The Westward Route to California ~
Scott Field, St Louis, Illinois
After the Welcome at Mitchel Field, Long Island (New York) the Lancaster’s left and had to Fly Instrument Flight Rules because of severe Weather which also caused them to be Routed via Buffalo, Detroit, & Chicago. Arriving at Scott Field, (Nr St Louis), Illinois on Sunday 21st July 1946 15.08. The Transit Flight took 6 hrs Flying across Pennsylvania, Ohio & Indiana giving them marvellous views of the landscape beneath. It would appear that F/Lt Hardy shared the Flying Hours on all Flights as 2nd Pilot with Craig on TL-F TW880.
They were met by the Base Commander Colonel Neal Crieghton & Brigadier General Charles W Lawrence. They (70 Officers) were given another 4 days of generous hospitality arranged by the St Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross which included a Tour of St Louis, attending the Municipal Opera production ‘East Wind‘ with Mayor Aloys P Kauffman, a Dance at the French Chateau style home of Millionaire Joseph Desloge (Absent) the ‘Vousiers’ (Voo-zee-ay) Mansion at Florissant, Missouri. Also the Anhueser Busch Brewery (‘Budweiser’ of 1840) and an Evening at Forrest Park Highlands with a visit to the Midget Auto Races. Richard W Hilgard (22 Yrs) of Belleville a former Fighter Pilot was presented with the British Distinguished Flying Cross by Sir Guy Garrod at a Cermony at 16.00hrs Scott Field on Wednesday 24th July for Operations Officer Service with the RAF Desert Air Force in Italy.
Scott Field. Illinois – Nr St Louis MO (Crossroads of America)
Scott Field (now Scott Air Force Base) is located 25 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri, in Shiloh Township, Illinois. The Base is located off Highway 158, 2 miles South of I-64 (Exit 19) 11 Miles East of the Mississippi River.
Only 15 Aircraft led by the Squadron Commander Craig left Mitchel Field, NY for Scott Field Illinois. 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 10.41hrs and landed at Scott Field at 16.00hrs Central Time Zone. A large Crowd was assembled to view the Arrival & Reception. Wing Commander Craig was Officially received by Alfred Stanley Fordham, British Consul in St Louis, who also gave an Address of Welcome. One Aircraft TL-R with Pilot F/Lt Peter Stockwell and his Aircrew remained at Mitchel Field as a back-up for the VIP Commander in Chief, Sir Norman Bottomley of Bomber Command HQ. All the RAF Officers attended a Party held in the Officers Club and a very enjoyable Social Evening was spent. Squadron Personnel were given a Tour of St Louis and entertained at various Private Residencies and the Mansion Party (flown there in C47’s) and St Louis, Municipal Opera (Muny Open Air Amphitheatre, Performance – East Wind by Sigmund Romberg) & Midget Automobile Races at the Walsh Memorial Stadium, 5200 Oakland Avenue , St Louis.
Souvenir Hunters began to make their mark on their Personal Equipment particularly in the Aircraft, which were Open to the Public for one afternoon at each Base visited. Goggles, Helmets, Squadron Badges on Overalls, all were considered Fair Game. To combat this they had to close their Aircraft completely.
Sir Guy Garrod also joined them from Washington flying in one of the Squadron Aircraft & Inspected the Scott Field Band which played both the ‘Star Spangled Banner‘ & ‘God save the King‘. Garrod & his Lancaster Crews were escorted by Military Police Motorcycle Escort through Belleville & East St Louis to McArthur Bridge. They were Dinner Guests at the St Louis Country Club Golf Club followed by a Dance at the Vouziers Estate
W/O Peter Bentley of Liverpool had one remark to make about GI Beer ‘Its Gassy But Intoxicating‘.
Leading Aircraftsman James Hunter from Donegal, Ireland who served 3 years in the RAF had nothing but praise for the Hospitality of the Americans.
‘Its a wonderful Country, Although it’s very hot’ said Cpl George Bennett of Nottingham.
The Highlands was the City’s largest Amusement Park and the scene of countless Picnics & Pleasure Jaunts. It boasted of 2 Roller Coasters, the “Mountain Ride” and the “Racer Dip,” a Merry-go-round, all sorts or Rides, Shooting Galleries, Swimming Pool, Ballroom, a Fun House, and a large Picnic Grounds.
Desloge Vouziers Mansion, Florissant, Missouri
Flying there in 5 Douglas C-47’s on Tuesday 23rd July, Hosted by Sir Guy Garrod and Sponsored by the Citizens of St Louis.
Vouziers was a 10-bedroom Chateau on the bluffs of the Missouri River. The hand-carved wood panelling of the Gothic Reading Room on the 3rd-Floor was shipped Overseas from an old English Parsonage; the Staircase was Rose Marble; the Family Emblem, an Oak Tree, was carved above the door. Firmin Desloge amassed a fortune after founding the Desloge Lead Co in St Francois County in 1873. His son, Joseph Desloge, Sr, b.1889, served with the French Artillery in WW1 and received an Award (Croix de Guerre) for defending the Town of Vouziers in France. In 1919, Joseph bought a large tract of Land near the intersection of what is now New Halls Ferry & Shackelford Roads and commissioned New Orleans Architect Dennis McDonald to Design a Louis XVI-style Chateau, which the Oldest American French Family Desloge would name Vouziers. By 1926, the 10-Bedroom, 4-Storey Manor had been completed, with no expense spared. The 4,000-sq-ft Ballroom, built into the Hillside, is connected to a Parking Area through an underground Tunnel. Joseph Sr had 4 children who grew up in Vouziers. His daughter Anne was the 1946 Veiled Prophet Queen. The Property was later sold to the Kroeger Family who sold it in the late 1990s to McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) for their Leadership Centre, which hosts Employees & Others from all over the World for Classes & other Events.
“The largest Steaks we had ever seen – Those Steaks!” reported Wing Commander Craig with amazement “overlapping our plates – we could not eat them all”
In-house comment on AAF Food
The loss of a 2nd Pork Chop and a couple of meatless meals were hard to take until Scott Field passed on the word about British Fliers who were suffering from overeating. Not that the RAF Pilots & Crews appeared to be getting more than the average American Diet. Two eggs for breakfast were too much of a feast for them after the long British Rationing Period. American food vowed the RAF men, is amazing. They must be even more amazed by our groans of apprehension about a possible curtailment steak, ribs, & sausage, and we were not so sure now that we are proud of our complaint. If Britons can go 6 years on War Rations, America can endure a little belt-tightening to get the War Economy squared away in Peacetime.
Wing Commander A J L Craig Centre
Craig’s Rank of Wing Commander was the equivalent of the USAAF Lieutenant Colonel
The Flight from Scott Field on Thursday, July 25th included a Formation Flypast – twice over St Louis in recognition of their generous Hospitality, over Kansas City and onwards to the Mile High Town of Denver, Colorado ~ Lowry Air Base (5190ft above sea level). For a 4-day Visit.