Excerpt from “Chapter 12 – Gioia del Colle”

The Jolly Roger: An Airman’s Tale of Survival in World War II by William C. Atkinson

Excerpt from “Chapter 12 – Gioia del Colle”:

The small town of Gioia Del Colle, meaning, “Joy of the Hill” sat atop the Murge plateau at an elevation of 1000 feet. The area surrounding the airfield was dotted with olive trees and little else. Small farms bordered the area raising mostly dairy cattle. There were also a fair number of vineyards in the area, and local wine producing and availability helped contribute to an overall feeling of well-being among the members of the 451st BG.

As it was in Telergma, the men were housed in a tent city. The four officers of each crew lived together in one tent, while the six enlisted crewmen lived together in another tent. The officer’s tents occupied a separate area conforming to the army code that required officers and enlisted personnel to be separated from each other. The tents were about twelve feet square supported by a tall center pole with smaller poles supporting the walls. A tent was pitched over a wooden floor, and the door to the tent was framed in wood. Standard issue army cots and blankets provided bedding. There was nothing to sit on except one’s cot. It was miserably uncomfortable to most of the men, but for Sgt. Atkinson, no less comfortable than the old Felton cabin.