but it was uneventful. Two hours later, the
308th FS/31st FG flew an operation to Maknassy, led by temporary squadron CO Capt.
Hill, but they lost the P-39s early on, so flew
reconnaissance themselves before returning
The pilots and ground personnel of the 31st FG
were certainly in the thick of the action now,
and were about to be embroiled in the famous
Battle of Kasserine Pass, which began on 14
February 1943, when the Germans launched
a very successful counterattack at Sidi Bou Zid,
only 80 kilometres from Thelepte. That would
provide more than enough of the combat so eagerly sought by the 31st FG pilots. During their
first week flying operations from Thelepte, the
Group learned a lot about flying, operating, and
maintaining the Spitfire Mk. V. They were still a
long way from being seasoned veterans, but
the lessons of that week stood them in good
steed for the immense challenges to come in
the remainder of the Tunisian campaign, and
the Second World War.
Lt. Derwood K. Smith of the 308th FS/31st FG was one
of the fortunate pilots to land wheels down in the desert
on the afternoon of 10 February 1943.
Spitfire Mk. VB EP969, 309th FS 31st FG.
INFO Eduard - September 2021
Capt. James A. Isbell, Jr., of the 309th FS/31st FG. He flew five missions between 8 and 11 February 1943.
Gerhard Ausborn, J.D. Collinsworth family, Bill
Dickerson, Hugh D. Dow, James A. Isbell, Jr.
family, Morten Jessen, Charles C. Kenworthy
family, George J. LaBreche family, Rolland G.
Lamensdorf, Walter J. Overend family, Russell
Richardson, Jean-Louis Roba, Bernard J. Roche family, Derwood K. Smith family, Thomas
Stieglitz family, Adam Thompson, Rémi Tracanelli, Joe Vincent, Merritt C. Wolfe and family
BA-MA RL 2-II/296, Eingehende Meldungen.- Feindaufklärung: Meldungen Luftflottenkommando 2.Mittelmeer und Afrika, Februar 1943
BA-MA RL 7-2/118, Führer der Luftstreitkräfte Tunis
und unterstellte Einheiten.- Gefechtsberichte und
Tagesabschlußmeldungen: Bd. 4, Februar 1943
BA-MA RL 10/361b Teil 2, III. Gruppe.- Erfolgsberichte
(Auftrag, Ergebnis, Besatzung) (Einsatz Afrika, Italien), November 1942-September 1943
NA AIR 23/6609, Air Intelligence Reports: H.Q. U.S. 12th
Air Force, later N.A.A.F., 1942-1943
NARA RG 18 Box 2270, 31st Fighter Group, 1942-1943
USAFHO Reel B0110, 31st Fighter Group, 1942-1943
USAFHO Reel B0166A, 81st Fighter Group, 1942-1943
Isbell, James A. Logbook
Rudorffer, Erich Flugbuch
Collinsworth, J.D. Interview with Dogfighter, 17 February 2001
Collinsworth, J.D. Interview with Flying Heritage, 12
Dow, Hugh D. Letters and Emails
Hill, Frank A. Interview with Museum of Flight, undated
Richardson, Russell Interview
Wolfe, Merritt C. Diary
Ausborn, Gerhard Letter
Dickerson, Bill Letters
Richardson, Russell Emails
Wolfe, Merritt C. Letters and Emails
Chandler, Jr., Clifford H. History of USAAF Spitfire
Operations in the Mediterranean (31st and 52nd Fighter Groups), Air Command and Air Staff College,
Maxwell Air Force Base, undated.
Craven, Wesley Frank & Cate, James Lea (eds) Army
Air Forces in World War II, Volume II: Europe: TORCH
to POINTBLANK, August 1942 to December 1943, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1949.
Howe, George F. United States Army in World War
II, Mediterranean Theater of Operations, Northwest
Africa: Seizing the Initiative In the West, Office of the
Chief of Military History, Washington, 1957.
Kucera, Dennis C. In a Now Forgotten Sky – The 31st
Fighter Group in World War II, Flying Machines Press,
LaBreche, George J. Memoirs, self-published, undated.
Lamensdorf, Rolland G. History of the 31st Fighter
Group, self-published, 1985.
Olynyk, Frank J. Victory List No. 6: USAAF (Mediterranean Theater) Credits for the Destruction of Enemy
Aircraft in Air-to-Air Combat of World War 2, self-published, Aurora, 1987.
Prien, Jochen, Stemmer, Gerhard, Rodeike, Peter &
Bock, Winfried Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945, Teil 11/I, Struve Druck,
Stieglitz, Thomas Barefoot in Boots: The World War II
Experiences of Staff Sergeant Thomas Stieglitz, self-published, 2009.
USAF Historical Study No. 114, The Twelfth Air Force in
the North African Winter Campaign, 11 November 1942
to the Reorganization of 13 February 1943.