A request for information came into the Society from Michael LeBlanc in Canada. Can anyone shed more light on the story recounted?
Uncle Jim was a wonderful story tells, always presented with great humour. He use to tell one about a trip made with Ernest Hemingway on board and the incident, when after being hit by flak, they lagged behind and that to run the flak concentrated on them.
Hemingsway’s then pal and fellow newsman from the News Chronicle Special Correspondent, Michael Moynihan, flew with P/O Stevenson & Rees in ‘U’. He describes the same incident in some detail his book ‘War Correspondent – unfit for service’, but no date is given and an original newspaper clipping of the same story from Jim’s papers has no date.
Moynihan and Hemingway had been haunting the station in that period hoping for a trip of their own while doing some stories on the boys. Getting late notice of the op, they rushed to the field getting there at the very last last moment and hoped on the nearest kites. Their names do not show up in the Monthly Summaries nor in the daily ORBs
Unfortunately, I’m having difficulty identifying exactly what date this took place on with the various clues offered so far.
Time of take-off shortly after 2 pm.
Stones & Stevenson flying.
Can anyone help flesh out more of this crew’s story ?
It would be interesting to know if anyone else has anyone else heard of the ‘Hemingway’ story or others similar to this one ?”
You will also find the 540s for 22 April and 20 June. The first because Jim describes getting a minor flesh wound and at the same time refers to newsmen who had been interviewing them and taking their pictures.As a ‘country boy’, Jim would have known nothing of Hemingway and his reputation. If he had, he would certainly have crowed about meeting him in letters back home – there is nary a mention of ‘Papa’ in any surviving letters. h
Dick Wise (a fellow I contacted yesterday) is sure the Hemingway flight took place on 20 June (pm). Everything is right except that Jim is in sickbay at the time and missed that flight.
Perhaps he inserted himself into a good story he got from his crew when entertaining later in life. If so, the question is, based on Moynihan 1994 account, who could tell a taller tale – Jim or Hemingway ? No doubt War Time censorship played a role in this confusion if Jim was being true by delay and by restrictions of information, by News dead lines, by need for items to stuff papers with etc. reported own quirks & foibles and a host of other matters. The ‘story’ is always more proverbially important than the facts in them – as we have all learned over time.
Regardless if Jim was on that flight or not, Moynihan (cynical in the 44 item) leaves no doubt, in 1994, about how the Sqdn felt about Hemingway after reading his (so far un-traceable) account of that flight some short time later.
Perhaps that answers the question. Papa could tell a bigger story than Jim did. Michael LeBlanc
Postscript: More detail on the Hemingway story can be seen in the February 2009 issue of ‘Dispersals’ the newsletter of the 2nd Tactical Air Force Medium Bombers Association. http://www.bamf.be/Dispersals/Dispersals_Feb_09.pdf