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Sports report

IWM Clow Collection AE2200

Each month the 78th Fighter Group’s historian painstakingly assembled reports from the different sections at Duxford. As well as the flying Group, the service units and support staff had to submit information about their activities that month. Even though in May 1944 the Group was preparing for the largest combined operation ever mounted – D-Day – life on base continued as before. And so did the reports. From May 1944’s history we’ve taken the below detailed account of the station’s ‘Athletic Activities’, compiled by 1st Lieutenant Willard L Owen, Air Corps Athletics Officer. I’m not a follower of American sports, so if you’re like me you might find some of the early detail a little confusing, but do persevere. Some of the descriptions and team names are wonderfully evocative. The ‘Stumblebums’ are a particular favourite:

‘BASEBALL: A ten team post baseball league got under way at this station the first of the month and eleven games have been played, some had to be cancelled due to inclimate weather, and the training schedule. In games played the North Islanders lost to Stumblebums 4 to 1 and beat the Bears 14 to 5. The Vikings beat the Dry Runs 4 to 1. The Air Screws beat the Foreigners 6 to 5. The Vagabonds beat the Bears 6 to 3. The Vagabonds beat the Foreigners 1 to 0 on Forfeit. The Pirates beat the Vikings 10 to 7. The Dry Runs beat the Vagabonds 7 to 6. The Scalders beat the Stumble Bums 13 to 4. Those eleven games constitute all games played in the Post League. The Post Team has hit their winning stride and in the games played to date have scored 75 runs to 20 for the opposition. In the first game we took the Bottisham team 16-0, in the second we took the 66th Wing team into camp 12 to 1. The winning continued against Debden by score 8 to 3. The next game came out [disastrous] for our side although the boys played head up ball and after the second inning the USSTAF MPs did not score but did not need to after errors in the first two innings let in 3 runs, the score was 3 to 2 against us although we out hit them 6 to5 but they still pay off on runs and not hits. The next game we went back to our winning stride and took the A.S.C. Blockbusters into camp 13 to 5, at the end of the second inning the score was 11 to 0 in our favour when a complete new team was substituted, every man out for the post team was given a chance to play. The final game was a road trip played at 280 Station Hospital, this time our boys had to overcome a 5 to 3 decision. Our star pitcher and the best in the ETO Duke Duca pitched swell ball in every game and in the last he turned hitting pitcher and the third inning he got two hits and a single and a home run. The baseball field is now in top shape after constant work and the back stop blown over by high winds has been replaced and we believe this field as good as any.

TENNIS: The Tennis courts have been in constant use all day and until late in the evening.

Our Golfers had some good matches at Cambridge and Saffron Walden as long as our golf balls lasted, more are now on the way from the states.

BOXING AND WRESTLING: there are around 15 boxers, wrestlers and weight lifters working our daily in the Gymnasium keeping in shape. Sgt Primitive Molina and our 1943 ETO Bantamweight champion on 24 May fought Cpl Taylor and gained the finals of the AAF Tournament held on the Kingston Football Ground. The 25 he fought the 8th Air Force champion whom he had beaten and lost to previously this year and won easily and was declared Army Air Force Bantamweight Champion of 1944. Sgt Harold Croy defeated Sgt Krusack in the semi-finals of the ETO Heavy Weight Wrestling tournament at Reading and will meet Sgt Gacek for the championship of the ETO.

VOLLEY BALL: The Squadrons have been having inter squadron volley ball and horse shoe pitching.

TRACK: The winners in the Army qualifying for the U.S. Team to meet the track team from Cambridge University and RAF Team every man we sent to the meet qualified, Major Jones came out second in the 220, Capt (M?)elley won the 220 and High Jump Lt Baum won the shot put. Lt Elson won Low Hurdles and was second in the 100 dash.

TABLE-TENNIS: The table tennis tables at the day rooms, officers club Aero Club and Gymnasium are used almost constantly.’


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