Bluie West 8






I enlisted in the Army Air Corps December 16, 1941, and after basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, I was sent to Napier Field, an AT6 Flight Training Center, in Dothan, Alabama, to attend Weather School.



Finished school in May, 1942, and was assigned to the 8th Weather Squadron in Presque Isle, Maine where we were outfitted for some cold place. I was issued parkas, sweaters, long underwear, wool socks, leather high-top boots, mittens, gloves, arctic boots, skis, and ski-wax, which all indicated we were heading for someplace North. The only thing missing was a firearm. We were puzzled by the inclusion of a mosquito net.



In early June two of us loaded our gear on a C-47 and flew to Gander, Newfoundland. Then we went to BW-l at the southern tip of Greenland and finally on to Bluie West 8. During this trip we got a pretty good picture of what Greenland was noted for. As we zigzagged out the fjord at BW 1, and then over the ice cap, we saw many rugged piles of ice as well as cracks and fissures, that could swallow up our C-47. Greenland was one big bowl of ice contained by a ridge of barren rock mountains.



It was pretty cold up there at about 10,000 feet so we decided to make use of our issue and bundled up in our Parkas. We saw our destination with a camp at the tip of the fjord and the landing mat strip farther north where we made a smooth landing. We opened the cargo door and were surprised that it was rather warm. As we were unloading along came the reason for the mosquito net issue. Swarms of big mosquitoes greeted us and acted like they had not had the taste of blood in a long time.



Photo by Richard Rybak, 1942.

Bluie West 8 storage area in 1942. This area was located on the road that ran from the main base to the port area. Note large pile of tires on left.



Finally a truck arrived to take us to our "quarters." We went up a long grade leaving the landing strip and traveled some miles (later learned it was 9 miles) to the base camp at the tip of the fjord. This was where the Officers, civilian construction workers, Artillery personnel and Radio and Weather personnel were quartered. The driver took us to a tent area where we unloaded our gear and tried to get settled in our new home. This was temporary until barracks were finished back at the airfield.

The cots in the four-man tents were equipped with mosquito netting and we surely knew why. Those mosquitoes were so big if one happened to get in with you they could push you out of your cot. Or, if two got in you could hear one say "should we eat him in here, or take him outside." If the mosquitoes were not bad enough there were the pesky Black Flies that would crawl into any opening in the clothing. Every opening had to closed up with rubber bands, pant legs tucked in and of course wear the mosquito net over your head.





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