Life of a Pilot's Wife During World War 2
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Life of a Pilot's Wife During World War 2

Gain perspective & insights of wife of a B-24 bomber pilot as he gets flight training & flies 30 missions from England.
4.8 (7 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
538 students enrolled
Created by Vickie Maris
Last updated 7/2017
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $34.99 Original price: $49.99 Discount: 30% off
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This course includes
  • 2.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 hour on-demand audio
  • 2 articles
  • 3 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Recognize the magnitude of World War 2 and the scarcities it created on the USA home front
  • Experience the mindset of a person who was a teenager in the late 1930s and feelings about enlistment
  • Appreciate the sacrifice and commitment of service men and women and the spouses and family who support them
  • Respect the importance of camaraderie among a 10-member bomber crew
  • If you have an Internet connection and the ability to stream videos, you will be able to jump right in and start learning in this course.

Get very personal insights into how a young couple, newly married in 1943, dealt with decisions to enlist in the military, to marry, to find housing, and to stay connected with an ocean in between them while World War 2 was raging. Aviation buffs will especially treasure the experiences shared in this story.

In this documentary-style course, you're treated to approximately two hours of video in which Vickie Maris, instructor, interviews her 93-year-old mom, Lucille Maris, about life as a young bride during World War 2 in the 1940s. Lucille's husband, Jim Maris, was a pilot of B-24 bombers who flew out Wendling, England in 1944.

You'll also get to view presentations of photos, drawings, receipts, letters and other memorabilia that were archived by the couple during the war years. These are included as a slide show at the beginning of each section.

Student Testimonial Shared on Facebook
"This is a must-see. Vickie Maris, you have done a fabulous job of bringing this time period to life. I hope this inspires others to do the same. I fear we are losing previous generations' legacies as our elders pass on and take all the story telling with them. As I listened to your mother's stories, I kept thinking ... your dad sounded like a great husband and a great dad." L. Isenstadt

This journey spans from Lucille's early life on an Illinois farm to the time in the late 1930s when she was dating Jim and taking her first flight in a plane with him. Next is the decision to enlist in the US Army Air Corps, and the young couple's decision to marry. The content focuses on the perspective of this aviator's bride, but you will also learn, via the photos in the slide decks and stories told by Vickie, of the pilot's experiences as he was in training and combat.

Travel with them as they move from base to base during Jim's flight training, and then learn about Lucille's memories of saying goodbye to her young husband as he waved the wings of his B-24 to her as she stood atop the roof of the Hotel Jayhawk in Topeka, Kansas.

The course includes photos and stories from Jim's life on base with the 392nd Bomb Group of the 578th Bombardment Squadron. He flew 30 missions out of England, his second being D-Day. Look at memorabilia from his time on a tow target base where he flew A-20s and other aircraft that towed targets for fighter pilots to use for in-air shooting practice.

Jim Maris was a life-long pilot and educator. After 23 years of service in the US Air Force, he completed his career with 30 years of service at Purdue University. You'll hear Vickie and Lucille talk about his time at the university where he was called in to establish the department now known as the School of Aviation Technology.

Come along for this journey through history of the USA home front and life on base in England as the lives of these 1943 newlyweds unfold from one course lecture to the next.

To supplement the course, Vickie has been interviewing Lucille on Periscope to respond in more detail to the questions students are asking in the course. You can catch them on an upcoming Periscope broadcast. Just search on Vickie's name in Periscope and then follow Vickie to be notified of upcoming broadcasts.

Join the over 1000 students who have already enrolled in one of Vickie's Udemy courses.

