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863rd Chemical Company, Detachment A

Cpl Edward L. Gallagher


For an organization basically designed to carry on a chemical war defense if such warfare developed, the 863rd Chemical Company has strayed far from their original goal. Finding no immediate prospects of a gas warfare, the company was split up among the squadrons and assigned the task of handling incendiaries and sky markers.

Teamed with the other "grunt and groan" artists who muscle the high explosives into the bomb bays, the Chemical boys help load the bombers with every type of incendiary bomb the Air Force uses. Most of the work is done at night in all kinds of weather, but the men under the command of First Lt. Cosby D. Thomas have always been on hand when loading time came around.

Their efforts have borne fruit for a long time, blossoming out in huge fires at Hamburg, Berlin, Merseburg and some of the other prize German targets. The bombs loaded by the 863rd Chemical Company have played a large part in the destruction of many German factories and, according to the boys who do the loading, will continue to do so until the Nazis cry "Uncle."

History of the 863rd Chemical Company

[photos courtesy of the Edward Gallagher Family - 863rd History courtesy of Rod Coon]