Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Youks-les-Bains Airfield

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

The facility was built as a civilian airport, probably during the 1930s. During the World War II 1940 Battle of France, the French Air Force GB II/11 flew across the Mediterranean with 14 Lioré et Olivier LeO 45 medium bomberrs, arriving on 21 June. From Youks-les-Bains, the squadron attacked Italian forces at Palermo, Sicily on 23 and 24 June, before the Armistice with Nazi Germany and Italy took place on 25 June. After the armistice, Youks-les-Bains became a base for the limited Vichy French Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air de Vichy) allowed by the Germans.

As part of the North African Campaign, on 15 November 1942, thirty-three C-47 Skytrain transports dropped three hundred men of the United States Army 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Regiment on Youks-les-Bains airfield during the initial attacks on occupied Tunisia by the Tunisian Task Force. As the planes carrying the 509th approached the airfield, soldiers were seen in the trenches around the field. There were several anxious moments as the paratroopers started their jump, not knowing whether the troops below were French or German. Upon reaching the ground, the Americans found a poorly equipped, but friendly and helpful, unit of the French Army in possession of the area.

Once in Allied hands, the airfield became a major United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force base of operations against the German Afrika Korps. Known units assigned to Youks-les-Bains were:
47th Bombardment Group, 7 January-6 March 1943, A-20 Havoc
14th Fighter Group, 22 November 1942 – 9 January 1943, P-38 Lightning
31st Fighter Group, 21–25 February 1943, Spitfire
33d Fighter Group, 8–20 February 1943, P-40 Warhawk
52d Fighter Group, 9 March-14 April 1943, Spitfire
81st Fighter Group, 22–24 February 1943, P-39 Airacobra
15th Bombardment Squadron (Twelfth Air Force), 22 December 1942-February 1943 A-20 Havoc
154th Observation Squadron (68th Observation Group), 21 January-13 March 1943 (F-4 (P-38) Lightning)

By the end of the Battle of Tunisia, the Twelfth Air Force units had moved east and the Allied use of the airfield was reduced to a skeleton stationkeeping unit, being used as an emergency landing field for Air Transport Command units flying between Tunis and Algiers. It was abandoned by the American forces after the end of the European War during the summer of 1945.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

  • 14th Fighter Group

    14th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 14th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a P-38 Lightning Group that fought in Tunisia and the Italian campaign, as well as providing bomber escorts for attacks across southern Europe. ...

  • 31st Fighter Group

    31st Fighter Group

    Group
    The 31st Fighter Group only flew missions from England between June and September 1942 but during this period they supported the Dieppe raid, the assault on occupied Europe, predominantly by the Canadian army. The attack was forced into early retreat...

  • 52nd Fighter Group

    52nd Fighter Group

    Group
    Two of the Squadrons of the 52nd Fighter Group flew Spitfires with RAF Fighter Command in August and early September 1942 from northern Ireland. After these preparatory missions, the Group joined the Twelfth and then Fifteenth Air Force in the...

  • 154th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron

    154th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron

    Squadron
    Formed from an Arkansas National Guard unit, it was designated 154th Observation Squadron on 4 Jul 1942; 154th Reconnaissance Squadron (Fighter) on 31 May 1943; 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 13 Nov 1943; and then 154th Weather Reconnaissance...

People

  • Wayne Chavis

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 84FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 49FS, 14FG, 12AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) 11-May-43 enemy action in P-38. Last seen upside down with left engine on fire. Not seen to crash. 15-20 mile SW of Marsala. MACR 16283. Awards: AM, PH.

  • Russell Gustke

    Military | Major General | Fighter pilot-1056 Twin engine/Deputy Group CO | 14th Fighter Group
    Flight Leader 48th FS 14th FG MTO 1942-43 ...

  • Norman McDonald

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Fighter Pilot 1055 single engine/Squadron Commander | 52nd Fighter Group
    11.5 Victory Ace (7.5 with the 52nd FG & 4.0 with the 325th FG)

Aircraft

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2016 22:49:53 466thHistorian Created entry with name, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, usaaf to date and history
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youks-les-Bains_Airfield

Share