Group history link
The 310th Troop Carrier Squadron
(Text in quotes signifies verbatim text from official Squadron Outline Histories and War Diaries. These documents were required by the AAF to be submitted to higher headquarters each month to document the Squadron activities. Text in [brackets] signifies editor's addition for clarification. The original documents are archived at the Air Force Historical Department, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL. As this webpage is a testament and memorial to those who were there, their names are bolded to facilitate locating them.)
The Origin. On October 1, 1943, the 443rd Troop Carrier Group, of which the 310th and the 309th Troop Carrier Squadrons were a part, was officially activated at Sedalia Army Airfield, Warrenburg, MO. The same day, Capt. Charles G. Carter, Jr., was appointed Commanding Officer of the 310th Squadron. The 310th's first C-47 arrived on Oct 26 from the 61st Troop Carrier Wing. On Jan 19, the Squadron was transferred to Alliance, NE, and added six new C-47s bringing the total to 14 by mid-February. On Feb 24, 1944, the 443rd TCG was renamed the 1st Provisional Troop Carrier Group.
In March, 1944, the 310th moved to Camp Mackall, Hoffman, NC. During the month of April, the Squadron participated in intensive training and paradrops in anticipation of deployment to Europe.
Activation. On Apr 26, 1944, pursuant to general Order 116, HQ 9th Air Force, the 310th [along with the 309th] was activated and assigned to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) at USAAF Station 493, Spanhoe, Northamptonshire.
"On May 1, 1944, Maj. Henry G. Hamby. Jr., was assigned as Squadron Commander of the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron. Maj. Hamby was called to active duty Jul 12, 1941, having graduated fromAdvanced Flying School. On Feb 17. 1942, he joined the 34thTransport Sq., which later became part of the 315th Troop Carrier Group. He entered Foreign Service in November 1942. Before his latest assignment, he was Group Engineering Officer, having served also as Group Communications Officer . . . Maj. Hamby (Middletown, PA) assumed command and appointed Capt. John L. Rowland (Pasadena, CA) Executive Officer.
Capt. Rowland, in civilian life a lawyer, had shown his merit as Intelligence Officer of the 34th TCS, and currently as Trial Judge Advocate on the station. 1st Lt. James J. Kevan (Ironwood, MI), . . . was appointed Adjutant.
Lt.Col. Henry G. Hamby, Jr., (ca 1944)
The job of Operations Officer fell to Edward M. Schwerin. . . During that time [Apr 1944], aircrew members had flown hundreds of hours both in this [ETO] theater and in North Africa, hauling freight and personnel; evacuating wounded and dying from Sicily and Italy; carrying mail and supplies, Generals and privates; out of good fields and bad."
(Above) 310th's first 1st Sergeant, Bill Nagel.
"Maj. Hamby, together with his staff, including 1st Sgt. S. W. Nagle, demanded and got cooperation in setting up the departments. Soon, ground school classes, no only for aircrews, but for all NCOs, were held; details were formed to landscape the headquarters area; bicycle stands and parking spaces were completed. Ground schools included classes in Aircraft Recognition; Ditching Procedure; Air-Sea Rescue; Radio Navigation Aids; and Disposition of Command. Training in the air consisted of group formation, glider towing, paradropping and other." TSgt Davis briefed NCOs on the Duties and Activities of the S-1 Section [Squadron-level Operations].
In Operations, Maj. Schwerin was assisted by 1Lt. Worley and FODawkins, and clerks TSgt Yeckley and SSgt Riordan. Squadron Engineering Officer Lt. Crumbie was assisted by MSgt Lalande. Radio Operator classes were run by Lt. Greene and MSgt Harrod. Due to a lack of maintenance men, glider officers, under the direction of FO Best, Glider Maintenance Officer, performed their own maintenance. For identification, 310th gliders were painted with an insignia in the form of a 4-bladed fan."
"In total, 93 enlisted men were initially assigned to the 310th. Due to a lack of proper housing at the outset, 15 tents were set up in the area to house them. "The weather was cold for May and the new set up was not a happy one for some of the men, as indicated in their letters home [note -- all mail was censored.] But, generally speaking, the men were busier than they had been in months and the morale was generally high."
Work hard, play hard. As was typical, the squadron was given an unofficial nickname after the name of the commander and became known as 'Hamby's Roughriders'. (See 'Hamby's Rough Riders All' reunion photo below.) On May 31, the 'Rough Rider Rendezvous' Squadron pub was opened. "The men had constructed it out of glider crates obtained by FO Best, and it houses 24 men. However, the grotto outside proved to be an outstanding attraction. Music by fiddle, guitar, and accordion as provided by TSgt Davis, Davidson, and PFC Catalano added to the gala occasion; and the fact that it had been payday provided spirit."
Operations. On May 8, ten aircraft of the 310thcarried 194 paratroopers during a full moon on a training mission. On May 11, 1944, 12 aircraft of the 310th participated in the biggest training mission to date of the IX [9th] Troop Carrier Command, designated Operation Eagle. The Squadron carried a skeleton force of 26 paratroopers, but none were dropped. The mission was six hours long and not deemed a success. On May 23, 12 aircraft joined 36 others of the 315th TCG for a dummy drop. These were all a prelude to Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
Spanhoe flightline with 310th TCS (4A) aircraft.
June 1944 ~ D-Day! "Much has already been written and will be written of the part Troop Carriers played in the 'greatest show on earth' -- the invasion of the continent, which took place during this period [Jun 1 to 30]. The activities of the 310thTroop Carrier Squadron were no more spectacular -- nor less important -- than others in this critical period. The fact remains that within 36 days of is organization, the Squadron was participating in this huge undertaking. By the 1st of June, paratroopers had been camping in one of the hangars and tents nearby. Around them was a string of barbed wire. At 0001 hours, Jun 2, a rigid, almost air-tight restriction was imposed on the post. With all planes grounded, painters were set to work to paint three broad white stripes separated by black ones on the tops and bottoms of each wing outside the engines and around the body behind the door. Brig. Gen. Williams, IX Troop Carrier Command, landed on the 3rd for a 'coach in the dressing room' speech; and it was evident that things were reaching the final stage. Next morning, one plane flew to North Witham to check its Rebecca against a Eureka [navigation equipment used by the pathfinders to guide the airplanes into the DZ], which was later to prove invaluable. Meanwhile, Squadron supply (Lt. Sheppard and SSgt Hardin) operated at top speed. Orders from higher headquarters, required combat crews to wear gas-proof impregnated clothing on tactical missions. The Squadron surgeon gave all crewmembers a typhoid shot. [Typhus shots were administered on June 3.]"
(top) British paratroopers (unit not identified) in full combat gear with equipment bags. Just visible at right edge of photo on the nose of the aircraft is the number ‘4’ of ‘4A’ 310th TCS designator. The absence of invasion stripes on the aircraft indicates this is probably a pre-Overlord training mission.
"Final briefing for D-Day was announced for 1500 hours, June 4, but at the last hour was put off for 24 hours. PX rations and escape kits were issued to crews by S-2 [Squadron-level Intelligence] and briefed crews were segregated at supper. At dusk on the 5th, 112 planes of the Squadron [310th] joined the other 33 of the Group [34th, 43rd, and 309th], carrying 222 paratroopers [of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.] Rendezvous was accomplished without difficulty and we left departure point at midnight. From the navigation standpoint, planning was excellent -- flashing beacons every 30 miles. The use of running lights over England eased formation difficulties for the pilots. The channel seemed calm as the moon shown through a high, broken overcast. Happily, the search lights we were warned to expect from the Channel Islands, never materialized and the first ground fire was seen when we were a few miles from the coast. A sudden bank of fog, reaching above 1500 feet, loomed up. The planes skipped over it but were able to let down to 600 feet at DZ 'O', northwest of Ste. Mere Eglise. During this time, golden-red fans of ack-ack fire came up at us, which was luckily hurried and erratic.
We got out of there toute suite, skimming Cherbourg and, coming back to England at 3,000 feet, watched trains of gliders with their armed cargo proceed on their missions. So we landed at dawn and told the Intelligence Officer how it went, for which our reward was two ounces of Bourbon and fried egg sandwiches. When results were compared, we found the following: twelve C-47s of the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron carried 222 paratroopers of the 1st Battalion, 505th parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, to DZ 'O' near Ste. Mere Eglise in the Cherbourg peninsula. Time over the DZ was 0204 hours, 6 June 1944. Visibility was good during the flight, although low clouds, smoke or artificial fog was encountered just before the DZ was reached. The mission was deemed a success. Adverse results consisted of the left main tank shot out of one plane; some few holes in planes; one refusal to jump; mechanical failure of one pararack. But there were no casualties in the Squadron. All planes returned to the field."
For their "outstanding performance of duty against the enemy" during the Normandy invasion, the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron, as well as the 34th, 43rd, 309th, and 315th Group Headquarters, was awarded the Outstanding Unit Citation. (See A Decorated Unit.)
July 1944. During July, 1944, the 310th participated in eight missions to the Normandyfront. Cargo included: 9,500 lbs. of supplies (Jul 8); 4,000 lbs. camouflage paint and 51,659 lbs. ammunition (Jul 19); 22,174 lbs. ammunition and 19,670 lbs. miscellaneous (Jul 24); 10,060 lbs. ordnance and 10,400 lbs. medical supplies (Jul 25); 35,300 lbs. automotive, munitions, and communications and returned (Jul 27); 37,935 lbs. of camouflage paint and munitions and 18,500 lbs. of oxygen tanks and saline solution (Jul 28). During one of these trips, C-47aircraft 42-92888 crashed on takeoff, however noone was injured and its cargo was transferred to another aircraft and safely delivered. The aircraft was replaced with C-47 number 42-108969.
(Above) 310th TCS Aircraft Specialists
On the return trips from the front, the Squadron carried 33, 792 lbs. of bomb fuses, 115 walking wounded, 102 litter patients, and 14 passengers, including 7 fighter pilots.
Also throughout the month of July, the Squadron practiced formation, glider towing and snatching, and four paradrop training missions. A total of 370 Polish paratroopers were dropped in three of the missions, code name Operation Burden, all at night. Although not known at the time, this was to be foreboding of Market Garden. On one of the missions, two paratroopers refused to jump.
New assignments to the Squadron included Capt. Jimmy P. Horany (Mess, Supply & Trans. Off.), 1Lt. Ernest F. Chase, Jr. (Admin.), 1Lt. Michael J. Gilligan (Personal Equipment Officer), 2Lt. John Edney (Asst. Ops. Officer), and 2Lt. Raymond E. Steele (Asst. Commo. Off.) Navigator 1Lt. Roger Champman (Historical Off.) volunteered for transfer to IX Bomber Command on Jul 13. Promotions included Norman H. Greene (to Capt), John H. Mackenzie (to Capt.), George A. Rylance(to Capt.)[who would succeed Hamby as 310th Commander], Arthur Pisahl (to 1Lt.), and Charles A. McCoy (to 1Lt.).
(Above) 1st Sgt Bill Nagel and Squadron mates on the river near Spanhoe.
F.O. Varyl C. Hewitt was appointed Special Services Officer and organized seven softball teams. Other recreational activities included basketball, volleyball, and boxing and idling in a day room constructed from glider crates. "On the 23rd and 30th, opportunity was given to approximately 20 men at a time to visit the Shakespeare Country. . . The Squadron mess supplied a picnic lunch and the Red Cross in Stratford [on Avon] supplied guides. Such trips . . . have become regular part of Squadron life . . . On July 11, the enlisted men held a dance in the post chapel. The men invited girls from the surrounding towns and military establishments. Beer and coffee, sandwiches and cake were 'on the house', and the music supplied by 'Chapman's Commandos', a bank compose of officers and enlisted men at the station [Spanhoe]. A very good time was had by the men and their enjoyment was not dampened when Lt.Col. Hamby, the Squadron Commander, announced that there would be no reveille the following morning. "
"Also on July 11, the Squadron "opened its own mess, utilizing two tents on a paved area adjoining one of the enlisted men's barracks. A noticeable increase in the morale of the enlisted men was observed."
