Original U.S. WWII B-24 Brokan Dollah 759th Bomb Squadron Named A-2 Flight Jacket with Diary
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Aerial Gunner Master Sargent John (Jay) Walter Rowbarts from Jacksonville, Texas enlisted in the U.S Army on September 11th, 1943 and was assigned to the 759th Bombardment Squadron a an Aerial Gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator Th' Brokan Dollar and flew numerous bombing missions over Italy and Austria during WWII and was awarded the Air Medal for actions on April 23rd, 1945. He can be found on the 459th BG website at this link
We were also able to locate his draft registration card, a copy of which is included.
This A-2 jacket is one of the finest we have ever seen featuring multiple Italian made patches and very vibrant colorful paintings but what really sets this jacket apart is Jay Rowbarts personal wartime diary complete with mission records, wartime action, poetry, stories, dirty jokes, art, musings, stencils, photographs and much more. Reading it will transport you to the back of a B-24 liberator in the early hours on a winter morning of 1945, then to a Texas pasture, a date with his girlfriend and back again, it is as amusing as it is scary and encapsulates the late war struggle and need for humor as well as any work we've every encountered.
The front of this incredible jacket bears the owners name embossed onto a aerial gunner wings leather patch that reads: JAY ROWBARTS
Offered in overall very good condition with areas of wear to the original cuffs and waist band. Externally very good condition condition supple leather, with original lining and zipper (missing zip). To say this A-2 jacket is stunning is an understatement.
The diary is over 100 pages and has been partially transcribed as follows:
June 25th, 1920
______ ___ 19__
April 1st 1942
IN – June 16th 1843
OUT- “1st Street” - no. 20
Arrived at camp Nolter September 11. Moved to sheppard field Sept 24.
Finished basic on Nov 27 for the second time.
Started school 1-30-44
307 tech school squadron disbanded May and reorganized as 3704 arm air force base unit section P.
graduated from tech school June 7th
9th gunnery squadron
Home on 3 day pass July 22-25th
July 26th made 11 straight passes
home on 2 day pass August 5-8th
Moved to 2nd G.S.S August 13th
started school August 14th – SKU III
Graduated Sept 23rd Made Corporal – Back to the 9th
Delay en route October 3-19 to Lincoln assigned to 2nd Air force squadron “C”- Lincoln A.A.B – to puuebla
Assigned to B-24M #44-50476 flew to Gremir Field, N. Hemp on Feb 12 went to Gardner Bay N founded on February 18th
Gioria, Italy March 1st 1945 Landed in Forggio
Assigned 759 Bombardment Squadron, 459 Bomb group March 2
May 2 made sergeant – VE DAY ITALY
Made Staff Sargent May 29th
Left 759 June 23 for Gioria – assigned to crew 1043- Left Gioria July 6th for marrabach
Left for darker July 7th Crossed the drink to forteza July 9th
on to Georgetown BR July 10th for Puerto Rico
July 11th TO THE STATES
July 12th Hunter Field Savannah GA– To Charleston S.C
To Fort Sam July 17th – Home the 18th for 30 days
Back to Ft Sam August 20th to Siroux Falls
Emergency Furlough Sept 7-22
Some read this page twice:
Common, Ordinary, Everyday SUPERHUMAN Texan!
Back to HELL and DAMNATION THE PLANE WILL CARRY US THERE
May your mother come out from under the porch and bite you!!
The egg said to the chicken- “now that you've laid me, do you still love me?”
She slipped out of bed, slipped into her robe, pulled up the shades, took the cover off the parrots cafe, turned on the stove put the coffee on the pot and then the phone rang –
A mans voice said “Just got in, sweetheart. I'll be right up. Get ready for me”
She replaced the receiver put the coffee pot back, turned off the stove, put the cover back over the parrots cafe, pulled down the shades, slipped out of her robe and slid into bed.
The parrot was heard to say, “Kee- Rist! My what a short day that was!”
