Did you know how the 100th Bombardment Group got its nickname?

B-17s of the 100th Bombardment Group on the ground
(Photo: American Air Museum in Britain)

We at Beaches of Normandy Tours have been eagerly awaiting Masters of the Air, the new miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, which serves as a companion to the earlier shows Band of Brothers and The Pacific. We invite you to watch the show with us as we react to some aspect of each recent episode in our short weekend article over the upcoming weeks. Today, we’d like to quickly talk about how the 100th Bombardment Group, the group depicted in the series, got its nickname “The Bloody Hundredth.”

Flying Fortresses of the 100th Bombardment Group, the star of the new show “Masters of the Air”
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

It’s not surprising that such a nickname would be earned by suffering heavy losses, but the 100th did not lose the highest number of aircraft during the war – that distinction went to the 91st Bombardment Group, which included the famous Flying Fortress Memphis Belle in its ranks. The 100th became infamous because of heavy losses early in its wartime career: it lost 27 of its original 35 crews over the first 109 days of its service in Europe. The rapidity of the losses prompted the unflattering nickname, but new leadership, better discipline and the arrival of better long-range escort fighters eventually improved the statistics – and we hope we’ll get to see these changes as the series goes on.

B-17s of 351st Bombardment Squadron, 100th Bombardment Group in 1944
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Interestingly, the descendant of The Bloody Hundredth, the 100th Air Refueling Wing, is also stationed in England today. It is also the only unit in the United States Air Force whose planes are allowed to display the tail code (in this case, the Square-D) of its World War II predecessor.

A plane from the 100th Air Refueling Wing displaying the old Square-D and the logo of its base, RAF Mildenhall
(Photo: MilborneOne / Wikipedia)

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The 64-year-old President Washington during his final year in office
(Painting: Gilbert Stuart)
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