|Wins Three Decorations in Backing Up Fighting Lines from Sfax to Deep in Italy|
|After a year at the battlefronts of Africa, Sicily, and
Italy, bombing and strafing German troops, strong points and supply
lines, the United States of America looked mighty good to him, Captain
William R. Thompson, U.S. Army Air Corps, now spending a 20-day leave
at his home here, said.
"Those cities in Africa and Italy are way behind the times when compared with American cities, and the things we miss most are the little things that are routine at home," he said.
The Red Cross is doing a wonderful job in providing gathering places for officers and men and furnishing some of the peculiarly American things so dear to the soldiers, such as snack bars and lounging rooms, Captain Thompson said.
Captain Thompson, son of Mrs. Anna Thompson, Old Chippewa Road, flew to Africa in a B-25 Mitchell bomber, leaving the U.S. on March 20, 1943 and arrived back in the United States this month.
Flying the South Atlantic from South America, Captain Thompson flew across Central Africa to Cairo and then to the front lines in Africa around Sfax, backing up the British Eighth Army.
His squadron was stationed close behind the fighting lines at all times, bombing targets in support of ground troops, such as gun positions, troop concentrations, and supply lines. He was in on the fighting for the rest of the African Campaign, supporting both British and American troops as the Allies closed in on Bizerte and Tunis.
Captain Thompson was in the first wave of American bombers to sweep over Sicily last July when invasion of that island started.
Shot Down at Night
He landed at the edge of a cliff, bounced off, and rolled down the side. He got out alone but has no recollection of getting out of his parachute or making his way up the hill. Picked up by American troops, he was taken to a hospital, suffering concussion of the brain and severe cuts and bruises. However, he recovered rapidly, being released from the hospital in 10 days and returned to active duty two months later.
All members of his crew, a total of six men, parachuted safely from the stricken plane.
Ship Hit Many Times
Virtually all Italian cities anywhere near the battle zone have been bombed flat, Captain Thompson said, with the exception of a few mountain villages of no strategic importance. German gun emplacements are well-dug-in and it is impossible to knock them out without a direct hit, he said. Also they keep moving them.
The lot of the Italian people is severe, he added. They have little food and, bombed out of their homes, they use any improvised shelter they can find. He said they're friendly to Americans and, whenever airmen are shot down in Italian neighborhoods, they are given every consideration.
Captain Thompson visited Major Otto Peterson, stationed at Algiers, but had not had contact with others from Eau Claire. In his squadron in Italy was Technical Sergeant Marvin Babbit of Bloomer. Babbit is now in the Near East and is believed on his way to India.
At the conclusion of his leave, Captain Thompson will report at Atlantic City for assignment.