The Arrowhead Club

Category Archives: WWII

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2019 384th Bomb Group Junket to England – A Teaser

A group of thirty-nine folks recently traveled to England for the 384th Bomb Group’s Junket XI. Three of the group’s veterans – navigator Henry Sienkiewicz, ball turret gunner Len Estrin, and tail gunner Henry Kolinek – attended along with wives, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and friends of the group.

The group was accompanied by Arena Travel tour manager Rick Hobson and toured the Thorpe Abbotts airfield, home of the Bloody Hundredth; the market town of Lavenham; the village and air base of Grafton Underwood, where the 384th was based during WWII; the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show and Imperial War Museum; the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley; and the town of Cambridge.

I will share more photos and stories of the trip very soon, but for now, as I’m pouring through the 1,000+ photos that I took during the junket and during a subsequent trip to Scotland, I’ll just share these few.

The entire group gathered on the steps at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley, including our three attending veterans on the front row, left to right, Len Estrin (with Len’s wife Helen), Henry Sienkiewicz, and Henry Kolinek. Our group of thirty-nine from the States was joined by many of our 384th friends in Britain and Arena Travel tour director Rick Hobson.

384th Junkateers at Madingley American Cemetery in Cambridge, England

I previously met a few folks from the UK, like Neill and Bridget Howarth, Kevin Flecknor, and Rob Long, during their travels to the States for 384th Bomb Group and 8th Air Force reunions, but prior to our junket have only known many of the UK folks through the 384th’s Facebook Group. What a treat to finally meet so many of them in person!

I caught up with old friends Neill and Bridget Howarth and met Facebook friend Jason Mann, all of whom orchestrated much of our visit to England, especially our visit to and tour of Grafton Underwood.

Neill Howarth, Cindy Bryan, Bridget Howarth, and Jason Mann

I also met in person for the first time British Facebook friends and friends of the 384th Graham Butlin, Snowy Ellson, Alan Dickens, and Tony Plowright, and the one thing I did learn was that my visit to the UK was far too short.

I met my dad’s Stalag Luft IV POW roomate Lawrence Newbold’s son Steve and grandson Paul.

Paul Newbold, Cindy Bryan, and Steve Newbold

I met Richard Denney and his aunt June.

Richard Denney, Cindy Bryan, and June Denney

The stories of my connections to the Newbold’s and Denney’s will be coming soon. These were the most anticipated and emotional of meetings for me.

Of course, the highlight of the trip to England was our day at Grafton Underwood, meeting the Newbold’s and the Denney’s, and our tour of the airbase from the back of a WWII Willys jeep.

Cindy and Bill Bryan in a WWII Willys Jeep in Grafton Underwood, England

At the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show, we climbed inside the UK’s B-17 Sally B and took a photo of some of our group in front of her.

384th Junketeers at the 2019 Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show

We walked down the road in Grafton Underwood from the Village Hall to see the stained glass window in St. James the Apostle Church.

Bill and Cindy Bryan in front of the 384th Memorial Window at St. James the Apostle Church in Grafton Underwood, England

That’s all I have for now, but I’ll be writing more and posting more photos in the next “post-mission briefing”…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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WWII Timeline – Spring 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1941

April 3, 1941

A pro-Axis regime was set up in Iraq.

April 6, 1941 – June 1941

Germany and Bulgaria invaded Greece (Greece’s Jewish population was 77,000) in support of the Italians. Resistance in Greece ceased in early June 1941.

The Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria invaded Yugoslavia (Yogoslavia’s Jewish population was 75,000).

April 9, 1941

The Danish ambassador to the United States, Henrik Kauffmann, against the instructions of his government, signed an executive agreement with US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, which allowed the presence of American troops in Greenland and made it a de facto United States protectorate.

April 10, 1941

The leaders of the terrorist Ustasa, or Ustashe, movement proclaimed the so-called Independent State of Croatia. Germany and Italy immediately recognized the new state which included the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Ustasa was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultra-nationalist and terrorist organization whose members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.

April 14, 1941

German General Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox, attacked the port of Tobruk in Libya.

April 16, 1941

The first American “Lend-Lease” food aid shipments arrived in Britain.

April 17, 1941

Yugoslavia surrendered to the Nazis following the April 6 invasion. 

April 27, 1941

German troops occupied Athens as Greece surrendered to the Nazis.

May 1, 1941

The German attack on Tobruk was repulsed.

May 10, 1941

Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess flew from Augsburg, Germany to Scotland in an unauthorized solo attempt to persuade Britain to stop the war with Germany. He was confined until the end of the war, when he was brought to trial as a war criminal at Nuremberg.

