The First Taste of Flak

Upon temporary relocation to Ibsley Airfield as Bisterne Airfield was being reconstructed, Frisky was immediately tapped for another Rodeo mission by IX Fighter Command. Alerted for the mission on 20 April 1944 at 1200, field order/operations order # 163 came down at 1555 hours, with a zero hour of 1830 hours.

In general support of Eighth Air Force attacks aided by VIII Fighter Command fighters on No-ball targets (V-1 flying bomb facilities) in northwest France at 1830 hours and Ninth AF A-20 and B-26 attacks supported by RAF Spitfires in the Mons, Belgium area at 1900 hours, the 371FG and the 405FG were tasked by IXFC to conduct a fighter sweep in the Belgian and France areas and destroy enemy aircraft. The 371FG was assigned to sweep the Laon/Reims area of France.

Briefing, takeoff and recovery for Frisky were all over at Ibsley Airfield, as Bisterne Airfield was being rebuilt, and single 108-gallon belly tanks were used for the 48 fighters of the 371FG tasked for this mission. It was mission number 4 for the group, and was the first mission led by 371FG Commander, (then) Lt. Col. Bingham T. “Bing” Kleine.

Col. Bingham T. Kleine, Commander of the 371st Fighter group, picture here in flying gear by a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, led the group in action for the first time on 20 April 1944. (Source:  “The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.” via Mr. Francis E. Madore, 406FS)

Col. Bingham T. Kleine, Commander of the 371st Fighter group, picture here in flying gear by a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, led the group in action for the first time on 20 April 1944. (Source: “The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.” via Mr. Francis E. Madore, 406FS)

The group spent 35 minutes in the sweep area from about 1825 to 1900 hours, and no enemy aircraft were encountered, and weather and a late landfall in (reason not reported) precluded the desired penetration to the Laon/Reims area of France; Frisky only made it as far as the Rouen area and slightly beyond to the northeast.

German Luftwaffe flak gunners loading an 88mm anti-aircraft gun in firing position with shells.  Note the 11 rings on the gun barrel indicating 11 aircraft shot down).  It is one of several guns in the image comprising a battery weapons of this caliber could easily have reached the altitude Frisky flew at over occupied France on 20 April 1944.  The word “flak,” a general term for any kind of anti-aircraft fire, is a contraction of the German term “Flugzeugabwehrkanone” (aircraft defense cannon).  (Source:  Wikipedia entry for “Anti-aircraft warfare” and “8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41.”)

German Luftwaffe flak gunners loading an 88mm anti-aircraft gun in firing position with shells. Note the 11 rings on the gun barrel indicating 11 aircraft shot down). It is one of several guns in the image comprising a battery weapons of this caliber could easily have reached the altitude Frisky flew at over occupied France on 20 April 1944. The word “flak,” a general term for any kind of anti-aircraft fire, is a contraction of the German term “Flugzeugabwehrkanone” (aircraft defense cannon). (Source: Wikipedia entry for “Anti-aircraft warfare” and “8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41.”)

It was on this mission that Frisky apparently for the first time drew an enemy reaction – anti-aircraft fire over Rouen and northeast of it, and also St. Andrew, that was heavy, moderate and accurate up to 17,000 to 18,000 feet. The low flight in the 406FS dipped down to get beneath it, and was called out by another flight as bogies (unidentified aircraft). No aircraft were damaged by the ground fire, but nonetheless it was useful combat experience for Frisky, and a warning that his flights over occupied Europe would not go uncontested.

A flight of P-47 Thunderbolts at distance in the ETO gives one an idea for the challenge of visual recognition of aircraft – and also the dangers of combat as it appears number four is lagging a bit behind the rest of the formation.  (Courtesy 142d Fighter Wing History Archives)

A flight of P-47 Thunderbolts at distance in the ETO gives one an idea for the challenge of visual recognition of aircraft – and also the dangers of combat as it appears number four is lagging a bit behind the rest of the formation. (Courtesy 142d Fighter Wing History Archives)

References

371st Fighter Group and 404/405/406 Fighter Squadron histories for April, 1944

“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.” Army & Navy Publishers, Baton Rouge, LA, 1946

Anti-aircraft warfare, Wikipedia article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-aircraft_warfare

8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8.8_cm_Flak_18/36/37/41

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A Somber Thursday South, 20 April 1944

With the curtain raised on the 371FG in the ETO, Frisky was busy earning his keep, flying and fighting against the forces of Nazi Germany. It was inevitable this clash of arms would produce casualties.

Thursday, April 20, 1944, was a day of sacrifice for Frisky, though most in the group would be unaware of that fact for some weeks to come. The day began as any other for Airmen serving their country in a time of war, but ended somberly.

During the day of 20 April, Capt. Elkin L. Franklin, Jr., the Operations Officer of the 404th Fighter Squadron, was on detached service with the 57th Fighter Group’s 64th Fighter Squadron at Alto Airfield on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. He was sent there over two weeks before, along with Capt. Edmond A. Goolsbee, Operations Officer of the 406th Fighter Squadron, in order to gain some fighter bomber combat experience to bring back to his squadron and to the 371st Fighter Group in England.

Capt. Elkin L. Franklin, Jr., Operations Officer of the 404th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group (now the 142d Fighter Wing), Killed in Action while on detached service with the 57th Fighter Group on 20 Apr 1944 over Italy.

Capt. Elkin L. Franklin, Jr., Operations Officer of the 404th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group (now the 142d Fighter Wing), Killed in Action while on detached service with the 57th Fighter Group on 20 Apr 1944 over Italy.

Capt. Franklin took off from Corsica in Republic P-47D-16-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-76011 on a dive-bombing mission against railroad cars and facilities near Arezzo, Italy, which is north of Rome and southeast of Florence. The distance was such that external fuel tanks were required on the Thunderbolts. This mission occurred during the time of Operation Strangle, when Allied air forces in the Mediterranean theater of operations conducted a series of sustained interdiction attacks to impede the flow of German forces and logistics in central Italy.  (See film clip of 57FG operations below)

Film clip of 57th Fighter Group operations at Alto Airfield, Corsica, 1944.

