For several years now, the identification of the ship that returned the 35th Photo Recon Squadron has eluded this web log writer. It wasn’t recorded in 35th PRS historical documents available to this web log writer or other information found so far. But no More!

On this 70th anniversary of the 35th PRS returning to the States, 5 November 1945, the ship’s name is confirmed, the USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157.

USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157, was the transport ship that brought the 35PRS home from Calcutta, India to new York, New York, in 1945. (Courtesy Russ Padden)

USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157, was the transport ship that brought the 35PRS home from Calcutta, India to new York, New York, in 1945. (Courtesy Mr. Russ Padden)

Identification of the 35th PRS returning on this vessel is carried in newspaper reports of that time, such as the Associated Press story featured in The Kingston Daily Freeman, Kingston New York, Monday evening, 5 November 1945. The report led off with news of 14 ships returning to New York that day, then listed them by name, some with identification of the units carried aboard – among them was the 35PRS transport back from Asia:

(General Ballou from Calcutta) 2,990 troops including 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron; 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron; 36th Fighter Control Squadron; 1377th Signal Company; 843rd Aircraft Warning Battalion; 666th A.A.A. Battalion; 19th Veterinary Evacuation Hospital; 40th Portable Surgical Hospital; 3172nd Ordnance Company; 4th Photo Technical Unit; 3340th Signal Service Company and miscellaneous personnel.

Picture taken aboard the USS General C. C. Ballou during its voage from Calcutta to New York, October-November 1945. Not the estimated arrival date of 6 November posted on the bulkhead at left center. (Courtesy Mr. Russ Padden)

Picture taken aboard the USS General C. C. Ballou during its voyage from Calcutta to New York, October-November 1945. Not the estimated arrival date of 6 November posted on the bulkhead at left upper. (Courtesy Mr. Russ Padden)

The USS General C. C. Ballou, named after a veteran of the Philippine Insurrection, Philippine service and World War I Commander of the 92nd Infantry Division in France, was a General G. O. Squire Class transport ship with the following physical characteristics:

Displacement 9,950 tons (light) 17,250 tons(full)
Length 522′ 10″
Beam 71′ 6″
Draft 26′ 6″
Speed 16.5 knots
Complement 356 sailors
Troop Capacity 3,823 personnel
Armament four single 5″/38 dual purpose gun mounts, four twin 1.1″ gun AA gun mounts (replaced by four twin 40mm gun mounts), sixteen single 20mm AA gun mounts
Propulsion geared turbine, single shaft, 8,500shp

The Gen. Ballou was built at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California, and commissioned into US Navy service on 30 June 1945. She sailed for France on 29 July 1945 on her first wartime voyage. She then undertook two round trip voyages from New York to India and back, and completed service with a 1946 voyage from New York to Calcutta, India; Manila, Philippines and other ports before reaching San Francisco, then returning to New York.

According to the War Diary of the Gen. Ballou, she arrived in the Calcutta area on 7 October 1945, anchoring in the Hooghly River. At 1745 hours on 8 October, she tied up on her starboard side at the Princepts Ghat Pier in Calcutta. She remained there two days, departing at 1721 hours on 10 October 1945, bound for New York.

Aboard the ship were 110 members of the 35th PRS. The number is much less than the squadron went overseas with. This was due to several factors.

1. In India, the squadron’s Table of Organization and Equipment was modified. For planning purposes the squadron was informed that messing would be provided by the Chinese and thus this section did not go with the squadron into China. So the mess unit and part of the squadron’s transportation section did not move on to China. (Clark, page 29)

2. In China, the diversion of the 35th Photogrammetry Section at Kunming, China. When the squadron arrived in China this section, which used aerial photographs taken by trimetrogon-configured cameras to derive maps, was retained at Kunming. (See posting “Trimet” of 21 Feb 2014 on this web log) On 6 February 1945, the 40 enlisted men comprising the section “…were transferred to the 4th Photo Tech Squadron upon activation of that unit.” Many of these men found their way eventually to become part of the 4th Photo Technical Unit, which was also on the Ballou for the return Stateside.

Members of the Redhawks, in the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron’s Photogrammetry Section, pose for a photo at Kunming, China, in October of 1944, shortly after arriving in-country. H. Allen Larsen is seen at left in the very back row.

Members of the Redhawks, in the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron’s Photogrammetry Section, pose for a photo at Kunming, China, in October of 1944, shortly after arriving in-country. H. Allen Larsen is seen at left in the very back row.

3. Transfer. At the beginning of September, 1945, the squadron then in China had 46 officers and 185 enlisted men on the roster. By 15 September, after “…transfers of essential personnel and fillers from other units…” the 35PRS had but 32 officers and 78 enlisted men – 110 men left to return together.

