History of the 100th Bomb Group (H)
The "Hundredth Bombardment Group" came into being "on paper" at Orlando Army Base, Florida on June 1st, 1942. It would not be until October 27, 1942 in Boise, Idaho, by "Special Order 300", that 230 enlisted men and 24 officers were transferred to the 100TH. The group was officially activated on November 14, 1942 when Col. Darr Alkire became the groups first Commanding Officer. In December, during their second phase training, the total strength of the Group was 37 crews, with ten men on each crew. At that time, Capt. John Egan was Operations Officer with Capt. William Veal-349th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer (BS C.O.), Capt. Gale "Buck" Cleven-350th BS C.O., Capt. John "Jack" Kidd-351st BS C.O. and Capt. Robert Flesher-418th BS C.O.
The 100th Bomb Group trained at Walla Walla Washington, Wendover Field-Utah, Sioux City-Iowa, and Kearney-Nebraska. It was at Kearny on April 20th that all 37 original crews took off on a practice mission for Hamilton Field, California, a distance of almost 1300 miles with very poor results. Col. Alkire shouldered this responsibility and was relieved of command of the 100th BG and assigned weeks later as Commanding Officer of the 449th Bomb Group (B-24’s), which would later fly with the 15th Air Force out of Italy.
On April 26, 1943 Colonel Howard Turner, assumed command of the Group and on May 1st the air echelon took off for Wendover Field, Utah for 20 days of advanced training in navigation, gunnery, bombing, and formation flying while aircraft combat modifications were being done at Ogden Utah. With training completed, 35 crews flew to England on May 25, 1943 and arrived at Station 139, Thorpe Abbotts, England on June 8, 1943. Three days later Col. Turner was assigned to the First Air Division and was replaced by Col. Harold Huglin who made the following changes; Maj. Egan to 418th BS C.O., Capt. Flesher to Air Exec, Capt. Kidd to Operations Officer, and Capt. Ollie Turner to 351st BS C.O. The 100th Bomb Group (H), flying the B-17 "Flying Fortress", would become combat operational beginning June 25, 1943. Any sense of adventure and bravado came to a halt on that first mission; three planes and 30 men were lost over Bremen. The average life of an 8th Air Force B-17 crewman in 1943 was eleven missions! On July 2, 1943, Col. Neil B. "Chick" Harding assumed command of the 100th BG with Col. Huglin being reassigned to 13th Combat Wing HQ. "Chick" would command the 100th until March 7, 1944, and by that time the group had already become legendary.
From June 25, 1943 until April 20, 1945 the 100th Bomb Group would never go off operational status due to losses. The 100th did not stand alone at Thorpe Abbotts. Throughout their stay they were assisted by support units: 1776 Ordnance Company, 18th Weather Detachment, 869th Chemical Company, 216th Finance Section, 592nd Postal Unit, 1285th Military Police, 2110 Fire Fighting Platoon, ll4lst Quartermaster Company, 83rd Service Group, 456th Sub-Depot, 412th Air Service Group, 838th Air Engineering Squadron, 662nd Air Material Squadron, American Red Cross, and Royal Air Force Detachment. Throughout its stay at Thorpe Abbotts, the Ground Echelon of the 100th was cited frequently for its excellent maintenance and preparation activity.
The 100th BG from June 1943 to January 1944 concentrated its efforts against airfields, submarine facilities and aircraft industries in France and Germany. During this time the Group was involved in the epic air battles over Regensburg-Aug.17, 1943 (for which it received it first Presidential Unit Citation) and Black Week-October 8-14, 1943 (Bremen, Munster, Marienburg and Schweinfurt-nicknamed "Black Thursday" because the 8th Air Force lost 60 bombers). It lead the bombing of Rujkan, Norway, which delayed the manufacture of heavy water for the German atomic bomb.
January through May 1944, the Group bombed enemy airfields, industries, marshalling yards, V-1 missile sites, including participation in the Allied campaign against enemy aircraft factories during Big Week, February 20-25, 1944. Participated in the first daylight raid against Berlin (March 4, 1944) and completed a series of attacks against Berlin March 6, 8, 1944 for which the 100th Bomb Group was awarded a second Presidential Unit Citation (also called the Distinguished Unit Citation). The Group also the loss of their beloved Col Harding who was relieved of command due to illness, and his replacement Colonel Robert H. Kelly (KIA) who was shot down on his first mission April 28, 1944 one week after taking command.
In the summer of 1944 oil installations became the major target. The Group also engaged in support and interdictory missions, hitting bridges and gun positions in preparation for the Normandy invasion in June 1944. On June 6, 1944 D-Day, the Group flew 3 missions in support of the ground troops. Later that month the 100th participated in the First Russian Shuttle Mission. Led by new Group C.O. Colonel Thomas S. Jeffrey.
July through September 1944 saw the 100th BG strike at enemy positions in St. Lo and Brest and concentrated on the oil refineries at Merseburg, Ruhland, Politz and Hamburg and fly a Second Russian Shuttle Mission along with two low level supply drops to the French Maquis. The 100th Bomb Group Received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for attacking heavily defended German installations and for dropping supplies to the French Forces of the Interior.
In October through December 1944, the Century Bombers attacked transportation, oil refineries and ground defenses in the drive against the Siegfried Line. They were involved in the December 24, 1944 mission to attack communication centers and airfields in the Ardennes sector during the Battle of the Bulge. On February 2, 1945, Colonel Frederick J. Sutterlin took command of the 100th Bomb Group and would remain there until after the end of the War. On Feb 3, 1945 the 100th Bomb Group led the entire third Air Division on a mission to "Big B" Berlin. Leading the group was Major Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal flying his 52nd Mission.
January to April 1945, the Group concentrated on marshalling yards, bridges, factories, docks, oil refineries and ground support (including the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945). By March 1945 the Luftwaffe was a limited but effective force and used both ME 262 jet fighters and ramming techniques (April 7, 1945 Buchen mission) to try and thwart the 100th Bomb Group and the 8th Air Force’s continual bombing. On April 20, 1945, the 100th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission to Oranienburg (Berlin) with no losses,
First mission: June 25 1943
Air Offensive, Europe (4 July 1942 - 5 June 1944
Awards and Decorations:
Two Presidential Unit Citations
French Croix de Guerre with Palm-25 June – 31 December 1944
Although the 100th did not have had the highest over-all loss rate of any group in the Eighth Air Force, it did have heavy losses during eight missions to Germany. Thus earning the nickname "The Bloody Hundredth".
Visit the 100th Bomb Group Website at : www.100thbg.com
Contact: Michael P. Faley-100th Bomb Group Historian MPFaley@aol.com