On July 18, 25 officers and 18, and 5 officers and 6 enlisted received the Oak Leaf Cluster [to the Air Medal] (See A Decorated Unit.) The Squadron also received a letter of commendation from Gen. B.L. Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief, Allied Armies in France for the " . . . splendid work that has been done before, during, and since D-day by the Allied Air Forces." Air Chief Marshall T. Leigh-Mallory, Air Commander-in-Chief, Allied Expeditionary Air Force, added "Thanks to the Ninth Air Force for the enthusiasm and efficiency with which they have carried out the innumerable tasks assigned to them."
310th TCS C-47s (4A on nose) and CG-4A Waco gliders on flightline at Spanhoe, England. (Circa January 1945 -- note 'invasion strips' around fuselage of aircraft.)
August 1944. August saw considerable activity in re-supply and especially training in glider-towing and paradrops in anticipation of augmenting General Patton's breakthrough from the confining Normandy lines.
"On 2, 3, and 4 August, planes of the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron were dispatched daily on supply and air evacuation missions to France . . . a total of 125,000 pounds of freight were carried and 230 wounded patients, both litters and walking wounded, were returned to hospital in the United States."
"On the 27th, two flights, totalling [sic] nineteen planes, took off on the Airdrome near Orleans, which had been recently captured. Most of these planes returned on the 29th, but Major Schwerin's aircraft was run into by another with a defective hydraulic system and the rudder was damaged. At the month's end, Major Schwerin was still in France, to the more than considerable envy of the rest of the Squadron." [Schwerin returned on Sep 3.]
Airborne Mission. An airborne mission in support of the thrust out of Normandy was scheduled in which the 315th was to be a major player and thus the 310th trained extensively. On August 11, eighteen 310th aircraft dropped 292 paratroops. On August 14, the 310th carried 53,387 pounds of equipment and 73 paratroopers. On August 25, the 310th dropped 5,588 pounds of equipment and 181 paratroopers in an airborne infantry exercise for the 315th Group.
"The preparation for the actual mission was elaborate: due to the large number of aircraft which it was proposed to employ, some co-pilots were rated pilots, several glider pilots were checked out as co-pilots of the C-47As, and some crew chiefs were given consideration as co-pilots. Our combat crews on leave in the States were particularly missed at this time. Events moved rapidly; all twenty-four hour passes were cancelled on 18 August then the post was sealed, the crews were briefed, and the paratroops on the field . . . After the crews were briefed, they were segregated on the field and then it was just a matter of waiting for orders to takeoff. But these orders never arrived because the ground forces moved faster than seemed possible and the DZs became obsolete, which resulted in the entire mission being scratched . . . for fear that the proposed DZs were overrun by the ground troops."
Farewell to the Gliders. Even after the extensive training with gliders, plans did not call for the 315th Group to tow gliders, and 32 glider pilots were transferred on to another base on August 14th with the intention of returning after the mission. However, by the end of August, the Group had lost this roll as part of its combat mission entirely and the 48 remaining glider pilots of the 310th were transferred out of the Squadron on August 31. "This left a considerable hole in the Squadron, since many of the glider pilots had been occupying squadron positions, notably F/O Hewitt as Special Services Officer, F/OSherrod, in the mess, F/O Payson in the Tech Supply, F/O [Fhicaol?] Armament Officer, F/O Bowers as Movements Officer, and Lt. Blackman in the Protective Equipment Department. Lt. Sipe and F/O East, respectively the Glider Operations and Glider Engineering Officers, also left with this last contingent.
The Daily Grind. "Col. Hamby was exceptionally happy when Capt. Mulins presented him a report showing no VD cases in the Squadron for the entire month [August] -- the result of several talks on that problem during the month to officers and enlisted men. The Intelligence Department completed its wall maps in the Orderly Room hallway, and Sgts. Tobin andO'Neill kept them up to date daily -- in itself a difficult job considering the speed of movement on the continent. Capt.Suttle, on DS [detached service] to the Pathfinders, participated in the paratroop landings when the south of France was invaded during the month. The 310th's Pilot Lounge was completed and opened in the unused Bomb-Aimers Building. . . Sgt. [Elfe's?] hardball team practiced as often as operations and weather permitted. There were two Sunday excursions to Stratford-on-Avon from members of the Squadron, there was a Squadron smoker and bingo game on the 14th, consisting of boxing matches and wrestling bouts at which Col. West, formerly a tackle on the Tennessee Rose Bowl team and also with the Philadelphia Eagles, provided himself capable of refereeing any type of trouble. On the [?], a dance was held for the enlisted men in the Station Chapel. The decorations for this party were extensive, refreshments were plentiful and delicious, the music was by the reorganized Base Orchestra, and the girls plentiful and attractive. Col. Hamby again topped off the party by waiving reveille the next day."
"The following officers were promoted during the month: 1st Lt. James H. Carmbie - Captain; 1st Lt. James J. Kavan - Captain; 1st Lt. Lloyd G. Perry - Captain; and F/O Cecil H. Dawkins - 2nd Lt. . . . On 16 August, thirty-one of the enlisted men of the Squadron were awarded the Good Conduct Medal in a special formation. Col. Hamby made the award in person . . . Capt. John H. MacKenzie, the Squadron S-2, received secret orders to [report] for a new assignment, and on his departure, 1st Lt John Z. Mobus became Squadron S-2 during the month, and the usual service schools were attended by various Squadron members."
"Soldier Voting was an important topic worked-on. Lt. Zartman, the Voting Officer, spent considerable time on this in his efforts to comply exactly with the law and numerous directives. He set up a separate tent in the orderly room area and manned it for days. The ban on British newspapers shocked many of the men, the lifting of the ban late in the month was welcomed by all." "Toward the latter part of the month, the Base received word that a VIP would visit the base on a certain day, and the three days before that date were spent in sprucing-up the area and grounds; then the visitor did not arrive."
1st Allied Airborne Army created. "One day during the month was spent by the combat crews in traveling to Leicesterwhere they participated in a review. They were inspected by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force [Gen. Eisenhower], General Brererton [Commander 9th AF], and other high-ranking officers. At that review announcement was made of the First Allied Airborne Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Brererton who thus relinquished his command of the Ninth Air Force. The Ninth Troop Carrier Command is included in this new Army, and so later in the month we were instructed to add an "Airborne" flash above our shoulder-patch. General Brereton, on relinquishing command of the Ninth Air Force addressed a very kind communication to all units, thanking each of them for their assistance and cooperation."
C-109 (B-24 modified for cargo) assigned to 310th.
Battle Honors. [On August 23,] "The Squadron was particularly pleased to receive word that it, together with all the other tactical units of the Ninth Troop Carrier Command, has been awarded Battle Honors, and the so-called Presidential Unit Citation, for its work on D-Day. That this is a [prized] and coveted award goes without saying, and such recognition is always welcomed. " [See A Decorated Unit.]
'The month ended with preparations for more exercises, weather permitting, provided the Ground Forces didn't win all the races in France. The few members of the Squadron who ventured to London on passes during the month reported that the buzz-bombing took most of the joy out of life, except that it was easier to get a hotel room."
(Left) 310th's "Umpty-pooh", tail flash 'Q', as seen from a CG-4A glider in tow by another aircraft in towing formation. Barely seen is the 'Flying Tiger Shark jaws' nose art.
September ~ History was made here! "By all odd, the month of September, 1944, was the busiest and most eventful month in the history of the Squadron and in the memory of most of the men who had been with the 315th Group since coming overseas; this does not exclude the trip across, the D-Day operations in June, 1944, or the formation of the Squadron. For in September, the First Allied Airborne Army began to operate, and operate it did. The place-names Nijmegen, Eindednhoven, and particularly Aachen are and will be standouts when the history of this war is written, for history was made there."
"The Airborne Army really made headlines for the first time as a tactical organization, and its first start was in full strength. The overall success of the Airborne operation, covering the period commencing 17 September and probably ending with the withdrawal by the British from the Aachen [sic -- Arnhem] area about two weeks later, remains to be evaluated; however, during the fighting there, numerous responsible commentators stated that the operations might well have a definite and speedy influence on the rapid termination of the war in the West. . . There was never a question about the nationality of the fighting men carried by the transports or gliders -- they were all part of the Army, and that was sufficient."
"The 310th Squadron played its part to the full in the entire operation . . . For the first time in its short history, the Squadron suffered combat losses and many of its combat personnel received wounds."
"The base was restricted from time to time and passes were on and off. Twelve-hour passes were again authorized on the 4th [Sep] and on the 5th, the base was re-restricted -- for one day and on the 6th, six-hour passes were allowed. It all added up to something big brewing, and tension began to mount. On the 7th, the Group was again alerted for a mission, but it was postponed the next day, and the next, and late in the evening of the 10th it was cancelled. However, the paratroopers remained on the field . . ."
During this time, "flying was carried out strenuously: on the 8th, eighteen of the Squadron planes flew in Group formation; on the 9th, eighteen again flew a similar formation, and later in the day, nine more participated; and on the 10th, nine Squadron aircraft flew with the Group. On the 11th, 23 planes from the Squadron carried gasoline to France -- following a hurry-up call from the tank forces there."
"On September 12th, 15 of our aircraft flew to Bristol, then to Brussels with ammunition for the British Army in that sector -- many of the men stayed in Brussels on an RON [remain over night], and reported that city still a garden spot, though prices were rising, and the British were in control. On the 13th, 23 of the Squadron aircraft were out again, on re-supply work, this time led by Colonel [sic, actually a Lt. Col. at the time] Hamby, who remained overnight in Brussels, returning the next day. On the 15th, 45 truck loads of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment [of the 82nd Abn. Div.] came on the field -- an indication that something big was really going to happen."
"On the 16th September, restriction was on again and the Post was closed at 1110 hours. Fourteen Flight Officers were transferred to the 61st [Troop Carrier] Group, and the Engineering Department, led by Lt. Terhune and seconded by M/SgtsGusky, LaLonde, and Determan, worked overtime."
Paratroopers of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division preparing to board 310th aircraft for Operation Market Garden. Twelve troopers are shown, but each C-47 could carry 18. Note the door has been removed as was the procedure for airdrop missions. Sometime following theNormandy invasion, the stripes around the tops of the aircraft were removed.
Market Garden. On September 17, 1944, the Allies embarked on an attempt to drive toward Germany through Holland, known as Operation Market Garden. (See also 315 Group history.) "The 17th of September marked the start of the hectic two-week period of the first operation of the First Allied Airborne Army. On that day, 90 aircraft of the 315th Group, including 22 from the 310th Squadron, carried paratroopers (504th PIR) to Holland. Takeoff was at 1100 hours in good weather. Col. Hamby led the Squadron planes. Approximately 1800 paratroopers were carried on the mission, together with pararacks, so the planes were carrying a full load. Within three hours, German radio reports began to come through that a mass airborne landing was being made in Holland. And meanwhile, the men remaining on the field [310th support personnel] began sweating-out the planes [return]."
"Finally, C-47s began to appear in the sky, and then came the agonizing job of trying to distinguish the individual marking to determine whether or not all aircraft were safe and returning. The Squadron was fortunate again, for all of the planes returned safely, although there was some flak holes in several of the planes. The 34th Squadron, our parent squadron, lost one plane commanded by Capt. Bohannon."
"The newspapers and radio the next day were filled with stories of the paratroop landings, which were extremely successful [-- this was prior to the drop at Arnhem, the 'bridge too far'.] But the operation was not completed, and on the 18th, the next day, another mission was flown by the Group, this time carrying British paratroopers. Fifty-four planes went from the Group, including 15 planes from this [310th] Squadron, led by Major Schwerin. Lt. Dawkins carried a British Brigadier, and had a bet with him about the drop, which Lt. Dawkins would probably collect -- if he [the Brigadier] shows up in the future. Again, all of the Squadron aircraft returned safely, though flak-damaged, and the pilots began talking about 'milk-runs'."