Who this course is for:
  • This is a documentary style course on WW 2 that answers questions about life on the USA home front. It’s from the perspective of a young married couple who moved from military base to base while in flight training. The pilot, Jim Maris, was later stationed in 1944 with the 392nd Bomb Group in the 578th Bombardment Squadron in Wendling, England, and several of the course videos stem from this period. The content of this course is built around the photos, scrapbook drawings, maps and journal notes this B-24 bomber pilot and his wife, Lucille Maris, kept along the way. The videos include interviews the instructor has done with Lucille, age 92. You will experience input from Jim. This is not a course for the person looking for detailed World War 2 statistics, military strategy and tactics.
Course content
Expand all 41 lectures 05:29:47
+ Life Before Enlistment and Marriage
9 lectures 23:33

I welcome you to this course about the USA home front during World War 2 from the perspective of Lucille Maris, the wife of World War 2 aviator, Jim Maris. Come along with me as I lead you on a journey through time via interviews with my mom, Lucille Maris. She shares her perspective of life on the home front in the USA during World War 2. You will also hear us share stories about my dad, Jim, and his heroic work in the air as a B-24 bomber pilot and leader of a 10-member crew.

Preview 00:40

Let's do a quick review of the goals of the course.

Review the Course Goals
Section 1 Overview

Thank you for choosing to come along on this journey to learn about life on the USA home front before and during World War 2. I have included a pdf file in each section so that you can review photos and learn more about the topics covered in the lecture videos.

You'll see photos from the 1920s and 30s, which was the time Lucille Maris was a young girl on a farm in Mayview, Illinois, and then in the city of Urbana, Illinois. You will learn about her introduction to Cocker Spaniels as pets, which becomes significant later in the course when Jim Maris heads overseas for combat.

The collection also shows photos from the dating years for Lucille and Jim. Photos, postcards and enlistment material will give you an idea of what the process was like for Jim when he made the decision to volunteer for the US Army Air Corps (which later became the US Air Force in 1947).

World War 2 Photos and Documents - Section 1
30 pages

In this lecture, you'll hear Lucille Maris touch on her childhood in Mayview, Illinois, where she grew up in the country and attended a one-room school house. She describes the walk to school and how muddy the road would be for the last quarter-mile, which made her grateful for galoshes to wear over her shoes. Lucille tells of how the school house did not have running water and it only had chemical toilets.

One of the games the children played was Anty Over, in which half of the school children would stand on one side of the school house and toss a ball over the roof to the children waiting on the other side.

I ask Lucille about the time that a blizzard trapped the kids and teacher at the school house and a local farm family came with horse and wagon to pick up everyone and keep them at their house till the storm passed. She remembers the treat they had at the farmer's house of soda crackers topped with marshmallows.

Childhood in the 1920s

In this lecture, Lucille answers my questions about the early part of her relationship with my dad, Jim Maris.

Lucille also talks about going to the movie theater, and about visiting the campus of the University of Illinois where their group would go to hear big bands play such as Benny Goodman. The bands were brought in for the university students. Others were welcome to pay a quarter and listen from the balcony.

You'll hear Lucille tell a funny story about the date she didn't have with Jim. He called to ask her if she was going to the basketball game between Urbana and Champaign High Schools. When she said "no," he hung up without asking if she'd like to be his date for the game.

Jim and Lucille Attend Different High Schools

Lucille tells the story of her first flight. It was a date with Jim in which he did get the question asked for a date. Jim and his friend, Jessie Wiley, had helped a man repair a Stinson Reliant Cabin Monoplane and it was ready to be test flown.

They went to the Champaign County Airport in the late afternoon and they were asked by the airport owner if they'd like to go along when he took the plane up to check it out before returning it to service. After sunset, they got to see the city lights from the air.

Jim recalled that the plane was landed without benefit of lights at the airport – just a landing light on the plane. Later, when the two of them looked back on their date and flight, after knowing more about aviation, they realized the risk they had taken that evening going up for that test ride!

First Flight For Lucille is in Stinson Reliant
Where Were You on Dec. 7, 1941?

Lucille Maris shares her memory of what she and Jim Maris were doing on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in the USA. She and Jim were sitting around a radio at the house of Jessie Wiley, Jim's friend, as they listened to the news. The radio they were listening to was about three feet tall and approximately two feet wide.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was the event that moved the USA into the War.

In the discussion about enlistment, Lucille, explains that nearly all who fit the criteria either enlisted or were drafted. Jim and Lucille didn't have much conversation about it. They just knew it was something Jim would do. He joined the US Army Air Corps which later became the US Air Force.

