Redeployment Of Forces From Europe To The Pacific
On January 23, 1941, Governor Robert A. Hurley sent a proposal to the Connecticut General Assembly that the State acquire 1,700 acres of land in Windsor Locks, most of which was then a tobacco plantation. The Army had indicated that it wished to have a fighter plane base in or near Connecticut as part of the air defense of this part of the country. The Tract was purchased and the War Department initiated the effort to clean the land, build runways, buildings and facilities required housing a wartime fighter squadron.
The area before development was a relatively flat, sandy plain, partially wooded and partially tobacco land. The original installation included three runways, perimeter and connecting taxiways, hanger apron, three parking aprons, revetment taxiways and revetments, having a total paved area of over 794,000 square yards. The runways were a wide enough to accommodate three Republic P-47 Thunderbolt's to take off side-by-side. The field was built at a cost of approximately $17 million and was ready for its first airmen and aircraft by early summer of 1941. At this time it was named the "Windsor Locks Air Base," because most of the airfield complex fell within the town limits of Windsor Locks.
One of the first groups to be stationed at the new air base was the 57th Fighter Group. On Aug. 21, Lt. Eugene M. Bradley, 24, from Antler, Okla., dies in a training exercise and becomes the first fatality at the new airbase. In January 1942, the War department formally authorized the field's designation as Bradley Field, as a tribute to the flier's memory.
During the summer and early fall of 1942, Bradley Field was a major embarkation point for scores of bombers that were on their way overseas. A little known role for Bradley Field during World War II was its use as a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers, the only POW camp in the State. The first of the captured German enlisted men started to arrive at the field on October 8, 1944. They were permitted to perform a variety of tasks at the base until repatriation began late in 1945.
When the war was won in Germany, the focus of activity at Bradley shifted to redeployment of forces from Europe to the Pacific. Sixty-five bombers began arriving from Europe on May 22, 1945, beginning at 11:42 a.m. The last two landed at 6:24 p.m. and 8:33 p.m. They had carried 275 officers and 800 enlisted men of the 8th and 15th Air Forces. The pace began to pick up daily, 100 bombers arrived in one day on June twenty-fifth, 173 bombers arrived on July fourth carrying 333 officers and 2511 enlisted men home. August 30 was the final day of redeployment. A total of 3,644 aircraft and 60,146 personnel had been processed.
Typically processing took 18-24 hours. The aircraft were flown out in less than two days to their next destination by Air Transport Command ferry crews. There had been no accidents or injuries.
August 30, 1945 was also the day that Bradley Field was deactivated as a military base and classified as standby. The army began removing buildings and equipment, including the control tower radios shortly there after. On November 3, 1845, Bradley was declared surplus. The only military personnel remaining were two officers, 28 enlisted men, and approximately 100 civil employees.
Bradley Field was the first stop in the good old USA for a lot of returning crews. The main hanger became a processing center to quickly send the men on their way. In less than twenty-four hours they would have boarded a train to the Army Service Forces staging area at Camp Miles Standish, Taunton, MA. Then it was home for a 30-day leave.
Between November 1942 and April 1943, the United States acquired a total of approximately 1578.21 acres. The Army used Camp Myles Standish as a staging area for the Boston Port of Embarkation and as a Prisoner of War Camp during World War II. The camp consisted of housing units, a railroad yard, and a station hospital.
The military reservation of Jefferson barracks was established on the edge of a vast expanse of wilderness known as the Louisiana Purchase. The cantonment was named to honor Thomas Jefferson (1794-1826), the third elected President, through whose wisdom and guidance the United States expanded its territories. On July 10, 1826, troops of the U. S. First Infantry regiment, under Major Steven Watts Kearny (1794-1849), set camp on high bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The site was selected for strategic importance and its healthy environment. From here troops could quickly be dispatched by way of the great river highway and the many overland trails. Located on a flat plateau ending atop high bluffs and commanding a panoramic view the site offered excellent security in its defense.
At its beginning Jefferson Barracks was the largest military reservation in the country, covering over 2,000 acres, stretching two miles along the west bank of the Mississippi River. The first noted function was as the "Infantry School of Instruction", better known today as the first basic training camp of the U. S. Army. Later Jefferson Barracks was home to the First Regiment of Dragoons (the first U. S. Calvary). Throughout history J. B. was selected: The U. S. Ordinance Depot, U. S. Army Engineers Depot, the largest U. S. Army General Hospital, U. S. Naval Munitions Storage Depot, Induction and Separation Center, Recruiting Station, National Guard Mobilization Headquarters, and Army Air Corps School of Training. The reservation obtained such prominence and importance a proposal submitted to Congress in the 1840's considering Jefferson Barracks as a relocation site for West Point, however the cost proved to be prohibitive.
For many years Jefferson Barracks Missouri was the home base of the 6th Infantry Regiment. The Regiment turned the post over to the Army Air Corps when they left for WWII. After the war, the Army declared the post excess. It is currently divided between the Missouri Air National Guard which occupies the old main post area and a state park which occupies what were the outlying areas of the post.
Jefferson Barracks also serves the nation as a National Cemetery site, established in 1863 by executive order during the Civil War. The National Cemetery ranks as one of the most active of U. S. Cemeteries in the country with an average of 14 burials per day. To date, over 101,000 service men and women represent those in defense of their country from the War of Independence (1775) to the Gulf War (1991). Row upon row of white marble headstones, as far as the eye can see, stand as pages of a book which American history can be read with infinite clarity.
On this order there were 3 men, having completed RRR, reassigned overseas, 19 to Sioux Falls, 3 to Charleston AAB, Charleston, South Carolina and 6 to Ft. Dix AAF, Ft. Dix New Jersey.
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