M.H. Mitchell, Inc. 47th Fighter Squadron collection

M.H. Mitchell, Inc. 47th Fighter Squadron collection

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Title: M.H. Mitchell, Inc. 47th Fighter Squadron collection
Dates: 1940-1946
Quantity: 4.4 Linear feet (2 document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 1 oversized box)
Coll. Number: ms3399.TEMP

Biographical/Historical Note

The 47th Fighter Squadron became active on December 1st, 1940 and was designated the 47th Pursuit Squadron, one of three squadrons assigned to the 15th Pursuit Group on Wheeler Field in Hawaii. The 15th Fight Group was in turn part of the 20th Air Force based on Iwo Jima. They were the only single engine fighter group flying VLR (Very Long Range) missions off Iwo Jima, and escorted B-29s to Japan.

The 47th Pursuit Squadron participated in numerous campaigns from 1940 to 1945, flying aircraft that included P-10, P-26, P-36, P-47, and P-51's. The squadron was credited with shooting down eight Japanese aircraft on 7 December 1941, before being inactivated on 15 October 1946.

The 47th was re-designated the 47th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in 1952 and was activated at Niagara Falls Municipal Airport, New York. Many changes, moves, and reactivations have occured in the ensuing decades.

Scope and Content Note

Collection consists of photographs, writings and printed materials documenting the activities of the 47th Fighter Squadron during the war, as well as its reunion activites and several artifacts from Iwo Jima.

The collection has been roughly arranged into 3 series: Series 1. World War II materials, Series 2. Veteran and Reunion materials, and Series 3. Iwo Jima Artifacts.

Series 1. World War II materials includes photographs, mission reports, and writings produced during World War II. Original photographs are somewhat unarranged within the folder but are especially rich in content and show pilots in large and small groups engaged in a variety of activities at camp during the war, images of Mt. Fujiyama, and later as old men. They range from 1941-2000; are in black and white as well as color; offer a range of print sizes; approximatly half are identified. While the copies of photographs are somewhat redundant they also seem to offer additional images of pilots and soldiers at work and in leisure at camp. Mission reports are from 1945 and range from the 47th Squadron to the Air Force; previously confidential government documents they are now open for public view. Lastly the writings consist of a diary by Henry C. Ryiker written during his eight months in Iwo Jima from 1945, and a set of several dozen humorous songs and poems by Henry G. "Sandy" Sanders.

Series 2. Veterans and Reunion materials focuses on histories of the 47th and documentation of its reunion activities, as well as some related printed matter. "Histories" are histories for the 47th Fighter Squadron segmented by year and possibly campaign, whereas printed materials are mainly issues of newsletters, magazines, and a few articles. Reunion materials consist mainly of member rosters and the correspondence of Henry G. "Sandy" Sanders who organized many of the 47th Squadron reunions in the 1970s and 1980s.

Series 3. Iwo Jima consists of two boxes. Both contain objects and items owned and used by Japanese soldiers and found by American soldiers. These items were likely discovered on fallen Japanese, as several pieces are precious, notably the senninbari, which was normally worn around the waist. Almost all of these items have Japanese characters written on them, and, while some are translated, more work could be done and further information discovered.

Index Terms

Mitchell, David
World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, American.
World War, 1939-1945--Japan.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

M.H. Mitchell, Inc. 47th Fighter Squadron collection, MS 3399. Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


Series 1: World War II materials

11Photographs (originals, approx. 80), 1941-2000
2Photographs (copies)
OS Box
1Panoramas (identifying squadron members), photographs and slides
13Mission reports- 47th Fighter Squadron, 1945
4Mission reports- 15th Fighter Group, 1945
5Mission reports- Air Force Operation Reports, 1945
6Mission reports- copies, various
7Writings- Iwo Jima Diary, by Henry C. Ryniker, February 1 to September 24, 1945
8Writings- book of humorous songs, by Henry G. Sanders, circa 1940s
9Writings- humorous poems, by Henry G. Sanders, circa 1940s

Series 2: Veteran and Reunion related materials

110Histories (photocopies, for 1944-1945)
11Clippings (mainly Georgia newspapers), 1940s-1980s
21-2Correspondence of Henry G. Sanders, 1977-1990
3Reunion bulletins and rosters, 1970s
4Miscellaneous reunion documents
5-6Member rosters, 1982-1991
7In Memory- members of the 47th who died during service
8Printed materials- Sunsetter's Gazette (newsletter of the 7th Fighter Command, 1987-2005
9Printed materials- issues of various newsletters including the Retrospect, the 8th AF News, the Bluenoser, Afterburner,, 1986-2002
10Printed materials- various articles including "Chief of the Sunsetters", "Battle of Leyte Gulf- the Greatest Air and Sea Battle", "Iwo Jima: And I was there"; "Caught on the Ground"; Chapter #3 of an unidentified war narrative., various
11Printed materials- issues of magazines including Pacific Fighters, Pacific Air Combat WWII, and P-51 Mustang, 2002-2003
OS BoxCassette
11Chas Kesslig interview (cassette)- taken 3 days before his death, July 25, 1999

