I was trained as an electronics technician by the Air Force and shipped to England in the largest convoy ever to sail up to that time. It consisted of 22 troopships, 16 destroyers and the battleship Arkansas. I did some research a few years ago to get all the information I could about the convoy (designated UT-3). We landed in Liverpool on 18 Oct. 1943. Some of the Air force people were sent to RAF Burtonwood near the town of Warrington. The buildup leading to the great bombing missions soon to come brought more troops than the base could accommodate and hundreds of us were billeted in aircraft hangers in which double deck bunks were jammed. They were cold and drafty so colds and other ills were common.
RAF Burtonwood was the name of an aircraft maintenance and repair depot built by the British 1938-41. When the U.S. entered the war and began sending Air Force units to England in preparation for the air war and it was decided to use this large base for the supply and repair of U.S. aircraft. The first units arrived about 11 April 1942. The base was officially handed over to the 8th Air Force in October 1943, a few days after I arrived from the U.S.A. It grew into a huge operation that repaired aircraft, manufactured parts, and rebuilt engines on a huge scale which served all of the U.S. air services in the EAME Theater. I am told that at one time there were 18,000 people at work there, including Brithish civilians, members of the RAF and of course American civilians and members of the 8th Air Force.
On the evening of 5 June 1944 I was drafted, along with many others at RAF Burtonwood, to help load C-47 transports and CG4A Waco Gliders with men and equipment. This went on far into the night. Most of them took off before daylight on 6 June. There was more of the same early in the morning of 6 June. We got some rest, food and sleep late in the afternoon.
The base was returned to British control soon after the war, but was used again bu the U.S. during the Berlin Airlift and served American air and other services until it finally closed in 1993. I served at Burtonwood (BAD#1) most of the next 26 months with short tours of temporary duty (TDY) at BAD #2, Wharton, BAD #3 at Langford Lodge near Belfast Ireland and with the 390th Bomb Group at Parham, Suffolk. In October 1945 I was transferred to the 2003rd Ordinance Maintenance Company, which operated a bomb dump near Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire, in order to get a ride home. I left Southhampton on 5 December, 1945 on the Queen Mary, was discharged at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin on 22 December and reunited with my 3 year old son on the 23rd, just in time for Christmas.
Paul D. Neumann
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