VP-83 & VPB-107 ABRIDGED NARRATIVE
Patrol Squadron Eighty-Three (VP-83) was commissioned September 15, 1941 with LCDR Ralph S. Clarke, USN as Commanding Officer and LT Ralph W. Mackert, USN as Executive Officer. From November 15 until December 7 crews were assigned ferrying duties from the Consolidated Plant to designated delivery points. Thirty planes were delivered prior to the squadron becoming operational on December 20, 1941. At this time operations were varied from strict ASW; they included barrier patrols, S & R plus intensified advanced training. On February 16, 1942 the squadron suffered the first tragedy when 83-P-2 crashed at Buena Vista, VA with the loss of eight crewmen. The first division departed Norfolk VA for Natal, Brazil, arriving April 7 at which time full combat operations were commenced. Search & Rescue missions were flown by four aircraft on April 11 and also at Jacksonville, FL and Charleston, SC on May 14 and again on May 19. ASW sweeps were conducted from April 13 to May 23, 1942 The second division departed NAS Norfolk for Natal on June 8 and arrived June 13 with the exception of 83-P-12 which crased during severe weather while approaching Natal on final touchdown. Seven members were lost as a result of this unfortunate mishap.
The squadron, operating with eleven aircraft, began systematic patrols along the entire 3800 miles of Brazilian coastal waters. It was necessary to provide convoy coverage along the two thousand mile route from Bahia to Cape Orange. These operations were under CTF-44 and Commander FOURTH Fleet. During September, LCDR Almon E. Loomis, USN relieved Ralph S. Clarke, USN as Commanding Officer. ASW results during this period were: One assisted sinking in conjunction with USS Roper; Eight attacks with no evident results. On 3 November an aircraft attached a submerging sub. Increased activity during December produced two attacks on the 14th, one on the 15th, followed by attacks on 17 and 22 December. On 6 January 1943, an aircraft attacked and completed a confirmed sinking followed by another successful attack on 13 January 1943. During January, LCDR Bertran J. Prueher, USN relieved LCDR Loomis as Commanding Officer of VP-83. ASW results during this period: Two confirmed sinkings; Eight attacks with no evident results. March and April were marked by increased activity with 2 sightings, 3 attacks with 1 confirmed sinking. During this period Dr. Steinhardt of the Navy Office of Research implemented the "Steinhardt Square," a tactical maneuver against submarines. During May, drews delivered the PBY-5A's to NAS Norfolk and on May 15 VP-83 was redesignated as VB-107 with 15 PB4Y-1 aircraft. June was devoted to indoctrination and training with the new aircraft and returning to Natal, Brazil. July marked a return to full operational capability with seven attacks resulting in one sinking and the loss of 107-B-6 with all hands.
Increased activity during the month of August resulted in four attacks on subs, one sighting and one definite sinking of a submarine with the resultant loss of 107-B-1 during the second bombing run.
On August 28 1943, LCDR Renfro Turner, Jr., USN assumed command of Bombing Squadron One Hundred Seven. ASW results during this period were: Three sightings, fourteen attacks, three sinkings.
CTF-44 created a 107 detachment at Ascension Island with two aircraft taking station on 30 September. During October and November, the Ascension Island Detachment carried out ten sub attacks that resulted in two sinkings.
COMFOURTHFLT ordered a barrier patrol for 1-15 December to intercept enemy blockade runners. Results proved to be inconclusive and routine was terminated December 16. Blockade runner barrier resumed on 12/24. A suspected ship was spotted ship was spotted on January 1, 1944 and after refusing identity, opened fire on the aircraft. Another aircraft continued tracking. A third aircraft attempting to relieve the aircraft on station failed to re-establish contact of the whip. The following day another aircraft relocated suspicious ship. This aircraft sustained what appeared to be minor damage, but after being relieved on station by another, the aircraft (107-B-12) had to be ditched. The remaining aircraft continued tracking the block ade runner while also homing for Destroyer, USS SOMERS, which in turn sank the German WASSERLAND with its surface main battery.
On February 6, 1944 two runs were made by an Ascension based aircraft on a U-Boat which was definitely sunk.
LCDR Paul K. Blesh, A-V(N), USNR relieved LCDR Renfro Turner, Jr., USN as Commanding Officer of Bombing Squadron 107 on February 20, 1944. Action results during this period were: ASW Attacks - 12; ASW Sinkings - 3; Barrier Patrol Missions - 5.
One attack on a U-Boat was made in April, indications were that the sub was damaged to the extent that it was later scuttled. The squadron conducted a number of S & R missions through the summer months.
Two aircraft made four attacks on September 29 sustaining the loss of a U-Boat after dropping life rafts to survivors. On 1 October the squadron was redesignated as Patrol Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED SEVEN. Intensive training and occasional searches for downed planes in the Belem, Brazil area made up the schedule for the balance of the year. Early January 1945 marked the departure of the squadron from Natal, Brazil to Dunkeswell, England, arriving on January 21. LCDR William F. Brewer, USN relieved LCDR Paul K. Blesh, AV(N), USNR as Commanding Officer, Patrol Bombing Squadron 107, January 25, 1945. ASW results were as follows: 5 Attack runs; 1 severely damaged, later scuttled; 1 definitely sunk.
On 18 March, one aircraft made two attack runs in the English Channel on a U-Boat with undetermined results. One plane later reconned the area with negative results.
Early June 1945 the squadron was moved to NAS Norfolk, VA. and thence to Seattle, Washington on July 21. Transitional training commenced with new PB4Y-2 aircraft at Alameda and Crows Landing, California.
VP-83 & VPB-107 History By Richard A. Wilson