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No. 31 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

No. 31 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

No. 31 Squadron (SAAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.31 Squadron, S.A.A.F., was a heavy bomber squadron that operated from bases in the Mediterranean from its formation in 1944 until the end of the war.

The squadron was formed in South Africa in January 1944. It moved to Egypt in 1944, where the ground crews received their Liberators while the aircrews moved on to Palestine for operational training.

Operations began on 27 May 1944 from Gebel Hamzi (on the road between Cairo and Alexandria). From here the squadron operated over Crete and the Aegean.

In June No.31 Squadron moved to Italy. Its area of bombing operations now expanded to include the Balkans, Austria and northern Italy, and the squadron also dropped supplies to partisans in Yugoslavia. The squadron was also used to drop mines into the Danube.

In the summer of 1944 the squadron took part in the invasion of Southern France. It was also one of the squadrons that took part in the costly long-range airlift of supplies to the Polish Home Army in Warsaw. On the five nights between 12-17 August these squadrons lost 17 of the ninety-three aircraft sent to Warsaw. Eight of these losses came from No.31 Squadron SAAF.

After this diversion the squadron returned to its normal duties, continuing to operate the Liberator until the end of the war. After the end of the fighting the squadron converted to transport duties, operating a shuttle service in which prisoners of war were flown from liberated Europe back to Britain on the outward journey, and South Africa troops preparing to return home were flown to Egypt on the return trip (the squadron itself remained in Italy).

In September 1945 the squadron moved to Egypt, from where it operated as a transport squadron within the Mediterranean, before disbanding on 15 December 1945.

Aircraft
April 1944-December 1945: Consolidated Liberator VI

Location
January 1944: South Africa
February-April 1944: Almaza
April-June 1944: Kilo 40/ Gebel Hamzi
June-September 1945: Celone

September-December 1945: Shallufa

Squadron Codes: -

Duty
1944: Heavy Bomber Squadron, Egypt
1944-45: Heavy Bomber Squadron, Italy
1945: Transport Squadron

Books

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No. 31 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War - History

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Category Archives: No. 181 Squadron

I know: slowest blog in the world. I’ve been travelling a lot for work, but onward! So we arrive at August 25 – Sept 16, 1944. Dad is flying solo in a Typhoon IB but also an Anson and Auster. No idea about the latter aircraft, so it’s Dr. Google.

Whilst flying solo in the Typhoon, Dad was undertaking individual dive bombing, section dive bombing and rockets at 30 ° and 45 ° . I know that the Typhoon had rockets under each wing, so presumably Dad was practicing firing the rockets at particular angles.

The summary of his flying for August 18 – August 25, 1944 was signed off by F/Lt RJ Hyde. A quick Dr Google search shows this to be Reginald Jack Hyde.

In the Anson and the Auster aircraft, Dad was the second pilot (with Flt. Sgt Clarke and W/O Graham respectively) and he was practicing dives, low flying and (I think) flying to Bognor Regis in West Essex. I am presuming this is in preparation to be moved to France, because half-way down the log page Dad joins No. 181 Squadron in France. Another quick search shows that this squadron was a fighter-bomber unit, operating Typhoons and relocated to France.

There are some references to B6, B48 and B58 – no idea – over to the experts.

So from September 3, 1944 it seems that Dad was relocated to France with No. 181 Squadron and was flying Typhoons (or Tiffies as they were referred to). Dad is now in the thick of things from a reading of his logbook. No longer practicing, but attacking jettys and encountering flak.

On September 3, the logbook records B30 Creton – B48 Amiens. Not sure but I think that B30 was a unit stationed at Creton and B48 might have been a unit stationed at Amiens. Was he flying between these units for some reason? On the 6th, he was flying between B48 Amiens and B58 Belgium. I’m not really sure what he was doing so, again, over to the experts.

September 8, Dad is flying the Typhoon and records “tugs & barges on Rhine”, so I am assuming he was on some mission to look for the enemy. His notes record: “No flak. Hit one barge with rockets & got cannon strikes on tug. F/Lt Stockes missing.” I’m wondering if Dad incorrectly recorded this pilot’s name: is it F/Lt N. F. Stock ?

From September 10 to September 16, Dad flew back to Bognor Regis, conducted an air test, attacked jettys at Lillo (is this Lille in France?) and provided cover for a troop concentration. There’s some stuff I don’t understand, such as:

  • Attack jettys – Lillo (R/P & cannon)
  • Turnout – Tilbury – Breda – Bergen op 200M
  • Troop concentration M.E. of AART

If you click on the thumbnail photos below, you can enlarge the page of the logbook.

As Dad was providing cover for the troop concentration on September 16, he records: “Wizard fun – no flak. Plastered wood with rockets & cannon.”


