The 406th Occupier
Mourmelon — Winter Quarters (continued)
T his period too was marked by the first rotation of personnel back to the zone of the interior and the acquiring of first replacements in any great quantity. In this sense at least the Group began to take on the aspects of a veteran organization with new faces appearing at every turn. The drive to the Saar did not take too long in terms of time and by the middle of November or later it was done. The weather turned against us again and we flew only intermittently. The resulting period of inactivity was hard to endure and the morale of the unit began to fall until there was a hilarious party most every night.
men at Mourmelon, in France, during the winter period.
Between Thanksgiving and the first week in December, the group commander and the three squadron commanders returned to the States on 30 days leave and this fact, coupled with a proposed move to Metz which went so far as sending up an advanced party to requisition billets, symbolized the end of another period in the Group's history. It was a period that stands out largely because of its normalcy. With the exception of the limitations of weather and mud, the Group settled down and functioned as a permanent organization. Personnel put down roots, many long put off administrative and training tasks were undertaken and accomplished. Officers and men went away on detached service and to schools of various kinds. Many of the characteristics of a typical garrison war crept in and little did we realize how suddenly we would be shaken back into the normalcy of the abnormal in the next phase.
Bastogne — And 101st Division
Stationed with the 406th Fighter Group at Mourmelon-le-Grand in the French area of the installation was the 101st Airborne Division, which had arrived there piecemeal for rest and refitting following their drop and subsequent removal from the line in Holland and Belgium. A rather close relationship born of necessity had grown up between the two organizations. Their staff personnel made frequent trips to consult the Group's situation map, a certain amount of friendly barter went on between the two organizations and all the C-47's used to fly in equipment to them landed at our strip.
On the night of the 17th of December following a day of intense activity, when our planes had been operationally loaned to the 9th Tactical air Command to participate in what at the time looked like a local but very intense revival of the Luftwaffe, an officer of the 101st came to our combat ops and requested permission to use the phone for recalling some of his personnel that were away playing football. By morning the news was in of the now famous German counter offensive in the Ardennes forest, and the 101st was on its way to be surrounded at Bastogne, and the impenetrable fog which was to haunt us for five long days had settled over the field.