The start of any project, including a writing project, can have a wide variety of circumstances in the origins leading to the effort. The influences and contributors are often unknown to the reader, either mentioned in a passage many skip over, or even omitted for some reason.
But these roots can make a story of their own to explain the genesis of a book-writing effort, for some things seem to happen miraculously. These contributing factors are essential in the creation of any work such as Major General Arthur Clark’s recently released Eyes of the Tiger: China 1944-1945.

Maj. Gen. Arthur W. Clark has written about his wartime experience with the 35th Photo Recon Squadron in the soon to be released Eyes of the Tiger (Courtesy Amazon.com)

Maj. Gen. Arthur W. Clark has written about his wartime experience with the 35th Photo Recon Squadron in the soon to be released Eyes of the Tiger (Courtesy Amazon.com)

You will learn of some of these influences and contributors to this book in the video below of the launch event of General Arthur Clark’s recollection of his wartime service in the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron.


For more information on this book helping tell the story of the Redhawks at war, see:

http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Tiger-1944-1945-Arthur-Clark/dp/0692446206/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442472420&sr=8-1&keywords=eyes+of+the+tiger+arthur+clark

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The oldest member known ever assigned to the 123rd Observation Squadron/35th Photo Recon Squadron in World War II is Mr. Loren Wade of Winfield, Kansas.  Mr. Wade was a crew chief in the 35PRS in China, 1944-1945, working to ensure the squadron’s Lockheed F-5 Photo Lightning recon aircraft were operational and mission capable.

These days Mr. Wade is still working, at age 103, keeping his community Walmart mission capable.  The work ethic he used to keep the Redhawk aircraft going in China enables him to keep productively employed today.  See the video report from earlier this summer posted at:

For more information on a crew chief’s duties, see the earlier post “A Salute to the Senior Redhawk,” at:

https://35prs.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/a-salute-to-the-senior-redhawk/

On the first Sunday in September, 1945, at 1030 Japan time, the Second World War came to a close on the decks of the US Navy battleship USS Missouri.

 General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Watching from across the table are Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Representatives of the Allied powers are behind General MacArthur. Photographed from atop Missouri's 16-inch gun turret # 2. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.   (US Navy)

General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Watching from across the table are Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Representatives of the Allied powers are behind General MacArthur. Photographed from atop Missouri’s 16-inch gun turret # 2. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (US Navy)

Over in China, members of the 35th Photo Recon Squadron were scrambling as the instrument of surrender was signed by Japanese representatives on the Missouri. This movement was the result of the Japanese decision to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and end the war.

When the Japanese decision to surrender was first announced on 15 August, the squadron headquarters was in the midst of a move from Chanyi Airfield north of Kunming eastward to Liuchow Airfield north-northeast of Nanning.

Liuchow was a Fourteenth Air Force base for much of the war, but in November, 1944, Imperial Japanese ground forces had captured it as part of their large-scale China offensive. The base was recaptured from the enemy in June, 1945. Once restored to an operational capability, air units were able to move there again, hence the 35PRS change of station.

LIUCHOW AIRSTRIP as it looked when Chinese troops recaptured the airfield. Note large craters in runway.  (US Army, via Iblio.org)

LIUCHOW AIRSTRIP as it looked when Chinese troops recaptured the airfield. Note large craters in runway. (US Army, via Iblio.org)

The Squadron’s move to Liuchow began on 26 July 1945 when two officers, Major Harvey E. Lounsbury, Jr. and Capt. Jack R. Curnutt, left for Liuchow as an advanced echelon. This presaged some other changes, as on 1 August, the squadron was reassigned from Fourteenth Air Force to Tenth Air Force. The two numbered air forces had moved just prior to this date, with Tenth Air Force moving from India to Kunming, China, and Fourteenth Air Force displacing from Kunming to Peishyi, near Chungking.

The squadron’s movement to Liuchow stepped up a notch when Capt. Casimir J. Ostrowski and 12 men left for the new base on 3 August. But the operational picture in the Far East changed drastically by mid-month when the Japanese surrendered. A period of uncertainty took place regarding American forces in China. But on 27 August the squadron received orders to return all personnel to Chanyi.

