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Salute To Our Veterans, 2003

NOTE: If you or a family member served aboard these two ships during Operation Anvil-Dragoon, and would be interested in sharing some memories with others, please contact Ethel Taylor Thank you for your service.


Welcome to our Memory Album for pilots of the VF 74 Squadron of the USS Kasaan Bay and VF 1 of the USS Tulagi. Although many of these young pilots went on to the action in the Pacific, some were lost August 15-29, 1944. For the purpose of these pages, we will concentrate on one action by the Allied Navies, in particular, the actions of two American Carriers and their pilots in Operation Anvil-Dragoon, the Liberation of South France, August 15-29, 1944, the USS Kasaan Bay and the USS Tulagi.

These pages are not meant as a mirror of the work and pages of Operation Anvil-Dragoon or play on the marvelous research done by Marcel Ertel of France. It is to open a wider range of visitors here in the United States and make them aware of the sacrifices and contributions these young American fliers made to World Peace in a dark time of history, and to show that France Remembers!

During World War II, there were many Heros in Europe from America. These men and women faced the dangers of war, fully believing in Freedom, self-determination, and pride in what they were doing and their skills, to set Freedom on the right path again. The entire scope of WWII is too large and would be only general due to space. These pages are dedicated to the memories of those who fought and those who made the supreme sacrifice far from home and loved ones, during one period in one area of this conflict.

The pilots of our chosen subject were trained at Naval Air Training centers on the east coast and along the gulf coast, and flew PBYs on surveillance along the US coasts. Some were already flying prior to August 1944, some just coming aboard prior to the USS Kasaan Bay and Tulagi departing Quonset Point, RI.

Pilots of the VOF-1 went through fighter training then learned spotting from the Army at Ft. Sill, Lawton, OK before going to Casco Bay Maine for final training with Naval gunfire ships. They saw their first combat in Southern France flying F6Fs from the escort carrier Tulagi. Word of their capabilities got to the Pacific fleet's Admiral "Kelly" Turner who asked for the new squadron's service for the offensives planned for 1945. Hellcats were replaced by a mix of FM-2 Wildcats and TBM Avengers. The unit was rechristened "a composite observation" squadron, VOC-1 and supported the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

By 28 June 1944, the USS Kasaan Bay and USS Tulagi had restocked at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, VA and steamed toward Quonset Point, RI. Accompanying them were three DDs, the USS Greer, Upshur, and Tarbell.

On July 1, 1944, the task force 88 was complete. They cast off and began their journey across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It included two Casablanca Class Carriers, the USS Kasaan Bay and Tulagi, carrying a compliment of 35 pilots and planes each, destroyer escorts Currier, Runnels, Hollings, Haines, Marsh and Tatum. They proceeded according to anti-submarine disposition, ships darkened, Readiness II condition and radio silence. By July 5, they entered the European-African-Middle East War zone.

By August 14, the US Task Force had been joined by ships of the Royal Navy, HMS Hunter, Stalker, Caledon, Rumilies, Searcher and Colombo, USS Jeffers, Butler, Herndon, Gherardi, Quincy and Shubrick. The carriers, battleships, destroyers and cruisers were on station off the coast of South France, with 200+ planes and pilots.

Nearly fifty-nine years ago, August 15, 1944, the Allied invasion of Southern France, Operation Anvil - Dragoon, began. Hellcats, Wildcats, Spitfires, American and British aircraft carriers and destroyers struck at the German coastal defenses of southwestern France, and the islands of the Mediterranean. The days would be hard fought as the Allies moved to gain a foothold in France, and many would die

Flying cover for the infantry, the skies were filled with Allied planes. Their missions were to attack the gun emplacements, road convoys and munitions trains hurrying German troops to intercept the Allied invasion. Destroyers, USS Augusta, Quincy and Nevada pounded the coastal defenses constantly, guided by the Hellcats above. Bombers of the 12th and 15th Army Air Corps dropped their loads on designated targets, to further protect the troops. Some of these Navy pilots would not leave France, Many would go on to fight in the Pacific, some to lose their lives there.

