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Interview with Malcolm James Magid [1/23/2003]

Robert Babcock:

I'm with Malcolm James Magid, M-A-G-I-D, at 2307 Briarwood Hills Drive in Atlanta, Georgia. The interview is done in his home on January 30th, 2003. My name is Bob Babcock, the President of Americans Remembered, doing this for the Veterans History Project. Malcolm served in the Army Air Corp as part of the 8th Air Force as a pilot. Interesting sideline as well, is that he married a lady from England who we --

Malcolm James Magid:

London.

Robert Babcock:

From London. Who we will interview as soon as this one is over with, so we'll have a follow-up. So Malcolm you were born on August 17th, 1923, in Miami, Florida.

Malcolm James Magid:

Correct.

Robert Babcock:

Did you grow up there?

Malcolm James Magid:

I grew up there. When I graduated from high school I went to the University of Florida for a year and a half before World War II started.

Robert Babcock:

Okay. I bet Miami was a different place then than it is today. It was a sleepy town, wasn't it?

Malcolm James Magid:

It was. Well, not particularly. It was -- it was a vibrant town because of the weather -- tourist trade was enormous and -- but they -- we had people coming from all over the world and we had a real nice living situation. We moved a few times. In 1925 we were living -- no, it was '29 when the crash came, my father owned property in Hollywood, Florida, so we moved out there. He had two houses and he evicted one of the tenants, the big one, and fixed it up and we moved in there and he became a gentleman farmer. He grew strawberries and squash and beans and raised chickens. We lived within spitting distance of about four or five dairies, so we used to trade strawberries for milk. It was just an entirely different life and then I have to get out real early on the road, catch the bus for a four mile ride into the center of Hollywood to go to school and so it was really nice. And then in, in '30-31 we moved back to Miami and my father went into the business of manufacturing ladies handbags with a gentleman and they were together for a number of years. But all that time he was a broker. He originally came from Lithuania with his family and they settled up in -- near Boston and he had a jewelry story real early for a short while. The reason that he went Miami is he was a partner in a cut glass factory in Fall River, Massachusetts, where my brother was born and he -- well, while he was in Miami in 1920 it burned up. So, he went back, sold out, moved back to Miami and started as a broker and gradually got into other things, anything to make money. I mean, until the crash he was a millionaire, multimillionaire and when the crash came he had a room full of papers that didn't mean anything. It was all burned. So that was it.

Robert Babcock:

So you had a very interesting childhood from riches to rags --

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah.

Robert Babcock:

-- and back again I guess.

Malcolm James Magid:

Many hurricanes.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah.

Malcolm James Magid:

And, like, when we were in Hollywood his -- the house we had was very sturdy so we had friends, a full house. One of the fellas had a department store downtown. When it quieted down he went down to check out to see if it was still there. They were pretty severe back then.

Robert Babcock:

And you didn't have the warning like you have today, I bet.

Malcolm James Magid:

No. We knew it was coming, but they didn't critique the intensities and all of that. All of a sudden they realized they hadn't heard about them and dad went down there and he was laying on the floor. He had opened the door and gave in and it collapsed. It wasn't fatal. We don't know what happened, but any way it was a scare and, but, yeah, in '23, '25 and '35 was a real bad one. The Keys -- from Miami down to Key West had a lot of squatters and they buried about 3500 people who got caught in the overflow --

Robert Babcock:

Wow.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- waters and a buddy and I drove out -- rode our bikes out to the cemetery and they were all laid out like cords of wood wrapped and it was, pretty rough. As you said earlier, there were no warnings sufficient to tell these people to get the devil out of there.

Robert Babcock:

And you contrast that to Hurricane Andrew, which I went down the day after that hit to help my brother and it was very few fatalities in that one because of the warning. You said that you went to school at the University of Miami for a year and a half.

Malcolm James Magid:

No, University of Florida.

Robert Babcock:

University of Florida.

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah, I graduated in '41.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

I went to Florida, put in my first year.

Robert Babcock:

Before we go further, let me ask you a question about, what's your memories of Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941?

Malcolm James Magid:

I was a traveling salesman for a company and their main office was in New York Avenue, the Americas Reeves Brothers, Incorporated. They had seven or eight textile mills in North Carolina, South Carolina and I was on the road listening to the radio on the way to the next call. We manufactured offset blankets, which are used in the offset printing process. They wrap around one of the cylinders. There's a three cylinder arrangement, one carries the plate, it's a flat plate with the image on it and the other carries a blanket and the third carries the paper and so it was material that had to be made in such a way that it didn't have variations in the thickness. They'd wrap that around, then, they'd print the newspapers, or flat sheet presses, whatever. But I was on the highway and I was kind of astounded, like everybody else was to hear it, you know, but...

Robert Babcock:

And you probably knew then that your life was going to change, correct?

Malcolm James Magid:

I -- I felt that it might, you know. It was a tragedy, but that's one of the things that, that is not too good for anybody is to decide what's going to happen ahead. You know what happened behind, but you can't --

Robert Babcock:

Exactly.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- figure out what's going to happen ahead of you.

Robert Babcock:

Well, what prompted you to go into the Army Air Corp?

Malcolm James Magid:

Well, when I was -- when I, ahh, went to the University of Florida I had in mind -- I took an aeronautical engineering course. I signed up for that because I had decided -- I wrote my thesis just before I graduated in high school about becoming an aeronautical engineer, or a pilot, or whatever. And so when I went there I took courses that I had read up about that indicated it would be good to have those. And if you get into the service, if you had two years of college and you go to flight training, of course, the war came along so I went in anyway without the two years.

