Original U.S. WWII B-24 Liberator 484th Bombardment Group Named Sleepy Time Gal A-2 Flight Jacket with Italian Theatre Patches
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. 1st Lieutenant David Rothberg was a navigator aboard the B-17G "Sleepy Time Gal" 2-98007. He was assigned to the 826th Squadron, 484th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force during WWII. He flew missions on crew piloted by Robert J Lovett and Robert E. Myers, respectively. Sleepy Time Gal was shot down in the Spring of 1945 with a different crew.
Records indicate that Lt. Rothberg was born on 20 Mar 1922 in Planifield, New Jersey, he enlisted on 24 Mar 1943 and died on 10 Oct 1982. During WWII he was primarily stationed at Torretta Airfield, Italy from Apr 1944 to the end of the war. His time in Italy explains the custom made beautiful leather patches found on this A-2 jacket.
The 484th Bombardment Group was a B-24 group that fought with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy from April 1944 to April 1945, mainly taking part in the strategic bombing offensive.
The group was formed in the United States in September 1943 and moved to Italy in March-April 1944. It entered combat as a standard bombing unit in April 1944. In the following month it was designated as a pathfinder group, but it never performed that role and instead continued to operate as a bomber group. The pathfinder designation went in November 1944.
The group was awarded two distinguished unit citations for strategic bombing missions. The first came on 13 June 1944. The group's target was railway marshalling yards at Munich, but a German smoke screen prevented them from hitting that target. Under heavy attack from German fighters the group diverted to an alternative target and instead hit marshaling yards at Innsbruck. The second DUC was awarded for an attack on underground oil storage facilities at Vienna on 21 August 1944.
The group also fly a number of tactical missions. During the advance on Rome the group was one of ten B-24 groups that took part in a 17 May 1944 attack on the harbours at Piombion, San Stefano and Porto Ferraio on Elba as part of the campaign to prevent supplies from reaching the German front line. In September 1944 it was used to ferry fuel to the Allied troops fighting in the south of France. In 1945 it supported the Allied advance in the Po Valley, the final offensive of the war in Italy.
A friend of Rothberg wrote an account in the Torretta Flyer, a veterans' circular for members of the bombardment groups that were stationed at Torretta Air Field. It reads as follows:
Our mission on October 4th  was over Munich, Germany. Whenever Munich was mentioned in the briefing room, moaning was sure to follow since it was considered a tough target. We were to hit a large railroad marshaling yard. By damaging the rail yard, we hoped to prevent supplies from reaching their troops on the front lines. Our pilot was Captain Prien, Colonel Hawes was the commanding copilot. Captain Murphy was the bombardier and yours truly was the Radar Operator. The weather was clear and the bombing by Captain Murphy was superior. However, the barrage of flak wreaked havoc with our formation. The twenty six bombers assigned to this mission were over the target at 11:55 AM at an altitude of 23,500 feet. 70% of the bombs were dropped within the target area. We lost seven planes from our group, two from my squadron. A total of 70 officers and enlisted men were reported missing in action from the downed planes. The flak over the target was intense, like all hell broke loose. As a result, sixteen of the remaining nineteen planes received damage. A few of the damaged bombers landed near Foggia. The plane of Lieutenants Chalmers, Waggoner, and Rothberg was severely hit but they managed to limp as far as Yugoslavia. I had no idea how badly we were hit until we landed. The holes we found in our airplane! God was with me again so I could celebrate my 26th birthday the next day. This group received the Distinguished Unit Citation for the Munich mission.
The exterior of the jacket bears with the owners name:
The jacket features some exceptional features including:
- Painted nose art of the B24 "Sleepy Time Gal" which is a red spike healed blond bombshell in nighttime lingerie.
- Italian made painted leather embossed 484th Bombardment Group (H) patch of a buzzard atop a .50 caliber machine gun with a bomb in the background stitched to left breast.
- Italian made painted leather embossed American flag patch on right shoulder.
- Ultra RARE Italian made painted leather embossed 15th Air Force insignia on left shoulder. This is the roman numeral style XV with pilot wings above, this is a rarest of all insignias for the 15th AF.
- Original lieutenant bars on each shoulder
The tag inside this size 38 jacket has information regarding the maker and contract:
A.C.No. W33-038 AC-1761-P
AIR FORCE U.S. ARMY
BRONCO MFG. CO.
NEW YORK, N.Y.
Offered in very good condition with some areas of wear by the shoulders, but overall solid, supple and with original lining, waistband and cuffs, this is not one to miss.
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