The 467th Bombardment Group (Heavy), with its four Bombardment Squadron(s) (Heavy) (788th, 789th, 790th and 791st), was constituted on 29 May 43 by War Department. Secret Instructions of 19 May 43 and assigned to the Second Air Force for training. The Group and Squadrons were activated 1 Aug 43 with the station of activation the Army Air Base at Wendover, Utah. They were to train in Consolidated B-24 Liberator Heavy Bombers.
The initial cadre of Officers and Enlisted Men were assembled, on orders of 9 Sep 43, from the 470th Bombardment Group (Heavy) at Mountain Home AAB, Idaho. On 12 Sep 43 the Air Echelon of Group and Squadron flying officers, key operational and intelligence personnel proceeded to Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, Orlando, Florida under command of Captain Garnet B. Palmer, the Group Operations Officer. The Air Echelon was joined at Orlando on 17 Sep 43 by Group Commander Colonel Frederic E. Glantzberg and Deputy Group Commander Lt. Colonel Albert J. Shower on orders dated 23 Aug 43. The last two weeks of September were spent in classes conducted by AAFSAT in the latest tactics in the European Theater of Operations. The Ground Echelon remained at Mountain Home AAB with command of Group and Squadrons by 1st Lt James A. Seccaffico.
In the first ten days of October the Air Echelon was at Pinecastle AAB, Florida, where ten simulated combat missions were briefed, seven of which were launched and five completed (two were aborted due to adverse base or target weather conditions). While waiting for facilities at Wendover AAB, the Air Echelon was sent to Salt Lake City AAB, Utah, arriving there on 15 October, while the Ground Echelon (that was further manned at Mountain Home AAB) arrived at Camp Kearns, Utah on 16 Oct 43. Colonel Glantzberg assumed command of the 467th on 17 Oct 43. Glantzberg stayed as Commander only to 24 Oct 43 when he was relieved and assigned as Group Commander of the 461st BG(H). Lt.Colonel Shower became Group Commander on that date. Lt. Col. Allen F. Herzberg joined the Group in October as Deputy Commander. On the last day of October 1943 the Group was ordered to Wendover AAB, Utah for phase training.
Wendover was on the Utah-Nevada border and was deficient in most expected amenities;. Construction on it/of it was not completed, the training aircraft available were old "war wearies;" and maintenance was made extra difficult due to the weather conditions. The Group set to work, however, with dispatch and single purposefulness toward going overseas. Personnel continued to arrive and the rosters were constantly changing. From the top down the right man was being sought for every job. In fact, when the Group went overseas in February 44 only six officers of the Group who went to AAFSAT remained. Transferred to the Group on 3 Nov 43 were twenty-three crews from the 18th Replacement Wing. On 6 Nov 43 twenty ten-men crews from the 470th Bombardment Group (Heavy) arrived with three aircraft. The remainder of November was concerned with continuing organization of the Group and Squadrons and completion of the first phase (Pilots/Co Plots certification) of training. In December the second phase (Bombardiers) of training was completed. Two aircraft and twenty-five crewmen were lost in a mid-air collision on Christmas Eve day. It is noted that twenty-three aircraft, B-24Hs were now assigned to the Group.
The Inspection Team to qualify the Group for overseas service arrived 17 Jan 44, and the Group flew its first Preparation For Overseas Movement Mission (POM) on 18 Jan 44 which was unacceptable to the inspectors. Further training was accomplished during the remainder of January. The third, and last, phase (Navigators) was completed on 20 Jan 44. During this phase, three crews and aircraft were lost in crashes.
Further training in February led up to the second POM inspection in early February which, though not entirely satisfactory, nevertheless did not stop the ground echelon and air personnel from departing on 12 Feb 44 in four troop trains to the Port of Embarkation at Camp Shanks, New Jersey while the Air Echelon in 59 aircraft with three crews as passengers flew to AAF Herington, Kansas on 12, 13 and 14 Feb 44 for further practice missions and a final POM inspection. On 26/27 Feb 44 the Air Echelon was routed to Morrison Field, Florida to begin their overseas flights. On arrival at Morrison Field they came under command of the Air Transport Command for direction to their overseas destination via the Southern Ferry Route (Waller Field, Trinidad; Belem, Brazil; Fortaleza and Natal, Brazil; Dakar; Marrakech, Morocco; Prestwick, Scotland; Valley and Mangan, Wales; then to Rackheath). The Air Echelon flying from Florida did not know their destination until one hour into the first leg of their flight, to Waller Field, Trinidad. One crew ferrying an ATC B-24 was lost in a takeoff accident at Agadir, Morocco and a crew and Group aircraft were lost in a crash in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. Fifty-eight Group aircraft and crews arrived at Rackheath, one as early as 8 Mar 44, with the preponderance on 11th, 12th and 13th. The final nine arrived on 26 Mar 44.