She talks about Jim's story of going to Chanute Air Field in Rantoul, Illinois, to receive his military physical and vaccinations. He was standing naked in a line of naked enlisted men when a storm started brewing and a tornado passed through the area.

In the 2-disc audio program, Stories of a Stateside Bride, that I created in 2014 to pull together a collection of audio interviews I had done with Lucille for my podcast episodes, you can hear her talk about how they decided to wait and see if Jim would become an officer. If that occurred, they felt like the increased income from cadet to officer, would enable them to start their married life.

Preview 04:01
+ Marriage | Moving From Military Base to Base | Flight Training
13 lectures 42:49

The photos in this file for Section 2 will give you an idea of how simple many marriages were during the War. Jim and Lucille eloped in Montgomery, Alabama, after she took a train ride down from Illinois. The pastor and his wife, along with Jim's good friend, Ben Rickleman, were the witnesses to the wedding that took place at the Disciples of Christ Christian Church in Montgomery.

The scenes from the various air fields, Jim's graduation from flight training and getting his wings pinned on by Lucille, and a rare moment captured of the two of them relaxing in a public swimming pool in Vincennes, Indiana, all help set the stage for understanding the difficulty of being separated from your loved one due to a military deployment.

Photographs and images depict the challenges of finding housing during World War 2. It was a common struggle for military families in many US cities that were near military bases. Of particular interest in this section of the course is the 1940s hotel stationery on which Lucille described her attempts at finding housing.

If you're an aviation buff, you will enjoy seeing the images of the bombers that Jim was training in during this time of his military career - the B-17 and B-24.

After Jim and his crew received their initial combat training at Peterson Field in Colorado Springs, Colorado, they headed to the base in Topeka, Kansas. For their flying skill and work as a crew, they were awarded a B-24 aircraft to fly overseas. The plane, which the crew named the "Straight Flush," received its nose art by the base painter in Topeka. You'll see several photos of Jim, his crew and their B-24 in this set of slides.

Preview 54 pages

In this lecture I interview Lucille Maris about her plans for marriage to Jim Maris. He was on base in Montgomery, Alabama, when he and Lucille made plans for her to take the train from Urbana, Illinois to Montgomery. It was Lucille's first train ride. She tells a few stories about that experience including calling a dispatcher for a cab company in Birmingham, Alabama, who immediately referred her to another cab company he thought more suitable for her skin color.

She received an offer from an older gentleman who wanted to escort her to her hotel, but she knew to decline.

It happened that the base was quarantined with an outbreak of measles, so the young couple didn't get to see each other until the day of their wedding a week after Lucille had arrived. Jim didn't have the measles, but wasn't allowed to leave base. As a joke, he was put on guard duty on a marching path that took him by a spot where he could see Lucille waving to him, but he couldn't stop and speak to her.

Jim's best friend at the time was Ben Rickleman. He stood up at the wedding along with the pastor of the Disciples of Christ Christian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and the pastor's wife.

After the January 16, 1943 wedding, Jim and Lucille had to go through a receiving line for a Command Performance on base. Ben learned of a plan to kidnap Lucille, so he hurried the newlyweds out a back door to a cab to spend their wedding night together. Lucille returned to Urbana, Illinois on the train the next day. Their marriage lasted nearly 65 years. Lucille was at his side, the two of them alone in a hospital room, when he went home to be with the Lord. It was Jan. 9, 2008, just a week before what would have been their 65th anniversary.

Marriage to a Man in Military Flight Training

Jim Maris learned to fly in a PT-17 in the "deep south" of the USA in Douglas, Georgia.

For twin-engine training, he went to George Army Airfield in Lawrenceville, Illinois.

Lucille stayed in an apartment in Vincennes, Indiana along with three other wives of airmen. The men arrived in Vincennes on a troop train and were not able to head out to base for several days due to extensive flooding in the area. When trucks could finally get the men out to the base, they spent the first week sandbagging the base to protect it from the flooding. This put them way behind in their flight training schedule, so Lucille and Jim did not get to see each other very often.

Jim tells the story, in earlier interviews I have done with him, of the four husbands drawing straws to see who would get to see their wife in the apartment on the rare occasion that they did get time off from training.

