nearby.
June 28, 1943-Went to Chateau Dun to hear lecture by Commander Weems, world’s formost authority on navigation. Introduced by Brigadier General Atkinson. Saw Preas and the other boys of the 97th Bomb Group. Still no mail, PX closed, out of rations and I can’t go on missions because all the older boys are flying to finish up their missions.
July 4, 1943-Went on mission to Cantania, Sicily 07:30. Carried 2400 lbs of frags. (fragmentation bombs). Moore, Pilot and Robinson, bombadier. Picked up Spitfire escort over Malta. Dropped bombs on airfield with good results. Saw my first enemy fighter. Spitfires acted like hounds hunting rabbits. A group was flying along while one snooped around and ran an Me-109 out in their midst. All joined the chase but the first one had more speed so the others let him by while the 109 dived, slow rolling. He was seen to crash in flames. No damage done by flak.
July 6, 1943-Visited Constantine. Went by Chateau Dun and saw George Freas. Said plane blew up on take off July 5 and killed “Tex” Slaton and Gordon Lowe (classmate 43-1) and all their crew. All good boys.
July 9, 1943-Mission to Biscari, Sicily. 06:15 Moore, Taylor and Irwin. Ten miles from coast of Sicily turned back on three engines. Salvoed bombs in ocean. Sighted 100 ship Allied convoy 50 miles south of Sicily headed toward Sicily. I was only Navigator in Group to report it to Intelligence.
July 10, 1943-Invasion of Sicily begun. Did not fly.
July 14, 1943-Went on mission to Messina, Sicily 06:30. Flew with original crew for first time. Carried 6000 lbs demos. (demolition bombs). One engine running rough. Didn’t catch formation till we got over target. Missed most of the flak. No enemy fighters seen. Listened to WOP music on radio on way back. Flew over Mt. Etna. My first time to look down into a volcanic peak.
July 17, 1943-Went on mission to Naples, Italy 06:45. Dropped 6000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs) on railroad yards. No fighters seen and went through light flak.
July 19, 1943-Helped make history. Made first bombing raid ever to be made on Rome, Italy 07:30. Dropped 4000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs) on railroad yards. Four 5-hundred pounders hung on racks. We salvoed them later in the sea. No fighters seen. General Jimmy Doolittle flew with the 2nd Bomb Group and General Atkinson flew with our 301st Group.
July 22, 1943-Flew to Algiers with Major Stoddard and Lt. Colonel Stewart. Came back with Colonel Stewart. He also brought Captain Walker’s (Squadron C.O.) promotion to Major.
July 28, 1943-“Special Delivery”, a B-17 in the 32nd Squadron being junked after setting a world’s record for number of missions (86). I flew my first mission in Special Delivery with Lt. Namele.
July 29, 1943-Went on mission to Viterbo Airdrome, Italy 07:00. Carried 4800 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). Robinson flew in Group lead ship. Moore, Taylor and I flew in 1-3 position.
August 7, 1943-Moved base from St. Donat, Algeria to a field 18 miles south of Tunis, Tunisia. Base much better with cool breezes and no dust storms.
August 11, 1943-Mission to Terni, Italy 06:00. Carried 6000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). Flak moderate. Coming back 60 miles from Italy intercepted by ME-109 and captured P-38 with enemy flier flying it. Nobody fired at first, thinking it friendly. Saw it slip in a formation from behind and shoot down a B-17. Everybody fired at it then including myself but my gun jammed. 20mm shell came by my head while I was looking through astrodome and went into No. 2 engine. P-38 was not shot down.
August 13, 1943-Went on mission to Rome, Italy marshalling yards 05:45. Had 24 P-38’s escorting us while we acted as bait for the P-38 encountered August 11. Carried 6000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). Flak was intense and fairly accurate. Got one small hole in wing tip. Saw unidentified fighter that was probably the P-38, but he did not come close.
August 17, 1943-Went on mission to Marseille, France 07:30. Carried 2880 lbs. frags. (fragmentation bombs). Flak was intense and one ship in our Group was shot down by direct hit by shell. Mason was the pilot of my ship. No fighters were seen. Four men reported to have bailed out of B-17 as it went down. I saw only two chutes. 21:00 PM saw fire-works of enemy bombing raid against shipping at Bizerte. Dug my fox-hole deeper.
