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Military History/Two WW 2 USAAF Questions



Based on your expertise, I thought you might help me with two questions related to my Father's WWII military service.  He was an 8th Air Force airplane mechanic stationed in England (Burtonwood and Sudbury Air Bases).

1. His Ike Jacket has a Meritorious Unit Commendation patch on it, but I cannot seem to find out for what reason(s).  Like almost all WWII vets, his detailed records were destroyed in the St. Louis Archive fire.  Is there a listing of WWII 8th Air Force outfits that received MUCs?

2. From scrapbook info, I know my Father's exact dates of travel to and from England and PROBABLE ports of embarkation and arrival:
Depart 12/5/43 Brooklyn Army Terminal - Arrive 12/16/43 Liverpool
Depart 12/13/45 Southampton - Arrive 12/25/45 Bayonne (Military Ocean Terminal). My Father didn't talk much about his WWII service, but did tell us how awful this return voyage was. He said many guys thought that they may have survived the war, but would not survive the trip home. Can this info be associated with the troop ships that he may have sailed on?

Many thanks for any insights you might provide.

ANSWER: Good Day,
       Thank you for your question.  In it you requested if there is a listing of WW 2 8th Air Force units that were awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation?  That I know of, there is no list.  I suggest you contact:

8th Air Force Museum
175 Bourne Avenue
 Pooler, Georgia   31322

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Dayton, Ohio   45433-6518

US Air Force Academy Library
Colorado Springs, Colorado   80840-5241

       In your question you typed "Depart 12/5/43 Brooklyn Army Terminal - Arrive 12/16/43 Liverpool".  A Troop Ship convoy of 22 vessels departed the New York Port of Embarkation on December 5, 1943.  Five of those Troop Ships docked at Liverpool, England on  December 15, 1943:

US Army Transport Cristobal        2,201 Troops onboard
RMS Strathnaver          5,072 Troops onboard
RMS Britannic          5,588 Troops onboard
RMS Stirling Castle          6,093 Troops onboard
RMS Athlone Castle          unknown (at least to me) quantity of troops onboard

I know that you wish to obtain the name of the specific troop ship your father was a passenger upon in December 1943.  Sorry, what I have typed is the best I can provide.
       In your question you typed "Depart 12/13/45 Southampton - Arrive 12/25/45 Bayonne (Military Ocean Terminal)".

Departure Date:   December 13, 1945
Departure Location:   Southampton, England
Ship:   USS Enterprise  CV-6
Arrival Date:   December 24, 1945
Arrival Location:   New York Port of Embarkation
    MAGIC CARPET voyage

       In your question you typed "My Father didn't talk much about his.......would not survive the trip home."  Operation MAGIC CARPET was the process the US Military implemented to return as many US Military Personnel to the USA after hostilities ceased.  SPEED was the priority, not necessarily comfort or safety.  Yes, US Military Personnel did die on MAGIC CARPET voyages.
       As to the USS Enterprise  CV-6, YES, an Aircraft Carrier!  Thousands of G.I. Army Cots were placed upon the hanger deck & returning soldiers were told to pick a cot & try to stay in one place.  The hanger deck of an aircraft carrier is designed to accomodate aircraft tied to the deck, NOT men on cots NOT tied to the deck!  The North Atlantic is not a pleasant place in winter, but the Winter of 1945-46 was especially stormy.  Imagine aircrew of the 8th Air Force that somehow survived the Daylight Precision Bombing missions to Schweinfurt, only to sucumb on their return to the USA?
       Good Luck with your quest.

   Richard V. Horrell
    WW 2 Connections     

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Richard,

Great information and very much appreciated. I knew there was a push to get troops back home ASAP; especially after VJ Day.  The name Operation MAGIC CARPET is new to me, but seems most appropriate. I've read that a number soldiers died on these Trans-Atlantic crossing from extreme dehydration due to seasickness.  Agree that it would have been a terrible shame to survive the horrors of combat only to die en route back home. My Father (long since deceased) told me he survived for almost a week by consuming saltine crackers and water (both of which he struggled to keep down).

One follow-up question:  I mentioned that I know the exact travel dates, but only the "probable" ports of exit and entry.  For only the dates I've noted, is it possible to determine all troop ships involved in crossings to and from England?  I am less certain of the return voyage to the United States; especially since my Father never mentioned that he was on an aircraft carrier.  However, I was quite young when these stories were shared. If gleaning such information is too tedious and time consuming, please just let me know.

Thank you again for your insights.


p.s. I will take your suggestion and follow-up with the 8th Air Force Museum about the MUC.  In fact, I am planning to visit there sometime in the near future.

Good Day,
       Thank you for your follow-up.  In it you typed "but only the "probable" ports of exit and entry."  Regardless of being "probable" or not, what was your source for the geographic locations "Brooklyn Army Terminal", "Liverpool", "Southampton" & "Bayonne"?  The other Troop Ships of the December 1943 Troop Ship convoy, alond with their Arrival Destination, are as follows:

SS Mexico          Swansea, Wales
USAT Siboney          Gourock, Scotland
USAT Evangeline          "         "
USAT Borinquen          "         "
USAT Shawnee          "         "
USAT George W. Goethals       "         "
SS Bienville          "         "
USAT J.W. McAndrew          "         "
SS Explorer          "         "
SS Colombie (French)          "         "
SS Athos II          Belfast, Northern Ireland
RMS Capetown Castle        Gourock, Scotland
RMS Highland Chieftain        "         "
USAT Excelsior          Belfast, Northern Ireland
RMS Durban Castle          "         "       "

Those that departed from the Boston Port of Embarkation:

USS Florence Nightingale  AP-70          Gourock, Scotland
USS Susan B. Anthony  AP-72          "         "

       As to the voyage home for your father:

Departure Date:   December 13, 1945
Departure Location:   Le Havre, France
Ship:   USS Boise  CL-47
Arrival Date:   December 24, 1945
Arrival Location:   New York Port of Embarkation
    MAGIC CARPET voyage

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Departure Date:   December 14, 1945
Departure Location:   Le Havre, France
Troop Ship:   SS Athos II
Arrival Date:   December 24, 1945
Arrival Location:   New York Port of Embarkation
    MAGIC CARPET voyage

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Departure Date:  __?__?__
Departure Location:   Marseilles, France
Troop Ship:   SS Sea Robin
Arrival Date:   December 24, 1945
Arrival Location:   New York Port of Embarkation
    via the Straits of Gibraltar
    MAGIC CARPET voyage

       Good Luck with your quest.

   Richard V. Horrell
    WW 2 Connections

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Richard V. Horrell


Can answer: World War Two. Specifically, the troop transport ships that took US Military Personnel overseas & returned them to the US, 1941-47. Also, unit history of US Army QM, Signal, MP, Ordnance, Medical, Transportation & Engineer units that served during WW 2. The more obscure units are my specialty. If you have the APO that a Veteran sent letters from or received letters at, I can look up the history of that APO.


A lifelong study of WW 2, including participation as a WW 2 Re-enactor, 1980-2002. Also, interviewing over 400 WW 2 Veterans about their role in WW 2.

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Assisting the National Archives on numerous occasions during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of WW 2, 1991-95.

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