Camp MacKall, Smitty and the Knollwood Maneuvers

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

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

Station Hospital, Camp MacKall, NC

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.

Knollwood 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

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.

Weather conditions were not conducive 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. )

For a complete and detailed look at the Knollwood Maneuvers, a friend of mine, Eugene Piasecki, U.S. Army Historian,has his data online now…

https://arsof-history.org/articles/v4n1_knollwood_page_1.html

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

####################################################################################################

Military Humor –

Learning on the job.

 

 

 

 

 

###################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Arthur R. D’Agostino – Staten Island, NY; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 8th Armored Division / post that includes Mr. D’Agostino will be published at a later date

Gordon M. Hill – CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot, 416th Squadron

Courtesy of Dan Antion

Burtell M. Jefferson – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII, PTO / Police Chief

Herbert C. Jensen – Farmington, UT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Henry LaBonte – Brockton, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Eugene Richard Skotch – East Meadow, NY; US Army, Vietnam, Pfc., KIA (Gia Dinh Province)

Walter A. Smead – Saratoga County, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl. Battery A/57th Field Artillery/7th Infantry Div., KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Everett R. Stewart – Anderson, CA; US Navy, WWII, Petty Officer 2nd Cl., USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Joseph E. Tinkham Jr. – South Gardiner, ME; US Army, Vietnam, !st Calvery Division, Adj. Gen. of Maine National Guard, MGeneral (Ret. 37 y.)

Bertram G. Voorhees – Pasadena, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

##########################################################################################################

About GP

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

Posted on April 5, 2021, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 96 Comments.

  1. That was an unusual condition your father had, where he did not perspire. Do you know what they gave him?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Hope to be home this Wednesday” – easier to travel back then that it is now.
    The living conditions once the wood panels got dry, while fighting during day time, now that alone is being a hero.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank God for postcards. They were irreverent at the time but have become all so important in reconstructing the past.

    Like

  4. I can not imagine the courage it would have taken to jump from a glider. The cartoon is funny and scary all at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, how my paratrooper dad would have loved that first cartoon – learning on the job. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I heard the expression that “every glider landing is just a controlled crash” as I was reading up on this program. It would be hard to disagree with this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Loved reading about Smitty and the gliders. Have enjoyed visiting the Silent Wings museum in West Texas. It had to have taken a lot of courage to be involved in the glider program in any capacity.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. That was some birthday party for your dad!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for your like of my post, ” Salvation In Christ . The Book Of John 1:29. 26 A.D.;” your kindness is greatly appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Although I’d not want to parachute I’m pretty sure I’d like it a lot less to be shoved into a glider and dropped at night. I can’t imagine the courage it took to do that, even before the shooting styarted.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I love hearing this story through the postcards, GP. You also caught my interest with the part about his lack of perspirations. After age related hormonal changes, it’s not much of an issue with me, but in the past — yes I sweated, but not as much as anyone around me. I always thought that had something to do with why I never tolerated heat well. Sweat being the body’s natural cooling system. However, I never knew anyone else who was that way — or that there was a worse version of it, a condition. Interesting.
    Have a great rest of the week. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am the same way (and to think I live in Florida, eh?). I may get a clammy feeling on a very hot day, but otherwise it is the AC for me! Lack of perspiration is exactly why we can’t tolerate hot weather. I could handle when I was younger, but now.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Awe how special to have the postcard with a message to his mom.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. “However, the division chief of staff and his glider load landed in a road on the Fort Bragg artillery range.” Now that would be embarrassing. He probably heard about that for years afterward, G. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Wonderful those old postcards and respect for those man doing such dangerous jumpsfor their land

    Liked by 2 people

  15. In Europe there was nothing more dangerous than gliders and paratroopers, with the possible exception of Bomber Command, Glider pilots had around 50% casualty rate and after his victory in Crete, Hitler said that casualties were so enormous that there would be no more paratroopers or gliders.
    They must all have been extremely brave men, because it must be next to impossible to hide your casualty rates as gliders and paratroopers come down to earth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The original chutes were also quite primitive. The high casualty rate in Europe is what almost killed our airborne program. Thanks to General Joseph May Swing, it carried on in division size.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Those postcards would have meant so much to those back home. The newspaper reports would have meant a lot to Smitty. Was surprised they were dimming the streetlights here in America.

    Liked by 2 people

    • With streetlights on, as in Miami, German submarines could sit out to sea and wait for a ship to block out the lights. It made our freighters and escorts clear targets.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Groundbreaking and dangerous. These men were very brave to do their best to test and improve the process. Two casualties and 48 injuries in an exercise is a telling statistic.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Great story, GP. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. “most of the men would jump during evening’s darkness at 1200′.” That in itself is a profile in courage. The paratroopers like your Dad are so brave doing those jumps.
    I love both the cartoons!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thanks, GP for another great post. Smitty and his brothers were indeed brave pioneers that made the airborne safer for all that followed.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I like the cartoon with Donald Duck learning on the job. I suppose there is some truth to it that soldiers often feel they have had too little training

    Liked by 2 people

  22. These photos are a real treasure for you to have, especially with the comments by your dad written on the back.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Didn’t know much about the gliders. This was interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Some birthday celebration! Trust the armed forces to make his day special!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I had never heard of someone who did not perspire, a dangerous condition in hot weather. Google to the rescue. Mayo’s page does not mention medication, but it is evidently present for a lot of different reasons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s all Dad told me about it. He had to “hang out” at the hospital and be given medication. He was sorry when it was over because then he had to go back to marching!!

      Liked by 2 people

  26. I am always fascinated by how planes can hold positions create formations. I love the Donald Duck graphic–I’ve seen troops read on tanks and in jump seats, but never while parachuting. I worked at Ft McNair (named after the general) in Washington, DC. He was the highest-ranking general killed by friendly fire during WWII. He was awarded his fourth star after he died. They had a picture of him in the O’Club painted when he was a 3-star. Somebody painted the 4th star on his epaulets later to include the fourth star. I think that is the picture in Wikipedia since he was a 3-star when he died.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for giving us that story. It is not only your own story, but that of Gen. McNair! It is sad the world had to lose him because of man’s desire for power and wealth.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sad. There are other men who desire power and wealth more strongly than I am aware that McNair did. A bit of history trivia. Before the base became Ft McNair, it was a federal penitentiary. The Lincoln conspirators were tried and hung there, including Mary Surratt, the first woman hung by the federal government. They have re-created the courtroom where the trial was held.

        Liked by 2 people

  27. “Maneuver” almost seems a misnomer. It’s more like choreography!

    Liked by 3 people

  28. What a way to spend a birthday. Such courage

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Those gliders look like very scary things to fly in. Even worse to be in them when receiving ground fire, and then landing into a hot zone. Brave men indeed in the Airborne.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  31. Thank you, Mary.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Camp MacKall, Smitty and the Knollwood Maneuvers – Mary Pierce

  2. Pingback: Camp MacKall, Smitty and the Knollwood Maneuvers - The Washington County Auditor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: