Part Three - Hot And Heavy Air Support

Go in close, and when you think you are too close, go in closer

Ted Moves On To France To Support Post D-Day Operations

On July 25th, we were split into two half squadrons and sent on a fighter sweep into Northern France. After a swing down the western coast, near the submarine bases at Ste. Nazairre, we made a easy wide turn to head back up the center of the area, being led by Captain Kit Carson. I was on Carson's wing and Capt. Johnnie Pugh was his element leader on the other wing. Some time near noon, as we cruised ahead, we neared Paris and saw that a group of P38s were having a field day, beating up on a rail head and marshalling yard.

They Never Saw Us Coming

Just then, we saw a gaggle of 109s and FW 190s ahead, on our level. They never saw us as they rolled over to dive down and hit the 38s. Carson and I latched onto a FW 190 and headed almost straight down. Pugh and his wingman tacked onto a ME109. The FW ahead of us went into large barrel rolls down but Carson stayed with him and he was getting hits as we hurtled down at near flank speed. We all flared out at about 300 ft. and by this time, as I flew along side the 190, the pilot was dead and the craft was a smoking wreck, headed straight for the Arch de Triumph. I did a quick turn down to the Seine River, and headed back to base. Carson used the same route and when I got back, I confirmed his victory.


Did you know? - The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. Having gone through its baptism of fire in the Spanish Civil War, the Bf 109 was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II, during which it was the backbone of the German Luftwaffe fighter force.[2] An inline-piston engine fighter, the Bf 109 was supplemented, but never completely replaced in service, by the radial engine Focke-Wulf FW 190 from the end of 1941. Originally conceived as an interceptor, later models were developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter bomber, day-, night- all-weather fighter, bomber destroyer, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft. It was supplied to and operated by several minor Axis states during World War II, and served with several countries for many years after the war. The Bf 109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945.

P38 Lightning

Did you know? - The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Named "fork-tailed devil" by the Luftwaffe and "two planes, one pilot" by the Japanese, this unique aircraft was used in a number of different roles including dive bombing, level bombing, ground strafing, photo reconnaissance missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.

The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the mount of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.

The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in active production throughout the duration of American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to VJ Day.

August 1944 Was Dealing With Russians

I was on leave the first week of August and arrived back in Ipswitch on Saturday. As I was enjoying a cup of tea and a few cookies at the Ipswitch Red Cross, one of our guys came over to me and told me I was due to go to Russia on the 2nd Shuttle Run the next day but, if I did not make it back in  time, some one else would get my spot. Well, that really got me going. I hurried back to base and asked the squadron commander Joe Broadhead, if I was still eligible  to go. He said "yes, if the Medical Officer agrees. Our Medical Officer Doc Snedden, told me, if I could stand the six shots I needed, three, in each arm, I could go. So we went to his office and he gave me the shots. My arms were sore but  the hurt disappeared in 20 minutes, once we were airborne. It was some trip. We spent a week, flying several sorties out of Piryatin, our Russian fighter base, to Poland to help the Polish holdouts in Warsaw and other cities.

Did you know? - The 357th flew escort for the second shuttle-bombing mission by the Eighth Air Force, "Frantic V", on 6 August 1944. Escorting two B-17 groups of the 13th Combat Bomb Wing to bomb a Focke-Wulf manufacturing plant in Rahmel, Poland, 64 Mustangs of the group continued on to the Soviet Union, landing at Piryatin airfield, a P-39/Yak-3 fighter strip southeast of Kiev, Ukraine, while the bombers, carrying 357th maintenance crews, continued further east to Mirgorod.[17] The next day, the Mustangs escorted the B-17s against synthetic oil production plants in Trzebinia, Poland, returning to Piryatin, and on the 8th, escorted them to Foggia, Italy, bombing Romanian airfields en route. Temporarily based at San Severo with the 31st Fighter Group, the 357th supported a C-47 mission to Yugoslavia on 10 August to evacuate Allied evaders and escaped POWs. On 12 August 1944, the entire Frantic force returned to England, attacking German lines of communication in Toulouse, France, as part of the preparation for the invasion of Southern France.

