7th Bomb Group continued.
While the ground echelon was on the high seas the flying personnel had remained at Salt Lake City, departing from that field December 5th with 35 of the latest heavy bombers. Arriving in San Francisco they departed from Hamilton Field the next night for Hickam Field, Hawaii, arriving there shortly after the Japanese attack on the field. Along with the planes of the 7th Bomb Group were those of the 19th Bomb Group, both of whom would make history in the battle for Java. They departed from Hickam Field shortly after arrival as it was impossible to stay at the bomb-shattered field for repairs. Arriving at Brisbane, Australia, in January, 1942, they were met by the ground echelon and stationed at Camp Amerley Field in that city. During the time they were stationed there they were busily engaged in repairing and assembling the latest type aircraft hastily arriving from the States for the defense of the Philippines. At that time members of the flying echelon joined with the 29th Bomb Group as gunners and pilots on A-24's. Shortly after this merger, the llth Bomb Squadron and the 22nd Bomb Squadron were sent on secret orders to assist the 19th Bomb Group in the defense of Java. They played a great part in repulsing the enemy, allowing enough time to permit the evacuation of U.S. personnel from Java.
They were returned to Australia in February and the Group prepared to move to a new secret station. Units of the Group had left previously on February 4, 1942, on the U.S.A.T. Willard A. Holbrook. Arriving in Karachi, India, on March 12, 1942, they established headquarters at the Dirigible hangar seven miles east of Karachi. Almost at once the 7th Bomb Group, already veterans of battle with the Japanese in Java, proceeded to hit the enemy which was at that time attempting to move into Burma. They also aided greatly in the delivery of troops to Burma and on their return trip bringing out evacuees. While this was being carried out, other members of the command were hastily constructing a permanent air base for the Group. Many of the buildings were constructed out of packing crates and other various discarded materials. The men at that time were stationed in tents located near the newly constructed headquarters. Major Cecil E. Combs, originally with the famed 19th Bomb Group, was assigned to the Group at this time and assumed command. During the latter part of March and early April, new crews with the B-17 type airplanes arrived from the U.S. and although forward units of the Group stationed at Agra and Calcutta were already hitting the enemy, the training of these crews was undertaken to prepare them for the future air war against the Japanese in the China-Burma-India theater.
The effective date of redesignation of the 88th Recon Squadron to the 436th Bomb Squadron (H) took place April 22, 1942. The ground echelon of the 9th Bomb Squadron moved out of Karachi by troop train for Allahabad to set up new quarters. About this time the 7th suffered their first casualties in the India-Burma war when a crew taking off from Asonsol, India, to bomb the enemy crashed on the take-off. Of course, the Group had lost a large percentage of men in the Java campaign, but this new loss was felt deeply as the lead pilot of the ship was an old-timer, Capt. Elmer L. Parcel. The 11th Bomb Squadron that had distinguished itself and the 7th Bomb Group so well at Java were made a Medium Bombardment outfit and assigned to the Group, now using heavy and medium bombers. Shortly after converging into a Medium Bombardment Squadron, the 11th was sent to China, one of the first bomber squadrons to hit the enemy in that country.
Outstanding missions during this time consisted of bomber raids on Akyab, Rangoon and various other points in Burma. Losses were slight, though a number of crews failed to return, being destroyed in the air by Japanese Zeros. On June 7, 1942, a lone B-25 attacked Japanese installations in Burma, hitting the enemy at a low altitude of 300 feet. The plane was badly shot up, and the crew was forced to ditch the aircraft in the Bay of Bengal, making this one of the first ditching of an airplane attempted in this war. They were rescued from the water by the commanding officer, Major Necrason, and a crew from the Chinese National Airways Corporation.