DIRECTORATE OF AIR TRANSPORT
ALLIED AIR FORCE, SOUTH WEST PACIFIC AREA
HISTORY OF THE DIRECTORATE OF AIR TRANSPORT
ALLIED AIR FORCE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC AREA
AND THE 322ND TROOP CARRIER WING
MAJOR WILLIAM H. CARLETON, U.S.A.A.F.
Following the outbreak of the war between the Allies and Japan, Australia became the logical headquarters of operations in the South-west Pacific Area (SWPA). Distances from rear to forward bases ran in to thousands of miles. On the Australian mainland rail transportation was limited to the East and West coasts between the main cities. The rail gauges altered between states and in general the whole system was antiquated and run down. Water transportation, of course, was available to all coastal ports and New Guinea, but definitely had to be ruled out where speed of delivery was essential. Even before General Macarthur was ordered to Australia to build a defence of that continent, it was evident that only an aerial transportation system would suffice to move the personnel and critical supplies to the distant consolidated positions on the continent necessary for the protection of Australia.
During these dark days with necessity demanding immediate action, an organisation unique in the history of Army aviation was formed by the Allied Air Forces, SWPA, under the now famous name of Directorate of Air Transport, or more commonly known as "DAT". First known as Air Transport Command, the name was soon changed to Directorate of Air Transport to avoid confusion with the U.S. Air Transport Command that was doing trans-Pacific air transport work. For the purposes of the following history, the title "DAT" will be used exclusively.
Allied Air Forces, Southwest Pacific Area, was a combination of American Army Air Force units and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under the command of Major General Brett, U.S.A. The Directorate of Air Transport was under direct control of Allied Air Forces with Group Captain Harold Gatty of Post-Gatty fame assigned as Commanding Officer of the new organisation. At the time Group Captain Gatty took over this assignment he was a citizen of Tasmania. He received a direct commission in the RAAF in order to assume command of this military organisation.
Major Gerald L. Cherymisin was appointed as Assistant Director and Manager of Operations of DAT. A pioneer in civilian transport aviation in the Netherland East Indies prior to the outbreak of the war, he had only a short time before distinguished himself in an ingenious and courageous episode. Cherymisin and Sgt. Harry Hayes (later Major Hayes) repaired an abandoned Fortress in Java, and with only three engines functioning, nursed it, overloaded with women refugees including Mrs. Cherymisin, safely to Port Hedland in Northwest Australia.
The American section of Gatty's command began with ten (10) flying officers and fifteen (15) enlisted men of the 7th Bomb Group and 35th Pursuit Group flying two (2) old B-18's and one (1) old C-39 flown from the Philippines, and five (5) new C-53's which were "found" aboard a ship in the first convoy that had started for the Philippines but that had docked at Brisbane, Australia under changed orders on 22 December 1941. These first pilots received their Transport Transition Training under Australian National Airways (ANA) pilots during January 1942.
[The 5 C-53s assigned were part of Project X originally intended for the Philippines: 41-20051 msn 4821, 41-20053 msn 4823, 41-20054 msn 4824, 41-20066 msn 4836 and 41-20070 msn 4840. The B-18s were probably 36-343 msn 1731 and 37-16 msn ????. The C-39 is unidentified as it could have been any one of seven which escaped the Philippines at this time, but is likely to have been one of 38-505, 38-530 or 38-532.]
On 28 January 1942 the first American unit was activated under the name Air Transport Command at Amberley Airdrome, Queensland, Australia by authority of letter, Office of the Air Officer, Base Section 3. This letter named 1st Lieutenant Edgar W. Hampton as Commanding Officer and ordered that "all United States transport airplanes now in Australia, and all combat airplanes flyable but unfit for combat will be a part of the Air Transport Command". The new organisation had fourteen (14) officers and nineteen (19) enlisted men assigned under the verbal orders of the Commanding Officer, Base Section No.3. The officers were not thoroughly trained to fly transport type aircraft, and only 75% of the enlisted men were thoroughly trained as crew members.
Any plane that could be made airborne was added to DAT's fleet aircraft, including old civilian airliners, obsolete bombers, military aircraft and flying boats. The latter were of the Empire, Dornier, Mariner and Sunderland types. [Note that Sunderland and Mariner aircraft did not become available until much later in the war than inferred by this sentence].
Along with American pilots, RAAF, Australian civilian, and Dutch pilots were obtained in a dragnet thrown out to secure crews to fly this heterogeneous collection of aircraft. Ten or twelve Dutch crews with probably more transport time than any other group of pilots in the world were among the first to operate these planes.
On 4 February the Headquarters of flying personnel and the airplanes of DAT were moved from Amberley Airdrome to Archerfield, Brisbane. Captain Paul I. Gunn, former Manager of the Philippine Airlines, was placed in command of the American unit, and on the 8th of February, a complement of ten (10) officers and ten (10) enlisted men joined the organization, all thoroughly trained in transport flying and operations. The personnel of the unit were quartered in barracks at Archerfield and messed there.
Captain Gunn had received a direct commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Now a Lieutenant Colonel, his exploits are legend in this theatre of war, and "Pappy" Gunn is known to practically every man in the South-west Pacific area.
Air Operations Office of Headquarters, U.S.A. Forces in Australia, in Operations Order No.5, dated 2 February 1942, assigned to this new American unit three (3) B-18's, three (3) B-24's, one (1) C-39, one (1) B-17-C, three (3) Beech-crafts, and five (5) C-53's.
[The B-17C was 40-2072 msn 2073; the B-24s were probably USAAF Air Transport Command B-24As 40-2369, 40-2370 and 40-2373; 7th BG LB-30s were still occupied in Java. The extra B-18 was 36-338, possibly VHCWA, and the C-39 is unidentified. The Beechcraft were probably BE-18s from the Philippines, the only one so far identified being a C18S NC21927 msn 432 ex-Philippines Army Air Corps. 2 CF records indicate that Beech 17 VH-UXP was on loan to the USAAF by the owner Loneragan in February 1942. By 14/04/42 2 CF was notified that VH-UXP was lost due to having crashed in enemy territory but was subsequently salvaged and impressed into the RAAF as A39-3.]
Under operating procedures up to February, all requests for transportation of personnel and supplies on planes operating under the Directorate of Air Transport had been made through the Commanding Officer of Base 3, Brisbane. With the activation of the American transport unit all such requests were ordered made directly to DAT.
During the latter part of January and the early part of February, P-40 mechanics and equipment were flown to bases in Java. Late February when the Netherlands East Indies bases were falling before the onslaught of superior Japanese forces, our planes participated in the evacuation of military and civilian personnel. Also in February the Broome-Wyndham area in Western Australia was evacuated by planes of this unit which flew the evacuees to Perth, Western Australia and to Brisbane.
While this evacuation work was proceeding, the transports were also rushing equipment, supplies and personnel to strategic points on the Southwest Pacific front. Between January and July 1942, DAT flew more than 5,000,000 miles. Between 10 March and 22 March the entire 102nd Coast Artillery (anti-aircraft) Battalion (U.S.) was flown with complete equipment from Brisbane to Darwin, a distance of 1800 miles. The Battalion was moved in small balanced units with their guns and ammunition ready for instant action on arrival. This unit proved a very effective surprise for subsequent Japanese raids over the formerly un-defended Darwin area. The transports brought wounded and evacuated personnel back to Brisbane on their return flights.
The first few months were also hectic from the maintenance stand-point. In the first two months only eight enlisted men were available for this work. These boys operated a 24 hour work schedule with each man putting in an average of 17 to 18 hours a day. During March one C-53 flew a total of 272 hours, carrying more than 300 tons of supplies a distance of 2000 miles.
