My grandfather was a flight engineer on c-46, and c-47 in WWII flying the hump over in China. Unfortunately he is no longer with us so I cant ask him what routes they flew over the himalayas, does anybody know how I would go about finding these out so I could try it myself. The only place I know he flew too for sure was a base in China called sylhet, I know this because he named my aunt after it because he liked it so well. Any help would be appreciated.
Go for it!
I had an uncle who flew in that region during WWII; I never met him, unfortunately because he was killed over there. I do remember my aunt telling me that he had been involved with flying supplies "over the hump" and also I remember her saying that he had flown with the Flying Tigers. Keep in mind that all this was told to me when I was very young, I think 5 to 8 years old (that's almost 50 years ago 😳 ), and she died more than 20 years ago.
I just did a quick search on Flying Tigers and found a list of fighter pilots and crew which is claimed to be very complete, and my uncle's name is not there, so I think that he was a transport pilot who flew accompanied by ("with") the Flying Tigers.
I've never seen my uncle's grave, so I think that his remains may not have been returned from Asia. We come from a small town in South Carolina, and all my other ancestors are buried within about 50 feet of each other!
I could ask my mother what she remembers about him; she's probably the only person alive who actually knew him (at least among people I know).
The "hump was a route between the Assam Valley in northeast India and Yunnan Province in southwest China. Its purpose was to fly lend lease material and equipment to Chinese forces fighting Japan (and each other) during World War II. It got its name because the route flown was roughly along the north-south spur of the Himalayan Mountians. There was not actually one route. Flights flew varying routes but generally along this "hump" of the Himalayas.
There was not just one unit employed in this airlift. At various times, there were a number of separate squadrons of the US 10th Air Force involved. Losses were very high, due to horrendously bad weather, the high altitudes involved (12,000-16,000 terrain), Japanese fighters, and the relative lack of power of the C-46's and C-47's used early in the war. At wars end, there were 622 transport aircraft in active service on the hump, 509 aircraft listed as destroyed, and another 81 listed as missing. Of aircrews, there were 1,314 KIA and another 345 who were MIA and presumed dead.
Many of the dead were never recovered and even those that were were usually buried in place. Your uncle may very well be among these honored dead.
Later in the war, more powerful twin and 4-engine aircraft were used and losses were not as drastic but it was still dicey business to fly heavily laden aircraft along this corridor.
Don Wood wrote:
There was not actually one route. Flights flew varying routes but generally along this "hump" of the Himalayas.
I would certainly hope they flew more than one route-- that would have made it entirely too easy for the Japanese fighter pilots. 😞
Thanks for the information, Don. I did send my mother an E-mail about this; I'll find out what she knows. She has a pretty good memory, for 84!
I have another uncle who probably knew the pilot in question, but he's so far gone with Alzheimer's that he didn't even know me the last time I saw him. But he is a WWII veteran, and saw combat in Europe as a paratrooper. He had already served a full enlistment in the army before Pearl Harbor, but reenlisted. After the war, he came home and married my aunt, the widow of the pilot, even though she had a child from the previous marriage. They had been friends before the war.