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U.S.A.A.F. Combat Cargo Groups of the Second World War

1st Combat Cargo Group, 3rd Combat Cargo Squadron

 

A Short Field in Burma

Major John K. Moriarty

  Later on, when we were flying individually again, a British armored division had crossed the Chindwin River and started driving eastward, heading for Meiktila south of Mandalay in order to cut off the Japanese southward retreat toward Rangoon.  The British were totally dependent on airdropped supplies and we sometimes had to fly over Japanese-held territory in dropping to them.   The reason was that the armored column couldn't defend everything it passed, and they'd pull their logistical tail in after them as they moved along, and also pull in their defense perimeter at night. 

One evening about dusk I arrived over the drop site, which that day was on a light plane, or "cub strip."  The kind of thing the British could quickly make as they moved along by knocking the bunds out of the rice paddies, thus creating a strip a few hundred feet long for light -"air evac" aircraft.  I knew this strip was outside the night perimeter and decided I could put my C-47 down on it, and let them unload its cargo into trucks rather than have to pick up stuff all over the place, probably in the dark.  I brought he aircraft in just about stalling speed, plunked down on the end of the strip, and got her stopped before some trees at the end.  The British began unloading (after they got over their surprise at the landing) and invited me and our crew to have dinner with them.  They eat late, as you know, and it was 21:30 or so when we were finished, meanwhile the British division commander, a Major General, came over and after greeting me, suggested that I shouldn't take off that night.  Being a bold young YANK, though a Major at the time, I dismissed his fears and told him there'd be no problem.  After a bit more, he reluctantly but doubtfully quit arguing.  I told them to put a jeep at the end of the strip, and turn the lights 45 degrees to the side so they wouldn't be in my eyes (of course there were no lights on the strip).  Lt. Touche (the copilot) and I then cranked up the now empty aircraft, and put down a quarter flaps (which are not usually used on a C-47 takeoff).  I ran the engines up, sitting at a 45 degree angle from takeoff, ran the right engine last, and without ever shutting it back very much released the brakes, brought her around lined up toward the lights, and blew that thing out of there, passing a few feet over the jeep.  It was no problem--just as we told the general.

  Major John K. Moriarty, Commanding Officer, 3rd Combat Cargo Squadron, 1st Combat Cargo Group CBI 1944-1945.  September 1998

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    I am looking for former members of the 3rd Combat Cargo Group,  1st, Combat Cargo Group, 2nd Combat Cargo Group and the 4th Combat Cargo Group.  In fact I would like to hear from anyone who flew over the Hump during WW II, or flew any Combat Cargo Missions at any time (Berlin Air-Lift, Korea, etc.) 

Please e-mail comment, suggestions, corrections,etc to: bill@comcar.org

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