Naval Air Station Port Lyautey, Kenitra, Morocco
The photographs and comments on this page were contributed by Lawrence Gandsey, former Aviation Machinist Mate who served at Craw Field with VB-132 in 1944. Craw Field later became the Port Lyautey Naval Air Station. Craw Field was named after Col. Demas Craw, US Army, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for action above and beyond the call of duty during the invasion of Port Lyautey.
Larry was born in Minnesota moved to California and now lives in Oregon. He enlisted in the US Navy on Dec 8, 1942 in Los Angeles and did boot camp in Farragut, Idaho (lots of snow). He went to Aviation Machinist school in Norman OK and then to Lockeed Aircraft Co. in Burbank CA for training on the PV1. He was an was AMM3/c after school in Oklahoma
Sent to Pier 92 in New York to await orders to a duty station, he went from Norfolk Virginia to Casablanca, North Africa aboard the Seaplane Tender USS Albamarle as a passenger. The trip from Casablanca to Port Lyautey took about a 6 or 7 hours in the back of a Navy 8 by 8 truck. Not a very comfortable ride. He arrived at the air base some time in late Jan.1944.
His orders was a replacement of a flight crew member in Bombing Squadron VB 132 and he served as the flight engineer, tail gunner and radar operator of the crew of five. A pilot, co-pilot, Ordnance man, and Radioman made up the balance of the crew. The Ordnanceman was the turret gunner, and the Radioman handled communications.
The squadron moved to Agadir, French Morocco in Nov.1944 to train the Free French how to fly and maintain the aircraft. The planes were given to them by the USA and after this training stint, he came back to the states and was stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.
After VE Day he went back to Noman, OK for additional training on the Jet aircraft engines that were being designed. After VJ Day he went to Memphis, TN for more training. He then spent time at the Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, Calif. During most of 1947 he was at the Naval Air Station Litchfield, AZ, putting surplus aircraft into "Moth Balls" (storage). Arizona had a nice dry and hot climate that helped prevent deterioration of the aircraft.
His next station was in VR-8 at John Rodgers Field in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. His enlistment was about up when VR-8 was sent to Germany for the Berlin Airlift. It was temporary duty with no dependents allowed so he decided not to re-enlist.
He was Honorably Discharged in San Francisco, CA on Dec 6,1948. and only on board a Naval ship for 15 days of his six year enlistment, nine days aboard the USS Albamarle going to North Africa and five days aboard the USS Thomas Jefferson returning from Honolulu to San Francisco, both times I was a passenger.
His only so called Sea Duty was in North Africa and in Hawaii. As a civilian he worked in the Stained Glass trade for ten years and twenty-two years with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs department (1958-1967) in a Radio Car and (1967-1976) in Narcotics and (1976 to 1980) in Homicide. He has been retired for twenty-six years.
On the Base
The Craw Field Naval Air Station main gate in 1944
Larry Gandsey with VB-132 PV1 Vega Ventura's made by Lockeed Aircraft Company in the background. The person to the rear right is a Guard. VB-132 was comprised of 15 aircraft with 5 man crews. Pilot, Co-Pilot (also was the navigator), Radioman (ARM), Ordnanceman (AOR) and Machinist-Mate (AMM).
Aircraft in trouble attempting a landing
Another view of the Belly Landing
Please click on the book to go to Kenitra photographs, on the next page.