According to an infantryman in the Ninth General Hospital in New Caledonia: “Much as it pleased us to see our bombers and fighters up there working for us, the only time we actually cheered was when we sighted a C-47. That meant food, mail, care for the wounded and all the things we’re fighting this war for."
Many people when they think of military airplanes think of only bombers and fighters, but there is a third type: the cargo plane. The C-47 was so important that General [and future President] Eisenhower alledgedly stated it was one of the four keys (and only plane mentioned) to winning World War II.
Flying cargo planes was more dangerous than being in a fighter or bomber, because the C-47 was a large target; slow (150 MPH); a valuable target becuase it carried airplane fuel, torpedos, guns, supplies, and important people and messages; had no protective armor (no thick steel plates in the walls by the pilots); and it was unarmed. How many people would like to fly one of these into a battle area? Very few. These pilots also faced another and often more deadly force than enemy aircraft: the weather. Fighters and bombers usually flew only in good weather, and had oxygen to climb above low storms. But C-47s took off regardless of the weather - the supplies and mail had to go through. Because it did not provide oxygen for the sometimes many passengers, they also had to stay below 12,500 feet. Many aircrews lost their lives due to encounters with bad weather. Flying cargo planes in the South Pacific, an area known for intense storms, may therefore have been one of the most treacherous flying positions in World War II.
This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of one of the first military transport squadrons, and arguably the best ever, the U.S. Army Air Corps 13th Troop Carrier Squadron, also known as the Thirsty 13th. Their history is now available in a highly-detailed 800-page, book, The Thirsty 13th, which may be purchased by following the link below. Guests may hear voices of many members as they introduce themselves by clicking below on "The Story Tellers." Click below on "The Plane" to learn how one of the first 13 aircraft they flew to the South Pacific in 1942 began restoration to bring people literally in touch with the squadron 70 years later. After these sections are links to many movies related to the Thirsty 13th. Instead of clicking on a link below, you may also simply scroll down the page.
History The Book The Story Tellers The Plane Events Contact Us
The Thirsty 13th was one of the first U.S. Army transport squadrons, and the very first in the South Pacific, an area unique for its combination of long distances over water, mountains, and challenging weather.
The 13th Troop Carrier Squadron arrived in New Caledonia at the critical time in World War II’s battle for Guadalcanal, the turning point in the Pacific War. It delivered to the Marines supplies that were key to holding the island. It went on to support six more battles, in the Northern Solomons, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Western Pacific, New Guinea, Luzon, and the Southern Philippines. It was also one of the three (and later five) transport squadrons for the Thirteenth “Jungle” Air Force, moving their fighter, bomber, and other groups to forward positions.
The squadron’s accomplishments were recognized by twice being awarded the highest honor a military unit may receive: the Presidential Unit Citation (Army). It also received many commendations.
The Thirsty 13th may be the #1 transport squadron ever, based on its safety record. In three years of flying 9.7 million miles, almost entirely over water, through often terrible weather, the squadron lost only one load (of 17 passengers) entrusted to it.
The squadron had four main overseas camps, marked at right with green pins, being (from right to left): Tontouta, New Caledonia; Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides; Biak, New Guinea; and Dulag, on Leyte in the Philppines. The air echelon was based at these and also four additional camps, marked with yellow pins: Plaine des Gaiacs, New Caledonia; Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands; and Wakde and Noemfoor, New Guinea. Pictured above is the line at Tontouta Air Base in New Caledonia. Pictured below are the squadron work buildings and two of its C-47s at Mokmer Aerodrome on Biak Island.
The Thirsty 13th is a limited-edition history of the squadron, released November 17, 2011. It is a guide to the squadron, and includes:
This book will be of interest to:
Please click on the sample pages below to see them as larger images:
Flying Procedures and Organizations South Pacific Airfields Then and Now What They Did for Fun
To read reviews of the book, including by people with no relatives in the squadron, click here.
