321st Bombardment Group: 1942-43

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 321st Bombardment Group, USAAF, was a B-25 group that fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and southern France, sinking the battleship Strasbourg during that campaign.

By the autumn of 1942 the 321st had been allocated to the forces that were to cross the South Atlantic to join Operation Torch. The group was to cross with 57 B-25s and was expected to arrive on D+60.

Aircraft started to reach Florida in mid-February 1943, to cross the Atlantic via Ascension Island and Accra. The group reached western Africa in February 1943 and moved up the coast to Marrakech and then into the theatre of action. The group joined the Twelfh Air Force and took part in the campaign in Tunisia.

The group entered combat in the second half of March 1943. Its main targets for the rest of the war would be transport links (marshalling yards, rail, road, bridges, viaducts, shipping and harbours) or enemy troop concentrations or gun emplacements. It would operate against targets in North Africa, France, Sicily, Italy, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece over the next two years.

The group received two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first was for an attack on a German airfield near Athens on 8 October 1943, carried out in the face of heavy German anti-aircraft fire and fighter defences.

Between March and May 1943 the group operated against targets in North Africa. In May-June the group took part in the massive bombing campaign that overwhelmed the defenders of the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa.

In July 1943 the group supported the invasion of Sicily. In September it took part in the fighting at Salerno, which took place just as the group began to move to Italy.

Between January and June 1944 the group supported the advance towards Rome. The group became something of an expert at bridge breaking, difficult narrow targets.

In August the group supported Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. On 18 August thirty six B-25s from the group sank the battleship Strasbourg, a cruiser and a submarine to prevent the Germans from using their guns against the forces attacking Toulon. The group received its second DUC for this raid.

After the fighting in France moved out of range of the medium bombers the group returned to the fight in Italy, and it operated against targets in northern Italy from September 1944 until the end of the war.

The group was inactivated in Italy on 12 September 1945.

USAAF Gallery
USAAF gallery

Books

To Follow

Aircraft

1942-45: North American B-25 Mitchell

Timeline

19 June 1942 Constituted as 321st Bombardment Group (Medium)
26 June 1942 Activated
Jan-March 1943 To Mediterranean and Ninth then Twelfth Air Force
12 September 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Unknown: Jun-Aug 1942
Col William C Mills: 3 Aug 1942
Col Robert D Knapp: Sep 1942
Lt Col Charles T Olmsted: 5 December 1943
Lt Col Peter H Remington: 18 Mar 1944
Col Richard H Smith: 26 Mar 1944
Lt Col Charles F Cassidy Jr: 28 Jan 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Barksdale Field, La: 26 Jun 1942
Columbia AAB, SC: c. 1 Aug 1942
Walterboro, SC: Sep 1942
DeRidder AAB, La: c. 1 Dec 1942-21 Jan 1943
Ain M'lila, Algeria: 12 Mar 1943
Souk-el- Arba, Tunisia: c. 1 Tun 1943
Soliman, Tunisia: 8 Aug 1943
Grottaglie, Italy: 3 Oct 1943
Amendola, Italy: c. 20 Nov 1943
Vincenzo Airfield, Italy: 14 Jan 1944
Gaudo Airfield, Italy: Feb 1944
Corsica: 23 Apr 1944
Falconara. Italy: c.1 Apr 1945
Pomigliano, Italy: c. Sep-12 Sep 1945

Component Units

445th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
446th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
447th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
448th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49

Assigned To

1942-1943: IX Bomber Command; Ninth Air Force
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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 October 2013), 321st Bombardment Group: 1942-43, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/321st_Bombardment_Group.html

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