16th CCU HISTORY

OPERATIONS

1942


Captain Cline and four other men comprising the 16th CCU Detachment had begun their tasks in China, even while the majority of 16 CCU were still in California, training and preparing for deployment.

On 27 July he climbed aboard a B-24 'Liberator'. The full combat crew was aboard. Capt Cline gripped his camera tightly. He was leaving on his first combat mission. The target was Samah Bay, the strongly fortified Jap shipping center on Hainan Island. As the approached the target, thirty ‘Zeros’ dived into their flight of four B-24s. Guns were fired and the engine on Captain Cline’s plane went out. The electrical system was badly damaged. As they approached the target Captain Cline held his camera in position. At “Bombs Away,” his shutter began to click. The crippled plane turned back. Its navigator was shot in the back. Pilot Edward M. Mullikin maneuvered his plane carefully. After four hazardous hours the plane had to be “belly landed.” All the crew was a little relieved now. When Captain Cline’s pictures were developed they showed great destruction to the enemy docks. The pilot received the Air Medal for this mission.

On the ground other activities were photographed. The extension of Kunming Airstrip, with hundreds of coolies working with meager tools, carrying rocks by water buffalo and baskets, all photographed. A Chinese aircraft factory was also photographed. .

Cpl. A. D. Delucenay flew on a B-24 on the first mission 308th Bomb Group to Hong Kong Harbor. He obtained excellent pictures of the docks and harbor being successfully bombed. Seven ‘Zeros’ were battled on this mission but the escorting P-40s helped to throw them off. The plane carrying Delucenay returned with eight bullet holes but no one was hurt.

The complete Camera Unit was begging to be included in Operations.

In the meantime the Detachment in China was working steadily. Cpl. DeLucenay was on a raid with the 11th Bomb Squadron. The target was the Tien Ho Aerodrome. As the B-25s turned homeward after destroying enemy installations fifteen ‘Zeros’ intercepted the formation. A hotly contested battle followed but all our planes returned safely, with one plane limping back on one engine.

Lt. S. B. Dale flew his first mission over Myitkyina. Excellent bombing results were photographed and the planes landed in Chabua, India for refueling and reloading with bombs.

For the men in China, the transformation toward becoming front line soldiers was made. It had come quite a different way than had been expected. It was smooth, slow and unannounced. The Unit [Detachment] had now been initiated to warfare; and they were proving the value of their excellent training.

Far off in China, Lt. A. B. Nicklin was off on his first photographic assignment. He was headed for Paoshan by jeep to secure pictures of U. S. engineers on their construction of roads and buildings for the air base at Paoshan. In September, Captain W. M. Cline photographed a bombing mission to Hainan Island and Lt. S. B. Dale photographed the bombing of Jap-held air strip at Myitkina [Burma].

Japanese airplanes were over Kunming Airfield on 20 September. Of the 27 enemy bombers and 30 enemy fighters our fighters shot down 19 without loss to our own air force. The damage from the bombs was very slight. This had been the first air raid for the men (16th CCU). It was likely many more would follow.

October --

Very soon after the remainder of the unit reached Kunming. 1Lt. Nicklin was off to photograph construction of the Burma Road. Captain Cline and Lt. Dale each photographed a bombing mission. On 29 October, Cpl. DeLucenay photographed the bombing of a large Jap foundry on the Yuan Kiang River. Anti-aircraft fire was heavy but all planes returned safely.

Thus October 1943 had ended. The 16th CCU was in full swing now. There was much to be done.

November 1943 –

With a new month drawing on – so did a new adventure present itself for the majority of the men in the Unit. Everyone was to be confronted with living conditions they had never before in their lives had to contend with. China – intriguing, mystical, so very different – beautiful in certain aspects, yet literally giving off a stench from its people’s habits and general squalor. For a relatively long time, no man in the Unit would really be able to give his unbiased opinion of what China is really and truly like – for the simple reason that the Unit was situated, for the most part, in the oriental country’s “back yard” – where poverty and filth reign supreme. Unfortunately, the richer and more beautiful cities and towns of China, situated mainly along the coast, were all Jap occupied when the 16th hit China and probably would not be seen until a coastal invasion was brought about. Of course, any of the men of flying status would see these greater metropolis, but only from a safe altitude above the ground.

On the 3rd, S/Sgt Kaufman and Pfc. Barrows returned to the Unit for duty following their short stay in the hospital at Roona, India. Another returnee was Lt. Nicklin, but not from hospital. The lieutenant had finished with his coverage of engineering and construction work on the treacherous Burma Road as far as Paoshan, China.

