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332 Fighter Squadron?

This ad in the November 22, 1943 edition of Life Magazine caught my eye.

Insignia of the 332nd Fighter Squadron U.S. Army Air Forces (as it appears in the November 22nd edition of Life Magazine.

The art work is neat; just the kind of thing to catch your eye and have you buy more war bonds. The insignia is supposed to be the insignia of the 332nd Fighter Squadron. The description in the upper right of the photo reads as follows:

The double-bodied dragon-fly represents the twin-engine flying power of the P-38 fighter planes. The lighting flash stands for the relentless striking power of their fast-firing aerial cannon.

Below the insignia we see a P-38 Lighting aircraft. The P-38 saw service primarily in the Pacific Theater of WW2. The paragraph just under the insignia on the left reads as follows:

Miles high in the sky, miles higher than the Himalaya’s highest peak, that’s where the “Lightning Bugs” slug it out with the enemy. They’re high steppers, high flyers, hard hitters-these sluggers of the 332nd Fighter Squadron who sweep through the stratosphere in Lightning Interceptor planes armed with aerial cannon. Good luck and good hunting, men of the 332nd, and happy landing always!

So far, the ad is accurate. Consider this entry from Wikipedia:

The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the aircraft of America’s top acesRichard Bong (40 victories), Thomas McGuire (38 victories) and Charles H. MacDonald (27 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.[8][9]

(Footnote: Richard Bong was from my home State of Wisconsin. There is a state park just down the road named for him. A P-38 with his markings is a frequent guest at the air show in Oshkosh, WI.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_P-38_Lightning

So, what is the problem?

The problem is there was not a 332nd Fighter Squadron equipped with P-38 Lightning aircraft. Seeing as the ad appeared in wartime it’s not really a mystery that the insignia would be ascribed to a fictional air group. Those things tended be secrets. A quick image search on Google shows the graphic above on Pinterest but that’s it. Clearly, the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors in co-operation with Army Air Force was just trying to sell war bonds with a cool insignia\logo.

If you search for 332nd Fighter Squadron you will find that it was a real squadron. It was the squadron of the famous Red Tails, the all African-American squadron that won fame for their record and for the fact they were all black in the still segregated U.S. Military.

The designation of 332nd rang a bell with me. Recently, I purchased for the sum of $2.00 the below marketing promo:

The promo speaks for itself-Tuskegee Airmen-Red Tail Project. So. what was (is) the Red Tail project?

The Red Tail Project is America’s tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. It’s a museum. The card above is actually a puzzle for kids and simply served as a promotion for the Red Tail Project. The welcome on the website reads as follows:

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is committed to telling the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel.

They are on a mission to educate people of all ages about these important American icons so their strength of character and ability to triumph over adversity may serve as a means to inspire others to rise above obstacles in their own lives and achieve their goals.

We invite you take a deeper dive to learn more about the remarkable Tuskegee Airmen, and be inspired to tap into the ability within yourself to overcome barriers and find success.

RISE ABOVE!

https://www.redtail.org

The men of the 332nd Fighter Group did not fly the P-38. When the squadron was first assigned to North Africa and then Italy they flew the P-40 (Curtiss Warhawk, Kittyhawk to the Brits) a fine early war fighter that by 1943 was inferior to the German Messerschmidt’s and Focke-Wulf’s.

The 332nd eventually received the excellent P-51 Mustang, the fastest fighter from WW2 that was not a jet (German Me-262 was the world’s first operational jet fighter).

P-51 Red Tail of the real 332nd Fighter Group.
Rise Above!

I enjoy looking at the war ads from Life Magazine. Many of the companies involved in the war effort are still in existence today. General Motors is one of the best examples as they produced aerial cannon for the P-38 as well as other parts for airplanes and of course, motor vehicles!

The misidentification of the 332nd is not a big deal and is only misleading if a person does not know the true story or anything about war time secrecy.

It was fun for me to put this all together and to recognize the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen-the real pilots of the 332nd Fighter Squadron.

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Outpost #3_a recent war-game

My wargaming interests run the gamut from ancient times to WW2. The link goes to my blog and illustrates a scenario from a rule set called The Men Who Be Kings. The rules deal with colonial conflicts. This scenario is related to the Mahdi who controlled the Sudan after the fall of Khartoum (Charles Gordon) episode. The fall forced increased British intervention.

Outpost #3 https://brr10.blogspot.com/2019/03/outpost-3the-men-who-would-be-kings.html

Here’s a few pics to give an idea of what is on the blog.

