History Podcasts

21 March 1943

21 March 1943


77 Squadron was reformed at Finningley, Yorkshire, on 10th June 1937 from “B” Flight of No. 102 Squadron, and was moved in July 1937 to Honington, Suffolk. The Squadron was initially equipped, until November 1937, with Hawker Audax biplanes and they were briefly replaced by Vickers Wellesley single engine, monoplane, light bombers.

After another year In July 1938 the Squadron returned to Yorkshire as part of the newly formed 4 Group, Bomber Command, where it was to remain throughout World War II except for a brief detachment from May to October 1942 to Coastal Command in Devon.

At the outbreak of war 4 Group consisted of 6 squadrons of Whitley bombers, about 75 aircraft in all, dedicated to specialising in night bombing. Whilst theoretically the group’s maximum striking power per raid could be 300 tonnes of bombs, in fact with normal targets, and aircraft serviceability, it would have been nearer to 100-150 tonnes in total, not a devastating amount.

In November 1938 the squadron was equipped with Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk III, twin engine, medium bombers. A year later, from November 1939, the Mk III version was slowly replaced by the much improved Mk.V version with Rolls Royce engines. During this period the squadron was based at Driffield ,July 1938 to August 1940 Linton-on-Ouse, August 1940 to October 1940 Topcliffe, October 1940 to September 1941, and Leeming, September 1941 to May 1942. All were well equipped peacetime permanent RAF stations, with good accommodation. Before the fall of France some squadron aircraft were temporarily based there. In April 1942 remaining Bomber Command Whitley squadrons were transferred to Coastal Command.

The Whitley V was fitted with two Roll Royce Merlin X engines and was limited to a maximum take off weight of 14.4 tonne (32,500 lb). The maximum bomb load was 3.6 tonne (8,000 lb), but this load could only be carried relatively short distances and at ranges of around 1000 Km the practical bomb load was nearer 2 tonne (4,000 lb). Whilst the aircraft could attain a ceiling of 18,000 feet, at this height its handling characteristics were poor and with the limited heating provided the temperature in the cabin was unacceptably low, many crew members got frostbite during the European winter. It was however fitted with quite effective wing de-icing. A more realistic operating height was around 10,000 feet. With one rear gun turret it was inadequately armed for daylight operations. Nevertheless it compared favourably with many German bombers of the period.

The ‘phoney‘ war and the ‘Nickels’

On the 1st September 1939 the President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt, through diplomatic channels, urged Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland to declare their affirmation to refrain from the bombing of either the civil population or unfortified cities. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and the German Führer, Adolf Hitler, both replied that this was already their policy, providing that any opposing force adhered to the same rule. Poland seems to have been over run by German forces before its government could reply, nevertheless both Britain and Germany still adhered to this policy for the next 9 months, until German forces invaded the Low Countries when restrictions on RAF bombing were relaxed, and eventually removed after the bombing of London by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

As a result of this policy during the period from September 1939 until April 1940 the activities of 4 Group, apart from a few isolated bombing attacks on coastal military targets, was devoted to propaganda warfare, the dropping of leaflets, which were given the code name “Nickels”. Whilst widely acclaimed in the British press at the time as being very effective in lowering German morale, they were in retrospect assessed as having little such influence.

The leaflets were made up in large packets and securely stowed in the fuselage. On arrival at the dropping area they would be unpacked and put down the flare chute in small bundles. In low temperatures this was a slow and weary task. Each bundle was fastened by a rubber band which broke when it entered the aircraft’s slip stream, the individual leaflets would then float down to earth. With a strong wind and a dropping height of 15,000 feet the leaflets might float for many miles before they reached the ground, so the distribution could be pretty random and dispersed.

Later in the war, using the same code name “Nickels”, small magazines and news sheets were dropped over occupied Europe for the information of the locals and these were probably quite helpful and effective.

Nevertheless these raids did provide 4 Group with practical experience in navigation, reconnaissance and target location over Europe. However it soon became apparent that the Group’s aircraft were inadequately equipped, both navigationally and operationally, for crews to regularly locate targets by any other means than visual map reading, which was only practical under conditions of bright moonlight. This gave a monthly window of opportunity for accurate target location which lasted no more than about seven days, weather permitting, and it seldom was in the winter months.

Early in the war the Squadron became well known for pioneering flights. On the night of 7th March 1940 two of the Squadron’s Whitley aircraft, captained by F/Lt B.Tomlin and F/Lt G.L.Raphael, flew from Villeneuve in France to drop leaflets on the historic city of Poznan, 270 km west of Warsaw in occupied Poland. They were the first allied aircraft to fly over Poland during the war.

The Squadron lost its first aircraft, Whitley III, K8947 KN Q, of World War II on the night of 15-16 October 1939 when four aircraft, operating from a forward base in France took off in severe weather to drop leaflets over Frankfurt. They met little opposition but one of the Whitley aircraft failed to return. The aircraft’s pilot was Flight Lieutenant Roland Williams, a short service commissioned RAF officer aged 23 years. (Read more on this event on the Personalities page).

War in earnest – bombs not leaflets

May 1940

Following the German invasion of the Low Countries on the 10th May 1940 raids against Germany started in earnest. On the night of the 15/16th May a combined force of 39 Wellingtons, 36 Hampdens and 24 Whitleys attacked 18 different targets in the Ruhr area. This was the first serious strategic bombing raid against Germany. Whilst the policy of not deliberately attacking civilians was officially maintained it became more and more difficult in practice to actually avoid doing so. Although little damage or loss of life occurred through these early raids they undoubtedly caused quite a lot of concern amongst the German population. The degree of 77 Squadron participation in these raids is not easy to ascertain from available records, however the command did not suffer any loss.

In April 1940 after Germany invaded Norway, the squadron started bombing raids on the ports of Stavanger,Trondheim, and other similar targets. However as the distances involved were great the bomb load was limited. In order to carry an acceptable bomb load to these targets some aircraft had to refuel in northern Scotland.

At the beginning of the war the Wellingtons, of 3 Group, and the Hampdens, of 5 Group, had been intended to form a daylight ‘heavy bomber’ force, able to carry out precision visual attacks on permitted targets. It was believed that by flying in formation that they would have adequate combined defensive fire power to beat off fighter attacks. However in practice this was found to be a fallacy and after several raids experiencing very high losses it became obvious that precision daylight operations were unsustainable.

The Air Staff consequently concluded that any further daylight bombing raids by ‘heavy’ aircraft, particularly against inland targets, could only be successfully carried out with substantial escort fighter cover, which was, however, not available at that time. As a result all three Groups of the ‘heavy bomber’ force began to jointly take part in night operations, which were no longer the sole preserve of 4 Group. The German Luftwaffe encountered a similar problems in the Battle of Britain and consequently also had to switch its bombing offensive from day to night in October 1940, however they had the navigation aids to do so effectively whereas the RAF did not.

When the daylight Battle of Britain officially ended in October 1940 the German bombing offensive switched to night operations and the preparations for the invasion of England continued. Whilst Fighter Command activity declined, as they were unable to carry out effective night defensive action, Bomber Command continued to carry out many raids against the Channel Ports, thereby considerably hampering the invasion preparations.

Adolf Hitler issued the directive for the invasion of Russia, ‘Operation Barbarossa’, in December 1940. It would appear he was hoping either to defeat Britain through a successful invasion, or at least reach an ‘arrangement’ with the British Government, before invading Russia in the spring of 1941. The Bomber Command attacks on the Channel Ports not only slowed down the invasion preparations but also influenced the German Navy to advise Hitler that as they had neither the mastery of the sea nor air in the Channel area that an invasion could fail. As result in May 1941, following the occupation of Yugoslavia, many German Army and Air Force units were moved from Northern France to Poland in preparation for the attack on Russia. Although the plans for the invasion of Britain were not officially abandoned they did in fact peter out and the bombing of Britain sharply declined.

Bomber Command continued to carry out frequent attacks, although with a relatively small number of aircraft, on a large number of different German targets throughout 1941. Although these raids did a great deal to maintain morale in Britain, and amongst the civil population in occupied Europe, the opinion now is that although wide spread damage was done its effect on the German war industry, and civilian morale, was negligible. Although some effective raids were carried out on a few of the smaller ports, such as Lübeck, it was not until 1942, with the carrying out of the 1,000 bomber raids, that the real potential of Bomber Command began to become apparent.

Attacked on the Ground

Whilst at Driffield on 14 August 1940 the airfield was attacked by Junkers 88 aircraft of the Luftwaffe from Scandinavian bases as part of the opening gambit of the Battle of Britain. Twelve Whitley bombers of 77 and 102 Squadrons were destroyed and the airfield badly damaged. Thirteen airmen and soldiers were killed. Afterwards 77 squadron had to move to Linton-on-Ouse as Driffield was no longer fit for operational use.

Losses and casualties, 1939 – 1940

Between the outbreak of war in 1939 and the end of December 1940 the squadron lost 27 aircraft on operations, of which 2 crashed on return and 2 ditched. The number of aircraft and crews lost were almost twice the squadron’s established strength. The casualties were 92 aircrew killed or missing believed dead and 21 taken prisoners of war. Near the end of this period Berlin was attacked on several occasions and Turin twice, the latter target was at the extreme range for Whitley aircraft. Five aircraft were lost in the raids on Berlin.

Losses and casualties, 1941

During the year 1941 the squadron lost 30 aircraft on operations, of which one was in an accident, 2 crashed and 3 ditched. During the year the total number lost during the year was again around double the normal squadron strength. The casualties were 112 aircrew killed or missing believed dead and 29 taken prisoners of war. Targets included Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and the Ruhr. Another five aircraft were lost in raids on Berlin and five in raids on Hamburg.

However Bomber Command’s ability to achieve any truly effective strategic bombing of Germany at night was now being questioned at both Air Ministry and Cabinet level, although this view was challenged the year 1941 was a period of uncertainty. The new four engine heavy bomber aircraft were just entering squadron service, but only in small numbers as serious problems had been encountered which slowed down the process of introduction significantly. For example the large ‘heavy’ twin-engine Manchester, which was introduced on squadrons in November 1940, was a failure, it experienced poor serviceability and heavy losses until it had to be withdrawn from operations. AVRO redesigned it with four engines as the Lancaster which was an outstanding success following its introduction on squadrons early in 1942.

The bombing accuracy and general effectiveness of the force of Whitley bombers was continually questioned, particularly in the light of the relatively high losses encountered. The aircraft was inadequate for the task it was being assigned to. Although new equipment, such as the navigational aid GEE and the DR compass, was being introduced this was being fitted to the Wellington and the new four engine types, not to the aging Whitley.

With Germany’s attack on Russia in June 1941, and the entry of the USA and Japan in to the conflict in December 1941, the war escalated from a local conflict, mainly between Britain and Germany, into a truly World War.

Bomber Command was continuing the fight against Germany with dedication and great bravery its effect however at this stage, on both the morale of the German people and armament production, did not appear to those in command of overall strategy to be sufficient to alter the course of the war. Although growing in size It was still a relatively small and inadequately equipped force. Nevertheless the continuing attack against German homeland significantly bolstered the morale of the British people and gave substantial hope to those in the occupied territories of Europe.

Losses and Casualties in 1942, up to May

During the early part of the year 1942, prior to transfer to Coastal Command in May, the squadron lost 11 aircraft, 4 of which crashed and one ditched. The casualties were 43 aircrew killed or missing believed dead and 5 taken prisoners of war. Targets included St Nazaire, Emden, Rostock and Wilhelmshaven. 3 aircraft were lost in one raid on Wilhelmshaven. The raid on Rostock, in late April, was the first of a series of raids on the Baltic seaports, which were easy to locate in clear weather conditions and consequently very effective.

