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 "The Ragged Irregulars"

Assigned Eighth Air Force

September 1942


Wing & Command Assignments
VIII BC, 1 BW; September 1942.  (8th Bomber Combat, 1st Bomb Wing)

VIII BC, 1 BW, 101 PCBW; February 1943 (8th Bomber Combat, 1st Bomb Wing)

VIII BC, 1 BD, 1 CBW; 13 September 1943. (8th Bomb Combat, 1st Bomb Division, 1st Combat Bombardment Wing, Heavy).

1 BD, 1 CBW; 8 January 1944. (1st Bomb Division, 1st Combat Bombardment Wing)

1 AD, 1 CBW; 1 January 1945. ( 1st Air Division, 1st Combat Bombardment Wing)

Component Squadrons

322nd, 323rd, 324th, and 401st Bombardment Squadrons (H)


Combat Aircraft

B-17F (from blocks 10-BO); B-17G


Kimbolton  12 September 42 to 13 October 42 (Air echelon arrived 10 October  42 to  17 October 42).

Bassingbourn  14 October 42 to 23 June 45.

Radio and Identification Codes used at 91st BG (H) Station 121 (circa July - December 1944) contributed by Paul Chryst
322nd Bomb Squadron = LG "Lingers"

323rd Bomb Squadron = OR "Oboe"

324th Bomb Squadron = DF "Dimple"

401st Bomb Squadron = LL "Mutter"

Control Tower + "Swordfish"

91st BG Commanding Officer = "Record"

Group COs
1. Col. Stanley T. Wray commanded from 13 May 42 to 1 May 43. Called the *"Ragged Irregulars" their primary targets were airfields, docks and harbor facilities, ship building yards and submarine pens. On 7 November 1942, the first operational mission was carried out by the 91st Bombardment Group (H). The total effort was fifty-six (56) fortresses of which the Group supplied fourteen  (14) ships from the 322nd & 324th Bombardment Squadrons. Lt. John H. Roten, Navigator & S/Sgt. Steven J. Perri (323rd) (current members) participated as ball turret gunner. Objective was the enemy Submarine base at Brest, in occupied France. Lt. Col. Stanley T. Wray, Group Commander, was leader of this mission. On 27 January 1943, the Group made the first 8th Air Force mission to Germany, bombing the docks at Wilhelmshaven. Two other missions were rough. Hamm, Germany on 4 March 1943 (25% loss, Distinguished Unit Citation, awarded after the war) and Bremen, Germany on 17 April 1943 (21% loss) where the Luftwaffe attacked with 200 fighters.

*The term "Ragged Irregulars" was tacked on to the men of the 91st because they had been shot up so badly, so many times that they could not put a full group into combat. They had to fill in on other units to make up a full group bombing formation. Hence, the nickname was coined by the group commander.

2. Lt. Col. William M. Reid:               1 May 43 to 23 May 43.

3. Lt. Col. Baskin R. Lawrence:         23 May 43 to 25 May 43.

4. Lt. Col. Clemens L. Wurzbach commanded from 25 June 43 to 12 December 43. Wurzbach's Warriors were experienced airmen and General Ira Eaker, 8th AF Commander, would send them time and again to Germany. Their targets were aircraft factories, ball bearing plants and other German industries. They let their Division on the first Pathfinder mission to Emden, Germany on 27 September 1943. Two missions stand out; Schweinfurt on 17 August 1943 (43% losses) and Anklam, Germany on 9 October 1943 with 42% losses. Some 800 German fighters opposed them. Friendly fighter support, beyond occupied countries and port cities, was nil up to this point.

5. Col. Claude E. Putnam commanded from 12 December 43 to 16 May 44. General Doolittle, new 8th AF Commander, sent Putnam's Panthers to destroy the German Air Force. they did the job, bombing deep into Germany with long range P-51's, P47's and P-38's for protection. Aircraft factories and oil facilities were the primary targets. The mission to Oschersleben, Germany on 11 January 1944 earned the 91st, the Distinguished Unit Citation (17% losses) and the mission to Bunde on 22 February 1944 (19% losses) were both wicked. Enemy fighter opposition, determined early in the period, tapered off at the end.