Although Kunming was to be the “Home Sweet Home” of the 16th Combat Camera Unit, it was merely going to act as the hub of a huge wheel – with its spokes stretching out far and wide to all U. S. air base installations throughout greater China. The fields at such places as Hengyang, Lingling, Kweilin, Liuchow, Kweiyang, Luliang, Chengtu, Suichwan, Kanhow, Yunnanyi and others – were to become quite familiar to all the men.

Four new jeeps were acquired and the Unit’s chief mechanic, Cpl. Lowe, immediately went to work adjusting carburetors for their new job of burning an alcohol-gasoline mixture, a quite necessary measure in gas-hungry China. The men were becoming acclimated to their new temporary home and not many gripes were heard. All in all – the living quarters, the food, the services, the weather – added up to make things run fairly smoothly.

Sgt. William Gough received his first photographic assignment overseas upon being sent with Lt. Wiler to the base at Yunnanyi to cover both ground activities at and around the field and to fly combat missions from said base.

On November 3, Capt. Cline flew a very hazardous combat mission with the 374th Bombardment Squadron to one of China’s main cities and seaports – Hong Kong. Unexpected enemy fighter interception over the target gave the Captain very good subject material for shooting movies. The main target was to be warehouses and military installations in Hong Kong proper. He received good results with his coverage of the actual bomb drops. The B-24 in which he was flying returned to base without casualties although, upon landing, the crew found several bullet holes that had gone thru the fuselage and narrowly missed several of the ship’s occupants by a hair.

Five days later, Lts. Dale and Johnson, upon secret orders, proceeded to the base at Chengkung, eighteen bumpy miles from Kunming, where they were to receive instructions and then fly as aerial photographers with B-24s of the 374th Bomb Squadron, 308th Bomb Grou. On the morning of Nov. 14th, Lt. Johnson and Lt. Dale climbed into the respective Liberators assigned to them and took off for their second trip over the Himalayan “Hump.” After making an uneventful three hour trip, they landed safely in Chabua, in the Assam Valley of India. From there, they were to fly further to an airfield at Panaghar, India – a point not too distant from Calcutta. Here, they received still further instructions and were told all about the areas they were to fly over – consisting of raids on Japanese-held positions in Burma and French Indo-China. Big doings were imminent, as the plans called for coordinated raids by the 374th Squadron and the might of the entire Tenth Air Force. Upon hearing word that the raids would consist of up to sixty aircraft, the importance of these new endeavors struck home immediately. Up to this time, the Lieutenants had been used to flying along in a formation consisting of anywhere from six to twenty-four bombers at the very most. The motive instigating these raids arose from the Air Force’s desire to help Gen. Stillwell regain all of the territory he had to make his bitter retreat from in Burma. All of the raids proved to be highly successful. The enemy’s storage centers, shipping and supply lines, and communications centers literally plastered with five hundred and thousand pound bombs. The bombing of the city of Rangoon and other Jap strong points were photographed completely, as well as a special mine-laying mission over the Salween River.

Third para, Pg 43-23

Another Unit detachment, on the 5th of November, consisting of Lt. Hechtlinger, Cpl. Cannon and Pfc. Mann took off for one of the largest American airbases in Eastern China, at Kweilin [Guilin]. This fair sized city was known as the ‘Paris of China’ – getting such a title from the fact that it had an ample supply of beautiful women, sparkling wines and was quite a center for souvenir hunters. In due time, more of the 16th men were to visit Kweilin and all would take an immediate liking to the place. Many of the lads were to acquire lady friends during their stay there. The job of those three me was to cover every imaginable story of news value for the Public Relations Office. In addition to these duties, they were to accompany B-25 Mitchells of the 11th Bombardment Squadron on combat missions and to bring back photographic proof of bomb damage to enemy installations. Runway construction, plane crashes, newsreel shots, new improvisations on aircraft, are only a few examples of the type of stories the men were to cover while on detached service at Kweilin.

And still another story was begun, this one was to start all the way back in Calcutta [Kolkatta], India. It was to eventually form a short movie to be shown to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public back in the U.S.A., showing them the many hardships encountered by everyone who was in any way connected with supplying fuel for our advanced bomber and fighter bases in China. It was to cover the story from the very beginning when the tankers emptied their holds of the precious fuel into the waiting railway tankers at Calcutta – up to the time the gasoline was poured into the wing, bomb bay and belly tanks of the airplanes. These planes were at the very furthest point on the U.S. Army supply route. Fuel was being transported one-half way around the globe, utilizing every known means of transportation, to supply planes whose job it was to drop bombs at points as close to the shore of the United States mainland as six thousand miles! It was indeed a rough war. The three men chosen for this job were Lt. Nicklin, S/Sgt Roberts and Pfc. Tutwiler. This assignment was by no means an easy one – photographic coverage had to be obtained of the fuel’s being transported over rail, water and even in the air – as well as over rugged mountainous terrain and malaria-infested regions of India. To help speed up the completion of this story a camera crew was assigned to begin coverage from the end of the line in China. Lts. Jones and Hechtlinger, Cpl. Cox and Pfc. Klock were those assigned to this angle of the story.

