Station A-71
Latitude: 49° 45' 27" North
Longtitude: 3° 12' 36" East
Elivation: 91 meters



    The Clastres aerodrome was located on the northern edge of the village of Clastres, about __ miles south-southeast of the city of Saint-Quentin, France.
  • 1937  Initial Construction

  •     The original Clastres aérodrome was built by the French Army in 1937. It covered an area of about 100 hectares and had two grass runways.
  • Aug 1939 - May 1940   Armée de l'Air Française
    • Groupe de Reconnaissance I/14 (G.R. I/14), Armée de l'Air Française; Commandant: Fayet; Aircraft: 8 Potez 63.11 (7 of which were operational on 10 May); attached to army cooperation duties with F.A. 101 [1re Armée]
  • 1940 - 1944  Luftwaffe

  •     The Luftwaffe took over the Clastres aerodrome in 1940. In 1942 it began to greatly expand the facility, eventually building three 2500 meter runways, 42 hangars and, in the village of Clastres, barracks. Construction continued into 1944.
    • Map of the Clastres aerodrome as built out by the Luftwaffe.

    •     The placement on the map of the runways and other facilities is only approximate.
    •   7 Jun 1940 - 11 Jun 1940
      • I. Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27 (Luftflotte 3, VIII. Fliegerkorps); Gruppenkommandeur: Hauptmann Helmut Riegel; Aircraft: Messerschmitt Bf 109E

      • I. / JG 27
      • II. Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27 (Luftflotte 3, VIII. Fliegerkorps); Gruppenkommandeur: Hauptmann Walter Andres; Aircraft: Messerschmitt Bf109E

      • subunit of II. / JG 27
    •     Feb 1944 -    6 Jun 1944
      • III. Gruppe / Schlachtgeschwader 4; Gruppenkommandeur: Maj. Gerhard Weyert; Aircraft: Fw 190F/G
    • 6 Jun 1944 - 28 Aug 1944
      • Stab / Jagdgeschwader 1 (Luftflotte 3 (Paris),  II. Jagdkorps (Chantilly), 4. Jagddivision (Metz), Jagdführer (JaFü) 4 (St. Pol-Brias)); Geschwaderkommodor: Oberleutnant Herbert Ihlefeld; Aircraft: Messerschmitt Bf109G, Focke-Wulf Fw 190A (on June 26 Stab/JG 1 had 3 Fw 190s)

      • JG 1
      • I. Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 3 (Luftflotte 3 (Paris),  II. Jagdkorps (Chantilly), 4. Jagddivision (Metz), Jagdführer (JaFü) 4 (St. Pol-Brias)); Gruppenkommandeur: ; Aircraft: Messerschmitt Bf 109 (on June 26 I./JG 3 had 14 Bf 109s)

      • JG 3 I. /JG 3
    • July 1944 - Sep 1944
      • I.  Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 5;  Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Theo Weissenberger.

      • JG 5 I. / JG 5
    • 8 Aug 1944  8th Air Force Mission 530

    •         414 B-24s and 265 fighters are dispatched to attack airfields and V-weapon sites in France; 115 hit V-weapons sites in the Pas de Calais; 91 hit Clastres Airfield, 53 hit Romilly air depot, 50 hit La Perthe Airfield, 12 hit Laon/Athies Airfield, 14 hit railroad bridges, 13 hit targets of opportunity and 11 hit Bretigny Airfield; 1 B-24 is lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 139 are damaged; 11 airmen are KIA, 9 WIA and 9 MIA. Escort is provided by 265 P-47s and P-51s; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA). The 91 B-24s attacking Clastres included aircraft from the 445th, 458th, 466th and 467th Bombardment Groups.
              STRIKE PHOTO - August 8, 1944 - Clastres Aerodrome, France. Clastres was the target for the 100th mission of the 466th Bombardment Group;  This photograph shows what appears to be a nice concentration of hits along the main runway. Over 124,000 lbs. of bombs were dropped on target. (USAAF)

      Donald R. Shannon (Top turret gunner, B-24 "Howling Banshee," 753rd Bombardment Squadron, 458th Bombardment Group), Combat Diary.

