Before GPS-World War II navigation with sextant

Before GPS-World War II navigation with sextant
Bausch and Lomb A-8 sextant, similar to one Ebner used

This World War II navigator cadet sounds a lot more confident than a few weeks earlier when he felt he was failing -- and worried about washing out. Discipline and tough courses were Frank's daily fare, keeping so busy he hardly has time to write. The Army Air Corps needed young men who were smart and able to stand up to stress.

He writes with excitement about his new "toy," a Bausch and Lomb Sextant -- a complicated instrument he has to learn how to use for navigation. Learn more about this sextant here.

18 June - 1944

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know I have taken long to answer your letters but this time I really had absolutely no time to write letters. Even now I have to go to the Sunday parade and will continue my letter in the barracks after I get done eating.

19 June

We got a dirty deal last night when we went to the parade as we had to do the complete ceremony twice and then we were allowed to eat. After we finished eating they gave us another hour of drill and I was too tired to finish writing but I’ll try now.
The cake was swell and arrived in good shape. What flavor was it?? I know my writing looks like hell but I have a gas mask on and I can’t see too good in it.

20 June

Well as you guessed by now they have been keeping us pretty busy. We just started a new phase of our training, Celestial navigation. We have been using our sextants for the first time. They cost $327.00 a piece and are quite the thing. I’m not going to have time to write Bill a separate letter so you can show him this one. It’s an A-8-A sextant made by Bausch and Lomb Optical Company and it’s a beautiful instrument. We have been shooting the sun all day and I’m going to do some asterial shots tonight.

Thank Bill for his help in R.A., but we have long passed that phase. When I finished D.R. I had an average of 69.8 and it almost washed me back a class but my flight commander went to bat for me and got me a D.R. final re-examination which I took last night. I got a 77 on it and it brought my average up to a passing grade.

I’m set now and I’ll have to work hard to make good in this phase. I don’t think Bill could help me with his letters but thank him for me anyway. Tell him I’ll send him a booklet on search and patrol as soon as I get a chance.

My letters won’t be coming as often as they have in the past because of the extra work I’ll have to do. They are planning to graduate us early but we don’t know much about it. As soon as something definite is decided I’ll let you know.

This is all I have to say now so till I write again,
I’m always your loving son,

Frank
P.S. Give the enclosed letter to Fred or Lill. Also I’m sending you a program from our church service.

 

Leave a comment

  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Advertisement:
  • Meet The Blogger

    Linda Gartz

    I was born and raised on Chicago's West Side, where the Gartz family lived and worked for most of the 20th century. After my mom died in 1994, my brothers and I poked around the the attic of my parents' home and discovered a trove of letters, diaries, documents, and photos that had been saved for almost a century. Taken as a whole, they focus a lens on the history of our city and life in another era, as seen through the eyes of regular folks. Go to Lindagartz.com where you'll find my blog, Family Archaeologist (a clickable link is on the "About Letters of a World War II Airman" page). There you can explore this historical treasure trove that illuminates history and our shared humanity. I started my blog, "Letters of a World War II Airman," on the 70th anniversary of the date my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, was drafted into World War II military service. You can see that first post and the first three months of 1943 letters at my website, Lindagartz.com. All future letters will be posted on this blog. I'm an author, archivist and television producer. Please visit my website, LindaGartz.com, to see my published articles and an overview of my television productions.

  • Tags

  • Categories

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement:
  • Fresh Chicago News