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Everything posted by jonesy1275

  1. John, How did you get access to the Membury runway?
  2. Were there any other photos of the jacket?
  3. One nice item that I found amongst the letters was this not calculating if he had earned enough points to go home. He most certainly had enough points and did go home to his wife and son.
  4. It looks like his grouping was split apart possibly at the estate sale. I found this link on Worthpoint:- https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/wwii-436th-airborne-troop-carrier-1899558351 I would love to get in contact with the buyer to see if I can get everything back together and eventually displayed at Membury Airfield.
  5. Grouping belonging to S/Sgt John R Wills, C-47 Radio Operator in the 82nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 436th Troop Carrier Group. Born in 1921, John or Jack Wills as he was known as, lived in New Jersey and married his highschool sweetheart Gail where they had one baby boy. Not soon after he enlisted in the USAAF in October 1942. Assigned to the 82nd Troop Carrier Squadron as a C-47 Radio Operator, he flew in C-47 42-100559. This was the C-47 flown by 82nd TCS Commanding Officer, Major Robert Johns. After flying the southern route to England at the end of 1943, Wills spent the first three months of 1944 at Bottesford before the entire 436th Troop Carrier Group departed in March to Membury airfield which they would call home until February 1945. On D-Day, S/Sgt Wills would fly in Serial 9 of Mission Albany dropping 1st Battalion, 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division over DZ A. The drop was a success and the entire serial made it back to Membury. Although, the records do not show who flew the evening glider tow, it’s highly likely S/Sgt Wills participated in Mission Elmira towing a glider to LZ W. The crew of 42-100559 were the lead crew of the 82nd Troop Carrier Squadron and following a memorandum from IX Troop Carrier Command, individuals in the lead crews were authorised to wear a 1/8th inch gold border around their blue patch background to identify them as a combat lead crew. Wills was an avid writer and wrote to his wife on a daily basis. In his letters it is clear to see he was completely in love with his wife and yearned to be back with her and their baby boy. The crew of 559 departed with a large detachment of the 436th to Italy in July 1944 and on August 15th, they participated in Operation Dragoon – The invasion of Southern France. S/Sgt Wills would earn his first Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air Medal for flying combat missions during the operation. The 436th detachment returned from Italy at the end of August just in time for the next airborne operation – Operation Market Garden. Wills was awarded his second Oak Leaf Cluster for participating in the Operation but I don’t have any details about what missions he flew. His Air Medal ribbon has three Oak Leaf Clusters on it and I haven’t found out yet for which mission was he awarded his third Oak Leaf Cluster. The 436th participated in Operation Repulse – The resupply missions over Bastogne in December 1944 and Operation Varsity – The crossing of the Rhine. I will have to delve into my records to see if I have the Air Medal rosters for those two operations to see which one Wills is listed in. S/Sgt Wills’ jacket is hugely rare with the blue backed wings with the gold trim to indicate lead crew. I have not seen another like it but my good friend Ray Pegram, Radio Operator from the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron, 434th Troop Carrier Group was also in the lead crew for his Squadron and he had gold trim on his dress jacket. Now we know what it looked like. Jack Wills passed away in 2005 and his beloved wife Gail passed away three years later in 2008. They are buried together at Monmouth Memorial Park, Tinton Falls, Monmouth County, New Jersey. They are forever together. With my association with Membury Airfield and restoring a C-47 from the 436th Troop Carrier Group, this grouping ranks as one of the best.
  6. Would love to attend to hunt down any Airborne Troop Carrier pieces.
  7. Nice. I need a whole C-47's worth of these belts.
  8. Uniform grouping belonging to 1st Lt Earl E Rigsby, 76th Troop Carrier Squadron, 435th Troop Carrier Group. 1st Lt Rigsby from Atlanta, GA was a C-47 pilot and participated on D-Day towing a glider as part of Mission Elmira Serial 33 from Welford Airfield. His combat time continued with the 76th TCS flying two missions (Glider tow and resupply) during Op Dragoon - The invasion of Southern France. On the 17th of September 1944, he woud drop paratroopers over Holland as part of Op Market Garden and then two days later he would tow a CG-4A glider to Holland. At the end of November 1944, 1st Lt Rigsby would be selected to go on Detached Service to the IX TCC Pathfinder Group, 3rd Squadron. Based at Chalgrove Airfield in Oxfordshire (STN-465). Exactly 75 years ago, on the 23rd of December 1944, the Pathfinder Group were tasked with one of the first resupply drops over Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. They first departed Chalgrove to Membury to be loaded with the parapacks and began departing for Bastogne in small groups. This proved to be a disastrous decision as after the first few small groups of C-47's had dropped their supplies, the German anti-aircraft batteries were ready and waiting and the remaining Pathfinder C-47's were badly hit. Luckily none were shot down over Bastogne but the majority of the serial had to perform emergency landings at various allied airfields. 1st Lt Rigsby would remain with the Pathfinders till the end of the war. His jacket is one of my prized possessions.
  9. On the 17th of September it was the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden and unfortunately I couldn't get to Holland for the commemorations. However, a good alternative was to be at one of the historic Troop Carrier airfields to pay my respects. 75 years ago, 1st Lt John Webster and his crew from the 81st Troop Carrier Squadron, 436th Troop Carrier Group took off from Membury airfield in C-47 42-100556 on day 2 of Operation Market Garden towing a CG-4A glider to Holland. This would be the last time that he saw England during the war as on the way to the DZ, his C-47 was hit by flak. With the aircraft on fire and the tow rope to the glider severed by the flak, he ordered his crew to bail out. All safely jumped from the aircraft however, 1st Lt Webster was unfortunately captured by the Germans and remained a POW for the rest of the war. For injuries sustained on that day he was awarded the Purple Heart. I've been good friends with his son for a number of years and he recently gave me his father's Purple Heart. I feel privileged to be the caretaker of his award and since I only live 18 miles away from Membury Airfield where 1st Lt Webster was stationed, it was only fitting I visited the airfield on the 75th anniversary of his fateful flight to Holland.
  10. I think their 9th AF Aviation Engineers. The spade on the trailer looks identical to a few items and vehicles I've seen with the same marking.
  11. There was more to Troop Carrier than just aircrew. Mechanics, intelligence, admin etc.
  12. Allan, Bob's website was my first point of call and you're right, I never found a Ludlow wing like what was on Ebay. Then I found that website with an identical wing being featured.
  13. Looks like they are good. https://pararesearchteam.com/PersonalItems/PersonalItems-068.html
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