Robert Babcock:

Right.

Malcolm James Magid:

I finished my first year and that summer a buddy of mine, he worked in a hotel as a bellhop in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, and his mother was in charge of entertainment, and so forth. The hotel, Sinclair Hotel, was very old and Washington was -- definitely found that he had spent some time there and so they recruited me to come up and go to work. So I was up there -- we were up there and the draft came along and I ended up -- in order to register we went to Littleton, New Hampshire, and I registered for the draft and when I came back I signed up for -- to become a pilot, aviation, and they told me to go back to school. And so I went back to Florida and towards the end of February, or I don't know the exact date, I can't recall it, I got a letter, said report to Miami, Florida, Miami Beach, to get started. And so I went down to Miami Beach, of course, my folks by that time were living on the beach. I spent, I guess, about a month there. I never got a chance to go home because of the restrictions --

Robert Babcock:

Right.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- of course everything was blacked out at night and they put us up in a hotel and it's called Cardozo Hotel on Collins Avenue and it's still there. All the old hotels were put on the National Register and they have done remarkably well. All the street people and bands and they got all kinds of fancy hotels now fixed up, restaurants, and it's -- we've been there a few times. But we marched and we studied a little bit and when that was over we went to -- they sent me to Greenville, South Carolina. They billeted us in Newman University. There were two campuses on each side of town, then. Now, they have one, that's all one big campus. I've never been in it, but they moved all the girls out of the, I guess, it was the south campus. I say all of them, one of them was left. She and her brother was -- he was still there. They were on the other side of town. And every now and then they'd have some kind of entertainment. They'd march us across town and we marched at some military song and, then, they had a big bash for us. When we were getting ready to leave one of the hotels had a garden roof. I imagine it's still there. We were all standing up there throwing out water bombs. We were having a ball, you know.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah.

Malcolm James Magid:

And then they had something at the golf club and, of course, they complained the next day with all the high heel marks in the greens. But we finished up and they put us on a train to New Orleans. We were on our way to San Antonio, Texas. We had to layover in New Orleans for a few hours until the next train came along. Then we went to San Antonio, Lackland Air Force Base and started our training in earnest. I failed to say that at Furman in Greenville I got five hours in solo in a Piper Cub.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

So that was my beginning.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

And we got to San Antonio and we had airplane sighting. They'd flash planes and we'd try to figure out which ones they were, Morse Code, geography. There were a lot of courses and then we spent a lot of time picking up cigarette butts --

Robert Babcock:

Typical military stuff.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- and peeling potatoes and marching. We used to -- they'd parade us and a lot of the fellas would put water in their shoes so they'd faint so they'd get out of it and we did everything that the military required and, you know, Calisthenics and conditioning and when we were finished there -- actually we were finished, but the pipeline was loaded. So they -- I was in 43-D, the class of 43-D, and they moved us back to 44-B -- no, 44-E. I guess it was about three weeks, two, three weeks and then they sent -- sent me and some of the fellas that were with me to Coleman, Texas, for primary training. I -- we was trained in a PT-13 -- no, it was a PT-19A. It was tandem seats, the instructor in the back, plywood wings and so forth. We had a unique thing that we used to laugh about. One of the instructors was a Navy pilot and he had retired, evidently, or they -- I don't know how he came to be in training pilots, but we always knew when they were coming in because he'd come in, just barely get over the fence, and put the thing down. So we knew he was still on his boat landing. So we had to laugh at that. And, you know, we went through a lot of training. We flew -- I don't recall how many hours I had before I started soloing and that. We were up and periodically we'd catch colds and we'd have to go to the dispensary and irrigate our sinuses so we could continue to fly. That way we didn't have to just sit around and wait for it to heal up. And we finished that and then they decided -- they moved us to primary, which was in Sherman, Texas. We left in the evening on buses. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw snow for the first time in my life on the ground. We got to Sherman and we were flying single-engine PT-13 multi-vibrators, they called them, and we were trained and we went up -- one incident, at that time there was a big military parade in Dallas and Sherman was just, oh, maybe 40, 50-minute ride and they got a bunch of us to go and be in the parade. And so we were down there and paraded and there was some friends of the family that we knew and afterwards we were able to go to their house and visit. And, then, after we finished there we went to advanced training at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. We were flying twin engine Cessna's and I was glad of that. I didn't particularly want to be a fighter pilot. So, we were there for quite awhile. There were quite a few instances. We used to -- we'd fly and then they had auxiliary fields and we would fly and land and take off. They were not as rough terrain, not extremely long landing space and, of course, the whole idea was if you ever had an emergency problem you would know what to do, or what to try to do to find a field, land, and they always told us never try to turn back because at that time you didn't have enough power more than likely and the minute you was trying to turn you would -- you'd buy it. We did have one incident that I can't remember now whether it was at primary or basic, but one of the fellas and the instructor, I guess it was at primary, the habit was for the instructor to pull the throttle when you were flying along, having fun, you know and you had to find a field, pick out one. You never landed, but you'd glide in and they did flip over. The student panicked, but both of them came out of it, but the student bowed out.

Robert Babcock:

Washed out of the program, huh?

