RCAF RAF and US Army Air Corps
Spitfire and P-38 Pilot
European and Pacific Theaters
We spoke with
Sherry Nefford at the Seguin Chamber of Commerce who suggested that
Virginia Woods might have some information on Alvin Mueller. Mrs.
Woods recalled the Mueller family had relatives in Moulton, but
she suggested that we call Dick Campbell who had also been a pilot
Mr. Campbell took our call and was able to fill us in on several
points of the Alvin Mueller story that we were unclear about. He
was also able to give us an insight into what it was like flying
a Spitfire over the English Channel before the U.S. got involved.
Alvin Mueller was married with a couple of children when Dick Campbell
was still in High School. Mueller had joined the Army Air Corps
and was in the reserves when they were called up in 1940 for regular
Campbell had had two years of classes at Texas A & M University
when he decided to participate in the war that was already going
on in Europe. The fastest way to accomplish this was to enlist in
the Royal Canadian Air Force, so he stuck out his thumb and hitchhiked
to Windsor, Ontario and signed up.
Dick went through
flight training with 10 or 12 Americans that shared his impatience.
But not all of the Americans were there to hasten the end of the
war - one of Dick's fellow trainees was an Arkansan who had shot
a deputy sheriff and left the state thinking the deputy had died.
on twin engine DeHaviland Ensigns that had already seen service
in France as bombers and had been retired to flight school duty.
Dick got used to having two engines, and so it took a little getting
used to when he started flying Spitfires in England. This was the
Summer of '41.
Dick said that
the British made no distinction between Canadians and Americans
- they only knew that neither spoke correctly. He said that he was
convinced that the RAF was the most inept, confused and incompetent
force to ever fly. That was until he was assigned back to the U.S.
Army Air Corp. The bureaucracy was bad but dealing with Penguins
was worse. Penguin was the term for non-flying officers. His return
to U.S. Forces was the summer of '43.
During his service in England he changed bases many times, but was
mostly in the Midlands. All the officers had bicycles so they could
bike to the pubs around the airfields. Of course they could also
bike through the villages and country lanes, but they usually biked
to the pubs for some reason.
were occasionally to escort bombers, but most of their assignments
were "rhubarbs" which meant strafing runs on railroads and targets
of opportunity. Spitfires were a defensive aircraft and had only
a four hour range so sorties across the channel were mostly over
France and Belgium. We asked how often he saw the enemy. "How about
everyday?" was his reply.
sometimes 25,000 feet and the temperature 60 below zero. Three sets
of gloves were required - the first were silk with a gauntlet, the
second wool with the fingertips cut off, and the third were leather
that would extend to the elbow. He admitted that this made switch,
knob and trigger pulling sometimes difficult.
bullets - another problem pilots had was knowing whether to pull
up or go down when a German plane was heading straight for you.
A tactic they often used. If both planes chose the same direction
- both would go down. Decisions were made fast, considering both
were moving at an air speed in excess of 300mph.
In the Fall
of '44 Lt. Campbell was back flying a twin engine plane - this time
a P-38 in the Pacific. He was en route to San Francisco when the
bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He was back in Seguin when the Japanese
officially surrendered. He was then assigned to Randolph Field until
his discharge in 1946.
was able to give us the monthly rate at the Plaza
Hotel (see TE's Room with a Past series) in 1946. It was $25.00
per month for a room with private bath.