No. 181 Squadron

I know: slowest blog in the world. I’ve been travelling a lot for work, but onward! So we arrive at August 25 – Sept 16, 1944. Dad is flying solo in a Typhoon IB but also an Anson and Auster. No idea about the latter aircraft, so it’s Dr. Google.

Whilst flying solo in the Typhoon, Dad was undertaking individual dive bombing, section dive bombing and rockets at 30 ° and 45 ° . I know that the Typhoon had rockets under each wing, so presumably Dad was practicing firing the rockets at particular angles.

The summary of his flying for August 18 – August 25, 1944 was signed off by F/Lt RJ Hyde. A quick Dr Google search shows this to be Reginald Jack Hyde.

In the Anson and the Auster aircraft, Dad was the second pilot (with Flt. Sgt Clarke and W/O Graham respectively) and he was practicing dives, low flying and (I think) flying to Bognor Regis in West Essex. I am presuming this is in preparation to be moved to France, because half-way down the log page Dad joins No. 181 Squadron in France. Another quick search shows that this squadron was a fighter-bomber unit, operating Typhoons and relocated to France.

There are some references to B6, B48 and B58 – no idea – over to the experts.

So from September 3, 1944 it seems that Dad was relocated to France with No. 181 Squadron and was flying Typhoons (or Tiffies as they were referred to). Dad is now in the thick of things from a reading of his logbook. No longer practicing, but attacking jettys and encountering flak.

On September 3, the logbook records B30 Creton – B48 Amiens. Not sure but I think that B30 was a unit stationed at Creton and B48 might have been a unit stationed at Amiens. Was he flying between these units for some reason? On the 6th, he was flying between B48 Amiens and B58 Belgium. I’m not really sure what he was doing so, again, over to the experts.

September 8, Dad is flying the Typhoon and records “tugs & barges on Rhine”, so I am assuming he was on some mission to look for the enemy. His notes record: “No flak. Hit one barge with rockets & got cannon strikes on tug. F/Lt Stockes missing.” I’m wondering if Dad incorrectly recorded this pilot’s name: is it F/Lt N. F. Stock ?

From September 10 to September 16, Dad flew back to Bognor Regis, conducted an air test, attacked jettys at Lillo (is this Lille in France?) and provided cover for a troop concentration. There’s some stuff I don’t understand, such as:

  • Attack jettys – Lillo (R/P & cannon)
  • Turnout – Tilbury – Breda – Bergen op 200M
  • Troop concentration M.E. of AART

If you click on the thumbnail photos below, you can enlarge the page of the logbook.

As Dad was providing cover for the troop concentration on September 16, he records: “Wizard fun – no flak. Plastered wood with rockets & cannon.”


RAAF wings : Flight Sergeant N Macdonald, 156 Squadron RAF

Enamelled bronze RAAF wings sweetheart brooch with white feathered wings, a blue circle surrounded by a gold wreath and surmounted by a red and gold King's crown. A pin mounting is attached to the reverse.

Associated with the service of Flight Sergeant Norman Macdonald. Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 15 September 1911 and spent his formative years there before immigrating to Australia in 1937. He enlisted in the RAAF in Sydney on 11 October 1941 and was posted to No 2 Initial Training School with the rank of aircraftman. Promoted to leading aircraftman on 31 January 1942 he qualified as an observer on 27 March after completing the No 23 Aircrew Course (Observer).

Macdonald embarked for Canada on 25 May as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. Arriving in Quebec on 20 June he was attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force and proceeded to join No. 1 Ontario Air Observers School for advanced training. Macdonald qualified as a navigator and was promoted to sergeant (T) on 9 October.

Embarking for the United Kingdom on 27 October Macdonald disembarked in Bournemouth on 5 November. He was attached to No 9 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit in Wales from 14 December before being posted to No. 2 Operational Training Unit in March 1943 and 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit in May.

Attached to 460 Squadron RAAF as a flight sergeant (T) on 29 June, Macdonald flew 17 operations as a navigator before transferring to 156 Squadron RAF. He joined the crew of Lancaster JB472 (coded GT-Z) as navigator and flew his first mission on 23 November - a night raid on Berlin. This was closely followed by another night mission to Berlin on 26 November.

On 2 December JB472 took off from Warboys airfield for their third raid on Berlin. In a report given by Macdonald after the war he describes what happened to their aircraft as they flew over eastern Germany: 'Attack by enemy fighter reported by rear gunner - pilot acknowledged, took evasive action and just then we were hit. Crew put on chutes aircraft in steep dive. At approx between 17 and 15, 000 feet violent explosion. I was sucked out the starboard side of aircraft. Regained consciousness at approx 4,000 feet opened 'chute landed ok. I believe pilot jettisoned bombs endeavouring to save crew and aircraft but aircraft crashed 20 miles north of Hannover. The next day I was captured in the goods yard of the village railway station by 2 German soldiers who were searching for me and taken to identify wreckage of aircraft from which German officials had removed the bodies of my 6 colleagues (four of whom were Australian, with a South African and British crewmate) . Taken to Frankfurt for interrogation put into solitary confinement then to Stalag IVB.'

