The 310th Bombardment Group, USAAF, was a B-25 Mitchell group within the Twelfth Air Force that served in North Africa, Sicily and on the mainland of Italy, mainly targeting Axis communication targets.
The group was activated on 15 March 1942 and began to prepare to be deployed overseas. It was one of the groups allocated to Operation Torch, the upcoming invasion of French North Africa,
The USAAF had originally hoped to use a northern route to fly suitable aircraft from Canada via Greenland and Iceland to Britain, from where they would deploy south to take part in Operation Torch. This plan suffered from bad winter weather and was eventually abandoned, but the 310th Bombardment Group was one of the few groups to use the northern route successfully. By 18 November 1942 the group had reached Morocco.
The group flew its first mission on 2 December, using eight aircraft that were at Maison Blanche. The group attacked German installations south of Gabes, as part of a major effort to support an early push towards Tunisia. After the first Allied advance was halted by the Germans the 310th took part in a series of Allied attacks on Axis-held harbours, designed to stop supplies and reinforcements reaching North Africa.
It soon became clear that the bulk of the Twelfth Air Force would be needed to face the unexpectedly strong German build-up in Tunisia, and in late December the 310th moved east to Algeria. At this stage the unit could rarely provide more than half a dozen aircraft, while early plans for low-level attacks had to be abandoned in the face of powerful German anti-aircraft guns.
On 1 January 1943 the 310th moved to a new airfield at Berteaux, near Constantine (Algeria), where it would remain for the next six months. Harbours remained a target, but German airfields also came under attack. The group took part in a series of heavy raids against airfields around Gabes on the afternoon of 4 February.
The shipping links between Sicily and Tunisia were a major concern for the Allied commanders in North Africa, and a major air offensive against Axis shipping began on 11 January. The 310th was the main attacking force during this offensive, supported by a number of fighter groups and briefly by the 319th Bombardment Group. The group made high speed low-level assaults on enemy ships, dropping lines of three or six 500lb bombs at each target from under 200 feet. The first confirmed sinking came on 20 January, but this was a dangerous duty opposed by strong Axis fighter defences and by Siebel ferries, pontoon rafts carrying heavy AA guns. February saw limited success at sea, but the 310th did sink a tanker on 21 February.
Between 8 May and 11 June the Allies dropped 6,200 tons of bombs on the island of Pantelleria. The 310th was one of many groups to take part in this bomber offensive, which led directly to the surrender of the island. The same period also saw the group hit airfields, landing grounds and gun emplacements on Lampedusa and Sicily.
In September 1943 the group was used to support the Allied landings at Salerno, on the Italian mainland, although at this date it was still based in North Africa, so was operating at long range.
From then until the end of the war the group focused on attacks on German communications, including bridges, rail lines, tunnels and roads, mainly in Italy. It was also used to drop propaganda leaflets behind German lines.
In January-June 1944 the group supported the Allied drive on Rome. As part of this campaign it took part on Operation Strangle, an attempt to cut the communication links between the north of Italy and the German front line. Normally this involved medium level attacks, but on 15 April four aircraft from the group made the only low-level medium bomb attack of the campaign when they flew at 400ft to attack a tunnel near San Vincenzo. The group spent most of this period attacking land transport links, but in March also took part in a campaign against nineteen ports. The group also became a specialist 'bridge busting' unit, able of scoring one direct hit on a bridge for every twenty sorties, an impressive rate of success for these narrow difficult targets.
In August 1944 the group supported the invasion of southern France.
On 28 November 1944 the group sank a ship that the Germans were about to use to block the channel into the harbour at La Spezia, allowing the Allies to use the port soon after it was captured.
The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a raid on marshalling yards at Benevento, Italy, on 27 August 1943, when the group pressed on despite heavy enemy attacks.
A second DUC was awarded for an attack on a railway bridge at Ora on 10 March 1945, when the unit attacked through heavy anti-aircraft fire.
The group was inactivated in Italy on 12 September 1945.
During its operational career the group had attacked targets across Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Corsica, Sardinia and Southern France and a smaller number in Austria and Yugoslavia.
1942-45: North American B-25 Mitchell
|28 January 1942||Constituted as 310th Bombardment Group (Medium)|
|15 March 1942||Activated|
|Oct-Dec 1942||To Mediterranean and Twelfth Air Force|
|12 September 1945||Inactivated|
Lt. Col William E Lee:
15 Mar 1942
Lt Col Flint Garrison Jr: 21 Apr 1942
Capt James A Plant: 19 May 1942
Col Anthony G Hunter: c. 17 Jun 1942
Col Peter H Remington: c. 7 Oct 1944
Col William M Bower: Jul-Sep 1945.
Davis-Monthan Field, Ariz:
15 Mar 1942
Jackson AAB, Miss: 15 Mar 1942
Key Field, Miss: Apr 1942
Columbia AAB, SC: 16 May 1942
Walterboro, SC: 14 Aug 1942
Greenville AAB, SC: 18 Sep- 17 Oct 1942
Mediouna, French Morocco: c. 18 Nov 1942
Telergma, Algeria: 21 Dec 1942
Berteaux, Algeria: 1 Jan 1943
Dar el Koudia, Tunisia: c. 6 Jun 1943
Menzel Temime, Tunisia: c. 5 Aug 1943
Philippeville, Algeria: 10 Nov 1943
Corsica: c. 10 Dec 1943
Fano, Italy: 7 Apr 1945
Pomigliano, Italy: c. Aug-12 Sep 1945
379th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
380th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
381st Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
428th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45
1943: 47th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
1943-44: 57th Bombardment Wing; XII Tactical Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944: 57th Bombardment Wing; XII Bomber Command; Twelfth Air Force
1944-45: 57th Bombardment Wing; Twelfth Air Force