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Newsletter 003 - October 2000

Newsletter No.3 Oct 2000

Our film and historical evening on 7/7/00 was a tremendous success, over 60 people spent the evening with us just about capacity for the room, 4 different films were shown all with Boxted connections. One of the most common questions we get asked at the Exhibitions is what is left of the original buildings, so it was nice to show a piece of film made this year showing buildings etc , WE THANK two of our committee (Dave and Steve) for their efforts with this. The other great news is we gained 14 new members, A WARM WELCOME TO YOU ALL.

On the night we also received an anonymous donation of £10 if you are that very kind Gentleman WE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Geoff our member from Luton has sent us a £5 donation, I know Geoff is very interested in the American airforce in Europe and really loves getting the newsletters. We THANK YOU GEOFF for your help and kindness.

On 13th August 13 of us enjoyed an afternoon at Parham Control Tower museum, where Leroy Keeping (a veteran of the 390th b.g.) told us the history of the airfield and recalled his time at the base and experiences. Peggy and Sid who joined us on the trip have now joined the group, I am so pleased to have them as members because Peggy was born on the airfield and they have helped us with lots of information etc and have been very kind to me.

OUR NEXT SOCIAL EVENING
WED 11TH OCTOBER AT 7.30
JIM DOUBLE WHO FLEW P47 THUNDERBOLTS IN BURMA WILL GIVE US A TALK ON HIS EXPERIENCES INCLUDING TRAINING IN THE U.S.A. JIM HAS WRITTEN A BOOKLET CALLED "NEVER A DODDLE" AND HIS TALK IS BASED ON THIS. ALSO JIM WILL HAVE ON DISPLAY HIS TRAINING RECORDS, LOGBOOKS, MAPS, ETC
MEMBERS £2 NON MEMBERS £3 REFRESHMENTS INCLUDED

Pilot Profiles: Major Bob Johnson - 2nd TOP SCORING ACE IN THE EUROPEAN THEATRE
Robert scored 27 aerial victories in his time with the 56th fighter group, but it could have heen a very different story, one day in June 1943 a Luftwaffe pilot shot up his helpless Thunderbolt, If the German ever knew who he did not kill, he surely regretted it.
As an eight year old Robert was taken to an air show at Post Field, to watch hi-planes put through their paces. His interests as a young man were shooting birds which helped him greatly with aiming at a moving target and boxing which taught him to control and channel fear. Football where he learnt the other guy was probably as scared as he was and just as keen to be the best. After school and at weekends he worked in a woodwork shop to earn enough money for flying lessons. At junior college he enrolled in the civilian flying programme which allowed him to fly without paying.
In 1941 age 21 he signed up for the Army Air Corps cadet programme, led to learning to fly different training aircraft and learning hasic acrobatic manoeuvres. Military training followed at Sikeston flying Fairchild PT-19a and Stearman PT-18 learning snap rolls, slow roll and harrel rolls, he also married Barhara Morgan his childhood sweetheart, finished hasic training at Randolph field and on 19th July 1942 he reported to the 56th fighter group 61st fighter squadron. After getting to grips with the mighty P47 Thunderbolt they left for England on the Queen Elizabeth on January 6th 1943.
First stop Kings cliffe then Horsham st Faith and then Boxted.
Johnson went on to score 27 aerial victories his squadron mates called him the wild man, he later recalled that he always wanted to get at them and he was in a competition with his 56th group mates as well as pilots from the other squadrons. He got into several tricky situations but his flying skill and that keen eye he had gained shooting as a youngster, plus the rugged P47 that could take so much punishment and still deliver the goods always got him through. In his flight of 8 pilots they had the four leading aces in Europe.
After the war he worked for Republic aircraft and spent some time in Korea as an observer, he wrote his autobiography in 1958 and later ran a successful insurance business, he remained active in aviation circles until his death in December 1998.

Boxted Airfield History Part 3
The Marauder had the reputation of being difficult to fly, mainly because of the landing technique required, coming in with the nose pointing towards the ground and then levelling off at the last minute to come into land instead of the normal gradual descent, some pilots who did not get to grips with this unfortunately came to grief and the Marauder got the unkind nickname of "The Widowmaker".
The 386th and other Marauder groups over a period of time proved the aircraft was very stable and extremely good in the tactical role, ground attack targets like airfields,trains,railway marshalling yards but not heavy bombing i.e. towns and cities.
The 386th were led by Lester Maitland a very experienced Aviator he had been a test- pilot he was also one of-the first two pilots to fly the Pacific. Lester was over 40 when he arrived at Boxted, old in comparison with the pilots he was in charge of average age 20 yrs.

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