HISTORICAL DATA

NARRATIVE HISTORY

Documents

of

16th BOMBARDMENT GROUP, (VH)

(315 BOMBARDMENT WING (VH))

XXI BOMBER COMMAND

20TH AIR FORCE

PERIOD: June 1945


Frontispiece

a) 14 April 1945, at Northwest Field

b) Negative

c) Negative

d) Negative

e)   1 June 1945 :   60 Officers, 705 EM.
    30 June 1945  :   328 Officers, 1588 EM.

f)    1 June 1945 :     3 B-29s.
     30 June 1945  :    43 B-29s.

g) Negative


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Operations against the Empire 3
Operations and Training 7
Combat Maintenance and Supply 10
Administration and Personnel 17
Construction 20
Morale 22
Biographical Data (Collier H. Davidson) 25
Pictures 27
List of Documents 32
Documents (Original Copies Only) 33

THE HISTORY

OPERATIONS AGAINST THE EMPIRE

     Score for the month

      The 16th Group chalked up two missions against the Japanes Empire without a single casualty or B-29 lost to the enemy during the month of June. Both raids were against enemy petroleum installations on the main island of Honshu.

      The group had earlier been informed verbally by the 315th Wing A-2 that attacks would be concentrated on the petroleum industry in an effort to withhold supplies of gasoline and lubricating oils from the Japanese air force. The Group Intelligence Office had made an intensive study of such targets.

      It was impossible to assess the damage caused by the two raids as weather conditions prevented reconnaissance aircraft from taking post strike photographs of the targes. But crew members reported that fires were started in the areas which they had bombed.

     UTSUBE RIVER OIL REFINERY

      Led by Colonel Gurney, the first raid was made on the Utsube River Oil Refinery on the night of June 26.1 Together with B-29s of the 501st Group, fifteen aircraft of the 16th Group dropped 500-pound General Purpose bombs on the target.

      The refinery was closed in solidly by a ten-tenths cloud coverage wich crews considered an ideal situation for the 16th Group. Their APQ-7 (Eagle) radar penetrated the undercast easily at 15,000 feet, but enemy defenses were blinded.

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      Enemy anti-aircraft was meager although one crew reported a hole in the bomb bay door of a B-29 which may have been caused by flak.2 A few Japanese fighter planes were seen but they did not fire a shot.3

      One enemy aircraft with its running lights on made a pass at the B-29 piloted by Colonel Gurney, but it did not open fire. Our gunners had been instructed to fire only when fired upon so no engagement took place.

      One aircraft, piloted by Lt. Whitted, ran low on gasoline and was forced to land at Iwo Jima to refuel.4 But it returned to Northwest Field only a few hours behind its estimated time of arrival.

      Seventeen aircraft had originally been scheduled for the raid, but two were cancelled because of mechanical failures. One B-29 dropped most of its bombs on the target, but its rear bomb bay doors failed to open and it was forced to jettison a portion of its load.

      By the end of the month, reconnaissance aircraft had been unable to obtain photographs of the Utsube Refinery, but it was generally believed that damage had been inflicted on the target. Returning crew members reported "ugly" fires in the area and some said that the smoke resulting from the bombing arose to 15,000 feet.

      The briefing for the mission was conducted by 315th Wing officers in a huge Quonset hut recently completed for that purpose. The Quonset scheduled for the group had not been erected at that date.

      The Wing officer employed the "U-V" method of briefing--an experimental form which had only recently been developed. It consisted of the use of flourescent paints and special lights which could be used only in a darkened room.

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      Officers and crew members who attended the briefing reported that it was an excellent system which brought home information in a direct and dramatic form. They added, however, that the heat caused by sealing up the quonset was so intense that it was difficult to concentrate on the information presented.

      Lieutenant Colonel Bartlett, 315th Wing A-2, said the U-V system would be installed in every group in the wing and that experiments would be made to solve the ventilation problem.

      Another experiment which was tried for this mission was the use of food warmers to give the crews hot lunches during their flights. The warmers were an obvious improvement over the previous practice of supplying cold sandwiches and a thermos jug of coffee. Colonel Gurney ordered their use as soon as mess equipment was set up to turn out food for them on a large scale.