Preview 03:36

In this lecture, I share information about the World War 2 Flight Training Museum in Georgia, and the related website that features information about the many graduating classes of pilots.

Preview 01:09

A link to the World War II Flight Training Museum website where you can see Jim Maris and others who got their initial flight training in Douglas, Georgia, in the US Army Air Corps.

Preview 00:10
Moving From Georgia to Alabama to Indiana

Lucille and I talk about the formal graduation ceremony for the pilots. It took place at George Army Airfield in Lawrenceville, Illinois. Lucille got to pin the wings on Jim during the ceremony.

Graduation of Pilots

Lucille tells the story of trying to find housing in Columbus, Ohio while Jim was stationed at Lockbourne Army Airfield in Columbus for multi-engine flight training.

She and I discuss the scarcity of housing and the unique suggestion that Jim had of checking with a local funeral parlor for leads. Lucille unfolds the story about what it was like finding housing each time they moved to a new base.

Spouses were not allowed to stay on base, so they would find a room to rent in a nearby house. Some of these rooms would have kitchen privileges and others would not. Jim and Lucille eventually found a room to rent for $5 a week. It included the use of a bathroom but no kitchen privileges.

Learning to Fly the B-17

Lockbourne was where Jim learned to fly B-17s. It was his favorite of the two ships – B-17 and B-24, but he spent his time in combat in the cockpit of a B-24.

Lucille Talks About Housing Scarcity in Columbus, Ohio

Jim Maris learned to fly B-17s at Lockbourne Army Airfield in Columbus, Ohio. Lucille and I talk about Jim's love for the B-17, and also about a scare Lucille had during their stay in Columbus.

Jim Gets Trained in a B-17 Bomber

The U.S. Army Air Corps accidentally sent first pilots to the base in Casper, Wyoming, on assignment as co-pilots. In this lecture, you'll learn how that mix-up was discovered and which base the pilots were sent to so that they could serve as first pilots in B-24s.

Jim, and his good friend John Clausing, who were both flying co-pilot, had actually been trained as first pilots on B-17s. To correct the mix-up, the US Army Air Corps sent all of these first pilots to Peterson Airfield in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to continue training as first pilots, but now, on B-24s.

Salt Lake City Distribution Center Mix-up

A brief time was spent in Salt Lake City at the transition center and then Jim was sent to Casper, Wyoming, as mentioned in the previous lecture. A fond memory for Lucille is meeting John and Winnie Clausing, who became fast friends. John was another pilot. Lucille remembers the high winds in Casper and her first Christmas with Jim.

Together, the couples rented a two-bedroom house in Casper.

Lucille tells the story of giving away the nice dinner that she and her friend, Winnie, had prepared for the two couples to enjoy for the holiday. They had pooled their rationing stamps to acquire the ingredients for making the dinner. Instead, the pilots were quickly boarded on a troop train that transferred them to Colorado Springs. The military even added an extra car to the train for the women to ride - an unheard of move by the US Army Air Corps. Lucille describes that one of the women had her mother visiting along with the little dog of the mother. They were all allowed to board the extra troop car and travel with the men to Colorado Springs.

Spending Christmas on a Troop Train

In this lecture, Lucille and I talk about the time in Topeka, Kansas, atop the Hotel Jayhawk where she and a couple other wives of crew members saw their men for the last time before they headed in to combat, April 6, 1944. The weather and other conditions were not cooperating for the departure of the bombers, so the couples would say goodbye each morning, only to find out that they would need to wait another day and say goodbye again.

Due to the flying prowess of these particular crews, they had been awarded the "privilege" of flying their ships overseas rather than riding an ocean-going ship across the Atlantic and meeting up with their aircraft on base. This was the reason for the departure from Topeka.

Some of the most treacherous flying conditions that Jim and his crew experienced in terms of weather and lost instruments in the aircraft were in the hours in between Topeka and the base they made it to in Florida.