Another command and control change occurred on 30 August, when the squadron was reassigned from Tenth Air Force back to Fourteenth Air Force, a development which boosted squadron morale, as members were proud of their Flying Tiger affiliation. VJ-Day found personnel still filtering in from other locations, but by 6 September 1945, all personnel from Liuchow and the outlying flights at other airfields had reached Chanyi, eagerly anticipating further orders.
References

Operation Ichi-Go, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ichi-Go

Tenth Air Force, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Air_Force

Fourteenth Air Force, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Air_Force

“14th Air Force Punching Way Back To China’s ‘Bataan’ – Liuchow,” The China Lantern, 8 June 1945 issue, at: http://cbi-theater-1.home.comcast.net/~cbi-theater-1/lantern/lantern060845.html
Images

Surrender aboard USS Missouri, at: http://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-people/m/macarthur-douglas-in-japan-august-1945-june-1950/80-g-332701.html

Liuchow Airfield, at: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-CBI-Time/USA-CBI-Time-12.html

General Chennault’s Flying Tigers are an icon of the air war against Imperial Japan, as was his Fourteenth Air Force also known by that name. And any hungry tiger on the prowl uses its eyes in hunting, hence the importance of the eyes of the tiger. Certainly Chennault and his air warriors were that kind of hungry tiger.

Curtiss Tomahawk fighters of the 3rd Squadron, 1st American Volunteer Group - "Flying Tigers" over China, photographed in 1942 by AVG pilot Robert T. Smith.  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Curtiss Tomahawk fighters of the 3rd Squadron, 1st American Volunteer Group – “Flying Tigers” over China, photographed in 1942 by AVG pilot Robert T. Smith. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Soon joining the body of published literature discussing the role of the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II is Eyes of the Tiger: China 1944-1945, a new book by Major General Arthur W. Clark, USAF (Retired). The 35th PRS served as the “Eyes of the Tiger” in World War II.

Maj. Gen. Arthur W. Clark has written about his wartime experience with the 35th Photo Recon Squadron in the soon to be released Eyes of the Tiger (Courtesy Amazon.com)

Maj. Gen. Arthur W. Clark, USAF (Ret) has written about his wartime experience with the 35th Photo Recon Squadron in the soon to be released Eyes of the Tiger: China 1944 – 1945.  (Courtesy Amazon.com)

General Clark, then a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, recounts his experience with the 35th PRS, a unit with origins in the Oregon National Guard’s first aviation unit, the 123rd Observation Squadron, which first activated in Portland, Oregon on 18 April 1941.

After absorbing the sometimes painful and costly lessons learned in the early battles of the war in the Pacific and North Africa, the 123rd was redesignated and repurposed by the Army Air Forces in 1943  as a photo reconnaissance squadron. The squadron trained to operate the Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning, and prepared to deploy overseas to a combat theater in 1944.

General Clark’s account follows the squadron’s preparation for overseas service, its long journey by ship across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Mediterranean, down the Suez Canal, across the Red Sea and Arabian Sea, arrival in and movement by rail across India, and then by air over the Himalayan Mountains (The Hump ) into China.

A 35PRS F-5E Photo Lightning rests at Yunnanyi Airfield in China, circa late 1944 - early 1945 (Courtesy John Brasko, Jr.)

A 35PRS F-5E Photo Lightning rests at Yunnanyi Airfield in China, circa late 1944 – early 1945 (Courtesy John Brasko, Jr.)

In China, the 35th PRS established its base at Chanyi and sent flights out to various forward airfields to increase the reach of photographic reconnaissance against the forces and operations of Imperial Japan in China and Southeast Asia. Out there with a forward flight Lt. Clark served as an intelligence officer during 1944 and 1945. He eventually returning to the United States after the end of the war.

His book is now being advertised on Amazon and is a welcome addition to the publications discussing the role of the Lockheed Lightning aircraft in World War II, aerial reconnaissance, the air war in China and the 35th Photo Recon Squadron. A hand salute to General Arthur W. Clark for sharing his wartime experience with the Redhawks of the 35th PRS!

http://www.amazon.in/Eyes-Tiger-1944-1945-Arthur-Clark/dp/0692446206

From the P-38 National Association page in Facebook – though mostly describing the fighter variants of the Lightning, you can find a Photo Recon verse in there to give respects to the 35th PRS and other similar squadrons:

(Author unknown. Wichita Beacon, circa 1940s)

When you hear a whistle in the sky
And see those twin tails streaking by,
You know that you have one less chance
Of ever making an advance.