     NIPPON OIL COMPANY - KUDAMATSU

      The second raid staged by the 16th Group was on 29 June against the Nippon Oil Company at Kudamatsu5 -- one of the four largest petroleum producers in Japan. There were no casualties and this time no aircraft were forced to land at Iwo Jima.

      For the second time, the weather was ideal for operations with the APQ-7 radar. Crews reported a solid over and undercast which prevented enemy observation of the attacking planes.

      Only two B-29 crews reported flak bursts6 and the 13 enemy fighters which were sighted offered no opposition.7 As the Japanese aircraft all had their running lights on, there was some speculation as to whether their mission was to provide height data for anti-aircraft computers on the ground.

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      Seventeen B-29s were scheduled for the mission, but one developed engine trouble shortly after takeoff. It was forced to jettison its bomb load and return to base accompanied by a "buddy" aircraft assigned to see that it reached Northwest Field safely.

      It was impossible to assess the damage caused by the raid as crew members could only see the flashes of bomb hits throught the clouds. The weather which had been so favorable for bombing continued to the end of the month and prevented reconnaissance photographs.

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OPERATIONS AND TRAINING

     Qualification for Combat

      The crews who had arrived on Guam ready to go into immediate combat, found that a certain amount of theater indoctrination was required before they could fly missions over the Japanese Empire.8 This indoctrination consisted of an instrument calibration mission, raids on Rota, Truk and Farallon de Pajarros and a certain amount of ground training.

      Rota and Truk, although still occupied by Japanese forces, had been pounded to a point where they were considered merely training targets. Farallon de Pajarros was totally uninhabited even though it lay within that portion of the Marianas which had not been occupied by United States troops.

      Nevertheless, the first mission to the Truk island group, which was flown 16 June,9 was treated with all the solemnity of a combat mission. It was briefed in a Squad tent which had been erected by the S-2 section as a temporary briefing room.

      The briefing was attended by Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong, Commanding the 315th Wing, who was the flight leader. He addressed the crews briefly and congratulated them on their entrance into a combat career.

      "War is hell, but it is double hell in the skies," he warned them. He said that extreme caution and care would carry them through the first period of their combat career until they had acquired the necessary experience. But he added that it would be very unwise to become so confident as to forget that caution.

      The mission was accomplished successfully against non-existent opposition. After the first flight, it became a routine affair which the crews accepted in the same light as their training missions in the United States.

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      Crew members who had to make the training flight over Rota more than once considered themselves Rotarians and suggested that they be put up for membership in that organization.

      The crews went through their training requirements rapidly and by 30 June, 25 were listed as available for combat. At the beginning of the month, only Captain Howard's crew was so classified.*

     Reconnaissance Missions

      In addition to the regular bombing missions over Japan, continual flights to obtain Radar Scope photograhs for the APQ-7 were necessary. Crews participating in such flights received full mission credit.

      Colonel Gurney participated in one of these flights on the 19th of June in an aircraft manned entirely by section heads. He reconnoitered the area surrounding Nagoya, huge Jap industrial city which had been almost completely burned out by fire bomb raids.

      These missions were vitally necessary as the only APQ-7 scope photos available in the theater had been obtained by Captain Howard and his crew during the previous month.

     Administrative Difficulties

      The flow of incoming crews--arriving almost daily through the month--and the complicated problems of keeping records and qualifying flight personnel for combat, made it evident that an administrative staff would be required within the operations section. Therefore, Captain Billy G. Griffith, former 15th Squadron adjutant, was assigned to the position.

      The operations staff was expanded and some clerical personnel which had been assigned to other sections were put in the office.

                         
* See previous installment of history.

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     Recapitulation of Training

      A tabulation of figures compiled while the organization was still at Fairmont Army Air Field, revealed that the 16th Group was one of the most thoroughly trained Army Air Force organizations to go overseas. Every training requirement established by the Army Air Force was met before the departure for Guam.10

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COMBAT MAINTENANCE AND SUPPLY

     General Problems

      The maintenance and supply sections of the group found their problems falling into two major divisions--performing their functions under field conditions and organizing an adequate administrative setup. As experience was lacking on both counts, a series of improvisations had to be devised.

