91st Bomb Group (H)
91st Bomb Group (H) The Ragged Irregulars
In World War II
Ever since that eventful day in October 1942; when the first aircraft of the 91st touched down on the soil of England, this Group has been piling up a most enviable record. Those first boys, eager and full of fight; were to be the guinea pigs in the trials and experiments which marked the first phase in the history of heavy bombardment. One Pilot, Lt. Genheimer; in his eagerness to get to England, left the formation in mid-Atlantic. When the rest of his Squadron arrived 45 minutes late, his ears were still burning from the “eating out” he had received. Our first hero appeared during the crossing operation. Sgt. Wicks, although severely injured himself; rescued Sgt. Harrison from a crash in Northern Ireland.Our first home was unfinished Kimbolton A/D; but because its runways would not accommodate B-17s—we moved to the “Shoe Place of the ETO” Bassingbourn, a luxury airdrome built just before the war. By the 1st of November 1942, the 91st BG became operational and the first mission was flown on the 7th to Brest, France.
8 of our aircraft attacked and returned to Base without loss even though Enemy A/C were encountered and our claims were 1-2-0. On the next day, we successfully beat up the home of the “Abbeville Kids” escorted by Spitfires. All of our A/C were damaged; but they returned to Base carrying our first wounded; Capt. Haley Aycock, Lt. E. L. Clinard, Lt. L. G. Karnath, S/Sgt. M/W. Knutson, and Sgt. J/.H. Jones.
Thus became the combat career of the 91st BG (H), a career that was to carry this Group through long months of toil, sweat, blood and glory to establish an outstanding record of success against the enemy. With (4)other Groups; it was our object to pioneer the way for the 8th Air Force and discover the battle strategy best suited for heavy bombers attacking “Fortress Europe” in daylight!
Fighter support was very scanty; there were no reinforcements; either of men or machines and 50 sorties for the whole 9th AF was considered a tremendous effort. Although casualties and damage were severe; the infant 8th AF established the proud tradition of never being turned back from an enemy Target because of flak or fighters! Not until the American and British “Big Wigs” were convinced on our worth; did we get much needed men and material to replace our early losses.
Long-range fighter support came; going to the most distance Targets on the Baltic and into Austria. Our No. 1 task was to engage the Luftwaffe, strangle it to the ground and knock it out of the sky. During the winter of 1943-44; the campaign was at its height and by the spring of 1944—the Allies were dominating the air.
During Nov. 1942, the 91st BG participated in (7) attacks to U-Boat installations on the West coast of France, This became a direct assist to the Allied Landings made in No. Africa at the same time.
On 4 March 1943, the 91st BG, with (15) A/C led by Major Paul Fishburne, attacked the marshaling yards (M/Y) at Hamm alone with excellent results. N Fanatical E/A and intense flak did not turn our aircraft back; neither did he loss of (4) A/C from their attack.
On 18 March ’43, we took part in a mission of great historical importance. The destruction wrought on the shipbuilding yards at Vegesack, convinced all skeptics about the worth of high altitude, daylight, precision bombing and personal messages of congratulations came from such men as Churchill, Lt. Gen Andrews, Maj. Gen Eaker, and Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles Portal, who described this raid as a “Complete answer to criticism” of this type of bombing.
To help clinch the argument, the 91st BG gave a pasting to the Renault Works in Paris, Aero Engine Works in Antwerp and a rubber plant in Huls, then came Gelsenkirchen on 12 August 1943, a visit to “Happy Valley”—on of the most heavily defended areas known as “Castration Run.”
Shortly afterward, during a fighter attack. Major McPartlin dryly remarked “Look at all those FW’s without any ball bearings!” During this same period of time, the 91st BG invaded Norway; smashing Nazi aluminum plants at Heroya. The 1250 mile trip to Anklam stirred up fierce swarms of E/A on the 9th of Nov. ’43; rivaling the attacks on Oschersleben and Schweinfurt.
During this Battle if Germany, which saw the fiercest air battles if the War; we were blessed with not only superb machines; but also men with guts, who even volunteered for extra missions after their tours were completed.
