Back to XIX TAC, with another move, of course!

By mid-February, 1945, with German forces in the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Nordwind having spent themselves, Frisky was ordered back north some 40 miles to Metz Airfield, also known as Y-34.  From Metz the 371st Fighter Group would again be part of the XIX Tactical Air Command (TAC) and support Patton’s Third Army.   This was a big deal for many in the group, who had some experience in the months before adjusting to the different way XII TAC and the First Tactical Air Force (Provisional) did business.  It was a relief to rejoin the XIX TAC and resume operations in Ninth Air Force.

About the only thing group members would miss about Tantonville was the proximity to the city of Nancy and pleasant evenings there.  Some remembered a few special dinners at the Hotel de la Gare, run by Yvette and Yvonne, the “Mirabelle Twins.”  But for the most part, group members were happy to move.

So move they did, with the advanced echelon going up on Feb 13, the planes on the 15th and everyone and everything else by Feb 18.  About half of the personnel were shuttled by venerable C-47 transports, while the balance traveled overland, witnessing closeup the damage and destruction from the battles in the area the previous November.

Y-34 was a fairly well-developed base about five miles southwest of Metz, shared with the 368th Fighter Group, another Thunderbolt outfit.  The airfield was constructed of sod, concrete and pierced steel planking, and sturdy enough for the P-47.  Permanent wood-construction buildings were available for office spaces, and for the first time group HQ had a building large enough for the whole group staff and a briefing room.  Hangars were also available for aircraft maintenance.

Morale increased due to the improved work facilities, and soon soared when the group’s personnel moved into their accommodations.  The enlisted men were quartered in the three and four-story stone barracks of Caserne Raymond, about a mile from the field.  An Enlisted Men’s Club was set up in an entire building in the caserne, featuring a bar, piano, lounge room with easy chairs and an added attraction of Bavarian Tyrolian murals.  Group staff and officers were placed in homes and apartments in Metz, along tree-lined Boulevard Clemenceau.

How sweet it was then, for Frisky to be back with the XIXth TAC!

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