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HistoryVP-112 HistoryHistory

Circa 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...NAF Upottery, Devonshire, England. The B/W is a USN photo of VPB-112 PB4Y-1 in 1945. The other three are 2006 shots by Robert Truman..." Forwarded by McLAUGHLIN, LT Bob banddmcl1964@msn.com [27JUN2009]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Identified one PB4Y-1 as being assigned to VPB-112..." WebSite EBay http://cgi.ebay.com/ AVIATORS-FLIGHT-LOG-BOOK-NAVAER-4111-L-K_W0QQitemZ6595144418QQcategoryZ4717QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem [09JAN2006]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "27FEB45--German submarine sunk: U-317, by United States naval land-based aircraft (VPB-112), and British surface ships, English Channel, 49 d. 46'N., 05 d. 47'W..." http://www.cyberplus.ca/~chrism/chr45.txt

Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 11 Jan 1944..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [29SEP2006]


VD-1, VD-2, VD-3 and VD-4

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-4, VJ-5, VJ-7, VJ-8, VJ-9, VJ-10, VJ-11, VJ-12, VJ-13, VJ-14, VJ-15, and VJ-16

VP-6 Coast Guard

VP-11, VP-12, VP-13, VP-14, VP-15, VP-16, VP-17, VP-18 and VP-19

VP-20, VP-23 and VP-24

VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-43, VP-44 and VP-45

VP-52 and VP-54

VP-61 and VP-62

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92 and VP-94

VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-105, VP-106, VP-107, VP-108 and VP-109

VP-110, VP-111, VP-112, VP-113, VP-115, VP-116 and VP-117

VP-126, VP-127, VP-128 and VP-129

VP-130, VP-131, VP-132, VP-133, VP-134, VP-135, VP-136, VP-137, VP-138 and VP-139

VP-140, VP-141, VP-142, VP-143, VP-144, VP-145, VP-146, VP-147, VP-148 and VP-149

VP-150 and VP-151

VP-201, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-208 and VP-209

VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VB-112 Crew ThumbnailCameraVB-112 Crew "...French Morocco September 1944..." Contributed by David L. Swanson dls1924@aol.com [31OCT99]

Circa 1943 - 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Historical Center, Department Of The Navy, Washington, D. C http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/dictvol2.htm [28APR2001]
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Circa 1943

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Location of U. S. Naval Aircraft - Dated 09 Nov 1943..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/ [01OCT2006]



VD-1, VD-2, VD-3 and VD-4

VJ-1, VJ-2, VJ-3, VJ-4, VJ-5, VJ-15, and VJ-16

VP-6 Coast Guard


VP-11, VP-12, VP-13, VP-14, VP-15 and VP-16

VP-23 and VP-24

VP-32, VP-33 and VP-34

VP-43, VP-44 and VP-45

VP-52, VP-53 and VP-54

VP-61, VP-62 and VP-63

VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74

VP-81 and VP-84

VP-91, VP-92 and VP-94

VP-101, VP-102, VP-103, VP-104, VP-105, VP-106, VP-107, VP-108 and VP-109

VP-110, VP-111, VP-112, VP-113, VP-114, VP-115 and VP-116

VP-125, VP-126, VP-127, VP-128 and VP-129

VP-130, VP-131, VP-132, VP-133, VP-134, VP-135, VP-136, VP-137, VP-138 and VP-139

VP-140, VP-141, VP-142, VP-143, VP-144, VP-145, VP-146, VP-147, VP-148 and VP-149


VP-201, VP-202, VP-203, VP-204, VP-205, VP-206, VP-207, VP-208 and VP-209

VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of VP-112..." WebSite: BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC http://www.dunkeswell.btinternet.co.uk/ usndunkeswell/pages/upotteryairfield/historypage1.html [09DEC2000]

UPDATE "...You refer several times to Josef "N." Gardiner. I believe this is incorrect, unless there was a Josef N. Gardiner serving at the same time as Rear Admiral Josef Marshall Gardiner, USN, (Ret.) As such, the name, I believe, should read Josef M. Gardiner. Admiral Gardiner was my neighbor and passed away this past Wednesday at the age of 94. While preparing his obituary I came across your site. Cheers, Howard Swaim hrswaim@hungryrun.com WebSite: http://www.hungryrun.com/..." [30MAR2002]

UPDATEMemorial Picture Rear Admiral Josef Marshall Gardiner, 94; USN, (Ret.) Contributed by Howard Swaim hrswaim@hungryrun.com WebSite: http://www.hungryrun.com/..." [30MAR2002]

Rear Admiral Josef Marshall Gardiner, USN, (Ret.), 94, died on Wednesday, March 27 at his home in Flint Hill, Virginia.

Admiral Gardiner was born in Leavenworth, Kansas on August 25, 1908. He attended the United States Naval Academy and immediately upon his graduation from the Academy in 1931, entered Flight School in Norfolk, Virginia. His first assignment as a naval aviator was aboard the USS New Orleans. Subsequent assignments included duty at Naval Air Forces, Philadelphia; duty on the staff of ComAirLant; assignment as Executive Officer aboard the USS Philippine Sea; duty in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations; and assignment to the Joint Staff. His final naval assignment was as Pilot Commanding Officer aboard the USS Langley. In 1951 the Langley was loaned to the French as part of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. Admiral Gardiner oversaw both the Langley's transfer and the training of her new crew; for his service he received the French Legion of Honor.

In 1955 Admiral Gardiner retired from the Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral. At that time he embarked on a career in the world of business. His professional achievements and positions included: Assistant to the President of Thiokol Chemical Corporation; President of Airtronics, Inc.; President of the Virginia Beef Corporation; President of Chantilly Development Corporation; President of Chantilly Freight Corporation; President of Dulles International Customhouse Brokerage Corporation; and Commander of the Washington Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States.

In 1960 Admiral Gardiner moved to Rappahannock County, Virginia where he resided at High Meadow Farm in Flint Hill and raised beef cattle. While living in Rappahannock County he served as Chairman of the Board of the Rappahannock Zoning Commission and as a member of the Virginia State Aviation Commission.

Admiral Gardiner was regarded as a fine horseman with a passion for fox hunting and bird shooting. He was a member of The New York Yacht Club, Metropolitan Club, Maryland Club, Rappahannock Hunt, Old Dominion Hunt, Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, and Potomac Hunt.

His first marriage to Angela Hilgenberg ended in divorce in 1960. There were three children of that union: Peter L. Gardiner, Elinor S. Gardiner, and Joseph M. Gardiner, Jr. who predeceased the Admiral. His second marriage to Sally Hamilton White added three step-children: James W. White. III, David F. White, and Susan W. Talbot, all of whom survive. In addition, there are five grandchildren. Sally White Gardiner died in 1996.

