Motto: Aut Vincere Aut Mori - Conquer or Die. (Approved 10 Feb 1924.)
 
1st Fighter Group
 
Honor Roll

(For research: The 1ST.FG IN OPERATION TORCH

Even though the defense of the US west coast initially took priority, plans were made in the spring of 1942 to deploy Lightning squadrons to Britain. This deployment caused logistical problems, since the U-boat menace made shipping across the Atlantic quite risky. However, development by Lockheed of reliable drop tanks for the P-38F-1-LO increased the ferry range from 1300 to 2200 miles. Test pilot Milo Burcham actually demonstrated a maximum range of over 3100 miles. This made it possible to ferry the Lightnings from Maine to the UK via Goose Bay, Labrador to Bluie West One (Greenland) to Reykjavik, Iceland and finally to Prestwick, Scotland. Following the victory at Midway, the USAAF felt sufficiently confident that the Japanese fleet was not about to show up off Santa Barbara that they decided to re-deploy the 1st and 14th Fighter (renamed from Pursuit in May 1942) Groups to Britain. By August 1942, 81 P-38Fs of four of the six squadrons of the 1st and 14th Fighter Groups had arrived in Great Britain to complete the first transatlantic crossing by single-seat fighters. Two other Lightning squadrons (the 27th and the 50th) were held over in Iceland to assist the Curtiss P-40Cs of the 33rd Fighter Squadron in the flying of defensive patrols over the Atlantic. On August 14, 1942, a P-38F flown by 2nd Lieut Elza Shaham shared with a P-40C in the destruction of a Focke- Wulf FW-200C-3 to obtain the first victory over a Luftwaffe aircraft.

After flying 347 practice and sweep sorties during which there was no contact with the Luftwaffe, the 1st, 14th and 82nd Fighter Groups were transferred to the 12th Air Force in North Africa. While in transit from Britain to Algeria, pilots of the 82nd Fighter Group were credited with the destruction of two Ju-88 bombers over the Bay of Biscay. The Lightnings were soon in regular combat in the North African theatre. The first of these took place on November 19, 1942 when the P-38Fs of the 1st Fighter Group escorted B-17s on a bombing raid on the El Aouina airfield at Tunis. The three P-38 groups contributed a great deal toward the establishment of local air superiority in the area. On April 5, 1943, 26 P-38Fs of the 82nd Fighter Group claimed the destruction of 31 enemy aircraft as against the loss of six Lightnings. In these air battles, mixed success was obtained Because of the tactics of the enemy, the Lightnings were forced to fight at lower altitudes of 15,000 feet, and in battles against fighters it was not entirely successful. The twin engines restricted maneuverability to some extent and the Lightning had a wheel control instead of the conventional stick, which may also have restricted maneuverability. Nevertheless, the Lightning was effective against bombers and had a sensational zoom climb that could rarely be matched. It wreaked great havoc among Rommel's air transport well out to sea, earning for itself the German nickname "der Gabelschwanz Teufel"--the Fork-Tailed Devil.

09 November 1942: (From above source) We took off from England, flew nine hours and fifteen minutes with a Martin B-26 as a mother ship to guide us. Sitting that long strapped in the seat of a P-38 is bad enough. But in this flight an even worse strain was not knowing whether we would have to shoot our way into the airfield at Oran where we were going to land. Fortunately, the field had surrendered to our troops..." -- Capt. Newell Roberts, 94th.FS*

The 1st.FG arrived in Tafaroui, Algeria having only lost one 27th.FS pilot over the Atlantic and two 94th.FS pilots (Squadron CO Capt. James Harmon and Lt. Jack Ilfrey,) who had made emergency landings in Portugal. Both Harmon and Ilfey later rejoined their squadron at a later time.

On 20 November the three squadrons dispersed to airfields behind the front, the 71st. Cragmore,   moved to Maison Blanche10 Sep 1942, The group received new ID letters and call signs. The 27th carried HV codes and the call sign "Petdog" while the 94th used UN, call sign "Springcap." The 71st used LM codes and the call sign assigned to them was "Cragmore."
 