When you started this war in thirty-nine,
There was no P-38 assembly line.
When you bombed Pearl Harbor in forty-one
That assembly had just begun.

When that line really began to move
You knew that we were in the groove.
When they first hit Africa in forty-two,
You began to think that you were through.

Now we are turning them out faster and faster
The sooner to bring you disaster.
Every one that leaves the assembly line
Helps to shorten your allotted time.

We use them for the camera ship
Because their speed gives you the slip,
And when the photographs they take,
Our bombers follow in their wake.

They escort bombers far and wide,
And on every mission tan your hide.
From the rooftops to the stratosphere,
Of all your planes they are the peer.

The Zero, it was sure well named,
For when the Lightnings’ guns are aimed,
The pilot gives them one quick burst,
There’s nothing there, the Zeros cursed.

Over in Europe it’s just the same,
Focke-Wulfs and Messerschmitts are fair game.
Our pilots chase them from the sky
And make of Goebbels’ boasts a lie.

For every time their five guns roar,
The Axis rats die by the score.
Fork’tailed terrors of the air,
They make our enemies despair.

This Memorial Day, we remember all the 11 Airmen of the 123d Observation Squadron / 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron lost in service during World War II. By name, and with available information, they are:

Asteriou, Hillie N., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. Killed 15 Sep 1945 during a routine flight at Shuangliu, China.

Asteriou Hillie

Asteriou, Hillie N., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. Killed 15 Sep 1945 during a routine flight at Shuangliu, China.

Behrens, Estal W., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. Killed 2 Feb 1945 during a photo recon mission flying F-5E serial number 43-28583. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, at Plot O, Grave 16.

Grave of 1st Lt. Estal W. Behrens (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Grave of 1st Lt. Estal W. Behrens (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Berringer, Merroll J., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. MIA 21 Nov 1944 during a photo recon mission flying F-5E-2 serial number 44-23237 from Flight “H” at Suichuan (MACR 10095). He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Republic of the Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Deen, III,,William W., Capt., 35th PRS. MIA, later determined he was killed 1 Aug 1945 flying F-5E-2 serial number 43-28301 during an administrative flight between Nanning and Chanyi (MACR 14849). He is buried at the Austin Memorial Park Cemetery, Austin, Texas, at Plot: 1-365-5.

Grave of Capt. William W. Deen, III., at the Austin Cemetery (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Grave of Capt. William W. Deen, III., at the Austin Cemetery (Courtesy Find a Grave)

French, Phillip L., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. MIA 31 Aug 1945 during an administrative flight flying F-5E-2 serial number 43-28397 between Chanyi and Chihkiang (MACR 14836). He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Republic of the Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal.

Green, Bruce C., M/Sgt, 32d PRS (former 123d Obs Sqn). MIA 20 Apr 44 aboard SS Paul Hamilton in Mediterranean Sea off Algeria. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

M/Sgt Bruce C. Green, an original member of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron (now the 123rd Fighter Squadron), Killed in Action while assigned to the 32rd Photo Recon Squadron on April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy 142nd Fighter Wing History Archives)

M/Sgt Bruce C. Green, an original member of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron (now the 123rd Fighter Squadron), Killed in Action while assigned to the 32rd Photo Recon Squadron on April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy 142nd Fighter Wing History Archives)

Mayer, Leonard W., S/Sgt, 32d PRS (former 123d Obs Sqn). MIA 20 Apr 44 aboard SS Paul Hamilton in Mediterranean Sea off Algeria. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

S/Sgt Leonard W. Mayer, an original member of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron (now the 123rd Fighter Squadron), Killed in Action while assigned to the 32rd Photo Recon Squadron on April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy 142rd Fighter Wing History Archives)

S/Sgt Leonard W. Mayer, an original member of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron (now the 123rd Fighter Squadron), Killed in Action while assigned to the 32rd Photo Recon Squadron on April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy 142rd Fighter Wing History Archives)