May 10/11, 1941

The Germans heavily bombed London and the British bombed Hamburg.

May 14, 1941

Thirty-six hundred Jews were arrested in Paris by the occupying Nazi Gestapo.

May 15, 1941

The British counter-attack in Egypt known as Operation Brevity began.

May 16, 1941

French Marshal Philippe Petain approved collaboration with Adolf Hitler during a radio broadcast.

May 20, 1941

German paratroopers invaded Crete, Greece’s largest island.

May 24, 1941

The German battleship Bismarck sank the British battleship HMS Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew.

May 27, 1941

British Navy warships sank the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. The German death toll was more than 2,000.

June 1, 1941

British forces evacuated Crete. Final figures for the British were 16,500 killed, wounded or captured, while the Germans lost about 6,200.

Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) began a campaign of mass murder of Jews throughout eastern Poland.

June 4, 1941

A pro-Allied government was installed in Iraq after Britain again assumed control at the end of May.

June 8, 1941

The Allies invaded Syria and Lebanon.

June 14, 1941

The United States froze German and Italian assets in America.

June 15, 1941

Croatia formally joined the Axis powers.

June 22, 1941 – November 1941

The Nazis invaded Soviet Russia (the Russian Jewish population was 3 million). This massive invasion was called Operation Barbarossa, and with the German and other Axis forces except Bulgaria, comprised 183 divisions (3,500,000 men), 3,350 tanks, and 1,945 aircraft. It was the biggest military operation in history on an 1,800-mile front. Finland aided the Axis in the invasion (they were seeking redress for their territorial losses in the armistice concluding the Winter War), however, Finland was never truly a member of the Axis powers as it never signed the Tripartite Pact.

The Germans quickly overran the Baltic States and, joined by the Finns, lay siege to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by September. In the center, the Germans captured Smolensk in early August and drove on Moscow by October. In the south, German and Romanian troops captured Kiev (Kyiv) in September and captured Rostov on the Don River in November.

SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups), tasked with identifying, concentrating, and killing Jews by RSHA Chief Reinhard Heydrich, followed the frontline troops of the German armies into the Soviet Union, killing Soviet Jews in mass shootings.

June 25, 1941

In the US, under pressure from civil rights activists, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, which banned discrimination in hiring in defense factories and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Hiring and workplace discrimination against African Americans continued despite the order.

June 28, 1941

The Germans captured Minsk.

June 29/30, 1941

Romanian troops conducted a pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) against Jews in the town of Jassy, killing 10,000.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Wikipedia Ustashe

Wikipedia Greenland in WWII

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The 75th Anniversary of Dad’s Last Week at Grafton Underwood

George Edwin Farrar

The last seven days my dad, George Edwin Farrar, spent at the 384th Bomb Group’s Grafton Underwood air base were pretty busy, although the previous week, he only flew one mission (number 196), targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm Germany.

He spent the weekend of September 23 and 24, 1944 enjoying the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration.

Saturday, September 23 events included an award banquet in the Officers’ Mess with guest speaker Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, dancing in Hangar #1 for the enlisted men with music by George Elrick & his BBC Orchestra and other entertainers, dancing in the Officers’ Club for the officers with music by the Flying Yanks Orchestra, and dancing in the Zebra Club for Zebra Club members with music by the Stratton-Audley G.I. Band.

Transportation to the party was provided from several locations (Northampon, Kettering, Woodford, Corby, Brigstock, Lilford, Newport Pagnell, Finedon, and Geddington) for civilian guests.

Sunday, September 24 was a day of “novelty events,” including a sack race, a three-legged race, a relay race, a piggy-back race, a wheelbarrow race, and a slow bike race. Also on the schedule were a bicycle derby, a baseball game – Station 106 vs. 8th AF All Stars, Scotch bagpipe band & Highland dancers, and a U-S-O stage show at the Station Theater featuring an all-American cast including MC & comedian Artie Conray, comedy act Drohan & Dupree, and accordionist Ferne Downes.

The 200th Mission Celebration weekend was in advance of the actual 200th mission date, and in fact, occurred between Mission 197 to the railroad marshalling yards in Mainz, Germany on September 21 and Mission 198 to the railroad marshalling yards in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on September 25. Daddy flew Mission 198, but then missed Mission 199 on September 26 to a steelworks factory in Osnabrück, Germany.

Mission 200 finally arrived on September 27, targeting the railroad marshalling yards in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Dad flew that one and that was the last mission on which he returned to Grafton Underwood.

