Newsletter No. 9 April 2002
First in this Newsletter a tribute to probably the greatest American fighter pilot of the Second World War, Francis "Gabby" Gabreski who passed away on the 31st Jan at the age of 83. This great man had his finest hour at Boxted.
As a young man growing up in Oil City Pennsylvania Gabby was not interested in aviation, he was a strong young man of good Polish stock who got himself into several scrapes, he was not very good academically but it was decided he would follow his brother to university to pursue a medical career.
He never did become a doctor but here he developed an interest in aviation, when he left the campus he joined the Army Air Corps cadet program.
Gabby was actually stationed at Pearl Harbour when the Japanese attack took place, by the time he got into the air the Japs were gone.
A few weeks later he was sent to England and initially flew with the Polish squadrons at Northolt, he learnt from the Poles how to get very close to the enemy that you just could not miss.
When Gabreski joined the 56th Fighter Group he proved himself to be a very good commander, when he got used to the ruggedness of the P47 he quickly ran up a score.
In one early combat he flew in close to an ME 110 and its debris caused his aircraft extensive damage but the good old "jug" kept flying and got him back to base.
He became an ace on 26th November 1943 and had a great day on May 22nd 1944 when he got 3 and a probable, by D Day he had a score of 21 and this increased to 28 by 5th July, this would be his last victory of World war two because on his 166th mission on 20th July he got a bit close to the ground and bumped his P47, for five days he evaded capture but was finally caught and spent the rest of the war in a German Stalag.
Gabreski was again in action during the Korean War, he was given command of the 51st F.I.W. he scored 6.5 more kills during this conflict.
Later he became an Executive at Grumman aircraft.
Francis "Gabby" Gabreski
Sun 14th April @ 2pm Langham Comm Centre
Same as last year we will get the business side over as quick as possible. Then we would like to invite all members to an Afternoon of Boxted Airfield Historical Group Nostalgia. This event will be Free of Charge to all Members.
*DISPLAY OF PHOTOS & A NEW VIDEO OF THE 1940s DANCE & "BOXTED AIRFIELD THEN & NOW "WITH GREAT SHOTS OF THE LANCASTER DISPLAY*
*TRIBUTE TO "GABBY" GABRESKI*
*VIDEO OF 1992 VETERANS REUNION AT AIRFIELD*
DISPLAY ON AIRFIELD VETERANS WHO ARE MEMBERS.
Enter an Aviation photo that you have taken,no larger than 7x5, bring it along on the afternoon together with 50p entry fee, The other members will judge all entries and "Winner Takes All".
WE WOULD LIKE AS MANY MEMBERS AS POSSIBLE TO ATTEND THIS SPECIAL EVENT TO CELEBRATE OUR SUCCESS OF THE LAST TWO YEARS AND REMEMBER ITS FREE!
Sunday Aug 4th
We shall be having a stand at The Five Parishes Show which is held on the Army ground off Abbott's rd Colchester. Come along and see us.
Sat 21st Sep Langham Comm Centre
Swing Xpress Big Band
MillerJiveall the big band tunes of the time.
bring your own drink
This is the same band we had before they have just changed their name. ring for tickets
This Quarter we have two contributions from members for publication, One from Derek Blowers and one from Derek Arnaudy, The articles are linked because the two Dereks are great friends.
My parents, brother (Peter) and I moved from London to "Chestnuts" at corner of Crown ln and Ipswich rd in 1935. I was 4 years old. In 1939 we moved to the top of flood hill. I have no recollection of the date when I overheard a conversation between Mr Stanley Blake (publican of the Crown Inn) and Mr Ager (a farmer) about an airfield to be built on Langham Moor. WOW! Sadly my parents did not share my enthusiasm, but my mates did and in no time, once work had started, we were building a den deep inside the airfield. We wanted and hoped for a seat in the stalls. Sadly when work on the airfield was coming to an end it became untenable and we had to abandon it. At last the Yanks arrived much to the delight of lots of local girls not to mention some married women.
My parents were hospitable people and were soon sending invitations for a chat and tea. Amongst our visitors names remembered were Colonel Matthews, M.Sarg Raymond Halston, M.Sarg Ulysees Trucksclair (later busted down to a private) nobody, I mean nobody ever used his first name.
I also remember another chap cannot recall his name, who played piano and sang "The peanut vendor" nonstop at the Crown inn, drove everyone nuts! My favourite visitor was Raymond Halston, he would come round several times a week and liked the peace and quiet of our front room, where he would write letters home to his wife, who he obviously loved very much. It came as a devastating blow when he received a letter from her telling him she had divorced him. This six foot plus man, strong as an ox, who would lift me in one hand and my brother in the other above his head at the same time, collapsed in my mother's arms and wept.
There was a void in our lives when the Marauders left Boxted for Dunmow and I missed Ray very much, My friend Derek Blowers was hatching a plan to make a trip to catch up with these guys.