In the Bomber Command Order of Battle for the 9th January 1942 the squadron consisted of 2 flights and had 17 Whitley Mk V aircraft on “unit charge”. Soon after this the strength was expanded to 3 flights with 27 aircraft but in May 1942 the squadron was transferred to Coastal Command following the withdrawal of Whitley aircraft from front line Bomber Command operations.

The total cost in crew of Whitley Operations on 77 Squadron

During the whole period the Squadron was operating Whitley aircraft with Bomber Command, September 1939 to May 1942, 1,687 operational sorties were flown on 239 raids, mostly over France and Germany, and 69 aircraft were lost, of which 65 were on operations, an average loss rate of 4%.

It is believed that the Squadron carried out more raids and suffered more losses than any other Whitley squadron (‘Bomber Command War Diaries’, Middlebrook & Everitt, 1986). The probability of a squadron aircrew member completing 30 operations, the number in a tour of duty, was only around 30%.

The casualties suffered were 245 aircrew either killed or missing believed dead and 59 taken prisoners of war. Ten ground personnel were also killed, mostly during the enemy attack on Driffield. A further 48 aircrew whose aircraft were lost either survived, evaded capture or were interned in a neutral country.

Decorations

Throughout the period of Whitley operations a total of 29 DFC and 31 DFM were awarded to Squadron members.

FIRST HUNDRED CASUALTIES

Out of the first hundred casualties, between the outbreak of war and December 1940, 70% were RAF regulars and 30% RAFVR wartime volunteers. Many of the pilots referred to as regulars were short service commission officers who had joined the RAF just before the war, and in fact their training had been little different to that received by VR pilots.

SECOND HUNDRED CASUALTIES

In the second hundred casualties, between January and November 1941, the regular RAF component dropped to 10% and that of the RAFVR increased to 73%. A further 17% were from Dominion air forces who had been sent to help the RAF.

The Crew of a Whitley

The Whitley bomber was generally manned by a crew of five, consisting of two pilots, one of whom in the early days did the navigation an observer who at first acted as bomb aimer and gunner but later took over the navigation from the co-pilot, and two ‘wireless operator air gunners’ (WAG) who could carry out either duties. A large proportion of the pre-war sergeant pilots were employed as co-pilots on bombers, whilst many of the captains were short service officers.

The number of aircrew on the squadron varied but was about 75 in 1939 but rose to over 100 by 1942. Up until late 1940 air gunners and wireless operators were drawn from qualified ground crew and were neither considered regular aircrew nor given the rank of sergeant, many flew as Leading Aircraftsmen. Some recruited from ground crew, were mustered for ‘air gunner’ duties only.

It is estimated that at least 500 aircrew members served with the squadron on Whitleys. However it should be remembered that of the estimated 150 to 170 crew who managed to complete a first tour of operations on Whitleys, most were required to carry out a second tour later in the war, consequently there were very few surviving former Whitley aircrew at the end of the war.

Coastal Command

May to October 1942

Soon after Air Marshal Harris took over as Commander of Bomber Command in February 1942, the Whitley was withdrawn from use as a night bomber. Not enough of the newer aircraft were ready to replace it so 77 Squadron temporarily joined 19 Group in Coastal Command, together with its Whitley aircraft. The squadron moved to Chivenor airfield in Devon on 6th May 1942. The operations now carried out consisted of convoy escorts, antisubmarine patrols and shipping strikes off South West England.

The Whitley was only marginally effective in carrying out patrols against German U boat activity off SW Britain as they were neither fitted with the new air to surface vessel detection radar equipment (ASV) nor the Leigh searchlight. Nevertheless they were not required to carry heavy bomb loads and were able to undertake long over water flights with a full fuel load and depth charges. Nevertheless in retrospect it would seem that often insufficient fuel reserves were allocated on these flights, a factor which probably contributed to losses as much as enemy action.

German Records show that 5 U-boats were sunk in the Bay of Biscay by Coastal Command during the period that 77 Squadron was with it. One of these, U-boat 705, was sunk by a Whitley of 77 Squadron when on patrol on the 7th September 1942. Whilst other attacks no doubt took place, and some of the missing aircraft may have been involved, this is the only positive ‘kill’ credited to 77 squadron, nevertheless it was 20% of the Command’s successes during the period. However patrolling aircraft contributed towards the offensive as they frequently gave cause for U Boats to make unscheduled dives, thereby disrupting operations against shipping.

During the attachment a total of 6 aircraft were lost on operations and the casualties suffered were 27 aircrew either killed or missing believed dead and 7 taken prisoners of war. One DFC was awarded in October.

The squadron joined Coastal Command before the � bomber raids’ mounted by AM Harris in 1942, so did not take part in them. When the squadron returned to Bomber Command later in the year, October 1942, its transformation in to a four engine bomber force was well underway.

Return to Bomber Command

Halifax Operations

October 1942 to May 1945, Elvington

The Squadron moved to Elvington airfield, just outside York, and commenced intensive training on Halifax II aircraft on the 8th October 1942 but was not declared operational until the end of January 1943. Unlike most of its previous bases, which were pre-war regular RAF stations, this was a recently constructed temporary camp with wooden buildings and Nissen hut accommodation. All with a wartime ambience and atmosphere, which was far from the luxury and comfort previously experienced.

February and March 1943

The squadron’s first raid using the Halifax was against the U-boat base at Lorient, France, on the 4th February 1943, this was followed by several raids mainly on similar targets. During February and March 1943 the squadron flew 152 sorties on 22 raids, with the loss of only 3 aircraft, a loss rate of 2%. The first loss occurred on the 10th March 1943 when two aircraft were lost on a raid on Munich, and another on 29th March 1943 on Berlin.

However, now the Battle of the Ruhr commenced and although this was before a directive had been issued this was later looked upon as de facto marking the start of Operation Pointblank for the RAF. So started 77 Squadron’s worst, yet undoubtedly greatest year.

April, May and June 1943

During the three months April, May and June 1943 the squadron carried out 356 sorties on 29 raids, 19 aircraft went missing on operations and 2 were lost in take-off accidents, aircrew casualties amounted to 122 killed or missing believed dead and 22 taken prisoners of war. The average loss rate was 5.8 % which meant that only about 1 crew in six could be expected to complete a tour of 30 operations.

At the time of the Bomber Command Order of Battle on 4th March 1943 the Squadron had 18 Halifax Mk2 aircraft on unit charge, and around 150 to 200 aircrew. So that during this battle, over a period of three months, the Squadron lost as many aircraft and crews as its established strength. Of course as crews were lost they were progressively replaced with new ones from the heavy conversion training units (HCU).

July, August and September 1943

During July 1943 the squadron carried out 141 sorties on 8 raids with the loss of only 3 aircraft, a loss rate of only 2 %. At the end of July the Battle of Hamburg began. However during the battle attacks also maintained against various other cities including Berlin and Nuremberg.

During the two months, August and September 1943 the Squadron carried out 284 sorties on 18 raids losing 21 aircraft, the average loss rate had again increased, now to 7.5%. Casualties amounted to 119 killed or missing believed dead and 32 taken prisoners of war, three aircrew evaded capture and returned to the UK. The estimated probability of completing a tour of operations had declined to 1 crew in 10. Again within two months the Squadron had lost on operations almost the equivalent of its establishment in aircraft and aircrew. Nevertheless about this time the squadron began progressively expanding into three flights, each of about 10 aircraft, with a total of 200-250 aircrew.

October and November 1943

On the 12th October 1943 Wing Commander John A Roncoroni took over as the Squadron commander at a period when the Command had begun to experience some of its most severe losses during the war. Aircrew were scarcely able to even get to know each other’s names, never mind make friends. During October and November the squadron carried out 157 sorties on 11 raids losing 7 aircraft on operations and one was involved in a collision with another aircraft on return from operations, an average loss rate of 5.5%. Casualties amounted to 45 killed or missing believed dead and 10 taken prisoner of war. Two aircrew members evaded capture. The odds on completing a tour had improved to 1 crew in 6.

Battle of Berlin. November 1943 to March 1944

On the 3 rd November 1943 Air Marshal Arthur Harris wrote to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, saying that

“We can wreck Berlin from end to end if the U.S.A.A.F. will come in on it. It will cost between 400-500 aircraft. It will cost Germany the war.” [quoted in the official history v.ii, page 190].

On the 18 th of November 1943 the Battle of Berlin commenced, although for tactical reasons many other targets were included, the period is usually referred to by this name.

During the battle 16 major main force raids were mounted against Berlin and 16 against other targets, in addition numerous small diversionary raids were also carried out. 77 Squadron participated in five of the main force raids against Berlin.

Whilst Harris had indicated to Churchill that the USAAF should participate, this was not in fact a feasible proposition. The 8AAF was a ‘daylight’ force, the various squadrons flying in formation to form a vast aerial armada. This was an essential part of the strategy against fighter aircraft, and it could only take place in daylight. Before setting forth from East Anglia up to two hours often elapsed since take-off before the armada set off for Germany. This time coupled with the small window of opportunity arising from the reduced hours of daylight during winter made the carrying out of 8AAF raids on Berlin was virtually impracticable. In addition of course formation flying was often impossible during winter due to heavy cloud. It was not until the 6 th March 1944 that 8AAF escorted by long range fighters managed an attack on Berlin. However they did carry out raids on many other less distant targets during this period.

During the “battle” Halifax II and V aircraft, with which the Squadron was equipped, suffered a greater loss rate than any other aircraft type. According to data in the official history, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany, 1939-1945 , in December 1943, January 1944 and February 1944 within the whole command 149 aircraft of these types were lost on 1526 sorties, an overall loss rate of 9.8%. Had aircrews continued operating Halifaxes at this loss rate it is estimated that only one aircrew in 22 would have completed a tour of 30 operations.

During the three months December 1943, January and February 1944 the squadron carried out 14 raids involving 143 sorties but lost 19 aircraft on operations and 1 in an accident, giving the terrible overall loss rate of of 13.3%. Casualties amounted to 103 aircrew killed or missing believed dead and 35 taken prisoners of war, one evaded capture, and 7 were killed in an accident. The Squadron strength dropped to almost half its establishment and replacements were not coming in fast enough from the Heavy Conversion Units to rebuild it to strength.

Whilst during January and February 1944 the squadron only took part in five raids on German targets the losses incurred were particularly severe.

With a total of 16 aircraft missing on these five consecutive raids the average loss rate for the squadron was 20.7%. The estimated probability of a crew participating in all five raids and surviving them was only 31%, that is about 1 in 3. In these five raids the squadron’s casualties were 87 aircrew killed and 26 taken POW, a total of 113.

Following the raid on Leipzig ACM Sir Arthur Harris withdrew Halifax II and V aircraft from operations against German targets, and 77 squadron was no longer participating in the Battle of Berlin.

The effects of bombing, on both German war production and civilian morale, was slow but cumulative. However the results were rarely measurable by intelligence with confidence and aircrew had to frequently return to targets which in the first instance had seemed demolished or at least devastated. Generally aircrew looked towards completing their tour of 30 operations rather than the imminent surrender of Germany. The pre-war Douhet concept of mass bombing leading to devastation, followed by unconditional surrender, never materialised either after the Battle of Britain, or later in Operation Pointblank.

During Operation Pointblank an increase in strength and improvement in technology in the Luftwaffe fighter arm occurred in spite of attacks on the German aviation industry, this led to higher allied losses than originally expected. However overall this advantage had only been achieved by Germany considerably reducing its production of bomber aircraft, and its ability to retaliate by bombing targets in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless although Operation Pointblank did not achieve the unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies, which was predicted by Air Marshal Harris, it unquestionably substantially weakened Germany and was considered by many, including Field Marshal Kesselring, to be the main factor which contributed to victory by the Allies by May 1945.

After being taken off German targets on the 24 th and 25 th of February the squadron carried out 21 mining sorties in the Kattegat without any loss.

March and April 1944

The attack against the transportation infrastructure of north-east France.