Statements taken from witnesses on the ground indicate they saw Lancaster JB472 approaching the village of Westenholz on fire and without one of its wings, which appeared to have exploded. The aircraft crashed with bombs still on board approximately 500 metres south of Westenholz.

Stalag IVB prisoner of war camp was located near the town of Muhlberg just off the Elbe river. Macdonald was interned from 18 December 1943 until he was liberated on 23 April 1945. He was promoted to Warrant Officer (T) on 9 April 1944.

Conditions in the camp were poor with around 200 men housed in each hut. Food rations were also poor but supplemented by Red Cross food parcels. During his internment Macdonald received one Red Cross food parcel per week until July 1944 when he received ½ a Red Cross food parcel per week. From December 1944 Macdonald did not receive any Red Cross food parcels until his liberation.

Returning to the UK on 15 May 1945 Macdonald was posted to RAF Station Brighton until he embarked for Australia on 27 October. Arriving in Sydney on 28 November Macdonald was posted to No. 2 Medical Rehabilitation Unit in Jervis Bay until January 1946 when he was transferred to No. 2 Personnel Depot, Bradfield Park for discharge.


No. 31 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War - History

Blythe Airport was established by the Civil Aeronautics Administration in the late 1930s as an emergency landing field on the Los Angeles to Phoenix airway. A commercial airport opened in April 1940.

The airport was leased by the United States Army in 1942 and between 1942 and 1944, the U.S. War Department acquired 4,248.12 acres in fee from various private parties, 6.54 acres of public domain land via transfer, 282.61 acres by lease from the County of Riverside, a 1.98-acre easement, and a 0.63-acre permit. The Army encroached on another 20.18 acres, increasing the total acquisition for Blythe Army Air Field to 4,560.06 acres. Over 650 buildings and other types of military facilities and improvements were constructed at this airfield, including hangars, office buildings, barracks, warehouses, runways and taxiways, water and sewer systems, a hospital, and fuel and ordnance storage.

In addition to the main facility at Blythe, several auxiliary airfields were built.

During World War II the airfield was known as Blythe Army Air Field and was used by the United States Army Air Forces. The use of the site began on May 14, 1942. Blythe AAB was built for the I Troop Carrier Command but was given up by that command, without ever occupying it, to the Fourth Air Force as part of the United States Army Desert Training Center (DTC) was established by General George S. Patton shortly after the outbreak of the war, Blythe was the only airfield with construction already under way. For six months, the air field served as the sole air support base for the Army maneuvers under way at the DTC.

The 46th Bombardment Group and later the 85th Bombardment Group occupied the field during the CAMA days and flew a variety of planes including A-31 Vengeances and A-36 Apaches. Once air fields were established at three new locations within the DTC (Thermal, Rice and Desert Center), Blythe field was no longer required for the Army's desert exercises. After General Patton was sent to North Africa, the name of the training center was changed to the California-Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA). The 46th and 85th Bomb Groups were reassigned.

The Army Air Forces then used Blythe as a heavy bombardment crew training base for the Second Air Force 16th Bombardment Training Wing 358th Combat Crew Training School. The field's mission was changed to the training of combat air crews prior to shipment overseas. The 85th Bombardment Group and the 390th Bombardment Group were active at Blythe AAF in 1942 and 1943. Up to 75 B-17 Flying Fortresses were flown and maintained at the base. During 1943 and 1944, Blythe AAF was used for squadron pilot training, then in December 1944 reverted to an active heavy bombardment base with B-24 Liberators

At its peak in December, 1943 the base had a population just short of 8000 uniformed and civilian personnel. This was twice the population of the city of Blythe, the only community within a one hundred mile radius. By April 1944 only a housekeeping force was assigned to the base. By July 1944 the field was abandoned by the Army and declared surplus. 126 airmen were killed in Blythe Army Air Base-related accidents.

Blythe Army Air Field later became a sub-base of Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) on 30 June 1945, and was inactivated on 18 October 1945, although during October–December 1946, the 477th Composite Group (Medium) used the airfield for desert maneuvers, flying B-25 Mitchells.

The airfield was declared surplus in 1946 and was reported to the War Assets Administration for disposal. On September 10, 1948, the entire 4,560-acre site was transferred to the County of Riverside via quitclaim deed dated September 10, 1948

Today a modern airport is on the site of the former wartime airfield most of the area of what was Blythe Army Air Field has been abandoned to the natural landscape. Abandoned runways and concrete parking ramps are visible in aerial photography.

