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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…March 20th.

March 20, 2019 · in Photo Collections · · 9 · 2.6K

This P51 was assigned to 504 Fighter Squadron (339 Fighter Group, 8th Air Force). She ‘Failed to Return’ (FTR) after a sortie to Bremen strafing Kaltenkirchen aerodrome. Pilot (1st Lt ) Jerome J. Ballard bailed from his Mustang (and looking at her that couldn’t have been an easy decision...) after being hit by flak in the cooling system. Due to the low altitude, his ‘chute opened but didn’t inflate. In one of those stories that seem to happen more frequently than the odds should suggest, Ballard’s parachute became entangled in tree tops saving his life. He served the remainder of the war as a Prisoner of War.

USS Halsey Powell (DD-686) struck by a kamikaze while alongside intended target USS Hancock (CV-19) on March 20, 1945 off Kyushu, en rote to Okinawa. The attack killed nine men and wounded over thirty.

This video footage was shot from the deck of USS Astoria (CL-90)... · on youtube

Morris C8 FAT (Field Artillery Tractor), commonly known as a ‘Quad’, with limber and 25-pounder field gun - on practice manoeuvres in Scotland, 20th of March, 1941.

Terry Kawamura joined the Army in Oahu, Hawaii in 1968 and on the day he died was serving as a Corporal in the 173rd Engineer Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade. On March 20th, 1968 in Camp Radcliff, Republic of Vietnam, Kawamura threw himself an enemy-thrown explosive with his body, aged 19.

His Medal of Honor Citation...

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Cpl. Kawamura distinguished himself by heroic action while serving as a member of the 173d Engineer Company. An enemy demolition team infiltrated the unit quarters area and opened fire with automatic weapons. Disregarding the intense fire, Cpl. Kawamura ran for his weapon. At that moment, a violent explosion tore a hole in the roof and stunned the occupants of the room.”

“Cpl. Kawamura jumped to his feet, secured his weapon and, as he ran toward the door to return the enemy fire, he observed that another explosive charge had been thrown through the hole in the roof to the floor. He immediately realized that 2 stunned fellow soldiers were in great peril and shouted a warning. Although in a position to escape, Cpl. Kawamura unhesitatingly wheeled around and threw himself on the charge.”

“In completely disregarding his safety, Cpl. Kawamura prevented serious injury or death to several members of his unit. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Cpl. Kawamura are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

An iconic photo of the USS Essex (CV-9) on her shakedown cruise, 20th March 1943, with F6F aircraft in foreground and SBD in the back.

M3 Lee tank passing a burning building in a Burmese village south of Mandalay, 20th March, 1945.

Carrier Ryujo in Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan, 20th March, 1933. Interesting to note the 12.7cm anti-aircraft gun arrangements; a lot of firepower in the context of the image being taken in 1933.

F4U-1 Corsair 82 of VF-10 on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise CV-6 On March 20, 1943.

And the same aircraft later in the hangar deck...

Unusual subject, even for tread heads, I think. Canadian-manufactured ‘Ram’ tanks during manoeuvres in Canada, March 20th, 1942. Primarily used for training and did not see action as battle tanks, though apparently a large number were converted into APCs, flamethrower carriers and ancillary vehicles.

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

9 responses

  1. David, As always, great pics.
    When I saw the first Mustang pic, I honestly thought it was a model photo-shopped onto real ground image...yup, before my first cup of coffee.
    Keep up the good work, very much appreciated!

  2. Another nice set David - a couple of great Corsair photos lots of weathering information there !

  3. What an amazing story about the Mustang pilot who survived the low opening !

    This is another set that hits a little closer to home. My grandfathers sister married a man who served on the Astoria during the time that you posted about. His name is George Clark.

    I also served in the Army with several Vietnam vets that were in the 173rd Abn. Brigade.

    Then you toss in the Corsairs, Hellcats, and some Sherman tanks. It does not get any better.

    Another excellent article David.

    • Thanks, Louis. It’s an ironic thing that the closer to the ground you open that ‘chute the less chance you have to survive. Can’t imagine the feeling of knowing your parachute failed then get snagged by a tree.

      Has to change your perspective on life. You’d think...

  4. Another great set David. That is one well-worn Corsair. I see above it in the hangar bay what appears to be replacement wings in the netting. Any ideas as to what a/c those are for?

  5. As it happens, Gary, I did extensive research on this when building the 350 scale ‘Big E’. Even stuck some aircraft and parts in the overheads just like the photo today.

    The photo taken on This Day in ‘43 was part of trial runs with FU4s; it’s unusual to see a Corsair on the Enterprise. So the spares will for sure have been for Hellcats, Avengers, possibly Devastators.

  6. took a break today to read your post...great story on Ballard, that had to be terrifying. I found Kaltenkirchen on Google'd never know now days.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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