Imphal, The Hump and Beyond
U.S.A.A.F Combat Cargo Groups of the Second World War
2nd Combat Cargo Group
54th Troop Carrier Wing, 5th Air Force, Pacific Theater
| On October 7th, 1944 we
flew our planes, crews and much equipment to our staging area at Baer Field near Ft,
Wayne, Indiana. There we were outfitted and prepared for overseas duty. After a
short time, we were ordered to fly to Fairfield-Suisun, Fairfield, Calif, with an
overnight stop at Amarillo, Texas en-route. At this base auxiliary fuel tanks were
installed in the cargo compartment of each C-46. We received additional shots,
medical exams, had wills executed and were soon ready for the first leg of our long
On the night of Oct. 21, 1944, Col. Bell and Major Bowen took off in the 1st C-46 and Lt. Frank Hescock, the second and headed west for John Rogers Field in Oahu, Hawaii. Gen. Bell writes, "That night take-off from Fairfield-Suisun heading for Hawaii, our very first flight with a full military load, was quite a thrill. Getting our original 80 planes from Ft. Wayne to Biak was in itself a real accomplishment,"
The following night, more planes ventured out on the long and somewhat fearful flight. Again the next night the same occurred, but some planes, for various mechanical reasons were forced to remain at Fairfield-Suisun until repairs could be made. This flight took from 12 to 14 hours and became for most of us our first over water flight experience. Though our records state that every plane arrived safely, many pilots reported they were flying on fumes rather than liquid fuel as they approached Hawaii. Others reported they were preparing to ditch, but somehow managed to make it.
From Oahu, we flew a route that took us to Christmas Island, Canton, the Fijis, New Caledonia and finally Townsville, Australia. (Map #1) Others flew to Tarawa and Henderson Field on Guadalcanal and then on to Townsville. This was where we first had a taste of the renowned Aussie beer and it was to become our favorite beverage.
From Townsville we flew our planes up to Nadzab, New Guinea where our first actual flying began as our contribution to the war effort. There were flights to nearby Lae and Finschaven and also Townsville. Finally the orders were cut to fly to Biak which was to become our 1st home base of operations for 6 months. Biak is a part of the Schouten Islands off the East Side of Northern New Guinea and a part of the Netherlands, East Indies and we would be receiving our monthly pay in Dutch Guilders. Our planes then were all given a 100 hour-hour inspection. The arrival date on Biak was Nov. 10, 1944. (Map #2)
We were assigned to the 5th Air Force under Gen. Ennis C. Whitehead and more specifically, to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing under Gen. Paul H. Prentiss. Wing Headquarters was located several miles west of the 2nd C. C. Group area on Biak. We chose the beach area to erect our tents which Gen. Bell humorously described as "The Worst Shanty Town in the Theatre." The pictures herein bear testimony to the validity of that statement.
Lt. Curtis H. Krogh, 7th Combat Cargo Squadron, 2nd Combat Cargo Group. From his manuscript 'The Story of the 2nd Combat Cargo Group, 54th Troop Carrier Wing, 5th Air Force, Pacific Theater.
This short History of the 2nd Combat Cargo Groups Deployment, no way tells the entire group history. It's sole purpose is to give one an idea of what the Group endured during it's time during the Second World War. For a more detailed report on the the Groups History, one needs to access the records of the 2nd Combat Cargo Group and it's individual Squadrons at the U.S. Air Force Historical Research Center at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL. These records are available in microfilm.
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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)
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