Arrival Mitchel Field

Arrival Welcome – Mitchel Field, Long Island

Mitchell Field 1968

They departed Gander after pre-Tour checks on the 17th July for the 6-hr Flight to Mitchel Field & Over-flying Boston they flew in Formation down the Coast at about 2,000ft to the Mitchel Field on Long Island. NYC.

One of the Main Priorities of the Tour was always to arrive on Time and Craig’s Lead Aircraft TL-L TW880 touched down at exactly the appointed Time of 16.05 Hrs.  Throughout the Tour, their timing was never more than 15-secs adrift from advised ETA’s

The Squadron flew in close Formation over Gander Airfield before setting Course, and afterwards in Open Formation until arriving near Boston, Massachusetts where they again flew over the City in Close Formation. Subsequent photographs showed the Formation to be excellent.  The Squadron again Opened up until approaching Mitchel Field, when they formed Tight Formation and flew over at 2,000ft.  As each Aircraft landed, the Aircrews & Ground Crews formed up in front of their respective Aircraft and were marched by the Captain on to the Parade Ground for the Reception.   Wing Commander Craig was greeted by Colonel Parker, Base Commander, Mitchel Field and Lt General George E Stratameyer, USAAF Air Defence Commander, who made Speeches of Welcome, which were suitably replied to by Air Chief Marshal Sir A Guy Garrod and Group Captain Collard,  The Royal Air Force Standard was borne with the United States Colours. Several 1,000s of people lined the edge of the Field to view the Ceremony.  The Squadron was formally welcomed by General Stratameyer on behalf of General Spaatz. He said he hoped the United States could repay some of the hospitalities extended to American Airman in England during the War.  Squadron Personnel were then allocated Quarters, and the Officers were invited to attend a Cocktail Party as Guests of Mitchel Fields Officers Club. Group Captain Collard and Wing Commander Craig attended a Press Conference before the Party and Wing Commander Craig gave a recorded Interview with a Representative of an American Broadcasting Company.  Non-Commissioned Officers were entertained at the Non-Commissioned Officers Club and the Airmen at the Enlisted Men’s Club

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W/C Craig, Col L R Parker & Gen George E Stratameyer

Video of Arrival
The squadron flew in close formation over Gander airfield before setting course, and afterwards in open formation until arriving near Boston, Massachusetts where they again flew over the city in close formation. Subsequent photographs showed the formation to be excellent. The squadron again opened up until approaching Mitchel Field, when they formed tight formation and flew over at two thousand feet. As each aircraft landed, the aircrews and ground crews formed up in front of their respective aircraft and were marched by the Captain on to the Parade Ground for the reception.

W/C Craig & Grp Capt Collard meet O/C Mitchel Field, Base Commander Colonel L R Parker, & Lieutenant Commander George E Stratemeyer (Chief of Air Defence) on July 17th 1946. – Pathe News Coverage Mitchel Field, Long Island. NYC.  Also welcoming them was Sir Guy Garrod United Nations Representative for the RAF and other Civic Dignatories.
Welcome RAF – Lancaster bombers land at Mitchel Field, they taxi to a stop. Airmen from No.35 Bomber Squadron shake hands with their American counterparts as they get out of the Plane.  They stand to attention and salute on the Airfield.   Long shots of them lined up in front of the Aeroplanes.  Close-ups of American & British crews. Medium shots as Officers shake hands.  Crews March along the Airfield.

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Gen George E Stratemeyer (Right) & Mitchell Base Commander Colonel L R Parker (Left)
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Guard of Honour at Mitchel Field – Field Sign with ‘Welcome RAF’ added

Buffalo Courier Express (Newspaper Article)

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At ease, ’98°F in the shade‘. The Avro York C2 support Aircraft parked in the distant background was the Aircraft for the Advance Party and probably also used for carrying essential Spares & Equipment.  Newspaper Comment

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MitchelFieldNews2-15July1946.pngMitchell Field, New York, welcomes the Lancaster Bomber Squadron now on a Goodwill Mission to the United States. During 1940 Mitchel Field was the Location of the Air Defence Command, a Command charged with the Mission of developing the Air Defence for Cities, vital Industrial Areas, Continental Bases, & Military Facilities in the United States (also known as the “Zone of the Interior“). Later, 1st Air Force was given the responsibility for Air Defence Planning & Organisation along the Eastern Seaboard.  Under its Supervision, an Aircraft Patrol System along the Coast for observing Shipping was placed into Operation.  During 1943, Mitchell AAF became a Staging Area for B-24 Liberator and Crews before being sent Overseas.

