340th Bombardment Group, USAAF

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History

The 340th Bombardment Group, USAAF, was a B-25 Mitchell group that served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, initially acting in support of the British Eighth Army before moving on to support the combined Allied armies in Italy.

The group was activated on 20 August 1942, and was equipped with the B-25 Mitchell. It reached North Africa in March 1943, where it joined the Ninth Air Force (although it came under the operational control of the international Northwest African
Tactical Air Force). The group began operations in April 1943 and remained in combat for the next two years. During that period it attacked targets across Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and Greece. Its main targets included airfields, transport links, German troop concentrations and defensive positions and some factories.

In June 1943 the group took part in the massive series of air attacks that forced the surrender of Pantelleria and Lampedusa islands. In July 1943 it attacked the beaches being used by German troops being evacuated from Messina to the mainland of Italy.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its activities between April and August 1943 when it was acting in support of the British Eighth Army during its action in Tunisia and the Allied invasion forces in Sicily.

In September 1943 the group supported the landings at Salerno, helping to defeat a strong German attack on the beachhead. From January to June 1944 it was used to support the Allied advance on Rome.

On the night of 12-13 May 1944 the group was the victim of one of the few effective German air raids of the period when it lost a number of aircraft after a force of Junkers Ju-88s bombed Alesan. Despite this blow the group was still able to carry out a raid of its own on the next day.

By the summer of 1944 the 340th was something of a specialist bridge-busting unit. Along with the 310th and 321st Bombardment Groups it was achieving one direct hit for every twenty sorties, an impressive success rate against bridges which were narrow difficult targets that needed direct hits if any real damage was to be done.

On 23 September the group carried out a raid on La Spezia designed to prevent the Germans from sinking a cruiser as a block ship in the harbour entrance. Eighteen aircraft from the group attacked the ship, sinking it before it could move into place. This was recorded by General Cannon as the group's sixty-second successful precision attack in a row! The group won a second DUC for this raid.

The group could bring a significant number of aircraft to bear on any particular target. On 16, 17 and 19 November, as part of a campaign to isolate the German front lines from their supplies, the group carried out 114 effective sorties against bridges on the Lamone River at Faenza (not counting aircraft that failed to reach their target). The group flew a series of attacks on German lines of communication including the Brenner Pass from September 1944 to April 1945.

The Group returned to the US in July-August 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Books

To Follow

Aircraft

1942-: North American B-25 Mitchell

Timeline

10 August 1942 Constituted as 340th Bombardment Group (Medium)
20 August 1942 activated
March 1943 To Mediterranean and Ninth Air Force
August 1943 To Twelfth Air Force
July-August 1945 To United States
7 November 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Adolph E Tokaz: 3 Sep 1942
Col William C Mills: 21 Sep 1942
Lt Col Adolph E Tokaz: 7 May 1943
Col Charles D Jones: 8 Jan 1944
Col Willis F Chapman: 16 Mar 1944- 7 Nov 1945

Main Bases

Columbia AAB, SC: 20 Aug 1942
Walterboro, SC: 30 Nov 1942-30 Jan 1943
El Kabrit, Egypt: Mar 1943
Medenine, Tunisia: Mar 1943
Sfax, Tunisia: Apr 1943
Hergla, Tunisia: 2 Jun 1943
Comiso, Sicily: c. 2 Aug 1943
Catania, Sicily: 27 Aug 1943
San Pancrazio, Italy: c. 15 Oct 1943
Foggia, Italy: 19 Nov 1943
Pompeii, Italy: c. 2 Jan 1944
Paestum, Italy: 23 Mar 1944
Corsica: c. 14 Apr 1944
Rimini, Italy: c. 2 Apr-27 Jul 1945
Seymour Johnson Field, NC: 9 Aug 1945
Columbia AAB, SC: 2 Oct-7 Nov 1945

Component Units

486th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
487th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
488th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49
489th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-45; 1947-49

Assigned To

March-August 1943: Ninth Air Force
August 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 (18 October 2013), 340th Bombardment Group, USAAF , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/340th_Bombardment_Group.html

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