On the 17th, Lt. Hechtlinger and Pfc. Mann returned from Detached Service at Kweilin to the Headquarters in Kunming. However, he was being kept pretty much on the go, for on 21 November, just three days after he returned from Kweilin, he accompanied the men who were to cover the gasoline supply story from the end of the line in China. Following is an action packed, detailed story of this trip by jeep a road trip across China, from Kunming to Kweilin. There’s never a dull moment in the lives of a combat cameraman and especially if he hails from the 16th CCU.

T/Sgt Kaufman – amiable Unit supply man, arrived from India where he had suffered considerably from a bad case of dysentery. In a matter of only a few days, however, instead of getting better, his condition became more and more serious. He had developed a rheumatic disease that could not be treated an overseas hospital. It became quite necessary for him to be returned to the States. The Unit really regretted to see him leave, for had been fulfilling his job as Supply Sergeant in the best manner possible and was liked by each and every man in the Unit for his splendid character and jovial attitude.

That was the way the month of November flew by for the officers and enlisted men of the 16th CCU. A big job had been undertaken and a big job was to be fulfilled. Film and prints of the Unit’s coverage were being speeded to New York offices for editing and release. The first month’s operation in China was over.

December –

The end of the year, and the second month of active duty in China for the 16th CCU was drawing on. In these two short months, a great deal had been accomplished. All that was expected of the relatively small Unit was fulfilled and every one concerned felt proud of themselves for a job well done. Captain Cline and his men had every good intention of continuing their good work on into the year of 1944 and as long as Army Air Forces in Washington asked them to stay on the job.

More smiling faces were to be seen on the 1st of the month when new ratings were posted on the Unit’s bulletin board. Seven promotions in all were announced. Every man promoted had worked hard and duly deserved the raise in rank.

Lt. Wiler returned to duty at Kunming from Yunnanyi, China. He had been there to cover ground, as well as air activities connect with squadrons stationed at the air base of Yunnanyi. Sgt. Gough remained there to carry on the work and in a few days Sgt Gendler and Cpl. Campbell were sent there to assist him. Much coverage was to be obtained at said field and the three men wasted no time in getting together on assignments – some taking ground shots on one day and switching around so that not one of them would fly two days in a row.

Sgt. Roberts, who was in Calcutta helping cover the fuel supply story from the beginning of the line, had applied for Officer’s Candidate School while still in Kunming. Word was received that the board had approved Roberts’ application. The Unit had actually been overseas but two months, and already it was returning one of its best men to the States for further training as a Commissioned Officer. He was only one, the first one, of several men who were to prove their efficiency and return to Uncle Sugar for training – some as Photographic Officers, others as Flying Cadets. When a Combat Camera Unit is organized, all the men are picked. In that way, nothing but the best of results are obtained when the time to show themselves up in what they’re able to perform arrives. As much as these men meant to the Unit, they could perform greater services to their country in other capacities. Sgt. Roberts did not return to Kunming, but left directly from Calcutta for America. In his stead, Cpl Clifford Lefferts was flown to Calcutta to assist in carrying on with the gasoline story.

Captain Cline did not let the men do all the work themselves. He was right in there with them every moment. On December 10th he left for the base at Kweilin where he was to employ the use of a 35 millimeter motion-picture camera in photographing the varied activities of the famed Chinese-American Composite Wing. The film obtained on this assignment was to be incorporated with other scenes taken by the U. S. Army Signal Corps for a feature move entitled “China Fights.” The Captain, a well-known photographer in Hollywood – having been associated with Technicolor productions for several years – was certainly the right man to have in charge of a Combat Camera Unit. He shared his vast knowledge of photographic principles and practices with all of the men – bringing about a strong feeling of unity in the organization.

Three days later, Captain Cline returned from the above assignment with perfect results. At about the same time, two more officers returned to Headquarters at Kunming. Lts. Dale and Johnson had finally finished the tedious task of flying combat missions with the 308th Bombardment Group out of India. The tales they had to tell the men of narrow escapes from the claws of death were enough to make any man shiver! [the full account 16ccu_adventures_dale-n-johnson.html is included in the adventure stories]

The day of December 18th is one that will not be easily forgotten in the minds of the 16th's men – for this was the day upon which they received their ‘Baptism of Fire’!