      The most difficult administrative problem fell into the lap of the maintenance section. Required to service aircraft at the same time that facilities for the servicing were under construction, engineering officers found it practically impossible to keep track of the men under their supervision.

      The need for an administrative officer on the line had long been felt but under the squadron setup it had not been possible to assign one to maintenance functions. The consolidation of the various sections in the group offered a solution to this problem.

      First Lieutenant Raymond A. Pribyla was informally detached from his position as 16th Squadron adjutant and installed in the combat maintenance office. Assemblance of order was brought out of what had been chaos and the engineering officers were enabled to devote all of their time to maintenance work.

      The administrative problems of the supply section were more easily solved. Captain Francis L. McLaughlin, the Combat Supply Officer, divided his organization into two sections--general supply under First Lieutenant E. Freer Willson and Technical Supply under First Lieutenant Frank C. Schleicher.11

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      Lieutenant Willson was given the responsibility of handling all quartermaster items for the group and his office was further subdivided into a utilities and a general supply section. The former was necessary to handle materials required for the maintenance of the area.

      Lieutenant Schleicher was placed in an office entirely independent of general supply. His duties were to supply parts and equipment for the maintenance sections.

      Actual maintenance difficulties were of a far different character and not so easily solved. They centered around lack of experience with new types of equipment, lack of supplies and tropical weather conditions which had not been presented during training.

     Difficulties with the APG 15

      The most difficult maintenance problem encountered by the group centered around the APG 15, the radar set designed for spotting enemy fighters. This was a matter of serious concern for aircraft which were dependent entirely for their defense on three guns mounted in one turret.*

      It became apparent at once that the APG 15, which had worked well under laboratory conditions, presented serious difficulties for field operations. A perplexing problem was the tendency of the set to calibrate perfectly on the ground, but to require new calibration once it was airborne.

      Gunner after gunner returning from both training and operational missions reported that the set would not work. In some instances, it would lock without searching and in others it would search but refuse to lock on a target. The occasional gunner who reported that the APG 15 was operative was a curiosity.

                         
* See 16th Group History for December 1944

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      Radar personnel explained that the set worked on a two to one ratio of signal to "noise"--the equivalent of radio static. For ease in maintenance, they said, it should operate on a ratio of 10 to one or even 20 to one.

      They pointed out that the set, when calibrated on the ground, could be operated on a steady power input. But in the air, it was subject to constant changes of voltage which could not be regulated as they came from the aircraft itself. A loss in power input, they said, would cause the set to search without locking whereas a gain in power input would cause it to lock without searching.

      The XXIst Bomber Command assigned First Lieutenant Edward G. Weber, who had assisted in the development of the APG 15, to work with groups of the 315th Wing. In addition, Doctor Vance J. Holdam, of the Radiation Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who had been the designing engineer for the set, was scheduled to come to Guam.

      It was hoped that the "bugs" in the set would be ironed out once these technicians had had the opportunity to study it under field conditions.

     The APQ 7

      The difficulties with the APQ 7, or "Eagle" radar, were less serious. The Group electronics section said that their principal problem was obtaining adequate parts to service the set.

      An unexpected snag was the effect of the tropics on the leading edge of the radar "wing." The deterioration resulting from weather caused excessive changes in the antenna which had not been anticipated.

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      The electronics section experimented with various types of "dope" and varnish and believed that the problem would soon be solved.

     General Maintenance Problems

      The principle problem encountered by most maintenance sections was that of supply. This difficulty was felt especially in the need for parts.

      A considerable amount of improvisation was necessary and despite the difficulties, the maintenance section managed to meet its schedules. But certain departments felt that their position was precarious and that they were operating close to the edge of efficiency.

     Armament

      The armament section felt the pinch in the lack of an adequate number of B-7 shackles. At the end of the month, they had 80 on hand compared to a required number of 32 per aircraft for a fire bomb raid. There was an adequate supply of B-10 shackles but they were not suitable for incendiaries.

      Fortunately, General Purpose bombs were used on the first two missions and they were connected with the B-10 shackles. It was hoped that a supply of B-7 shackles could be borrowed from groups in the 314th Bomb Wing at North Field in the event that an incendiary raid was ordered.