"On the 19th, congratulatory messages were received from General Clark [commander of the ground forces] and Williams, and the paradrop scheduled for that day, with Polish troopers, was scratched due to weather. The 20th, with clearing weather, promised to be another day, and the planes were loaded with Polish paratroopers. Fifty-four planes were scheduled to go from the Group, with 14 form the Squadron [310th]. With all aircraft loaded and engines running, the mission was again scratched to the intense disappointment of the polish troopers, one of whom shot himself while standing next to one of the Squadron's planes. On the same date, a detachment of British Mountain Airborne troops came on the field, and did some practice glider loading while waiting their turn to go over."
A day long remembered. "The 21st of September will be a day long-remembered by the Squadron. The day began with the weather about the same as the prior day. However, apparently reserves were terribly needed by the men who had been dropped four and three days earlier, and so it was ordered that the Group go. Fifty-four aircraft were again decided as the Group's quota, with 14 from the 310th. Colonel Hamby was to lead the second serial of 27 planes. There was a mess-up at the start, and the first serial took-off an hour early. The weather was miserable. Finally, in the afternoon, about 1430 hours [actually 1437], the second serial took off . . ." into an overcast. LCol. Hamby, in the lead ship, instructed each succeeding aircraft to climb at 500 feet per minute, making a left turn every 1,000 feet until they broke out of the clouds. He would be on top flying a box pattern until all had joined the formation. One by one, the aircraft took off and one by one they broke out and joined the formation. The 310th finally departed for Holland with the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade. "Later, the first serial returned, without having dropped its troops due to weather. The second serial, however, composed of planes from the 309th and 310th Squadrons, went through and made the drop at the DZ."
"But it was a costly operation; several of the Squadron's planes had to land elsewhere in England, due to damage to the aircraft; five were missing that evening: those commanded by Colonel Hamby, Lt. Dawkins, Lt. Boon, Lt. Wakley, and Lt. O.J. Smith. Two only returned to the base: Lt. Sutton made his drop and came back; Lt. Berman became separated from the formation due to weather, flew alone, and ended up over the Ruhr, with intense fire coming up at him, before he turned back. Colonel Hamby, faced with miserable weather conditions at the altitudes considered best for paradrops, led his serial [after takeoff] up to 10,000 feet, and then went over [to Holland for the drop], letting down over France and finally getting into the DZ [Nijmegen], and making a successful drop."
As the 310th crossed the DZ, they encountered heavy flak exacerbated by the steady loss of altitude due to the slow exit of the paratroopers. Normally, 18 paratroopers could exit a C-47 in about 18 seconds. The Polish troopers of this drop were encumbered with a heavy equipment bag that had to be pushed out the door ahead of each trooper resulting in an exit time of up to 45 seconds. Because normal procedure during the drop was to reduce power on the left engine in order to reduce the propwash on the troopers exiting the aircraft, the aircraft lost considerable altitude and closed the range of the German gunners. As Maj. Hamby started a left turn to escape the DZ, his aircraft took three hits from 20mm fire -- the first round hitting the left engine stopping it from hitting him, the second round impacting the fuselage, and the third round exploding inside the cargo compartment and seriously wounding his crewchief who was retrieving the static lines. Several aircraft of the 310th were shot down and several others seriously damaged and crewmen wounded. Those who could, were instructed to return to Spanhoe while those with wounded landed in Belgium, firing a red flare as they approached to signify wounded on board.
"The night of the 21st was a wretched one for those of the men who had to stay at the Base: with no word from so many planes, with the story of Lt. Sutton about the extreme difficulty of the operation and the intense enemy reaction, and the report of planes going down in flames, that was not a pleasant evening. The next day, however, some good news came through; we heard from the [310th] planes which had [emergency] landed [at other bases] in England; Colonel Hambyreturned in another plane -- he had his rudder controls shot away and had landed at Brussels -- and several other planes returned."
"Four planes were still unreported, however, on the 22nd. All of the aircraft which returned had much flak damage, and many holes. Colonel Hamby's ship had 150 holes in it. Sgt. Harrod, his radio operator, Sgt. Combetty, his crew chief, were both wounded; Sgt. Combetty seriously."
"On the 23rd of the month [Sep], four of the Squadron planes led by Major Schwerin, joined 37 of the Group planes with another paradrop in Holland, carrying Polish troopers; all planes returned safely from this operation, reporting strong fighter protection. Likewise, on the 23rd, six-hour passes were authorized, indicating that the hear was partially off -- due to the fact that most of the paratroopers in the British Isles had been carried to Holland.."
Saved by the Dutch Underground. "On the 24th came the welcome news that Lt. Worley and the rest of Lt. Dawkins crew, except for Lt. Dawkins, were safe, and in the hands of the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division in Holland. Lt. Wilson, the navigator, and Sgts. Witte and Ludwig, the rest of the crew were all named. Then came the report that Lt. Boon and his crew Lr. Borneman and Sgts. Couch and Chambers, were also safe and Lt. Boon returned with a thrilling story, although for security reasons, he could not tell it, of having been thoroughly taken care of by the underground in Holland, after his plane was shot down. He had been behind the German lines for two days, and had the usual help that is always a tribute to the bravery of the patriots of those countries so long occupied by the Germans. Lt. Boon was sent to London the next day, to give a full report of his evasion. Sgts. Couch and Chambers were still in the hospital in Aldermaston. "
Though the objective bridge could not be taken, the insertion of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade was pivotal in securing the withdrawal of Allies who had been cutoff. For his action in leading the serial into the drop, Maj. Hamby was presented the Polish Cross of Valor by the Polish Government in Exile (see A Decorated Unit).
Resume of Activity 310th Troop Carrier Squadron -- 1 October to 31 October 1944
October was not a particularly eventful month for the 310th Squadron, to the great relief of all personnel, for September had gone all out in activity and excitement. The Squadron was very busy, however, and, as weather permitted, a great deal of essential flying was accomplished. The records of operational sorties flown and pounds carried are impressive and speak well for the energy of the pilots and crew members and maintenance men.
There were no combat missions flown during the month; however, re-supply missions were frequent for the entire Group, and the 310th Squadron pulled its weight at all times. Loads carried ranged from diesel oil and ammunition to overcoats for the infantrymen beginning to get a taste of winter in Northern France, Belgium, and Holland. And of course on many of the return trips wounded were evacuated to hospitals in Britain. Weather was rather poor, on the average, and there were several periods of three or four days when the planes, although loaded, stayed on the ground at the home station due to bad weather here or on the Far Shore. Destinations varied from Brussels to Paris, Rheims, Cherbourg and Nancy—wherever supplies were needed quickly, there they went. The new system of loading one day, returning to home base, then leaving direct the next morning saved time and made it possible for most missions to be flown for the return trip the same day, so the pilots had few chances to RON on the Continent. Also, the institution of new flying corridors to and from the Far Shore shortened the trip by several hours.
The month saw several changed in personnel. Several power pilots and glider pilots fresh from the States were assigned to the outfit; several of the old officers and men were sent home for rest and reassignment. Captain NICHOLSON was among the lucky ones to leave. His loss is a heavy one for the Squadron: he was a flight leader, had been with the Squadron, or the 34th, since Florence, and had filled numerous other positions in the unit. His wit and good humor will be missed as much as his flying ability. Sergeants SHERMAN, DUPRE and STOMBAUGH also went home—which leaves a gap in the Mess Section which Lt. SHERROD was hard put to fill. But no one begrudged the good fortune of those lucky ones, and all hoped their chance would come next. The going-home fever rumors were thick. The men who were shot down over Holland, 1st Lt. WORLEY, 2ND. Lts. WILSON and BOON, T/Sgt. WITTE, S/Sgts. LUDWIG and CHAMBERS and who returned, also went home—at least those who were able to travel, and the wounded members were rapidly recovering.
Several members of the Squadron received decorations for the “Market Operation” during the month. The Bronze Star Medal awarded to 1st. Lt. TERHUNE, M/Sgt. DETERMAN, T/Sgt. YECKLEY, S/Sgt. TOBIN, S/Sgt. RIORDAN, Pfc ORUCH. The Purple Heart awarded to 1st. Lt. HARDIN, 2nd Lt. BOON, M/Sgt. HARROD, S/Sgt. CHAMBERS. The Bronze Star Medals were granted for ground work on the Operation, and all were entirely deserved by the recipients. The Group and Squadron continued to receive congratulatory messages from various sources, including the Commanding Officer of the Polish Paratroop Battalion which was dropped in Holland.
In war news, Aachen occupied the spotlight for most of the month, and its fall was a real victory for the United States troops who took it. German radio made much of its destruction, but none on the other side, was surprised or worried about that. With the approach of winter, ground operations were slowed a bit, and the hope of a complete victory this year dwindled with every rainy day.
The Lord may not have been on the side of the Germans during this past summer and fall, but the weather certainly has been. Marshal ROMMEL’s death was finally admitted by the Germans, after weeks of denials.
Captain Maurice L. MALINE, the Squadron Flight Surgeon, was transferred during the month and was replaced by Captain Duncan S. HATTON. Captain HATTON is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and practices in Philadelphia before entering the Army. With the cessation of combat operations and the reopening of leaves and passes, the VD rate spurted forward, unfortunately, and corrective measures were taken. Otherwise, the Squadron health was excellent, save for the usual colds, especially among the new men who had acquired no immunization or insulation against British weather.
Leaves of a week were granted many of the men, and they were in most of the larger cities of England and Scotland. Colonel HAMBY took a week visiting Edinburgh and reported a good rest. T/Sgt. SESSIONS was married—after having had the wedding postponed during the Holland operations. On the 5th of the month a Squadron dance was held, with all the enlisted men attending. Cpl. WEST WORKED HARD TO MAKE THE PARTY THE SUCCESSFUL ONE IT WAS. The Bond Lottery was drawn at the dance and the proceeds for the Squadron purchased a radio for the mess hall, which the Communications Department promptly installed---with loudspeakers in both the Enlisted Men’s and Officers’ Messes. Captain ENRIGHT went on detached service to the Far Shore and had not returned at the month’s end. Other detachments of men were sent on DS, and the Duty Roster added gray hairs to the heads of Cpl. CATALANO and Captain
KEVAN, despite the disbanding of the Defense Platoon.
Promotions announced during the month are as follows: 1st. Lt. MOBUS to Captain;2nd Lts. HURST, ROBERTSON, PROVIN, LOVETT, BERMAN and ROSS to 1st. Lt.; F/O/s BEST, FLUEGAL, HEWITT, SHERROD and PAYSON, to 2nd. Lts.
The deaths of Lt. WAKLEY and Sgt. LUDVIKSON on the 21st of September were confirmed by the report of their burial near the lines in Holland. No details of their deaths were received, and the fate of the other members of the crew is still unknown. No word of Lt. DAWKINS has been heard. The loss of these men still grieves the Squadron, for they cannot be replaced
The Glider Training program got underway under the direction of Capt. TARBETT and Lt. SIPE, and progress in a true program was made. More gliders were assigned to the Squadron and there was considerable glider-towing on days when the weather on the Continent was poor. Lt. BEST has his problems with glider engineering also. The aircraft engineering section also had its headaches, for there were two planes damaged at Cherbourg on a slippery field, and one plane was damaged in a hangar here. No one was injured in any of the accidents, however. Considering that during the month the Squadron flew 251 aircraft on re-supply missions and carried 1,455,000 lbs. of freight, minor accidents were understandable, though not to be encouraged. The month ended with re-supply missions being flown, going-home rumors circulating, and preparations for the Two Year Overseas Anniversary party occupying the Squadron’s mind in its off-duty hours.