Homemade gunboat by my friend Jim
The “Fuzzies” break through the first line of defenses.
The Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) will go down fighting.
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The Real Fort Apache

I grew up on John Wayne westerns. Among my favorites was the 1948 production of Fort Apache starring John Wayne as Captain York and Henry Fonda as Colonel Thursday.

Captain York is the sensible officer who understands the Apaches and is sympathetic to them. Colonel Thursday is arrogant and contemptuous of the Apaches. He clashes repeatedly with York on strategy and tactics.

Eventually, Thursday leads the regiment into an ambush. He details York to guard the supply train. Except for the supply train the regiment is wiped out by the Apaches.

There seems to be a clear parallel to the Custer story and the Little Big Horn. Fonda’s character is arrogant and underestimates the Apache and like Custer seeks glory for the regiment. The problem is that unlike the Little Big Horn the event in the movie when the regiment is wiped out never happened.

The history of Fort Apache shows that an entire regiment of cavalry was never stationed there nor did the soldiers who were stationed there ever fight more than a large skirmish with the Apaches.

Recently, at a rummage sale I found a copy of Frontier Military Posts of Arizona (1960 edition) by Ray Brandes for the sum of $2.00. Ray was a historian and archaeologist that did a lot of work in the field of Arizona’s western history. Frontier Military Posts of Arizona is a fascinating little book that discusses all the army posts in Arizona during the time of the Apache Wars. Fort Apache is the first entry in the volume.

It has a beat up cover and worn pages but at $2.00 I could not resist. Used copies on Amazon go for around $12.00. The book was reissued in 2012 shorty before the death of the author in 2014. Hard copies are quite expensive.

In the Spring of 1870 an army post was established by Major John Green. He called the post Camp Ord after the general responsible for the Arizona Territory. By August of the same year the camp’s name was changed to Camp Mogollon after the nearby mountains. In September it was changed yet again to Camp Thomas after Major General George W. Thomas, a Civil War general known as the “Rock of Chickamauga” for his heroics at that battle.

The name lasted until 1871 when it was changed to Camp Apache. Cochise, the great Apache leader had visited the camp in 1870 and as a token of friendship the camp’s name was changed to honor him. The camp remained Camp Apache until 1879 when it was upgraded to Fort Apache. In 1924 the fort was turned over to the Indian Service for use as a school.

Just because the fort and its garrisons were never involved in anything like the Little Big Born doesn’t mean it didn’t serve an important role. It also doesn’t mean the soldiers garrisoned there didn’t see any action at all.

The fort served as a base of operations when Apaches left the reservation. This included the famous Geronimo, Nachez and others who often left the reservation to raid and terrorize throughout Arizona and northern Mexico.

Frontier Military Posts of Arizona is a survey type of book. Brandes devotes about the 3 pages to the history of Fort Apache. As a result details surrounding the numerous skirmishes with the Apaches are lacking which is to be expected in a survey volume like Frontier Military Posts of Arizona.

Brandes does devote a couple of paragraphs to an incident that occurred on August 30, 1881. By 1881 the army was employing Apache scouts that served as part of the regular army garrisons. The idea was “it takes an Apache to catch an Apache.” In fact, the army had employed Indian auxliaries and allies since colonial times. The army simply took a divide and conquer approach to things and exploited tribal rivalries.

Dandy Bill was an Apache scout. The scouts often wore Army clothing along with their native dress. The army equipped scouts with rifles and ammunition. Although called scouts they were more of an Indian police force..

By and large the contingents of Apache scouts were loyal and effective but on occasion things back fired often because the government rarely kept its promises and that combined with the warrior ethos of the Indians could lead to trouble.

Such was the case in 1881 when an Apache holy man by the name of Nocky-del-klin-ne led ghost dances that had the objective of raising dead Apache warriors back to life. The army tried to arrest Nocky-del-klin-ne using their Apache scouts. The scouts revolted and joined forces with malcontents; both becoming hostiles and taking to the hills.

The incident rang a bell having come across it in other books I’ve read about the Apache Wars. The incident may have also been the inspiration for the movie Fort Apache with Wayne and Fonda since it’s the closest thing I can find that even remotely resembles the battle in the movie.

At the time of incident Fort Apache was in the charge of Col. Eugene A, Carr, Sixth Cavalry. Carr did not think Nocky-del-klin-ne was especially dangerous with his ghost dance. The Indian agent at the fort did however and he was chummy with the commanding general in Arizona-Maj. General Orlando Wilcox.

Eugene Asa Carr. Carr may have been the inspiration for the Capt. York character played by Wayne. Carr was a Union general in the Civil War as were a number of frontier officers. Carr won the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern in 1862. His service during and after the Civil War appears to be have been exemplary.

