547th Bomb Squadron History


The 547th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was activated on 1 December 1942, at Gowen Field, Idaho, as a unit of the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). It was placed under the command of Captain Maurice S Dillingham and commenced training at Wendover, Utah, on 2 January 1943, continuing there until 1 April 1943. The unit then moved to Sioux City, Iowa, for final training.

The Group received orders in late April to move to their combat assignment in England. Squadron aircrews left Sioux City with their new B-17Fs for Kearney, Nebraska on 3 May 1943, and then continued to Prestwick, Scotland via Presque Isle, Maine, and Goose Bay, Labrador; one contingent was routed via Gander, Newfoundland instead of Goose Bay. While en route to England, the aircraft piloted by George Keck, after a history of problems with the brakes, was destroyed on landing at Dow Field in Bangor, Maine, due to inoperative left main brake. The ground unit left for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 9 May 1943, sailing on the Queen Elizabeth on 27 May 1943, and arrived in Greenock, Scotland on 2 June 1943.

On arrival in England, the 547th established its home at Grafton Underwood Airfield, Station 106, Northamptonshire. Combat training continued through June, and the Squadron flew its first operational mission on 22 June 1943, with seven Squadron aircraft taking part. Combat losses were a fact of life from the very first mission, with one Squadron aircraft with the Fred Disney Crew lost to enemy action. Unfortunately, of the ten-man crew, only three survived ditching in the English Channel to become POW. Loss of a Squadron aircraft on the second mission led to the Group's motto. A 547th B-17 piloted by Major Selden L McMillin - the Group Deputy CO, known as "Major Mac" - was shot down. They managed to make a crash landing in Holland, but the crew were taken prisoner. Soon after, Colonel Peaslee received a postcard from Major Mac telling him to "KEEP THE SHOW ON THE ROAD." The 384th adopted this as their motto, and so it remains to this day.

Between 22 June 1943, and 25 April 1945, the 547th crews flew 2,265 sorties, against targets in Germany, France, Poland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Holland. The Squadron lost 61 B-17s and 445 men, of whom 100 were KIA, 12 were MIA, 268 were POW, 33 evaded, and 29 were interned in neutral countries: another 3 men were lost to other causes.

Air Campaigns

The 547th flew combat missions in these air campaigns during their combat operations history, from 22 June 1943 through 25 April 1945:
  • Air Offensive, Europe: 4 July 1942 through 5 June 1944
  • Normandy: 6 June 1944 through 24 July 1944
  • Northern France: 25 July 1944 through 14 September 1944
  • Rhineland: 15 September 1944 through 21 March 1945
  • Ardennes-Alsace: 16 December 1944 through 25 January 1945
  • Central Europe: 22 March 1945 through 11 May 1945

Squadron Commanding Officers

Dillingham Photo
Captain (later Major) Maurice S Dillingham - 18 December 1942 to 1 December 1943 (lost on combat mission)

Frink Photo
Captain (later Major) Horace E Frink, Jr. - 1 December 1943 to 15 May 1944, and 1 October 1944 to 29 November 1944

Thacker Photo
Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Robert E Thacker - 16 May 1944 to 30 September 1944

Hutchinson Photo
Major Thomas D Hutchinson - 29 November 1944 to 2 February 1945

Ulrey Photo
Major Edgar E Ulrey - 3 February 1945 through the Istres period