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376th Heavy Bombardment Group

“The Wild Wolf” having its nose wheel repaired. Walt Bjerklund folder, 376th Heavy Bombardment Group Records.

The Briscoe Center has added the records of the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group (HBG) to its military history collections. Comprised of four air squadrons, the 376th HBG saw action in the North African and Italian theaters during World War II. The collection was donated by the 376th HBG Association, a veteran’s group, which continues to stage reunions and raise money for a variety of causes.

“I want to thank the 376th HBG Association for donating this collection, which perfectly complements the center’s growing military history collections,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “The records will also continue to grow as association members donate new materials, giving us a fuller picture of the American airman’s experience during the Second World War.” 

The 376th HBG grew from a task force of 231 servicemen and 23 aircraft commanded by Colonel Harry E. Halverson from Fort Myers, Florida, in 1942. The unit, originally called the Halverson Project (HALPRO), was deployed to Egypt the same year. From there it began raids on Axis (mostly German and Italian) targets in North Africa. The HALPRO unit became the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group and was nicknamed “the Liberandos” after the B-24D Liberator aircraft it operated. New aircraft and personnel were added in 1943 to create the unit's four squadrons. From bases in Palestine, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the 376th HBG bombed Axis supply lines first in North Africa, and later in Europe. Between 1943 and 1945, the group flew over 450 missions. 

The 376th HBG Records comprise correspondence, newspaper clippings, legal documents, photographs, audiovisual recordings, notes, research materials, and artifacts. The papers also document many of the 376th HBG Association’s reunions, which include oral history projects, awards, and lectures, as well as the association’s publication The Liberandos Intelligencer. In addition to administrative records, the collection contains the papers of individual veterans including Captain Edward Clendenin, Captain James O. Britt, Major John M. Toomey, and Lieutenant Richard H. Spaulding. The records also contain material culture items such as flight jackets, helmets, insignia, and slide rules used to determine bombing distances.