Wilcox appears to have something in common with Colonel Thursday from the movie. For one he didn’t appear to be too adept at understanding Apaches or appreciating the difficulty of governing them. Besides all that he and Carr did not get along. Carr could have been the inspiration for Wayne’s character of Captain York in the movie. So, rather than deferring to Carr’s judgment that caution was in order Wilcox sided with the agent and ordered Carr to arrest the holy man.

Here’s what Robert M. Utley has to say in his excellent book, Frontier Regulars about the engagement at Cibecue.

Carr’s apprehension appeared justified. On August 30 he marched into Nakaidoklini’s [Nocky-del-klin-ne] village on Cibecue creek, about thirty-fie miles northwest of Fort Apache, with two troops of cavalry, eighty-five men, and a detachment of twenty-three White Mountain [Apache] scouts. In a tense confrontation, the mystic submitted and placed in the custody of Sgt. John MacDonald, was warned that if he tried to escape he would be killed. His angry followers, about one hundred strong, dogged Carr’s march down the valley. As the command bivouacked for the night, they suddenly attacked. At the same moment the scouts mutinied. The first volley caught Capt. Edmund C. Hentig in the back and cut down six soldiers. Nakaidoklini tried to crawl to safety, but Sergeant MacDonald, down with a bullet in his leg, and a trumpeter shot and killed him. A hastily formed skirmish line swept the assailants across the creek, and the two sides exchanged fire until nightfall. The encounter had cost Carr Capt. Hentig and four men killed and another four wounded, two mortally. He was surrounded by a growing body of warriors and had lost most of his horses. Under the cover of darkness, therefore, he led his command in a stealthy withdrawal from the battlefield that undoubtedly averted a disaster the morrow.

Frontier Regulars by Robert M. Utley, pg. 372

Utley adds this fascinating detail.

Held by only a handful of infantry, Fort Apache lay under the threat of retaliation by outraged Apaches. Several killings in the area warned of an attack on the fort itself-a tactic to which Indians rarely resorted. The arrival of Carr’s battered column on the afternoon of August 31st lessened the danger. Even so, on September 1st warriors opened fire on the fort, wounding an infantry officer and shooting Carr’s horse from beneath him. Assault parties pressed in on two sides and gained some of outlying buildings. They were driven off, however, and the effort to take the fort collapsed…Garbled reports reaching San Carlos told of the massacre of Carr and his entire command at Cibecue. Eastern newspapers spread the word with sensational headlines reminiscent of those that proclaimed the Custer disaster.

Frontier Regulars by Robert M. Utley, pg 372-73

It was hardly the the battle in the movie where an entire regiment was wiped out; yet it was drama enough and perhaps the reason Fort Apache was an active post until the 1920’s. Today the remains of Fort Apache is a historic park and tourist attraction run by the White Mountain Apaches.

White Mountain Apache Culture Center and Museum

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American Civil War in 1\72 Scale

This is an experimental post as I work with pages on the blog site. I just want to see of it works.

Confederate Infantry hold a fence line

Forming a firing line

Two Squadrons of Union Cavalry

Union Infantry supported by an artillery section

A large Union Regiment moves up

The Confederates refuse their flank

South Carolina Infantry
Hampton’s Legion engages the 2nd US Cavalry
Union infantry support the cavalry

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Pencil Art from Yank Far East: Dec.15, 1955

Yank Magazine was a WW2 weekly that was initially intended for US servicemen serving overseas. It quickly became a weekly for servicemen serving anywhere. It came out in 15 editions (according to the magazine issue below) each for a geographical location.

The edition featured here in this blog is the Far East Edition as you can see from the cover. Note that the price is in Centavos (Spanish speaking Philippines ) and Guilders (Dutch Far East possessions).

I thought the pencil sketches were interesting and have reproduced them here. I could not find who sketched them but the link to the Wiki article will give a number of possibilities.

The sketches accompanied an article written by Sgt. Mack Morris. The content for Yank was provided by enlisted personal although officers did serve as managers. The article (Titled: 2-Front Fighter) written by Morris was about Maj. General J. Lawton Collins who served in the Far East prior to his transfer to France. The sketches illustrate some of the points in the interview with Collins. You can read about Collin’s service at the link.

Comments from the General included the fact that the Japanese never surrendered and were more fanatical than the SS. Having served on both fronts General Collins knew what he was talking about. He also commented on the horrible weather and inhospitable terrain that was common in the jungles.