On May 25, 2000, Admiral Gardiner married Elizabeth Gregory Gephart, a native of Richmond, Virginia and resident of Oklahoma. Her children include John Marshall Gephart, Jr., Elizabeth Warner Gephart (Mrs. Harold J. Hyde, Jr.), Catherine Thayer Gephart (Mrs. Eliot D. Shook), and Thomas Jefferson Gephart.

A memorial service for Admiral Gardiner will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, Virginia at 2 PM on Friday, April 5. A burial service will precede interment at the Annapolis Naval Academy Cemetery on Monday, April 8. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the charity of your choice.


Submitted by K. Ray Marrs (VP-112)
PB4Y-1 Pilot

Written by staff of VPB-112


8 August 1943: Squadron commissioned at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, Lt. Commander Josef N. Gardiner, USN, commander

8 August to Crews organized, pilots checked out in PB4Y-1 aircraft at NAAF Oceana Va. 10 October

2 October First PB4Y-1 assigned to squadron. Nine more arrived 7 October.

10 October Reported for training at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, with Aircraft Anti- Submarine Warfare Development Detachment.

24 October Training concluded at Quonset. Twelve aircraft report to NAS Norfolk and begin fitting for departure.

2 November Preparation and inventory completed. Fourteen PB4Y-1's depart Norfolk for Morrison Field Florida.

5 November Fourteen PB4Y-1's depart Morrison Field for NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. Itinerary the standard Army Transport Command overseas route: Morrison to Borinquen, Puerto Rico; Bourinquen to Waller Field, Trinidad; Trinidad to Belem, Brazil; Belem to Natal; Natal to Dakar; Dakar to destination.

18 November All aircraft except one arrive at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, the exception having landed at Tindouf, in lower Morocco, because of severe oil leak.

25 November First operational hop by this squadron from NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco flown by Lt. D. M. Benson, Crew No. 13. Previous week devoted to stripping aircraft of armor considered superfluous for area. Each crew afforded at least two familiarization flights.

28 November Squadron's first contact with enemy by Lt. G. M. Donahoe. A fully surfaced submarine, at 38-50 N - 09-00 W; lost when pilot climbed for cloud cover on approach.

30 November BuNo. 69931, pilot Lt. R. L. Trum, crashed into sixty feet of water off Faro Portugal, After return from from anti-U-boat patrol. Missing

Ensign Clarence Arthur Miller, 29979
Earl Edgar Sowers, ARM3c, 244 03 11
George Austin Doane, ARM3c 600 69 65
Donald Eugene Peterson, AOM3c, 329 26 96
Frank William Taylor, AMM3c, 203 81 97

BuNo. 63950, Pilot Lt. (Jg) John Meredith Hill, was lost, presumed to have crashed 5 miles northwest of NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, after completion of A/S sweep. Missing:
Lt. (jg) John Meredith Hill, 116946
Ensign Samuel Smith Burdge, 145688
Harry Edward Mackey, AMM2c, 626 14 65
Walter Sylvester Fee, ARM3c, 636 04 98
David Bernard McQuillen, ARM3c, 377 02 23
Walter Wilson Witherell, AMM3c, 600 99 37

10 December Survivors of BuNo. 63931 return to NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco.

6 January Two officers, eighty two men, report for temporary duty, the beginning of this squadron's Patrol Squadron Service Unit (PATSU).

17 February Change of command. Commander Josef N. Gardiner detached, becoming Air Group Commander at NAAF Agadir, French Morocco; Commander A. Y. Parunak becomes commanding officer of VPB-112.

2 March Three crews, totaling nine officers and twenty-one enlisted men detached to Fleet Air Wing Seven, together with one PB4Y-1. This reduces complement to ten planes and fifteen flight crews totaling fifty-nine officers and one hundred and thirty one men.

14 March Submarine sighting: Lt. D. Hill. No attack possible.

24 March Submarine sighting: Lt (jg) J. A. Parrish. No attack possible.

30 March Periscope sighting: Lt. B. F. Rowe. No attack possible.

29 April Squadron begins maintaining detachment of six planes and six combat crews at Gibraltar.

1 May Four more combat air crews transferred to Fleet Air Wing Seven, further reducing complement to forty officers and one hundred twenty men permanently assigned: a total of twelve crews.

23 May: Attack on possible contact at Gibraltar. Lt. Munro straddled the track of a possible periscope with Nos. two and three bombs of a stick of nine depth charges.. No evidence of damage.

( June:) (Lt. Ike Howard, with Ensign W. C. Wheeler, Ensign Carl Mack and crew arrives on base. This crew flew the southern ATC route.)

July: Lt. Commander J. B. Wayne, USN, becomes squadron's Executive Officer.

October: Complement raised to seventy-seven officers and one hundred and seventy men. With receipt of new aircraft during autumn months, five old aircraft and five crews were detached.

(17 October): ( Lt. John E Stevenson, Ensign Karl R. Marrs, Ensign A. R. Larson, L. R. Thurston, AMM1c; G. S. Bradford, ARM3c; S. E. Northup, AMM3c; Raoul O. Ricard, AMM3c; R. L. Packard, AOM2c; J. Haggerty, ARM3c; C. F. Miller ARM3c; R. D. Thomas, ARM3c; arrive on base. Flew PB4Y-1 (38878) 89 Jig southern ATC route.)

9 January: Operational efforts at Lyauety cease as squadron receives orders to move to Fleet Air 1945 Wing Seven.

13 January: First VPB-112 aircraft arrive at Dunkeswell, County Devon, England (My crew was one of three that arrived that night)

20 January: Movement of squadron from Dunkeswell to satellite field at Upottery, Devon, England.

15 February: First operational flown from Upottery by Lt. D. M. Benson and crew 1.

27 February: H-112 Lt. O. B. Denison, exploits an oil slick until the presence of a positive submarine is determined, homes escort vessels to contact which eventually results in a positive kill.

4 April: Commander A. Y. Parunak, USN, detached, Lt. Commander J. B. Wayne, USN, becomes Commanding Officer. Lt. J. C. Buchanan, Jr., USN, becomes Executive Officer.

8 April: Six crews detached. Squadron now has fifteen PB4Y-1 aircraft and eighteen flight crews.

8 May: War in Europe ends.

9 May: U-249 surrenders in 49-12 N-- 06-18 W to Lt. D. P. Housh and Crew 11

10 May: U-825 surrenders in 50-57 N -- 12-00 W to Lt. J. A. Murch and crew 14

11 May: U-516 surrenders in 50-23 N -- 11-08 W to Lt. S. T. Gillmor and crew 5

5 June Squadrons sails from Avenmouth, England on USS Albermarle for Norfolk Va.

14 June Arrive in port at Norfolk, VA.

30 June: Plan complete for regrouping on west coast complete. Thirty day leave for squadron.

27 July: Officers and men began to arrive at ComFair, Seattle in accordance with orders.

13 August: Lt, R. H. Barden, (A1) USNR, 10456 and Monahan, W. N.* ARM1c killed in crash PB4Y-2, BuNo. 59357 near La Conner, Washington.

