Handy Island

Handy Island
"The Air War Finds A Handy South Atlantic Island" was the caption on this Peter Hurd painting of Ascension Island, from Life Magazine, April 1945. It was the only place for pilots to refuel between Natal and West Africa.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More on That Secret Mission ...

(Editor's note:  in the box of papers I donated to the Ascension Island Heritage Society after my father's death, is a letter to my father from that RAF Swordfish pilot.  He retired to a ranch in Australia.  And he's still really mad! The story continues today ....)

Engineer's Top Secret Mission
Col. William Ashley Chapman

"... One of the .50 caliber rounds had clipped the buckle of his parachute harness.  We had to apologize for the hostile treatment, yet we had not expected a visit and were apprehensive of activity from a German raider thought to be in the area.

The first American plane, U.S. Army Air Corps B-24 "Kissin' Cousin", landed on the completed runway 10 July 1942, just 101 days after our arrival.  We had achieved our goal, a significant accomplishment and an engineering triumph for Col. R.E. Coughlin, TF 4612 Commander.
Wideawake Field, as it was named, became a refueling stop for planes bound for the African Campaign and later served other theaters of war.  It also was important as an anti-submarine base.

I remained on Ascension for nearly two years as a Platoon leader of the 898th Engineer Aviation Company.  After returning to the states, I was reassigned as the Company Commander of "C" Company of the 1902 Engineer Aviation Battalion, with an assignment to participate in the construction of an airfield in the Pacific Theater ... " (To be continued...)

A closer look at all that volcanic ash, and my father, known as Ash to his friends, standing at far left.
From the book:
World War II Reminiscences
Edited by Col. John H. Roush, Jr.

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