This heavy strain on men and aircraft maintenance and the necessity to fly in all kinds of bad weather resulted in some mishaps. The planes were inadequately equipped with maps as many maps of the territory of Australia were unavailable. One C-53 [41-20051] returning from Java found Darwin closed in and landed on an emergency strip [occurred on 4 Feb 1942] for light aircraft on Bathurst Island, 60 miles north of Darwin. Landing in a crosswind, the plane damaged its left wing tip and aileron, and before repairs could be effected for a take-off, Jap Zeros destroyed the aircraft. A second C-53 [41-20066] became lost whilst enroute from Perth to Broome, ran out of gasoline, and crash landed near Wyndham. Personnel escaped safely and were picked up two days later by an Australian flying boat.
During this same time of early development of American air transport in the SWPA, DAT was also operating another group of planes chartered to the Allied Air Forces from Dutch and civilian airlines.
Pending the purchase by the U.S. War Department of all Royal Netherlands Indies Airways Ltd., (K.N.I.L.M.) airplanes in Australia, the U.S. chartered the aircraft at so much per flying hour under the following conditions:
(a) A guarantee of a minimum
of five (5) flying hours
per day for every available machine.
(b) Planes would operate
under management of K.N.I.L.M.
with the decision regarding time during which
flights would be made resting solely with them.
(c) U.S. would accept full
financial responsibility for
loss or damage of equipment due to war hazards, and
would effect suitable replacement as tactical and
shipping facilities would permit.
(d) The repairs, overhaul,
petrol and oil would be
furnished by K.N.I.L.M. under this contract, except
whenever necessary, the U.S. would assist in
supplying petrol and fuel at current market prices,
and with repairs and overhauls.
(e) Loading of aircraft will
conform to that normally
used by K.N.I.L.M. in commercial operations unless
increased by the consent of the management.
Destinations, flight routes, type loads and hazards
subjected to will conform to that requested of U.S.
military air transports or other civil aircraft
under charter to the U.S. War Department.
The contract was negotiated between the 19th and 28th of March 1942 by the Pan American Airways, Inc. on behalf of the U.S. War Department. Pan American at this time was acting as the representative of the U.S. War Department for such contracts. Before this contract was negotiated by K.N.I.L.M. planes had been actually operating under this agreement in both February and March. The chartering of these planes continued on into April.
Furthermore, an agreement was reached between the Australian and United States Government, that after 1 May 1942 all bills for chartered aircraft would be adjusted by the Department of Civil Aviation, Australia, and put on Reciprocal Lend-Lease. In other words the U.S. and Australia would pay for their proportionate amount of their loadings on these aircraft.
An agreement to purchase the airplanes was finally arrived at. Delivery of aircraft was accepted by U.S.A.F.I.A. between the 15th and 18th of May 1942. The aircraft purchased were as follows:
2 DC-2's 3 DC-5's
2 DC-3's 3 Lockheed 14's
[The aircraft were:
DC-2-115G PK-AFL msn 1376 became VHCXG
DC-2-115G PK-AFK msn 1375 became VHCXH
DC-5-511 PK-AXE msn 428 became VHCXA
DC-5-511 PK-AXA msn 424 became VHCXB
DC-5-511 PK-AXG msn 426 became VHCXC
DC-3-194B PK-ALT msn 1941 became VHCXD
DC-3-194B PK-ALW msn 1944 became VHCXE
L-14-WF62 PK-AFN msn 1414 became VHCXI
L-14-WF62 PK-AFP msn 1442 became VHCXJ
L-14-WF62 PK-AFQ msn 1443 became VHCXK]
These planes were old and beat up, but it must be remembered that at this early stage of the war air transport was at a premium and anything that would fly was put into service.
On 8 April 1942 an agreement was reached between the Netherlands East Indies Government and USAFIA for the purchase of eleven (11) Lockheed Lodestar airplanes, and one (1) worn out Martin B-10, whose engines were interchangeable with those of the Lodestars. The B-10 was purchased for the parts. Delivery of planes was completed this date. The Lockheeds were all one year old and had been in the service of the N.E.I. Army Air Forces. American pilots ran into one difficulty in the operation of these planes immediately. The instrument and control designations were all in Dutch and the metric system slightly confusing to Yank pilots.
[These aircraft were:
L-18 LT9-07 msn 18-2102 became VHCAA
L-18 LT9-08 msn 18-2103 became VHCAB
L-18 LT9-09 msn 18-2104 became VHCAC
L-18 LT9-14 msn 18-2109 became VHCAD
L-18 LT9-16 msn 18-2120 became VHCAE
L-18 LT9-17 msn 18-2121 became VHCAF
L-18 LT9-19 msn 18-2123 became VHCAG
L-18 LT9-21 msn 18-2125 became VHCAH
L-18 LT9-23 msn 18-2127 became VHCAI
L-18 LT9-24 msn 18-2128 became VHCAJ
L-18 LT9-25 msn 18-2129 became VHCAK
The B-10 was actually a Martin 139-WH-3A, Dutch serial M-585 msn 843.]
The Royal Australian Air Force section of the Directorate of Air Transport also started from meagre beginnings. At the start of the war the RAAF had few army transports. They were very reticent to relinquish their DC-2's, claiming they were necessary for training purposes. The first RAAF Transport Squadron formed under the direction of DAT was the 36th. Some of their planes were American Army transports on loan to them, and the balance of their conglomerate equipment consisted of DH 84's, DH 86's, and DH 89's. The Australian Government gradually augmented this original equipment with purchases from the United States, and the RAAF element has grown until at the time the Directorate of Air Transport was dissolved in October of 1944, they were operating seven squadrons of C-47's and C-60's.
A humorous sidelight on transport problems at this time is the fact that one of their DH 84's was grounded at Laverton airdrome due to termites in the tail section.
On 20 February 1942, Major General Barnes, Chief of Staff, of U.S. Army Forces in Australia cabled AGWAR, Washington, D.C., requesting a transport squadron to be activated from personnel and planes then being used by the Air Transport Command unit of DAT at Brisbane. An answer was received from AGWAR notifying USAFIA that action was started to activate the necessary squadron as the 21st Transport Squadron. Finally on 3 April 1942 USAFIA was authorized by Washington to activate the 21st and 22nd Transport Squadrons, and activation was put into effect the same day by USAFIA General Order No.35, by Command of Lieutenant General Brett.
The 22nd Squadron was based at Essendon Airdrome. Ten (10) pilots and ten (10) enlisted men were transferred to the 22nd Squadron from the 21st Squadron. Veteran bombardment and pursuit pilots from the Philippines and Java campaign, and a cadre of enlisted men from the United States brought the strength of the 22nd up to 19 officers and 196 enlisted men by the end of May 1942. Several of the planes purchased from K.N.I.L.M. were assigned to this unit. By special order No.89, paragraph No.1, Headquarters USAFIA, Melbourne, Victoria, dated 13 April 1942, the personnel of the 21st Squadron, previously assigned by verbal orders only, were officially assigned to the Squadron.
The camp and messing facilities of the 22nd Squadron were located at Essendon Airdrome with the city of Melbourne offering recreation for the men.
By 20 May 1942, the 21st Transport Squadron at Brisbane had one (1) B-18, one (1) B-39, two (2) C-53's, one (1) C-39, one (1) C-47, two (2) DC-2's, two (2) DC-3's, three (3) DC-5's, and two (2) Lockheed 14's assigned. The 22nd Squadron at Melbourne had one (1) B-17C, eleven (11) C-56's, two (2) C-39's, one (1) C-47, and one (1) Lockheed 14 assigned, and one (1) B-18 and one (1) C-53 temporarily assigned on loan from the 370th Material Squadron Squadron (Reduced).