The Ground movement, in the meantime, boarded the 'SS Frederick Lykes," a C-3 freighter converted to troop transport, at New York on 28 Feb 44 and sailed the following day in a convoy. Left behind with a broken propeller shaft after one day at sea, upon repair after five hours, the 'Lykes" caught up with the convoy and arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on 10 March, where the echelon boarded trains for the overnight trip to Rackheath, where they arrived on 11 Mar 44.
On arrival at Station 145 Rackheath, the Group became the third group of the 96th Combat Wing, Second Bombardment Division (later Air Division 1 Jan 45), of the Eighth Air Force. Station 145, was constructed on the estate of Sir Edward Stracy. It was approximately five miles northeast of Norwich, on the Wroxham Road, in the County of Norfolk. The living standards were not up to those that had been experienced on domestic bases; there was no sewerage system for instance, ablution buildings in the living areas had running water but “honey-pot" toilets. Bathing was available only in the communal area, generally some distance from the living area.
The first night the Officers Club was the scene of a pleasant reunion of the flying and ground personnel. Everyone retired that night pleased with their new location and eager to start the next day on the task of making the Group operational. All personnel were restricted to the base until the Group was placed on an operational status. The activity during the thirty pre‐operational days was of two sorts in all departments: familiarization with procedures in the ETO, and the establishment of the sections in a way that would enable the execution of these procedures‘. Ground officers and enlisted men of the different sections visited their analogous sections in long-established groups. Flying personnel received extensive training, under the guidance of experienced combat men, sent from higher headquarters to ease the ”growing pains." Many training missions were flown over England, and as the time for combat duty came nearer, the crews began to realize that the many tedious hours spent flying formation in training were indeed well spent.
Ground personnel studied regulations and instructions of Air Force, Division and Wing, and accordingly set up their sections. None of the administrative personnel had been trained in the task that presented itself here. The job of running an entire station was new to them, and many problems arose; especially that of allocating Group personnel to MP and other duties. All supply channels were jammed with requests for urgently needed materials. Some supplies arrived immediately, but others were weeks in coming. The usual complaints about Army Mess diminished as the men working in that department solved the numerous problems that confronted them.
Twenty-nine days after arrival at Rackheath (10 Apr 44), the Group was sent on its first mission against an aircraft assembly plant at an airfield at Bourges, France. Thirty aircraft were dispatched, carrying six 1000-lb.S.A.P (Semi-Armor Piercing) bombs each. All reached the target, however, four failed to drop their bombs due to mechanical problems. Lt. Col. Shower led the two squadron Group effort and Maj. Walter R. Smith, Group Operations Officer, led the second squadron. It was in the early afternoon of a beautiful day in England and great numbers of personnel gathered around the perimeter track to welcome the crews and aircraft home. The Group flew over the base in perfect formation, thirty dispatched, thirty returned, and a feeling of joy, pride, and relief for those who stayed behind. The bombing results were judged very good, with only one aircraft's six bombs falling outside the target area.
The first missions of the 467th were in compliance with the POINTBLANK directive of 10 Jun 43 directing the then Eighth Bomber Command to destroy the German aviation industry and secure air superiority over the Continent, So the Group initially participated in the "winding down" of Operation POINTBLANK and the beginning of CROSSBOW, the code name for the effort to eliminate German vengeance weapon (V1) sites in France and the Low Countries.
On the night of 22 Apr 44, when the Group’s aircraft were returning from Hamm, Germany, they were followed in by German aircraft. As the formation came over the field , shots were heard above the drone of the motors, and tracers streaked across the sky. Suddenly the entire sky lit up with tracers and ack-ack bursts. Airplanes were going in all directions. As the B-24s tried to land at Rackheath, a Ju 88 came over and dropped bombs near the runway. Then mistaken identity caused a near‐by battery to shoot down a B-24 from a nearby field. More bombs shook the ground at the base before the enemy went home again. The final count showed two ships down over England, with a loss of fifteen men, and one QM man killed on the base A number of others were injured.
