Theater: 17 Long Months
was a Fire Fighter NCO (noncommissioned officer) in India serving in
the 1346th Army Airforces Base Unit. He spend most of 1944 and 1945
there. Date of arrival on his discharge papers indicated October 7,
1944 and date of departure December 30, 1945. His total foreign service
was one year, 4 months and 20 days (about 500 days). This is the only
photo we have of him in India.
Click to enlarge.
Although he did not talk about it, conditions were rough. Most of the
airstrips were along the Bramaputna River. The troops lived in tents.
In the summer, temperatures typically reached over 100 degrees. In the
rainy months, the Monsoon rains were constant.
The CBI Theater had heating up significantly by the time he arrived
in October 1944. The Allies had beaten back the Japanese by retaking
the Myitkina Airfield in northern Burma in May 1943. Early in 1944,
Japanese troops invaded India and surrounded the towns of Imphal and
Kohima. The Japanese did not withdraw until late June 1944.
One of the stories my mother recalls is that he would gather some food
rations on a regular basis and with another soldier take the food to
a mountain village. Upon approaching the village they would hear the
Indian residents singing Christian hymns in their own language.
he is on his crash truck with crew. Although this photo was taken in
Tampa, Florida, in 1943, prior to his leaving for the CBI Theater, it
gives you an idea of the type of equipment used. The boom on the top
would swing around and pump CO2 on burning planes allowing some distance
for the firefighters but not much. Click on it to enlarge.
The Hump airlift had grown from 1200 tons per month in 1943 to 1200
tons per day by November of 1944. Losses of aircraft had dropped as
well. In 1943, there were two aircraft lost for every 1,000 hours of
flying time. By 1945, there were only two aircraft lost for every 10,000
hours. The Hump airlift continued as long as the Burma Road was held
by the Japanese. The Allies constructed the Ledo Road which opened in
January 1945. In November 1945, the Hump airlift ended.
To put this in context, the War in Europe was quickly moving to a defeat
of Germany in 1944 with the Invasion of Normandy on June 6 and the Battle
of the Bulge on December 16. The final surrender of Germany took place
on May 7, 1945.
In the Pacific Theater, the Allies landed in the Philippines in October
1944 and Iwo Jima was captured on March 16, 1945. The atomic bombs were
dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. The Japanese
surrender was signed on September 2, 1945.
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