In early 1944, we were dispatched against “Nobles” and “Crossbows” which were difficult V-weapon sites in France and Belgium and succeeded in decreasing the potent threat to Invasion preparations. On 6 March 1944, we saw our first mission to Berlin. By Sept. we had participated in (11) mission to this Capitol of the Reich and by the end of all operations; had totaled (16) missions to this target; including the paralyzing attacks of Feb 3rd and 26th, 1945.
Early in June 1944, without entirely forgetting strategic targets in Germany; the 91st BG turned to tactical targets in the Invasion in Germany; the 91st BG turned to tactical targets in the Invasion areas of Normandy, France. Coastal targets, airfields, bridges and enemy transport lines were hit heavily. On D-Day, our A/C spread a destructive pattern of bombs on enemy beach positions minutes ahead of the invasion forces. Close support was given for a short time; but as the ground situation developed favorably, the task of air support was given to the Tactical Air Force.
Once more, our attention was turned to throttling the German war machine in a strategic sense. Airfields, aircraft factories, arm works, and in particular; oil targets became our priorities, the names of Merseburg and Leipzig took the place of Schweinfurt in the vocabulary of the aircrews. The Germans spared no effort to protect his Synthetic Oil Plants, blasting our planes from the air with terrific concentrations of flak and hounding the poorly escorted groups of bombers with fanatical attacks.
In July and August of 1944, the experimental site for the V-weapons at Peenemunde was successfully attacked; slowly up work on Hitler’s V-2 program. During Sept. and until the end of the year; emphasis was placed on railroad marshalling yards in Western and Southern Germany—in an effort to cut off front line supplies. With the rest of the 8th Air Force, the 91st BG participated in blasting Von Rundstedt in the Ardennes Bulge; hitting communication targets in the front line areas. Bombers took off and flew formations in some of the most trying winter weather the ETO has ever known.
Early 1945 brought exceptional bombing weather and rail transportation was brought nearly to a standstill throughout Germany on 22 Feb. when some 2,000 bombers hit rail targets from North to South. The 91st primary target, Stendal; who sent back the strike message, “Wizard Prang”. Although pleased with the bombing results, the “Wheels” restricted Charlie for his fancy language.
March and April were characterized by exceptionally long missions, which involved many hours of preparation and crew fatigue to hit tactical targets. (22) missions were flown in March; trying the Invasion month; and two missions were flown in the same day in support of Eisenhower’s Rhine River crossing. All the remaining missions may be classified as tactical after the ground forces started to surge across Germany.
Visual bombing was the Order of the Day and the 91st BG augmented its record superbly. The ideal “milk run” was flown to Girnde Estuary on 15 April in support if French ground and Naval forces; with no opposition of any nature. Operations of an offensive nature did not stop completely on 25 April 1945; with Pilsen being the last target attacked—the 340th mission flown for the 91st Bomb Group (H).
Distinguished Unit Citations in WWII
Distinguished Unit Citation for Mission to Hamm, Germany, 4 March 43. BATTLE HONORS. As authored by Executive Order 9396 (sect. I, WD Bul. 22, 1943), superseding Executive Order 9075 (sec. III, WD Bul. 11, 1942), citations of the following unit is the general order indicated are confirmed under the provisions of section IV, WD Circular 333, 1943m in the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction. The citations read as follows:
The 1st Bombardment Division (H) is cited for extraordinary heroism, determination, and esprit de corps in action against the enemy on 4 March 1943. On this date, the 91st Bombardment Group (H) took off from home base in England, as scheduled, to attack the railroad marshalling yards located at Hamm, Germany, in one of the first operations conducted by heavy bombardment units against targets with German. This unit departed the English coast on course and a few miles out over the English Channel encountered thick haze, high cloud, and icing conditions reducing visibility to less than 1,000 yards. Weather conditions continued to deteriorate to such an extent that only the determination and skill of each pilot in maintaining formation was responsible for the negotiation of the flight across the English Channel.
