Harry & William & Christine & Vicki
Updated: Feb 19
Explore the rest of this website about my dad's B-17 crew: www.rumboogiecrew.com
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It's difficult to find writings about life during World War II - those times when the men weren't flying B17's on dangerous missions or prepping for those missions or carrying out other military duties. One source I found which does allow a peek at how the men spent their off time on the base is the book Elite Cannon Fodder - World War II Memoirs by Joe Hudson. Lt. Hudson was in the same bomb group and squadron as the Rum Boogie Crew; there is a picture of him with James Sanders, the Rum Boogie captain, on Captain Sanders' page on this website. Joe's book was published in 1987, and I found it among my dad's things. It is the story of the first and only mission Joe flew when his plane was hit by German fighters. Some of the crew survived that attack, including Joe. They ditched the B17 into the North Sea, were picked up by the Germans, and spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp.
The book mentions some of the lighter moments on the base at Snetterton, and I found an excerpt about the Rum Boogie's Lt. Harry Miller, Navigator, and Lt. William H. Spencer, Bombardier, which gives us a peek into their personalities, and how they spent their time off:
Lts. Spencer and Miller shared a barracks room. They were not a very tidy pair of housekeepers. At night all of their clothing, etc., was piled on the table in the center of the room. Each morning it was shifted to the unmade bunks. This went on day after day.
Spencer didn't bother to learn the English currency system. He would pay for a round of drinks with a pound note and put the change in his hat. When he got his hat full of change, he would exchange it for pound notes.
There was an old billy goat that took up quarters near our hut. We warned Lt. Miller that the goat was going to get him if he didn't quit drinking so much. One night he came in high as a kite and went to bed. Someone caught the goat and tied it to Miller's bed. When he awoke, the goat was standing on all fours in his bed. Miller reformed!
Last May, I traveled to San Francisco to meet Chris, the daughter of Harry J. Miller, along with her husband, Gary. (In the picture, she's on the right.) It was my first meet-up with a family member of one of the Rum Boogie Crew, and the meeting didn't disappoint. Chris and Gary are two of the most amazing people I know: instantly friendly, generous with their time, and adventurous on their tandem bike. I am so glad I got to meet them!