Published in 1943, Wildcats over Casablanca is a battle memoir by two Navy air fighters, Mac Wordell and Ed Seiler, who related their experiences in North Africa to a British born writer before they were deployed again. Seiler would die in Okinawa, 1945. Wordell survived the war. He is my mother’s second cousin. The book has been reprinted and, on a recent visit, Mom loaned me the book. The following sums up the energy and rhythm of the narrative:
Our poker game suddenly broke up for a quiz.
“But school’s over,” protested Ed in disgust.
“What kind of a ship is this? Aren’t we going to get any time for play?”
“Play?” said Tag Grell. “This is war.”
“War, my foot,” cracked back someone. “The French won’t fight.”
Tommy and Mac came in. “Boys, we’re turning in. We’ve got to be up early in the morning.”
Tommy, who isn’t given to sentiment, managed to tack “good luck” onto his “good night.”
Most of us turned in. Ed, on his way to torpedo heaven, heard a crew man scuttlebutting. “We’ve already made contact with sixteen submarines, I tell you. Big babies…they had swastikas in their conning towers too – but we dodged them. A tin fish missed us by inches.”
“You get thirty days’ leave if you get torpedoed,” confirmed the other in a Texas drawl. “I haven’t had leave for a hell of a time.”
In torpedo heaven one of the pilots was sitting on his bunk contentedly playing with his shark knife.
Someone was snoring like a bull horn.