Springtime in 1945 Europe was definitely a time for Frisky to be spring forward, and that’s not talking about clocks! We last mentioned Frisky as being stationed at Metz, France, and once again flying in support of XIX TAC (see 23 February 2013 entry below). From then on into April the 371st Fighter Group clobbered the usual targets, boxcars and transports of enemy forces fleeing on the other side of the Rhine River. For those of you who have seen the Rhine, it’s not a country crick, but Allied forces crossed that might river and pushed into Germany.
Much as the 371st Fighter Group claimed to be the first fighter group based on the continent after D-Day, so Frisky claimed to be the first group to operate east of the Rhine River. On April 2, 1945, a small group of 371st men set out for Frankfurt, Germany, in order to set up communications, find a quarters area and set up flying control for the group. The advanced echelon followed on April 5. Into the war-torn Frankfurt/Eschborn Airfield, designated as Advanced Landing Ground Y-74, the men set up quickly and when the planes arrived on April 7 the group was ready for action out of Frankfurt.
For more information on R-74, see:
The Critical Past website has a short (1 minute 38 seconds) film clip of 371st Fighter Group operations at Frankfurt. In the video at link below (click on it), you can see the red-nosed aircraft of the 404 the Fighter Squadron (squadron code 9Q), followed by some yellow-nosed Thunderbolts of the 406th Fighter Squadron (4W) and last but not least you can spot some blue-nosed P-47s of the 405th Fighter Squadron (8N) at the busy airstrip.
Of course being the first airfield east of the Rhine drew a lot of attention from the brass and assorted VIPs in the European theatre, and Frisky had to endure the dog and pony shows. Generals Eisenhower, Spaatz and Patton were among those who paid a visit. Radio commentator Lowell Thomas came by. And Congressmen too, in Europe to investigate reports of German atrocities. The 404th Fighter Squadron’s mess received some senators in the chow line one day. One of the cooks, a Sgt. Falduto, mistook them for the occasional non-English speaking Polish or Russian displaced persons (D.P.s) that sometimes joined the chow line: “My God, some more damned D.P.s!” he exclaimed as the senators passed through the line.
But even faster than the chowhounds in the mess were the Allied forces advancing across Germany – Frisky had little time to settle in at R-74 before springing forward yet again. On April 30 an advanced echelon left Frankfurt for the new airstrip at R-10 near Illesheim – orders changed on the way and the party proceeded instead to Fürth/Industriehafen, ALG R-30, near Nuremberg in Bavaria. And on May 5, a ragtag convoy of US and captured German vehicles left Frankfurt for R-30 as the group prepared for yet another move. The end of the war in Europe rapidly approached as they drove eastward.