Heaven Can Wait by Nicolas Trudgian features B-17s of the 100th Bomb Group returning to base.
B-17 Fortresses of the "Bloody Hundredth" - the Eighth Air Force's 100th Bomb Group - return to Thorpe Abbotts following a raid on enemy oil refineries, September 11, 1944.
September 11, 2001 is a date burned into the memory of all the free world. Another September 11, one that goes back nearly sixty years, is a date that hangs long in the memory of aircrews of the 100th Bomb Group: They lost twelve B-17s that day and with them, many of their proud, brave comrades.
On September 11, 1944 all four squadrons of the 100th BG headed for the oil refineries at Ruhland. En-route they encountered ferocious air attacks by Luftwaffe fighters of JG 4 that carved swathes through the Group's formations. Regardless, the mighty battle group thundered inexorably forward towards their target, the Fortress gunners claiming 16 enemy aircraft shot down. But the price was high. Among the surviving aircraft returning to Thorpe Abbotts that autumn day were scores of injured crews, and many severely damaged B-17s. The Group had been decimated: not one aircraft from the 350th Squadron made it home. Next day, bloody but unbowed, and true to the best traditions of the USAAF's Mighty Eighth, the 100th BG went back to bomb the oil refineries at Magdeburg.
The 'Bloody Hundredth' - the chilling tag earned by the Eighth Air Force's 100th Bomb Group - fought a distinguished campaign from June 1943 to the end of WWII, taking part in all the major air campaigns of the USAAF's European air offensive. Nicolas Trudgian's moving tribute to the Bloody Hundredth shows the imaginatively named B-17, Heaven Can Wait, on final approach to Thorpe Abbotts after the intense battle on September 11, 1944. Skilfully piloted by Harry Hempy, the seriously damaged B-17G has struggled 500 miles home on two engines to make it back to England. They lost their tail gunner that fateful day.
Below the descending bomber stream, an agricultural traction engine peacefully ploughs the wheat stubble in preparation for next year's vital crop, the farm workers oblivious to the unimaginable traumas so recently experienced by the crews of the returning B-17 Fortresses.
Heaven Can Wait by Nicolas Trudgian is signed by four pilots and crew who flew with the 100th Bomb Group in Europe during World War II:
Lt. Colonel Henry ‘Hank’ Cervantes
Captain Harry M Hempy
Staff Sergeant Joseph
Technical Sergeant James Mack.
Note: the 'Nicolas Trudgian' logo on the bottom right of the image does not appear on the actual print itself.
30 x 24 inches overall including borders.
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