The next day, on September 28, 1944, Mission 201, targeting a steelworks factory in Magdeburg, Germany, would be his last, cut short by a mid-air collision between his and another of the groups B-17’s. His next stop, after interrogation and a hospital stay, would be the Stalag Luft IV POW camp in Gross-Tychow (now Tychowo), Poland, and then the long walk home, a five-hundred mile, eighty-six day march across Germany to liberation.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Grafton Underwood Maps and Site Plans Booklet

Note:  This post is a duplicate of a permanent page I added a few weeks ago, but I am repeating it today as a blog post in honor of the 384th Bomb Group Junket XI visit to England, of which I am a part.

We will be visiting Station 106 on Saturday, September 21 and touring the remains of the air base. I know I will be referring to the maps as I see, for the first time, the air base on which my dad served in WWII. I will be walking on the same ground Dad once did, seeing the remains of a piece of his history from seventy-five years ago.

The WWII-era site plan for Grafton Underwood (Station 106) was mapped out in 1944 into fourteen separate sites, with Site No. 1 sub-divided further into seven areas. Our 384th Bomb Group NexGen Archivist, Mark Meehl, extracted individual maps with numbered keys from the site plan and kindly shared them with me. The individual sites are:

  • Site No. 1 – Airfield and Hardstands
  • Site No. 1 – Group Headquarters (HQ Area)
  • Site No. 1 – Technical Site
  • Site No. 1 – Southeast Area
  • Site No. 1 – 547th BS & Maintenance Technical Site
  • Site No. 1 – Warkton Common Bomb Stores
  • Site No. 1 – Old Head Wood Bomb Stores
  • Site No. 2 – Communal
  • Site No. 3 – Communal
  • Site No. 4 – Group Staff Quarters
  • Site No. 5 – Ground Echelon Quarters
  • Site No. 6 – Ground Echelon Quarters
  • Site No. 7 – W.A.A.F.
  • Site No. 8 – 544th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 9 – 547th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 10 – 545th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 11 – 546th Bomb Squadron Area
  • Site No. 12 – Sick Quarters
  • Site No. 13 – Sewage
  • Site No. 14 – Sewage

On my upcoming visit to Grafton Underwood, I wanted to have a handy map guide to take with me during my tour of the air base, so I have combined Mark’s individual maps into a PDF document that I could print into a small booklet.

Thinking others, especially those visiting Grafton Underwood for the first time, might like their own copy, I am including a download here. To download a copy of the 384th Bombardment Group, Station 106, Grafton Underwood, England, Maps and Site Plans, click this thumbnail of the cover page:

The download is in PDF file format and may be viewed as a digital image on a computer, tablet, or phone with a PDF reader, or may be printed in any format desired, however, the document prints best as a 5 ½-inch by 8 ½-inch booklet.  Note: download before printing to print the booklet format!

In the booklet format, the location keys appear on the page opposite the corresponding map, in most cases.

To print a 5 ½-inch by 8 ½-inch booklet on letter-size paper in Adobe Acrobat Reader, set the following printing preferences:

  • Page Sizing & Handling to Booklet.
  • Booklet subset to Both sides for duplex printers (see note below for non-duplex printers).
  • Sheets from 1 to 13.
  • Binding to Left.
  • Orientation to Portrait.
  • Optionally, check Print in grayscale (black and white)

After printing, fold pages in half (one at a time is easier), maintaining page order.  Staple along the left side about 1/8-inch from the left edge in three places:  one inch from top, in the middle, and one inch from bottom.  Optionally, cover staples with one-inch wide masking or other tape.

Note:  If printer is not a duplex printer capable of automatically printing on both sides of the page, choose Front side only to print the front sides of the pages, then reload those pages (check your printer manual for proper paper orientation for reloading) and choose Back side only to print the back sides of the pages.

Acknowledgements and Final Notes

Cover artwork courtesy of Marc Poole.

Maps and site plans courtesy of Quentin Bland, Ken Decker, Robin Dodson, John Edwards, Kevin Flecknor, Mark Meehl, Fred Preller, Matt Smith, the 384TH Bomb Group Photo Gallery, and the RAF Hendon Archives.  Hardstand identification and key transcription courtesy of Mark Meehl.

All maps are oriented North up.

To see the complete Station 106 site plan in detail, download the high resolution digital map images to a computer or tablet and zoom in as the print size in the map booklet is not conducive to viewing the complete large format site maps and they were not included. Maps and site plans may be found on and downloaded from Photos.384thBombGroup.com in the 384TH During WWII album, Station 106 Maps sub-album.  The Station 106 Airfield Area map and Station 106 Domestic Area map are particularly detailed drawings with keys.