The 94th, Hat in the Ring,  to Youks-les-Bains, Pilots of the 94th Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, 15th USAAF, were following a rail line south from Strakonice, Czechoslovakia, to Passau, Austria, when they sighted a freight train approximately one mile north of Vimperk (Winterberg). As this run is not confirmed in local records (as far as I can tell) I have to count on documents available in the AFHRA (thanks for the copy to Mr. Jim Graham, a former member of the 1st FG). Lt Long claimed a locomotive destroyed, Lt Eberhardt and Lt Parker each three cars damaged and two more were hit by Lt Griffith.

Source: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 94th Fighter Squadron  1st Fighter Group, Narrative Mission Report No. 1333  2 April 1945

The 27th.,Black Falcons, along with the Group HQ in Navion. While this provided a larger area of coverage it also made the already poor supply situation worsen.)

Stations

Source: http://www.armyaircorps.us/1st_Fighter_Group.cfm

Stations. Toul, France, 5 May 1918; Touquin, France, 28 Jun 1918;
Saints, France, 9 Jul 1918; Rembercourt, France, c. 1 Sep 1918;
Colombey-les-Belles, France, c. 9-24 Dec 1918. Selfridge Field, Mich, 22 Aug
1919; Kelly Field, Tex, c. 31 Aug 1919; Ellington Field, Tex, 1 Jul 1921;
Selfridge Field, Mich, 1 Jul 1922; San Diego NAS, Calif, 9 Dec 1941; Los
Angeles, Calif, 1 Feb-May 1942; 

 

Goxhill, England, 10 Jun 1942; 

 

FRIDAY, 3 JULY 1942, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO) (8th Air Force): 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group based at Goxhill, England, begins operating from Reykjavik, Iceland with P-38s.

SUNDAY, 9 AUGUST 1942, ETO (8th AF): Unit moves in England: HQ 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy) to Chelveston from the US; 27th Fighter Squadron from Goxhill to Atcham (the squadron is operating their P-38s from Reykjavik, Iceland).

 

TUESDAY, 11 AUGUST 1942, ETO (8th AF): Referring to Operation TORCH (plans for the invasion of N Africa in Nov 42), Major General Carl Spaatz informs General Henry H "Hap" Arnold that, in his opinion, the UK remains the only base from which air supremacy over Germany can be established.

 

THURSDAY, 20 AUGUST 1942, ETO (8th AF): The principle of coordinated day and night bombing receives its first formal definition in the "Joint British/American Directive on Day Bomber Operations involving Fighter Cooperation." The emphasis is placed on achieving continuity in the bombing offensive from the UK. Mission 3: 11 of 12 B-17s bomb Amiens/Longeau marshalling yard, France at 1801 hours without loss. Unit moves in England: 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, from Atcham to High Ercall (the squadron is operating from Reykjavik, Iceland with P-38s); 352d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy) to Podington from the US with B-17s (first mission is 5 Sep).

 

Ibsley, England, 24 Aug 1942; 

 

MONDAY 24 AUGUST 1942, ETO (8th AF): Mission 5: 12 of 12 B-17s bomb the shipyard of Ateliers et Chantiers Maritime de la Seine at Le Trait, France; 3 B-17s are damaged and 5 airmen are WIA. Major General Carl Spaatz reports the the RAF attitude towards US daylight precision bombing seems to be changing from one of skepticism to one of tentative approval. Unit moves in England: HQ 6th Fighter Wing from Bushey Hall to Atcham; HQ 1st Fighter Group and 71st Fighter Squadron from Goxhill to Ibsley with P-38s (first mission is 1 Sep); 307th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group, from Biggin Hill to Merston.

 

TUESDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 1942, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO, 8th Air Force): The "Joint British American Directive on Day Bomber Operations Involving Fighter Cooperation" is issued; worked out between Major General Carl Spaatz and the RAF, it consigns night bombing to the RAF and day bombing to the Eighth Air Force; the purpose is to achieve continuity in the bombing offensive and secure RAF fighter support for US bombers; General Spaatz orders all tactical operations to give way to activity in support of Operation TORCH (plan for Allied landings in N and NW Africa in Nov 42); processing of units of the newly created Twelfth Air Force destined for N Africa takes priority over combat operations for the present. In England, HQ 3d Photographic Group arrives at Membury from the US; 342d and 414th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy), 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy), move from Grafton Underwood to Polebrook with B-17s.

