The true story of the 459th Bombardment Group during World War II
This document is about the 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy), a group of about 2000 servicemen (~400 officers, ~1600 enlisted men) within the 304th Bomb Wing serving under the 15th Army Air Force, based in and flying from the boot heel of Italy in World War II.
The 459th consisted of 5 groups: Headquarters (Hq) and four Squadrons:
Each of the squadrons consisted of about 100 officers and 400 enlisted men. Each squadron had a group of planes and air crew members (the “air echelon”), as well as a group of ground crew and support servicemen (the “ground echelon”).
This is not a work of fiction. It is not historical fiction.
With the exception of the overview pages I have written, this material was transcribed directly from (AFHRA) Compact Disc #B0607, which is a scan of microfiche reel B0607, pages 675 – 2009. This material was sent to me by Archangelo “Archie” DiFante on 26 APR 2018. This source is the official US record of the 459th, most of which was declassified in 1958, imaged to microfiche format on 11 APR 1973, and scanned to digital form as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. I am deeply grateful to the AFHRA, the US Army Air Corps, and the men and women who so bravely served on our behalf in that conflict.
I have tried using several approaches at Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert some of the AFHRA documents to searchable form, but all my efforts have failed, and so have had to manually transcribe the narratives you see here. I have done my best to faithfully represent the format in which they were originally written.
I am learning to build a web page, research, organize, transcribe and comment on historical narratives, all at the same time. All mistakes in transcription, poor organization, or poor commentary are entirely my own. Please post and let me know about it. But please also be gentle in doing so!
- An invaluable source of background information on the 459 is the excellent book Coffee Tower by Lyle McCarty, a sort of yearbook and memoir of the activities of the 459th, told from the perspective of the men who were really there. I can’t bring you that book, but if you have a couple hundred dollars, you may be able to get it yourself. My work may be drier, less emotional and less personal, but is intended to be fully factual, and may be a good compliment to your Coffee Tower reading experience, assuming you are lucky enough to get your hands a copy of one.
- Several websites on the 459th also informed this work, which I intend and hope will benefit from this work in return. They include:
- 459th Bombardment Group, Army Air Corps Library and Museum
- 459th Bomb Group, American Air Museum in Britain
- 459th Operations Group, Wikipedia
- Rickard, J (18 March 2014), 459th Bombardment Group
- 459th Bombardment Group, Army Air Corps Museum
- Fifteenth Air Force Heavy Bomber Units, Second Bombardment Association: United States Army Air Forces World War II
- Fifteenth Air Force- Strategic Bombing from Italy, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
- B-24D Airplane Flight Manual, produced by Consolidated Aircraft and printed on 15 SEP 1942
- 461st Bombardment Group (H), 461st Bombardment Group Association
- I also used (and cited) some material from Kevin Mahoney’s book “Fifteenth Air Force against the Axis: Combat Missions over Europe during World War II (1st Edition)”