Souther Field, Americus, Georgia Revisited

This picture was taken in 1942…

Theo in training mod

Collection Theo Griffiths DFC

These were also taken in 1942…


Courtesy Graham Padden (
Collection Gerald Thomas Padden (1922-1942)


Courtesy Graham Padden (
Collection Gerald Thomas Padden (1922-1942)


Courtesy Graham Padden (
Collection Gerald Thomas Padden (1922-1942)

Theodore Griffiths

Collection Theo Griffiths DFC


Courtesy Graham Padden (
Collection Gerald Thomas Padden (1922-1942)


In 1942, both Theo Griffiths and Gerald Thomas Padden were in the same class at Souther Field, Americus, Georgia.

Theo Griffiths’ story is here on this blog.

Gerald’s story will be told here.

Theo’s Record of Service – First Solo Flight

Since last year Rich Cooper has sent more and more pictures he found in Theo’s old WWII album.

He did not ask for any money, and I don’t get paid for writing my blogs.

Rich sent this particular picture a few months ago, and I forgot to post it. It is most fitting to add it to this post I wrote in 2012.

It was Theo’s first solo flight.

 Day I soloed 24 October 1941

You can read what I posted last year if you want, or jump to the end.


These two pages tell a lot about Theo’s flying career in the RAF.

Where he was… and with what unit.


Which planes he flew.


For someone like me who has been interested in airplanes since he was 10 years old, and who became a history teacher along the way, all this information is most interesting…

Theodore Griffiths was in Georgia on December 7th, 1941!

He had been flying PT-17s since October 1941.


October 6th, 1941 – Stearman – No. 30 – Pupil – Level – Gliding – Taxing

The Stearman is also named PT 17.


PT-17 at Gatineau Airport (September 2012)
author’s collection

All the plane numbers are there in the logbook. His first solo was on October 24th on a PT 17, No. 17.

Make no mistake about it, learning to fly was a deadly affair.


On December 9th 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor, Theodore Griffiths left Americus, for Macon. He was posted there from December 18th, 1941 to February 9th, 1942.

Rich should fill me in on that part of Theo’s career by looking at the training logbook.


I was looking more closely at what Rich sent earlier this month.

photo 1

Rich Cooper scanned all the document, and I posted tt.

Here are two pages taken from this document. It’s about a cadet’s first solo.


solo 2 last fight

More from Rich Cooper about Americus, Georgia

Sorry for posting that much, but I need to put Americus, Georgia on the map…

Rich was been reading Donald Hepworth Bentley’s story unfolding on this blog.

Some more photos of Theo at Souther Field. Hopefully the names of Theo’s colleagues and possibly American staff may be of interest to anyone searching. There are a lot more photographs available but unfortunately are stuck fast in the album and it’s the best I can do at the moment with my iPad. Had hoped I might have found something on Donald Hepworth Bentley for Paul.


Rich Cooper

If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.


This editorial is taken from this scanned image sent by Rich Cooper.

photo 2

This is the front cover.

photo 1


EIGHT weeks at Souther Field have left us only two more in which to complete the course and, because printers are impatient people, it is time to say goodbye.

Regret at leaving is mingled with pride in having traveled at least a third, perhaps the thorniest part, of the road to our “Wings;” and if we part from our friends and various tutors now, it is with the assurance that we are not, yet, going far, and shall return from time to time to visit them.

We owe a great debt both to our flying instructors, patient and—for their peace of mind—fearless men all, and to those who have guided us through Ground School, whom doubtless we shall remember again over Germany in darkness, where a warm front meets a cold, and we have a spluttering engine.

We are grateful to Lieutenant Rood and his staff for a number of things, not least for helping strangers in a new, if charming, country; and from Mr. Graham and his employees we could not possibly have expected more in comfort, good food, and sympathetic consideration We thank them, one and all, from our hearts.

To turn to our own domestic affairs, we bid a belated, but sincere, farewell to Flight-Lieutenant Speck and wish him the best of luck wherever he may go. At the same time we extend a hearty welcome to our new Administration Officer, Flight-Lieutenant Easton Smith.

