10th October 1943
It can only be imagined what was going through 100th Bomb Group navigator Harry Crosby’s mind. A couple of days earlier, he was flying on B17 Flying Fortress ‘Just A Snappin’’, when it was badly damaged and just about made it back to England. Now he was calling Thorpe Abbotts from the rest home in Bournemouth that he and his crew were taking some well-earned leave at.
He had arranged with the base weatherman to let him know, in code, how the day’s mission had gone. He knew the group had gone on a mission to avenge 100th Bomb Group pilot ‘Bucky’ Cleven being shot down previously. He had been woken early that morning by the orderly coming into his barracks to wake other crews. He must have felt bad, going on R&R when others were going to work.
Now, he was calling the base. When the Weatherman answered, Harry asked in code, “Did all my friends get back from pass?”
Silence. This can only be bad.
Harry then asked, “Did some of them have a permanent change of station?”
“Yes, all but one.”
This shocks Harry Crosby. Then the weatherman breaks the code:
“Egan’s gone. Your old crew is gone. The whole group is gone. The only one who came back was that new crew in the 418th. They call him Rosie.”
Harry Crosby, stunned and disbelieving, drops the phone. In a daze, he goes through to the other room, where he has to tell the other crew members that he was there with what he just heard.
That leave is over.