WAR LETTERS: COMBAT - 1945 England


Letters about combat situations make up the largest section of the project.

1945 England

Jean Armstrong of Ponca, Nebraska sent us a letter from her uncle, Lieutenant Laurence Lofgren. Lieutenant Lofgren was writing to his sisters, Gladys and Clara, who were living in Nebraska. Jean tells us that:

"Uncle Laurence joined the Airforce, becoming a pilot by mid-'44 and assigned to Flipton Airforce Base near Bungay, England that Fall as a pilot of a B-24 bomber on the Eighth Airforce. His plane was shot down on March 24th, 1945. All but one of the crew was killed. It was their 27th mission, and also Uncle Laurence's 26th birthday. . . . Uncle Laurence lived with us quite a lot of the time, so he became like a big brother to my brother and me during the mid-'30s to early '40s. To think he almost made it, the war was over in May — his group only flew one more mission after the fateful March 24th day."

This letter was written four days before his plane was shot down. It is followed by a letter to Lieutenant Lofgren's mother written by the sole survivor of the crash.

March 20, 1945, Flipton Airforce Base near Bungay, England
Lieutenant Laurence Lofgren
and follow-up letter from sole survivor Staff Sergeant Alan W. Keenen

Tuesday, March 20, 1945

Dear Gladys and Clara:

It is another beautiful day here today, and I have nothing much to do. I didn't get up this morning until about ten, and then after eating dinner, I went to the barber shop for a hair cut. Now I hope to get a few letters written during the rest of the afternoon.

I have been doing a little better than usual so far this month. I have flown five missions this month which gives me a total of 24. I hope to have 27 or 28 by the last of the month so that I will stand a good chance of completing my tour by the end of April. I don't know just what I'll do when I finish up. I often think of trying to get into something else and staying over here for a while — that is if the war lasts that long. If I have to do any more operational flying after completing this tour, I want to do it in another kind of aircraft.

Well, has spring come to Nebraska yet? I was quite surprised that it warmed up over here so quickly. The weather is really quite livable here now.

I'm going on pass again the 26th of the month. Seems like these passes come rather close together anymore. Happy Birthday, Clara. Write often.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

July 9, 1945

Dear Mrs. Cowell,

First of all I had better introduce myself. My name is S/Sgt. Alan W. Keenen and I was a member of your son's crew. I flew on his last mission with him, which was his twenty-seventh.

I now want to tell you exactly what happened to us on that last day. The mission we went on that day was a special one in that we dropped supplies to troops just across the Rhine a little north of Wessel, Germany.

Our altitude was only three-hundred feet which made it extremely dangerous.

I guess they must of shot just about everything at us, anyway the ship caught fire, and number three engine went out. It was then that I bailed out with the other waist gunner, Joe Stalder. But he was killed upon landing.

The plane crashed, burned, and then exploded about five-hundred yards from where I landed, leaving me as the only live one from the crew. All of the boys in the ship were killed.

This has been about the hardest letter I have ever written. But I know you want to read the bare facts, so that is exactly what I have written.

May God bless you, Mrs. Cowell.

Yours truly,
S/Sgt. Keenen



WWII, North Africa          1944 Orland to Naples
1950 Korea          1944 Germany
1944 Normandy          1945 England
Vietnam War,  Okinawa          1970 Vietnam