The 21st and 22nd Transport Squadrons were redesignated the 21st and 22nd Troop Carrier Squadrons per General Order No.20, Paragraph No.1, Headquarters, U.S.A.A.S., SWPA, dated 26 July 1942.
Control stations under the commands of American Air Corps officers were located in Australia at Darwin, Cloncurry, Townsville, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Forrest, Kalgoorlie, Perth, Alice Springs, and Oodnadatta.
During these early months while the Allied Air Forces were operating army transport planes under the Directorate of Air Transport, United States Army Services of Supply was also moving cargo and personnel by air. Services of Supply was chartering flying boats and land planes from Australian civil airlines to move cargo and personnel into the same areas or along the same routes covered by DAT without any coordination between the two separate headquarters. Obviously this resulted in a loss of efficiency. Bookings on Australian civil airlines could only be chartered under Services of Supply with freight and personnel being carried many times with a much lower priority and importance than that urgently needed by the Allied Air Forces.
On 19 August 1942, Major General Lincoln, Commanding General, U.S. Army Air Services, recommended that due to the above conditions Allied Air Forces, SWPA, take this matter up with General Headquarters, SWPA, and have all air transport activities transferred to the Army Air Forces and placed under Directorate of Air Transport. Reference was made to Section 3, Circular No.211, War Department, 1 July 1942, in which USASOS was relieved of the responsibility of all air transportation and said transportational responsibility was placed upon the Army Air Forces, including the establishment of priority for air travel on commercial and military aircraft.
However, it was not until 17 February 1943, after Colonel Elsmore became Director of Air Transport, that operational control of the aircraft of Ansett Airlines and the chartering of all flying boats was transferred to the Directorate of Air Transport, AAF, SWPA. Also, all air activities including priority for air travel on military aircraft was transferred from USASOS, SWPA, to Directorate of Air Transport, AAF, SWPA.
In the meantime the USAAF, SWPA, in an endeavour to utilize all possible facilities in Australia to ease the strain on their present air transport facilities made the following operating agreements with three Australian civil airlines:
(a) The Australian National
Airways, Pty. Ltd., ANA,
would be allotted six (6) U.S. Army aircraft
composed of one (1) DC-2, one (1) DC-3, two (2)
DC-5's, and two (2) Lockheed Lodestars.
[VHCXD, VHCXG, VHCXB (crashed prior to handover),
VHCXC, VHCAF, VHCAH, VHCAJ - note that three
Lodestars were operated, the third probably as a
replacement for the lost DC-5.]
(b) The Guinea Airways Ltd
would be allotted one (1)
Lockheed 14 and one Lockheed Lodestar.
[VHCXI and VHCAC]
(c) The Qantas Empire
Airways Ltd. would be allotted
three (3) Lockheed Lodestars.
[VHCAA, VHCAB, VHCAK]
(d) Under the terms of the
agreement the companies were
to use their shops, hangars and personnel to
maintain the aircraft, overhaul the engines etc.
Further, they would provide the Captains for the
aircraft and the American Air Force would provide
the co-pilots and radio operators. The companies
were to operate these aircraft on regular routes
and special trips within and without the territory
of Australia under the direction of the Directorate
of Air Transport, AAF. Unloading and loading of
aircraft and assignment of priorities for these
planes was also the AAF's perogative. In other
words these eleven planes were to perform the same
function as army transport airplanes.
Negotiations finally culminating in this agreement were begun in early September or early October and were completed in November and December of 1942.
This rather unusual improvision caused by the need of additional competent pilots and ground airdrome and repair facilities to handle Army Transport planes has proved a real boon to air transport of our Air Force in this theatre. The civil airlines can be justly proud of their record of operations of these army planes. Their maintenance, miles and hours flown, freight carried, and safety record is unsurpassed in this theatre.
During the first months of the war in 1942, the onward march of the Japs had been steady and persistent. The only air bases held by the Allies in the entire Southwest Pacific Area outside of Australia was Port Moresby and Milne Bay in New Guinea. The Japs had definite air superiority. It was on 22 May 1942 that DAT aircraft made their first operational flight into New Guinea. The 21st Squadron, led by Captain E.W. Hampton, carried troops and supplies to Wau and Bulolo, allied airdromes previously used only for very light aircraft. Although the strips were rough and not level no planes were damaged in these landings. The 21st and 22nd Squadrons continued to operate planes between Port Moresby and Wau at intervals despite intense Jap activity and with meagre fighter cover consisting of five to six P-39's. The enemy had made landings at Lae and Salamaua and finally at Buna in July 1942. With the Japs in Buna the 21st Squadron landed Australian reinforcements and supplies at Kokoda, and during the fighting for that mountain airdrome, our planes often circled the field without knowing whether it was in friendly or enemy hands. Buna was just over the Owen Stanley Range from Port Moresby. With Moresby in Japanese hands Northern Australia was doomed. By 18 September the enemy had driven across the Kokoda Trail in the Owen Stanleys to within 32 air miles of this vital New Guinea base. The Australians were forced back as far as Lorabaiwa Ridge. Here the Aussies made a stand. A regiment of "Diggers" and their equipment was transported by air from Brisbane to Port Moresby. Every available airplane of DAT, along with practically every civil airline plane in Australia, and every bomber not required for the most urgent tactical operations was pressed into service. The regiment was transported 700 miles from Brisbane to Townsville and then an additional 700 miles over the Coral Sea to Moresby. The all-out offensive to drive the Japs back along the Kokoda Trail started 25 September 1942. Food, ammunition, and medical supplies were furnished these forces by dropping from air transports.
American troops were also flown from Australia to New Guinea in September. The 126th, 127th and 128th Infantry Regiments of the 32nd (U.S.) Division, together with their equipment were carried by DAT. During the completion of this move one Australian civil airlines pilot, Mr. Burke, made three trips to Port Moresby from the Australian mainland over the Coral Sea in one 24 hour period.
On the final drive on Buna, New Guinea, air transport planes played a prominent part in the final victory. During the middle of October 1942 a concentrated movement was ordered made from Milne Bay and Port Moresby to Wanagela Mission in preparation for the capture of Buna. Captain Charles A. Gibson and Lt. Marvin M. Scott supervised the loading of DAT planes from Port Moresby. Again all available U.S. and RAAF transport aircraft, together with civilian airline planes were pressed into service. Both Australian and American Infantry, anti-aircraft, and engineer troops, together with many native bearers were airborne. To further illustrate the terrific demand on air transportation during these crucial time the following example is cited. During this move the 6th Troop Carrier Squadron, newly arrived from the United States, was immediately pressed into service. With no transition flying, three of the Squadron ships were making trips under hazardous flying conditions the day following their arrival. An average of 1000 men with their equipment were moved daily. In three days approximately 3600 men and their equipment were transported by air. The supply of these units also fell to the transports to maintain their effectiveness in combat. The planes bringing supplies to the front lines evacuated the sick and wounded on return trips.
One C-49 was specifically assigned as a Red Cross ship for the evacuation of wounded personnel from areas where it could land. This 22nd Squadron ship dropped thousands of pounds of dressings and medicines to aid stations along the Kokoda Trail.
During this period the American section of DAT, Headquarters, Air Transport Command, was redesignated Air Carrier Service, per General Order No.10, Paragraph No.1, Headquarters, Air Service Command, 5th Air Force, APO 923, dated 21 October 1942, and Lieutenant Colonel Erickson S. Nichols assumed command.
