Early Life and Enlistment

Pearl Harbor and Basic Training

Flight training and Europe

First Missions

Annotation

Lloyd William (Bill) Reese was born in Milton Center, Ohio. His father was a superintendent of schools. They moved to Bowling Green, Ohio where his brother was born and where his father was a county supervisor. The Great Depression didn’t really affect his family and childhood was pretty carefree. They were comfortable and he spent summers on a farm near Lima, Ohio. His father moved to Washington Court House, Ohio. Reese enjoyed high school – head of class annual – very aware of the state of the world at that time– took flying lessons at Fort Columbus, Ohio with a friend. He later attended Ohio State, studying Animal Science in the College of Agriculture. He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces when he was a junior in college. Bored with college, Reese enlisted in the Air Corps. His father was a coordinator for enlistment for the Air Corps with an office at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio. Lloyd enlisted 6 December 1941 but didn’t get called up until April 1942. He was sent to Maxell Field Maxwell Field – [Annotator’s Note: now Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama] and by the time he got there, 30 or 40 people had already washed out. Not wanting to do that he went into bombardier work.

Annotation

Lloyd Reese was asleep, and his father woke him to tell him about the attack on Pearl Harbor. He knew that we were in the war now. His brother went to West Point [Annotator’s Note: United States Military Academy, West Point, New York], but Lloyd was not admitted due to a hearing issue. He says he managed to pass the hearing test for the US Army Air Forces and enlisted. He went to Maxwell [Annotator’s Note: now Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama] and then was sent to California for more training. After Maxwell, he went to Victorville Annotator’s Note: Victorville Army Field, Victorville, California] for bombardier training. He trained on Beech 11s [Annotator’s Note: Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan] with 100-pound practice bombs. They were graded on how close they could get to the center of the target. He graduated November 1942. He felt training was easy. From Victorville they were sent to Salt Lake City [Annotator’s Note: Fort Douglas Army Air Field, Salt Lake City, Utah] and then to Tucson [Annotator’s Note: Tucson Army Air Field, now Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona] where they formed their crews. After that Alamogordo [Annotator’s Note: Alamogordo Army Air Field, now Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, New Mexico]. Reese does not remember much about how the crew formed, but he thought it was a good bunch. They got their navigator late and he was the only one who had trouble with some of the crew.

Annotation

Lloyd Reese trained to be a bombardier on the AT-11 [Annotator’s Note: Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan] and then the B-24 [Annotator’s Note: Consolidated B-24 Liberator]. Reese liked the B-24 but said that every Sunday in training they would lose one. They had a joke–they smoked well–which meant when they crashed, they produced a lot of smoke. He first trained at Alamogordo [Annotator’s Note: Alamogordo Army Air Field, now Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, New Mexico] they went to Clovis, New Mexico [Annotator’s Note: Clovis Army Air Field, now Cannon Air Force Base] which was a nicer area for training. From there to Topeka, Kansas [Annotator’s Note: Topeka Army Air Field] where they got their assigned aircraft. They loaded and went to West Palm Beach, Florida [Annotator’s Note: Morrison Field]. Reese says they then got a 100,000 dollar trip across the world – Puerto Rico [Annotator’s Note: Losey Field, Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico] – Georgetown [Annotator’s Note: Atkinson Field, Hyde Park, British Guiana]– Belém, Brazil [Annotator’s Note: Belém Army Air Field] for a week – Dakar, Africa [Annotator’s Note: Dakar Airport] this where their navigator really showed his skills. Then to Marrakesh [Annotator’s Note: Marrakesh Menara Airport] for a couple of weeks and stayed at a hotel [Annotator’s Note: hard to make out but likely the La Mamounia]. Then to Lands End [Annotator’s Note: geographical reference only; no city named this] in England. On the way up the coast of Europe, he liked looking over towards Spain which was pretty brown and then the green of England. He enjoyed the trip over a lot. Reese’s most significant memory was going in to the mess hall where he saw steak sauce in a quart bottle. He then went Shipdham near Norwich to his base [Annotator’s Note: Royal Air Force Shipdham, Dereham, England].

Annotation

Lloyd Reese was a bombardier on a B-24 for the 67th Bombardment Squadron, 44th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. He and his crew came into Shipdham [Annotator’s Note: Royal Air Force Shipdham, Dereham, England] as the first replacements into the 44th. The next day’s mission was to bomb Kiel Canal in Denmark. The 67th only had three remaining crews so their commander Pappy Moore [Annotator’s Note: Brigadier General Howard W. Moore] said to not go before they had more training. All three aircraft that went were shot down. Reese was not scared or worried though – he just accepted that they were at war. His first mission was over Marseille, France. They flew out of Marseille. The only time they worried because they had to land with a full load. Sub pens. They encountered light flak over the targets and lost no aircraft. Throughout this time, the German fighters would stay out of range. His first 11 missions were relatively uneventful – they arrived, hit their targets, and returned. On a mission to bomb the telephone offices in Sicily, Italy, Reese was the lead bombardier. He could not find the target, but he saw a nice tall building and he aimed for that. They successfully hit the building and found out later that the telephone offices had been moved there–the Germans wondered how they had known. [Annotator’s Note: he laughs] On another mission, they raided Rome, Italy. They were ordered to not drop bombs if they weren’t on target. Reese’s element was second in formation. As the bomb sight lined up and the lead bombardier hadn’t dropped any bombs, Reese decide to drop his. The rest of the formation followed suit. He didn’t speak of this at all until later at Salt Lake City [Annotator’s Note: no time reference is given]. He learned then that the success of that bombing of the railroad yards had made headlines in the paper. He had been afraid that he had made a mistake in releasing the bombs. [Annotator’s Note: he laughs heartily].

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You may receive the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only the specific clips that you requested. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to four weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address.