B-17 The Bloody 100th Bomb Group - Firestorm in Dresden / Documentary On 1 June 1942, the Army Air Forces activated the 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (100th BG) as an unmanned paper unit assigned to III Bomber Command. On 25 June 1943, the 100 BG flew its first Eighth Air Force combat mission in a bombing of the Bremen U-boat yards -- the beginning of the "Bloody Hundredth"'s legacy. The group inherited the "Bloody Hundredth" nickname from other bomb groups due to the amount of losses it took. In the early summer of 1943, 100 BG became a "marked outfit" by Luftwaffe fighters after a B-17 pilot first lowered his landing gear to surrender to three Messerschmitt Bf 109s, started to descend after the fighters stopped shooting, then changed his mind and the B-17 gunners shot the three fighter aircraft (one Bf 109 pilot bailed out and presumably reported the event). The group experienced several instances where it lost a dozen or more aircraft on a single mission, and for the next six months, the group focused its bombing attacks against German airfields, industries, and naval facilities in France and Germany. One such raid that the 100th BG made on Münster, ended up with the only surviving 100th BG B-17, the Rosie's Riveters (B-17F 42-30758) commanded by Robert Rosenthal, returning safely to Thorpe Abbots.
In August 1943, the group received its first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) after attacking the German aircraft factory at Regensburg on 17 August 1943, resulting in serious disruption to German fighter production. From January-May 1944, the 100th BG regularly bombed airfields, industries, marshaling yards, and missile sites in Western Europe. The group participated in the Allied campaign against German aircraft factories, Operation Argument, during "Big Week" in the last week of February 1944. In March 1944, aircrews completed a succession of attacks on Berlin and received its second DUC of the war.
The 100 BG flew its last combat mission of World War II on 20 April 1945. The following month the unit's aircrews dropped food to the people in the west of the Netherlands, and in June transported French Allied former prisoners of war from Austria to France. In December 1945, the group returned to the U.S., where it inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on 21 December 1945.
"The Luftwaffe swept through our group and shot down every plane in the group except our plane... We had two severely wounded waist gunners, we had a rocket hole through the wing. Two engines were knocked out. And we went to the target alone and dropped our bombs..." Robert Rosenthal, B-17 pilot
When the 100th Bomb Group first arrived at their new base of Thorpe Abbott, England, they had 30 bombers, 300 aircrew and 3,000 support staff. Of those original thirty crews, 86% were shot down. It earned the Group the chilling nickname 'The Bloody 100th'.
This is the story of the men of the 'Bloody 100th' and the B-17 Flying Fortresses they flew on some of the most dangerous daylight bombing missions of the war, as told by the members of the 'Lucky Bastards Club' - the few who successfully flew 25 missions and were sent home.
The Bloody 100th took part in Operation Gomorrah against Hamburg, and in the infamous Schweinfort and Regensburg raids. They were decimated over Munster, spearheaded raids against Berlin and - most controversially of all - were part of the terrible attack on Dresden that caused so many civilian casualties...
Using much rare colour footage (including private home movies), gun camera film and dramatic archive material, this is the story of one of USAAF's most combat-experienced Bomber Groups.