Army Rumour Service

This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Photos that make you think.

Arnhem Flower Girl Willemien Rieken



Now at 84 years old still tending the same Grave of Trooper William Edmond

 

chimera

LE
Moderator

Sadly Willemein died a couple of months ago aged 85. Some of our snowflake woke generation would do well to learn from her.

 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Vernon "Shorty" Keough at Church Fenton in October 1940. At four feet ten inches, the shortest man in the RAF. All three of the men in the pic were US citizens who were RAF pilots during the crucial Battle of Britain dates, 10 July 1940 - 31st October 1940, to qualify as members of "The Few."

The other two are Eugene Tobin (R) and Alexander Mamedoff (L).

1600447282252.png


Within a year of this photo being taken, all three had been killed in action.

Of 11 men identified as US citizens who qualified as BoB fighter pilots, only two survived the war.
 
Vernon "Shorty" Keough at Church Fenton in October 1940. At four feet ten inches, the shortest man in the RAF. All three of the men in the pic were US citizens who were RAF pilots during the crucial Battle of Britain dates, 10 July 1940 - 31st October 1940, to qualify as members of "The Few."

The other two are Eugene Tobin (R) and Alexander Mamedoff (L).

View attachment 505454

Within a year of this photo being taken, all three had been killed in action.

Of 11 men identified as US citizens who qualified as BoB fighter pilots, only two survived the war.

Hardly likely to damage their PERSEC now but weren't they ummmmm, errrrhhh, Canadians.



(Sort of. Know what I mean squire.)
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Hardly likely to damage their PERSEC now but weren't they ummmmm, errrrhhh, Canadians.



(Sort of. Know what I mean squire.)
They were else they'd face arrest in the USA if they returned. I read somewhere a lot refused to transfer to the USAAF when they did join in later in the war.
 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
They were else they'd face arrest in the USA if they returned. I read somewhere a lot refused to transfer to the USAAF when they did join in later in the war.
There was concern early in the war that US citizens might fall foul of the US Neutrality Acts, but it soon became apparent that the US Government were quite willing to turn a blind eye. The RAF established the so-called Eagle Squadrons, and you'll see that Keough is displaying his ES badge on his sleeve in that photo I posted upthread which I think is dated 31st October 1940. The three buddies in that pic, Tobin, Mamedoff and Keough had all originally joined the French Armee de l'Air in 1939, somewhat in the style of the Escadrille Lafayette of WW1.

I'd say that most US fliers who had joined the RAF eventually transferred to the USAAF once the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces were up and running, say from August 1942. There seems to be a large number making the move in the early weeks of 1943 but of the canonical 11 US Few only one did, a chap called Depeyster Brown. Nine of the 11 were dead before 1943 rolled around.

There were those who chose to stay with the RAF/RCAF out of a sense of loyalty - one of the best known, perhaps being Joe McCarthy, captain of the only Dambusting Lancaster to reach and attack the Sorpe Dam.

Those who did transfer were authorised to wear RAF pilots wings on the right breast of their American uniforms.
 
They were else they'd face arrest in the USA if they returned. I read somewhere a lot refused to transfer to the USAAF when they did join in later in the war.
Some would not qualify as USAAF pilots for various reasons
Educational
Medical (Keogh as example)
Age
Criminal record

Many of the AVG "Flying Tigers" were furious to not be let back to their former services and shanghaied into the USAAF 14th AF as 2nd Lt's and Flight Officers
 
been off site for a while but saw page 231, and had to reply.
I have run the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron OCA for 20 years, and the first time that I heard about this lady was in 2018 after the commemorations in September.
so I decided, I had to track her down, I contacted her in January 2019.
the arrangement was to meet up with her when I came over to Arnhem for the commemorations in September 2019.
my wife and I took her for a meal on the night we arrived, what a interesting and fascinating woman she was, I gave her a Recce cap badge and lapel badge, she was so proud to have these badges she attached the cap badge to her handbag straight away.
I invited her to attend a ceremony at the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron memorial. ( she had never seen it) after the ceremony I invited her forward and presented to her a framed certificate thanking her for tending William Edmond's grave for so long and a bouquet of flowers.
she was truly a wonderful woman and I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet her.
Wil sadly died in July this year, we should have been meeting up again on 17th September in my hotel.
although I only knew her for a short time she had an impact on my life.
Wil you will never be forgoten
 