Malcolm James Magid:

They didn't have to wash him. He said, no more for me. So -- but we -- the advanced training was very good. We -- I enjoyed it. We flew a lot and I did have one incident, though, I had another pilot and myself and I was the lead pilot on the plane and we were making these landings at the auxiliary fields and it was a rather bumpy field and we had to make short field take offs where we'd set the brakes with our feet on the pedals and open wide throttle. We'd, of course, put the plane right at the back of the field and then take off. We bounced into the air. I thought I was flying and had them pull the wheels up and we made a nice pancake and the left side -- the only damage was the props because we stopped short of hitting the side fence and the front fence. It was late in the afternoon and the instructor said, "You stay with the plane.", and he took the other pilot and the other fellas that were landing they went on back. They came back maybe an hour later and picked me up. So, I -- I was the first student that logged night flight. A few days later we were all flying around and scud clouds came in from Galveston. They were low and you couldn't see the field too well and fellas were flying around. I was in the plane with an instructor who was -- actually we were up -- he was checking me out to decide whether to fire me or keep me. So, I lucked out. All these students were on the radio, what am I supposed to do? This and that and everything else. So, he said, "You fly the plane and I'll get on the phone and help these boys." And we circled around and did all this, I guess maybe 30, 40 minutes, whatever, it took to get them down safely and then we went on in and I never heard anymore about it. I graduated and I got my wings and then they had us to -- I got a chance to go home for a few days and that was back to Miami and then I came back and a few days later they called us all out and us lined up and the Major said, "When I call your name step forward." They'd had some openings, I guess, somewhere as it turned out and he called my name. I stepped out and he looked at me, he says, "You're too skinny step back in." I later found out that he was looking for B-24 pilots and from what I had heard about how tough the B-24 was to fly and later on how more vulnerable it was to anti-aircraft attacks. I was glad that I never got into it.

Robert Babcock:

Glad you were skinny, right?

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah. I weighed about 139, six-one.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

But from there they sent me to, let's see, it was near Omaha.

Robert Babcock:

Lincoln.

Malcolm James Magid:

Lincoln, Nebraska. And I sat there for awhile. Then, they sent me to Pyote, Texas. I never really learned whether it was Pyote. The town was Monaghan, I believe. It was an oil town and one motel and it was real -- all the growth was low, mesquite and in the summer -- it was in the summer. It was 110 plus on a ramp and we had to put gloves on to get in the plane the metal was so hot, but we had our regular courses and instructions and...

Robert Babcock:

Now this was summer of '44?

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

And they had to -- they used swamp coolers. They were terrific and put the water over the stuff and pull the air in and it was cool inside. I even tried one here when I came back. I hooked it on the side of my window in the car and every time I pulled the rope to get some moisture on it my wife got a bath. But, anyway, we were rocking along, doing fine and they suddenly told us that they were moving us to big field in El Paso Texas. That this scuttlebutt was that the B29s coming on. We were having some difficulty after take-off and climbing. Their super-charged metal discs were melting after they took off and that extra power climbing caused them to melt. So, they had trouble with them and they were working on changing them, but they figured that by putting the 29s there they could take off level. They didn't have any trees or anything to worry them and they could fly along so they could let the metal cool and then climb. So, we went to Biggs Field and I was in transition in 17s at Pyote and Biggs and then we finished up and then back to Oklahoma.

Robert Babcock:

But now you flew some B-29s?

Malcolm James Magid:

No, I never flew a 29.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

They just moved the planes, the 17s, and us to El Paso.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

And then we went back to Oklahoma and then they put me on a plane -- train to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. I got on the EL Frances, which was considered a pretty fast boat. The Queen Mary was there. I understand they left about four days after we did, but they beat us over. But they ran into some submarine, German submarines, so we swung opposite Africa and then came up underneath England.

Robert Babcock:

Were you in a convoy or by yourself on the ship?

Malcolm James Magid:

We were by ourself. They considered it fast enough to move --

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- and we landed at Berthollide, like most of us did. The Queen Mary was sitting there and they tendered us into the land and sent us down to Stone, England, where every pilot that went to England went through Stone.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh. Now, when was this that you got to England?

Malcolm James Magid:

When I got to my bomb group November '44.

Malcolm James Magid:

So it was November '44.

Robert Babcock:

All right.

Malcolm James Magid:

I was assigned to the 303rd Bomb Group at Brixworth, England. By that time they had a -- their motto was Might and Flight and they also called themselves the Hells Angels and they were a little above the motorcycle Hells Angels that you find. As a matter of fact, there was a fella came -- one of the fells in the Hells Angels motorcycle group came to our reunion in Savanna and he told me that my bomb group was there in Savanna and he said that his father was in the service and that they liked the name and they -- he corroborated that they picked it up because they knew about the Hells Angels. And how we got the name, I found out, was the pilot of this particular plane and the crew were agonizing about what to call it, everybody picked the name, and he had seen the old movie Hells Angels and they were flying on a mission getting ready to rendezvous and he was on the mike to talk to the fellas, "How about Hells Angels?" And the chorus came back and then the group decided well, we'll just go ahead and use that. But, anyway, I got there November '44 and I flew -- my first mission as a pilot I didn't know that they -- I should have assumed, but they divided up crew, not the pilots. The first pilot would fly with another first pilot and the copilot would fly with another first pilot on their first mission to get acquainted with the routine of rendezvousing getting into formation and all of that. So, I flew with another fella and -- who had been flying for quite a bit and I -- we were in formation over the Channel, the English Channel, and he decided he had to go back to the relief tube in the back of the plane. He says, "You got it?" And I says, "Yeah." I was flying along, and he was six feet four or five. He got out and I'm flying there and he looked back and I realized I was being sucked up in the prop wash and close to hitting the plane above me and he -- he just reached over, as tall as he was, and tucked the nose and got back in the seat and when he did that several of the bombs flew off the shackles. So he had the radio operator put the pins back in and we turned around and went back. When we got back he said, "See that Chief over there? Get the hell in there. Don't open your mouth. Get out of here. I'll take care of it." So that was one mission I didn't get credit for.

