336TH SERVICE SQUADRON
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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The 336th Service Squadron started as the 336th Materiel Squadron at Bowman Field, Louisville, Kentucky on 3 March 1942. At the time it was attached to the 324th Materiel Squadron, 306th Air Base. The first Commanding Officer was 2nd Lt. Douglas P. Cagwin. He was replaced within a month by 2nd Lt. Henry L. Ilg.

The purpose of the group was:- 

The unit was redesignated as the 336th Service Squadron on 13 June 1942. 2nd Lt. Thomas J. Ciccalone became the new Commanding Officer on 1 November 1942. On 24 November 1942, the squadron was assigned to the 7th Service Group and moved to Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, Michigan.


Via Jim Moffett

Insignia for the 336th Service Squadron

Captain Joseph E. Mills became the next Commanding Officer on 25 March 1943. The Squadron caught a train to Westfield, Mass on 11 June 1943. They arrived at Barnes airport on 13 June 1943. Still attached to the 7th Service Group they were involved in assembling mobile repair units and preliminary training for an overseas posting.

On 20 July 1943 they caught a train for Camp Stoneman, California arriving there on 25 July 1943. They participated in some more rigorous training until 17 August 1943 when they became a separate unit and boarded the troopship "Pennant" and headed for Australia.

The "Pennant" crossed the equator on 27 August 1943 and the usual King Neptune fun and games were in full swing. Initiations into the King's Realm, which involved hilarious antics, were administered to a number of officers and men crossing the Equator for the first time. Every soldier was required to wear his clothing backwards, many were plunged into a large tank of sea water, while others were subjected to mimic court trials and they were due to spurious crimes committed.

The Squadron arrived in the outer harbour at Townsville in north Queensland on 8 September 1943. They disembarked on the 9 September 1943. They were accommodated for two days in uncomfortable conditions at Armstrong's Paddock. They slept on the bare ground as cots were not available. The food at Armstrong's Paddock was the worst they had yet encountered.

The biggest problem they had was converting their American money into the Australian Pounds, Shillings and Pence. There were apparently many arguments about "How much I got gypped" and "How much is the darn thing worth in our money."

On 11 September 1943 they started work at No. 2 US Air Depot near Mount Louisa where they set up camp. On the same day a cadre of 10 men from the Technical Supply Department left to accompany the Squadron's equipment to Oro Bay, New Guinea.

On 12 September 1943, nearly every man in the Engineering, Technical Supply and  Motor Pool Sections was placed in a shop performed work that they had been trained for. They performed major repairs, modifications, and overhauls of aircraft and engines. They worked on B-24's, B-25's, B-17's, A-20's, C-47's, P-40's, P-38's, P-39's, and P-47's.

While at Townsville, the men were visited by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt. This visit was apparently on the first day that the men of the 336th worked on the "line" at the Townsville Air Depot. In the following month they had a visit from Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, the Commander of the Fifth Air Force.

While they were in Townsville the men played sports during their spare time. They played softball, basketball and volleyball. 

On 24 December 1943, the 336th Service Squadron left Townsville headed for Milne Bay. They arrived at Milne Bay on 28 December 1943 where they spent time in staging operations and working on the truck assembly line.

On 24 March 1944 the squadron boarded an LST and moved to Cape Creten, Finschhafen, arriving there on 27 March 1944. Here they were attached to the 63rd Service Group where they worked on airplane at Finschhafen Field. On 3 April 1944, the Squadron was attached to the 46th Service Group. Major Le Roy B. Pope took over as Commanding Officer on 26 April 1944.

The Squadron left Finschhafen on 30 April 1944 and landed at Aitape, New Guinea on 4 May 1944. The started to move to Wakde Island on 21 May 1944. Wakde Island is a tiny coral coastal island located just off the North East shore of New Guinea.

Former 336th veteran, Corporal Glenn F. Conrad told me that during one night time Japanese bombing raid on Wakde Island, two men from the 336th were killed. Glenn believes that the two men killed were: Bob Hunter and Woody Snider. Glenn believes that the Japanese pilot was jettisoning the two bombs from his aircraft as he exited the Wakde area. Both hit bombs and exploded in the 336th Squadron area that was located near the beach.

More members of the 336th were killed due to an American para-frag bomb that had been hanging in a coconut tree from one of an earlier American bombing run. One evening or night, several men were working in an area near the airfield and bulldozers were knocking down coconut trees. When this particular tree fell, the bomb exploded, injuring several of squadron members. One soldier was so severely injured that he died. Glenn believes his name was Kitler.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Jim Moffett and Glenn F. Conrad for their assistance with this home page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information
on the 336th while they were in Townsville?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 9 September 2004

This page last updated 31 January 2008