                Aug. 8 - M13 Target today was an airfield near St. Quintenn in France. It was a fairly easy mission with only a moderate amount of flak. We hit the target well.
    • 25 Aug 1944  Strike by the 367th Fighter Group

    •         During and immediately after the Normandy invasion Allied forces had effectively surpressed most Luftwaffe activity. By August, however, there began to be a resurgence. As part of an effort to suppress it the three squadrons of the 367th Fighter Group, flying P-38 Lightnings, were ordered to simultaneously attack three separate airfields in the Laon area on August 22. The 392nd Squadron, led by Major Rogers, dive-bombed and destroyed two hangers on one airfield but were jumped by 12 FW 190s as it completed its attack. Maj. Rogers called the other squadrons for help. The 393rd was jumped by 18 ME 109s and FW 190s as they reformed from their dive bomb run. Lt. Buchanan shot down one but two Germans cornered Lt. Awtrey and shot off his canopy. Even without a canopy, Awtrey outmaneuvered the two and riddled one of them. Lt. Stanley Johnson called to report that his aircraft had been shot to pieces and he was bailing out; his parachute was seen to open but he was never heard of again. After bombing its target, the 394th Squadron, led by Lt. Pieper, turned to help the 392nd. His flight bounced four Germans but in turn was attacked by three others. One of the FW 190s shot out one of Lt. Pieper's engines but was destroyed in turn by Pieper's wingman, Lt. Lee. The fight continued with the 394th shooting down six additional aircraft including one destroyed by Lt. Pieper flying with one engine feathered. In the mean time, the 392nd had taken care of itself, destroying five enemy aircraft without a loss. Victories were by Lieutenants Hartwig, Kines, O'Donnel, Diefendorf and Markley. Altogether the Group had destroyed 14 enemy aircraft for a loss of one.
              On August 25, 1944, the 367th Fighter Group, flying P-38 Lightnings, was sent back to the area for another simultaneous bombing of three airfields, this time at Peronne, Rosieres-en-Santerre and Clastres. The dive bombing attacks ignited one of the greatest fighter versus fighter air battles in U.S. history. It was unique in that most of the action took place in a relatively small area and from 3,000 feet to ground level. There are still witnesses to this dramatic event who refer to it as the "The day the sky over I'Aisne was on fire." (See Chapter 12 of "Quand le Ciel de I'Aisne Etait en Feu" by Jean Hallade.)
              The attack at Clastres was carried out by the 394th Squadron with 12 aircraft under the command of Major Grover J. Gardner. A German participant recalls that about forty patrolling Focke Wulf 190s of Gruppe II/Jagdgeschwader 6 spotted the 12 aircraft of the 394th and fell on them out of the sun, downing many in the surprise rush. The American version is that Major Gardner radioed the other two squadrons with the location of an estimated thirty Focke Wulf 190s that had just taken off and then, leaving Captain Charles F. Matheson's flight to fly cover, lead his flight into the initial attack in which four FW 190s fell simultaneously; Maj. Gardner and the other three members of his flight were then quickly surrounded and shot down. At that point the cover flight arrived and a melee ensued: Captain Matheson shot down two FW 190s, Lt. Ross P. Lezie damaged one and destroyed another, Lt. Sydney S. Platt shot down one and Lt. Raymond S. Tremblay hit the wing root and cockpit of one. After driving three 190s from the tail of a P-38, Lt. William H. Lemley had his right engine shot out, but was able to escape at tree top level. Lieutenants Cyril Broniee and Edward W. Conney were shot down and killed in action.
              On hearing the 394th's calls for help, the twenty-one aircraft of 392nd and 393rd Squadrons had abandoned their attacks the other two airfields to join the fight. With their arrival, II/JG 6 was overwhelmed. Major Joseph H. Griffin lead the 392nd in an attacked from out of the sun and shot down one FW 190 and damaged another;  Lieutenants Clark R. Livingston and Sam Plotecia shot down one and damaged one, respectively. Captain Laurence E. "Scrappy" Blumer lead the 393rd and with Lt. William E. Awtrey on his wing destroyed five enemy aircraft withing a fifteen minute period, making him the "Fastest Ace in a Day." Lt. Stanley E. Pacek flying his third combat mission shot down two and Lieutenants Joseph A. Dobrowolski and Melvin D. Jones destroyed one each.
              The 367th Fighter Group reported 7 P-38 destroyed (against II/JG 6 claims of 11 destroyed); II/JG 6 reported 17 FW190s destroyed, 2 damaged (against 367th claims of 13 confirmed destroyed, 8 unconfirmed destroyed, 1 probable destroyed, 6 damaged).
              For its achievements on August 25th, the 367th Fighter Group received the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest possible award for a unit in combat.

