Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

02 Feb 1945




Spends Day With Son in England


London (IDPA) -- The English Speaking Union in London does a wonderful job of entertaining and instructing uniformed Americans and Canadians on leave in that picturesque city free of charge.

Since 1942 thousands of allied men and women have taken advantage of the opportunities the organization affords. One need only go to its headquarters and declare his desires. He will be in a party with an experienced guide in a few minutes.

Through this medium, my son, Lt. Frank Miles, Jr., of of the 8th army air forces, and I spent one grand afternoon. I had seen many of the places we visited before but it was keenly interesting to see them again and to see those wholly new to me.

We saw St. Paul's church, the London tower, Westminster Abbey, where the tomb of the British unknown soldier of World war I is located, Trafalgar square, with the statue of Lord Nelson, Piccadilly circus, the London bridge, Fleet street, 10 Downing street, the house of Parliament, Buckingham palace, and many other sights.

North Americans know much from reading about England. Most of the English seemed to know more about America than any other part of the world save their own.

Once when my son and I were in a taxi, the driver slowed down, pointed to a church and said "That's where William Penn was christened," then after a pause he added: "Isn't there something in your country named after him?"

He took us over areas devastated by nazi bombs in the terrific blitz of 1940 and told us remarkable tales of heroism and by aged men and women and young children when explosions created chaos.

In flights over England and some part of the mainland of the continent, I saw literally thousands of bomb craters and hundred of shattered buildings. Hitler intended to do to the United States what he did in Europe and would have caused trouble had he conquered the British Isles.

Most American airmen in England, who have studied the situation which prevailed in the early years of the war, readily say that R.A.F. kept freedom until enough help came to turn the tide and are unstinted in praise of the sky fighters who did it. Most of those brave youths are gone now.

Capt. Joe A. Benda, an army postal inspector, and I conversed for awhile when we were seated at the same table for an evening chow at the Grovsernor officers mess. His most interesting assignment, and he was of interest to me and will be to Iowans when I relate that he was graduated from Pleasant Plain high school and attended St. Ambrose college in Davenport before entering the postal service 15 years ago. He had been overseas 7 months.

The last day I was in London I stopped a couple of American naval officers to ask direction. They knew no more about the city than I did but when they learned I was in the navy during and after the last war a chinning bee ensued.

Warrant Officer E.A. Jackson, Glava, Ill., 1 of them, is the husband of the former Miss Hilda Larsen of Council Bluffs. She was staying with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Larsen, in the western Iowa city while he was at sea.

I flew out of London for Paris one bright morning. Near my plane on the air field was one Winston Churchill had used as many of his fights over the world. Allied fighter planes passed our ship going toward enemy territory just as we crossed the English channel. Northwest France was heavily bomb pocked and shell torn.

Paris had been bombed only a few days before. Streets were kept clear at night so after a few hours there I returned to the officers billet near the field at which I had landed.

That evening among the 16 occupants of cots in the room in which I slept with Lt. Lloyd Nichols, Mason City, an ATC pilot and Flight Officer, Howard G. Lenning, Thor. Nichols had 2 little boys, one of whom he had never seen.

Lenning and I were together on a plane which took me to Naples the next day. He said he intended to be an Iowa farmer when the war was over.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, February 2, 1945

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