Robert Babcock:

Right. Abort. Now, what airplane were you flying?

Malcolm James Magid:

B-17s.

Robert Babcock:

B-17?

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah. That was the sweetest plane of all.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

You look at some of the damage that came back and they were still flying. In many cases the ground people who were superb would have the thing fixed up and ready to go the next day. They'd work all night. So, my next mission our whole crew flew.

Robert Babcock:

So your next mission you were the pilot now?

Malcolm James Magid:

No, I was a copilot.

Robert Babcock:

Oh, you were a copilot, okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

Clarence Gogalet (ph) was my pilot. Well, there was -- I was assigned to a different crew and we flew a few times and it didn't work out too good. There was a lot of friction between me and the pilot. It probably was my fault anyway, but we talked to this other fella's copilot. We made a switch and I ended up with a good crew. One that I was satisfied with. And so we started flying. We flew 35 missions. We were on takeoff one time and the oil gauge on the right hand-board engine just went down to zero and I feathered the engine, or feathered the propeller and the pilot, before I shouted I did that, and he had a fit because we had just gotten off, but he had a habit of when we started he'd rev it up to 160-miles per hour before we took off because we always had a big load and it was just his technique, which was good because if we'd just been a little bit above takeoff speed we might have had some problems. So we got up, told the ground what the problem was, and they told us where to -- we waited until all the rest of the planes took off and landed and went over and picked up another plane. And we got over the Channel and the engines were winding up backwards and forth. We had inverters underneath and we were flipping them back and forth and we couldn't control the props on a couple of the engines. So we turned around and went back. So, the next day they supposedly checked it out. Said there was nothing wrong. So, we didn't get credit. While I'm thinking of it, in later years the fella that developed the black box that's being used in planes, it's painted orange now, but it was a black box then John Jim Goshen (ph) was a charter member of your Silver Wings Group here in Atlanta and he brought all of his drawings at one of our meetings and proceeded to tell us how he'd developed the black box. He got a -- he was working for Lockheed at the time. They gave him $500 and a handshake and his wife was livid, but he had signed a release. And so anyway he always -- he told us -- I told him about that and he said, well, you can't duplicate on the ground what happens in the air and vice versa. It's just -- it's one of things that, it's almost impossible. He had a master's degree in electrical engineering. So, it was too late, then. But so we flew -- I flew 35 missions. We aborted two and that first one. So, actually if I'd have gotten credit I'd have had 38, but I was approaching the end of the 35 missions and as you said you wanted to interview my wife, Iris, her name was Fensom, F-E-N-S-O-M. My first leave, or first pass to London with my radio operator who was celebrating his 20th birthday, and navigator we decided to go to London.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

We went to London and our first day there, (coughing) excuse me, we'd gone up -- we stayed at the Regent Palace Hotel. That's sort of in a V-shape entrance and then it fattens out. Just across the street upstairs was a Chinese restaurant. So we'd gone up there to eat. We came down and my navigator, Pete Malonas (ph), ran into a buddy that he went to military school with and they were looking for a place to eat. So we took them upstairs. We were stuffed, but we ate again anyway. And the next day we asked the Concierge where we could go for a nice meal and he suggested we go to a place called Fishers off of Bond Street, which is famous in London. It's a clothing district of retail and so we went. We had our little pile of chocolate bars and stuff and, you know, we were celebrating our radio operator's birthday and it was a supper club and it was in the basement, so to speak, of this big office building. Over there they call them brassiere, spelled like brassiere, and there was some other famous ones there. The Duke of Windsor named one of them real famous. We had been to those, too. But anyway we sat down and we ordered and we were eating and, you know, you look around and there were an awful lot of young ladies there, but -- and middle-age ladies, but weren't many fellas. Later, I didn't realize it at the time, Iris told me, yeah, there weren't any -- too many fellas around. They were all in Berma flying in the jungles. So the girls would go out in hopes that there would be enough men so they could dance some. They liked to dance. They have a unique way of dancing, not like we do. They all get on the dance floor and they all go around to the left. So you don't bump into anybody. It's a -- it flows all the way around and you just go around that way, around the left, and it makes a lot nicer.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

So, any way, I was sitting there and, you know, you're looking around and I spotted this girl and I thought she was very pretty and really nice, you know, and I said to myself, well, you know, maybe. And, finally, we finished, it was time to decide to dance, but we hadn't talked to -- this particular night spot had an host, had a hostess. And so I got up and I walked by the table she was sitting at and asked the host, "What do you do, you know? What's the routine?" He said, "Well, if you see a girl that you like her looks ask her to dance. That's all there is to it." So, I got behind -- I came back and was behind a chair and I asked her to dance and I later found out -- we danced, of course, but she had been trying to eat and I was disconcerting her by looking at her or staring, as you will, and she had vowed -- which the etiquette over there if you're ask to dance you dance. You just don't refuse. But she had vowed if I came to ask her to dance she wouldn't dance with me, but I went by and her friend laughed and said the chance of it would be a fine thing because Iris had told her friend, "Here he comes." I'm going to tell him, you know, but she didn't see who it was. But any way we danced and that night spot closed at 10:00 o'clock and we found that there was another place called the Bristol Grill around the corner. We went over there and they close at 11:00. It was about two blocks away. We tried to find both of them. We did find the Fishers one year early on. We went down and we went in. We were flabbergasted at all these naked women walking around with veils on waiting for customers. We even talked to -- a lady came and we made a few remarks, not how we had met there and all that, but we had to let that go. But anyway, we went to the Bristol Grill and they had a dance band and we had a few drinks and the band leader was Nick Popadophlis (ph), a Greek boy and my navigator was Peter Malonas, a Greek boy. To make a long story short, they decided they were 50 cousins removed after intermission discussions and it was the greatest thing that ever happened to us, because every time we came to London we had a home. We could go there. They treated us royally. Of course, we tipped them liberally. Every time we -- I didn't smoke cigarettes. I'd buy my ration. I'd give them all cigarettes. I managed to, you know, I also bought some cigars in the PX and pass them out. I didn't smoke that heavy. I didn't smoke cigarettes at all. But it proved to be great for us because VE Day -- by that time Iris and I were married and -- I take that back VE Day we were pretty close to being married and we went to town to celebrate. Of course the streets were packed. So we said, well, we'll go to the Bristol Grill. We got there the line was about two and a half, three blocks long. So, Iris and I walked up to the door. I knocked on the door, the door opened, and my friend saw who it was, dragged us in, shut the door. They said, "wait a minute" and they got a small table and put it next to the dance floor and two chairs and we were in.