Three other bombardment groups comprising the force engaged in this military operation were forced to abandon the mission because of the adverse weather encountered. Over enemy-occupied Holland, weather conditions improved and the 91st Bombardment Group (H), consisting of sixteen B17 aircraft, continued on toward the assigned objective Vigorous attacks by enemy fighters began almost immediately. In the face of vicious opposition from an estimated 60 to 75 fighter airplanes of the German Air Force, this unit demonstrated the utmost courage and determination, fighting doggedly to maintain course and position en route to the target. Although four B-17 aircraft were lost to enemy action and heavy anti-aircraft fire was met from enemy ground installations, the 91st Bombardment Group (H) successfully reached the marshalling yards at Hamm, Germany. In the face of opposition from enemy ground defenses, this unit tenaciously maintained the bomb run and bombs were dropped, inflicting extensive damage on the German installations. The 12 surviving aircraft, having successfully completed their primary assignment and having destroyed 13 enemy fighters probably destroyed 3, and damaged 4, continued to maintain formation integrity and completed the return flight to home base. The conspicuous courage and esprit de corps exhibited by the 91st Bombardment Group (H) in the face of extremely adverse weather conditions and opposition from the enemy, which resulted in casualties consisting of 1 killed, 5 seriously wounded, and 40 missing in action, were responsible for the successful bombardment of one of the first high priority objectives assigned to bombardment forces in the European Theater of Operations. The actions of this unit reflect the highest credit on the 91st Bombardment Group (H) and the armed forces of the United States. General Orders 513, Headquarters 1st Air Division, 15 August 1945, as approved by the Commanding General. European Theater.
This was not awarded until after the war, when it was recognized that this mission saved the concept of daylight bombing.
Distinguished Unit Citation for Mission to Oschersleben, Germany, 11 January 44. XI--BATTLE HONORS.-1- As authorized by Executive Order No. 9396 (sec. I, Bull. 22, WD 1943); superseding Executive Order No. 9075 (sec.III, Bull. 11,WD, 1942). Citation of the following unit by the Commanding General, Eight Air Force, in General Orders, No-355t 11 May 1944, under provisions of section IX, Circular No- 333, War Department, 1943, in the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction, is confirmed. The citation reads as follows: The 1st Bombardment Division (H), is cited for extraordinary heroism, determination, and esprit de corps in action against the enemy on 11 January 1944. On this occasion the 1st Bombardment Division led the entire Eighth Air Force penetration into central Germany to attack vital aircraft factories. After assembly was accomplished and the formation was proceeding toward Germany, adverse weather was encountered which prevented effective fighter cover from reaching the 1st Bombardment Division. Taking full advantage of the relative vulnerability of the lead division, the enemy concentrated powerful forces against it. The scale of the enemy attack is graphically indicated by the fact that 400 encounters with enemy aircraft were recorded by; units of the 1st Bombardment Division. The gunners met these attacks with accurate fire, and the division continued toward the targets as briefed where bombs were dropped with excellent results. On the return trip the enemy continued to concentrate his efforts on the 1st Bombardment Division. Figures of enemy aircraft claimed by our gunners indicate that the heroism of this division inflicted heavy losses on the enemy in the air as well as on the ground. Two hundred and ten (210) enemy aircraft, the largest number ever claimed by any division of the Eighth Air Force for any one mission were confirmed as destroyed, 43 probably destroyed and 84 damaged. The division lost 42 heavy bombers and many of those which returned were heavy damaged. Four hundred and thirty (430) officers and enlisted men failed to return, 2 were killed, and 32 others wounded. The extraordinary heroism and tenacious fighting spirit demonstrated by the 1st Bombardment Division in accomplishing its assigned task under exceptionally difficult conditions reflect highest credit on this organization, the Army Air Forces, and the armed forces of the United States. By order of the Secretary of War: G. C. Marshall, Chief of Staff
Organization in World War II
The World War II 91st Bomb Group was organized as follows,
91st Bomb Group (H) The group consisted of the following squadrons:
Station:RAF Bassingbourn, located in Cambridgeshire approximately 3 miles (5 km) north of Royston, Hertfordshire and 11 miles (18 km) south west of Cambridge.
- 322nd BS - LG
- 323rd BS - OR
- 324th BS - DF
- 401st BS - LL
Our squad night is Saturday, 7pm MDT (9 Eastern), where we typically conduct high alt historical type bomber missions deep into enemy territory. We are offen escorted by the 355th Fighter Group "The Steeple Morden Strafers".
Joining the Squadron
The 91st BG is currently looking for patient pilots, who enjoy high alt historical type bombing missions. Any members wishing to join up should contact Thndregg for infomation in game or on the Aces High BBS system.
Our website for 91st BG "The Ragged Irregulars" (CO Thndregg) --91st Bomb Group--