      Another shortage which affected the armament section was the lack of C-6 hoists. The section had 16 compared to an estimated need of 90 for the group. Should these 16 be lost through wear, it would necessitate the cranking of bombs into place by hand--a laborious operation.

      The necessary equipment was on order but there was no assurance that the orders would be filled in time.

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     Ordnance

      The ordnance section was unable to obtain any parts for the M-27 bomb hauling truck--a new vehicle which had not been previously used in this theater. In one instance, a truck had to be deadlined because a simple gear was worn out and could not be replaced.

      This section also lacked M-6 bomb hauling trucks as the M-27 was too large to run under the wing of a B-29. The M-27 was considered in general too bulky for many purposes.

      Ordnance personnel managed to increase their efficiency considerably by improvising a device which enabled them to load four 500-pound bombs on an M-27 in one operation. The standard device permitted the loading of only one bomb at a time.

      The improvised device consisted of four cables--each tested to handle 2,000 pounds--with hooks at one end and a joint attachment to a ring at the other end. Sufficient material was found to make up enough of these for 32 M-27 trucks and the speed of loading bombs was increased considerably.

     Personal Equipment

      The personal equipment section found no facilities for the proper storage of perishable flying equipment and was force to resort to wooden racks sheltered only by squad tents. Constant care and inspection was necessary to prevent parachutes, life vests and life rafts from deteriorating in damp, tropical weather.

      The construction schedule held out no promise of immediate relief as work on the personal equipment Quonset was not to begin until 15 July.

      There were certain shortages of equipment but Captain Louis E. DeLanney, Group Personal Equipment Officer, said that none were too severe "because

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we came here pretty well stocked." The most pressing shortage, he added, was the lack of carbon dioxide cylinders to inflate the "Mae West" life vests.

      This shortage was partially offset by incoming ground personnel who travelled to Guam by air. Their Mae Wests were inspected and the CO2 cylinders removed before they were put in stock.

      Other shortages included HS 38 type headsets for flight personnel and large type signal mirrors. But these items could be and were improvised.

      Captain DeLanney decided to cut up flak curtains so they could be placed on seats in the aircraft and give the combat crews a greater amount of protection from enemy anti-aircraft. This project, he explained, was merely awaiting adequate personnel to do the job.

     Supply Shortages

      The two principal supply shortages faced by the group were the lack of spare parts and the lack of office equipment. Both were severe and there was little hope that they would be alleviated in the near future.

      Lieutenant Willson said that this situation was general over the entire island. He explained that it took a minimum of five months for an increase of personnel on Guam to be reflected by an increase of supplies from the United States.

      Occasionally, the group was able to meet its more pressing supply shortages by borrowing from naval outfits. But this was recognized as an uncertain source which could not be depended upon in an emergency. So stringent was the office equipment situation that the entire group was allotted one small bottle of glue and one large bottle of ink for an entire month.

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      There was more hope for alleviation of the spare parts situation. High priority requisitions were placed and it was believed that supplies would be shipped to the group within a few weeks.

     Medical Supplies

      The medical department said that its supply situation was very unsatisfactory. The greatest shortage was in the field of dental supplies and in the "newer, more efficient drugs."

      Captain Malbin listed his specific shortages as aluminum gels, silical gels, tincture of bella donna and triple bromides. In every case, he said, a substitute had been found but quite often it had to be obtained by informal methods. He cited an instance where paregoric had been required to treat diarrhea and the group had borrowed it from the Navy.

     Water Supplies

      The supply of water remained a minor problem throughout the month. Quite often it was necessary to prohibit the use of available supplies for anything except the most necessary cleaning and for drinking and cooking purposes.

      Originally, water was supplied by a Naval Construction Battalion and by a pump in the 373rd hospital area. But this was inadequate and the water trucks were forced to use a pump in Agana, the main city of Guam.

      After a few days, the pump at Agana became inoperative and the trucks went even further--to Piti Point--to obtain supplies of fresh water. As the estimated needs of the group were approximately 20,000 gallons a day, this trip presented considerable difficulties.