Extracted from Wikipedia 9 April 2014

Additional Online or Printed Histories

Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities , December 1945

  • Enlisted:
    • Permanent:
    • Mobilization (Quartermaster Corps 700-Series or Corps of Engineers 800-Series):
    • Theater of Operations: 4,318
    • Hutments:
    • Tents:,
    • Total: 526
    • Ammunition Igloos and Magazines:
    • Covered:
      • Heated:
      • Unheated:
      • Total: 83,964 sq ft
      • Surfaced:
      • Unsurfaced:
      • Total:

      Cost to Government Since 1 July 1940:

      • Annual Lease Payment(s): $2.00
      • Land Purchase: $26,676.00
      • Construction: $8,145,857.00
      • Total (Less Lease Payments): $8,172,533.00

      Known Units at Blythe AAF 34th Bomb Group (Heavy) 15 December 1942-April 1944. B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators 4th Bombardment Squadron
      7th Bombardment Squadron
      18th Bombardment Squadron
      391st Bombardment Squadron 46th Bombardment Group (Light) 23 May 1943-November 1942. A-20 Havoc 55th Bombardment Squadron
      51st Bombardment Squadron
      83rd Bombardment Squadron
      87th Bombardment Squadron 55th Bombardment Group (Dive) 2 November-11 December 1942 A-24 Dauntlesses 499th Bombardment Squadron
      500th Bombardment Squadron
      501st Bombardment Squadron
      502nd Bombardment Squadron 398th Bombardment Group (Heavy) April 1943 B-17 Flying Fortresses 600th Bombardment Squadron
      601st Bombardment Squadron
      602nd Bombardment Squadron
      603rd Bombardment Squadron Search our Site! View My Stats Visitors since 8 December 1998


      Noted pilots & ground officers

      Swashbucklers

      • George Britt - 1st tour CO
      • John 'Smiley' Burnett
      • Vince Carpenter
      • Henry Ellis - 1st tour Exec
      • Pete Folger - ACIO - later ace and MoH
      • George Kraft - doctor
      • Al Jensen 7 kills, Navy Cross
      • Charles Lanphier - POW, died 5/15/44
      • Henry Miller - also Black Sheep 2nd tour
      • Bill Pace - killed acc. 8/7/43
      • Dave Rankin
      • H.V. 'Vic' Scarborough

      Black Sheep

      Two Tours: Sept. 43 - Jan. 44

      • George Ashmun - MIA 1/3/44, on Boyington's wing 6 kills in WW2, also an ace in Korea CO, top ace, MoH
      • Bob Bragdon
      • Tom Emrich
      • Don Fisher
      • Denmark Groover
      • Walter "Red" Harris - MIA 9/27/43
      • Ed Harper
      • Bill Heier
      • Jim Hill
      • Bob McClurg 7 kills
      • Chris Magee 9 kills, Navy Cross
      • Bruce Matheson
      • Don Moore - MIA 12/28/43
      • Paul "Moon" Mullen 6.5 kills
      • Ed Olander
      • Jim Reames - doctor
      • Sandy Sims
      • Burney Tucker
      • Frank Walton - ACIO, author of Once They Were Eagles

      First Tour only: Sept. 43 - Oct. 43

      • Stan Bailey - Exec in first tour, CO with CV-13
      • John Begert
      • Hank Bourgeois
      • Bill Case 8 kills
      • Robert Ewing - MIA 9/16/43
      • Henry Allan McCartney
      • Virgil Ray - lost in storm, 10/13/43
      • Rollie Rinabarger - severely wounded 9/26/43

      Second Tour only: Nov. 43 - Jan. 44

      • Maj. Pierre Carnagey - Exec in 2nd tour, MIA 12/23/43
      • Capt. Marion 'Rusty' March
      • Capt. Fred Avey
      • Capt. J. Cameron Dustin - MIA 12/28/43
      • Capt. Gelon Doswell
      • Capt. James Brubaker - MIA 12/23/43
      • 1st. Lt. Bruce Ffoulkes - MIA 12/23/43
      • Maj. Henry Miller - also with Swashbucklers

      Negative Effects in Mexico

      World War II was not a time of unmitigated goodwill and progress for Mexico. The economic boom was mostly enjoyed by the rich and the gap between the rich and the poor widened to levels unseen since the reign of Porfirio Díaz. Inflation raged out of control, and lesser officials and functionaries of Mexico’s immense bureaucracy, left out of the economic benefits of the wartime boom, increasingly turned to accepting petty bribes (“la mordida,” or “the bite”) to fulfill their functions. Corruption was rampant at higher levels, too, as wartime contracts and the flow of U.S. dollars created irresistible opportunities for dishonest industrialists and politicians to overcharge for projects or skim from budgets.

      This new alliance had its doubters on both sides of the borders. Many Americans complained of the high costs of modernizing their neighbor to the south, and some populist Mexican politicians railed against the U.S. intervention—this time economic, not military.


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