The 64th Fighter Squadron reached the Sinalunga area south of Arezzo and bombed the railroad target. After bombing, the Thunderbolts looked for a target of opportunity to strafe and found one to the south at the railroad marshaling yard at Abbadia (just west of Lago Trasimeno). When Capt. Franklin’s plane neared the end of its strafing run, enemy fire hit his belly tank which exploded. Franklin’s plane rolled over and crashed into the ground in flames at 0945 local time, which was witnessed by three other squadron members, who believed he was killed in the crash. His was the first combat loss of a member of the 371st Fighter Group in World War II. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

So on this Easter Sunday, 2014, 70 years after the first loss of any 371FG personnel in combat, let us remember Elkin Franklin’s service and sacrifice for our freedom. He was the first member of Frisky’s team to be killed in action, but sadly, he wasn’t to be the last. The upcoming Memorial Day will be a great opportunity for us to remember and honor them all.

References:
Missing Air Crew Report for Elkin L. Franklin, at: http://www.57thfightergroup.org/macr/4517.html

Operation Strangle, entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Strangle

P-47 Database, 42-&XXX serial numbers, at: http://p-47.database.pagesperso-orange.fr/Database/42-7xxxx.htm

Find a grave entry for Elkin Leland Franklin, Jr., at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=73025984

P-47 aircraft of the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) 57th Fighter Group at Alto Airbase, Corsica, during World War II, at: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675051896_P-47-aircraft_Alto-Air-Base_pilot-examines-flak-hole-in-wing_Red-Cross-coffee-truck_Lady-Jane

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Frisky Wears Out His Welcome

Frisky’s home flying field in England, Bisterne, was a prototype airfield built under the “Advanced Landing Ground” (ALG) concept. This was the construction of a relatively simple expeditionary airfield complex that aviation engineers could build quickly in order to support air operations on the continent of Europe once the Allies landed in France.

Experience gained in the North African and Italian campaigns indicated a fighter bomber unit needed a runway 120 feet wide and 5,000 feet long to create a suitable ALG for a P-47 unit. A surfacing material was then used to help strengthen the surface for the weight of the aircraft using it, as well as to provide some help against wet weather conditions prevalent in Northwestern Europe.

Since Frisky was the first occupant at Bisterne, his early operations tested the ALG concept. ALG’s in the UK were built with a Sommerfeld Tracking, ironically named after German expatriate engineer Kurt Joachim Sommerfeld. Nicknamed “tin lino,” (“lino” probably short for linoleum) it was a prefabricated lightweight wire mesh with stiffened-steel bearing rods first used by the RAF in 1941. Sommerfeld Tracking came in rolls 10 feet 8 inches (3.25 m ) wide by 75 feet 6 inches (23 m) long. To give it strength, mild steel rods were threaded through it at 9-inch intervals. Individual rolls could be joined at the edges by threading a flat steel bar through loops in the ends of the rods.

Sommerfeld Track material used for airfield surfacing during WWII.  It was the initial surface placed over the runways at Bisterne Airfield.

Sommerfeld Track material used for airfield surfacing during WWII. It was the initial surface placed over the runways at Bisterne Airfield.

As things turned out, the Sommerfeld Tracking runways at Bisterne were “tested” so much in early 371FG operations that as first constructed the field was found to be deficient under the weight of combat-loaded P-47 Thunderbolts. Bisterne, after all, was located on a cow pasture, and though it was overlaid with the Sommerfeld “chicken wire” the heavy Thunderbolts soon created ruts and bumps in the surface which were hazardous to flight operations. By the third week of April, after only a week or so of being on operational status, Ninth Air Service Command inspectors directed the airfield closed for reconstruction and the group’s flying operations to be moved three miles away to Ibsley Airfield. After a movement order was received 19 April, the field was closed for ten days, between April 20 and April 30, to allow aviation engineers to rebuild it with some improvements.

The group history indicates engineers laid down “pierced planking” at Bisterne, which is probably a reference to pierced steel planking (PSP). PSP was probably preferred, but in a somewhat short supply given the worldwide demand for the material in all combat theaters. Also, PSP’s weight was much heavier than the Sommerfeld Tracking, or the Square Mesh Track (SMT) that Frisky would see on the Continent later, which was a logistical consideration for the upcoming cross channel attack. The squadron histories indicate an American Engineer Aviation Company first removed the English-style matting, then graded the field, after which they emplaced American matting. The weather apparently cooperated and the work was completed on 29 April, with the planes returning to roost on 30 April, pretty much as scheduled.

Pierced Steel Plank (PSP), also known as Marsden or Marston Matting, came in planks that were ten feet long, 15-inches wide and which weighed 66 pounds.

Pierced Steel Plank (PSP), also known as Marsden or Marston Matting, came in planks that were ten feet long, 15-inches wide and which weighed 66 pounds.

In the meantime, the aircraft moved to continue combat missions from Ibsley Airfield, a nearby USAAF Station. RAF Ibsley had a rich history, being opened in early 1941. The foundations for its concrete runways were built from the rubble of bombed out buildings in Southampton. It was featured in the Spitfire flying sequences of the 1942 film “First of the Few” and some 19 flying squadrons were based there at various times of RAF use, including RAF, Polish, Czech, Canadian and Australian. In June, 1942, the field was turned over to the USAAF 8th Air Force, and the 1st Fighter Group with Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters was the first US stationed unit there. On 29 August 1942, two Lightnings scrambled from Ibsley against a German bomber, which may have been the first operational US fighter sorties from Britain in WWII. In late 1943, Ninth Air Force was given responsibility for the field, and in late March, 1944 the 48th Fighter Group, another Ninth Air Force P-47 outfit began operations from the field, as the 9th was rapidly expanding in preparation for D-Day.