 

SATURDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 1942, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO) 8th Air Force: HQ VIII Air Force Composite Command arrives in Ireland and is temporarily stationed at Long Kesh, County Down. Following units arrive in England from the US: HQ 3d Bombardment Wing at Elveden Hall; HQ 4th Bombardment Wing at Camp Lynn but soon loses its personnel to the XII Bomber Command and is not manned again until Jan 43; HQ 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) at Kimbolton; HQ 303d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 358th, 359th, 360th and 427th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Molesworth with B-17s (first mission 17 Nov); HQ 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 366th and 422d Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Grafton Underwood with B-17s (first mission 17 Nov); 66th and 68th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy), 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) at Cheddington with B-24s (first mission is 7 Nov). In England, HQ 4th Fighter Group and 334th, 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons are activated at Bushey Hall with Spitfires to be manned by US pilots who formerly flew with the RAF Eagle Squadrons; and the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, moves from High Ercall to Colerne with P-38s (first mission is 2 Oct). Twelfth Air Force: The following units arrive in England from the US: HQ Twelfth Air Force, XII Fighter Command and XII Air Force Services Command; HQ 319th Bombardment Group (Medium) and 437th, 438th, 439th and 440th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) at Shipdham with B-26s (first mission 28 Nov); HQ 320th Bombardment Group (Medium) and 441st, 442d and 443d Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) at Hethel with B-26s (first mission 22 Apr)

 

MONDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 1942, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO) 8th Air Force: After the transfer of the combat unit to the Twelfth Air Force (see below), the combat units assigned to the Eighth are: HQ 3d Photographic Group and 5th, 12th, 13th and 14th Photographic Squadrons and 15th Photographic Mapping Squadron with F-4s, F-5s and B-17Fs; HQ 4th Fighter Group and 334th, 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons at Steeple Morden with Spitfire Vs; HQ 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 66th, 67th and 68th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Cheddington with B-24s; HQ 67th Observation Group and 12th, 107th, 109th and 153d Observation Squadrons at Membury with no aircraft; HQ 91st Bombardment Group and 322d, 323d, 324th and 401st Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Kimbolton with B-17Fs; HQ 92d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 325th, 326th, 327th and 407th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Bovingdon with B-17Fs; HQ 93d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 328th, 329th, 330th and 409th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Alconbury with B-24Ds; HQ 303d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 358th, 359th, 360th and 427th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Molesworth with B-17Fs; HQ 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 364th, 365th, 366th and 422d Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Grafton Underwood with B-17Fs; and HQ 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 367th, 368th, 369th and 423d Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Thurleigh with B-17Fs. Twelfth Air Force: HQ Twelfth AF, XII Fighter Command, XII Air Force Services Command, and XII Bomber Command are attached to corresponding units of the Eighth AF in the UK; The Eighth subsequently handles the buildup of the Twelfth by assigning a large number of its own units to the new AF (appropriately dubbed JUNIOR) and supervises its training. The following combat units are transferred from the Eighth to Twelfth Air Force: HQ 1st Fighter Group and 27th, 71st and 94th Fighter Squadrons at Ibsley and High Ercall with P-38Fs; HQ 14th Fighter Group and 48th and 49th Fighter Squadrons at Atcham with P-38Fs; HQ 31st Fighter Group and 307th, 308th and 309th Fighter Squadrons at Westhampnett with Spitfire Vs; HQ 52d Fighter Group and 2d, 4th and 5th Fighter Squadrons at Goxhill with Spitfire Vs; HQ 60th Troop Carrier Group and 10th, 11th, 12th and 28th Troop Carrier Squadrons at Aldermaston with C-47s; HQ 64th Troop Carrier Group and 16th, 17th, 18th and 35th Troop Carrier Squadrons at Ramsbury with C-47s; HQ 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 340th, 341st, 342d and 414th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) at Polebrook with B-17Fs; HQ 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 32d, 352d, 353d and 419th Bombardment Squadrons at Chelveston with B-17Fs; and 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light) at Podington with DB-7s.