Resume of Activity 310th Troop Carrier Squadron 1 November to 30 November 1944
Resume of Activity 310th Troop Carrier Squadron 1 December to 31 December 1944
With the arrival of December, the prospect of the Group spending the third consecutive Christmas overseas also loomed up. This prospect was fulfilled, causing no surprise to anyone. The month was fairly quiet, but the Squadron did a great deal of flying and, when the new weather minimums were favorable, made its full share of freight and personnel flights to the FarShore. The month also saw the resurgence of the German power, for VON RUNDSTET started his counter-offensive in the latter half of the month, and this was the main topic of conversation so far as the war went. General PATTON again proved his ability, and the town of Bastogne became almost as well known as Arnhem, but this time with American airborne soldiers, fighting as foot-soldiers, in the hot spot. They were relieved by General PATTON’s army toward the end of the month. The operation of the Germans indicated that they were still a force to be reckoned with, also brought out the Luftwaffe in strength, and the German weather men again hit their predictions squarely with bad flying weather for the first week of the operation, thus preventing the Allied air superiority from functioning.
Around Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division was fighting, there were supply missions flown by Troop Carriers, although the 315th Group did not participate. We did have news that Capt. SUTTLE, Lt. ALWOOD, and Lt. Frank HAYDEN, formerly of the Group, and Capt. SUTTLE of this Squadron, were missing in action after one of these re-supply missions. Whether they are dead or not we do not know, although their plane was seen to make a perfect crash landing. These officers were at the Pathfinder Group, therefore were in the very point of the spearhead. We hope that they are safe, for they are well-known to most of the men of this outfit.
Of more immediate interest to the Squadron was the great amount of flying done by our pilots during the month. Weather during the month was not very good and numerous missions were scrubbed due to weather here or on the Continent. Because of too many accidents in other Groups, minimum weather rules were adopted by Command, and this also cut down flying. However, the Squadron Operations Diary will indicate that a great deal of flying—both local transition and re-supply and evacuation—were accomplished. The new pilots were given training by the older first pilots, there was instrument flying and the ground school conducted by Capt. RYLANCE was showing results.
Another item of interest from the operational end was the acquisition of two C-109’s (B-24’s) fitted as gasoline-carrying planes. Each Squadron of the Group received these. Some B-24 pilots were assigned to the outfit temporarily to train the pilots, and there were also maintenance men on TD here. Some of the unit’s engineering personnel went elsewhere to attend schools connected with B-24 maintenance and operations. The pilots enjoyed the opportunity to fly a four-engine ship, and several of the older pilots were checked out in it.
There were some personnel changes during the month: a few men and officers joined the outfit; a few received that long awaited order to return to the ZI. Sgts. YACKLEY, from Operations, LEWIS, from the Armament Shop, and BRYAN, from Transportation got the nod. Basil DEHN also went home with them to the envy of the other men in his department. No officers received this good news during the period, but their time was running out. Some of the enlisted men earned promotions and received them. 1st. Lt. Joe HARDIN, the Squadron Navigator, received his promotion to Captain, and 2nd. Lt. STEELE of the Radar wizards, donned a silver bar. During the month, on one of the non-flying (due to weather) days, the Group held a Medal Presentation ceremony, at which men of our Squadron received the medals they had won in the Hollandoperation. Also during the month, T/Sgt. James D. DAVIS, the strong man of personnel, was awarded the Bronze Star, and everyone in the Squadron was pleased, for Sgt. DAVIS has deserved such recognition for a long time.
Weather during the month was not so good. On Christmas Day we awoke to a White Christmas, with rime frost everywhere and even making the barbed wire look like Christmas tree tinsel. The British papers, after their customary two wait, announced that London’s Christmas was the coldest for which there is any official record. There was much fog, of the real variety, during the latter half of the month, and many of the liberty runs were cancelled. Trains everywhere were late and also packed with persons frantic to get home during part of the holiday season. The cold frost was continuous, with practically no rain, which was a blessing, for the mud was displaced by frozen ground. There were snow flurries as early as the 10th of the month.
The month’s carrying record shows the varied loads hauled: equipment totaling 321,657 lbs. consisting of jeeps, clothing, personnel’s baggage, oil, kerosene, rations and steel matting, was carried to the continent by this Squadron. A total of 184 walking patients was brought back to the U.K. For the month 17,535 gallons of gasoline were carried. 286 passengers were carried for the month. (17 of these were personnel of GLEN MILLER’s Band and 201 were A/B Glider Infantry personnel.) The remainder was incidental personnel. In addition, partly in November but mostly in December 2 aircraft completed 13 separate missions to Holland, carrying a total of 132,480 plbs. Of lard for civilian use. There was an article in the Daily Mail relative to these missions. From all indications it was widely publicized.
Col. HAMBY received one welcome visitor during the period in the person of Lt. BORNEMAN, who was shot down overHolland and then hospitalized with a bad leg and knee. He was on his way home. Wonderful news was received from the States that Lt. DAWKINS, whom we all feared had been killed, was a prisoner of war in Germany. His sister sent the newspaper clipping about this which cheered the entire Squadron.
Capt. TARBETT’s Glider Department continued with its training, both on the ground and in the air, and the glider pilots were far in advance of the other Squadrons simply because of this systematic training program. There morale was also better because they had something regular to do. As before, glider officers continued to render valuable aid in squadron jobs with Lt. CHILD working in the Orderly Room as assistant adjutant, Lt. PAYSON working in Supply, Lt. FEUERSTEIN keeping Special Service active, and Lt. HEWITT serving in the Personnel Department. Lt. FEUERSTEIN helped reorganize the NCO’s Club, which continued to serve the men in the area. He also arranged numerous excursions to dances—the ATS camp was popular, as was Corby. There was a Squadron enlisted Men’s Dance on the 23rd, with Christmas decorations both inside and out. The Group band, just back from a successful week in London, furnished the music. The dance was well-attended and successful. Col. HAMBY wished all the men a Merry Christmas and thanked them for their help during the year.
Major ROWLAND was finally relieved of his General Court Martial TJA duties and was able to get back to some Squadron work. Capt. KEVAN continued to work with no let-ups. Save for an occasional evening with his old outfit at Cottesmore. Lt. SHERROD was relieved as Mess Officer and F/O LANGENFELD too charge. Eating conditions remained somewhat primitive, but progress was made and the men and officers grumbled not much more than was healthy for them. A revised Squadron Duty Policy was inaugurated, and the Squadron OD was given additional duties. Some of the changes were still growing pains, for the Squadron is still an infant, although it has carried its full weight from the start.
One major pin-prick of the month for everyone was the cigarette situation. On the first of the month the ration was completely cut; resulting in loud howls from the entire Theater of Operations. Three days later it was restored in part; and at month’s end were all were on five packs a week ration. The non-smokers were hunted assiduously by the others who needed more than fifteen a day, and in general, pipes made a hurried appearance. The shortage was on in the States too, to the amazement of all the troops, and there were calls for investigations in all corners of the world. The question has not been answered by the end of the year, however.
Maintenance men (unknown) in the cockpit of a 315th Group C-47.
The month and year ended with a standby inspection of the Squadron, and a fervent hope in the minds of all that sometime during the near 365 days, the war on this side would be ended and we might get back to the States. In the eight months of the Squadron’s life, it has gone far; no favors were asked, granted, or wanted as far as operational commitments were concerned, and the Squadron’s record on operations speaks loudly. Building a new unit a month before D-Day and having it function as successfully as it has, is an achievement in which every man in the organization had a part, and of which he can be proud.
Resume of Month’s Activity – 310th Troop Carrier Group -- 1 January to 31 January 1945
The main time of note directly affecting the Squadron during the month of January was the change of Squadron Commanders, which event is always an important one. Lt. Col. Henry G. HAMBY, Jr., the first commanding officer of the Squadron, went back to the States early in the month for rest, rehabilitation and reassignment and Capt. George A. RYLANCE, became Squadron Commander. Col. HAMBY, in the eight months of the Squadron’s life, had effectively organized the outfit into a fighting unit; the fact that less than forty days after the activation of the Squadron the 310th pulled its full weight on D-Day indicated that its foundation was sound. There were the innumerable problems of activation to be solved, especially the formation of a unit in a theater of operations with increased burdens of supply and personnel, and all of these factors called for intense work, organizing ability and capacity for improvisation. The settling of the Squadron area on a crowded base is an instance of the problem which had to be met. The entire month of May 1944, with its intense aerial training in preparation for the initial invasion of Europe, was a hectic one, and, coupled with the many housekeeping problems of a new unit, called for a leader. The later work of the Squadron is proof that its early building was of the best. All of the Squadron joined in wishing Col. HAMBY Godspeed and the best possible luck in any new assignment he may receive.
Capt. George A. RYLANCE was Squadron Operations Officer before assuming command of the outfit. He joined the Group at Florence, South Carolina, and was assigned to the 34th Squadron, remaining with that organization until his assignment to the 310th on its activation. With the 34th or the 310th he has participated in all the activities of the Group, having flown toEngland, then accompanying the outfit to Africa where he amassed a tremendous amount of flying hours and returning to participate in –Day and the Holland operation. He has more operational flying hours than any pilot in the Squadron, a fact which, with his other proven abilities of leadership fully qualifies him to be a commanding officer. In the few weeks of his command, some changes have been made which demonstrate his qualifications for the job and the Squadron is happy in his appointment and has no fears for the future. Capt. RYLANCE’s home is in Vail, Arizona.
He graduated from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Mountain View, California, and from Arizona State College, with additional study at the University of Arizona. Before enlisting in the Army in 1941 he was a teacher in the Arizona school system, and also did some athletic coaching as “additional duty”. He enlisted in the Infantry and later transferred to the Air Corps for his flying training. In the Squadron, he has held the job of Supply Officer, Flight Leader and Liaison Officer. In the summer of 1944, after D-Day, he spent a month’s leave in the States, which was richly deserved.
Another major change during the month was the acquisition of a new First Sergeant. First Sergeant Serenus W. NAGLE came to the Squadron from the 34th Squadron on its activation. He also assisted ably in the birth of the unit and helped shepherd the organization through its initial growing pains. He had been with Group, then was First Sergeant of the 34thSquadron until assigned to the 310th. During January, Sgt. NAGLE requested to be relieved of his duties as First Sergeant, assigning as his reasons for this request that he felt he had gone stale and had lost his knack for the extremely important duties of the position and that he did not want to endanger the efficiency of the Squadron through any possible shortcoming on his part. Such an attitude is an admirable one and proves that Sgt. NAGLE has the best interests of the Squadron uppermost in his mind. After very serious consideration, the Squadron Commander relieved Sgt. NAGLE of his duties, assigned him to the Glider Department, and appointed M/Sgt. Elwood M. WHITTINGTON as First Sergeant. M/Sgt. WHITTINGTON joined the Squadron as a M/Sgt. With fourteen years experience in the Army. His rank and experience indicate that he is fully capable of filling his position, and he has taken hold rapidly.
Thus the 310th Squadron started a new year with a new Commanding Officer and a new First Sergeant. Operationally, the month was a quiet oone, for the major portion of the time was spent in a training program for both airplanes and gliders. The weather was miserable during the month, and flying was cut to a large extent. There was snow on the ground almost every day of the month, temperatures were far below freezing all over the United Kingdom, fog conditions prevailed at times, and in general the British weather lived up thoroughly to its reputation. Coal and coke supplies all over England became scarce also, so it was no pleasure to stay on the ground. Liberty runs to the neighboring towns were cancelled several times due to the icy condition of the roads. The newspapers said it was the coldest month in many years, which again showed that the Germans have had all the breaks in the weather during this war. In the early days of the month some operational flying was accomplished, and the 310th did its share. The later portion of the month was entirely training, and whenever the weather allowed it, the pilots flew. Capt. TARBETT’s glider pilots embarked on a v=navigation course, taught by Capt. ADAMS, and Lts. COLWELL and LASELL. Capt. Leslie A. SHANKEY became Squadron Operations Officer and 1st Lt. Ralph BAYSINGER became Liaison Officer. There were several other changes in duty assignments during the month, with additional officers being given assignments. The Glider department continued its ground schooling, and flying when possible, and credit is due Capt. TARBETT and Lt. DUNCAN for carrying this successfully. Capt. Duncan HATTON, the Squadron Surgeon, after making a valued place for himself in the outfit, was promoted to Group Surgeon during the month. Naturally, the Squadron was delighted at the Doc’s good fortune, but it was also sorry to lose him. A few days later, Capt. George A. SEIKEL, was assigned as Squadron Surgeon. Capt. SEIKEL, who is from Ohio, has a long record of service in the Reserve and many years practice of medicine in Ohio.
