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

4th Combat Cargo Group, 13th Combat Cargo Squadron

 

Sgt. George H. Semus - Radar Mechanic 

     DOWN MEMORY LANE

      I joined the 13th Combat Cargo Squadron at Bowman Field, Kentucky, after finishing Radar school in Boca Raton, Florida.  After getting acclimated to my new surroundings and getting some training our group preceded to Baer Field at Fort Wayne Indiana were 25 brand new C-46 airplanes waited for us.  These planes were loaded with equipment that would be needed at our operational base.   

      From Baer we proceeded to West Palm Beach to Puerto Rico, Georgetown, Belem, Ascension Island,  Accra and across to Kano, Nigeria. 

     Nearing Kano a problem was encountered with one of the engines and the pilot Lieut. Falkenberg and to shut this engine down and radio ahead for an emergency landing.  As we approached the runway a British C-47 cut ahead of us and our pilot tried to gun the remaining engine to lift us up.  Needless to say the remaining engine quit and we pancaked onto to runway.  We skidded along the runway for awhile and then veered off into the vegetation alongside the runway.   As soon as the plane stopped, all the hatches were opened and the passengers and crew evacuated the plane fearing a fire or explosion.  When we hit the runway.one of the landing wheels tore off, flew back and tore a hole in the fuselage near the base of the stabilizer.  One of the passengers anxious too make his escape got out of this hole.   Later when we came back to retrieve our belongings and equipment this G.I. could not squeeze out of the same hole no matter how much he twisted and turned.  Fortunately Kano was at the end of the day's flight so our fuel supply was low.  All of us aboard this plane were reassigned to our planes and we continued without any further incidents.

    When we arrived at our base of operations in the Assam Valley and got organized an orientation was scheduled and we were addressed by our C.O. and others on our mission and some of the customs of the native population etc..   We were also shown training films on safe sex and the effects of various venereal diseases to the male genitals.

     After this film our chaplain spoke these memorable words; 'Flies spread disease make sure you keep yours closed"  Our rations for approximately three weeks consisted of English rations until our Quartermaster Corps were able to supply us with American food. The food was horrible and consisted mainly (bully-beef highly salted) mutton (greasy and loaded with globs of fat) and rice bread (loaded with various bugs).  Fortunately we were hauling gallons of fruit cocktail at the time ,so this kept some of us going for the tree weeks.

   One day as our planes returned from their missions and were lined up wing tip to wing tip a couple of us radio and radar mechanics entered one of the planes to check the maintenance logs for any problems with the communication equipment.   As we were squirming around in this narrow space a screwdriver hanging from our tool belt caught the trigger of a flare pistol that was left loaded on the radio operators desk, firing the flare into the back of the radio operators desk.  Heavy smoke immediately 'engulfed the cockpit a fire was tarted.   We grabbed the nearest CO 2 fre extinguisher and applied the contents onto the fire.  Others ran to the adjoining planes and obtained their extinguishers which were used to extinguish the fire otherwise the could have consumed the entire plane plus others that were lined up wing tip to wing tip.   

One of our maintenance problems was the trailing wire antenna.  This was a long copper    wire that was the antenna for one of the radios.  This wire was on a electric controlled spool that allowed the wire to be played out from the rear of the plane. When extended a heavy lead weight would pull the wire back and under the plane.   When the plane prepared to land the radio operator would retract the wire by reversing the spool motor and bringing the lead weight back up to the fuselage of the plane.  Many planes upon returning would smash this lead weight onto the runway.  

           I was very fortunate to have fullfilled one of my boyhood dreams of circulating the world and this       was done  with the help of the U.S.A.A.F.  Leaving from Florida across the South Atlantic, across Africa , Asia, across the Pacific to the west coast of Oregon, up the Columbia River to Portland and then by train across the northern portion of the good old U.S.A. to Fort Dix,New Jersey for  discharge.  This day was Lincoln's Birthday February 12, 1946.   Thanks for listening to an old man and his memories. At another time I hope to write again.   God willing.           

       In closing I can still hear the refrain of the 4th Combat Cargo Group theme song, "It's Twilight Time". 


  Copyright 2002   George H. Semus, Sgt. 13th Combat Cargo Squadron, 4th Combat Cargo Group

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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

Imphal, the Hump and Beyond  Copyright 1999-2002 Bill Bielauskas  All rights reserved. Bill Bielauskas  All rights reserved.

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