On our Facebook page, Parrothead Jeff brought up the story of the USS Biddle.
Monthly Archives: August 2015
Living where I do, I am surrounded by former air bases of the USAAF `Mighty Eighth`. I cannot go for a ride on my bike without passing, within a matter of 10 minutes, villages that were `home` to thousands of American servicemen. This photograph and the words below are those of Clive Stevens, an amateur historian whose home is on the edge of what was once one of those bases, near the village of Eye, Suffolk. Clive and I spoke at length a few years ago of our mutual interest in this particular piece of military history. It transpired that he came from the village that once housed officers and men of Easy Company, 506th PIR of the 101st Airborne. During the research for the HBO series `Band of Brothers`, Clive and his family met Stephen Ambrose, many of the production team and most importantly, members of those veterans of Easy Company who featured in that series. Some of this visit was captured on film and is available to view here.
On August 17th 1943, the US Eighth Air Force flying from England were to suffer one of their worst daylight combat missions of the war. By the end of the day, 60 Flying Fortress aircraft were missing, representing some 600 empty beds across the airfields of East Anglia. Out of those 600 missing airmen who had taken off that morning, many were to become Prisoners of War and many paid the ultimate price.
Whilst not wishing to disregard any of the units or men that participated in this terrible battle in the skies over Europe, the 100th Bomb Group (Thorpe Abbotts), 381st Bomb Group (Ridgewell), 390th Bomb Group (Framlingham) and the 91st Bomb Group (Bassingbourn) suffered the worst casualties of the day, with the 91st BG loosing 10 aircraft.
The photograph below shows a newly arrived 322nd Squadron crew to Bassingbourn in May 1943, in fact the pilot is still wearing his chino service cap, as this crew were not originally destined to come to England; their orders only being changed from an assignment to the Pacific Theatre at the 11th hour. The sadness as we study this photograph today is that the pilot (Lt Robert Schweitzer was killed flying with another crew over Emden and Lt Richard Martin (shown in the front row wearing his sheepskin B3 flying jacket 2nd right) was killed on this day over Schweinfurt when his B-17F Mizpah, was crippled by enemy attack.
Quoting from Ray Bowden’s excellent book ‘Plane Names & Fancy Noses’……………………………………………”The aircraft was repeatedly attacked by enemy fighters where they poured burst after burst of exploding 20mm cannon fire in the cockpit and walked machine gun bullets along the fuselage and into number 2 engine. The aircraft was seen going into a dive, loosing 1000 feet per minute but under control at 15,000 feet. But the inside of the plane was like a slaughter house with the pilot killed by 20mm fire and the co-pilot Lt George Bryan decapitated. The right waste gunner was dead as was the tail gunner. Miraculously five of the crew had survived and began to bail out, but the Navigator’s parachute (Lt Richard Martin – Shown) failed to deploy and he was later found dead. Mizpah ’til death us do part’ had proved a tragically apt choice of name for several of the crew.”
Bombardier James Harlow (second left), Captain C P Chima and the rest of the enlisted men shown survived the war. Spare a thought for the 600 men who never came home on that day, this month, seventy-two years ago.
These days it seems my memory comes and goes. Someone today reminded me that yes, 10 years have already gone by.
In 2006 my niece was getting married so instead of flying back I took my old (300,000+ miles) Mercedes on a 7,492 mile lap of America.
It was the kind of traveling that I love to do – other than the obligatory places to show up, America was mine to come and go as I pleased. I visited some friends in Oak Ridge TN and since Katrina had just been a year prior, and I had never seen New Orleans, thought I would use that as a waypoint.
After all it was only 800 miles out of the way.
I stayed in the suburb of Slidell after a long drive, and it seemed pretty normal.
Next morning I drove into New Orleans and that was different. Seemed other-wordly. That main boulevard you see – with the boarded up windows – was all under the water line.
Took a Gray Line tour, and the guide thanked us profusely for coming. Their business was down 90%.
Some things I really remembered – seeing a huge amusement park – a 6 Flags park, all closed. As was a giant shopping center.
Those bent rusty steel girders you see were near the 9th Ward where the water spilled from the canal.
There was a gated community all abandoned – you could have any home you wanted for about $50,000 but you couldn’t insure them as they were all flooded. I remember seeing a newer Mercedes S Class with spray paint on the roof saying don’t tow it.
As the rescuers floated by the homes they would spray paint the outside – I forget what it meant but it was divided into quadrants with each quadrant meaning something different.
The French Quarter was unscathed – it was above sea level – were the French the only ones with any sense hundreds of years ago?
Golf courses were ruined – there was one near this park – because of the brackish water – but at the park there was some kind of festival going on – people were having a good time.
It was a memorable visit.
Anyway, here’s a few pictures.
Another set of pics of the Desert that I live and work in.
I left for work a bit earlier than usual this morning. I keep the Nikon in the Titan for opportunities…………………………..Today was excellent. I am no Pinch Paisley by any stretch but I have fun with my basic D3000.
The sun had just peeked over the Rand Mountains and I even got the purple that is a desert thing over the Rocket Lab on the mountain near Boron.
I love the desert. It has a certain quality of silence in the morning. I do enjoy the drive into the base in the morning on days like this. It is a very awesome place.
Click em to make em big!
Awesome looking Typhoon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was in the Sunday Surfing today. This is one awesome looking Typhoon. They have the winner at this year’s Tiger Meet(Bucket List Item).
The stunning ‘Tiger Typhoon’ clinched the international award at the event in Schleswig, North Germany. In total over 60 aircraft from 12 different nations attended the Tigermeet which is a regular event aimed at encouraging nations to freely explore interoperability and joint operations in a informal and flexible environment.
The Typhoon Tiger is one of several Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in the Luftwaffe’s 74th Tactical Fighter Wing, formerly known as JG 74. The Bavarian Tigers first formed in March 2013 following the restructuring of the Luftwaffe that year. The Fighter Wing is based at Neuburg and Lechfeld Air Base in Bavaria. The tiger tradition was handed over from former Fighter Bomber Wing 32 in Lechfeld to Fighter Wing 74.
Kommodore Frank Graefe, who heads the Fighter Wing…
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