Ibsley Airfield in January, 1944, while under 9th Air Force control.

Ibsley Airfield in January, 1944, while under 9th Air Force control.

When Frisky moved over from Bisterne to Ibsley, the new field became a bit crowded with 150 Thunderbolts from the two groups. But given Ibsley’s good runways, the groups made the best of it while Bisterne was rebuilt and continued their training and operations as the pace quickened in preparation for D-Day.
References

371st Fighter Group and 404/405/406 Fighter Squadron histories for April, 1944

“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.” Army & Navy Publishers, Baton Rouge, LA, 1946

Johnson, David C., 1st Lt, USAF, “US Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO) D-Day to V-E Day” at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-081010-026.pdf

Advanced Landing Group, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Landing_Ground

Bisterne ALG, at: http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/airfields/bis.html

RAF Bisterne, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Bisterne

RAF Ibsley, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Ibsley

RAF Ibsley Historical Group, at: http://www.rafibsley.co.uk/

RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust: http://www.ibsleytower.info/

48th Fighter Group, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/48th_Operations_Group

Sommerfeld Tracking, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sommerfeld_Tracking

Sommerfeld Track information and image at: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/5-436/chap14.htm

Sommerfeld Track image at: http://www.google.st/patents/EP0429106A1?cl=en

Pierced Steel Plank, at: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1996

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The Curtain is Raised for the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO

April 12, 1944, is a banner day in the history of the 371st Fighter Group. It is the day upon which the World War II P-47 fighter group flew its first combat missions in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO). It was also the first day the unit ever suffered a casualty, though it was not combat-related.

After flying a practice mission on 7 April, Frisky had been alerted days prior for a mission originally scheduled for 10 April, which was scrubbed due to weather. Alerted for a mission the next day, 11 April, he was disappointed yet again when the spring weather did not cooperate.

But he didn’t have to wait long, for at 2235B Hours on 11 April IX Fighter Command transmitted Operations Order 139, which tasked the 371st Fighter Group with a “RODEO” mission tied in with a Royal Air Force (RAF) operation. Paragraph 1.B. (2) of the order stated “RAF MOSQUITOES ESCORTED BY TYPHOONS WILL CROSS IN FRENCH COAST AT 5000-0115E AT APPROXIMATELY 1020B HOURS AT 8,000 FT.

Para 2 set the U.S. objective for Operations Order 139, and stated “THIS COMMAND EXECUTES FIGHTER SWEEPS AND DESTROYS E/A ZERO HOUR AND DATE . 121015B” (Note: E/A is the abbreviation for Enemy Aircraft)

Para 3 contained tasking details for the 100th Fighter Wing’s 371st Fighter Group (Frisky!) and the 84th Fighter Wing’s 405th Fighter Group. Frisky’s instructions were as follows: ‘AT GROUP LEADERS DISCRETION IN AND OUT ENEMY COAST AT 10,000 FEET MINIMUM. …NO EXTRA BELLY TANKS WILL BE CARRIED…GROUP WILL NOT ATTACK GROUND TARGETS.” The group’s radio callsign was “LOWCOURT,” ground control at Tangmere was “ELFLIKE,” emergency homing channel “COACHRIDE,” and the code word for a fighter recall was “D I A B O L I C”

A Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, clean with no bombs or external tanks carried, banks away from a camera plane in the European Theater of Operations in World War II.  The national insignia on the bottom of both wings was an ETO measure to help Allied personnel on the ground identify it as a friendly aircraft.  (Courtesy  142FW History Archives)

A Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, clean with no bombs or external tanks carried, banks away from a camera plane in the European Theater of Operations in World War II. The national insignia on the bottom of both wings was an ETO measure to help Allied personnel on the ground identify it as a friendly aircraft. (Courtesy 142FW History Archives)

Wednesday, April 12, 1944, was good enough for flying, and fly Frisky did, twice! The mission briefing was scheduled for 0735 for a fighter sweep over France, around Caen, between Trauville and Bayeux. It was led by Lt. Col. George L. Wertenbaker (on temporary duty with the 371st, he became commander of the 48th Fighter Group on 23 April 1944). Start engine time was 1029, aiming for a 1029 takeoff. Time up for the group was actually between 1039 and 1055. The group then started its climb to transit altitude beginning around 1114, to reach cruising altitude by 1157. The group dispatched 52 aircraft, though three aborted (mechanical, radio and oxygen) and two other aircraft escorted them back to base. The 406FS mission report identified the specific blocks of P-47s the squadron flew on this first mission, to include: 1 P-47D-11, 5 P-47D-15s, and 11 P-47D-16s. Frisky performed his sweep at 20,000 feet between 1200 and 1210. Visibility was unlimited in the sweep area, but no enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire was seen. Time down for the group was from 1235 to 1255.

IX Fighter Command sent out Field Order 142 at 1300B and Frisky flew a second sweep (target or task RODEO) later that day, same group callsign as the morning, but working with fighter control at Middle Wallop callsign “CASEY,” emergency homing channel again “COACHRIDE,” with a recall code word of “HAMMERHEAD.” The 371st generated 48 P-47s for the mission, another fighter sweep over France, around Cleres, between Le Camp and Le Treport. Lt. Col. Wertenbaker led again; the group briefed at 1500, took off at 1625, swept between 1730 and 1743 (13 minutes) between 18-24,000 feet in hazy visibility without enemy opposition, and returned at 1835. At least two ships aborted for mechanical problems, but with 7 spares ready the mission flew as tasked for 48 aircraft. The 406FS mission report again detailed the blocks of P-47s it used for the mission: 1 P-47D-11, 6 P-47D-15s, 3 P-47D-16s and 9 P-47D-20s, as well as the only observation reported under “URGENT INFORMATION” as “Convoy of about 35 ships South of Beach head going east.”