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RAF Squadron’s Partners in New York – 
Saturday
Forty beautiful Mannequins acted as Hostesses today at a Dinner Dance given by the USAAF to members of the RAF 35 Lancaster Bomber Squadron now Touring the States. After a great Welcome in New York, the Squadron will Fly tomorrow en-route to St Louis, Missouri on the 2nd lap of the Goodwill journey.

61 of the 112 Aircrew who went on the Goodwill Visit held the Permanent Award of the coveted Pathfinder Badge.

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The Planes on view at Mitchel Field attracted a large crowd eager to see the Bombers which hammered Germany. Americans were mostly impressed by the enormous Bomb Bays. Reuter.

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In Craig’s Introductory Speech to his American Hosts during the Goodwill Tour he described his Squadron thus.
……during this time 35 Squadron Marked & Bombed Targets as widely separated as Gdynia on the Baltic Coast and concentrations of German Tanks in Northern Italy and all from its British Bases…… From 1941 to 1945 the Squadron flew no less than 14,000hrs on European Bombing or Target Marking Missions, which if you care to interpret in miles it is over 3 Million Miles……they also flew almost an equivalent amount of time on Training Missions to keep up the perfection of techniques….. from 1942 to 1945, whilst Pathfinding, the Squadron Marked & Bombed different Targets and on 80 of these Attacks provided the Master Bombers & Deputy Master Bombers……..the Squadron received no less than 564 Decoration Awards from HM King for Gallantry in the face of the Enemy (just under 300 DFC.s 173 DFM‘s & 19 DSO‘s The Squadron has one American Silver Star (DFC )……. Flying Officer Frank J Cheshire who is one of the Captain’s of the Lancasters at Mitchel Field today.  At least 80% of our present Crews were actively engaged in Bomber Operations against the Enemy and almost a 5th were originally Trained to fly in the USA, either at British Flying Training Schools in Alabama, or as in the case of S/L Beetham our Squadron Commander at Turner Field, Georgia under the General Arnolds Scheme….etc

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USAAF Band entertains the Parade

Lancasters Land in New York
New York. Wednesday. 16 Lancasters of the crack RAF No.35 Pathfinder Squadron landed at Mitchel Field at 15.57 on Wednesday 17th July. New York’s Atlantic Air Base with British Rondel Insignia glistening in the afternoon Sunlight the Planes did a short run over the Field and then peeled off to land at 50-sec intervals with the lead Plane TL-F Piloted by 23yr old W/C A J L Craig. Tomorrow they prepare for a 6,210 mile Tour of 15 American Cities. – Express News Service.

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Garrod’s Speech at  Mitchell Field

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Formation Flying over NYC
RAF Lancasters Fly in Formation over New York, at on Thursday, July 18th passing over the Empire State Building at exactly 13.20pm – they are on a Goodwill Visit to America.  Air Force – RAF, USAAF, Aviation, Buildings, Ceremonies & Celebrations, Countries – United States Of America, Music, Personalities, Towns & Cities
Aerial of Formation over New York. Several Aerial Shots of Formations of Lancaster’s Flying over Skyscrapers etc. Formation fly-over camera.  Interior of the Cockpit, with the Pilot at Controls & Crew, shaded from the hot Sun with an overhead curtain to shield them.  Close-up of lowering the Landing Gear.  Close-up of wheel touching down on the Airport Tarmac.  General view of Lancaster landing on the Aerodrome.  A line of Lancaster  Crews march in front of Lancs. General view Lancs in line with Crews standing in front of same. Group shot – Group Captain RCM (Dickie) Collard, Wing Commander Alan J L Craig, both of RAF, Lieutenant General GE Stratemeyer & Colonel L R Parker of USAAF. Close-up pan of the group. General view of USAAF Band playing on Tarmac. Group stand under Sign stating “Welcome RAF“.