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ADMINISTRATION AND PERSONNEL

     A Shortage of Manpower

      It became evident as the month continued that the administrative difficulties of the 16th Group could be traced to a shortage of manpower. This shortage had not been felt in the United States where the organization had always operated with the assistance of a base complement.

      "A tactical unit has been brought into an unserviced area and made to service itself," Captain Rittenhouse, Group adjutant, said in an interview for the history. "The Table of Organization is not adequate under such circumstances. We are forced to divert personnel from their normal jobs to perform utility services."

      He cited such tasks as plumbing, carpentry, electrical wiring and repairs to living facilities. All of these duties, he pointed out, had been performed by personnel outside of the group in the past.

      The same situation also applied to the 315th Wing which was forced to dip into lower echelons of command, he said. The wing during the course of the month took 140 officers and enlisted men from the group and placed them on detached service, thus lowering 16th manpower still further.

     A Shortage of Grades

      Parallel to the shortage of manpower was a shortage of grades, Captain Rittenhouse said. He pointed out that the Table of Organization called for Master Sergeant Crew Chiefs for ten aircraft per squadron whereas each squadron was actually assigned 15 aircraft.

      "That means that in each squadron there are five men performing the duties and with the responsibilities of a master sergeant and they do not have the faintest chance of making the rank," he said. He added that an in-

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formal request had been submitted to the 315th Wing to take action on the situation.

     Consolidation

      Partially to offset manpower shortages and partially to bring about greater efficiency, the various sections of the group were consolidated during the month. This had been planned previously and brought about little confusion.

      The only officers remaining in the squadrons after the reorganization had taken place were the squadron commanders and the squadron executive officers. All administrative functions were consolidated into a Unit Personnel section headed by First Lieutenant Donald P. Gaidry, former 17th Squadron adjutant.

      Combat maintenance, ordnance, operations, intelligence, armament, supply and communications brought their personnel into group offices and operated as single units, ignoring the former division between Group and Squadron. The change was accomplished informally and represented no paper work.

      The consolidation permitted greater efficiency in several respects. In the first place, it compensated to some extent for the men who had been sent to the 315th Wing by enabling a more rational distribution of Group personnel in the light of work which had to be performed.

      An even more important factor, however, was the opportunity afforded for specialization. In the S-2 section, for example, two officers were assigned the duties of supervising briefing and interrogation, two to training and two for administration. Formerly, each officer had of necessity been a "jack of all trades."

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      Another advantage of the consolidation was improved liaison between working sections of the organization. The administrative channels which had been necessary under the squadron setup had often proved cumbersome and their elimination was welcomed.

      Finally, the consolidation permitted the various sections to operate with less equipment. This factor was of great importance as it soon became apparent that supplies--especially office supplies--were drastically limited on the island of Guam.

KEY PERSONNEL

      The most important change in key personnel of the Group took place on June 25 when Lieutenant Colonel Collier H. Davidson* was appointed Operations Officer.12 He replaced Major Robert L. Jones who was transferred to the Air Inspector's Office.13

      Lieutenant Colonel Davidson's appointment left vacant the post of Commanding Officer of the 17th Squadron. It was filled by Major Richard W. Lavin, who had been the Group Air Inspector.14

      On June 8, Captain Barney Malbin was appointed Group Flight Surgeon in place of Major Will H. Eubank who had contracted a severe illness and remained in the United States when the organization moved overseas. Captain Charles P. Catalano16 replaced Captain Malbin as Flight Surgeon for the 17th Squadron.                          
*   See Biographical Section.

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CONSTRUCTION

     Living Quarters

      The group construction crews, operating under the close supervision of Major Hopsak, turned in a solid record of achievement during the month. Despite their lack of experience in working together as a team, they managed to complete all the living facilities for the organization.

      These included 56 prefabricated barracks and 30 Quonset huts for housing the combat crews. In addition, they constructed a Quonset hut for the Field Exchange and two large prefabricated buildings for mess halls and nearly completed a medical consultation building.

      Other construction was turned over to Naval Construction Battalions and included two Quonset huts for the operations section, one for communications, one for unit personnel and one for the hospital. The latter was only 75 per cent complete by the end of the month but the others were finished and in use.