Robert Babcock:

That's great.

Malcolm James Magid:

And so we were able to celebrate. So -- and while we were there, I don't know if any other fellas, and I'm sure there were quite a few that married and their families will find out and they probably will never see my tape, but the routine was you fill out papers to be married with all the information, both families and all that and the routine was to send the Chaplin around to the house to investigate and discuss with the families to see if everything was, well, to put it kosher.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

While we were partying he came to the house. The folks had been partying at the local pub and getting ready to have a nap. She invited him in. She said, "Bring your friend in." Of course, he was an officer and the other was sergeant, but she fixed them tea and they visited and he signed the papers. And then they still had some routine to go and it took awhile for all the paperwork to come up and I -- we got married the 23rd of June, 1945. It will be 58 years this June.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

We spent our first night at the Savoy Hotel. The tab for the night was one pound. So, we were married and, ahh, we spent, as I said, we spent our first night at the Savoy. It was difficult to find alcohol drinks. What you could find were very expensive. In my travels -- by that time I had been stationed -- I was stationed in Paris. I guess I should back up, and when I finished my tour of 35 missions I had already asked for a transfer to stay over so we could get married and they assigned me to a troop carrier outfit in flying C-47s in the Villa Kuvla. Villa Kuvla was a seminary. It was vacant. I guess they moved all the fellas away and they had a landing strip. So, we -- we were billeted in their quarters and our first duty then was to fly tanks of gas and sea rations to Patton. He was out-stripping his ground supply and tanks were moving faster than the tank trucks and other trucks could move. So, we had a -- our C 47 was equipped with bunks strapped to the sides. They would load the ship with wing tanks full of Petrol, as the English would say, and sea rations. There were three nurses on board. We would fly as close as we could and land on a grass field near. They would unload, bunks would come down, stretcher cases from the freed prisoners would come on. Nurses would tend to them. I don't recall any of them that were ambulatory. They were all stretcher with IVs.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

We'd take them back to Paris and the next morning get up, load up, go back again.

Robert Babcock:

But these were prisoners, not Americans, that you were flying back?

Malcolm James Magid:

No. No. They were American prisoners. They were freed.

Robert Babcock:

Oh, American prisoners that were freed. All right. Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

I don't recall any German prisoners, but there may have been some.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

They may not have had any -- or they might have had another arrangement for that.

Robert Babcock:

And this was spring of '45?

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

And so we finished that and the war was over.

Robert Babcock:

Okay. Let me stop you here for a second on that piece. Did you have any interaction with the American prisoners that were on your plane or did you...

Malcolm James Magid:

None not whatsoever.

Robert Babcock:

Okay. So you didn't have a chance to talk to any of them?

Malcolm James Magid:

No. They came on. We immediately shut the door.

Robert Babcock:

Get'em back as quick as you can.

Malcolm James Magid:

And flew back as quick as we could. I don't recall reloading and going back the same day. In my mind we did it on -- because there were other planes doing it. They probably had a plane that left after we did on the same thing and would go. So we would fly -- we'd land and stayed. When the war was over we had a lot of CID and CIA, other individuals who were sent over to check out warehouses for loot and booty in Germany. So, we were flying an airline. We'd take these people, we'd fly and land and let them off and if we had more than one we'd land wherever they had to and then we'd go back. One time we landed and I can't -- I was flying at the time, came in a little high and I hit the brakes and the grass was so tall we slid into a pig pen, damaged the flap on one wing and prop. It was a cement bunker. So I stayed there until they came and picked me up. Then they sent a crew to fix it up. But we finished that -- while we were doing that the -- since the war was over, they put a notice on the bulletin board looking at -- the Navy had asked the Air Force to supply them with three planes and crews to fly personnel from Bremen, Bremen Hagan, Germany to Rhein-Main, which was where their supply base, the Navy supply base was.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

I always wondered about it, but I figured that it was probably easier to do that than to send a ship and tie it up and do all that, I guess, because the planes -- they had enough planes to do it anyway. So, by that time I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. The Commanding Officer, Commander Melson, was Norwegian extraction and he was able to buy a lot of things and fly to Norway, supply his ancestors with a few goodies until things lightened up. Iris' sister -- they worked for a tailoring company that was country-wide, had offices and they had coupons and her sister was in charge of the coupons. So, they were able to fiddle a little bit. Everybody was fiddling whatever they could. Things aren't all that rosy. So, we got to Frankfurt after flying the airline and then on the Navy -- as a matter of fact, one time we were able to get off for a week while we were still flying for the Navy and they allowed us to have a week's vacation, so to speak. We flew back to London and rented cars, a car, and went to Tarte in Cornwall area for a week, had a real good time.

