The Second Air Division

Europe, 1944

Army Air Corps8th Air Force2nd Air Division96th Bomb Wing458th Bomb Group753rd Bomb Squadron

After a year and half of training and preparation, I was now a part of the:

  • 753rd Squadron
  • 458th Bomb Group
  • 96th Combat Wing
  • 2nd Air Division
  • 8th Air Force
  • Army Air Corps

The Second Air Division evolved out of the reorganization of the VIII Bomber Command into the 8th Air Force in 1944. The 8th Air Force consisted of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Air Divisions. The 2nd Air Division was originally called the 2nd Bomb Division. It was renamed in 1945. It consisted primarily of bombers and some fighter groups. The 1st and 3rd Air Divisions were primarily B-17s with their corresponding fighter groups.

While administrative responsibilities of bomb groups were retained by division headquarters, their operational functions were assigned to Combat Bomb Wings. The Fighter Wings maintained both administrative and operational responsibilities.

The Second Air Division’s first bombing mission was 11/7/42 and its last 4/25/45. A total of 95,948 sorties were flown in 439 operational missions by the division’s B-24’s which dropped a total of 199,983 tons of bombs.

The Second Air Division was headquartered at Ketteringham Hall in East Anglia, commanded by Major General William E. Kepner, and consisted of:

  • five combat wings (CBWs) – 2nd, 14th, 20th, 95th, 96th
  • one fighter wing – 65th

The five Combat Wings were centered around Norwich, Norfolk and totaled 14 Bomb Groups.

The Fighter Wing was located southwest of the bomb groups and totaled five Fighter Groups.
¨C17C ¨C18C ¨C19C ¨C20C

Bomb Groups Fighter Groups
44thShipdham 4thDebden
93rdHardwick 56thBoxted
389thHethel 355thSteeple Morden
392ndWendling 479thWattishma
445thTiberham 361stBottisham
453rdOld Buckenham   
458thHorsham St. Faith   

The 96th Combat Bomb Wing was comprised of the 458th, 466th, 467th Bomb Groups, headquartered at Horsham St. Faith and commanded by Brig. General Walter R. Peck. Col. James H. Isbell was the Commanding Officer of the 458th Bombardment Group and Major Charles N. Breeding was the Squadron Commander of the 753rd Bomb Squadron.

The 458th consisted of the 752 (7V), 753 (J4), 754 (Z5) and 755 (J3) Bomb Squadrons.

96th Combat Bomb Wing
Bomb GroupSquadron and ID on FuselageIDType
458 BG752 7V753 J4754 Z5755 J3KB-24
466 BG784 T9785 2U786 U8787 6LLB-24
467 BG788 X7789 6A790 Q2791 4ZPB-24
753rd and 754th Squadron Planes

Each plane in a Squadron had a unique call letter on its tail for communication.

All three bomb groups of the 458th Bomb Group had tails with a base color of red and a white stripe. The 458th had a vertical white stripe, the 466th a horizontal white stripe and the 467th a diagonal white stripe.

Each bomb group also had a unique letter id on the wings. The 458th had “K” on the wings.

Each squadron within the bomb group had a unique letter/number id on the fuselage just in front of the tail. The 753rd Bomb Squadron was known by “J4”.

Each plane in the squadron had a unique call letter on the tail. The “Howling Banshee” was “T”. However, a photo in Gene Reynolds book on the 458th BG has shows a photo of the “Howling Banshee” with an L which was the call letter of “Shack Time” from our squadron. This occurred when the front of Howling Banshee and the tail of Shack Time were united into one plane late in 1944 by the 3rd Strategic Air Depot.