To provide our readers with an element of a time line of these 14 days in August, select entries of the deck logs of the USS Tulagi (CVE-72) and USS Kasaan Bay (CVE-69) August 15 - 29, 1944, Operation Anvil-Dragoon, South France are presented here.

August 15, 1944
07:55, Royal Navy F6F # \JV 221 came aboard, emergency landing.
09:37, Spotting over Delta area zone landing near Sardineau, low stratus clouds, Lt. Francis R ROBERTS, F6F-5 #18 plane, engine at P-17089 made forced landing in Sea. Hit barrage detonation in charge on ballons suspended from LST. Plane total loss, pilot injured, suffering leg wounds and shock, rescued by destroyer USS Murphey.
20:30 F6F-5 # 7 ordered to fly to Corsica because of damage to arresting gear.

August 16, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations
17:50 Lt. Cmdr William F. Bringle (FLight Leader) made forced landing in sea after mission to attack Gun position located on hill west of Giens, 4 medium coastal defence.dual purpose In 150' stone wall enclosure, guns destroyed, anti-aircraft fire hit Bringle's plane. Rescued by destroyer.
20:19, damaged F6F-5 #18 Stripped of all gear, was dropped over the side.

August 17, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations
Pilots Lt. Robert Joseph JOHNSON and Lt. John Dismas Frank, VF-74, USS Kasaan Bay, KIA, Sainte-Cannatt.

August 18, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations

August 19, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations

August 20, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations
10:53 Lt. David Stanley CROCKET was shot down over Toulon Harbor by anti-aircraft fire. Flying plane #10 , he was last seen in a controlled gentle glide heading for bay inside harbor. Taken prisoner with French crew of B-26, held at Fortress of Toulon, 400 soldiers, (he was released on 23 August, when fort surrendered, Returned aboard ship 26 Aug.
19:00 Lt. James Millard ALSTON parachuted from burning plane #18, five miles north Carcassone at Pennautiers. Landed safe. .
Lt. William Nathan ARBUCKLE, USS Kasaan Bay, KIA Me'ze
Lt. Harry Brinkley BASS, USS Kasaan Bay, KIA les Villettes>
Ensign Charles Wilburn Scott HULLAND, shot down, Sainte-Julien

August 21, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations
17:00 Lt. jg John Harding COYNE USS Tulagi, KIA Cabrierers. Seen to parachute, MIA

August 22, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations

August 23, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations

August 24, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations.

August 25, 1944
06:30 Commenced Flight operations
10:52 Spotter over Marseille Harbor for 2 hours, intense anti-aircraft fire. Two batteries on Ratonneau Isle silenced, battery Croisette Taken out. Lt. Cmdr. William Floyd BRINGLE, flying F6F-3 made a forced landing in the water after being damaged by anti-aircraft fire, was picked up by USS Kendrick off Cape Sicie.

August 26, 1944
06:35 Commenced Flight operations
07:10 USS Murphy came alongside, Lt. Cmdr William Floyd BRINGLE transferred to USS Tulagi
11:36 Lt. David Stanley CROCKETT, shot down by anti-aircraft over Toulon Harber, August 20, 1944, was returned to USS Tulagi
17:51 F6F #27, piloted by Lt. H. E. BROWN, VF-74 unable to put landing gear down made water landing close to USS Shubrick, pilot taken from water by USS Shubrick. Slightly injured. USS Shubrick reported condition of pilot satisfactory.
18:47 Report received from Lt. W. F. BRINGLE, Squadron Commander, VOF-1 that TBN #31 was sighted on the ground at Pointe DeSabian, it had apparently been Burned by its crew, no personell observed at scene.
20:05 USS Shurbrick alongside. Transferred Lt. H. E. Brown of VF-74 to Tulagi.

August 27, 1944
06:55 Commenced Flight operations.

August 28, 1844
06:55-19:58 Conducted Flight operations

August 29, 1944
07:30-19:58 Conducted Flight operations

August 30, 1944
Proceeded to Harbor Ajaccio, Cosica, to anchorage.