Robert Babcock:

Now, was Iris still in London all the time while you were over in...

Malcolm James Magid:

She was in London from the very beginning of the war.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

She never left it. Her sister did, was gone for, maybe she can tell you, but probably about a week or two or three, but she was very unhappy and she came back.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

So as a matter of fact, Iris went to work at 14. They started school at three. I find it hard to believe that 14-year old here could do what she did. I mean, they put her in charge of the mail room at Royal Insurance of London. There's a big corporation and she'll probably -- if you mention it she can tell you.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

A little bit about it.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah.

Malcolm James Magid:

It was, okay.

Robert Babcock:

Well, we'll pick that up from her.

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah.

Robert Babcock:

So did you have -- have her with you when you had this week's leave that you took?

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah. Uh-huh.

Robert Babcock:

Okay. That was good.

Malcolm James Magid:

Yeah.

Robert Babcock:

So, then, when did you finally get to the point where your tour was over and you're ready to come back to the States? And how was the decision to staying there or coming back to the States? Was that much of a decision?

Malcolm James Magid:

Well, no, coming back to the states was never a problem because that was going to be later after we got married and I did what I did with the Navy.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

As a matter of fact, she beat me home. She'll tell you about that, too.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

If you ask her.

Robert Babcock:

All right.

Malcolm James Magid:

But, yeah, she stayed -- I ended up we finished with the Navy and -- but there's a few things that you might like to hear about that.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

Every time we flew that round after we dropped off the Navy personnel in Exeter, England we spent the night in London. So, I was home every other night.

Robert Babcock:

That was neat.

Malcolm James Magid:

One night I came home and they said -- Iris and her friend were members of this dance club downtown London and she went dancing. So, I went there to find her and I went down the stairs. There, again, it was underneath and I -- I couldn't spot her and so I turned around, started up the stairs, and here she comes in with her girlfriend and two fellas and they'd all wanted to have a drink and they don't drink in the dance hall. So, it really didn't bother me, but it was kind of awkward, but I didn't think anything of it. So, anyway, we rocked along and she -- there were a few other things that maybe she can tell you about that happened along the way. But the one thing that we -- you might be interested in, too, are anybody that listens to this tape will, was we were always looking for a good place to eat in London during the war, the food was not all that swift, and we got wind of the information about a place that was called the Athens Restaurant and we found out where it was and that was while, back up, when we were at the hotel Regent Palace we went there for lunch. It was a small place. You had to go upstairs in the loft and they -- everybody that we saw was eating steak, but the menu didn't have it listed and we asked the waiter and he said, well, everybody knows that we have the steak. So, we just put the other items on in case somebody's more interested in that. To make a long story short it was horse steak. It was the most delicious steak we'd eaten in a long time.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah.

Malcolm James Magid:

They knew how to cook it. It wasn't thick. It was thin. We finished -- a plate at that time was one pound. You get peas, potato and the steak. So, we all wanted some more steak. They said, "Well, you'll have to order the whole plate." So, we had two plates that particular time and we found out at that time it was horse steak and we went there every time we came to London to have a meal because it was delicious.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

Right after the war we went and they greeted us royally because we were well-known by then. Great we've got beef steak today. We couldn't chew it. You couldn't eat it. It was so tough. I understand the horse steak, maybe they use vinegar in some way. You don't taste it. Maybe they soak it. I never knew the technique, but it was just delicious. What can I say? Of course, in Europe they do eat a lot of horse steak.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah.

Malcolm James Magid:

So, we got with that. So, that was a back track. But on our sojourn for that one week we drove by Exeter and went into the commissary, or into the kitchen, and we got ham and a whole bunch of stuff to take with us and we got down to Torquay, the hotel, and we never thought anything about it, but we took it all into the kitchen and said, we brought this so that you cook, we figured there was enough to feed everybody, give them a treat. We had sugar and stuff that they had a hard time getting. Well, we didn't talk to the landlady and she came up pounding on the door. You know, she just read us up one side down the other about showing off and all this stuff and we explained to her that we had the option of getting it and the opportunity to get it and you can see we got enough and we didn't want it just for us. We decided we wanted everybody to enjoy it because that was just the way we felt.

Robert Babcock:

Right.

Malcolm James Magid:

And she calmed down and we all had a nice piece that night and it was real nice. We'd been there -- we went there two or three times after that Iris and I. We had our oldest son with us and we stayed there several years ago. By that time a German couple had bought it and was running it. It was on the water. When we were there the first time two old ladies were visiting and we were getting ready to leave and they were talking and we had visited with them and they said, well, we've got to run down and say good-bye to the jetties. It was remarkable to watch because when we were there the first time the weather wasn't extremely cold, but it was quite chilly and we were dressed in coats and we wet on down the jettie and the rock beach and people were with their towels laying on rocks and laying there in their bathing suits and we had our coats on because we felt the cold and they didn't. It was kind of remarkable, but that's a beautiful place Torquay is. I don't know if you've ever been to Europe or England.

Robert Babcock:

I've been through there, but nothing to...

Malcolm James Magid:

England, you know, you go there, there's so much antiquity and it's beautiful --

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- that it's just impossible not to see everything.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

We -- I used to drive there. When you reach 70 you can't get liability insurance unless you're paying extreme bundle even then it gets hard because of their laws, but I've driven all over the place and the cathedrals and the big homes and museums and they found an enormous amount of things when Caesar's legions were there, tile floors that looked like they were manufactured yesterday that were did you go up how they -- they didn't look scratched or anything they just polish them up.