The Squadron now commenced a period during which raids were mainly against marshalling yards, railway installations and other targets in Northern France, the raids were aimed at destroying the transportation infrastructure prior to the invasion of Europe. It was considered that as these targets were not generally well protected by fighters and flak that the Halifax loss rate would be less.

On the other hand because the allies wished to avoid causing death and injury to French civilians living nearby, precision bombing was required, and area bombing, as carried out on German cities, was unacceptable. Consequently many raids were carried out at a much lower height with the result that aircraft became more susceptible to damage from light flak. In addition the Luftwaffe began to move some of its fighter force to the defence of French targets and overall losses soon began to increase, although not severely.

However the Battle of Berlin was practically over and within a month the Air Ministry changed its priorities in respect of the deployment of the whole bomber force prior to Overlord, the invasion of Europe, and from March onwards most Bomber Command squadrons were operating on pre-invasion targets in France.

During the two months March and April the squadron carried out 290 sorties on 27 raids. 6 aircraft were lost giving a loss rate of 2.1%. At this level the estimated probability of completing a tour had improved to 53%, or roughly 1 crew in 2.

In March 1944 the squadron was told that Elvington was to be handed over to two Free French Squadrons, №346 (Guyenne) and №347 (Tunisie). Following the arrival of French personnel aircrew were introduced to Tannoy announcements in French and free wine in the messes. A French station commander was appointed and all British ground staff were progressively replaced by French personnel.

77 Squadron at Full Sutton

On 14th May 1944 the Squadron aircraft and aircrew moved to Full Sutton airfield nearby and at the same time commenced conversion to Halifax III aircraft, which had better performance and equipment than the Mk.II & MK.V series previously used.

The beginning of June 1944 and D-Day passed with full squadron participation with support to the ground forces but without any operational losses. The frequency of operations was stepped up but most flying was of a tactical nature in support of the the invasion forces. The strategic bombing of Germany was significantly reduced.

The disastrous Sterkrade raid

However on the 16th June 1944 a strategic raid was called for on the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade, in the Ruhr, which turned out to be the most disastrous in the squadron’s history. 25 aircraft were dispatched, 1 failed to take off, 1 returned early, 6 went missing and 1 ditched in the North Sea but the aircrew were rescued. On this raid 27 aircrew were killed or missing believed dead, 16 were taken prisoners of war and 7 returned safely to the UK. It was the Squadron’s heaviest losses on a single raid.

A total of 162 Halifaxes and 137 Lancasters took part in this raid. Cloud covered the whole of the route and the target up to 14,000 feet. The target was an important synthetic fuel oil factory. At the target the Pathfinder markers were little more than a faint glow through the cloud cover. The attacking force approached the target in two waves passing to the north and south of Rotterdam. This confused the enemy for a time but as the force approached Sterkrade they also drew close to the German fighter beacon at Bocholt where the Luftwaffe fighter controller had assembled his forces. About 21 aircraft were shot down by fighters and 10 by flak. 22 of the lost aircraft were Halifax Mk 3. The overall Halifax Loss rate was 13.6% of the 162 Halifaxes taking part in the raid.

From post war examination of German records the effect of the raid appears to have been negligible, local records give that 21 Germans and 6 foreign workers were killed, and 18 houses damaged. Nevertheless from reconnaissance photos following the raid nine units at the factory appeared to have been damaged.

The squadron was supported by hundreds of dedicated groundcrew. The next to last picture in the sidebar shows a proud group of three, Peter Sharpe bottom left, in August 1944 with his completed nose art of Pluto above.

History

Documents

Help us to keep the memory alive

Please consider joining and/or donating to the Association. As a voluntary group we are entirely dependent on donations and membership. We welcome your interest.

Quick Links

External Links

Keep in touch

Join the association

We welcome all who are interested in, or connected to the squadron, and who would like to keep in contact.


21 March 1943 - History

LST - 210 - 247

LST - 210 was laid down on 7 September 1942 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 1 June 1943 sponsored by Miss Ruth Hines and commissioned on 6 July 1943. During World War II, LST-210 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the following operations: Convoy UGS-36-April 1944 Alba and Pianosa landings-June 1944 Invasion of southern France August and September 1944 Following the war, LST-210 was decommissioned on 8 December 1945 and struck from the Navy list on 3 January 1946. On 12 May 1948, the ship was sold to the Weeks Stevedoring Co., Inc., for non-self-propelled operation. LST-210 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 211 was laid down on 7 September 1942 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 5 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Charles S. Pillsbury and commissioned on 6 July 1943. During World War II, LST-211 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the following operations: Convoy UGS-37-April 1944 Invasion of southern France-August and September 1944 Following the war, LST-211 was decommissioned on 20 November 1945 and struck from the Navy list on 5 December that same year. On 26 March 1948, the ship was sold to the Ships & Power Equipment Corp., Barber, N.J., for scrapping. LST-211 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 212 was laid down on 7 December 1942 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 12 June 1943 sponsored by Miss Catherine Trees and commissioned on 6 July 1943. During World War II, LST-212 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the movement of Convony UGS-37 in April 1944 and the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 15 November 1945 and was struck from the Navy list on 28 November 1945. On 24 July 1947, she was sold to Alfredo A. Lavalle, of New York, N.Y., and converted for merchant service. LST-212 earned two battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 213 was laid down on 21 December 1942 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 16 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Marvin Sack and commissioned on 7 July 1943. During World War II, LST-213 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Marianas operation: (a) Capture and occupation of Saipan-June and July 1944 (b) Tinian capture and occupation-July 1944 Leyte landings-October 1944 LST-213 was redesignated LSTH-213 on 15 September 1945. The ship performed occupation duty in the Far East until late November 1945. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 11 March 1946 and was struck from the Navy list on 5 March 1947. On 26 June 1947, she was transferred as a sale to American Military Government, Korea. LSTH-213 earned three battle stars for World War II service as LST-213.

LST - 214 was laid down on 29 December 1942 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 22 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Mabel Glenn and commissioned on 7 July 1943. The tank landing ship never saw active service with the United States Navy. On 24 July 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was returned to United States Navy custody on 26 January 1946. She was struck from the Navy list on 12 April 1946. On 3 March 1947, she was sold to N. Block Co., of Norfolk, Va., for scrapping.

LST - 215 was laid down on 8 January 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 26 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Frank T. Kegley and commissioned on 12 July 1943. The tank landing ship never saw active service with the United States Navy. On 19 July 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was returned to United States Navy custody on 27 July 1946. She was struck from the Navy list on 29 October 1946 and was sold and converted for merchant service on 11 September 1947.

LST - 216 was laid down on 23 January 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 4 July 1943 sponsored by Miss Ruth Curnick and commissioned on 23 July 1943. The tank landing ship never saw active service with the United States Navy. On 4 August 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was sunk by an aircraft- launched torpedo off Cherbourg, France, on 7 July 1944. LST-216 was struck from the Navy list on 13 November 1944.

LST - 217 was laid down on 2 February 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 13 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. C. H. Johnson and commissioned on 30 July 1943. The tank landing ship never saw active service with the United States Navy. On 5 August 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was returned to United States Navy custody on 12 February 1946. She was struck from the Navy list on 5 June 1946. On 12 December 1947, she was sold to James A. Hughes, New York, N.Y., for scrapping.

LST - 218 was laid down on 11 February 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the -Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. launched on 20 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Don Leach and was placed in reduced commission for ferrying to New Orleans on 5 August 1943. She was placed in full commission on 12 August that same year. During World War II, LST-218 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Gilbert Islands operation-November and December 1943 Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsJanuary and February 1944 Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll-February 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan-June through August 1944 Capture and occupation of Tinian-July and August 1944 Following the war, LST-218 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-January 1946. She was decommissioned on 19 January 1946 and transferred to the naval Shipping Control Authority for the Japanese Merchant Marine (SCAJAP). The ship was returned to United States Navy custody on 28 January 1950. On 15 November 1950, she was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Bremerton where she was activated and transferred to the Republic of Korea Navy on 3 May 1955. She served that navy as LST-809. LST-218 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 219 wag laid down on IS February 1943 at Seneca, III., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 27 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Anthony F. Nosek and was commissioned on 19 August 1943. During World War 11, LST-219 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the capture and occupation of Guam in July 1944 and the Leyte landings in October 1944. Following the war, LST-219 performed occupation duty in the Far East until midDecember 1946. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 29 November 1948 and struck from the Navy list on 22 December 1948. On 25 February 1949, she was sold to Foss Launch & Tug Co., of Tacoma, Wash. LST-219 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 220 was laid down on 4 March 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 3 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. A. E. Ellerbee and commissioned on 26 August 1943. During World War II, LST-220 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Green Islands landing-February 1944 Hollandia operation-April 1944 Capture and occupation of Guam-July and August 1944 Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Following the war, LST-220 returned to the United States and was decommissioned in March 1946 and was destroyed and struck from the Navy list on 12 May 1948. LST-220 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 221 was laid down on 9 March 1943 at Seneca, III., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 7 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Isabelle Chamness and commissioned on 2 September 1943, Lt. Joseph H. Church, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-221 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Marshall Islands operations: (a) Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls- January and February 1944 (b) Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll-February and March 1944 Hollandia operation-April 1944 Capture and occupation of Guam-April 1944 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April 1945 Following the war, LST-221 performed occupation duty in the Far East until late January 1946. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 6 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July 1946. On 4 March 1948, she was sold to Port Houston Iron Works, Inc., of Houston, Tex., for nonself-propelled merchant service. LST-221 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 222 was laid down on 16 March 1943 at Seneca, III., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 17 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Ruth Clydedale and commissioned on 10 September 1943. During World War II, LST-222 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsJanuary and February 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan-June and July 1944 Tinian capture and occupation-July 1944 Capture and occupation of southern Palau IslandsSeptember and October 1944 - Following the war, LST-222 was redesignated LSTH-222 on 15 September 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East until early February 1946 and served with the Military Sea Transportation Service as T-LST-222 from 31 March 1952 to 15 July 1972. On 15 July 1972, the tank landing ship was transferred to the Philippines as a loan, where, as of I January 1979, she remained active as Mindoro Occidental (LT-93). LST-222 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 223 was laid down on 31 March 1943 at Seneca, III., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 24 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. George S. Trees and commissioned on 17 September 1943, Lt. Thomas S. Moulton, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-223 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Capture and occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls- January and February 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan-June 1944 Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Following the war, LST-223 performed occupation duty in the Far East until November 1945. On 15 September 1945, the ship was redesignated LSTH-223. She was transferred to the State Department for disposal on 13 March 1947. LST-223 earned three battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 224 was laid down on 2 April 1943 at Seneca, III., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 31 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. George P. Shoemaker and commissioned on 23 September 1943. During World War II, LST-224 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Marshall Islands operation: (a) Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls- January and February 1944 (b) Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll-February 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan-June and July 1944 Tinian capture and occupation-July 1944 Capture and occupation of the southern Palau Islands- September and October 1944 Assault and occupation of Iwo Jima-February 1945 LST-224 was decommissioned on 22 March 1946, and struck from the Navy list on 17 April 1946. She was sold to the Bethlehem Steel Co., of Bethlehem, Pa., on 9 April 1948 for scrapping. LST-224 earned five battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 225 was laid down on 14 April 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 4 September 1943 sponsored by Miss Mary Oklesen and commissioned on 2 October 1943. During World War II, LST-225 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Capture and occupation of Saipan-June and July 1944 Tinian capture and occupation-July 1944 Capture and occupation of the southern Palau Islands- September and October 1944 Following the war, LST-225 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-February 1946. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 30 July 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 28 August 1946. On 16 December 1947, she was sold to the Learner Co., of Oakland, Calif., for scrapping. LST-225 earned two battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 226 was laid down on 16 April 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 14 September 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Matthew Dekreon and commissioned on 8 October 1943. During World War 11, LST-226 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsJanuary and February 1944 Capture and occupation of southern Palau IslandsSeptember and October 1944 Following the war, LST-226 served in China from November 1945 through May 1946. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 8 June 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 19 June 1946. On 5 November 1947, she was sold to Bosey, Philippines, and converted for merchant service. LST-226 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 227 was laid down on 10 May 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 21 September 1943 sponsored by Mrs. C. B. Hellerson and commissioned on 16 October 1943. During World War 11, LST-227 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsFebruary 1944 Hollandia operation-April 1944 Capture and occupation of Guam-July 1944 Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands - September and October 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April and May 1945 Following the war, LST-227 performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-January 1946. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 22 January 1946. She served with the Shipping Control Authority, Japan, from 23 January 1946 to 6 June 1950. On 27 March 1955, she was transferred to Korea as a loan where she served as Duk Bong (LST-808) into the mid 1970's. LST-227 earned six battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 228 was laid down on 20 May 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 25 September 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Arthur B. Horton and commissioned on 25 October 1943. The tank landing ship saw only brief active service with the United States Navy because, on 19 January 1944, she was grounded in the vicinity of Bahia Angra Island, Azores, and was declared beyond salvage and pronounced a total loss on 21 January 1944. LST-229 was struck from the Navy list on 12 February 1944.