Sadly, this day also marked the first fatality experienced by the group, when 2nd Lt. Eugene E. Sanderson of the 405th Fighter Squadron, took a ship up, P-47D-11-RE S/N 42-75252 (squadron code 8N-F), for an engineering test hop. The aircraft had previously served with the 334FS of the 4FG (as QP-W). For reasons unspecified in the group history, Sanderson “…was killed when his plane crashed while circling for a landing.” The Blue Book only mentions it was a “forced landing,” but underlines the irony that it happened while the group was away on its first combat mission. Such are the tragic fortunes of war.

2d. Lt. Eugene E. Anderson of the 405th Fighter Squadron lost his life during a test flight of a P-47D at Bisterne Airfield on 12 April 1944.  His was the first loss of life in the group since its establishment. (“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO,” copy courtesy of Francis E. Madore, 406th Fighter Squadron)

2nd Lt. Eugene E. Sanderson of the 405th Fighter Squadron lost his life during a test flight of a P-47D at Bisterne Airfield on 12 April 1944. His was the first loss of life in the group since its establishment. (“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO,” copy courtesy of Francis E. Madore, 406th Fighter Squadron)

Sanderson, from Florida, had completed flying training in either Class 43F or 43G at Douglas Field in Georgia in the summer of 1943, depending which source one uses. He shipped over with the group aboard the RMS Mauretania only the month before.  2nd Lt. Sanderson is buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge, England, at Plot F, Row 1, Grave 47.

So it was a bittersweet but significant day for the members of the 371st Fighter Group, to finally perform the flying and fighting mission they had been trained and organized for, and, alas, to suffer the first loss of life in the unit since its inception. Many more combat missions would be flown, many more lives sacrificed, and many more machines lost before the war in Europe ended. But this day marked the start of Frisky’s direct contribution to that hard-won victory.

References
371FG History for April, 1944

404, 405 and 406 Fighter Squadron histories for April, 1944

Douglas Class of 1943-F (Scheduled to graduate from Advanced as officers June 30, 1943) http://wwiiflighttraining.org/cadets/Class1943/1943f.php

Douglas Class of 1943-G (Scheduled to graduate from Advanced as officers July 28, 1943) http://wwiiflighttraining.org/cadets/Class1943/1943g.php

P-47 Serial Number Database, at: http://p-47.database.pagesperso-orange.fr/Database/42-7xxxx.htm

USAF/USAAF AIRCRAFT ACCIDENTS & INCIDENT REPORTS FOR UNITED KINGDOM APRIL 1944 http://www.accident-report.com/world/europe/uk/uk4404.html

48th Operations Group Fact sheet with commanders list, at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet_print.asp?fsID=9699

American Battle Monuments Commission website, WWII database, at:  http://www.abmc.gov/home.php

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Remembering the Former POWs of the 371st Fighter Group

Today is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, according to a proclamation made by President Barack Obama today, April 9, 2014.

We should remember all of our nation’s POWs on this day, which is the anniversary of the fall of Bataan, in which over 12,000 American military personnel were surrendered/captured, the largest single event of its kind on American military history.

During World War II, there were a number of P-47 pilots of the 371st Fighter Group who were shot down during combat missions and became prisoners of war of Nazi Germany. Although research continues on this subject, references found mainly in the Group’s Warbook, “The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.,” indicate the following group members became POWs of Nazi Germany (Note: This list does not contain the names of those who may have died in captivity. Some group members remain missing to this day and whether they were ever prisoners remains unclear.):

Canup, Luther P., Capt., 405FS

Gamble, Robert M., 1st. Lt., 405FS

Hooper, Leon L., 1st. Lt., 405FS

Jack, William A., Capt., 406FS (Possibly the last POW of group, April 1945)

Johnson, Glenn H., 1st. Lt., 404FS

LaRochelle, Joseph E., 2nd. Lt., 404FS (First POW of group, 6 June 1944)

Marks, Robert L., F/O, 405FS

Martin, Russell M., 1st. Lt., 405FS

McCoy, Jefferson M., 2nd. Lt., 404FS

McDuff, Lee E., 2nd. Lt., 405FS

Schleppegrell, William, 2nd. Lt., 405FS

Shumard, Darrel G., 1st. Lt., 404FS

Simmons, George R., 2nd. Lt., 405FS

Tait, Harry H., Jr., Capt., 406FS

Wolcott, Robert S., Maj., 404FS

At least two other group members, Capt. Rudolph Augarten, in France, 1944, and 1st. Lt. Edward R. Kirkland, in Germany, 1945, both from the 406FS, were captured by the enemy but managed to escape and return to friendly lines.

In another interesting prisoner experience, Capt. Harry W. Hohl, Jr., 404FS, was shot down on June 8, 1944 and “captured” by French guerillas of dubious loyalty, who apparently debated whom they might sell Hohl and some other American, British and German “captives” to for the highest price, either the Germans or Americans! Left unguarded momentarily, Hohl and an American P-51 pilot took off, bringing the two Germans in the group with them, and found their way to friendly lines.

So on this day, we remember Frisky’s former POWs from World War II, and honor their service and sacrifice for our country.

References:

“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.,” Army & Navy Pictorial Publishers, Baton Rouge, LA, 1946

Presidential Proclamation — National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, 2014 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/08/presidential-proclamation-national-former-prisoner-war-recognition-day-2

Prisoner of War Story of William Schleppegrell

http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/Volklingen_Schleppegrell.pdf

Searching for information about the 42-29208 a P-47

http://forum.armyairforces.com/Searching-for-information-about-the-4229208-a-P47-m211336.aspx

Glenn H Johnson World War 2 POW Record

http://www.ww2pow.info/index.php?page=directory&rec=79720

Russell M Martin World War 2 POW Record

http://www.ww2pow.info/index.php?page=directory&rec=90889

Jefferson M McCoy World War 2 POW Record

http://www.ww2pow.info/index.php?page=directory&rec=92308

Robert M Gamble World War 2 POW Record

http://www.ww2pow.info/index.php?page=directory&rec=67033

George R Simmons World War 2 POW Record

http://www.ww2pow.info/index.php?page=directory&rec=114527

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Frisky and the Black Widows of Fürth

No, Frisky was not bitten by a Black Widow, nor even smitten, but he did share an airdrome in 1945 with the 425th Night Fighter Squadron, which flew the Northrop P-61 Black Widow night fighter.