 

FRIDAY, 23 OCTOBER 1942, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO) Twelfth Air Force: The 27th and 71st Fighter Squadrons, 1st Fighter Group, and 308th and 309th Fighter Squadrons, 31st Fighter Group, begin the move from the UK to N Africa

SATURDAY, 24 OCTOBER 1942, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO) Twelfth Air Force: The 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, begins the move from the UK to N Africa

 

 

Tafaraoui, Algeria, 13 Nov 1942; 

 

SUNDAY, 8 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): The invasion of N Africa (Operation TORCH) begins. In French Morocco, C-47s of the 60th Troop Carrier Group attempting to land troops at La Senia Airfield find the French unexpectedly hostile and have several aircraft shot down by fighters and AA; several other C-47s are damaged when trying to land on the dry lakebed of Sebkra d'Oran. Spitfires of the 31st Fighter Group, flying from Gibraltar into Tafaraoui Airfield, Algeria during the afternoon of D-Day, claim 3 hostile French fighters destroyed. In Algeria, the following units arrive at Tafaraoui Airfield from the UK: HQ XII Fighter Command, HQ 31st Fighter Group, HQ 60th Troop Carrier Group and 10th, 11th and 12th Troop Carrier Squadrons with C-47s, air echelon of 2d, 4th and 5th Fighter Squadrons, 52d Fighter Group with Spitfires, and the 308th and 309th Fighter Squadrons, 31st Fighter Group, with Spitfires; the 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, arrives at St Leu from the UK with P-38s. In French Morocco during Nov 42, HQ 5th Bombardment Wing and HQ 7th Fighter Wing arrive at Casablanca from the US.

 

MONDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): In Algeria, Spitfires of the 31st Fighter Group attack and halt an armored column moving N toward Tafaraoui, and also attack artillery and AA batteries SE of Tafaraoui and along the coastal road; at 1605 hours, Major General James H Doolittle, Commanding General Twelfth AF, arrives in Algeria from Gibraltar by B-17, escorted by 12 Spitfires from the 52d Fighter Group; HQ Twelfth AF arrives in Algeria from the UK; HQ 52d Fighter Group arrives at Tafaraoui from the UK; the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group arrives at St Leu with P-38s; the 307th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group arrives at Tafaraoui with Spitfires. In French Morocco, HQ XII Air Support Command arrives from the US; HQ 68th Observation Group and the 16th and 122d Observation Squadron arrive at Casablanca and Fedala respectively from the US with A-20s and P-39s. 9 Nov 1942, 1st FG ground element wades ashore in Arzew, Algeria. Sniper fire harasses them for the next several days, and Sgt Loren Eck, 71st, is wounded. They were also strafed by "friendly" planes, which had landed at the nearby airport thinking it was in allied hands. The French, who had not yet decided which side they were on, simply refueled these planes and sent out with their own pilots to harass the "enemy."

 

 

FRIDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): HQ 1st Fighter Group arrives at Tafaraoui from the UK. The 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, moves from St Leu to Tafaraoui with P-38s

SATURDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): the 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group moves from St Leu to Tafaraoui with P-38s

SUNDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): In Algeria, C-47s fly an airborne operation from Algiers to Youks-le-Bains; escort is provided at intervals by Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfires and Hurricanes. British First Army ground forces reach Tunisia at Taberka; the following units arrive at Tafaraoui from the UK: HQ 14th Fighter Group; HQ 62d Troop Carrier Group and the 4th and 7th Troop Carrier Squadrons with C-47s; the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, with P-38s.

WEDNESDAY, 26 AUGUST 1942, ETO (8th AF): Unit moves in England: HQ 52d Fighter Group and 2d, 4th and 5th Fighter Squadrons from Eglinton, Ireland to Goxhill with Spitfires; 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, stops operating from Reykjavik, Iceland with P-38s and moves to High Ercall.

THURSDAY, 27 AUGUST 1942, ETO (8th AF): Mission 6: 7 of 9 B-17s bomb the shipyards at Rotterdam, The Netherlands at 1740 hours; 3 B-17s are damaged; 1 airman is WIA. 92d Bombardment Group (Heavy) completes nonstop flight of the last of its 4 squadrons from Newfoundland to UK without a loss. A Combat Crew Replacement Center (CCRC), the first in the Eighth Air Force, is established at Bovingdon, England. 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, moves from Kirton in Lindsey to Ibsley, England with P-38s.

