Huie H. Lamb. Image courtesy of Huie H. Lamb.
Page 24 of the Duxford Diary.
Many of the 8th Air Force Groups produced an unofficial unit history in the months after the war ended in Europe but before they were redeployed out of the ETO (‘European Theater of Operations’). The Duxford Diary was the book created by and for the service personnel who were based at Duxford at the end of the war in Europe, as a memento of their time at the airfield.
Resembling a college yearbook, unit histories were an unofficial – and often tongue-in-cheek – record of the unit’s time in the UK. They include photo montages showing different aspects of base life. Often the servicemen in the photos are unnamed. The American Air Museum hopes that by adding unit histories to the website as individual pages, the men in the photos will be identified and associated to their person entries.
Colonel Huie H Lamb Jr of the 78th Fighter Group shares his first impressions of England and life at Duxford.
Extract of interview conducted by Carl Warner of the Imperial War Museum, 31 October 2014 inside the Officer's Mess at Duxford
Huie Lamb and Brussels at Duxford
Huie Lamb and Brussels on the Duxford tennis court.
Huie Lamb and Brussels on Duxford's domestic camp.
Huie Lamb (left) and John I Brown III on Duxford's north side. Huie is holding the camera with which he took many of the photographs displayed on his page. Image courtesy of Huie Lamb.
Huie Lamb (left) and Robert 'Bob' Abernathy with Brussels the terrier. Image courtesy of Huie Lamb.
John Childs (left) and Huie Lamb with 'Brussels' the dog. Brussels was owned by Huie's friend, Tory Eggleston, who brought him back from leave in his pocket. He was just a 'sprout', so they called him 'Brussels'. When Troy was killed, Huie looked after Brussels, who became a much-loved member of the 82nd Fighter Squadron. Image courtesy of Huie Lamb.
John Childs (left) and Huie Lamb (right). Huie's face is bandaged following his ditching in the North Sea when he hit the gunsight. Childs led the Air Sea Rescue Supermarine Walrus to Huie. Image courtesy of Huie Lamb.
Huie Lamb, from Abilene Texas, flew 61 combat missions (167:40 combat hours in a P-47, 107:50 in a P-51) with the 82nd Fighter Squadron. He shot down 2 and half aircraft in the air, and was responsible for the destruction of three aircraft on the ground. His victories included two German jets. On 29 December 1944 his P-51 suffered a mechanical failure and crashed into the channel. He was picked up by Air Sea Rescue from Martlesham Heath.
78th FG 84th FS. One of the first pilots to shoot down an ME- 262.
Combat Report 12th October 1944 2nd Lt Huie Lamb
“I was flying Surtax Yellow 4. In the Hamburg Area, we spotted 15 plus e/a mostly Fw-109s. We dove down to bounce them and the e/a broke in all directions, most of them headed south into clouds. My element leader picked out a straggler, an Me-109, and we circled and came in on his tail. My element leader fired a burst or two at him and then overshot. I came in and fired from dead astern at a range of about 500 yds., getting strikes on both ailerons of the e/a. The 109 turned gently to the right and I pulled deflection of a ring on him and fired, and the e/a’s engine caught fire. I pulled up as I overshot and looked back and saw e/a falling sideways at about 2,000 ft. I could see the canopy was off and the pilot seemed to be trying to get out. I don’t know whether he got out or not, for the 109 rolled over on to its back and went straight into the ground and blew up. I saw no chute. I also shot up a loco on my way home in the same area. I claim one Me-109 destroyed.”
Combat report 15 October 1944 2nd Lt Huie H Lamb
“Capt Brown and I were returning from the Hannover Area after strafing ground targets. Near Osnabruck, I spotted a Jet Aircraft at about 4,000 ft. at this time. I started a steep dive and was indicating about 475 [IAS] and closing very fast. When I closed to about 1,000 yds., he must have seen me, as he started to pick up speed and pulled away a little. I gave my plane full power and water and started to close on him again, but very slowly. As I got within range and started shooting, he started to turn to the lefty. I easily turned inside of him and kept shooting during the entire turn, noting many strikes. The E/a a ME-262, made a 180 degree turn and then levelled out. He started back and led me over an airfield that had been shooting flak at me as I chased the jet. I saw the intense curtain of flak coming u[p at me, but followed him and got right on his tail, almost dead astern and noticed more strikes. I felt myself being hit several times, but opened fire on him again, from dead a stern, and noticed more strikes He threw off his canopy and then the plane caught fire. The E/a flipped over on its back and exploded. The flaming wreckage crashed into the ground and again exploded. I claim one ME-262 destroyed."
“December 29 . Our first mission in P-51’s. 18 planes took off at 1030 hours and landed at 1500 hours. It was a bomber escort mission to Frankfurt. No E/A seen. Heavy accurate flak encountered over the target. Lt Lamb’s engine quit and he ditched his plane in the Channel, getting out without serious injury.”
“On the 29th, Lt Lamb ditched his P-51 in the English Chanel and escaped with only shock and exposure. He was immediately picked up and luckily, as the weather was extremely cold and the water probably a hell of a lot colder than the weather.”