The 371st Fighter Group left their first airfield in Germany Frankfurt/Eschborn (Y-74) and moved to Fürth/Industriehafen Airfield (R-30), near Nürnberg (aka Nuremberg), on 5 May 1945. Fürth would be the last wartime field for the group (for three days until V-E Day) and first post-war home for the group, until the next move to Austria in mid-August, 1945.

But just days before, on 2 May 1945, the 425th Night Fighter Squadron moved to Fürth from Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Airfield (Y-73). You could say the 371st and the 425th were old neighbors from Frankfurt.

With regard to now being at the same airfield, the 371st was a much larger organization than the 425th, and with many attached units to provide all the support functions needed for a flying field. In that sense Frisky was the big dog on the block, and naturally was able to assume a host role, providing many services required at an airfield. Officially, the 425th fell under XIX TAC, as did the 371st at that time, so it appears reasonable that the 425NFS relied on the 371FG for support.

A 425th Night Fighter Squadron Northrop P-61B-15-NO Black Widow serial number 42-39674 rests at R-30, Fürth/Industriehafen Airfield, circa the spring/summer of 1945.  According to Joe Baugher’s serial number website, this aircraft was condemned to salvage on April 23, 1947.  Note the unidentified German aircraft (Henschel Hs-126?) in the background just behind the P-61’s right landing gear.  (Courtesy Ms. Nancy Beaumier, daughter of 371FG veteran Tom Boliaris)

A 425th Night Fighter Squadron Northrop P-61B-15-NO Black Widow serial number 42-39674 rests at R-30, Fürth/Industriehafen Airfield, circa the spring/summer of 1945. According to Joe Baugher’s serial number website, this aircraft was condemned to salvage on April 23, 1947. Note the unidentified German aircraft (Henschel Hs-126?) in the background just behind the P-61’s right landing gear. (Courtesy Ms. Nancy Beaumier, daughter of 371FG veteran Tom Boliaris)

Information in the 371st Fighter Group’s historical records suggests this relationship between the 371st and the 425th. There is no mention of it in the group’s monthly histories for the period, but it is evidenced in supporting documents for the monthly histories such as HQ 371FG Special Orders (SO) #50, 10 June 1945, when the results of a 29 May 1945 court-martial of a private from the 425NFS for being Absent Without Leave (AWOL) were approved with a forfeiture of $41.00. On a more positive note, in HQ 371FG SO #52, 15 June 1945, paragraph 2, 12 enlisted men from the 425NFS were authorized a furlough in the UK, and para 3 named five officers from the 425NFS for the same.

Evidence was also seen in HQ XIX TAC SO # 132, 28 May 1945, identified in paragraph 2 27 officers of the 371FG and two officers from the 425NFS as eligible to return to the States. Other units were identified in separate paragraphs but the 371FG and 425NFS were noted in the same paragraph. HQ XIX TAC SO #147, 12 June 1945, also included the 371FG and 425NFS in the same paragraph 7.

So it would appear that there was at least some administrative connection between Frisky and the Black Widow, if not any operational control.  And that’s the story about Frisky and the Black Widows of Fürth!
References:

371FG/142FW entry on Wikipedia, at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/142d_Fighter_Wing

425th Fighter Squadron entry on Wikipedia, at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/425th_Fighter_Squadron

Joe Baugher’s 1942 USAAF Serial Numbers (42-30032 to 42-39757), at:

http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_2.html

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A Great Thunderbolt Resource

For many years the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association was a fixture in the P-47 community of interest. A primary objective was “…dedicated to preserving the memories of the men and women who flew the P-47 Thunderbolt “Jug” in World War II.”

Due to the march of time, the organization decided to inactivate in 2006. However, the association’s objective and website remain, in order to “…continue to grow as a perpetual resource and memory for generations to come.” You can find the website at: http://p47pilots.com/

The P-47 Pilot Association website banner (Courtesy http://p47pilots.com/)

The P-47 Pilot Association website banner (Courtesy http://p47pilots.com/)

A great feature of this website is the P-47 Pilot Biography section, where one can find many Thunderbolt pilot biographies, including some from the 371st Fighter Group. They are listed alphabetically by last name, A to Z, so a particular name is easy to find. See the biography page at: http://p47pilots.com/P47-Pilots.cfm?p=*&c=incP47BiographyHome.cfm

For example, take a gander at the biography for 406th Fighter Squadron P-47 pilot Francis E. “Gene” Madore, viewable at: http://p47pilots.com/P47-Pilots.cfm?c=incP47BiographyHome.cfm&vm=BIO&pilotid=346&p=Francis%20E.%20Madore

And back on the main page of the site (link above), there is a nifty section called “Honor Them,” at which P-47 pilots or family members can use to submit a biography, or pilot story, if they wish.

For those with the time and inclination to peruse, the P-47 Pilots Guestbook is another great place to sift through for nuggets of information on the P-47 and those associated with the aircraft. View the Guestbook at: http://p47pilots.com/P47-Pilots.cfm?p=*&c=_incGuestbookList.cfm

And if one wishes to leave a comment at this site, you can do so on the Guestbook page.  Look just above and to the right of the entries for the place to post an entry.  It’s a good way to either share or to ask for information.

Some website features are currently in maintenance mode and not available just now, such as the P-47 Photo Gallery. Hopefully these will be restored soon.  But please don’t let that stop you from acquainting yourself with this great resource!  Good hunting!

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Did Frisky have tri-color tail markings?

