58TH FIGHTER GROUP, USAAC
5TH AIR FORCE,
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
|visits since 19 July 2002|
- 67th Fighter Squadron
- 68th Fighter Squadron
- 69th Fighter Squadron
- 310th Fighter Squadron
- 311th Fighter Squadron
- Mexican Squadron
67th Fighter Squadron
The 67th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was constituted on 20 November 1940 and activated at Selfridge Field, MI on 15 January 1941 attached to the 58th Pursuit Group, which later became the 58th Fighter Group. They relocated to Baton Rouge, LA on 6 October 1941 and moved to Fort Dix, NJ on about 19 January 1942. On about 20 January 1942 they boarded a ship and headed for the South West Pacific Area of the war.
They arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on about 27 February 1942. They more than likely were camped at Camp Darley, about 52 kms west of Melbourne. They left for Noumea, in New Caledonia on 15 March 1942 and were then assigned to the South Pacific Area of the war. Thy were attached to the Americal Division from 28 April to 28 October 1942. They were then reassigned to the 347th Fighter Group on 3 October 1942.
68th Fighter Squadron
The 68th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was constituted on 20 November 1940 and activated at Selfridge Field, MI on 15 January 1941 attached to the 58th Pursuit Group, which later became the 58th Fighter Group. They relocated to Baton Rouge, LA on 6 October 1941.
They then moved to Oakland, California on 22 January 1942 and boarded a ship on about 17 February 1942 and headed for the South West Pacific Area of the war. They arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on about 8 March 1942 and camped at Camp Ascot in Brisbane. They moved to Amberley Airfield west of Brisbane on 16 March 1942, then moved to Tongatabu, Tonga Islands on about 16 May 1942. They were redesignated as the 68th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942. They were reassigned to the 347th Fighter Group on 3 October 1942.
311th Fighter Squadron
Clinton E. Thomas of the 311th Fighter Squadron of the 58th Fighter Group, told me of his time at Camp Doomben and his fond memories of Australians:-
I'll have to be brutally frank about my memories of Camp Doomben. It would have been in Feb., 1943 that I arrived at Brisbane. I was a college sophomore and had been in uniform since the previous November. I was a communications corporal with the 311th Ftr Sq of the 58th Fighter Group 5th Air Force. 'Twas the Army Air Corps in those days. The other squadrons in the Group were the 69th and the 310th. A Mexican squadron joined the group but that was later when we were in the Philippines. Our pilots and planes had already gone on to New Guinea.
Doomben was my first camp overseas and I recall it as being most miserable. The ground was mostly mud. I think every GI in camp had the 'GI's'. The latrines had rows of buckets which were not emptied until you-know-what was running down the sides. You had trouble keeping your balls out of the gook. My memory of the chow was that it was mostly pretty bad Aussie canned food. I suspect our cooks were unable or unwilling to do a decent job of preparation. I remember thinking, "If life is this miserable here, still in the midst of civilization, what'll it be like when we really reach the war?" It turned out Doomben was the worst camp out of the couple dozen I lived in during the next two years in the Pacific Theatre.
So much for the negatives. I found the Aussies to be great. I think I was at Doomben only a few days but I visited a racetrack which was still in business (that would have been Albion Park race track). A local spotted the uniform and asked, "Wanna place a winning bet, Yank?" or words to that effect. He left and came back, told me the winner of the next race and I did win. It was my understanding that the winners were pretty much chosen ahead of time.
In New Guinea I remember how great the Aussies were with the indigenous people, 'Fuzzy Wuzzies', we called them.
My first brush with locals had been when our troop ship, the Dutch Nieuw Amsterdam, had docked briefly in Wellington and we were marched up a hill for exercise. The locals turned out and cheered the Yanks with great gusto. it was something that had never happened in the States. It dawned on us that the war was taken much more seriously here than back home. I learned later that many felt that Britain had not taken Australia's exposed status as seriously as they might have and were appreciative of the US presence in the theatre.
Decades later, in the eighties, when my wife and I spent time in northern Australia we found much more memorabilia of WWII than is the case in the States. This was particularly true in Darwin where people felt close to the war. Here WWII is pretty much a forgotten war it seems to me. It was while we were working in Malaysia that we spent several holidays touring Australia--from Melbourne to Adelaide and Sydney to Cairns. Australia was by far our favorite place to visit. (I know that should be favourite!).
I know I'm wandering far from Doomben, but i don't often get a chance to chat with an Aussie.
Did find your other sites but plan to return and browse more.
Best of luck, Clint Thomas (and wife, Mary, who has filled in some of the gaps in my memory)
P.S. I'm a retired physics professor and will turn 80 years old in November.
I'd like to thank Clinton E. Thomas for his assistance with this home page.
Can anyone help me with more information ?
© Peter Dunn 2003
This page first produced 19 July 2002
This page last updated 19 September 2004