August 25, 1943-Went on mission to Foggia, Italy 06:15. Carried 2400 lbs frags. (fragmentation bombs). Flak intense but we flew to the right of it. Saw only one enemy fighter but he did not come close.
August 26, 1943-My 22nd birthday.Went on mission to Capua Airdrome, Italy 05:15. Carried 2400 lbs. frags. (fragmentation bombs). Saw about 10 enemy fighters which made several passes at us. Fired at one of them. Coming back about 100 miles from Italy a B-17 broke away from the group on our right and turned back toward Naples in a fast shallow glide. It was obviously a captured B-17 that had flown over the target with us. 20:00 PM had a Squadron party in our new Officers club.
August 30, 1943-Went on mission to Viterbo Airdrome 05:45. Carried 2400 lbs. frags. (fragmentation bombs). Group attacked by several enemy fighters which fired some kind of rockets at us and also dropped metal fragments on us from above. Flak moderate but very accurate.
August 31, 1943-Went on mission to Pisa, Italy 07:25. Carried 6000 lbs demos. (demolition bombs). Saw the historical “leaning tower” from 20,000 feet. Attacked by about 15 enemy fighters over target. One came straight at me so I held back the trigger firing all the ammo in my box, probably hitting him and made him turn away. Just as he turned S/Sgt. Berg the engineer shot him down. Sgt. Teaster the waist gunner claimed a probable and he also accidentally shot part of our elevator off. Our life raft came out of the hatch and was lost over the target. Empty shells falling out of the B-17 in front of us hit our plane and made two holes in the Plexiglas nose. Fragments from one hole hit my cap and pulled it around on my head. Shortage of fuel caused us to consider landing on Sicily but we made it to the base OK. Upon landing we were greeted by a Brigadear General, two Colonels, a Major and two Captains who discussed our mission with us.
September 2, 1943-Went on mission to Bolzano, Italy (Brenner Pass) 08:45. Carried 4000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). Flew as low as 10 ft. off the water until the climb was begun. Saw 3 enemy Aircraft carriers near Leghorn. Before reaching target attacked by about 10 antique Italian fighters. They had two wings and non-retractable landing gear. One started to come in but my tracer bullets changed his mind. Flak moderate but accurate. Fired at German transport flying about 3000 feet below us but no visible sign of hits. Attacked again by about 10 German fighters near Leghorn. I fired about 300 rounds and really has a good time. Ball turret gunner Sgt. Walker and waist gunner Sgt. Teaster each shot down a fighter. Empty shells from the ship in front again came through our glass nose barely missing my head. Had several holes in plane including bullet holes.
September 4, 1943-32nd Squadron lost plane on mission to Capua, Italy. I did not fly. Officers shot down were Lt. Kimber (B), Lt. Crouch (P), Lt. Fleishauer (N) and Lt. Kenny (CP). Their B-17 was shot down by the captured P-38 and 5 ME-109s.
September 5, 1943-Went on mission to Biterbo, Italy 06:20. Carried 2880 lbs. frags. (fragmentation bombs). Only enemy plane seen was a transport far below us. Flak light and inaccurate.
September 6, 1943-Went on mission to Capodischino Airdrome, Naples, Italy 05:30. Carried 6000 lbs demos. (demolition bombs). Flak rather heavy. No enemy fighters encountered.
September 8, 1943-Went on mission to Frescatia, Italy 05:30. Carried 6000 lbs demos. (demolition bombs). Bombed the Villas where the German staff has it’s Italian headquarters leaving much room for promotions in the Germany Army. Flak was very intense and accurate. I was lead Navigator for the 32nd Squadron. Our plane was not hit but one pilot in the 32nd had the wheel shot out of his hands. The 97th Group lost a plane that received a direct hit over the target. Our Squadron attacked by a Regione 2001 fighter which mad several passes at our plane including two directly toward our nose. The most helpless feeling in my life was when he opened up directly at us and my gun would not come to bear on him. Somehow, he missed us and some of the gunners got him. Saw 7 fighters attack the Group ahead. 18:00—ITALY SURRENDERS UNCONDITIONALLY. Everybody warned not to fire on Italian planes which are supposed to fly over and land in Africa.
September 9-1943-Started on mission to Naples, Italy 04:00 where the Americans, British and Canadians are invading with the aid of the Italians. Had to turn back before reaching target with one engine out. We were leading the Squadron again.