This posting falls into the “I don’t know” category, and in this case, it means I didn’t know what to make of the tail markings on this 404th Fighter Squadron ship taken around the end of the war in Europe. The lack of many 371FG images in the public domain makes understanding of unit markings and changes rather challenging, as the matter is just not well documented. And even fewer pictures are in color. Trying to make sense of unit markings years later for any outfit can be rather sporting.

A 404th Fighter Squadron P-47D on the ramp at Furth Airfield, 1945 (Wikipedia)

A 404th Fighter Squadron P-47D on the ramp at Furth Airfield, 1945 (Source:  142FW entry in Wikipedia)

The description of this 1945 picture in Wikipedia is as follows:
“Republic P-47D-28-RE Thunderbolt Serial 44-200284 of the 404th Fighter Squadron, 371st Fighter Group, at Furth/Industriehafen, Germany.

USAF Photo from the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama From “History and Units of the United States Air Force”. G.H.J Scharrings, European Aviation Historical Society, 2004. Image credited as USAFHRA Photo.

The pilot in this photo is Lincoln Derick, who actually owned the negatives to this color photo. The war was over and Linc is standing by his steed. He gave me copies of this photo a few years ago. He took many colored photos during his tenure with the 371st FG, 404th Squadron. Linc passed away about 10 years ago.”

Another view of this aircraft with the tri-color tail top markings can be seen at the 371FG page on the wonderful “Ciel de Gloire” website, which recaps the aerial victories achieved by members of the group:

Another view of P-47D 44- at Fürth, 1945 (Source, Ciel de Gloire, courtesy of Harry Strahlendorf)

Another view of P-47D 44- at Fürth, 1945 (Source, Ciel de Gloire, courtesy of Harry Strahlendorf)

However, what was puzzling was that the tri-color markings on the top of the tail seen on the 404FS ship above are not observed in another color picture taken at Fürth of a different 371FG P-47, probably belonging to Lincoln Derrick (and probably him in the picture), of a 406th Fighter Squadron ship, P-47D-28-RE Serial Number 44-20097.

A 406th Fighter Squadron on the ramp at Furth, 1945 (Source:  Wikipedia)

A 406th Fighter Squadron on the ramp at Furth, 1945 (Source: Wikipedia)

The Wings Palette website has a profile for a late-war 404FS ship, “Always Marge!” which, like the 406FS ship pictured above , does NOT have the tri-color tail top. See the profile at:

http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/16#177

This leads one to suspect that perhaps the 404th ship photographed by Derrick Lincoln at Fürth with the tri-color tail may very well be a transfer from another fighter group or fighter squadron. But there were so many P-47 groups and squadrons in Europe during WWII.  Which one could it be?

A brief internet search produced another group that had this kind of tail marking, the 367th Fighter Group. Consider the markings of this 392nd Fighter Squadron P-47D of the 367th Fighter Group, as seen in this wonderful Hasegawa Models box art:

Box art for Hasegawa 1/32 scale P-47 plastic model kit (Source:  Hasegawa)

Box art for Hasegawa 1/32 scale P-47 plastic model kit (Source: Hasegawa)

This tri-color tail top paint pattern is also seen in color profiles of aircraft from two different P-47 squadrons in the 367FG, as seen on the Wings Palette site:

367FG, 392FS P-47D-28-RE “Duck Butt” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/15#176

367FG, 394FS P-47D-20-RE “Poutin’ Poot” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/10#213

Transfer of aircraft between units is not unheard of, though the reasons for such a transfer are not always clear. In the case of the 371FG and the 367GFG, both units were briefly stationed at the same airfield at the same time in the spring of 1945, at Y-74, also known as Frankfurt/Eschborn Airfield. The 371FG arrived on 7 April 1945, and the 367FG on 20 April. It is likely that a 367FG ship, for whatever reason, was transferred to the 371FG while both units were at Frankfurt. The 371FG left Y-74 for Fürth on 5 May 1945, after which the Lincoln pictures were taken. This assessment appears to solve the mystery of the 371FG tri-color tail markings, unless someone else has another point of view to share on the subject.

References:
142FW entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/142d_Fighter_Wing

367th Fighter Group entry on Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/367th_Fighter_Group

406FS P-47D color picture in Wikipedia, at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P-47-44-200097-406fs-371fg.jpg

Ciel de Gloire website pages for
371FG page at: http://www.cieldegloire.fr/fg_371.php

367FG page at: http://www.cieldegloire.fr/fg_367.php

Eschborn Airfield entry on Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschborn_Airfield

Fürth Airfield entry on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BCrth_Airfield

Hasegawa Models page for 1/32 scale Thunderbolt model, at: http://www.hasegawausa.com/product-pages/hsgs8202.html

Joe Baugher USAAF Aircraft Serial Numbers for 1944, at:

http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1944_1.html

Wings Palette P-47 color profiles section:
371FG, 404FS P-47D-30-RA “Always Marge!” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/16#177

367FG, 392FS P-47D-28-RE “Duck Butt” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/15#176

367FG, 394FS P-47D-20-RE “Poutin’ Poot” at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/350/3/10#213

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371st Fighter Group Hall of Honor: Lt. Col. William J. Daley, Jr.

The members of the Hall of Honor for the 371st Fighter Group are those men lost in the line of duty during their service with the unit in World War II. For many, their assignment to the 371st fighter group was their only wartime assignment. But there were others who had already experienced and had seen combat before they joined the group.  One of these was the Deputy Commander of the 371 FG, Lt Col William James Daley, Jr., who was lost in a flying accident while leading a combat mission in September, 1944.

Lt. Col. William J. Daley, Jr., flew with No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron, RAF,and the USAAF's 335th Fighter Squadron before he joined the 371st Fighter Group in 1943.

Lt. Col. William J. Daley, Jr., flew with No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron, RAF,and the USAAF’s 335th Fighter Squadron before he joined the 371st Fighter Group in 1943. (Source:  371FG “Blue Book”)

William Daley was born on 30 November 1919 at either Canadian or Hemphill, Texas, depending on the source indicated. He later lived in Amarillo, Texas and this was his home of record during his military service.

