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Thread: Black airmen 1943

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    Default Black airmen 1943

    Black airmen - presumably American - were based at Bone Airfield in Algeria during December 1943. My father was in the RAF there that Christmas and remembered meeting up with a group of them at Bone. He said they were segregated. I am trying to find out more about them...which unit?...who exactly were they? How many were there? How long were they at Bone? I may have strayed into USAAF territory here, but these guys were working on joint ops with the RAF at Bone.

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    Sounds like the Tuskagee airmen, plenty to find on Google about them.

    regards

    DaveW

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    Yes, it does look like the Tuskagee airmen, and I have been Googling them for about two days but haven't found references to a squadron comprising black air crews based on Bone airfield. It may be they were on attachment.

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    I have an American book (heavily illustrated, and buried deep in my unpacked archives!) about the USAAF all around the world dated about 1943. The author was a USAAF officer, former journalist (with a Russian name) and he toured the World using ATC air routes, absolutely brilliant! One photograph I remember illustrated a small group of African servicemen in colourful uniforms. The author made the brief comment that there seemed to be endless groups of African servicemen (mostly Army I gather) who seemed to appear and disappear, from every country in Africa (usually British colonies), and of which he had no idea where they were going and what they were doing and for whom. The point is, Africa is and always was full of Africans, so don't get too hung up that they have to be American Africans. As the ones mentioned in the original post on this thread are only identified by fact that they were segregated (nothing about them being pilots and officers or NCOs), it is a big jump to assume they were Americans.
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 20th April 2020 at 22:09.

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    David,

    The book you are referring to is probably; Flight To Everywhere, by Ivan Dimitri (New York, Whittlesey House, 1944, 240 pages) - described as - The Picture Journey of Ivan Dimitri over 32,000 miles of Air Transport Command Routes through Jungle, Desert and Arctic.. The book abounds in evocative colour shots, and I don't mean Pyramids and Pagodas, I mean Men and Machines. It is an amazing book for its time. Dimitri visited everywhere there was a scheduled ATC flight, with his camera at the ready, and a seemingly endless supply of colour film!.

    Re: Black Airmen in Tunisia:

    The only substantial US black flying unit in the area at that time (December, 1943), was the 99th Fighter Squadron (The Tuskegee Airmen). They had arrived at Casablanca, French Morocco, on 24 April, 1943, and flew its first mission on 2 June, 1943, (P-40s); a patrol over the Mediterranean (while attached to the 33rd Fighter Group, based at Fardjouna, Tunisia). During June, approximately 50 enlisted men of the 99th FS were reviewed by King George VI, at Grombalia airfield, Tunisia. They then took part in ops to Pantelleria Island and Sicily. During December, 1943, they were based in Italy, attached to various USAAF fighter units. I see no reason why some of the black airmen weren't in Bone at the time (Replacements/Repatriation).

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 21st April 2020 at 04:38.

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    Yes, that is the book and the author, Ivan Dimitri; I just knew it was a VERY Russian name. Just noticed that last sentence in the introductory post includes the statement that "these guys were working on joint ops with the RAF at Bone", which rather tends to support the idea that they were definitely aircrew, and operational! Sorry about that. So I presume there were two briefings (and debriefings) at Bone, which cannot have been ideal, operationally speaking, but then other ideals were at play here.
    David D

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    Thanks for the replies. Some very interesting stuff here. I must try to get my hands on that book. I should have explained that I said "presumably American" because I remember conversations with my dad about American air crews being stationed at Bone, but the black crew men were in separate quarters to the US white crews. My dad was not very impressed by this to say the least. Sorry to be a little vague on this. Does anyone know what USAAF outfits were based there in December 1943? The Free French were also there at this time, as this was then French Algeria, and I believe the civilian labourforce as well as guards at Bone were also from the non-white local population.

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    There is only one mention in "that book" by Ivan Dimitri (I think he was a Major, probably in Public Relations Section of the Army Air Forces), so don't expect to find anything else on black airmen at Bone - in fact I cannot remember Bone even being mentioned. I imagine that this is a fairly rare book, full of photographs as well as thoughtful commentary, so I would expect surviving examples may be fairly expensive if you can find one. The book also contains photographs of local leaders and people of influence, as well as local members of the native populations. Still a fascinating book to have in any private library.
    David D

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    Hi David,

    The book is online. I see what's meant about the photographs. https://books.google.ca/books?id=S8Z...graphs&f=false

    You can get a copy of the book from the S. American river for under $20.00. https://www.amazon.com/Flight-Everyw.../dp/B000NUINK6

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Default Re: Black airmen 1943

    1. Ivan Dmitri is the author's pen name, as he explains in the book.
    2. Among the first USAAF units with black personnel to arrive in North Africa were two airfield defense battalions. These were used as stevedores until, after the German attack at Kassarine Pass, they were rushed to the front as infantry.




    Quote Originally Posted by alieneyes View Post
    Hi David,

    The book is online. I see what's meant about the photographs. https://books.google.ca/books?id=S8Z...graphs&f=false

    You can get a copy of the book from the S. American river for under $20.00. https://www.amazon.com/Flight-Everyw.../dp/B000NUINK6

    Regards,

    Dave

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