Westover Field ~ Chicopee, Nr Springfield, & Massachusetts
14th August (Washington to Boston) Wednesday V-J Flight
The Squadron’s Aircraft were Airborne at 12.35 hrs for the Flight to Westover Field and arrived there at exactly 16.00 hrs, their ETA.
Leaving Washington Andrews Field they flew in Formation over Springfield, Newhaven, Hartford & Bridgeport. but had to pass up manoeuvres over Boston, Providence RI & Worcester because of poor weather conditions of 500 to 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 09.00 hrs 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, Worcester, & 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 16.00 hrs for a 3-day Stay. As the 218 Crew Members including 70 Officers left their Lancaster’s they formed a Single Line & Marched to a point clear of the Runway in front of the entire Westover Field Personnel. The Squadron was Officially received by Colonel Cortland S Johnson Commanding Officer of the Base accompanied by Mayor Henry J Toepfert of Chicopee, US Army Officials and the British Consul General Bernard Ponsonby Sullivan MBE, Mr W J Blanch, British consul and other Civic & Military Dignitaries & Members of the Press. After allocation of Quarters the Officers of the Squadron were entertained to a Cocktail Party & Buffet Supper at the Officers Club. The British Consul General and other Civic Chiefs attended. A similar Reception was given for other Ranks in the Services Club on the Field.
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 & 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 Skymaster.
15th August (Westover Field, Boston) Thursday
Warrant Officers, NCO’s. and airmen left by Bus at 13.00 hrs for an afternoon of relaxation at the Riverside Amusement Parks, and were later in the Evening entertained at the NCO Club to which local Ladies were invited. Three Officers, including Guest Speaker Wing Commander Craig, attended a Luncheon at the Exchange Club in Springfieid. The Detachment Commander, Squadron Commander & 35 other Officers flew by Douglas C.54 Skymaster to Logan Airport where they were met by Transport to attend a Tea given by Consul General Bernard P Sullivan at the British Officers’ Club in Boston. At 12.30 hrs Officers not flying to Boston were Guests at a Luncheon Party given by members of the Westfield Country Club, and leaving there at 16.00 hrs were conveyed to a Cocktail party at the Home of Mr & Mrs Ballard of Southampton, Mass.
16th August (Westover Field, Boston) Friday
Two NCO’s were guests at a Luncheon at the Boston Rotary Club, and a party of NCO’s & Airmen were taken to a Swimming Party at Five Mile Pond, with a 2nd Party visiting New England Villages. The remainder spent the afternoon in the Base Swimming Pool. At 18.00 hrs Aircrew & Airman wishing to attend were Transported to a Dance and Buffet Supper in Holyoaks War Memorial Building. Two Officers were all-day Guests of Mr Rudd, Springfield, and 2 others attended the Boston Rotary Club Luncheon. Another 25 Officers visited the Colony Club for Cocktails & Luncheon, leaving at 14.00 hrs for Longmeadow Country Club for Golf, Tennis, Swimming, Cocktails & Dinner Dance. Some 35 Officers left by Air for Logan Airport and were entertained to a Cocktail Party & Tea at-the British Officers’ Club.
At Noon Craig & Collard were guests of, the Colony Club and also The Rotary Club at their Weekly Luncheon Meeting at the Hotel Kimball.
17th August (Westover Field, Boston) Saturday
From 14.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs “Open House” was held for the General Public, and large crowds attended. Aircrew & Ground Crew were standing by the Aircraft to answer the questions of interested Spectators. The Evening was spent preparing for Departure the following Morning.
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 & 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 US 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 hrs 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.
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 & inset) with perhaps S/L TS ‘Shorty‘ Harris (right – note Pathfinder Badge) or (Grp Capt R C M 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 souvenir copy.
An Open House Day was held at Westover Field at 14.00 hrs 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 throughout the Tour and were due to Fly over Boston at 10.00 hrs Sunday Morning 18th August.
18th August (Boston to New York) Sunday
The Squadron left in full Strength of 16 Aircraft (TL-O having arrived from Long Beach in time for Departure) and arrived at Mitchel Field at 15.27 hrs having flown over Worcester, Boston & Providence en route. An Informal Party was held in the Club during the Evening for Officers, and the other Ranks enjoyed the renewed Hospitality of Mitchel Field in the NCO Club & Service Club. The majority of Personnel took the opportunity of relaxing & resting in readiness for an assault on the Shopping Centres of New York during the next 2-Days prior to final Departure from America.