On 12 November 1942, the Air Carrier Service was redesignated the 374th Troop Carrier Group per General Order No.32, Headquarters, 5th Air Force, APO 923. Lieutenant Colonel E.S. Nicholls was assigned as Commanding Officer and his Group Headquarters was first stationed at Brisbane. This same General Order No.32 assigned the 21st and 22nd Troop Carrier Squadrons to the newly designated 374th Troop Carrier Group. This same order assigned the 6th and 33rd Troop Carrier Squadrons to the Group. The 6th air echelon, the first transport squadron to fly the Pacific, arrived at Port Moresby 13 October 1942. The complete Squadron was established at Port Moresby by 13 December 1942. The 33rd Squadron completed its move to Port Moresby by 28 December 1942.
The Allied offensive began to gain momentum, and with the fall of Kokoda in early November 1942, DAT planes flew over the Owen Stanley Range with ever increasing numbers of men, jeeps, trailers, small bulldozers, road graders, steam rollers, runway metal matting, fuel and other items needed for combat use for the final assault on Buna. An average of 1500 men and their equipment were transported from Port Moresby airstrips daily. The newly arrived 33rd Squadron was also pressed into service.
It was again necessary for the American Squadrons of DAT to move their base forward. Movement Order No.25, Base Section 3, dated 29 January 1943, ordered the 21st and 22nd Squadrons to Ward's Drome, Port Moresby, New Guinea. The air echelons arrived between the end of January and the middle of February 1943 with the remaining personnel arriving by boat between 14 February and 6 March 1943.
During all this period of movement of troops by air transport, only one ship was lost. If a ship could be made airborne, it was used. Such planes as C-56's, C-53's, DC-2's, DC-3's, DC-5's, C-39's, C-49's and the new C-47's of the 6th and 33rd Squadrons were operated. In these early days of air operations from Port Moresby personnel from DAT units were probably present during every Jap air raid. It is remarkable that none of this personnel suffered casualties. However, some of our planes were either totally destroyed or damaged. One item of interest remains to be recorded about the 21st Squadron. Between 22 June 1942 and 25 April 1943 five RAAF pilots served with this American unit. These men flew a total of 584 combat missions and accumulated a total of 3326 flying hours during this period.
Such a fine record was bound to receive recognition from the United States Government. Under the provisions of Paragraph III, War Department General Order No.3, dated 15 January 1943, the 374th Troop Carrier Group was cited for outstanding performance of duty in action while transporting troops, equipment, and supplies, and for evacuating casualties from forward areas in Papua during the period 19 September to 22 December 1942. As a unit of the Papuan Forces, United States Army, Southwest Pacific Area, the Group was also included in the citation awarded under Paragraph IV, War Department General Order No.21 , dated 6 May 1943, for outstanding performance of duty during the Papuan Campaign for period of 23 July 1942 to 23 January 1943.
On 14 December 1942 Lt. Colonel Nichols returned to the United States. From 14 December to 17 December 1942 Major E.H. Hampton was nominal Group Commander of the 374th Troop Carrier Group. On 17 December Colonel Paul H. Prentiss assumed command.
In the early era of air transport in the SWPA safe loading of airplanes was ignored to expedite the transport of as much freight as possible with the limited amount of air cargo space available. At first various types of loading charts for the various types of planes in use were unavailable, and when they were available, they were ignored. Loadings at the Melbourne and Brisbane bases adhered more closely to the safe capacity of the planes, but in forward areas it was more the rule than the exception for a plane to take off with several thousand pounds overload. In April 1942 loading charts based on AAF Technical orders were introduced and strictly complied with. Pilots allowing their planes to be overloaded were immediately brought to account. Distance between hops was reduced to increase the pay load and lessen the amount of gasoline to be carried.
DAT was the authority for directing the hauling of freight and passengers. Freight was delivered to the field and there loaded by our enlisted personnel. Likewise, the officers in charge of DAT control stations along the routes flown were American personnel assigned to DAT. In the early days in New Guinea, the loading of planes was the responsibility of an Australian unit. On 15 July 1942, the first transport control station in New Guinea operating under DAT was opened at 7-Mile (Jackson) Drome. Later the control office was moved to 3-Mile (Kila) Drome, then back to Jackson Drome and finally settled down to operate at the newly constructed Ward's Drome.
Prior to December 1942 no monthly records of cargo hauled by DAT planes were compiled. It is unfortunate that the early achievements of the organisation were not kept in statistical form. However, the efforts of ground and flying personnel of DAT contributed in a large measure to the success of the East Indies and Papuan Campaigns. It was their pioneering also that led the way to the efficient, far flung air transport organisations operating with the Far East Air Forces today.
On 26 January 1943 Colonel Ray T. Elsmore became Director of Air Transport succeeding Group Captain Gatty, and the second phase of DAT development began. Major Gerald L. Chermisin remained as his Assistant Director and Squadron Leader Peter Rockingham was the RAAF representative in the organisation.
Colonel Elsmore, a Command Pilot, with years of civil airlines training and operational experience previous to his present active duty in the Air Corps, was an officer with [a] varied and colorful combat air transport record. Graduating from the University of Utah with an LLB degree in the Spring of 1916, he immediately started the practice of law in Salt Lake City. He was Deputy County Attorney in Salt Lake County from the fall of 1916 until September 1917 when he resigned this position to enlist in the Army Air Corps. Released from active duty in January 1919 he returned to his former position as Deputy County Attorney and resumed practice of law in Salt Lake City. The Colonel entered the Officers Reserve Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant and remained active in the reserve until October 1940 when he returned to active duty.
Colonel Elsmore kept up his flying for the next few years, and on October 1928 flew the first trip out of Salt Lake City as airmail pilot for National Park Airways. From that date up to October 1940 he continued to fly as first pilot for National Park Airways and later for Western Air Express. During this period he also practiced law in Salt Lake and commanded the 329th Observation Squadron which was the Reserve Air Corps unit for the states of Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Nevada.
When war broke out with Japan Colonel Elsmore was in command of the 5th Air Base Group on the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines, and remained in command of the Air Forces on Mindanao until he was ordered out on the last plane to leave the Philippines on 29 April 1942, a few days before the fall of the Islands. He personally handled the air evacuation of General MacArthur, President Quezon and their staffs from the Del Monte Air Base to Australia. On his arrival in Australia the Colonel was assigned as Chief of Staff, V Bomber Command, and remained in this assignment until he became Director of Air Transport, Allied Air Forces, SWPA. Colonel Elsmore is entitled to wear the Legion of Merit, World War 1 Victory Medal, Philippine Defense ribbon, Pre-Pearl Harbour ribbon, American Defense ribbon, and the Asiatic Pacific ribbon with three bronze campaign stars.
At the time Colonel Elsmore assumed command of DAT, Lieutenant General George C. Kenney was Commanding General of both Allied Air Forces, SWPA, and 5th Air Force. Colonel Elsmore, as Director of Air Transport, was on the Allied Air Forces Staff of the Commanding General as well as commanding all operations of DAT aircraft. Under the Air Transport Section of the AAF a T/O [Table of Organization?] of five (5) officers and fifteen (15) enlisted men. The officers and enlisted men were under the administrative control of Headquarters Squadron, 5th Air Force, and operational control of DAT. Obviously this T/O did not fulfill the administrative requirements of this rapidly expanding organisation, so the personnel needed to operate DAT were assigned from the U.S. Section, Allied Air Forces, and put on DS [Detached Service?] with DAT. The problem of promoting deserving men in the unit was a difficult one. They had to receive their promotions from the Section to which they were assigned, and being on DS put them in an unenviable position.
