Download FREE briefings. Have an account? Please log in. Text Size: A A A

A Photographer in the Ninth Air Force

WWII

A Photographer in the Ninth Air Force

The aircraft mechanics and technicians of the 30th Squadron, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Ninth Air Force, photographed at their English base in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, April 8, 1944.

Sergeant Charles D. Lemick, an amateur photographer, recorded his wartime journey through Europe.

By Audrey Lemick

When most people think of the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, the first image that usually comes to mind is that of the heavy bombers, the B-17s and B-24s, that ravaged targets in Europe and the B-29s that wreaked havoc on Japanese cities in the Pacific.

Second comes recognition of the fighter squadrons that dueled with enemy pilots to protect the aerial fleets of bombers or strafe targets on the ground—trains, truck convoys, and enemy positions.

Hardly any thought these days is given to the brave pilots who risked their lives taking aerial photographs so that the bombers could find their targets and later assess the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the bombing.

Killing Adolf Hitler

The many plots to assassinate the madman responsible for the death of millions... Get your copy of Warfare History Network’s FREE Special Report, Killing Adolf Hitler

 

Photo reconnaissance was a vital part of the Allied war effort, and the 30th Squadron, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group of Lt. Gen. Lewis Brereton’s England-based U.S. Ninth Air Force played a key role in aerial photo mapping, target selection, and documenting enemy troop concentrations and fortifications.

The squadron’s mission was to take still- and motion-picture films of enemy positions, bomb-damage assessment photos following bombing raids, and included, as a 1943 Air Force booklet pointed out, “securing information necessary for planning the employment of a striking force.” The 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its most storied job of flying missions “at minimum altitudes along the Normandy invasion beaches immediately preceding Allied landings [on June 6, 1944].”

Eventually, the group’s converted P-38 (F-5) Lightning and P-51 Mustang (F-6) camera planes flew more than 5,000 missions, took over 2,200,000 photographs, operated over France, Belgium, and Germany, and were the first American planes to operate from bases east of the Rhine River. At war’s end, members of the squadron became witnesses to Nazi atrocities at the Buchenwald concentration camp outside Weimar, Germany.

Sergeant Charles D. Lemick of Gary, Indiana, an instrument repair specialist who performed maintenance on instruments carried by unarmed P-38 camera planes, served with the squadron. An avid amateur photographer, Lemick recorded his wartime journeys through England, France, Belgium, and Germany. Although orders were issued prohibiting GIs from taking pictures in combat zones, that order was, luckily for historians, widely ignored. The result is a remarkably candid view of the war by amateur photographers.

The photographer, Sergeant Charles D. Lemick, in the cockpit of a P-38 (F-5) Lightning.
Caption
The photographer, Sergeant Charles D. Lemick, in the cockpit of a P-38 (F-5) Lightning.
A camera plane recorded this low-angle scene of German troops installing obstacles along Normandy’s Omaha Beach and running for cover shortly before the Allied invasion.
Caption
A camera plane recorded this low-angle scene of German troops installing obstacles along Normandy’s Omaha Beach and running for cover shortly before the Allied invasion.
This 40mm Bofors antiaircraft gun was one of several that protected the Le Molay airfield.
Caption
This 40mm Bofors antiaircraft gun was one of several that protected the Le Molay airfield.
USO singer Dinah Shore entertained the troops, at Le Molay, France, summer 1944.
Caption
USO singer Dinah Shore entertained the troops, at Le Molay, France, summer 1944.
An American ¾-ton Dodge weapons carrier WC-51 passes a destroyed German armored vehicle, a victim of the fierce fighting in Carentan several weeks earlier.
Caption
An American ¾-ton Dodge weapons carrier WC-51 passes a destroyed German armored vehicle, a victim of the fierce fighting in Carentan several weeks earlier.
American communication troops in action at Tossous-le-Noble, France.
Caption
American communication troops in action at Tossous-le-Noble, France.
Salvage workers retrieve a crashed British Spitfire, date and place unknown.
Caption
Salvage workers retrieve a crashed British Spitfire, date and place unknown.
A high-angle BDA (bomb-damage assessment) photo of Nevers, July 17, 1944. Bomb craters and smoke from burning freight cars in the railroad marshalling yard are clearly visible.
Caption
A high-angle BDA (bomb-damage assessment) photo of Nevers, July 17, 1944. Bomb craters and smoke from burning freight cars in the railroad marshalling yard are clearly visible.
After the first American troops entered the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, on April 11, 1945, General Eisenhower insisted that as many units as possible visit the camp. Here, two U.S. soldiers walk among liberated prisoners. The sign on the barracks wall reads, “The German Political Prisoners Greet Their American Friends.”
Caption
After the first American troops entered the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, on April 11, 1945, General Eisenhower insisted that as many units as possible visit the camp. Here, two U.S. soldiers walk among liberated prisoners. The sign on the barracks wall reads, “The German Political Prisoners Greet Their American Friends.”
Piles of emaciated corpses were left at Buchenwald as silent witnesses to the Nazis’ brutal treatment of inmates.
Caption
Piles of emaciated corpses were left at Buchenwald as silent witnesses to the Nazis’ brutal treatment of inmates.
Human organs, preserved in formaldehyde and photographed by Lemick in the camp’s pathology laboratory, were taken from prisoners who died or were killed at Buchenwald. Many of these exhibits were later introduced as evidence in the Nazi war-crimes trials.
Caption
Human organs, preserved in formaldehyde and photographed by Lemick in the camp’s pathology laboratory, were taken from prisoners who died or were killed at Buchenwald. Many of these exhibits were later introduced as evidence in the Nazi war-crimes trials.
A group of GIs inspects the portable gallows that were used to execute inmates who had committed crimes at Buchenwald, such as stealing, sabotage, and attempting to escape.
Caption
A group of GIs inspects the portable gallows that were used to execute inmates who had committed crimes at Buchenwald, such as stealing, sabotage, and attempting to escape.
Audrey and Charles Lemick, photographed in Normandy in May 2004, during a 50th anniversary D-Day trip to France.
Caption
Audrey and Charles Lemick, photographed in Normandy in May 2004, during a 50th anniversary D-Day trip to France.
This P-47 came in for a belly landing at Lemick’s airfield at Le Molay, France. He noted, “Nobody hurt.”
Caption
This P-47 came in for a belly landing at Lemick’s airfield at Le Molay, France. He noted, “Nobody hurt.”

These photos were graciously provided by Lemick’s widow, Audrey, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *



Issue Previews

Bold Stand at Rorke’s Drift

Bold Stand at Rorke’s Drift

A small force of British soldiers achieved an improbable victory against thousands of Zulu warriors at an isolated outpost during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Robert S. Garnett: First General to Die in the Civil War

Robert S. Garnett: First General to Die in the Civil War

On July 13, 1861, Confederate General Robert S. Garnett fell to Yankee bullets in the Alleghenies.

Reassessing Rommel: Anti-Nazi Hero or Opportunist?

Reassessing Rommel: Anti-Nazi Hero or Opportunist?

Seventy years later, should the “Desert Fox” be considered an anti-Nazi hero or a faithful soldier turned opportunist?

75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

Three quarters of a century have passed since the epic Battle of Midway.

facebook gplus twitter youtube rss

Enter Your Log In Credentials

Forgot your Password?

×
.