McKinney, Franklin J., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. MIA 5 Nov 1944 on a photo recon mission flying F-5E-2 serial number 43-28615 from Flight “G” at Yunnan-yi (MACR 10057). He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Republic of the Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Miller, Albert R., T/Sgt, 32d PRS (former 123d Obs Sqn). MIA 20 Apr 44 aboard SS Paul Hamilton in Mediterranean Sea off Algeria. He is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

T/Sgt Albert R. Miller, an original member of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron (now the 123rd Fighter Squadron), Killed in Action while assigned to the 32rd Photo Recon Squadron on April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy 142rd Fighter Wing History Archives)

T/Sgt Albert R. Miller, an original member of Oregon’s 123rd Observation Squadron (now the 123rd Fighter Squadron), Killed in Action while assigned to the 32rd Photo Recon Squadron on April 20, 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy 142rd Fighter Wing History Archives)

Price, Stanley C., F/O, 35 PRS. Died 26 Oct 1945 aboard ship seven days out of Calcutta. He was involved in a landing accident while flying F-5E serial number 44-24914 at Chanyi on 8 Sep 1945; however to this web log if this incident was related to his subsequent death aboard ship. He is buried at the Lakeside Cemetery, Muskegon, Michigan, USA, at Plot: 76-2.

Grave of Flight Officer Stanley C. Price at Lakeside Cemetery (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Grave of Flight Officer Stanley C. Price at Lakeside Cemetery (Courtesy Find a Grave)

Shafer, Kenneth E., 1st Lt., 35th PRS. Killed 13 Nov 1944 while flying F-5E serial number 43-28599 on a routine flight from Chanyi (MACR 10065).

Hand Salute!
References

35PRS monthly history reports, various

American battle Monuments Commission website, WWII database, accessed at: http://www.abmc.gov/

Aviation Archaeological Investigation and research website, accident and MACR databases for 1944 and 1945, accessed at: http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/default.htm

Photos of Green, Mayer and Miller, at: “A Somber Thursday, 20 April 1944,” http://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123408000

Monday, 25 May 2015. Memorial Day. Not just a holiday, but Memorial Day. It is a time to remember those men and women of the armed forces who died while on duty in service to our nation.

memorial-day-hours-of

Too many people confuse it with Veterans Day and think it is for honoring all veterans. And probably vice versa too.

Far too many American citizens think Memorial Day is about a day off, or the start of summer, BBQ grilling, picnics, sales extravaganzas, etc. Those who think so shallowly of the freedom they enjoy ignorantly trample on the graves and memories of our fallen heroes. Is it too much to ask for a remembrance of those who gave their all for the rest of us?

memorial-day

Do you ever wonder what people really mean when they say “Happy Memorial Day!”? Have they, have we, really thought that through? For another veteran’s perspective on that, read Jennie Heskamp’s viewpoint published in the Washington Post on 22 May 2015, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/05/22/im-a-veteran-and-i-hate-happy-memorial-day-heres-why/

Memorial Day should not to be confused with any other holiday. It is to remember those who were lost in service to our country. They paid the ultimate price to help ensure the freedom and liberty which we enjoy today. And for which so many take for granted.

How can we remember such patriots? There are many ways to do so. The only thing they require is some initiative, some small effort.

Remember a family member or friend who was lost in the service. Speak their name. Share a memory about them.

Look around you at your family, friends and community, and appreciate all of what they mean to you, that you are able to do that because someone else laid their life on the line to defend it.

Visit a veteran’s cemetery and read the names, units and dates on the headstones. Find some for a unit you served in or a conflict you fought in.

memorial-day3

Participate in a Memorial Day ceremony or event in your community, or create one of your own.
Pray for the fallen, their families and loved ones.

Fly Old Glory in their honor.

Take an active role as a citizen of the country and your community, and express yourself to your elected representatives – too many of who have no idea of what they are doing getting us into some of the foreign messes they have. Too many of these scoundrels have been elected, and even re-elected by ignorant citizens.

There are consequences to any involvements, no matter how worthy (or not) the cause. Some of our men and women in uniform don’t walk away from them; forever more they don’t walk away.

