2nd Lt. Hillard Johnmeyer
This English airfield lies just to the east of Wymondham, which is about seven miles south-west of Norwich in the eastern portion of England in Norfolk County. (East Anglia: Norfolk and Suffolk) The first USAAF use was in Mid September 1942 by the 320th Bomb Group (M). Hethel is a small village in Norfolk, England. It is located near the historic market town of Wymondham, and is approximately 10 miles south of the city of Norwich. The village gave its name to the former RAF Hethel airbase. 2nd Lt. Hillard Johnmeyer and crew were stationed at Hethel Airbase - Station 114.
Stations are the official Air Ministry names. In most instances the name is that of the parish in which the airfield was situated, but it often happened that the complete station took in parts of two or three villages and in such cases the name of the station was usually that of the most important place. Another factor was the avoidance of similar sounding names that might lead to confusion. New bomber groups from the USA were sometimes preceded by a small advance party, then air and ground echelons would arrive, usually on different dates, often weeks apart.
The 2nd Air Division (in Norfolk and northeast Suffolk) was mainly in Norfolk and was predominantly flying B24 Liberators. The Headquarters of the 2nd were located at Ketteringham Hall, some 3 miles north east of Wymondham, six miles south-west of Norwich. The Second Air Division evolved out of the reorganization of the VIII Bomber Command in to the Eighth Air Force. Starting as the Second Bomb Wing, it became the Second Bomb Division and when the fighter wing was assigned, in September 1944, it was redesignated the Second Air Division in January of 1945. Second Air Division planes carried a circle on the tail.
The fighter contingent of the 2nd Air Division was the 65th Fighter Wing controlling five fighter groups based at airfields in Essex, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire. A fighter group was composed of three fighter squadrons with approximately 30 aircraft each. Fighter types in the 2nd Air Division were mostly North American P-51 Mustangs, but a single group flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.
A cluster of three airfield groups (but sometimes two or four) made up a Combat Wing and the groups of a wing usually operated in support of one another. Hethel was the Headquarters for the 2nd Bombardment Wing made up of the 445th Bomb Group based at Tibenham, Norfolk, just to the east of Tibenham Village itself which is about 13 miles south-southwest of Norwich, the 453rd Bomb Group at Old Buckenham, Norfolk, approximately two miles south-east of Attleborough between Norwich and Thetford, and the 389th. It was also the HQ for the 2nd Bomb Division Provisional Squadron attached to the 48th Station Complement Squadron.
Bombardment Groups were popularly termed Bomb Groups. The Group was the basic operational unit of the air force and each had a numerical designation. Each airfield was occupied by a single Bombardment Group consisting of four flying Bombardment Squadrons. Total personnel on a bomber station varied between two and three thousand.
Squadrons activated with a group usually remained as components of that group throughout hostilities. The exceptions were chiefly in special organisations and reconnaissance groups. The squadrons beside the 567th, were the 564th, 565th, and 566th. A squadron had an average complement of 12 to 16 B-24s and 200 combat airmen. For every man in the air there were another three on the ground. The following units were attached to the bomb group, and its men performed a wide variety of duties essential to running the Hethel airdrome and keeping 'em flying.
The crews were not to know it, but as the B-24s touched down on April 21, 1945, the 389th had flown its last operational mission. They had completed 307 missions from their Norfolk home out of the group's total of 351 and had lost 153 Liberators in combat. On May 30, the B-24s left, leaving behind silent, vacant runways.
In April 1945 the following units were disbanded: 48th Station Complement, 255th Medical Dispensary Company, 463rd Sub Depot, 1200th MP Company, 1215th Quartermaster Corp Service Group, and 1750th Ordnance Company, and its personnel were transferred into one of these units: 832nd Air Engineering Squadron, 656th Air Material Squadron, and 406th HQ & Base Service Squadron, Air Service Group.
Penworthy Note Book
no.1 on my 21st birthday 31 March 1945
2nd attempted mission on 6th April. We took off with 1 mile visibility 400 ft. Ceiling climbed on instruments to 20,000 over France? Never found our formation!! Got shot at with very accurate flak - still on instruments. Let down to 400' over Enemy territory and came back with the 12 - 500 pounders
Click image to enlarge2nd Mission 7 April 1945
Click image to enlarge3rd Mission 9 April 1945
Click image to enlarge4th Mission 11 April 1945
Click image to enlarge5th Mission 16 April 1945
April 7, 1945 | 389th Bomb Group | Uncertain Of What The Next Mission Would Bring | Hethel, War Stories | Trolley Missions | Redeployment Of Forces From Europe To The Pacific | Redeployed To The War In The Pacific | Redeployment To The Pacific Theater | Air Reserve | Strategic Air Command
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