LST - 229 was laid down on 27 May 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 5 October 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Kenneth E. Sandbach and commissioned on 3 November 1943, Comdr. Harry R. Hayes in command. During World War II, LST-229 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Following the war, LST-229 performed occupation duty in the Far East and served in China until mid-December 1945. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 12 February 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 31 October 1947. On 7 April 1948, she was sold to the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp., of Morris Heights, N.Y., for scrapping. LST-229 earned one battle star for World War 11 service.

LST - 230 was laid down on 10 June 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 12 October 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Lettie Reeks and commissioned on 3 November 1943. During World War II, LST-230 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and the invasion of southern France in August and September 1944. Following the war, LST-230 performed occupation duty in the Far East in September 1945 and March 1946. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 4 March 1946 and was transferred to the Shipping Control Authority, Japan, on 31 March 1952, where she operated as T-LST-230. T-LST-230 was transferred to the Philippine Navy on 13 September 1976. LST-230 earned two battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 231 was redesignated ARL-7 and named Atlas (q.v.),on 3 November 1943. LST-232 through

LST - 232 through LST-236 contracts were cancelled on 16 September 1942.

LST - 237 was laid down on 9 February 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co., launched on 8 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Ralph Sollitt and commissioned on 30 June 1943. The tank landing ship saw no active service with the United States Navy. On 12 July 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was returned to United States Navy custody on 11 February 1946. LST-237 was struck from the Navy list on 26 February 1946 and was sold to Bosey, Philippines, on 5 November 1947 and converted for merchant service.

LST - 238 was laid down on 5 March 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 13 June 1943 sponsored by Miss Ester Behme and commissioned on 9 July 1943. The tank landing ship saw no active service with the United States Navy. On 16 June 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was returned to United States Navy custody on 13 February 1946. LST-238 was struck from the Navy list on 12 March 1946 and was sold to the Ships & Power Equipment Corp., of Barber, N.J., on 12 March 1948 for scrapping.

LST - 239 was laid down on 6 March 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 18 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Arthur L. Tomme and commissioned on 13 July 1943. The tank landing ship saw no active service with the United States Navy. On 19 July 1943, she was transferred to the United Kingdom and was returned to United States Navy custody on 5 February 1946. LST-239 was struck from the Navy list on 5 June 1946 and, on 26 April 1948, she was sold to the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Va., for conversion to non-self-propelled merchant operation.

LST - 240 was laid down on 7 March 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 25 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. S. D. Bechtel and commissioned on 27 July 1943, Lt. John K. Alges in command. During World War 11, LST-240 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Marshall Islands operations: (a) Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls- January and February 1944 (b) Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll-February and March 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan--June and July 1944 LST-240 was decommissioned on 3 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 23 June 1947. On 1 June 1948, she was sold to the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., of Chester, Pa., for scrapping. LST-240 earned two battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 241 was laid down on 8 March 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 29 June 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Donald J. Siegel and commissioned on 31 July 1943, Lt. James A. Shaw, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-241 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Gilbert Islands operations-November and December 1943 Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsFebruary 1944 Hollandia operation-April 1944 Capture and occupation of Guam-July 1944 Assault and occupation of Iwo Jima-February 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April 1945 Following the war, she performed occupation duty in the Far East until mid-October 1945. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 7 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 5 June 1946. On 29 September 1947, she was sold to the Southern Shipwreeking Co., of New Orleans, La., for scrapping. LST-241 earned six battle stars for World War 11 service.

LST - 242 was laid down on 8 March 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 3 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Charles R. Duskey and commissioned on 5 August 1943, Lt. (jg.) J. W. Winney, USNR, in command. During World War 11, LST-242 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Gilbert Islands operation-November and December 1943 Marshall Islands operation: (a) Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls- January and February 1944 (b) Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll-February 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan-June 1944 Leyte landings-October 1944 'Following the war, LST-242 was redesignated LSTI-1242 on 15 September 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East until early February 1946 when she returned to the United States. On 9 February 1946, she was decommissioned and transferred that same day to the Shipping Control Authority, Japan. She was struck from the Navy list on 31 October 1947. LSTH-242 earned four battle stars for World War II service as LST-242.

LST - 243 was laid down on 26 April 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 9 July 1943 sponsored by Miss Marybeth Malsie and commissioned on 9 August 1943, Lt. F. H. Blaske, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-243 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Gilbert Islands operation-November and December 1943 Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsJanuary and February 1944 Capture and occupation of Guam-July 1944 Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands - September and October 1944 Lingayen Gulf landings-January 1945 Following the war, LST-243 was redesignated LSTH-243 on 15 September 1945. She performed occupation duty in the Far East until early January 1946 when she returned to the United States and, was decommissioned on 9 January 1946. LSTH-243 was struck from the Navy list on 17 July 1947. On 2 April 1948, she was sold to the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp., of Morris Heights, N.Y., for scrapping. LSTH-243 earned five battle stars for World War II service as LST-243.

LST - 244 was laid down on 1 May 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 14 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. H. C. Price and commissioned on 13 August 1943. During World War II, LST-244 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Gilbert Islands operation-November and December 1943 Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro AtollsFebruary 1944 Capture and occupation of Guam-July and August 1944 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-April 1945 LST-244 was decommissioned on 28 March 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July 1946. On 11 June 1948, she was sold to the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., of Chester, Pa., for scrapping. LST-244 earned four battle stars for World War II service.

LST - 245 was laid down on 7 May 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 17 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Conrad L. Walker and commissioned on 22 August 1943, Lt. Matthew J. McCabe, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-245 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Saidor occupation-January and February 1944 Bismarck Archipelago operation: (a) Cape Gloucester, New Britain-February 1944 (b) Admiralty Islands landings-March 1944 Hollandia operation-April and May 1944 Western New Guinea operations: (a) Toem-Wakde-Sarmi area operation-May 1944 (b) Biak Island operation-June 1944 (c) Noemfoor Island operation-July 1944 (d) Cape Sansapor operation-July and August 1944 (e) Morotai landings-September 1944 Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-April 1945 Balikpapan operation-June and July 1945 LST-245 was decommissioned on 1. April 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 8 May 1946. On 15 April 1948, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. LST-245 earned eight battle stars for World War IT service.

LST - 246 was laid down on 12 May 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 22 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Joseph Shaw and commissioned on 23 August 1943. During World War IT, LST-246 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Marshall Islands operation: (a) Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls- January and February 1944 (b) Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll-February 1944 Capture and occupation of Saipan-June and July 1944 Tinian capture and occupation-July 1944 Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands - September and October 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto-May 1945 Following the war, LST-246 performed occupation duty in the Far East until early February 1946 when she returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 14 February 1946. On 26 June 1947, she was transferred to the United States Army and struck from the Navy list on 12 March 1948. LST-246 earned six battle stars for World War IT service.

LST - 247 was laid down on 17 May 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. launched on 30 July 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Wesley W. Allen and commissioned on 26 August 1943, Lt. E. V. Converse, USNR, in command. During World War IT, LST-247 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the capture and occupation of Guam in July 1944. Following the war, LST-247 was redesignated LSTH-247 on 15 September 1945 and was decommissioned on 27 June 1946. She was struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1946. On 14 October 1947, the tank landing ship was sold to William E. Skinner for scrapping. LSTH-247 earned one battle star for World War IT service as LST-247.


Japanese Troops Defeated on Okinawa

On June 21, 1945, Japanese troops were defeated on the Pacific island of Okinawa after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II. Having seized the Ryukyu Islands from Japanese control, the United States next prepared to launch an onslaught against the Japanese mainland.

Japanese Soldier. Photograph by U. S. Signal Corps, 1942. Prints & Photographs Division

In September 1940, Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers and established a base in French Indochina. One year later, Japan moved troops to southern French Indochina and was poised to move against the Netherlands Indies, seeking to acquire an oil source.

When the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan, that country responded quickly with an attack against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Japanese military forces occupied the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, and Singapore in rapid succession, and invaded Burma and Thailand, achieving its goal of complete control of the South Pacific.

We’ll Lick ‘Em—Just Give Us the Stuff!” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943. Prints & Photographs Division

In the meantime, the United States had mobilized its industrial and economic resources. The Office of War Information, created in June 1942, generated a propaganda campaign to mobilize the manpower and the womanpower of the United States in support of the war effort.

During its offensive in the Pacific, Japan had captured many American and Filipino prisoners, who were enduring forced marches and cruelty in prisoner of war camps. Reports of these atrocities fueled American resolve to defeat Japan. The tide turned with the Battle of Midway in June 1942, at the northern tip of the Hawaiian islands, where the United States began its counteroffensive by air and sea, successfully crippling the Japanese fleet.

The U.S. strategy for conquering Japan was to capture a succession of weaker Japanese outposts, “island-hopping” toward the Japanese mainland. Slowly, in many bloody battles in the Pacific jungle, at Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima, the U.S. forces wrested Pacific territory from the Japanese, island by island.

LSM’s Sending Rockets at Shores of Pokishi Shima, near Okinawa, Five Days Before Invasion. U.S. Navy photograph, May 21, 1945. Joseph J. Spagnola Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Okinawa was the last critical outpost the United States needed to reclaim before launching an attack on the Japanese home islands. As in the progressive invasion of the other Pacific Islands, the U.S. began the onslaught with a series of air attacks on Okinawa and islands nearby, from October 1944 to March 1945.

From this time until the end of the war, the Japanese responded with an intense and desperate effort, increasing the kamikaze attacks on American ships and other targets and introducing to these suicide missions a new weapon, the baka, a piloted missile. In these guided missiles, the pilot reached more than 600 miles per hour in his final dive, and crashed into his target with more than a ton of explosives built into the nose of the aircraft.

On April 1, 1945, some 60,000 U.S. troops landed on the beaches, where they met with little resistance. However, more than 77,000 Japanese troops of the 32d Army were on the island under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, who withdrew his soldiers to the southern section of the island where the Japanese held out for nearly three months—hiding in the jungle and in caves, and engaging the Americans in intense guerilla warfare. Some 12,000 American lives and 110,000 Japanese lives were lost in the campaign. To avoid the dishonor of enemy capture, General Ushijima committed ritual suicide on June 23 as approaching U.S. forces were mopping up pockets of Japanese resistance.

