Lt. William H. Webster Diary

September 24, 1942 - August 18, 1943

I was born in Chicago, 1920.  I have one older brother, four and a half years older.  I grew up in a very nice suburb of Hinsdale, fifteen miles southwest of Chicago.  Attended public schools there.  I guess you would say we were an upper middle class family – very, very fortunate.  We had a summer cottage in southwest Michigan where I’d either caddy at the local golf course or play every day and swim twice a day.  I was active in Boy Scouting and achieved Eagle Scout rank at age fourteen.  I was later active in high school athletics – football, basketball, track.  I was class president, National Honor Society, and a lot of student theatricals.  But I was also interested in the military, especially the Civil War era.  I attended CMTC, which is the  Civilian Military Training Corps, which was kind of a halfway between the CCC and ROTC.  I attended two summers 1937 and 1938 of that at Fort Sheridan in the Infantry training.  

I entered Cornell at Ithaca, New York in 1938 majoring in engineering.  I was a member of the Chi Psi fraternity there and earned my Cornell “C” in both basketball and football.  Based on my ROTC training at Fort Sheridan, I was able to sweet talk the ROTC Major into letting me take Advanced Drill as a sophomore so that I was already in the Infantry Officer Training Program when war started in Europe.  I went from r Ithaca up to Syracuse to take the Flying Cadet exam, and after  passing that offered the opportunity to start pilot training in May of 1941.  So I started pilot training at Muskogee, Oklahoma, in PT-19s, which is a Fairchild low-wing, canvas-covered plane.  I went on to basic training at Brady, Texas, flying the BT-14s.  Both these were civilian training schools where the Army had a Commandant of Cadets and a couple of quality control captains and lieutenants, but all the instructors (flying and ground school) were civilians. I went on the Advanced Flying training at  Kelly Field in San Antonio, flying AT-6s, and this was all military.  At flying school back then, the goal was to get your minimum of 200 hours of flying time, meet certain academic and flying proficiency standards.  Then you were given your wings and you were commissioned.




 I was first assigned to the 46th Bombardment Group, Light, at Bowman Field, Louisville, Kentucky, flying first of all the B-18s, which at that time was categorized as a light bomber.  Then also they were just in the process of getting a new shipment of DB-7s, which was the French version of the A-20, the Douglas Havoc twin-engine, single pilot attack bomber.  Minimum altitude, low level strafing, skip bombing, that type of mission.  I couldn’t have gotten a better plane or a better mission.  Just fantastic.  I do recall for one month we were stationed at Tallahassee, at the  Dale Mabry Army Air Field there, flying A-20 missions up to Fort Benning, kind of as an invading air unit.  The permanent party staff at Tallahassee ... we were on TDY -- what’s called temporary duty -- there, but the permanent staff, their role was training  Chinese Nationalist pilots, getting them checked out in P-39s, the Bell Aircobra. We were next stationed in Galveston patrolling the Gulf of Mexico.  You remember the German submarines were sinking a lot of tankers around the Gulf at the time.  We were then stationed at Galveston and the reason for putting us there was this was a port of debarkation and they were gonna load the whole group --  46th Bomb Group -- on to three or four freighters, but we just ended up just sitting there for about 3 months. We were transferred out to Blythe, California for the summer desert maneuvers of ‘42, where General Patton was whipping his armored division into shape to participate in the American landings in North Africa, which happened in, I think, October or November of ‘42.  So, over the first eight months of 1942, we had exposure to a lot of different sides of the war, but mostly because, again, we were in light bombardment, it was always in conjunction with the tactical demands or requests of the Infantry for close support.

In July 1942, they took a few of the pilots out of the 46th Group to go as replacements to New Guinea.  Then in August another seventeen of us were ordered out. We shipped out of San Francisco on a converted cruise ship, the USAT Mount Vernon.  Didn’t go in a convoy because it could go fast enough that it didn’t even have to zig-zag.  Well, actually, they did zig-zag in the daytime, but not at night.  But it was all alone. They had relatively little concern about Japanese submarines.  We did a quick dash to ... landed in New Zealand in late September and dropped some of this Army unit off.  Then we docked at Sydney in October 1942. 

So we took the train up the east coast of Australia, through Brisbane up to Townsville.  We got up to Townsville and then went inland about ninety miles to Charters Towers, to where the 3rd Group’s home base was. Their operational base was Port Moresby, but again, because of the hazardous situation of the Japanese perhaps capturing the Port Moresby area, their engine overhaul and major repair facilities were down in northern Australia.  You’d ferry the planes and usually carry bombs and ammunition, fly it up to Port Moresby and off-load it, then you’d fly four or five missions.  The plane would get where it just had enough time before inspection to get back to Charters Towers in northern Queensland.  Then they’d fly it back and they’d maintain it.  These were already tired old A-20As that flew in the maneuvers in 1938 and 1939. 


   Kelly Field  Class 41-I   December 1941

    May 2, 1942  Galveston, Texas



Receiving Silver Star at Dobadura

 Sting of Death

June 30, 1943

July 14, 1943

 Capt. Bill Webster  Waco AAF  1944

 B/Gen. William H. Webster  1965

 Cornell Letterman



 Bill Webster

 Bill Webster - Bill Beck

Hank Webster - Bill Webster - Connie Luhta

 Bill Webster - Bill Perkins

 Birthday Celebration in Little Rock  December 12, 2012