Alan Crouchman, 387th BG Historian
|Welcome to the 387th Bomb Group page of B26.COM. This page will endeavor to act has a
focal point for any questions regarding the 387th, the famed "Tiger Tails."
As an opening I will present a resume of how we, as Englishmen, became interested in the history of the Group. This really came about with the arrival of the 387th Bomb Group at Station 162, Chipping Ongar, in June 1943. My father, Peter, lived in the village of Willingale, which was the actual location for the airfield, and from his house could look across the airfield.
Most of the local children would "adopt" a favorite aircraft and look out for its safe return from missions. My father adopted an aircraft named "Danita" which was the first B-26 Marauder that he saw close up when the 387th had arrived. Subsequently we learned that this was the aircraft of Captain Kevin Cadigan, of the 557th Bomb squadron. Early in 1944 "Danita" disappeared from her hard standing, only to be replaced by "Danita 2nd" shortly thereafter. It transpired that the original "Danita" had been transferred to the newly formed 1st PFF Squadron (P) and survived the war flying with that unit. "Danita 2nd" also would survive the war with the 387th, by which time it had flown some 115 missions.
My fathers family also befriended some of the Groups personnel, three of whom spent Christmas 1943 with the family, these were Lt Henry C Patrick, M/Sgt Joe Stanckowitz and Cpl Charles OMalley. Lt Patrick was a pilot with the 559th Bomb Squadron and sadly was killed on a local flight on April 27 1944, my grandmother having his photograph on her mantle shelf until the day she died.
After the end of the war my father married and was busy bringing up his own family. As children when we visited the village for a family get together I would walk the old airfield and wonder about what went on, and upon hearing stories of what the Americans got up to during their stay at Willingale. We would also search out any books on the B-26 Marauder or Ninth Air Force in the hope of finding a picture showing "Danita" but, sadly, none would be forthcoming.
As I grew up I developed an interest in aviation, my father having retained his interest since World War Two, with a special emphasis on the "warbird" movement and particularly the Martin B-26 Marauder. In the late 70s we decided that we would conduct our own research into the 387th Bomb Groups history and in the last 25 years have been gathering information and photographs on the Group, along with obtaining the official micro-filmed records from the USAF.
Last year, 2001, my father and I had the honor of being guests at the 387th Bomb Group reunion held at San Diego where we made a small presentation upon Station 162 as it was and some of the notorious and momentous dates in the Groups history.
At intervals this page will be updated to include stories of the 387th Bomb Group along with its personnel and individual aircraft, should you have any questions regarding the Group please refer them to us and we will endeavor to help as best we can.
Alan F. Crouchman
Lt. Henry C Patrick III, this was the photo that "Pat" gave to my grandmother that she had on her mantle shelf until the day she died. It was this photo and the story of his crash on April 27th 1944 that was one of the catalysts for us to begin researching the 387th Bomb Groups history.
The original "Danita," together with Captain Kevin Cadigan and his crew. This was the first B-26 Marauder that my father, Peter Crouchman, inspected at close quarters upon the Groups arrival at Station 162 on June 25th 1943. From this time on he would look out for her safe return from missions.
After the original "Danita" was transferred to the 1st PFF Squadron (P) she was replaced by "Danita 2nd" which was to survive the war with 115 combat missions.