Jim Waves Wings of B-24 in a Topeka Goodbye
+ Life on the Home Front While Separated by War
14 lectures 01:03:14

As you spend time in these slides, you'll see many photos from Jim's time on base in Wendling - from the B-24 bomber he flew for most of his combat missions, to the mission maps and handwritten notes, to in-cockpit photos. This section will give you a very personal look at life on base in between combat missions.

In the middle section, you'll see a series of photos of Blondie, the bomber crew's mascot. She was my dad's much loved Cocker Spaniel whom he acquired in England when she was a puppy. Jim and Lucille were (and Lucille still is) dog lovers. Blondie became integral to Jim's life on base in England. He was certain that the crew's knowledge that she was back on base waiting for their return, gave his crew extra drive and a sense of immediacy to get their aircraft home - no matter how badly it was damaged by enemy fire. After Jim and Lucille brought her home from England, she continued to be a much-loved member of the family.

You'll also see quotes and letters from Jim's crew members and photos of the group with the B-24.

At the end, I've included photos of the historic planes that Jim brought in to Purdue University for classes of students to restore. These include a Douglas 0-46A, Ryan PT-22 "Recruit" and a L-1A Vigilant. They were later donated to museums. Jim was an aviation history instructor and enthusiast throughout his life and did his best to archive aviation history.

World War 2 Photos and Documents - Section 3
56 pages

Lucille discusses her departure from Topeka with wives of other crew members. She was dropped off in Illinois, and the other women headed on to Connecticut and New Jersey.

Lucille stayed with Jim's parents in Champaign and helped care for Jim's mother, Lizzie Maris, while she was recovering from an illness. Jim's father, Foster Maris, was away working at a manufacturing plant and sending money home to his wife.

Lucille Heads for Home Without Jim

In this episode of my older podcast, you'll hear me read the preface I wrote for the book I'm editing of my dad's memories from World War 2. You'll also hear me read Jim Maris' story of the D-Day mission, plus the story we wrote together about Mission 23.

Bonus Audio Lecture | D-Day Story and Mission 23

Here, Lucille and I discuss how long it took for her to know that Jim had arrived safely to his overseas destination after he had departed with his bomber crew from Topeka, Kansas. There was usually a two- to three-week delay between when either of them sent a letter and when the other received it. Their letters were censored by the government.

Jim was on base in Wendling, Norfolk, England, which was built in the 1940s. He was in the 392nd Bomb Group of the 578th Bombardment Squadron. The base started in operation in August 1943 and the first mission was flown out of England in September 1943.

Jim documented simple notes about each mission that included details about altitudes in which they were flying, weather conditions, damage to his aircraft and the type of enemy fire. It was through these notes that he later put together his memoirs that I am now editing. You can see samples of his handwritten notes and mission maps in the previous lecture.

D-Day was Jim's second bombing mission. Lucille and I talk about the experiences Jim had during that event and some last-minute decisions he made to keep his crew safe and yet still complete their mission.

His Second Mission Was D-Day

Learn more about Blondie, the Cocker Spaniel, who came to be the mascot for Jim Maris' bomber crew in England.

In fact, Blondie was the most frequent subject of Jim's letters to Lucille since he could talk freely about the puppy and her training, and how much she meant to him and the crew. The letters going between the military and their families were censored by the government, so you were pretty limited in what you could write.

After Jim completed his 30 missions in the B-24 in England, he volunteered for another assignment which he knew would split up his crew. He felt there was less chance of them being assigned another tour, most likely in the South Pacific, if he took another role and the nine other crewmen dispersed back to the US for their R&R (rest and relaxation). With their successful record as a crew, had they returned to the US intact as a crew, it was almost definite that they would quickly get another assignment.

Blondie Goes With Jim to Tow Target Base

As it turned out, Jim was assigned as a test engineer and a pilot of tow target planes in another base in England. He always said that some of his most treacherous moments in the air were during his time flying A-20s and other tow target planes with fighter pilots practicing their skills shooting at the target he had in tow.

His bomber crew members went on to other assignments during the War. They all remained friends and kept in touch with each other up until the times of their deaths later in life. As you'll hear in an upcoming video, one of Jim's co-pilots and his wife have spoken with Lucille within a couple months of this course being designed in 2015.