Robert Babcock:

Gee whiz.

Malcolm James Magid:

We even tolling around we stopped -- they were excavating another site. It's constantly being done. It is remarkable. But anyhow we finally finished up. I did get messed up a little bit, umm, I was in Frankfurt waiting to come home and one of my buddies was flying to London in a C-47 and I thought, well, heck, I'll just go for the weekend and so I went. I didn't get a pass. So, the Commanding Officer, I figured, well, I'll get there and I'll turn around and come back, spend the night, but the plane had a taxi accident, nicked a wing. So, I called the Exec Officer and told him where I was because any moment they would be looking for you to go. And I said, I'll be back tomorrow for sure." About that time the Commanding Officer wanted to know where Lt. Magid was and the Exec Officer said, "Well, I just talked to him in London. Book him for Awol." It cost me that $75 and a 104 in my record. But from there they sent me down to First and Fellbrook near Munich. Then, they put me on a train to the Coast of Normandy and I got aboard ship. To back up a little, I stayed in London at the officer's club a few times and I didn't realize it at the time, I wasn't that, I guess, I wasn't fastidious enough. I developed a fungus infection on my feet. Well, it got pretty bad and I went to the Navy doctor and he prescribed an ointment which helped. I later found out it had silicic acid in it. The idea was to deaden or kill the skin and keep peeling it until you passed the infection.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

So, actually what happened was it was pretty bad and when I got on board ship to come home, the Liberty Ship, I went to the doctor there and he started giving me penicillin shots. He didn't know what the heck they was. But he had to stop because there was too many cases of gonorrhea on board and he needed all the vaccine for them, the penicillin. But when I got home I went to the Biltmore Hotel in the Coral Gables to the Army hospital. It had been turned into -- it was a hotel. It's still operating. You can't tear it up now. It's got the largest swimming pool in Florida and maybe in, you know, it's a real old one, beautiful.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

But anyway they signed me up for ten percent disability. I had holes in the bottom of my feet. I had to swear special shoes. I cut out shoes. I had -- my hands were all messed up. I had -- in some fingers you could see the bone between the two, you know, and it had just eaten down to the bone and -- but I learned how to take care of it and I finally got here.

Robert Babcock:

What year was it that you came home? When did you come back?

Malcolm James Magid:

June of '45.

Robert Babcock:

June of '45.

Malcolm James Magid:

No, '46.

Robert Babcock:

No, '46. Okay. Then what did you do? Did you immediately get out of the Army Air Corp, then?

Malcolm James Magid:

I had no choice.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

I would have liked to go into -- Commander Melson was going to be assigned to the Embassy in Norway.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

And I approached him and asked him to see if he could get me on as a pilot, you know, flying for the Embassy, but nothing ever came of it.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

So, I came back and in North Carolina, Fayetteville, North Carolina, got all my papers and took the train back and I was out.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

When I came up here my papers were turned in to over -- transferred to Warren Robbins, the 14th Air Force. They had a tornado went through there about -- I guess, it was about two or three weeks after I'd signed off they'd written me a notice to either stay in the reserve or get out and I didn't see any reason to stay in, so I stayed out. All my papers and -- a lot of papers were scattered all over the countryside. I never heard from them again. So I don't know if they've got any records, I guess there are some records, but --

Robert Babcock:

Probably somewhere.

Malcolm James Magid:

Somewhere. Yeah. Well, I know there are, because we've got a lot we -- well, a lot of them in Silver Spring, Maryland at the warehouse because we had a crew for our 303rd bomb crew that lived up there got all our flight records that we have a three sites on the Web of the 303rd Bomb Group. I'm not into it, but I've seen some of the stuff.

Robert Babcock:

I'll go check it. We've got about 10 or 12 minutes left before we run out of tape here. Let me ask you, your 35 bomb missions, you're flying B-17s. Where were you typically going to German, into Germany?

Malcolm James Magid:

100 percent.

Robert Babcock:

Hundred percent into Germany.

Malcolm James Magid:

By that time after D-Day and we just went in. I have a complete list of all of the missions. I have a leather jacket that I had a friend here in town list them all. We designed it with big bombs.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

And then he's listed all of them in the bombs and I had him put his name on the bottom of the last bomb. That was the first time anybody had asked him to put his name on. I figured if he did such a fantastic job, you know. Actually, the plane that he used was a Thunderbird, which was one of our planes that flew over a hundred missions, and Keith Ferris a noted aeronautical artist had been commissioned by the Air and Space Museum to design a mural and he elected to pick the 303rd Bomb Group and he put the -- he spent upwards of a year off and on going over the details and if you're every at the Air and Space Museum you see the wall of Thunderbirds coming at you and I had a copy of that. So, I just had them put that on the back.

Robert Babcock:

I will check that out. Did you get any serious flack damage? Any missions where you weren't sure you were going to make it back?

Malcolm James Magid:

We didn't have that. We did -- we only had one individual, he was a waste gunner, he got a few pieces of flack in his rear. He pitched such a fit that they gave him medical discharge. I finally found him and I called and he was fighting cancer of the bowels and he didn't make it.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

I -- actually, there's only one member of my crew alive that I know of. He lives in Hawaii. There were two others that we've been unsuccessful in finding. They are bombardiers and one of our -- another one of our waste gunners.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh. What's your -- what's your reflection, your thoughts, on the -- on your participation in World War II and flying bombers?