14 August War with Japan is for all practical purposes over following the dropping of second Atom Bomb.

15 August Squadron was officially reformed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, in accordance with ComfairWestCoast, dispatch of 15 August.

18 August Squadron ordered decommissioned on or about September 1, 1945 by Cominch despatch.

1 September Squadron decommissioned.

VPB-112 was one of the Navy's long-range reconnaissance squadrons whose efforts were devoted to the subduing the German U-boat offensive. The squadron's activities were not very glamorous. Few of its personnel have been decorated, there is little in the way of immediate results to show for its thousands of hours of operational sorties and the vigilance of its trained crews. To the civilian eye, conditioned by a diet of newspaper copy to anticipate a daily record of shot-up enemy planes and enemy shipping destroyed, the long effort of squadrons like VPB-112 will afford few easy thrills. But then there is the compensation for the monotony of the anti-U-boat sorties in the statements of many of the top leaders of the Allied cause that the fight against the U-boat was the primary campaign. The U-boat was the first hurdle. It had first to be defeated, indeed rendered almost harmless, before the large pattern of liberation of Europe could go forward.

VPB-112 was commissioned at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. August 8, 1943. Its commanding officer was Commander (then Lt. Comdr.) Josef F. Gardiner, USN; its executive officer was Commander (then Lt. Comdr.) A. Y. Parunak, USN; its planes were to be four-engine Liberators, designated by the Navy as PB4Y-1. The flight personnel were officers and men of considerable previous experience with the Atlantic Fleet. In the main, they were acquired as complete flight crews from other operational squadrons, the idea being that experienced pilots and crewmen could be checked out to fly Liberators operationally with a minimum of delay. The need for long-range anti-U-boat squadrons was at that time, an acute one, and the squadron was notified early that it must become operational with a minimum of training.

With the exception of Commander Paranuk, none of the pilots had previous experience with the Liberator. In fact, most of them had flown only seaplanes for the previous year and they faced what was then thought to be a difficult transition from the wide margin of error the seaplane pilot enjoyed in landing his craft on a big expanse of water, to the stricter requirements of putting a big plane safely on a narrow runway. The transition was accomplished with little difficulty. After an average of twelve hours of instruction per pilot, at NAAF Oceana, VA., nearly every designated first pilot was flying the Liberator solo and took it on his own from then on.

On 2 October, the squadron received its first PB4Y-1. Within the next five days nine more arrived. The period since commissioning date had been used to construct a squadron organization and to develop and train flight crews. By the time the squadron had acquired its own planes, it was prepared to comply at once with a ComAirLant directive to proceed for training to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, with the Aircraft Anti- Submarine Warfare Development Detachment.

At Quonset, extensive training aids for anti-U-boat squadrons were provided; however, the weather was uncertain and flights were canceled for five days out of the total of sixteen available for training. The pilots worked at low level bombing on towed spars, against which they logged a total of 371 hours and exercised with a tame submarine against which they endeavored to prefect radar approaches, the objective being to approach unseen in cloud cover and arrive at a point from which a simulated attack could be delivered. A total of 107 hours were logged against the tame sub. For both exercises, photographic planes were present to record the drops. The Report of Training of VPB-112, compiled by the AsDevLant training officer, comments that the overall reduction in range and deflection error achieved by the squadron pilots was "very satisfactory."

19 October 1943 an order from ComAirLant was received directing the squadron to prepare to commence movement from NAS Norfolk, Virginia, NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, by 2 November. 24 October training at Quonset concluded, twelve aircraft returned to Norfolk and began fitting for departure. At Norfolk, two more PB4Y's were assigned to the squadron for ferrying. Thus, it was a total of fourteen Liberators which in compliance with the ComAirLant directive, took off from Norfolk on 2 November. They carried virtually the entire squadron flight personnel, a total of sixteen persons per plane.

The route was to be the standard Army Air Transport Command route for large aircraft; the trip was to be made under ATC control: Morrison Field Florida, to Borinquen, Puerto Rico; Borinquen to Trinidad; Trinidad to Belem, Brazil; Belem to jumping off point at Natal; Natal to Dakar; Dakar to destination. Generally, all planes traveled together in a loose formation. For most of the pilots it was the first opportunity to fly the airplane with a heavy load. It was also an opportunity to check the PB4Y's gas consumption, to experiment with engine power-settings, to attempt to obtain optimum engine temperatures. The ferry trip afforded experience which proved invaluable to later operations. For the first time everyone got a pretty clear idea of just what could be done with a PB4Y-1.

The trip was gratifyingly without incident, with one exception. The long flight from Dakar to NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco covered, in part, the western edge of the Sahara desert. It was in this area, between Atar and Tindouf, that the plane piloted by Lt. K. L. Hinton developed an oil leak in the No. 2 engine that eventually resulted in such a loss of oil that the pilot was obliged to feather the propeller. It was a bad area for trouble. Both Atar and Tindouf had emergency fields but both had the barest of maintenance facilities. Lt. Hinton made it to Tindouf after several hours of three-engine operation, landed safely, and this plane was eventually recovered. However, a special crew had to be despatched from NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco to make the engine change. It was two weeks before the pilot and crew rejoined the squadron. In the meanwhile they subsisted on C-rations, sandstorms and the gyrations of itinerant Arab dancers in a block-house of the French Foreign Legion and a setting reminiscent of "Beau Geste."

By 18 November, all planes except Lt Hinton's had arrived at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. The squadron found it was to be based at Craw Field, a well developed airfield with two 6,000 foot runways, located in the valley of the Wadi Sebou, where the river makes a wide turn before emptying into the sea. NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco was perhaps the most complete air installation in French Morocco. Its runways were concrete and 150 feet wide and their length was ample even for a heavily-loaded PB4Y-1. They were well lighted for night operations. The French had erected a large concrete hangar which afforded plenty of space for maintenance. Army engineers had laid down taxi-ways and dispersal hard-stands of steel matting. A traffic control tower was operating, staffed with experienced personnel. For living quarters there were three large concrete barracks which had been erected by the French, and approximately sixteen Quonset huts put by the Army. These were adequate to house only about one third of the total personnel; the rest, in the early stages, slept in tents.