When it was time to leave for Italy, my craft and some others were accidentally filled with 80 octane fuel. I was able to get airborne but had to abort the flight and return to Piryatin. Those of us that had  the problem, were forced to have our tanks drained, cleaned and refilled with 100 octane. That took several days, so six of us flew to Italy as a group later. I landed at Lake Lessina, but was told to go to fly over to San Severo airbase as they had no room for me at Lessina. We flew back to England on August 12th, mission complete.

Operation Market Garden

September 17-19th was big. Field Marshall Montgomery had a plan called Market Garden where the British Airborne and our 82nd and 101st Airborne Divs. would drop into Holland behind the German lines at Arnheim and Nimijen and trap the German armies between them and swing around the Maginot Line into Germany proper. We did a fighter sweep on the 17th, into the area and brought the British Horsa Gliders up to Arnheim for the drop zone. There was a lot of action at that time, the Germans resisted stoutly and used a lot of fighters to ground strafe our troops. On the 19th, we engaged a large mixed bunch of 109s and 190s and lost 4 while shooting down 5 of the enemy. I lost my only wingman, Lt. James Blanchard, in this engagement.

Did you know? - Operation Market Garden (September 17–25, 1944) was an Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in World War II. It was the largest airborne operation of all time.

The operation plan's strategic context required the seizure of bridges across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine) as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the Lower Rhine would allow the Allies to outflank the Siegfried Line and encircle the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland. It made large-scale use of airborne forces whose tactical objectives were to secure a series of bridges over the main rivers of the German-occupied Netherlands and allow a rapid advance by armored units into Northern Germany.

Initially the operation was successful and several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured. However the ground force's advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal at Son, delaying the capture of the main road bridge over the Meuse until September 20. At Arnhem the British 1st Airborne Division encountered far stronger resistance than anticipated. In the ensuing battle only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them they were overrun on the 21st. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated on the 25th. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient force, and the Rhine remained a barrier to their advance until the offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945.

Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was the largest airborne operation ever launched in history.

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Combat Tour Completed In October 1945

After several more sorties, I finished my combat tour on October 15th, when I took my flight of four to escort a mother ship and two bombers, loaded with explosives at Manston RAF base. We escorted the three ships to their destination, Heligoland, off the north German coast. The mother ship sent the two bombers, a B17 and a B24 into the base there and the resulting explosion looked like the A-Bomb at Hiroshima, some eight months later.

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Did you know? - In World War II, during an eventful Battle of Britain, Manston was heavily bombed and airfield buildings destroyed. This caused dispersal of many of the staff to surrounding housing. For example, WAAFs (members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force) stationed at Manston were billeted at the nearby Ursuline Convent in Westgate on Sea. Barnes Wallis used the base to test his bouncing bomb on the coast at nearby Reculver prior to the Dambusters raid. A prototype is on public display at the Spitfire & Hurricane Museum. Hawker Typhoon attack aircraft were based there later in the war, and also the first Meteor jet squadron of the RAF. It was used as a departure point for airborne forces in Operation Market Garden. It was one of the few airfields installed with the Fog Investigation Dispersal Organisation (FIDO) system designed to remove fog from airfields by burning it off with petrol. Being close to the front-line and having a long and broad runway (currently listed as 2,752 meters x 61 meters) the airfield became something of a magnet for badly damaged airplanes that had suffered from ground fire, collisions, or air attack but retained a degree of airworthiness. The airfield became something of a "graveyard" for heavy bombers and no doubt the less-damaged portions of aircraft landing or otherwise arriving here sometimes provided spare parts for other allied aircraft in need of repair. The museums on site display some startling aerial views dating from this era and the post-war years. Along with Carnaby and Woodbridge, Manston was available as an east coast emergency landing ground for bomber crews

In Summary

In summation, I flew 71 missions, 270 combat hours and had one enemy aircraft destroyed, on the ground, many box cars, engines, armored vehicles and trucks destroyed, crashed one P51 at Brussels, Belgium, due to mechanical problems and was awarded the DFC, Air Medal with 4 Clusters, 4 major Battle Stars, Russian Medal of Great Patriotic War, flew 5 missions as platoon leader and 12 missions as flight leader and received 1 overseas bar.

Air Medal   Russian Medal    DFC
Honors bestowed upon Ted Colin

Air Medal - "For Meritorious Achievement while Participating in Aerial Flight." Established 1942.