16 missions (credited and not) were flown in the month of April (the last being against Berlin). The invasion of France had been postponed from May to June 44 to allow the isolation of the coming invasion sites from rail and road traffic by interdiction (tactical) missions against these transportation targets and against airfields within range of the GAF fighters and bombers of the invasion sites. Twenty-two bridges across the lower Seine River were also priority targets. When weather conditions prevented operations against the above objectives, the Group was dispathced to the strategic bombing of industrial targets, oil industries, aircraft and air depot targets in Germany. 22 Missions were flown in the month of May
On 10 May 44, the 788th BS was transferred “to do some very secret work”. They were sent to the 801st BG “Carpetbaggers”. They flew night missions to drop personnel and supplies to the French Underground.
June's twenty-nine missions (including three on D-Day) were mostly tactical with only six strategic missions flown by the Group in the month. Only nineteen missions were flown in July, of which eleven were strategic types. Of the nineteen missions in August, nine were strategic and the major number of those against oil or air related targets. Crossbow missions ended for the 8th AF on 31 Aug 44, the Group had flown only seven of this type mission. On 18 August, the Group flew its 100th mission, in just 140 days, a Second Bombardment (Air) Division record.
In August 44 a realignment of Groups and Squadrons within the Eight Air Force occurred to reduce it to its authorized strength. As a consequence of this, the 492nd BG(H) was withdrawn from combat operations. On 10 Aug 44 the 859th BS from that Group was sent to the 467th and became the 788th BS (2nd Org). Most of the “newcomers” were not pleased about their transfer. Inter early days with the 467th they lost no time in making this known, and many members of the Group did not point to a “Welcome” sign on the Rackheath doormat. As time went on, however, they became reconciled, end ended up “strong members of the family”
In September there were only five combat missions, all strategic, into Germany, against transportation and oil industry targets. On 11 September, the Group, and 96th Combat Wing, went off operations to begin ‘Trucking Operations’ (the ferrying of food and medical supplies to primarily support Patton’s Army in France).
Back to combat missions on 3 Oct 44. The fourteen missions of October, twelve of November and the first seven of December were each strategic into Germany, with 21 against transportation, 4 against airfields, 6 against the oil industry, 1 area bombing at Cologne and 1 mission credit toward Coblenz in which no bombs were dropped.
On 13 Oct 44, a change in Squadron responsibilities occurred. Prior to that date, each Squadron trained and provided its own Lead Crews. From that date forward, Group Lead Crew responsibility was placed with the 791st BS. Many crew assignments changed at this time as Squadron Lead Crews were transferred to the 791st and wing crews of the 791st were transferred to the other three squadrons.
Tactical, interdiction missions, against transportation centers and airfields, in support of Allied ground forces in the Battle of Ardennes-Alsace (Battle of the Bulge) began 24 Dec 44 with Eighth AF Mission No. 760, the largest air strike of the war. There were 2034 heavy bombers launched, of which the 467th launched 62 aircraft. The Group's targets were three rail junctions on that day. An additional six tactical missions were flown in December.
29 Dec 44 was a truly bad day at Rackheath . The fog on the base was so thick that the pilots could not even see sides of the runway. Attempting to make instrument take-offs, two aircraft crashed off the end of the runway, with a loss of fifteen killed and four injured. Two other ships that were damaged on take-off managed to get into the air. Of these; one crash‐ landed at Attlebridge (home of the 466th BG), and the crew of the other one bailed out, leaving their plane headed for enemy territory.
The first seven missions of January 45 were tactical mission to targets in Germany. Beginning 14 Jan 45, the Group flew twenty-six missions on marshaling (rail) yards and four on highway bridges, canals and viaducts. Other missions were to ten oil targets, two U-Boat building yards, two armor building factories (including one at Berlin), eight airfields or air depots (including four oriented toward jet fighters/interceptors), two industrial targets, and one against the German Army Headquarters at Zossen, Germany (in an effort to “assassinate” Hitler). Operation CLARION, a major assault on German canal, rail and road communications began on 22 February 45. Two of the remaining tactical missions were in support of Operation VARSITY, the Allied assault across the Rhine River (against GAF airfields in Western Germany). Two others were against German pockets of resistance in the Point de Grave/Royan, France area. This area was bypassed by the Allies even though it denied them the use of the port facilities at Bordeaux. On one of these missions the Group set the 8th AF record for bombing accuracy.