Promotions of officers announced during the month were as follows: 2nd. Lts. ZARTMAN, BAROODY, EDNEY, FORD, GUEBARD, HELLER, HYDER, KELLY, LIVINGSTON, MORAN, SMITH, TAPPER, THOMAS, TIDWELL, TINSLEY, ULRICH and STEWART, to 1st Lts. The following awards were announced during the month: 2nd Lt. ENGLUND, the Air Medal; Capt. SHANKEY and T/S. GLASS, Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal.
The Squadron lost a valued member during the month by way of the Combat crew Rotation policy of the command. Capt. Joe C. HARDIN, Squadron Navigator, returned to Tupelo, Arkansas. Capt. HARDIN first navigated the 60th Group toEngland I the summer of 1942, then returned to the States and was assigned to the 315th Group and stayed in it henceforth. He, likewise, was with the Squadron from its inception, and his loss will be felt both from the operational standpoint and from the aid he was always willing to give in any Squadron activity or duty. Four enlisted men also went home: S/Sgt. HEDRICK, the Mess Sergeant; Sgt. GUNN, from Tech Supply; T/Sgt. WHITE, a radio operator; and T/Sgt. COLLISON, a crew chief. Sgt. HEDRICK, ever since the injury to his hand, had not been well and his return was indicated. St. Gunn had been overseas for a very long time. Sgts. WHITE and COLLISON went back under the rotation policy mentioned above. The loss of these men in their respective departments inevitably causes some temporary dislocation, for it is hard to lose competent men, but substitutes are constantly being trained and the successors are entirely capable. Sgt. HAWKINS became Mess Sergeant when Sgt. HEDRICK left, and the mess, with his and F/O LANGENFELD’s help, has continued to improve.
Lt. COLWELL became Squadron Navigator on Cptn. HARDIN’s departure. The Group Commander, Lt. Col. LYON, went home on a thirty day leave, and during his stay there his promotion to eagles was announced. At month’s end he was still away, enjoying some free time. In his absence, Lt. Col. GIBBON became Group and Station Commander, with Lt. Col. STARK moving from the 309th Squadron to Group Executive. The usual number of men and officers of the Squadron were away on DS to schools or to various other stations in this Theater, so the educational training continued. More emphasis was placed on the Army Educational Program, and F/O POMEROY, the Squadron Education Officer, was busy with questionnaires and data sheets.
One development during the month has high hopes following its launching; this is the formation of an Enlisted Men’s Council, to meet with the Executive officers of the Squadron and to bring problems affecting the men as a whole up for discussion. The members were selected from the departments and all ratings are represented. The first members of the council elected by the men by secret ballot, were: M/Sgt. HARROD, T/Sgts. ALLLEN, DAVIS and RASKIE; Sgt. DECKER and Pvt. PROBST.
The new War Department policy of taking men for the infantry reached down to the lower echelons in January and seven men from the Squadron were transferred to Reinforcement Depots. The main war news in the West was the jump-off of the Russian winter offensive and its amazingly swift progress towards the German Capitol. VON RUNDSTADT’s offensive in Luxemburg and France petered out after a month and the U.S. and British armies regained the initiative. At the end of the month most of the ground regained by the Germans has been lost by them and the Allies armies were making progress forward.
(Above) 310th Engineering Officer ??., Line Chief ??, and a 101stAirborne Division ('Screaming Eagles') jumpmaster (unidentified)
Resume of Month Activity 310th Troop Carrier Squadron 1 February to 28 February 1945
The second month of Capt. RYLANCE’s command of the Squadron showed continued advances in all departments and phases of the organization’s activities. The training program which had been started in January was continued until after the middle of the month, with a considerable amount of flying of all types being accomplished the last two weeks of the month found the Squadron carrying some freight to the Continent, with the normal activities of flying continuing. The weather during February was far better than the preceding month, and the threatened coal and coke shortage did not materialize, although care was exercised at all times to conserve fuel. On the whole, February was a good month so far as weather was concerned, and the pilots were able to log numerous hours in the air.
The pace of the war in Europe quickened markedly during the month. The Russian’s drive took spearheads within fifty miles of Berlin, and there was great excitement on all sides because of this. On the Western Front, apparently after the divisions which were badly mauled by the German counter-offensive in December and January had been re-equipped and reinforced, the British, Canadian and American armies again gained the initiative and at month’s end were pushing steadily toward theRhine in all sectors. January and February were costly months in number of casualties suffered by the United Nations troops, but progress was made and the German casualties were reportedly far greater than those of the allies.
The month started for the Squadron with a series of inspections. On the first of February there was an inspection of enlisted men’s clothing and equipment throughout the Base, and on the next morning a similar inspection was made of the officers. The inspections were well organized and teams of officers of the Squadron worked efficiently and rapidly in accomplishing them. On the third of the month the usual standby inspection of the men and billets was made by the Commanding Officer, and considerable improvement in all ways, was noted. The Squadron area received a great deal of attention during the month, and, in spite of the mud throughout the area, it began to be more livable. The usual Saturday inspections were continued.
The Infantry Reinforcement system took several men from the Squadron during the month, and the unit received several former infantrymen who had been wounded, hospitalized, and returned to duty, with a transfer to the Air Forces. Two men also were sent to the Infantry Officers’ Candidate School, and the Squadron, while extremely sorry to lose them, wished them all luck in gaining commissions. These men were Cpls. William W. WEST and William H. TINKER. More applications were on file for OCS as the month ended.\
There were several Squadron social functions arranged for officers and men. On the 6th of the month, Lt. CARY, the Special Service Officer, has a successful dance for the enlisted men. Girls from Leicester, Kettering and Stamford attended; music was furnished by the Group Band; and decorations and food were well supplied by the Squadron Committee. Later in the month, an Officers’ Soiree was held in the Group Pilots Lounge. Lt. SUTTON headed the committee, assisted by Capt. ROSS, Lts. BERMAN, BAYSINGER, and others. A snack bar was set up and food and beer were plentiful. Songs, from a special song sheet prepared by Capt. KEVIN were led by Capt. HATTON on the piano, and there were several sessions of noise. Guests from the other Squadrons and the Group Headquarters were there and were greeted in a special manner. On the 17th, the former member of the 34th Squadron attended a 34th Squadron Anniversary Dance, and two days later the 34thOfficers had a dinner which was attended by the former 34th officers in the 310th.
(top) Gordon Boatman and Trinen (Transportation HQ) at Aldermaston, 1943.
Mrs. Arletta O. THOMPSON was selected the “Sweetheart” of the 315th Troop Carrier Group” in a contest sponsored by the American Red Cross Club at this base. She is the wife of Sgt. Earl D. THOMPSON, one very proud aerial engineer in this Squadron, who has participated in several operational missions over the Continent. Pictures of wives and sweethearts were submitted by the enlisted men of the Group and the results of the contest were announced at a Valentine Dance by Miss Violet KOCHENDOEFER, Club Directress. Mrs. THOMPSON’s picture appeared in “Stars and Stripes” on the 22nd of February. Admirers of feminine pulchritude take note.
The Enlisted Men’s Council started to function during the month. M/Sgt. HARROD was elected Chairman, with T/Sgt. DAVIS, Secretary. The Council met several times with the Executive officers of the Squadron and numerous matters were discussed and acted upon. It is the believed, and the hope, that the Council will be a valuable asset to the outfit.
From the operational standpoint, the flying personnel were far more active than during the previous month., There were several Group formations of 72 planes; several 72 plane glider tow formations, and a large amount of Squadron flying. Also, during the latter days of the month, freight and personnel hauling to the Continent was resumed, although the training program was not abandoned. Among the missions flown was the moving of the 53rd Wing, and gliders were used.
Col. H. B. LYON, the Group Commander, returned fro a leave in the States wearing eagles instead of leaves. He had communicated, either by telephone or telegraph, with the families of a number of the men in the Group, and these messages were much appreciated by everyone. Lt. Col. GIBBONS resumed his duties as Group Executive, and Lt. Col. STARK returned to his job at C.O. of the 309th Squadron.
Beside the former infantrymen assigned to the unit, there were other additions to the strength in February. More flying personnel arrived from the States, and three glider pilots were transferred from the 313th Group. The officer strength of the Squadron was at its highest figure, with more than 150 officers assigned—a far cry from the old Troop Carrier Squadrons with a TC of officers of 45.
Good news was heard of Lt. DAWKINS. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and word came to the Squadron from his sister that he was a prisoner of war in Germany but was safe and well. He was slightly wounded in the face and head during the mission, but bailed out at 300 feet, landed in water, was rescued and captured. Other decorations received during the month were two battle stars for the campaigns “Northern France” and “Germany” for the entire Squadron; Sgt. Allen ANDERSON received an Air Medal for his part I the Holland campaign.
Weather during the month was amazing. Although there was some rain, it was far less than normal. Temperatures were higher than normal, and the 16th, according to the British press, was the warmest February day since 1904. Good weather brought thoughts of leaves and furloughs, and the number of applications for same increased.
Lt. PAYSON conducted a course in the Educational Program on the Base. His subject was Small Businesses, and the lectures were well attended by officers and enlisted men, which indicated both good lectures and an interest in postwar plans for the individual. The course was continuing at the end of the month.
The entire Squadron was saddened and worried by the possible loss of an entire crew and airplane on a routine flight to the Continent. Lts. McKERR and MATTHEWS, and Sgts. CUTLER and QUATTRENE flew to the Continent on one of the freight missions in the latter part of the month. On their way home, they cleared from an airdrome near Paris but that was the last heard from them. No report had been received by month’s end, although urgent search on the Continent and in the United Kingdom was continuing, with all available means being utilized.
Resume of Month’s Activity - 310th Troop Carrier Squadron – 1 March to 31 March 1945
For the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron, March, 1945, was a busy month in many ways. There was a combat operation, there were supply missions practically to the front lines, and the entire Squadron was occupied at all times.
The war in the West increased in tempo. At the first of the month the west bank of the Rhine had been reached by several of the Allied armies, but no crossings had been made and the press was full of the tremendous difficulties to be encountered in spanning this great natural barrier with any appreciable amount of men and material. General PATTON in the south, and Generals HODGES and BRADLEY further north, as well as Field Marshal MONTGOMERY with his combined force of British, Canadians and Americans, all were consolidating their positions along the west bank of the river preparatory to the crossing operation. The enemy was cleared of all great strength on the west bank. Then, about the tenth of the month, came the amazing news of the capture of the Remagen Bridge intact, just a few minutes before the demolition charges were due to expose, and thus the first Rhine bridgehead was established, with the American troops and supplies being poured over it rapidly. The Remagen Bridge did not last very long, for in a few days it collapsed, but those days had allowed a bridgehead to be established and the first crossing was accomplished. Enemy attempts to destroy it were desperate, the Luftwaffe made suicide sorties to attack it, and for some time the bridgehead was compared with Anzio. One Rhine crossing was not enough, however, and the days up to the twenty-fourth of March increased in tension; “crossing the Rhine” was in everyone’s mind; friendly and enemy radio programs discussed it—the enemy predicting complete failure and tremendous casualties in the attempt. In the Squadron it appeared that something was in the air as the days went by, but whether the outfit would participate in the operations was not know. On the 20th it was announced that a “task force” of the ground personnel of the Squadron would leave for Boreham, in the south of England, to do some housekeeping work for the Group for a temporary stay at the=at field, and then it could be guessed that the Group was scheduled to take part in some mission within a comparatively short time. This task force and the operations themselves are covered fully in another portion of this month’s history
The Rhine was crossed on 24th March, and the rest of the month was consumed in consolidating positions, making additional crossings at numerous points. By month’s end, the troops of the United Nations controlled the eastern bank of the Rhine as well and were pushing eastward rapidly, with organized German resistance dwindling. The press reported confusion in the portion of Germany still held by the enemy; the USAAF and RAF continued heavy bombing by day and by night on a target which was becoming more and more compressed. The Russians, although comparatively quiet in the Berlin sector, were pushing westward in the south towards Vienna, with many prisoners and much booty captures. Orders of the Day announcing victories continued to be issued by Marshal STALIN.
