September 11, 1944. B17's of the 'Bloody Hundredth' attack a target at Ruhland, Germany. Main subject is 'Mason and Dixon.'
The StoryHigh over the European continent lies a battlefield of immense size that has no markers, no monuments and no evidence that any struggle between men and nations ever took place just sixty short years ago. It has no borders or road signs to enlighten anyone where these battles raged, battles involving young men from opposing forces that exacted a toll of a quarter of a million casualties and changed the course of humanity forever. Among the young American men who rose to the challenge, no finer examples can be found than those in the 100th Bomb Group, or as they came to be known, 'The Bloody Hundredth.' Facing overwhelming odds, particularly in 1942-1943, when aircrews could not expect to survive more than 10 missions, the Hundredth faced the worst that the Germans could throw at them. Raging flak and Luftwaffe tactics aside, they faced the fear of the unknown, often unescorted by fighters. Despite all of this, the result was a victory that reverberates around the world to this day. As memories fade and the ranks grow fewer and fewer, their legacy lives on, and stands as a marker for future generations. Depicted in Robert Bailey's AMERICA'S CENTURY is a mission flown by the 100th Bomb Group on September 11, 1944, to Ruhland, Germany. Elements of the aircraft emerge from the bomb run, having delivered their payloads over the target. The official group history reads: "At 26,000 feet the C Squadron was attacked by approximately 40 enemy aircraft, FW190's and Me109's. The e/a came in a 'schwarm' from 6 o'clock, opening fire with 20mm from 400 yards. After this one mass attack, a few single e/a broke away from the 'schwarm' and made a 360 degree turn and again attacked crippled aircraft in the 100th C Squadron. In a few moments, all but one of our aircraft disappeared beneath the under-cast, about half of them appearing to be under control." This attack destroyed the Low Squadron of B17's, and then German fighters returned to attack from the front and rear. Many of these fighters were shot down, but the 100th lost twelve crews this day. It is this second wave attack by the Luftwaffe which is depicted here. Valiant 'Mason and Dixon,' shown in AMERICA'S CENTURY was in the B (High) Group, low element, and is seen fending off an attack by a FW190. She claimed four German fighters during her many missions over Europe.
Signatures1st Lieutenant 'Hong Kong' Wilson was born in Dublin, Texas. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was trained in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, then in Manitoba, and at Prince Edward Island. After service flying over the North Atlantic, he joined the 100th Bomb Group and flew missions to Germany from England. On the Hamburg raid, 'Hong Kong' was leading the High Squadron, (B) with Major Harry Cruver as Command Pilot. They were flying deputy lead for the 100th BG that day. 'Hong Kong's awards include the DFC and Air Medal.
1st Lieutenant Robert H. Wolff was born in San Francisco and trained in Boise, Idaho and Casper, Wyoming. Eventually assigned to the 100th Bomb Group at Thorpe Abbotts, England. He flew many missions to Germany and France, including the famous 'Shuttle Mission,' landing in Africa. His aircraft, 'Wolf Pack,' was too badly damaged to fly the return mission. On a later mission he had three engines shot out on a raid to France and ditched offshore, becoming a prisoner of war. Awards include the DFC, Air Medal and Distinguished United Citation.
1st Lieutenant Grant Fuller born in Fort Stunner, New Mexico, he trained in San Antonio, Perrin Field, Hicks Field, Ellington Field (all in Texas) and Rapid City, South Dakota. He completed 30 combat missions. Awards include Air Medal with OLC's, Unit Citation and Polish Home Army Cross.
Staff Sergeant Patrick J. Gillen hails originally from New York City, New York. He was in 418 Squadron, 100th Bomb Group and flew 30 combat missions. To his credit, he has one enemy aircraft shot down. On his 11th mission there were three wounded crew members on board and bombs hung up in the bay after target strike. Fortunately, none blew up on landing. Decorations include Air Medal with 5 OLC's, Victory Medal and Russian Victory Medal. He retired as a Tech. Sergeant.
Lieutenant Robert Rosenthal enlisted on December 8, 1941 and joined the Hundredth Bomb Group in 1943 as a pilot. On his third mission, 'Rosie' flew the strike to Munster. Only Rosenthal and his crew in 'Royal Flush' returned to base at Thorpe Abbotts. During the Bremen raid, he was a 2nd Lieutenant. He went on to complete 52 missions and was on this third tour when the war ended. He was awarded sixteen decorations, including the DSC, Silver Star (twice), DFC (twice), Air Medal with Seven Clusters, two Purple Hearts and British and French decorations.
Sergeant Albert P. Lochra was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Training was in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota. He served in the 100th Bomb Group, 351 Squadron as a Radio Operator/Gunner. Combat missions total 19, plus a mission to Holland where food was dropped to civilians. Decorations include Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Ribbon, Victory WWII Ribbon, American African-Middle East Ribbon with 2 Bronze Stars and Air Medal, with 2 OLC's.
2nd Lieutenant William S. Bates was born in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. He served in 351 Squadron and has 35 combat missions to his credit. Decorations include DFC, and Air Medal with 3 OLC's. He considers his war experience as one which enabled him to use his skills to preserve freedom for his wife and daughters and for other children throughout the world. He retired as a 1st Lieutenant.