The New Year brought the squadron the news for which it had long hoped. On January 9,1944, Lt. Clower, who had been reported as missing in action in the bombing attack on Myitkyina Airdrome on December 26, 1943, was reported safe and in the hands of friendly natives. He was brought into Ledo on January 15, 1944 flown back to Nagaghuli on the 17th. His was a harrowing tale of the twelve day trek alone through the jungle with Japanese patrols always near and with virtually no food. Despite the ordeal he had been through he had weathered it well. Rest and good food were what he needed and received for complete recovery.
1. Organizational Changes.
Although officer strength during the month remained unchanged at 52 there were again some turnovers. Four new pilots were assigned, Captain Donald A. Hanson, 1st Lts. Austin F. Freeman, Frank D. Parsons, and 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Rogers, and the squadron lost to the Port of Debarkation, Major Svenningson, and 1st Lt. Robert Braucher and John F. Keith. Captain Harrell assumed command of the squadrons of January 20, 1944
Nine enlisted men, all former members of the 51st fighter group were also transferred out of the squadron en route to the states. By far the biggest enlisted loss of the month was that of M/Sgt. William T Lambert, who was returned to the states for Engineering Officer Candidate School. Sgt. Lambert had been with the unit since July, 1942, coming from the 63rd Fighter Squadron and had held the position of Line Chief for over a year. His loss will be keenly felt, but there is not anyone who does not wish him success in his new opportunity. T/Sgt. Charles W. Smith is taking over Sgt. Lambert's former duties.
The changes referred to reduce the listed strength of the squadron from 273 at the first of the month to 264 at the months and.
During the month one of the the flights formally stationed at Sadiya was brought down to Nagaghuli in order that more planes of the Squadron might be available at all times for offensive missions.
Operations during the month are summarized in the following table:
The decrease in combat hours is all as sorting time over those of the previous month as our (unreadable)
Offensive missions continued at about the same pace during December. Reported enemy troop positions and installations in the vicinity of Kamaing were attacked on several occasions, and on January 25, 1944 a successful bombing attacked was carried out on the Loiling railroad bridge By-pass which had been constructed to replace the bridge previously destroyed by planes of the squadron in October 1943. Direct hits with 1000 pound bombs by Captain Harrell and Lt. Adair and Captain Powell of the 90th fighter squadron, who was flying with the 89th as part of the new group policy to rotate pilots between squadrons in order to allow pilots of the 90th to gain combat experience. As a result a of this attack the bypass was rendered unserviceable. Moderate and accurate anti-aircraft fire was encountered in the vicinity of the target.
During the month the average number of planes assigned to the Squadron were 24, 88.2% of which were in tactical commission throughout the month. Most of the P-40N-1 type aircraft assigned to the Squadron were transferred to the 90th squadron, and in return we received their P-40N-5 type aircraft which were better equipped for carrying out offensive bombing missions against the enemy.
3.Contact with Enemy Aircraft.
On January 18, 1944, a four ship patrol led by Lt. Shepard, and including Lts. Coll, Evans and JP Maguire encountered an enemy formation in the Fort Hertz area, consisting of approximately six bombers (SALLYS) and 10 to 12 fighters (OSCARS and one plane identified as a TOJO). Contact was made as result of which one fighter Oscar was claimed is destroyed by Lieutenant Evans, one fighter (OSCAR) damaged by Lt. Shepard and one fighter (TOJO) was damaged by Lieutenant Coll. We suffered no losses.
4. Awards and Decorations.
On January 9, 1944 Lieutenant May was awarded the Purple Heart (appendix n0. 9)
On January 12 1944, a practice ground alert against simulated paratrooper and air attack was held at Nanghuli and in the Mahenbari area. By coincidence a real red alert was sounded in the same timeframe adding considerable realism to the whole affair. Our planes were airborne but the reported enemy planes turned out to be friendly.
On January 16, 1944, a squadron party was held at the Dibrugarh Club, and through the good efforts of Lt. Binns, S/Sgt. Paul Fritz, a former florist, and the mess personnel headed by S/Sgt. Scamby, it was a great success. All available feminine talent was rounded up including the long suffering Red Cross girl who contributed greatly to the party’s success. Music was furnished furnished by Lt. McMillan and an orchestra rounded up by him for the occasion.
Another decided contribution to the morale of the squadron came in the form of promotions long overdue and finally recorded to 15 enlisted men. For many months the squadron had been over strength both in numbers and available ratings due in part to the transfer in September of enlisted personnel from the 51st fighter group and other additions.
Also well deserved promotions,long awaited, were accorded 2nd Lts. Adair, Bell and Shepard each donning the silver bars of First Lieutenant.