Westover Field ~ Chicopee, Nr Springfield, & Massachusetts
Leaving Washington Andrews Field at 12.35pm they flew in formation over Springfield, Newhaven, Hartford and Bridgeport. but had to pass up manoeuvres over Boston, Providence R.I. and Worcester because of poor weather conditions of 5/600 ft ceiling. Craig commented that we could have flown over Boston at 500ft but we may have damaged some chimney-pots. (however they were to fly in Formation over Boston Sunday at 9.30 am if weather permitted – (Of course, any visit must include Boston said Collard).
During the flight to Westover they flew over Long Island, New Haven, Hartford , New London, Southampton, Windsor Locks, and Springfield to celebrate V-J Day. Two planes were missing – one left at Andrews Field and one at Mitchel Field. They Landed at their 7th stopover (84 Hrs) at Westover Field, Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts on Wednesday, August 14th at 4pm for a 3-day stay. As the 218 Crew members including 70 Officers left their Lancaster’s they formed a single line and marched to a point clear of the Runway in front of the entire Westover Field personnel headed by Col Cortlant F Johnson Commanding Officer of the Base accompanied by Mayor Henry J Toepfert of Chicopee, US Army Officials and Alexander Haddon British Consul in Springfield.
Commander Craig said in answer to questions that this country’s size and the hospitality of its people had impressed him most during the Tour. The Briton had to bow to Americans in the art of collecting RAF souvenirs, but some members of his group were doing well, collecting nylons. When asked if he liked the food he replied ‘We like the food, Period!‘ and added that he was particularly fond of corn on the cob. They were being chased and accompanied by a USAAF Douglas C54 Skymaster aircraft carrying New England reporters and almost 20 cameramen from Andrews Field. They arrived too late only to see the Lancasters disappearing towards Westover. They were then whisked into waiting B.17 which caught up with the formation but some disgruntled reporters returned to Andrews Field in the C54.
Inspection at Westover – Craig stated they were attempting delaying tactics with regard to returning home
Wednesday 14th August to Westover Field (Nr Springfield, Mass).
While at Westover, Craig (23yrs) flew with his fellow Officers at 08.00 in a Douglas C-54 Skymaster 90 miles to Logan Airport. At 15.00 to the British Officers Club, Boston for a Boston ‘Tea Party’ (more Cocktails) at 17.00 and visited Bunker Hill, Faneuil Market Hall (1740), Old South Church (1870) and Paul Revere’s home (1680). 19.45 Dance at Holyoke Memorial Building. Friday 16th August 11.00, other RAF Squadron enlisted men were entertained at various private residences, a days fishing and swimming at Hampton Ponds and guests of the Colony Club, Maple Street Springfield. 14.00, Golf, Tennis and Cocktails and a Dinner evening at Longmeadow Country Club.
The Dance in Holyoke at the War Memorial Building finished the day with a Buffet Supper. They were right royally received to the extent of being overwhelmed by the hospitality and at a Steak Roast’ -Done up Brown’. Doing it up brown consisted of a sumptuous steak roast in which the lads were given their own slab of beef, a long fork and permitted to cook them to their own taste. When they were ready to eat, roasted ears of corn were supplied to round off the feast. NCO’s went to Riverside Park in Agawam and had a fine time on the ‘scenic railway‘ as they referred to the Roller Coaster. They enjoyed a clambake and said the countryside was just like home. 15.00, 35 Officers returned on a C-47 Dakota for Dinner at British Officers’ Club of New England (BOCNE).
The British Officers Club, New England. The BOCNE has a long standing relationship with Boston and has welcomed the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Britain and the Commonwealth for over 90 years. The BOCNE is a social organisation which seeks to welcome active servicemen and women when they visit 99 State Street, Boston, provide an ongoing social centre for expatriate Officers who have settled in New England, and those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and share an interest in British History.
While in Boston they were given a ‘Tea Party’ by British Consul General Bernard Ponsonby Sullivan and his wife at 17.00 and a tour of the historical 1775 battlefield at Bunker Hill. Among dignitaries present were W J Blanche, Major General Ira Thomas Wyche of 1st Service Command, Rear Adm L M Deyo of 1st Naval District, Rear Adm Wilder D Baker, Commandant Boston Naval Base, Rear Adm J Derby, Commandant of the Coastguard, Commodore A R Marron, Commandant of Boston Naval Supply. .
At noon Craig and Collard were guests of, the Colony Club and also The Rotary Club at their weekly Luncheon Meeting at the Hotel Kimball.
General Carl Andrew Spaatz Commander in Chief US Army Air Forces (left) with perhaps Ira Clarence Eaker Chief of Staff, Headquarters US Army Air Forces (who conceived the Goodwill trip (left centre) in white civvies in discussion with Flt/Lt Micheal J Beetham (centre and inset) with perhaps S/L TS ‘Shorty ‘ Harris (right – note Pathfinder Badge) or (Grp Capt RCM Collard) in conversation with Colonel Stratemeyer a high echelon USAAF Officer. Possibly taken at Mitchel or Westover Field. Flt Lt Hawes of Craig’s aircrew’s name is pencilled on the back of this image and it may have been meant to be his copy.
An Open House Day was held at Westover Field at 14.00 on Saturday 17th August 1946 for the general public inspection with each Aircrew standing by to answer questions from interested spectators. Grp Capt Richard Charles Marler Collard gave a talk over radio station WAMS Springfield at 19.45pm.
They were now ready for the return trip to Mitchel Field which had been their servicing base througout the tour and were due to fly over Boston at 10.00am Sunday Morning 16th August.