“A Texan's Version Of Texas – B.H. “
Texas occupies all of the continent of North America except a small part set aside for the United States, Canada and Mexico. Texas owns the north half of the Rio Grande, one of the few rivers in the world with one wet bank and the other dry. Texas is founded on the north by 25 or 30 states, on the east by all the oceans except the Pacific, on the south by the Gulf of Mexico and South America and on the west by the Pacific and the rest of the world. Underneath Texas, they have, at this writing, been down only 12,000 feet or so for oil, and up in the air. Texas has Guadalupe Peak, 9,500 feet above sea level, the highest hill in the U.S east of the Rockies.........
You're fast asleep, there's not a sound until the C.Q comes around. He whispers softly, then kicks the sack and reveals to you this amazing fact. There rains, there's mud, there snow and sleet but nevertheless, you've briefing to meet. Its 4 o'clock, you brief at 5 – Better hurry, while you're still alive. You look around, you hate to go, but the 33 bucks is a lot of dough, so up you rise to meet the morn. And on your face is a look of scorn. You curse the day you saw that sign, the one that cluttered up your mind. It said among other things. That you too could wear the silver wings.
What a fool to believe that stuff – we know now this combat's rough. But that's all past, and there's work to do; Don't forget, were those privileged few – The ones who fly the big gas birds. And drop over bombs, like so many “curds”.........
8:30 – fletchall – milkroom
March 25 – Prague Erigoing Norbe
8:25 – Fisks
March 31 – ling (Austria)
Apr 1 – zeltwed railroad yards – 521
6:45 ammon – joyridfe – D-7
Apr 6 – Verona, Italy ordnance depot
7:20 ammon multi floor
Apr 11 – Ponte Gardona Rail bridge
7:00 ammon Scent accurate B7-5-2
Apr 15 - Bologna (Front Line) 559-
Apr 17 – Bologna – troops concentration 1448 – 18- 300s
accurate – C -5
Apr 20 - Ponte Gardena railroad bridge -
(Brenner Pass) 392
Muelta Flak accurate b- 6 – 6- 1000
Apr 21 Badia Highway bridge (NO SORTIE)
39 – 5:15 ammon – C- 7 -6 – 1000
Apr 23 – Padua Highway bridge, 822 -
7:00 ammon b-4- 10- 500 scant inaccurate flex
Apr 24 Bossano Highway bridge – 40
6:40 ammon c- 6 – 3- 2000 scant
Apr 26- Barisies motor depot – 759 -
6:10 ammon b-2 – 12- 500 no flak -
feathered #3 over the target
- Buzz jobs of corpal etc, the senate – smoke bombs to the bulldog, the nights at “mothers” in topeka.
- combat – practice missions – the buzz pic of the p-38 field (the poor guy in the water) V- EDAY V-E+1
“People I've met”
Crew of “the Broken Dollah”
P: Lt Paul G. Ammon 0-834713 - Kentucky
CP: Lt James N. Taylor 0-930251 - Chicago
B: Lt William M. Donne 0-785095 – Chicago
N: F/O Herbert S. Dolgoff T- 1316 – Omaha
R.O: SGT. Natale E. Lynch. Jr. - 33803382 – Philly
AG: SGT. Joseph P. OTT – 33597933 – Philly
Armour – Gunner
N.G: SGT. Frank R. Spiers – 33936169 – Pittsburgh
T.G: CPL. (P.F.C) Melvin J. Daugherty – 35837012 – FT. Wayne
S.G: SGT. Henry J. Yost – 17036913 – Licoln
“Wings Of Silver”
Once there was a maiden who lived in Baltimore. She waited for her gunner who was off to fight the war. He met her in a bar room and offered her a drink. She, of course, before she stopped to think. Wearing heated suits and parachutes and wings of silver too he will study Germany like his Daddy used to do. He waited for a street car, he whistled for back, said darling, I've no place to stay so can't I share your sack? Oh my dearest darling, yo know it's not right, but if you promise to behave Ill let you stay the night. Wearing flak suits and fur lined boots and wings of silver, too, hell down the Jerries like his daddy used to. So they went to bed and it being very cold, they cuddled close together, then he got very bold. The remainder of this little verse is very plain, you see- never to be a gunner home – whoever he may be. Wearing A-2 jackets and coveralls and wings of silver to, he will fly his mission like his daddy used to do. They woke up in the morning, he whispered in her ear, soon I'll have to leave you, my time is drawing near. But ill come back my darling, and never feel your blue. Before the baby's born, dear, Ill come back to you. Wearing headset and microphone and wings of silver too, he will chase the static like his daddy used to do. Many mornings later, a letter she received. The moment that she read it she knew she'd been deceived. It said, “if you have a daughter, rock her on your knee. If you have a son sign him up for the gunnery” Wearing helmets and goggles and wings of silver too, he will fly a Liberator like his daddy used to do. The moral of my story is plain as you can see, never trust a gunner an inch above your knee. He will make you happy, he will make you gay. But you will never see him when he draws hi flying pay. Singing roger, Wilko, and hubba hubba, too he will buss the town like his daddy used to do.
