During the hysteria of that dreadful December night in 1941 known as The Battle of Borinquen Field (story #2), Major Robert Alan, his family, and his Puerto Rican maid were in the Alan quarters. The family bedrooms were on the second floor of their impressive home, and their maid lived in the basement. Major Alan, the base Armament Officer, smoked a pipe and was a calm, stable person in normal circumstances. To those who had flown with him, he was considered to be an excitable fellow when things went wrong during a local gunnery mission.

When the random shooting broke out during the Battle, the Alan family was awakened, and Major Alan immediately called the Base Command Post. When the Officer of the Day could not provide a logical reason for the shooting, Major Alan became very perturbed. After considerable discussion, the Major decided that the very worst was happening. He imagined that the Germans were landing troops from submarines, and would soon be scaling the cliff in front of his quarters. Major Alan hung up the phone, took his .45 caliber pistol from the closet, and loaded one round. He was determined to shoot any intruder.

Major Alan tried to calm his wife and child as he stationed himself facing the door at the top of the basement staircase. The Puerto Rican maid, who was in the basement at the time, became alarmed by all the shooting and decided to seek shelter upstairs. As she hurried up the darkened stairs, Major Alan heard footsteps but did not know who was coming. He nervously aimed the pistol at the basement door. Suddenly, the door opened and a figure appeared in the doorway. When the figure moved into the darkened room, Major Alan yelled, "HALT!" Since the maid did not understand English, she continued to rush into the room. Major Alan's nerves snapped and he fired at the shadowy figure. Mercifully, he could fire only once. The screaming that followed prompted him to ignore the blackout and to turn the lights on. His poor maid was shot in her stomach!

An ambulance took the maid to the base hospital where she eventually recovered from her wound. After she was released from the hospital, she did not seek employment with the Alan family. She was the second casualty in this night of bizarre experiences. The dubious honor of being the first casualty belonged to the Base Commander's saddle horse (story #2).

Veterans of the 40th Bomb Group agree that a sense of humor was helpful when unfortunate incidents occurred in combat. In retrospect, The Battle of Borinquen Field was the funniest thing that happened to the Group during World War II. No one thought it was funny when it happened -- especially Major Alan's maid.

* From Ira V. Matthews' Eighty-one War Stories. *