      Known participants in the battle
              Battle claims are given as (destroyed [underlined if confirmed] - probable destroyed - damaged)
      U.S. Army Air Corps 367th Fighter Group
      392nd Squadron 393rd Squadron 394th Squadron
      1Lt Donald E. Eberhardt
      1 Lt. William E. Awtrey 2Lt Cyril Brownley
      Maj. Joseph H. Griffin
      Capt. Laurence E. Blumer
      2Lt. Edward W. Cooney
      2Lt. Walter A. Kines
      1Lt. Joseph A. Dobrowolski
      2Lt. Robert L. Dawn
      (1-0-0) (missing)
      2Lt Clark R. Livingston
      2Lt. Owen R. Johnson Maj. Grover J. Gardner
      (1-0-0) (bailed out)
      2Lt. Sam Plotecia
      2Lt. Melvin D. Jones
      2Lt. Wilson L. Harrell
      (1-0-0) (missing)
      Maj. Carroll H. Joy
      2Lt. James C. Johnston
      (1-0-0) (missing)
      2Lt. Stanley E. Pacek 2 Lt. William H. Lemley
      1Lt. Ross P. Lezie
      Capt. Charles F. Matheson
      1Lt. Sydney S. Platt [GP HQ]
      1Lt. Raymond S. Tremblay
      Luftwaffe Gruppe II / Jagdgeschwader 6
      Hptm. Willi Elstermann
      Lt. Helmut Göring
      5. Staffel 6. Staffel 7. Staffel 8. Staffel
      Uffz. Karl Achenbach
      Uffz. Otto Güttler
      Fw. Fritz Buchholz Lt. Viktor Bahrdt
      Lt. Karl Grabmair
      (bailed out; unhurt)
      Uffz. Ludwig Holzer
      Fj.Fw. Eduard Callsen
      (severely wounded; died 2/9/44)
      Fw. Rudi Dassow
      ((Staffelkapitän, missing)
      Fw. Hans Kessels
      Oblt. Bernhard Paffrath
      (bailed out)
      Uffz. Leonhard Englhauser Fw. Franz Eineder
      Ufz. Walter Kicherer
      Uffz. Herman Richter
      Uffz. Helmut Findeisen
      Lt. Ludwig Neumark
      Ofw. Heinrich Knopf
      Uffz. Walter Roh
      Oblt. Kurt-Heinz Friedemann
      Ofw. Nierhaus
      Fw. Hermann Kodat
      Lt. Hans Schwarz
      Oblt. Paffrath
      (Staffelkapitän, wounded)
      Fw. Joachim Pieper
      Ofw. Ludwig Menges
      Lt. Hans-Joachim Strehle
      Fw. Johan Rascher
      Ofw. Heinz Schneider
      Fw. Karl Seumenicht
      Uffz. Walter Strasser

      Mission report for 394th Squadron, 367th Fighter Group (fields with questionmarks were illegible on my copy)