Crew Members of a Marine Torpedo Squadron Lugging Their Own Bags Across the Okinawa Airstrip… Corporal William Beall, photographer U.S. Marine Corps, [1945]. Prints & Photographs Division Marines Wait at Entrance to Cave in Which Japanese Soldiers Are Hiding. U.S. Marine Corps photo, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd…Seated on Shore, Studying Map of Okinawa. June 28, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division

Japan still refused to concede that World War II was over even after their defeat on Okinawa. The ultimate surrender of Japan to the Allies would be, according to Japanese cultural norms, an unthinkable dishonor. However, Japan was able to hold out less than two more months. Emperor Hirohito was forced into an unconditional surrender in August 1945 after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were decimated by the United States’ new weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb.

Hirohito, Emperor of Japan…Wearing Imperial Regalia and Shinto Priest Headdress. U.S. War Department. Signal Corps, 1942. Prints & Photographs Division Japanese POW at Guam…. U.S. Navy photo, Aug. 15, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division


21 March 1943 - History

"The Fightin' Third"

(Updated 1-20-09)

The 3rd Marine Division is a marine infantry division in the United States Marine Corps based at Camp Courtney, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler on the island of Okinawa, Japan. Part of the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), the "Fighting Third" also operates the Jungle Warfare Training Center at Camp Gonsalves on Okinawa. Currently, the 3d MarDiv has assigned as subordinate units the Headquarters Battalion, the 3d Marine Regiment, the 4th Marine Regiment, the 12th Marine Regiment, the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, and the Combat Assault Battalion. The Division currently has subordinate units stationed in Okinawa, Japan and the state of Hawaii. Division elements are deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The primary mission of the 3rd Marine Division is to execute amphibious assault operations and other such operations as may be directed. The Division is supported by Marine aviation, and force service support units and is prepared to be employed, in conjunction with a Marine aircraft wing, as an integral part of a Marine Expeditionary Force in amphibious operations.

The 3d Marine Division was activated on September 16, 1942 at Camp Elliott in San Diego, California. The Division was formed with cadre from the 2nd Marine Division and built around the 9th Marine Regiment. The first Commanding General of the Division was Major General Charles D. Barrett. By January of 1943 the 3rd Marine Division was moved by echelon to Aukland, New Zealand. This movement was completed by March and in June the 3MarDiv deployed to Guadalcanal to train for the invasion of Bougainville.

On November 1, 1943 the 3rd Marine Division landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. For approximately two months the Division participated in the fight against stiff and heavy enemy resistance. On January 16, 1944, with the transfer of command in the area to the Army's XIV Corps, the last elements of the Division returned to Guadalcanal. During the course of the Battle of Bougainville the Division had approximately 400 Marines killed.

The Fighting Third returned to Guadalcanal in January, 1944 to rest, refit, and train. During the spring of 1944 the Division trained for several operations that were subsequently cancelled. The 3rd Marine Division was also held in reserve for the invasion of Saipan during June of 1944.

The next operation the 3d Marine Division took part in was the Battle of Guam. From July 21, 1944 until the last day of organized fighting on August 10, the Division fought through the jungles on the island of Guam. During these 21 days of fighting, the Division captured over 60 square miles of territory and killed over 5,000 enemy soldiers. The next two months saw continuous mopping up operations in which the Marines of the 3rd MarDiv continued to engage remaining Japanese forces. At the end of the battle for Guam, the Division had sustained 677 Marines killed, 3,626 wounded and 9 missing.

By the middle of February 1945 the Division had left Guam preparatory to participation in the Iwo Jima operation. Initially, the Division was held in reserve for the battle of Iwo Jima. However, the Division was committed one regiment at a time beginning with the 21st Marine Regiment on February 20th. The 9th Marine Regiment followed on February 25th. The 3d Marine Division, at this time consisting of the 21st and 9th Regiments, the artillery support of the 12th Marine Regiment, and the armor support of the 3rd Tank Battalion, launched an attack in its zone between the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions. The 3d Marine Division faced well-organized and determined enemy resistance. The terrain, ideal for defense, was heavily fortified by pillboxes, caves, and covered artillery emplacements. Progress was slow and casualties heavy during the first few days of fighting. The Division slowly pushed the enemy back and fought on Iwo Jima until the end of organized resistance on March 16th. Mop up operation continued into the next month. On 4 April the 3d Marine Division was relieved by Army units. By April 17th all of the 3d MarDiv units were back on Guam. Iwo Jima cost the Fighting Third 1,131 killed in action and another 4,438 wounded. Back on Guam the Division prepared for the invasion of Japan that never occurred. Japan surrendered in August of 1945. The 3rd Marine Division was deactivated on December 28, 1945.

The 3rd Marine Division was reactivated on January 7, 1952 at Camp Pendleton, California. This was the Korean War era, but the Division did not deploy to the theater. Instead they undertook training that involved both experimental tactics and lessons learned from Korea. In August of 1953 the Division arrived in Japan to support the defense of the Far Eastern area. In March of 1956 the 3d Marine Division moved to Okinawa and remained there until their deployment to Vietnam in 1965.

On May 6, 1965, the 3d Marine Division opened the Marine Compound at the Danang Air Base, Vietnam. The original mission of the marines in Vietnam was to protect the American air base. However, as the United States' role in Vietnam expanded, the units of the 3rd Marine Division were given permission to run offensive operations in areas that were critical to the security of American bases.

The 3rd Marine Divisions first major fight was OPERATION STARLITE and the Battle of Chu Lai in the Quang Ngai Province, August 18-21, 1965. The heavy fighting resulted in 700 enemy dead to and expensive 242 marines killed in action. However, the operation demonstrated what the marines could do when the enemy met them in a stand up fight.

The Division Headquarters operated in Vietnam from May of 1965 with 3d Mar Div elements participating in operations from Danang to Phu Bai to Quang Tri/Dong Ha Combat Base. During their over four years of continuous combat operations, the 3rd Mar Div lost more than 3,000 marines killed in action. The Division departed Vietnam in November 1969 and moved to Camp Courtney, Okinawa, where it is presently located.

Since their return from Vietnam, elements of the 3d Marine Division has participated in numerous humanitarian relief missions as well as noteworthy combat deployments that include Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom in both Afghanistan and the Philippines, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. The Division celebrated its 66th birthday on September 16, 2008. During their entire history, the marines of the 3rd Division have lived up to their motto of Fidelity, Valor, and Honor.

3rd Marine Division Gift Shop:

Shop for 3d MarDiv Gift Items and T-Shirts in our store »

Visit Military Vet Shop on Facebook — Want to be our friend? Join us on Facebook for links to articles and news items about Veteran issues, the latest sales and coupon codes, new product announcements and sneak-peeks of upcoming products and designs.


Bengal Famine Of 1943 - A Man-Made Holocaust

When British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed regret this week for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919 in Amritsar (in which at least 400 unarmed Indian men, women and children were massacred by British soldiers), he omitted any reference to Britain’s role in a far greater tragedy of colonial India: the Bengal famine of 1943.

Seventy years ago, at least 3 million people died from starvation and malnutrition during a famine in the Indian province of Bengal -- a partly man-made disaster that has been largely forgotten by the world beyond northeastern India.

A complex confluence of malign factors led to the catastrophe, which occurred with the world at war, including, as Indian parliamentary member and leading agricultural scientist M. S. Swaminathan cited in the Hindu newspaper, the Japanese occupation of neighboring Burma and damage to the local rice crop due to tidal waves and a fungal disease epidemic.

Swaminathan also blamed “panic purchase and hoarding by the rich, failure of governance, particularly in relation to the equitable distribution of the available food grains, disruption of communication due to World War II and the indifference of the then UK government to the plight of the starving people of undivided Bengal.”

But while famines were not uncommon in India throughout history, largely because of periodic droughts or monsoons, the tragedy in Bengal had the unmistakable hand of man in it, making it an even greater calamity of recent global history.

In the prior year, 1942, when Japan seized Burma, an important rice exporter, the British bought up massive amounts of rice but hoarded it. The famine only ended because Bengal thankfully delivered a strong rice harvest by 1944.

Dr. Gideon Polya, an Australian biochemist, has called the Bengal famine a man-made “holocaust.”

“The British brought an unsympathetic and ruthless economic agenda to India,” he wrote.

Polya further noted that the “loss of rice from Burma and ineffective government controls on hoarding and profiteering led inevitably to enormous price rises. Thus it can be estimated that the price of rice in Dacca (East Bengal) increased about four-fold in the period from March to October 1943. Bengalis having to purchase food (e.g landless laborers) suffered immensely. Thus, it is estimated that about 30 percent of one particular laborer class died in the famine.”

Many observers in both modern India and Great Britain blame Winston Churchill, Britain's inspiring wartime leader at the time, for the devastation wrought by the famine.

In 2010, Bengali author Madhusree Mukherjee wrote a book about the famine called “Churchill's Secret War,” in which she explicitly blamed Churchill for worsening the starvation in Bengal by ordering the diversion of food away from Indians and toward British troops around the world.

Mukherjee’s book described how wheat from Australia (which could have been delivered to starving Indians) was instead transported to British troops in the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Even worse, British colonial authorities (again under Churchill’s leadership) actually turned down offers of food from Canada and the U.S.

“If it was someone else other than Churchill, I believe relief would have been sent, and, if it wasn’t for the war, the famine wouldn’t have occurred at all,” Mukherjee told Inter Press Service.

“Churchill’s attitude toward India was quite extreme, and he hated Indians, mainly because he knew India couldn’t be held for very long. One can’t escape the really powerful, racist things that he was saying. It certainly was possible to send relief but for Churchill and the War Cabinet that were hoarding grain for use after the war.”

Churchill’s hostility toward Indians has long been documented. Reportedly, when he first received a telegram from the British colonial authorities in New Delhi about the rising toll of famine deaths in Bengal, his reaction was simply that he regretted that nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi was not one of the victims.

Later at a War Cabinet meeting, Churchill blamed the Indians themselves for the famine, saying that they “breed like rabbits.”

His attitude toward Indians was made crystal clear when he told Secretary of State for India Leopold Amery: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion."

According to the BBC, Mukherjee said that Cameron should have apologized for the Bengal famine on behalf of his predecessor in Downing Street from decades ago -- indeed, even former Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized for Britain's culpability in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s.

Outside of India, the Bengal famine of 1943 might only be known through the efforts of Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who directed a movie in 1973 called "Ashani Sanket" (“Distant Thunder”), based on a novel by the same name by Bengali author Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay.


21 March 1943 - History

A Brief History of the 381st

Activated as of Jan. 1,1943, with Lt. Col. Joseph J Nazzaro, former West Point football star, designated as commanding officer, the 381st Bombardment Group began its training at Pyote, Tx., immediately after the New Year. Although the Group, as an entity, has never been there, Boise, Idaho, was named as its permanent base.

The nucleus for the new organization was virtually hand-picked by Col. Joe from the 39th and 302nd Bombardment Groups. Cadres making up the four squadrons arrived in Pyote early in January and phase training began under the direction of Col. Joe, Major Leland G. Fiegel, Air Executive and Major Conway S. Hall, Operations Officer. The station had only been in existence about four months, and living conditions were somewhat primitive. Training aids and air supplies were practically nonexistent.

Starting from scratch, the three ranking officers built up a system of training that eventually produced "the hottest outfit to reach the ETO," an organization noted particularly for its ability to "fly formation." Early-day staff members were Capt. Leroy C. Wilcox, S1 Capt, Linn S. Kidd, S2 and Capt. John c. Goodrum, S4. Major William J. Reed came in as ground executive. The Group's first long range training flight was accomplished March 13. On April 4, the Group moved to Pueblo, Co., where it embarked upon its final training phase. A strenuous schedule was fashioned and the emphasis was on formation flying. Col. Joe led a "mission" to drop leaflets on Denver April 11. On April 21 came the final training flight, a "monster" sea search mission from the West Coast. The operation was the most ambitious air-sea maneuver yet attempted in the States. There were 100 bombers (count them, "100"), plus escorting fighters, over San Francisco at one time, a display of air power which set the newspaper front pages lyrical.

