As the miserable, wet weather of November turned to the cold of December, the 371st Fighter Group prepared for yet another airfield move, to Tantonville, France (a.k.a. Y-1, why indeed!). This was the move originally intended for early October, to a field set on a semi-plateau, surrounded by the scenic foothills of the Vosges Mountains. Little did anyone suspect that they were all about to become “Mud Wallowers.”
The plan was to move the aircraft to the new field on December 7, but the airstrip was not ready. But the ground echelon main body loaded up for movement anyway, on a French train, a first. More than 15 cars full of tentage, equipment, the Red Cross Club and the “portable” Group HQ building departed Dole for Tantonville on December 5, 1944. Meanwhile, combat operations from Dole continued.
As things turned out, the new field was a sea of mud, and huge labors around the clock in all kinds of weather were required on it, with crushed rock, hay, dirt, square mesh “chicken wire” matting and pierced steel planking to establish runways and revetments. Y-1 wasn’t ready to receive aircraft until December 20, with the first of the Group’s aircraft arriving on December 22nd after six shows that day and with the Battle of the Bulge underway for six days by that time.