Preview 03:48

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As it turned out, Jim was assigned as a test engineer and a pilot of tow target planes in another base in England. He always said that some of his most treacherous moments in the air were during his time flying A-20s and other tow target planes with fighter pilots practicing their skills shooting at the target he had in tow.

His bomber crew members went on to other assignments during the War. They all remained friends and kept in touch with each other up until the times of their deaths later in life.

Changing Assignments

It was a sweet surprise for Lucille that Jim returned from combat and met up with her in Chicago on their second wedding anniversary. The date was Jan. 16, 1945. She tells a cute story about the trouble he had getting past the door man in an upscale apartment building on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Jim Arrives Home on Wedding Anniversary

When he finished his assignment on the tow target base, he flew Blondie to London to board her at Spratt's Dog Kennel where she would await a ride to the US on a ship. You'll hear Lucille tell the details of this story in the video.

When she eventually hopped a ship to New York, she then took a train to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Jim and Lucille were stationed. It's fun to hear Lucille tell of Blondie's excitement over seeing Jim after being separated for several months.

You probably have noticed that Blondie is in many of the photos that have been used to promote this course. She was an integral member of Jim's crew and also of Jim and Lucille's small family back in the states.

Blondie Travels With Eisenhower's Dog

This lecture features a story about meeting up with the Clausings while Jim was working on base in Smyrna, Tennessee. You should watch the video to learn about this sweet reunion between Jim, Lucille and their close friends, John and Winnie.

There was a story that ran in the local paper about the reunion with the Clausings. Lucille says the people that owned the house that their apartment was in were editors at the paper. This was a key reason that stories appeared in the newspaper about the reunion with the Clausings, and Blondie, the Cocker Spaniel, coming home from England.

Reunion With Old Friends

Lucille and I talk about how co-pilot Tom Gerbing avoided capture in Europe, and how she has recently connected with Jim's second co-pilot, Fred Holmes and his wife.

Connections With Crew Members

I wrap up this documentary-style course with a word of thanks to Lucille.

Saying Thanks

Thank you for participating in this course on World War 2 home front history. Please take advantage of opportunities you have in your future to say thank you to people who serve in the military to protect our freedoms.

Say Thank You to Military Service Personnel
+ Bonus Material
5 lectures 01:00:10

Lucille Maris was a guest on my podcast in 2014. In this episode, she shares about her life growing up in central Illinois. She also shares a bit about how she dealt with stresses associated with being married to a military pilot.

Bonus Audio Lecture | Life as a Young Girl and Woman in 1920s – 30s USA

Lucille and Vickie Maris provided a program on the stage of the Delphi Opera House, Delphi, Indiana, on Nov. 8, 2015. This is Part 1 of Vickie's interview with her 93-yr mom, Lucille, about life in the 1940s; a first flight; marriage to a pilot, Jim Maris, in World War 2. This is Part 1 of a 2-part series.

Preview 09:57

This is the Q and A with the live audience during the event at the Delphi Opera House, Delphi, Indiana, on Nov. 8, 2015. In fact, some of the questions that Vickie Maris asks of her mom on the stage are from the discussion forum here in the course! Watch this Bonus Video to hear Lucille Maris talk about how she kept up on the news of the day, about what it was like to be present when another bride learned that her husband had been killed, and also light-hearted moments about life in the 1940s. This is Part 2 of the 2-part bonus series of videos.

Bonus Video | Part 2 | Audience Q & A during Vickie Maris Interview of Lucille

You can learn more details and see more photos about these stories of World War 2 by Lucille, Vickie and Jim Maris when you visit the links to these archived Periscope broadcasts.

Bonus Resource - Links/Descriptions of Vickie's broadcasts about WW2

In this bonus video, I share about my experience of getting to take a ride in a vintage B-24 that had seen combat. For awhile, it left me without words to be in the very same type of aircraft while it was in flight, that my dad had piloted for 30 missions. I'm contemplating the idea of creating another course around the subject, and would love for you to jump in the discussion and share your thoughts after you watch this short video.

Bonus Video | Reflections on Flying in a Vintage B-24 Bomber