      The Group briefing room--a 40' X 100' Quonset--was also under construction by the Construction Battalion. Its progress was delayed, however, by the difficulties of installing special equipment for the U-V type of briefing.*

      Practically all living facilities, such as showers, latrines, water towers and the group theater, were put up by members of the group itself. Army engineers and Navy CBs were too busily engaged in construction work on the landing strip and on major administrative buildings to perform this work.

                         
*   See Chapter on Operations Against the Enemy

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     A Carpentry Shop

      A few of the men who were experienced carpenters managed to secure some damaged plywood from another organization on the island. They asked for and received permission to build a carpentry shop where they could work during their off duty hours.

      The group was authorized no lumber beyond that needed for the Quonset huts and the prefabricated barracks but they managed to get some scrap--mostly from crates. They constructed furniture for group personnel and did a considerable amount of work building shelves for the barracks.

      As lumber was at a premium, Major Hopsak established a central pile under the supervison of the utilities section. This was parcelled out for essential group projects, such as the construction of bulletin boards, map racks and file cabinets. No provision had been made for these articles in the Table of Organization and Equipment.

     Medical Construction

      While awaiting construction of its permanent facilities, the group medical section built its own temporary working quarters. These included cleaning facilities, a squad tent converted into a dispensary and equipment sterilizers.

"The great majority of medical enlisted men showed determination in doing jobs for which they had no previous training," Captain Malbin said. "Their hard work at such tasks as carpentry, digging and building had a great deal to do with the excellent health record of the group."

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MORALE

     An Improvement

      The morale of the organization had unquestionably been low duing its early period on Guam. The men had arrived in a totally undeveloped area and were forced to improvise the barest comforts of life from whatever material they could find.

      Their assigment to work as construction crews--a task which few of them had ever previously performed--and the necessity of long, fatiguing hours under a hot sun--had lowered their morale even further. It was impossible at that time to take the steps usually considered necessary to counteract poor morale.

      But with the arrival of the Air Echelon and the commencement of operations against Japan, morale perceptibly improved. The men began to realize their importance to the war effort and the fact that they were not merely stuck on a small island in the Pacific to build barracks.

     Food

      Food, always closely associated with morale, improved considerably when the two mess halls were opened early in June. The mess for enlisted men was operated jointly by Second Lieutenant Robert W. Eisner and Second Lieutenant Leo W. Shields, and the officers mess was operated by Second Lieutenant Herbert R. Davis.

      Adequate supplies of fresh meat and a more varied diet were assured once sufficient refrigeration facilities were installed in the mess halls.

      Supplies of fresh vegetables were still low but on two occasions it became possible to obtain fresh island corn and on a few days celery was available.

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      Food for combat crews in their flights over the Japanese Empire was a greater problem that could not be solved immediately. The crews complained because they could be given only cold sandwiches and coffee or water.

      The group was supplied with food warmers which were tried a few times experimentally. They proved very satisfactory but it was impossible to use them on a large scale without a separate kitchen. Major Hopsak informally requested sufficient materials fo build this kitchen.

     Field Exchange

      Another important morale shot in the arm was the erection of a Quonset hut for a Field Exchange. This satisfied island regulations concerning the stock that could be maintained and permitted Captain Hymanson, the Group Special Service Officer, to obtain a greater variety of goods.

      Stocks of fruit juices, cigarettes, soap, candy bars and cookies eventually reached the shelves and gave the men some opportunity to buy delicacies which had formerly been unobtainable.

     Special Services

      The Special Services section scheduled a series of weekly events to give the men some recreation during their off duty periods. In addition to the usual sports, these included trucks every Sunday to the beach and occasional conducted tours of the island.

     Health

      In general, the health of the men was excellent with the exception of a mild epidemic of diarrhea. Captian Malbin said that the same type of epidemic occurred every year among the Guamanians and that it struck just before the rainy season which starts in July.

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      He explained that is was mild and responded to several well known treatments but that the cause was unknown. The Rockefeller Institute was doing some research on the problem in cooperation with a naval organization, he added.

