A FLYING FORTRESS STATION SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND -- The King and Queen of England paid a surprise visit to this American air station, talking with the Yank airmen and examining battle-scarred Flying Fortresses.
While there was no question in the fliers' minds as to the king's uniform, the queen's garb brought forth various descriptions. The monarch, the airmen agreed, wore the uniform of an RAF air marshal, but as to the queen's dress -- that was not so easy to describe.
One Yank called it "a neat blue job." Another said "it had a lot of those sequin things on it." But that was the extent of the fliers' ability to describe feminine fashions.
Among the installations reviewed by their majesties was the station's dispersal area, where flying and ground crews awaited their inspection at stiff attention.
Presented to the English rulers was Capt. Robert K. Morgan of Asheville, N.C., skipper of the "Memphis Belle," which had recently returned from an operational mission.
Memphis Belle O.K.
"The king asked me if there had been much battle damage to our 'Belle,'" Morgan said. "He noticed the bombs painted on the ship, indicating the number of raids we've been on, and he asked what the little stars above them meant. I explained they represented the number of times the 'Belle' had led the wing and group."
Col. Stanley T. Wray, the station's commanding officer, pointed to a drawing on Morgan's ship of a long-legged, well-turned girl, under whom was painted the name "Memphis Belle."
Wray said Morgan "told the king the ship was named in honor of his fiancee, Margaret Polk of Memphis, but he added: 'That, however, isn't her picture, Sir.'"
The queen carried on a good portion of the conversation, beginning by asking Maintenance Flight Chief Sgts. Robert W. McMahan of Eltmont, Ala., and Franklin Albright of Mifflinburg, Pa., if their mail was coming through on time and if they were answering it.
She also asked them whether they had to work outdoors in bad weather, to which they replied emphatically: "Yes, Ma'am!"
"Do you get much chance to rest?" Queen Elizabeth asked Lieut. Verinis of Hartford, Conn., and Capts. Vincent Evans of Fort Worth, Tex., and Charles Leighton of East Lansing, Mich.
Sergeant All A Dither
The airmen told her they had finished their assigned operational missions and now were getting in some good hours of sleep.
It was Verinis who described the queen's dress as "plain blue, decorated with flowers," adding that "she had on a hat that curled up on one side."
This drew a prompt disclaimer from Evans, who said the queen wore "a lot of sequins and her hat had one of that ghat-catcher things" -- which turned out to be a piece of veiling.
Their majesties also visited the operations room. Sgt. Phillip Solomon of (6713 19th Ave.) Brooklyn, N.Y., later said the queen "had a lovely, soft-spoken voice and a gracious manner."
He added that "if she or the king spoke to me I would have dropped dead."
The men in the operations room stood at attention for ten minutes during the royal inspection and when the monarchs left, "we collapsed into an at-ease position," Solomon said.
During their tour, the king and queen visited nine stations, including two American and seven British.