2 August 1943
Comiso had been a regular field for Italians and was well equipped with permanent buildings. That is the had been designed as permanent buildings when Mare Nostrum was still the fond dream of Mussolini. When we moved in the were mere shells of their former grandeur -- a bit of destruction we'd had a hand in.
We found more than a score of ME-109s in perfect condition and plenty more Italian and German planes which had their last landings.
The boys had a field day stripping souvenirs and collected so darn many parts they decided it would be easier to fly them than to cart them around. Soon we had several enemy planes reconditioned and flying with Allied insignia while eager men checked out on these famous ships.
After sweeping up the "Crows feet" we had dropped some time before, clearing a few mines and filing up holes, we settled down enjoying Sicily/ Our areas were plumb in the middle of tremendous grape orchards where Concord-type blue grapes and luscious big white Malagas were just getting to their best. There were almonds and peaches just ready for the picking but it was a continual race with the owner who also had the wish for the fruits of his labor.
Between missions to such familiar spots as Randazzo, Adrano and the unforgettable Messina (at the time, the most heavily defended spot in the world) the flak happy ground personnel relaxed in the grape arbors whole native labor dug in the tents, hacked out slit trenches. After the dust and c-rations of Hergla, the free fruit and clear air of Sicily made Cosimo seem like a GI paradise. And the good people of Sicily were fairly friendly people in spite of our rather rough treatment of their town.
Came August 25th and Group staged a birthday party. There were the usual ho-hum speeches and the usual absence of timed brass hats. Music was furnished by a 10 piece native orchestra which was really good. A picnic supper was served and was followed by a magician, some talent from the squadrons and in the evening, a movie. The affair really went off in grand style and was all to the good from both entertainment and morale building standpoints.
We knew to expect when things came to such a pass that they were giving us free entertainment an eats -- and sure enough the next day came orders to move. The scouting party came back with harrowing details of dead bodies tied to booby traps, mines so thick only the skinniest sappers were sent in to locate them and similar comforting information. W knew we'd enjoy this new spot -- Catania A/D