Capt. Donald Willis of the 335th FS, 4th FG, before the unit‘s conversion to Thunderbolts. Willis was serving in the air forces of Finland,
Norway and England before the RAF‘s No. 121 Squadron was absorbed into the Army Air Forces. Willis served as the 335th Operations
Officer before transferring to the VIII. Fighter Command Headquarters. On April 10, 1944 he crashed his 20th FG P-38 in The Netherlands
and evaded the capture (Photo: US National Archives, Fold3).
The American squadrons never merged
into any larger unit. They operated independently or within the British wings. The
only operation where all three squadrons
participated in was the Operation Jubilee,
Dieppe landing. Not even in this case they
were deployed under one command. No.
71 Squadron flew to Dieppe out of RAF airbase Gravesend and No. 133 Squadron relocated to Lympne. During this operation,
the American squadrons shot down eight
enemy aircraft and lost six Spitfires. One
pilot was killed, and one became POW.
In total until September 29, 1942, when
they were transferred under the USAAF
command, all three squadrons shot down
73.5 enemy aircraft. No. 71 Squadron
claimed 41 kills, No. 121 Squadron 18 kills
and No. 133 Squadron 14.5 kills. The price
paid for this success were lives of 77 American and five British personnel.
An abandoned British Daimler Dingo scout
car on the Dieppe beach after the unsuccessful raid of August 19th, 1942 (Photo:
INFO Eduard - August 2021