May 2, the movement overseas began. The air echelon headed for its staging area. Col. Reed and an advance party flew to England. The ground forces, with Major Wilcox in charge, left Pueblo May 8. The Group was installed at its present station June 2. We arrived in England in the days when a " monster air attack" consisted of a couple of hundred airplanes. It was quite a while before the development of long range fighter escort.

The first mission was flown June 22, with Col. Joe in the lead ship. Our target was an airfield at Antwerp, Belgium, and the contingent was composed of 21 aircraft. There was fighter and flak opposition, with two Fortresses lost and two others returned severely damaged with casualties aboard. The first air hero was developed on the mission, T/Sgt. John D. Sinclair, radio operator, who was subsequently awarded the Silver Star for his heroism that day.

While the airplanes were being loaded for the next day's mission, there was an accident on the line. A bomb went off and 23 of the ground crew, together with a civilian, lost their lives in the explosions. They flew, nevertheless and continued to fly, participating in most of the Eighth Air Force operations from then on.

Rarely was a mission flown in those early days without running into German fighters, as well as German flak, and it was seldom the formation returned without losses, or without casualties. They struck steadily deeper and deeper into enemy territory, varying the blows occasionally, with a punch at installations protecting the area in which the Allies were destined to begin the eventual invasion of the continent. The station officially became American August 2, when Col. Joe received it, with appropriate ceremonies, from the RAF. With the Eighth Air Force, the 381st came of age August 17 when they participated in the great air attack on the vital ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt. Col Hall was in the lead ship.

They fought our way to the target through swarming enemy fighters and thick flak to hit the objective, and then fought their way out again. Of the contingent of 22 aircraft , there were eleven airplanes and ten crews lost, one of the crews returning safely to base after a successful ditching in the Channel. The 381st accounted for 22 of the German fighters shot down that day. They went back to Schweinfurt Oct. 14. This time, although Eighth Air Force losses were at least as large as they were on August 17, the 381st lost only one Fortress.

The contingents grew increasingly larger in succeeding missions as the size and tempo of Eighth Air Force operations increased. Long range fighter escort enabled the 8th to penetrate deeper and deeper into Germany, striking blow after blow at the vital centers of enemy production. Lt. Col. Harry P. Leber, Jr., was transferred into the Group in December, as Air Executive, and he took over command in January, when Col. Joe moved upstairs to USSTAF headquarters. Col. Hall became Air Executive.

January 11, the 381st participated in the attack on Oschersleben, ploughing through flak and determined enemy fighter opposition to help smash the target. With the First Bombardment Division, of which the 381st was part of, they earned, that day, the Presidential Citation for battle honors, an award which entitles all members of the organization to wear the Blue ribbon on the right breast. They were given official credit for the destruction of 28 German fighters that day.

During 1944 the Group reached a peak of effectiveness and maintained it. For several months, the 381st was in the top rank in the entire Eighth Air Force for bombing results. They flew 32 consecutive combat missions without an "abortive," a tribute to work of the engineering sections, under Major Edgar C. Kurner, and the Sub-Depot, under Lt. Col. Raymond D. Jolicoeur. At last, on March 6, the 381st began to attack the heart of Nazidom, Berlin. And on April 27 they flew their hundredth mission, an attack on the airdrome at La Glacerie, one of the series of blows which paved the way for the invasion. The 381st participated in the D-Day missions of June 6, flying two operations that day, and in the period surrounding D-Day flew nine missions in seven consecutive days.

Two men participated in all nine missions. They flew their 200th mission October 9. It is symbolic that the target that day was Schweinfurt, and it is indicative of the trend of the air war that they suffered no losses. Col. Leber completed his duties in January, 1945 and in February, Col. Hall took over command of the Group. Under his guidance they carried on the performances and traditions which made the group famous.

The final mission took place April 21, 1945, and the objective was Munich. With it, they completed 297 combat operations, in the course of which they had hit just about every important target in German hands. Berlin and its vicinity felt the weight of their bombs 20 times. The 381st was officially credited with the destruction of 223 enemy aircraft and they "probably destroyed" and"damaged" many more. The 381st dropped more than 22 thousand tons of bombs.

Bombardment Squadrons of the 381st BG
532nd - Heavy
533rd - Heavy
534th - Heavy
535th - Heavy

Assigned 8th AAF: May 1943

Wing/Command Assignment
VIII BC, 1 BW, 101 PCBW: June 1943
VIII BC, 1 BD, 1 CBW: 13 Sep 1943
1 BD, 1 CBW 8 Jan 1944
1 AD, 1 CBW 1 Jan 1945

Combat Aircraft:
B-17F
B-17G

Stations
Ridgewell, England: 31 June 1943 to 24 June 1945 (Air ech Bovingdon)

Group COs
Col. Joseph J. Nazzaro, 5 Jan 1943 to 9 Jan 1944
Col. Harry P. Leber Jr., 9 Jan 1944 to 6 Feb 1945
Lt. Col. Conway S. Hall, 6 Feb 1945 to June 1945

Missions
First Mission: 22 June 1943
Last Mission: 25 Apr 1945
Missions: 296
Total Sorties: 9,035
Total Bomb Tonnage: 22,160 Tons
Aircraft MIA: 131

Major Awards:
Distinguished Unit Citations:
8 October 1943: Bremen
11 Jan 1943 to all 1 BD groups

Claims to Fame
Highest losses of all groups on first Schweinfurt mission on 17 August 1943

Early History:
Activated 3 November 1942 at Gowen Field, Idaho. Training did not commence until unit established at Pyote AAB, Texas on 5 January 1943. Their final training at Pueblo Colorado was conducted on 16 April 1943 to 8 May 1943. The ground unit moved to Camp Kilmer, NJ. on the 12th of May 1943 and embarked on the Queen Elizabeth on the 27th of May 1943 and started there move to the United Kingdom on the 15th of May 1943, via the Selfridge Field in Bangor, Gander to Prestwick.


