Monday, February 4, 2008


This is the letter that my father received:

Postmarked: June 24, 1945
From: WAR DEPARTMENT - Public Relations - 414 Night Fighter Squadron APO#650

Perhaps twenty years from now, when our children study the history of World War II, they will know little about the 414 Night Fighter Squadron. To them this war, so real to us now, will be vague and unfamiliar. They will know only that it was over and victory was ours. Individual units will be lost in the maze of events before them. To us, the men in the 414, it is important. It is an organization that its members are proud of, one that takes pride in every man in it, now that one big job, the European War, is written off. We'd like to take time to reflect and sum up just what the "Four One Four" has accomplished during the twenty-eight months since January 26, 1943, when it was activated at Orlando, Florida.

Under the command of Major A. W. Cowgill, the newly-formed 414 N.F.S. spent its first month completing the complement of Officers and Enlisted Man in preparation for the jump across the "Big Pond". The Air Echelon departed from Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on 23 March 1943, sailing on the old Empress of Japan, now known as the Empress of Scotland. Debarking at Liverpool, England, they proceeded to Cranfield Airdrome. It was here that they first met the English Beaufighter, or "Bristol's Abortion", as someone so aptly dubbed it.

While the Air Echelon was undergoing operational training, the Ground Echelon left Kilmer and headed for Oran, Africa. It is doubtful if members of the original group arriving at Oran will ever forget it. Here is was that they learned the horrible truth that not all the travel folders about picturesque and sunny Africa were true. Living in pup tents, surrounded by mud up to their knees, and being introduced to that famous army delicacy, "C" Rations, left a lasting impression.

----- to be continued -----

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