323rd Bombardment Group, USAAF

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The 323rd Bombardment Group was a B-26 Marauder unit that formed part of the Eighth and then Ninth Air Forces and took part in the campaign against German positions in occupied France before D-Day and supported the Allied armies after the invasion.

The 323rd was activated in August 1942 and equipped with the B-26 Marauder, using that aircraft throughout the war. In April-June 1943 the group moved to Britain, where it joined the Eighth Air Force.

The squadron flew its first combat operation in July 1943. At first it concentrated on airfields, industrial targets, rail marshalling yards and other targets across France, Belgium and Holland.

During the Big Week attacks on the Luftwaffe of 20-25 February 1944 the group attacked Leeuwarden and Venlo airfields, and early in 1944 it took part in the campaign against the V-1 launch sites.

On 16 October 1943 the 323rd was one of four bombardment groups that were transferred to the Ninth Air Force after that organisation moved to Britain from the Mediterranean theatre, leaving all of its existing units behind.

In the spring of 1944 the group took part in the campaign against German transport links and defensive positions across France, preparing for the D-Day invasions. On 6 June 1944 it was used to attack coastal gun batteries and roads.

In July the group took part in the the breakout at St Lo. In August it moved to France, and began to fly night missions. Its first night mission was an attack on German gun batteries around St Malo. Fuel and ammo dumps were also night-time targets. The group was used against Brest in September, but this was its last major operation in western France.

From late September 1944 the group was used to support the attacks on the Siegfried Line. It received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions early in the Battle of the Bulge (for the period 24-27 December 1944), attacking transport links bringing reinforcements to the front.

After the Battle of the Bulge the group resumed operations in support of the Allied advance, attacking German defences in the Ruhr. It flew its last combat missions in April 1945.

After the end of the war the group moved to Germany where it helped dismantle the Luftwaffe. It returned to the US in December and was inactivated on 12 December 1945.


‘Big Week’ 1944 – Operation Argument and the breaking of the Jadgwaffe, Douglas C. Dildy. Looks at the USAAF’s concentrated attack on the German aircraft industry, a week of massive bombing raids that forced the Luftwaffe into an equally massive defensive effort that cost them around 150 aircrew at a time when they could hardly afford those losses, as well as cutting German fighter production by around 2,000 aircraft, and proving that the long range escort fighter was the key to a successful daylight bombing campaign (Read Full Review)
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1942-45: Martin B-26 Marauder


19 June 1942 Constituted as 323rd Bombardment Group (Medium)
4 August 1942 Activated
April-June 1943 To England and Eighth Air Force
July 1943 Combat Debut
October 1943 To Ninth Air Force
April 1945 Combat ends
May 1945 To Germany
December 1945 To United States
12 December 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Herbert B Thatcher: Sep 1942
Col Wilson R Wood: c. 13 Nov 1943
Col Rollin M Winingham: 14 Feb 1945
Lt Col George O Commenator: Aug 1945-unkn

Main Bases

Columbia AAB, SC: 4 Aug 1942
MacDill Field, Fla: 21 Aug 1942
Myrtle Beach Bombing Range, SC: 2 Nov 1942-25 Apr 1943
Horham, England: 12 May 1943
Earls Colne, England: 14 Jun 1943
Beaulieu, England: 21 Jul 1944
Lessay, France: 26 Aug 1944
Chartres, France: 21 Sep 1944
Laon/Athies, France: 13 Oct 1944
Denain/Prouvy, France: 9 Feb 1945
Gablingen, Germany: 15 May 1945
Landsberg, Germany: 16 Jul 1945
Clastres, France: Oct-Dec 1945

Component Units

453rd Bombardment squadron: 1942-45; 1949-51; 1955-
454th Bombardment squadron: 1942-45; 1949-51; 1955-
455th Bombardment squadron: 1942-45; 1949-51; 1955-
456th Bombardment squadron: 1942-45; 1949-51

Assigned To

1942-November 1943: 3rd Bombardment Wing; VIII Air Support Command; Eighth Air Force
November 1943-44: 98th Bombardment Wing; IX Bomber Command; Ninth Air Force
1944-45: 98th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 October 2013), 323rd Bombardment Group, USAAF , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/323rd_Bombardment_Group.html

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