The Group's 200th mission came on 22 Mar 45, and was celebrated with a large "stand-down" party. The day after the 200th mission party, the Group was still celebrating with a big 'beer bust" and watching P47 and P-51 exhibition teams in an air show of stunt flying. A less experienced pilot in a P-51 wandered by and attempted a slow roll at 100 feet, lost control and crashed in the Red Cross Gym area. The party was soon over, no one felt like celebrating further.
After the initial aircraft, all H models, the Group began receiving J models which required the maintenance crews to learn of them and their variations from the H models on the line. Later L and M models were received and following hostilities many aircraft were assigned to the Group, some new, some castoffs from other Groups and each had to be prepared for the flight back to the United States. The aircraft maintenance crews received a deserved honor in that the majority of the passengers on these flights were from their ranks.
The earlier assigned crews sometimes flew three, four, five missions in a row. Later it was the normal practice in the 467th for a crew to fly two combat missions and one practice mission in a four-day time span. The fourth day was, except for Sunday for ground schools, for pilots Link Trainers, Celestial Navigation trainers with the Navigator, for Gunners, skeet and/or other gunnery trainers. Some Administrative flights were scheduled on the non-combat flight days, slow time of aircraft engines, pick up of replacement aircraft, etc. Typically, the initial crews assigned the Group flew 30 missions, later this was increased to 35 missions. In fact, there was no maximum number of missions required to be flown, all air crews technically were relieved due to combat fatigue and not number of missions. It was the practice to relieve Pilots, Co-pilots, Navigators, Bombardiers, Radio Operators and Aerial Engineers after the number of missions above. Ball, nose, tail and waist Gunners were generally relieved when their crew pilot finished his missions, even though they may not have had the number of missions noted above.
The following are the auxiliary units attached to the 467th BG:
The 1229th Quartermaster Company Service Group (AVN)
The 1229th was the first unit on the base arriving 10 Sep 43. Its duties included all QM clothing and equipment for all enlisted men on the base, all expendable items (stationery, office supplies), all subsistence, all solid fuels, ground petroleum products, laundry and dry cleaning, local purchases, rail movement of personnel and QM salvage operations.
Detachment A 862nd Chemical Co (AO)
The 862nd arrived on 11 Nov 43. They maintained 23,000 sq. ft. of chemical bomb storage for incendiary bombs, colored grenades (pyrotechnics) and sky markers. Half of the detachment worked with the squadron ordnance sections in loading conventional ordnance. It was also responsible for gas attack training and chemical gas use.
74th Station Complement Squadron AVN (RS)
The 74th arrived next, on 12 Nov 43. It operated the base, the telephone exchange, fire department, Post Office, electrical installations and other utilities.
1451st Ordnance Supply and Maintenance Co. (AVN)
Assigned on 15 Nov 1943, this company maintained over three hundred vehicles from Jeeps to cleric’s to the large 4000 gal fuel trailers, In addition, the 1451st was responsible for stocking the ammunition area. Since the buildings and roads already completed by the Air Ministry were “inadequate for the needs of the Group this unit also helped in the construction of the nissen huts and runways.
2105th Engineer (AVN) Fire Fighting Platoon
On 8 Dec 43, this unit was originally formed from members of the 74th Station Complement Squadron and RAF personnel. In Feb 44 additional men from the 2031st E.A.F.F.P were assigned to the unit and the RAF personnel were relieved. The 2105th was eventually activated on 10 April 44. Its duties varied from alert and rescue operations during flying periods, putting out fires, maintenance of fire extinguishers, training ground personnel in basic fire fighting, and practicing dry runs with all manner of fire fighting techniques.
The 470th Sub Depot
The 470th Sub Depot was activated on 7 Jan 44. The Sub Depot built, repaired and supplied the needed parts and equipment necessary to keep the bombers and the men who flew in them in the air. Their machine shop, welding shop, paint shop, instrument shop, propeller shop, supply sections, etc., were the best in the 2nd Air Division (2nd AD). With the arrival of the air crews, the shops were soon going day and night, building, repairing, and supplying the needed parts and equipment to keep the planes in the air.
