486th Bombardment Group (H)
New Year's Day was a holiday for some people but for the 486th Bombardment Group it was the beginning of the second phase of training and preparations for overseas movement. 18 crews took part in the first big group mission, with briefing long before daylight at 0530. The target for bombing (camera) was the Santa Fe Round House at Albuquerque, New Mexico. When they returned in the afternoon they were served coffee and sandwiches before formal interrogation. Later the officers on crews attended a party in which the good and weak points of the mission were discussed. It was the usual thing during the month to hold a critique after a mission. A good deal of emphasis was put on briefings, especially, for group missions. 51 new crews were received from the air base at Davis-Monthan Field the first of the month, giving the group its first full compliment of crews.
The mission on New Year's Day served as a keynote for the January program, intensive training and preparation for combat. Most of the personnel will probably remember it as a month of inspections. No less than ten inspections by individuals, or groups of individuals, outside the group were made, some brief and informal, others prolonged and thorough. The most important were the inspection of all departments by Lieutenant Colonel Cox and a party of officers from the Second Air Force, beginning January 14, and another, beginning January 26 by Colonel Keith and a party of eight, representing headquarters, Army Air Forces
1. Special order 2, HQ 486th Bomb Group, 2 January 1944.
In between, the Group Staff inspected the Squadrons to "get them on the ball" for inspections by a higher headquarters. On January 28 and 30, General Longfellow of the 16th Wing visited the Group, paying particular attention to the take off on missions.
The Second Air Force inspectors commended the Communications section for its makeup of the signal operating instructions folder. It was recommended that it be adopted elsewhere.
The inspection toward which much of the Group's work was directed was the POM inspection to be held sometime in February. Clerks spent much time getting the service records and other papers in shape. Most of the needed equipment, such as field ranges, duffle bags, and carbines arrived. Others, such as shoes and coveralls, were expected before departure.
(This date was not known, although the warning order was received at the beginning of the month). Officers and enlisted men were given lists of minimum equipment and clothing to acquire and were required to mark them according to regulations. It was necessary to hold a number of inspections to secured detailed compliance in a matter of marking.
In order to meet some of the training requirements for overseas duty, the Squadrons instituted a device called a "Base Night." Certain evenings of each week all the personnel of the Squadron were restricted to the base. They assembled in the Squadron mess hall and heard the required lectures on such subjects as Security of Military Information, mosquito control, the Venereal Disease, and allotment of pay.
2. Information supplied by Major Thompson.
Some subjects required too much time to be handled in this way. A camouflage school was conducted on January 24 to 27 at which everyone was required to spend an entire day. Qualification in small arms continued. The medical section was kept busy getting personnel ready for overseas. Records had to be made up to date. A total of 2763 immunizations were given. The dentist, Lieutenant Pringle, with the help of the Base Dental Clinic filed 2757 cavities and 928 individuals were, put in class IV the (the best dental rating). There were 42 men who did not meet the physical or mental qualifications for Foreign Service, and were transferred out of the group. Incidentally, the episode of colds and similar ailments continued to be a serious hindrance to training. Personnel: in the Group, mostly crew members, lost a total of 866 days because of the upper respiratory infections. The groups suffered its first fatality on January 23 when 2nd Lieutenant Harold W. Thorsenberg, 0-816379, a co-pilot died on a mission. It had not been possible, at the end of the month to determine the cause of his death.
The problem of training was made much easier in January because the OTU Training Section at Davis Monthan Field furnished instructors to the group. The instructors in flying, navigation, and bombing were especially helpful. The training section provided instructions for, combat crew in all subjects except aerial mines, intelligence, aircraft recognition, medical subjects, chemical warfare, and weather. On the other hand, ground personnel received all instruction from members of the group, with the exception of camouflage.
5. Information supplied by Capt. Selke and Lt. Pringle.
The crews started flying Celestial Navigation missions in January, although the navigator continued to use the Celestial Navigation trainers. The navigation section heartily recommended the adoption of Scott Modification on the B-24 H and J, which puts the navigator on the flight deck in order to get more visibility and room. Camera bombing was used throughout the month and late in January; the use of the gun camera was begun. The 486th Group exceeded training requirements in a matter of weather. Two hours of weather for pilots, co-pilots, and navigator so are required in the third phase.
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