 

Nouvion, Algeria, 20 Nov 1942; 

FRIDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): In Algeria during the night of 20/21 Nov, enemy aircraft bomb the harbor and Maison Blanche Airfield at Algiers, destroying several aircraft at the field; HQ 1st Fighter Group and the 27th Fighter Squadron move from Tafaraoui to Nouvion

SATURDAY, 21 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): In Algeria, P-38s of the 1st Fighter Group arrive at Nouvion to replace the 14th Fighter Group in escorting B-17s; during the night of 21/22 Nov enemy aircraft again hit Algiers, damaging several aircraft and destroying a B-17; the 71st and 94th Fighter Squadrons, 1st Fighter Group, move from Tafaraoui to Nouvion

SATURDAY, 28 NOVEMBER 1942, NW AFRICA (Twelfth Air Force): In Tunisia, 35 B-17s of the 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and the newly-arrived 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy) bomb Bizerte airfield and dock area; because of mud, no P-38 escort is provided; 2 B-17s are lost to fighter attacks; B-26s of the newly-arrived 319th Bombardment Group (Medium) bomb oil tanks, warehouses, and rail yards at Sfax, marking the debut of Twelfth AF medium bombers in NW Africa. The 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, moves from Nouvion to Youks-les-Bains, Algeria with P-38s.

Biskra, Algeria, 14 Dec 1942; 

 

Everything in italics is from the amazing site 1st Fighter Group WW2 History

 

11 Jan 43, During an escort mission to Bizerte, Lt William A. Lovell and Lt William H. Wilson of the 94th were killed

12 Jan 43, On a fighter sweep in the Gulf of Gabes, Lt Joseph Smith of the 71st bailed out after the Germans shot down his aircraft. He reportedly died by machine guns firing at his parachute

14 Jan 43, Lt Louis Meyer, 71st, listed as MIA and Lt Ivan Salts, 71st, as killed in action. The 71st lost Lts Dalts(Salts?) and Meyer in combined attack with the 27th against airfields at Sousse and Sfax. Lt Theodore H. Runyon of the 27th bailed out while wounded west of Gabes, Tunisia, and captured

15 Jan 43, Lt Richard W. McWherter, 94th, died during a taxiing-take off accident, caused by the zero visibility brought upon by the blowing dust of Biskra

19 Jan 43, Lt Herbert Gordon, 27th, missing in action

22 Jan 43, The 71st lost two pilots, Lt Alden Landers (KIA) and Lt William Dunn (MIA) during a strafing mission on vehicles on the Ben Gardane road.

Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria, Feb1943; 

SUNDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 1943,WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (Twelfth Air Force): The 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group with P-38s transfers from Biskra, Tunisia to Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria.

14 Feb 43, 15 Pilots flew 15 P-38s from the Lockheed installation in Belfast to Algiers

WEDNESDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 1943, WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (Twelfth Air Force): The 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group with P-38s transfers from Biskra, Algeria to Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria.

22 Feb 43, Capt Clarence R. Rimke, 94th, killed in action. Lt Thomas E. Chambers, 94th, missing in action (became a POW). Pilots who were part of the Bolero operation are given Air Medals. Lt Shahan received Silver Star for victory over Iceland

23 Feb 43, Two days after a hard drive by the Germans through Kasserine pass, the weather cleared enough for the 27th and 94th to strafe through the pass, encountering heavy anti-aircraft fire, from both friendly and enemy forces below, level with, and even above the P-38's low flight path. Of the 12 aircraft sent eight came back. Rimke and Chambers went down in the Pass and two more crash landed behind Allied lines north of Kasserine. Nearly every plane was hit.

24 Feb 43, The group mustered all the P-38s it could for a second day of strafing runs on Kasserine Pass

25 Feb 43, Lt David E. WIlson, 71st, Killed in action in north Africa

3 Mar 43, While on an escort mission to El Aouina, Lt Harry Dowd, 27th was killed in action. Lt William Martin (Martyn?), 27th, was also listed as killed in action

23 Mar 43, Lt Leslie Slater, 27th, shot down and bailed out over the water. Listed as MIA

25 Mar 43, A P-38 captured and flown by an Axis pilot shot down Lt J. C.Harrison "Harold" Lentz of the 94th. Lentz crash landed in a desert canyon in North Africa. After struggling to get out of the cockpit, constantly forgetting what had been attached between him and his aircraft, parachute, throat mic etc., friendly Arabs rescued him. Lt Alden Freng, 27th, was killed in action. Lt Jack Hall, 27th, was listed as MIA

3 Apr 43, Lt. George Means, 71st, didn't return from a weather scouting mission. His body was found with the wreckage of his aircraft the next day and he was buried.

