344th Bombardment Group, USAAF

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History

The 344th Bombardment Group, USAAF, was a B-26 group within the Ninth Air Force and acted in support of the Allied armies invading Europe in 1944-45.

The group moved to Britain in January-February 1944, where it joined the Ninth Air Force, the US contribution to the tactical air forces that would support the D-Day landings and the invasion of Europe.

The group entered combat in March 1944. Its early targets included airfields, V-1 sites, transport lines and submarine shelters, across France, Belgium and Holland. In May efforts switched to pre-invasion attacks and the group hit bridges across France, isolating the Normandy battlefield.

On D-Day the group attacks German coastal gun batteries at Cherbourg. During June it supported the advance into the Cotentin Peninsula, and also helped support the British and Commonwealth forces around Caen.

In July the group supported the US breakout around St. Lo and was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions on 24, 25 and 26 July when it attacked German troops, supply dumps, a railway viaduct and a bridge. It then attacked bridges in an attempt to stop German troops escaping through the Falaise gap. In August and September it was also used to attack German strong points in the besieged port of Brest.

In October and November, as the Allies approached the German border, the group was used to attack bridges, rail lines and military supply dumps and depots. When the Germans launched their surprise attack in the Ardennes in December 1945 the group helped support the US ground troops. After the end of that battle it returned to the attacks on transport links, with oil facilities added to the list as the German war economy was finally destroyed.

The group operated the B-26 throughout the war. It did begin to train with the A-26 Invader but never made the switch. After the end of the fighting the group moved to Germany, where it served with the Army of Occupation. The group returned to the US on 15 February 1946 and was inactivated on 31 March.

Books

To Follow

Aircraft

1942-45: Martin B-26 Marauder
1945-46: Douglas A-26 Invader

Timeline

31 August 1942 Constituted to 344th Bombardment Group (Medium)
8 September 1942 Activated
Jan-Feb 1944 To England and Ninth Air Force
March 1944 Operational debut
September 1945 To Germany
December 1945 Redesignated 344th Bombardment Group (Light)
15 February 1945 To United States
31 March 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt Col Jacob J Brogger: 10 Oct 1942
Col Guy L McNeil: 2 Nov 1942
Col John A Hilger: 7 Nov 1942
Lt Col Vernon L Stintzi: 20 Jul 1943
Maj Robert W Witty: c. 6 Aug 1943
Col Reginald F C Vance: 19 Sep 1943
Col Robert W Witty: 7 Nov 1943
Lt Col Lucius D Clay Jr: 18 Aug 1945-15 Feb 1946

Main Bases

MacDill Field, Fla: 8 Sep 1942
Drane Field, Fla: 28 Dec 1942
Hunter Field, Ga: 19 Dec 1943-26 Jan 1944
Stansted, England: 9 Feb 1944
Cormeilles- en-Vexin, France: 30 Sep 1944
Florennes/ Juzaine, Belgium: 5 Apr 1945
Schleissheim, Germany: c. 15 Sep 1945-15 Feb 1946

Component Units

494th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
495th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
496th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
497th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46

Assigned To

1943-44: IX Bomber Command; Ninth Air Force
1944-45: 99th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force
1945: 98th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (18 October 201), 344th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/344th_Bombardment_Group.html

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