The 759th Bombardment Squadron in World War II:
The squadron was first activated on 1 July 1943 at Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico as the 759th Bombardment Squadron, one of the four original squadrons of the 459th Bombardment Group. The squadron trained with Consolidated B-24 Liberators under Second Air Force Until October, when it moved to Westover Field, Massachusetts The squadron flew long-range convoy escort missions over area between the Newfoundland Banks and Long Island Sound in November and December 1943 while Giulia Airfield, its station in Italy, was being constructed. In January 1944, the squadron began its overseas movement.
The squadron arrived in Italy in February 1944 and began flying combat missions in March. The squadron engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing railroad marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives. In April 1944, the 459th Group led the 304th Bombardment Wing in an attack on an airfield and aircraft factory at Bad Voslau, Austria through heavy flak and fighter attacks. The squadron was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for this action.
In addition to strategic missions, the squadron also carried out support and interdiction operations. In March 1944, the squadron attacked railroads used to supply enemy forces surrounding the Anzio beachhead. In August, it struck bridges, harbors, and troop concentrations to aid Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France. It also hit communications lines and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army and American Fifth Army in northern Italy.
The squadron returned to the United States in August 1945, being programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron. A cadre reformed at Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota in the middle of the month. The Japanese surrender in August led to the inactivation of unit on 28 August.
The Fifteenth Air Force (15th AF) was established on 1 November 1943 in Tunis, Tunisia as part of the United States Army Air Forces in the World War II Mediterranean Theater of Operations as a strategic air force and commenced combat operations the day after it was formed. The first commander was General Jimmy Doolittle.
15th AF resulted from a reorganization of Doolittle's Twelfth Air Force into the 15th with Doolittle in command, and the Ninth Air Force (9th AF) with Lewis H. Brereton in command. The new air force was activated with a strength of ninety B-24 Liberators and 210 B-17 Flying Fortresses, inherited from the Twelfth Air Force and Ninth Air Force. In December, new groups, most of which were equipped with B-24s soon started arriving from the United States. Thirteen new groups were added.
It was hoped that the 15th AF stationed in the Mediterranean would be able to operate when the Eighth Air Force (8th AF) in England was socked in by bad English weather. The 9th AF would later move to England to serve as a tactical unit to take part in the invasion of Europe. Once bases around Foggia in Italy became available, the 15th was able to reach targets in southern France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans, some of which were difficult to reach from England.
The 15th Air Force began its operations on 2 November 1943, attacking the Messerschmitt factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. On 1 December 1943, the Headquarters was moved to Bari Airfield, Italy.
On 4 January 1944, Fifteenth, along with Twelfth Air Force were organized into Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, along with the Royal Air Force 205 Group. MAAF was the southern component of U.S. Strategic Air Forces, Europe, the overall USAAF command and control organization in Europe.
