Dole

Five miles south of Dole, the birthplace of Louis Pasteur, in the Department of Jura in France, was an airfield with a concrete runway that became the group’s next home.  Known as Advanced Landing Ground Y-7, and also Dole-Tavaux, it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, pending completion of a more northerly field, but it became the group’s second longest operationally-used field.  From Dole the group would see some fine work done, racking up a number of aerial victories and participating in key actions such as the relief of the “Lost Battalion,” despite rotten weather – the group flew less than half of October due to rains.  These rains would late encourage the nearby Doubs River to overflow its banks, forcing a temporary displacement by the group from Dole, an event that presaged similar flood evacuations its lineal descendant, the 142nd Fighter Group of the Oregon Air National Guard, experienced after the war in 1948 and 1996.

A key aspect of the 371st’s time at Dole was a shift from supporting Third Army to supporting Seventh Army.  This army had fought across North Africa in 1942-43, into Sicily in 1943, then landed in southern France in August, 1944.  By Late September, as part of the Franco-American Sixth Army Group (which included French First Army), it was approaching the Franco-German frontier.  Provisional arrangements had to be made to provide it with the necessary air support, as Ninth Air Force was occupied in northwest Europe, Twelfth Air Force was occupied in the Mediterranean, and the Sixth Army Group was in  between them.  So the 371st was one of several fighter groups that received orders to support Seventh Army.

For more info on Dole Airfield, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dole%E2%80%93Jura_Airport

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