The strategy behind the Allies' coordinated air assaults on Tunisia is explained on p. 25. TIME'S Correspondent Jack Belden, reporting this strategy from Cairo last week, also described one of the raids"not exciting, not heroic, but the kind of dull, monotonous, hard, nerve-straining work American bomber pilots have been doing for five months now in the Mid-East." His dispatch follows:
The squadron had been encamped for several days in the cold, inhospitable desert, irritable and impatient as only bomber pilots can be when bad weather holds them from their target. Then the message came from headquarters: "Bomb the quays and shipping at Sousse."
"If the moon is clear that harbor ought to be framed like a picture," our flight leader, Major S. R. Patterson, said to me as we took off in his Pink Lady.
"We'll be framed too," I said, remembering Jap bombers I'd seen the A.V.G.s shoot down in the moonlight over China.
"Yeah, that's right," said Patterson, "but I hope we get in and away before those night fighters can rise and meet us."
Singing Guns. I settled down for the long, monotonous run to the target. Ten hours of boredom; five minutes of excitementthat's the life of bomber crews.
I looked at them to see what they were doing. Lieut. F. A. Miller, the bombardier, was reading a paperbound book called Singing Guns.
Technical Sergeant Anton Budgen leaned down from the gun turret above me, and then he nicked a switch, turning on the interphone system. "Andy, there's two pursuits on our left and above us," said Lyle Winchell, our rear gunner. "Okay, Okay," said Pilot V. M. Anders. "Keep your eye on 'em."
The mission no longer seemed stale. Pursuits were in sight earlytoo early. But nothing happened. Bombardier Miller never raised his head from Singing Guns.
"We are going to climb now," said Anders. Turbo-superchargers went on, the motors hammered, and the needle on the altimeter dial went around like a second hand on a watch. The crew put on life vests and then fleece-lined flying suits over them, and I watched, knowing I would be cold without one. We went above the clouds, but they were scattered, and we could see the sea, grey and steely blue and smooth below us.
"That Goddam Target." It was dusk. The sea barely rippled, faded from sight and we were alone in the battleship greyness. It was censorable degrees below zero and we had reached censorable heights.
"Johnny, you see that orange light? I think it's a night fighter," an unknown voice said over the interphone. "Yes, I see it," said a voice in reply. "Okay, Okay, everyone keep your eye on it."
Soon the orange light rushed down on us out of the blackness, and, racing between us and a pale yellow star, disappeared. The night was moonless, and nowhere was there land.
Carried along swiftly at that cold height, through that un friendly bleakness, listening to the pilot asking the navigator where we were, circling, looking for something and seeing nothing, the vaporous exhaust of a night fighter flashing by and we losing altitude, losing altitude, everything black everywhereit seemed as if we never would find the target.