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This is an original WWII era souvenir cigarette lighter engraved with a Camel and the words TRIPOLI 1943 on one side and CAPPY 9th U.S.A.A.F. on the other side.
This lighter is made of metal which looks like stainless steel and measures about 2 1/4" x 1 3/8" x 1/2". The lighter has a threaded screw cap for the fuel reservoir and a hinged cover on the top covering the wick with a round striker. The lighter appears to be in good working condition except the striker does not turn. I didn't try to force the striker to turn but if you know what you are doing I think you could get this lighter into good working order pretty easily.
This lighter is an original from WWII which was originally the property of a guy who served in the Ninth Air Force in Tripoli, Libya in 1943. I don't find Zippo or any other maker marks on this lighter. The only marks I find are the hand engraved Camel and words are noted above.
The following is some history of the United States Army Ninth Air Force from North Africa in WWII:
World War II
During World War II, the offensive air forces
of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) came to be classified as strategic
or tactical. A strategic air force was that with a mission to attack an enemy's
war effort beyond his front-line forces; predominantly production and supply
facilities, whereas a tactical air force supported ground campaigns, usually
with objectives selected through co-operation with the armies.
In Europe, Eighth Air Force was the first USAAF
strategic air force, with a mission to support an invasion of continental
Europe from the British Isles. Originally equipped with tactical units, some of
these units were transferred to the Twelfth Air Force which was formed in the
United Kingdom in the fall of 1942. Twelfth Air Force was created to provide
tactical air support for the invasion of North Africa later that year.
On June 1942, the German Afrika Korps advance
in North Africa forced the British Eighth Army to retreat towards Egypt putting
British Middle East Command at risk. The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
had already planned for a buildup of American air power in the Middle East in
January 1942 in response to a request from the British Chief of the Air Staff,
but the first units arrived unexpectedly on 12 June 1942 as Col. Harry A.
Halverson, commanding twenty-three B-24D Liberator heavy bombers and a hand-picked
crews (a group called HALPRO – from "Halverson Project"), decided to
move to Egypt. They had initially been assigned to the China Burma India
Theater to attack Japan from airfields in China, but after the fall of Rangoon
the Burma Road was cut so the detachment could not be logistically supported in
China. HALPRO was quickly diverted from its original mission to a new one:
interdictory raids from airfields in Egypt against shipping and North African
ports supporting Axis operations.
On 28 June 1942, Major General Lewis H Brereton
arrived at Cairo to command the U.S. Army Middle East Air Force (USAMEAF),
which was activated immediately. USAMEAF comprised the Halverson Detachment
(HALPRO), Brereton's detachment (9th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) and other
personnel which Brereton brought from India), and the Air Section of US
Military North African Mission. Several USAAF units were sent to join USAMEAF
during next weeks working along with RAF commands in the destruction of
Rommel's Afrika Korps by support to ground troops and secure sea and air
communications on and over the Mediterranean.
On 1 November 1942, General Bernard Montgomery
launched an attack on the Afrika Korps at Kidney Ridge. After initially
resisting the attack, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel decided he no longer had the
resources to hold his line and on the 3 November he ordered his troops to
withdraw. Allied victory in the Second Battle of Alamein was accomplished and
USAMEAF units played a significant part on it.
On 12 November 1942, the US Army Middle East
Air Force was dissolved and replaced by HQ Ninth Air Force, commanded by
Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton. At that time, the Ninth Air Force
IX Bomber Command (Brigadier General Patrick W
Timberlake) at Ismailia, Egypt,
IX Fighter Command (Colonel John C Kilborn)
enroute to Egypt,
IX Air Service Command (Brigadier General Elmer
Activation of Ninth Air Force
Ninth Air Force was first constituted as V Air
Support Command at Bowman Field, Kentucky on 11 September 1941. It was
redesignated as Ninth Air Force in April 1942 and was reassigned to Bolling
Field, Washington, D.C. on 22 July and was transferred, without personnel or
equipment to Cairo, Egypt on 12 November. The Ninth Air Force mission
comprised: (1) Gain air superiority; (2) Deny the enemy the ability to
replenish or replace losses, and (3) Offer ground forces close support in
Operations in Western Desert Campaign,
By the end of 1942 a total of 370 aircraft had
been ferried to the Ninth Air Force. While the great majority were P-40's (see
below), B-24's (The original Halverson Detachment (HALPRO), 98th Bombardment
Group, 376th Bombardment Group, and RAF units), and B-25's (12th and 340th
Bombardment Groups), there were also more than 50 twin-engine transports (316th
Troop Carrier Group), which made it possible to build an effective local air
transport service. Ninth Air Force P-40F fighters (57th, 79th, and 324th
Fighter Groups) supported the British Eighth Army's drive across Egypt and
Libya, escorting bombers and flying strafing and dive-bombing missions against
airfields, communications, and troop concentrations. Other targets attacked
were shipping and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Crete,
and Greece to cut enemy supply lines to Africa. The Palm Sunday Massacre was
one noteworthy mission by the P-40 and Spitfire groups.
