Merryfield and the 441st Troop Carrier Group.
The majority of the following information has come from a publication that the 441st TCGp commissioned during July 1944 with E Goodman & Son Ltd, The Phoenix Press, Taunton, Somerset, England.
This document gives the perfect example for the historian to understand the make up of a Troop Carrier Group of the 9thTroop Carrier Command during WW2. Plus the number of service personnel involved in an average Troop Carrier Squadron and the independent nature of how each squadron existed.
A scanned copy of this booklet has been in Robins collection since 2004 when Donald M Stonestrom who had been a navigator with the 100 TCSq went to the trouble to dismantle his personal copy and scan it page by page for him.
Merryfield, situated at Ilton near Ilminster in Somerset, is still operational as a satellite airfield for Yeovilton, where the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm are based and training helicopter pilots. The airfield has a long history and was also very busy in the 1950s when the RAF operated Vampires and Meteors there.
The photograph below of Merryfield airfield Circa 1964. Has come courtesy of Mac Hawkins, from his book “Somerset at War” First published during 1988. In this book on pages 154 and 155 there is a considerable amount of additional information about this wartime airfield.
The 441st TCGp arrived there during April 1944 at the same time as the 439th TCGp and the 440th TCGp moved onto Upottery and Exeter airfields respectively. These three groups were attached to the 50th Troop Carrier Wing that had moved its headquarters to Redhayes House near Clyst Honiton, in readiness for the D-Day invasion. This attractive country house was situated just a mile or so from Exeter airfield. (Exeter Airport).
The great thing about this information is that it was written during the summer of 1944, so has not been subject to change with the passing of time.
The Dedication above refers to those who lost their lives whilst operating out of Merryfield
One of the very interesting facts that emerges is that the group headquarters refer themselves as a squadron. but unlike the four squadrons that were attached too the group the HQ squadron had no aircraft of their own. So in common with all the other troop carrier groups any pilots including the C.O. with in the H.Q squadron needed to requisition aircraft from one of the attached squadrons. In the case of the 441st TCGp this included the 99th Troop Carrier Squadron — 100th TCSq– 301st TCSq– 302nd TCSq. All are featured in this booklet.
According to the detailed duty rosters included in this booklet the 441st Troop Carrier Group consisted of one thousand six hundred and eighty six personnel at that time.
The Head Quarters Squadron (Group Administration) consisted of 146 personnel. Where as each of the four attached squadrons with aircraft was made up of an average of 385 personnel.
Picture 1 P-X personnel – 2 Cryptographic Section – 3 & 4 Link Trainer dept — 5 Group and Squadron personnel dept — 6 Communication
1 Glider Mechanics 2 Communications Section 3 Radio Operators 4 Operations Dept
1 Supply and Transportation Debts 2 Glider Mechanics 3 Medical Personnel 4 Ordnance Dept 5 Engineering dept
The ticks and other marks on these pages along with the highlight were made by Donald M Stonestrom.
1 Engineering Dept 2 Medical section 3 Squadron cooks 4 Operations Dept 5 Parachute Dept
1 Orderly Room 2 Transport Dept 3 Comm Dept 4 Glider Pilots
1 Squadron Supply 2 Tech Supply 3 S-2 Section 4 Power Pilots
Interesting to note the cartoon caption “I thought they said P47″ This has to be a reference to the open day by the 439th TCGp at Upottery during July 1944 when Col Young the 439th Group Commander, gave a dramatic demonstration of fighter evasion involving a P47 Thundebolt fighter whilst he was piloting a C47. This event is referred to in Col Charles H Young’s book
“Into The Valley” The untold story of USAAF Troop Carrier in World War Two. From North Africa Through Europe
301st Squadron continued
301st Squadron Roster continued
1 S-2 Section 2 Operations Dept 3 Staff Officers 4 Power Pilots
1 Communication Section 2 Transportation Dept 3 Medical Section 4 Squadron Cooks 5 Parachute Dept
1 Glider Pilots 2 Orderly Room 3 Squadron Supply 4 Radar Section
The sketch below is a light hearted account of nights out, trying to charm local ladies and touring local public houses around Merryfield airfield. Older Locals will recognize the ports of call: Wyndham Arms Ilton, Lamb and Lion Hambridge, Bell Inn Curry Rival and the Rock Inn featured in a photo above (four Yanks and a none drinker). Over seventy years later two of the pubs are still open.