In May 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Leon D. Cuddeback was assigned to DAT from USASOS to assume the duties of Operations Officer. Lt. Colonel Cuddeback is one of the true pioneers of civil aviation in the United States. He first learned to fly in 1921 at the Varney School of Flying, San Mateo, California. He worked as a mechanic and watchman for his training, and on becoming a pilot, flew for the school and became an instructor pilot. Finally he was chief pilot, supervising all flying instruction. Varney during this period was experimenting on running scheduled operations to determine the equipment and facilities necessary to operate airplanes on fixed schedules between cities, and to determine the costs of such operations. The only precedent at that time was the Army Air Mail Service. Lt. Colonel Cuddeback went to Central America for the Nicaragua Government to investigate routes for a civil airline for this country. Political conditions in Nicaragua put an end to this proposal. In 1925 Varney bid and won a contract with the U.S. Government to fly the mail on [the] Pasco, Washington to Elco, Nevada run by way of Boise, Idaho. The line was finally extended to Salt Lake City, Utah, Portland. Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. The organisation became incorporated in 1928 as Varney Airlines, and he was made Vice-President of the firm. In 1931 Varney merged with Boeing Airlines. The Colonel became Assistant Chief Pilot for Boeing. Around this time instrument flying and radio developed in aviation along with the carrying of passengers. In 1932 Boeing and several other airlines merged to form the United Airlines. Lt. Colonel Cuddeback was made Regional Superintendent of the old Varney route with his main office in Salt Lake City. Up to 1939 his division either won or was runner-up of the operational efficiency trophy for the United Airlines. In 1939 he went with the Government Safety Bureau of Civil Aviation Board as inspector in charge of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. In 1942 he was commissioned a Major direct in the U.S. Army as an air transportation specialist, and immediately assigned overseas to USASOS in the Transportation Corps. He arrived in Brisbane in May 1942 and transferred to DAT and Air Corps in May 1943. His Lieutenant Colonelcy was received in November 1943. He is entitled to wear service pilot's wings.
When Colonel Elsmore assumed control in January 1943, DAT was operating stations at Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Townsville, Cooktown, Cairns, Horn Island, Iron Range, Darwin, Alice Springs, Daly Waters, Charleville and Rockhampton. An average of 1000 tons of freight and personnel per month was being moved at this time. Many problems beset the organisation. There was an immediate need for the development of control teams to properly handle the loading and unloading of freight and passengers, manifesting of same etc. Maintenance of aircraft and equipment was in a serious state. Planes were grounded for lack of a minor part and utilization of airplanes was sharply decreased.
To surmount the problems of maintaining all available aircraft in operational readiness the Colonel instituted a system that has become known as "Cannibalization", namely the robbing of one grounded airplane of essential parts to make another grounded airplane flyable. Spare engines and airplane parts were extremely scarce in this theatre and resupply from the United States was slow. The "Cannibalized" aircraft were put back into flyable condition when the required supplies arrived.
Colonel Elsmore's background of civil airlines experience in the United States also began to show effect on administration and operational procedures in the organisation. Such procedures rapidly became standardized. A special course of instruction was inaugurated by DAT to train station control teams in their complex duties. All members of a team were required to have a thorough knowledge of the airplanes used, their cargo capacities, gasoline loadings and the proper distribution of freight weight in the plane. Loading and unloading methods for various types of freight and the manifesting of freight and passengers was standardized. Control officers must learn to evaluate requests for air transportation and assign priorities thereto as well as plan the load and route the plane to maintain maximum efficiency.
The first stop accomplished in the final development of Air Cargo Control Squadrons as an integral part of Army Air Transport was the activation of the Airways Control Squadron by Fifth Air Force General Order No.117, dated 12 June 1943. A Headquarters Squadron and seven "Control Details" were authorized. All officers and enlisted men were taken from the U.S. Section, Allied Air Forces, SWPA. The Headquarters Squadron was stationed in Brisbane in the same building with DAT Headquarters.
The RAAF Air Transport Section also had officer and enlisted personnel trained in operating control stations. These units of U.S. and Australian personnel were coalesced for practical purposes into one unit and further sub-divided into control teams stationed throughout the mainland and forward areas. An American control officer might have a mixture of Aussie and U.S. enlisted men under his command, and the same held true for Aussie control officers.
This Airways Control Squadron was still a "bastard" unit in the Air Corps. It was not an integral organization, had no authorized T/O and T/E [Table of Equipment?] and was just a stop-gap for the needs of the immediate present. Colonel Elsmore had in mind cargo control squadrons consisting of Headquarters Squadron and control teams. As required, more Squadrons could be brought into the theatre from the States with pre-training in air transport operations. His fight for this idea finally brought results. The Airways Control Squadron was disbanded on 23 November 1943, and the 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron was activated by Fifth Air Force General Order No.323. All men, equipment and funds of the former unit were transferred to the new unit. This new cargo control squadron was assigned to Fifth Air Force by direction of the Commander of Allied Air Forces, and placed under the operational control of DAT.
The Table of Organisation of the 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron authorized 33 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 284 enlisted men, divided in four types of teams designated as A, B, D, and E. The makeup of these teams are as follows:
A-Team - 4 Officers and 41 Enlisted Men.
B-Team - 4 Officers and 29 Enlisted Men.
D-Team - 1 Officer and 12 Enlisted Men.
E-Team - 1 Officer and 7 Enlisted Men.
Squadron Hq., - 4 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 16 Enlisted Men.
Obviously the type team used at a station is governed by the amount of planes and freight handled through there. Also control station team strength is not governed by any hard and fast rule - the men required to operate the station govern the personnel strength sent there. The system is very flexible and was a great contributing factor to the overall excellent efficiency record of DAT.
Each station control team is a compact, complete unit. Their office on the airfield may be a pyramidal tent or part of a building. Here the manifesting of cargo, records and general administrative procedure is carried on. The stations are equipped with trucks, jeeps and office equipment necessary to the performance of their duty. The station has direct communication with the control tower of their airfield and are notified as to ETA (estimated time of arrival) of all planes of DAT. If an arriving plane has cargo to be off-loaded at that base the control officer has cargo ready to reload the plane to its full capacity for stations further along the transport's route. Gasoline loads are reduced to the minimum safety requirements with scheduled refuelling at auxiliary stations in order that no weight or space be wasted. All ground personnel are familiarized with Australian Aeronautical regulations.
The control officer has entire charge of the unloading, loading and routing of the transports. However, the plane pilot as captain of his aircraft may refuse to take-off if he has objections to the weight distribution, or the weather reports are unfavourable. A report of cause for failure to take-off on schedule is submitted to higher headquarters by the control officer when such an occasion arises.
Control stations have varied duties. Each arriving plane of DAT is met with transportation for passenger personnel. Some of our stations had transient camps where personnel who remained over night were fed and housed. In every case transportation to transient camps was arranged for these overnight visitors. Many of our smaller outlying stations messed and lived with some other army unit stationed near their field through arrangement's with the unit's Commanding Officer.
With the opening of more stations along the route of our rapidly expanding operation in the SWPA, the 2nd Air Cargo Control Squadron arrived in Finschhafen, New Guinea, 11 August 1944 and was assigned to DAT. This unit was activated in the States and had received their basic training in this work before coming overseas. The Squadron was assigned to Far East Air Forces in accordance with Paragraph 1, General Order No.107, Headquarters, Far East Air Forces, dated 28 July 1944, and placed under the operational control of DAT. Headquarters Squadron was stationed at Finschhafen. Squadron personnel were interspersed with experienced 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron control teams for further training, and as experience was gained, the 2nd Squadron control teams were formed and assigned their own stations.
From this headquarters in the Old Courier Building, Queens Street, Brisbane, Colonel Elsmore was operating a far reaching air transport route by April of 1943. Stations were located at Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Mareeba, Mackay, Rockhampton, Cooktown, Horn Island, Onslow, Bachelor, Fenton, Iron Range, Daly Waters, Alice Springs and Perth on the Australian mainland. New Guinea stations were at Port Moresby (Maple), Fall River (Milne Bay) and Merauke.
