Re:William H. Bartsch
Some homework notes I've made on 17th Provisional Sqn.
17th P Sqn (Provisional).
The first 18 P-40Es were assembled by 9Jan42.
One was not flyable because it arrived minus a rudder.
Four of the 17th Sqn pilots were cadets from the 48 of the Pensacola Convoy.
The 13 other pilots would be experienced 35th Gp pilots, (attached to the 24th Gp), extracted from the Philippines, including the CO, Maj Sprague.
Pilots ex PI : 2nd Lt Carl P Gies
Four cadets ; 2nd Lts R S Thompson
W C Stauter
C E Trout
K D Brown
17th Provisional Sqn was activated at Amberley, same Sqn No. as that which it was supposed to join in the Philippines.
39 ground crew were to be allocated, 17 crew chief, 17 armourer,one line chief, a first sergeant, and three radio men. These men would soon [12Jan42] reach Brisbane on the P Polk.
16Jan42 153P64 212P280
17 P-40E of 17th Sqn depart Amberley. CO Sprague led a flight of nine, Coss led a flight of eight.
A flight of nine P-40 were led by Capt Paul I "Pappy" Gunn, who was flying an unpainted Philippine Air Lines Beechcraft.
The second flight formated on two RAAF Fairey Battles, which escorted them only to Townsville.
The ground echelon followed later in two RAAF Douglas DC2 of the three based at Parkes .
Scratch one P-40 at first landing - Rockhampton. Mechanical trouble caused landing accident. Pilot - 2Lt Carl P Gies.
Scratch another at Townsville, landing accident. 2nd Lt Brown.
17Jan42 - Depart Townsville, for Cloncurry. Only escort now was Gunn with his Beechcraft.
First flight fly to Darwin that day via Cloncurry and Daly Waters. Second flight stay overnight Cloncurry, reach Darwin next day, intact except for a sick pilot, 2nd Lt Trout, leaving 14 to continue. Aircraft servicing will require a short stay at Darwin.
Whilst 17th Sqn was at Darwin, Japanese advances ruled out their destination Philippines.
The RAAF DC2s (arrived Darwin 21Jan42) carried 45 US gallon drop tanks to Darwin, where they were fitted to the P-40s. Most of the ground crew men on the DC2s had reached Brisbane on the P Polk.
22Jan42 Both flights of 17th Sqn departed Darwin, led by Pappy Gunn/Beechcraft, reached Penfui safely. One pilot [Irvin] dropped out ill at Penfui (P-40 later destroyed on ground by Japanese raid).
From Penfoei, Sprague's flight followed Gunn to Waingapoe on Soemba Island. Gunn doubled back to Penfoei, led Coss's flight out next day.
24Jan42 Sprague's flight reached Java, un-escorted. Gunn led Coss's flight from Penfoei to Soemba Is, then continued next day, one hop to Soerabaja.
Irvin's P-40 at Penfoei was discovered and shot up by the Japanese.
<BG> See "miscellaneous aircraft". Gunn flew his Beechcraft then to Del Monte, Mindanao. The Beech was shot down. Gunn organised repair of a B-17 and flew it himself to Australia.
25Jan42 13 P-40 had reached Soerabaja. They set up base at Bliming (also known as Ngoro) about sixty miles from Soerabaja, moving in to Bliming 1Feb42.
One DC2 left Darwin this day, the other next day, and safely delivered the ground crews to Soerabaja.
<BG> Not to be confused with two C-39s which departed Darwin the previous day 24Jan42, taking Robensen's mission to Makassar.
The destruction of all nine of the USAAF P-40s eliminated US fighter presence. Ref Guiness Hist Air warfare.