Another Unit detachment, on the 5th of November, consisting of Lt. Hechtlinger, Cpl. Cannon and Pfc. Mann took off for one of the largest American airbases in Eastern China, at Kweilin [Guilin]. This fair sized city was known as the ‘Paris of China’ – getting such a title from the fact that it had an ample supply of beautiful women, sparkling wines and was quite a center for souvenir hunters. In due time, more of the 16th men were to visit Kweilin and all would take an immediate liking to the place. Many of the lads were to acquire lady friends during their stay there. The job of those three me was to cover every imaginable story of news value for the Public Relations Office. In addition to these duties, they were to accompany B-25 Mitchells of the 11th Bombardment Squadron on combat missions and to bring back photographic proof of bomb damage to enemy installations. Runway construction, plane crashes, newsreel shots, new improvisations on aircraft, are only a few examples of the type of stories the men were to cover while on detached service at Kweilin.

And still another story was begun, this one was to start all the way back in Calcutta [Kolkatta], India. It was to eventually form a short movie to be shown to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public back in the U.S.A., showing them the many hardships encountered by everyone who was in any way connected with supplying fuel for our advanced bomber and fighter bases in China. It was to cover the story from the very beginning when the tankers emptied their holds of the precious fuel into the waiting railway tankers at Calcutta – up to the time the gasoline was poured into the wing, bomb bay and belly tanks of the airplanes. These planes were at the very furthest point on the U.S. Army supply route. Fuel was being transported one-half way around the globe, utilizing every known means of transportation, to supply planes whose job it was to drop bombs at points as close to the shore of the United States mainland as six thousand miles! It was indeed a rough war. The three men chosen for this job were Lt. Nicklin, S/Sgt Roberts and Pfc. Tutwiler. This assignment was by no means an easy one – photographic coverage had to be obtained of the fuel’s being transported over rail, water and even in the air – as well as over rugged mountainous terrain and malaria-infested regions of India. To help speed up the completion of this story a camera crew was assigned to begin coverage from the end of the line in China. Lts. Jones and Hechtlinger, Cpl. Cox and Pfc. Klock were those assigned to this angle of the story.

On the 17th, Lt. Hechtlinger and Pfc. Mann returned from Detached Service at Kweilin to the Headquarters in Kunming. However, he was being kept pretty much on the go, for on 21 November, just three days after he returned from Kweilin, he accompanied the men who were to cover the gasoline supply story from the end of the line in China. Following is an action packed, detailed story of this trip by jeep a road trip across China, from Kunming to Kweilin. There’s never a dull moment in the lives of a combat cameraman and especially if he hails from the 16th CCU.

T/Sgt Kaufman – amiable Unit supply man, arrived from India where he had suffered considerably from a bad case of dysentery. In a matter of only a few days, however, instead of getting better, his condition became more and more serious. He had developed a rheumatic disease that could not be treated an overseas hospital. It became quite necessary for him to be returned to the States. The Unit really regretted to see him leave, for had been fulfilling his job as Supply Sergeant in the best manner possible and was liked by each and every man in the Unit for his splendid character and jovial attitude.

That was the way the month of November flew by for the officers and enlisted men of the 16th CCU. A big job had been undertaken and a big job was to be fulfilled. Film and prints of the Unit’s coverage were being speeded to New York offices for editing and release. The first month’s operation in China was over.

December –

The end of the year, and the second month of active duty in China for the 16th CCU was drawing on. In these two short months, a great deal had been accomplished. All that was expected of the relatively small Unit was fulfilled and every one concerned felt proud of themselves for a job well done. Captain Cline and his men had every good intention of continuing their good work on into the year of 1944 and as long as Army Air Forces in Washington asked them to stay on the job.

More smiling faces were to be seen on the 1st of the month when new ratings were posted on the Unit’s bulletin board. Seven promotions in all were announced. Every man promoted had worked hard and duly deserved the raise in rank.

Lt. Wiler returned to duty at Kunming from Yunnanyi, China. He had been there to cover ground, as well as air activities connect with squadrons stationed at the air base of Yunnanyi. Sgt. Gough remained there to carry on the work and in a few days Sgt Gendler and Cpl. Campbell were sent there to assist him. Much coverage was to be obtained at said field and the three men wasted no time in getting together on assignments – some taking ground shots on one day and switching around so that not one of them would fly two days in a row.

Sgt. Roberts, who was in Calcutta helping cover the fuel supply story from the beginning of the line, had applied for Officer’s Candidate School while still in Kunming. Word was received that the board had approved Roberts’ application. The Unit had actually been overseas but two months, and already it was returning one of its best men to the States for further training as a Commissioned Officer. He was only one, the first one, of several men who were to prove their efficiency and return to Uncle Sugar for training – some as Photographic Officers, others as Flying Cadets. When a Combat Camera Unit is organized, all the men are picked. In that way, nothing but the best of results are obtained when the time to show themselves up in what they’re able to perform arrives. As much as these men meant to the Unit, they could perform greater services to their country in other capacities. Sgt. Roberts did not return to Kunming, but left directly from Calcutta for America. In his stead, Cpl Clifford Lefferts was flown to Calcutta to assist in carrying on with the gasoline story.