September 3, 1944
14:50 Ensign M. B. Hales a-v, reported aboard with baggage from VFN-74, USS Kasaan Bay under verbal orders .
15:30 Commenced operations for getting underway.
18:43 Anchors Aweigh.

In company with the USS Kasaan Bay, USS Herndon, USS Butler, USS Gherardi and USS Shubrick the group made its way from the Harbor Adjaccio, Corsican enroute to Oran Algeria. On September 5, the task force passed through the nets into Mers el Kebir Harbor. While there Lt. Cmdr. John H. SANDOR transferred under task force orders to the USS Kasaan Bay for temporary duty in command of VF Squadron 74. On September 7, the Task Force steamed out of the harbor, bound for Quonset Point, RI.

As the Task Force steamed toward the US, on September 14, Admiral Calvin M. DURGIN presented in ceremony, the the Purple Heart to Ensign Richard V. YENZER. On September 16, the F6F-f's were launched to proceed to N.A.S. Quonset, RI, the escorts were detached to proceed to New York. The task Force, then moored at N.A.S. Quonset, RI. The USS Kasaan Bay and Tulagi had arrived home.

Task Force 88.2 commanded by Admiral Calvin Theophile Durgin consisted of the following planes: 35 Hellcats aboard Escort Carrier, USS Tulagi, with 35 pilots; 35 Hellcats aboard Escort Carrier, USS Kasaan Bay, with 35 pilots.

The following links will take you to the other pages in our Memorial Album. This will highlight different aspects of the next 14 days of Operation Anvil-Dragoon and the men who carried the fight to the skies over South France. Many of the pilots of these two squadrons survived this battle; some of them did not. After returning to the U. S., VF-74 was decommissioned, the pilots were assigned to other squadrons, headed to the Pacific where more would not survive. As you look at the faces of these young men, some of America's finest, breathe a "Thank You" to them and their families for standing strong between the forces that sought to dominate the world and the forces that loved freedom. They carried the weight of the world on their strong young shoulders.

Visit our Pilots Photos Album Remember to click "Turn the Page" link at the bottom to visit the othr pages in the Album.

France Remembers!Memorials Photos

This page of medals photos represent some of the medals awarded to these pilots.

Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoyed it. Please leave your comments, if you like, in our Guest Book. Come again sometime.

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Marcel Ertel was a career airman in the French Air Force, specializing in Military Air Control, flying on a Boeing KC-135-F, refueling in flight, jet planes for the FAF. After he retired, his love of flying and admiration for the US pilots that died in the Liberation of South France, led to researching and locating the sites of the crashes and deaths of these pilots. His efforts have culminated in formal dedication ceremonies of memorials for many of "his pilots". He has received numerous certificates and accolades from US Air Force personnel for his achievements at recognizing fellow US servicemen, who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom in France.

You can check out his page here on the Liberation of South France. Please be patient as it has many photos.

While you are in France, pay a visit to this beautiful site dedicated to the French Legionnaires

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Copyright, 2003
Web Page January 23,2003

NOTICE: All research materials regarding VF-74 and VOF-1 Squadrons, including but not restricted to, documents, research, photos are the exclusive property of the French Military Historian and Researcher, Mr. Marcel Ertel, Les Villettes, Haute-Loire, France. The personal photos of various pilots provided by their families are the exclusive property of the pilot's families. Photos from the collection of Captain Harry Basore, USN, remain the exclusive property of Capt. Basore. Mr. Ertel, Captain Basore and the families have graciously permitted me to use the information for this Memory Album dedicated to those pilots. Thank you all.

This information compiled, prepared and submitted to this site by Ethel Taylorand remains the property of the submitter

NOTICE: Ethel Taylor grants that this information and data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material, for personal and genealogical research. These electronic pages CAN NOT be reproduced in any format for profit, CAN NOT be copied over to other sites. It may be linked to, or other presentation only with written permission of Ethel Taylor.