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James D Smith Photos

As a belated tribute to the late James D. Smith, who died in 2001, we thought it would be appropriate to display some of Jim’s unique wartime colour photographs, taken at Bottisham and Little Walden during the period August – November 1944.

Please click on the thumbnail picture for a high quality enlargement.

376th Squadron pilot Lt. James D. Smith poses for the camera on duty shift as Assistant Operations Officer for his unit at Bottisham. Providing localised control of aircraft and usually positioned near an active runway, the high-visibility vehicle is the 361st Fighter Group’s Chevrolet Control Truck.
This view of Bottisham from the Group’s UC-61 shows part of the 374th Squadron area in the right foreground, the main hangar, Group headquarters, technical facilities and flying control in the centre and the 375th Squadron area in the background. The A45 Cambridge – Newmarket road is shown on the left.
A Dodge ambulance provides a make-shift bar for 376th Squadron pilots (L-R) Lts. Victor E. Bocquin, Donald T. Woodward, Jimmie C. Wright, Ray S. White, Robert D. Shirmer and Cecil A. Laxton at Bottisham.
Lt. Robert W. Myers enjoys a moment’s relaxation in the 376th Squadron pilots’ room at Bottisham. Above the fireplace, a gallery of pilots’ photos surrounds the Squadron’s distinctive white rabbit insignia while, on the left, pilots’ name tags are displayed on the Flight boards.
Displaying four aerial and four ground victories on the canopy frame, L/Col. Wallace E. Hopkins’ P-51D “Ferocious Frankie”, 44-13704, B7:H lines up for take-off on the steel mat main runway. This Mustang was eventually salvaged after a take-off crash at Little Walden on 9 November 1944.
Named for his wife and sporting a Malcolm “bubble” canopy, Capt. William J. Shackelford’s P-51B “Queen Jean”, 42-106875, E2:D lines up with a 375th Squadron flight at Bottisham. As illustrated in Photo 23 of the Crash Photos Gallery, this aircraft also crashed on 9 November 1944.
Lt. Jimmie C. Wright’s personal mount, P-51D “Small Fry IV”, 44-14165, E9:Q (See also Photo 16, 376FS Gallery) lines up with a 376th Squadron flight and Holy Trinity Church, Bottisham in the background. Re-coded E9:F and renamed “Rose’s Nightmare”, this machine was later assigned to Lt. Charles C. Cole, Jr.
Another 376th flight includes P-51D “Rach”, 44-13646, E9:T, running up second from right. Originally named “Goona II”, coded E9:C and assigned to L/Col. Roy B. Caviness, this aircraft was also later renamed “Lil’ Larry”, re-coded E9:W and crashed on 24 April 1945. (See Photo 29, Crash Photos Gallery)
In addition to the UC-61, Group HQ was also assigned a Cessna UC-78 Bobcat, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, shown here with 376th pilot Lt. Victor E. Bocquin. Probably named after the 361st’s original CO, Col. Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr., it was lost in a crash on 14 November 1944. (See Photo 25, Crash Photos Gallery)
Following the Group’s move to Little Walden in late September 1944, the 376th established a new pilots’ room in a large Nissen building, with wall maps and display panels. Lt. Walter J. Kozicki was largely responsible for the artwork and is believed to have produced this combined Flight board/Honor Roll design.
This close-up of the Honor Roll shows the names of the fifteen 376th pilots who were lost during the first ten months of combat. Four were killed in action over enemy territory, six were taken prisoner, one evaded capture and four were killed in accidents in the UK. Two of the latter were returning from combat missions.
The nerve centre of all flying activity at Little Walden was the control tower, situated near the eastern edge of the airfield perimeter. Runway heading boards indicate runway 04 in use, while the 135 crash truck stands by for emergencies. Having been refurbished in 2003, the tower remains one of the best preserved buildings on the old airfield today.