Smitty at Camp MacKall & the Knollwood Maneuvers

glider (640x409)

WACO glider at Camp MacKall – reverse side reads: “Hello Mom, Finally got some cards that can let you see what these gliders we ride around in look like. This picture was taken on our camp field. I have a few more that I’ll send to you. Regards to all. Hope to be home this Wednesday.” Everett

The type of construction used for the barracks at Camp MacKall and the above hospital is called a “theatre of operations.”  Built on pilings and constructed of green sawed pine boards which is then covered with type 4 black tar paper.  The wood was cut from trees on the camp property using 7 sawmills running 24/7.  When the boards dried out, the 2 pot-bellied stoves were incapable of keeping the men warm.  Smitty spent some time at that hospital when the army discovered he did not perspire.  The medication took 3 weeks to kick in and then he was back to marching.

Louisiana Maneuvers

Louisiana Maneuvers

The Knollwood Maneuver would not only be the deciding factor for the 11th Airborne, but also for future paratrooper divisions as a whole.  5 December 1943, Army Ground Forces test team deployed a composite combat team from the 17th A/B, plus a battalion from Col. Duke McEntee’s 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment to be situated at Knollwood Airport and other critical points to act as the ‘enemy.’

Viewer to this operation included: Under Secretary of War, Robert Patterson; General McNair; General Ridgeway (82nd A/B); BGen. Lee Donovan; Airborne Command and several teams of high-ranking inspectors from the War Dept., Army Ground Forces and Army Air Forces.

Camp MacKall, 1943, triangular runway

Camp MacKall, 1943, triangular runway

On midnight of Dec. 6, 1943, 200 C-47 Dakota transports carried the troopers and towed the 234 gliders from five separate airfields to begin the operation.  The lift-offs were timed so that each plane would join the column in its proper place.  The aircraft became a vee-of-vees, nine ships wide as the formations grew larger.  They made a rendezvous on the Atlantic coastline and took a 200 mile circular route before aiming toward the inland drop zones; most of the men would jump during evening’s darkness at 1200′.  Almost all the troopers and gliders hit the proper DZ (drop Zones) and LZs (landing zone).  However, the division chief of staff and his glider load landed in a road on the Fort Bragg artillery range.

 Everett Smith, [aka Smitty] at Camp MacKall

Everett Smith, [aka Smitty] at Camp MacKall

Weather conditions were not condusive for jumping as the rain became sleet, but still, 85% were successful.  There were 2 casualties and 48 injuries.  The 11th Airborne “captured” and “held” the Aberdeen and Knollwood Airports from the defending forces.  The exercise came to an end on Dec. 12 – Smitty’s 29th birthday.  The War Dept., after reviewing the reports, replied to Gen. Swing that they had been wrong and the training for such a specialized unit should proceed. (As it would turn out, their training had only just begun. )

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News from home: Smitty’s friend, George Dunlop rescued two Navy pilots after their training plane crashed into Jamaica Bay.  The company of soldiers that were stationed on Broad Channel became an actual camp and decided to call it — Camp Smith!  War bond drives were going on as well as the dimming of the street lamps.

Below is the graduation class of the 187th regiment, 11th Airborne Division – Everett Smith is in the back row, fifth from the right (in front of the tree), Arthur G. Weyant (bottom row, far left)

187th, Headquarters Company

On Jan. 1, 1944, the Headquarters Building for the 11th burnt to the ground.   Jan. 2, the division began its train ride south to Camp Polk, LA.

Click on images to enlarge.

Some pictures from the Camp MacKall 1943 graduating 11th Airborne yearbook

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Current News –

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE – 95TH ANNIVERSARY

RAAF Insignia Wings Brevets

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), formed March 1921, is the aerial warfare branch of the Australian Defence Force. It directly continues the traditions of the second oldest Air Force in the world, the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), formed on 22 October 1912.[2]The RAAF provides support across a spectrum of operations such as air superiority, precision strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, and humanitarian support.

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imagesIU502WW1

Following this post, there will be another series of Intermission posts to divide 1943 and 1944.  I hope you find them interesting.____ GP Cox

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldin –Pilot

Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Gilbert Clark – Laurenburg, NC; USMC, WWII

Stephen Cutter – Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, USS IntrepidBIABoNLCEAEPa7G (599x769)

Carl Frens – Zeeland, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, LST 863

Bart Ingenito – Larchmont, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne

William Knebel – Eugene, OR; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., Medical Corps

Lucy Meeks – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force Women’s Division, WWII

Ray Newsom – Littlefield, TX; US Army, WWII

Roy Schumacher – Long Beach, CA & FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Kenneth Sinclair – Yass NSW, AUS; RAF, WWII, ETO, Squadron 625 & 576

Gus Winckel – Pukekohe, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, No. 18 NEI Squadron

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 31, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. Nice post GP. There’s a group on Facebook called the 327th Infantry Glider Regiment that have some videos you might find interesting.