With the activation of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, the line of demarcation between the responsibility of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing and DAT was established by Fifth Air Force order. DAT was to be responsible for the hauling of all personnel and supplies within continental Australia and from continental Australia to Port Moresby and Milne Bay in New Guinea. It was also charged with operating [a] scheduled air carrier service not only within its area of responsibility but also into the forward areas where the general responsibility rested with the 54th Troop Carrier Wing. DAT was also responsible for supplying the troop carrier and tactical requirements of Allied Air Force units in the Darwin area and all sections south and east of Port Moresby, including Goodenough, Trobriand and Woodlark Islands. The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was assigned to the advance echelon, Fifth Air Force, and was made responsible for carrying all supplies forward from Port Moresby and to handle all the tactical requirements of the Allied Air Forces forward of Port Moresby. As we advanced up the East coast of New Guinea, this line of demarcation between the responsibility of the two air transport air carrier units was moved forward, first to Dobodura, then to the Lae-Finschhafen line, and then to Hollandia and on to Biak at or about the time that DAT was dissolved. The 54th needed a group experienced in instrument flying and New Guinea weather conditions to fly the "hump" between Port Moresby and Northern areas. To meet this requirement the 374th Troop Carrier Group was relieved from assignment to DAT and reassigned to the 54th Wing.
In January 1943, the newly arrived 317th Troop Carrier Group was assigned to operational control of DAT. The 317th had flown fifty-six new C-47's across the Pacific from the United States. This new equipment was transferred to the 374th and the 317th was relegated to fly the miscellaneous airplanes formerly flown by the 374th. Naturally this was no morale "builder-upper". To make matters worse they also fell heir to all the old beat-up equipment such as trucks, jeeps etc. of the 374th. Eventually, as home production increased, this Group was finally equipped with new C-47's.
The efficiency of an air transport organization depends not only on well trained and organized ground personnel but also on well trained and efficient flying personnel who maintain schedules regardless of weather, and who utilize the planes to full capacity of their cargo uplift. In the Spring of 1943, weather reporting stations in the Southwest Pacific Area were very meagre. Radio aids in the way of radio ranges and homing beacons were almost non-existent. Tropical storms abounding over the Eastern coast of Australia and over the Coral Sea to Port Moresby made flying extremely difficult. A great majority of our pilots were new graduates from the flying schools with only a few hundred hours of flying time and possessing very limited instrument flying technique. Consequently airplanes were often grounded by weather and on many occasions had to return without completing their missions. Some troop carrier operators in the theatre had adopted a system of carrying full gasoline tanks and a standard 5,000 lb payload in C-47 type aircraft, regardless of the length of the flight. The theory was that such practice was necessary for safety in flights under tropical weather conditions. However, if gas load could be limited to a reasonable margin of safety the payload could be increased on practically all flights. DAT felt that a pilot with full tanks for every flight acquired a false sense of security. If he encountered storms, either he would start to wander about the sky to get around the storm area, and with rapidly changing weather conditions in the tropics, usually found himself on instruments anyway, off his course, and on many occasions wound up lost and out of gasoline. On the other hand, the pilot with limitation of fuel load was careful to plot and stay on his course and use whatever radio aids were available during his entire flight. He studied his weather and flew at low altitudes to avoid the turbulence of higher elevations. We were satisfied that a pilot with a limited gas supply, but sufficient for a reasonable margin of safety, would not only carry greater loads but would complete his trips more often and with greater safety than would the pilot who invariably took off with full gas tanks.
Consequently DAT immediately undertook to increase total uplift by the following means:
a. An extensive course of pilot training was introduced giving instructions in instrument flying, study of tropical weather conditions and the best altitude at which to fly through storms in the tropics. Even when the weather was good, pilots were required to fly at least one third of the time "under the hood" (on instruments) in order to maintain instrument flying efficiency.
b. The training course well underway, the fuel load was limited to sufficient to get to the next enroute stop, plus one and one half hours reserve. On long over-water hops, two and one half hours reserve fuel was given. Instead of the extra weight of fuel, additional payload was added, carrying an average of 6,500 pounds of freight per airplane instead of 5,000 pounds.
In a short time cancellations and delays due to weather commenced to decrease and the average payload for a C-47 type aircraft increased to 6,500 pounds per airplane. Nor was safety sacrificed. In fact, it was increased to a marginal degree. Some of this, of course, was due to the outstanding achievement of the Army Airways Communications System (AACS) in this theatre. Headed by Colonel Reeder Nichols, AACS was speedily installing radio ranges and homing beacons throughout the area. Pilot training resulted in pilots using these aids rather than depending on full tanks of fuel.
The increased efficiency in maintenance, the standardized and thorough training procedure for control teams, the extensive pilot training course and the reorganized schedules of flight, payload and gas load all combined to show an immediate effect on DAT's cargo uplift. April 1943 tonnage hauled was a 100% increase over January 1943 tonnage. Payload figures steadily rose during the following months. A statistical summarization from April to December 1943 is as follows:
April - 2,314.73 tons including 1,342.81 tons of personnel and 971.92 tons of freight.
May - 4,027.18 tons including 2,475.25 tons of personnel and 1,551.92 tons of freight.
June - 5,848.8 tons of personnel and freight.
July - 7,160.44 tons of personnel and freight.
August - 6,268.5 tons.
September - 6,016.9 tons, using a daily average of 61 aircraft in commission.
October - 7,413.9 tons using a daily average of 74 aircraft in commission.
November - 7,684.6 tons.
December - 8,647.2 tons,
including 40,637 personnel weighing 4,331.25 tons. During this
137 aircraft were assigned to the Wing with an average of 85 aircraft in daily commission.
A total of 2,568,844 miles were flown in 16,063:15 hours.
Naturally this tremendous increase in tonnage hauled was partly due to the increasing number of airplanes operating under DAT.
In April 1943 DAT had the following units under its operational control:
1. 317th Troop Carrier Group composed of:
a. 39th Troop Carrier Squadron operating six (6) C-60's and three (3) C-39's.
b. 40th Troop Carrier Squadron, operating nine (9) C-47's.
c. 41st Troop Carrier Squadron, operating nine (9) C-47's.
d. 46th Troop Carrier Squadron, operating five (5) C-49's, two (2) LB-30's, and two (2) B-17's.
2. No.34 (RAAF) Squadron, flying two (2) DH-86's and five (5) DH-84's.
3. No.36 (RAAF) Squadron, flying five (5) DC-2's, seven (7) C-47's, two C-50's, and three (3) C-53's.
4. No.41 (RAAF) Squadron, operating two (2) Flying Boats.
5. Australian National Airways (ANA) flying one (1) DC-3, one (1) DC-5, and two (2) C-56's.
6. Qantas Empire Airways, flying three (3) C-56's and two chartered flying boats.
7. Guinea Airways, flying one (1) C-56 and two (2) L-14's.
By July the 317th was almost completely converted to C-47's. As the year progressed, two new RAAF transport squadrons were assigned and old planes were being replaced with C-47's.
More and more control stations were opened throughout Australia and forward areas. Those stations in Western and Central Australia has [sic] strange names such as Geraldton, Potshot, Onslow, Minderoo, Millingimbi, Drysdale Mission and Bullara. By the 1943 year's end our planes were flying to points covering all of Australia as well as Merauke, Port Moresby, Dobodura, Lae, Milne Bay in New Guinea, and Kiriwina, Woodlark and Goodenough Islands.
The gradual trend was to keep moving more freight within the island and between Australia and the islands. By December 1943 only 27.8% of payload was carried within Australia.
