Robert Green like so many others joined up after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. He trained initially in Arizona soloing on the P-17 Stearman biplane; next to Florida, then Luke AFB to check out on the P-40 Warhawk. Finally Abilene Texas where he completed his OTU in P-47's.
Again - like so many before him - he sailed on the 'Queen Elizabeth' to Greenock Scotland then on to further combat fighting training at Atcham near Shrewsbury. He was then given the choice of Fighter Group, electing for the 78th because he already had friends at Duxford. He joined them in No. 83 Suadron in August 1944 when there was a 'bad aura' following the crash of a visiting B-17 from Deenethorpe on a social visit. A crash which killed thirteen men including two pilots of the 84th.
He now had to learn to take-off from a grass airfield eight abreast; this was to get the planes off the ground as quickly as possible and to conserve fuel. The two drop tanks - added to increase range- could be an additional hazard sometimes coming off on take-off. His first mission was 'straightforward escort' maintaining a diamond pattern over the bombers. When they left the bombers the fighters would be free to find 'targets of opportunity' , shooting up trains the favourite.
Green best recalls 7th October 1944 when as Red Cargo Three element leader he became top scorer for the day - he destroyed three FW 190s in the air - as a result of which he was interviewed on the radio. His description of the final action of the day is typical 'Circling up I saw a P-47 (Reems) fighting an FW 190 on the deck and I told him I'd give him top cover. The enemy pilot was an old hand doing half snap rolls and the two were about even, so I decided to lend assistance. My first burst achieved many strikes on his fuselage, cockpit and engine and his canopy shot off and he went in and exploded.' Green also tells of an encounter with the German jet fighter an ME262 heading straight for him with a closing speed of some 500 mph, the pilot half-turned and acknowledged him but didn't engage because he was probably short of fuel. On another occasion he spotted a P-51 beneath him and followed it- realising just in time that it was a decoy aircraft rebuilt by the Germans leading him into a 'flak trap'. Most combat pilots were very attached to the sturdy, reliable, roomy P-47 Thunderbolt and resisted the proposed change to the Mustang P-51 with its smaller calibre guns and vulnerable coolant lines. The 78th did however eventually have to convert to them,
Although Green enjoyed the danced at Duxford he was not a drinking man. He coached the basketball team - named for him as the Green Hornets- and was also Assistant Maintenance Officer on and base and kept busy test flying. He was to fly a total of 94 combat missions almost completing three tours. He was then posted to 'Clobber College' at Atcham - where he himself had trained - to teach the newcomers combat tactics.
Post war we went to Green Airways 'modifying military aircraft to carry cargo' before being recalled - as a reservist - back into the USAF to fly a B-26 in Korea.
|17 August 2018 14:15:16||general ira snapsorter||Changes to biography and events|
Biography completed by historian Helen Millgate. Information sourced from correspondence files and articles held in an IWM research collection related to the acquisition of various items and ephemera belonging to Robert Green.
|27 September 2014 18:24:11||AAM||AAM ingest|
Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / EAGLES OF DUXFORD, The 78th Fighter Group in WW2 by Fry, p133 / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list