Those known to have served with

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Adams James Henry. Tpr.
  • Alexander Aaron. Cpl.
  • Anderson J.
  • Atkinson Jack. Trpr.
  • Balfour TL.
  • Banks Harold. (d.11th September 1944)
  • Barber William Henry. Tpr.
  • Barker Sydney. Tpr.
  • Bedell W.
  • Belcher Philip Rodney Sykes. Pte.
  • Bellshaw A.
  • Berman T.
  • Bestwick Arthur. Cpl.
  • Beswick C.
  • Bevan RE. Tpr.
  • Bickerstaff C.
  • Birch E.
  • Birrell MR.
  • Birt R. Tpr.
  • Black R.
  • Blackburn R.
  • Blacker Alan James.
  • Bladen William George.
  • Blaxley GE.
  • Blumer A.
  • Blundell J.
  • Blyth Ernest. Pte.
  • Boardman EJ. L.Sgt.
  • Bollington S.
  • Boocock W.
  • Booth A.
  • Booth C.
  • Bowen AE.
  • Bowman G.
  • Bowyer JH.
  • Boyd T.
  • Brace AJ. Tpr.
  • Bradburn James. L/Cpl. (d.3rd Nov1943)
  • Bradbury J.
  • Bradshaw A.
  • Brant WG.
  • Brayford J. Tpr.
  • Brazendale Arthur. Pte.
  • Brazier GE.
  • Brearley R.
  • Briant Frank Herbert. Sgt
  • Bright Stanley Sidney. Trp. (d.4th Sep 1944)
  • Bright Stanley Sidney. Tpr. (d.4th Sep 1944)
  • Brooke D.
  • Brown Edwin. T.Capt
  • Bruce AL.
  • Bunce SW.
  • Burke Joseph. Tpr. (d.10th Aug 1944)
  • Butcher H .
  • Byrne John Christopher.
  • Campbell R.
  • Clare Sydney. Sgt.
  • Clark R W. Cpl.
  • Clark Ronald. Sgt. (d.6th June 1942)
  • Clephine J.
  • Coleman Arthur David. Tpr.
  • Coleman John. Pte.
  • Collier G.
  • Connaughton S.
  • Cooper NM.
  • Cotterill A.
  • Courtenay A. Tpr.
  • Cowan H.
  • Cowie CH.
  • Cox DH.
  • Cox JS.
  • Cox TH.
  • Coxhead WJ.
  • Craggs AE.
  • Craig Thomas Dunbar. Sgt.
  • Craik RR.
  • Crane CH.
  • Crawford RB.
  • Crawley CE.
  • Crawshaw J.
  • Crew William Alfred. Tpr. (d.14th Sep 1944)
  • Cripps AT.
  • Croft J.
  • Crofts H.
  • Crofts R.
  • Crofts Reg.
  • Cross G.
  • Crutch Albert John Loos. L/Sgt.
  • Culliney JT.
  • Culliss Kenneth. Sgt.
  • Cullum TE.
  • Cunningham BJ.
  • Curran J.
  • Dadson F.
  • David Leonard Peter. Tpr.
  • Davie L.
  • Davies DF.
  • Davies DH.
  • Davies R.
  • Davis G.
  • Dawson E.
  • Dawson T.
  • Day EN.
  • Deakin A.
  • Dean Harold John.
  • DeAngeli Frank. Tpr.
  • Deardon E.
  • Deasy Patrick F.
  • Dellow RFR.
  • Dickens WDN.
  • Dickie WJ.
  • Dickinson K.
  • Dixon Godfry J.R..
  • Dixon John B. Lt.
  • Dolan TEG.
  • Dove H.
  • Downie George. W/CPL
  • Drake MF.
  • Drake RO.
  • Driscoll J.
  • Drummond AY.
  • Duke CR.
  • Duke L.
  • Duke LR.
  • Duncan R.
  • Dunn J.
  • Dunn Leslie Charles. Sgt.
  • Dunn Peter Basil. Sgt.
  • Dunn TF.
  • Eady HF.
  • Earl J.
  • East WR.
  • Edmonds DJM.
  • Edmunds LR.
  • Ellis Norman Peter. Cpl. (d.2nd Sep 1944)
  • Ellis S.
  • Elphick James.
  • Emblin HF. Sgt.
  • Embling JA.
  • Emerson JR.
  • Evans E.
  • Evans JA. Sgt.
  • Everitt G.
  • Fairbrother FV.
  • Faircloth B.
  • Falla Edwin. Cpl.
  • Fauschleger JD.
  • Fearn WA.
  • Fewell JS.
  • Finch EJ.
  • Finlayson TB. Sgt.
  • Finn Leslie James. Pte
  • Firbank GB.
  • Firth Sidney. Sgt.
  • Fisher R.
  • Fisher RJ.
  • Flack William Reginald.
  • Flatley Mark. Tpr.
  • Fleming W.
  • Fletcher GH.
  • Fletcher SH.
  • Florence George. Tpr.
  • Fluijt Cornelis. 2nd Lt.
  • Ford John Henry Terry. Lt.
  • Ford RS.
  • Foster Percival Arthur. Sgt.
  • Fowler Ernest. Tpr.
  • Fowler J.
  • Fowles B .
  • Fox JL. L/Cpl.
  • Fraser T .
  • Fuller WB.
  • Gallimore JHJ.
  • Galtress RA.
  • Gardiner Peter. Sgt.
  • Gardner John Alexander.
  • Gardner John Alexander. Trpr.
  • Garraway Thomas Alfred. Pte.
  • Garrett Norman. Tpr
  • Geddes RCI.
  • Gelder LD.
  • Gibb AJ.
  • Gibbings Thomas . Sergeant
  • Gibbons Stanley. Trooper
  • Gibson Howard P.. Sgt.
  • Glew Jack. Tpr. (d.19th Apr 1945)
  • Gordon CF.
  • Gough R M C L.
  • Graham C.
  • Graham JB.
  • Greaves F.
  • Green GW.
  • Greenhough F .
  • Gregson C.
  • Gregson M .
  • Griffiths RW.
  • Griffiths WJ.
  • Grimwood FJ.
  • Grindley H.
  • Gurr GH.
  • Gutteridge LE.
  • Gwilliam WA.
  • Gwynne EJ.
  • Haigh Donald. Trpr.
  • Hall AP. L/Cpl.
  • Hall R.
  • Hall Sidney Thomas. Tpr.
  • Hall W .
  • Hamilton J.
  • Hamilton W.
  • Hammond N.
  • Hampton F E. L/Cpl.
  • Hannaby H.
  • Hardie HG. L/Cpl.
  • Harris F.
  • Harris Frederick Fitzherbert. Sgt
  • Harris R.
  • Hart Alan. Trpr. (d.29th February 1944)
  • Hatfield John William Roan. Sgt.
  • Haxton WI. Sgt.
  • Heald N.
  • Heath DA. L.Sgt.
  • Hedges Garfield Desmond. Tpr.r
  • Hemmingway Clifford Charles. Tpr. (d.3rd December 1943)
  • Henderson N.
  • Henry J.
  • Herring AJ.
  • Hetherington R.
  • Heyworth F.
  • Hickman J.
  • Hickmott Alfred James. Sgt.
  • Hill CE .
  • Hill EC.
  • Hill George Edwin. Tpr.
  • Hill George Edwin. Tpr.
  • Hill JL.
  • Hindle JC.
  • Hird A.
  • Hoddy Herbert . Cpl. (d. )
  • Hogg HR. Tpr.
  • Holmes JH.
  • Hornby J.
  • Horwood WJ.
  • Howard Albert Walter Reginald. Tpr.
  • Howells David John. Tpr. (d.25th September 1944)
  • Howorth John Arthur. Cpl.
  • Hudson Gilbert.
  • Hudspeth R.
  • Hughes TG.
  • Hume A.
  • Humphrey H.
  • Hunt CF.
  • Hunter A.
  • Hunter DR.
  • Hunter W.
  • Hutchinson D.
  • Imrie DW.
  • Ingram FD.
  • Inman Ronald Marsden. Tpr. (d.3rd Mar 1945)
  • Install HW.
  • Jacks E.
  • Jackson H.
  • Jackson RR.
  • James GJG.
  • Jarvie W.
  • Jefferey R.
  • Jenkins BMT.
  • Jenkinson H.
  • Jinks JT.
  • Johnson K.
  • Johnson WMD.
  • Johnston TS.
  • Jolleys JL.
  • Jones A.
  • Jones KR. Cpl.
  • Jones R .
  • Kay J.
  • Kay JC.
  • Keith DG.
  • Kelly L.
  • Kemp GW.
  • Kemp H .
  • Kemp JA.
  • Kemp RG.
  • Kenyon Frank. Tpr.
  • Kerr AG.
  • Kerrigan J.
  • Kew Douglas. S/Sgt.
  • Kincaid G.
  • King CD. L/Cpl.
  • Kinghorn DMR.
  • Kircher F.
  • Kirk L. Sgt.
  • Kitchen G.
  • Kyte Ernest Reginald John. Cpl. (d.24th Jun 1944)
  • Ladds DN. A.Sgt.
  • Laing AWL.
  • Lamb J.
  • Lambert . Sgt.
  • Lambert M.
  • Landells W.
  • Lapish JC.
  • Larkman William. Tpr.
  • Laurie AK.
  • Lavis WJ.
  • Lawley Walter.
  • Lee AG.
  • Lee Bryan.
  • Legg WJ.
  • Leiper A.
  • Lewis WF. Tpr.
  • Liddle JE.
  • Liddle W.
  • Lindsay R. Tpr.
  • Little A. Cpl.
  • Lomas Frank.
  • Longson J.
  • Low A.
  • Luke J.
  • Lyall D.
  • Lynch RV.
  • Lyne FG.
  • Lynn SM.
  • Macaulay A.
  • Macdonald JR. Cpl.
  • Macgibbon D.
  • Machin WA.
  • Maddock E.
  • Mallett William John. Capt.
  • Marrion J.
  • Marsh E.
  • Martin RH.
  • Martin S.
  • Mason CR.
  • Mason J.
  • Matthewson AJK.
  • Mcclelland JSTP.
  • McClure Roy. Cpl.
  • McKeon Thomas Peter. Sgt. (d.2nd September 1943)
  • Mcmanus R.
  • Mcwilliams CG. L/Cpl.
  • Miller James Douglas.
  • Moody AC. L/Cpl.
  • Moody DT.
  • Moore NA.
  • Moore William Jesse. Cpl. (d.24th June 1944)
  • Morgan Ernest. Trooper
  • Morris AE.
  • Mortimer N. Tpr.
  • Moss PF.
  • Moss William Richard. Sgt. (d.6th June 1944)
  • Mouland WC.
  • Mould RE.
  • Mount WE.
  • Murty Thomas Taylor. Sgt.
  • Myers E.
  • Myers SB.
  • Neilson David John. Sgt.
  • Nesbit J.
  • Newboult FV.
  • Newman RH.
  • Newman Ronald Harold. (d.10th Feb 1944)
  • Newton John. Tpr. (d.12th June 1945)
  • Nicholls Hugh. Pte.
  • Noakes Robert Henry. Tpr.
  • Nock B.
  • Norris Kenneth Raymond.
  • North J.
  • Nursaw Gordon F.
  • O'donnell RH.
  • O'hara FW.
  • O'shea JP.
  • Oakley T.
  • Oldfield J.
  • Oldham G.
  • Ollerenshaw A.
  • Olpin Francis Arthur Edward.
  • Ormerod F.
  • Osman Charles Arthur George. L/Sgt.
  • Owens T.
  • Page Ron.
  • Pankhurst WL.
  • Parkinson P .
  • Parsons Eric Carl. Trpr. (d.25th June 1944)
  • Pascoe WG.
  • Passmore W C. L/Cpl.
  • Paterson AG.
  • Paterson EAB.
  • Paterson I.
  • Patrick AW.
  • Pavey Robert.
  • Payne A.
  • Payne GR.
  • Pearman Arthur Edward. Tpr.
  • Peel Peter Frederick. L.Sgt.
  • Pegg Frederick Albert. Sgt. (d.13th Feb 1944)
  • Pennington Harold. Pte.
  • Perry RG.
  • Pester JW.
  • Pickford Gordon Maitland. Sgt. (d.16th August 1944)
  • Pilling SH.
  • Plews William Arthur. Sgt.
  • Plunkett T. Sgt.
  • Porter JA. Cpl.
  • Powell AH.
  • Powell David George. Sgt.
  • Pring Thomas John. Sgt. (d.18th Oct 1943)
  • Prior Thomas. Sgt. (d.31st May 1943)
  • Pritchard Albert Edmond. Sgt. (d.14th August 1944)
  • Protheroe RG.
  • Randall John. Tpr.
  • Rankin F. L.. Lt.Col
  • Readman F.
  • Reid G.
  • Reid JS.
  • Reynolds Harry. L/Cpl.
  • Richards JG. A.WO2
  • Richards JG.
  • Richardson Edward. L/Cpl. (d.24th May 1944)
  • Rightford Bernard Edward. Capt.
  • Riley E.
  • Rimmington A.
  • Ritchie AM.
  • Ritchie AW.
  • Ritchie DBA.
  • Robertson G.
  • Robinson Arthur Wilfred. Pte.
  • Rockett Francis William C..
  • Rodgerson EJ.
  • Rodwell JEA.
  • Roe William Nicholas. (d.21st August 1943)
  • Rolfe Henry James. Trpr.
  • Rollinson Ernest Arthur John. Cpl.
  • Rosser T.
  • Rubbins Geoffrey. Tpr. (d.23rd Nov 1942)
  • Salter William Frederick George. L/Cpl
  • Sancto HW.
  • Sanderson John Joseph.
  • Sanderson R.
  • Scoble W.
  • Scott TG.
  • Selby J.
  • Sellman Ernest Leonard. Tpr. (d.24th June 1944)
  • Shaw JJ.
  • Shedwick E.
  • Sheret T.
  • Simmonds Walter. L/Cpl.
  • Simpson George Robert Wilfred.
  • Sinclair GWJ.
  • Singleton WJ.
  • Skelson A.
  • Sklair S.
  • Slack H.
  • Sleet AR.
  • Smith A.
  • Smith CB.
  • Smith Donald Eric. Capt.
  • Smith Frank Edward. Tpr. (d.4th Feb 1942)
  • Smith FS.
  • Smith JD.
  • Smith LF.
  • Smith N.
  • Smith PA.
  • Smith R.
  • Smith S.
  • Smith SG.
  • Smith Thomas Gwynn. Tpr.
  • Smith Thomas. Tpr.
  • Snook Herbert Sidney. Capt. (d.21st April 1945)
  • Snowball EH.
  • Somerfield EP.
  • Spence Arthur.
  • Stackhouse WR. Cpl.
  • Stalley MA.
  • Stanley E. Cpl.
  • Stanley JF.
  • Steele F.
  • Steele G.
  • Stevens Adam Topping. Tpr.
  • Stevenson J.
  • Stewart J. L/Cpl.
  • Studley Alan Vernon. Sgt.
  • Sugden L.
  • Sutcliffe BT.
  • Sweeting EW.
  • Taylor Frank Verdun . L/Cpl.
  • Taylor H B.
  • Taylor Jonathan. Trpr. (d.8th May 1943)
  • Templeman W. Tpr.
  • Thomas Arthur. Tpr.
  • Thomas JA.
  • Thompson RM.
  • Thorpe Arthur. Sgt.
  • Todd AE.
  • Tovey FA. Tpr.
  • Trask EJ.
  • Trawley Sidney Henry. L/Cpl.
  • Treacher OA.
  • Tune RM.
  • Turner AB.
  • Turton W.
  • Urquhart JD.
  • Wade Frederick William. Sergeant
  • Wade Frederick Francis William. Sgt.
  • Walker E.
  • Walker FG.
  • Walker J.
  • Wallace Ronald. Tpr. (d.27th Sep 1944)
  • Walls IG.
  • Walmsley J.
  • Walton James.
  • Ward JP.
  • Ward ND.
  • Watson JJ.
  • Watson S.
  • Weller Arthur William. Cpl.
  • Westwall AB.
  • Wheal Frederick Francis. Trpr.
  • Wheatley Leonard. (d.15th March 1943)
  • White JC.
  • Whiteoak J.
  • Whitling GW.
  • Whitmore S.
  • Williams JA. Tpr.
  • Wilson J.
  • Womersley D.
  • Woodgate Thomas Mark. Tpr
  • Yeadon N.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List


History of March Air Reserve Base

The story of March Field began at a time when the United States was rushing to build up its military forces in anticipation of an entry into World War I. News from the front in Europe had not been good as it explained for those at home the horror and boundless human misery associated with stalemated trench warfare. Several European news sources reported significant German efforts at this time to build a fleet of flying machines that could well alter the nature of modern warfare and possibly carry the war to the skies. In response, Congressional appropriations in early 1917 in the neighborhood of $640,000,000 attempted to back the plans of General George O. Squier, the Army's chief signal officer, to "put the Yankee punch into the war by building an army in the air." At the same time the War Department announced its intentions to build several new military installations. Efforts by Mr. Frank Miller, then owner of the Mission Inn in Riverside, Hiram Johnson and other California notables, succeeded in gaining War Department approval to construct an airfield at Alessandro Field located near Riverside, an airstrip used by aviators from Rockwell Field on cross-country flights from San Diego. A parade in Riverside on February 9, 1918, gave notice than an army flying field would soon be coming to Riverside.