5 Apr 43, While the 71st provided top cover and engaged enemy escort fighters, the 27th, along with the 82nd group jumped an enemy force of 50-75 Ju. 52s, six Ju-87 Stukas, 20 Me. 109s and four FW-190s. The combined Lightning unit destroyed 11 JU. 52s, two 109s and two Stukas. In the melee two 27th pilots were lost, Lt Donald Field (MIA) and Lt Donald Hilgert (KIA). (Lt Newbury, 27 FS, credited with three downing 3 Ju-52s).

17 Apr 43, While escorting B-17s Captain James Harman, the 94th Commanding O downed a Ju.88 but in turn hit and forced to parachute. His parachute had been strafed and Cpt Harmon subsequently killed along with Lt Robert Anderson with the 27th. Lts. Matthews and Lowe both claimed a Ju. 88 and Harold Lentz claimed a probable on both an Me. 109 and an Me. 210

2 May 43, Lt Verne Clarke, 27th FS, killed in action

6 May 43, Lt James Burke (MIA) and Lt Louis Bryson (KIA) of the 27th lost while escorting B-17s to Trapani, Sicily.

10 May 43, While strafing a Sicilian airfield Lt George Burger of the 94th was reported missing (KIA). "Blew up a big airfield near Palermo today with 100 B-17's + 50 P-38's."

14 May 1943, On a dive-bomb/strafing mission in the Cagliari area of Southern Sardinia. Lt Augustus F. Reese of the 94th ended up caught up in a bomb blast and killed. A Shallowater Texas native, Reese AFB in Lubbock Texas was named in his honor

19 May 43, 27th Ace John Wolford was killed in action. "Bombed and strafed Sardinia today."

22 May 43, Lt Donald C. Lowe of the 94th was hit by anti-aircraft fire on a mission to Boca di Falco airfield near Palermo, Sicily. He ended up lost after being forced to bail out over the water (KIA). 

27th pilot J Robert Brits missing in action near Sardinia

25 May 43, 3 missions by the 1st FG today. Five pilots ended up missing after another Bocca di Falco dive bombing attack including XO Capt. Stentz. Lt Stuart Bennet and Lt Alden Freng, 27th, were both killed in action. Lt Jack Hall, 27th, listed as missing. Lt Max Rayburn, 94th, went missing on a separate mission from the others and was wounded in action . Lt Rayburn received serious wounds to the right arm and landed near a hospital in Tunis where he received medical treatment and some helpful advice. "Planes on mission over Sicily got jumped on by twice number. Frankie got 2 + probable. Fisher went into drink out of gas may be lost. 27th pilot from Arlington Mass bailed out + shot in his chute. German was cut in half by 2 P-38's."

31 May 43, Lt George Elkin, and Lt Eldrid Loder, both of the 27th, were killed in action

18 Jun 43, Robert C. Britz, 27th FS, missing in action in the Gulf of Orosei on the east coast of Sardinia, Italy (MACR#19)

20 Jun 43, While the Group escorted B-26 Marauders to Castelvetrano in Sicily, Lts James Cronin (MACR# 312) and Edward O. Esser (MACR# 311), both of the 94th were reported missing after heavy resistance. They ended up as prisoners of war, with Esser reported to have eventually returned to duty.
Lt. Leon Thompson went down (MACR#310) and Herbert McQown was wounded, both were from the 27th. The group accounted for a total of eight 109s in two separate engagements.. Harold Lentz of the 94th alone claimed three in 45 seconds

24 Jun 43, While dive bombing in Sardinia 94th pilot John A. Hay, Lt David N. Conn (27th) and Lt Thurman R. Nielson (27th) went down. Nielson (MACR #105) became a prisoner of war and Hay (MACR #53) and Conn (MACR #56) were reported missing in action.
On the same mission Gilbert Butler found himself stranded from his flight with four Me 109s after him. He remained ahead of the 109s on a run for home even with a left engine shot out. Knowing they would hit him while landing Butler made a 180 and faced his enemies. By "beautiful shooting, accident, luck, or all three" he hit the lead 109 and splashed it. When he turned again for home with three 109s remaining and firing at him Butler rammed rudder and skidded the plane. He turned again and downed a second 109 after which the remaining two "bugged out."

 

Mateur, Tunisia, 29 Jun 1943; 

SUNDAY, 20 JUNE 1943, WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (Northwest African Air Force), The 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group transfers with P-38's from Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria to Mateur, Tunisia.

