Original U.S. WWII B-17 Flying Fortress 535th Bomb Squadron A-2 Flight Jacket
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. The 535th bomb squadron was part of the 381st Bomb Group that flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Ridgewell, Essex England between June 1943 and April 1945. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing shipyards at Bremen, whilst under heavy attack, on 8 October 1943 and the second was awarded to the 1st Bomb Division as a whole for flying without fighter protection to bomb aircraft factories at Oschersleben on 11 January 1944.
535th Bomb Squadron established in late 1942 as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombardment unit, it was assigned to II Bomber Command for training. The squadron trained primarily in Texas and Colorado. It received deployment orders for the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in May 1943.
Deployed to England in April 1943, it was assigned to VIII Bomber Command. The squadron engaged in very long range bombardment of enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. It participated in Big Week attacks on German aircraft factories 20–25 February 1944 and often supported ground troops by attacking targets of interdiction when not engaged in strategic bombardment. It continued these attacks until the German capitulation in May 1945.
This excellent condition A-2 jacket features some wonderful features including:
- Large "running red devil" embroidered 535th Bombardment Squadron Insignia sewn to left chest.
- Painted 8th Air Force insignia on left shoulder.
- Large size 42.
- Original lieutenant leather shoulder bars.
- Functional TALON zipper.
- Original cuffs and waistband.
- Data label that reads:
DWG. NO. 30-1415
AIR FORCE , U.S. ARMY
AERO LEATHER CLO.CO
This is the war diary entry for October 8th, 1943 for the 535th Bombardment Squadron (they day they earned thier first Distinguished Unit Citation).
Thirteen officers, including the squadron commander, Major Ingenhutt, Capt Jukes, squadron operations officer and 11 EM of this squadron are missing in action after the group's 36th mission, an attack on Bremen.
This is the heaviest loss to the squadron since the Schweinfurt raid in August, and probably more serious in that the squadron loss contained a high percentage of veterans. The group as a whole lost seven ships, and crews of the 18 that went over the target. Of these the squadron lost three, the pilots being Cormany, Kemp and Manchester.
Bombing results were poor for the entire 1st Combat Bomb Wing. Participating crews called it tougher than the Schweinfurt mission, under continuous attack from all types of enemy aircraft, including Dornier bombers, for nearly 2 1/2 hours.
Major Ingenhutt led the group. Many of the crewmen feel that it was his heroism and self sacrifice that brought the outfit through. Although his #2 engine was burning and he might have ordered his crew to abandon ship, Major Ingenhutt continued to lead and hold formation coming off the bomb run. Not until the greater part of the fighter danger had passed did he leave the formation. He has been recommended for the Silver Star.
Lt Tom Sellers, co-pilot to Lt Minerich, has been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross for his courage and skill over the target. Lt Minerich was killed instantly when a 20mm shell exploded in his face. A second shell wounded Sellers in his left arm. His navigator and bombardier were both wounded. His engineer was unable to stand on his turret platform because of the slick layer of blood covering it. Sellers flew the ship home alone, holding perfect formation and successfully performing evasive action.
Sgt Miller, the engineer, handled the throttles at the landing. Sellers' DSC recommendation is accompanied by one for the DFC for Sgt Miller.
This incidentally offers a striking example of the devastation explosive power of a German 20mm shell, as well as the unpredictability of their effects. Lt Minerich's head was literally blown to bits, torn completely from the neck. Yet Sellers was wounded only moderately in the arm by a similar shell which exploded near his left arm. Men who have had the experience testify in all cases to the terrific concussion produced by such a relatively small shell.
Squadron gunnery claims dominated the 27-1-5 group total. We were credited with 13-0-3. Of this total, Lt Dowell's crew claimed 10 destroyed, Sgt John Thompson credited with four of these, possibly a Divisional gunnery record for one mission. Sgt John Channell stood second with three.
Pilots completing the mission were: Capt Dowell, Lts Hopp and Minerich (KIA).
MIA crews: 1st Lt William Cormany, Major William W. Ingenhutt, 1st Edwin D. Frost, 1st Lt Robert C. Black; T/Sgt Earl F. Miller, T/Sgt Robert R. Roeder, S/Sgts James J. O'Hara, Richard W. Smith, James J. Dwyer and 1st Lt Robert L. Weniger.
Capts Edwin Manchester, Eldon D. Jukes, 1st Lts Marvin L. Smith, Keith D. Moore; T/Sgts James J. O'Donnell, Lorenzo Darrington, S/Sgts Arthur L. Tucker, Anthony L. Budzic, Matthew Berk and Wade McCook.
1st Lts Leslie A. Kemp, 2nd Lts William C.Heim, Frank E. Tomlin, Thomas B. Nelson; T/Sgt Arthur F. Jennette, S/Sgts Walter L. Richards, Gilles E. Gentry, Raymond V. Duffy, James Stinsman and Edward F. Osborn.
More Squadron history can be found at this wonderful website: http://www.381st.org/Unit-History/War-Diaries/535th-BS-War-Diary
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