"Four crew members of the 401st Bomb Group in front of the Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" 'Hell's Angel' at an 8th Air Force Base in England, 20 January 1945."
Page 245 of the 401st Bomb Group unit history.
Many of the 8th Air Force Groups produced an unofficial unit history in the months after the war ended in Europe but before they were redeployed out of the ETO (European Theater of Operations).
Resembling a college yearbook, unit histories were an unofficial – and often tongue-in-cheek – record of the unit’s time based in the UK. They include photo montages showing different aspects of base life. Often the servicemen in the photos are unnamed. The American Air Museum hopes that by adding unit histories to the website as individual pages, the men in the photos will be identified and associated to their person entries. Many included lists of personnel and a mailing address, providing a means for servicemen to keep in contact with each other after the war. These lists are now incredibly useful records of where US airmen in England in 1945 called their home.
401st Bomb Group, Mission No. 251, 17 Apr 1945, Dresden, Germany
401st Bomb Group, Mission No. 250, 16 Apr 1945, Regensburg, Germany
301st Bomb Group, Mission No. 248, 14 Apr 1945, Royan, France
Briefing took place at 0430 hours. While taxying toward the takeoff runway a problem arose when one aircraft had a flat tire on the perimeter track, blocking three other ships behind it. They were finally towed back to Runway 33, and were able to take off by 0619 hours.
One aircraft was forced to abort the mission, landing at 0940 hours. All operational aircraft had returned from the mission by 1508 hours.
The 401st put up the three squadrons comprising the 94th Combat Wing "C" Group on this mission. The target was an unusual one--German gun emplacements still held on the French coast, far away from the scene of ground combat in Germany, which were about to be attacked by French troops.
With visual bombing possible, and no flak or enemy fighters to defend against, the Group's bombing was again excellent, with 90 percent of the bombs falling within 1,000 feet of the MPI. No battle damage or casualties were sustained.
301st Bomb Group, Mission No. 246, 10 Apr 1945, Oranienburg, Germany.
On this mission the three squadrons of the 401st made up the 94th Combat Wing "B" Group. The target, the ordnance facilities at Oranienburg, is located just north of Berlin.
While the weather was clear, smoke over the target from bombs dropped by preceding Groups made visual sighting very difficult. As a result, the Lead Squadron dropped slightly to the right and over the MPI; the High Squadron aimed at the wrong point near the target but hit another depot and caused considerable damage; while the Low Squadron achieved excellent results, with all of its bombs hitting within 1,000 feet of the MPI.
Flak in the area of Wittenberg caused major damage to two 401st aircraft. One, B-17 No. 43-38788 ("Heavy Date"), piloted by Lt. C. P. Spence, had two engines knocked out and was forced to crash land at a Luftwaffe airfield. All crewmen, two of whom were injured, survived the crash and were taken prisoner by the German army. However, when the prison detachment in which they were marching was attacked by an RAF Mosquito aircraft, five of the crew were able to escape from their guards and turned up thirteen days later at Deenthorpe!
401st Bomb Group, Mission No. 245, 9 Apr 1945, Furstenfeldbruck, Germany.
Briefing took place at the relatively civilized hour of 0500. However SNAFU then asserted itself, with taxi and takeoff times delayed for a total of two hours and forty-five minutes. The final times were those shown above.
All operational aircraft had taken off on the mission by 1159 hours. The two spares landed early as planned, but one aircraft was later forced to abort the mission with its electrical system out. All other ships had landed by 2050 hours.
The 401st, led by Colonel Seawell, not only led the 94th Combat Wing but the entire 1st Air Division on this mission. The target was a German jet aircraft base deep in southern Germany, and with clear weather bombing conditions were excellent. The three Squadron Lead Bombardiers did an excellent job, with all bomb hits falling within 2,000 feet and 95% within 1,000 feet of the MPI.
Flak was described as meager, but some was fairly accurate, causing minor damage to five of the Group's aircraft. There were no injuries, and all aircraft returned safely to Deenethorpe.
301st Bomb Group, Mission No. 244, 8 Apr 1945, Halberstadt, Germany.
Briefing again took place in the middle of the night--0240 hours. All operational aircraft were airborne by 0700 hours, and the two spares returned early as there were no aborts. All aircraft had returned from the mission by 1519 hours.
