The Big Push

379th Journal, Volume I, November 1943

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Packing for the Big Push
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Bob McKee: November 11, 1943.
Mitchell Field was across Long Island sound and was where we were to stage out of for Europe and also to leave our aircraft for shipment to England. Everything we owned had to fit into a duffel bag or a B-4 handbag or else ship it home. The trip overseas was near.

Pre-embarkation Physical
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Betty Lou's memoirs: November 21, 1943.
The 362nd Fighter Group went to Camp Shanks on Long Island near New York City to wait for embarkation. During this 10-day period Rarey appeared at the door of our borrowed quarters in Greenwich Village every night about 6:00 and was able to stay until about 3:00 A.M. We spent many happy hours that week prowling through the old neighborhood and savoring time that went too fast in front of the corner fireplace. Inevitably an evening came when he did not appear, when it finally dawned on me that he was not coming. Was I brave? Was I stalwart? I was not!

A Last Look at NY Harbor
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Bob McKee: November 23, 1943.
Left Camp Shanks at 11 PM and boarded the Queen Elizabeth around 3:30 AM. Four pilots were assigned to one room with two sets of bunk cots. This left just enough room for one pilot at a time to use the floor space. The other three had to stay in bed, get out of the cabin, or go to the head. It was rather difficult for four men to look out of one porthole at the same time, as we departed NY harbor late in the afternoon, after being on board almost 12 hours!

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Damon Rarey: November 27, 1943.
The six-day voyage across the Atlantic was relatively uneventful, though not always calm.

Disembarkation in Scotland
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"Mogin's Maulers": November 29, 1943.
All in all, no one was unhappy to wake up one morning and find that we were in the Firth of Clyde, off Greenock, Scotland. Even on the 29th of November it was improbably green and beautiful, and the mountains roundabout were covered with snow. When we got to the station we waited a long time before getting on the train.

The Finn, Flavin, Shumway, Houghton, Horn, Putnam, Lee & Rarey Glee Club
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Rarey's letter: November 27, 1943.
We came down from the Scottish coast on an English train that was a dead ringer for a Hitchcock setting. As we passed through the countryside and villages, the natives gave us a warm and much appreciated greeting. An Englishman on the Queen Elizabeth had told us that if we could see the mountains as we approached the British coast, it was a sign that it would soon rain. If we couldn't see the mountains, it was already raining.

On to Volume II