Wensel, Harry L., Sgt, ASN 12031247 - Gunner
Harry Wensel's enlistment record from the National Archives is here.
Born 22nd April 1920 Livingston County New York
Lived with his Father Glen and mother Mary at 58 Liberty St., Danville, New York
One of eight children:
Civilian Occupation: Semi skilled, machine shop technician.
Enlisted: Rochester New York 16th December 1941, five days after Germany and Italy had joined Japan declaring war against the USA.
After his basic military training Harry volunteered for aircrew as an air-gunner. After graduating from the air gunnery school Harry trained with his fellow crew members at Alamogordo, New Mexico then on to final Combat Crew Training at Davis Monthan Airfield Tucson Arizona before flying in their allocated aircraft B24J (44-40146) 'Sugar-N-Spice' across the Atlantic via the southern route arriving at North Pickenham in April 1944.
Following weeks of familiarisation flights with the 856th Squadron Harry's first operational mission was on 11th May 44 in 'Sugar-N-Spice'. Harry flew two further missions in this aircraft, the six following missions were in a variety of other 'ships'. On the 2nd June the date of his eighth mission he received news of his promotion. The next day - the day before his death - he wrote the following last letter home:
As of today, you may address your illustrious son as Staff Sergeant. We have been "sweating it out" for quite a while and today the promotion list came through.
Did I tell you of the pass several of us had last week? We went to London again and had quite a time. When it's all blacked out there , as it was at 4.30am when we pulled in, the city looks deserted.
Everyone has to stay indoors because of the darkness of the streets. We finally located a cab which took us to a Red Cross Club for lunch and a bed - and did we need both! The next day we saw the usual sights: Buckingham Palace,10 Downing Street, London Bridge, etc. In spite of the all the war time conditions, there are plenty of good places to eat and drink, movie houses, plays, etc. These little four cylinder cabs they use are quite the thing when it come to getting around. They are practically the same design as first put in production in about 1927- a lot like Slim Gilbert's old 26 Chevy except that only the rear passenger compartment is enclosed. The city is overrun with them, which makes it easy to get to where ever you want to go.
As I told Gabby, I got me a new cap and you another pillow cover. Margie (of Canandaigua) sent another photo the other day. It pictures her (in Technicolor, no less) perched on the hood of her pappy's car. What a gal! I nearly missed getting it, by the way. Someone picked up the envelope containing it and a letter out of the trash can and asked me if I wanted it. Don't know yet how it came to be there.
Hope Ken is cured of his Malaria. And tell Duke to be more careful in his choice of opponents.
Yes, that cheese and crackers idea sounds good, but don't send four pounds at once. Mike must have an appetite! And that candy that Steve is to make - but not too much, Mates. We get some here and I don't eat much, you know.
Sorry Slim didn't get in yet. Guess he was set on it.
Well, cheerio, old Dear.
He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal (Posthumously)
Wensel is buried at the American Military Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge, UK (Grave F - 2 - 38)