Monday, May 27, 2013

Miss Lila and Miss Kate's boys on Memorial Day

The Incendiary Blonde.  91st Bomb Group. 322nd Squadron, flying out
of RAF Bassingbourn. My father is the young man all the way to the right. I
believe he had reached the mature age of 19 when this photo was taken. It was
late in the war, and his friend Blaine Corbin, the mid waist gunner, had just been
killed. Life is full of ironies, and he died from shrapnel wounds on the last day
mid waist gunners were used. The crew was headed by 2nd Lt. William K.
Snipes, shown at center front. The navigator, 1st Lt. Otto Bremer, is on his
left, and the co-pilot, 1st Lt. Glen Crumbliss, to his right. Standing: 2nd Lt.
Ivar Hendrickson, Bombardier; Staff Sgt. Bufford Brown, Engineer; Staff Sgt.
 Paige Paris, Radio Operator; Staff Sgt. Edward Fitzpatrick, Ball Turret Gunner.
And then there's my father, hand on hip, the teenage tailgunner...
It's Memorial Day, and my youngest is on the march, drumming in several parades honoring veterans and the day. "Drummer Rigby," hacked on the streets of Woolwich, passes through my mind and moves on into his death.

I remember my maternal grandmother, Lila Eugenia Arnold Morris of Collins, Georgia. She was said to have worn holes in her bedside rug, so often was she kneeling, praying her five sons home from World War II. They all came back to her--Louis, Marvin, Hugh, Leonard, and James, although they have now been returned to her in another way, the last Morris brother having died a few years ago. Only my mother, the baby among Miss Lila's children, and her sister Julia remain among the living.

My father, Hubert Lafay Youmans, and his brother Dafford (a version of the Welsh Dafydd, it seems, as I also had an aunt named Dilly, close to Welsh Dilwys) also returned to Georgia and my paternal grandmother, Kate Deriso Youmans. My father joined the Army Air Corp when he was seventeen, and served as a tailgunner in World War II. They are all gone now, passed into the peace of death.

Patriotism is long out of fashion with writers and artists, it appears. And yet I thank the boys and young men they were for risking their sweet lives to bring on what they hoped would be a better world.


  1. If you're ever on I-95 just a few minutes north of Savannah, there's a terrific museum and memorial to the Eighth Air Force and the bombing runs they made from England. The number of young men who survived multiple missions is shockingly low, and the number of monuments and memorial plaques on the grounds of the museum is sobering.

  2. Is that the one in Pooler?

    I have been to a military museum in Georgia, but not that one. Can't figure out which one, actually... And not in many, many years.

    I used to visit my Aunt Sara in Savannah most summers. In my childhood, she would always stop under the traffic light in Pooler (I guess they have more now, but memory says they had one then.) She would open her door and spit. Pooler used to be quite the speed trap, and she once got a ticket there.

  3. That's the one. They now have a large, modern facility with an English Gothic Revival chapel on the grounds to help commemorate transatlantic friendship. (I wrote about it here.)

    The main drag of Pooler is still lousy with speed traps, but now that you can cruise past it on 95, it's imminently avoidable!

  4. Neat addition to your American Gothic collection, Jeff! It's lovely, and the church with the red light in the window is such a nice touch and remembrance.

    Imminently and eminently... XD

  5. Ack, what an embarrassing typo on my part. I'm making myself not feel bad about it by contrasting it with the experiences of WW II bomber crews. As the kids say these days, "some people have real problems!"

  6. Oh, I don't know--it works in an odd way, particularly because you think of both meanings!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.