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An Ace with 4 aerial victories and 3 ground, Capt. William F. Collins of Jonesville, WI, enlisted on 15 October 1942. Assigned to the 369th Fighter Squadron on 2 August 1944, he flew 56 combat missions before ending his tour of duty on 22 September 1945.

Photo L-R: Capt. Robert S. Gaines Jr. and Capt. William F. Collins.

31 December 1944: At month’s end, on the morning of the 31st, general hysteria was in command at East Wretham. A late Field Order, an anticipated ground fog and a generally eager desire to get up snafued things until 0855 when Ray Wetmore and Niven Cranfill led 54 aircraft off to R/V over the North Sea with a force of bombers out to smash the aircraft assembly plant at Wenzendorf and subsequently to engage a small part of the GAF in a highly entertaining air battle SW of Hamburg. Ray got his 19th and shared another one with his wingman Werner Ruschenberg, a new pilot off to a fine start. In the 368th, George Baker had himself a double for his fourth and fifth kills. Billy Collins and Arthur Morris, separated from the rest of their 369th Squadron, ran into 15 FW-190s and shot down four. Each got one and together they knocked down two more in a remarkable display of teamwork. In all claims were 12-1/2 - 0-1 for no loss, the highlight in a bright day and best job of the month. ~ Excerpt from the December 1944 359th Fighter Group History



  • 359th Fighter Group

    359th Fighter Group

    The 359th Fighter Group flew 346 missions from East Wretham between December 1943 and April 1945. In the main these missions were escorting bombers flying over occupied Europe. The Group, soon after converting from Thunderbolts to Mustangs, were...

  • 369th Fighter Squadron


  • William Collins

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Fighter pilot
    Assigned to 369FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF. Credited with 7 air kills. Ended Tour of Duty (ETD). ...

  • Robert Gaines

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot
    Aug. 1944-Sept. 1945, 71 missions, 331:35 hours


  • East Wretham

    Military site : airfield
    East Wretham was not improved to Class A standard. It retained its shorter runways, although eventually pierced-steel planking was laid to make take offs and landings easier for the Thunderbolt, and then Mustang, pilots. Steel matting was also laid to...


Date Contributor Update
10 June 2019 13:55:05 Janet Fogg Changes to caption

Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.
Posted by Janet Fogg, 359th Fighter Group Historian.

Date Contributor Update
10 June 2019 13:53:39 Janet Fogg Created entry with collection, caption, unit associations, person associations and place associations

Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.
Posted by Janet Fogg, 359th Fighter Group Historian.