Lieutenant "John Bull" Stirling of the 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group, in the cockpit of his B-26 Marauder nicknamed "John Bull". Image stamped on reverse: 'Associated Press.' [stamp], 'Not to be published 24 Jul 1943.' [stamp] and '276112.'[Censor no. ] Printed caption on reverse: 'Passed by the Censor- no 2761. Marauder is now operating from this country. Fastest Medium Bomber in use is now operating from this country. It has just been disclosed that the American Medium Bomber, the B-26 Marauder, which already has done such fine defensive work in Sicily, North Africa and the Far East, is now operating from this country with the Ground Support Command of the U.S. 8th Air Force. A fast, hard hitting Bomber with a top speed in the region of M.P.H at 15,000 ft. The Marauder is capable of pentrating deeply into enemy zones as it has a range of 2400 miles and a "ceiling" of between six and seven miles. It carries 2,400 lbs of bombs and its 7 -man crew handles an armament of eight .50 calibre machine guns. [printed caption] ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO SHOWS: Lt "John Bull" Stirling of Annapolis, Maryland, in the cockpit of his Marauder plane about to set off on an operational flight from a U.S. Bomber Station "somewhere in England" WOR 25911.' Handwritten caption on reverse: 'Probably 456BS.'
Personnel of the 323rd Bomb Group, including Flight Lieutenant Joe McCarthy, talk with RAF personnel under the tail of a B-26 Marauder (serial number 41-17750) in August 1943. Passed for publication 18 Aug 1943.
Printed caption on reverse: 'America's New Super Medium Bomber In Britain. 18.8.43. The U.S. Super Medium bomber, the "Marauder" is now operating from Britain after doing fine work in N. Africa and Sicily. It has a range of 2,000 miles, with a speed of 350 m.p.h. and a wing span of 65 ft., and carries one ton of bombs. Driven by two 2,000h.p. Pratt and Witney "Wasp" engines, armed with 8 of the famous "Calibre 50" machine guns, and carries a crew of 6, all of who wear "Flak" armour and steel hats. The picture shows:-'
Printed caption also attached: '37./38. Pilots and crews of the R.A.F. pay informal visits to U.S. Air fields in Britain and valuable working information is exchanged in this way.
The picture shows a R.A.F. Bomber crew with U.S. pilots at a "Marauder" Station.
The names (left to right) are:- Lt. John Helton (Clifton, Texas)., Sgt. Ronald Batson (Ferry Hill, Durham)., Flt. Sgt. Leonard Eaton (Manchester)., Pilot Officer Don MacLean (Toronto, Ontario)., Sgt. Len Johnson (Newark, Notts)., Lt. John Bull Sterling (Annapolis, Maryland)., Flt. Lt. Joe Macarthy (Long Island, New York)., Lt. Lawrence McNally (Bridgport, Conn)., Capt. Grover Willcox (Anahuac, Texas)., and Sgt. Bill Radcliffe (New Westminster, British Columbia).
Flt. Lt. Joe McCarthy, a Yank in the R.A.F. won the D.S.O. for his part in the famous Dam Busting raid and he and Lt. John Bull Stirling trained at the same flying school in Canada.'
On reverse: Central Press Photos Ltd., US Army Press Censor ETO and US Army General Section Press & Censorship Bureau [Stamps]. Censor no: 279285.
Joe McCarthy was one of the 8,800 Americans who joined the RCAF before America entered the war. He became one of the most outstanding pilots in RAF Bomber Command, completing 67 operations before being taken off in July 1944. By then he had earned a DSO plus DFC and bar. His biographer says Joe and his 617 Squadron crew flew down to Earls Colne for the occasion recorded in this picture. Joe and his fellow American John Stirling had trained together at No 12 EFTS at Goderich, Ontario.
In a Canadian newspaper, the caption read - "Canadians, Yanks and Britishers are in this group as a crew of a Lancaster bomber visited the crew of a US Marauder in Britain". After the war, Joe McCarthy remained in the RCAF until 1968. He then retired to Virginia Beach, VA where he died on 6 September 1998
WT-O "Buckeye Battle Cry" was reserved for the crew ( usually Barker or Stirling) leading other 456th BS aircrews on combat missions. The aircraft was named after the Ohio State University fight song and Lt. Col. Robert Oaxley Barker's alma mater. Lt. Col. Barker, the Commanding Officer of the 456th BS, is picutred standing, third from left.
Maj. John Bull Stirling WT-D
Earls Colne Airfield Dispersal Areas Aerial - War Time
The photograph has been annotated with the dispersal sites within view and certain building numbers, all but one of which are within Site No. 2 Communal. Please refer to the Earls Colne Site Plan - Schedule of Buildings for the legend, which is reproduced to the extent possible below.. Building 498 is likely the Nissen hut shared by Lts. Foster, Rush, Stirneman, Guldemond and Lemmon with their puppy, Burma.