Captain Cline did not let the men do all the work themselves. He was right in there with them every moment. On December 10th he left for the base at Kweilin where he was to employ the use of a 35 millimeter motion-picture camera in photographing the varied activities of the famed Chinese-American Composite Wing. The film obtained on this assignment was to be incorporated with other scenes taken by the U. S. Army Signal Corps for a feature move entitled “China Fights.” The Captain, a well-known photographer in Hollywood – having been associated with Technicolor productions for several years – was certainly the right man to have in charge of a Combat Camera Unit. He shared his vast knowledge of photographic principles and practices with all of the men – bringing about a strong feeling of unity in the organization.

Three days later, Captain Cline returned from the above assignment with perfect results. At about the same time, two more officers returned to Headquarters at Kunming. Lts. Dale and Johnson had finally finished the tedious task of flying combat missions with the 308th Bombardment Group out of India. The tales they had to tell the men of narrow escapes from the claws of death were enough to make any man shiver! [the full account 16ccu_adventures_dale-n-johnson.html is included in the adventure stories]

The day of December 18th is one that will not be easily forgotten in the minds of the 16th's men – for this was the day upon which they received their ‘Baptism of Fire’! [16ccu_adventures_the_unit.html]

On Dec. 21st, Sgt. Anthony DeLucenay accompanied the 374th Bomb Squadron as an aerial photographer on a mission to bomb the railroad yards at Changmai [Cheng Mai, Thailand]. These yards were highly valuable to the enemy, as they supplied his troops throughout Northern Burma. One lone enemy plane, and I-45, attempted to attack the one lone B-24 in which DeLucenay was flying. He was successfully driven off by the plane’s gunners without any damage done to the Liberator. No further interruption was encountered on the trip back home.

Four days after the first enemy attack on the airfield, and as the buzz about the bombing was just dying out on the tongues of the personnel, an encore by the enemy was performed! From the looks of things, they wanted to give the men plenty to talk about. This time, coming over in the same strength of bombers and fighters as the former raid, they expected our forces to provide a similar amount of P-40s to play with. We fooled them, for we had twenty-eight fighters available at this time. The raid was costly for them! Our fighters ran up a much better score than the last time, confirming seventeen of the enemy (destroyed), with thirteen probables and fifteen definitely damaged. In comparison, our losses were light. Two P-40s were destroyed and four more reportedly damaged. It so happened that at the time of the raid, General Stillwell’s personal transport, a C-47 with “Uncle Joe’s Chariot” titled on its nose, had been on the line. That, plus another similar transport were hit and destroyed by Jap bombs. However, no permanent installations were touched as in the first raid. Several bombs fell on the runway proper, but were promptly repaired by coolies. None of our personnel were hurt. In short order, our supply route over the ‘Hump’ was to see a largely increased number of American fighters, bombers and transport being flown to the ever increasing Fourteenth Air Force of Gen. Claire Chennault. This raid of the 22nd was the last daylight attempt to be made on Kunming by the Japs. They were aware of the fact that we were ever growing in combat strength and that it might not pay to make any further attempts while the sun was in the sky!

A new area was to be covered photographically by the Unit. On the 23rd, Lt. Johnson and T/Sgt Geer proceed by air to Kweilin, where they were to participate in regular aerial flights with the 308th Bomb Group over targets in and around the heavily fortified enemy-held city of Canton. Two strong airfields were in the possession of the Japanese immediately outsid of the city. Strong enemy anti-aircraft defenses were run into. On one particular mission that Sgt. Geer will never forget, he had the camera with which he was shooting pictures shot right out from under him. Luckily, he escaped with no injuries. The plane had one engine shot out, and another B-24 was lost to ack-ack on this day. Another was lost on a similar mission flown on December 24th. Crew from those two bombers later walked out of the enemy-held territory to fly again and try again in their attempts to persistently annoy the enemy and destroy as much of his power as possible.

The Unit’s first Christmas overseas was a dull one. Christmas packages mailed from home, for the most part, did not arrive in time for the celebration. A small party was held by some of the men and although halfway around the world from home, all were in the right Holiday spirit. Some couldn’t help but being so after swallowing a few glasses of China’s liquor!

By this time, completion of the gasoline supply story was brought about and on the 26th of the month, Lt. Jones, Cpl. Cox and Pfcs. Klock and Morrison returned to Kunming by air. Lt. Hechtlinger, who had also been working with the above men on the story of supplying the eastern-most bases with fuel, remained at Kweilin to cover ground activities at that base.