September 12, 1943-Went on mission to Mignona, Italy 06:30. Carried 6000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). Little flak although rather accurate and no fighters seen.
September 13, 1943-Went on mission to Consilina, Italy (06:45). Carried 3600 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs) and bombed German troop concentrations in support of our own invasion forces. Ran into bad weather near target but finally found and bombed it. Very little flak which was very accurate. No fighters seen.
September 14, 1943-Went on mission to bomb troop concentrations near Salerno, Italy 06:20. Carried 3600 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). All the invasion barges, convoys and warships shelling the coast were clearly visible below. No flak or fighters were seen. I flew the plane part way back but formation flying is not too good!
September 25, 1943-Went on another mission to Bolzano, Italy 08:15. Our ship led the Squadron. The flak over Bolzano was some of the most accurate I have ever seen. Because of bad weather and visibility the Group lead ship did not drop it’s bombs and we had to make a run with it over the secondary target of Verona. There the flak was much worse and for the first time I could hear the explosions of the flak shells under the plane and feel the concussion, they were so close. I could hear the flak fragments raining into the ship and was expecting the nose of the ship to catch some any moment when Sgt. Walker called over the interphone that he was hit. He came out and Taylor went back to apply first aid, but it was so cold he couldn’t use his hands. We broke away from the formation and headed for the coast indicating 210 MPH so we could lose our altitude over the water. Our Squadron followed but had to scatter when we ran into a bad cloud front. I thought the nose was about air tight but it was raining, sleeting and snowing so hard that snow was covering everything inside. We hit the coast just as we came out of the cloud at the point where we went in, so as to miss flak and let down. The rest of our Squadron found us along with several other planes that had scattered all over the sky. Sgt. Walker was found to have glass fragments in his face about the eyes. Reports are that he will not lose his eyesight and will be OK. Our plane had 20 to 30 holes in it making the wings, tail and bomb bay look like a sieve.
September 28, 1943-Went on another mission to Bolzano Italy 09:00 to destroy a bridge over which vital supplies are going to German army. Carried five 1000 pounders. Extremely bad weather on entire trip. Had to turn back near target because of inability to see any part of Italy through clouds below. Ran into cloud front immediately after, which was even worse that that on September 25th. Heavy Ice and snow forming on wings made it necessary to salvo bombs. All planes in Group had to scatter because of inability to see each other, which was still dangerous because the planes were flying at different directions in the clouds. Hit the deck south of Spezia and headed home. Shot at by enemy boats near Corsicane Elba. Landed at base 01:00 hour late after an unsuccessful mission. However, we did better than some other planes which had close calls due to poor navigation by letting down over inland Italy.
Editors Note: This was the last entry in James Boston’s diary. His diary and other personal effects were returned to his next of kin by the Personnel Supply section of the 32nd Squadron. Information received later by members of the Ground Echelon revealed that plane No. 25137 had been named twice. The first name given was “Lead Foot” (Pictured below, left.) for the Crew Chief, Eugene Gardner’s nick name and the second was “Carol Jean IV” (Pictured below, right.) for the Pilot’s girl friend. Below is the official report of the lost plane and crew:
25137, "LEAD FOOT/CAROL JEAN IV" MIA Turin October 30, 1943 on its 86th mission. Charles Clowe crew, Wright, Boston, Robinson, Haberberger, Padgett, Service, Headding, Dill. All KIA. (MACR 1060).
The final entries in his diary are by his brother John I. Boston in 1995:
My parents received a letter from the War Department stating that he was missing in action. They said his Squadron was on a mission or returning from a mission when his plane developed engine problems. The crew bailed out in the Mediterranean. The position was noted but search planes returned but there were no survivors. Since there was a German submarine base in the area the thought was that they may have picked up and held the crew as POWs. We lived in hope that he would be released at the end of the war. About one year after the war ended my Mother received a letter from the War Department saying that the crew from one of the planes in their Squadron saw all 10 parachutes open and could see them being dragged across high waves and it was assumed that all drowned. Frank was a kind, easy going and very intelligent young man. We were very close as brothers. In my last letter from him he said he would like to go in some kind of business together. Though World War 11 ended over 50 years ago there has hardly been a day that I have not thought of him and how good it would have been to grow old with him around. John I. Boston