6. Col. Henry W. Terry commanded from 17 May 44 to 30 May 45. Terry's Tigers attacked from D-Day onward. they gave close support to our ground force at Normandy, St. Lo breakthrough, Caen, Battle of the Bulge, and assisted with the Rhine River crossing. They bombed what was left of oil refineries and cities. Two remembered mission were Merseburg, Germany 2 November 1944 (35% losses) and Leipzig, Germany on 20 July 1944 (22% losses). Enemy fighters were fierce, but sporadic through the period.

7. Lt. Col. Donald E. Sheeler:      30 May 45 to June 45.

Original Squadrons COs
25 November 42, Capt. Paul Fishburn was appointed Squadron Commander, of the 322nd Squadron. 19 May 43, Capt. R. B. Campbell replaced Fishburn who was assigned to another station.

25 November 42, Major Paul D. Brown brought the squadron from the United States. 22 April 43, Major J. C. Bishop was appointed Squadron Commander of the 323rd Squadron.

26 November 42, Capt. Edward Gaitley was appointed Squadron Commander of the 324th Squadron. (Vice Major Harold Smelser, missing in action). 29 November 42, Major Claude E. Putnam assumed command as of today.

8 October 42, Capt. E. P. Meyers was appointed Squadron Commander of the 401st Squadron (Promoted to Major). 15 October 42, Capt. Haley W. Aycock was appointed Squadron Commander of the 401st Squadron. Capt. Haley W. Aycock was wounded during the mission of 9 November was replaced as Squadron Commander of the 401st Squadron by Major E. E. Myers, who had been temporarily performing the duties of Group Operations Officer.  31 December 42, Capt. Clyde G. Gillespie was appointed Acting Squadron Commander, 401st Squadron, because Major E. P. Myers was killed in action.


First Mission: 7 November 42 to the submarine docks at Brest, France.

First 2 Aircraft lost: 23 November 42, U-boat pens at St. Nazaire, France

Last Mission: 25 April 45, Pilsen, Germany

Last Plane lost: 17 April 45, Skunk Face III, mission to Dresden, Germany.

Total Missions:  340

Total Credit Sorties: 9, 591

Total Bomb Tonnage: 22,142.3 tons

Total Aircraft Assigned: 400 +

Lost 1010 combat crewmen (887 killed and 123 missing in action). More then 960 crewmen became prisoners of war.

Total Aircraft  Missing in Acton: 197  (Planes lost per squadron 322nd 49, 323rd 55, 324th 38 and  401st 55 )

Enemy Aircraft Claims: 420 confirmed, 127 damaged, 238 possible.

Claims to Fame
Highest total claims of enemy aircraft destroyed of all 8th Air Force bomb groups - 420.

Highest loss of 8th Air Force bomb groups - 197 Aircraft Missing in Action

First group to attack a target in the Ruhr - 4 March 43; Hamm.

Led the famous Schweinfurt mission of 17 August 43.

First 8th Air Force bomb group to complete 100 Missions - 5 January 44.

Selected to test first flak suits - March 43.

B-17G "Nine-O-Nine" completed 124 missions without a mechanical abort  - an 8th Air Force record.

Early History

Activated 15 April 42 at Harding Field, LA. Nucleus commander 1/Lt. Edward R. Eckert. Expansion began with first phase training at McDill Field, FL 16 May 42 to 22/25 June 42. Second and third phase training Walla Walla Air Force Base, WA, under 2AF between 26 June 42 and 24 August 42. Ground echelon by train Fort Dix, NJ, and boarded Queen Mary 2/5 September 42.  Arrived Gourock 11 September 42. Air echelon left Walla Walla 24 August 42 for Gowen Field, ID, where first new B-17s assigned. Air echelon then moved Dow Field, ME, but not until early October 42 were enough new B-17s available to complete Group's complement. First squadron flew North Atlantic route late September 42.


