Diary Excerpt: Mathew C. Gac

Although he wasn’t a member of an aircrew, Mathew Gac of the 38th Bomb Group saw many raids through the lenses of cameras on his group’s aircraft. He frequently wrote in his diary about day-to-day life working in the photo department and we wanted to share three of them with you this week.

July 8, 1943

Still a tired fellow this morning with a lot on my mind and a lot of work to do alone. Another mission today. 405th to support the big push around Salamaua. Finished overhauling a K-17 and then had to take V.R. shots of a 499 wrecked B-25 [#41-30028 “BLUNDER-BUS,” see pp. 32-33 of Warpath Across the Pacific] at the end of the runway in the stream. Could not take off, no bombs exploded. Luckily 4 men walked out and the other was carried out hurt. In the P.M. started to make a special mount for the K-21 camera. Went down to the Service Sqdn but got no satisfaction, nothing so I am going to make a wooden model and try it out. The mission came back 1 P.M. then a lot of work again developing at printing got finished 7:30 P.M. Photos not so good on account of the bad weather. Rumours we must have 24 months overseas before going home.

Striking Lae on June 26 1943

This photo, taken on a mission to Lae on June 26, 1943, is an example of the photos that could only be taken with cameras installed in an aircraft’s belly.

July 9

Another tired feeling after yesterday’s busy day. It was very damp and cool as this A.M.s short rain was the first for a while. Another mission today 405th in the Mubo area again. Working on a new setup for the K-21. A box where the camera can be slung along underneath the camera hatch and shoot backwards. Went down to the line for parts but the tin smith was busy, so Amos and I worked on the other idea of attaching the mirror arrangement to the K-17 cone. Did not finish as it started to rain very hard. Thank goodness we have a good tent and all the equipment is dry for a change.

July 10

It was quite damp and wet this morning as it rained hard last night. Went down to the line to try the new setup of the mirror idea. Worked on it with Amos and got it fixed O.K. Though the setup looks peculiar and the mirror is half inside the plane the angle is greater and it looks O.K. in focal plane. The plane was tested and so was my setup and it turned out O.K. Almost 100% coverage. Lt Salome liked it and now I’ll have to change all the other plane setups, 14 in all. Worked for a while on the K-17 for the mirror attachments. Got new camera cones for K-17s. Will have a lot more work now.


3 thoughts on “Diary Excerpt: Mathew C. Gac

  1. My Dad had the same problems with the weather and the Rain. The 42nd Bomb Wing, 390th Bomb Squadron 13th Air Force in New Guinea. He was also S-2 for the Group and he also flew on Missions to earn his Air Medal 70 years later. He retired as a Lt Col. in the Air Force and his Squadron was( The JUNGLE AIR FORCE).
    I have in front of me a Commendation issued on 16 December 1943.
    It states From the 25 july 1943 to 20 November 1943 Major General Nathan Twining, by the direction of Comsopac and pursuant to the air employment directives and policies of Comairsopac,,commanded the Allied Air Forces Solomons, Brigadier General Dean C. Strother served as Fighter Commander, while Brigdier General William A. Matheny (then Colonel) was Bomber Commander.
    2. During this period, immeasurable damage was done to the enemy. His ships and barges were destroyed, All of the New Georgia Group was overrun by our forces, Treasury was captured and Bougainvilla was invaded, the Japs was subjected to heavy loss of aircraft and personnel, and his Bougainvilla air drones were made untenable. As a result we have materially improved our position for further assualts on the enemy, and we have acquired important naval facilties and many fine additional air dromes.
    A great share of the credit for these victories goes to the Air Arm: to the airman of the Army,Navy, Marines Corps, and Royal New Zealand Air Force, both shore and carrier based.
    The 13th Air Force will continue to carry the fight until the Jap is completely crushed, and made to pay many times over for the crimes he has committed against our airman, soldiers,sailors, and marines and for the bestial deceit and brutality of Pearl Harbor, the Phillipines, China and Malaya.
    The report goes on for about 2 more pages and it also says that “Our people back home take just pride in your accomplishments and sacrifices, glory in your victories and reverence the memory of your comrades that won’t be coming home.
    God Bless you for your achievements and grant each of you the fortitude to carry on to complete victory. Keep Healthy, keep smiling and keep fighting.
    /a/ N.E. Harmon
    /t/M. F. HarMON
    Lieutenant General
    U. S. ARMY
    This is just a little of what the men are going through and all services in the Pacific are Kicking Ass and taking names in the Pacific for Pearl Harbor and the death March.


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