During World War II, La Sénia Airport was first used by the French Air Force as a military airfield, first by the Armée de l'Air, and after June 1940, by the Armistice Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air de Vichy) of the Vichy government.
During the Operation Torch landings in 1942, La Sénia was one of the primary objectives of the assault on Oran on 9 November. A paratroop task force was to be directly seize La Sénia, with an armored task force to thrust inland to insure the capture of the field. Just after daylight, eight Albacore dive bombers from H.M.S. Furious and six Hurricane fighter escorts from each of the two auxiliary carriers swung back over La Sénia airfield in broad daylight to be greeted by strong antiaircraft fire and Vichy fighters. The airfield was attacked in response by six 250-pound general-purpose bombs with which it accurately struck and wrecked the empty hangars on the northwestern side of the airdrome, inflicting destruction which was later to be regretted. In the ensuing dogfights, five Dewoitine 520 French fighters were claimed shot down and others damaged. A second attack on La Sénia airfield were delivered a few minutes later by ten Seafires from H.M.S. Furious in low-level strafing runs against grounded planes and antiaircraft batteries. Again Vichy French fighters contested the action. The Vichy fighters, however only defended the airfield vicinity and did not oppose the ground forces landing at Oran Harbor. The planned air assault against the airfield was redirected, and the airfield was captured by Company B, of the 1st Armored Regiment about 1000, after many Vichy Aircraft already flown off, presumably to French Morocco. A few remained dispersed on the ground or in the hangars.
After its capture, the airport was used by the United States Army Air Forces Twelfth Air Force as a combat airfield during the North African Campaign. The following units were assigned to the base in 1942 and 1943:
HQ, XII Fighter Command, 12 November–December 1942; 12 January – 20 March 1943
HQ, 51st Troop Carrier Wing, 28 March – 13 May 1943
3d Reconnaissance Group, 10–25 December 1942 (Various Reconnaissance aircraft)
31st Fighter Group, 12 November 1942 – 7 February 1943, Supermarine Spitfire
52d Fighter Group, 14 November 1942 – 1 January 1943, Supermarine Spitfire
86th Bombardment Group, 12 May – 3 June 1943, A-36 Apache
320th Bombardment Group, 2 December 1942 – 28 January 1943, B-26 Marauder
Once the combat units moved east to other airfields in Algeria and Tunisia during the late spring of 1943, the airfield came under the control of Air Transport Command, under which it functioned as a stopover en route to Algiers airport or to Port Lyautey Airfield, in French Morocco on the North African Cairo–Dakar transport route for cargo, transiting aircraft and personnel.
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Two of the Squadrons of the 52nd Fighter Group flew Spitfires with RAF Fighter Command in August and early September 1942 from Northern Ireland. After these preparatory missions, the Group joined the Twelfth and then Fifteenth Air Force in the...
Military | Colonel | Pilot, instructor in navigation and flight | 99th Bomb Group
Richard Ernest Evans grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. He started his flying career graduating from the Primary Flying School, Love Field, March 21, 1940, Class of 40-E. He continued his flight training, transferred to Flight #8 Advanced Training...