The Airmen of the 35PRS arrived at Camp Kanchrapara near Calcutta, India, on 7 June 1944, after their introductory train ride across India. This camp was a staging area for troops entering the CBI theater of operations, and would later also serve a similar function for those departing. But on 7 June 1944, the Redhawks arrived for a brief stay.

Many in the unit must have wondered when they would ever reach their destination, how long they would have to wait before they got there. But in the fine military tradition, they saluted smartly, hurried up, and waited…

Map of Camp Kanchrapara, Near Calcutta, India.  It was a replacement depot and staging area for the CBI Theater.  (Courtesy Ex-CBI Roundup, July 1969 Issue)

Map of Camp Kanchrapara, Near Calcutta, India. It was a replacement depot and staging area for the CBI Theater. (Courtesy Ex-CBI Roundup, July 1969 Issue)

Redhawk S/Sgt Anthony Garra recorded his impressions: “Our first stop was a Camp Kanchrapara about thirty miles from Calcutta. There were quite a number of barracks, concrete with grass roofs, which had been already constructed by native labor.”

 A view of the tennis courts alongside the Mangol Manor at Camp Kanchrapara.   (January 1946) (Courtesy “Bob Fagleson’s Images of India”)

A view of the tennis courts alongside the Mangol Manor at Camp Kanchrapara. (January 1946) (Courtesy “Bob Fagleson’s Images of India”)

Beyond construction activity, some of the native labor was present in the camp for continued service in various military work centers, as shown in the picture below:

Indian women who worked at the Motor Pool at Kanchrapara.   (September, 1945) (Courtesy "Bob Faleson's Images of India")

Indian women who worked at the Motor Pool at Kanchrapara. (September, 1945) (Courtesy “Bob Faleson’s Images of India”)

“We lived in British tropical tents,” S/Sgt Garra continued, “…very nice double walled tents, which proved to be quite cool.”

A 1 st Lt. Meyers in front of a tent at Camp Kanchrapara, Winter 1946.  Perhaps the 35PRS stayed in tents like this one. (Courtesy American University Library, Striner Collection)

A 1 st Lt. Meyers in front of a tent at Camp Kanchrapara, Winter 1946. Perhaps the 35PRS stayed in tents like this one. (Courtesy American University Library, Striner Collection)

“There was an open air theatre (at) which we enjoyed evenings. Every evening from this time on, we slept under our mosquito nets. Malaria control is quite rigid in India because the disease is quite prevalent there.”

 A native DDT spraying crew with boss man, 3rd from left, at Camp No. 2 in India, December 31, 1945.  (Courtesy "Bob Fagelson's Images of India")

A native DDT spraying crew with boss man, 3rd from left, at Camp No. 2 in India, December 31, 1945. (Courtesy “Bob Fagelson’s Images of India”)

“Nights were sort of a novelty there as monkeys, jackals, bobcats and misc. took over the camp after dusk. All night there would be chattering and unearthly screams. The guards who were posted throughout the area had the best experience,” wrote S/Sgt Garra. From what he described, it sounds like it was a veritable zoo!

Scenic view of Camp Kanchrapara, India,   February, 1946.  Can you spot any wildlife? (Courtesy "Bob Fagelson's Images of India")

Scenic view of Camp Kanchrapara, India, February, 1946. Can you spot any wildlife? (Courtesy “Bob Fagelson’s Images of India”)

The Redhawk stay at Camp Kanchrapara would last until 12 June 1944, when the squadron moved on to the next stop – not there yet. That next stop was of a more operational nature, on the long road to China, and will be detailed in a future post.

References

Trip Journal of S/Sgt Anthony A. Garra, 35PRS, 4PTU

“Bob Fagleson’s Images of India,” at: http://cbi-theater-1.home.comcast.net/~cbi-theater-1/india/india.html#TOP

CBI Order of Battle, Lineages and History, Other Units, 26th AAF Replacement Depot – Kanchrapara, camp map, accessed at: http://www.cbi-history.com/part_iv.html

Washington Research Library Consortium, Digital Objects Catalog, First Lt. Myers in front of a tent, Camp Kanchrapara (Winter 1946), Striner, Herbert E., photographer, accessed at: http://doc.wrlc.org/handle/2041/67627

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