We record, with deepest regret. the tragic deaths of Peter George Hills and Harold Norman Evans in a bathing accident at Jacksonville, Florida, on 2nd November, 1941. These two young fliers, of Class 42C, had just completed their training here and met their deaths while on leave before proceeding to Basic School at Macon. We do not need to emphasize the tragedy of this particular ending to two young lives on the threshold of such a great service to their country, and our deepest sympathies arc accorded to the bereaved families and to the many friends who knew and loved them here.


If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.

More from Rich Cooper

This was just sent by Rich Cooper.

Hi Pierre,

Have uncovered some more amazing documents and photos from Theo. The first runs are a front to back copy of a publication The Southern Cadet. Hope you can make it all out. Particularly interested in the lists of Theo’s colleagues towards the back and the photos on the inside and outside back cover.

It’s about Theo Griffiths who flew with 23 Squadron.

photo 1

Theo was stationed there in 1942.

Here are more pages of the document.

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

photo 22

photo 3

Last photo is number 5 intake at Leconfield. There are many more photos which I found in an album relating to Theo’s training, war service and visiting home. There are still many other photos still to share but the publication is what I thought might raise the most interest.

Theo can still talk about his service days. The documentary about the Mosquito that was bought back to life last year really lights him up.

Rich Cooper

photo 4

photo 44

If you have any information, please feel free to contact me.

89th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Theo is leaving Americus, Georgia and Souther Field.

last page Americus

Before we go to the next phase of his training a comment from Richard Perry about Souther Field…

Amazing that you have got all that information from friends and relations and from the Field itself. Also interesting to see the life and times of Theodore Griffiths. For myself we had our Annual RCAF Anniversary Mess Dinner celebrating the 89th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I am attaching a photo of four of us with the Guest Speaker, I am on the left hand side of “Stocky Edwards, WC, DFC & 2 Bars, Canadian Hero”.

Picture attached.

Richard Perry, Flt.Lieut.Retired.

 89th Anniversary of the RCAF

“Stocky” surrounded at AFDA Mess Dinner, by his wartime “Mates”
Left to Right
Alan Davidson – RAF Squadron 227, Beaufighters – Malta, Libya, Italy.
Bill Marr AFC – Instructor, Canada , RAF Squadron 409, Beaufighters, Mosquitos. (After War, TCA & Air Canada, 29,000 hours of Flying Time.)
Harry Hardy, DFC+Caterpillar, Flight Commander, 440 Squadron, Typhoons. 96 Combat Opps Flts, 2 Bailouts and 1 Forced Landing, Pulverizer from the Falaise Gap onwards.
Richard Perry, DFC , 218 Squadron, Lancasters, 32 Bombing Trips over Germany, 1944, Pilot/Observer, Targets: Marshalling Yards, Airfields, the Rhur Valley, the Ardennes Break-through. (Falaise Gap)

Another comment…

Here’s a training picture, one of me is with my instructor at Harewood, Christchurch, New Zealand flying Tiger Moths, seen in the background.

Dick 1942

The #6 SFTS photograph has me on the right hand side of the back row, #3 to the left.  

Dunnville Richard Perry

Dunnville Richard Perry 1

This one was taken at the Dedication of the Bomber Command Memorial last year.

Jim and Me at the Guildhall 2012The first photograph is of myself and Graham Turner DFC In the Guildhall standing behind Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC in the Wheelchair. Jim and I have been working on obtaining a Bomber Command Award Medal for the least 30 years.

Who is Richard Perry?

Click here.

Theo in Americus, Georgia Part Two

I hope you will take some time to browse through Theo’s training logbook pages.

I did.

In the training logbook every flight is entered.

Date, Flight From, Flight To, Aircraft Make and Model…

Each flight was an adventure in itself and each flight was very dangerous for any young cadet not to mention the instructor in the back.


