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david leigh-smith
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On This Day...February 22nd

February 22, 2019 · in Photo Collections · · 5 ≡

RAF Air Transport Auxilliary ferry pilot, Veronica, sits in her Spitfire, February 22nd, 1943.

Four caskets containing 22nd Marines, Parry Island, Eniwetok, February 22nd, 1944.

22nd February 1944. A TBM Avenger flies over Tinian Island, at this time still occupied by Japanese forces.

A-36A Apache aircraft 'Judy' of 522nd Fighter Squadron, US 86th Fighter-Bomber Group after a forced landing at Gaudo Airfield, Southern Italy, 22nd February,1944.

The A-36 ‘Apache’ was essentially an early model P-51 Mustang fitted with two dive brakes on each wing (see photo below). Other modifications included strengthening of the wings (one prototype (in) famously lost both wings in a dive), movement of the bomb racks closer to the main landing gear for less wing flexing, and the installation of small vent windows in the windscreen side panels. In addition, two Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns were mounted in each wing, and two more .50 cal. guns were mounted in the lower nose to fire through the propeller. Naturally, the A-36 inherited the Mustang’s good looks and charm.

A captured German SdKfz 7 artillery tractor in the Western desert, Tunisia, 22nd February 1943.

The Battle of the Kasserine Pass was the Axis’ last major offensive in North Africa. Although it succeeded tactically in pushing the Allies back, strategically it failed to relieve their position in the area. The battle came as a huge shock to the American troops and led to significant changes in tactics and engagement. It was the first major meeting between German and American forces in WW2 and would serve as a valuable lesson to the Allies in their future campaigns in Sicily, Italy, France and Belgium.

On the 22nd February, 1944, an eight year old boy was playing with his friends in a public park in Sheffield, England. The open field they played in was surrounded by trees and residential areas. The boys first heard and then saw a very low flying B-17 come at them with only one engine functioning. The Fortress was so low the boys could see the pilot waving at them through the canopy.

The B-17 ‘Mi Amigo’ was attempting to return to its base in Northamptonshire after being attacked by German FW190’s. It had been carrying a 4,000 lb bomb intended for a Luftwaffe air station in Aalborg, Denmark, when it was ambushed by fighters over the North Sea. Pilot Lieutenant John Kriegshauser was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for minimising loss of life with great skill and sacrifice.

Thinking the pilot was being friendly, the boys all waved back and were delighted the pilot turned he bomber and made another pass. The boys were not to know that the pilot was trying to wave then away so he could land in the clearing. Seeing the boys were not leaving, Kriegshauser gave up on a clear landing and aimed ‘Mi Amigo’ over the trees where the plane crashed with the loss of all crew.

A memorial stone was laid and a service held every closest Sunday to the anniversary of the crash. However, the strangest memorial was observed by a local who, later in the day of the crash, saw another very low flying B-17 pass over the exact spot of the downed aircraft. Noting that something fell from this second Fortress, it was found that the fly past was intended and a wreath dropped on the remains.

One of the boys in the park that horrible day was Tony Foulds, now 82 years old. He has been diligently attending to the memorial for decades, harbouring the guilt of not understanding the pilot’s signals. Today, on 22nd February, a flypast took place to honour the crew, including a ‘missing man’ formation of Fx15’s.

An ‘air mechanic’ handing photographic plates to an observer in a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 near Arras, France, on 22nd February, 1918.

173rd Airborne Brigade, South Vietnam, February 22nd 1967. This was Day one of the first and only US Army mass parachute jump of the Vietnam War (and biggest parachute operation since WWII). The jump was one element of the airborne and infantry “search and destroy” tactics of ‘Operation Junction City’. The operation continued through to May of ‘67.

Tankers of 66th Armored Regiment taking part in a press briefing at Teuven, Belgium, 22nd February 1945. They are showing the difference between the 75mm (left) and 76mm (right).

Westland Wyvern S4 (WP346) crashes into parked Sea Hawks in an accident caused by a burst tyre on landing - 22nd February 1957.

Reader reactions:
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5 responses

  1. I'd never heard of the Wyvern before, so did some reading. It's an attractive design.

    "In September 1954, 813 embarked with their Wyverns on HMS Albion for carrier-based service in the Mediterranean. The Wyvern soon showed a worrying habit for flameout on catapult launch; the high G forces resulting in fuel starvation. A number of aircraft were lost off Albion's bows and Lt. B. D. Macfarlane made history on 13 October 1954[7] when he successfully ejected from under water after his aircraft had ditched on launch and been cut in two by the carrier. " - Wikipedia

  2. ‘Ejected underwater’ - now that has to be one hell of a story. Thanks for having a look and adding to the canon, Robert.

  3. More nice stuff. I am certain that photo of "Avengers over Tinian" is another case of the Caption Gremlins at work. The US fleet did not venture into the area of the Marianas until June 1944. God save history from those who are supposed to "save" it.

  4. Love the Allison 'Stangs

  5. Hi Tom. The gremlins are all over the place, agreed, but on further research (Navy monographs, ship logs, etc), Task Force 58 did carry out several raids on the Marianas (Operation Cerry Tree) well before the famed ‘Turkey Shoot’ of summer ‘45. The objectives were reconnaissance, harrying and disruption before the eventual raids.

    ‘Navsource’, Carrier raids of the Marianas by Task Force 58.2

    44/02/21 strike Saipan, Tinian, Guam - attacked IJNAF

    44/02/22 strike Saipan, Tinian, Guam - attacked IJNAF
    sinking AP Shoan Maru off Saipan (15-15N, 145-42E)
    58.2 + 58.3 sinking AP Seizan Maru off Saipan (15-00N, 145-30E)
    58.4 entered Eniwetok lagoon

    44/02/23 58.2 strike Saipan - Essex and Yorktown II aircraft damaging AK Shoan Maru at Tanapag Harbor, Saipan (15-15N, 145-45E)
    58.3 strike Saipan - Bunker Hill aircraft sinking AK Seizan Maru off Tinian (15-00N, 145-30E)

    Wouldn’t have followed this up but on today’s OTD I posted a photo of the Belleau Wood off the Marianas and did some digging.

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