Attachments

  • IMG_3843.JPG
    IMG_3843.JPG
    1.4 MB · Views: 118
  • IMG_3877.JPG
    IMG_3877.JPG
    1.5 MB · Views: 124

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Some would not qualify as USAAF pilots for various reasons
Educational
Medical (Keogh as example)
Age
Criminal record

Many of the AVG "Flying Tigers" were furious to not be let back to their former services and shanghaied into the USAAF 14th AF as 2nd Lt's and Flight Officers


John "Red" Morgan, who I have referenced in other posts, was rejected by the Air Corps on educational grounds, and was subsequently rejected medically by a Draft Board, 4-F unfit for any military service, having broken his neck whilst working as a roustabout in the oil industry. Nevertheless he was accepted by the RCAF, and despite his earlier double disqualification he subsequently transferred to the USAAF in January 1943, in the rank of Flight Officer.

The fighter pilots in the three RAF Eagle Squadrons were transferred en bloc to the 8th Air Force, becoming 4th Fighter Group, based at Debden. They were granted US officer ranks equivalent to those they held in the RAF.

Bomber pilots, like Morgan, were spread around the various Bombardment Groups, Morgan fetching up with the 92nd Bomb Group (Heavy) at Alconbury. He had been ranked Sergeant Pilot in the RCAF; as the USAAF had a policy that certain crew positions (pilot, co-pilot, navigator and bombardier) were reserved for commissioned officers, Morgan and others like him, were initially ranked as Flight Officer. This was a strange hybrid rank, sometimes unofficially referred to as "Third Lieutenant." In some Groups they were treated as officers, in others as noncoms. They had a separate cap badge, not the large officer eagle and shield, nor yet the enlisted mans badge, but they wore a twin bladed propellor with wings, similar to the Air Corps collar badge.

"Pappy" Boyington resigned his USMC lieutenant's commission in order to join the American Volunteer Group. He later reneged on his contract in order to return to the Marines and was accepted in the rank of major.

Both Boyington and Morgan became Medal of Honor winners.
 
Last edited:
Boyington was an interesting character, if somewhat prone to the demon drink.

He crops up in a couple of books I have, His own (fairly obviously), Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and one by his fellow pilot Frank Walton, Once They were Eagles.

He got the "Pappy" nickname as he was about ten years older than his other pilots.

He seems to be the only Japanese POW whose health actually improved in imprisonment (because he couldn't get any booze). he seemed to quite like being there and told Walton's wife that "the happiest time of my life was when I was in that Japanese prison camp. I was told what to do. Everything was arranged. I had no decisions to make.” That was probably bravado.

They don't make them like that anymore. It was the fags, not the booze, that got him in the end though.

For Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, war hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
 
Boyington was an interesting character, if somewhat prone to the demon drink.

He crops up in a couple of books I have, His own (fairly obviously), Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and one by his fellow pilot Frank Walton, Once They were Eagles.

He got the "Pappy" nickname as he was about ten years older than his other pilots.

He seems to be the only Japanese POW whose health actually improved in imprisonment (because he couldn't get any booze). he seemed to quite like being there and told Walton's wife that "the happiest time of my life was when I was in that Japanese prison camp. I was told what to do. Everything was arranged. I had no decisions to make.” That was probably bravado.

They don't make them like that anymore. It was the fags, not the booze, that got him in the end though.

For Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, war hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
There was an interesting anecdote in Boyington's autobiography which I read at around the same time as I had arrived out in Asia for the first time and was throwing my money around and making myself popular (or so I thought) with everyone.

At the time my then girlfriend would tell me off for throwing money around, to which I would reply that it was chickenfeed to what I would spend back home and if it made people happy where was the harm?

In his book Pappy mentioned how he would pay his shoeshine boy a dollar to shine his boots, the lad was delighted and would show up early every day to make sure he would give the boots a good shine, everybody happy. Till one day the boy's father came to the base in a furious mood and told Pappy to stop paying the boy so much money, astonished he asked the old man why, and the father explained that the son now earned more from ten minutes shining Pappy's boots than his father earned from a week of hard toil that supported the rest of the family, and that it would ruin the boy.

To his credit Boyington took aboard what the father said, and I thought it said a lot about the man's character that he would include such an anecdote in his memoirs.
 

Latest Threads

Top