On the debit side, there was the fact that NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco had a high incidence of ground fog, both in the evening and morning hours, particularly in the winter months. Also, while the runways were long, they were surrounded on three sides by hills rising up to 400 feet. It was found impossible to make an operationally- loaded takeoff to the north without the assistance of wind of at least 20 knots. For take-offs to the west, it was necessary to make a turn of about 45 degrees to port almost immediately after becoming airborne, thus following the hills to the west by following the river Sebou to its jetties. Take-offs to the south were possible even with slight winds, but even that direction the hills sometimes made it a narrow squeak. Only to the east were there flat land and no obstructions.

A survey of the operational area revealed quickly the strategic importance of NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco to the overall U-boat problem. The main United Nations effort was at that time devoted to the invasion of Italy. The maintenance of a secure supply line to the Mediterranean was top priority. Seeking to break this supply line, the U-boat had hoped for highly profitable hunting in the seas between the African Coast and the south coast of Spain and Portugal. Here the Atlantic is compressed into a funnel, one which earlier in the war had afforded the U-boat commanders an easy scouting problem. For in the funnel the convoys routes closed together. Instead of a wide sea to maneuver in the convoys were restricted to choosing a narrow variety of routes. Theoretically, it would require only a few U-boats, spaced between Casablanca and Cape St. Vincent to intercept every ship headed for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean. The problem was to keep the U-boats out of the funnel and push them out so they would have to space themselves along a wider and wider arc. That would require them to deploy even more submarines than Germany, with its large production, could put to sea.

The arrival of VPB-112 at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco brought to two the number of Navy Liberator squadrons which were to operate in this area, VPB-111 having arrived two weeks before. The two squadrons were replacing an Army unit, the 472nd Bombardment Group which had covered the funnel and the outer reaches of the approaches since shortly after the invasion of North Africa. The 472nd had had the good fortune to arrive in the area during a time when the U-boats were experimenting with the tactic of remaining surfaced when being attacked by aircraft and thus the Army had enjoyed the best of hunting, acquiring a number of positive kills to its credit. Together with a Navy Catalina squadron operating in the same area, its efforts had succeeded in pushing the U-boats out to the line of an arc approximately 700 miles west of NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco.

This, then was the state of the submarine offensive confronting the Moroccan Sea Frontier and the squadrons under its command. It was obvious that VPB-112 was to be a Very-Long-Range (VLR) squadron and its sorties would reach the U-boat at extreme range from shore.

The week after arrival at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco was devoted to stripping the airplanes of equipment considered unessential for the area. The pilot's and waist gunner's armor plate was removed along with the oxygen gear and the bomb bay tanks. It was felt that the wing tanks alone, with their capacity of 2,700 gallons, it could be possible to carry enough fuel for a twelve hour sortie. Actually it was found that 2,500 gallons was ample and this became the normal operational gas load. The bomb load was fixed at 9 depth charges (250 pound torpexes) to be dropped in a string of six, spaced 60 feet apart, with three kept in reserve for a second attack. They also designated 1,200 rounds of ammunition for the nose turret, 600 for the crown and tail and 600 for each of the waist guns. The total load was 61,000 pounds, including crew, for an operational aircraft.

The week after arrival was also utilized to familiarize crews with the locality. Marrakech, Gibraltar and Casablanca were the main diversion fields and most crews had the opportunity to land at each field before becoming operational.

November 25, a week after arrival, the squadron put out its first of a long series of operational aircraft, a 12 hour mission piloted by Lt. D. M. Benson and crew No. 13.

Three days later came the first contact with the enemy. On the morning of November 28, 1943, about a half hour before sunrise, Lt. G. R. Donahoe, following up a radar blip, broke out of low clouds to sight a fully surfaced submarine at distance of 12 miles. In breaking out 12 miles in front of the submarine, Lt. Donahoe was following the first of two blips on his radar screen; it was afterwards believed that the surfaced submarine was the second of these two blips. Because the range was too great to make it likely that the approach could be made unobservered below cloud, the pilot immediately climbed to cloud cover and continued to approach, holding the target on the radar screen. When he broke out again the submarine had disappeared. The position was marked and after reporting the contact, orbit tactics were instituted, the plane returning periodically to the scene of the contact. However, no further results were obtained.

Two days later VPB-112 lost two aircraft and part of two flight crews. The morning of 30 November the squadron had put out four operational flights. That night, shortly after 18:00, the field closed completely. Heavy ground fog reduced viability to a matter of yards. Not only the field at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco was closed but the alternates at Gibraltar, Casablanca and Rabat as well. The four aircraft were still out.

Because the fog had been anticipated since 12:00 hours, repeated efforts had been made to contact all operational aircraft and notify them to return early. Of the four two had responded and acknowledged. Cutting short their patrols the pilots set a course for Marrakech, the only alternate field open, and by 22:00 they had landed safely. It was found impossible to raise the other two aircraft. They were both operating at a distance and bearing from base that was becoming notorious as a dead-spot for reception of transmissions from NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. Interrogation revealed later that neither plane received any messages throughout the day.

The first of the remaining two planes to be heard from was BuNo. 63950, piloted by Lt. (Jg) J. M. Hill. The first he knew of the fog was when he arrived over the station's flashing beacon and looked down at the field. Told to go to Marrakech his reply was that he was too low on fuel to make it. The distance required at least 80 minutes of flying time and to his knowledge he had about 30 minutes flying time. He was then told to try RasELMa, a small British airstrip located in a valley of the lower Atlas near Meknes, about a half-hour away. After a brief period of flying toward RasELMa, he came back with the information that he had fuel for only a few minutes more. An attempt was made to land him. Flares and very pistol shells were shot off from the end of the runway. The fog was thick but shallow and he was able, he said, to see an occasional shell-burst. But when he attempted an approach and entered the fog-layer, his viability fell to zero and the approach necessarily became a pull-up. Shortly after the pull-up the crew was ordered to commence abandoning ship. While they were still jumping, all four engines cut out and BuNo. 63950, with both pilots still on board, dropped into the sea 5 miles northwest of the jetties of the Wadi Sebou.

There were four survivors and with one exception their jump had taken them into the sea. The fog had extended out past the beach in a manner that made it difficult to for the pilots to know for certain whether he was over land or water. The survivors were those crew members who hit the water near enough to the beach to enable them to swim to it through the heavy surf.

These are the missing, presumed dead:
Lt. (Jg) John Meredith Hill, 116946
Ensign Samuel Smith Burdge, 145688

Harry Edward Mackey, AMM2c, 626 14 65
Walter Sylvester Fee, ARM3c, 636 04 98
David Bernard McQuillen, ARM3c, 377 02 23
Walter Wilson Witherell, AMM3c, 600 93 37
Harry Edward Mackey, the plane captain, was recommended for, and awarded, a Distinguished Flying Cross. It developed that in the confusion and pressure of the emergency, he had calmly and confidently organized the crew for abandoning ship, stationing each man, assisting the less-experienced crew members and being himself the last man to leave the plane.