Keep the show on the road…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

544th Bomb Squadron Living Area at Grafton Underwood

The map of the living area of the 384th Bomb Group’s 544th Bomb Squadron shows the air raid shelter, living quarters, latrines and ablutions (showers). I have highlighted the air raid shelters, latrines, and shower buildings (or at least which ones I think they are) to try to identify the locations of the following photos.

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

Key to Numbered Locations

  • ARS Air Raid Shelter
  • 356-358 Officers’ Quarters
  • 359-360 Officers’ Latrines
  • 361 Picket Post
  • 362 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrines
  • 363-367 Sergeants’ Quarters
  • 368-370 Sergeants’ Latrines
  • 371-375 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 376-377 Airmen’s Latrines
  • 378-380 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 381-383 Sergeants’ & Airmen’s Ablutions
  • 384 M & E Plinth

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, saved several photos that I believe must have been taken in this area. A few show an air raid shelter with what looks like barracks to the left a tent to the right.

This photo shows the air raid shelter in the background with a tent to the right. The children in the photo are the local Grafton Underwood children of the Denney family, Bert, Roy, and June.

544th Bomb Squad area with Air Raid Shelter in the background. The children in the picture are the Denney children, left to right: Bert, Roy, and June.

This photo was taken from a different angle and shows barracks to the left and shows a walkway leading to a tent to the right. That’s Bert Denney climbing the air raid shelter in the background.

L to R: (I believe) David Albrecht and Carl Guinn
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

In the next photo, Lenard Bryant and Carl Guinn stand in the same area with Bert and June Denney standing at the top of the air raid shelter in the background.

L to R: Lenard Bryant and Carl Guinn
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

A couple of other photos, which I believe were also taken in the 544th Bomb Squad living area have different backgrounds. In this first one, my dad and three other members of the John Buslee crew look to be standing in front of a latrine or shower (ablutions) building with tents in the left of the background. This also leads me to believe Dad’s enlisted crew was housed in a tent rather than a Nissen hut.

Left to right: George Edwin Farrar, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin V. Foster, and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso. In the background (left) are tents, and (right) a latrine.

This photo looks to have the same tents in the background.

L to R: Carl Guinn and (I believe) John Bregant
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

The buildings in the first photos are not Nissen huts, so I could be wrong about where on the base the photos were taken. I’d like to be able to find the location of these photos on the base. I’ll have that opportunity later this month when I visit the UK and hope to have some current day views of these locations to post when I return.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1941

1941

Hans Frank, appointed Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland in October 1939, remarked,

I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear.

January 1941

The antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by prominent member of the Nazi party, Julius Streicher, proclaimed,

Now judgment has begun and it will reach its conclusion only when knowledge of the Jews has been erased from the earth.

A pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) in Romania resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Jews.

January 9, 1941

A prototype of the British RAF Avro Lancaster aircraft made its maiden voyage. Dad’s POW roommate in Stalag Luft IV, Lawrence Newbold, was a wireless (radio) operator on a Lancaster crew that flew out of RAF Skellingthope.

January 22, 1941

Tobruk, Libya in North Africa fell to British and Commonwealth (Australian) troops.

January 27, 1941

The American Ambassador in Tokyo, Japan, Joseph Grew, secretly cabled Washington that Japan military forces planned a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor in case of ‘trouble’ with the United States. His later account said,

There is a lot of talk around town to the effect that the Japanese in case of a break with the United States, are planning to go all out in a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course I informed our Government.

Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, were both provided with the report, but both discounted it.

February 1941

The Nazis sent the Afrika Korps reinforcements to North Africa.

February 7, 1941

British troops seized Beda Fomm, Libya.

February 11, 1941

British forces advanced into Italian-controlled Somaliland in East Africa.

February 12, 1941

Nazi General Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps arrived in Tripoli, North Africa.

February 22, 1941

Four hundred thirty Jewish hostages were deported from Amsterdam after a Dutch Nazi was killed by Jews.

February 26, 1941

American scientists Joseph W. Kennedy, Glenn T. Seaborg, Edward M. McMillan, and Arthur C. Wohl of the University of California, Berkley, discovered plutonium-239, which is a uranium isotope critical in the development of nuclear weapons. [Note: Plutonium (specifically, plutonium-238) was first produced and isolated on December 14, 1940.]