Malcolm James Magid:

Well, once I got the scare in that first mission I vowed that I was going to fly formation and usually the copilot did fly. The pilot, you know, he didn't have to fly. If he wanted to occasionally he'd take over, but I vowed that we were told that the tighter we could fly safely the better we could fight off fighters.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

I didn't see a lot of fighters and I just vowed that I was going to fly. I used to have -- I'd be flying with my wing tip practically in the side window and the guys were waving me off and everything else, but I concentrated very greatly on it and I flew -- I flew 35 missions. I had some wrist problems for awhile, but I got a good doctor and he put a shot of Cortizone in each one several years ago and I haven't been bothered since.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

But, no, we didn't have an awful lot of damage. We were just lucky. Anti-aircraft fire was our worst nemesis. By that time there were some fighters -- there was one mission where I was -- it was on, it was off, it was on, it was off. Then it came around noon and the Exec Officer needed some flying time, so he bumped me out of the copilot seat, and they were -- jumped in the fighter. They were going to Hamburg, Germany. So, I never -- I never really was in a big dog fight --

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

-- with them. I know that our, ahh, our gunners did a lot of firing, you know. There were fighters in the area on many occasions, but we were just lucky. We never had -- the ones that really caught it were the ones that were there at the beginning. They had escorts only to the coast of France. So, it was a field day for the Germans and they had all the experience that time could buy because they fought in the Spanish Civil War. They were all seasoned pilots, fighter pilots. They all knew what to do and how to do it. And we were unlucky at the beginning because we lost a lot of pilots, but once we got the P-51 and the P-47 and the P-38 things changed and --

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh. MAGID -- we ruled the skies.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah.

Malcolm James Magid:

And but, yeah, it -- I didn't outwardly show any nervousness. I knew I could get it any time.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

It was always a problem getting out of the seat and going back to the relief tube. I carried -- whenever I got to the plane there was always a -- the propeller tubes that were laying on the ground there and I used to take two or three with me along next to the seat.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

And I'd fill those up. They'd be frozen and if I ever left them in I heard about it when we got back, but they were always frozen because it was 40 below zero when we were up in the air at 32 -- the highest that we ever flew we were going to, oh, shoot, well, we were going to Germany and it was overcast and the lead ship elected to go on to try to get out of it. We kept climbing and we were up 32,800 feet just hanging because the plane didn't have that kind of a ceiling.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

They finally decided we got to get on the way back. So, they bombed through the clouds and so then we got back, but...

Robert Babcock:

What kind of bomb load did you typically carry?

Malcolm James Magid:

5,000-pound.

Robert Babcock:

5,000 pounds of what, 500 pounders?

Malcolm James Magid:

Something like that. Yeah. 24s were able to carry more weight and they were faster. Any time we were together they were -- they had to throttle back. They were hanging while we were just flying. And one of the missions towards the end everybody was off of oxygen flying around 10,000 feet. The idea was to tear up all the railroads and everything that they could to cut down on their transportation of goods and we found a little out of the way station. There was a train engine in there and you could see the smoke and he suddenly realized we were on our way and you could see that smoke coming out and the wheels spinning. I mean, I never saw it afterwards, but it was such a small piece of property I'm sure it was obliterated. So, it was -- I'd do it over again. I think that we did know -- there were things coming out of Germany and somebody must have known the heinous things that they were doing. I think back then people couldn't believe it --

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh. MAGID -- because they could have done something a little earlier and it might be a good lesson for today's situation in Iraq, even if we don't find anything?

Robert Babcock:

Yeah. MAGID -- we do need to get rid of Saddam Hussein because he will eventually get atomic bombs and he didn't hesitate to gas his own people, so he sure as heck, once he gets them, he's going to be throwing them at everybody.

Robert Babcock:

You're absolutely right.

Malcolm James Magid:

So, other than that I'm sure there's some other things that I could have...

Robert Babcock:

Yeah, this -- this has been fascinating. What did you do for your career after you got out of the...

Malcolm James Magid:

Well, my father was in the real estate business and I dabbled in that. I took the examinations and became a salesman, but it wasn't the right time for it and my brother-in-law and his brothers had inherited a large printing plant in Nashville and they opened an office here in town and he offered me a job. I came up and I worked in the plant and I went out and did the sales and I was involved with printing for about 35 years.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

And that was it. After that, as I said, I was in the -- with a company manufacturing offset blankets for printing. I was with them for 23 years.

Robert Babcock:

Uh-huh.

Malcolm James Magid:

And then I retired and decided to try to sell the blankets. I had contacts. I could place the orders by phone, but it didn't work out, because pressmen are prima donas and they always blame the blanket before they blame anything else and it was tough.

Robert Babcock:

Yeah. Have you done any flying since, since you got out?

Malcolm James Magid:

We got back -- I took Iris up in a Piper Cub out of Fort Lauderdale. We flew around Miami and Fort Lauderdale and I think I did one loop and that was it. My cousin was the Exec Officer in the 101st Airborne, Lewis Magid. He was a First Lieutenant Commander of the CCC camp and, of course, he was a Bird Kernel when he got out, but he helped develop the tie down of heavy equipment and gliders and all of that and the snatch situation, C-47, that snatch the gliders and he just passed away about '98 with Alzheimer's. But, no, you know, it was a part of life. We live it pretty regularly because we have the Georgia Chapter of the 8th Air Force. I just freed myself from being President.

Robert Babcock:

Oh, so you were President of that?

Malcolm James Magid:

Of the Georgia Chapter this year, this past year.

Robert Babcock:

Okay.

Malcolm James Magid:

And our bylaws say, talk to the individual, if he's willing then you can nominate him. But I came back from a two-month trip to London four years ago -- three years ago and I found that I'd been nominated to be Vice President.

Robert Babcock:

Did you? Okay. We're about out of film here. So, let me turn this off.

 
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