Subsequent History
Redeployed USA May/June 45. First aircraft left 27 May 45. Ground echelon sailed on Queen Elizabeth 24 June 45. Disembarked for Camp Kilmer, NJ, 29 June 45. On 2 July 45 group established at Drew Field, FL. Scheduled for Pacific service but never fully manned. Inactivated 7 November 45. Activated again in SAC 1947 as a Strategic Reconnaissance Group, using RB-17 and RB-29. In July 1950 equipped RB-45 and later RB-47. Inactivated in the late 1950s but given further lease of life as a B-52 wing and flew sorties in Vietnam War. In 1968 designation given to Minutemen missile wing at Minot Air Force Base.
                                Thanks to Jack Gaffney of the 401st for sending this information


European Theater Ribbon Battle Stars
Air Offensive Europe: July 4, 1942 to June 5, 1944

Normandy:                   June 6, 1944 to July 24, 1944

Northern France:         July 25, 1944 to September 14, 1944

Ardennes:                     December16, 1944 to January 25, 1945

Central Europe:           March 22, 1945 to May 11, 1945

Rhineland:                   September 15, 1944 to March 21, 1945

POW Medal:               Authorized in 1982 by President Reagan

              Thanks to Jack Gaffney of the 401st for sending this information


WORLD WAR II  8th AIR FORCE - Our mission was to defeat the Luftwaffe and destroy Germanys capacity and will to fight. Along with our Valiant Allies from Britain and around the world, we defeated the axis powers. Our numbers exceeded those of any other Air Force in history, including over 350,000 devoted men and women. Our might was centered in 43 heavy bomber groups, 4 medium bomber groups, 20 fighter groups and 50 support groups. Our performance was awesome. We flew 330,523 bomber sorties, dropped 686,406 tons of bombs and destroyed 15,731 enemy aircraft. We had 261 fighter aces. Our Eighth Air Force men and women, in the air and on the ground, served with distinction having 26,000 killed, 7,000 wounded, 28,000 prisoners of war, and 1,500 internees. They were awarded 17 Congressional Medals of Honor, 226 Distinguished Service Crosses, 864 Silver Stars, 45,977 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 442,300 Air Medals, 2,984 Bronze Stars, 12 Distinguished Service Medals, 209 Legion of Merit Medals, 480 Soldiers Medals. Eighth Air Force Units were awarded 27 Presidential Unit Citations, and 19 Meritorious Service Plaques. We remember those years with sadness because of sacrifices made and comrades lost. We remember with Nostalgia the Exuberance of Youth and the inspiration of fighting for the right,but most of all, we remember with pride, that although the way was often difficult, and our losses heavy, we accomplished our mission with Valor and Endurance. We were never turned back by Enemy Fire. 

                    Thanks to Steve Perri for sending this information

 Here are the pay scales from the 1944 Official Guide to the Army Air Forces.
 Private=====================$50 monthly base pay                                           
 Private First Class=============$54 monthly base pay                                   
 Corporal====================$68 monthly base pay                                           
 Sergeant====================$78 monthly base pay                                        
 Staff Sergeant================$96 monthly base pay                                        
 Technical Sergeant============$114 monthly base pay                                   
 Master Sergeant=First Sergeant==$138 monthly base pay                                      
 Flight Officer================$1800 year                                                  
 Warrant Officer==============$1800 year                                                 
 Chief Warrant Oficer==========$2100 year                                            
 2nd Lieutenant===============$1800 year    

1st Lieutenant================$2000 year

Captain=====================$2400 year                                
 Major===================== $3000 year                                                          
 Lt. Colonel==================$3500 year                                                     
 Colonel=====================$4000 year                                                         
 Brig. General================$6000 year                                                   
 Maj. general=================$8000 year                                                    
 Lt. General==================$8000 year                                                     
 General====================$8000 year                                                         
Rent allowances for officers with dependents ran  up the scale
from 60=60=75=60=75=90=105=120=120=120=120=120=120=                            
Flight pay 50% of base pay==Longevity 5% of base pay for each 3 years of
service up to 30 years==Foreign Service Officers 10% of base pay=Enlisted men
20% of base pay                                                               
           Thanks to  Jack Gaffney 401st. for sending us this information.


The statistics below provided by Ace Johnson shows # of missions, Aircraft lost and Losses per Mission for eleven of the 26 B-17 groups in the Eighth Air Force. I don't know why these particular groups were singled out but the information is very interesting.  Of the groups shown, we flew the most missions (340), we lost the most B-17 to enemy action with (197).  In losses per mission we tied for second with .58 losses per mission.  The attachment also lists 6 Groups in the 15th Air Force.  Their aircraft losses per mission for the average of the six groups was .29 per mission while the average of the 11 Eight Air Force groups was .50 per mission.