Of the second plane missing, nothing was heard for several days. Searches were organized on the possibility that it had ditched at sea. Then word was received from the American Embassy in Portugal that BuNo. 63931, piloted by Lt. Richard Leo Trum had crashed in 60 feet of water off Faro, Portugal, and that six survivors were hospitalized in Faro and Lisbon.

The sweep flown by this plane had taken it far to sea, at extreme range and this was the first operational mission for both the pilot, Lt. Trum, and the navigator, Ensign Clarence Arthur Miller. At that time virtually the only available radio navigational aid was MO's, sent out on 414kc. Bearings taken on those signals were not too reliable because of the presence of a Spanish station sending a powerful signal on a channel very close to this frequency. Particular at night was the Spanish station, apparently Seville, likely to give false bearings to a plane attempting to home on NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco.

Lt. Trum was the victim of false bearings obtained through the interference of this Spanish station. While he heard clearly the MO's transmitted by NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco the needle of his radio campus indicated a bearing the following of which brought him to a landfall on the south coast of Portugal. He was unable to pinpoint his position on this unfamiliar coast, along which he searched for nearly an hour for an identifying light. He finally located Faro, but by the time he was able to identify it he decided he had insufficient fuel to make either NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco or Gibraltar. The crew was given the option of either bailing out or sticking with the plane while a landing was attempted on the beach. They elected to stay with the pilot. The crash in the waters of the bay occurred as the aircraft approached the beach, wheels down, full flaps, lined up for a landing. In the haze and darkness the pilot lost track of his altitude.

Upon striking the water the aircraft immediately broke up and sank. One of the breaks occurred directly above the pilots, both of whom, consequently, were able to reach the surface simply by inflating their life jackets and unbuckling their safety belts. Neither radioman was able to escape from the flight deck. The plane captain apparently went out through the same opening that saved the pilots. The navigator, who was braced for the crash in the after station, was instantly killed.

A total of six persons reached the surface. By good fortune one of the wheels had broken off and floated near them and they were able to cluster about this impromptu buoy, remaining together until a few minutes later, they were picked up by a small Portuguese fishing vessel.

These are the missing, presumed dead:

Ensign Clarence Arthur Miller, 299794
Earl Edgar Sowers, ARM3c, 244 03 11
George Austin Doane, ARM3c, 600 69 65
Donald Eugene Peterson, AOM3c, 329 26 96
Frank William Taylor, AMM3c, 203 81 97

From these two crashes the squadron acquired many lessons. If there had been any disposition on the part of any flight crew personnel to take navigation for granted, it was quickly dispelled and that standard that was achieved in the following months, through many hundreds of operational sorties, was sufficiently high to place aircraft consistently within a few minutes of their ETA's. The problem of conserving fuel through the demands of operational flying was the subject of many discussions. It became clear that while 2,500 gallons was sufficient for a twelve hour flight, careful selection of power settings was necessary to achieve maximum economy; it was no longer adequate to simply set up manifold pressure and rpm at a particular setting and remain oblivious to the fuel problem for the rest of the flight.

Good planning required that power be periodically retarded and a constant chosen speed be maintained. Good planning required also that consideration be given to the number of runs on radar targets an aircraft could complete without cutting into fuel reserves for the return trip home. Radar runs required the dropping down out of the clouds onto the target and the subsequent use of high power to climb back to altitude. Good planning required attention to a number of seemingly minor details. For instance, the PB4Y-1's radar spinner, when fully extended, caused the loss of anywhere from three to seven knots speed. It was discovered that the radar covered the required range just as well when the spinner was only half-extended and half extended the spinner caused no appreciable drag. The maintenance of proper balance in cruising was of first- rate importance. A pilot that allowed his crew to cluster in the after-station could expect his aircraft to require higher power settings that one in which balance was checked periodically. Dust or dirt on the wings and hull of the PB4Y-1 could always be expected to cut down speed. Airplanes were watched closely for cleanliness.

The small buffers forward of each waist hatch were a source of drag when extended. Keeping them closed became another item on the long check list , a check list of items which individually were petty but whose sum total had an impressive effect on performance. It became squadron policy that, in view of the high incidence of ground fog along the African coast, and the fact that the nearest available alternate was over 200 miles distance from base, no aircraft should return from an operational mission with less than 500 gallons of fuel. The conscientious adherence to this doctrine is one of the reasons why, since 30 November, this squadron has not lost a plane.

The loss of aircraft did not interfere with operational schedules. The same number of operational aircraft (four a day) were made available to the Wing to use as it chose. Through the winter the flights were mostly at extreme range, to meridians near the Azores or to latitudes above Cape Finisterre.

During this period one of the most sought-after hops was the Percussion flight, as it was styled, which was a sweep in the lower waters of the Bay of Biscay. At this time the standard route for the outgoing U-boats was believed to run south from the French ports: Lorient and St. Nazaire, and around the north Spanish capes, Ortegal and Finisterre. These later were held to be within the Moroccan Sea Frontier and anywhere from two to four flights a day were generally sent out to cover the waters that surrounding them. It was a long trip and the weather around the capes was generally rough. However, only twice did planes from NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco encounter enemy aircraft and in neither instance were the Liberators attacked. The Germans, in JU 88's were apparently on recco missions of their own. On a number of occasions fast-moving radar blips, indicating the presence of strange aircraft, were followed briefly, but whatever aircraft they indicated were rarely seen in the heavy Biscay haze. That there were strange aircraft about was a fact to make welcome the almost daily fare of low concealing clouds generally found in this area.

The prevailing tactic was to send the Liberators to the regions thought to be of high probability, where either HF-DF fixes or previous sightings indicated the presence of submarines. It was believed, in accordance with present doctrine, that the most likely times to catch a surfaced submarine were late evenings or early mornings. Hence, the squadron's planes were dispatched so as to arrive in the area of search in the early morning hours or to be there at last light. If the area of high probability was sufficiently close to shore it was possible to have a plane over it constantly during all daylight hours. The operations maps, during these winter months at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, nearly always indicated the presence of anywhere from a half-dozen to two dozen submarines, usually at a distance of 600 to 800 miles.