March 1941

Adolf Hitler’s Commissar Order to his generals authorized execution of those suspected of being Communist officials in territories about to be seized from Soviet Russia. The order stated,

The war against Russia cannot be fought in knightly fashion. The struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness. All officers will have to get rid of any old fashioned ideas they may have. I realize that the necessity for conducting such warfare is beyond the comprehension of you generals, but I must insist that my orders be followed without complaint. The commissars hold views directly opposite to those of National Socialism. Hence these commissars must be eliminated. Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned. Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it.

March 1, 1941

King Boris III of Bulgaria signed the Tripartite pact and joined the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.

During his first visit to Auschwitz, Heinrich Himmler ordered Kommandant Rudolf Höss to begin massive expansion, which included building a new compound nearby at Birkenau that could hold 100,000 prisoners.

March 2, 1941

The Nazis occupied Bulgaria with its Jewish population of 50,000.

March 3 – 20, 1941

German authorities announced, established, and sealed the Krakow Ghetto in Krakow, Poland. Between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews were forced to live within the ghetto boundaries, which were enclosed by barbed-wire fences and a stone wall.

March 7, 1941

British forces arrived in Greece.

German Jews were ordered into forced labor.

March 11, 1941

President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act. It permitted him to

sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government [whose defense the President deemed vital to the defense of the United States] any defense article.

March 13, 1941

Glasgow, Scotland was hit by its first significant air raid of WWII when more than two hundred Luftwaffe aircraft bombed the area in the Clydebank Blitz overnight in an attempt to destroy naval, shipbuilding and munitions targets. The attack continued a second night on March 14.

March 25, 1941

Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite pact and joined the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.

March 26, 1941

The German Army High Command gave approval to RSHA (the Reich Main Security Office or Reichssicherheitshauptamt, which was one of Heinrich Himmler’s organizations) and its original chief Reinhard Heydrich on the tasks of SS murder squads (Einsatzgruppen)  in occupied Poland.

March 27, 1941

A coup in Yugoslavia overthrew the pro-Axis government.

March 29, 1941

A ‘Commissariat’ (a military department for the supply of food and equipment) for Jewish Affairs was set up in Vichy, France.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Wikipedia, Lend-Lease Act

Wikipedia, Avro Lancaster

Wikipedia, Joseph Grew

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

Airmen’s Living Quarters at Grafton Underwood

Airmen of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force in WWII who were based in Grafton Underwood, England were divided into four Bombardment Squadrons – the 544th, 545th, 546th, and 547th. Each squadron had a separate area of living quarters, primarily Nissen huts and tents. At least one crew occupied each dwelling, and often multiple crews. The officers and enlisted men had separate dwellings.

This area map of the base shows that the living quarters of the 545th, 546th, and 547th Bomb Squadrons were fairly close to each other with the living quarters of the 544th Bomb Squadron some distance southwest of the other three squadrons.

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

The above map was obtained from the RAF (Royal Air Force) Hendon Archives and this and other Grafton Underwood Station 106 Air Base maps I publish come courtesy of many folks including Quentin Bland, Ken Decker, Robin Dodson, John Edwards, Kevin Flecknor, Mark Meehl, Fred Preller, and Matt Smith. Hardstand identifications and other keys and identifications are courtesy of Mark Meehl. The original maps may be viewed and downloaded from Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery.

For a closer view into the separate living quarters area for each bombardment squadron, I am including a detailed map followed by the key to the numbered locations.

544th Bombardment Squadron (Site No. 8)

Living Quarters area for 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bomb Squadron

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

Key to Numbered Locations

  • ARS Air Raid Shelter
  • 356-358 Officers’ Quarters
  • 359-360 Officers’ Latrines
  • 361 Picket Post
  • 362 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrines
  • 363-367 Sergeants’ Quarters
  • 368-370 Sergeants’ Latrines
  • 371-375 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 376-377 Airmen’s Latrines
  • 378-380 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 381-383 Sergeants’ & Airmen’s Ablutions
  • 384 M & E Plinth

545th Bombardment Squadron (Site No. 10)

Living Quarters area for 384th Bomb Group, 545th Bomb Squadron

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

Key to Numbered Locations

  • ARS Air Raid Shelter
  • 436 Picket Post
  • 437-440 Officers’ Quarters
  • 441 Officers’ Ablution & Latrines
  • 442-447 Sergeants’ Quarters
  • 448-450 Sergeants’ Latrines
  • 451 M & E Plinth
  • 452 Sergeants & Airmen’s Ablution & Drying Room
  • 453-472 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 473-476 Airmen’s Latrines

546th Bomb Squadron (Site No. 11)

Living Quarters area for 384th Bomb Group, 546th Bomb Squadron

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

Key to Numbered Locations

  • ARS Air Raid Shelter
  • 482 Picket Post
  • 483-485 Officers’ Quarters)
  • 486 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrines
  • 487-491, 493 Sergeants’ Quarters
  • 494-496 Sergeants’ Latrines
  • 497 Sergeants & Airmen’s Ablution & Drying
  • 498-518 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 519-522 Airmen’s Latrines

547th Bombardment Squadron (Site No. 9)

Living Quarters area for 384th Bomb Group, 547th Bomb Squadron

Click on the map to view full screen and click again to enlarge. Use your browser back button to return to this post.

