448th Bombardment Group, 20th Combat Bomb Wing
2nd Air Division, Eighth Airforce
Station 146, Seething Airfield, Norfolk, England.
The 448th Bombardment Group was constituted on April 6,1943, and activated twenty-five days later at Gowen Field, Boise, ldaho. The first Group Commander was Colonel James McK. Thompson, who later gave his life during the April 1st 1944 mission over Ludwigshaven, Germany.
The 448th Bomb Group had four Squadrons, the 712th, the 713th, the 714th and the 715th. The 448th Bomb Group was part of the 20th Combat Bomb Wing, 2nd Air Division, along with the 93rd Bomb Group, the 446th Bomb Group, and the 489th Bomb Group.
One month after activation, the flying personnel began a two week training period at the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, Orlando, Florida. This was followed by two weeks of simulated combat training at Pinecastle Army Air Base, Florida. The entire 30-day training period was spent on detached service and was followed by a movement to Wendover Field, Utah, where the whole Group assembled. The second phase of training began at Wendover, and the Group grew in the number of crews and aircraft assigned. Levels of strength required were 25% by June 1, 1943; 50% by July 1, 1943, and 100% by July 25, 1943. For the last phase of its training, the 448th proceeded to Sioux City Army Air Base Iowa.
The flight and ground echelons then separated and moved overseas. On November 3, 1943, the flight echelon left for Herrington, Kansas to be processed for transfer to combat duty. The last aircraft left Herrington for Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Florida on November 30, 1943.
From Florida, the aircraft took the Southern ferry route — Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Balem, Dakar, Marrakech — to their destination in England. There were 70 original crews that departed from Florida, but only 67 arrived at their destination in England. One aircraft was lost at Balem Brazil, two complete crews and aircraft were lost at Marrakech French Morocco, and one other aircraft was lost when it crash-landed and burned in England. The last of the B-24s of the 448th arrived at Seething, England on December 22, 1943.
Meanwhile, the ground echelon had arrived at Camp Shanks, Orangeburg, New York. They proceeded to the New York Port of Embarkation, and boarded the Queen Elizabeth for England. By December I, 1943, the ground echelon had arrived at Station 146 Seething England.
Station 146 – Seething, England
Seething Airfield was the home of the 448th Bomb Group. It was located 9 ½ miles South East of Norwich. It was built in 1942-43. Seething had three runways. The main runway was 2,000 yards long and was aligned NE-SW. The other two runways were 1,400 yards long. Three miles of perimeter track encircled the airfield. One T2 type hangar was situated on each side of the airfield, with the Southern hangar located next to the Technical site. Barrack sites were located at the Southern side of the airfield, dispersed in the adjoining farmland. Fifty-one hard standing dispersal points were provided around the perimeter track.
The first mission by the 448th was flown on December 22,1943. The target was Osnabruck, Germany. The targets were a manufacturing center and an important railway junction between Bremen and the Ruhr. On March 6, 1944, the 448th took part in the first large scale attack on Berlin.
From December 22, 1943 through April 25, 1945, the members of the 448th flew a total of 262 missions. Almost 70% of these missions were flown over targets in Germany, about 30% were flown over targets in France, and about 2% were flown over targets in Belgium and Holland. The targets included, but were not limited to, manufacturing centers, railroads, enemy airfields, aircraft manufacturing plants, missile launching sites, synthetic oil plants, enemy coastal gun and military installations, buzz-bomb assembly plants, and tank manufacturing plants. The 448th dropped 15,286 tons of bombs and destroyed 47 enemy aircraft.
While the accomplishments of the 448th were great, the supreme sacrifices made by the members of the 448th were also great. A total of 85 men were killed in action. Another 119 men were either injured or died of wounds. Another 875 men were listed as missing in action.
A total of 146 aircraft were lost, with 98 aircraft missing in action, 17 abandoned on the continent, and 31 lost by salvage.
Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied Headquarters in Rheims, Germany on May 7, 1945, and the war came to an end in the European Theatre. Victory against the Japanese in the Pacific Theatre did not come until a surrender was signed on September 2, 1945.
In July, 1945 the 448th Bomb Group returned to the United States. The following year, on August 4, 1946, the unit was inactivated at Fort Worth, Texas.
The 448th Bomb Group was commanded throughout its life in the United Kingdom by the following commanding officers :
- Col. James M. Thompson 1 May 1943 to 1 Apr 1944 (MIA)
- Col. Gerry L. Mason 3 Apr 1944 to 13 Nov 1944
- Col. Charles B. Westover 14 Nov 1944 to 27 May 1945
- Lt. Col. Lester F. Miller 27 May 1945 to Jul 1945