Robert Shay’s Jr’s collection

Theo must have a lot of stories to tell us about his training days.

Try to find an entry where something went a little wrong. Last page November 25, 1941.

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

last page Americus

We see it on this page.


Failed check – Lt. Baldwin – (failed to find wind)

Now we know Theo’s instructor’s name.

Paying Homage to All Primary Flight Instructors in Americus, Georgia

I am getting back to Theodore Griffiths’ story.

Robert Shay Jr is the instructor in the back seat. A young cadet is flying a PT-17  over Americus, Georgia. He is not Theo because Robert Shay’s name never appears in Theo’s logbook.


Primary Flight Instructor Robert Shay Jr was teaching another young cadet to fly it. 

Flight Instructor Shay

Robert F. Shay Jr

The young cadet has to be a young RAF recruit training in Americus, Georgia, just like Theodore Griffiths DFC.

PT-17 in the background

Unknown instructor with Theo Griffiths

Stephen Shay was kind enough to send me some pictures with this message…


My dad was a US Army flight instructor stationed in Americus, GA from 1940-1941. He went down there from a small airfield he and others hewed out of an old orchard in Penn Yan, NY in upstate NY in the beautiful Finger Lakes. He and Harold Middlebrook and John Oliver Goodrich were from the same small town, were pilots and answered their countries call as instructors in the Army Air Corps. They all flew and instructed on Stearman PT17s. I have attached four photos taken by Robert Shay during that time.

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The picture of the lone pilot was Robert F. Shay Jr. He died at the age of 82 in FL in 2000. The photo of the two pilots includes Bob Shay and Johnny Goodrich, both instructors from Penn Yan, NY. The plane inflight over GA had Bob Shay in it at the time.

Dad’ flight log is extant, but I cannot locate it at the present time. I know that my Dad and his life long friend Johnny Goodrich rented a couple rooms from a family in Americus, GA. It seems that with very little seat time, many young boys were sent off to fight the war in Europe out of dozens of fields like the one in Americus. I thank God for the work these instructors and students did in preparation for combat.

Rev. Stephen Shay (USMC)


PT-17s at Americus, Georgia

PT 17 Americus GA

Bob Shay and Johnny Goodrich

Now people looking for a PT-17 flying over Americus, Georgia, will find this blog.

I sure hope someone related to Harold Middlebrook or Johnny Oliver Goodrich would find it.

Next time Theo’s training at Americus, Georgia.

Souther Field Revisited

This is a link to a webpage dedicated to Souther Field.

A few months ago I did not know anything about Souther Field.

Souther Field is where Theodore Griffiths got his primary training.

PT-17 in the background

A few months ago I did not know anything about Theodore Griffiths let alone he won a DFC and flew Mosquitos.

But you already know that don’t you.

Last week I did not know anything about this man who was a Primary Flight Instructor in Americus, Georgia.

Flight Instructor Shay

Robert F. Shay Jr is also seen here with a cadet in 1941 flying over Americus, Georgia. His son sent me this picture.


This is a section of the Website dedicated to Souther Field. This is one image from the Website.

There are more.

What is most interesting is that Theo left Americus on December 9th, 1941.

December 9 1941

Captain Pardue checked him out on December 6th. Theo did not fly on December 7th, 1941. On December 9th he flew in the review flight.

He rode in front…

There is the story about cadets who came to Americus in January 1942.

The Souther Cadet publication was produced by and for British Cadets receiving pilot training at Souther Field. The images below are of pages from one of the editions.

Click here.


T.R. and Charlotte Wellons’ Album

During WWII Souther Field in addition to being used as a training facility for U.S. pilots was also utilized as a training facility for British pilots of the RAF (Royal Air Force). During this time many local Americus families acted as hosts to these cadets. One such local couple was T.R. and Charlotte Wellons. The information and photos on this page are shared by their son Neal Wellons to whom we express our sincere thanks.

The following photos various British Cadets along with their hosts are from an album that belonged to T.R. and Charlotte Wellons.