Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Most Popular Rumors of July, 1944 at East Wretham Airfield

As compiled by S/Sgt James F. Farrelly, HQ, 359th Fighter Group

Following are some of the rumors that swept in, around, and out of AAF Station F-133 during the month of July, 1944. The source of the rumors, in most instances, was dubious. Naturally.

“The sister of a friend of a friend of mine, employed by a large pennant and flag making company in the state of New York, reported in a letter to her brother that the factory had just received an immense order to make several thousands of small banners with thereon ‘Welcome Home Eighth Air Force’. The order, received during the first week of July, was to be completed at any cost before the 15th of August.”

As a result of this, another rumor, of undetermined origin, said that:
“In addition to the ‘Welcome Home, Eighth Air Force’ banners, an order had also been received to prepare as many thousands of pennants that would read, ‘Goodbye, Eighth Air Force’.”

Another possible outcome was:
“News from home” that the statue of Liberty has recently been adorned with a vast neon display, to be lighted some climactic evening with the joyful greeting ‘Hello Eighth Air Force’. There is a possibility that the Ninth Air Force will also be said ‘hello’ to. At any rate the sign is of such magnitude that it can be seen from a very great distance at sea."

Rumors of movement were thick:
“Colonel Tacon, Station and Group Commander, is said to have a bet, amount not known, with Lt. Col. Grady L. Smith, Station Executive that by Christmas of this year the 359th Group will have been to the States, everyone will have had their leaves and furloughs and will then be in another theatre of operations.”

From Eighth Air Force Headquarters came the ‘news’ that bomber divisions were ready to move:
“Tropical serum has been issued, training for the Pacific Theatre has been completed, shipping weight has been calculated, personnel have received new equipment and every Eighth bomber station in the ETO is in a state of eager readiness.”

The Fighter Command was another thing:
“We are not expected to follow the bombers for some time. It is said that the entire command will be put on DS to the Ninth Air Force, to move to France and to operate in a fighter-bomber and ground attack capacity until the bombers are ready for their ‘little friends’ somewhere in the Burma-India-China Theater. No part of the Eighth Air Force, in this move, will go through the United States, but proceed via the Mediterranean Sea the Suez canal and the Indian Ocean to their destination in the tropics. Part of the Fighter Groups will move to fields in France, as they become available.”

There were also other, less exciting rumors:
“Rotation was soon to begin in the Eighth Air Force,” indication enough that home was a thing far away.

From nearby Bodney:
…a visiting crew chief told a friend that the 352nd Group was going “off ops” on the 1st of August, which somehow later became the 15th of August. And the operational career of the 359th in this theatre was drawing to an end, too. By the 15th it was said that we would have nothing more to do than ‘sit around and wait’ for orders to pick up our stuff and go - with China once more the end.

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Text archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

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