Original U.S. WWII P-38 Lightning Mil-o-Mine DFC Named A-2 Flight Jacket
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is an exceptional A2 leather flight jacket issued to Lieutenant Roy Lewis who was a Co-Pilot in the 563rd Bomb Squadron, 388th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force between April and November 1944. Later he became a pilot with the 33rd Fighter Group, 8th Air Force and flew P-38 Lightnings.
Lewis officially joined the 563rd Bomb Squadron on 5 April 1944. His first combat mission was on 19 April. Except for a couple of his final combat missions in November 1944, Lewis flew as a co-pilot on all of his missions. The official Individual Flight Record for Lewis does not distinguish which of his flights were combat, but based on the flying times denoted in the flight records cross-referenced with the mission information available in the official history of the 388th Bomb Group (the parent unit of the 388th Bomb Squadron), we have been able to identify 31 combat missions that Lewis most likely flew. Lewis did not fly combat missions during August and September 1944. It was common to give experienced crews rest this late in the war and Lewis may have also undergone additional training during this time. He resumed flying combat in October. Please note that for a few combat missions, the 388th flew multiple missions within a 24-hour period and therefore cannot identify which specific missions Lewis flew. Based on his flight logs he did fly P-38's at the very end of the War or after the war.
This grouping also includes his engraved Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for 30 missions flown in the ETO as well as an original period photograph which shows him wearing this very jacket (or one nearly identical)! Additionally Lt. Lewis remained in the service for occupation duty in Germany during the 1950s, so this set also includes a photograph and some of his medals and ribbons from that time.
His A-2 features a very large and well-rendered P-38 Lightning on the reverse, with yellow and red blocked letter inscription "Mil-o-mine", with "BINGHAMTON, N.Y. U.S.A." below. Obverse has leather name tag "ROY LEWIS" over silver painted pilot wings with silver calligraphic inscription "Roy" below. This is rendered in the space that clearly was once covered by a large round unit insignia that was removed in favor of the new design. Group includes two original photos dated "7/44" which shows Lt. Lewis with fellow pilot "Bob". In one, we can see that Lt. Lewis is wearing his jacket with "Mil-o-mine" and the P-38 artwork on the reverse. This artwork is very similar but not an exact match to the surviving jacket - if you look closely at the tail of the P-38 in each you can see that this my not be the same A-2. We believe that it is safe to assume that Lt. Lewis owned several A-2's that were clearly painted by the same artist, as was the A-2 worn in one of the photos by his fellow pilot "Bob."
Overall condition of the jacket is excellent and it is in a large size 38. The leather is still supple, each shoulder has leather Lieutenant bars. The lining is original as are the cuffs. The waist band is a period replacement. Both show minor wear and deterioration. The zipper is marked on the slider and pull with TALON, a known maker of quality zippers. The original data label is missing.
The most notable aspect of this jacket is the exceptional hand painted artwork. The left front chest bears painted silver wins with ROY underneath, above this is an embossed leather name tag that reads ROY LEWIS. The right side bears a 33 with bomb over a German hooked cross, the paint is faded in this area.
The reverse of the jacket features incredible hand painted art work that reads MIL-O-MINE over a Lockheed P-38 Lightning under which it reads BINGHAMTON, N.Y. U.S.A.
Also included with this jacket are the following items:
- Engraved Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) which reads on the reverse:
OVER FESTUNG EUROPA
LT. ROY LEWIS
- Air Medal in Case
- WWII Victory Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Post War National Defense Medal
- Medal Ribbon Bar which shows 4 oak level for his Air Medal as well as post war occupation medals .
- Seven Original photographs on period photo paper. Once shows LEWIS wearing this very jacket or one nearly identical!
- Reliance Emergency Parachute certification card named to Roy Lewis date 8/12/1943.
- Silk Parachute scarf named to ROY.
- Digital files of dozens of pages of historical research from the National Archives on Lt. Roy Lewis's military career. (Will be shared via dropbox after purchase).
This is an exceptional A-2 jacket grouping that is sure to be a focal point of any WWII collection!
The 563d was first activated as the 563d Bombardment Squadron at Gowen Field, Idaho, one of the four original squadrons of the 388th Bombardment Group, in December 1942. The cadre that formed at Gowen moved to Wendover Field, Utah in February 1943, where the unit was fully manned and squadron training with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers began. Training continued until June 1943, when it deployed to England. The air echelon ferried its B-17s to England via the northern ferry route, while the ground echelon departed for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, the port of embarkation, sailing in the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 1 July.
COMBAT IN WWII:
The squadron assembled at RAF Knettishall, its combat station, and flew its first combat mission on 17 July, when it attacked an aircraft factory in Amsterdam. The squadron primarily engaged in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, attacking industrial sites, oil refineries and storage facilities, communications centers and naval targets on the European Continent.
The squadron was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for attacking an aircraft factory at Regensburg, Germany, on 17 August 1943, withstanding heavy resistance to reach the target. It was awarded a second DUC for three separate missions: an earlier attack on a tire and rubber factory in Hanover, Germany on 26 July 1943 and two missions in 1944, one against synthetic oil refineries near Brüx, Germany[note 4] on 12 May and at Ruhland, Germany on 21 June. This last attack was on a shuttle bombing mission from England to Germany to Poltava, USSR,[note 5] to Foggia, Italy, and back to England. Other strategic targets included aircraft factories at Brunswick, Kassel, and Reims; airfields at Paris, Berlin and in Bordeaux; naval installations at Emden, Kiel and La Pallice, chemical works in Ludwigshafen; ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt and rail marshalling yards in Bielefeld, Brussels, and Osnabruck.
The squadron was occasionally diverted from the strategic campaign to perform air support and air interdiction missions. It attacked military installations in France in early 1944 to help prepare the way for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, and on D Day hit coastal defenses, artillery batteries and transportation targets. It attacked troop concentrations and supply depots. In July 1944, it supported Operation Cobra at Saint Lo and the following month attacked targets in Caen. It struck military installations and airfields near Arnhem during Operation Market Garden, the unsuccessful attempt to secure a bridgehead across the Rhine in the Netherlands. It attacked transportation targets to support the final drive through Germany in early 1945.
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