322nd Bombardment Group

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History

The 322nd Bombardment Group was a medium bomber group that had a disastrous introduction to combat in the spring of 1943, losing ten out of eleven aircraft on its second raid, but that went on to develop effective medium level medium bomber tactics and supported the Allied armies after the D-Day invasions.

The group was formed in the United States in the summer of 1942. It was equipped with the B-26 Marauder and would use that aircraft throughout the war. The group's ground echelon began to cross the Atlantic in November-December 1942, followed by the aircrew and aircraft in March and April 1943.

On 13 May 1943 the group was declared operational, as part of the Eighth Air Force. This was the day that saw the 4th Bombardment Wing enter combat, and the available aircraft strength of the Eighth Air Force rise from 100 to 215 as the US build-up began to gather pace. Its first combat mission came on 14 May and was an attack on a power station in Holland. This first low level attack was successful, but a second low-level attack on 17 May was a total disaster. Eleven aircraft were sent on the raid. One returned early, but all ten that pressed on to their target were lost, shot down either by anti-aircraft fire or by German fighters.

After this disaster low level medium bomber operations were suspended. The group spent two months training to operation from medium altitude, before returning to combat on 17 July 1943. The new medium level tactics were more effective, and were tried out against German airfields between July 1943 and February 1944. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for the period between 14 May 1943 and 24 July 1944, reflecting the success of the new tactics.

On 16 October 1943 the 322nd was one of six groups transferred to the Ninth Air Force from the Eighth, after the Ninth moved from the Mediterranean to Britain. This included four bombardment groups that formed the entire bomber strength of the Ninth until the spring of 1944.

On 22 February 1944 the 322nd became one of the first groups in the Ninth Air Force to be guided to its target by pathfinder aircraft, during a raid on Coxyda airfield in Holland.

In March 1944 the group began to focus on transport links, attacking road and rail bridges and oil facilities as part of the build-up to D-Day. The group also took part in the attack on the German V-1 bases.

On 6 June 1944 the group was used to attack German gun batteries and coastal defences. During the fighting in Normandy German fuel and ammo dumps and transport links were the main targets. The group took part in the fighting at Caen and in the breakthrough at St Lo in July 1944. In August and September it supported the US Third Army during the advance across France. In October-December 1944 it took part in the campaign against the Siegfried Line, the German western defences, while in December 1944 and January 1945 it attacked rail bridges to isolate the Germans taking part in the Ardennes offensive.

During 1945 the group focused on communications, transport and fuel targets. Its last mission came on 24 April 1945. The group moved to June 1945 where it took part in the dismantling of the Luftwaffe. The group returned to the US at the end of 1945 and was inactivated on 15 December 1945.

Books

To Follow

Aircraft

1942-: Martin B-26 Marauder

Timeline

19 June 1942 Constituted as 322nd Bombardment Group (Medium)
17 July 1942 Activated
Nov-Dec 1942 Group starts to move overseas
Mar-April 1943 Aircraft move overseas, operates with Eighth Air Force
October 1943 To Ninth Air Force
Nov-Dec 1945 To United States
15 December 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Jacob J Brogger: c. 8 Aug 1942
Col Robert R Selway Jr: c. 21 Oct 1942
Lt Col John F Batjer: c. 22 Feb 1943
Lt Col Robert M Stillman: c. 17 Mar 1943
Col Glenn C Nye: c. 19 May 1943
Col John S Samuel: Jul 1944
Maj John L Egan: c. 12 Jul 1945-unkn

Main Bases

MacDill Field, Fla: 17 Jul 1942
Drane Field, Fla: 22 Sep-Nov 1942
Rougham, England: c. 1 Dec 1942
Great Saling, England: Jan 1943
Beauvais/Tille France: Sep 1944
Le Culot, Belgium: Mar 1945
Fritzlar, Germany: Jun-Sep 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: c. 14-15 Dec 1945

Component Units

449th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
450th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
451st Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
452nd Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49

Assigned To

1942-43: 3rd Bombardment Wing; VIII Air Support Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-44: 99th Bombardment Wing; IX Bomber Command; Ninth Air Force
1944-45: 99th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 October 2013), 322nd Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/322nd_Bombardment_Group.html

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