Serial# 14041169: Adkins, Eugene – Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner
Eugene ‘Gene’ Adkins’ father was a career Army man, so it was not surprising the he would attend a student cadet training program put on by the 6th Cavalry at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
After basic training he was assigned to MacDill and became one of the original cadre. He met Bob Morgan at MacDill, and flew with him a number of times. After crossing to England with Lieutenant Donald W Garratt on his aircraft 41-24503 Pandora’s Box he was lucky not be be aboard when it was shot down on November 23rd 1942. He was a ‘floating crewmember’ in the 91st until Levi Dillon got into trouble with the MPs. He then was assigned to the Memphis Belle.
On the February 4th 1943 mission to Emden that Adkins contracted frostbite. ‘ I just took my gloves off for about two minutes to get the covers off my guns. It was such close quarters in there I couldn’t work with my gloves on. Maybe I did not realise that it was fifty degrees below up there’.
The worse thing was this was at the start to the mission – he had to stand there with frozen hands for seven hours, firing burst after burst at the attacking German aircraft.
‘When they were not attacking, I crawled into the radio compartment and tried to warm my hands. It was a bit warmer in there. They were really hurting. I would put them between my legs and try to give them a little warmth that way’.
It was only after landing back at Bassingbourn that he discovered how badly injured he was. Gene Adkins was to spend a month in the Oxford Hospital where the doctors eventually saved his hands.