The Army wasted no time in establishing a new airfield. Sergeant Charles E. Garlick, who had landed at Alessandro Field in a "Jenny" in November, 1917, was selected to lead the advance contingent of four men to the new base from Rockwell Field. On February 26, 1918, Garlick and his crew and a group of mule skinners from nearby Colton, known to be experts in clearing land as well as for their colorful syntax, began the task of excavating the building foundations at Alessandro. On March 20, 1918, Alessandro Flying Training Field became March Field, named in honor of Second Lieutenant Peyton C. March, Jr., son of the Army Chief of Staff, who had been killed in a flying accident in Texas the previous month. By late April, 1918, enough progress had been made in the construction of the new field to allow the arrival of the first troops. The commander of the 818 Aero Squadron detachment, Captain William Carruthers, took over as the field's first commander and for a time operated out of an office in the Mission Inn. Within a record 60 days the grain stubble-covered plain of Moreno Valley had been partially transformed to include 12 hangers, six barracks equipped for 150 men each, mess halls, a machine shop, a post exchange, a hospital, a supply depot, an aero repair building, bachelor officer's quarters and a residence for the commanding officer. On May 15 when the first JN-4D "Jenny" took off, March Field seemed to have come into its own as a training installation. The signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, did not halt training at March Field initially but by 1921, the decision had been made to phase down all activities at the new base in accordance with sharply reduced military budgets. In April, 1923, March Field closed its doors with one sergeant left in charge.

March Field remained quiet for only a short time. In July, 1926, Congress created the Army Air Corps and approved the Army's five-year plan which called for an expansion in pilot training and the activation of tactical units. Accordingly, funds were appropriated for the reopening of March Field in March of 1927. Colonel William C. Gardenhire, assigned to direct the refurbishment of the base, had just directed his crews to replace underpinnings of many of the previous buildings when he received word the future construction would be in Spanish Mission architectural design. In time, March Field would receive permanent structures. The rehabilitation effort was nearly complete in August, 1927, when Major Millard F. Harmon reported in to take over the job of base commander and commandant of the flying school. Classes began shortly after his arrival. In the months ahead Air Force leaders such as Hoyt Vandenberg, Nathan Twining, Thomas Power and Curtis LeMay completed their initial flight training at March Field. The base, however, was about to enter a new era.

As March Field began to take on the appearance of a permanent military installation, the base's basic mission changed. When Randolph Field began to function as a training site in 1931, March Field became an operational base. Before the end of the year, the 7th Bomb Group, commanded by Major Carl A. Spaatz, brought its Condor B-2 and Keystone B-4 bombers to the picturesque field. The activation of the 17th Pursuit Group and several subordinate units along with the arrival of the 1st Bombardment Wing initiated a period where March Field became associated with the Air Corp's heaviest aircraft as well as an assortment of fighters. In the decade before World War II, March Field took on much of its current appearance. It also became more than a place hard to find on aerial maps of Southern California. Lieutenant Colonel Henry H. (Hap) Arnold, base commander from 1931 to 1936, changed this. Through well-publicized maneuvers to Yosemite, Death Valley and other sites in California, a visit by Governor James Rolph in March 1932, numerous visits by Hollywood celebrities including Bebe Daniels, Wallace Berry, Rochelle Hudson and others, and visits by famous aviators including Amelia Earhart, March Field gained prominence. Articles in Los Angeles newspapers kept March Field in the news and brought to it considerable public attention. The completion of the first phase of permanent buildings in 1934 added to the scenic quality of the base. This was also a period of outstanding achievements in test flights and other contributions to the new science of aviation. Dusty March Field had come a long way in one decade. The attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 quickly brought March Field back into the business of training air crews. Throughout the war many soon-to-be-famous bombardment groups performed their final training at March before embarking for duty in the Pacific. During this period the base doubled in area and at the zenith of the war effort supported approximately 75,000 troops. At the same time, the government procured a similar-sized tract west of the San Diego highway that bordered the base and established Camp Haan as an anti-aircraft artillery training facility. It supported 85,000 troops at the height of its activity. For a time, March Field remained a bust place indeed. In 1946, Camp Haan became a part of March's real estate holding when operations at the base returned to a more normal setting.

After the war, March reverted to its operational role and became a Tactical Air Command base. The main unit, the famed 1st Fighter Wing, brought the first jet aircraft, the F-80, to the base. This deviation from the traditional bombardment training and operations functions did not long endure. In 1949, March became a part of the relatively new Strategic Air Command. Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force along with the 33d Communications Squadron moved to March from Colorado Springs in the same year. Also in 1949, the 22d Bombardment Wing moved from Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas to March. Thereafter, these three units remained as dominant features of base activities.

From 1949 to 1953, the B-29 Superfortresses dominated the flightline at March Air Force Base. For four months, July to October, the 22d saw action over Korea and in this brief period, contributed to the elimination of all strategic enemy targets. Involvement in the Korean Conflict had no sooner ended when the wing converted from the huge propeller-driven B-29s to the sleek B-47 jet bombers and their supporting tankers, the KC-97s. The KC-97s belonging to the 17th and 22d Air Refueling Squadrons represented an amazing jump in technology. Planes and crews from March began breaking altitude and distance records. The new refueling planes introduced a significant advance in operational range. Overall operational capability could now be measured in global terms. This had been demonstrated earlier when General Archie Old, the Fifteenth Air Force commander, had led a flight of three B-52s in a non-stop around-the-world flight termed "Power Flight" in just 45 hours and 19 minutes. Ceremonies upon their arrival at March on January 18, 1957, emphasized the global reach of the Strategic Air Command.

In 1960, the first Reserve unit was assigned to March, flying C-119s. The end of the 1960s saw March Air Force Base preparing to exchange its B-47s and KC-97s for updated bombers and tankers. Increasing international tensions in Europe and elsewhere by September 16, 1963, brought March its first B-52B bomber, "The City of Riverside." Soon 15 more of the giant bombers appeared on the flightline along with new KC-135 jet "Stratotankers." March's first KC-135, "The Mission Bell" arrived on October 4, 1963. For the next twenty years this venerable team would dominate the skies over what had come to be called the Inland Empire as the 22d Bombardment Wing played a feature role in the Strategic Air Command's mission.

During this period both tankers and bombers stood alert at March as part of America's nuclear deterrent force. The might of March's bombers and tankers, however, were soon to be used in quite another scenario. During the conflict in Southeast Asia, the 22d Bombardment Wing deployed its planes several times and March crews learned well the meaning behind such names as Young Tiger, Rolling Thunder, Arc Light and Linebacker II. In these troubled years the base served as a logistical springboard for supplies and equipment en route to the Pacific. Near the end of the conflict, March operated as one of the reception centers for returning prisoners of war.

Following the end of hostilities in Southeast Asia, the 22d returned to its duties as an integral part of the Strategic Air Command. For the next eighteen years until 1982, March effectively supported America's defensive posture. The occurred through several post-Vietnam adjustments. One of these brought the retirement of the wing's last B-52 on November 9, 1982. This event signaled yet another era for March Air Force Base and for the 22d. The 22d
Bombardment Wing , so long a key ingredient in March's long history, would become an air refueling wing with the new KC-10 tanker. The new tankers, able to accomplish considerably more than the KC-135s, promised a new tomorrow for the Strategic Air Command. Within months after the first KC-10 arrived at March on August 11, 1982, crews quickly realized the ability of the new aircraft to carry cargo and passengers as well as impressive fuel loads over long distances. Air refueling for March Air Force Base had entered a new age. The California Air National Guard also arrived in 1982, bringing with them the F-4C's.

Beginning in the early 1980s the KC-10 became the vehicle carrying March Air Force Base into a new technological epoch. The large KC-10s with their versatility and their dependability again gave the base a featured part in America's efforts to retain a strong and flexible military air arm. The utter importance of the KC-10s in conventional operations became a particularly apparent during Desert Shield and Desert Storm where their outstanding service contributed measurably to the success of American forces in the defense of Saudi Arabia and the liberation of Kuwait.

In 1993, March Air Force Base was selected for realignment. In August 1993, the 445th Airlift Wing transferred to March from Norton AFB, Calif. On January 3, 1994, the 22d Air Refueling Wing was transferred to McConnell AFB, Kansas, and the 722d Air Refueling Wing stood up
at March. As part of the Air Force's realignment and transition, March's two Reserve units, the 445th Airlift Wing and the 452d Air refueling Wing were deactivated and their personnel and equipment joined under the 452d Air Mobility Wing on April 1, 1994.

On April 1, 1996, March officially became March Air Reserve Base. From the dusty stubble that once was Alessandro Flying Strip to today, March, for over 70 years, has been a key element in the advance of aviation and in the growth of the modern Air Force. As the Air Force restructures and prepares for new challenges, March seems destined to remain as an important base for the air operations of tomorrow.


21 March 1943 - History

Battle of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February &ndash 26 March 1945), or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States Armed Forces fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the . More Japanese Empire. The American invasion had the goal of capturing the entire island, including its three airfields (including South Field and Central Field), to provide a staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands. This five-week battle comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific of World War II.

After the heavy losses incurred in the battle, the strategic value of the island became controversial. It was useless to the U.S. Army as a staging base and useless to the U.S. Navy as a fleet base. However, Navy SEABEES rebuilt the landing strips, which were used as emergency landing strips for USAAF B-29s.

The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a dense network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 mi) of underground tunnels. The Americans on the ground were supported by extensive naval artillery and complete air supremacy over Iwo Jima from the beginning of the battle by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators.

Iwo Jima was the only battle by the U.S. Marine Corps in which the Japanese combat deaths were thrice those of the Americans throughout the battle. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. The majority of the remainder were killed in action, although it has been estimated that as many as 3,000 continued to resist within the various cave systems for many days afterwards, eventually succumbing to their injuries or surrendering weeks later.

Despite the bloody fighting and severe casualties on both sides, the Japanese defeat was assured from the start. Overwhelming American superiority in arms and numbers as well as complete control of air power &mdash coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement &mdash permitted no plausible circumstance in which the Americans could have lost the battle.

Battle of Bougainville
After New Georgia, the next major operation was an invasion of the island of Bougainville, which was approached by landings at Mono and Stirling in the Treasury Islands on October 25-27, 1943. A Marin . More e division landed on the west coast of Bougainville at Empress Augusta Bay on November 1, 1943. The Marines were followed within the month by an Army division and replaced in the next month by another Army division.

It was late November before the beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay was secure. This beachhead was all that was needed, and no attempt was made to capture the entire island. Allied planes neutralized enemy airfields in the northern part of the island, and the Allied command made use of its naval and air superiority to contain the Japanese garrison on Bougainville and cut its supply line to Rabaul by occupying the Green Islands (February 14, 1944).

Battle of Guam (1944)
Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge for an attacker. But despite the obstacles, on 21 July, the Americans landed on both sides of the Orote peninsula on the . More western side of Guam, planning to cut off the airfield. The 3rd Marine Division landed near Agana to the north of Orote at 08:28, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agat to the south. Japanese artillery sank 20 LVTs, and inflicted heavy casualties on the Americans, especially on the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, but by 09:00 men and tanks were ashore at both beaches. The 77th Infantry Division had a more difficult landing. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where they were dropped by their landing craft. The men stationed in the two beachheads were pinned down by heavy Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow.

US Marines move inland.
By nightfall, the Americans had established beachheads about 6,600 feet (2,000 m) deep.[1] Japanese counterattacks were made throughout the first few days of the battle, mostly at night, using infiltration tactics. Several times, they penetrated the American defenses and were driven back with heavy loss of men and equipment. Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina was killed on 28 July, and Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata took over the command of the defenders.

Supply was very difficult[2] for the Americans in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce. However, the two beachheads were joined up on 25 July, and the Orote airfield and Apra harbor were captured by 30 July.

The counterattacks against the American beachheads, as well as the fierce fighting, had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August, they were running out of food and ammunition and had only a handful of tanks left. Obata withdrew his troops from the south of Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central and northern part of the island. But with resupply and reinforcement impossible because of American control of the sea and air around Guam, he could hope to do no more than delay the inevitable defeat for a few days.