Editor’s Note –
This unsigned article was obtained by Clarence Simonsen in 1983. It is a reprint of the original from the archives of the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, at Alabama. It was prepared by the Historical Section, Administration and Service Division, Headquarters, Second Air Force, 20 September 1945. It is reproduced [black text] for the historical and detailed progress of the forming and training of the Mexican 201st Fighter Squadron, including the training in the United States. Small sections from author [Simonsen] information appear in blue type. Hyperlinks will be in red.
I will add some pictures found on different Websites as I go along editing Clarence’s story.
The Mexican 201st Fighter Squadron – [August 1944 to March 1945]
Soon after the Republic of Mexico declared war on Germany, 28 May 1942, plans were made for the organization of the 201st Mexican fighter Squadron, the very first Mexican expeditionary force in World War Two. Through the medium of competitive examinations, pilots, ground crews, and administrative personnel were selected from all branches of the Mexican military service; still others were recruited from civilian sources. Flying was not a new experience for the pilots thus assembled. Prior to joining the 201st Squadron, approximately two-thirds of them had received flying instructions in the United States under scholarships offered to Latin American flyers by the U.S. Army and Navy. Others had received primary, basic, and advanced training in Mexico City. Many had credit for from eight hundred to three thousand hours of flying, and several of them were rated as senior pilots. The enlisted men came from every part of Mexico; the majority, however, were from capital city. Former college students, newspaper reporters, mechanics, bakery employees, and men from many other walks of life became members of the Squadron. Through the medium of American Lend-Lease, Mexico was able to use American airplanes, equipment, instructors, and training facilities to prepare her first expeditionary force for combat overseas.
From the very beginning of World War Two, America was well aware Germany was anxious to commit as much subversion as possible to swing America’s southern neighbor to her side. America needed a counter balance and on 1 April 1941, the United States and Mexico signed an agreement for the reciprocal use of military bases between the two countries. The Mexican Air Force, Fuerza Aerea Mexicana [FAM] was a small underfunded arm of the Mexican Army, used for reconnaissance, air support of ground troops, airmail delivery, and map making. They had tactical air force units but no modern pursuit aircraft which were capable of repelling an offshore attack. The new agreement, of course, would change all that and lead to new American aircraft, plus aid which was desperately needed. Air Force facilities were now available to U.S. forces in the territories of Baja and Quintana Roo, where American exchange personnel flew with the Mexican Air Force. Mexico’s entry into World War Two was prompted by tragedy, when Potrero del Llano, a Mexican oil tanker, was torpedoed by a German U-boat on 13 May 1942, with loss of 13 national crew members. On 28 May 1942, after a second U-boat had sunk a Mexican tanker on 22 May, the President of Mexico, Manuel Avila Camacho declared war on the Axis powers. These two attacks by Germany actually proved beneficial to both countries during WWII. The Mexican population united behind the world war effort and the Americas provided new aircraft [Lend-Lease] for protection of the Mexican coastline. New Mexican Air Force units were activated for coastal patrol and tanker escort missions began flying new American North American AT-6 Texan aircraft.
These new coastal patrol aircraft soon obtained results. On 5 July 1942, Major Luis Noriega Medrano, flying his AT-6 Texan, sighted and bombed the German submarine U-129 in the Gulf of Mexico.
In April 1943, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with the Mexican President Avila Camacho at Monterrey, to encourage more Mexican involvement to fight beside the Allies.
At first the Mexican President was noncommittal, as he must obtain permission from the Senate, which involved tradition and politics. To sell this idea to the Mexican public a special airshow was held near Mexico City, on 5 March 1944, using American Lend-Lease aircraft and live ordnance. The show was a stunning success, and shortly after the President declared that a Mexican Air Force Squadron would lead the nation into conflict. Now the rules for this ‘foreign’ Air Force training in the U.S. must be agreed upon.