On March 11, 1941 President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act, which authorized the shipment of military supplies and equipment to allied nations. With this program, Great Britain was able to expand its pilot training program beyond its empire and the British Flying Training Program was established at seven locations in the United States.

William J. Daley, Jr., saw the clouds of war approaching the United States and volunteered to join the Royal Air Force before the United States began fighting in World War II. He learned to fly in the 3rd British Flying Training School at Miami, Oklahoma, a small town about 100 miles northeast of Tulsa. Apparently the Spartan College of Aeronautics at Tulsa, Oklahoma, was involved with this program.

It appears that Daley received his pilot wings in Canada on 27 June 1941, the date upon which he was granted a commission “…for the duration of hostilities…” as a Pilot Officer (P/O) on probation in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR). (Note: Another future 371FG member also received his commission with Daley’s group that day, Eric Doorly, who while serving in the RAF had a memorable escape and evasion experience.)

Information indicates Daley arrived in Great Britain on 9 July 1941 and began his operational conversion training for fighters at No. 56 Operational Training Unit (OTU) on 14 July at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, England.

Of the young men who signed up to fly with the RAF, Daley was one of some 244 of them, with an average age of 21, who went to serve in one of the three “Eagle” squadrons, the three RAF fighter squadrons of RAF Fighter Command. These Eagle Squadrons were numbered 71, 121 and 133.  They began to fly and fight against Nazi Germany ten months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Assigned to B Flight in No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron to ‘B’ Flt at Kirton-in Lindsey, Daley flew the renowned Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane. He was known as ‘Diamond Jim’ while with 121 Squadron. A source indicates that while with the ‘Eagles’ (or perhaps as a result of his service in the unit) he received the British Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) around 16 June 1942. His citation read in part “Since Feb, 42 has completed 51 ops over N/France, Holland & Belgium destroying at least 2 e/a.”

The Eagle Squadrons of the RAF were deactivated on September 29, 1942 when they transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces and became the flying squadrons of the 4th Fighter Group, which was assigned to the famous Eighth Air Force. The war did not get any easier after this transfer, and by the end of the war 44 percent of the Eagle Squadron cadre lost their lives.

And so it was, after 22 months of flying with the British, on September 29, 1942, Flight Lieutenant (another source indicates he had Squadron Leader rank) William Daley transferred to the USAAF and to fly the Spitfire in the 335th Fighter Squadron of the new 4FG. This group went on to become the highest scoring American fighter group of World War II with credit for 1,016 enemy aircraft destroyed.

Shortly after transfer, Daley was promoted to Major and became the Commanding Officer of the 335FS – The “Chiefs.” Worth note, this squadron is still on active duty today, as part of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. You can see a profile painting of his Spitfire at the link here: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/52/3/1

But Daley’s command tour in the Chiefs did not last long, and by 11 November 1942 he returned to the US in order to share his valuable combat experience with others, giving lectures and advice on combat tactics to others destined for combat duty overseas. In 1943, he joined the 371FG as a member of the original cadre when the group was activated 15 July 1943 and was initially appointed to the Headquarters, 371st Fighter Group as the Group Operations Officer.

On August 7, Major Daley was detached for duty to Washington D.C. to receive the British DFC for his Eagle Squadron service. He returned to the group on August 9. According to the Group history, “His experience as a former R.A.F. pilot was extremely valuable to the group.” At some point later in his service in the 371st, he became the Deputy Group Commander.

On 1 February, 1944, Maj. Daley was ordered to proceed ahead of the Group to England, and left via air transport from the New York aerial port. He was probably in the advanced echelon sent ahead to make arrangements for the group’s arrival by ship some weeks later.

On 25 March 1944, Maj. Daley, along with Group Commander Lt. Col. Klein, Capt Doorly and Capt. Salmi made their first operational flight over enemy territory as members of the 371FG while attached to another unit on an escort mission. The 371FG itself did not fly its first combat mission as a group until April 12. By 24 May, Maj. Daley had flown enough missions to qualify for award of the Air Medal. He was promoted to Lt. Col. on either 31 May 1944 or 1 June 1944, depending on which document one refers to.

On June 5, 1944, Lt. Col. Daley was to receive the Air Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster at a ceremony presided over by Brig. Gen, A.C. Kincaid, the Chief of Staff of IX Tactical Air Command, but he was convalescing in a hospital nursing an injured back. He returned to duty the next day ”…a shade whiter and somewhat thinner,” but “…still as genial as ever,” according to the group history.

He was not long on the ground. Group history reports show him active, for example, he led the 406FS in an attack against the marshalling yard at Rennes, France, on 26 July 1944. The next day, he led 14 P-47s from the 406th again in an attack on tanks reported at T-295757.

On September 9, 1944, while leading the 404th Fighter Squadron in P-47D 42-28426 out of A-6 Airfield, Lt Col Daley was part of a group effort (all three fighter squadrons, 36 ships total) to dive bomb the Castines RR bridge (U-8222) and Pompey road bridge (at U-8219), and afterwards to conduct armed reconnaissance along the main and secondary roads in vicinity of Morzig (Q-2095, probably Merzig), Saarburg (L-1413), Trier, and Luxembourg, where heavy vehicle movement had been reported. The group was to fly from homebase at A-6 to A-58/Coulommiers Airfield, where it was to refuel and bomb up before executing the mission. Afterward it was to return to A-58, fuel again and return to A-6. At this point in the war the group was stretching itself from its Normandy base to continue to support the rapid Allied advance across France.