Key to Numbered Locations

  • ARS Air Raid Shelter
  • 389-390 Officers’ Quarters
  • 391 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrine
  • 392 Fuel Compound
  • 393 Picket Post
  • 394-400 Sergeants’ Quarters
  • 401-403 Sergeants’ Latrines
  • 404 M & E Plinth
  • 405-425 Airmen’s Barracks
  • 426 Sergeants’ & Airmen’s Ablution & Drying Room
  • 427-430 Airmen’s Latrines

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1940

October 3, 1940

Vichy France passed its own version of the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews.

October 7, 1940

Nazis invaded Romania, with their Jewish population of 34,000, with the pretext of protecting its oil fields from the British.

October 12, 1940

After many previous postponements, the Germans again postponed Operation Sea Lion until Spring of 1941.

October 22, 1940

Twenty-nine thousand German Jews were deported from Baden, the Saar, and Alsace-Lorraine into Vichy France.

October 23, 1940

Spain’s Fascist leader, Francisco Franco, met with Adolf Hitler at the Hendaye Railway Station near the Spanish-French border in Hendaye, France. In the seven- to nine-hour meeting, Franco and Hitler could not come to an agreement for the conditions for Spain to join the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The only outcome of the meeting was the signing of a secret agreement in which Franco committed to entering the war at a future date he would choose and Hitler gave vague guarantees that Spain would receive “territories in Africa.”

October 28, 1940

Italy invaded Greece from Albania, which Mussolini justified by claiming that Greece had attacked Albania.

In Great Britain, 489,000 children were evacuated from the London area.

October 31, 1940

The Battle of Britain air war ended in defeat for Nazi Germany and proved Great Britain’s air superiority.

November 1940

The Krakow Ghetto was sealed off with 70,000 Jews inside.

November 5, 1940

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected to his third term as U.S. president.

November 11/12, 1940

The Battle of Taranto took place overnight between British naval forces and Italian naval forces. The British Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history using aerial torpedoes from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea against the battle fleet of the Italian Royal Navy anchored in the harbour of Taranto. The raid crippled the Italian fleet at Taranto. The Japanese noted the superiority of naval aviation over the big guns of the battleships as they planned their Pearl Harbor attack.

November 14/15, 1940

The city of Coventry, England was bombed many times during WWII, but the most devastating attacks occurred on the evening of November 14 and continued into the morning of November 15.

November 20, 1940

Hungary joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

November 22, 1940

The Greeks defeated the Italian 9th Army.

November 23, 1940

Romania joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, and Hungary.

November 24, 1940

Slovakia joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, and Romania.

December 9/10, 1940

The British began a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.

December 29/30, 1940

President Roosevelt delivered his Arsenal of Democracy speech on December 29 in a radio broadcast to the United States, Europe, and Japan in which he pledged to supply Great Britain with war materials. He began his address at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time from Washington D.C.

Before his re-election, Roosevelt pledged during the campaign that America would not declare war on the Axis unless it were attacked. He held to that promise, but during his almost forty minute speech, made a case to provide military support to Great Britain and warned,

If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the high seas. … It is no exaggeration to say that all of us, in all the Americas, would be living at the point of a gun.

On the evening of that same day, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) firebombed London. Keep in mind, London is five hours ahead of Washington, D.C. I don’t know what time the bombing started in London that evening, but it likely started before Roosevelt started his radio address.

It was London’s most devastating air raid of the Blitz at the hands of the Nazis and the resulting fire from approximately 100,000 bombs dropped from one hundred thirty-six German bombers became known as the Second Great Fire of London. The raid focused on a part of the city with churches, offices, warehouses, and other non-residential buildings.

Hundreds of fires burned in London, but firefighters saved much of the city from the destruction caused by the exploding bombs even as the bombs rained down all around them, and even while hindered by a water shortage. St. Paul’s Cathedral was in the midst of the smoke and flames and could not be seen well during the firefight, but in the end, when the flames died down and the smoke cleared, the cathedral still stood.

Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist and war correspondent, witnessed the raid in London and wrote,

Into the dark shadowed spaces below us, while we watched, whole batches of incendiary bombs fell. We saw two dozen go off in two seconds. They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously…

The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape—so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly—the gigantic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions—growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.

Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Iejima, Japan (then called Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa on April 18, 1945.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Battle of Taranto

Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy Speech

Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy Speech

Worst Air Raid on London

Second Great Fire of London

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

The Grafton Underwood Airfield – Runways and Hardstands

In WWII, the 384th Bomb Group was based in the UK village of Grafton Underwood’s back yard. Seventy-plus years later, most of the war-era buildings are long gone, but their foundations lie sleeping, waiting to be uncovered and made visible again by the hands and aching backs of many who seek to commemorate this important place and the lives who passed through here during the long-ago war.

As the earth attempts to reclaim her once-peaceful space and erase the existence of the use of her land for war, efforts are ongoing to save what time has not yet destroyed or man has not yet demolished so that the history of this place will be remembered by future generations, generations of sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who served here.

We must not forget what happened here and why the people came to use this land for this purpose. We must remember their great deeds of valor, the lives lost, the lives saved, and learn a lesson about sacrifice and freedom.

The main reason for the 384th Bomb Group’s existence at Grafton Underwood revolved around the airfield’s runways, the point of take-off for mission targets and the point of return for the B-17’s and the weary crews that came home.

Take-off was normally early morning. Very early or the previous overnight, the ground crews readied the B-17’s with final repairs, filling fuel tanks, and loading bombs and ammunition.

After breakfast and briefing, the airmen arrived at their designated aircraft and performed final preparations for the day’s missions. The pilots ran through their checklists, the gunners checked the guns, and the navigators and bombardiers studied the route and coordinates for the bomb drop. Pilots started the engines and watched for the flare signalling departure.

The 384th Bomb Group’s first commander, Budd Peaslee, shared his memories of these mornings in the closing words of his 1963 book, Heritage of Valor. Commander Peaslee described not the look of the airfield, but the sound and feel of it when the 384th war machine was in full force and preparing for battle.

Commander Peaslee likened the sound of the B-17 engines to “musical thunder” and described the taxi and take-off of the flying fortresses as causing the “very earth to tremble.” He pronounced the source of the sound as “seeming to emanate from all things, visible and invisible,” and he compared the B-17’s “great deep-throated engines” to their later jet replacements’ “flat, toneless roar.”

Eighteen years after the 384th left Grafton Underwood at the end of the war, Peaslee described the runways as “ancient” and “weed-choked.” But those runways have not disappeared to this day. Fifty-six years past the publication of his book, and seventy-four years past the end of the war, the runways just north of the village can still be seen in satellite images.

After all of the B-17’s departed for the day’s mission and the business of waiting for their return began, the runway, though now silent, was the center of the group’s universe, the ultimate determiner of the mission’s success or failure.

On paper, the success of the mission was determined by how close the bombs had come to their targets and what kind of destruction the formation had brought to the enemy’s door. In reality, if one B-17 or one man had been lost and not returned to touch down on the runway or sleep in his bunk that night, the loss would be felt exponentially throughout the base, from crew mates, to cooks, to the Commander.

As soon as the last of the B-17’s wheels left the morning mist-covered ground, thoughts would turn to wonder how many would not return today. What familiar faces around the base would be no more? Eating, sleeping, socializing, and any other function of human life was secondary to the take-off and return of the B-17’s and their crews. The runway symbolized why the airmen were there, why the ground crews were there, and why the people of Grafton Underwood had to share the backyard of their pleasant village with this instrument of war.

This year’s 384th Bomb Group reunion will be the group’s eleventh junket to Grafton Underwood and other nearby WWII sites and will be my first. I will be able to see and stand upon the runways of which I have only imagined, have read about, and have seen in photos and on maps.

This map of the runways and hardstands was obtained from the archives at RAF Hendon and donated by Kevin Flecknor and Robin Dodson.

Site No. 1 Airfield – Runways and Hardstands

The runways and the fifty hardstands, where the aircraft stood ready, are detailed on the map as Site No. 1 Airfield.

The 384th Bomb Group was made up of four bombardment squadrons – 544, 545, 546, and 547. Each had a separate area of hardstands for their designated ships.

  • The 544th Bomb Squad was assigned Hardstands 1 – 9, 49, and 50.
  • The 545th Bomb Squad was assigned Hardstands 10 – 23.
  • The 546th Bomb Squad was assigned Hardstands 24 – 35, and 41.
  • The 547th Bomb Squad was assigned Hardstands 36 – 40, and 42 – 48.