Where the system broke down, of course, was at night. Neither Liberator squadron at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco was equipped with the searchlight. It was obvious impractical to cover high-probability areas at night with no illumination equipment better than parachute flares. Hence, during darkness the submarines in the area were free to surface with little fear of attack. If they were close to shore they were within range of the searchlight Wellington's from Gibraltar. At the distance at which they grouped off the African coast they were within range only of Liberators and until VPB-114 arrived there were no night Liberators available. The U-boat commanders had become night-conscious. The period when they boldly remained on the surface to fight off aircraft with flak had ended, because that period had been the period of heaviest losses among the U-boat fleet. The beginning of 1944 marked the beginning of a U-boat strategy of super-caution. The number of daylight sightings dropped off sharply. Of the few sightings that were achieved, in no case had the aircraft the good fortune to be either near enough or in position for an attack. On 14 March, a periscope was sighted by the tail gunner in a plane flown by Lt. D. Hill. This sighting led to a kill by the MAD CATS. From the position of sighting an ETA to MAD patrol area was computed and an extra patrol was assigned on the basis of this forecast two days later within thirty minutes of the ETA the U-boat was detected and destroyed. The periscope was directly below the aircraft ad disappeared before the attack could be launched. Ten days later Lt. (then jg) J. A. Parrish sighted a surfacing submarine, broad on the port beam, at a distance of five miles. This submarine commander sighted the aircraft at about the same time; for he promptly dove before reaching decks awash and by the time the plane arrived over the scene of the sighting had been submerged too long for an effective attack to be delivered. Similarly, on 30 March, the co-pilot of a plane flown by Lt. B. F. Rowe sighted a periscope at a distance of only one half-mile. But this periscope remained visible only 30 seconds and was gone leaving no swirl before the aircraft could arrive in position.

Yet the constant coverage had its effect. Until the last month of this squadron's stay at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, not a single United Nations cargo vessel traversing the area of the Moroccan Sea Frontier, was lost to U-boat attack. The tonnage of shipping convoyed through the funnel is impossible to estimate. During September alone, approximately a million and a half tons went through Gibraltar. The convoys were some of the largest ever assembled frequently numbering over 100 vessels. The good weather of the area made possible almost constant coverage between the Azores and the Straits and there were few convoys that went unprotected by aircraft escort.

The squadron's policy was to maintain a high number of aircraft available for operational missions. The practice was to offer the wing four planes per day but to stand ready to provide any number demanded in the event higher commitments became necessary. Engine and structural checks were so rotated that rarely were more than two aircraft were in check simultaneously.

During the first three-and-one-half months of its service at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, maintenance of the squadron's planes was done by Hedron, under the system then current throughout the navy. In March, VPB-112 acquired its own Aircraft Service Group. The initial complement was two officers and eighty-five enlisted men, later enlarged to present complement of three officers and 151 enlisted men. From this group the squadron was able to organize its maintenance to suit its own desires. The policy was to assign flight crews to a particular plane, which they could regard as their own because only in emergencies would they be required to fly another aircraft on an operational mission. With the acquisition of the Aircraft Service Group it became possible to assign ground crews to a particular plane. Ground crews numbered usually four or five men, who received flight orders if their work was satisfactory. They were rarely required to work on another aircraft other than the one to which they were assigned and with the assistance of the flight crew, they pulled all except the 240-hour checks. The system was calculated to maintain in them a keen interest in their airplane, a proprietary interest that would be reflected caliber of their work. The success of the system is attested to in many ways, not the least marked of which is the fact that in only five instances has an aircraft returned from an operational hop to make a landing on three engines; and never has an operational plane lost an engine on an operational takeoff.

Aircraft engines were able to preform satisfactorily for as high as 800 hours before change. Normally, the life of all engines was 700 hours before they were changed.

By the end of the winter, a number of changes had taken place place in the squadron organization. On 17 February, in accordance with BuPers orders Nos. 140537 and 140237 of February 1944, Commander J. M. Gardiner, USN, was detached, becoming Air Group Commander of the wing at NAAF Agadir, French Morocco and Commander A. Y. Parunak, USN, then Lt. Commander, became commanding officer. Lt. B. F. Rowe, USN, assumed the duties of Executive Officer. In early March, nine officers and twenty-one enlisted men, comprising three flight crews, were transferred for duty with Fleet Air Wing Seven. The squadron complement fell three crews below normal but operational commitments were nevertheless maintained as before. A further drop in complement was sustained two months later when four more crews were transferred to Fleet Air Wing Seven in May. Among the pilots in those crews were Lt. Rowe and Lt. D. M. Benson became acting Executive Officer.

This change came as the squadron began maintaining a detachment at Gibraltar. The U-boat threat in the western approaches to the Straits had become almost nonexistent through the heavy coverage of the winter. In spring, the enemy began a new attempt. Apparently, the HF-DF fixes of late April and May began to plot submarines much closer inshore. Enough fixes and sightings were obtained to indicate a determined attempt to force the Straits in large numbers.

29 April a detachment of six VPB-112 aircraft were dispatched to Gibraltar and the following day began coverage of a small area of the western Mediterranean. Their sweep was close to Gibraltar, so close that the aircraft were on station virtually from the time of take-off. The theory behind this sweep was that it covered the waters in which a U-boat, after creeping submerged through the Straits, would most likely surface. Two aircraft were assigned to remain always over this area, which was scarcely a hundred miles in circumference. Meanwhile, a heavy concentration of surface vessels patrolled the Straits and their eastern and western approaches.

The coverage was productive of one possible sighting. On 23 May, Lt. W. S. Munro sighted what appeared to be a periscope, at 35-53- N -- 05-08- W, and immediately attacked, releasing nine depth charges, of which Nos. two and three bombs were observed to straddle the target's track. No evidence of damage was observed, not even chunks of whale blubber.

The sweeps continued until early June, when the drop-off in fixes and visual sightings, as well as contacts by surface forces, indicated that the attempt to run the Straits had been abandon as a bad job. That the attempt had been a complete failure was proved by the conclusive evidence that no Allied position in Italy was ever endangered by a serious U-boat threat to its supply lines. In July, the squadron acquired two new crews, one of which the pilot was Lt. Commander J. B. Wayne, USN, who became Executive Officer.

The summer months were the quietest, operationally, in the history of the squadron. This was the period during which the U-boats are now supposed to have holed up in their pens in the Baltic and along the French coast, for refitting with the devise which were their subsequent ace in the hole. The quiet weeks were utilized as an opportunity for intensive training. With the cooperation of British surface units, there were daily bombing practice sessions against towed targets and tame submarines from Gibraltar. So quiet was the area operationally that the bulk of the squadron personnel confidently expected to be ordered somewhere where there was more activity.

In July the order came. Within six hours all VPB-112 personnel were out of Gibraltar and all planes back at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. Told to be ready to move to parts unknown within 48 hours, ground crews and flight crews voluntarily threw away the daily working schedule. Engine changes on two aircraft were begun and completed in less than a day. Checks were pushed through in less than a third of the normal time. Planes and personnel were ready to go in less than 24 hours. A specific time was set for departure. Four hours before the time of take-off the orders were canceled. It developed that VPB-111 was the squadron to leave NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco for greener fields. Commander Parunak obtained 100 cases of American beer and a hundred pounds of hot dogs and all hands adjourned to the beach.