SITE NO. 2 COMMUNAL
166 Picket Post
167 Grocery Store
168 Tank Tower
169 Ration Store
170 Breakroom Ration Store
171 Tailors and Barber Shop
172 Latrines Sergts.
173 Sergts. Showers
174 Sergts. Mess
175 A/IN’s Dining Room & ___
176 Post Office
177 Latrine Block A/IN’s
178 Showers & Ablut. A/IN’s
179 Fuel Compound
180 M & E Plinth
181 Stand-By Set House
182 Gymnasium & Chapel
184 Officers’ Bath House
185 -186 Officers’ Mess
187 Squash Racquet Court
188 C/O’s Quarters
SITE AREA NO. 3 COMUNAL
194 Picket Post
195 Sergts. Mess
196 Sergts. Showers
197 Officers’ Baths
198 Boiler House
199 Officers’ Mess
200 Latrine Block A/IN’s
201 – 202 Showers Blocks A/IN’s (2)
203 M & E Plinth
204 Dining Room
205 Institute & W.A.A.E.T.
206 Education Block
207 Local Produce Store
208 Ration Store
209 Fuel Compound
SITE NO. 4 QUARTERS
215 Picket Post
216 - 219 A/IN’s Barracks (4)
220 A/IN’s Latrines
221 Sergts. & A/IN’s Dining Room
222 Sergts. & A/INS Ablutions
223 A/IN’s Barracks
224 Fuel Compound
225 A/IN’s Latrines
226 - 231 A/IN’s Barracks (4)
SITE NO. 5 QUARTERS
237 Picket Post
238 Officers’ Quarters
239 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrines
240 - 342 Officers’ Quarters (3)
243 A/IN’s Barracks
244 -245 Sergts. Quarters (2)
246 Sergts. Latrines & Dining Room
247 – 249 Sergts. Quarters (3)
250 Sergts. Latrines & Dining Room
251 Sergts. Ablutions
252 Sergts. Latrines & Dining Room
253 - 257 Sergts. Quarters (5)
258 Sergts. A/IN’s Ablutions
259 M & E Plinth
260 – 262 A/IN’s Barracks (3)
263 A/IN’S Latrines & Dining Room
264 - 259 A/IN’s Barracks (6)
270 M & E Plinth
272 – 277 A/IN’S Barracks (7)
SITE No. 6 QUARTERS
282 Picket Post
283 A/IN’s Barracks
284 Officer’s Quarters
285 Static Water Tank
286 – 287 Officers’ Latrines & Ablutions (2)
288 – 294 Officers’ Quarters (7)
295 M & E Plinth
296 – 297 Sergts. Lat. & Dining Room (2)
298 – 302 Sergts. Quarters (5)
303 A/IN’s Barracks
304 Sergts. Barracks
305 Sergts. & A/IN’s Ablutions
306 – 307 A/IN’S Lat. & Dining Room (2)
308 – 310 A/IN’S Quarters (3)
311 A/IN’S Latrines & Dining Room
312 – 317 A/IN’S Barracks (4)
SITE NO. 7 QUARTERS
323 Picket Post
324 – 327 Officers’ Quarters (4)
328 Sergts. Dining Room
329 – 324 Sergts. Quarters (5)
325 Sergts. Latrines
326 -527 Sergts. Lat. & Dining Room (2)
328 - 230 Sergts. Quarters (3)
331 - 332 A/IN’S Latrines (2)
332 -351 A/IN’S Barracks (20)
352 A/IN’s Latrines & Dining Room
353 Sergts. & A/IN’S Ablutions
354 -358 A/IN’S Barracks (5)
359 A/IN’s Latrines & Dining Room
360 Officers’ Latrines & Ablutions
361 Sergts. Ablutions
SITE NO. 8 W.A.A.F.
265 Picket Post & Reception Room
368 Static Water Tank
369 Sergts. Mess & A/IN Dining Hall
370 Sick Quarters (6 Bed)
371 Officers’ Mess w/ Show. & Ablu.
372 – 375 A/IN’s Barracks (w/o Lat.) (4)
376 – 377 Sergts. & A/IN’s Barr. (w/ Lat. & Baths) (2)
378 Sergts. & A/IN’s Baths & Decontam.
379 Sergts. & A/IN’s Lat. & Ablutions
380 – 386 A/IN’S Barr. (w/ Lat. & Baths (7)
SITE No. 9 W.A.A.F.
