Great Ashfield, England Station 155
Activated December 1,1942 at Davis -Monthan Air Force Base Tucson AZ Moved to England in June 1943 sailing on the Queen
Mary and Queen Elizabeth in late June early July 1943. Two B 17s were lost on route. Great Ashfield is 20 miles from the coast of England- add 20 or so miles for the Channel - the 385th was based roughly 40-45 miles from occupied Europe!
One must remember there were several million American soldiers in England prior to the D-Day invasion. This number of young
males overwhelmed the "Tommies", and of course the American males were always seeking female companionship. It was known the American soldiers were paid somewhere near 400% more money than British soldiers - and most Americans were willing to to pay for the company of females. Many fights between Tommies and Yankees were started when a certain phrase caught on and was said in a mixed
crowd of soldiers. All that was required was for a Tommy to say, "There are three things wrong with the Americans - They are over-paid, - Over-sexed, - and over here !" Some soldiers on both sides laughed it off - while others - well - they found it reasonable to start a melee free-for-all !
Home on leave and seeing the Yanks going out with English girls - sometimes one's own included, no doubt a fist fight. But, there was genuine respect and affection. The English took it all in stride and bent over backwards to provide American military needs. 12
"The average life of a B-17 bomber at Great Ashfield was just over 4 months. Very few B-17 bombers that were
transferred to the base lasted acomplete tour of duty. --- The average Airman lasted 15 combat missions and few completed an entire tour of 25
missions. --- Must less 35 !!!! The average LIFE of a Ball Turret Gunner in combat was 12 MINUTES.The life of an Airman at Great Ashfield when not flying combat missions was rather noneventful. Not much to do on base for entertainment. Some British Ladies came several days during the week to open a building known as "The Recreation Hall" and served tea and biscuits for several hours. The closest movie to be seen was in London. The base commander did not believe in tempting Airmen with alcohol so there was no NCO Club. The PX opened one day a week so men could secure needed personal articles such as soap and tobacco with Ration Cards.herefore - Airmen spent their
"down-time" writing letters, sleeping, gambling at poker and craps, - and on occasion receiving an off-base pass to go to the local village."38
Colonel Elliott Vandevanter- Commanding Officer of the 385th Bob Group - is second from right
25,000 feet in the air - 50 below zero