Original U.S. WWII B-17 Lulu Bell 711th Bomb Squadron Painted Type A-2 Flight Jacket

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Incredible hand painted Type A-2 flight jacket in attractive dark brown leather. The jacket has a single, functional front zipper by TALON with collar snaps, and a hook and eye fastener at the throat. The jacket was made by Poughkeepsie Leather Coat Co., and has a small size tag underneath the label (size 44). The exterior leather is still supple and exhibits minor wear with some noticeable scuffing and flaking along a few of the edge seams, and on the shoulders and sleeves. The waistband and cuffs exhibit almost no fraying and are likely period correct modern replacements. There is some wear to the leather at the back of the collar.

The jacket is features a large embroidered 711th Bomb Squadron unit patch on the left chest, and owner's painted owner's nickname: SKIPPY. The patch has faded slightly with age, but is otherwise in excellent condition. An embroidered felt 8th Air Force patch is present on the left shoulder, and a heavily flaked leather American flag patch on the right should. The reverse of the jacket is extensively embellished with a dark blue riband at the top with LuLu BeLL in yellow gothic letters, the 8th Air Force insignia flanked by flak magnet and 65 yellow bomb mission emblems underneath. The paint is in fine shape, slightly crazed and flaked along the riband, and worn through on the mission tally, but everything is still visible and legible.

The interior of the jacket has a lightly worn, intact brown lining with some darker stains, and a small right angle cut on the right side near the hem.

This jacket is named to William W. “Skippy” Lee. The 711th Bomber Squadron flew Boeing B-17s and was one of four squadrons in the 447th Bombardment Group (Heavy), and flew missions out of Rattlesden, England from late 1943 until the end of the War in 1945.

This is a spectacular hand-painted 8th Air Force A-2 jacket.

History of the 711th Bomb Squadron:
The squadron was stationed at RAF Rattlesden, England, from December 1943 to August 1945. It flew its first combat mission on 24 December 1943 against a V-1 flying bomb launch site near Saint-Omer in Northern France.

From December 1943 to May 1944, the squadron helped prepare for the invasion of the European continent by attacking submarine pens, naval installations, and cities in Germany; missile sites and ports in France; and airfields and marshaling yards in France, Belgium and Germany. The squadron conducted heavy bombardment missions against German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20 to 25 February 1944.

The unit supported Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 by bombing airfields and other targets. On D-Day the squadron bombed the beachhead area using pathfinder aircraft.

The squadron aided in Operation Cobra, the breakthrough at St. Lo, France, and the effort to take Brest, France, from July to September 1944. It bombed strategic targets from October to December 1944, concentrating on sources of oil production. It assaulted marshalling yards, railroad bridges and communication centers during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. In March 1945 the group bombed an airfield in support of Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine. The unit flew its last combat mission on 21 April 1945 against a marshalling yard at Ingolstadt, Germany.

On 2 November 1944, 2d Lieutenant Robert E. Femoyer, a navigator with the squadron, was flying a mission to Merseburg, Germany. His B-17 was damaged by flak and Lt. Femoyer was severely injured in his back and side. He refused morphine to relieve the pain of his injuries in order to keep his mind alert to navigate the plane out of the danger from heavily defended flak areas and then to a place of safety for his crew. Because he was too weak to climb back in his seat, he asked other crew members to prop him up so he could read his charts and instruments. For more than two hours he directed the navigation of his plane back to its home station with no further damage. Shortly after being removed from his plane, Lt. Femoyer died of his injuries.

The 711th redeployed to the United States during the summer 1945. The air echelon ferried their aircraft and personnel back to the United States, leaving on 29 and 30 June 1945. The squadron ground echelon, along with the 709th squadron sailed 3 August 1945 on the SS Benjamin R. Milam, from Liverpool. Most personnel were discharged at Camp Myles Standish after arrival at the port of Boston. A small cadre proceeded to Drew Field, Florida and the squadron inactivated on 7 November 1945.
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