392 Fuel Compound
393 Ablutions Block
394 Latrine & Bath Block
395 Sergts. Quarters (w/ Latrine)
396 Static Water Tank
397 – 400 A/IN’s Quarters (w/ Lat.) (4)
401 M & E Plinth
403 – 405 A/IN’s Quarters (w/ Lat.) (4)
SITE No. 10 Sick QUARTERS
412 Picket Post
413 M & E Plinth
414 Sergts. A/IN’s Quarters
415 Sergts. & IN’s Lat. & Dining Hall
416 Ambulance Garage & Mortuary
417 Static Water Tank
418 Sick Quarters
419 Sick Quarters Amen.
420 Pump House
421 L. C. Reservoir & Suction Tank
SITE No. 11 QUARTERS
427 Picket Post
428 Static Water Tank
429 – 430 A/IN’s Barracks (w/ Lat.) (2)
431 – 432 A/IN’s Latrine & Dining Room
433 Sergts. & A/IN’s Ablutions
434 A/IN’s Barracks
435 - 440 A/IN’s Barr. (1 w/ Lat. & 4 w/o Lat.)
SITE No. 12 QUARTERS
446 Picket Post
447 Officers’ Latrines & Ablutions
448 – 452 Officers’ Quarters (5)
454 Officers’ Latrines
455 – 456 Sergts. Quarters (2)
457 – 461 A/IN’s Barracks (5)
462 A/IN’s Latrines & Dining Room
463 – 464 Sergts. Lat. & Dining Room (2)
465 Sergts. Quarters
466 Sergts. Latrines
467 Sergts. Dining Room
468 Sergts. Ablutions
469 – 474 Sergts. Quarters (14)
475 A/IN’s Barracks
476 Sergts. & A/IN’s Ablutions
477 M & E. Plinth
478 – 481 A/IN’s Barracks (4)
482 A/In’s Latrines & Dining Room
483 A/I’S Latrines
484 - 488 A/IN’S Barracks (5)
448 Static Water Tank
490 Fuel Compound
SITE No. 13 QUARTERS
496 Picket Post
497 - 503 Officers’ Quarters (6)
504 Officers’ Ablutions & Latrines
506 – 510 Sergts. Quarters (5)
511 – 512 Sergts. Lat. & Dining Room (2)
513 Sergts. Dining Room
514 – 515 Sergts. Quarters (2)
516 Sergts. Ablutions
517 – 518 Sergts. Quarters (2)
520 – 521 Officers’ Quarters (2)
522 Airmen’s Latrines
523 – 528 A/IN’s Barracks (6)
529 A/IN’s Barracks
530 – 531 A/IN’s Lat. & Dining Room (2)
532 A/IN’s Barracks
533 – 539 A/IN’s Barracks (7)
540 A/IN’s Barracks
SITE No. 14 SEWAGE DISPOSAL
446 Sewage Drain Beds
447 Pool House
448 Sequestr. Tanks (_ Compartmt.)
449 Dosing Chamber
550 Percolating Filters (2)
551 Holding Tanks (2)
Google Maps Satellite View of Earls Colne Airfield Annotated
The aerial photograph was taken from Google satellite in September 2018. The annotations reflect the site and building numbers from the RAF Earls Colne Site Plan of Record and Schedule of Buildings, dating back to the Second World War. Please refer to one the "About This Image" tab included with one of the other aerial photographs of the airfield for the legend, which associates buildings and site with the numbers noted on the image here.
Maj. Stirling served as a B-26 Marauder pilot with the 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group, and 9th Air Force during the Second World War. He was part of the original Myrtle Beach, South Carolina group that first comprised the 456th Bomb Squadron. The original Stirling crew included Stirling-Pilot and Hutchins-Bombardier.
Stirling was born John Bull Oldendorf in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Navy Admiral Jessee Barret Oldendorf; he took his step-father's last name after his parents' divorce. He attended Anapolis High School before joing the Maryland Naitonal Guard in 1937. He was released in 1941 to join the Royal Canadian Air Force where he served as a flying instructor in Ontario. When the United States enetered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Stirling flew in the Flight and Box Lead aircraft in many of his combat missions with the 456th Bomb Squadron. He was the second highest ranking officer in the 456th BS and second in commad after Lt. Col. Robert O. Barker. In that capacity, he often flew in WT-O "Buckeye Battle Cry."
Lt. Frank Burgmeier, a Lead Navigator with the 456th, flew with Stirling on the first mission of the day on June 6, 1944 in a Flight Lead to a coastal dfefense battery on Utah Beach. For an account of that mission, see the book by Louis S. and Carlton R. Rehr, the first chapter of which regarding the D-Day mission was written by Burgmeier. Burgmeier was interviewed by a Syracuse, New York new station regarding this D-Day mission on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.
In post-war comments, Lt. Burgmeier recalled one mission that he and Stirling had flown to a target (probably a bridge or marshalling yard) just outside of Paris. Burgmeier recalled that it was a hot target and that "it was incredibly tense" in the aircraft due to the amount of well-directed heavy flak exploding around them. Burgmeier said, "Noboy ever ate their [rationed chocolate] candy bars on missions. We were either too tense or too busy to even think about it. I was sitting next to JB in the Co-Pilot's seat when I happened to glance over and saw him sitting there casually eating his chocolate bar completely unphased by what was going on around us." Burgmeoier said it was such an absurd sight, he burst into laughter, at which point Stirling did the same.