The remaining months at Lyauety are a record of efforts to meet a gradually emerging second U-boat offensive. During August and September, constant coverages was flown for all convoys, even though only occasionally was a U-boat plotted in the area. However, in October, the curve representing the HF-DF's and the sighting began to rise again. Earlier, word had begun to circulate that the U-boat had fitted themselves with a new devise, the schnorkel, an air-intake and exhaust pipe with the aid of which they were able to cruse below the surface on Diesel power. The squadron had frequently dispatched planes to Gibraltar, where a tame submarine, fitted with a dummy schnorkel, was available for dummy runs against it. An effort had been made to determine just how far radar was effective against this new weapon. The conclusion reached was that visual search must once more become of first importance.

The number of operational planes demanded by the Wing from VPB-112 increased steadily. It was a demand, which, on paper, the squadron was ill-prepared to meet. In accordance with the plan for rotation of flight personnel set forth by ComAirLant the previous winter, five flight crews had been returned to the States for reassignment, as new crews arrived. But new crews had not arrived to the extent expected. For a long period the squadron had only twelve flight crews, six under the normal complement for a twelve plane squadron, with which to meet the Wing's requests for operational missions. However, if four or five flights a day were requested, four of five flights were provided. Pilots and crews logged plenty of hours during November and December.

The threat of the schnorkel-fitted submarine was becoming increasingly serious. Particularly around Britton were large concentrations of them believed to be operating while the seas between Cape Finisterre and the Canaries and between the Azores and the African shore, the area of the Moroccan Sea Frontier, were know to contain submarines, the largest concentrations plotted were in the Irish Sea and the English Channel. It was decided to move all Navy Liberator squadrons to England, in accordance with the prevailing strategy that the schnorkel could be sighted visually if sufficient large numbers of aircraft were available to cover intensively the area of probability and on 9 January, after 14 months of operational missions, the operational effort of VPB-112 ceased at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco to permit preparations for movement of the squadron to Fleet Air Wing Seven.

The main installation of the Wing was the airfield at Dunkeswell, located about 20 miles inland from Exeter in County Devon. This Naval Air Facility had acquired also a satellite field at Upottery, five miles north of Dunkeswell. It was at Upottery that VPB-112 and VPB-107, the latter being brought up a little later from Natal in Fleet Air Wing 16, became based. Like Dunkeswell, the Upottery Field had one 6,000 foot runway, headed 270-090 degrees into the prevailing wind, and two short runways of 4,200 feet which were use only when winds reached 15 knots or above. Living quarters were Quonset huts, and, in the initial stages were in indifferent condition due to the fact that they had been left unoccupied since June of the previous year. These were quickly made shipshape by a detachment of Seabees, who built roads and walks and secured for Upottery the blessing of American plumbing.

The first VPB-112 planes arrived at Dunkeswell 13 January, the rest arriving within a few days. A period of heavy snowfall followed which made it impossible to conduct flight operations for over a week. 20 January, the weather lifted sufficiently to move the squadron's planes to Upottery. 21 January to 30 January VPB-112 was officially in a training status. The training consisted of flights by each crew to the principal diversion fields used by the Wing, and brief periods of familiarization with the British procedure for conducting controlled let-down through clouds. Each crew was given one night familiarization flight before becoming operational.

Operations were much the same as during the latter days at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. The problem was the same, to search for an object not more the two feet in diameter, extending perhaps two feet above the surface of the ocean upon which the object might or might not create a visible wake. The flights differed from the usual operational at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco in that the time spent "on station" was, as a rule, longer. At NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, in the majority of flights, the bulk of the flight was spent going to and from the objective. In England, the objective, which was an area perhaps 100 miles in circumference, was rarely more that an hour from base. Consequently, the time spent on station was most of the time of flight. While this fact perhaps made for a lessening of tension which crews might experience when they were great distance from shore, it added infinitely to the boredom which nearly everyone who has been engaged in anti-U-boat warfare will agree is the great enemy of flight crews. Nine hours of cursing monotonously at a thousand feet above the same narrow expanse of uninteresting water is capable of producing a degree of boredom so intense that it resembles a hypnotic trance. The mind becomes like a stagnant pool whose surface is so thick with moss that records only the most violent of impressions. After nine hours of staring at the same area it becomes a question whether a lookout's faculties would register a submarine if it rose up at a distance of a mile on a day of unlimited viability.

This fact makes all the more remarkable the success of a crew whose efforts, shortly after the squadron's arrival at Upottery, developed a brief sighting into a positive kill.

On 27 February, H-112, piloted by Lt. O. B. Denison, began searching an area of the English channel between Start Point and Lizard Head. The aircraft was airborne at 09:39. Within forty -five minutes it arrived on station and the crew began the long routine of reporting to the pilot all radar blips, all wakes and objects on the surface, all aircraft in the vicinity, all oil slicks. The region was one in which since the beginning of the war, a considerable tonnage of shipping had been sunk. Oil slicks were, and still are, common. Late in the afternoon, at 17:30, a slick was sited which, after routine observation, seemed to have a different character.

The pilot notified Base that he was over a suspicious object. At 17:58 he observed an apparent increase in the speed of the slick, which by 18:05 began to show a slow clockwise movement.

Since it seemed fairly clear by now that a submarine was probably creating the slick, the problem became one of devising some action to destroy it. The airplanes of the squadron were not equipped with the special gear, with which other aircraft of the Wing would have been able to accomplish a prompt and positive sinking. They carried only a load of standard depth charges.

Fortunately, there was convoy with a formidable battery of escort vessels close at hand. The escorts were notified by blinker from the aircraft, "Moving oil slick 20 miles astern of you." A frequency for voice communication was specified. When the aircraft returned to the slick, the crew was able to ascertain that what ever was producing the oil had turned counter-clockwise to a point 180 degrees from the original heading. Another of a long series of dye markers was dropped an estimated 110 feet ahead of the slick, which moved up to the dye marker and passed it in an estimated period of two minutes. At this time, over an hour from when the crew first began exploiting the contact, the Base was notified, "Positive contact." A run was made up the up the trail of oil. At a point about 200 feet from the leading edge a periscope, or similar object, was seen to rise abruptly perhaps four feet out of the water, remaining visible for an estimated eight seconds. The object had disappeared and the aircraft was past the point of submergence before a drop could be made. Immediate homing of escort vessels was commenced and although the the vessels soon arrived on station, it became a problem to lead them directly over the slick in view of the fact that it was almost dark. Marine markers, which burn with a flickering flame were dropped. The aircraft made a run up the line of the slick using landing lights as a marker. The escorts were constantly advised of their distance and bearing from the slick as seen by the aircraft.

