Gayle L. Smith
Group Operations Officer
June 24, 1943
Most everyone made it into Aldermasten by nightfall.
June 25, 1943
All but five aircraft skirted London to the north, avoiding the balloon cables, and finding only 4200 feet of usable runway available at Station 162, Chipping Ongar. The US Army Corps of Engineers were building the airfield on a short time schedule, and were still finishing the runway and housing facilities. The first 2000 feet of runway was not available because utility trenches were not closed in. Aircrew members had to sleep in and around their aircraft using pup tents and sleeping bags.
June 26, 1943
The Group Navigator and Z flew to Aldermasten to lead the last five aircraft to Chipping Ongar. On landing, the last aircraft sheared his gear on the open ditch. Luckily there were no casualties. We lost two aircraft, but crews were safe. Arrived with 63 aircraft.
This reflects the two routes to England, both hazardous and requiring precise navigation. The northern route during the winter was just unusable because of the frigid weather.
July 1, 1943
The ground echelon arrives so the approximately five-week separation comes to an end.
This drawing of the airfield at Chipping Ongar was courtesy of Peter Crouchman, a British friend of the 387th. The Crouchman home was near the north end of the runway. The daily noise that we created in dispatching 36 aircraft almost every morning and returning in the afternoon had to require strong nerves by the local residents. They took it wholeheartedly, saying, "This is sure better than the alternative."
These Quonset huts, not fully completed on arrival, were typical of living areas at Chipping Ongar. Larger Quonset huts were used for other purposes.