On August 6, 1944, Maj. Stirling, flying with Capt. Chief Collins-Co-P, Lt. Al Allison-Navigator, and Lt. Walt Foster-Bombardier flew one of the 323rd's draded mandatory five night missions in WT-O "Buckeye Battle Cry" to the Ile de Cezzembre Coastal Defenses near St. Lo with good results. In a letter printed in Ross Harlan's book, Strikes, Col. Stirling recalls this mission, which all returning air crew described as "creepy." The mission was illuminated by a full moon. It mus thave been quite a ride for Allison and Foster --- nothing seemed to phase either Stirling or Collins, both excellent pilots who exemplified the "devil may care" attitude shared in varying defrees by all combat crewmembers of the 456th; they were all just a ttile bit crazy because they had to be to do what they did day in and day out during their tours of duty.
Maj. Stirling flew his last combat mission with the 456th on September 23, 1944 from Chartes to the Venlo Railroad Bridge in WT-W "Georgia Miss" with Lt. Allison-Navigator and Lt. Walt Foster as bombardier in the Box I, Flight 3 lead aircraft. The mission was eventually aborted due to bad weather over the target. This was also Lt. Allison's last combat mission with the 456th.
Maj. Stirling shared a tent with Lt. Col. Barker when the two were stationed at Lessay and Chartes. Following Stirling's final mission, according to Burgmeier's war diary, the two "got into quite a brawl" outside of their tent as Bugmeier and Foster, who had to flown a lot of missions with both of them. Discreiton being the better part of valor, Burgmeier and Foster watched the two men resolve their difference from a few yards away outside of their own tent. Barker and Striling had been through a lot together and were about to part ways after having been "family" since the arriving at Myrtle Beach for training. The transition back into civiliam life was approached with trepidation by combat aircrew about to return to the States.
Following the Second World War, Stirling earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Mayland and a master's degree in International Studies from George Washington University.
Stirling also served in the Korean War and the Southeast Asian War. During the Korean War, he brought cargo from Japan to Korea and wounded soliers back from Korea to Japan. In 1966 and 1967, he was a photo reconnaissance pilot and squadron commander, flying 101 combat sorties over North Vietnam from Thailand. Following the Vietnam War, Stirling served in a wapons systems group at the Pentagon, retiring from the USAF in 1970 with the rank of Colonel. On Nov. 14, 1988, he drowned athe age of 68 after his one-man racing skull cptcized in the tidal pool of the Potomac River near the Frances Scott Keyes Bridge. Col Stirling was laid to rest at Arlington Naitonal Cemetary.
Military | Colonel | Pilot - B-26 Marauder | 323rd Bomb Group
Born on October 9, 1919 in London, Ohio, Lt. Col. Barker was graduated from Ohio State University ("OSU"). He earned his "wings" at "The West Point of the Air" at Randolph Field, Texas.He was part of the original Myrtle Beach, SC group that comprised...
Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator - B-26 Marauder | 323rd Bomb Group
Lt. Burgmeier grew up in Upstate New York. He married his wife, Tedi, in July 1943, just days before he left for his tour of duty as a navigator for the 323rd Bombardment Group. He kept a diary, which has been invaluable to historians studying the...
Military | B-26 Marauder Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
Mentioning Chief Collins to any member of the 456th BS elicited an immediate smile and chuckles. "He was a character!" according to, it seems, everyone. Hands down, Chief Collins is one of the most endearing members of the 456th. He combined a sense...
Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier | 323rd Bomb Group
Lt. Walt Foster was a navigator and bombardier from Upstate New York who served with the 456th BS during the Second World War. His first combat mission was flown from Earls Colne Airfield on February 3, 1944 to the Ruisseville "No Balls” secret weapon...
Units served with
The 323rd Bombardment Group operated with B-26 Marauders, American medium bombers. They were the first Eighth Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with this aircraft on 16 July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the Eighth,...
Selected Bibliography of Publications:
Military site : airfield
The first airfield site was near East Boldre, used before the First World War. A Royal Flying Corps and RAF station during the First World War, it was sold and dismantled from 1920-1924, though the land was used as a private airfield from 1933 to 1938....
Military site : airfield
Earls Colne was built in 1941 as an airfield for No.3 Group, RAF Bomber Command, although never used as such. Assigned to the US Eighth Air Force (as Station 358) in 1942, its 36 hardstands were increased to 50, bringing the airfield up to Air Ministry...
Military site : non-airfield
Marks Hall estate was requisitioned in 1941 for the construction of Earls Colne airfield (USAAF Station 358).