New York, February 27, 2006
Back in the US. Today I’ve been to Shelter Island near the far end of Long Island to see Howard Jackson. During the war he served with the 454th Heavy Bombardment Group and I was anxious to talk to him because he seemed very switched on from his emails and I am keen to give the Allied air forces their due. It was noticeable that all three German veterans I spoke to the other week all continually mentioned the Allied air superiority being a terrible blight on their time in Italy. Furthermore, the Allied bombing offensive over Italy is still somewhat controversial – most of the destruction wrought on Italian cities was caused by Allied bombs – and this needs to be addressed in the book, I think. Howard met me off the ferry and I followed him home. It was a day of clear blue skies but felt crisp and there was a cold wind. The island was lovely – and very peaceful after the hustle and frenetic pace of New York.
Howard was great – good memory, with lots of detailed anecdotes. He also has a load of papers and documents which his wife very kindly offered to photocopy for me. I liked him hugely – he had a great sense of humour and, like most American veterans I have met, did not balk from talking to me completely frankly. All in all, it was a good day and I’m glad I made the trip to see him.
I drove back to New York, caught a flight from La Guardia to Washington and am now back in the boring old Quality Inn in College Park. Feels like I’ve never been away.