Veteran Stories:
Fred Theodore “Fritz” Wihak

Air Force

  • Fred Wihak, 2010.

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"This all happened so quick and here it was a German swastika on it and it was shooting at me. And luckily he missed. But I was really fooled there."

Transcript

This was over Malta at the time. Because after [El] Alamein [Egypt], we went all the way across North Africa, up to Tunis and then to Malta. And from Malta, we went to Sicily and then into Italy. This was the Desert Air Force. But I remember when we was over Malta, we were only there I guess maybe a month, this was just shortly after we got there and of course, the Germans were battering Malta at the time. So we were always on what they called readiness. And then you’re made to scramble if there’s enemies around, you scramble, you get into a dog fight. And we got into this dog fight and I was a number two for the leader and pretty soon, I lost him, which is, I don’t think he will ever forgive me. And then I saw this plane coming at me and it was showing white smoke, and I thought, well, one of our guys that got hit in the glycol tank, because that’s what you’d often get. And then it went by. This all happened so quick and here it was a German swastika on it and it was shooting at me. And luckily he missed. But I was really fooled there. But it was a jumble, everything happened so fast. There was one thing that stays with me all the time. If you were on the morning shift, there would be four or eight of us on. And after we were done, we were off until later in the afternoon or in the evening. And so what we used to do for good reason was we’d go out in a half-ton truck out into the farms and stuff in the countryside - the homes were all deserted - and we were looking for eggs and vino [wine] and stuff like that. So on this one day, our four, we got in one and the other four, they got into another half-ton. And so we were going up. We were usually within six or seven miles of the front line, most of the times. When the front line would move, we would move with it. So we were done for the morning, so we got the half-ton truck and we went out in the country and we saw a farmhouse over to the left. So we got in there and all of a sudden, a captain came in and he was mad as heck. What are you doing here, he says, this is - we just got in here last night, this is our forward observation post. And now they know we’re here. Well, sorry, we didn’t know that. And he says, well, the German forward observation post is that farmhouse there about two miles over. I said, well, now that they know you’re here, why don’t you go and have, phone back to your guns to go and shoot it. So we knew where the guns were coming from and so we got up on a hill so we could watch this. And the first blast came just at the edge of the corner of the house. The next one got the corner of the house and by this time, we’ve got some cognac …Well then the, the next one got it dead in the center. And then we saw the German guys running out the back. Okay, so we had a really great time that day and we got back to the [aero]drome and then we waited for the other guys and it was dark and they weren’t back yet. And the next day we found out that they were prisoners of war. Because they had gone a little further and into another farmhouse. And they got into the yard and then the German soldiers came out and they were made prisoners just like that. So that’s one I always remember.
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