|100th Bomb Group C.O. (19 Apr 44 - 28 Apr 44)
KIA on Sottevast mission 28 Apr 44
Col. Robert H. Kelly
(Photo courtesy of the Kelly family)
THE ABOVE WERE FLYING WITH LAKIN AND THE NEW GROUP C.O., COL. ROBERT KELLY.
COL KELLY COMMANDED THE 100TH FOR ONE WEEK AND TWO DAYS. HE WAS LOST ON HIS FIRST MISSION TO SOTTEVAST. AT TAKE-OFF TIME THE NEW COMMANDER ELECTED TO BUMP THE 100TH'S BEST FLIGHT LEADER (CAPT JACK SWARTOUT) AND LEAD HIMSELF. THE RESULTS WERE A DISASTER, TWO SHIPS WERE LOST WHEN THE COL ELECTED TO MAKE A SECOND RUN OVER THE TARGET AT THE SAME ALTITUDE AND ON THE SAME HEADING. AMOUNG THE KIA'S WAS THE 100TH BELOVED LEAD NAVIGATOR JOSEPH "BUBBLES" PAYNE; SAID BY JIM BROWN AND HARRY CROSBY TO HAVE BEEN THE BEST.
This was what can best be called a "pick-up" crew of veteran airmen, with the exception of Col. Kelly fresh from the States and had became the 100th's Commanding Officer only nine days prior to the mission. Joe "Bubbles" Payne was a member of the original air echelon of the Group as were T/Sgt James C. Brown and S/Sgt Albert M. Freitas. With the exception of Magee Fuller, they were the last of the "Original 100th" to become casualties. T/Sgt Leo R. Cannon joined the Group in August 1943, his original crew (F.H. Meadows) was shot down at Bremen 08 Oct 1943. Capt William G. Lakin had been with the Group prior to October 1943.
AAF STATION #139
26 April 1944
TO : Commanding Officer, 351st Bombardment Squadron, APO ,#559.
1. The official records of the Headquarters 3rd Bombardment Division indicate that during the month Of January, February, and March 1944 the 100th Bombardment Group led a11 other groups in the Division in the following respects:
(a) Percent of aircraft on hand on station per day which were operational. The 100th Group was 7% higher-than the division on average.
(b) Percent of aircraft on hand on station per day which were non-operational because of battle damage. The 100TH Group was 6% lower than the Division average.
(c) Percent of aircraft on hand on station per day which were non-operational because of maintenance and repair. The 100th Group was; 3% lower than the Division average
2. The above outstanding accomplishments are the direct result of efficient performance of maintenance activities under your supervision.
3. I desire to commend you and all the personnel under your direction who shared in the responsibility for this excellent record. It is further desired that you personally bring this commendation to the attention of the engineering officer and enlisted personnel under your jurisdiction.
R. H. KELLY
Colonel, Air Corps