The first major operation carried out by Fifteenth Air Force was bombing missions in support of the Anzio Landings in Italy, Operation Shingle beginning on 22 January 1944. Strikes on German and fascist Italian targets were carried out and caused widespread damage to Axis forces.
"Big Week" was the name of an intense Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces series of attacks on Germany in a series of co-ordinated raids on the German aircraft industry. The plan, code-named "Operation Argument", was to use both American strategic air forces in Europe, with support by the Royal Air Force with night bombing raids to destroy or seriously cripple the German ability to produce combat aircraft.
The Americans were facing strong Luftwaffe fighter opposition to their daylight bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe, and it was planned to initiate Operation Argument at the earliest possible date.
On 22 February 1944, Fifteenth Air Force made its first attack on Germany, with an attack on Regensburg. The Fifteenth dispatched a force of 183 bombers to the Oberstraubing Messerschmidt assembly plant. Some 118 bombed with good results but fourteen were shot down. The next day the 15th sent 102 bombers to the Steyr ball-bearing works in Austria where they destroyed twenty percent of the plant. On 24 February, over 180 Liberators inflicted considerable damage to the Messerschmitt Bf 110 assembly plant at Gotha, losing 28 aircraft. On 25 February 114 B-17s and B-24s were dispatched to Steyr again, but the force became separated and the Liberators bombed the Fiume oil refinery instead. Seventeen bombers were lost.
Despite these losses, it was believed that the USSTAF had dealt the German aircraft industry a severe blow.
Oil Industry Targets
In April, General Eisenhower ordered the USSTAF to attack German fuel production centers by striking both the oil refineries and the factories producing synthetic fuels. The 15th started the offensive on 5 April when it dispatched 235 B-17s and B-24s from Italy to transportation targets in the vicinity of the Ploiești oilfields in Romania. The refineries were attacked again on 15 and 24 April, inflicting additional damage.
Attacks on oil targets had assumed top priority by October and vast fleets of heavy bombers, escorted by P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fighters escorted missions to attack refineries in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The P-51 escorts were able to establish an environment of air superiority, enabling the bombers to roam widely across southern and eastern Europe, attacking targets at Brux in Czechoslovakia, Budapest, Komárom, Győr and Pétfürdő in Hungary, Belgrade and other cities in Yugoslavia and Trieste in north-eastern Italy.
By June 1944, the 15th Air Force was bombing railway networks in south-east Europe in support of Soviet military operations in Romania. Throughout the summer of 1944, Austrian aircraft manufacturing centers at Wiener Neustadt were bombed and oil producing centers were attacked. On 2 June, the 15th Air Force flew its first "shuttle" mission when 130 B-17s and P-51 escorts landed in Russian controlled territory after a raid in Hungary. Two more shuttle missions followed.
In July, the 15th began attacking targets in Southern France in preparation for Operation Anvil, the invasion of Southern France. Marseilles, Lyon, Grenoble and Toulon were all attacked by B-24s and B-17s.
The end of the Third Reich
An historic 15th Air Force operation mission occurred on 24 March 1945 when 666 bombers struck Berlin, Munich, and other German targets as well as Czechoslovakia. The Berlin force was attacked by Me 262 jets that inflicted losses (ten bombers and five fighters) while the Mustangs claimed eight jets downed. Despite their speed, the German jets were too few and produced too late to stop the Allied aerial armadas from simply overwhelming the Luftwaffe and leveling their targets.
The last major effort came on 25 April when 467 bombers struck rail targets in Austria, severing communications into Czechoslovakia. The 15th's final bombing mission was flown 1 May when 27 B-17s attacked Salzburg rail targets. With the German surrender in Italy, 15th Air Force aircraft began dropping supplies over Yugoslavia and evacuating Allied prisoners of war.
A total of around 2,110 bombers were lost on operations by its fifteen B-24 and six B-17 bombardment groups, while its seven fighter groups claimed a total of 1,836 enemy aircraft destroyed. The Fifteenth was inactivated in Italy 15 September 1945.
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