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Robert E Bertelsen


Robert Bertelsen served as a pilot first with the 564th Bomb Squadron of the 446th Bomb Group, then from April 1944 with the 566th Bomb Squadron of the 389th Bomb Group. He transferred to the 2nd Scouting Force and was killed due to engine failure in AT-6 43-13984 on 11 September 1944. He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, California.

Bertelson was inducted into the Army Air Corps just three weeks before Pearl Harbor and was to complete his Aviation Cadet Training at Lubbock, Texas in June of 1943. I n October he linked up with the 446th BG in Nebraska and shipped out with them to their base in England.

His missions from Bungay included one in Februarys 1944 on the ME 110 factory in Gotha when his plane 'The Beast' dropped out of formation due to technical problems and went on to bomb a 'target of opportunity'. The next available record is of him flying in the pathfinder role in the run up to D-Day. Later that month he was apparently re-assigned to the pathfinder 389th BG with whom he completed his original tour.

The records show that he was then - probably in August 1944 - offered a job with the 355th Fighter Group whose speciality was scouting ahead of the bomber stream. It was thought that pilots with bomber experience were best suited to that role. The pilots were re-trained on the AT-6D before progressing on to the P-51 Mustang. It is documented that five of these ex-bomber pilots lost their lives in this transition. Amongst them was Robert Bertelson who died on the evening of September 11th 1944 in an AT-6D (43-13984). He crashed near the field at Steeple Morden, cause of accident 'undetermined'.


Units served with

  • 355th Fighter Group

    355th Fighter Group

    Where the 353rd Fighter Group had pioneered ground strafing techniques, it was the 355th Fighter Group who destroyed more enemy aircraft by ground strafing than any other Eighth Air Force Group. Based at Steeple Morden from July 1943 to July 1945, the...

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 446th Bomb Group

    446th Bomb Group

    The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...

  • 2nd Scouting Force
  • 564th Bomb Squadron
  • 566th Bomb Squadron

    566th Bomb Squadron

    Constituted 566th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 19 Dec. 1942. Activated on 24 Dec. 1942. Inactivated on 13 Sept. 1945. Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe; Air...


  • 41-23683 "Jo-Jo's Special Delivery" 'Green Dragon'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 329BS, 93BG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 389BG, 8AF USAAF. When Jo-Jo's Special Delivery became war weary, it was turned into an assembly ship for the 389BG it was named Green Dragon and painted with alternating diagonal green and yellow...

Associated Place

  • Bungay

    Military site : airfield
    From late November 1943, the three bases of Bungay, Seething and Hardwick were the stations of the 20th Combat Wing of the Eighth Air Force. The base had previously housed individual squadrons of the 310th Bomb Group (Twelfth Air Force) and of the 93rd...

  • Hethel

    Military site : airfield
    Construction of Hethel airfield began in 1941, and was finished in late 1942. The number of hardstandings was increased from the planned 36 to 50 in 1942, in order to accommodate a full heavy bomb group. The 320th Bomb Group occupied the base for ten...

  • Steeple Morden

    Military site : airfield
    Originally used from 1940 as a small, grass airfield, satellite for nearby RAF Bassingbourn, Steeple Morden was allocated to the Eighth Air Force in August 1942 as a potential bomber base. It was used briefly by the 3rd Photographic Group during the...


Event Location Date
Born Oakland, California 26 August 1922
Died Steeple Morden, Royston, Cambridgeshire SG8, UK 11 September 1944
Buried 1300 Sneath Ln, San Bruno, CA 94066, USA 5 August 1948

At Golden Gate National Cemetery


Date Contributor Update
24 July 2019 09:18:33 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography and unit associations

Biography completed by historian Helen Millgate. Information sourced from correspondence files and articles related to the service of Robert E. Bertelsen.

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 15:46:04 Lucy May Changes to highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations and place associations

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /

Date Contributor Update
06 June 2016 12:35:16 Wex_AdamSterecki Changes to events

taken from

Date Contributor Update
06 June 2016 12:35:15 Wex_AdamSterecki Changes to events

taken from

Date Contributor Update
16 May 2016 17:05:26 millebr Changes to service number and unit associations

U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:23:11 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Unit history, 389th BG Roster