Frisky’s First E.M. Club

As the Battle of the Bulge blazed up north in Belgium and Luxembourg, on 20 December 1944, Frisky was amidst a move from Advanced Landing Ground Y-7/Dole to Y-1/Tantonville Airfield. It was a non-flying day for the group, which allowed for the Group Headquarters to make the move to the new field. The planes followed in two days. At the new base, Frisky would remain assigned to the 1st Tactical Air Force (Provisional).

But something new at the new field was the 371st Fighter Group Enlisted Men’s Club. It officially opened at 1900 hours on 20 December 1944 – Col Kleine and the squadron commanders were invited to attend. This was the group’s first Enlisted Men’s club and was a big boost to the morale of the men.

371FG EM Club founder

First Sergeant William H. Wheatly of the 405th Fighter Squadron, pictured at top left, was the senior enlisted man in the group that organized Frisky’s first EM Club, at Tantonville Airfield, France (Y-1) (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

Those who were key to getting it organized and started included 1st Sergeant William H. Wheatly (405th Fighter Squadron), T/Sgt Paul L. Demers (Group HQ), T/Sgt John J. Monaghan (405th), Sgt. Nathan Dietch (405th), Sgt. Neigh and Miss Nancy Orr of the Red Cross field office attached to the 371st Fighter Group.

371FG Red Cross Nancy Orr

Miss Nancy Orr of the American Red Cross was a value-added member of the 371st Fighter Group Team in the E.T.O.  (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

The club quickly showed its value as a place where the men could gather and socialize off duty.  A number of dances were held there as well, presumably with local ladies, and hopefully that added to positive Franco-American relations.

Given that Tantonville was out in the countryside, it was a good thing to have the EM club to help combat the boredom and monotony of performing the same vital work tasks every day and then retiring to a drafty tent in the winter weather. It would not be until mid-January when arrangements were made for the enlisted men to go to the city of Nancy on pass, so a local hangout was most welcome for the hard-working enlisted men of the 371st Fighter Group.

371FG EM Club

Enlisted men of the 371st Fighter Group relax as they toast with a little brew (The Story of the 371st Fighter Group in the ETO)

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