One of the maps in my dad’s World Atlas showed his route from the US to the UK and then on into Germany. I believe the starting point in the US was Kearney, Nebraska, where he and the Buslee crew picked up their B-17 to ferry across the Atlantic.
On his way out of Ardmore, Oklahoma, he wrote about his expected stay in Nebraska in a letter to his mother dated June 22, 1944.
We will be at the next place just long enough to get our plane. It should take from three to seven days.
Dad must have made a few stops between Kearney and the East Coast of the US. On June 25, he wrote to his mother again.
Just a line to let you know that everything is fine. There is no use in you writing me here, as we will only be here four days. We have our own plane, and will fly over. We should be there next week this time.
In describing their new B-17, he also wrote that
It only has twelve hours on it and guns all over it. They are giving each of us a cal. – 45 pistol and a large knife. You would think we were going to look for a fight.
Daddy was ready to head to combat. He wrote
Please don’t worry about me as I know what I am doing, and love it.
Daddy wrote to his mother again the next day, June 26.
One more day in this place, and we will be going.
Two days later on June 28, I’m not sure where he was, but he wrote to his mother,
In just a little while and we will be on our way. I wish I could tell you where to, but it just isn’t being done this season. I can tell you we will stay once more in the States, and I will try to drop you a line from there. I am in the ship now. We have everything packed, and we are taking time about watching it until take-off time.
This is one of the best places I have been in some time, and I hate to leave it without going to town once more.
According to his separation documents, my dad departed the US on July 1, 1944 and arrived in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) on July 3.
There were three air bases in the Northeast involved in ferrying aircraft to the ETO – Grenier Army Air Base in New Hampshire, Presque Isle Army Airfield in Maine, and Dow Army Airfield, also in Maine. From the spot marked on his map, I believe Daddy’s last stop in the US was Grenier Army Air Base in Manchester, New Hampshire.
From there, most ferried aircraft next went to RCAF Station Gander, Newfoundland until mid-1942, when a change was made to Goose Bay Labrador. Sure enough, Dad marked the location of Goose Bay on his map.
There were three aircraft ferrying stops in the North Atlantic Route in Greenland, Bluie West 1, Bluie West 8, and Bluie East 2, but Daddy didn’t note a stop in Greenland.
The next stop Dad noted on his map was on the East coast of Iceland. There were three airfields in Iceland used on the North Atlantic Ferrying route: Meeks Field, Patterson Field (originally Svidningar Field), and Reykjavik Airport. Reykjavik Airport and Meeks Field appear on the map on the West coast of Iceland. I can’t locate Patterson Field on the map. (See Note below). Dad must have stopped in Iceland, but I am not certain of the exact location.
Next stop must have been the RAF Valley in Wales in the UK, judging from the location Dad marked on his map. Sixty to seventy ferried aircraft arrived there each day, then were forwarded to the operational bases in England of the 8th and 9th Air Forces.
From there, Dad marked a route across England to his home base in Grafton Underwood, and then continued the route deep into Germany. I know the location of his final mark. It would be Magdeburg, where high in the skies above Germany, another B-17 of his own Bomb Group would collide with his B-17 on September 28, 1944.
Another map included in the Atlas showed some various routes to the ETO.
Dad marked one spot on his Atlas map of Great Britain and Ireland, his home base in Grafton Underwood. (I added the arrow and red outline). Station 106 at Grafton Underwood was the home of the 384th Bomb Group, from which my dad flew his missions in WWII.
Thank you to reader Carsten Bo Nielsen who informed me that, “Patterson Field and Meeks Field was just beside each other, where Keflavik is now.” Indeed, I was able to confirm Patterson Field’s location through Wikipedia’s entry for Keflavík International Airport,
Originally, the airport was built by the United States military during World War II, as a replacement for a small British landing strip at Garður to the north. It consisted of two separate two-runway airfields, built simultaneously just 4 km apart. Patterson Field in the south-east opened in 1942 despite being partly incomplete … Meeks Field to the north-west opened on 23 March 1943 … Patterson Field was closed after the war, but Meeks Field and the adjoining structures were returned to Iceland’s control and were renamed Naval Air Station Keflavik, for the nearby town of Keflavík. In 1951, the U.S. military returned to the airport under a defense agreement between Iceland and the U.S. signed on 5 May 1951.
To be continued…
…with Magdeburg and Belgard.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017