                   ?????                       ?                         8/25/44
        Opflash No.______________      Site No._______________       Date__________________
                                               CLASTRES AF               St Quentin Area
        A.  O.C..................      Target.................       Area..................
                      367              Maj Gardner 394                 12 P 38's
        B.  Group No.........  Sqdn. No..........  No. A/C Dispatched........   Abortives. Nil

            Reason for abortives:

            Weather ..........   Personnel...........   Mechanical..........   Other.......
                   1148                                   1245                  1414
        C.  Time Up..................  Time Over Target.............   Time Down...........
                               5                      1 bailed out              1 ??????
        D.  Our A/C Missing....5.........   Destroyed...............   Damaged ............
                              4  (8)                    2                       1
            Enemy Destroyed..............   Probable................   Damaged.............
                               0                    1 bailed out                  5
            Personnel Killed.............   Wounded.................   Missing.............

        E.  RESULTS:
                                               ?????????????          ?????           ???
            Bombs Loaded & Fusing:  No. & Type.?................ Nose.......  Tail ........
                                  ??                      0                       0
            Bombs In Target Area............. Jettisoned...............  Returned..........
                       ????              ????            ??
            Dive From.........  Release.........  Angle......  A/C Escort (No. & Type).

                 Dropped all bombs at Clastres AF N 7638. Nothing seen on field. No results
                 observed.  Field previously bombed.

        F.  Enemy Reaction (1) Over Target.................................................


                           (2) Elsewhere...................................................

            FLAK:          (1) Over Target.................................................

                           (2) Elsewhere...................................................


                    Canal filled with barges from Neyon to Guise observe from alt of 3,000 ft.

                    Major Gardner bailed out at 1,500 ft. at 1300 o'clock in vicinity of
                    St ?????????? of St quentin.

                       Lt. James C. Johnstone
                       Lt. Robert L. Dawn
                       Lt. Wilson L. Harrell
                       Lt. Cyril Bownly (????)
                       Lt. Edward W. Cooney
                       Maj. Grover J. Gardner

        H.  WEATHER:  (1) Over Target......................................................
                      (2) .................................................................

      Mission accounts
      • Maurer, Maurer, Air Force Combat Units of World War II (1986).

      •     367th Fighter Group ... Received a DUC for a mission in France on 25 Aug: after attacking landing grounds at Clastres, Peronne, and Rosieres through an intense antiaircraft barrage, the group engaged a number of enemy planes and then, despite a low fuel supply, strafed a train and convoy after leaving the scene of battle; later the same day the 367th flew a fighter sweep of more than 800 miles, hitting landing grounds at Cognac, Bourges, and Dijon.
      • Edwin S. Chickering (Group Commander - November 1944 - September 1945), A Tribute to the 367th Fighter Group (Memorial Service, Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio, July 30, 1988).

      •     Returning to the Laon area on August 25th, the 367th Group simultaneously attacked three Luftwaffe airfields at Clastres, Perone and Rossiers. The dive bombing attacks ignited one of the greatest fighter versus fighter air battles in U.S. history. It was unique in that most of the action took place in a relatively small area and from 3,000 feet to ground level. There are still witnesses to this dramatic event who refer to it as the "The day the sky over I'Aisne was on fire." (See Chapter 12 of "Quand le Ciel de I'Aisne Etait en Feu" by Jean Hallade.) The fight started when Major Gardner, leading the 394th Squadron, radioed the other two squadrons the location of 30 FW 190s that had just taken off. He led his flight on the initial attack and four FW 190s fell simultaneously. Before the cover flight could reach them, Major Gardner and the other three members of his flight were surrounded and shot down. Captain Matheson leading the cover flight shot down two, Lt Lezie damaged one and destroyed another. Lt Platt shot down another while Lt Tremblay hit the wing root and  cockpit of another FW 190. After driving three 190s from the tail of a P-38, Lt Lemley had his right engine shot out, but was able to escape at tree top level. Lieutenants Brownley and Cooney were shot down and killed in action. With the 392nd and 393rd Squadrons joining the fight the odds were more even. Major Griffin leading the 392nd attacked from out of the sun and shot down one FW 190 and damaged another as did Lieutenants Livingston and Plotecia. Captain Blumer leading the 393rd and with Lt Awtrey on his wing destroyed five enemy aircraft becoming an ace on one mission. Lt Pacek flying his third combat mission shot down two and Lieutenants Dobrowolski and Melvin Jones destroyed one each. Of the 50 enemy aircraft engaged, 25 were destroyed, one probably destroyed and 17 damaged. The 367th lost two pilots KIA. Four others bailed out over enemy held France.
      • Fritz Buchholz, "No Place for a Beginner," Alfred Price, Ed., Focke Wulf 190 at War, pp. 91-97.

