Thursday, February 28, 2019

Williams Field, Az.-- Part 2: AT-10 Crashes

It was a flying school and had numerous runways and auxiliary airfields.  The main airfield had three 6000 foot concrete runways.

During World War II, Williams Field was under command of the 89th Army Air Force Base Unit, AAF West Coast Training Center.  Thousands of future  P-38 Lightning  pilots were taught twin engine flying on Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita (Wichita is from where they were built)at Williams.  These were built specifically for pilot training.  Some 2,371 were built.

By July 1942, there were 79 AT-10s assigned to Williams Field.  However, the dry, hot Arizona climate tended to dry out the wood and glue of the wooden AT-10s, causing at least ten  flying cadets to lose their lives in crashes.

Training with the AT-10s at Williams was suspended and the planes shipped off to more humid air bases.  Theyw ere replaces by the Cessna AT-17 Bobcat twin engine trainers.  However, these were seen as too easy to fly and were replaced by  the more demanding Curtiss-Wright AT-9.  By January 1943, almost 200 AT-9s were at Williams.

Was the death of Wendell Baie the result one of these crashes?


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

While On the Subject of Wendell Baie

His death notices all had him listed as an aviation cadet who was soon to get his wings when he was killed in the crash.  Did the Army Air Force promote him to second lieutenant after his death?

In several instances, and where I first saw his name, he was listed as a lieutenant.

Plus, the find-a-grave sites for his mother and father just listed him as their only child.  What became of his brother William.  I couldn't find any information on him.


Williams Field (Az)-- Part 1: Aviation Cadet Wendell Baie's Base

From Wikipedia.

Eventually became Williams Air Force Base.  Now closed.  East of Chandler, Az. and about 30 miles  southeast of Phoenix.  Designated a Superfund Site because of contaminants.  Operated 1941 to 1993.

Active as a training base for the Army Air Force and US Air Force.  About 25% of all pilots trained here.  Site has been largely annexed into city of Mesa and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

In 1941, citizens of Mesa were actively seeking an Air Corps facility.  The land where Williams Field was built was open and not used for agriculture because of lack of irrigation.  In June 1941, the War Department chose it as a site for an airfield.  Construction started July  16, 1941.   Initial construction completed in December of that year and the base became operational.

It was initially named Mesa Military Airport and then in Oct. 1941 it became Higley Field because of its proximity to Higley, Az..   In February 1942, it was changed to Williams Field in honor of pioneer aviator and Arizona native 1st Lt. Charles Linton Williams (1898-1927) who died in a plane crash 6 July 1927 in a plane crash  near Fort DeRussy, Hawaii.

According to Find-A-Grave, he drowned and his body was never recovered.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Lt. William Baie-- Part 6: His Brother An Ensign in the Navy

The only time that he had been home since entering the service was for two days in July.  he had accompanied the body of a buddy who was killed to Syracuse and had stopped in DeKalb for the two days while on his way back to his field.

I wonder if this body he escorted to Syracuse was of a fellow aviation cadet from Williams Field?


His brother, Ensign William Baie, is stationed at Corpus Christi, Tex., both sons of Mr. and Mrs. Baie being in the service.  He is survived by his parents and the one brother in navy service.

The body of the DeKalb flyer will be brought back to this city for services but no arrangements  had been made early this afternoon.  Aviation Cadet Baie was very popular and active among the younger set of this city and his death will be mourned by  hundreds in the community.

A Sad Story.  --GreGen

Lt. Wendell Baie-- Part 5: "Has Now Made the Supreme Sacrifice"

Wendell enlisted in the Army Air Corps last November while a student at Northern Illinois  State Teachers College and was called to active duty on March 4 this year.  He had just about completed his training as an aviation cadet and would have graduated and been commissioned a second lieutenant sometime the early part of this month.

Aviation Cadet Baie would have been 21 years of age on December 30.  he was a graduate of DeKalb Township High School and was attending the teachers college at the time he enlisted for army service.