The three squadrons of the 401st made up the 94th Combat Wing "B" Group on this mission. While weather over both England and the Continent was clear, the primary target, the Luftwaffe airfield at Lerbst, was blotted out by the smoke from preceding Groups. The 401st therefore turned to the secondary target, the marshalling yards at Halberstadt. While smoke also obscured this target, photos showed that the Group's bombs had caused heavy damage to the marshalling yards. No enemy aircraft or flak was encountered, and all aircraft returned to base safely.
401st Bomb Group, Mission No. 243, 7 Apr 1945, Luneburg, Germany.
Briefing was again held at an early hour--0230 hours. Pilots were briefed for a cross-wind takeoff. At 0440 hours all times were moved forward three hours, with Engines now scheduled for 0850, Taxi at 0900 and Takeoff at 0910 hours. Later, these scheduled times were delayed for still another hour, so it was not until 1047 hours that all operational aircraft were off on the mission. The two spares returned early as there were no aborts, and all operational aircraft had landed by 1859 hours--sixteen and a half hours after briefing!
The 401st formed the 94th Combat Wing "C" Group on this mission, whose primary target was the airfield at Reinsehelsen. However, as the primary was not visible, the Group turned to the secondary target, the railroad marshalling yards at Luneberg. Bombing was carried out at 15,000 feet rather than the customary 25,000 feet. The Group history reports good results for the bombing and that "much of the rolling stock in the railroad yards was damaged".
The only opposition the 401st faced was meager flak, which caused no damage. However, other Groups were attacked by the Luftwaffe, which was met by violent resistance on the part of both American fighter escort aircraft and bomber crews. A large number of Luftwaffe aircraft were shot down in the fray. The exceptionally long day referred to above was also the subject of comment in squadron histories.
401st Bomb Group, Mission No. 241, 4 Apr 1945, Unterlüss, Germany.
Briefing was again scheduled for the early hour of 0250. All operational aircraft were airborne by 0705 hours, and since there were no aborts the two spares returned early.
The 401st furnished the 94th Combat Wing "A" Group for this mission, the primary target being the airdrome and engine testing shop at Rotenburg, Germany. However, cloud cover precluded visual sighting, and the Group therefore searched for other airfields to bomb as targets of opportunity. The Lead and High Squadrons were unable to locate an appropriate target and returned with their bombs. However, the Low Squadron bombed an ordnance depot at Unterluss, Germany, causing extensive damage, although lack of target photographs made it difficult to interpret the bomb fall.
No enemy aircraft were encountered and, while flak was observed in three different locations, none of the Group's ships was damaged. All aircraft had landed from the mission by 1518 hours.
Delivered Long Beach 26/10/43; Assigned 612BS/401BG [SC-C] Deenethorpe 1/1/44; 118m landing accident at base with Jim Nolan 7/5/45; sal 2 SAD Watton, Nfk 8/5/45. HELL’S ANGELS OUT OF CHUTE 13 aka GROSSLY INADEQUATE.
George F. Bingham Crew - 21 missions (original crew)
Charles F. Hess Crew - 1 mission
Stuart E. Smith Crew - 1 mission
William J. Kelly Crew - 1 mission
Marion O. Hagan, Jr. Crew - 2 missions
Francis J. Touissant Crew - 2 missions
Benjamin H. Johnson Crew - 1 mission
Kenneth C. Wells Crew - 1 mission
John Myretetus Crew - 1 mission
Jack Atherton Crew - 1 mission
Carl G. Ritting Crew - 1 mission
Roger C. Gibson Crew - 25 missions (most missions in this a/c)
Bodo C. Konze Crew - 1 mission
Jay Osslander Crew - 1 mission
Paul J. Sullivan Crew - 1 mission
Charles H. Aiken Crew - 2 missions
Ralph S. Hayes Crew - 1 mission
Charles T. Maxwell Crew- 1 mission
Thomas K. Hill Crew - 1 mission
David F. Tompkins Crew - 1 mission
Louis J. Lawrence Crew - 1 mission
Julian A. Roadman Crew - 2 missions
Bert E. Hocking Crew - 1 mission
Andrew F. Bloetscher Crew- 2 missions
Roy H. Bonney Crew - 1 mission
Walter E. Cox Crew - 1 mission
Jack P. Comer Crew - 2 missions
Dale G. Jones Crew - 1 mission
Donald M. Schliemann Crew - 1 mission
Allen D. Aschenbach Crew - 6 missions
Walter W. Thorne Crew - 1 mission
Richard L. Steele Crew - 1 mission
Millard H. French Crew - 1 mission
Alfred R. Grimm Crew - 1 mission
James A. Nolan Crew - 9 missions
Max M. Smith Crew - 3 missons
William J. Mulyhill Crew - 1 mission
James J. Hazelton Crew - 2 missions
Ward A. Leap Crew - 1 mission
Verne E. Walker Crew - 1 mission
Eldon J. Cairns Crew - 1 mission
The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...