In Lt Lamb’s words, “On 29th December 1944, on a raid over Germany, FO John C Childs was my wingman. John’s radio went out and I was ordered to escort him back to base. John and I had been flying Thunderbolts out of Duxford. This was our very first mission in the new Mustangs.
We were cruising at 25,000f feet when my plane [Etta Jeanne] suddenly lost its engine coolant and began losing power. My first thought was to stretch my glide and try to make it back to the English coast, but I was dropping too fast. Then the nose of my plane burst into flames and I decided to bail out. I couldn’t release the canopy. I finally got the canopy open but was too low to bail out.
The first in a succession of miracles was being able to ditch the P-51 in the North Sea.
I saw the whitecaps coming up at me. Somehow I was able to point the nose into wind, drop my flaps, and stall out just above the surface. I tried to hit the water as slow as possible.
The tail hit first. Then a wave caught my right wing and the plane cart-wheeled. It was a miracle that I survived the ditching because I had my seat belt and harness unbuckled in anticipation of bailing out. I got out of my seat and out of the plane, pushing away as far as possible to avoid down-suction. The nose plunged under with a burst of steam. The plane sank like a rock. It was gone in thirty seconds.
The water was freezing cold. I pulled the strings to inflate my Mae West and dinghy, but I couldn’t get into the dinghy so I just hung on for dear life.”
John Childs continues, “I saw Huie’s plane going down with the nose in flames. It all happened in a flash. He seemed to dive straight toward the water. I thought he was gone. I circled around and saw him with his dinghy. I rocked my wings as a signal I was going for help.
I had no radio, and knew that the only possible way I could help Huie was to go for help. I took a 278 degree heading toward England. Pretty soon I saw a lighthouse at Orfendness. I dropped down to 500 feet and headed inland. Then another miracle. It was a cloudy day but suddenly I spotted an airfield with a big old twin-engined Walrus flying boat of the British Air Rescue sitting there with its engine running.”
Lt John Crump, who was test flying his P-51 and saw Huie Lamb’s descent, had sent a Mayday and Martlesham Heath were ready to go.
Fleet Air Arm Officer Geoffrey L Emmet was at the controls and Childs landed and led him back to the rubber dinghy with Huie Lamb clinging to it. The Walrus landed in the sea and the RAF radio operator, Ft Sgt Swindall, pulled Lt Lamb into the aircraft. Wrapped in blankets, and after six attempts to re-start the Walrus’ engine, they were away and back to the airfield where a doctor was on hand. Huie was rushed to hospital with a cut lip, broken tooth and hypothermia and was flying again after 10 days.
78th Fighter Group’s Account of action on 19th March 1945
“The aerial battle of March 19 was the toughest and at the same time most successful the group has ever fought. It lasted for an hour, with waves of German fighters joining the battle until the group, numbering 46 Mustangs, was engaging a force almost three times its size. The fighting was so confused that when the three squadrons landed at Duxford they reported they had encountered the same group of Nazis, estimated at about 50. Later they compared notes and found the total number of enemy planes involved was around 125. [….]
It is impossible to give a general picture of the action, which rapidly developed into individual dogfights. Lt. Col. Flanders described it as an “elevator affair”, sweeping from 14,000 feet down to the deck and back up again. Some of our pilots who had shot down planes found themselves tangled with up to eight or ten Nazi fighters. Perhaps the best way to describe the action is to present individual pilot’s reports.”
Combat Report 19th March 1945 1st Lt Huie Lamb
“I was flying Surtax Yellow 3 when we approached an a/d in the Osnabruck area. Some bogies were called out at nine o’clock low on us, and our flight went down to investigate; the planes were Me-109s. We bounced two of them and I got strikes on one Me-109 on wings and cockpit. I then pulled up to join Yellow leader. I am not sure what happened to that Me-109 but I claim it as damaged. I then called out a Ar-234 low at nine o’clock. He was flying at about 200 ft. Yellow leader then dove on him and he got strikes and started his right jet smoking black smoke. Capt. W.H.Brown then overshot him and I came in and got many strikes on him from astern. I set his left jet on fire and he jettisoned his canopy and I kept shooting and got more hits, then the whole plane started falling apart. I then overshot him and looked back and saw him crash into the ground close to the a/d that had been shooting up heavy and light flak at us. The pilot did not get out. I claim the Ar-234 shared destroyed with Captain W.H.Brown. We then joined our flight and started home. We bounced ten Me-109s and Fw-109s on our way out. I was then bounced by 4 Fw-190s and broke into them. I fired on one observing strikes, bounced by 4 Fw-190s and broke into them. I fired on one observing strikes, but I ran out of ammo before I could finish him off. I claim 1 Fw-190 damaged.”
For more information on Huie's wartime career and his recent visit to IWM Duxford, see: http://www.buzzincuzzin.org/etta-jeanne-ii/
Units served with
The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. It flew all three of the USAAF's principal fighters. On D-Day every available Thunderbolt provided air cover to the Allied...
Military site : airfield
RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...