Although only nineteen when he enlisted he wanted to do his part to help his country  and he has now made the supreme sacrifice.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Lt. Wendell Merle Baie-- Part 4: Parents Receive Word of His Death


DeKalb Aviation Cadet Killed in Plane Crash While On Duty


Aviation Cadet Wendell Merle Baie, 20,  was killed in a plane crash according to word received in a message from the War Department just before the noon hour today by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Baie of  Normal Road.  No details of the crash were contained in the message and it is not known when he was killed.

The accident  happened near Williams Field, Chandlers, Ariz., where he had been stationed.

The message stated,  "Regret to inform you of the death of your son Aviation Cadet Wendell Baie who died  as a result of a plane crash.  The body may be returned at government expense."  Further  word concerning the accident is expected to be received shortly."


Friday, February 22, 2019

Lt. Wendell Merle Baie-- Part 3: Some More Information

Taken from a newspaper article.

He was not a lieutenant at the time of his death, but an Aviation Cadet.  Funeral service was held at Wirtz Funeral Home in DeKalb, Illinois.  Another one was to be held at the First Methodist Church in DeKalb and the American Legion Post  gave a military funeral  with a firing squad and ritual.

Burial at Greenwood cemetery in Hinckley, Illinois.

He had been killed on a routine night time flying mission near Williams Field in Arizona, where he was stationed.

He had a brother, Ensign Warren Baie stationed at Corpus Christi, Texas.  Aviation Cadet Wendell Baie was to have been married to Joyce Olson of Chicago, who is a student  at Northern Illinois State Teachers College (now Northern Illinois University) at the present time.

They were to be married as soon as he graduated from his training program and earned his wings and commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.  He had met Miss Olson while attending the teaching college.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lt. Wendell Merle Baie-- Part 2: Killed inTraining Accident in Arizona

He received his preliminary training at Santa Ana, Cal. and then was transferred to Williams Field, Ariz. where he shortly would have graduated and received his wings and commission as a Second Lieutenant.

The decedent was especially gifted in several lines of work, a favorite with his class mates and his engaging personality won him a host of warm friends, whose sympathy is with his family in his untimely death and their deep loss.

Born December  30 1921, in Waterman, Illinois
Died November 4, 1942 (aged 20)

Burial Greenwood Cemetery in Hinckley, Illinois.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Lt. Wendell M. Baie-- Part 1: DeKalb High School and NISTC

I wrote about a memorial to him in the last post.

From Find-A-Grave.  Obituary


Military funeral services were accorded  this Tuesday afternoon for Aviation Cadet Wendell Merle Baie, DeKalb flyer, who was killed a week ago in a plane crash on a routine night flying mission near Williams Field, Chandler, Ariz., where he was stationed.

Wendell Merle Baie, son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Baie, was born December 30, 1921, at Waterman.  Since he was sixteen years old he has lived in DeKalb, where he graduated DeKalb High school, later attending N.I.S.T.C. (Northern Illinois State Teachers College, now Northern Illinois University) until he was called into active service in the Army Air Corps.  He had worked one year, but was enrolled at the college,  when called for duty March, 1941.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

An Honor Roll for Methodists Serving in Military As Memorial for Wendell Baie

From the December 5, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"A new service men's and women's honor roll, listing the 200 who serve from the Methodists, will be dedicated at the church Sunday morning.

"This roll is being presented by Mr. and Mrs. Earl Baie and son Warren Baie, as a memorial to their son and brother, Wendell Baie, who was killed in flight a year ago."


Monday, February 18, 2019

Another Housing Development Well Under Way in DeKalb in 1943

From the October 31, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Rapid progress is being made on the housing project which started recently on the tract of land on Sycamore road between Fourth and Seventh Streets.  Sixty single unit homes of brick construction are to be built and the project is developing in a rapid manner.

