US Naval Air StationPort Lyautey, Morocco
Web-Editor Note! The following photographs are from the personal letter collection of Jerry (Gerald J.) Zimmerman who served at NAS Port Lyautey between 8/2/47 to 4/15/48. Jerry was born and raised in West Allis, Wisconsin where, today, he remains a resident. These Photographs are a continuation of an earlier compilation of photographs that he submitted which can be seen off of the Newsletter links or by clicking here. Copies of these photographs may be obtained in a larger format by contacting Jerry at Jerdadzim@cs.com. Former shipmates of Jerry may also contact him at the same e-mail address. But now it is better that Jerry tell us the rest of the story.
Back in December of 2007 I enjoyed putting together my Port Lyautey NAS 214, 1948 narrative and picture collection for this great portlyautey.com website. I had dug deep into many almost forgotten boxes of collected family memorabilia and was most pleased with the final results. With the kind help of Lou Demas, we have preserved much of the 1947-48 history of our beloved Base. And I truly believed I had sent Lou every item I had in my possession.
Recently, while digging again through the family picture collection to prepare for my wife Dolores and my 60th wedding anniversary, I was quite surprised to discover a long forgotten album of Port Lyautey pictures! I had placed nothing on the front cover to identify it and it had become stored away with some of our earliest of family pictures. Among some of the memorophilia was a copy of the Fleet Air Wing Newspaper in 1947 which showed photographs of Navy photographers at work.
The photo on the left: Photographers work out aerial mapping problems before starting on a reconnaissance job. The photo on the right: Amid rolls of movie files, photo officer of Fleet Air Wing 15 tells of new job to be done.
When the Fleet Air Wing was established wing was set in 1942, it consisted of 10 photographers, five cameras, and a two-room lab which it shared with the Army. At the end of its first quarter it had processed 1,325 negatives and 3,764 prints. In 1947 it had 22 photographers, including two officers, an eight room lab, and turned out 4, 877 negatives and 17,112 prints for the first quarter of that year. Its cameramen used Graflex, Speed graphic, Medalist, view, aerial mapping and oblique, automatic gun, K-25's, identification and motion picture cameras.
The above photograph was taken early in 1948 by Lyles, the Squadron Photographer. Pictured is all of the NAS 214 Base Crew. I made 8X10 glossy prints for everyone. I have mine in a photo album and I had listed the name of EVERYONE! Unfortunately, I had stored it in my boyhood home's attic before I was married. A leak in the roof washed away most of the names! You can find me in the bottom two rows I am the 5th person from the left. In return for Lyles taking this picture, I took his Squadron's group picture the same day.
Cameramen who joined the Navy in that time period to see and photograph the world get a full measure of both in the photographic unit serving Fleet Air Wing 15. Its photographers had operated over three continents, ranging from the Bay of Biscay to Salerno, Naples, Sicily, to Asia and the Azores.
In addition to anti-submarine work and special out-of-town assignments, the work included identification shots, awards, celebrations, beach parties, visiting gold braid, broken parts, crashes, athletic events, funerals, aerial mapping, vectographs, aerial patrols, and oblique and vertical pictures. The unit was one of the best equipped and most active in the far-flung U.S. armed forces. Its growth was typical of the rapid expansion of the Navy over the world.
Although the album contained many pictures I had taken, what was most interesting to me was the collection of pictures I chose, as a 19 year old Naval photographer, to print from negatives that had already been shot by Naval photographers before I had arrived at the Base.
Because I already had a youthful curiosity about the early history of the Base I had "fingered" my way through many of the 4x5 negative files in the NAS 214 Photo Lab. Unfortunately, and with "much" other official photo work to do, there was never enough time and energy left over to print "old news" photos. So it is a blessing that I did take the time to print the few pictures found in the old photo album.
In the Navy files in 1947 there was a collection of Army negatives in the Lab's files. Within that collection was a sign identifying the pictured Army men as members of the Third Infantry Division. They had named their tent encampment as Camp Takala. The pictures inform us that the soldiers were quite innovated and made the most of their tent living.
I can not identify the area that the encampment was located. Back in 1947 I was told by the Daumas family and residents of Rabat that after the United States and Allied forces had successfully secured the, then, French Morocco, they were drawn to visit and stare at the "American" tent encampments just East and outside Rabat's ancient earthen walls to take a look at the newly arrived Americans. However Third Infantry Division historical records indicate their was a large encampment at Port Lyautey to protect the Naval Air Facility. Whatever, the negatives were within the USN 214 Photo Lab files. Perhaps and with some luck, my hope is that some of the men in the pictures will contact Lou Demas and fill in the blanks.
To see the photographs of the Third Infantry Division encampment at Port Lyautey, click here.
Another set of pictures were taken at the Casablanca Military Cemetery located in view of Casablanca's Atlantic Ocean's Sun Beach. If you have visited my first picture collection you may recall that I had visited the Cemetery to find the grave of the brother of a Wisconsin, next door neighbor of mine, Clifton Luttrell (click here). I remember printing these early pictures of two separate burials of servicemen wondering if one of them might have been Clifton.
To see the new photographs of the Casablanca Cemetery, click here.
The next set of pictures are some that I took at different recreational events on the Base in 1947 and early 1948. The first pictures are of a variety show. I do not recall all that happened except that I remember clearly the good natured and fun loving Chief Petty Officer that dressed much like a clown and became the victim of the emcee. I ALSO remember the high kicking show girls, after all, being in French Morocco I EXPECTED to see some can-can dancers! Following the dancer pictures is a picture of the base Commander, Captain Dudley, his dog, and son at ringside of a boxing program along with some action shots. Then, there is a set of "party" pictures which, if I recall correctly, was at the US Port Lyautey Servicemen's Center. I do not recall what the event was BUT it might have been New Year's Eve 1948.
To see the Variety Show and Boxing matches, click here
I also had some photographs of my lead officer, Commander Siegel and his family at their Quonset hut home. The different views of the officer's wife and son gives a fair idea of how comfortable the living quarters were, and how a women's touch certainly made an overseas hitch much easier to serve!
CDR. Siegel's Quarters
CDR Siegel and his family
My sincere hope in sharing these long lost pictures is that I (OR Lou) will receive some feed back and identification of some of the people in those pictures. Because I am 81, I fear that many of those ghosts of my past (AND YOURS) have passed on. Even so, to find and discover even one or two would be a wonderful pay back for being a pack rat! (;-)
Web-Editor Note! Jerry presently serves as the Historian for the Wisconsin State Fair, a task he has performed ably for many years. Following is a photograph of Jerry taken in front of one of the many display cases at the 2012 Fair.