A-58, however, was not really ready to accommodate such an ambitious effort, and the 371FG planes were not refueled in time, nor loaded with bombs, to accomplish the mission – one squadron’s report said that A-58 had no fuzes for the bombs. The matter was further exacerbated when Lt. Col. Daley was involved in a landing accident at A-58 with another pilot from the 404FS. After landing successfully, Lt. Col. Daley’s ship was struck from behind while taxiing by another P-47D that lost control while landing and Daley was gravely injured. He died from his wounds the next day in the 217th General Hospital at the age 24, forever young. Regarded as a fine pilot and leader, Frisky’s Blue Book has this tribute to him on page 27: “He had endeared himself to all ranks and his loss was keenly felt.”

Lt. Col. William J. Daley Jr. received credit for 2 1/2 enemy aircraft destroyed, and three more damaged. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster and the British Distinguished Flying Cross. Lt Col Daley is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery in Plot B, Row 25, Grave 65, in Epinal, France. His example of dedicated service to his country and to freedom is worth commemoration, and inclusion in the 371st Fighter Group Hall of Honor.

References:
4th Fighter Group WWII Almanac, at: http://www.4thfightergroupassociation.org/4th-fighter-group-almanac.html
335th Fighter Squadron Factsheet, at: http://www.seymourjohnson.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=4526
371FG Official Histories, various, 1943-44
A-58/Coulommiers-Voisins Airfield, at: http://www.forgottenairfields.com/france/ile-de-france/seine-et-marne/coulommiers-voisins-s1153.html

American Battle Monuments Commission website, at: http://www.abmc.gov/home.php

British Flying Training School Program, Wikipedia page at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Flying_Training_School_Program

“British Flying Training Schools in the USA,” at: http://www.5bfts.org.uk/articles/history/fullhistory.aspx

Daley’s Spitfire color profile at: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/52/3/1

Discussion thread about William J. Daley, Jr., circa August, 2010, at:

http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/archive/index.php?t-22144.html

Eagle Squadron cadre trained at Spartan, at: http://www.spartan.edu/eagle-squadrons

Lend-Lease, Wikipedia page at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease

“No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum, Inc.,” at: http://texaslakestrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/no-1-british-flying-training-school-museum-inc

“RAF Sutton Bridge,” Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Sutton_Bridge

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology website, at: http://www.spartan.edu/

“The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the E.T.O.,” Army & Navy Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 1946 (aka The Blue Book)

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Frisky’s First St. Patrick’s Day…

Was spent at Bisterne Airfield, otherwise known by several other names: Bisterne Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), USAAF Station 415, and also as Ringwood.  It was Frisky’s first home away from home.  The field was located adjacent to the hamlet of Bisterne, about two miles south of Ringwood, and some 85 miles southwest of London.

Bisterne was a prototype for the type of temporary, expeditionary flying field known as an Advanced Landing Ground.  The design template used for construction would be used time and time again after D-Day for many fighter groups operating on the European Continent, first in France and then eastward on the way to Germany.

Bisterne Advanced Landing Ground Runway Layout. Large portions of the taxiways shown on the map were planned but not actually built, as you can see in comparison to the image below (Courtesy hampshireairfields.co.uk).

Bisterne Advanced Landing Ground Runway Layout. Large portions of the taxiways shown on the map were planned but not actually built, as you can see in comparison to the image below (Courtesy hampshireairfields.co.uk).

In the days after arrival in the first week of March, 1944, the group more or less adjusted to camp life, living in tents (at least with wood floors!) on a “suitable site” nearby in the hills above Bisterne.  In those early days, personnel were busy clearing the brush from wooden floors, and received candles for night illumination until generators were provided.  Blankets were issued and small, coal-fired cylindrical stoves heated the tents.  Latrines were set up.  Water was piped in.  Gravel and brick walkways were established.  Across from the tent site were the mess tents, and an officer’s mess was set up with a large hospital tent.  A PX was opened too.  “Notice of Safe Arrival” cablegrams were sent off too.

Within a week’s time, the men were able to sally forth from the camp on pass and go on liberty runs to places like Bournemouth and Ringwood.

The group began to receive the help of attached units, such as the 1228th Military Police Det, which guarded the tent site and the airfield.  Also arriving was “Det” J, 21 Weather Squadron, and “Det” J, 40th Mobile Comm Squadron, to help bring Frisky into a fully operational state at a deployed austere location overseas.

Even after all the stateside training, more theater-specific orientation training and observation was required.  On St. Patrick’s Day verbal orders arrived to send 20 pilots, squadron commanders and flight commanders mostly, to Beaulein (sp?) for operational training with fighter groups, to begin on March 20, 1944.

And then there was the theater-specific unit operations training.  The next day, 18 March, Major Bacon and Captain McBride left the group for about a three-week period, first to 9th Air Support Command, and from there to temporary duty in Italy for indoctrination and training in fighter bomber operations.

This aerial photo of Bisterne Airfield was taken on 22 May 1944.  More than 50 P-47 Thunderbolts of the 371st Fighter Group are dispersed along the perimeter loop. (Wikipedia)

This aerial photo of Bisterne Airfield was taken on 22 May 1944. More than 50 P-47 Thunderbolts of the 371st Fighter Group are dispersed along the perimeter loop. (Wikipedia)

The brand new Bisterne Airfield was not quite ready to handle flying operations, and on 21 March verbal orders from 100th Fighter Wing headquarters arrived, directing all pilots to be sent for operational training to other fighter units until Bisterne was ready for operations.  Having come so far since July, 1943, Frisky was still scrambling to get ready for combat with the enemy, as D-Day approached.

Bisterne’s lifespan was rather brief as airfields go, lasting only into the summer of 1944 as the war moved on.  But it was an important part of the 371st Fighter Group’s history.

Shortly after D-Day the 371FG moved to France and Bisterne was closed. By early 1945 the steel matting runways were removed and the land returned to agriculture.  More than sixty years later it's still possible to see where the airfield was by comparing this image to those above. (Courtesy

Shortly after D-Day the 371FG moved to France and Bisterne was closed. By early 1945 the steel matting runways were removed and the land returned to agriculture. More than sixty years later it’s still possible to see where the airfield was by comparing this image to those above. (Courtesy hampshireairfields.co.uk).

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