Citizens should not be silent or indolent lest they lose what freedom and liberty they enjoy. For freedom isn’t free, as we all should remember, on Memorial Day…

Germany, 5 November 1943.  38th Fighter Squadron P-38H Lightning fighter, serial number 42-67060 Skylark IV," squadron code CG-S.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Herbert T. Winter, was killed in a dogfight.

Germany, 5 November 1943. 38th Fighter Squadron P-38H Lightning fighter, serial number 42-67060 Skylark IV,” squadron code CG-S. The pilot, 2nd Lt. Herbert T. Winter, was killed in a dogfight.

P-38 image from:  http://www.station131.co.uk/55th/Pilots/38th%20Pilots/Winter%20Herbert%20T%20Lt.htm

As the campaign against Japan in China continued, the aircraft of the Redhawks required regular care and attention before and after every mission. In addition to the usual aircraft maintenance activities performed on the flightline, there was also aircraft maintenance which was performed on a programmed periodic basis. Since the war in the China-Burma-India Theater was an economy effort in a worldwide war, the men of the 35PRS had to do their best to make their machines last at the end of a long supply line, and abide by the programmed schedules for this periodic maintenance.

USAAF ground crews accomplished various levels of inspection on aircraft after they were flown for 25 hours, 50 hours and 100 hours, and accomplished any repair work required to return the aircraft to an operational status. According to one reference, a typical action item on a 100-hour inspection was to check the landing gear: “…one of the many inspections called out by the tech order was to “swing the landing gear.” This required jacking up the four-ton bird so as to send the main gear and the nose gear through the raising and lowering cycle to check operation, smooth closing of the covering surfaces with gear up, check warning lights for UP and DOWN positions, proper locking, etc.”

An aircraft’s powerplant(s) also required periodic maintenance. This quoted reference indicated that “An engine that had accumulated 500 hours of flight time had to be removed and sent to the depot for overhaul.”

An F-5 undergoes an engine change in the South West Pacific Area, this example belonging to the 8th Photo Recon Squadron, part of Fifth Air Force (Courtesy Worldwarphotos.info)

An F-5 undergoes an engine change in the South West Pacific Area, this example belonging to the 8th Photo Recon Squadron, part of Fifth Air Force (Courtesy Worldwarphotos.info)

As aircraft from the outlying flights of the squadron periodically cycled back to Chanyi for 100-hour inspections, maintenance men, or engineering, as maintenance was known then, went over the aircraft in detail to accomplish the pertinent technical order tasks.

Let us take a look at F-5E # 812, which in January 1945 was with H Flight at Suichwan. On 12 January, 1st Lt. Estal W. Behrens took off at 1040 and flew the ship on a ferrying flight across enemy lines and some 670 miles to reach Chanyi by 1440 hours for the aircraft’s 100-hour inspection. Behrens stayed at Chanyi until 17 January, when he flew back to Suichwan in F-5E # 805.

Ground crew members of the 459th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the "Twin Dragon Squadron", working on a Lockheed P-38 at an air base in Chittagong, India - January 1945.  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Ground crew members of the 459th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the “Twin Dragon Squadron”, working on a Lockheed P-38 at an air base in Chittagong, India – January 1945. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

By 18 January, the inspection was completed, and the aircraft was reassigned to E Flight at Chihkiang. On this day 2nd Lt. Robert C. Nelson flew the aircraft from Chihkiang at 0830 on a Tri-Met mission. Unfortunately, the aircraft experienced an engine failure – his right engine was missing while over Po Yang Hu Lake, and the left engine (liquid-cooled) was leaking coolant, a bad thing for a liquid cooled engine. Not reaching the target area, near Wuchang he decided to return to a friendly field and recovered safely at # 812’s former home at Suichwan, as it turned out. One wonders what kind of feedback went back to Chanyi after this sortie.