The Allied air forces in the Mediterranean
Theater of Operations (MTO) were reorganized into the Mediterranean Air Command
(MAC) effective 18 February 1943 following the Casablanca Conference in
January. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder was named Air Commander-in-Chief
of MAC which consisted of three primary sub-commands:
RAF Malta under Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park
Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF) under
Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz and
RAF Middle East Command (RAFME) under Air Chief
Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas.
For NAAF and RAFME operations, Tedder was
responsible to General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the British Chiefs of Staff,
respectively. Because Ninth Air Force was a subordinate command of RAFME in the
reorganization, the chain of command was: British Chiefs of Staff - Tedder
(MAC) - Sholto Douglas (RAFME) - Brereton (Ninth Air Force). Additionally, the
Ninth's 57th, 79th, and 324th Fighter Groups and its 12th and 340th Bombardment
Groups were transferred to the operational control of the Northwest African
Tactical Air Force (NATAF) under the command of Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur
Coningham. The Ninth's 316th Troop Carrier Group flew its missions with the
Northwest African Troop Carrier Command (NATCC).
The command of its own groups was a concern of
Ninth Air Force even before the creation of MAC. In September 1942, RAF Middle
East Command's Senior Air Staff Officer, Air Commodore H. E. P. Wigglesworth
was authorized by Tedder to select targets for all U. S. heavy bombers.
"A development of some importance in the
career of USAMEAF manifested itself
administratively on 12 October (1942) when
orders were cut assigning nine officers to the IX Bomber Command, which
organization was then and for a month afterwards unofficial. This command had
its roots in a discussion on 5 September between Tedder's senior air staff
officer, Air Vice Marshal H. E. P. Wigglesworth, and G-3 officers of USAMEAF,
during which Wigglesworth asserted that he had control, delegated by Tedder,
over the target selection for the U.S. heavy bombers. Col. Patrick W.
Timberlake, G-3 of Brereton's staff, took a serious view of this assertion in
that it violated the Arnold-Portal-Towers agreement that American combat units
assigned to theaters of British strategic responsibility were to be organized
in "homogeneous American formations" under the "strategic
control" of the appropriate British commander in chief. In a memo of 7
September, Timberlake granted that this canon might be justifiably violated in
the case of the 12th Bombardment (M) and 57th Fighter Groups, but he could see
no reason why operational control of the 1st Provisional and 98th Groups,
comprising four-fifths of the heavy bomber force in the Middle East, should not
be vested in American hands. Subsequent negotiations carried the point with the
British, who even turned over their 160 Squadron (Liberators) to the
operational control of IX Bomber Command. On 12 October a small staff moved
into Grey Pillars, RAF headquarters at Cairo, and thenceforth USAMEAF's bombers
operated only under the "strategic" direction of the British. Timberlake
headed the organization, with Kalberer as his A-3 and
Lt. Col. Donald M. Keiser as his chief of
—__, The Army Air Forces in World War II
In February 1943, after the Afrika Korps had
been driven into Tunisia, the Germans took the offensive and pushed through the
Kasserine Pass before being stopped with the help of both Ninth and Twelfth Air
Force units in the battle. The Allies drove the enemy back into a pocket around
Bizerte and Tunis, where Axis forces surrendered in May. Thus, Tunisia became
available for launching attacks on Pantelleria (Operation Corkscrew), Sicily
(Operation Husky), and mainland Italy.
At the time of the invasion of Sicily on 10
July 1943, Ninth Air Force Headquarters was still based at Cairo, Egypt and
Headquarters for Ninth Fighter Command and IX Bomber Command were stationed at
Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya, respectively. During this critical period of World
War II when the Allied forces finally left North Africa for Europe, the groups
of the Ninth Air Force consisted of:
12th Bombardment Group at Sfax el Mau, Tunisia
with B-25 Mitchells (81st, 82nd, 83rd, & 434th Bombardment Squadrons)
340th Bombardment Group at Sfax South, Tunisia
with B-25 Mitchells (486th, 487th, 488th, & 489th Bombardment Squadrons)
57th Fighter Group at Hani Main, Tunisia with
P-40F Warhawks (64th, 65th, & 66th Fighter Squadrons)
79th Fighter Group at Causeway Landing Ground,
Tunisia with P-40F Warhawks (85th, 86th, & 87th Fighter Squadrons)
324th Fighter Group with P-40F Warhawks (314th
Squadron at Hani Main, 315th Squadron at Kabrit, Egypt, & 316th Squadron at
98th Bombardment Group with B-24D Liberators
(343rd & 344th Squadrons at Lete, Libya; 345th & 415th Squadrons at
376th Bombardment Group at Berka, Tunisia with
B-24D Liberators (512th, 513th, 514th, & 515th Bombardment Squadrons)
316th Troop Carrier Group at Deversoir, Egypt
with C-47s, C-53s and DC3s (36th, 37th, & 44th Squadrons at Deversoir,
Egypt; 45th Squadron at Castel Benito, Libya).