     The Gecko

      The Information and Education section obtained permission to publish a weekly news sheet named "The Gecko" after a species of lizard which is common on Guam.17 It contained news digests for the week, a series of columns for each squadron and notes on Group life.18

     Promotions

      On the last day of the month, more than 300 enlisted men in the Group were promoted.19 Members of both the Flight and the Ground Echelons received higher ratings.

      Many of the promotions were long overdue and had not been put in previously because of the separation of the Air and the Ground Echelons.

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BIOGRAPHICAL DATA

Collier H. Davidson

      Collier H. Davidson, Operations Officer of the 16th Bomb Group, was born at Blakely, Georgia, on November 10, 1918. His father was a member of the Army Air Force and his early education was acquired at a series of schools through the United States as his family moved from one army post to another.

      He attended Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1940 enlisted in the army as an aviation cadet. He received his wings after attending Randolph and Kelly Fields in Texas.

Military Service

      Following his graduation, he was attached for one year to Mather Field, California, as a flying instructor. From there, he was sent to Sebring, Florida, where he attended the first B-17 transition class.

      After a tour of duty at Barksdale Field, Louisana, he was sent with the 404th Squadron to Alaska. He served throughout the campaign and was stationed at Umniak, Adak and Amchitka, performing 53 missions against the enemy.

      In July, 1943, he was promoted to Major and transferred August, 1943, to the A-3 section of the Second Bomber Command with headquarters at Spokane, Washington. When this headquarters was closed, he was sent to the Army Air Base at Wendover, Utah, and on December 1, 1943, to March Field, California. At both posts, he served as Deputy Group Commander and as a section commander of various training units.

The 16th Bombardment Group

      On July 4, 1944, he was transferred to the 16th Bombardment Group, then stationed at Dalhart, Texas, where he assumed the position of Commanding Officer of the 17th Bomb Squadron. While serving in that capacity, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on March 8, 1945.

      Lieutenant Colonel Davidson became the Operations Officer of the 16th Group on June 25 after the organization had moved to its overseas base at Northwest Field on Guam.

      He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his service in the Alaskan Campaign.

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There are ten pictures included in the Offical History that have not yet been reproduced for inclusion on this web page. They were contained on pages 27 through 31 of the original history document.

List of Documents

1 MISSION SUMMARY, Mission No. 232, Flown 26 June 1945, 16th Bomb. Gp.
2 Tactical Report on mission against Utsube Oil Refinery.
3 Mission Summary (Narrative), Mission No. 232, Flown 26-27 June 1945, 16th Bomb. Gp.
4 Ibid
5 Return Report, Target Nippon Oil Co.
6 Tactical Report, Enemy Anti-Aircraft fire, Misson No. 2, Flown 29-30 June 1945, 16th Bomb. Gp.
7 Operational Report, Enemy Fighter Reaction, Target: Mippon Oil Co.
8 Reg. 50-1, Hq. 315th Bomb Wg., Subject: Pre-Operations Theater Indoctrination, dd 1 June 1945. (Not included in body of documents).
9 Return Report 16 June 1945.
10 Crew Progress Chart, Flying Training (VH) Special, Hq. 2AF, dd 19 May 1945.
11 S.O. 19, Par 2 & 3, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 9 June 1945.
12 S.O. 28, Par 4, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 25 June 1945.
13 S.O. 28, Par 3, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 25 June 1945.
14 S.O. 28, Par 2, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 25 June 1945.
15 S.O. 18, Par 2, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 8 June 1945.
16 S.O. 19, Par 4, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 9 June 1945.
17 Ltr., Hq. 16th Bomb Gp., Subject: Request for Approval of Organization Newspaper Weekly, To: Deputy Commander, 20th AF (POA), APO 953, c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California, dd 8 June 1945
18 The Gecko, Hq. 16th Bomb Gp., Information and Education Section, 28 June 1945
19 S.O. 32, Par 1, Hq 16th Bomb Gp., 30 June 1945.

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Editorial Notes:

Several photos are included in the history, but have not yet been reproduced for inclusion on this web page.

There also exists several pages of documents, that have yet to be transcribed. This data consists of special orders, memorandum, report forms and copies of TWX messages. This will take a long time to transcibe and I wanted to focus on transcription of the unit history first. Hopefully, my fingers will be able to stand this.


Content 2005, Larry Miller
September 20, 2005