      •    I held the rank of Feldwebel, when I joined my first operational flying unit at the end of 1943: the II Gruppe of Zerstoerergeschwader 26. Flying the twin-engined Messerschmitt 410 heavy fighter, we operated against the American heavy bomber formations over eastern Germany and during the late spring I shot down two Liberators using my 5cm cannon. As the enemy escort fighters began to range deeper and deeper over our homeland, however, our Gruppe and others similarly equipped began to suffer severe losses while our success rate against the bombers declined.
            It soon became clear that under such conditions there was little future for the Me410 as a bomber destroyer and, in July 1944, we received orders to convert on to the Focke Wulf 190; for the conversion we remained at our airfield at Koenigsberg/Oder. As the new aircraft arrived our Gruppe was redesignated as the II. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 6 and we were told that we were to operate in an entirely new role: that of air superiority fighter and ground attack. For the latter the aircraft were fitted with launchers for 21cm rockets, in addition to the normal armament of four 20mm cannon and two 13mm machine guns.
            On 3 August 1944 I made my first flight in the FW190. I found the aircraft pleasant to fly, though after the excellent ground visibility of the Me410 the massive motor cowling of the Focke Wulf was disconcertingly restrictive. Flying against the heavy bombers in the Me410 had been rather like driving one truck against another; fighter-versus-fighter combat in a FW190 was something quite different. This might not have been so bad, had there been sufficient time for us to assimilate our new role. But this was not the case. The battle around the allied bridgeheads in Normandy was entering its most critical phase and we were to go into action as soon as possible. On 18 August, just over two weeks later and with 10 hours, 54 minutes flying time in the FW190, I received orders to depart with the Gruppe for France on the following day.
            Flying in easy stages, we took four days to move ourselves and our forty-odd brand-new FW190A-8s from Koenigsberg to our forward operational base at Herpy near Reims. At that time the Allied air superiority was such that the permanent Luftwaffe bases in France were all being bombed regularly. So the operational units were forced to move out and use improvised airstrips in the surrounding countryside; the move had been planned before the invasion, and the fields surveyed and stocked with the necessary fuel and ammunition. Our airstrip at Herpy as nothing more than a piece of flat cow pasture surrounded by trees in which our aircraft could be hidden; nearby was our tented accommodation. The Allied fighter-bombers seemed to be everywhere and our survival depended on the strictest attention to camouflage. As part of this we even had a herd of cows which were moved on to the field when no flying was in progress. As well as giving the place a rustic look, these performed the valuable task of obliterating the tracks made on the grass by the aircraft. Such attention to detail paid off and there were no attacks on Herpy while I was there.
        Below left: The hard-fought battle at mid-day on 25 August 1944 was between II./JG 6 and the US 367th Fighter Group. The American Group's three squadrons, the 392nd, 393rd and 394th Squadrons, flew the P-38 Lightning. The 94th Squadron's 12 Lightnings had been attacking the airfield at Clastres when II./JG6 engaged it. The 21 Lightnings of the other two Squadrons, answering the call for help from the 394th, abandoned their attacks on airfields in the area and went to their comrades' assistance. During the battle that followed the American pilots claimed 20 FW190s destroyed; in fact II./JG 6 lost 16 aircraft, though in view of the briskness of the combat such a discrepancy is to be expected. The American force lost seven Lightnings, six of them from the 394th squadron. Depicted is Captain Lawrence E. Blumer who led the 393rd Squadron during the action and was credited with five FW190s destroyed during it./USAF
            On the day after my arrival at Herpy, 23 August, I made three flights getting to know the local area; and one more on the 24th. On none of these flights did I come into contact with the enemy, although some members of the Gruppe did. Although our small pasture was excellent from the point of view of camouflage, the confined space did make it difficult for the unit to get airborne rapidly. During our first day there two aircraft collided during take-off, probably because one of them had run into the turbulent slipstream from the pair that had taken-off immediately ahead.
            When we arrived at Herpy the German retreat out of Normandy was in its closing stages; the troops were streaming back across the Seine, making frantic demands for air cover to give them some respite from the incessant Allied air attacks. Since we were to operate as fighters rather than as ground-attack aircraft, the hefty 21cm rocket launchers were removed from our aircraft.