18th July 1946 (Mitchel Field, New York)
Fly past over New York.  The 12 Formation aircraft took off from Mitchel Field at 12.45 hrs NYT, formed up & returned in Formation over the Airfield. The Squadron then flew over the following points at 2500ft above sea level; Long Beach, Sandy Hook, Coney Island arriving at the Empire State Building at precisely 13.20 hrs.  The Squadron then continued to fly in formation over Central Park, Junction of Hudson & East Rivers, Brooklyn & Rockaway Point, arriving back at Mitchel Field at 14.05 hrs.  When the Formation had broken up and the 1st Aircraft was on the Final Approach heading 300º the Surface Wind switched through 180º, and everyone was sent around again to land in the opposite direction in fairly hazy weather; all the Aircraft landed in the correct order and without any untoward incident.  The Flypast was given considerable publicity in the Press, on the Radio and in the 3 Major Newsreels. The Newsreels made a combined coverage of this Flight and the Squadron’s arrival at Mitchel Field.  The weather conditions were quite hazy, and the thermal up currents from the City of New York and the Sandy Beaches of Long Island, made the conditions extremely bumpy for Formation Flying. The temperature was 95ºF in the shade, this most of the Captains were forced to fly in nothing more than Swimming Trunks.

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The 12 Formation Aircraft took off from Mitchel Field at 12.45hrs NY time Formed-up   Back at Mitchel Field that afternoon they looked forward to a 3 day Holiday.

19th July 1946 (Mitchel Field, New York)
The Detachment Commander gave an Orientation Lecture to all RAF Personnel at 08.30 hrs.  in the Evening, all Personnel were the Guests of the Roosevelt Trotting Raceway. The Detachment Commander, Squadron Commander & Section Leaders were entertained to Dinner and the remaining Personnel were supplied with snacks, liquid refreshment & cigarettes.  The Racing was good and very interesting.


MitchelPressCutting.pngRoosevelt Raceway was a Trotting Horse Racetrack located in the Town of Westbury in Long Island provided Harness Trotting Fans with the highest quality Racing in it’s Day.

Races like the Messenger Stakes, the 1st Leg in the Harness Triple Crown and the International Trot that brought together the best of the world’s Horses.

With its Mobile Starting Gate it revolutionised Harness Racing.  As Guests of the Raceway Association free iced-beer & hot-dogs were dispensed to the 207 RAF Visitors.

All Squadron Personnel, except some Ground Crew on essential Work, were conveyed by buses to Jones Beach, Long Island at 10.00 hrs and spent the day Swimming, Sunbathing & Site seeing until 16.00 hrs when the Buses collected them for the return journey to Mitchel Field.

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Rosebud Yellow Robe, Indian Village at Jones Beach

World famous Jones Beach State Park, Home of 6½-miles of beautiful white-sand Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of more than 2,400-acres of a Maritime Environment on the South Shore of Long Island.  Among the 6 to 8M Visitors to the Park each year, families enjoy their own piece of the Beach for a day.  Designed on the theme of an Ocean Liner, Jones Beach offered many activities to those who visit the Park.  They Roller-skate, Swim in the Ocean, Stroll the Board-walk, Fish, Visit an historic exhibit, get a bite to eat at one of the many Concession Stands, play Miniature Golf, Shuffleboard & Basketball, attend Concerts at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre or learn about the Marine Environment at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Centre. Other activities that take place in the Park include Pool Swimming, Sunbathing, Bicycling, Surfing, & Visiting the Playgrounds.  The Friday morning Trip resulted in sunburned backs and much discomfort to the Visitors after spending the day there.  They enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches, lemonade, watermelon, sent down to the Beach by the Base Mess.
Shuffleboard a game in which players use cues to push weighted discs, sending them gliding down a narrow court, with the purpose of having them come to rest within a marked scoring area.