"Brick work has been completed on two of the homes and is nearing completion on a couple of others.  Basements have been dug for 25 and foundations have been poured for ten of the units."


Housing Shortage Strikes Home in DeKalb in 1943

From the October31, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75Years Ago.

"Work has been started on the old C.J.F. Carlson store building on Lewis  street, which will be converted into living apartments, it is announced.   Guldbeck and Eckstrom purchased the building some time ago, and have been planning the remodeling operations for some weeks, but were delayed.

"With the acute housing shortage that exists in the community at this time, the additional apartments available on Lewis street will help alleviated the condition to some extent."


Friday, February 15, 2019

A War Bride'sDescription of SS Lurline-- Part 3: Hanky Panky On the Boat Deck?

Lights out meant:  "All passage ways are cleared, passengers in their cabins with lights out.  The smokers lamp is out Taps.

"There are fifteen husbands with their wives on board.  Last night, the  sentry discovered 26 "husbands"?? cuddling on the boat deck, how come?

"There are said to be 600 war brides, 190  babes on board.  The most to travel so far.


"Last night we crossed the  dateline, so we have 2 Saturdays.

"Yesterday was quite an exciting day, we passed ship, also some islands, had two rain storms and saw a lovely sunset.  It was lovely watching the storm, we could see it  gathering huge waves that looked like land in the distance, and then we passed right through it, my but it blew, people scattered in all directions."


Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Description of SS Lurline-- Part 2: A Day On the War Bride Voyage

From journal kept by war bride Kathleen Newell, June 19, 1945

"Notes of the SS Lurline.

"We are situated on C deck, I stated D.  But was mistaken, there is Boat deck, A deck,  C. B. E. and F decks with cabins to my knowledge, of course, the crew, poor fellows, are way below

"Some cabins have  16 berths.  These are large and airy.  Others like ours are small without portholes, 6 berths and unbearable hot.  We eat on D deck.  The dining room is nice, the food plentiful, and I might say luxurious for war time.

"Of a morning we are called up at 6:30  am with 'reveille' hit the deck, on the double, needless to say we are up and showered before that, and upon the deck.  Breakfast at 7:30 am.  Lunch at  11:30 am. Tea at 5 pm.  We generally have fire drill, then 10:30 taps."


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Description of the SS Lurline By A War Bride-- Part 1

The American War Bride Experience  GI Brides of World War II  "Journal Kept Aboard SS Lurline On Trip To America [from Australia].

The Lurline not only transported men like Ray Merrick and supplies back and forth between the United States and Australia, but near the end of the war found another use.

Kathleen (Feejan) Newell married American Joseph Bertram in Brisbane, Australia, on the 18th of September 1943.  Kathleen traveled from Australia to America on board the SS Lurline with her daughter Corinne in June 1945.

There were a lot of women with their babies on board, also many wounded men, American nurses, refugees and able soldiers returning home.  She had three adults and two children in her cabin.  She felt sick at times.

She was on her way for a new life in New London, Wisconsin.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

S.S. Lurline-- Part 3: Troop and Supply Transport During War

While en route to San Francisco from Pearl Harbor before the attack, the Lurline allegedly got radio signals from the Japanese fleet and this became part of the Pearl Harbor Advance-Knowledge Conspiracy Theory.  The Lurline made her arrival safely traveling at maximum speed.  She soon returned to Hawaii with her sister ships the Mariposa and Monterey as part of a convoy loaded with  troops and supplies.

She spent the war doing similar service, often going to Australia, and once transported the Australian  Prime Minister John Curtin to America to confer with President Roosevelt.

This was very dangerous service because of Japanese submarines.

One Royal Australian  Air Force trainee pilot named Arthur Harrison remembered being put on watch without adequate training.    He looked off in the distance and saw:  "A straight line of bubbles extending from away out on the starboard side of the ship to across the bow.  I  had never seen anything quite like it, but it reminded me  of the bubbles behind a motorboat.  I called to a lad on watch on the next gun forward. A few seconds later the ship went into a hard 90 degree turn to port.  We RAAF trainees received a severe reprimand from the captain for not reporting the torpedo.  Anyway, it was a bad mess."

