Finding Aid for the Romney W. Masters Second World War manuscript 2017.681.wc.r

Lee Feldman
Center for American War Letters Archives
Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange, CA 92866

Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
Title: Romney W. Masters Second World War manuscript
Creator: Masters, Romney Wolfe
source: Bailey, Robert G.
source: Bailey, Marilee B.
Identifier/Call Number: 2017.681.wc.r
Physical Description: .08 Linear feet (1 folder)
Date (inclusive): 1942 May 12 - 1943 January 22
Abstract: This collection contains a journal and written correspondences from Capt. Romney W. Masters, USAAF to his family during the Second World War. Capt. Masters served with the First American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers."
Language of Material: English .
Container: WWII 14
Container: 15
Container: 1

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert G. Bailey and Marilee B. Bailey.


This collection is arranged by material type, author, and date.

Biographical / Historical

Captain Romney Wolfe Masters, United States Army Air Force (b. 1915) was born in Berkeley, California to parents Romney Spencer Masters and Elizabeth Wolfe Masters. He graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering. Masters joined General Chennault's volunteer group, the Flying Tigers, to protect the airspace over China. During his travels, Masters visited many countries across Asia and Africa, including China, India, Vietnam, Nigeria, Liberia, and Egypt.

Preferred Citation

[Item title, Box number, Folder number], Romney W. Masters Second World War manuscript (2017.681.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a manuscript containing a journal and letters detailing the experiences of Capt. Romney W. Masters, USAAF during the Second World War.

The manuscript narrative is divided into eleven parts:

  • 1. His shipment to a new foreign service, taking him from Miami, Florida to Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Brazil, Liberia, Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, India, and finally China;
  • 2. His preperation to join the Flying Tigers, including meeting General Chennault and the rest of the pilots, receiving assignments and squadrons, his first flights, intercepting alerts, and preventing the destruction of an airfield by the hands of the Japanese;
  • 3. The soldiers invovled with the AVG, the exotic nature of China, how the AVG transitioned into the 23rd Composite Group, bombing runs performed by the Japanese, a spectacular emergency landing performed by Major Alison and Captain Baumler, how more and more militarized their base became during the course of the war, and how the army slowly took over control of their squad;
  • 4. The Americans' superiority over the Chinese, how China slowly started to become a major world power, the westernization of the country, his affection for the ancient city of Kunming, the city's history, the city's geography, the various shops and professions in the city, the inventories of various stores in Kunming, the Chinese currency and the "black market" of currency exchange, and looting equipment from a defeated group of Japanese;
  • 5. His affliction with dengue fever, being sent to India on sick leave, their subsequent flight across "The Hump" (the eastern ridge of the Himalayan mountains), and his arrival in New Delhi;
  • 6. His reporting to the air force base in India, accepting an offer to go hunting with the Maharajah of Balrampur, traveling to the Maharajah via train, the poor quality of their train compartment, the splendor of the Maharajah's residence, touring the town and the Maharajah's residence, riding on elephant back, their first hunt in which they hunted chitels and panthers, returning to the Maharajah's house for a Thanksgiving dinner, a tour of the local sugar plant, power plant, and hospital, a second hunt at Bonkatwa in which they were joined by the Maharajah, a third hunt for crocodiles, playing tennis with the Maharajah, and their departure from Balrampur;
  • 7. His travel to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, visiting an old Mogul fort, and his desire to return to China;
  • 8. His new mission to escort bombers to Hanoi, returning to China to supply-up, their departure, being fired upon by anti-aircraft guns and his attempt to return to camp, how other pilots dealt with being shot at, arriving back at Kunming, and their C.O.'s miraculous emergency landing;
  • 9. Issues with the food in China, how the AVG pilots kept themselves entertained, a "dance" that was held for the soldiers, the liquors they drank, the discontent that came with idleness, domestic problems facing the US, his desire to return home by Christmas, describing his idol Colonel Johnny Alison, and a miraculous crash-landing and rescue featuring one of the AVG pilots;
  • 10. Breaking in a new engine on a test-flight, comparing aspects of Chinese philosophy to ancient Egyptian, volunteering to spend time with a Chinese family, his friendship with Colonel Peter Shih, participating in a traditional Chinese dinner, an excursion to visit the Lolo Nosu people, and his childhood growing up in Canton;
  • 11. The fall of France to the Nazis and America joining the war, the campaigns in Japan and China, and issues that might arrive in the post-war world. In the letters, Masters writes about his various travels across the world, hoping that life is alright back home, basics about army life and living in China, his various flights and campaigns, hunting in India, having a dismal Christmas, and updating them with news from the front. One letter from May 23, 1942, reads, "Dear Mom: I'm well. It's hot. Son"

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions. For further copyright information, please contact the archivist.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Bailey, Robert G.
Bailey, Marilee B.
Masters, Romney Spencer
Masters, Elizabeth Wolfe