by Robert Taylor
The winter of 1944 / 45 wasn’t the coldest ever recorded in England but it came close. The weather was bitter and, in what would turn out to be the last Christmas of the war, temperatures plunged across the country, bringing ice, freezing fog and deep banks of drifting snow.
Airfields across East Anglia stood bleak and frost-bound, runways kept clear of snow when conditions allowed, whilst the heavy bombers of the US Eighth Air Force remained under wraps, engines oiled, warmed and ready for any break in the banks of murky fog that would allow them to fly. And when those breaks came, the bombers were back in action ready to play their part in the final destruction of Hitler’s Third Reich. The end game was rapidly approaching and both sides knew it.
Bearing all the hallmarks of a classic Robert Taylor masterwork, this outstanding piece portrays one such break in the weather when, with recent heavy snow beginning to thaw, the B-17 Fortresses of the famous 100th Bomb Group at Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk are being prepared for a new mission to Germany in early 1945.
Earning the nickname ‘The Bloody Hundredth’ due to the heavy losses they suffered, Robert has fittingly chosen the 100th BG to represent all those who flew so heroically with the Eighth Air Force in England during World War II.
The Eighth flew its final bomber operations of the war on 25 April 1945, the last of 968 combat missions involving over 523,000 sorties; they had dropped some 700,000 tons of bombs, inflicting destruction on a scale from which the enemy could never recover. Yet the cost of the victory in which they had played such a major part made for sober reading; they had lost some 6,130 bombers and fighters along with some 47,000 casualties, including more than 26,000 dead - half of the entire US Army Air Force losses during the conflict.
|Overall mat size: 23½" x 38"|
|Museum Presentation||Signed by three 100th B.G. veterans - matted with six additional 100th BG pilot signatures|
This three signature limited edition is triple matted with a shadow box layer to include the original signatures of six additional pilots of the 100th Bomb Group, including Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal (the main character in a planned TV series about the Bloody 100th).
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|Sterling silver USAAF pilots wings included in the mount. (original wartime issue)|
|Maj. Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal (Pilot) *||1st. Lt. Richard Ames (Pilot) *||Capt. Grant Fuller (Pilot) *|
|Chuck Harding (Pilot) *||Hal Switzer (Pilot) *||Capt. Glenn Rojohn (Pilot) *|
|Capt Robert Shoens (Pilot)||1st Lt John Clark (Co-Pilot)||1st Lt James Rasmussen (Navigator)|
|* indicates matted signature|
|The Signatories (matted signatures)|
|Maj. Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal
Rosenthal was a graduate of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School, and had been working at a law firm in Manhattan when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and enlisted in the U.S. Army the next dayt. In August 1943 he joined the 418th Squadron of the 100th Bombardment Group, stationed at Thorpe Abbotts in England, as a pilot and aircraft commander.
On only his third mission with the 100th BG, out of 13 B-17s on an October 10, 1943 mission over Münster, Rosenthal's was the only plane to return, with two engines dead, the intercom and the oxygen system non-functional, and with a large ragged hole in the right wing.
|1st. Lt. Richard Ames - pilot, 351st. Squadron.|
|Capt. Grant Fuller
Born in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, he trained in San Antonio, Perrin Field, Hicks Field, Ellington Field (all in Texas) and Rapid City, South Dakota. He completed 30 combat missions. Awards include Air Medal with OLC's, Unit Citation and Polish Home Army Cross.
|Capt. Hal Switzer
Harold Switzer joined the service in 1943 and took basic training in Atlantic City, NJ. His wings were received at Freeman Field. He then took transitional training to fly B17's and joined the 100th BG. His most memorable mission was Magdeburg in April, 1945. Flying in the slot (Purple Heart corner) his squadron was attacked by Me262 jets. Second and Third Element Leads were knocked out, so he moved up to Second. His tail gunner (Dan Radice) and ball turret gunner (Pete Yarnot) shot down two jets and received full credit. The lead ship dropped out, and Captain Switzer led the squadron back to Thorpe Abbotts. He flew ten missions during the war, and was decorated with the Air Medal, Group Citation and Presidential Citation.
|1st. Lt. Chuck Harding
Chuck Harding was born in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, training in California, Texas, New Mexico and Tennessee. Chuck was a B17 pilot with the 100th BG and flew the DDay mission, Russian Shuttle mission. Chuck was shot down on his 17th mission over Augsburg, Germany. He got to Switzerland, where he was interned but escaped and returned to American forces. His escape plan was adopted by Army Intelligence and over 100 men were later able to escape, using the plan. Decorations: Air Medal, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
|Capt. Glenn Rojohn
Glenn H. Rojohn was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He received his training in the eastern States, and was Pilot-in-Command of
'The Little Skipper' on the Hamburg raid with the 100th Bomb Group this day. After bombing the target and on the way home, another B17 came up from underneath and collided with his aircraft. The two planes left the formation locked together, with Captain Rojohn controlling both planes with throttles. Some aircrew baled out, and Captain Rojohn crash-landed both aircraft on enemy territory. The Gestapo interrogated him for a few days, believing that he had commanded a new, 8-engined secret weapon. Awards include the DFC Air Medal, Purple Heart and POW Medal.