4. Personnel retained in theater after the war. This might be considered in the transfer department, but maybe not. At least several officers were kept in China (Clark, page 157), and appear to have included Capt. William L. Maher, 1st Lt. Arthur W. Clark, 1st Lt. Glenn V. Embree, 1st Lt. Thomas H. Klausmeyer, 1st Lt. Casimir J. Ostrowski, and 1st Lt. Jay M. Shields, who were placed on the roster of the Redhawk’s sister squadron, the 21st PRS, for accountability purposes.

The personnel retained after the war (including some members of the former 35th PRS Photogrammetry Section, like H. Allen Larsen) were put to work in China moving and disposing of equipment in various locations. These personnel returned to the States by ship in late 1945,The USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, was a vessel that took at least some of them, if not all, back to the States, sailing from Shanghai on 15 December 1945 and reaching Seattle on 29 December 1945.

USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, was the transport ship some "late-staying" members of the 35PRS took home from Shanghai to Seattle in December, 1945. (Courtesy NavSource)

USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, was the transport ship some “late-staying” members of the 35PRS took home from Shanghai to Seattle in December, 1945. (Courtesy NavSource)

But aboard the Gen. Ballou, according to the squadron manifest kindly furnished by Mr. Chris Davis of the 118th Tac Recon Squadron Association, of the 110 Redhawks there were at least four of the original 1941 members of the squadron (18 April 1941) still with the unit after four and a half years: Major Harvey E. Lounsbury, Jr., 1st Sergeant Lorne W. Restau, T/Sgt Harry A. Bachman and T/Sgt John W. Buckner, all of whom can be seen in the 1944 in China picture below.

Pictured here are ten of the 13 Oregon National Guard aviation pioneers who reached China in September 1944, in a photo taken at the 35th PRS base at Chanyi Airfield. In the front row, kneeling, from left to right are First Sergeant John Flavin, John Buckner, Kenneth Miller and Jack Shaylor. Standing behind them, from left to right, are Harry Bachman, Roy Wolford, Charles Estes, Harvey Lounsbury, Lorne Restau and Cyrus Dolph. Note the distinctive Redhawk emblem on the jackets of four of the men standing, which was continued in use after the war when the squadron was redesignated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron. (142FW Archives)

Pictured here are ten of the 13 Oregon National Guard aviation pioneers who reached China in September 1944, in a photo taken at the 35th PRS base at Chanyi Airfield. In the front row, kneeling, from left to right are First Sergeant John Flavin, John Buckner, Kenneth Miller and Jack Shaylor. Standing behind them, from left to right, are Harry Bachman, Roy Wolford, Charles Estes, Harvey Lounsbury, Lorne Restau and Cyrus Dolph. Note the distinctive Redhawk emblem on the jackets of four of the men standing, which was continued in use after the war when the squadron was redesignated as the 123rd Fighter Squadron. (142FW Archives)

On the evening of 14 October, the Gen. Ballou arrived at Columbo Harbor, Ceylon and anchored there until the next morning, when she departed westward for Port Said, Egypt. On 23 October she transited the Suez Canal, and moored in Berth 3-E at Port Said. On the morning of the 24th, she departed for New York, New York.

For a look at pictures of shipboard life taken on this October-November voyage home of the Gen. Ballou, please see Russ Padden’s wonderful collection of images, shared at: and http://www.rpadden.com/157/AP157.htm

It was when passing south of Sicily on 26 October that the Redhawks lost Flight Officer Stanley C. Price, reportedly to diphtheria. (Described in detail in 26 October 2015 posting, “The Last Redhawk Lost in World War II”).

As indicated above, the USS General C. C. Ballou arrived in New York on 5 November 1945. Details of the squadron’s passage from ship to shore are not available, but official USAAF histories indicate the 35th PRS was present at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 5 November 1945, thus completing the squadron’s long journey back to the States from the sky roads of China. Redhawk Mission Complete!
References

The Kingston Daily Freeman, Kingston New York, Monday evening, 5 November 1945, Page Eighteen, at: http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2010/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman%201945%20Grayscale/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman%201945%20c%20Grayscale%20-%200258.pdf

War Diary of the USS General C. C. Ballou, AP-157, October 1945, on Fold3 subscription website

Clark, Arthur W., Eyes of the Tiger – China 1944 – 1945, self-published, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2015 (available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Tiger-1944-1945-Arthur-Clark/dp/0692446206

USS General C. C. Ballou, images from http://www.rpadden.com/157/index.html

USS General H. L. Scott, AP-136, image from NavSource, at: http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/22/22136.htm

35th Photo Recon Squadron official histories, 1944, 1945

Image of original 123rd Observation squadron members in China, 1944, in article “The Oregon Air National Guard and Victory over Japan Day (VJ-Day),” posted at:   http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123457558

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