MONDAY, 28 JUNE 1943, WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (Northwest African Air Force), The 27th and 71st Fighter Squadrons, 1st Fighter Group transfer with P-38's from Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria to Mateur, Tunisia.

TUESDAY, 29 JUNE 1943, WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (Northwest African Air Force), HQ 1st Fighter Group transfers from Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria to Mateur, Tunisia

10 Jul 43, OPERATION HUSKEY began with eight separate strafing and dive bombing missions to eastern, southeastern and central Sicily. Two pilots ended up missing and two pilots killed, Lt. Robert Kuba, a 27th pilot seen to crash into an enemy tank (MACR# 73), and Howard Gilliam from the 94th was listed as MIA (MACR# 111).

11 Jul 43, Dive bombing and strafing continued. Four more pilots ended up missing. Lt Ernest Chapman (71st) and Lt David M. Diamond (71st) collided in mid air over Sicily. Chapman bailed out (MACR# 101) and returned to his unit on the 16th after evasion, but Diamond was listed as MIA (MACR# 109).
On the second pass late in the afternoon anti aircraft fire from tanks hit Lt Dee A. Johnson from the 94th. Johnson managed to keep his plane flying for awhile until he plunged into the sea and was listed as MIA (MACR# 110). Lt Charlie W. Brown, a 27th pilot, bailed out over the target area when he was hit by anti-aircraft fire, resulting in a bizarre encounter with Italian troops, and eventually returned to his unit on 25 August 1943 (MACR# 112).

15 Jul 43, After being ordered to bombard a bridge in Catania, Sicily, Jack Hanton (94th FS) noticed Lt. Robert J. Holcomb flying erratically. Suddenly Holcomb struck Robert W. Boggess, Jr., cutting the two both tail booms and both drove straight into the ground. Holcomb was listed as MIA (MACR# 338) and Boggess was killed (MACR# 337).

5 Aug 43, Lt Harold A. Herr, victim of a malfunctioning compass, strayed far off course and bailed out off the coast of Sardinia (MACR# 347). After three weeks in a dinghy a passing freighter finally picked him up.

10 Aug 43, The 94th suffered losses during a bombing/strafing mission near Bova, Italy with the 71st. Lt Glenn E. Terry, 94th, crashed and exploded on railroad tracks (KIA, MACR# 352), Lt William W. Grieshaber, 94th, caught fire from being hit and crashed (MIA, MACR# 350), Lt Garvin A. Peters, 71st, crashed into the Meditterranean Sea and became a POW (MACR# 348), and Lt. John H. Wilson, 94th, went down in the sea, but eventually returned (MACR# 370). Lt Roger D. Miller, 71st, went down near Ischia island, and eventually returned to his unit (MACR# 372).

25 Aug 43, Major Gorge Rush led the mission to Foggia resulting in over 47 German planes destroyed with only two planes lost from the 1st group alone. Marcel Williams of the 27th bailed out after being hit by flak, Robert Viall of the 71st could not release his belly tanks, forced to leave the formation and never heard from again. For this mission the group received its first Presidential Unit Citation.

28 Aug 43, The group escorted B-26s to Aversa and encountered 25-30 enemy aircraft. The group destroyed three but Lt Basil Rudnick (71 FS - KIA), Lt Russell Winegar (71 FS - POW), Lt Richard Catledge (71 FS - POW, returned), Lt Matthew Warren (71 FS - POW) and Phillips were reported missing. Phillips turned up the next day however, the other three, with the exception of one, Catledge, never did. When Catledge did return in the spring of 1944 he told of his downing, imprisonment, double escape and evasion. He also explained one of the aircraft, piloted by Rudnick, went straight down into the ground. While imprisoned Catledge met David Deisenroth from the 1st.

 

MACR #
Date
A/C Type
Serial #
Group
Squadron
Note
493
430828
P-38G
42-12951
1st Ftr Grp
71st
CATLEDGE, RICHARD E. (POW)
494
430828
P-38G
43-2554
1st Ftr Grp
71st
RUDNICK, BASIL S. (KIA)
498
430828
P-38G
42-15014?
1st Ftr Grp
71st
WINEGAR, RUSSELL (POW)
501
430828
P-38G
43-2327
1st Ftr Grp
71st
WARREN, MATHEW (POW)

 

30 Aug 43, An escort mission protecting B-26s to their target at Aversa marshalling yards. During this time two waves of German fighters challenged the bombers and P-38s in a battle which numbered 75 highly aggressive and persistent aircraft against 44 P-38s. The group ended up with 13 pilots not returning from the mission, and one wounded.

