Historical Context

Here’s a sense of what else was going on at the time these narratives were written:

  • By mid-1943, while the 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was becoming an administrative reality and transfers were being issued from other groups to create the Group, the Allies were working to take North Africa from the Axis.
  • In August 1943, the 459th Group received its first four planes from Orlando AATAF (just one plane for each squadron, but it was good enough for a start) flight training finally transitioned from Ground School to Air School. By now, the Allies had taken Sicily and launched the Italian Campaign.
  • In September, the Group was nearing half strength and started logging serious flight hours. They made the transfer from Davis-Monthan Field in Tucson Arizona to Westover Field in Massachusetts (just in time for the cooler weather!). By now, Mussolini had been thrown out of office and Italy surrendered to and joined the British and the USA as allies. In Northern Italy, the Germans took control of the Italian army, freed Mussolini and set him up to block any further allied advance through Italy.
  • In January 1944, the group prepared to transport into the European theater of operations. The ground echelon would sail over aboard Liberty Ships and the air echelon would fly their planes, first to Florida, then Trinidad, Brazil, Africa and finally to Giulia Field in Cerignola, Italy. They would join about a dozen other similar airfields, each housing and basing about 2000 men.
  • The D-Day invasion wouldn’t happen until June of 1944. The Battle of the Bulge would happen at the end of the year. German forces would not surrender until May of 1945, and the Pacific war would not end until September of 1945.
(Source: World War Two Timeline (https://www.historyonthenet.com/world-war-2-timeline-2)

But our guys didn’t know all this. They only knew that for them, the War had finally begun in earnest, after almost a year of training. They were no doubt eager, excited, anxious and fearful about what awaited them, but they put all that aside and forged ahead.