As for the immediate life of the Squadron, the month was active. Weather was exceptionally good for flying the entire month, and almost every day saw planes I the air. Leaves and furloughs were granted, taken, and enjoyed by officers and men, with itineraries ranging from the British south coast to Scotland. With good weather prevailing, Special Services, under the guidance of Lts. CARY and COLA, organized softball and volleyball matches, and there were both intra-and inter-squadron games. M/Sgt. HARROD’s pitching was the downfall of many of the officers in the softball games between the officers and men. An enlisted men’s dance was held during the month in the Base Movie Room, and it was well attended by the men, with partners from the ATS detachments in Leicester, WAAF’s from neighboring British airfields, and civilians from Kettering, Leicester, and nearby towns. There also were dances for all enlisted men on the Base at the Red Cross during the month. The Enlisted Men’s Council of the Squadron commenced preparations for the Squadron’s First Anniversary Party for the EM’s, and Capt. MOBUS worked on a similar function for the officers.
Several promotions of officers were announced: the most important was the promotion of Capt. RYLANCE to Major RYLANCE, and 1st. Lt. SUTTON became Capt. SUTTON, with this news being given him as he stepped out of his plane upon the successful completion of his flight in the “varsity” mission on the 24th. Enlisted men also received their share of promotions. There were no reductions in grade during the month.
The Good Conduct Medal was awarded to qualified enlisted men and their names will be found on the attached extract copy of the Order awarding the medals. Congratulatory messages were received for the successful accomplishment of the Varsity mission.
Lt. PAYSON was removed permanently from flying status during the month, due to a punctured ear drum, and was assigned to the Squadron as a ground officer. This made no change in Lt. PAYSON’s duties, as he merely continued as primary duty, in the job of Supply Officer which he has been filling so competently. The Squadron was r=fortunate in retaining this officer. There were other minor changes in assignments in assistant staff officers, and changed=s in departments for some of the men, such changes being made for the good of both the individuals and the organization. The staff had regular meetings, and the Enlisted Men’s Council also met, with M/Sgt. HARROD and T/Sgt. DAVIS later conferring with the Executive officers of the outfit on the suggestions made by the Council. Major RYLANCE also presided over several Squadron formations which were called for the discussion of various problems of the unit.
A number of men from the infantry joined the Squadron, and some men were sent to the Infantry from the Squadron in March. This was in accordance with the reinforcement policy for the infantry, and the outfit was glad to furnish its share for the ground forces.
In spite of the absence of the Squadron Surgeon, Capt. McKAY, who, although he was assigned, is still on detached service during the month, the Squadron health was good. The VD rate was lowered. Sgts. HAFKE and DIEHL and Cpl. HANCY presided over the Squadron dispensary, with Capt. HATTON being on deck when needed.
The Squadron lost one man in March. T/Sgt. James W. WILLIAMS, one of our crew chiefs, was killed in action in the Rhinecrossing operation. Sgt. WILLIAMS had been with the outfit since its organization, and before that had been with the 34thSquadron since its Florence days, so he was well-known and very well-liked by all. He was an extremely efficient crew chief and a fine soldier. Sgt. WILLIAMS was in Lt. HURST’s plane on the mission, and he was instantly killed when a shell hit him in the head. His body was brought back in the plane, and on the 27th of the month he was buried with full military honors at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery. Many of the officers and men of the Squadron, and of the 34thSquadron, attended the funeral. Sgt. WILLIAMS’ loss was a great one to the Squadron, and a gap remains in it due to his death.
By far the most important portion of the Squadron history for the month was the “Varsity” mission, with its attendant preparations both on the ground and in the air. This is covered separately in the history.
The month ended with the Squadron back to its normal duties and pursuits, with re-supply missions over the Rhine being flown, passes normal, and all personnel settling down to the usual routine.
Daily War Diary - 310th Troop Carrier Squadron – 1 March 1945 to 31 March 1945
March 1. Fifteen Squadron planes on Group day formation; fifteen on Group night formation; one to Continent carrying supplies.
March 2. Major RYLANCE’s promotion announced. Eighteen aircraft on Group day formation flight; seventeen on night formation flight. Local flying, one plane to Continent.
March 3. Blood donors give blood to traveling tem=am, Air raid alert “Red” with intruders over Midlands, and Cottesmore bombed. Sixteen planes to Far Shore.
March 4. “Red” air raid alert for second successive night. Nine aircraft to Continent transporting supplies.
March 6. Thirteen planes to Far Shore. Local flying and glider towing.
March 7. Five aircraft ferry gliders to Far Shore.
March 9. Nine planes to Far Shore transporting supplies and ferrying gliders. Local flying.
March 13. Fifteen aircraft to Continent carrying supplies.
March 14. Fourteen planes local flying.
March 15. Twelve aircraft to Far Shore transporting supplies. Local flying.
March 17. Special Service excursion to Stratford-on-Avon. Sixteen planes to Continent.
March 19. Ground task force for Boreham announced.
March 20. Preparations for Ground Echelon to leave for Boreham.
March 21 Ground Task Force of officers and men leave for Boreham; combat crews and aircraft leave for same destination in afternoon.
March 22. Additional officers and men leave to assist ground echelon at Boreham.
March 23. Great quantities of mail arrive from the States.
March 24. Mission “Varsity” flown by Wing, Group, and Squadron. Twenty-one of Squadron’s planes and crews participate, carrying paratroopers of the 6th British Airborne Division. T/Sgt. WILLIAMS killed in action; five officers and men wounded, two planes lost. Ground echelons return from Boreham.
March 25. Remainder of ground echelon returns from Boreham. Additional reports of missing crews. Group CO unheard-of, as well as CO of 43rd Squadron.
March 27. T/Sgt. WILLIAMS buried at Cambridge American Military Cemetery, with funeral attended by many officers and men of 34th and 310th Squadrons.
March 28. Local flying
March 29. Local flying Thirteen planes transport supplies and personnel.
March 30. Twelve aircraft to Far Shore (Germany)
March 31. Twelve aircraft to Continent (Germany carrying supplies.
British paratroopers (unit not identified) preparing to board a C-47 of the 310th TCS (4A).
COMBAT OPERATIONS -- “VARSITY”
In participating in the airborne operational phase of the Rhine crossing maneuver on 24 March, the Squadron maintained its record of having done its share in all of the major airborne missions which had been ordered since, and including, D-Day. The success of he mission speaks volumes for the competence of the pilots and crews, and the entire outfit may be justifiably proud of the record achieved during the month.
The airborne operations differed from prior ones in that the home station was not used for the take-off. A field I the south ofEngland, Boreham, some twenty or thirty miles northeast of London, was selected as the point of departure;. There were two reasons for this: first, British paratroopers were to be carried, and their field or station, was nearer to Boreham than to Spanhoe; second, the field chosen was nearer the dropping zone, which made the journey to the target get shorter, with less possible resulting fatigue and nerves prior to the drop. Spanhoe, however, was designated as the base to which the planes were to return after the drop, and, as the operations was first planned, they were o leave the following day for the continent for further paratroop or supply missions if needed. All of this took careful planning, as the time-table was a tight one.
Since the take-off point was not the Group’s home base, and since Boreman was not occupied to any extent, it was necessary for the Group to send a housekeeping unit to the latter station to maintain all ground facilities such as messing, billeting, guards, maintenance, and special services. The 310th Squadron was chosen as the unit to handle this entire matter for the whole Group. Accordingly, the Squadron had more men actively engaged in the operation than any other unit of the Group. It also had many more of the headaches. On Monday, March 19th, the decision to move to Boreham was announced to the Squadron commanders. No one, of course, in the lower echelons knew the purpose of the maneuver, but with tension rising everywhere as the west bank of the Rhine was occupied, there was no doubt--a number of fairly shrewd guesses. It was also decided at the same time that the Squadron was to do the housekeeping for the entire air echelon. Accordingly, on the 19thand 20th, plans and preparations were rapidly and carefully made. Lt. PAYSON was selected as the officer to be in charge of the ground work and workers, together with F/O’s LANGENFELD and YETTER of the Mess Section. It was first believed that approximately one hundred men, including the entire Mess Section, would be sufficient, with the addition of ten glider pilots to act as gate, courier, and other miscellaneous officers. Transportation also was a problem for the ground men, and Lt. BOWERS, the Transportation Officer, was chosen to accompany the movement. Members of all departments of the Squadron were chosen, and thus a complete working team was sent.
On Wednesday, 21 March, the Ground Echelon left by convoy in the morning, with the Air Echelon, composed only of the combat crews, with replacements, some of the air mechanics, and flying officers with replacements, leaving I the afternoon.. Seventy-four officers and flight officers, and one hundred and fifty-one enlisted men left on the movement that day. The next day additional personnel were called for, and seven officers and thirty-six additional men were sent for the ground operations at Boreham. Skeleton departments were the rule at Spanhoe, with the officers messing with the 34th and the men with the 309th.
So far as the work of the Ground Echelon at Boreham is concerned, it was commended highly by all organizations served. The Mess is reported to have outdone itself, and all other functions were performed more than competently. The outline of the organization and personnel needed was transmitted to Group for possible future use in connection with any similar operations. Most of the men returned to duty on the 24th, with a rear party coming back to Spanhoe the following day.
From all reports, the paradrop on the east bank of the Rhine was the toughest operation yet participated in by the Group. It was by far the costliest I officers, men, and airplanes. Co. LYON, the Group Commander, was reported missing in action—he later was retaken, after having been captured by the enemy with a very seriously wounded leg. Major MATSON, the CO of the 43rd Squadron, was shot down and lost. The 43rd Squadron lost four crews and airplanes. The night of 24 March was a grim one, for many of the crews and planes were unreported, although most of them were heard of in the next day or two. T/Sgt. WILLIAMS of the 310th Squadron was killed in action by enemy anti-aircraft fire. This was the only fatality suffered by the Squadron, although several men suffered wounds or injuries.
The Squadron furnished twenty-one airplanes and crews for the mission. Members of the 6th British Airborne Division were carried and dropped at the DZ. From all accounts, the drop was a successful one, although casualties among the paratroopers were heavy, for it was reported later that the enemy had most accurately anticipated the dropping zone and had ringed it with panzer divisions and a mass of artillery of all calibers. The drop was made in the late morning, with the Squadron’s planes in the second unit in the second serial of the Group formation. Major RYLANCE led his Squadron into combat. The DZ was near Wesel, on the east bank of the Rhine, in the sector commanded by Field Marshal MONTGOMERY.
Two of the Squadron’s planes were lost: one, piloted by 1st. Lt. BERMAN, was abandoned in mid-air by the crew after all control cables had been shot away and the plane was on fire with one engine shot out and the fuselage riddled by flak; the other, piloted by 1st. Lt. ZARTMAN, made an emergency landing in friendly territory after a shell had exploded in the companionway aft of the do-pilot’s seat, destroying the hydraulic system and generally making the aircraft almost unmanageable. Most of the Squadron’s planes suffered damage from enemy fire, and there were many narrow escapes by crew members. Lt. BERMAN’s crew all parachuted safely, although Lt. BERMAN was injured after staying with his ship until it was a certainty that he could not crash-land it; the plane was seen to explode in mid-air less than two seconds after Lt. BERMAN had cleared it. A bullet went through the window next to Lt. HURST’s head, just missing the latter target; S/Sgt. JENNINGS was wounded in the leg by the same shell which killed T/Sgt. WILLIAMS; Lt. ESPLIN was hit by flak or a bullet; Cpl. CAARMODY suffered a fractured leg from enemy fire, and S/Sgt. BORN received a wound in the thigh. Lt. BERMAN’s crew became eligible for membership in the Caterpillar Club. Lt. HURST’s plane had its hydraulic system shot out. Lt. THOMAS landed with practically no controls.