The cover of this issue of Yank features a Grumman Avenger Torpedo Bomber. It’s the type of aircraft the late President George Bush flew when he was shot down.

I found this issue with three others in an antique store. All are in rough condition and the owner let them all go for $10.00. I have a quite a few in my collection.

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Reconnoiter the Town

This is an example of what my friend and I call Grand Manner wargaming after the late Peter Gilder. The game board is 16′ by 4′ and as you can see contains an enormous amount of detail. The scale of the miniatures is 1/72 (slightly under one inch).

Grand Manner wargaming takes an enormous amount of effort and clearly a large space is required. Not all of our war games on done on this scale given our varied interests and time commitments. Nevertheless, a Grand Manner game is the pinnacle of a great game experience on a detailed lay out.

You can read about it in a little more detail here: Reconnoiter the Town.

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Private Michael Fuchs, Bavarian Death Card, 1915

Death cards were given to friends and family as a keepsake after a loved one died in service. They usually were religious and in Germany had either a Catholic or Lutheran theology in mind. German southern states like Bavaria were Catholic while the northern states were Lutheran.

Private Fuchs hailed from the south Bavarian village of Unterhohenstetten.

The cards are sentimental and religious and I think touching. See translation below.

Image45

Death card of Michael Fuchs. Michael was enlisted in the 11th Company of the 2nd Bavarian Landwehr Regiment. The Landwehr were a type of reservist.

I could make out some of the German words but am limited so I asked my friend Brittany who was a teacher in the local German Immersion School to give me a translation.

Here’s what she wrote:
This was difficult. Apparently this old script is called Fraktur, and it really throws a loop in the translation! I did the best I could… it seems to make sense… ha. Here goes:
A farmer from Unterhohenstetten (a place in Germany)
Owner of the Iron Cross
Who, in the fighting of the war in France, in Rheims,  on the 7th of March, 1915 died a hero’s death.
He is at peace! Honor his memory!
Do not look for me on earth! I greet you from the stars!
(Poem Translation)
O wife and beloved children of mine,
I will not come to you at home again
The last thought, the last picture,
Have hastened back to you.
As I die in enemy lands,
No one reached for my hand
As my eye was broken
I already saw the heavens opening.
All of you who have known and loved him in life, commemorate him with pious prayers.
My Jesus, be compassionate!
Sweet heart Jesu(s), be my love!
Sweet heart Mary, be my rescue (deliverer)!

Brittany went over the translation one more time and said she thought, “my eye was broken” is a figure of speech, something like “the light in my eyes is dimmed” or some other other death euphemism.


I think she is right and the difference is probably due to modern German versus the Bavarian German of a 100 years ago.


I belong to Ancestry.com so I ran a search for Private Fuchs. I was curious about how old he was when he died since there was not any birth date given on the card. The first entry that turned up is below:

Name: Michael Fuchs
Birth Date: 1 Nov 1884
Birth Place: Saldenau Wolfstein Bayern (Bavaria)
Combat Arm: Infanterie
Type of Unit: Ersatztruppenteile der Reserve-Infanterie-Regimenter
Unit: bayer. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment No. 11 (Regensburg) Ersatz-Bataillon
I am relatively certain this Michael Fuchs is the same person on the death card. The birth place of Saldenau Wolfstein Bayern (Bavaria) is in southern Bavaria and the infantry regiment Private Fuchs was in (Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment No. 11 (Regensburg) Ersatz-Bataillon) is correct.

Private Fuchs would have been 30-31 years old when he died in a battle near Rheims, France in 1915. His age makes sense given he was in a reserve regiment classified as an Ersatz Battalion. I believe this meant he was what we might call a third or fourth tier reservist.

The German armies of the time were organized into regular regiments and divisions of the first tier and they were backed up by the second tier reservists although the second tier were often as well trained as the first tier. The third tier was the Landwehr. They were called up in early WW1 as garrison troops and\or to replace the regular divisions that had been burnt out in the fighting.

When Private Fuchs was killed that war was only a little older than a year. It says something about the horrific casualties that were sustained by every nation in the Great War. I’m uncertain about the meaning of “ersatz” but I think it basically means “substitute” and that would account for the third or fourth tier (Landstrum-much older that 30+) status.

We can also see that Private Fuchs was a farmer from his small village (population in 1987 was only 152) and that he was married and had children. In other words Private Fuchs is representative of the of the millions of men killed on all sides during the war.


I wonder if Private Fuchs family still has in their possession his death card.
dd959e1f0700a538dba5d27ff165e3dc--war-photography-militaria
Typical German soldiers in 1915.