The 1st Fighter Squadrons in

New Guinea in World War 2

(Restored Color- 1944)

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In 1981 retired Air Corps Lt. Col. Ken Gerrish donated movies he shot during his service on Papua New Guinea in World War 2 between 1942 and 1944 to the U.S. National Archives. The image quality of parts of this film had deteriorated badly over time, so I used digital technology to restore it to closer to the way it must have looked when it was filmed during World War 2. Gerrish added music and his own first personal narration to his 16mm film and edited it together to create this presentation. This is not a “documentary” in the usual sense, it's more like a home movie. The scenes are not all shown in chronological order and Col. Gerrish's comments and observations are his own impressions and not necessarily 100% historically accurate. Having said that, this is a unique “Behind the Scenes” look at every day life on remote front line fighter bases, in this case set in one of the most primitive environments in the World. The fact that its in color makes it virtually one of a kind. As Engineering Officer Gerrish was responsible for maintaining P-39s for the 36th Fighter Squadron and P-38s for the Eighth Fighter Group of the Fifth Air Force. They were the first American Air Corps unit to operate on the island. You'll see P-39 Airacobras, P-38 Lightnings and B-25 bombers flying from muddy airstrips carved out of the jungle, along with the men who maintained and flew them. There are frequent contacts with colorfully dressed indigenous tribesmen, AKA “Head Hunters,” who had never had contact with outsiders at all until airfields were suddenly built near their villages. An added bonus are scenes of Aussie infantry who accompanied the 36TH FS when they relocated to a new base by ship. The content has been edited slightly here for brevity and to make it suitable for viewers of all ages. A memorable account!

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