The Lurline was returned to the Matson Line in 1946 and soon returned to its pre-war status as the top liner in the Pacific Ocean.  However, later competition from jet airliners spelled the end of its usefulness.  It was scrapped in Taiwan in 1987.


Monday, February 11, 2019

S.S. Lurline-- Part 2: Launched 1932, Amelia Earhart A Passenger in 1934

This was not the first ship in the Matson Line to be named the Lurline.  An earlier SS Lutline built  in 1908 served in the United States Shipping Board during World War I.

The WW II Lurline was the last of four fast and elegant ocean liners built for the Line, launched in 1932 and taking its maiden voyage in 1933.  It was 632 feet ling, beam of 79 feet and speed of 22 knots with capacity of 715 (475  first class,  240 tourist.  Mr. Merrick evidently was in a first class cabin on his trip.

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart was aboard the ship from Los Angeles to Honolulu with her Lockheed Vega airplane secured on deck December 22-27, 1934.   This was in preparation for her record-breaking Honolulu-to-Oakland solo flight she made in January 1935.

The Lurline was half-way between Honolulu and San Francisco on 7 December 1941, when she heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


S.S. Lurline-- Part 1: Fast Ocean Liner That Carried Ray Merrick to War

From Wikipedia.

Last month, I wrote about World War II veteran Ray "Pops" Merrick, a member of our Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion who was posted during the war over in the India-Burma area and part of the effort to keep the Chinese Nationalist forces fighting the Japanese over "The Hump."

He went across the Pacific Ocean onboard the S.S. Lurline and had some vivid memories of the voyage.  Not ever hearing of this ship, I decided to do some more research on it.

The SS Lurline was the third vessel in the Matson Lines to have this name and was the last of its four  fast and luxurious  ocean liners built for their Hawaii and Australia runs from the U.S. West Coast.

Its sister ships were the SS Malolo, SS Mariposa and SS Monterey.  All became fast troopships during the war., operated by the War Shipping Administration.

After the war, it went back to taking passengers around the Pacific until put out of service in 1980 and scrapped in 1987.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

FDR's "Sacred Cow"-- Part 5: Today Looks Like It Did At Yalta

After the "Sacred Cow" left presidential service, it was used  for other transport duties until the plane was officially retired in October 1961.  In 1963, the "Sacred Cow" was transported to the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, and the staff began the monumental task of restoring it to its former glory.

After ten years and more than 34,000 hours of work, the aircraft was put on display appearing as it did during President Roosevelt's  trip to Yalta.

Some "Sacred Cow" Data:

Crew:  Seven, plus up to 15 passengers
Maximum Speed:  300 mph
Range:  3,900 miles
Ceiling:  22,000 feet
Weight:  80,000 pounds fully loaded

Quite the Plane.  GreGen

Friday, February 8, 2019

FDR's "Sacred Cow"-- Part 4: To Yalta and the Birthplace of the U.S. Air Force

In addition, there was a battery operated elevator at the rear of the aircraft that allowed the president to board and leave the aircraft easily in his wheelchair.

The "Scared Cow" carried Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference in February 1945.  Illustrating the high security involved with this trip, the plane's serial number was changed for the flight as a special security measure.  This trip was Roosevelt's only one in his plane as he died suddenly in April.

His successor, Harry Truman, used the aircraft extensively during his first 27 months in office.  On July 26, 1947, he signed the National security Act of 1947 while on board the "Sacred Cow."  This bill, which became effective on September 18,  1947, established the U.S. Air Force as an independent service, making the "Sacred Cow" the "birthplace" of the U.S. Air Force.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

FDR's "Sacred Cow"-- Part 3: A Very Modified C-54C

Preferring that the president be flown on an Army Air Force plane operated by an Army Air Force crew, General "Hap" Arnold, the commander of the USAAF, ordered the Consolidated C-87, a transport version of the famous B-24 bomber, be converted for the president, but the Secret Service voiced safety concerns and the job was turned over to the Douglas Aircraft Company to build a suitable plane that would be able to accommodate the special needs of the president.