            On the third day after our arrival in France, 25 August, we took off for our first full-scale operation: a sweep by the entire Gruppe as far as the Seine or as directed by our ground controller when we were airborne. Led by our Kommandeur, Hauptmann Elstermann, the forty-odd FW 190s took off shortly after noon; so sketchy had our training been that this was, in fact, the first occasion on which II./JG 6 had ever flown together as a Gruppe. My Staffel, the 7th, was to fly as top-cover and so took off first; we orbited the field while the others got airborne, then the large formation climbed away to the west with our Staffel about 6,000ft above the other two.
            Soon after leaving the vicinity of Herpy we received new orders from the ground: enemy fighter-bombers were attacking the airfield at Chastres near St Quentin. We were to engage them. Elstermann turned the Gruppe on to a northerly heading and shortly afterwards I caught sight of some aircraft a few miles away to the north, below the level of our Staffel but above the main part of the formation. I called the Gruppenkommandeur: "Achtung, Fragezeichen von rechts" (attention, question marks -- unidentified aircraft -- to the right). He acknowledged my call and identified the aircraft as American P-38 Lightnings. With the sun on our backs we went after them and as we got closer I counted about twelve. Elstermann gave the order "Zusatzbehaelter weg!" and as the drop tanks tumbled away from the aircraft my Staffelkapitän, Oberleutnant Paffrath, took us down to attack. I took my Schwarm to follow him in a tight turn, but suddenly my Focke Wulf gave a shudder, the wing dropped, and I found myself spinning helplessly into the melee below. I had to take the standard spin recovery action, pushing the stick forwards and applying opposite rudder, with the dogfight going on all around me. It was utter chaos, with Focke Wulfs chasing Lightnings chasing Focke Wulfs. I recovered from my spin and fired a burst at one Lightning, only to have to break away when another Lightning curved round and opened fire at me. Then I discovered what had caused me to spin in the first place: my drop tank was still in position and resisted all my efforts to get it to release. Since it was almost full of fuel the tank weighed about 500 lbs; no wonder I could not turn as tightly as the aircraft which had got rid of their tanks!
            Our initial attack hit the Americans hard and I saw some Lightnings go down. We might have been new to the business of dogfighting, but with the advantage of the sun and numbers we held the initiative. The surviving American fighters twisted and turned, trying to avoid our repeated attacks.
            Then, suddenly, there seemed to be Lightnings diving on us from all directions; now it was our turn to become the hunted. Obviously far more experienced than we were in fighter-versus-fighter combat, the American pilots who had just arrived on the scene cruised overhead seeking their victims, then dived down in pairs to pick them off before zooming back to altitude. We were being chopped up by experts and I watched Focke Wulf after Focke Wulf go down.
            I climbed and tried to re-join the fight, moving in to cover the tail of a Focke Wulf without any protection. But as I got there a pair of Lightnings came down after us; he went into a tight turn and as I tried to follow I found myself spinning out of control again. I repeated this unnerving experience a couple more times before deciding to give up; my meagre experience handling the FW190 was insufficient for this situation and the middle of a dogfight was no place to learn. I was doing nothing to help my comrades and if I stayed around much longer I would almost certainly make an easy victim for one of the Lightnings. I broke away and dived down to low altitude, making good my escape. I landed back at Herpy, taxied to my dispersal point, shut down the engine and clambered out; my flying suit was wringing wet with sweat.
            Then in dribs and drabs the survivors of the fight came in, some of them bearing the scars of battle. As the afternoon wore on the magnitude of the disaster which had befallen our Gruppe became clear: sixteen of our aircraft had been destroyed, with fourteen pilots killed or missing and three more wounded. Amongst the missing was the Kapitän of the 8th Staffel, Leutnant Rudi Dassow, who had been one of the most successful twin-engined fighter pilots in the Luftwaffe with 22 kills including twelve of four-engined bombers. Our own Staffelkapitän, Oberleutnant Paffrath, was amongst the wounded.
            The scale of the losses during the battle on 25 August came as a great shock: with so many aircraft destroyed and damaged, our fighting strength had been reduced by about half in a single engagement. We were indeed learning the lessons of combat the hard way. Yet we had little time to mourn our comrades: the battle was continuing and the retreating German ground troops were taking a terrible beating from the Allied aircraft.
      • Richard Groh, The Dynamite Gang, The 367th Fighter Group in World War II, p. 4.

