Location of A-11, forward airstrip just behind the D-Day landing beaches.

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Sun Aug 6th
Up early to finish last minute packing details, down to plane and bring a few spare last minute odds & ends to put in baggage compartment. No C-47s showed up at all – Sack in for the night with RAF blankets. All baggage packed and waiting.

Mon Aug 7th
C-47s came this morning, picked up all pilots with no planes – all bags and majority of crew chiefs – Rest of us play poker all afternoon as our French field is not ready as yet.

Tues Aug 8th
Still no field – poker and sack time. Finally take off for France at 0800. Give old Warmwell a real warp job and away we go for our new life in the rough – Land about 0900 – No revetments for our squadron. So park on taxi strips and grab jeep to our squadron area.

Advanced Landing Ground A-41 runway being constructed by engineers, using prefabricated burlap surfacing (PBS). US Army photo.

Our area is a large green grassy field bordered on all sides by the typical French hedgerows & tall trees. Officers’ tents are on one side and mess tent and some of the higher NCOs tents on the other – most of our men are living in pup tents closer to the line. Our tents are the big square type – suitable for five or six men. Gerry and Stud have already got Bob’s, Dick’s and my baggage and beds already set up. After a light lunch of K-rations we’re ready to inspect our new home.

Just behind our tent between the hedgerows is an old drainage ditch of some sort – a natural foxhole in case of air attack – at the east end are 3 holes – about 6 ft long, 1 ft wide and 4 ft deep – our latrines – Finish your business and cover with dirt, when hole is filled, dig more –

Straight on thru the next hedgerow is the Doc’s dispensary – armaments, pilots’ room, engineering, communications, tech supply, S-2, & parachute room. Then off to the right are our taxi strips and our future revetments. Still further along is the runway – 5000 ft and tarpaper-covered, and steel mesh for about 200 feet at both ends – we’ll have to spot-land on the mesh or tear the tarpaper – what a life. 

On old French house makes our control tower and just behind are encamped the group “wheels” – right in a picturesque French apple orchard. All green and shady with all the better tents and equipment. Across the runway the 430th and 429th have a setup similar to ours, but personally I believe we have the best of the three sites. Right now I can see that dust is going to be a problem. There is no oil on any of the taxi strips and the crash landing strip on edge of runway is plain old French soil, whenever any of our planes turn up, just enough to taxi, the dust boils up in big clouds – covering everything around. Back to area. Unpack our sacks and to bed by dark.

Arial view of A-11 taken in 1947, still showing the outlines of the runways, taxiways and revetments. See more information on www.forgottenairfields.com


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