St-Trond… A very cold, snow filled winter with extremely low visibility with a lot of flying, but with comfortable living quarters.
That’s how American pilot Floyd Blair summarizes his stay at the airfield of Brustem, near Sint-Truiden. A stay from October 1944 until April 1945.
While at Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology – university in Georgia, USA), Floyd F. Blair was a saxophone player with the Georgia Tech band The Technicians – The Swingin’ Engineers for one year and for three years with Harry Hearn’s Dance Band, a local Atlanta professional dance band. This band experience and commitment (the members of the Georgia Tech band have always put more into the band than they got out of it.), paid the 404th Fighter Group well, while they were stationed at St-Trond airbase.
In England and Normandy, both pilots and ground crew lived in tents. What entertainment the pilots had, was local bands and USO shows. St-Trond was the first place they had access to a real live club and when they were settled in, is when the Nix Compris was formed. Social life in St-Trond had already begun on Saturday evening, 7 October 1944, when the first of a regular series of Saturday night parties was held in the Officer’s Mess, with a whole host of local girls, a St-Trond hot band and champagne as the attractions. The affair was a natural success. But as of November 11, the 404th had its own music band that would play at the weekly parties from then on.
This band, the Nix Compris, was made up of Count Pacic on piano, Chuck Higgins on drums, Noel Arrighi on bass, Andy Kirk on trumpet and Floyd Blair (pilot in the 507th Fighter Squadron) on saxophone and clarinet. One day, with funds from the Special Services and contributions from the pilots, Floyd bought the bass and the sound system that were missing and a few other necessities for the band in a music shop. After leaving St-Trond and setting up their next base in Germany, it was back to living in tents for the pilots of the 404th. Also, there was NO fraternizing with the Germans and the only other people who could have attended a party would have been the nurses, "if we could have found them. So Nix Compris was strictly a Belgium operation, which ain’t all that bad !!", according to Floyd.
The name of the band, Nix Compris, was derived from an expression the Americans used frequently when talking and discussing with the locals. Nix is the phonetic version for the Flemish word niks meaning nothing. Compris is the French word for understand. So basically what the Americans were saying was, nothing understood. You should note that although Sint-Truiden was/is a Flemish town, until WWII quite a lot of people spoke French in the town given its proximity to the French speaking part of Belgium and also that French was still the official language.