On this “Varsity” mission, 309 paratroopers (British) were carried by the Squadron, together with 75 bundles in the pararacks. The paratroopers were fit and eager, and all reports state that, although casualties were high, they made an excellent account of themselves. It was the unanimous opinion of the men of the Squadron who participated that the mission was by far the hardest any of them had flown. The Squadron was thankful that casualties were as light as they were.
Resume of Month’s Activity -- 310th Troop Carrier Squadron -- 1 April to 31 April 1945
The big event of the month was the movement of the squadron, along with the other units of the 315th Troop Carrier Group, to Air Strip B-48 at Amiens/Glisy, France. First notice of the projected move was received by the squadron on April 5th and the next day Major ROWLAND, the Squadron Executive Officer, and fourteen enlisted men were flown to B-48 as an advance party. For four days the squadron’s planes were kept busy shuttling back and forth between Spanhoe and Amienswith their cargoes of personnel and equipment. At first, our personnel messed with the 34th Troop Carrier Squadron which provided the advance echelon for the Group, but by the 8th of April our own mess was set up and functioning and a few tables were placed out in the open to eat from. By the 10th of April, or on the fourth day of the move, all squadron personnel had been moved to the new location except for the rear echelon of one officer and nineteen enlisted men and the two officers and twenty-two enlisted men who were detailed to bring the Squadron’s heavy motorized equipment over by boat. On the 14th of April Lt. BOWERS and five enlisted men made their appearance, completing the delivery of the motor vehicles. On the 19th of April Lt. EDNEY’s rear echelon had cleared the old base and rejoined the Squadron at B-48.
The new location at Amiens/Glisy had been occupied by the Luftwaffe until it suddenly pulled out towards the last of August 1944. From that time the R.A.F. had used the field’s much bombed and shelled facilities until our arrival.
The area which the Squadron took over was blessed with some small wooden shacks and a few Nissen huts suitable for the housing of all the Squadron departments. The enlisted personnel and most of the officers were billeted in tents while Major RYLANCE, Major ROWLAND and Capt. SHANKEY, THE Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and Operations Officer, were billeted in the nearby small village of Boves.
During the move and for several weeks thereafter the weather was beautiful and warm. The good weather and the abundance of abandoned material were used to the fullest advantage by both the officer and enlisted personnel of the Squadron to improve their working and living areas, so that by the time the spring rains set in toward the last of the month—varied wit a snot storm on the morning of April 29th—every department and all personnel were--comfortably settled at our new base.
The month of April was a busy one for our planes and air crews. With the rapid advance of the allied mechanized armies on the western front, thousands of gallons of gasoline were flown into forward airfields by the squadron. Medical supplies and food were flown to the fighting fronts in lesser amounts. Ammunition, signal equipment and some passengers were also carried o forward areas. Often a return load of liberated prisoners of war was flown to clearing areas in Belgium or France. The Squadron returned over eighteen hundred such men during the month. Thirty-two separate service missions were performed in this period. In addition to routine flights, training flights and the movement of practically the entire squadron by air from the U.K. to France was accomplished.
Promotions during the month for officers were: 1st. Lts. Lawrence J. BASSETT, Ralph W. BAYSINGER, Jr., William G. HURST, David M. ROBERTSON, Otto A. ROENSCH, Jr., and Aubrey L. ROSS promoted to Captain and 2nd Lt. Richard M. PAYSON promoted to 1st. Lt.
Seventeen enlisted men were transferred to the 316th Troop Carrier Group which is scheduled to return to the United States. The Squadron received nine officers, one Flight Officer and twenty-one enlisted men from this group. Five enlisted men were transferred from the Squadron to the ground forces and nine men were transferred from the ground forces to the Squadron.
Social activities for the month were at a minimum because of the troop movement and a full flying schedule. The enlisted men had a dance on April 4th in the movie room at Spanhoe. Girls were invited from the nearby towns and villages and many women from British military organizations were also in attendance. Candlelight was used as part of the decorative scheme. Beer and light refreshments were served.
There have been no social activities at our new field. An enlisted men’s day room for the men of he Squadron has been opened and beer is served here. The glider pilots have opened their own day room in the officer’s area and beer and light refreshments are served. An officers’ club has been located in Beves, about two miles from the field for all officer personnel.
Three Squadron enlisted men have organized a trio. Cpl. Tony CATALINO, accordion; Cpl. Al HARMON, base fiddle, and Cpl. Roger HARMON, guitar. They play for the entertainment of the enlisted men and three times a week at the Officers’ Club.
\All members of the Squadron were proud to learn that a rating of “excellent” had been awarded our outfit by the Group ?Air Inspector during his inspection on the 28th of April.
The month ended with nineteen aircraft taking off on April 30th for our old base in England to participate in a practice paradrop with British and Polish paratroop units.
Following is a retype of a letters of commendation from Gen. Eisenhower and others to the IXth Troop Carrier Command commending the Command on Operation Varisty.
IX TROOP CARRIER COMMAND (MAIN)
APO 133, US ARMY
22 April 1945
AS 300.4 (22 Apr 45)
SUBJECT: Order of the Day
TO: Distribution A
` The following Order of the Day issued by the Supreme Commander, 20 April 1945, will be delivered to all personnel of the IX Troop Carrier Command:
“To every member of the AEF: The battle of the Ruhr has ended with complete success. Following hard upon the final destruction of the German Forces west of the Rhine, the Twenty-First Army Group thrust powerfully across that river with the U.S. Ninth Army under command. Simultaneously, rapid drives across the Rhine and from the Remagen Bridgehead by Twelfth and Sixty Army Groups provided the southern arm of a great double envelopment which completely encircled the entire German Army Group “B” and the Corps of Army Group “H”, whose mobility was rendered almost zero by our magnificent and tireless Air Forces. Thereafter, in the pocket thus created the Twelfth Army Group eliminated twenty-one enemy divisions, including three Panzer, One Panzer Grenadier and three Parachute Divisions. Over three hundred seventeen thousand prisoners of war were captured, including twenty-four Generals and one Admiral. Many tanks and more than seven hundred fifty guns were destroyed or taken Booty is immense and still being counted. The enemy’s total losses in killed an wounded will never be accurately known.
The rapidity and determination with which this brilliant action was executed tore asunder the divisions of Field Marshal MODEL, and enabled all Army Groups without pause to continue their drive eastwards into the heart of Germany.
“This victory of Allied Arms is a fitting preclude to the final battle to crush the ragged remnants of HITLER’s Armies of the west, now tottering on the threshold of defeat.
(signed) “DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER”
By Command of Major General WILLIAMS:
s/ M.S. Tilgham
t/ M.S. TILGHAM
Lieutenant Colonel, AGS
A TRUE COPY
s/ John Z. Mobus
t/ JOHN Z. MOBUS
Capt. Air Corps
FIRST ALLIED AIRBORNE ARMY
Office of the Commanding General
APO 740, U;S. Army
29 March 1945
AG 381 FAAAE
TO: Commanding General, IX Troop Carrier Command, APO 133, U. S. Army
1. It is my desire to congratulate and to commend the officers and men of all ranks of IX Troop Carrier Command for their fine performance in Operation VARSITY.
2. The pilots and co-pilots of many aircraft displayed great courage in their determination to continue to their assigned DZ’s and LZ’s in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, exceeding anything previously encountered by our units in this theater.
3. The Commanding General, 6th Airborne Division, was most emphatic in his high praise of the precision which characterized the drop of his division. The Commanding General of the 17th Airborne Division has written me, expressing unbounded admiration for the skill, courage and devotion to duty of all crew members of our aircraft and gliders.
4. Many individual cases have been cited where damaged and burning aircraft continued to their assigned areas in spite of the fact that the crews well understood that continuing on course destroyed any probable chance of survival for themselves.
5. The conduct of glider pilots in general is beyond written works of commendation. Not only did they deliver a magnificent and coordinated landing which in many cases was in the midst of hostile positions, but were immediately engaged with their airborne associated, if the hottest kind of hand to hand fighting. In one instance, a glider pilot serial immediately organized an all-around defense and withstood heavy counter-attacks with the weapons at their disposal, putting enemy tank out of action in this engagement. The discipline and combat efficiency of these glider pilot soldiers has call forth the highest praise of division and regimental officers.
6. The extremely low number of abortive aircraft and the speed with which abortives were re-dispatched indicates superior performances by all ground echelons. This devotion to duty is worthy of the highest praise.
7. The courage and devotion to duty of all IX Troop Carrier Command personnel is worthy of the very highest standards of our armed for
TO: Commanding General, IX Troop Carrier Command, APO 133, U.S. Army.
1. It is my desire to congratulate and to commend the officers and men of all ranks of IX Troop Carrier Command for their fine performance in Operation VARSITY.
2. The pilots and co-pilots of many aircraft displayed great courage in their determination to continue to their assigned DZ’s and LZ’s in the face of intense antii-aircraft fire, exceeding anything previously encountered by our units in this theater.
3. The Commanding General, 6th Airborne Division, was most emphatic in his high praise of the precision which characterized the drop of his division. The Commanding General of the 17th Airborne Division has written me, expressing unbounded admiration for the skill, courage and devotion to duty of all crew members of our aircraft and gliders.
4. Many individual cases have been cited where damaged and burning aircraft continued to their assigned areas in spite of the fact that the crews well understood that continuing on course destroyed any probable chance of survival for themselves.
5. The conduct of glider pilots in general is beyond written words of commendation. Not only did they deliver a magnificent and coordinated landing which in many cases was in the midst of hostile positions, but were immediately engaged with their airborne associates, in the hottest kind of hand to hand fighting. In one specific instance, a glider pilot serial immediately organized for all-around defense and withstood heavy counter=attacks with the weapons at their disposal, putting one enemy tank out of action in this engagement. The discipline and combat efficiency of these glider pilot soldiers has called forth the highest praise of division and regimental officers.
6. The extremely low number of abortive aircraft and the speed with which abortives, were re-dispatched indicates superior performance by all ground echelons.. This devotion to duty is worthy of the highest praise.
7. The courage and devotion to duty of all IX Troop Carrier Command personnel is worthy of the highest standards of our armed forces.
8. It is my desire that this letter be brought to the attention of all personnel of your command.
/s/ L.H. Brereton
/t/ L.H. BRERETON
Lieutenant General, USA
Headquarters, IX Troop Carrier Command (FWD), APO 133, US Army, 4 April 1945.
TO: Distribution A.
It is with intense pride that I pass on the foregoing letter from the Commanding General, First Allied Airborne Army.
PAUL L. WILLIAMS
Major General, USA
A TRUE COPY: /s/ John T. McGuckin
JOHN T. McGUCKIN,
F/O, Air Corps
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 442nd Fighter Wing flag is adorned with battle streamers reflecting the unit's accomplishments through its history. One streamer, a simple blue ribbon with two words embroidered in white on it, reads "Normandy Invasion."
Sixty-five years ago, in the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 442nd Troop Carrier Group launched 45 C-47 Skytrain transports, laden with 700 members of the 82nd Airborne's 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, destined for the French countryside just northwest of the small town of St. Mere Eglise.
The journey to Normandy and "Drop Zone T" on D-Day began only nine months before at Sedalia Army Air Field, now Whiteman Air Force Base, as the Group formed from a collection of veteran aviators, volunteers and draftees under the command of then-Major Charles M. Smith. Major Smith organized four flying squadrons, the 303rd, 304th, 305th and 306th Troop Carrier Squadrons, each commanded respectively by Robert G. Whittington, Jr., Kenneth L. Glassburn, John A. Crandall and Royal S. Thompson. Also assigned to the 442nd were the100th Service Group and the 464th Air Service Group, with additional subordinate units.
The Group trained around the central Missouri area flying the C-47 and the Waco CG-4A combat assault glider. Before their departure to Europe in March 1944, the Group also trained in Alliance, Neb., Baer Field, Ind. and Pope Field, N.C.
