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Looking for any information of USAAF based in Yorkshire, England

Discussion in 'All Hands Club & Canteen Discussion Area' started by garbfink, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. garbfink

    garbfink New Member

    Thanks Tony and Lucky P,

    Both really usefull posts! I too had noticed the 'indescrepnencies' in the two John Kays enlistment cards previously posted. So this means that either he enlisted during WW2 but is not contained in those records or, alternatively, he enlisted prior to WW2, both of which seem feasible and there is no evidence as to which may be the case.

    Like you Tony I always assumed that this picture was taken in Yorkshire or at least the UK while they were involved with each other somewhere around 1942/43 That was until I managed to decipher that the shoulder patch was indeed that of the 20th Air Force. When I discovered that I posted asking for knowledge of any known activity of the 20th in the UK. It wasn't until I read some more about the 20th that I discovered they weren't in existence until April of 1944. Thus changing my perception of events somewhat.

    With regards to the shoulder patch I am adamant that it represents the 20th. I was trying to work it out for ages but after acquiring a better resolution scan of the photo and mucking around with the contrast in photoshop I managed to identify it. I have attached two files. One with a higher res picture of the insignia and one with some very primitive Windows Paint graffiti on it which shows where the main identification points are on the insignia. Once you see the 20 in the patch it's hard not too see it. Although I looked at that picture for months previously trying ot work out which Air Force it belonged to. This means that this picture must have been taken after 1944. There are a few options that this presents
    • My Gran and S.Sgt. Kay were in correspondance to a greater degree that was presumed before.
    • Perhaps there were only a couple of letters shared, one of which contained this picture.
    • The man in this picture may not be John Henry Kay.
    In any event correspondance between the two ceased, this could be because he was killed or simply that he returned home back to his own family. Both these options are very feasible in my mind.

    insignia and medal bar.jpg insignia and medal bar drawn.jpg
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  2. pathfinder504

    pathfinder504 Active Member

    I don't see a wedding ring....I see a signet--maybe class--ring.

    Just a forensic observation---there is nothing to suggest that this photo is the man being sought.
  3. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    What part of Yorkshire was your Grandmother from?
  4. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

  5. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    An airfield that has not been mentioned is Goxhill RAF in Lincolnshire.

    It is not that far away from Hemsworth, (maybe 50 miles) and there were AAF units on the field in the middle of 1942. I think you have to get Kay over to England in the mid to late 1942.

    They may have met somewhere in-between the two locations.
  6. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    Units at Goxhill including dates. Pretty transient station.

    As I noted in post 14 for someone from the US the distance involved is no big deal.

    Pages from USAAF UNITS IN UK_Page_1.jpg

    Pages from USAAF UNITS IN UK_Page_2.jpg
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  7. garbfink

    garbfink New Member

    Quite possibly, I wouldn't rule it out. I have examined the ring on a slight higher resolution image that I have of the original and although it is quite large it does look like a band as opposed to a signet ring. As for a class ring I'm not too sure what they normally look like. Would either of those rings been worn on the left hand?

    I agree that this may not even be the individual that I am seeking and I may be adding 2 and 2 together and getting 524 but at the moment it is the only tangible source of information that I have.

    Very interesting I'd not come across Goxhill before now, could definitely be a possibility.

    Thanks for those dates. The only one that fits would be the 78th fighter group as they were around for the period required. I do take your point that actually travelling a larger distance could well be a possibility. Our little island over here would probably have seemed very small to a lot of those chaps. Can I ask where you got the information as to what fighter groups were stationed at Goxhill. It looks like a very good resource that you are quoting.

    Just playing a bit of devil's advocate here. Let's say the S.Sgt Kay was with the 78th Fighter Group, those would have been single pilot aircraft? and in nearly all cases the pilots would have been ranked 1st Lieutenant or higher? Could it be feasible that he would have been part of the ground crew? I'm not assuming for one second that he was in the 78th but if he was, would my thinking be correct?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  8. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

  9. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member


    That information came from an Historical Brief named Installations and USAAF Combat units in the United Kingdom. I downloaded it several years ago from this link:


    Which sadly no longer works. If anyone knows the current link for this publication please share it with us. The file is almost 2MB which is too large to post here.


    Well ... another case of if you don't try you'll never know for sure. And you CAN post a 2MB PDF file.

    Would still like to learn the current download link for this document.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
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  10. Graham Yaxley

    Graham Yaxley New Member

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  11. shaef1944

    shaef1944 New Member

    For what it's worth .... It appears to me in the enlarged pictures that the ribbon at far left is the China Service ribbon, a Navy/Marine award, HOWEVER ...

