25th Air Service Group

Hq and Base Services Squadron 35th Air Engineering Sq 578th Air Material Sq

May 1944




When this organization landed at Bombay, India on 28 April 1944 it had been inactive in the performance of its primary functions as a headquarters squadron of a service group for five and one half months.  From the time it was alerted for overseas movement on 17 November 1943, until it left its home station on 13 January 1944, all efforts were devoted to preparation for the movement.  Personnel records were corrected and brought up to date, unqualified and excess personnel cleared out, replacements secured, equipment to be brought along packed, other equipment disposed of, clothing and individual equipment secured, issued and replaced, training deficiencies made up and all other adjustments made.  Personnel were drawn from their normal assignments to accomplish these tasks, so that for the most part they were not engaged in their specialized operations.

During the ten days spent at the staging area, only the personnel and supply sections of the group and squadron were operative.  In the course of the three months voyage aboard ship, five men were assigned to work in the transport commander's office.  For the remainder there was no work except for guard, policing, and kitchen details.  Upon arrival morale was at a low ebb, due to the long trip under crowded conditions, the inadequacy of the food and the idleness.

The organization disembarked on 30 April 1944, to be carried by rail to its ultimate destination.  The squadron's TAT equipment, however was left behind because of the inability to add the two necessary freight cars to the train.  A detail was left behind with the impedimenta, and no commitment could be given by the Transportation Corps as to when it would follow.  Actually it left on the following day with the remainder of the Group and its equipment.

Upon arrival, an area was designated for housing of the enlisted men of the squadron and another for the officers of the group.  The area was furnished with tents provided by the British, already erected when the squadron arrived.  The men were assigned to various tents, their equipment immediately unpacked, and within an hour after arrival they were ready for duty.  Three days after arrival staff officers were moved from the tent area to quarters closer to Group headquarters, and after two weeks, buildings were available for the remaining officers.

The water supply upon arrival was inadequate.  One tankful of drinking water was supplied each day for the squadron, and no additional water for washing and bathing.  This situation was quickly corrected.  Additional drinking water in plentiful supply was furnished within five days, and showers were installed on the 14th of May.

Indian labor was employed for the construction of defensive trenches.  This operation was make extremely difficult by the nature of the ground, which consists of about a foot of sand, below which there is hard ferrous table rock of undetermined depth.  The difficulty of securing the hammers and drills to penetrate the rock slowed the operation considerably.

On the morning of May 5, the squadron mess personnel had already succeeded in setting up a mess.  When  the remaining units of the Group arrived they joined in the mess, which was operated as a consolidated mess until each of the units could establish their individual organizational messes.  The quantity of food issued, except for meats and fresh fruits, was adequate, with however little variety.  Officers were messed with their organizations until 31 May 1944 when a separate officers mess was established.

Although an advance supply echelon had arrived six weeks before the squadron itself a very small proportion of the organizational equipment was on hand when the squadron arrived.  Shortages were most acute in Air Corps, Ordnance, and CWS items.  Although within the week after arrival, a measure of equipment was picked up, substantial shortages still remain in all categories of T/E and OEL equipment.  The shortage of initial issue of expendable photographic supplies, particularly film, have hampered the operation of the photo section.  The film actually received, moreover was not the correct size for the cameras assigned to the unit.

The chief difficulty with the health of the members of the organization has stemmed from diarrhea and dysentery which has affected approximately ninety percent of the personnel.  While the causes are undetermined it is believed that it may stem from the large number of flies.  Screening has proved extremely difficult to secure, and there is no other adequate way to cope with the problem.  In addition much of the disorder may be traced to the excessive heat.  The men are unaccustomed to the temperatures and their efficiency and health has suffered accordingly.

On the whole morale has improved enormously.  The fact that the men are working had made a great difference in their attitude.  For the most part their primary desire is for more action.  They have overcome the effects of a long period of idleness and are prepared for full scale operations.  Their chief difficulty has been integration into a country, which both physically and socially is utterly alien to them.