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Author Topic: Ashford (Great Chart) ALG  (Read 2729 times)

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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Ashford (Great Chart) ALG
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2016, 23:21:16 »
The airfield was approximately three miles west of Ashford and just west of Chilmington. Development was approved in September 1942 with work beginning in January 1943.

No. 2875 Anti-Aircraft Squadron RAF Regiment arrived in August 1943 and were joined on the 13th August by 129 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Airfield, comprising of Nos 414 and 430 Squadrons RCAF, flying the fighter/reconnaissance North American Mustang l. The two squadrons participated in operations in preparation for the forthcoming invasion of Europe, carrying out reconnaissance and attacks on targets of opportunity.

Three pilots were killed on operations while the squadrons were at Ashford.

Flying Officer Louis P Theriault. 414 Squadron. Age 24.
   In the late afternoon of the 21st August 1943 he shot down a Ju 88 in the Paris area, but was killed when he hit an obstruction and crashed.
    Buried Reau Communal Cemetery, France.

F/O Robert E Baker. 414 Squadron. Killed 8 September 1943. Age 21.
    Buried Bergen General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/O Duncan H Lewis. 414 Squadron. Killed 15 September 1943.
    Buried Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey.

The Canadians left in early October and the airfield was briefly occupied by Nos 65 and 122 Squadrons RAF, flying top cover and diversionary fighter sweeps in Spitfire Mk IXs.

Ashford was allocated to the Ninth US Air Force and became US Army Air Force Station AAF 417. Considerable improvements took place over the winter of 1943/44, with the HQ staff of the 303rd Fighter Wing arriving in early March. The 406th Fighter/Bomber Group, consisting of the 512th, 513th, and 514th Fighter Squadrons USAAF, equipped with the Republic Thunderbolt, assembled at the airfield in March and after working up were declared fully operational by early May.
The group played a full part in the softening up process prior to D-Day. On D-Day itself they provided top cover over Utah beach. Once the beach-head was properly established the group provided tactical support for the US Third Army, attacking rail/road communications, gun emplacements and ammuntion dumps.

The Americans had planned to leave Ashford in early June, but bad weather delayed completion of the ALGs in France and the 406th FG was forced to stay until the 27th July when they moved to Tour-en-Bassin.

The 406th Fighter Bomber Group lost 21 men while they were based at Ashford.

No. 512 Squadron.

2nd Lt Alfred C Harnagel. Killed 21st April 1944 in aerial collision near Ashford.

2nd Lt Russell E Tilton. Killed 21st April in above collision.

Major William H Merriam.

2nd Lt Harry Pederson. MIA 18 June 1944. Hit by flak and bailed out east of St Lo.

1st Lt Lyon A Agee Jr. MIA 22 June 1944. Hit by flak over channel near Cherbourg.

2nd Lt Elmer C Dudolski. MIA 22 June 1944. Hit by flak while dive-bombing. Last seen over ocean near Cherbourg.

Capt John W Mullaney. KIA 30 July 1944. Hit by flak near Montagne-Fayel.

513 Squadron.

2nd Lt Cary L Grey. Hit by flak 17 June 1944. Died while POW.

2nd Lt Raymond E Demeritt. KIA 23 June 1944. Hit by flak near Chartres.

1st Lt Harry A Nock. KIA 4 July 1944. Aerial combat.

1st Lt Wayne T Swanbery. KIA 26 July 1944. Hit by flak near Marigny.

514 Squadron.

2nd Lt Bernard F Dugan. Details uncertain, but died early May 1944. Awarded the Soldiers Medal posthumously for this action in which he lost his life while saving those of three companions.

Major Gene L Arth. KIA 22 April 1944. On acclimation flight when hit by flak while strafing a train near Lingen, Germany.

Tch Sgt Charlie E Lavender. Died 3 July 1944. Accidental wound which proved fatal.

1st Lt John E Wikes. KIA 7 July 1944 near Utah Beach.

2nd Lt Merlin E Isbell. KIA 10 June 1944. Air combat near Argentan.

1st Lt Lewis A Burton. KIA 17 June 1944. Hit by flak.

2nd Lt Marion A Benson. 17 June 1944. Hit by flak and dived into German gun position near Gratut. Awarded Distinguished Service Cross.

2nd Lt James L Billington. KIA 24 June 1944. Hit by flak near Dang.

2nd Lt Edward R Gaudet. KIA 29 June 1944. Shot down by FW 190 near Dreux.

1st Lt Levett C Beck Jnr. Shot down 29 June 1944. Died as POW.

On the 22nd of May 1944 the Luftwaffe dropped a bomb on the airfield. The bomb landed on a tented accommodation area, killing 14 men of No. 5003 Airfield Construction Squadron RAF.
See http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19492.0

The first fatal RAF active service jet aircraft death occurred on 15 August 1944 when a No. 616 Squadron Meteor crashed on Ashford airfield killing the pilot.
Warrant Officer Donald A Gregg RAFVR.
     Buried Nottingham Northern Cemetery.

Link. 406th Fighter Group. The visit to the Great Chart Memorial Service in August 2014 (click on news) is particularly moving.
http://406thfightergroup.org/index.php

Photos.

1. P-47 Thunderbolts prepare to take-off from Ashford.

Photos below http://www.americanairmuseum.com/archive?search=Ashford&section Licensed under CC-BY-NC 3.0
Click on above link and it will give an idea of how many different  units were on the airfield, ie, Weather Detachments, Signal Companies, Communication Squadrons, Field Hospitals, Military Police, etc.

2. Aerial photograph of Ashford airfield. Photograph taken by the 34th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron of the 10th Photographic Reconnaissance Group on 11 May 1944, sortie number US/34GR/LOC14. North at bottom. The A-28 runs parallel to the shorter of the two runways, Chilmington Green Rd parallel to the longer.

3. FRE 7391. Crew buildings at Ashford, home of the 406th Fighter Group.

4. FRE 7417. Crew tents of the 406th Fighter Group at Ashford.

5. FRE 7419. An anti aircraft gun post at the 406th Fighter Group base at Ashford.

6. FRE 7388. Personnel of the 406th Fighter Group relax in their underwear outside the tents at Ashford
































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