The winter of 1944 wasn’t the coldest ever recorded in England but it came close. The weather was bitter and, in what would turn out to be the last Christmas of the war, temperatures plunged across the country, bringing ice, freezing fog and deep banks of drifting snow.
Airfields across East Anglia stood bleak and frost-bound, runways kept clear of snow when conditions allowed, whilst the heavy bombers of the US Eighth Air Force remained under wraps, engines oiled, warmed and ready for any break in the banks of murky fog that would allow them to fly. And when those breaks came, the bombers were back in action ready to play their part in the final destruction of Hitler’s Third Reich. The end game was rapidly approaching and both sides knew it.
Bearing all the hallmarks of a classic Robert Taylor masterwork, this outstanding piece portrays one such break in the weather when, with recent heavy snow beginning to thaw, the B-17 Fortresses of the famous 100th Bomb Group at Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk are being prepared for a new mission to Germany in early 1945.
Earning the nickname ‘The Bloody Hundredth’ due to the heavy losses they suffered, Robert has fittingly chosen the 100th BG to represent all those who flew so heroically with the Eighth Air Force in England during World War II.
The Eighth flew its final bomber operations of the war on 25 April 1945, the last of 968 combat missions involving over 523,000 sorties; they had dropped some 700,000 tons of bombs, inflicting destruction on a scale from which the enemy could never recover. Yet the cost of the victory in which they had played such a major part made for sober reading; they had lost some 6,130 bombers and fighters along with some 47,000 casualties, including more than 26,000 dead - half of the entire US Army Air Force losses during the conflict.
Overall size: 21¼" x 35½"