Five from the 94th were lost: Lts John G. Cram (MIA), Ralph E. Peck (MIA), Charles A. Woodward (MIA), David O. Parlett (POW) and Harold D. Rigney (POW). Hal Rigney and David Parlett were captured, escaped and returned to the squadron in the summer of 1944. Lt Jack Pettus was the only #4 man to return.

An interesting fact surrounds the downing of Hal Rigney. Rigney flew in a rear position and noticed a stray P-38 that flew in behind him. The P-38 fired and hit Rigney forcing him to bail out. A captured P-38 flown by a German was the culprit. Burned and bruised, Lt Parlett bailed out into the water where he was picked up and taken prisoner. He shared the same prison with Lt Catledge who was captured two days previously.

The 71st lost five: Lts John Willey (KIA), Clarence Southgard (eventually returned) and Walter Morrison (POW), Lt Ralph Turrentine (KIA- presumed killed in a mid-air collision with German fighters). The 27th lost Lts Harry Warmker (KIA), Clifford Randol (KIA), Jerome Weinberg (KIA) and F/O Donald Deisenroth (POW), and Lt John Husby was wounded in action. This was the greatest loss the Group suffered in a single day thus far (and second only to the 10 Jun 1944 mission) and earned it a second Presidential unit citation.

 

MACR #
Date
A/C Type
Serial #
Group
Squadron
Note
483
430829
P-38G
43-2477
1st Ftr Grp
27th
GRAHAM, Hilliard (MIA -Italy)
495
430830
P-38G
42-12935
1st Ftr Grp
71st
WARMKER, Harry D. (KIA -Med.)
496
430830
P-38G
43-2524
1st Ftr Grp
71st
RANDOL, Clifford E. (KIA -Med.)
497
430830
P-38G
42-12919
1st Ftr Grp
71st
Deisenroth, Donald B.(POW-Med)
499
430830
P-38G
42-13465
1st Ftr Grp
71st
MORRISON, Walter (POW -Italy)
500
430828
P-38G
42-13014
1st Ftr Grp
71st
TURRENTINE, Ralph (KIA-Italy)
521
430830
P-38G
42-13412
1st Ftr Grp
71st
PECK, Ralph (MIA -Italy)
522
430830
P-38G
43-2510
1st Ftr Grp
71st
PARLETT, David O (MIA -Italy)
523
430830
P-38G
42-13258
1st Ftr Grp
71st
WOODARD, Chas. A (MIA -Italy)
524
430830
P-38G
42-13061
1st Ftr Grp
71st
RIGNEY, Harold (POW -Italy)
528
430830
P-38G
43-2364
1st Ftr Grp
71st
CRAM, John C. (MIA -Italy)
551
430830
P-38G
42-13003
1st Ftr Grp
71st
WILLEY, John S. (MIA -Italy)
552
430830
P-38G
42-13227
1st Ftr Grp
71st
Weinberg, Jerome N. (KIA -Italy

 

 

 

Sardinia, 31 Oct 1943; 

Gioia del Colle, Italy, c. 8 Dec 1943; 

Salsola Airfield, Italy, 8 Jan 1944; 

Vincenzo Airfield, Italy, 8 Jan 1945; 

Salsola Airfield, Italy, 21 Feb 1945; 

Lesina, Italy, Mar-16, Oct 1945. 

March Field, Calif, 3 Jul 1946; George AFB, Calif, 18 Jul 1950;
Griffiss AFB, NY, 15 Aug 1950; George AFB, Calif, 4 Jun 1951; Norton AFB,
Calif, 1 Dec 1951-6 Feb 1952. Selfridge AFB, Mich, 18 Aug 1955-.

History 1st Fighter Group1943

Originally compiled by SSgt John DesHetler, 1st Fighter Wing History Office, Langley AFB, VA
edited by Pete Bartos, using Mullins' "An Escort of P-38's," Gray diary, Richard diary, Hoffman diary, and Graham 1st FG MACR compilation

 

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