Original U.S. WWII B-17 Bomber Well, Ah Do Declare! Named A-2 Flight Jacket (Size 42)
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is an exceptional A2 leather flight jacket issued to a JOE MATTHEWS of the crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress Well, Ah Do Declare!. It is very good condition in a large size 42 chest. There is some wear at the shoulders and fraying with minor holes in cotton waist band and cuffs. Has a complete fully working zipper.
The best aspect of this incredible jacket is the hand painted Well, Ah Do Declare! with pin up blond on the back of the jacket along with 25 bombs and three swass. The bombs signify the number of successful bombing runs made by the crew. Once they reached 25 they were sent back the USA and their combat service was complete. The swass represent German planes shot down by this B-17.
The front of the jacket bears a leather name tag that reads JOE MATHEWS and a wonderful hand painted squadron patch of an Indian and cave man riding on a falling bomb.
Research reveals that Technical sergeant Joseph Mathews was waist gunner aboard Well, Ah Do Declare!’ and a member of the 306th Bomb Group, 369th Bomb Squadron. His captain was Harlan L. Laughlin. They were stationed at Thurleigh, England, in September 1942. A copy of the crew photo showing Joe Mathews is included with this jacket.
The jacket still bears the original data label that reads:
ORDER NoW 535 A. C. 2779
J.A. DUBOW MFG. CO.
AIR FORCE U.S. ARMY
Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat, Oct 1942-Apr 1945, they flew 342 missions of 9,614 sorties from that station dropping 22,575 tons of bombs. The Group lost 171 aircraft MIA. Operations primarily against strategic targets, striking locomotive works at Lille, railroad yards at Rouen, submarine pens at Bordeaux, shipbuilding yards at Vegesack, ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt, oil plants at Merseburg, marshalling yards at Stuttgart, a foundry at Hannover, a chemical plant at Ludwigshafen, aircraft factories at Leipzig, and other objectives on the Continent. Took part in the first penetration into Germany by heavy bombers of Eighth AF on 27 Jan 1943 by attacking U-boat yards at Wilhelmshaven. Without fighter escort and in the face of powerful opposition, the 306th completed an assault against aircraft factories in central Germany on 11 Jan 1944, being awarded a DUC for the mission. Received another DUC for action during Big Week, the intensive campaign against the German aircraft industry, 2-25 Feb 1944: although hazardous weather forced supporting elements to abandon the mission, the group effectively bombarded an aircraft assembly plant at Bernberg on 22 Feb. Often supported ground forces and attacked interdictory targets in addition to its strategic operations. Helped to prepare for the invasion of Normandy by striking airfields and marshalling yards in France, Belgium, and Germany; backed the assault on 6 Jun 1944 by raiding railroad bridges and coastal guns. Assisted ground forces during the St Lo breakthrough in Jul. Covered the airborne invasion of Holland in Sep. Helped stop the advance of German armies in the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, by attacking airfields and marshalling yards. Bombed enemy positions in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945. Remained in the theater after V-E Day as part of United States Air Forces in Europe, and engaged in special photographic mapping duty in western Europe and North Africa. Inactivated in Germany on 25 Dec 1946.
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