Nearly four hours after the original sighting, Lt Denison was ordered to return to base and complied without knowing at the time the results of the crew's persistence. But the end result was that the U-boat was positively destroyed. The escort vessels homed onto the scene and notified of the sighting were able to obtain sonar contacts that made possible accurate depth charge attacks, which ultimately produced the gratifying and unmistakable wreckage and debris of a sunken U-boat. Messages of congratulations and commendation for H-112 , and for the squadron, were promptly received from Air Officer Commanding, 19 Group, and from Commander Fleet Air Wing Seven.

In the ensuing weeks the character of the missions changed but very little. The squadron had hoped that its luck had changed and that the U-boats were at last to be found in the areas of search and patrol. Approximately 212 missions and 2,158 hours of operational flying were willingly piled on top of 263 training flights representing 588 hours. But it was not to be - March alone saw a total of 203 flights and 1,253.2 hours of flying time ......and no sightings.

During the month new weapons were acquired to meet new devices of the enemy. New crews arrived to be assimilated and trained; old crews prepared for rehabilitation. The personnel of the squadron was to undergo another sweeping change that would remove the last of the crews that had been with it on commissioning day. And on 4 April, 1945, after 20 months of service with Patrol Bombing Squadron One Hundred Twelve, Commander A. Y. Parunak, USN, was detached, and the Squadron's Executive Officer, Lt Commander J. B. Wayne, USN, assumed command and Lt. J. C. Buchanan, Jr. ,USN became executive officer.

In no sense did the coming of new crews and the change in Command slow the pace of the squadron - rather - the contrary was the case. The squadron continued to put out four operational missions a day, and more when ask, and to maintain a operational standby plane. Ground and flight training were reorganized and intensified. More officers than ever directly participated in the execution, planning and direction of efforts to raise squadron efficiency to a still higher peak. The month of April saw VPB-112 without contact with the enemy but with new personnel, new weapons, new skill and the same old determination to seek him out and destroy him.

May 1945 was a month that will go down in history and in VPB-112 history as well. In the early days of the month the Nazi regime came crashing down to complete and ignominious surrender and VPB-112 got its first good look at the quarry it had hunted so assiduously, so long. On May 9, the U-249, with the black flag of surrender, saw a VPB-112 plane circling overhead with bombing panel ready and guns manned (perhaps hopefully so) for the first signs of noncompliance of treachery. On May 10 the U-825 had a similar experience and on May 11, U-516 surrendered.

The squadron celebrated the downfall of Nazi Germany without pause in the operational and training endeavors. It is doubtful if any of its personnel had any doubts that, with one opponent on the deck beyond possibility of further harm, it was now time to work even harder that there might be a swift and crushing end to the other. Men talked little of "the end of the war," but rather of Leave at Home and then Pacific waters beyond. VPB-112 asked of its fortune simply that in western waters it might be at long last be able to attack the enemy where the results would be plain for all to see.

From Ve-day onward the squadron continued to put out search and patrol missions whenever requested. Training flights and ground training were continued, emphasis being shifted to phases applicable to Pacific operations in addition to the regular routine. Late in May the movement order for the return to the States was received. On June 5, 1945 the squadron made its way across western England to the Port City of Avonmouth, England and sailed through Bristol Channel on board the Seaplane Tender U.S.S. ALBEMARLE, arriving at Norfolk, Va. on 14 June. The next eight days were spent in screening personnel and making the necessary preparations for reforming on the west coast. At this time some officers and men with sufficient sea duty to entitle them to shore duty were transferred accordingly; many others in a similar category preferred to remain with the squadron and received orders accordingly. On 22 June, 1945 all squadron personnel were detached and given thirty days leave with orders to report to ComFair Seattle, Washington at the expiration of this leave.

From 27 July until 14 August VPB-112 trained at Ault Field, NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. Officers and men reporting to ComFair Seattle and proceeding to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington as a fast as they arrived according to orders. During this period the personnel were attached to Headquarters Squadron, Fleet Air Wing Six, for temporary duty. All Ground and Flight Training was for the PB4Y-2 with which the squadron expected to be equipped for duty in the North Pacific.

It was during this period that VPB-112 sustained its first casualties in flight since 30 November, 1943. On 13 August, 1945 PB4Y-2, BuNo. 59357, of HEDRON SIX, crashed and burned near La Conner, Washington, at 15:56. The pilot was Lt. Robert H. Barden, (A1)L, USNR, #104561. The crash was the result of elevator failure. Fourteen (14) officers and men bailed out before the crash. Of these, MONAHAN, W, N.,* ARM1c, # 708 87 51 was killed when his parachute fail to open. A Flight Surgeon, a passenger not attached to VPB-112, made no attempt to jump. Lt. Barden remained with the aircraft attempting to land it. Both officers were killed in the crash.

On 15 August, 1945 a confidential dispatch from ComFairWestCoast ordered VPB-112 reformed. Lt. Commander J. B. Wayne, USN, was Commanding Officer: Lt. Commander J. G. Buchanan, Jr being Executive Officer. Training continued on the same intensive scale, flight training continued to be hampered by weather and the lack of sufficient PB4Y-2's available for training purposes. On 18, August, 1945, a confidential dispatch ordered VPB-112, among other squadrons, decommissioned on or about 1 September, 1945. Training activities continued throughout the month of August, but with the decommissioning on 1 September, 1945 VPB-112 closed its career as a patrol bombing squadron.

The avowed purpose of the United States Navy is to seek out the enemy and destroy him. VPB-112 maintained that tradition through nearly two years, and 15,000 of combat flying. If it was rarely the good fortune of the squadron to have the enemy show himself, none the less the search was skilled and unremitting. VPB- 112 set an outstanding record for aircraft availability and unsurpassed willingness to fly combat missions without hesitation under any and all conditions whenever needed. No personnel was lost in combat but those pilots and combat air crewmen in the planes lost to operational hazards demonstrated, without exception, conduct in keeping with the highest tradition of the Naval Service. From its commissioning day , 8 August, 1943, to the close of its career on 1 September 1945, VPB-112 served the Navy well.

K. Ray Marrs

Circa 1942-1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of FAW-5 - History of Headquarters Squadron Fleet Air Wing Five - 01SEP42 through 01JAN45. Squadron's Assigned: VP-15, VP-16, VP-17, VP-18, VP-21, VP-22, VP-25, VP-26, VP-27, VP-28, VP-31, VP-52, VP-63, VP-81, VP-92, VP-94, VPB-105, VPB-107, VPB-110, VPB-111, VPB-112, VPB-113, VPB-114, VPB-126, VPB-134, VPB-147, VPB-149, VP-201, VP-205, VP-208, VP-209, VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216 - Submitted Feburary 1, 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [27NOV2012]

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