Iwo Jima Artifacts

3Four wood-handled toothbrushes and one plastic toothbrush, with kanji (The orange plastic toothbrush has Japanese kanji written down its length. It reads, in short, "Top quality toothbrush.")
Straw sandals, very thin, approximately size 8 (The sandal suffered significant wear damage. There is some cracking of the rubber on the jikatabi. There is kanji on the bottom of the jikatabi, though this has not been translated. To note, the sandals and jikatabi do not fit together.)
Jikatabi with kanji, ankle-high, rubber-soled, approximately size 10-11 (There is some cracking of the rubber on the jikatabi. There is kanji on the bottom of the jikatabi, though this has not been translated. To note, the sandals and jikatabi do not fit together.)
Various rocks, including smooth limestone and volcanic rocks, all from Iwo Jima (The rocks are very assorted and likely indigenous to Iwo Jima, having been found with these belongings. There are two larger rocks - one appearing to be limestone and the other some kind of volcanic rock. The bag contains a mix of sedimentary and igneous rocks.)
Carton of tobacco cigarrettes, stamped "Imperial Japan" and printed with national flags (The first, larger carton of tobacco cigarettes have Japanese kanji emphasizing the word "homare" which means "honor, glory" and was also an old brand of cigarette before the war. It seems to be considered a "cigarette for military use.")
Small carton of tobacco cigarettes, with green text and predator bird (The second, smaller carton of tobacco cigarettes also have Japanese kanji on the front and back. These have not been translated as of yet. However, they seem to be cigarettes for military use only.)
Box carton of tobacco cigarettes, with small kanji (The third, box-sized carton of tobacco cigarettes only has one or two kanji characters on the front. While the box is deteriorating badly, the cigarettes are in perfect condition.)
Military issued safety razor (The safety razor is in decent condition, though the top portion, a part of the stick, and many of the blades are marred with green rust.)
Accompanying objects for razor: one small box containing two blades and a cloth pad for the razor blade (The accompanying two objects are in decent condition as well, though they are worn down. The box has kanji and English written on it. Both suggest the same thing: "Razor blades." The rest is fairly elaborate, seems possibly handmade, and clearly has been used.)
Olive green plastic case of kanji-inscribed eraser, Japanese coinage, needle and thread, and numerous pin tips (The green plastic case contains four different kinds of objects: an erasure with kanji (now very tough and unusable), numerous pen tips, a sharp needle with white thread wound tightly around it, and several sen coins made of base metal.)
One unmarked red chopstick (The lone red chopstick is in fine shape. There is nothing remarkable about it besides its origin and use.)
Five blue pencils with kanji with paper band holding it together (The five blue pencils have Japanese kanji written down their entire length. These read, approximately, about an intelligence agency. A slogan for resource conservation follows: "Things are the fruit of everyone's sweat and national items." After this, it reads: "Yacht Pencils/Model 35" "fixed price; 5 sen." One sen was one-hundredth of a yen at the time. The band holding the pencils together also has Japanese kanji written across it. ‎It includes the words: "Yacht" (an old brand of pencils); "standard pencil"; "fixed price item.")
Two bamboo objects, likely water stoppers (The bamboo objects appear to be stoppers of some sort, possibly put in another object to capture water. They have little damage and no real stains. One has cracks through the bottom, but the other is in ideal condition.)

Cloth Items

4Golden-yellow senninbari with red thread throughout (The golden-yellow senninbari has its 1000 red stitches on the outside in front of a black grid. There is definite wear and use where the red stitches are, making it likely the senninbari was worn stitches to the stomach.)
4White tiger belt senninbari with red threaded tiger (The white tiger belt senninbari has its 1000 red stitches on the inside in the pattern of a tiger with two large red kanji on either side. It is not apparent which side the belt was worn as both sides have wear. The item was originally white but now is dirty and stained, as to be expected.)
4Tiny scrap of white cloth with Japanese kanji (The scrap of white cloth is very small, approximately one inch by one inch. It has four kanji characters. It appears to have been torn or cut from something else.)
43.5 foot long white flag with naval symbol and kanji (The white flag is large and in decent condition. It appears to have a navy anchor in the center with a very faint pink background (likely once red) with a kanji board to the left with a similar pink backing.)
4Ornate white, blue, and purple bandana (possibly a hachimaki) (The ornate bandana is in very poor condition and is deteriorating. However, it has a lovely design and a certain style of sophistication.)
4Flotation bladder / air pillow (The flotation bladder possibly doubled as an air pillow. It is covered in plaid cloth and has a metal tube on the upper left side where one would blow in. It is incredibly stiff and crackles when moved.)
4Pouch with two metal buttons and kanji (The pouch with metal buttons has two kanji characters. It seems mildly used and is in good shape, but rust has overtaken the buttons, staining the cloth.)
4Two hachimaki with large kanji (The two hachimaki have very large Japanese characters written down them. These have yet to be translated.)
4Silk cloth with several images (The silk cloth with images is in very poor condition and is deteriorating. However, it has a lovely design and a certain style of sophistication.)
4Brown cloth with white kanji and colored stripes (The brown cloth with white kanji is in good condition with some deterioration.)