Imphal, The Hump and Beyond
U.S.A.A.F. Combat Cargo Groups of the Second World War
3rd Combat Cargo Group, 10th Combat Cargo Squadron
Lt. Cal Bannon
| Born Feb 15, 1921 in Seattle,
WA. While attending the University of Washington, 60 students enlisted in the Army
Air Corps because the Army said that we could finish college. However, this was
September of 1942 and in March of 1943 we all received summons and were put on a slow
train to Wichita Falls Texas where we received two weeks of basic training. We were
called airman for lack of a better name and had enlisted ratings. Then we were put
in a College Training detachment at Oklahoma A&M college at Stillwater.
Then we were shipped to San Antonio Aviation Cadet center for classification as bombardiers, navigators or pilots. I was lucky to get my choice of pilot.
We went to Corsicana, Texas for primary flight training where I soloed in a PT-19. This was my first introduction to an airplane. The day I soloed the instructor got out of the plane and said "Ok go up and kill yourself". I fooled him and got the thing back in one piece.
Next we were sent to Enid Oklahoma for Basic Flight Training with Army Instructors. Primary flight training had civilian instructors. We flew the BT-13 there and got through that ok.
At Enid we selected either twin or single engine training and I opted for twin engine. This resulted in being shipped to Altus, Oklahoma where we trained on UC-78s and AT-9s. By this time I figured out I was in Class 44D. Flying at Altus was very eventful. I had a buddy named Bob Bass from Tulsa, Oklahoma and we flew together most of the time. We got in trouble often. The first thing that happened was that we made a night cross country flight to Abilene, Texas and back which was uneventful. However we arrived back about 1 AM and were diverted to an auxiliary airfield to shoot running takeoffs. I was the pilot and on the second takeoff Bass said "we better change tanks were getting low on gas. I said ok. That was a no -no. We had been cautioned during training never to change tanks at less than 4000ft elevation. We found out why because as we took off and got about 300 ft elevation both engines quit. It was extremely dark and quiet. We had about 40 seconds before we were going to hit the ground and we couldnt see a thing. I thought I saw a tree or something go by and slowed the plane down to about 60 mph and kept the plane straight and we hit. We lit in a corn field between a house and a barn. To make a long story short it was a pretty good landing as we walked away from it (rather bloodied). The plane wasnt hurt much from the wheels up landing. They had it flying again in about 10 days. We spent two weeks in the hospital with wounds. I had a flattened nose and Bob had one eye swollen shut. We had to go before a board of officers and for some reason they didnt wash us out. However Class 44D graduated without us and we were put in Class 44E.
We had one more adventure in which we found ourselves above the overcast which is a no-no for cadets. However the tower made a mistake and called out our aircraft number and told us to climb up so we did. Bass was orienting on the Adcock Range and after about a half an hour gave up. He asked me how many hours instrument training I had and I said about 8 hours. He said he had 4 hours and told me to get in the left seat. I had practiced in the link trainer every chance I got and had no trouble orienting on the beam. After while we asked the tower for letdown instructions and they told us to fly over the cone and take a bisector heading for our letdown and we would break out at 2500 ft. They thought we had an instructor in the plane. We didnt break out at 2500 ft in fact we broke out at 1800ft and it was raining hard and visibility was poor. I made a 180 degree turn back to the field and stayed on the radio. We missed the field and I turned down the volume and got a fade and made another 180 degree turn because I had determined that we were going away from the field at that time. All this time we had been talking to the tower and telling them that we missed the field and were low on gas. They werent to perturbed because they thought we had an instructor on board.
After that last turn and maybe one more we saw some railroad tracks and we dropped down on them to 50 ft elevation and passed a railroad station. Bass read the sign on the station and it said "Martha" on it. We looked at the chart and then looked out the windshield and saw that we were lined up with the runway so we came on in. Some officers came out to the plane and were surprised to see two cadets and no Instructor. So we had to go before a board of officers again. I got up and told them the above story. While I was standing there, I glanced over to my Instrument Instructor who up to now had told me how crummy my instrument flying was, He was sticking his chest out and I could see on his face "thats my boy" so I guess I made him look good. A nyway they didnt wash us out.
I graduated at the end of May 1944 as a Second Lt. and was sent to Sedalia, MO. for troop carrier training. I was there about a month and they shipped us to Malden MO. where they were opening a new troop carrier school. I received about 100 hours time in C-47s there and was shipped down to Miami for port of embarkation to somewhere.
We spent 2 weeks at Miami Beach and were shipped out on ATC as passengers on a C-46 along with some cargo. We were told not to open our orders until we were about an hour out and when we did we had orders to go to Karachi to be placed in a pilot pool there.
Our trip with ATC took about a month to get to India because we stopped for a number of days at each place. We went from Miami to Puerto Rico, to Georgetown, to Natal Brazil where we stayed about a week. They put us on a B-24 (passenger version when we flew the Atlantic stopping at Ascension Island for lunch and arrived at Accra where we stayed about a week. Then they put us on a C-47 and we stopped at Ft Lamy in central Africa and Kartoum, Sudan where we stayed a few days. We continued to Aden in a C-47 (passengers) a little town on the coast of Arabia, Al Masira Island and then to Karachi. When we got to Karachi we were put in a pilot pool and most of them were fighter pilots who had been there a month. However, since we were troop carrier they shipped us right out to Chabua and then Dinjan. I think I arrived in Dinjan about the 4th of November. There were 8 pilots that reported to the Third Combat Cargo Group and 2 each were assigned to the four squadrons. Ray Drake and Del Dart went to the 12th Sqd. Lednovich went to the 11th and also Willard Coons I believe. Willard later received an additional DFC for eluding some Japanese fighters in the drop zone. Later I also eluded some Japanese fighter by leaving a couple of minutes before they arrived. Red Hendrickson and I went to the 10th Sqd. I dont remember who the other two were that went to the 9th Sqd. We were practically the first replacements the squadrons had and they were glad to see us even if we were green.
