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USAAF July 1944 - Far East:
I am the sister of Chaplain James Richard Shaw who died in July, l944 at Biak Island of the western coast of New Guinea. I have many pictures of the AAF 39th Fighter Squadron's advance across New Guina, east to west, building airstrips many times till they supposedly were now safe on the little idland just off the western coast. A kamakazi pilot made a direct his on the Biak fowxhole one Sunday before some of the could make it to Austrealia. The squadron aparantly, in 1990 had a reunion in Loa Vegas and were going to have an exhibit at the AirSpace Museum in Oklahoma City. (My younger brother died last year and in his papers I received the letter announcement 20 years too late.) Is there a record of the New Guinea campaign and would these photographs be of interest to you? Many thanks, anne shaw price, email@example.com 909-625-9896
In Memory of Chaplain James Shaw
Today we miss our Chappy,
'Twas but a week ago;
He gave us Communion,
And stressed the things that go
With God and home and country,
And other truths we know.
He set a fine example,
Of a young mans cleaner life;
He showed it could be followed.
Throughout this mortal strife.
And so we know he was ready,
For even deaths long knife.
When home again we're sitting,
When war has had its day;
We'll speak of comrades fallen,
who with their lives did pay.
Then Jim shall have our honor,
We saw him lead the way.
The 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was constituted on paper on 22 December 1939. The 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was initially assigned to the 31st Pursuit Group on 1 February 1940. In early 1940 personnel were drawn from the old 94th Pursuit Squadron. This was a Squadron from WW1 which Eddie Rickenbacher had served in. The 39th Pursuit Squadron started to train in Seversky P-35 aircraft. In early 1941 they received the first P-39 Airacobras to run off the production line at their base at Selfridge Field in Michigan.
The 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was then assigned to the 35th Pursuit Group on 15 January 1942.
Maurer shows the 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) arriving at Brisbane, Queensland on 25 February 1942, then moving to Ballarat, Victoria on 8 March 1942, then to Mt. Gambier, South Australia on 16 March 1942, then Williamstown on 3 April 1942.
The 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), of the 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), relocated from Williamstown to Woodstock airfield with their P-39 Airacobras on 20 April 1942.
Roger Warfield, a new pilot, was killed in April of 1942, probably at Williamstown, before the squadron moved to Woodstock.
The 39th Fighter Squadron were based at Woodstock near Townsville from April 1942 until June 1942. The 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, moved from Woodstock airfield to Port Moresby, New Guinea with their P-39s on 2 June 1942 and flew their first mission that day. 2nd Lt. David L. Silverman (0-427011), a new pilot assigned to the 39th Pursuit Squadron, 35th Pursuit Group was killed landing on the center strip at Woodstock airfield on 10 May 1942.
The 39th Fighter Squadron then returned to Townsville on 26 July 1942 and returned to Port Moresby with their new P-38's on 18 October 1942.
The 35th Fighter Group replaced the 8th Fighter Group in Port Moresby. The 8th Fighter Group were moved back to Townsville for rest and re-equipment.
The 39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was redesignated as the 39th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942.
The Ace of Aces, Richard Ira "Dick" Bong, spent some time with the 39th Fighter Squadron where he first became an ace. He then returned to his assigned Squadron.
On 27 May, another leap of over 300 miles was made to seize airfields on Biak Island (dominating strategic Geelvink Bay) where fierce enemy resistance was encountered. The delay at Biak led to the order for the U.S. Sixth Army to seize Noemfoor Island (60 miles west of Biak) on 2 July and clear it of Japanese defenders to make its airstrips available for Allied operations. The advance continued to Sansapor on 30 July and to the island of Morotai on 15 September 1944.
While Biak and Noemfoor were secured, 500 miles to the east intelligence reports warned that the Japanese Eighteenth Army was approaching Aitape, held by the Allies since their 22 April landing. Engineers had converted the Aitape Japanese airdromes into a major fighter base, well defended by prepared positions close to the base and by a weak outer defensive perimeter along the western banks of the shallow Driniumor River, about fifteen miles east of the airstrips.
||Prime Minister Curtin returns to Australia after the Commonwealth conference in Britain.
||Vice-Admiral Nagumo and General Saito, commit suicide as the Japanese position on Saipan deteriorates.
||U.S. Marines defeat the Japanese on Saipan after a final Banzai charge. 27,000 Japanese and 3,116 Americans were killed on Saipan.
||Buffeted by more than two years of military and naval defeats, Gen. Hideki Tojo is forced to resign his offices of prime minister, war minister and chief of the Imperial General Staff. While Tojo's removal strengthens somewhat the elements of the Japanese government inclined to seek peace, Tokyo's official policy of fighting to the end remains unchanged.
||U.S. Marines land on Guam, establishing beach-heads up to a mile inland.
||The last organised Japanese resistance on Biak ends.
||The U.S. 4th Marine Division (15,000 men) lands on Tinian.
||1,246 Japanese are killed in a Banzai charge in Tinian, another 3,000 die on Guam.
||President Roosevelt arrives in Hawaii for a conference on Pacific strategy with Gen. Douglas Macarthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz. FDR authorizes Macarthur's plan to liberate the Philippines instead of bypassing them, as desired by the Navy and Nimitz.
||The Orote Peninsula is secured on Guam.
||The last Japanese counter-attack on Tinian is annihilated. U.S. forces make further landings on the North West coast of Dutch New Guinea and begin a jungle push from Aitape.