The book was completed October 26, 2011, at a world-class printer in Chelsea, Michigan. Each was shrink-wrapped to protect it from moisture, and they are stored at Publishers Storage and Shipping Corp. in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The price is $75 (reduced on March 7, 2012, from $125). This reflects that it is 800 pages (equivalent to $15 for a 160-page book), with color on almost every page (vs. many books have short sections of color), printed in the United States (vs. most books are printed in China), with a hard cover, cover stamp and dust jacket, and is a low-volume edition. This book is more like a limited edition work of art. The author must sell 1200 books at full price to cover printing and out-of-pocket costs before earning any personal compensation, vs. 220 sold in the first year (and 200 given away as complimentary), so it is being offered below cost. Another way to think about this is that it would probably cost thousands to hire a researcher to determine just one of the facts, and this book presents all of the facts, for one comparatively low price.
Shipping in the U.S. will be by UPS Ground, which for 103 initial books averaged $11.57 for one book, at 7 lbs. With the warehouse's Pick-and-Pack fee of $1.43 this would be $13 per book, but shipping is instead set $1 less than this at $12. Shipping for each additional book is $3 more (not $12). International shipping will be by the US Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail International, which for one book sent to the Netherlands was $47.35 ($48.75 with the Pick and Pack fee), and one to Australia was $58.65. For books sent internationally the warehouse charges an additional $5 per order to complete customs paperwork, so postage and handling for one book sent internationally is set at a fixed $55. Sales tax is charged for buyers in New York State only.
To purchase a copy, please click below on the Buy Now link, which will take you to a PayPal site. Please update the quantity field, enter your zip code or country, and click "Calculate" to arrive at a total cost. If you do not have a PayPal account, click on "Don't have a PayPal account?" and you may enter your credit card information in their secure site. Buyers uncomfortable with PayPal may send a check for the calculated amount made out to Seth P. Washburne, and mailed to 4200 Northern Cross Blvd., Apt. 5302, Haltom City, TX 76137.
PayPal sends me an email of the order, and I then input your address and the number of books to a spreadsheet, and email this to the book warehouse as soon as recieved. If you would like multiple books sent to different addresses, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with those addresses and I will input them.
Thank you for purchasing The Thirsty 13th!
To hear some of the story teller's voices, please click here. You may have to click at the top of your browser window "Allow blocked content", and may be asked to install Microsoft's Silverlight product, both of which actions are harmless.
Several movie clips were found relevant to the Thirsty 13th. They were uploaded to YouTube and may be seen in an separate window by clicking on any of the following links. Be sure to click FULL SCREEN mode to completly enjoy them.
The squadron operated 43 C-47s overseas. This is the military version of the most popular airliner at the time, the DC-3. Of these 43 C-47s, 23 were lost to: 2 fatal accidents, 4 non-fatal accidents, 6 accidents by others after the war, and 11 were scrapped after the war. Of the other 20, 19 have not been found, but one, pictured below, was found. It was one of the original 13 C-47s the Thirsty 13th received in the U.S. September 20, 1942, #41-18590, construction number 4715, and was named Billie. It is pictured below left at Espiritu Santo's Pekoa airfield estimated in November 1943, and below right in Puerto Rico in 2009.
The book and website author Seth Washburne purchased Billie on January 19, 2010, and flew it (as copilot) from Puerto Rico to Fort Worth, Texas, where he hired a team to restore it. The restoration did not go well, and Bllie's parts are now in a hangar in Lancaster, Texas. To read more about this, please click HERE.
To make a gift donation to me to help recover some of the costs of the book or restoration, please click on the button below. Donations are not tax deductible currently. I plan to rcreate a 501(c)(3) non-profit at some point to accept tax-deductible donations. Any donations will be greatly appreciated.
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No events are currently planned.
Recent Events: Click here to see photos from the 70th Anniversary Reunion, in Fort Worth, Tex., November 4-5, 2011.
This website, book, airplane restoration, videos, and events were the idea of Seth Washburne, pictured at right, on the right, with Thirsty 13th 1942-43 pilot John Blankinship. Seth is the son of Thirsty 13th 1942-43 navigator John Washburne.
I am always eager to learn more about the squadron, so if you have any information you would be willing to share, it will be greatly welcomed. I also welcome correspondence from others who have an interest in the Thirsty 13th.
I may be reached at email@example.com. You may also call me at (212) 289-1506 (mobile).