Wednesday, September 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Travis opens during crucial month in World War II

loading WWII

Crews load a C-47 during World War II. The contents of the boxes have been censored and are blacked out in the photo. (USAF photo)

By
From page TRA14 | January 31, 2014 |

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — It was a sunny day at the 8th Air Force airfield at Bassingbourn, England, on May 19, 1943, when the B-17 Memphis Belle rolled to a stop and its aircrew knelt to kiss the grassy ground after they became the first bomber crew to complete 25 missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.

Halfway around the world, Air Transport Command activated the Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, an event that was hardly noticed in the fighting as World War II was proceeding through its fourth year.

The Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base’s birth was part of the Allied tide that was beginning to push back the Axis powers across the globe. The base’s opening was just one of many events in the war during the spring and summer of 1943.

By late spring that year, World War II’s turning points – Midway, Guadalcanal, Stalingrad, the Battle of the Atlantic and El Alamein – had long passed.

The Allies knew they were going to win, it was a question of how long and what the cost would be.

The Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base’s first unit, the 914th Quartermaster Division from Hamilton Field, moved into its new home the day before 238,243 German and Italian troops surrendered in Tunisia on May 11, 1943, bringing the North African campaign to a close.

It opened the way for the July 10, 1943, invasion of Sicily, the first step in the liberation of Europe.

The 914th set up shop one month after American codebreakers intercepted a message saying when the man who engineered the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would be flying to inspect Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands.

A flight of P-38 Lighting fighters used the information to ambush and shoot down the bomber carrying Adm. Isoruku Yamamoto over Bougainville on April 13.

American and Australian troops continued their slow push up the New Guinea coast while Marines and Army soldiers took their next step on the road to Tokyo – the invasion of New Georgia on June 30.

In the Northern Pacific, American forces landed on the Aleutian island of Attu on May 12 to kick the Japanese out of their only toehold in North America, finishing the fight on May 28 at the cost of 600 Americans and 2,500 Japanese.

British and American chiefs of staff met in Washington on May 14 to plan Operation Pointblank, the destruction of the German war industry from the air.

It was to be a year-long, around-the-clock aerial assault. One of those fliers carrying out that assault would be the Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base’s future namesake, Brig. Gen. Robert Travis.

During the night of May 16, the Royal Air Force pulled off the stunning Dambuster Raid, breaking open two dams in the Rhur using specially designed “bouncing” bombs.

The Jewish Warsaw Ghetto revolt, which started April 18, drew to a tragic close on May 16 with the destruction of the Warsaw synagogue.

“The Warsaw ghetto is no longer in existence,” reported SS Brigadier Jurgen Stroop to Berlin.

An advance party of the 23rd Ferrying Command, under Lt. Col. selectee Arthur Stephensen Jr., arrived at Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base on May 29 and the base was formally opened on June 1.

The next day, POW and Royal Army Col. Edward Dunlop recorded the latest death in his camp on the Thailand-Burma railway.

“God knows the angel’s wings must have been over us in view of the terrible mortality in all other camps up and down this line, which seems to be built on bones,” Dunlop wrote in his memoirs.

There would be two more years of fighting and agony to go before the war ended.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensJanuary 31, 2014 - 5:51 am

    The crew of the Memphis Belle was lucky to be 25 mission complete as of May 1943. The worst was yet to come in October of that year with the Schweinfurt and Reagansburg missions that sustained such horrific losses of B-17's and their 10 man crews. More men died in the skies over Europe then on the beaches of the Pacific Islands of Tarawa, Guadacanal, Palau, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

David Grant doctor’s mission continues

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Damaged dog gets going-away party after getting healthy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber to host Suisun City candidates night

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Anti-drug programs face funding shortfall

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B14

.

US / World

Woman in wildfire’s path lost almost everything

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lumber town takes stock after wind-driven wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

PG&E officials leave posts over improper emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Things to know about California groundwater law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 20 Comments | Gallery

 
San Francisco trying shaming for quake safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Governor signs first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Robbery suspects tried to make off with $15,600

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Top general: US ground troops possible in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN: Nearly $1 billion needed now to stop Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
CDC study: Americans’ bellies are expanding fast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 3 Comments | Gallery

Blacks, Hispanics have doubts about media accuracy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

 
School bus driver killed during safety drill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Hunt on for survivalist charged in trooper killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Mexico airlifts tourists after Hurricane Odile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment | Gallery

Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Time for utility execs to start worrying

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My selfish husband neglects and cheats on me. What’s next?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

All the flavors of fall in one twice-baked package

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Leave them feeling full with nutritious chia seeds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

A late summer Southern classic – tomato pie

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

CBS: Rihanna out of NFL telecast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Prep volleyball preview: Big goals for city teams

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders games are like live reruns

By Tony Wade | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

Kazmir, sloppy Athletics lose 6-3 to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Armijo volleyball team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Peavy, Posey help Giants gain ground in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

McIlroy wins PGA player of the year award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento Kings to retire Stojakovic’s jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broncos, Seahawks top AP Pro32 before rematch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Union appeals Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaguars sign Rodriguez grad Jensen off practice squad

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B2

Short stay at NASCAR’s party for AJ and Almirola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hindsight: a Ryder Cup tradition, like no other

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
DA: Josh Gordon gets probation in DWI case in NC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s voice NFL disapproval

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers defense looks to bounce back from tough day

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Web filter lifts block on gay sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Alibaba risk: China’s rise leaves out investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Corinthian Colleges sued for predatory lending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UPS expects to hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
US CEOs less optimistic about hiring, spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

Minnie Watkins Dixon

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5