Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Excerpt from the History of the 359th Fighter Group, August 1944

HEADQUARTERS 359TH FIGHTER GROUP
Office of the Group Historian
APO 637 US Army
4 Sept 1944

History of the 359th Fighter Group, August 1944

In August of 1944, the 359th Fighter Group became, for all practical purposes, a new unit. Of the 86 pilots who had come to England 10 months before, two were casualties during the month, 20 finished their tours and only 15 were left on flying status. And these 15 were almost all so close to the end of their 300 hour combat time that the greatest care was exercised in rationing them to the 29 missions flown in 23 days so that squadron and group leaders would continue to be available.

The result of all this was that the experience level of the 359th Group, which at the beginning of summer had been near the top of the Command, now sank to an average of 116 hours, with 61 pilots having less than 100 hours.

The new men were eager and there were remarkable prospects among them, but they were also green and 12 were combat casualties, while another, Lieutenant Lawrence A. Bearden, was killed on a training flight on 10 August. With Captain Lancaster interned in Sweden and Captain Hawkinson lost strafing, that meant 15 casualties for the month. Against this the 359th could show a phenomenal strafing score, locomotive claims, for example, of 62-0-47, excellent bombing, and 21-1-12 in aircraft.

Landing contol checkered van directing P-51. Photo courtesy of Elsie Palicka, wife of Ed Palicka, 370th Fighter Squadron Photographer: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

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This is an excerpt from the Monthly Narrative Histories of the 359th Fighter Group and included in Fogg in the Cockpit. Excerpts were selected from transcriptions of the original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The complete documents were transcribed by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, from reports filed from December 1943 through September 1945 by Maurice F. X. Donohue, 359th Fighter Group historian and combat intelligence officer.

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