During most of 1943, the Ninth Air Force was
officially assigned to RAF Middle East Command of the Mediterranean Air
Command. However, the Ninth's 12th and 340th Bombardment Groups were assigned
to the Tactical Bomber Force, the 57th and 79th Fighter Groups were assigned to
the Desert Air Force, and the 324th Fighter Group was surprisingly assigned to
XII Air Support Command. Tactical Bomber Force under Air Commodore Laurence
Sinclair, Desert Air Force under Air Vice Marshal Harry Broadhurst, and XII Air
Support Command under Major General Edwin House were sub-commands of the
Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) under Air Marshal Sir Arthur
Coningham. NATAF was one of the three major sub-commands of the Northwest
African Air Forces (NAAF) under Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz. NATAF,
Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) and Northwest African Coastal Air
Force (NACAF), formed the classic tri-force, the basis for the creation of NAAF
in February 1943.
Ninth Air Force groups attacked airfields and
rail facilities in Sicily and took part in Operation Husky, carried
paratroopers, and flew reinforcements to ground units on the island. The heavy
bombardment groups (B-24s) of the Ninth also participated in the low-level
assault of the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on 1 August 1943.
On 22 August 1943 the following groups were
transferred from the Ninth Air Force to the Twelfth Air Force:
12th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Gerbini,
Sicily with B-25s
57th Fighter Group on Sicily with P-40s
79th Fighter Group on Sicily with P-40s
324th Fighter Group at El Haouaria, Tunisia
with P-40s and
340th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Comiso,
Sicily with B-25s
The 316th Troop Carrier Group was operating
under Northwest African Troop Carrier Command with C-47 Dakotas and CG4A Waco
Ninth Air Force 1943 - June 1944
Concurrently with the amalgamation of Ninth Air
Force formations in the Mediterranean with Twelfth Air Force, plans were afoot
in Britain to devolve Eighth Air Force's medium bomber force to a separate
command. This command was offered to Brereton, who accepted "with utmost
eagerness", and the force was constituted, also as Ninth Air Force. on 16
During the winter of 1943–44 Ninth Air Force
expanded at an extraordinary rate so that by the end of May, its complement ran
to 45 flying groups operating some 5,000 aircraft. With the necessary ground
support units, the total number of personnel assigned to Ninth Air Force would
be more than 200,000, a total greater than that of Eighth Air Force.
HQ Ninth Air Force extended IX Bomber Command's
choice of targets considerably, although first priority for Operation
Pointblank [the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) of US and RAF air forces
against the Luftwaffe and German aircraft industry] and next priority for
Operation Crossbow (code name for operations against German V-weapon sites)
targets was maintained . Along with the Eighth Air Force, the Ninth had to
smash the German Luftwaffe in the air and on the ground to bring about complete
air supremacy prior to D-Day. Operational missions involved attacks on rail
marshaling yards, railroads, airfields, industrial plants, military installations,
and other enemy targets in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Other targets
were German Atlantic Wall defenses along the English Channel coast of France.
On 4 January 1944 XIX Air Support Command was
activated at RAF Middle Wallop to support Patton's Third Army in Europe. On
February 44 Ninth Air Force underwent a reorganization and several troop
carrier groups relocated headquarters. Major General Otto P. Weyland became
commanding general of XIX Air Support Command, replacing Major General Elwood R
Quesada. The latter assumed dual command of both IX Fighter Command and the IX
Air Support Command, which took control of all its fighter and reconnaissance
units. HQ IX Air Support Command changed from Aldermaston Court to Middle
Major General Paul L Williams, who had
commanded the troop carrier operations in Sicily and Italy, replaced Giles in
command of IX Troop Carrier Command. The IX TCC command and staff officers
were an excellent mix of combat veterans from those earlier assaults, and a few
key officers were held over for continuity. The groups assigned were a mixture
of experience, but training would be needed to confront the expected massive
movements of troops of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
On 18 April 1944, the IX and XIX Air Support
Commands were redesignated, respectively, as IX Tactical Air Command and XIX
Tactical Air Commands.
Between May 1 and D-Day on June 6, the Ninth
flew approximately 35,000 sorties, attacking targets such as airfields,
railroad yards, and coastal gun positions. By the end of May 1944, the IX
TCC had available 1,207 C-47 Skytrain troop carrier airplanes and was one-third
overstrength, creating a strong reserve. Three quarters of the planes were less
than one year old on D-Day, and all were in excellent condition. Glidders were
incorporated, Over 2,100 CG-4 Waco gliders had been sent to the UK, and after
attrition during training operations, 1,118 were available for operations,
along with 301 Airspeed Horsa gliders received from the British.
Pre-invasion order of battle:
IX Bomber Command
97th Bombardment Wing (Light)
99th Bombardment Wing (Medium)
98th Bombardment Wing (Medium)
IX Fighter Command changed as IX Tactical Air
Command (February 44) - provided tactical air support of U.S. First Army
70th Fighter Wing
71st Fighter Wing
84th Fighter Wing
67th Reconnaissance Group
XIX Tactical Air Command - provided tactical
air support in support of U.S. Third Army.
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