      •     For its outstanding acheivements on August 25, the 367th Fighter Group received the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest possible award for a unit in combat. The commendation cited the group for bombing three airfields at Clastres, Peronne, and Rosieres, France, and engaging more than fifty enemy aircraft in aerial combat, destroying twenty-five, probably destroying one, and damaging seventeen.
      • Photographs of pilots and aircraft involved in the battle.
        • 392nd Squadron, 357th Fighter Group
        • Lt. William H. Lemley and P-38 Waterloo Belle.
          2nd Lt. Sam Plotecia and P-38 Kozy Koza
          P-38 Moonlight Cock-tail, piloted by 2nd. Lt. Clark R. "Doc" Livingston
        • 393rd Squadron, 357th Fighter Group
        Joseph Dobrowolski, P-38 "Tacoman" and ground crew.

  • 17 Sep 1944 -  2 Oct 1944   467th Bombardment Group - Operation TRUCKIN'
    On September 11, 1944, the 467th Bombardment Group began a period of ferrying operations to carry much needed gasoline to France for the ground troops fighting on the western front. Men from the Group were assigned to France to perform the necessary duties in connection with TRUCKIN' operations. The first airfield used was Orleans/Bricy south of Paris, but this was soon changed to Clastres, and it was to here that most of the Group's planes flew.
    In addition to the 467th's own aircraft, a number of war weary aircraft from other groups were also used. Skeleton crews were used, and at first the gasoline was carried in five-gallon cans unloaded by the crew at the destination. Later bomb-bay tanks and P-47 belly tanks were installed in the planes and a pumping station was installed at Clastres.
Below:  B-24Hs "Topper" (42-52303, foreground) and "Go Getter" (41-28744) at Clastres, France, during gas truckin' missions in September 44. Note the tents: there were no accommodations at Clastres, so the 467th crews slept in tents on the airfield.
Below: Lt. Pease and crew, of the 788th BS, with makeshift cooking arrangements. On the whole the "truckin' operations" afforded pleasure to the crews and enabled them to visit local towns recently liberated. Many of the crews returned with souvenirs of their trips to France.
  • 8 Sep 1944 - 28 Oct 1944  367th Fighter Group; Aircraft: P-38
    • Headquarters (08 Sep - 28 Oct)
    • 392nd Fighter Squadron (12 Sep - 28 Oct)
    • 393rd Fighter Squadron (12 Sep - 28 Oct)
    • 394th Fighter Squadron (11 Sep - 24 Oct)
  • 30 Oct 1944 - 4 May 1945  387th Bombardment Group; Aircraft: B-26
    • Headquarters (30 Oct 1944 - 24 Apr 1945)
    • 556th Bombardment Squadron (4 Nov 1944 - 4 May 1945)
    • 557th Bombardment Squadron (4 Nov 1944 - 4 May 1945)
    • 558th Bombardment Squadron (4 Nov 1944 - 4 May 1945)
    • 559th Bombardment Squadron (4 Nov 1944 - 4 May 1945)
           The group lived in and operated out of tents. The operations tent was near group headquarters. It was furnished with wooden benches and a large map of western Europe. The map was marked with a grease pencil bomb line depicting the most advanced position of the Allied ground forces. A colored string stretched between pins showed the course to the target.
            Members of the group spent their spare time improving their quarters, including building floors, furniture and improving the tent heating systems. Building materials were scrounged from may sources including wood from bomb crates found at a German bomb dump in a nearby woods and nails from the charred ruins of a German hanger.
  • Oct 1945 - Dec 1945  17th, 320th and 323rd Bombardment Groups (M)
    • 17th Bombardment Group (M) (3 Oct 1945 - 17 Nov 1945); Commander: Lt. Col. Stanford W. Gregory
      • 34th Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 37th Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 95th Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 432nd Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 95th Reconnaissance Squadron
    •  320th Bombardment Group (M) (Oct - Nov 1945); Commander: Lt. Col. Blaine B. Campbell
      • 441st Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 442nd Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 443rd Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 444th Bombardment Squadron (M)
    • 323rd BG(M) (Oct - Nov 1945); Commander: Lt. Col. George O. Commenator
      • 453rd Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 454th Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 455th Bombardment Squadron (M)
      • 456th Bombardment Squadron (M)
  • 1952 - 1967  NATO