On the last day of the month, and the year, Sgt. Henry Wilson flew with 374th Bombardment Squadron over the railroad yards at Lampang (China), where an attempt was made to bomb the rail lines out of commission. Poor results were obtained. Proof that the target was approached and attacked from the wrong angle was shown in the films that Sgt. Wilson brought back from the mission. No enemy interceptors were encountered on this mission. So, right up until the very last day the 16th CCU was plenty active in the pursuance of attacking the enemy in any and every way possible, with any and every weapon in our possession.

Another Unit detachment, on the 5th of November, consisting of Lt. Hechtlinger, Cpl. Cannon and Pfc. Mann took off for one of the largest American airbases in Eastern China, at Kweilin [Guilin]. This fair sized city was known as the ‘Paris of China’ – getting such a title from the fact that it had an ample supply of beautiful women, sparkling wines and was quite a center for souvenir hunters. In due time, more of the 16th men were to visit Kweilin and all would take an immediate liking to the place. Many of the lads were to acquire lady friends during their stay there. The job of those three me was to cover every imaginable story of news value for the Public Relations Office. In addition to these duties, they were to accompany B-25 Mitchells of the 11th Bombardment Squadron on combat missions and to bring back photographic proof of bomb damage to enemy installations. Runway construction, plane crashes, newsreel shots, new improvisations on aircraft, are only a few examples of the type of stories the men were to cover while on detached service at Kweilin.

And still another story was begun, this one was to start all the way back in Calcutta [Kolkatta], India. It was to eventually form a short movie to be shown to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public back in the U.S.A., showing them the many hardships encountered by everyone who was in any way connected with supplying fuel for our advanced bomber and fighter bases in China. It was to cover the story from the very beginning when the tankers emptied their holds of the precious fuel into the waiting railway tankers at Calcutta – up to the time the gasoline was poured into the wing, bomb bay and belly tanks of the airplanes. These planes were at the very furthest point on the U.S. Army supply route. Fuel was being transported one-half way around the globe, utilizing every known means of transportation, to supply planes whose job it was to drop bombs at points as close to the shore of the United States mainland as six thousand miles! It was indeed a rough war. The three men chosen for this job were Lt. Nicklin, S/Sgt Roberts and Pfc. Tutwiler. This assignment was by no means an easy one – photographic coverage had to be obtained of the fuel’s being transported over rail, water and even in the air – as well as over rugged mountainous terrain and malaria-infested regions of India. To help speed up the completion of this story a camera crew was assigned to begin coverage from the end of the line in China. Lts. Jones and Hechtlinger, Cpl. Cox and Pfc. Klock were those assigned to this angle of the story.

On the 17th, Lt. Hechtlinger and Pfc. Mann returned from Detached Service at Kweilin to the Headquarters in Kunming. However, he was being kept pretty much on the go, for on 21 November, just three days after he returned from Kweilin, he accompanied the men who were to cover the gasoline supply story from the end of the line in China. Following is an action packed, detailed story of this trip by jeep a road trip across China, from Kunming to Kweilin. There’s never a dull moment in the lives of a combat cameraman and especially if he hails from the 16th CCU.

T/Sgt Kaufman – amiable Unit supply man, arrived from India where he had suffered considerably from a bad case of dysentery. In a matter of only a few days, however, instead of getting better, his condition became more and more serious. He had developed a rheumatic disease that could not be treated an overseas hospital. It became quite necessary for him to be returned to the States. The Unit really regretted to see him leave, for had been fulfilling his job as Supply Sergeant in the best manner possible and was liked by each and every man in the Unit for his splendid character and jovial attitude.

That was the way the month of November flew by for the officers and enlisted men of the 16th CCU. A big job had been undertaken and a big job was to be fulfilled. Film and prints of the Unit’s coverage were being speeded to New York offices for editing and release. The first month’s operation in China was over.

December –

The end of the year, and the second month of active duty in China for the 16th CCU was drawing on. In these two short months, a great deal had been accomplished. All that was expected of the relatively small Unit was fulfilled and every one concerned felt proud of themselves for a job well done. Captain Cline and his men had every good intention of continuing their good work on into the year of 1944 and as long as Army Air Forces in Washington asked them to stay on the job.

More smiling faces were to be seen on the 1st of the month when new ratings were posted on the Unit’s bulletin board. Seven promotions in all were announced. Every man promoted had worked hard and duly deserved the raise in rank.

Lt. Wiler returned to duty at Kunming from Yunnanyi, China. He had been there to cover ground, as well as air activities connect with squadrons stationed at the air base of Yunnanyi. Sgt. Gough remained there to carry on the work and in a few days Sgt Gendler and Cpl. Campbell were sent there to assist him. Much coverage was to be obtained at said field and the three men wasted no time in getting together on assignments – some taking ground shots on one day and switching around so that not one of them would fly two days in a row.