The year 1944 was the peak year for DAT operations. It had developed from its meagre beginnings in 1942 to an airline operating over the entire Australian mainland, New Guinea, The Admiralty Islands, Bougainville, Goodenough Island, and Biak, Wakde, and Noemfoor Islands by September 1944, the month the organisation was dissolved.
The headquarters of DAT was located in the Primary [Industries?] Building, Brisbane. Office space was shared with Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) and Air Transport Command (ATC). The regulating Officer for GHQ also had his office there.
A daily average of 141 aircraft were operated by the following units for DAT:
374th Troop Carrier Group composed of:
6th Troop Carrier Squadron
21st Troop Carrier Squadron
22nd Troop Carrier Squadron
33rd Troop Carrier Squadron
RAAF Transport Squadrons were:
33rd RAAF Squadron
34th RAAF Squadron
35th RAAF Squadron
36th RAAF Squadron
41st RAAF Squadron (Flying Boats)
Australian National Airways (ANA), flying seven (7) of our aircraft.
Guinea Airways flying three (3) of our aircraft.
A statistical summarization from January 1944 to September 1944 is as follows:
7,451.5 tons. This included
36,004 personnel weighing 3771.42 tons.
Aircraft flew 2,366,940 miles in 15,628.40 hours.
February - 7,125.3 tons. A daily average of 136 planes were assigned for the month.
March - 7,327.2 tons. A daily average of 158 aircraft assigned.
April - 9,641.93 tons. A daily average of 160 aircraft assigned.
9,937 tons, including 44,306 personnel.
Thirty of DAT planes were on D/S to Advon Fifth Air
Force. They carried a total of 5,294 tons. Grand total for May was 15,231 tons.
10,182 tons. The first
eleven days of the month DAT planes on D/S to Advon Fifth Air
carried an additional 1,196.8 tons. Grand total for June was 11,379.7 tons. Aircraft flew
3,037,321 miles in 20,559:08 hours.
July - 9,024.1 tons. A daily average of 67 aircraft flown.
August - 8,446.0 tons. A daily average of 73 aircraft were flown.
September - 7,609 tons flown by a daily average of 69 aircraft.
Several conditions governed the variable totals of tonnage hauled during the months of 1944. Weather was operation's foremost enemy during January, February, and March. A number of days during those months no freight could be lifted out of Moresby and Townsville. Also during these three months of inclement weather, DAT's daily average payload per airplane carried over the Coral Sea between Australia and New Guinea was reduced from 5080 pounds to 4750 pounds for [the] safety factor of additional fuel. Another was the steadily increased payloads into Nadzab beyond Moresby from Townsville. Although the time to fly this additional distance was only half a day, a full day was lost for these missions because of the inability to return on the same day. The number of payloads for aircraft participating in these trips was therefore reduced.
Operational efficiency showed marked improvement in April, May and June. In the Darwin area we had short hauls carrying full capacity loads. Maintenance improved in all RAAF Squadrons, making more airplanes available in operational readiness. The commercial airlines were given larger aircraft to operate for DAT. Two additional RAAF Squadrons were assigned and Ansett Airlines began to fly for the unit. All these factors contributed to [the] increase in tonnage hauled.
The last three months of operation of DAT reflected the higher caliber of operational performance, maintenance and planning within the organization. For most of these three months all aircraft of the 6th, 21st and 22nd Squadrons were placed on detached service with the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, Fifth Air Force. In the light of the loss of these aircraft it is remarkable that the payload totals remained so high. An average of only 15% of all aircraft under our operational control were out of commission these last three months. This record is even more remarkable when it is remembered that many of the aircraft were old. Availability of parts was always a problem, and the aircraft were operating in an in accessible part of the world.
DAT was disbanded on 3 October 1944 by Far East Air Forces General Order No.232 and reorganized as the 5298th Troop Carrier Wing (Prov). At the time of disbandment DAT had grown to include the following units:
1. 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group.
2. 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group.
3. Australian National Airways, operating five (5) C-49's and two (2) DC-3's.
4. Ansett Airways, operating two (2) L-10's.
5. Qantas Airways, operating three (3) C-53's.
6. Guinea Airways, operating two (2) C-50's.
7. 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron.
8. 2nd Air Cargo Control Squadron.
9. 33rd RAAF Transport Squadron.
10. 34th RAAF Transport Squadron.
11. 35th RAAF Transport Squadron.
12. 36th RAAF Transport Squadron.
13. 38th RAAF Transport Squadron.
14. 40th RAAF Transport Squadron.
15. 41st RAAF Transport Squadron.
DAT's overall safety record for the first year of its existence was one passenger fatality for each 2,000,000 passenger air miles flown. By June of 1944, it had decreased to one passenger fatality for each 3,000,000 passenger miles flown. Fatalities continued to decrease so that the overall safety record for DAT during the entire time of its existence was only one passenger fatality for each 4,000,000 passenger miles flown. That meant a passenger travelling on DAT aircraft could make 160 complete trips around the world, on the law of averages, before he would meet with a fatal accident.
DAT's safety record for the last ten months of its existence is considered phenomenal. During this final ten months period, DAT carried more than 450,000 passengers without a single passenger fatality. The average flight of DAT airplanes during that period of time was 1041 miles per flight. This meant that DAT had flown 450,000,000 passenger miles without a single passenger fatality.
One interesting item of DAT history remains to be told. As early as December 1942 DAT planes were used in paratroop training. Staff Sergeant Pilot R.E. Means of the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron made the demonstration flights. Later a decision was made to release some DAT planes and crews for paratroop training. The training program was carried out at Cairns, Australia during the months of April, May, June, and July 1943. As an example of this activity, 11 C-47's in May flew 85,000 miles in 572 hours during which 8,167 practice jumps were made.
The history of the development of DAT would not be complete without mentioning some of the men whose work contributed to its remarkable record.
As was previously mentioned, Colonel Elsmore started the year with Major Cherymisin as his Assistant Director, and Squadron Leader Rockingham as the RAAF representative. Shortly thereafter Lt. Colonel Cuddeback assumed the duties of Operations Officer. Major Charles A. Gibson, Major J.S. Breyer, Major Hall King, and Major Frederick Muhl were all with DAT from its early beginnings. They had pioneered new stations as control officers and later became regional control officers and assistant operations officers. A short biography on Major King is outlined in [the] later history of the 322nd Troop Carrier Wing.
Major Frederick J. Muhl of Waco, Texas was an enlisted man in Company K, 143rd Infantry, 36th Division, National Guard, from 28 August 1934 until November 1940. When he was inducted into Federal Service on 25 November 1940 he received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. He went to Infantry School, Fort Benning, and then returned to hbis unit as Hq. Company Executive Officer, and battalion and regimental communications officer. Following the Louisiana maneuvers he went to Brooks Field to Observers School and received his wings on 12 December 1941 and was assigned to the 102nd Observers Squadron, McClelland Field, Alabama. His unit proceeded to San Bernadino, California where they were on submarine patrol along the Southern Californian coast. Major Muhl left Fort Mason, California on 12 January 1942 and arrived in Melbourne, Australia on 2 February. After three months assignment with the Quartermaster in Brisbane he was re-assigned to the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron as control officer at Darwin. After six months at Darwin he was stationed at Townsville.. He was sent to Port Moresby on 16 April 1943 and was assistant control officer, then control officer and finally Regional control officer during the next eighteen months. His Headquarters was moved to Hollandia at the time DAT was disbanded.
