Monday, November 21, 2011

The Flying 8 Balls - 44th Bomb Group

On Veterans' Day, I posted about the World War II service of my Dad and his two brothers.  It made me wonder what I really knew about his service.  I have the following items in my possession:
  • His Notice of Induction dated October 5, 1942.
  • His Diploma from the Air Forces Technical School dated January 23, 1943.  He completed training as an "Aircraft Armorer."
  • A copy of a Christmas Card from the 44th Bombardment Group cryptically sent from "Somewhere in England."
  • A few photos of him on the base, including one with his brother, Bob.
If you asked my Dad what he did during the war, he would say that he "loaded bombs on planes."  I called my brother Tim, our family's oral historian, to see what he recalled.  Tim said that Dad would always used to say that a lot of guys who belonged to organizations such as the V.F.W. wanted to "relive" the war.  He just wanted to move on from it. So we didn't know much.

With the few clues I had, I found out that the internet has far more information than what I was able to find a few years ago.  For one thing, there is a website devoted to the 44th Bomb Group.  It has a wealth of information including video clips, newsletters, photos and biographies.  The site includes a history of the unit with this important information:

On July 25,1942 the 44th was assigned to Will Rogers Field, OK in preparation for deployment to an overseas theatre of operations. At this time the 44th was manned by 77 officers and 900 enlisted men. The group consisted of four squadrons, Headquarters and headquarters squadron (506th), the 66th squadron, the 67th squadron and the 68th squadron. The stay at Will Rogers field was brief.

On August 25, 1942 the ground echelon left Will Rogers Field, by troop train, for Ft. Dix, NJ to prepare for overseas shipment. On September 4, 1942 the 44th ground echelon, consisting of 62 officers and 819 enlisted men boarded HMS Queen Mary for transport to Greenock, Scotland and duty in the United Kingdom for "the duration" of World War II. They disembarked on September 11. 1942.

Initially the ground echelon was housed at the British air base of Cheddington, Bucks.  On October 10 they moved to Shipdham, Norfolk.  This new "lend-lease" base, Officially AAF Station 115, was to be the home of the 44th until the end of the war in Europe.

You can even view a video clip which includes a segment with the ground support team attaching bombs to one of the B-24s, an interesting bomber that was able to carry heavier bombs than the more popular B-17. (Click on the clip labeled "Original Footage" and watch the first few minutes).

I was able to find a job description for an "Aircraft Armorer."


The more I read the more I realized what a critical role this group played in the war in Europe. You can read a summary of their major accomplishments here.  The link contains exerpts from a book that was written about the 44th Bomb Group.

I've already made contact with a woman whose father was a pilot with this group who was killed nine days before her birth.  The successes this group experienced did not come without cost.  Many planes, pilots and crew were lost following their many missions.  My new contact told me that I may be able to get specific information about Dad's service through the National Archives and/or members of this group.  I'm hooked -- so stay tuned.

Photo Credit:


  1. We are so blessed to be researching with such rich resources becoming available. This is marvelous.

  2. Kathy
    This gives me chills. What awesome and interesting info about your Dad's military servic.e

    Technology sure changes the way we process information today. It gives us a much clearer picture.

    Thanks for sharing

  3. Submitted by email from my brother, Tom:
    Kath, I also know that dad told me that when he was assigned to his group, and when uncle Bob was assigned to his group, they said “perfect, a couple of gunners” Dad said that he knew his and Bob’s size would keep them safe from that assignment because weight was important. Sure enough, they were each assigned to other duties. Dad said that the life expectancy for gunners was short.

  4. Hi Kathy,
    So great that you found so much information from the 44th Bomb Group's website. About 2 years ago I found the website for the 2nd Bomb Group of which my uncle was a navigator. We never knew where he was stationed -- only Italy. Now I know it was Amendola -- and I visited there in 2009. What a find the site was. I discovered every mission he flew on, which I could then look up in a book the site had posted online. Every crew member was listed as well. I have about 300 letters between my uncle and his family and friends. Well, you know my family -- packrats forever! Oh, BTW, I like the new format. I started to use it, then had to go back to the old to fix my comments problem. Will try this format again.

  5. Kathy, Have you ever tried to get your fathers military records? Many people don't know that to get around the lost records from the fire to ask for the health records. The VA's records were kept seperate and can be quite extensive.


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