    Like

  2. What a great tribute for your Dad, GP. Your pride in him is totally understandable. Very special! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s so easy to see the end result and forget the labor and training that went into any effort. The making of the barracks using 24/7 saws and the training with those gliders are just two examples.
    It’s wonderful to see the impact you and your blog have had on so many people, GP.
    Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Always very good information in all your posts

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post gp, always something to be learnt in your posts, 7 sawmills running 24/7 sounds quite a task and achievement, quite a feat also to launch 234 Gliders, I did not realize the huge effort Gliders played in the War.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back then, they weren’t sure what they’d need! These gliders were still being developed as the 11th trained. I doubt if any survived till now, except museums. They were mainly used in Europe and the CBI by US Army & Navy, the RAF & RCAF and considered expendable. Being of such light-weight construction, they accomplished their mission and were deserted.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A nice tribute to your father, GP! Not being able to sweat is a serious medical issue in a warm climate. I wonder what they gave for medication for that back in those days.

    Michael’s tree is posted. It is still small, but should put on a foot a year now that it is planted.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. An interesting post GP. More so because I have been reading about Glider tug squadrons here in the UK, it mentions a number of U.S. Paratroop units, sadly not the 11th, but also WACOs. This adds a little extra to the background of these operations. Easy to forget many of these guys went through a considerable amount of training before arriving here in the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wünsche einen schönen ersten April liebe Grüße Gislinde

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  9. Really nice tribute, GP. It’s hard to think as 85% as successful. But then I thought of Peggy’s dad bailing out in a raging storm into a jungle reputedly filled with cannibals and I can only think of how valuable the training was. BTW, thought of you the other day when I toured the Castle Air Force Museum in California. It’s filled with WW II and later military planes and is a marvellous museum. I’ll be blogging about it in the not too distant future. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  10. GP, Thanks for visiting my “70” post & the “Like.” Your latest installment here on Camp MacKall & the Gliders is fantastic! Great old photos! Phil

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Particularly enjoyed the postcards Smitty sent home to his mother. Always nice to see things as they really were.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a great post and tribute to your Dad. I really enjoyed it and you have good reason to be proud. Will look forward to future posts!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Another great post, GP. It made me go back to your SMITTY posts, some I reread, others I read for the lst time. I am glad I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What a treasure of fine old photographs! They must fill your heart with a mix of nostalgia and pride for your wonderful dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great story. I enjoyed walking through Smitty’s training.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You should be so proud of your dad, gpcox. It took some kind of hero to have the guts to jump out of a plane with full battle gear and into a combat zone. People need to remember that combat jumping was still in the learning stages (1943). I will always remember he fought on Leyte where my uncle was his enemy.

    Do you have a detail shot of the barracks? You know my dad’s “barracks” were made out of similar pine and tar paper construction on 1942 and was curious to compare them. The room he shared with half a dozen other single men had one pot belly stove but no plumbing. Did Smitty’s have plumbing (like sinks, showers and toilets)?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll drop a picture of the best look at the buildings that I think I have in your comment section as a preview. It will be included in my next post along with the other Camp MacKall postcards. Then you can either delete it or whatever you choose. As far as the plumbing goes, Koji, I re-check some of my notes and books and couldn’t locate a mention of yes or no – sorry.
      As far as proud of my father? Never a day went by that I did not respect, love and be thankful for that man. I miss him every day!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. An interesting postscript.

    After the war, the WACO glider production facility in Saint Paul, Minnesota (one of many around the country) became the home of Engineering Research Associates, a company made up of former code-breakers. The group led by Seymour Cray and William Norris built ATLAS, the world’s first stored program computer, to crack Soviet codes. The computer would become the foundation for the NSA.

    Cray and Norris then went on to form Control Data Corporation.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. During my glider training (civilian) days I met a WWII military glider pilot. He just shrugged it off as what he did in the “service” and that he was glad the technology and safety of gliders/sailplanes had so greatly improved. He only hinted at the knuckle whitening ride the big troop carrying birds provided. I based a minor character in my crime/detective novels on him though he did not live to know it. We are losing so many of those veterans each day. Thanks for helping to document their contributions to liberty and freedom.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My pleasure, MIke. Your friend had good cause for not reliving those days. Smitty said he dreaded the end to each day because it meant another funeral. To the day he left us, he would tear up at hearing Taps.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Seems like your father was quite a character as well as a dedicated soldier. Thanks yo ufor sharing these more personal memories with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The picture of the graduation class is great. It would look splendid blown up really big in a place where people would be able to look at it really closely to see all the fine detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Great to have a Smitty story. And the joke about chasing the boys off the field. So many of the fliers were just teenagers and what a job they all did.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Nice to see another personal post, and to get some background information about the training for those huge airborne assaults that came later.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 11th A/B was a “demo” model for A/B divisions. Prior to them, paratroopers were trained in smaller size units. I was glad as well to finally reach the point of dad’s action, especially since this entire blog is dedicated to him and the 11th Airborne Division!!

      Like

  23. Not being able to sweat in Louisiana–I can’t even imagine. Enjoyed Smitty’s story and pics.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Loved the picture of the WACO Glider…My Great Uncle John was in a Glider Infantry Regiment GIR attached to the 82nd Airborne. He passed in 2005 but my dad has 2 tapes of interviews about his experience in the War.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are very lucky to have those tapes! My father felt that no one would be interested in what he had to say, so everything I got out him as far as the war went – was like pulling teeth. Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you so much for including my father’s post!! Smitty would have been surprised that so many people wanted to know!

    Like

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