Valentine’s Day, 1944: Frisky Moves Out

On this day seventy years ago, Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1944, the men of the 371st Fighter Group began their journey for combat service overseas in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

Movement orders for Frisky had arrived in SO #41, 12 Feb 44, from HQ Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia, the base where the group had completed its operational training.  By 2400 hours on 12 February, all the group’s enlisted men were restricted to base.  Final preparations for movement were accomplished, and at 2400 hours on 13 February, all the group’s officers were restricted to the base.

Richmond Army Air Base The Army Air Base was opened as a military installation on June 18, 1942. It was the first base to be fully camouflaged and built on a dispersed plan, and at present is the largest base under the First Air Force. The Byrd Airport, which is the municipal airport for the city of Richmond, is included in the reservation in its original location which it occupied before construction began. The Army Air Base is situated on consecrated soil eight miles east of the historic city of Richmond. Some of the bloodiest battles of the War between the States were fought on the ground now occupied by the Base, as all of this territory was the scene of the Battle of Seven Pines. (Courtesy Wartimepress.com)

Richmond Army Air Base
The Army Air Base was opened as a military installation on June 18, 1942. It was the first base to be fully camouflaged and built on a dispersed plan, and at present is the largest base under the First Air Force. The Byrd Airport, which is the municipal airport for the city of Richmond, is included in the reservation in its original location which it occupied before construction began. The Army Air Base is situated on consecrated soil eight miles east of the historic city of Richmond. Some of the bloodiest battles of the War between the States were fought on the ground now occupied by the Base, as all of this territory was the scene of the Battle of Seven Pines. (Courtesy Wartimepress.com)

By 1500 hours on Valentine’s Day, all group personnel had completed movement to the entraining point and began to board the train.  The official history for the group said that everyone was eager to go.  Considering all the training the group had accomplished, it was time to put the 371st into action.

By 1530 hours, all boarding was completed and the troop train departed Richmond, headed north.  The weather turned foul, with sleet and rain pounding the northbound train, which made for slow progress.

For information and images on Troops trains, see this website: http://www.kinglyheirs.com/NewYorkStateRailroads/TroopTrain1.html

When the train arrived in Washington, D.C., it was divided into two sections for thee journey up to the New York area.  The first section arrived at the staging area for the Port of Embarkation (POE), Camp Shanks, New York, by 0930 hours on 15 February 1944.  Over a million men would head overseas through Camp Shanks during World War II.  Frisky’s second section arrived shortly afterward, and both trainloads of men received hot meals on the arrival, a welcome boost for morale.

Camp Shanks, near Orangetown, New York, by where the Erie Railroad met the Hudson River, was known as "Last Stop USA."  Reportedly some 1.3 million personnel processed through the camp during WWII, including 75% of those who participated in the D-Day invasion. (Courtesy Don Bennett's War webpage)

Camp Shanks, near Orangetown, New York, by where the Erie Railroad met the Hudson River, was known as “Last Stop USA.” Reportedly some 1.3 million personnel processed through the camp during WWII, including 75% of those who participated in the D-Day invasion. (Courtesy Don Bennett’s War webpage)

More time would be spent in the POE before shipping out for the ETO, but Valentine’s Day, 1944, marked the day that Frisky and the 371st Fighter Group started heading for the war.

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