Sgt. Roberts, who was in Calcutta helping cover the fuel supply story from the beginning of the line, had applied for Officer’s Candidate School while still in Kunming. Word was received that the board had approved Roberts’ application. The Unit had actually been overseas but two months, and already it was returning one of its best men to the States for further training as a Commissioned Officer. He was only one, the first one, of several men who were to prove their efficiency and return to Uncle Sugar for training – some as Photographic Officers, others as Flying Cadets. When a Combat Camera Unit is organized, all the men are picked. In that way, nothing but the best of results are obtained when the time to show themselves up in what they’re able to perform arrives. As much as these men meant to the Unit, they could perform greater services to their country in other capacities. Sgt. Roberts did not return to Kunming, but left directly from Calcutta for America. In his stead, Cpl Clifford Lefferts was flown to Calcutta to assist in carrying on with the gasoline story.

Captain Cline did not let the men do all the work themselves. He was right in there with them every moment. On December 10th he left for the base at Kweilin where he was to employ the use of a 35 millimeter motion-picture camera in photographing the varied activities of the famed Chinese-American Composite Wing. The film obtained on this assignment was to be incorporated with other scenes taken by the U. S. Army Signal Corps for a feature move entitled “China Fights.” The Captain, a well-known photographer in Hollywood – having been associated with Technicolor productions for several years – was certainly the right man to have in charge of a Combat Camera Unit. He shared his vast knowledge of photographic principles and practices with all of the men – bringing about a strong feeling of unity in the organization.

Three days later, Captain Cline returned from the above assignment with perfect results. At about the same time, two more officers returned to Headquarters at Kunming. Lts. Dale and Johnson had finally finished the tedious task of flying combat missions with the 308th Bombardment Group out of India. The tales they had to tell the men of narrow escapes from the claws of death were enough to make any man shiver! [the full account 16ccu_adventures_dale-n-johnson.html is included in the adventure stories]

The day of December 18th is one that will not be easily forgotten in the minds of the 16th's men – for this was the day upon which they received their ‘Baptism of Fire’! [16ccu_adventures_the_unit.html]

On Dec. 21st, Sgt. Anthony DeLucenay accompanied the 374th Bomb Squadron as an aerial photographer on a mission to bomb the railroad yards at Changmai [Cheng Mai, Thailand]. These yards were highly valuable to the enemy, as they supplied his troops throughout Northern Burma. One lone enemy plane, and I-45, attempted to attack the one lone B-24 in which DeLucenay was flying. He was successfully driven off by the plane’s gunners without any damage done to the Liberator. No further interruption was encountered on the trip back home.

Four days after the first enemy attack on the airfield, and as the buzz about the bombing was just dying out on the tongues of the personnel, an encore by the enemy was performed! From the looks of things, they wanted to give the men plenty to talk about. This time, coming over in the same strength of bombers and fighters as the former raid, they expected our forces to provide a similar amount of P-40s to play with. We fooled them, for we had twenty-eight fighters available at this time. The raid was costly for them! Our fighters ran up a much better score than the last time, confirming seventeen of the enemy (destroyed), with thirteen probables and fifteen definitely damaged. In comparison, our losses were light. Two P-40s were destroyed and four more reportedly damaged. It so happened that at the time of the raid, General Stillwell’s personal transport, a C-47 with “Uncle Joe’s Chariot” titled on its nose, had been on the line. That, plus another similar transport were hit and destroyed by Jap bombs. However, no permanent installations were touched as in the first raid. Several bombs fell on the runway proper, but were promptly repaired by coolies. None of our personnel were hurt. In short order, our supply route over the ‘Hump’ was to see a largely increased number of American fighters, bombers and transport being flown to the ever increasing Fourteenth Air Force of Gen. Claire Chennault. This raid of the 22nd was the last daylight attempt to be made on Kunming by the Japs. They were aware of the fact that we were ever growing in combat strength and that it might not pay to make any further attempts while the sun was in the sky!

A new area was to be covered photographically by the Unit. On the 23rd, Lt. Johnson and T/Sgt Geer proceed by air to Kweilin, where they were to participate in regular aerial flights with the 308th Bomb Group over targets in and around the heavily fortified enemy-held city of Canton. Two strong airfields were in the possession of the Japanese immediately outsid of the city. Strong enemy anti-aircraft defenses were run into. On one particular mission that Sgt. Geer will never forget, he had the camera with which he was shooting pictures shot right out from under him. Luckily, he escaped with no injuries. The plane had one engine shot out, and another B-24 was lost to ack-ack on this day. Another was lost on a similar mission flown on December 24th. Crew from those two bombers later walked out of the enemy-held territory to fly again and try again in their attempts to persistently annoy the enemy and destroy as much of his power as possible.

The Unit’s first Christmas overseas was a dull one. Christmas packages mailed from home, for the most part, did not arrive in time for the celebration. A small party was held by some of the men and although halfway around the world from home, all were in the right Holiday spirit. Some couldn’t help but being so after swallowing a few glasses of China’s liquor!

By this time, completion of the gasoline supply story was brought about and on the 26th of the month, Lt. Jones, Cpl. Cox and Pfcs. Klock and Morrison returned to Kunming by air. Lt. Hechtlinger, who had also been working with the above men on the story of supplying the eastern-most bases with fuel, remained at Kweilin to cover ground activities at that base.

On the last day of the month, and the year, Sgt. Henry Wilson flew with 374th Bombardment Squadron over the railroad yards at Lampang (China), where an attempt was made to bomb the rail lines out of commission. Poor results were obtained. Proof that the target was approached and attacked from the wrong angle was shown in the films that Sgt. Wilson brought back from the mission. No enemy interceptors were encountered on this mission. So, right up until the very last day the 16th CCU was plenty active in the pursuance of attacking the enemy in any and every way possible, with any and every weapon in our possession.

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On Dec. 21st, Sgt. Anthony DeLucenay accompanied the 374th Bomb Squadron as an aerial photographer on a mission to bomb the railroad yards at Changmai [Cheng Mai, Thailand]. These yards were highly valuable to the enemy, as they supplied his troops throughout Northern Burma. One lone enemy plane, and I-45, attempted to attack the one lone B-24 in which DeLucenay was flying. He was successfully driven off by the plane’s gunners without any damage done to the Liberator. No further interruption was encountered on the trip back home.

Four days after the first enemy attack on the airfield, and as the buzz about the bombing was just dying out on the tongues of the personnel, an encore by the enemy was performed! From the looks of things, they wanted to give the men plenty to talk about. This time, coming over in the same strength of bombers and fighters as the former raid, they expected our forces to provide a similar amount of P-40s to play with. We fooled them, for we had twenty-eight fighters available at this time. The raid was costly for them! Our fighters ran up a much better score than the last time, confirming seventeen of the enemy (destroyed), with thirteen probables and fifteen definitely damaged. In comparison, our losses were light. Two P-40s were destroyed and four more reportedly damaged. It so happened that at the time of the raid, General Stillwell’s personal transport, a C-47 with “Uncle Joe’s Chariot” titled on its nose, had been on the line. That, plus another similar transport were hit and destroyed by Jap bombs. However, no permanent installations were touched as in the first raid. Several bombs fell on the runway proper, but were promptly repaired by coolies. None of our personnel were hurt. In short order, our supply route over the ‘Hump’ was to see a largely increased number of American fighters, bombers and transport being flown to the ever increasing Fourteenth Air Force of Gen. Claire Chennault. This raid of the 22nd was the last daylight attempt to be made on Kunming by the Japs. They were aware of the fact that we were ever growing in combat strength and that it might not pay to make any further attempts while the sun was in the sky!

A new area was to be covered photographically by the Unit. On the 23rd, Lt. Johnson and T/Sgt Geer proceed by air to Kweilin, where they were to participate in regular aerial flights with the 308th Bomb Group over targets in and around the heavily fortified enemy-held city of Canton. Two strong airfields were in the possession of the Japanese immediately outsid of the city. Strong enemy anti-aircraft defenses were run into. On one particular mission that Sgt. Geer will never forget, he had the camera with which he was shooting pictures shot right out from under him. Luckily, he escaped with no injuries. The plane had one engine shot out, and another B-24 was lost to ack-ack on this day. Another was lost on a similar mission flown on December 24th. Crew from those two bombers later walked out of the enemy-held territory to fly again and try again in their attempts to persistently annoy the enemy and destroy as much of his power as possible.

The Unit’s first Christmas overseas was a dull one. Christmas packages mailed from home, for the most part, did not arrive in time for the celebration. A small party was held by some of the men and although halfway around the world from home, all were in the right Holiday spirit. Some couldn’t help but being so after swallowing a few glasses of China’s liquor!

By this time, completion of the gasoline supply story was brought about and on the 26th of the month, Lt. Jones, Cpl. Cox and Pfcs. Klock and Morrison returned to Kunming by air. Lt. Hechtlinger, who had also been working with the above men on the story of supplying the eastern-most bases with fuel, remained at Kweilin to cover ground activities at that base.

On the last day of the month, and the year, Sgt. Henry Wilson flew with 374th Bombardment Squadron over the railroad yards at Lampang (China), where an attempt was made to bomb the rail lines out of commission. Poor results were obtained. Proof that the target was approached and attacked from the wrong angle was shown in the films that Sgt. Wilson brought back from the mission. No enemy interceptors were encountered on this mission. So, right up until the very last day the 16th CCU was plenty active in the pursuance of attacking the enemy in any and every way possible, with any and every weapon in our possession.

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