The next day they assigned me copilot to 1st Lt. Bill Gore and we went out with a load of oats to Mogaung which is another story. My roommates at Dinjan were Tom Atkins, Bob Montana (Montanarella) and Herb Ochs. Our room was the site of a nightly pinochle game attended by Montanarella, Ochs, Atkins and sometimes by Sgt. Meduna, Bill Bielauskas, Marshall Feld, and Bob Trkovsky. I didnt play but slept under the pinochle table. I could sleep anywhere.
We were very busy flying after I arrived and I logged 900 flying hours in six months and was credited with 193 combat missions during that time. I flew the Burma Shuttle 11 times during that time which did not count as combat time but was usually the most decrepit aircraft in the squadron. This helped making that duty interesting. The squadron had 25 aircraft and since I was not assigned a particular aircraft and didnt have a regular crew, I flew all the aircraft in the squadron and flew with most of the crews.
I flew co-pilot for 300hours and then was checked out by my flight leader as first pilot. The original members of the squadron had been flying about 6 months before I got there and they were battle wise and very good pilots. We were the top squadron in the group of 4 squadrons in amount of tonnage carried. I was lucky to get all that good training during the 300 hours of copilot time and learned a lot. Apparently I was over my problems that I had during training. We flew with a crew consisting of a radio operator and a crew chief and they did a wonderful job of keeping our planes in good shape and handling the radio and loran position locating gear. We also had the services of the 330th Airdrome Squadron who did all the heavy maintenance on our aircraft. They managed to keep the availability of our aircraft at 98% which was no small feat. They worked out of doors under floodlights and did a marvelous job. I visited their area one evening and they were working under the lights which were surrounded by large flying insects with clacking wings that were big enough to cause collision damage to the men.
Dinjan airfield was located in the middle of an extensive agricultural area run by British tea planters. We were surrounded by tea plantations. The British planters invited some of us with tennis rackets to play tennis at their tennis club. The club consisted of a clubhouse in which they served tea between tennis sets and six grass Tennis courts. I was fortunate to be invited to go there with Loddie Roeder, Tom Ramseur and Jim Laird on a number of occasions. We also were invited to dinner at an estate of a Mr. and Mrs. Tweedie and we played tennis there on occasion. The Tweedies had formal gardens around their home with all kinds of English flowers. They also had their own tennis court and a race horse of which they were very proud I took colored pictures of their gardens and the club grounds where we played tennis. We traveled there to play because luckily Tom had access to Captain Duch's jeep. I showed the colored slides to the 10th Sqd. people at the Hump Pilots Convention and they wanted to know what war I was fighting. They didnt see all that.
We were very busy flying most of the days and took off before dawn and returned after dark. We were very determined to do a good job because we knew that those soldiers we were supplying depended on us and they were suffering from sloshing through all that mud, being shot at and not knowing whether they would ever see home again. We supplied Chinese, British, American and Indian troops while they battled their way down from northern Burma too as far as Mandalay. We supplied OSS officers and their Kachin native troops who were 50 miles behind the Japanese lines ambushing Japanese soldiers and their supply lines. We also supplied weather stations located behind Japanese lines on mountaintops all by dropping. We went through storms and ice and snow to get back to our dry beds at Dinjan but the soldiers were sleeping in foxholes and swamps. I participated in air drops throughout Upper Burma, the airlift of Chinese Cavalry including horses to Myitkyina and the numerous dirt strips throughout Northern Burma.
In early May of 1945 we moved ourselves from Dinjan to Mytkina, Burma from where we staged our supply missions. About that time the squadron changed aircraft to C-46s and at the same time I was grounded and received orders to return to the US. I had my 900 hours combat time in. The 900 hours flying equaled 193 combat missions in six months time and I received the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
They flew a bunch of us to Calcutta where we waited for a ship to take us home. After a month we got on a ship, the General Freeman which took us on a 65 day trip around the South Pacific including Ceylon, Perth Australia, Hollondia New Guinea, Saipan, the Philippine Islands, Okinawa, Pearl Harbor and finally San Pedro. Personnel from the 10th Sqd. who were on that ship were Maurice David, Ken Coleman, Tom Atkins and Embry.
We went to Okinawa to deliver a B-25 outfit there because the war was still in progress. On the way from Ceylon to Perth the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. By the time we reached Okinawa the Japanese were there making the preliminaries for the peace treaty. We crossed the international date line on VJ day and had two of them.
I returned to Seattle and started back at the University of Washington in September 1945 graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering in June of 1947. I married and now have two boys. My present avocations are sailing and deep powder skiing.
I am proud to have served with all the great people of the 10th Combat Cargo Squadron
Calvin F. Bannon 2000
Cal had a great hobby while with the 10th ComCar Sqd. He managed to take a great many color images on Kodak 35mm slide film. Some of these images are being displayed here thanks to Cal Bannon. (Bill B.)
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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