Though the numbering system of division looks a little disjointed in a list, a review of where the hardstands are placed on the map will show why the division was made as it was. What’s not clear is why the number of hardstands was not more equally divided between squadrons. The 544th Bomb Squadron had the least amount, eleven, and the 545th Bomb Squad had the most, fourteen.

Thanks to Google Earth, we can see what the airfield map looks like superimposed on a map of the area today.

Image © 2018 Google

Note: Click on the images to open to full screen. (Then use your browser Back button to return to this post). 

Special Thanks to 384th Bomb Group Volunteers

The map of the runways and hardstands was obtained from the archives at RAF Hendon and donated by Kevin Flecknor and Robin Dodson. Hardstand identifications provided by Mark Meehl.

Note: The boxed numbers indicate the runway identifiers (magnetic compass heading to nearest 10 degrees).

Friends of the 384th

To view the progress of the Grafton Underwood Airfield building preservation and site cleanup and maintenance, please join the Friends of the 384th on Facebook.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1940

July 1, 1940

German U-boats attacked merchant ships in the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of WWII, lasting from 1939 to 1945.

The French government of Prime Minister Marshal Philippe Pétain moved to Vichy, France.

July 5, 1940

Great Britain and the French Vichy government broke off diplomatic relations.

July 10, 1940

The Battle of Britain began. After the fall of France, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) conducted unremitting and highly destructive air raids over Britain from July through September 1940. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) successfully defended Great Britain in what has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces.

July 14-15, 1940

The Soviet Union engineered a Communist coup d’états in the Baltic States after their June occupation.

July 17, 1940

The first French anti-Jewish laws were decreed by Vichy government Prime Minister Marshal Philippe Pétain. The laws were not mandated by Germany. They affected metropolitan France and its overseas territories. The measures designated Jews as a lower class and deprived them of citizenship and a right to hold public office. Many Jews were first confined to the Drancy Internment Camp before being deported for extermination in Nazi concentration camps.

July 23, 1940

Per the Soviet-German non-aggression agreement (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) of August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union officially absorbed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

August 3-6, 1940

The Soviet Union annexed the Baltic States as Soviet Republics after their June occupation.

August 3-19, 1940

The Italians occupied British Somaliland in East Africa.

August 8, 1940

Romania introduced anti-Jewish measures restricting education and employment, then later began “Romanianization” of Jewish businesses.

August 13, 1940

The German bombing of British airfields began. Eagle Day (Adlertag) was the first day of Operation Eagle Attack (Unternehmen Adlerangriff), the codename for the Nazi Luftwaffe operation to destroy the British Royal Air Force. It was an attempt to gain air superiority in preparation for the invasion of Britain by sea, code named Operation Sea Lion. The main target was RAF Fighter Command. The attack caused significant damage and casualties on the ground, but did not cause enough damage to the British Fighter Command’s ability to defend British air space.

August 15, 1940

Air battles and daylight raids over Britain continued.

Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ordered Adolf Eichmann to start the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years to Madagascar as a police state under the SS. The “Madagascar Plan” project was later abandoned.

August 17, 1940

Hitler declared a blockade of the British Isles.

August 23/24, 1940

The first German air raids began on Central London.

August 25/26, 1940

In retaliation of the air raids on London, the first British RAF air raid on Berlin was carried out.

August 30, 1940

The Second Vienna Award was the second territorial dispute arbitrated by Germany and Italy. It assigned the territory of North Transylvania from Romania to Hungary. Losing North Transylvania forced Romanian King Carol to abdicate the throne to his son, Michael, and brought the dictatorship of Fascist General Ion Antonescu and his Iron Guards to power.

September 4, 1940

The America First Committee was established with the goal of keeping the United States out of WWII. Aviator Charles Lindberg was one of the most famous of it’s 800,000 members. The committee was disbanded four days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

September 7, 1940

The German Blitz against Great Britain began when the Luftwaffe began targeting civilian rather than British military targets.

September 13, 1940

Italian forces invaded British-controlled Egypt from Italian-controlled Libya.

September 15, 1940

The Blitz continued with German air raids on London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.

September 16, 1940

The United States military conscription bill passed and the first U.S. peacetime draft was enacted.

September 27, 1940

Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite (Axis) Pact, an economic and military alliance. The “Axis powers” formally took the name after the Tripartite Pact was signed.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Madagascar Plan

Vichy anti-Jewish legislation

Adlertag

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019