The Veni Vidi Vici Suite pays homage to my late father, James (Pappy) Creider, who was the ground crew chief for the B-17F bomber, Veni Vidi Vici, for its 32 missions while stationed at Knettishall Air Base in England with the 562nd Squadron of the 388th Heavy Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. The suite consists of 4 movements. Played together these movements meld together as one piece. But each movement can be played as a standalone as well. The target audience for this suite includes, but is not limited to, high school bands, university bands and community bands. Running time for the entire suite is 19:39.
Knettishall, The 388th Heavy Bomb Group (H) took command of Station 136, Knettishall, England on June 23, 1943 and remained there until August 5, 1945. The air base was home for the 562nd Squadron to which my father was attached. In this movement, a sense of the English countryside and citizens is depicted. Its main theme will be repeated in the finale of the fourth movement.
42-30661 is the Boeing serial number for the B-17F bomber, Veni Vidi Vici. In this movement, a 'milk run' is musically described beginning with an introduction that portends the concerns of a flight crew not knowing what's ahead on this mission. Then the music turns to the calmness while flying to the target followed by the tension of being over the mission target. And then the bomb explodes on target as the pilot banks the bomber away from the target zone and heads for home, having encountered no opposition this day in the enemy's sky.
Poltava is the location of one of four Allied air bases in the Ukraine, used as part of Operation Frantic. This movement describes the Luftwaffe bombing of the Ukrainian air base as history recorded it and my dad told me. The third movement will relive the terror and ordeal the men and women at the Poltava Ukraine airbase suffered the night the Luftwaffe bombed the base on June 21, 1944. Since new slit trenches had been installed, only two Allied servicemen were killed with several more wounded. My father took shelter in one of those trenches as he watched a Nazi bomber bear down on him, dropping two active bombs along the way. The third bomb fell very near the trench in which he sheltered. It was a dud. He survived the two hour bombing attack.
IV. Mission to Poznan
On February 24, 1944 the Veni Vidi Vici headed for Poznan, Poland on what would turn out to be its last mission, its 32nd. In this movement, Mission to Poznan, envision yourself on the Veni Vidi Vici and you're heading for your target and something to blow up. Thesky below you is completely overcast. And then the flak begins and the Luftwaffe fighters bear down on you. The Veni takes some flak, losing fuel quickly. 1st Lt. Al Montgomery, your pilot, makes a call to head for Sweden to save his crew and the plane rather than ditching you and the plane in the sea off of the Danish coast, where you'd certainly be taken prisoner by the Nazis. You make it to Sweden in one piece, getting to return to Knettishall to fight again, to the familiar main theme from the first movement.