This became the only C-54C built, so it was heavily modified on the production line.  A C-54A fuselage was fitted with wings from a C-54B which gave greater fuel capacity.

The unpressurized cabin included an executive conference room with a large desk and a bulletproof picture window.  For additional comfort, a private lavatory was installed next to the president's seat, and a fold-down bed was concealed behind the sofa.    The galley even had an electric refrigerator.

All the Comforts of Home.  --GreGen

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

FDR's "Sacred Cow"-- Part 2: "The Flying White House"

From the National Museum of the Air Force site.

FDR's "Sacred Cow" is located here.  Back in 2013, friend Denny and I boarded it on the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination (we had also boarded the Air Force 1 plane that had taken him ti Dallas and his body back.  That was a real bit of history.

The Douglas VC-54 Skymaster, was the first purpose-built aircraft to fly  the President of the United States.  It carried the staff  transport designation "VC" designation., the aircraft was officially named "The Flying White House".  However, it became better known by its unofficial nickname "Sacred Cow," a reference  to the high security surrounding the aircraft and its special status.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane while in office.  But, it was not the "Sacred Cow."  It was a Navy -owned, but civilian-operated Boeing  314 Clipper flying boat, the Dixie Clipper, which transported the president to the Casablanca Conference.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

FDR's "Sacred Cow"-- Part 1: The First Air Force One

Back on Jan. 31, I was writing about the planes used to fly over "The Hump" and came across FDR's plane, "The Sacred Cow."

From the Air Mobility Command Museum site  C-54M Skymaster.

They have one, but not the Sacred Cow, which is in the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton.

The C-54 that was specially built for President Franklin D. Roosevelt was known as the Sacred Cow and built in 1944.  One special feature of it was an elevator behind the passenger cabin that lofted the president and his wheelchair in and out of the plane.

The passenger compartment included a conference room with a large desk and a bullet proof picture window.

Roosevelt made his first and only trip in it traveling to Yalta, USSR, in February 1945.

This plane remained in service for the first 27 months of the Truman Administration.  On  26 July 1947, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which established the Air Force as an independent service.  This also made the Sacred Cow the birthplace of the U.S. Air Force.

After it was no longer used by the president, it was assigned other transport duties until retired in 1961.


Monday, February 4, 2019

"Flying the Hump"-- Part 4: It Was Weather Vs. Aircraft

It was always a battle between aircraft and weather conditions.  While turbulence around mountains (the "mountain effect")  is common, planes flying "the Hump" sometimes hit winds of hurricane velocity, which they were not built to withstand.  Crew members could only hang on and hope the plane's wings didn't break off.

But, some did.

The winds were particularly vicious during monsoon season which ran July through September.

One veteran remembers:  "You could drop a couple thousand feet very quickly."

The route was dangerous that the RAF would only send volunteers.


Friday, February 1, 2019

"Flying the Hump"-- Part 3: "Aluminum Alley"

"In late 1944, the operation was flying mostly daylight and  good weather," wrote Wendall A. Phillips.  To increase tonnage delivered, the planes were ordered into the air anytime of the day and any kind of weather. "Of course, the tonnage rapidly improved but, so did our losses in 'Aluminum Alley' as we called it.

Mr. Phillips continued:  "The Hump became littered with with our aircraft.  On a clear day, you could see the sun reflecting off the crashed planes lying there."

The supply flights brought everything from troops to needed supplies, to a cow needed to supply milk to a remote base, light weapons and even a falcon trained to attack Japanese carrier pigeons (with mice aboard to feed it).

The main cargo, however was 55-gallon drums of aviation fuel.