  •         In 1952 American forces under the auspices of NATO reconfigured the aerodrome to handle jet fighter aircraft. A new 2400 meter long concrete runway with a parallel taxiway was constructed, with aircraft parking areas at either end and a perimeter fence. Most (about 1800 meters) of the old first runway, and all of old second and third runways, were outside the fenced perimeter. Of the portion of the old first runway outside the perimeter, the first 1000 meters (approx.) was used as a motor vehicle testing facility and the remainder was demolished and returned to farmland. The old second and third runways and many of the old taxiways devolved into farm access roads.
            The reconfigured airfield was intended as an auxiliary field to which to disperse aircraft in the event of hostilities; no NATO units were ever stationed there and no buildings were built. Local residents report that the airfield was exercised about once per year.
    • Map of the Clastres airfield as built out under NATO.
  • 1967 - 2001  France

  •    The French military took possession of the airfield when France withdrew from the NATO military command structure in 1968. Although aircraft occasionally landed there in connection with military exercises, no units were ever stationed there during this period.
  • 2001 -           Decommissioning

  •     In 2001 ownership of the aerodrome was transferred to the Communauté de Communes du Canton de St-Simon and is slated to become an industrial park. On October 19, 2002, the village of Clastres hosted a "farewell" celebration and dedicated a monument on the wall of the village cemetery in memory of the units who had served at the aerodrome.  Members of all units that had been stationed there were invited to take part in the celebrations. Seven members of the 387th Bombardment Group and descendants of two others attended, together with members of their families. The Germans were represented by two airmen and members of their families. Eino Latvala, a former member of the 559th Bombardment Squadron, presented two plaques to the Mayor of Clastres, France, on behalf of the former members of the 387th Bombardment Group; one of the plaques bore the following inscription, the other a French translation thereof.
      THE 556TH, 557TH, 558TH, AND 559TH SQUADRONS


The Village of Clastres