DFC - The Distinguished Flying Cross, was authorized by an Act of Congress of July 2, 1926, an act amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938. DFC #1 was awarded to Charles Lindbergh although Herbert Dargue is reported to have received the award two weeks before Lindbergh.

Post Combat Assignments

After my combat was over, and after a month of travel and leave time, I was sent to Santa Ana for reassignment, assigned to Gardner Field. Ca. and then sent to Flight Instructors School, Randolph Field, Texas. After the completion of this course, I was assigned Marana, AZ to instruct Primary Flying. I had 3 classes before being sent to Seymour Johnson AFB, Goldsboro, NC to be a combat tactics instructor, flying the P47 Republic Thunderbolt. The war ended August 1945 and so did my flying career. I was released to inactive status as of Sept 10, 1945 and received my final discharge in September, 1956.

Gardner Field 1942
Gardner Field
1942 - Taft California

Did you know? - Randolph Field was dedicated June 20, 1930, with an estimated 15,000 people in attendance and a fly-by of 233 planes, possibly the largest assembly of military aircraft in the world.[citation needed] Early in 1931, the School of Aviation Medicine from Brooks Field and the first cadets from the Air Corps Flying School at Duncan Field, then a part of Kelly AFB, began relocating to Randolph. By the autumn of 1931, Randolph was ready for business. On October 1, the Air Corps Training Center moved its headquarters from Duncan Field to Randolph. The flying school at Brooks Field transferred to Randolph on October 20, while the school at March Field transferred on October 25. The School of Aviation Medicine also transferred from Brooks Field during 1931.

The Air Corps Act of 1926 mandated that rated pilots comprise 90% of all commissioned officers of the Air Corps. Because of this requirement, nearly all officers of the Air Corps underwent Randolph's rigorous pilot training program and, in combination with the architectural beauty of the base, resulted in the unofficial nickname "West Point of the Air" applied to Randolph Field. A 1935 Hollywood film, West Point of the Air, was filmed on location at Randolph.

Basic flying training continued until March 1943, when the central instructors school took over. For the next two years, training instructors for the Air Corps' ground training and primary, basic and advanced flying training was the main mission. Randolph produced 15,396 instructor graduates from this course before it moved to Waco Field in 1945. When the central instructors school moved to Waco Field it was replaced by the Army Air Force pilot school, which specialized in transition training for B-29 bomber pilots, copilots and engineers. Primary pilot training returned to Randolph from Goodfellow Field in December 1945.

Did you know? - Construction of Seymour Johnson Field started on 9 March 1942 and by 10 July 1942 the 333d Base HQ and Air Base Squadron was established as the host unit. Col Walter J. Reed was the first commander. Seymour Johnson Field was assigned to the USAAF Technical Training Command, and the airfield's initial mission was Field Aviation Cadet Pre-Technical School Training in bomber mechanics.

The 76th Training Wing was activated at Seymour Johnson on 26 February 1943 and the airfield's mission was changed to training replacement pilots for the P-47 Thunderbolt.

At the end of World War II in Europe, Seymour Johnson was designated as a central assembly station for processing and training troops being reassigned in the continental United States and Pacific theater of operations. The 47th Bombardment Group was reassigned to Seymour Johnson from Twelfth Air Force in Italy during June. It's mission was to prepare for redeployment to the Pacific theater for night pathfinder operations against Imperial Japan. Its black-painted Douglas A-26Cs were equipped with radar however the surrender by Japan in August, 1945, cancelled all redeployment plans.

With its operational training mission ended, in September 1945 and the field became an Army-Air Force Separation Center under the 123d AAF Base Unit.

On 15 August 1947, Seymour Johnson Army Airfield was closed. and remained inactive for nearly a decade

Civilian At Last

Upon my release in 1945, I returned to school, took a refresher course in math, English and history and took the entrance exam and was admitted to USC, Los Angeles. I graduated with a B.S. Business, in May, 1950. I had been working in the insurance field since 1948 and started my own insurance brokerage firm after graduation in 1950. I retired from the business in 1985 but kept my licenses and did part time in consulting and writing of some personal accounts since then. I still maintain my broker-agent position with a local insurance agency.

TC Today
Ted Conlin today

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