That evening there 2 Dances one in the Officers Club and one for the Lower Ranks in the Base Gym.  Base WACS attended in good strength to make a long & successful evening.
American women are casual, accepting a Date as means of having a good time said Cpl George Barnes of Sowerby, Yorkshire.

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Mitchel Field Formal Dinner – Sir A Guy Garrod on Right

At 19.30 hrs, there was a Formal Dinner Dance in honour of the Squadron’s Officers in the Officer’s Club. General & Mrs Stratameyer and Colonel & Mrs Parker were present, as well as their Staff Officers & their wives.  Warrant Officers & Senior NCO were entertained to a sponsored Dance at Mitchel Field NCO Club.

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Intended Tour Route Outward & Return

I wish I could turn my wife & mother loose in your well-stocked Canteens‘ mused Leading Aircraftsman Norman Haywood of Plymouth, Devon.

20th July 1946 (Mitchel Field, New York)
All personnel wishing to go were taken by buses after an early lunch to the Yankee Stadium to see a major league baseball game. There was no other Entertainment organised for that day.  The organisational & administrative arrangements for the comfort of the RAF Personnel for the whole of the stay at Mitchel Field were excellent and greatly appreciated.
Wing Commander Craig made a 15-min Broadcast Talk from the Columbia Broadcasting System Inc. A letter of thanks was received from the Director of Radio Talks, Helen J Scoussat, who also forwarded a recording of the talk to the Squadron. The Broadcast was on a “Coast to Coast” hook up at 22.45 hrs. This time was described as the maximum listening period for the Continent as a whole and it was estimated that there would 88M listeners at this time.

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The Squadron Aircraft were made available for the Public to view and to meet some of the Crew and the following day the Visiting party wound up their Visit with a Trip to the Ball Game at Yankee Stadium and stayed on in New York to round out the Evening.

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RAF Personnel at Yanke Stadium – Colin Earnshaw  2nd Row Centre

Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant proved to be the most popular hangout for all of the visiting Crewmen.  ‘The pace of traffic is too fast‘ said W/O Stephen Appleyard of Scarborough, Yorkshire.
19th July 1946 Amid this melee of shouting, stamping, & gesticulation, DiMaggio appears to be the only sane & poised individual in the Park.  He walks deliberately, but without swagger, into the Batter’s Box, 1st pausing to scoop up a handful of dirt, the better to grip his Bat. 55,000 pairs of eyes are fixed now on his ritual. He tugs once-just once-at the peak of his Cap; he raps the Plate once-just once-with the end of his Bat; and he takes 3 – just 3-half-swings in the direction of the Pitcher.  Then he pulls back into his distinctive stance, feet wide apart, arms high, bat in the air, cocked for the Swing. Utterly immobile, he awaits the Pitch – Bam!
On the Saturday 20th July Craig made a scripted Broadcast from Columbia Broadcasting Systems Studios at short notice and made at Madison Avenue, New York 22 NY and these were recorded and presented to Craig on 33rpm pressings which survive today.  He was thanked by Helen J Sioussat, Director of Radio Talks for the very interesting Broadcast.

3 Officers from London, Wilf Haig, Bill Philport, & Syd Barker spend a prolonged Pass at ‘Gotham’ arriving back on Sunday morning just in time for Departure.  W/O Davis said ‘It has been Grand. Everyone’s been wonderful.  For more than 20 years I was unaware that such a Country of Miracles existed‘.

After Mitchel Field, Long Island (New York) 17th July, with a New York Flypast on the 18th July and then at 11.00hrs on Sunday 21st July the 15 Lancaster’s moved onward to visit Scott Field, (Nr St Louis), Illinois on 21st July.  One aircraft TL-R with F/Lt Stockwell & Crew, remained at Mitchel Field as support for the Commander-In-Chief, Bottomley, Bomber Command.

They were due back at Mitchel Field on 18th August to prepare for the Trip home.

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TW859 – TL-M Lancaster Leaves Mitchel Field

Owing to prevailing weather conditions en-route it was impossible to fly in Formation and the Aircraft took off at 4-min intervals. The 1st Aircraft was Airborne at 10.41 hrs and landed at Scott Field at 16.00 hrs. A large crowd was assembled to view the Arrival & Reception.