Nostalgia page 18
402 FS at Andover
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E-Mail me!Updated 18 Nov 2014.
The photos and information on this page were kindly provided by Mike Coenen whose father, Cyril Bernard "Cy" Coenen served with the 402FS at Andover.
Cy Coenen, born on January 6th 1919,joined the Army Air Corps after the Pearl Harbor attack and , having completed basic flight training in the South, he trained on P-47's at Westover Field , Springfield Mass. He then joined the 402 Fighter Squadron, 370th Fighter Group, Ninth Air Force.~
In February 1944 the 402 FS arrived at Andover along with 401 and 485 Squadrons.With typical military efficiency , as most of the squadron's training in the States had been carried out on the P-47, on arrival in the UK they were given P-38s to fly.The Group did not become operational until May 1st 1944, due in part at least, to difficulties in coping with the unfamiliar aircraft.Once operational the 370FG undertook a variety of missions including bomber escort, ground attack and armed reconnaissance.
The photo above - taken at Bradley Field in the US during training in November/December 1943 shows the Squadron personnel .Mike's father, who was the Squadron's historian, is on the extreme left , second row.
The 402FS pattch . It depicts a 4 bladed propellor piercing a skull and was designed when the Squadron thought they would be operating the P-47 Thunderbolt (4 bladed prop). In the event they finished up with the P-38(three bladed prop).
This photo shows Major Jim Tucker, Commanding Officer of the 402 FS in front of his aircraft. Major Tucker, who was with the group from it's formation in the USA , was unfortunately killed in action on a mission to Chateaudun on August 10th 1944. He had a great sense of humour as can be seen by the nose art on his ship (the outhouse being struck by lightning).
The two pictures above show the 402 FS Dispersal area at Andover.This was on the southwest side of the field close to the railway line(Which can be seen in the original picture).
This picture ,taken in May or June 1944 shows a line of P-38s carrying out a magneto check before takeoff.Just visible under the wing of the leading aircraft is one that has just taken off .
"Peg O' My Heart II" was 1st Lt Coenen's aircraft.The aircraft was named for his wife Peggy O'Neill. The original "Peg O' my Heart " was written off in a crash ( near Southend ?) on 23rd May 1944 after sustaining damage from ground fire while attacking a German train near Koblenz . Peg II was lost on September 6th 1944 when ( by then)Captain Coenen was forced to bail out over St.Brieux in France whilst on an armed reconnaissance mission.The photo on the right shows the wreckage , Capt. Coenen and a french lady wearing his Mae West.
Captain Coenen completed his tour of duty on September 29, ending with a fighter sweep which took him over Aachen, Cologne, Nijmegen and Arnhem. He left the Ninth Air Force with the Distinguished Flying Cross,
Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters, four battle stars and was Cited in the Order of the Day, Belgian Army. He retired from the United States Air Force Reserve with the rank of Colonel in 1967 ,after 27 years of military
service. He sadly died in a road accident on 2nd November 2000. Friends of his son , Mike, have visited the crash site at St Brieux but no trace remains of the wreckage. Mike would like to hear from anyone who remembers the 402FS or his father at Andover - or at St Brieux. He may be contacted at
37765 Carriage Circle Common
94536 or by E-Mail
Some of the pilots of 402FS sitting in front of the entrance to the BOQ at Andover. The picture, taken in early July 1944 shows a mix of "original" pilots and replacements.
The pilots are (back row left to right): Lt. William Osborne, Lt. Ian MacKenzie, Lt. Richard Lesselyong (killed upstairs in the BOQ on 7-11-44 when a live 20mm round that he kept on the marble mantle piece fell off and into the fire detonating and striking him in the forehead), Lt. Edward Weber (KIA 7-8-44), Lt. James Ward, Captain Gordon Roberts (Exec Officer), Lt. Virgil Mary (KIA over Sanborne 7-17-44), Lt. Albert Rovner (Comm Officer), Lt. Glenn Smeltzer (Arm Officer), Lt. Harry Marshall.
Front row- (left to right): Lt. Michael Stefanchick, Lt. Cyril B. Coenen (holding "High Ball" the Scottish Terrier), Major Joel Owens. Behind Major Owens are brothers Lt. John Stevens (KIA on 7-17-44 along with Virgil Mary in a mid air collision over Sanborne) and Lt. Harry Stevens. Next to Major Owens are Lt. Oscar Carlson, Lt. Mel Clark, Lt Clark Fitts (in front of Mel), Lt. Marshall Post and Lt. Ray Clark. .
Below is a recent picture of the same building.
The last three pictures , although not relevant to Andover are included here as they show (left) Captain "Cy "Coenen ,in the cockpit of his P-38 at Cardonville , France. The photo on the right was taken at Florennes in Belgium in late September 1944. The 1000lb bomb carries a personal greeting to the Germans.The picture below shows Cy Coenen ,with his crew chief Jack Goforth in front of Peg O' My Heart III at Florennes in Belgium.In the original picture one can read "Pilot Capt.C B Coenen Crew Chief T/Sgt J B Goforth".
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