Tag Archives: 2nd Air Division

Kassel Mission ~ 71st Anniversary

An update from the Kassel Mission Historical Society 

As we reflect upon the 71st anniversary of the Kassel Mission of 27
September 1944, let us all bow our heads and remember the 136 wonderful men
on both sides who gave their lives that day. Let us rejoice that five of our
MIAs of the Hansen Crew are getting the attention they deserve as their
remains have been recovered at the site this summer. If you don’t know about
this, go to the Kassel Mission Historical Society group page on Facebook.
The details and a link to see the archaeological dig are there.

We are grateful to the DPAA for finally digging on this site, to our friends
in Germany who brought attention to it, to our military liaison, Rob Rumsby,
for contacting us in 2012 on our Facebook page and making it happen, and to
Eb Haelbig for taking the team there an showing them the hot spots that
resulted in a successful dig. We are still working on identifying two more
MIAs and hoping to locate the remains of the final MIA, Raymond Ische, who
was the lead 445th navigator.

Bless the hearts of all of you veterans of the mission who read this today.
You are true survivors and have stuck with this organization through thick
and thin. Congratulations to each of you on a very full, long life. And
bless all of you members, friends and family of our dear departed, and for
those of you who gather in support of our Cause–being sure the Kassel
Mission is remembered.

We still have work to do. The DPAA recovered much in the way of plane parts,
both from the Hansen plan and the nearby Bruce plane. They originally agreed
to give KMHS the pieces to display at the Kassel Mission museum in Eisenach,
but have now agreed to give them all to the German state of Hesse’s
archaeologists. We are protesting this and hope to resolve it in our favor.
We will let you know how it goes.

You will notice in the DPAA video from the Armed Forces Network news, if you
go to the Facebook Page, that the video says nothing about the Kassel
Mission. The focus is on the good work that the DPAA is doing; it mentions
the location of the dig-Richelsdorf; and that these are WWII bombers. We
intend to add the Kassel Mission and B-24s to that in the news in a press
conference we are organizing that will be hopefully in the next few weeks
where we will tell the story. Stay tuned.

To the men who died and the men who lived to tell about it, we salute you
all today.

Linda Alice Dewey
President, Kassel Mission Historical Society

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Crew 713 – Documenting a Father’s Story

What if your father had been one of the lucky few to fly and survive a bombardment group with some of the heaviest losses of any American bomb group? And what if you were able to tell the tale? Well, Alejandro Mena, whose father Nemesio Mena was a Radio Operator in the 492nd Bomb Group, is doing just that. He has spent the last few years creating a documentary film, Crew 713, to just that. Using interviews with veterans, war diaries, re-enactments and animation, Crew 713 aims to tell the story of both the O’Sullivan Crew that flew the Liberator, the Irishman’s Shanty.

The 492nd Bomb Group, flying from North Pickenham, only flew combat missions for a few short months. Arriving in April 1944, they flew their first mission on 11 May and their last daylight combat mission on 7 August. The reason for this was the 492nd lost more aircraft than any other in US combat history. During the 89 days they few combat missions, 52 aircraft were lost, 588 personal were killed or missing in action, and 3,643 tons of bombs were dropped during their 66 missions. The 492nd was one of the last groups deployed to the UK, and therefore had more experienced pilots including instructors, volunteers for a second tour of duty and veteran anti-submarine pilots. They were also one of the first groups to fly in unpainted aluminium planes – which would later prove to be more visible as sunlight reflected off the planes making them easier to spot from a distance. Their targets included industrial sites, airfields and weapon launch sites, and bridges, railroads and other infrastructure in France, Belgium and Germany. Despite the more experienced flight crews, chance conspired against them and heavy losses were sustained. After 7 August, the remaining crews were reassigned to different units across the 8th Air Force.

The impact of being part of a Bomb Group with such high losses was sharply felt. Describing Mission 46 on July 7th, one pilot said, “On return to base we would greet our fellow flyers with ‘Glad to see you.’ The stock reply was, ‘Glad to be here.’ That became standard language following every mission for the remainder of our tour.” Another described hearing news while they were away on leave:

“We came back from ‘Flak’ leave to deep gloom at North Pickenham. While we were gone all twelve ships sent up by the 895th Squadron were shot down on a raid to Bernberg, Germany. Our ‘Laura Jo’ was one of them. Other guys told us they had gone to the control tower to await the return of the Squadron from an admittedly dangerous target. It took them a while to realise that no one was returning.”

These excerpts from combat diaries and crew notes reveal the scale and emotional impact of flying daylight missions over Europe. Although the Crew 713 film is still in production, we can imagine that the story it will tell of an individual crew flying 30 complete missions and of the 492nd Bomb Group will be poignant.

To learn more about the 492nd, check out some of the Memorial Library’s books and the website dedicated to the 492nd Bomb Group, and click here to learn more about the film Crew 713.


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Conversations with Strangers – An Oral History Project

In October 2008, a series of interviews were conducted by students from Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) with 2nd Air Division, United States Army Air Force veterans who were stationed in Norfolk during World War Two. The interviews were filmed in Dallas, Texas, during the 61st annual convention of the 2nd Air Division Association.

NUCA in Dallas

NUCA students in Dallas, TX (2008)

Recently added to our YouTube Channel, the students recorded interviews with:

Frank and Robert Birmingham (458th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

William and Betty Berry (Bill served with 389th and 93rd Bomb Groups) (Part 1)

Ray Lemons (445th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

Robert (Lee) Swofford (445th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Jack Dyson (445th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Jack Kingsbery (458th Bomb Group) (Part 1)

Oak Mackey (392nd Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Dale Dyer (458th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Herb Schwartz (445th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2)

James H McClain (389th Bomb Group) (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

(The above list contains all the links for each portion of the interviews found on YouTube)

This oral history project set out to capture the experiences of both 2nd Air Division (USAAF) veterans and the people of East Anglia during Word War Two, by gathering oral histories from USA veterans and also their “UK friends” attending the 2nd Air Division Association Convention.

The project generated a short 5 minute film ‘Conversations with Strangers’ for use by schools and young people for raising awareness of the contribution made by American airmen (and women) to the 2nd World War and the impact their presence had on the local community while highlighting the continuing “special relationship” between the people of East Anglia, and the people of the United States.

The 2nd Air Division Memorial Library gratefully acknowledge the funding received from the US Embassy in London, which enabled the students to travel to and attend the 2nd Air Division Association Convention in Dallas.

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New 2nd Air Division E-book Collection

The 2nd Air Division Memorial Library has a new selection of e-books available! These titles are on loan through the digital library website at digitallibrary.norfolk.gov.uk.

You must also be a member of the library to borrow any of the e-books and you can join by going to Norfolk Library Joining Page.

Browse through titles such as Liberator and The Mighty Eighth in WWII

Cover of LiberatorCover of The Mighty Eighth in WWII

This new collection aims to make more of our books accessible to the public and we look forward to expanding our digital selection in the future.

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