P-47  "JUG"
 
 
 

Unit History From Arrival E.T.O. to 30 April 1944

 
 
  1. Organization: 412th Fighter Squadron

  2. Strength: 268 Enlisted Men and 43 Officers.

  3. Date of Arrival: Arrived Station 419, Woodchurch, Kent at 1200, 4 April 1944.

 
 

The Squadron disembarked at Greenock, Scotland at 1500 hours 3 April 1944, going directly to the Railroad Station by ferry from H.M.S. Duchess of Bedford. The voyage across the Atlantic was pleasant, yet uneventful. All personnel present and accounted for, in good health, morale high. There had been little sea sickness aboard and no serious illness.

A troop train awaited us, our first experience with British lines. The small coaches and light construction amazed everyone. No sooner was the train boarded, than we were serenaded by a good Scottish Kilts band. A gesture of welcome appreciated by all. While the band played, a Red Cross unit passed thru the train with hot American coffee, doughnuts, cigarettes and chewing gum. After thirteen days aboard ship with English made coffee and tea, real honest to God American coffee was a real treat.

The troop train made up of 1st and 3rd class coaches, (Train Commander) Michael J. Ingelido left promptly on scheduled time, 1800 hours, for the trip across Scotland, thru London, an overnight journey, arriving at Asnford, Kent the following morning at 1115 hours.

We were met by the advance party of our group who had preceded us a month before, Major Bennink, Major Blate, Captain Feld. It was a pleasure to greet Major Bennink, as Colonel, and to advise him that his promotion to Lt. Colonel had come thru since his departure from the states.

A truck transport was waiting to take us to our new station 419 located near Woodchurch, Kent.

It was a surprise to learn that we were assigned to the 9th Air Force. Our preconceived ideas of being in the 8th Air Force and consequent permanent billets and conveniences, were soon dispelled. Where were the accommodations where we were "To live like Kings" as we had been told thru letters received back in the States?

It was raining, dismal and gloomy when we arrived, and our first glimpse of our new home was none too preposessing. A few scattered tents, piles of belly tanks, a small cook tent, and acres of mud. After much confusion and milling around, even the cold unappetizing meal (after 28 hours of K rations) served was quite welcome. The presence of an American Red Cross Club Mobile, in charge of two attractive American girls handing out hot coffee and doughnuts, rather saved the day.

Upon arrival in the area assigned the 412th, Squadron Officers were assigned their quarters, an average or five to each pyramidal tent. In each case assigned by "flights" or "sections", so living together, and working together made for a well knit "team". The enlisted men were assigned an average of seven to a tent, also by sections and departments. The area assigned the squadron is well located on flat land, in the midst of an apple orchard. As it had been raining for a week before our arrival, galoshes were immediately issued to cope with the sticky mud and clay.

All was confusion during the first few days of "shake down" and organization. The cold, damp climate, bare tents without floors, surrounded by mud, called on the ingenuity of all to make rapid and necessary improvements.

Wood, while at a premium, was secured from every available source. Soon tent floors, tables, chairs, wash stands, were quickly built, and quarters then became more livable. Nothing much could be done to improve the English type stoves provided us, so in many cases outdoor fire places were built of brick foraged from nearby walls, that had probably been standing for many years, undisturbed until the "yanks" arrived. Within five days after our arrival the sun began to shine, the mud dried up, consequently spirits soared. Then for the first time it was realized that we are situated on what had been a beautiful old estate. Still intact were the main house, tenants homes, barns, walled in gardens, brick lined drainage ponds, even an old but very well built "spring house". The "spring house" was soon commandeered for use as an air raid shelter. The main house and surrounding buildings are being used by an R.A.F. outfit for head quarters and offices, while a British A.T.S. unit is stationed there. Liason between the A.T.S. girls and our enlisted men was quickly made.

Bicycles became very popular, many were purchased by both officers and men. Not only to provide transportation over the widely dispersed field, but as the most rapid and convenient transportation to the local pubs. Incidentally everyone soon "wised up" and learned whenever possible to have some native purchase their bikes for them. The usual local practice being two sets of prices, one for the English and one for the Yanks. Guess who paid double the usual price. Prices paid for bikes . . . (remaining text unreadable)

"Sweating out" mail soon became uppermost in everyones thoughts. The holding of out going mail for two weeks for security reasons caused much concern, due to failure of those back home to hear promptly of our safe arrival. All had been told that our next of kin would be promptly advised by the War Department of the safe arrival of our convoy. To date (April 29th) no one has learned of any such notification. This has caused much griping and bitching.

The first incoming mail arrived on April 11th but this was mail bearing our original A.P.O. number 9680, mail that had been written before we left the states, that which had accumulated at Richmond, Virginia and Camp Shanks.

The first letter received bearing new A.P.O. number 141 arrived for Capt. R. H. Nash on April 16th, with postmark April 11th. The probable reason for this was that Capt. Nash was on T.D. on April 5th and mailed a letter from an A.P.O. in London on that date. The first mail in any quantity to arrive using the new A.P.O. 141 arrived on April 23rd, nineteen days after our arrival here, thirty days from the date we sailed.

On April 17th (S.0. No. 75) Major Michael J. Ingelido, 1st Lt. Walter E. Knudson, 1st Lt. William A. Keller were assigned on T.D. with the 358th Fighter Group at Station #411 to participate in three operational missions.

Excitement ran rife in the squadron upon the return of these pilots to learn that Major Ingelido, while on his first mission in this theater, claimed a JU-88 destroyed. (Copy of Combat Claim [was] Attached). It seemed quite fitting that the Squadron C.O. should be first to contact E/A for it seemed a good omen, and what is to be expected from this "hot outfit" when it becomes operational for combat.

After the first two weeks of shake down and orientation, with daily ground school classes and exercises, our assigned planes started to arrive. The pilots shaking mud from their feet, flexing of muscles, and stretching of wings are happy to be airborne again, and welcome the opportunity to see this country from the air.

The regularity of mail, planes to fly, and the expectation of soon becoming operational brought morale to a new high peak.

 

 
 
Richard H. Nash,
Captain, Air Corps,
Squadron Historian.

Declassified DOD Dir 5200.9
 
     
 
 
 
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412th Insignia

last update: 10 Nov 04

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
     
 

412th Squadron patch image courtesy of Bruce Lowell and Bob Colangelo.