Military | Staff Sergeant | Airplane Mechanic | 401st Bomb Group
'I was a Airplane Mechanic on the B-17 "Hells Angels Out of Chute 13" with the 401st Bomb Group + 612th Squadron. We were really proud of it because I finished 118 missions without an abort. It was shot up on the last mission of the war in Europe, but...
Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. 35 x combat missions. ETD
Awards: DFC, AM (5OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (3 x Battle Stars).
Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot, Tail Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier, Navigator | 401st Bomb Group
Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
Military | Staff Sergeant | Togglier | 401st Bomb Group
Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
Shot down by flak and crashed at Gruenewald on 6/21/44 in B-17 #42-31496 Prisoner of War (POW)
Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
4 January 1944
The port area of Kiel, Germany and the railroad marshalling yards at Munster, Germany are the Primary targets of this Mission which is organised as two elements: one going to Kiel and the other to Munster. Roger A. Freeman begins to designate aircraft...
5 January 1944
This mission consists of five elements: The first element is a combined force of 131 B-17s are despatched by 1st Bomb Division: 92BG; 303BG; 305BG; 306BG; 379BG; 384BG; and 482BG to bomb the shipyards and industrial areas of Kiel, Germany. 119 are...
11 January 1944
Three aviation industry targets in Germany are bombed. The bomber force consists of 291 B-17s despatched from 1st Bomb Division in two elements, one element of 177 B-17s is despatched to Oschersleben, Germany as the primary target, the other 1BD...
29 January 1944
The primary target for this mission was the railroad marshalling yards and industrial areas of Frankfurt, Germany. A combined force of 863 heavy bombers were despatched in three elements to make the attack. The combined bomber gunner claims on enemy...
30 January 1944
This mission has the aviation industry at Brunswick, Germany as the primary target. The mission is composed of a combined force pf 777 heavy bomber aircraft despatched in three elements: 1st Bomb Division; 2nd Bomb Division and 3rd Bomb Division. The...
3 February 1944
The port area and Naval facilities at Wilhelmshaven, Germany was the primary target for this mission. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bomb Divisions all participated.
5 February 1944
German airfield in France are the targets for this mission. All three Bomb Divisions despatch aircraft. The combined bomber gunner's claims of all three Bomb Divisions were 5-0-5 (displayed with Chateauroux element of 1BD). Summary as follows:
11 February 1944
This mission is composed of two separate elements. 3rd Bomb Division stands down having sustained massive losses of 29 aircraft on the previous day.
20 February 1944
This mission is the opening salvo of the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive known officially as "Operation Argument" but remembered in 8th Air Force History as "BIG WEEK". The immediate strategic objective of this six-day operation is the degradation of...
21 February 1944
Day 2 of BIG WEEK is another maximum effort by 8th Air Force to bomb 6 airfields in Germany as primary targets: Diepholz, Gütersloh, Lippstadt, Werl, Achmer and Handorf. In addition the industrial areas of Brunswick city are included as a primary...
Military site : airfield
Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...
||Long Beach, CA
||26 October 1943
||Deenethorpe Airfield, UK
||1 January 1944
|First 401st BG Combat Mission
||4 January 1944
George F. Bingham Crew
|50th 401st BG Combat Mission
||27 August 1944
Robert Gibson Crew
|100th 401st BG Combat Mission
||4 April 1945
William J. Mulyhill Crew
|Final (107th) 401st BG Combat Mission
||17 April 1945
Eldon Cairns Crew