Veterans Air flight to Warsaw

Veterans Air flight to Warsaw. 69 years ago today, May 20, 1946.

Countless times, Dad told me about the Veterans Air flight to Warsaw – multiple flights actually to both Poland and Czechoslovakia.  The company had won a contract from UNRRA (United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration) to fly relief-effort supplies to European nations devastated by World War II.

And today, 69 years to the date after one of those flights, I came across an incredible feature story about the trip.  About how one of the company DC-4’s took off from Newark Air Depot, crewed by former army fliers, and headed across the Atlantic Ocean.

In this case, on May 20 and two weeks prior, Veterans Air flew a shipment of 55,000 fertilized eggs to Warsaw.  The eggs, for hatchery purposes, were to be incubated just outside Warsaw to help reestablish the Polish poultry industry.

Don M. Turnbull, Secretary of the International Baby Chick Association, preparing for Veterans Air Warsaw flight in 1946Written by Don M. Turnbull, Secretary of the International Baby Chick Association, the article appeared on the front page of The Weekly Kansas City Star on 6/5/1946. Entitled Drops Into Poland To Find Eerie World of Armed Men, it was accompanied by this photo.

Turnbull rode along on the flight in order, as the photo caption says, “to see that the temperature did not vary far from 55 degrees within the hold of the giant aircraft.”

But, well beyond protecting the precious cargo, Turnbull did an incredible job of documenting many significant aspects of the flight.  Like the “suggestion from air transport command in Paris that we land in Berlin for further orders on the proper course to fly across the Soviet-controlled region of Germany.”  (Remember, this was a civilian flight, flown by my Dad’s privately-owned American company, in an American owned DC-4…the first of its kind.)  Landing in Berlin at the Tempelhof airdrome, Turnbull reported that “the Russians allotted us a corridor twenty miles wide in which to continue our journey into Warsaw.”

Turnbull also described his and the Veterans Air crew’s stay in Warsaw – insightful and gripping scenes of a war aftermath I cannot conjure.

Tomorrow I’ll share more of what I learned about Veterans from this article.  More pilots identified.  More black-on-white corroboration on what, until today, I’ve only known as a child’s tale.  [And now you can read about the history-making Greek War Relief flight made by Veterans Air Express in September 1946 for UNRRA as well.]


RESOURCE: All direct quotes and photograph are from
The Weekly Kansas City Star, Missouri Edition. June 5, 1946
Byline:  Don M. Turnbull, Secretary of the International Baby Chick Association
Drops Into Poland To Find Eerie World of Armed Men
Front Page with photo
Search Result: Historical newspaper archive, GenealogyBank.com


 

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Then & There…

A RECOMMENDED READ and irreplaceable for me: "Memories of the Jing Bao & Beyond," Authors Choice Press, 2001. Written by our own JACK Z. STETTNER - Veterans Air Express Co-Founder, Investor, Pilot and Operations Manager. As well as his considerable WWII experiences, Jack's book revealed new details about Veterans Air Express...plus the spirit and character of this organization that Jack obviously loved!