RAF Rattlesden (USAAF 126), Suffolk, England
447th Bombardment Group, Heavy Details
Assigned 8th AAF: November 1943
During World War Two, a B-17 named 'Bit o' Lace' flew with the 447th Bomb Group out of England. She flew 83 missions, and after the war, ended up in Kingman, Arizona, where she was scrapped
Planes from upper left to lower right are; 43-38719 "A" (Blue Hen Chick), 44-8783 "X" (unnamed), 43-38768 "B" (unnamed), 42-31225 "G" (Scheherezade), 43-38230 "E" (Wolf Wagon), 43-37795 "H" (unnamed), 42-97976 "D" (A Bit O' Lace).
A Bit-O-Lace SCALED DOWN FLYING MODEL
72'' WING SPAN WEIGHS A LITTLE OVER 7 POUNDS
One of the original Harvard aircraft, 42-31100 "B" The Gimp, was assigned to the 709th squadron and arrived at Rattlesden in November 1943.
On New Years Day, 1945, during takeoff in fog and heavy clouds, The Gimp stalled, and made a belly landing at the far end of the runway. Lt. Beighley's crew survived, but the aircraft was written off and salvaged.
Boeing's B-17G-1-BO was delivered to the USAAF on September 21, 1943 and assigned to the 447th BOmb Group at Harvard AAB. It was flown across the Atlantic by Lt. Francis Graham. On board for the transit flight were:
Lt. Francis R. Graham
Lt. Carroll O. Welt, Jr.
Lt. Karol S. Dubiel
Lt. David P. Wohl, Jr.
Sgt Joyce C. Riddlehoover
S/Sgt Lynn Brown, Jr.
Pfc Henry E. Pruett
Sgt Edward R. Hallock
S/Sgt Ralph R. Bender
Sgt Felix C. Hall
Enroute to Berlin, the formation had crossed the North Sea, when it crossed paths with a 1st Division group returning from a recall. One plane from the 91st Bomb Group collided with an aircraft from the 94th Bomb Group. Debris from that collision struck and damaged Paper Doll. It fell and crashed with the loss of all on board.
Paper Doll's name would return to the 710th Sqdn on 42-107052, Paper Doll II
No. 42-31225, a B-17G-10-BO, built by Boeing at the Seattle plant and delivered to the Army Air Force on 4 October 1943, and assigned to the 709th Bomb Squadron, then at Harvard AAB. She was flown to England as part of the original assignment of the group to Rattlesden in November 1943.
The origins of the name Schehrazade are unclear, but it is believed that she carried the name throughout her service with the group.
Scheherazade is credited with flying 126 missions without a single mechanical abort, second highest in the 447th, after Milk Wagon. TO DATE THEY TOTAL 122 MISSIONS
No. 43-37756, "Milk Wagon," a B-17G-70-BO, was built by Boeing in Seattle and delivered to the Army Air Force at Dow Field, Maine, on May 18, 1944. It was assigned to the 708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group on June 8, and was on station, ready to fly by June 20, 1944. Over the course of its tour of duty, Milk Wagon set a record in the 3rd Division for 129 missions without aborting for mechanical failure.
Mr. August Altese, navigator on the James Young crew, tells of the origins of the aircraft's name:
Our first mission was June 21st 1944 to Berlin. When we returned to base we were asked what we thought of our first mission out of England as compared to the missions that we had flown out of Italy with the 15th AF. We replied it was a milk run, and named our ship the Milk Wagon and indicated each mission flown with a milk bottle.
War's end - 129 missions, and some of the
708th ground crew who kept Milk Wagon flying
Although Milk Wagon is credited with having completed 129 missions
only been able to identify 124 between June 20, 1944 and April 21, 1945.
Blonde Bomber,B-17G-70-BO 43-37869 was completed in the Seattle plant on May 31, 1944. It was assigned to the 710th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group, and reached Rattlesden at the end of June. Blond Bomber was named by crew chief M/Sgt Milan P. Maroney, in honor of his wife.On November 25, Blonde Bomber was hit by flak over Merseburg, and was seen to leave the formation under control. The aircraft is reported to have crashed near Plauen, approximately 20 miles away.
Summary from MACR 10756
Pilot 2Lt Harry W. Blair POW
Copilot FO Charles S. Voyles KIA
Navigator 2Lt John D. Bante POW
Bombardier FO Kenneth G. Perry KIA
Top Turret Sgt Valentine Williams POW
Radio Operator Sgt Arthur L. Litchfield KIA
Ball Turret Sgt Leo Wolfe POW
Right Waist Sgt Jack C. Peterson POW
Tail Gunner Sgt Edward H. Todd POW
No. 43-37797, "American Beauty," a B-17G-70-BO, was built by Boeing in Seattle and delivered to the Army Air Force on May 23, 1944. It was assigned to the 708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group on June 16, and flew its first combat mission on July 11.Returning from the mission to Karlsruhe, Lt. Summers made an emergency landing at Rattlesden
Assigned to the 447th in early August, 1944, this B-17G-80-BO from Seattle was given the call sign "E." She flew with both 708th and 709th Squadrons through the end of the war in Europe, and returned to the U.S. in July 1945.
Wolf Wagon was among the aircraft scrapped at Kingman, Arizona during 1946 or 1947.
VII BC, 3 BC, 3 BD, 4 CBW: Nov 1943
3 BD, 4 CBW 8 Jan 1944
3 AD, 4 CBW 1 Jan 1945
SCHEHERAZADE of the 709th BS/447th BG
above "Blonde Bomber II" 710th Sqdn.
Col. Hunter Harris Jr. 23 May 1943 to 24 Sep 1944
Col. William J. Wrigglesworth 25 Sep 1944 to 31 Mar 1945
Lt. Col. Louis G. Thorup 31 Mar 1945 to 30 Jun 1945
Lt. Col. Wilfred Beaver 1 Jul 1945 to Aug 1945
First Mission: 24 Dec 1943
Last Mission: 21 Apr 1945
Total Sorties: 7,605
Total Bomb Tonnage: 17,103 Tons
Aircraft MIA: 97
FUDDY DUDDY 708SQ
Medal of Honor 2LT Robert E. Femoyer on 2 November 1944
Claims to Fame
"Milk Wagon" set record for 3AD B-17 with 129 missions and no turn-backs
Activated 1 May 1943 at Ephrata AAB Wash. After initial training moved to Rapid City AAB, SD on 13 June 1943, and on 31 Jul 1943 to Harvard AAB Neb. Completed training at this base with ground units leaving for port of embarkation on the 11th November 1943. The unit sailed on the Queen Elizabeth on the 23rd of November 1943 and arrived Clyde on the 29th of November 1943. The Air ecelon moved overseas via southern ferry route in early November 1943.
Redeployed to the US June/August 1945. The air echelon departed the United Kingdom on 29/30 June 1945. Ground echelon sailed part on USAT Joseph T. Robinson and part on USAT Benjamin R. Milam from Liverpool on 1st and 3rd of August 1945 respectively. Ships arrived Boston on the 12th and 15th of August 1945. Personnel had 30 days R&R. Group established Drew Field in August of 1945, but apparently did not man the field, and inactivated on the 7th of November 1945.