On 18 February 1944 Major Harrison John Overturf was assigned to DAT from the V Bomber Command, Fifthe Air Force. He was further assigned as Commanding Officer, 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron. Major Overturf, who was a well known architect in Seattle previous to his service in the Army, went on active duty 23 March 1942 with the Operational Intelligence Section, Headquarters, AAF, in Washington D.C. From 25 June to 11 August 1942 he attended Air Intelligence School at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. During this period from June to 31 December 1942 he also was aide to Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, Commanding General of V Bomber Command. He served overseas with the Bomber Command from 1 October 1942 until 18 February 1944. From June 1943 to the time he left the organization, Major Overturf served as Executive A-2.
These were the key personnel, but all the men who flew the planes over vast expanses of mountain, sea, swamps and jungles, the ground personnel who "kept em flying", the men who kept the paper work in order and the men who ran the control stations are all to be congratulated on their contribution to a job damned well done.
WILLIAM H. CARLETON
Major, Air Corps
A.C. of C., A-2.
THE 322ND TROOP CARRIER WING
With the disbandment of the Directorate of Air Transport, Allied Air Forces, Southwest Pacific Area on 3 October 1944, the American section was reorganized as the 5298th Troop Carrier Wing (Provisional) by Far East Air Forces General Order no.232. Colonel Ray T. Elsmore was named as the Commanding Officer of the new provisional Wing, and the unit was placed under the administrative and operational command of Far East Air Forces (FEAF).
Actually the American personnel of DAT experienced little or no change in this reorganization. Headquarters offices remained in the Primary Building, Brisbane, and the enlisted and officer personnel continued to perform the same duties as formerly. An immediate advantage gained in this new reorganization was an authorized T/O & T/E. Administrative procedure was naturally affected but the well established and time tested operational procedure of DAT continued to function as part of the new Wing Regulations.
From 3 October to 16 October 1944 the seven (7) RAAF Transport Squadrons continued to operate under the Provisional Wing. From 16 October on we became a 100% American unit with the exception of the Australian pilots and crews who continued to fly our planes under contract with civil airlines. On 16 October [the] Wing began operations with the following units under its control:
a. Hq. and Hq. Squadron, 5298th Troop Carrier Wing (Prov).
b. 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group.
c. 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group.
d. 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron.
e. 2nd Air Cargo Control Squadron.
f. Five (5) C-49's and two DC-3's flown by Australian National Airways (ANA).
g. Two (2) L-10 airplanes flown by Ansett Airways.
h. Three (3) C-53 airplanes flown by Qantas Airways.
i. Two (2) C-50 airplanes flown by Guinea Airways.
The Wing Headquarters personnel who were assigned the key positions in the new organization were as follows:
Colonel Ray T. Elsmore - Commanding Officer.
Lt. Col. Gerald L. Cherymisin - Executive Officer.
Lt. Col. Leon D. Cuddeback - A-3.
Major Harrison J. Overturf - A-1.
Captain Alfred Geist - A-4
Captain Myrle Wilson - Adjudant
1st Lt. Floyd L. Miller - C.O., Hq. Squadron
Major Frederick J. Muhl - Forward Area Regional Control Officer
1st Lt. Howard A. Johnson - Statistical Officer
Brief biographies on Colonel Elsmore, Lt. Col. Cuddeback, Lt. Colonel Cherymisin, Major Overturf, and Major Muhl were included in the DAT section of this history.
Captain Alfred Geist had formerly been 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron Supply Officer. He returned to the United States in November 1944 before he had much opportunity to set up his A-r4 section and 2nd Lt. Paul E. Maloney was assigned to replace him.
Lt. Maloney, whose home is in Youngstown, Ohio, was commissioned from O.C.S. in MArch 1943. His Stateside Army career was spent at Indian Springs, Las Vegas Army Air Field. From Las Vegas Lt. Maloney reported to Greensboro, North Carolina where he departed for overseas on 25 August 1944. He was Assistant Supply Officer, 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron, until appointed Wing A-4. His promotion to 1st Lieutenant occurred 31 January 1945.
Captain Myrle Wilson of San Francisco, California had served in the Army previous to the war at Fort Mills, Corregidor, Philippines, and while there, went to Shanghai with the 21st Infantry Division during the 1934 uprising. He reentered the Army in 1936 and served at Presidio, California, Santa Ana, California, and Kingman, Arizona. From Kingman he went to Greensboro, North Carolina where he left for overseas on 25 August 1944. Arriving at Finschhafen, New Guinea, he was assigned to the 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron, Brisbane. On activation of the Provisional Wing he became Wing Adjutant. His promotion to Major is as of 7 February 1945.
[The following 20 paragraphs are given over to biographies of persons of lesser and lesser importance and have been deleted at this stage]
When the Provisional Wing became activated, Hq. and Hq. Squadron and Hq. 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron were all located in Brisbane. Plans had previously been made to transfer these Headquarters to either Finschhafen or to Hollandia. Major Muhl set up his forward area office in Hollandia on 5 September 1944, and the Hollandia Control Station team was living with the 84th Airdrome Squadron. Around 11 October Colonel Elsmore, Major Overturf and Captain Geist flew to Hollandia from Brisbane and decided on a Headquarters area close to both Sentani and Hollandia airstrips. The 49th Fighter Control Sector was moving from the area, and around 15 October the area was assigned to the Wing by Colonel Hewitt, FEAF Air Engineer. By the latter part of October the Hollandia Control Station team moved into this camp site. However, Wing Headquarters and 1st Air Cargo Control Squadron operated out of Brisbane the entire month of October with Headquarters, Rear Echelon at Finschhafen.
Around 7 November Lt. Miller, Hq. Squadron CO, took a few carpenters to Hollandia to prepare the camp area for the Wing Hq. move. As days went by his crew increased in size with plumbers, electricians, and laborers being requisitioned from the two Cargo Control Squadrons. There were several buildings already in the area that only required some remodeling, screening in, and repairing. The time the wing and Hq. 1st Air Cargo personnel arrived on 15 November the mess hall, Squadron supply building, Wing Hq. building, Hq. Squadron Orderly Room, 1st Air Cargo Orderly Room, and four tents had been completed. For the first few days after the main personnel arrived the men were quartered in the building that later became the Officers Club. Bathing was done in the stream, and drinking water was distributed throughout the area in lister bags. By the end of the month practically all officers and enlisted mens quarters were completed. These pyramidal tents all had wood floors and were screened in. The enlisted men and officers mess were in the same building with the two messes separated by the kitchen and storage room.
Our campsite was beautiful, lying at the foot of Cyclops mountain in the entrance of a river gorge. Two mountain streams thread their way through the officer's and enlisted men's area and converged to flow together alongside the office buildings. The camp area was shaded by tall heavily foliaged trees. A breeze sprang up late every afternoon and the nights were cool enough to use a blanket comfortably.
By December the Wing Headquarters and Hq. 1st Air Cargo Squadron had settled itself in its new surroundings. True, there was still plenty of work to be done around the office area and camp area, but by the middle of the month the work was essentially complete. Our water supply was piped to our area from FEAF's chlorination plant. Showers and screened-in latrines were completed in both enlisted men and in officers areas. Bridges were built over the stream, and path and general area lighting was installed. An excellent dispensary was constructed out of an old building formerly on the property.
Our Headquarters Squadron under the able command of Lt. Miller continued to improve the living conditions and facilities in the camp area. A portion of the Supply building was allocated to a barber shop, Special Service Office, Post Exchange, and Squadron Day Room.
NOTE:- The Information greyed out in the above document was researched by Bob Livingstone and is not part of the original document.
On the 22 May 1944, 38 Squadron RAAF and its operational role came under the control of the Directorate of Air Transport, Allied Air Forces. On 15 October 1944, 38 Squadron RAAF came under the control of the the R.A.A.F Directorate of Air Transport.
I'd like to thank Bob Livingstone for his assistance with this home page.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 9 November 2004
This page last updated 24 January 2020