55th Fighter Group

55th Fighter Group

66th Fighter Wing, 8th USAAF.
The 55th Fighter Group was composed
of 38th, 338th and 343th Squadrons.

 The Group was assigned to 66th Fighter Wing of the Third Air Division, 8th USAAF on 16th of September 1943, with a bomber escort role. At this time they were the first 8th USAAF Group to be equipped with P-38 Lightnings, which they flew from Station 131 at Nuthampstead, Herts. They remained at Nuthampstead until April 21st 1944 when they were moved to Station 159 at Wormingford in Essex to make way for 398th Bombardment Group. On July 18th 1944, the Group converted to P-51Ds and stayed at Wormingford until July 21st 1945, before becoming part of the occupation forces in Germany until disbandment on August 20th 1946.

The 55th FG flew over 600 missions and received two Distinguished Unit Citations for the period between September 3rd and 13th 1944 and on February 19th 1945. 181 of their aircraft were reported as Missing In Action.The involvement of the 55th FG on September 11th, 1944 mission meant many separate combats with involvements of all four squadrons. Their pilots won many victories, but also four 55th FG P-51s were Missing In Action by the end of this day.


Losses of the 55th Fighter Group in the air battle on 11th of Sept. 1944

P-51D 43-13723 - 38th FS - Lt. Kennth I. Crawford - KIA
P-51D 44-14176 - 38th FS - Lt. William M. Lewis - KIA (1944 - 2002 MIA)
P-51D 44-13850 - 343th FS - Lt. Kenneth T. Williams - KIA
P-51D 44-13724 - 343th FS - Lt. Wayne E. Rosenoff - POW


Claimed victories by the fighters of the 55th FG on 11th of Sept. 1944

Lt. Richard I. Barrett 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Darrell S. Cramer 2 Me 109 destroyed (one of them together with an unknown P-51 pilot)
Lt. Robert K. Fruh 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Russell C. Haworth 2 Me 109 destroyed, 1 Me 109 damaged
Lt. Walter J. Konantz 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. William J. Leonard 1 Me 109 destroyed, 1 Me 109 damaged
Lt. John M. Wakeland 2 Me 109 destroyed, 1 Me109 damaged
Lt. William J. Ingram 2.5 Me 109 destroyed, 1 Me 109 damaged
Lt. Merle M. Coons 1 Me 109 destroyed, 1 Me 109 destroyed probably
Lt. Kenneth I. Crawford 1 Me109 destroyed
Lt. Earl R. Fryer 3 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Tunis H. Holleman 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Francis M. Matney 2 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Clifford C. Sherman 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Arthur L. Thorsen 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt/Col. John L. McGinn 1 Me 109 destroyed, 2 Me 109 damaged
Lt. Robert H. Yee Litt 1 Fw 190 destroyed
Lt. Frank L. Tischer 1 Me 109 destroyed probably
Lt. Robert P. Tibor 1 Me 109 damaged
Lt. Wayne E. Rosenoff 1 Me 109 destroyed
Lt. Richard Bishop 1 Fw 190 destroyed, 1 Fw 190 damaged, 1 Fw 190 destroyed on ground, 4 locomotives destroyed

The 55th FG had one MISSING pilot from this day, Lt. William M. Lewis, Jr. Bill. With good fortune we found where he crashed, and on common mission with the US Army CILHI we recovered his remains from the crash site and "brought Bill home"...

A book was published in 2005 covering the whole story of Bill Lewis, his daughter Sharon searching for her father, our effort and the common CILHI recovery mission leading to the recovery and identification of the airman's remains and the burial in his hometown Tulsa mission. See more here: Courtesies of the Heart.

One of the best known 55th FG’s
Mustang P-51D #44-13837 CY-M "Miss Marilyn II"
flown by 1st Lt. R. E. Welch of 343rd FS, 55th FG
- October - November 1944


Code letters, callsigns and colors of squadrons of the Group

Squadron Sqn letters rudder ID
38th CG triangle / Red Hellcat
338th CL circle / Dark Green Acorn
343rd CY square / Yellow Tudor

55th Fighter Group today

 Lt. Wayne E. Rosenoff of 343th FS was one of the four 55th FG pilots that were shot down on the 11th of September 1944. He was the only survivor of the unit’s loses that day.

53 years later he attended the opening ceremony of the museum dedicated to his last wartime combat as a representative of the 55th FG.

On the photo in the background are pilots of JG 4 - his former opponents. Our great friend Wayne passed away in August 2003.


A P-51D warbird flying today in 55th FG colours