Original U.S. WWII D-Day Mission A-20 Havoc 641st Bomb Squadron Becky Named A-2 Flight Jacket

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Original Item: Only One Available. Sergeant Lawrence Larry E. Rowland, Army serial number 37669252, was born in 1923 and resided in Davis County, Iowa. He enlisted on April 21st, 1943. He was a crew member on the Douglas A-20 Havoc BECKY and flew an astonishing 53 missions between June 1944 and May 1945. He flew on June 6th, 1944 in support of the D-Day invasion as a member of the 9th Air Force, 409th Bomb Group, 641st Bomb Squadron who were stationed at Little Walden Airfield located north west of London.

Little Walden was built as a Class A airfield suitable for American heavy bombers. The 409th Bomb Group, as part of the Ninth Air Force, was stationed at the base between March and September 1944, flying A-20 Havocs.

The 641st Bombardment Squadron was activated in June 1943 at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma as one of the four original squadrons of the 409th Bombardment Group. The squadron trained under Third Air Force in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana with A-20 Havoc light bombardment aircraft.

The squadron deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in March 1944, where it became part of IX Bomber Command of Ninth Air Force.

The 641st initially flew sweeps over Occupied France from its base in England, attacking coastal defenses, V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket sites, airfields, and other targets in France in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. After D-Day, the squadron supported ground forces during the Battle of Normandy by hitting gun batteries, rail lines, bridges, communications, and other objectives. During July 1944, it aided the Allied offensive at Caen and the breakthrough at Saint-Lô with attacks on enemy troops, flak positions, fortified villages, and supply dumps.

The squadron moved to Advanced Landing Grounds in France in September 1944, providing Third Army with close air support in its advance toward Germany through November.

In December, the squadron converted to Douglas A-26 Invaders. It then participated in the Battle of the Bulge by attacking lines of communications and logistics. The squadron continued combat operations until May, flying its last combat mission against an ammunition dump in Czechoslovakia on 3 May.

The unit returned to the United States and initially was assigned to Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina where it prepared to deploy to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) for operations against the Japanese Home Islands. The deployment to the Pacific Theater was cancelled with the Surrender of Japan in August. The 641st was inactivated at Westover Field, Massachusetts in early November 1945.

Research provided by the book The History of the 409th Bomb Group (L) page 157 shows that 21 new members joined the group on June 1st 1944 among the men listed is Sgt. Lawrence E Rowland. Furthermore, on page 164 (September 1944) Sgt. Lawrence E Rowland is recorded as receiving his First Oak Leaf Cluster award. The narrative in these pages for each month is fascinating, below is the narrative from June 1944 the reads:

We started the month of June with 45 missions behind us. During the month, we added 27 more to give us a total of 72 missions for the first ten weeks of our operations.
By far the biggest event of the month was D-Day, 6 June 1944. The morning of the sixth we were notified that the landings on the Normandy Peninsula had begun and that our first job in direct support of the ground troops was to knock out a road junction at Valogne. Our targets since D-Day have generally been planned to aid the ground troops by cutting the enemy's supplies of both men and material.. During the month we struck at road junctions, marshaling yards, ammunition and fuel dumps. Occasionally we hit at the old faithful Noballtargets. We also bombed a few enemy strong points of resistance as well as gun emplacements.
During the month, we flew a total of 268 sorties and turned in 790 hours and 30 minutes combat flying time. On top of the combat time, 245 hours and 35 minutes of training time was logged. We didn't stand short in that department either.
On June 11th, our Squadron suffered its greatest mishap. Shortly after take-off on our 55th mission, Ll. Thomas A. Beckett's plane and Ll. Joseph R. Armistead's plane collided in mid-air. Ll. Armistead’s plane headed straight for the ground out of control. He, together with his crewmen SISgt. Elbert H. Holiday and Sgl. John R. Donnelly, were killed. Meanwhile SISgl. Arlin D. Pendleton, of Lt. Beckett’s crew, bailed out of his plane too close to the ground and was also killed. Lt. Beckett stayed with his plane and although it was badly damaged and had a full bomb load, he managed, by superior skill, excellent judgment, and a cool head, to make a successful crash landing. Lt. Beckett and his other gunner, SISgt. Cecil L. Edgmon, were both seriously injured. SISgt Edgmon was awarded the Soldier's Medal for service over and beyond the call of duty in aiding Lt. Beckett away from the plane.
Our C. 0., Major Leo Hawel, Jr., was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received the previous month. Other Purple Heart awards wee awarded to Lt's Thomas A. Beckett, John D. Foote, SISgt's Robert L. Lynch, Reynold F. Rigali, Jr., Cecil L. Edgmon, Gordon R. Corbett and Sgl. Jerry F. Vaverka.
Thirteen Air Medals, 5 First Oak Leaf Clusters, 10 Second Oak Leaf Clusters, 21 Third Oak Leaf Clusters, 34 Fourth Oak Leaf Clusters, 17 Silver Oak Leaf Clusters and 6 Sixth Oak Leaf Clusters were awarded to Officers and Enlisted Men of our squadron. During the month, we were reinforced by five (5) crews and two (2) bombardiers.
Our first 10 weeks of operations have been plenty rough. Every man in our squadron worked long and hard. Maintenance of planes has been excellent. We are justifiably proud of our records and we are confident that we will not only keep it up, but improve. The long awaited landing brought the end almost in sight. We may be home for Christmas yet.

Narrative from September 1944:

The month of September began much the same as any other month with a smooth running training and operational program. During this month, we added another 12 combat missions to our credit to bring the total up to 126 combat missions.
During the month, the Group and squadron was moved to a new station at Bretigny, Seine Oise,France. We were alerted on the 9th and the Advanced echelon departed Station 165 on 12 September 1944. The Air echelon departed on the 18th, while the rear echelon, with the exception of 3 officers and 25 enlisted men who were left behind to move the motor convoy across, was flown to the new base in C47' s. The rear motor convoy departed Station 165 on the 26th. By September 30, 1944, the entire squadron had arrived at the new base in France and were again ready for operations against the enemy.
We flew our first mission against Germany proper from Station 165, England. The target was in the Metz area and although we were unsuccessful on the 12th, the operations were successfully completed on the 13th against the same target.
Our first mission into Germany from Station A-48, Bretigny, France took off on the 28th. During the month, we flew 12 missions against the enemy. We compiled I 13 aircraft sorties, making a total of 357 sorties. Total training time for this month was 210:55 hours, most of which was formation flying and pilot-bombardier training.

This A-2 jacket features some wonderful features including:

• Painted art on the reverse featuring the A-20 Havoc’s name Becky along with 51 yellow bombs (indicating successful missions flown) and 2 red bombs which signify a bombing mission flown on D-Day and the first mission flown for target in Germany.
• Front of jacket has a painted script Larry and a leather embossed named tag the read L.E. ROWLAND.
• The jacket is a size 36 and still retains the original nomenclature tag from BRONCO MFG. New York, N.Y.
• Offered in good condition, supple leather with original lining, original waistband, and an original functional TALON zipper. Leather shows wear from age and use and the cuffs are no longer present.

This is a jacket with a truly incredible history. Finding a documented D-Day bombing mission crew member A2 jacket is extremely difficult, but we’ve done it, and now it needs a good home to be the centerpiece of any USAAF WWII collection.

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