H Flight maintenance crews at Suichwan serviced and successfully repaired # 812 – perhaps they were familiar with how she liked to be treated. Lt. Nelson flew her out the next day, 19 January, on a Tri-Met photo mission of another area, taking off at 1400. Unfortunately, his target area was cloud-covered and the photo recon mission was unsuccessful, but the good news is that # 812 did make it to Chihkiang to safely land by 1550 hours that day. Old 812 would soon be back in the skies for another mission, thanks to the ground crews of the 35PRS.
References

35th PRS Mission Reports for January 1945

Olmsted, Merle, with Bierly, Willard and Deshay, Joseph, “A View From the Flight Line,” online at: http://www.cebudanderson.com/viewfromtheline.htm

Pictures from

P-38 engine change, at: http://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/usa/aircrafts-2-3/p-38-lightning/8th-photo-squadron-f-5-lightning-maintenance/

P-38 maintenance, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_P-38_Lightning

New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1944, was a quiet time, operationally speaking, according to 35PRS records. No missions are noted in the logs for “E” Flight at Chihkiang, “G” Flight at Yunnanyi, or “H” Flight at Suichwan.

However, pauses in activity were not always attributable to any holiday schedule. Being in China, the 35PRS shared the hardships of other units in the CBI, with being on the distant end of the global supply line.

There was the supply of gasoline, which could be a problem curtailing operations. Every gallon of fuel had to be laboriously transported over the Hump, the Himalayas Mountains. And a voracious consumer of aviation gasoline was now present in the Chengdu area of China in the form of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber, At times there just wasn’t enough gasoline to go around, and 35PRS operations were restricted.

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber at a dusty airfield in the CBI, 1944 (LIFE, via CBI Theater website)

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber at a dusty airfield in the CBI, 1944 (LIFE, via CBI Theater website)

There was also the issue of spare parts for aircraft. The F-5 was only used by two photo recon squadrons in China, small numbers compared to other theatres of war such as the ETO or MTO. Given the time and distance factors, remedial actions to repair an aircraft requiring parts could either be satisfied by cannibalizing another aircraft of the same type, or through the supply system, and things took time.

Then there was the weather, which could sock-in a given Redhawk flight, or even frustrate a mission if the recon targets were obscured by the weather. And it did get cold and frosty in China during the wintertime, affecting the ground echelon as well as the pilots.

Nevertheless, even during these pauses in operations, squadron members sought to continually improve their operations. For example, E” Flight at Chihkiang noted some significant activity at the end of December, 1944. According to the monthly history compiled by 2nd Lt. Donald L. Dance, Flight Admin Officer,: “The close of the month found the 18th Photo Intelligence Department* setting up in a tent next to the (photo) lab, which makes the value of photo reconnaissance here much greater. This permits the desimination (sic) of intelligence reports to be greatly speeded up to the advantage of the entire China theatre.”

*Probably the AAF 18th Photo Intelligence Detachment of 14th Air Force

He also added mention of an airfield infrastructure improvement: “Also towards the end of the old year, work was begun on the Alert shack. A little weather stripping here and a little nailing of boards there, to make the shack a little more comfortable during these long, cold, and windy days. With a few pin-ups around, it will be almost like home- – – – – – – well, almost.”

Example of pinup art by George Petty.  (Courtesy Petty Project website)

Example of pinup art by George Petty. (Courtesy Petty Project website)

Certainly it became merry at “G” Flight when Captain Dent returned from India bearing gifts for the men of the flight.  His return via Kunming was a little bit “festive” perhaps, as the Japanese bombed the base on Christmas Eve, following through with Japanese threats to the American forces stationed at Kunming.

Allen Larsen, with the Photogrammetry Section at Kunming, remembered ““Tokyo Rose” had ‘forecast’ that we would be having Christmas Dinner in India or she would have our dog tags.”  The Imperial Japanese forces made sporadic efforts against Kunming in the holiday season to achieve this aim, though they were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, about 175 miles to the west, the Combat Intel Officer at “G” Flight, and jack of all ground officer trades, Lt, Arthur Clark, witnessed Dent’s arrival from Kunming on Christmas Day.  He recalls of that Christmas Day at Yunnanyi: “I remember Dent’s coming and bringing items to eat and drink. I believe we had a couple of beer’s apiece.”  With the flight busy with support of the Salween Campaign, it was a welcome break.

While some might smile to see a reference to a couple bottles of beer and think it no big deal, one must remember the incredible logistics efforts involved in getting anything to China in World War II.  A smile about two bottles of beer could truly be genuine, especially if you were an American serviceman in China in 1944!

And to the readers of this web log, however you might celebrate it, a Merry Christmas to you and yours!  If anyone should need a reminder of what Christmas is about, just listen to Linus explain it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPhqMJpQsYQ