A bit of air base history
Reference your Feb. 21 (Europe edition) article "Military to return Belgian buildings": It spoke of Florennes Air Base, Belgium. We of 9th Air Force knew it as Florennes/Juzaine, code no. A-78.
As [stated in] the history of the IX Engineer Command (9th Air Force): "The big field at Florennes/Juzaine was reached by the 820th on the 9th of September. Although its three concrete runways were all under 5000 feet, it had 91 usable hardstands. Two days later one runway and a loop of taxiways were operational and 200 heavy bombers carrying gasoline for the Army landed. Further capacity for air supply had been provided by other detachments of the 820th, which on the 8th and 9th of September marked out three sod transport strips at Senzeilles (A-85). Vitrival (A-86) and Maubeuge (A-88)."
The 820th was the 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion, one of the originals of the IX Engineer Command. But more important is to know Florennes was not a bomber base. The first (medium) bomber group, the 344th Bombardment Group (M) was based there from April 6-May 5, 1945. Prior to that, it was occupied by the 422 Night Fighter Squadron (Sept. 18, 1944 to April 3, 1945), the 370th Fighter Group (Sept. 26, 1944 to Jan. 26, 1945), the 474 Fighter Group (Oct. 3, 1944 to March 30, 1945) and the 365 Fighter Group (Jan. 26-March 15, 1945). At the end of World War II, the field was retained by the U.S. Air Force.
In years past, the 474 Fighter Group Association made pilgrimages to Florennes almost annually until age crept in and discontinued the visits.
Just thought we’d keep the record straight.
Ronald MacArthur Hirst9th Air Force veteranWiesbaden, Germany