The 270th Finance Section
This unit was activated on 18 Jan 1944, They handled ll assigned personnel payroll including all base pay information, deductions, allotments, etc.
The 1286th Military Police Co. (AVN)
The 1286th was assigned on 3 Feb 1944. Their responsibility was all base security including guarding the five base entrances. The unit was also responsible for the new men on the base learned to conform to ETO regulations and the “English way” of doing things (such as driving on the left hand side of the road, walking on the right side and the blackening out of vehicles and buildings). They were also called upon to guard numerous crashed and force landed aircraft on the base and parts of Norfolk County.
The 259th Medical Dispensary Aviation (RS)
Activated in Sep 1944, the 259th had its beginning with arrival of personnel on the base on 22 Oct 1943. Station Sick Quarters were ready on 25 Dec 43, for use by the Medical Section, which until the Group. With the arrival of the Group, the medical section was reorganized along the lines of a Station Hospital, incorporating the Squadron medical personnel into the total medical facility. The 259th eventually had a Surgeon, four medical officers, one dental officer, technicians for pharmacy, laboratory, x-ray, medical and dental, two ambulance drivers and several clerks (no nurses ever assigned).
All of the above auxiliary units on the field were inactivated (except Detachment A 862nd Chemical Co. (AO) on 15 April 1945 and reorganized and activated into the 375th Air Service Group, composed of a Headquarters and Base Service Squadron, the 812th Air Engineering Squadron and the 636th Air Material Squadron.
The 467th had no one hero but did have a "hero' aircraft and crew that maintained it. “Witchcraft," a B-24H, Serial No. 42-52534 of the 790th BS(H) flew on the first Group mission and on the next to last, a total of 130 missions without once failing to reach its assigned target, the record for 8th Air Force Liberators. Her ground crew consisted of Crew Chief Joe Rameriz, Assistant George Dong, Mechanics Ray Betcher, Wait Elliott and Joe Vetter, a real 'League of Nations" representation. Much credit has to be given the crews who flew "Witchcraft" to the record, they never turned back before reaching the target for mechanical or personnel reasons. "Witchcraft" received over 300 flak holes, had thirteen engine changes, had to go to the Sub Depot twice for repairs. But in her remarkable career not a man was injured or killed in her. "Witchcraft" returned to the United States in June 45, one of few original Group aircraft that did so.
In its twelve months of combat, the 467th BG flew 212 combat missions, over 5,500 combat sorties and dropped more than 13,000 tons of bombs, Aircraft lost in action numbered only twenty-nine (the lowest loss rate of any Group of the 8th AF). The Group set the unsurpassed record for bombing accuracy and had the best overall standing for bombing accuracy in the entire 8th AF. The Group had the highest overall aircraft availability record in the 2nd AD, was always high in effective aircraft launched, had low mechanical failures and/or aborted missions. The Motor Pool had an extremely low accident rate, the Photo Section received citations for photos secured, the best kept airplane in the 2nd AD was from the 467th, and the 789th BS(H) had a record 201 consecutive missions without an abort.
Message to all the men of the 467th Bombardment Group (H) on the occasion of the celebration of the first two hundred missions:
"Each and every member of the 467th Group and
Allied Units may well view with pride and
satisfaction the enviable record established
in carrying out in less than a year,
two hundred bombing attacks against enemy installations,
as well as numerous efficiently run "trucking"
missions‐-hauling supplies to rapidly moving
ground forces during September 1944. The
record has been outstanding because of the
unfailing interest, untiring devotion to duty
and wholehearted co-operation of all officers
and men on this station, both on the ground and
in the air. Your co-ordinated efforts have resulted
in relentless attrition upon the enemy's
resources and fighting facilities, and you may
feel rightfully conscious that yours was a
tangible contribution toward the impending
final triumph of Allied Arm’s.
While giving thanks for past success, let us
be mindful of the sacrifice made by those who
have not returned from these missions. Their
only request would undoubtedly be that we
continue during the ensuing months of the war to
display the same zeal and enthusiasm which have
during the past year achieved such splendid results,
to the end that we may see chastisement
of the last aggressors and the establishment of
a just and lastihg peace.""
ALBERT J. SHOWER, Colonel, Air Corps, Commanding.