Newsletter 004 - January 2001

Newsletter No. 4 JANUARY 2001

Welcome to a New Year, one I believe will be very exciting for our group, Our special event to commemorate Americas entry into the War will be held on 23rd SEPTEMBER 2001

An Organizing group has now been formed and next meeting is on Mon 15th January, when things will really get moving, exciting times.

On Oct 11th about 40 members and guests enjoyed an evening with Jim Double, He told us about his experiences and his time as a R.A.F Fighter Pilot, from training and into service mainly in Burma flying the p47 Thunderbolt, As I said on the night "not so much a talk but more an experience". Jim makes no charge for his appearance but a donation of £25 was made by us to his charity (Ipswich Hospice).

Armistice Day

A short service was held at the memorial nr the airfield, taken by the vicar of Langham and a wreath was laid by the village and one by our group, Thanks go to Michael Heath and Derek Blowers for their participation and the other group members who attended.



2.30 p.m. Langham Community Centre

Illustrated Talk by Sqdn Ldr Dick Storer

First ever Team Manager of the RED ARROWS

As well as his experiences with The Arrows he will be telling us about his flying career on the Hawker Hunter and the mighty Avro Vulcan. Admission including refreshments is £2 for members and £3 for non, these are bookable by phoning me on the number at the top of newsletter.

This will be a fund raiser for our event in September so we need as many people as possible so bring a carload on the afternoon and a prize for our raffle Please! we shall be in the main hall so no shortage of seats.


I am pleased to report the video is progressing very well. Nearly all the material has been compiled, now remains the lengthy task of editing it and recording the narration.


If you would like to contribute to the newsletter your article would be most welcome (no more than 300 words) must be linked to the airfield in some way, I look forward to receiving them.


Next date for the above is March 11th. This is to give us chance to put some memorabilia on display. Thanks go to Roy Henson for his kind donation of a large colour photo of Hub Zemke on a return to Boxted.

PILOT PROFILES: Col Francis S. Gabreski (Top scoring ace in the European Theatre)

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 a 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 5 more kills during this conflict.

Now in his eighties he will always be remembered as a great fighter pilot and commander.

Airfield history part 4

The 386th left Boxted in Sep 1943, although they were only here for 3 months they had established themselves as one of the best medium bomb groups.

Arrival of the 354th

"The Pioneer Mustang group" as they were known arrived in stages towards the end of 1943, They were called Pioneer because they were asked to test the new merlin engined Mustang.

The group were formed at Tonopah Nevada in Jan 1943 and comprised of the 353rd 355th and 356th fighter squadrons, after training they were initially equipped with the P39 Airacobra.

Nov 1943 they were dispatched to England and Greenham common and then onto Boxted.

Led by Kenneth Martin, the group had no combat experience so were led on initial missions by Col Don Blakeslee an experienced fighter leader, borrowed from the 4th fighter group at Debden.

They encountered the enemy for the first time on 13th Dec and scored one probable.

Next Newsletter with news of our first A.G.M. out in April