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Note attached by R. F. Hanson: This is a letter from Hincewicz, our engineer after I wrote him. Marco had found his address and sent it to me. Robert Hansen ended up in the same compound with me, and he told me Clarke had been asleep and never fired a shot and I don't believe the heroic tale about tossing Luce out or he would have mentioned it. No word was ever heard on the intercom from the rear gunners and this exchange about me telling Chet they had all left never happened. Chet's version of all this is not as it was. I think it is because he had got knocked out and I think was still not clear headed. The flame broke though in the radio room, not in the bomb bay. When it did, I turned and hollered to the pilots and when I got my chute, Chet had already jumped.

29, Dec. 2000

Dear Richard,

First, I must apologize for not answering your most welcome letter with more speed. Truthfully, I've been swamped with holiday tasks, even more so than usual at this time of the year. Also, maybe it is because old age is finally getting to me. Here at home, every thing is about normal again. My son and daughter were here for Christmas Day and declared the turkey was the best they had ever tasted!

Your letter was interesting, in that I had the same reactions to some parts of the "News Story" by Mike Ciano. It contains a lot of inaccuracies, but he must be forgiven because we were all going through a very demanding experience. If a fellow can do all the right things in a timely fashion without losing his head in a violent situation - which we were in then he has to be above average and well experienced. I think we did our best, and without out the engine fire we could have made it back to Old Blightey. I was knocked unconscious when I was hit. When I revived, I pulled my release cable and dropped out of the turret. I immediately inquired about the gunners and you replied they had all bailed out. I never went back to the waist section so I never saw the gunners again, until I saw Pete Clarke in Sept. 1944, London, standing in a chow line! He told me about Luce and Ciano being wounded, but never stated that Luce was tossed out. Pete Clarke was very reticent about what had taken place in the waist section and I did not want to press. We socialized about three or four days and then he left for home. I continued to relax in London until the V-2 rockets began to "come in" and I also left for home.

That smoke in the bomb bay, Dick, was from the hydraulic fluid tank which took a hit from a 20mm shell and ignited briefly. If we had made it back to England, we would have made a crash landing or bailed out. When I convinced you Dick, that we could make it back to the channel if we put out the fire, you decided to stay awhile. I shall always remember hanging in the open bomb bay with one arm and working that heavy fire extinguisher through the hole into the No. two engine. I thought we did extinguish it, but when I saw that blue torch-like flame burning into the bomb bay I knew it had to be burning into the wing. That meant an explosion could occur at any time, and we would have been trapped. That's when I told Pavelka we had to leave the plane.

I also gave you the word and you left, but no one in the radio room was in a "panic". Neither you, nor I. I was angry that we had to quit and after you left I put on my chest pack but before I left the plane, I took my escape money packet and tossed it back into the plane to burn up with the rest of the gear. I did remember not to pull my rip cord until I was close to the ground, so that saved me from immediate capture, The next six months were stressful, but I learned a lot which helped me in my personal and professional life. I still owe a lot to the people in the Underground, Dick, which I was never able to repay, but, we also made sacrifices, Dick.

All the gunners were gone when you and I decided to leave the plane. I thought all the officers were "okay" at that time. Gilsdorf did not say anything about Burt being injured. Pavelka didn't have any thing to say pro or con so I also went out.

Ciano also stated erroneously about "rockets" being fired, but at that time no fighters were equipped with rockets.

Well, back to the present, Richard. I hope you and your wife had a happy and peaceful Christmas Day. It is the finest holiday we humans have, I believe, because it gives us hope and makes most of us introspective about ourselves and the rest of this crazy American society. I do hope you are holding your own with your eye problem. I have an eye cataract developing, but the eye doctors say it is too soon for removal. I think they are hopeful old age will take care of me first! I did knock down two pheasants, but the birds are so scarce there is not much shooting. I do enjoy the tramping through the brush very much.

In closing, folks, if you are out this way, drop in. I have an extra bed and we will have a good visit. ALL THE BEST FOR GOOD HEALTH AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!