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Details about  WWII Ninth Air Force Cigarette Lighter Engraved Tripoli North Africa 1943 USAAF

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WWII Ninth Air Force Cigarette Lighter Engraved Tripoli North Africa 1943 USAAF
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Jul 19, 2012 21:05:38 PDT
US $69.95
$4.17 Standard Shipping | See details
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Nebraska , United States


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Last updated on  Jul 17, 2012 11:23:30 PDT  View all revisions
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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.

Origins -1942

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.[6]

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.[citation needed]

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 consisted of:[7]

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 E Adler).

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 North-East Africa.

Operations in Western Desert Campaign, 1942–1943

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.[8]

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[9] 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 staff."

—__, The Army Air Forces in World War II[10]

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:[11]

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 Causeway).

98th Bombardment Group with B-24D Liberators (343rd & 344th Squadrons at Lete, Libya; 345th & 415th Squadrons at Benina, Libya)

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 Gliders.

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 October 1943.

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 [1]. 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.[12] 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 Wallop.

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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.

100th Fighter Wing

354th Fighter Group

RAF Greenham Common, RAF Boxted, RAF Lashenden (P-51)

303d Fighter Wing

36th Fighter Group

406th Fighter Group

10th Reconnaissance Group

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