XXI MYITKYINA - October 1944


XXI MYITKYINA October 1944

  1. Organizational Changes:

The end of the month brought the announcement of of the division of the C.B.I. theater into two separate theaters, the India – Burma theater and the China theater. At the same time it was announced that General Stillwell whose name has become synonymous with a C.B.I.had been recalled to the states to take over an important but as yet undisclosed new assignment General Sultan who had been Chief of Staff to General Stillwell was given command of the India Burma Theater while at the same time general Wedemeyer assumed command of the newly created China theater

Within the squadron itself the month saw a decrease in officer personnel from 61 to 53 and in enlisted personnel from 260 to 250. Reflected in this decrease and largely unaccountable for it was the return to the states of Captains Whitley and Adair and Lts. Rhodes, Coll,Kanatzar, McReynolds and Dare, all after approximately 18 months of service in the theater, and also the return to the states of nine enlisted men after 33 months of service the return of this large contingent help to revive faith in the existence of a rotation policy. Although apparently operating smoothly as regards pilots personnel, the squadron still has 18 enlisted men with from 24 to 32 months service. It is hoped that rotation will soon catch up with these deserving citizens. Also returned to the states on emergency furloughs or T/Sgt. M.G. Genes and Pfc. E.L.Johnson.

To new pilots were assigned to the squadron during the month 2Lts. Royal V. Heith, Jr.and Carol E. Cook, and we lost on a transferred to the hospital Lt. Milton after a long period of illness and convalescence.

2. Operations

Although October was the first complete month of operations at full strength in Myitkyina, it proved also to be the most active month in the Squadron’s history. Operations for the month are reflected in the following:

900 hours flown in combat patrols 560 sorties

1001 offensive combat hours flown 419 sorties, 181 tons bombs dropped 256,045 rounds of ammo

October's figures show approximately a one third increase in almost all departments over the high of any previous month with the most significant figure being those of 919 sorties flown as compared to 660 in December 1943, 161 tons of bombs dropped against hundred and 518.5 tons in March and 256,045 rounds of 50 caliber ammunition expanded as against hundred 192,722 rounds in April. Generally speaking the weather was favorable to the increased operational activities of the squadron. At the same time the number of sorties flown looms large particularly because during this period the squadron had assigned to it an average of only 21 aircraft of which only 83% were in tactical commission during the month those figures are appreciably lower than for any other month during which the squadron was on a full combat operational basis. As regards maintenance however they are not comparable with those of any prior period of intense operational activity due to the change in type of aircraft assigned as well as the more rigorous operating conditions imposed principally by the runway.

Having priority over all other types of missions for the overlapping patrols run in the mission area, in addition planes of the squadron flew 419 offensive combat sorties which number was exceeded only during our operations in April and May, of this 419 sorties, 195 involved attacks against reported Jap supply and troop dispositions and fighter sweeps along the Burma Road and against enemy airdromes. Two of the principal targets hit were Man Wing and Meng Mao. In each case the 15 to 20 fire started the column of grayish black smoke and the observed secondary explosions testified to the fact that large concentrations of Jap stores had been hit. In both missions 325 pound landmines were used, each plane carrying two of these bombs. In the mission against Meng Mao four planes carried for the first time 500 lb. incendiary bombs, two to each plane and they were used with telling effect against the target.

Twenty-nine missions involving, 117 sorties, were run in close support of the troops of the British 36th division driving south down the Mandalay-Mogaung- Myitkyina rail line. A commendation addressed to units of the Tenth Air Force participating in these operations was received from Major General Festing, commanding, and a copy is annexed as appendix 41

The balance of the missions run, 19 in number and comprising 107 sorties, run against road bridges located on the main enemy supply lines to Bhamo and Salween Front. In all a total of 10 bridges were destroyed six of them being main bridges, three of them bypasses constructed near where the main bridge had been destroyed and one a reconstructed bridge. A map showing the location of the principal bridges hit with the exception of the one at Agu, together with pictures of certain of them is annexed as appendix 42. There can be little doubt but the destruction of these bridges including also the Hinlong bridge destroyed by planes of this squadron in an attack on September 23rd, has done much to disrupt the enemy lines of communication. This is apparent not only from the strategic locations but as well from the rapidity which the enemy has sought either to repair the bridges or constructed by passes to replace them.

