322nd Bomb Group
A brief history of the 322nd Bomb Group.
On October 1st, 1942, Colonel R. Selway Jr assumed command of the 322nd Group when he joined them at Drane Field. The entire group, including both air and ground personnel, left Drane Field on November 14th 1942, headed for Camp Kilmer, New jersey, which was a staging area for movement overseas. Their supplies for the overseas move left Boston harbour bound for England. At this time the total airborne and ground personnel numbered 1,337.At the same time the ground personnel arrived, the 451st and 452nd squadrons were assigned to Rattlesden airfield, which was a satellite for Rougham Airfield, and was 18 miles from the wing headquarters. With the new year came news that the flying echelon was on its way. Also the group's 'coat of arms' and motto had been approved in a letter dated January 9th, a943. The motto was as follows: "Hecte Facieno Meminen Tiemo"; which translates as "I Fear None In Doing Right".
Col. Selway was replaced as Commanding Officer of the group on February 22nd by Lt. Col. Batjer, who in turn handed command to Lt. Col. Robert M. Stillman, from Pueblo, Colorado on March 17th 1943. The 322nd flew B-26B and B-26C Marauder aircraft, and were based at Rougham from 1st December 1942, until 12th June 1943, at which time they moved to Andrews Field, where they remained until 19th September 1944. This link has more information on the 332nd http://www.b26.com/page/322nd_bombardment_group.htm
The 322nd Bomb group had their own band, called the Skyliners. They were formed at the American Red Cross club on Rougham airfield. Their leader, Sgt. Frank Primack, had played in various bands in peacetime. The main vocalist for the band was Sgt. Allan Poyfair. The Skyliners became very well known for their music. It is said they played at Covent garden on various occasions, and they recorded three tracks on acetate on the 30th July 1944.There is one very sad note concerning the band. The drummer, Sgt. Paul Rotes, was killed in a B-26 Marauder crash at Bigods farm, near Great Dunmow. He was the tail gunner. One incident of many... After a mission, several B-26s returned to base with flak damage, including that of Major Gove C. Celio and crew.
On joining the landing pattern, only the right main and nose wheels would extend. Staff Sergeant C. T. Cook hung onto the bomb bay catwalk and worked on the leaking hydraulic system. He finally managed to patch it up enough to allow Captain Robert A Porter to lower the remaining wheel with a hand pump. In all, Sgt. Cook had been soaked in hydraulic oil for an hour and 20 minutes while the aircraft circled the field. His hard work was rewarded with the safe landing of the B-26, and the receipt of the Air Medal. 94th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
A Brief History of the 94th BG (H)
The 94th Bomb Group was activated on the 15th June 1942 at McDill Field, FL. Initial training at a number of US bases began on 29th June 1942 and lasted until the end of March 1943. The air echelon began movement overseas on 1st April 1943. The ground element left for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 17th April 1943 and sailed on the Queen Elizabeth on 5th May 1943, arriving in Greenock on 11th May 1943.
The Group was initially based at Bassingbourn from Mid-April 1943 to May 1943, when it moved to Earls Colne. It was decided that the recently built Rougham Airfield was more suited to B-17 operations and so swapped bases with the B-26's of 322 squadron, who move from Rougham to Earls Colne. The Group remained at Bury St Edmunds from June 1943, departing finally on 12th December 1945.
The Group was composed of 331st, 332nd, 333rd and 410th Bombardment Squadrons and was assigned to the 8th Air Force in April 1943. The Group was under the command of Col. John G Moore from its inception on 15th June 1942 to 22nd June 1943, when a new Commanding Officer was assigned - Col Frederick W Castle, of whom more below.
During its time in England, the 94th BG (H) mounted a total of 324 operational missions, the first on 13th May 1943 and the last on 21st April 1945. The missions comprised 8884 sorties and a total bomb tonnage of 18,924 tons was dropped. A total of 153 aircraft were listed Missing In Action (MIA).
The group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations for operations at Regensburg on 17th Aug 1943 and at Brunswick on 11th January 1944. The citation is documented further below on this page.
Following the end of the Second World War, the Group was scheduled for the occupational air forces in Germany but plans changed and the 94th remained in the UK during the latter part of 1945, flying "Nickle" Project missions, dropping leaflets over former occupied countries and to displaced persons in Germany.
The group was inactivated in December 1945 and allotted to the US Air Force Reserve. Later it was established as a light bomber group in 1949 and later as a carrier organisation flying C-119's.
Brigadier General Frederick W Castle
Every group had its own heroes, though they would certainly be the first to deny any such words. One radio operator expresses it like this "Remember as a radio operator I never copied radio signals while flying over the target flak . I did like everyone else on the plane just sat there tensed up. No bravery displayed, of course no panic either."
Just such a man was Col Castle. A natural leader of men - president of the Sperry Corporation, before the war. His motto was "Results count" and everything was secondary to that.
He had been promoted to Brigadier General and now led the 4th Bombardment Wing on a mission to bomb German troops at Arnhem on Christmas Eve, 1944. When his aircraft was struck, he ordered his crew to bail out and flew the aircraft away from American infantry on the ground, guiding the plane to an open field, where he spun and crashed, with the loss of his own life. For this, General Castle was awarded the Congressional Medla of Honor. the United States highest award for gallantry.
The Lighter side
Even heroes have a sense of humour and in the most terrifying of circumstances, strange and even funny things can happen. Take Lt Trimble for example:
On the 5th January 1944 Captain Wedding of the 331st squadron led the group on a raid to Bordeaux. Lt Ken Trimble was a bombardier with George Kacsuta's crew and Truman Ball the Navigator. On the way back over the Brest Peninsula they came under attack. Ball was firing to the left and Trimble to the right from the nose of the B17.
They both ran out of ammunition. Each hurriedly reloaded a new belt and soon discovered that they had both loaded the same belt at opposite ends. Ball turned around and broke the belt in half with his hands. Trimble went on to shoot down a FW 190 at short range. When the fighting had stopped they contemplated what Ball had done.
For the rest of the way home they tried without success to break another belt. They could only conclude that the heat of battle must produce some super human strength.
(Story courtesy of Pete Langdon, RTA member)
The names of Regensburg, Marienburg, Brunswick and many others will live down the centuries as great turning points and epic moments in the conduct of air warfare.
Just as every group had its heroes, so it had its famous aircraft, planes that would come home time after time after time, when all the odds were against them. So it was with the 94th. It was the custom for the crews to name these B-17´s and thay are generally better known by these names than by any other form of identification. "Frenesi", "Mission Mistress", "Yo is my ideal", and "Idiot's Delight" are all names which conjure up memories of the times and events that happened.
The most public form of recognition for the 94th BG came in the form of the two Distinguished Unit Citations awarded for operations in Regensburg and Brunswick.