The 454th Bombardment Group was a B-24 group that fought with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy, taking part in the strategic bombing campaign and supporting the group troops fighting in Italy and the south of France.
The group was activated on 1 June 1943 and trained with the B-24. The group was one of six B-24 groups that were originally meant to have reached Italy by December 1943, but it didn't arrive until January 1944.
The group's main role was to participate in the strategic bombing campaign, hitting targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, Romania and Greece. Targets included the usual oil refineries, aircraft factories, wider industrial areas, harbours and airfields. Some of its targets were chosen to aid the advancing Soviet armies as they entered the Balkans.
The group also flew some tactical missions to support the Allied troops in Italy and the south of France.
On 6-7 February 1944 the Luftwaffe made a rare attack on the Anzio beach head. In response the Allies attacked the airfields at Viterbo, Tarquinia and Orvieto. The 454th was one of three groups that took part in the 110 aircraft attack, which reduced the level of Luftwaffe activity over Anzio for several days.
The group played a limited part in Operation Strangle, the effort to isolate the German frontline in Italy by cutting transport links. Most of the time this role was carried out by the tactical air forces, but Strategic helped from time to time, especially when weather elsewhere in Europe limited their activities. On 28 March 1944 the group took part in the Fifteenth Air Force's first '1000-ton' raid, an attack on marshalling yards in northern Italy.
In the spring and summer of 1944 the group helped support the advance on Rome. In August 1944 it switched its attention to southern France to help Operation Dragoon. In April 1945 the group supported the final victorious Allied offensive in northern Italy which ended with the surrender of the German army in Italy.
The group received two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first came for an attack on the airfield at Bad Voslau on 12 April 1944. The second was for an attack on steel plants at Linz when the group was leading the 304th Bombardment Wing.
The group returned to the United States in July 1945. It was redesignated as the 454th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in August 1945, but was inactivated on 17 October 1945 and allocated to the reserve.
June 1943-October 1945: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
|14 May 1943||Constituted as 454th Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|1 June 1943||Activated|
|Dec 1943-Jan 1944||To Italy and Fifteenth Air Force|
|April 1945||Combat ends|
|July 1945||To US|
|Aug 1945||Redesignated 454th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)|
|17 October 1945||Inactivated|
Col. Horace D Aynesworth: c. Jun 1943
Col. John A Way: 22 Mar 1945
Lt Col William R Large Jr: 21 May 1945
Lt Col Edward R Casey: 24 May 1945-unkn.
Alamogordo AAFld, NM: 1
Davis-Monthan Field, Ariz: 1 Jul 1943
McCook AAFld, Neb: c. 31 Jul 1943
Charleston AAFld, SC: 3 Oct-Dec 1943
San Giovanni, Italy: Jan 1944-July 1945
Sioux Falls AAFld, SD: 1 Aug 1945
Pyote AAFld, Tex: 17 Aug-17 Oct 1945
736th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
737th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
738th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
739th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
1944-45: 304th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force