In missions run against bridge targets by planes of this squadron prior to this month the dive bombing approach had been used almost exclusively. It was this method of attack with 500 lb general-purpose bombs, instantaneous settings, released from 1800 to 2000 feet above the target, that accounted for five of the bridges destroyed during the early part of this month. During the latter part of this month a glide approach to the target from 30 - 45 degrees was employed with the release being approximately 200 feet above the target. The same type of bombs were used but with 8 to 11 second delay fuses. Although sufficient experience with the glide approach has not yet been had, it is the general consensus of opinion that where the target permits, a glide approach produces a greater degree of accuracy particularly among less experienced pilots. To the extent that it has been used a closer bomb pattern has been obtained in greater consistency and accuracy noted

During the past two months the offensive operations of the squadron have been confined principally to the Bhamo area and the Burma Road south of Lungling. It is for this reason that particular pride maybe taken in the commendation from General Stillwell addressed generally to units of the 10th Air Force operating in this area a copy of this commendation is annexed as appendix 43

3. Contact with the enemy

Another month passed without any contact being made by our planes with enemy aircraft.

One and possibly two enemy aircraft, believed to have been the Army light bomber Lily, did conduct a surprise raid on the base at 1845 hrs. on October 27. Approaching the field with lights on, at an altitude of about 300 feet, the raiders swept the field fired short bursts forward and upon reaching the south end of the strip drop delayed fused fragmentation bombs and a few demolition bombs. The area feeling the impact of the attack was also our dispersal area. Two P-47’s sustained major damage when receiving a direct hit in the wing root and another a direct hit on the engine accessory section and in the wing gun bay, and three more suffered minor damage. There were no casualties among personnel as a result of this trade.

4. Awards and Decorations

During the month awards were made to pilots of the squadron as follows:

Second Oakleaf Cluster To The Distinguished Flying Cross

Major William S Harrell

Captain Charles G Whitley

Second Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal

Captain Charles G Whitley

1st Lt. James F May, Jr.

1st Lt. Edward C O'Connor (Deceased)

1st Lt. Ralph E Rhodes

First Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross

Captain Elbert R. McMillan Jr.

1st Lt. Sherry Dare f

1st Lt. Austin F Freeman

1st Lt. James F May Jr.

1st Lt. Ralph E Rhodes

First Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Metal

1st Lt. Fred S Evans

1st Lt. Austin F Freeman

1st Lt. James P Maguire Jr.

1st Lt. Wharton E Moller

1st Lt. John Makar

2nd. Lt. Steven P Wheaton

Distinguished Flying Cross

Captain Alan P Rankin

1st. Lt. Hobart D Kanatzur

2nd. Lt. William M Cutler

2nd. Lt.Percy a Marshall

Air Medal

Captain Alan P Rankin

2nd. Lt. Donald P Maxwell

2nd Lt. John Mohr

A copy of the order confirming the above is annexed as appendix 44

In addition to the above awards Captain Donald A. Hansen who was killed in action in the operations in connection with the seizure of Myitkyina airdrome was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, posthumously, for heroism while participating in aerial flight. A copy of the citation confirming this award is annexed as appendix 45.

Mention is also made at this time of the particular commendation received by S Sergeant Alex F. Pytlak from Air Vice Marshall Weedon for his “valuable instruction and assistance to the R. A. F. in conjunction with the conversion of the Air Command Southeast Asia to the P-47 type aircraft. S/Sgt Pytlak spent considerable time on detached service with the British and the foregoing communication speaks well for the job he did. A copy of this commendation and related correspondence is annexed to appendix 46

5. Miscellaneous

During most of the month movies three times a week help to pass away the evenings. Also thrown in on one occasion was a USO show entitled “All Girl Review”. The raid on October 27 however appears to have put an end, at least temporarily, to all nightly gatherings. We are no longer enjoying the "flicks", and for a time it also looked as if we might no longer enjoy the use of the recently installed electric lights. The thought of a blackout in the combat zone was more than most of us could take - that is all right for Mayor LaGuardia and civilians but not for Myitkyina. Present regulations however and still permit the use of lights and for that we are all grateful

Set up during the month and also used extensively has been hunting camp some 20 miles north of Myitkyina. Enthusiastic reports of fried chicken (jungle foul), fresh fish and other gourmet dishes trickle back to base but never any of the food itself. For less hardy individuals the forest camp at Shillong and a new one at Calcutta still function. Still another invitation has been the granting of 20 day furloughs to enlisted personnel, good for anywhere in India. It is time enlisted personnel were given such a break, and many of the men are taking advantage of it.

Promotions during the month were earned by Lts. Adair and Roylance to captains, and by 2nd Lts. Makar, Evans and Kanatzar to 1sts. Also 16 well-deserved promotions recorded the enlisted men

6.

It is with deep regret in the real sense of loss that we record the death on October 1 of Lieutenant John Matulavivz "Matool", as he was known all in the squadron, ran off the end of the runway by taking off on a mission on September 30. At the time his plane was carrying wing tanks. Fire immediately broke out and although “ Matool” was able to get out of the plane he was severely burned and died of his injuries the following day in the Ledo hospital. An appropriate letter of condolence was sent to his next of kin and it is the Squadron’s wish that a copy of this letter be appended to this history as appendix number 47

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