301st Bombardment Group (Second World War)

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History

The 301st Bombardment Group was a B-17 group that entered combat with the Eighth Air Force in Britain but was soon moved to the Mediterreanean, where it operated from North Africa and then Italy.

The 301st was one of the Eighth Air Force's first B-17 groups. It was formed with four new bombardment squadrons, but a month later one of these squadrons, the 354th Bombardment Squadron, was disbanded and the 32nd Bombardment Squadron joined the group.

The group moved to England in July-August 1942 where it joined the 1st Bombardment Wing of VIII Bomber Command. The group entered combat in September 1942 and took part in the early stages of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing offensive, attacking comparatively soft targets in France. Its first combat mission came on 5 September 1942 and was an attack on marshalling yards at Rouen.

Towards the end of the year the Eighth Air Force's build-up was disrupted by the need to find forces for the invasion of North Africa. The 301st was one of the groups chosen and in November 1942 it was transfered to the Twelfth Air Force in Algeria (this was originally seen as a temporary move but the group never returned to the Eighth Air Force). The group carried out attacks on airfields, docks and railway yards across Tunisia, Sicily and Sardinia in support of the fighting in Algeria and Tunisia. The group received its first Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on an enemy convoy off Bizerte on 6 April 1943.

After the end of the fighting in North Africa the group took part in the assault on the Italian held island of Pantelleria (May-June 1943). It then shifted its attention to Italy.

In November 1943 the 5th Bombardment Wing, and with it the 301st Bombardment Group, moved to the Fifteenth Air Force, which flew strategic bombing missions from bases in Italy. The ground attacked targets across Europe, from France in the west to Poland in the north-east and Greece in the east. The group won a second DUC for an attack on aircraft factories at Regensburg on 25 February 1944.

The group also supported the Allied armies at Anzio, Cassino and during the invasion of Southern France and the advance into the Po Valley and supported Russian troops advancing into the Balkans. The group returned to the US in July 1945 and was inactivated in October.

Books

   

Aircraft

1942-1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Timeline

28 January 1942 Constituted as 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy)
3 February 1942 Activated
July-August 1942 To England
September 1942 Combat Debut
November 1942 To North Africa and Twelfth Air Force
November 1943 To Fifteenth Air Force
July 1945 To United States
August 1945 Redesignated 301st Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)
15 October 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col. Ronald R Walker: Feb 1942
Lt Col Samuel J Gormly Jr: c.Feb 1943
Col John K Brown Jr: 3 Sep 1943
Col Jean R Byerly:,24 Nov 1943
Lt Col Karl T Barthelmess: 25 Dec 1943
Col John F Batjer: 3 Mar 1944
Lt Col John D Moorman: Sep 1944
Col Ernest S Holmes Jr: 8 Dec 1944
Lt Col Robert H Allyn: 1945
Col Raymond L Winn: 31 Aug 1945

Main Bases

Geiger Field, Wash: 3 Feb 1942
Alamogordo, NM: 27 May 1942
Richard E Byrd Field, Va: 21 June-19 July 1942
Chelveston, Northamptonshire, England: 9 Aug 1942
Tafaraoui, Algeria: c. 26 Nov 1942
Maison Blanche, Algeria: 5 Dec 1942
Biskra, Algeria: c. 16 Dec 1942
Ain M'lila, Algeria: c. 17 Jan 1943
St-Donat, Algeria: 6 Mar 1943
Oudna, Tunisia: 6 Aug 1943
Cerignola, Italy: c. 7 Dec 1943
Lucera, Italy: 1 Feb 1944-1945
Sioux Falls AA Fld, SD: 28 July 1945
Pyote AA Fld, Tex: 23 Aug-15 Oct 1945

Component Units

32nd Bombardment Squadron: 31 Mar 1942-15 Oct 1945
352nd Bombardment Squadron: 3 Feb 1942-15 Oct 1945
353rd Bombardment Squadron: 3 Feb 1942-15 Oct 1945
354th Bombardment Squadron: 3 Feb-16 Mar 1942
419th Bombardment Squadron: 3 Feb 1942-15 Oct 1945 B-17

Assigned To

1942: 1st Bombardment Wing; Eighth Air Force
1943: 5th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943-1945: 5th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 September 2012), 301st Bombardment Group (Second World War) , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/301st_Bombardment_Group.html

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