Landon Cozad, a 24-year-old first lieutenant, and a C-47 pilot, came on board with the 442nd in November of 1943 when the group was at Alliance, Neb., and was assigned to the 303rd TCS.
Cozad said of Alliance, and of the subsequent locations, that all of their training had a greater purpose than just being good pilots.
At Pope Field the group would work with the airborne paratroopers based at nearby Ft. Bragg to gain a sense of what it would be like to drop them when D-day arrived.
"We were at Pope for two months in training," said Bill Silberkleit, a navigator with the 305th Troop Carrier Squadron. "We doing practice drops and getting to know the people we would be flying with."
As a navigator, Silberkleit, assigned to the 305th Troop Carrier Squadron, had to take a different training path and had joined up with the 442nd after it arrived at Pope Field.
The air echelon of the 442nd flew the C-47s across the Atlantic by way of South America Ascension Island and Africa while the rest of the Group departed New York City aboard the refitted-for-war ocean liner, the Queen Mary.
The dangerous nature of their business hit the Group in North Africa when they lost one C-47 in a crash landing.
"There was a hell of a sandstorm that day and even though we flew at high altitudes, which was unusual for us, there was still sand at that altitude," Cozad said. "They lost an engine and I think the problem with a single engine landing is that you are afraid you won't make it to the field. As a result they overshot."
The crash claimed all but one person aboard the aircraft as it plowed into tall tree stumps from a recently logged area off the end of the runway. Despite the losses, the 442nd moved northward.
Both air and ground components of the Group arrived within a day of each other at the 442nd's new duty station at Fulbeck, England, a rural air field 120 miles north of London.
As the group settled in to their new surroundings Bill Silberkleit received temporary duty orders.
"I was there about three weeks when I was assigned to North Witham for pathfinder training," Silberkleit said.
Even though he'd been at Fulbeck a short while it was long enough to get a sense of how many other airfields were in the area.
"One thing interesting about Fulbeck is that there were three airfields within three miles of each other, he said. "Many times people would come in for final approach and find out they were coming in at the wrong air field. They were all that close together."
Indeed with the sheer number of installations across the countryside, it could almost said that England had become one huge airfield.
For Jack Prince, a 303rd TCS C-47 pilot, life at Fulbeck was a continuation of what had been practiced at the stateside airfields.
"We did a hell of a lot of shooting landings, towing gliders and formation flying at Fulbeck," Mr. Cozad said.
Prince concurred .
"We did do a lot of formation flying, some practice parachute drops and we practiced pulling gliders there," Prince added. "We were just doing what we would be doing when we got to (Normandy)."
It wasn't all work for the Airmen and when off duty the 442nd members visited nearby towns and villages.
"We went a couple of times to Nottingham and had some fun there," Cozad said of the town made famous by the exploits of English legend Robin Hood.
While group members did visit historic sites in their off duty times more often than not, they took advantage of local pubs, gatherings and dances for entertainment.
Almost exactly a month after arriving in England, the 442nd experienced another loss on April 25, when a 303rd TCS C-47 crashed after takeoff from Membury Airfield - a Troop Carrier base halfway between London and Bristol - killing all 14 aboard the aircraft.
On the ground English farmer, Ernest Huzzey, was farming the same field where the crash occurred.
"It was banking," he said. "It was flying over the woods. It clipped the top of a tree and brought it down. It exploded when it hit the ground, not far from where I had just been working. There were 14 or 15 of them."
Fourteen members of the 442nd TCG - most from the 303rd squadron -- died in the crash, the single largest loss of life in the history of the unit.
A group of 303rd TCS members, led by Colonel Smith, with Maj. Whittington, 303rd TCS commander, attended a funeral service for the men on Saturday, April 29, at Brookwood American Cemetery near Bagshot, England. One of the Airmen, because of his religious faith, had been buried at the same cemetery two days earlier. The next day, a memorial service, led by Group Chaplain Robert Tindall, was held at the chapel back at Fulbeck.
As D-day preparations progressed through into May, Colonel Smith, kept the unit on task meeting their training requirements and focused them on being proficient in dropping paratroopers. The glider pilots sensed that they might not be part of the initial assault. Still, they worked to be sure the Group was ready, and many times they worked in areas outside of flying.
In glider pilot Jim Clark's journal he made the following entries.
June 1, 1944 - Up early to make sure all things are going well at transportation. Many things tell me that the invasion is getting closer every day.
June 3, 1944 - Things are hot now - I spent the day overseeing that our tow ships are properly marked. We put black and white stripes two-feet wide on each wing and the fuselage. Each plane is equipped with life rafts, life preservers, flak suits and ammunition for all firearms.
June 4, 1944 - A rainbow appeared in the sky this evening - a good omen. It doesn't look as if our gliders are going to be used in the first assault and we are disappointed.
Despite the disappointment, Clark spent the day working on the tow tropes and intercom connection wires to ensure all was in good shape when they were called upon.
While Clark pursued his task, over at Witham, navigator Bill Silberkleit learned that the invasion was at hand, or so they thought. As it would turn out, weather in the English Channel prevented the June 5th assault and Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower put the operation on a 24-hour hold.
"On June 4th, they briefed us about D-day, which was supposed to happen on June 5th, and sent us back to our units with the instructions not to tell anyone what we knew," Silberkleit said. "Of course it was delayed a day and I had to sit on that."
"We had a mock run through of going every day for a week or so and we never were told which day that we were going to go," Kozad added. "We'd march down to the flight line and the paratroopers would be lounging around in the grass under the wing, sometimes to be in the shade. Then we'd all board the airplane but we never went.
"One day we marched down there and they took us into a meeting room and they said, 'Today's the day.' We all set our watches and I took some notes," he said. "We were given maps and escape kits with a little American money in them."
"When they decided it was a no-go, they quarantined everybody and you couldn't go anywhere," Prince said. "So we just kind of hung around waiting for them to say it was time to go."
Finally, in the late evening hours of June 5, aircrews and paratroopers alike made their way to the C-47s, each silhouetted by the full moon, and loaded up for the mission.
"They all had about three-hundred pounds of equipment on them and they couldn't even get on board," Silberkleit said of the paratroopers. "We had to take two of us to sort of push them up piggy back to get them into the aircraft. They just had so much stuff on them.
"They were gung ho they were all really ready to go," he said. "I didn't see any of them that were reluctant; they weren't frightened, that's for damned sure."
At 19 minutes after midnight, Mission Boston, serial 26 - comprised of 45 C-47s of the 442nd Troop Carrier Group - took off into the night sky to begin what became termed as the "Longest Day."
After the Group formed up the serial turned south and in the lead ship, with Colonel Smith at the controls, navigator Bill Silberkleit guided the group over the darkened English countryside.
"We flew from Fulbeck down towards southern England to a jumping-off point down there near Bournemouth," Silberkleit said. "From there we would fly down toward our destination flying right between the two Channel Islands coming in to the Cherbourg Peninsula."
"We came in over and between the Jersey and Guernsey Islands on to the west coast of the peninsula," Prince added. "The closer we got the cloudier it got. There was just a layer of clouds right at the altitude that we wanted to fly, around 1,500 feet. So we dropped down a little ways and tried to get under it."
"I had radar on board my aircraft and as I approached the coast I was able to pinpoint myself along the coast line," Silberkleit said. "As soon as we crossed the coast line, the sky was sort of lit up (with antiaircraft fire). There were tracers and everything coming up that you could think of. (To me) it was not a frightening thing, it was very fascinating. You don't think of those things that might happen or what is involved, you are intrigued with what you are doing at the particular time"
Driving inland toward drop zone T, the Group prepared to drop its "sticks" of paratroopers. Some of the Group was still on course while others ran into a thick cloud bank and lost sight of the formation.
"We were flying at about 450 feet above the ground and we didn't see any fog," Silberkleit said. "To us (in the lead ship) everything looked perfect. I was astounded later to find out that our unit was stacked up (because of fog) and that there were a lot of aircraft in the clouds and above the clouds that could not see where we (were).
At 2:44 a.m., the green jump light was switched on in Colonel Smith's aircraft and each ship, in turn, disgorged its heavily-laden paratroopers over Normandy.
In 2008, at a reunion of 82nd Airborne soldiers from D-Day, Silberkleit was able to talk with one of the paratroopers who had jumped from his plane that night.
"He told me that we dropped him right on the area where he was supposed to go," Silberkleit said. "It made me feel really good. I do know that we had some aircraft in our unit that dropped theirs (paratroopers) miles away. They were the ones that experienced the fog and the overcast. One of my navigator friends told me they had to come back around a second time to make their drop. They had missed it the first time in."
As soon as each plane dropped its paratroopers, the aircraft went to full throttle and quickly descended to avoid anti-aircraft fire as they headed for the coast of France and then England. Even with that, the night was not without losses for the 442nd.
"Our planes returned at about 0530," Clark later wrote in his journal. "We apparently lost three and some others had holes from flak and machine-gun fire, but the mission had to be rated a success."
One of those losses was Mr. Prince's plane, and although he managed to walk away from the crash landing, he and his crew had to spend the next more than two weeks in hiding until the Germans were driven from the area. Their arrival back at Fulbeck created quite a stir among those who had feared the worst for the missing Airmen.
"Everyone in the squadron assumed they were held captive or they were dead until one day they showed up in the Mess Hall (back at Fulbeck) with long scraggly beards," Cozad said.
The group would fly three more missions over the Cherbourg peninsula in the days following D-day. On June 10, the Group was ordered to leave Fulbeck for a new airfield in western Britain which would put them closer to France and the missions to come.
Following the night of nights that was their D-day, the 442nd TCG would go on to lead or participate in every major airborne operation in the European theatre of war.
DOWNLOAD HI-RES / PHOTO DETAI82nd Airborne members check their equipment before boarding a 442nd Troop Carrier Group C-47 bound for Drop Zone "T" near St. Mere Eglise in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The 442nd Troop Carrier Group launched 45 C-47s with approximately 20 soldiers in each aircraft. The 442nd TCG was the World War II predecessor of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Herky
305th Troop Carrier Squadron navigator, Bill Silberkleit, pauses for a photograph after returning from a "D-Day plus 1" mission to Normandy, France. The 305th TCS was one of four flying squadrons assigned to the 442nd Troop Carrier Group whose D-Day mission was to drop paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne near St. Mere Eglise. Mister Silberkleit was the navigator aboard the Group's lead aircraft that day. The 442nd TCG was the World War II predecessor of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Herky Barbour estate)
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Lt. Col. Charles M. Smith was the first commander of the 442nd Troop Carrier Group, and led 45 crews flying the Group?s C-47 Skytrain aircraft, laden with paratroopers from the Army?s 82nd Airborne, to Drop Zone ?T? near St. Mere Eglise, France, for D-Day, June 6, 1944. The 442nd TCG was the World War II predecessor of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Herky Barbour estate)
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On ?D-Plus One," also known as the day after D-Day, four 305th Troop Carrier Squadron aircrew members pause between missions to pose for a photo in front of their C-47. From the left are Albert Maverick, III, Robert L. Tittle, Raymond E. Crocker and Gus King, Jr. The 305th TCS was one of four flying squadrons assigned to the 442nd Troop Carrier Group, the World War II predecessor of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Herky Barbour estate)
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305th Troop Carrier Squadron navigator, Bill Silberkleit, was the navigator aboard the Group's lead C-47 Skytrain aircraft on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The 305th TCS was one of four flying squadrons assigned to the 442nd Troop Carrier Group whose D-Day mission was to drop paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne near St. Mere Eglise. The 442nd TCG was the World War II predecessor of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Herky Barbour estate)
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The route the 442nd Troop Carrier Group traversed into Normandy, France, during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 took them west of the Cherbourg peninsula and over the Channel Islands to approach their designated drop zone near St. Mere Eglise. Aboard the 442nd's 45 C-47 Skytrain aircraft were paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne. The 442nd TCG was the World War II predecessor of the 442nd Fighter Wing. (Graphic by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)