    • " For morale purposes The (Navy) China Service (Commemorative) Medal was issued to many Army and Army Air Force personnel who served in China during the war to exemplify the harsh and dangerous conditions they faced under Japanese threat and Japanese policy not to take prisoners of war. There is no list of Army and Army Air Force personnel who were actually awarded the CSM. However, the CSM's Commemorative status may take into account all Army and Army Air Force personnel who served on-land in China between 7 December 1941 and 2 September 1945. "

      This would put the man pictured om duty in China with the 20th AF between June 1944 when the first B-29 raid staged through Chinese bases occurred, and January 1945, when the last mission was flown from China and the 20th redeployed to the Marianas.
      I am making the date assumption based on the fact he wears wings of some sort, and therefore would not have been ground personnel who may have been there earlier to prepare the bases for combat flights, or who may have remained later for a time to " close down " the bases when the combat elements redeployed.
      The date the picture was taken is a different matter, could be later than the above " cut off " date, but could not be earlier than the beginning date of operations from China as he would not have qualified for the medal yet.
    If that is in fact the China Service ribbon, then the patch has to be 20th AF, or it would have to be another patch used by the AAF that flew out of China during the war.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
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  12. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member


    Appreciate the input and since you are closer to the scene than I you can better judge the distances. My comments are based on numerous stories I've seen regarding crewmen traveling from East Anglia to London via every conceivable means of conveyance, laundry trucks, supply trucks, etc., not just the railroad. As mentioned previously I have friends in Wyoming who drive 50 miles to buy a loaf of bread so for me it doesn't take a lot to envision an airman traveling a similar distance to quench his libido.

    Thanks for the links. Actually found your first link last night after a two hour search. Also found this link for another useful document at the same time:

    http://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Timelines/World War II/usaaf_european_airfields.pdf?ver=2016-08-30-150750-583

    What has happened is that not only have they changed the URL but they've also changed the document number.

    Still have not found the link for the PDF I posted above, which is useful because it lists the bases AND the units that were assigned there in a single document.
    BTW, your link for the railroad info requires a log in before you can see anything. Fortunately I already have that document from another source.

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
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  13. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member


    Yes, the P-38 and the P-47 were both single pilot aircraft. Yes, the pilots would have been of Office rank. Yes, on that basis he would have been part of the ground crew either a mechanic or some other ground based function.
    garbfink likes this.
  14. garbfink

    garbfink New Member

    Hal and Graham - Excellent posts!! thank you for the links.

    I think the China service medal is actually a pretty good shout. I've been looking at the medals and trying to work them out on and off for a couple of weeks, although at the moment I'm finding it hard to be able to sit down in one place to have a really good look. I previously thought it could have been the American Defence Medal but I can't see enough colour variety around the darker areas of the ribbon to say conclusively. I think that the China Service Medal is probably more accurate and certainly ties in with the story that is developing.

    As for the central medal and the medal on the right I'm far from certain. the closest medal I can find for the central medal would be the coast guard commendation (but that opens up a whole new story) The one on the right could be the air medal or the Meritorious Service Medal but I can't see dark outer edges. The only medal I can see which is two colours (White on the outside and dark in the middle) Would be the purple heart but the white bands look too wide in my opinion. Other possibilities could be the Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksman Ribbon or the Air Force Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon
  15. pathfinder504

    pathfinder504 Active Member

    I see the ribbons as: AMERICAN DEFENSE---EAME----PURPLE HEART
  16. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    What type of wings do any of you think he is wearing in the Photo? They don't seem to match any of the familiar ones.
  17. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member


    Purple Heart would be problematical, how did he get into harm's way? Would a ground crew, as Simon speculated above, who is injured on the base qualify? So clearly based on the wings on his shirt he was an air crewman. It's been a wide circle but in some ways we're back to square one.
  18. garbfink

    garbfink New Member

    I'm struggling to agree with the EAME as I think that although the picture quality isn't great you'd be able to make out the two thin white lines on the right hand side of the ribbon. The EAME is not symmetrical and the ribbon in the centre looks symmetrical to me. Although if he didn't receive the EAME then perhaps he was never in Yorkshire in time to meet my Gran so goodness knows!

    Lucky I've been back to Square one too many times to mention! :D
  19. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member


    Correct me if I'm wrong but did you mention earlier, maybe in the thread that you deleted, that another family member had actual possession of the original of this photo? I have a vague recollection of someone asking about a higher resolution scan but not sure if it was in relation to this inquiry. If this is the case now might be a real good time to follow through on this. I think we've gone about as far as we can go on speculation about the various insignia on his uniform, a nice sharp high resolution scan could be helpful.

    Were you able to download the PDF in post 29?
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  20. pathfinder504

    pathfinder504 Active Member

    The EAME is most assuredly symmetrical....and FYI you suggested several ribbon patterns in your speculation above that were not around during WW2
    As to the wings there appears to be a lot of "junk" along the top edge of whatever might be the identifying center device....the only thing that immediately came to mind (and I am going to regret suggesting this) are Navy aircrew wings which would feature up to three campaign stars in the top of the set.

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